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A Prairie Drive

Preface and Reflections


This story is probably more a documentary than any other kind of writing. My art form was never out of my purview, but much more happened on this tour. My emotions and memories were stirred—something I had hoped for.


I can’t explain why I feel good and so connected when I’m on the prairies and involved with prairie folk. I’ve tried and end up with a stream of cliché statements, which really isn’t the way I think. I’ve concluded that it has a lot to do with where I lived when I was very young, during those first five to ten formative years, when impressions are made and strongly held. During most of those years I lived in Regina. My family also had a summer cottage at Katepwa Lake in the Qu’Appelle Valley. Then, in 1951, during our move from Regina to Calgary, I stayed with my aunt and uncle on their mixed farm near Calgary, yet well out in the country. It was there that I learned how to ride a horse, feed chickens, and chase pigs into their pens. I watched threshing machines at the end of their working life, connected with a long belt to the flywheel on a tractor to drive the mechanism, threshing the crop that was brought by wagon to the machine. I was too small to do anything useful with the threshing crews. Further, my uncle was continually watching me as he knew how inquisitive I was about machinery. I had to find my own way around, away from the threshing machines, so I generally wandered about on the flat prairie and down wooded coulees. I liked it all, although I was intimidated by most of the farm animals, many of which were bigger than me.


You will read in my story about peaceful moments overlooking the South Saskatchewan River valley, lying in the grass, staring at the sky, and hearing the fauna of the prairies all around me. I have seen and heard all those things since I was very young and they make me feel at home. I also think my family history plays a part. My parents died before I was twenty-four years old. I never had the chance to know them as an adult. My good feelings about them are therefore compressed into those years before I became a self-absorbed teenager A good portion of those years were on the prairies, thus the emotional link for me.

I enjoyed visiting the prairie parks on this trip—more than I expected. They were more remote and less commercial than what I’m used to in the mountain parks. They were like environmental parks rather than government sponsored resorts.


I want to say something about my photography. I started out vowing that I would not get caught up in picturesque, documentary photography, but rather pursue an artistic approach by trying to make images that would tell their own story. There are many claims that this approach to storytelling has been done successfully; however, I have not found an example that tells me much of a story and I certainly haven’t had much success doing that myself. I seem to need the words and the images together, hopefully synergistically, to create a story worth telling.


One last, biological, note: Some define the seasons on the prairies as Fall, Winter, Spring, Mosquitoes, Summer, Fall. I was fully expecting that and travelled prepared. What a pleasant surprise to find that the hot, dry weather of May and June had not permitted the mosquitoes to hatch. That’s why some of my reflective writings about sitting in the grass viewing those memorable scenes were possible. What a treat. If the weather had been the opposite, wet weather followed by hot weather, some of those situations would have been unbearable. I know, I’ve had that opposite experience before.


 

Why are you going for a drive in the prairies and into Saskatchewan? There’s nothing there,” exclaimed several work-mates as we stood around, drinking our morning coffee.


With some passion I answered them, “Well, that’s just not true. It is great place to explore.”

And so went the banter with the folks at coffee. I don’t argue with such opinions anymore. It seems like a waste of time. I left the conversation knowing that I was going to get more out of a trip to the prairies than anyone in that circle.


On this trip I planned to visit two places I had never been to before, the Great Sandhills near the Saskatchewan town of Leader, and Grasslands National Park near Val Marie, close to the American border in Saskatchewan. In the Grasslands I wanted to climb to the top of 70 mile Butte, the highest place in the park.


I planned two overnight stops—the first at Empress, Alberta, and the second at Swift Current, Saskatchewan. From there on I had no firm plans.


I left Cochrane very early in the morning with a plan to take highways straight east of Calgary all the way to Empress, through country I’d never seen before. One thing unique about the direct route I took is that once I left Delacore, 5 km east of Calgary, there were no inhabited towns or villages until I got to Empress.

