30th June report, Nancy O’Higgins Saskatoon to Selkirk

Father’s day in Saskatoon was marked by presents given to the men in the group by the five women, with Marina making a funny and articulate MC. Each of the presents had been purchased several days before the event and we forgot why some of them were appropriate, so we had each man guess why he was getting his gift. Harold got a sewing kit and we think it was because he needed one the first day at Fort Langley. Brendan’s was the most successful. He got a pair of large, funny sunglasses with eyes on it (because he’d be in trouble if he lost his contact lenses). He used the glasses to make everyone in the park in Saskatoon laugh, and he’s kept it up for the group for the next several days. Ken got a bubble blowing teddy bear that he mounted on his bike and now he says he has a panda in front and a bear behind. Wayne also got bubbles to blow simply because we thought he would have the most fun with them. Frank got a fan because he was always too warm, George got a deck of miniature cards because he’s a card, Al got a gear clip, David got a wallet to keep the beer money in because he can never find the beer money, Dave got springy clips to attach things to himself because he’s always losing things, Harry got a package of marshmallow bananas because his signature is that he drops banana peels on the road every day, presumably so we won’t get lost.

The next day in Saskatoon, Larry McGuire, his wife Shirley and club member Lloyd took those of the group who could climb on their bicycles for a tour of the city, bike shop and pubs, then back to Larry’s house for a party. The rest of us got a ride from Sandra’s Duanne except for the intrepid Marina and George who walked. The McGuire hospitality was so generous and made us all feel so comfortable and welcome that we were overwhelmed. Larry and Shirley barbecued smokies and hamburgers for us, poured copious quantities of beer and wine and then topped it off with sweet, luscious strawberries with ice cream.

Saskatoon to Lanigan and Lanigan to Foam Lake were beautiful days with varied winds. We realized again that the numbers on the map saying how far we are going are irrelevant ‚ all that matters is the direction of the wind. At Foam Lake the young park attendant came to warn us that the roads people had just put down gravel for a kilometer down the road. It was actually about 16k we discovered early the next morning, and the trucks racing down it provided black out conditions of dust.

A tail wind flew us from Foam Lake into Yorkton before lunch ‚ 93 easy kilometers, giving everyone a whole afternoon to explore Yorkton. At dinner, Ken said we’d be losing Irene for a week and a bit and asked how her cooking team wanted to manage without her. Marina explained Harold offered to help since he had missed two meals when he should have been cooking, and Brendan, in his usual sardonic way on said, “Gee, we’re drowning and you throw us an anchor.”

Yorkton was where the wood ticks started attacking us. Ken showed us what they looked like by walking into long grass and coming out with many of the little critters walking down his leg. He brushed them off but missed one climbing down into his sock that firmly attached itself. From then on we’ve been brushing them off and picking them off each other. The minute we hit the border we started hitting clouds of mosquitoes to add to the ticks. We hit Vermillion Park in Dauphin and the head nets got frantically searched for, making us look like a convention of beekeepers.

We had a beautiful 118k ride to Lake Manitoba Narrows but our shadow rider, Chris Chan missed a turn and did a total of 188k. The truck was also missing after it delivered Irene to the bus station to go home to Alberta for her daughter’s wedding. (She is sadly missed, even though we know she will return to us in Thunder Bay.) Almost everyone bought a beer from Lake Manitoba Lodge and sat on the dock avoiding mosquitoes and awaiting Wayne. The ground was too soggy for tents so cabins were rented for the night. Wayne arrived with a tale of woe about being captured by weigh scales operators and given a ticket for Budget. We had dinner in the Lodge dining room since most of us wanted to try pickerel. Our lovely mosquito-free bedrooms were appreciated more because we had spent so many night in tents. Off on the bus from Selkirk to Winnipeg. More from us on the next rest day!