A hearty thank you to the folks in Kerrobert, the rains have held me in place. Then a visit from a young man in search of long riding knowledge, for his ambitious, Canada to Brazil ride he begins this summer. Busy town, oil fields are making things hop around here. Have been at the lovely Bakery/Cafe here on main street. Owned by a young couple, on their own long ride of running the ancient business of and long held tradition of….. baking the loaves. The little cafe with its delicious scent gave me a bright spot to sit in..
Many thanks to all of that offered hospitality, smiles and handshakes.
Hello! Apologies for the delay in getting these up here! Below are a number of photos from my leg of the journey…
Grasslands National Park
The Canadian Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, was an incredible part of the trip. It was stunning landscape. Land as far as the eye could see, hints of badlands and interesting rocks, and not a person in sight. We had one encounter with quicksand, which was interesting to say the least…
We crossed over the divide in Saskatchewan, which was a stunning view. Like Montana in many ways, southern Saskatchewan is a vast and open landscape, fertile with speckles of communities, families, culture, and history throughout.
On a hot day there was nothing better to camp next to a reservoir to wash up and wash clothes in. Heart was having a rough time with all of the bugs on the way into the campsite, but once we settled in the bugs subsided and the horses had plenty to eat. I was amazed at all of the stunning campsites we encountered…
Montana Spirit got into some burrs while she was roaming around the rodeo grounds in Mankato, and Bernice and I loved how her new-found hair style fit her personality quite well. Part animalistic and primal caveman mixed with a rebellious teenage punk.
The Knox family was an incredible clan. They let us stay on their land, fed us some delicious chili for dinner and a breakfast feast. But above all, they resemble the rural generosity, human curiosity, and the instant friendships that long riding tends to fortunately attract. I now understand more deeply what Bernice feels when she says that she cannot do her rides without the generosity of the people she meets along the way. That is the truth. A large heartfelt thank you to the Knox family and all of the other individuals and families who assisted us along the way!
We were riding along when Josh from Ponteix Hutterite Colony stopped to see what we were doing. He invited us to stop by the Colony when we were able. We stopped in to be greeted by many curious and welcoming people. The women fed us a delicious meal of duck, soup, and wonderful canned pears. They gave us a tour of the colony, which was absolutely fascinating! I had never been to a Hutterite Colony, and was astonished at how efficient, organized, clean, and professional they ran all aspects of the colony; from food production to washing clothes. We were truly appreciative that they took the time (especially on a religious day) to not only give us a tour, but even meet some of the elders and learn about their culture. They sent us away with a huge package of fresh sausage, bread, and other delicious homemade treats.
Ponteix was a lovely community, filled with curious and generous folks. Ponteix is historically a Francophone community with an excellent heritage center which is filled with cultural history to archeological facts and items. It rained quite a bit but we had an excellent camping spot by the river.
All of the communities we stayed in and passed through are facing very similar challenges; decreasing populations, a decrease in youth and increase in the aging population, larger and larger farms and international corporate farming and ranching – small family farms and ranches are disappearing fast, and there is the inner turmoil in many regarding the need for local jobs but a dissatisfaction with the effects of the oil and gas industry in the region. Interesting stuff especially coming from a planning background… but definitely some more focus needs to be had in many western rural communities…
Cafe Central as a lovely coffee shop and eatery (with excellent crepes, if you are ever in town!). They had wonderful owners and fast speed wifi which was very appreciated!
The wonderful Barb and Ed! I was walking to the rodeo grounds in Swift Current to meet up with Bernice, and this incredible couple stopped to see if I needed anything. Never have I met two people with such love and generosity to give. Bernice got caught in the rain, so Barb and Ed let me stay at their place, took me out to dinner, and we shared many stories and laughs. This is an example of how wonderful friendships can strike after only minutes of meeting each other. Words cannot express enough my appreciation for these two incredible human beings.
This was the last of our shared camps, and it was in a corral in the Swift Current Fairgrounds. Bernice said that this was one of the top three fairgrounds she has ever stayed at. We were sheltered from days of rain and had a chance to unpack and repack, keep the horses warm and fed, and enjoy a delicious last dinner. The last photo is one of her chowing down on some minerals and treats, but primarily a photo to highlight just one of the many sponsors. I now have a better understanding of not only the necessity of the generosity of strangers for Bernice to do her rides, but the necessity of the sponsors. From the saddles to the packs, the quality of all of Bernice’s sponsored equipment and supplies are excellent, and must be so in order to maintain given the breadth at which Bernice travels. So lastly, one final thank you to the sponsors and all of the generous people and new friendships I have made along the ride. And a thank you again to Bernice for opening up her doors to me for a memorable and unique experience!
Greetings from Kindersly library, Saskatchewan Canada, June 6th, 2012
We arrived 2 days ago with a strong southeasterly wind at our backs, a wind that grew with force and determination. The kind of wind that brings me inside. And inside Claire and I are, at the home of Kim and Melody Lamont. I have gone from “the ditch to the Ritz” as they have put me up in a lovely enclosed gazebo complete with a wood cook stove and decorated in western decor. The horses are in separate corrals not far across the road and I can see them from the many windows of the gazebo.