About 9 am, after I passed by the unviable hamlet of Sunnynook, I saw a sign pointing to Carolside Campground. There was nothing there except a local community campground that had four trees for shade beside a small reservoir. In the 1920’s, there had been a nearby town called Carolside, complete with a grain elevator, but there was nothing visible from the highway now. Beside the highway, I noticed a cutting through the land that looked like it was the roadbed of an abandoned railway. As I drove further along the highway and into a small depression in the land I could see off in the distance a railway trestle built of wood. From where I stood it still looked functional. I’ve since learned that railway was called the Peavine Line and it ran from a junction on the Hanna CNR line south through Sheerness, Sunnynook, and Carolside as well as many other small and now abandoned towns. The railway terminated somewhere north of the Red Deer River at Stephenville or Steveville (different maps have different names). It was built in 1920, but abandoned later as the farming economics suffered from the 30’s drought and World War II. The original plan was to continue the line from Stephenville across the Red Deer River and all the way to Medicine Hat, but that last link was never started.

Abandoned Peavine Line at Carolside

As I continued eastward, the farmed fields became more sparse and dry looking. Then, I came to a change in the slope of the land which was the extreme north edge of the Red Deer River Valley on Highway 41. Soon, I had my first glimpse of Empress and her environs. The land in the depression that tilted toward the Red Deer River looked more productive than what I had just driven through. There were many newly planted green fields and the farm buildings were well maintained. It looked like these farms, on the edge of the river valley, were prosperous. Clearly, these farmers had access to water for irrigation. It all looked rather settled and peaceful.


'That's Empressive' store and cafe

In Empress, I found an eclectic store called That’s Empressive. There I met owners Ross and Pat and was treated to a tasty bowl of chilli for lunch. It was easy to strike up a conversation with those two and I learned how they came to Empress from Calgary, bought their establishment, and set up business. Their place had a bit of everything, from art to bits of hardware, cooked food, candy, soft ice cream, and gasoline. Pat told me that they had the gasoline pump and tanks installed to give people another reason to come to town. They went on to tell me that, as some businesses in the town closed down, they decided to include in their store some commonplace items that those stores used to sell.


Ross told me about the project they had in the town to fix up the old CPR railway station. When I told him about my interest in railways, he offered the keys for the station to me and said I could have a look inside.

CPR Station - Empress

Standing in the station where the station master would have sat, I could see that the route to the west and east were still visible, but the track was gone. The locals’ project to restore the station was well done, in my opinion. It is the only example in Alberta of a standard Plan X-12 Canadian Pacific Railway station. The high windows on the rail side of the station are one of the unique features of this plan. Later, Ross told me that the CPR had left a length of track with the town so they would have enough track to place some railway cars in front of the station, but nothing had been done about that to date.


When I dropped the keys back to Ross I asked him how I could get to a good viewpoint of the South Saskatchewan River. He gave me detailed instructions to get to dirt roads I never would have found on my own. It turned out those roads used to be the access to the abandoned Empress Ferry.


I followed the roads down to the edge of the river and found where the old Empress Ferry crossing was located. There lay the remnants of the cable ferry itself. One of the old cable pylons was visible across the river.

The abandoned Empress Ferry

Walking around the site of the ferry landing, I noticed many small, colourful cactus flowers growing tight to the ground. They were everywhere. I learned later that these are called cactus bean flowers by the locals, but formally they are a variety of ball cactus. The local name comes from the fact that the flower matures into a small bean and that can be used for making jam. I was told that these flowers don’t appear every year and needed the recent dry conditions to bloom. According to the locals, the show of them this year was the most prolific that they could remember.

Prairie Ball Cactus

I drove back up the road to the top of valley to look for a view that I liked, made a few photographs, and then left with a plan to come back to the same point at sunset.

I then went in search of the Sagebrush Art Studios. I had heard many good things about these art studios that are located near Empress. I was surprised to find the studios were actually 17 km east of Empress, in Saskatchewan.


Fran and Dean Francis are the artists who own and operate the galleries. They are both painters. Fran greeted me, showed me where the galleries were, and then left me on my own. I was accompanied for the rest of my visit by their Jack Russell terrier who kept track of me in a friendly way.

Sagebrush Studios

The galleries are three old churches which were dismantled at their original locations, moved, and then rebuilt. Fran and Dean’s home is also on the property. They did the restoration and rebuilding themselves and I thought their craftsmanship was exceptional. Those old churches made excellent art galleries, as though they were built for that purpose to start with.


The land around the galleries had been landscaped in masterful way. Considering that it all started as an ordinary farmer’s field in 1997, I think Dean and Fran have accomplished a lot and they’ve done it in style.


Only Dean’s paintings were hanging in the galleries when I visited. What an artist! The aesthetics of his paintings were stirring. I found a few favourites and wished that we had the room on our walls at home, as well as the money to buy one of his larger pieces.

