<- Read the previous post: Into our third province – already!
Day 16 Thursday May 22
Swift Current to Moose Jaw
Faced with another exhausting day of 169 kms, we decided to try a different strategy. Terry was raring to go early in the morning, as the wind is usually lighter at that time. He left at 6:30 am (yes, you’re reading that correctly), and knocked off 45 km. He didn’t plan to be going that far, but the rest of us were late departing due to a plugged sewage line on the RV. I’ll spare you the photos (you’re welcome). Then, our 8:00 am grocery run was delayed as Safeway wasn’t open that early. We had to resort to going to a Big Box Store, which Bill despises and shall remain nameless. I do need to report, though, that besides the necessities we needed, Bill actually purchased sunglasses there. The sacrilege! The hypocrisy! Bill insists that since there is no photo evidence and he paid with cash, it never happened. And I’ve also discovered that Al has impulsive junk food shopping tendencies. I think we should escort him for groceries from now on, or we’ll all gain weight and lose our teeth across Canada.
The bright side to this diversion was that we met Leanne, who saw our cycling attire and asked us about what we were doing. We had a good discussion about schizophrenia, as she has an ex-husband who dealt with the challenges of that, and we mentioned that Bill will be connecting with the Schizophrenia Society tomorrow in Regina.
Once we caught up with Terry, we started leap-frogging. We took turns riding in 10 – 20 km stints, either alone or in pairs, with the RV in hot pursuit. Together we covered 115 kms, which is pretty commendable considering the conditions.
We want to acknowledge the truckers we have encountered along the Trans Canada Hwy. Most have been very professional and safety-conscious – giving us a wide berth, tooting their horns to alert us or just to support us, and some even wave. We so appreciate that they respectfully share the road with us!
The weirdest thing today was going through the salt flats in Chaplin SK. With the heavy winds, the air looked smoky at first, then like snow. Once we cycled through what seemed like a sand storm, my entire body was covered in fine white dust. I’m glad it was just salt, and not something more “sinister”, as I’m sure I inhaled a lot. On the plus side, we don’t need a spa treatment now that our faces have been “salt-blasted”. Laundry was definitely in order tonight.
We had a nice walk to dinner, even with the wind, and guess what? Bill made a trip to yet another not to be named Big Box Store and purchased a bathing suit. We’re not listening to his corporate rants anymore, as we know he has come to the dark side.
Day 17 May 24 Wednesday
Moose Jaw to Regina (kind of)
So if any of you were tracking our route today, you are probably scratching your head trying to figure out what the heck we did. The day started out similarly to the day before. Terry got an early start, about 7:20 am, and the rest of us in the RV caught up with him soon after, as no toilet malfunctions today. The wind was nastier than ever, and Terry only got about 4.5 kms in 45 mins. He was totally bushed from his efforts, and the wind gusts had threatened to blow him off his bike several times
Terry was quickly consoled by Miss Karma, the loving border collie who bounded into our RV to welcome us, and of course get her tummy scratched. She belonged to Jessie, the kind manager of the Esso.just east of Moose Jaw, who had heard about us on the radio this morning, and was waiting for us to come past. He offered to fill our cooler with ice, which we gladly accepted, let us get our fill of fur therapy, and then we were on our way.
We re-evaluated yet again, and decided on another new strategy – make our own tailwind! We shuttled about 70 kms to the east of Regina, and got on our bikes heading west. Riding with the wind for a change seemed like such a novel concept. Instead of moving at 7 km/hr, we were zooming along at over 40 km/hr – what a treat! And for those of you who don’t cycle, let me explain why it can be very eerie riding in a strong tail wind. All around you the trees and grass are madly swaying, the flags are flapping, but you hear COMPLETE silence, except for any passing traffic. It is like you are in a vacuum, you can hear your breathing, a slight hum of your wheels, but that is it. Utter peace spinning at top speed, even uphill. It’s every cyclists dream. One of the riders said it was even better than sex – I won’t say who to protect the spouses.
Our elation was short-lived, as the rain started about an hour later. First light, then heavier, then the wind changed direction and started gusting. We were going to soldier though and get back to the RV site for lunch, but the gusts got gustier, the rain got rainier, and the final straw was when two semi trucks passed in close succession and Bill and I wobbled like weebles who actually might fall down. I might start believing in conspiracy theories, with the weather luck we have been having. So we again packed it in.
The silver lining – and remember that there always is one – is that we could attend the Schizophrenia Awareness Day open house at the Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan in downtown Regina. We had a chance to meet with Anita and Ann and all the other staff and volunteers, and learn about the interesting programs they have. They have a stand up comedy class organized by and set up for individuals with mental illness, that runs every Tuesday. A few times a year, they rent out a space and put on a comedy show for the public. They have even made a short movie together. It’s great to hear about such innovative ideas to engage creativity and build an inclusive environment among their clients. The also have a partner program where they send out a team that includes a person with mental illness, one of their family members, and a mental health professional. Together they educate others on what mental illness is, what it is like for the person and their families experiencing it, and in the process remove the stigma veil that hangs over the topic. Kudos to you all at the Regina Schizophrenia Society, both the staff and their clients, we had some very interesting and eye-opening conversations.
Bill also received a phone call from Brenda, a suicide prevention counsellor who was unable to attend, but wanted to send us prayers, and would do a smudge for us. We are so blessed to have so many people enveloping us with good vibes.
After the open house, we did a few errands, ate lunch/dinner, and had another team huddle about what we would do for the next few days, as the forecast still is not looking promising. After some bantering about, and a tie-breaking decision made by our lovely server Chenise, we are now on our way to Yorkton, a day early, to stay with Terry’s mother-in-law Ethel for our rest day. We are hoping to have more flexibility on which day to rest, and have more options for where to ride tomorrow, where the wind maybe isn’t so devious. Maybe “somewhere over the rainbow…” Imagine me in ruby shoes, the tune will come to you.
Tonight we will all have real beds in our own rooms. You have to appreciate the simple pleasures of life! Thank you for all the wonderful comments you’ve been sending, it buoys us up on the tough days. I’m glad to know so many are following our journey. To help us meet our goals, we request that you spread the news and start a conversation about mental health. Listen to the stories that come up – sometimes it is the first time that someone has felt safe enough to talk about their experiences. And that is a humbling thought.
Love and Hugs, Sue
Read the next update: Yahoo for Yorkton! ->