The ride up from Swift Current could not have been more pleasant. Dirt roads not gravel but soft dirt, silent hoof tracks, doted with ponds and water from spring rains make riding carefree. Plus the smiles and handshakes from these friendly Saskatchewan country folks makes the ride so unbelievably pleasant. As I have said, “this is, in my humble long riding experience, premier long riding country”…
I rode these back roads to Cabri which was a fun action packed stop. I feel like I met most of the town. Had lunch at the House of Heart Cafe. OH such good food!!! I met Paulette Gehl owner of the Cafe and her mother Eileen Hartman who lives in Lancer 20 miles west of Cabri. She offered a place to stay and after much visiting I headed for Lancer with a stop in Abbey where I was able to visit the school and see the 4-H exhibition. 4-H has a special place in my heart and played a very important role in my life as a young girl growing up on a small dairy farm in Minnesota. Am always glad to see the young people still learning and growing through the 4-H programs.
I must mention that this is Hutterite country and I have stopped to visit at several Colonies along my travels both in the states and now here in Canada. I stopped at the Pontiex Colony a few weeks ago, south of Swift Current. Mr. Josh Hofer invited Emily and I to visit and spend the afternoon.(Emily will post her story with photos soon). I have always found the Hutterite’s a delightful group of people. The women dressed in colorful homemade clothing and always so pleasant, curious, interested. The Colonies that I have made tours of have always been the most modern, efficient and clean facilities I have ever seen. Emily and I met the elder Hofers, had lunch ( all homemade food from the Colony) before heading out again. I mention this because between Cabri and Lancer, I had car after car of Hutterites stopping to visit offering smiles and pleasant conversation and of course more food. I said to one Elder Hutterite that as long as I stayed in Hutterite country I would never have to fear starving to death…
I rode into Lancer late afternoon. Mr. Lloyd Hartman was waiting for me. I camped in their back yard and Lloyd had liver and onions already in the makings as Eileen was not yet back from a trip to Regina. I found out that Lloyd, now in his 80’s won the World Senior Pro Team Roping championship in 1989. We sat on the veranda and talked until dark that evening. When I asked him how long it took him to feel like he’d gotten good as a Roper and he said, “after 50 years of the Rodeo circuit, it took twenty five years to feel good at it”. Um I thought I wonder if it will take me that long to feel “good at long riding”. In the morning as Eileen was making “perogy” a pastry filled Ukrainian delicacy, we visited and she told me she had just retired from a 35 year career as a teacher and now was involved in the school system at the provincial level. I reflected on my sister who has also retired this year from a 35 plus year career as a teacher. Both women having devoted their lives to the education of other children. Dedicated and involved for so many years in the school system. Now it is to these women that I say.. ” my hat is off to both of you”. (and I have a big hat)
Clayton, Lloyd and Eileen’s son hauled me to the ferry crossing where we safely made our way over the Saskatchewan river and continued on north for Kindersley. And again several people from the Springfield Colony stopped to visit as I rode in to town and then it seemed like it was one car after another stopping to visit until I got into town and made camp on the south east corner. Ron Lamont came out to visit and then his son Kim came out and said “that his wife and He would love to have me come stay at his place”. It rained and blew hard that night and in the morning I did just that moved inside for a couple of restful nights as the wind raged outside. But one can not complain about the wind. You can not fight it or cuss at the wind because as soon as you do it will be gone and you will be left with bugs and heat and praying for the wind to return. I have been visiting all morning. Have seen an extraordinary doll collection that Ron Lamont’s wife, Stella has. I have picked up a few things at the Salvation Army that Ron and Kim run.Kim is a man of many talents, a licensed farrier a very fine leather worker,welder, and he and his father have traveled extensively working with the Fish Game and Wildlife dept. He is also a devoted animal lover, as is Melody. Melody’s and Kims home was a lovely blend of old and new. I have only seen one similar when coming thru Texas at Holly and Tommy Nixon’s home. Homes, ranch houses and railroad houses that have been refashioned with creative antiques and new ideas, beautifully done to welcome visitors and also I think to stimulate the mind.
I must still pick up a package at the post office and pick up a few things at the grocery before heading out in the morning. Kindersley is a busy town, the oil fields and grain/agriculture has the town prospering and growing. A friendly town, another stop and another huge slice of hospitality so like the Saskatchewan’s– they are famous forit.