I arrived back at That’s Empressive in time for supper. Ross and Pat only offer one dish for supper, so there was no need for a menu. Chicken and vegetables were served that night.

You can’t be there without having a conversation with one or the other. At the end of our chat Ross suggested that I come by in the morning when the locals come in for their coffee. He said they arrive between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning and leave by 8:00, when many go home for breakfast and then to work. I promised myself that I would be there.


After supper I made my way back to the hill above the Empress ferry and set up my camera to await the sunset. I hoped I would be able to include in my images the classical mauve colour that often occurs low in the sky on the prairies at dusk, but that didn’t happen that evening. I lay on the grassy ground to take in all that was there. Besides the view, the sounds of prairies permeated the air. The meadowlarks, which I rarely hear or see where I live, surrounded me and were singing their hearts out. The curlews flew around, squawking as they checked me out. I’m sure their nests were nearby.


Just as the sun started to slip below the horizon, a pack of coyotes across the river valley started howling as they greeted each other, probably for the evening hunt. That lasted for about five minutes; then, shortly after they stopped, another pack on my side of the valley started up. They seemed so close that I thought I should be able to see them with my binoculars, but I couldn’t. They probably knew I was there and were gathered in a depression, out of my sight.

South Saskatchewan River valley near the old Empress Ferry

All these sounds plus the prairie sunset and the dry grass smells stirred in me the emotion that I hoped to experience on this trip. I think that emotion was from me remembering happy times with my mom and dad when we used to spend my childhood summers in the Qu’Appelle Valley. During those times I heard these sounds regularly and having all these things stir my senses felt good. I was at peace with myself.


Coffee the next morning at That’s Empressive was fun. When I arrived at 7 am, there were seven or eight men and women sitting around a table having their coffee and chatting. Ross immediately grabbed a loose chair, pulled it up to the table, motioned for me to sit down, and then introduced me to the group. The question period started immediately. They were interested in what I was doing in Empress and I was interested in hearing some of their stories.


I told them about my time as a young engineering summer student in the summer of 1963, working at a small village called Cavendish, just a few stops west on the railway from Empress. One chap at the table said he remembered the railway when it was operating back in those days and said at that time the CPR ran two trains a day, one in each direction.


During that long ago summer, I worked for Alberta Gas Trunk Line as a work camp swamp cook and a general roustabout doing all sorts of odd jobs for the company. Sometimes I was out walking the pipeline looking for leaks, sometimes I was whitewashing rocks and grass-whipping weeds at meter stations, and other times I was cleaning up around the company site and removing rattlesnakes that had appeared in people’s gardens. My work as a swamp cook was awful under some cooks and good fun under others. I enjoyed working with one cook in particular whose name was Jim. He would take me with him on his shopping trips to either Brooks or Empress. In those days, Empress was still thriving and had a school, hospital, bar, restaurant, hardware store, library, and other normal small town amenities. I remember, he always took me into the bar to have lunch. In those days I was still under age, but he covered for me and I never got booted out. When we came into town at the weekend he would sometimes buy me a beer, usually dressed up as a Bloody Mary with tomato juice. I didn’t like that much, but drank it anyway in order to not appear out of place. My youthful looks must have given me away, but I was naive enough to think otherwise.


As we talked more around the coffee table at That’s Empressive, I met one of the men who had worked for Alberta Gas Trunk Line as an operator. He said that all the housing and offices that I knew in 1963 in Cavendish were gone and it is now the site of a pipeline compressor station. I made a note to drive out via Cavendish the next time I travel to this place on the prairies.


A few of the people I talked to that morning were still farming and ranching. What was characteristic of all of the folk that I met is that they liked where they lived. I’m sure they were disappointed that Empress had lost so much of its vitality, but that was never part of the conversation. I wish I could have spent more time with these folk; even more, I wish I had brought along my recorder to document their stories. Unfortunately for me, most of them had to get back to their normal working day and the session broke up about half an hour after I arrived.


Shortly after coffee, I got underway on the next leg of my trip to Leader. I planned to take the Estuary Ferry across the South Saskatchewan. Driving down into the river valley to the ferry I again saw green fields and foliage surrounding prosperous looking farms. Both the north and south approaches to the ferry were heavily-treed.


