Del Bonita, Alberta Canada. September 5th, 2015

I am waiting out a weather front. My host and hostess, Sam and Marcia Stahl have graciously opened their home to me while I get my self together, rest and secure a route home. Sam and Marcia are pasture supervisors for the Twin River Provincial Grazing Reserve.This is the real deal as far as cowboys go. I feel like I am on a movie set – it is simply stunning. Black and brown cattle graze along the Milk River. The hills are brown but the coulees and ravines hold hints of green all wrapped around and round by a vast range and enormous sky.
I’ll resume my journey Sunday.
I don’t think I have ridden in any other place that quite measures up to Canada’s Southern Alberta and Southern Saskatchewan. It is spectacular country, big, spacious country. The horizon is clean, unbroken. The eye seeks to find an end to it but it appears to go on and on and on.The sky drops clearly to a land that rounds off over the horizon. This land either intimates or embraces, there is no in between. The mind is swept clean of thoughts I try to think but the land seems to refuse to hold my thoughts and I find myself just wandering like a phone on “roaming.” You just wonder where it will end. This is cattle country, huge wheat farms and ranches that take of 10s of thousands of acres. Its hard to comprehend for most of us.
We pushed hard after reentering Canada near eastern Montana. I rode into Orkney, Saskatchewan just as Bob Nelson was finishing up with farm work, good thing I caught up with him because there weren’t any other people that I could see in town. He gave me drinking water and then his wife sent out shepherds pie and cookies to eat.This is Canadian hospitality! We traveled west on 501 a paved road, not at all busy. The heat would have been unbearable with out the steady westerly wind. In the small town of Climax I was greeted by a young woman with a beautiful smile named Charity who showed me to the park where I rested and had a bite to eat. Several folks and kids stopped by to see the attraction. Fire Chief Kim Bennett set me up with a place to stay in the next town of Frontier. I met Kim’s wife Val at the impressive Recreation Center that housed a curling arena, hockey arena, cafe, lounge area for young people with a pool table, all supervised and well maintained. ANY town would be proud to have such a facility. Rain and wind set in that night and I was glad to be inside as Kim had set me up….. inside the new fire hall!!! The horses had trees for shelter and we all made out just fine.
August 3rd, 2015 Reached “Old Man On His Back” a Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area managed by Nature Conservancy Canada. Sue and Allen are overseers. (and have a 4th generation farm nearby) Sue gave an excellent presentation she must have done it a half dozen times that day, it was busy. The Conservation Ranch raise Buffalo and is a haven for wildlife seldom seen by most people this includes Burrowing Owls, Swift Fox and Ferruginous Hawks. The interpretive center is open from mid May to the end of September. check it out its well worth visiting.
Just before crossing into Alberta I spent two nights at the Lodge Creek Ranch. I had no idea Joe and Joan Saville lived there. IT was not until I got there and started visiting with Joan and Joe that I realized it was the “Joe Saville” a legendary horseman, a name one knows if you are in the horse industry. From 1982 to 2008 Joe and Joan hosted a horse sale that came to be known as “home of the big quarter horse sale.” It was huge and people came from all over North America to the sale. The list of champions is long, Joe produced many champions- “Bulldog Horse of the Year” – “Calf roping Horse of the Year” you get the picture. He also had teams, big teams of Belgium horses that were sought after. I got a look at his beautiful draft horse barn. I told Joan I would marry a man for a barn like that. The stalls were now empty, the barn however, remained neat as a pin. At 80, Joe continues to ride, not as much but still he trains and rides a good deal. The day I was there he was working on culverts with the other men. Maybe its the air or the open space but I have met more men and women on this stretch across Canada, in their 80s and 90’s living and working like 50 year old’s. Its encouraging.
I have been pushing hard because I had wanted to cross at Rooseville, Montana from the north, stay in Canada longer. I have been slowed by smoke. Five steady days of smoke. One night wind carried ash from the fires burning in Montana. Then heavy winds, then rain. The rain has finally come can’t complain, just can not complain about that. But it has slowed me down and now because my vet papers for the horses are good for only 30 days I can’t make the Rooseville crossing. I must drop down at Del Bonita, Canada and take another route home. I have plenty of time so we shall carry on slowly but surely, we shall make our way home.
September 4th, 2015 morning … My beloved Claire Dog laid on her bed and passed away at the age of 16. This faithful companion traveled with me over 17,000 miles. This was my first ride without her. She was by anyone’s measure…”the Star of the Show”
Prep for New Ulm Ride006