I am emailing from the private home of June and Darby Roy who have been gracious enough to invite all of us into their lovely home west of town. Laundry is drying behind me in the clothes dryer and my belly is so full of delicious food that June has been cooking. The rains have been hard and steady all week and it has given me time to visit and visit I have. On the way into town I met Donna Waldner and her father on the gravel road 15 miles east of town, Actually I flagged them down to ask for directions. Well Donna was out of that old truck and at my side in a second and we just made a connection right away, she came out later that evening with her mother and her two teenage children when I was camped down the road a few miles. Her and June are good friends and it has been a treat to spend time with these women. They are horse healers using healing touch to make incredible changes on injured or sick horses. They worked on Hart and then they worked on my old body. Both Hart and I agree, we are feeling pretty darn good. Now June has made us a Canadian treat called Puffed Wheat Cake and it is made of Puffed Wheat and peanut butter and more butter and sugar and it is to die for. I am gaining to much weight and Hart will complain when I get back on in the morning. The first week in town was spent at the Kinetic Park the fair/rodeo grounds ,event center and agricultural center. I had to go into the city hall and tell the powers that be what a fine facility they had. A blue ribbon facility is what I said. It offered me and my horses a safe clean sheltered place when we rode into town. I stay at many of these centers in the states but this one was exceptionally nice. It offered camping and horse arenas a dog friendly park and a clean new shower facility. Plus a Mennonite historical town and park, a large indoor event building and so much more. It was quite busy the whole time I was there. Thank you to all of the maintenance men and the girls in the office that made my stay at Kinetic Park so enjoyable. I was warm safe and dry as the week of rain and storms set in. I must also say thank you to Ed and Barb Luchenski who helped Emily when when caught a ride via an automobile- into town and had to wait for me to ride in 2 days later. Ed and Barb are what I call “Trail Angels” and they helped Emily by putting her up a couple of nights and then making sure she arrived at the bus depot on time and were so very helpful and kind in every way.
Swift Current is a town full of parks and luscious greenery, very pretty. Emily and I ate at Cafe Central, downtown on main street. Speciality crepes with out of this world flavors kept appearing at our table colorful and decoratively served. Flavors from around the world. Wonderful place to eat. The post office had mail waiting for me and the library had several computers available where Emily and I caught up on our emails. I am of course going to miss Emily but I also understand her decision to not continue with the ride. We really did have many good laughs and long talks but like she said it takes more than curiosity to long ride. But don’t think that Emily is gone. She will continue to assist with the website and she will also continue to work with a group of women from California on a documentary that tells the story of these long rides that I continue to do, continue to love continue to grow and learn from. So I head back out in the morning. Donna is coming over so I will have her and June waving me on with our noses faces north. I will tell you one thing Saskatchewan is premier long riding country. Wide ditches, excuse me, CLEAN wide ditches, green grass and lots of small ponds and creeks, the frosting is the friendly folks that dot the country side.
Until later Happy Trails your lady long rider Bernice Ende
After one month out, Bernice and I will be parting ways, however we do so with smiles on our faces and projects continuing!
I have definitely been able to experience some of the daily joys, the many surprises, and the beauty of the communities, people, and landscapes that one encounters travelling by horse and foot. However, the life of a Lady Long Rider is much more intense, fast-paced, and physically strenuous than I ever could have conceived. Bernice and I trained while in Forsyth to help prepare me physically and on horseback for this adventure, but truly understanding what this type of long riding is like was impossible for her to clearly portray and me to fully grasp. It has been a challenging but rewarding month on the road with Bernice, but this month has also made me realise that it takes much more than curiosity to do this for 6 months. When coming out and agreeing to join the ride, I had a deep curiosity about the communities we would pass and the people we would get to know, which one cannot do travelling by car at 70 mph. After becoming good friends with Bernice I had a curiosity about understanding, at a deeper level, what her life is like on the road. I had the curiosity of seeing beautiful, rural, western landscapes going at 3-4 mph. However, I have realised that my curiosity does not match a desire to continue the ride for the 6 months – it truly takes a vision, and for many, a long time dream to long ride like this. With Bernice’s support and enthusiasm, I think I could have finished the six months, but it would be me finishing for the sole purpose of finishing and not out of truly wanting to continue. Going that route would have felt dishonest to myself and perhaps would have muddled the process for both of us.
After having good long talks with Bernice, I will be heading out of Saskatoon to visit friends and family back east before heading back out to Montana in the fall to meet up again with Bernice and work with Lise Swenson on putting together a documentary on Bernice, the Lady Long Rider.
I graciously thank Bernice for opening up her home and her life to me. I appreciate and love her friendship, and I have gained an even deeper respect for her and the life she has chosen for herself (or that has chosen er), as it is one few could do, but it is one that brings her much happiness and discovery. I am very excited to meet up with her again and shoot some footage of her north of NW Montana. As you all know who follow the ride, Bernice is an inspiration to many, and it would be wonderful to be able to project her ever evolving story, the image of the rider and horse, and the dynamism of who she is and what she does to a larger audience.
Thank you all for the support and encouragement, and there have been no regrets from either of us! Much learned and much experienced.
We both continue on with a strong friendship, good energy, and smiles on our faces.
– I will also be posting many more photos and stories in the next week or two when I have access to more time at a computer!