The folks at coffee that morning warned me about the ferry man. They said he could be a bit cranky and I would have no luck getting passage across the river if I showed up between noon and 1 pm. That was lunchtime and it was ‘tools down’ at lunchtime for the ferry man. It turned out that it was a ferry woman running the ferry that day and she was very pleasant. We had a nice chat on the crossing. She was using the run-of-the-river method for moving the cable ferry across. This is where the rudders underneath are positioned to use the water to push the ferry forward, much like a sail is used on a sail boat. It works and we moved across at a good speed.

Estuary Ferry across the South Saskatchewan River

She told me, “Do you know, I prefer using the river to move the ferry? There is no noise from the winch motor and no vibration in the ferry. I also can hear all the birds singing and that makes it much nicer for me. I can’t always do it this way. Sometimes the river is flowing so slow that it is faster to move the ferry with the motor, but the flow should be pretty good for at least another month.”


One of my goals on the trip was to get to the place where the South Saskatchewan and Red Deer rivers meet. After I left the ferry and started up the south side of the river valley, I found a road that looked like it would get me there. The small gravel road quickly became a two-rut track that led off to the west, away from the main gravel highway and alongside large planted fields spread out on the river valley bottom. It was dusty, but the country had a familiar and welcoming feel to it in the eyes of this prairie boy. I finally got to a viewpoint and saw a rough track up a hill beside the river. I put the RAV4 into 4-wheel drive for the first time since we bought it and followed the track up a steep hill to a view point where I could see the full width of the river upstream. The sight took me aback. The river at the junction looked like it was about a kilometre wide. In the distance were the remnants of the CPR bridge crossing the river and the hill cuttings on the south bank marked where the railway used to run. That rail line ran between Swift Current and Bassano, through Leader and Empress. Beside serving all the towns along the way, it offered an alternate route for the mainline CPR.


I lay back on the dry grass on the hill for a while and took in everything I could about the place. It was peaceful, even with the many meadowlarks and blackbirds around, entertaining me with their songs.


Junction of the Red Deer River (on the right) & South Saskatchewan

Too soon I decided that I should get underway, but my visit to this place had been good and I won’t forget how peaceful and content I felt there, on that hill, overlooking the junction of those two major rivers.

I didn’t rush the few kilometre drive to Leader and when I saw an old barn standing on the horizon under a clear prairie sky, I stopped and got out of the car. It wasn’t too hot yet and the air was not only filled with that morning smell you get on the prairies of slightly damp grass, but again another chorus of grassland birds, singing their hearts out. I couldn’t identify all the sounds, but I could hear and see the meadowlarks, the robins, the curlews, and, of course, sparrows. Off in the distance was a pronghorn antelope looking up at me from its morning feed, ready to burst into a sprint across the field if I made the wrong move.

Lonesome Prairie Barn near Leader

I set up my camera on the tripod and took my time not only composing the image, but trying to get everything else out of my head in order to completely absorb where I was and what I was doing. This time, it seemed easy to do. After I finished making several photographs that interested me I sat down on the roadside and looked over the undulating fields disappearing into the distance with few trees in sight. There was one grove comprised of poplar and a few evergreens that would have formed a shelter belt for a farmer’s home and barn at one time in the distant past. If you are aware of the past on the prairies, you will notice how many such locations exist. It is a testament to the number of people who used to farm the land and to why there used to be so many small towns dotting the landscape. At any one of these towns you could look down a railway line in each direction and see the grain elevators of the next town.


At Leader I looked in earnest for the Rattlers Restaurant, which was evidently the best place for breakfast according to the folk in Empress. I drove around for about ten minutes looking for it, couldn’t find it. The Visitors Information Centre was closed, so I headed to the centre of town where locals were milling about the hardware store. There was a man loading something onto his flatbed truck so I stopped and shouted to him.


“Hi, can you help me out? I’m looking for a place for breakfast.”

“Oh, you need to go to Rattlers. They have the best meals in town.”

“Yah, that’s what I heard, but I’ve driven around and can’t find it.”

“Why don’t you follow me. I’m going there now for coffee. Where are you from?”

“I live in Cochrane in Alberta and I’m driving around western Saskatchewan to see some things I’ve never got to before. Today I’m going to the Sand Hills and then heading south to go to Grasslands National Park tomorrow.”

“Well, you’ll like the Sand Hills. My family owns the Sand Hills yuh know.”

“Really! I had no idea they were owned by someone other than the Province.”


We both got into our vehicles and I followed him to the restaurant. I kept thinking, what an incredible bit of serendipity to run into such a person by just stopping to talk to a stranger on the street.


We sat down in the restaurant together and he introduced himself as Gordon Both. He told me about his family history in the area, but took extra time to tell me about his father and how close they had been. His father, John Both, died in 2007. Gordon told me about how he had a sign made with a story and picture of his father and erected it at the Sand Hills visitor parking lot. He described how to get there so I wouldn’t miss it. His father was a rancher and one of the older set of real cowboys in the area. It was clear he had considerable respect for his father and what he had accomplished.


“Where do you live now, Gordon?”

“Oh I have a pretty large spread of land just north and west of Leader. It has been in the family for a long time, but I’m the one running it now. I have a mix of farming and ranching, but neither is going to be so good this summer I’m afraid.”

“Why both of them?” I asked. “I have heard from others that the hay and grain crops were going to be a bit of a disaster, because of the lack of rain, but what is the problem with the cattle.”

“Well it kinda follows from the same thing. When the hay crop is not good that means I have to buy hay to feed the cattle. That pretty well knocks out the profit. I think, if we don’t get some rain soon, I’ll be selling my cattle while they still have good weight.”


Again, another bit of evidence of the risks farmers and ranchers live with. I’m not sure I could live in that economic environment, but I guess you get on with what you know and do your best.


Gordon talked a bit about the abundant wildlife that he has either living on his property or that migrate their way through his property. He said, “Throughout the year I get all sorts of wildlife at my place. I can’t name all the bird species but they include ducks, several types of geese, hawks, eagles, owls including snowy owls, prairie chickens, grebes, coyotes, antelope, deer, moose, black bears, snakes—rattlers and bull snakes as well as garter snakes, skunks, muskrats, and others that I can’t think of right now. Of course there are all sorts of grassland birds that live in our fields. I would miss them all if I had to live in the city.”

We had a good talk for another twenty minutes or so, then Gordon excused himself as he had to get back to work. I finished my breakfast and headed for Sceptre, the next town down the line. That is were there was a visitors centre for the Sand Hills and where the country road to the main viewing area starts. I started down that road with expectations of great expanses of sand, but that wasn’t what I found.

An Overview of the Sand Hills

When I got to the Sand Hills parking lot I saw a treed hill in front of me and one long sand dune off to the side. It was about 20 metres high and a few hundred metres long. At the parking lot was the large sign that Gordon had told me about—the tribute to his father. At the top of the hill I saw something else that Gordon had told me about—a wooden arch with many pairs of his dad’s cowboy boots nailed to the wood. I thought it was amusing that some of the people climbing the hill that day to look at the arch took more photographs of the arch with the boots than they did the rest of the Sand Hills.

Gordon Both's Tribute to his father; an arch with his dad's cowboy boots nailed to it.

Once I climbed up to the top of that first stationary sandhill with the cowboy boot arch at the top, I could look off in the distance to the west and the south, and see a myriad of sand hills spotting the landscape. I headed off in the direction of a couple of large sand hills, stopping often to think about how I could depict them appropriately in an image. At one point I saw some motion in a grove of small trees. It looked like an eagle or large hawk that had captured prey and was killing it with its talons. I took out my binoculars to have a better look. What I then saw was a small deer lying in the shade with its large ears sticking up above the bushes. Its ears were moving around like a hawk’s wings would be if it was trying to balance while killing prey. I imagined the deer had spotted me and was working to pick up any sound I was making. I was surprised that I noticed it at all as the camouflage in that spot was perfect. We stared at each other for a couple of minutes and then it stood up and ambled away, out of sight.


I turned my thoughts back to my photography and started experimenting with images. I wanted more than a documentary image and challenged myself to look harder. I got a few results I am happy with.


The area between the sand hills was covered with trees and low bushes with a predominance of a type of juniper that grew and spread tight to the ground. There was lots of open space between the foliage, so I could walk comfortably wherever I wanted. I found a shady spot with a view of the sand hills under the blue sky dotted with puffy clouds, took off my camera pack and laid on the ground so I could stare at the scene. It was perfect that day with lots of white, puffy clouds sliding across an expanse of brilliant blue sky.


I thought I might fall asleep and have a short nap, but couldn’t. I sat there thinking of nothing but my surroundings for a while before slowly making my way back to the car. I packed up and headed back to the main road, Highway 32, then off to the southeast and towards my destination for the day, Swift Current.


That afternoon drive took me past Lancer, Abbey, Shackleton, Cabri, and through some very productive looking farm land. Given the tracts of farm land which spread before me as far as my eyes could see, I was surprised to find every railway siding that served the town grain elevator was lined up with oil tank cars. I suppose that was an indication of the alternate economics of the area—oil.

A current product from the prairies–oil.

The next day I left Swift Current early and made my way to Val Marie, near the American border, to visit Grasslands National Park. That was a drive that I had done many times before, yet, crossing the wide valley where the Frenchman River flows, I was again impressed with what I saw—the cottonwood trees along the river and acres of lush farmland, spread throughout the bottom of the valley.


I had read on-line that the visitors’ centre in Val Marie wasn’t to be open on the day I was there so I was surprised to see the ‘Open’ sign on the building as I drove up. The young woman tending the centre was most helpful and gave me pamphlets and trail maps. When I asked her about the schedule for opening shown on the National Parks website she said, “Oh, I know we indicate some hours there, but if we’re here, we just open anyway.”


I was surprised how close the 70 mile Butte was to Val Marie. After a so-so latte at the local museum cum coffee house, I drove down to the trailhead and prepared for my climb up the butte. I thought I would encounter mosquitoes in this locale for sure, so I donned my all-Canadian bug jacket. Again, with the hot, dry weather and the wind in southern Saskatchewan that summer, the mosquitoes were few and far between. I soon shedded my extra clothes.


Parked at the same trailhead was a Volkswagen Van, similar to one that Les and I had many years ago. The people from the van were having their lunch at a picnic table so I wandered over to talk with them. I met a woman with her young niece, both from Minnesota. They had been driving through the prairies for a couple of weeks and having a good time together. I told them about our van, then the aunt told me they had owned a couple of Volkswagen Vans and loved travelling in them.


I said my goodbyes, had a look at the sign warning visitors of rattlesnakes and wild buffalo, then headed up the trail toward to the butte. Given the information on the website I had expected a rugged, unmarked trail, but it was very well laid out and used by many. The little draws, where water would run off after a rainstorm, even had small wooden bridges built over them. As I climbed the butte my views of the surrounding prairie constantly changed. This day the sky was mostly covered in cloud. There were small openings of sunlight and an occasional light rain shower. The wind was constant. The winds in that area start around the Crowsnest Pass in Alberta and spread across the southern prairies. A calm day is rare.

Dry land wildflowers

The path up to the butte was lined with colourful wildflowers. There were even some right at the top. I found it hard to understand how these flowering plants could survive year after year in the harsh climate they must endure—little moisture, constant wind, and bitter winters.


The top really was a butte—flat and wide. I looked around for a bit, made a few photographs and then made my way down the other side and back to the parking lot. My timing was good as a van full of tourists had just arrived with a park guide from the visitors’ centre. These trails were definitely not isolated and unused like I had thought they were.

Eagle Butte from 70 Mile Butte, looking West

I went back to the museum in Val Marie for my afternoon coffee. On this second visit I took some time to look at the exhibits and peruse the books they had for sale. I was amazed at the number and variety of books by Saskatchewan authors that they had. Many of them looked appealing and I could have spent a few hundred dollars if I’d let myself go. There were several good photographic books on the Grasslands and southwest Saskatchewan. Like so much I see these days, everything has been almost over photographed and there is little left to photograph that is unique anymore. Mind you, that is the challenge—to visualise my own and hopefully unique image.


I had seen what I had come to see on this trip. There is much more to experience at Grasslands, but I need to come and spend several days in the area. I am sure I will.

There was still time in the day to drive as far as Medicine Hat, so I phoned ahead for a motel and got underway. Again, I had driven that route many times, so the trip was uneventful. However, I did stop at the still viable hamlet of Orkney to take a photograph of an old church. I had done that before, but on this day there was a storm south of the church and I thought that would make a good backdrop for my image.

Church on Priory Lane in Orkney, southern Saskatchewan

The next day was that long, boring drive from Medicine Hat to Calgary on the TransCanada. It was an easy drive though, and I was home in Cochrane by early afternoon.


The trip had not taken much time, but I saw what I planned and had learned a great deal. I know I will go back to the Grasslands Park again to explore that country, but I will also continue to meet and talk to the people who live on the prairies whenever I get the chance. Those that I met on this trip liked where they lived. I understand why.

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