Reports on my cycle trip around the World (by Ernest Markwood)
Friday, 19 July 2013
THE SOUTH WEST
If you happen to be looking at the world map, then this region of Canada may seem more like the North West (but it is obviously the South West of Canada, where I have been cycling for the past couple of weeks.
Yes, this region is fairly flat (but not a snooker table). The roadside scenery consists mainly of prairy cattle fields and cultivated grain crops, and it is not too difficult for cycling. As I've mentioned in my previous post, the wind can help me, or it may be a serious hazard - depending on the direction.
When I last did an update of this blog, I was at the home of Bonnie and Doug in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Subsequently they took me on a tour of the town (that's how I get to know more about these places), and the morning I left there with a full stomach and plenty of food for the road. For the next day or two the breeze was mostly in my favour, and I therefore made good time. Within three days I was at the home of the next Warmshowers host, Glenda, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
At the provincial border line Saskatchewan was labelled "naturally", so I took it seriously and camped up on a bird-watching platform that night. In the early hours the storm would have made me fly with the birds, but there was a solid railing to which I had tied the tent (luckily!). The road in this region seems to follow the busy Canadian Pacific Railway, and I've included a number of pics showing the railway, the fields, or both!
Due to some nice tail breezes, I arrived at Warmshowers host Glenda, in Moose Jaw town, a day early. There were 6 other (3 unrelated groups) cyclists and a support driver already there, but Glenda was not bothered by that. Ironically, the organization which had brought us all there is called "Wamshowers", and Glenda's water heater had just broken. Unphased, she marched us 1 by 1 down the road to her friends Joan and Pat, where we all had a warm shower (and a good chat). Incidently, their last name is "Murphy" - now I wonder if that had nothing to do with the broken geyser? In the 2 days that I stayed there, Glenda piled on the good food, some of it learned from her Mennonite heritage. Her husband Larry is an African American from the "Deep South", and Glenda jokes that she married him because she could be certain they weren't related! Although it was hard to leave there, I got back on the road with a flask of soup, home baked muffins, and a pack of lentils (which I have already used for a stew). In any case, a reporter from the local newspaper came out to interview me, and the next day I was on THE PAGES.
Heading East from Saskatchewan into Monitoba province, I found myself pedaling hard into the wind, and one day I decided by 1pm (50 km) that I'd had enough, and camped in a farmer's barn close to the roadside. My decision to call it a day had been hastened by the storm which I could clearly see heading my way, straight ahead. Well, luckily, by the time the storm broke I already had my camp set up in the mouth of the barn, but the way these storms go with the swirling gusts, it still managed to get some things wet! Earlier in the day I'd stopped at the visitor centre of Indian Head village to get some water and use the toilet (and the ladies looking after the place took my pic, I may also have made their local paper)!
The following day the breeze was mostly up my ass, and late in the afternoon I decided that 230 km had been enough for one day, so I pulled into the small country town of Oak Lake to see what I could see. Suddenly I was hauled in by another cyclist, who traveling in the opposite direction and had obviously seen me pass. At first I assumed that he may be from East Asia, but as it turned out he was from Toronto. He pulled up alongside me, put his arm across my shoulders, and with his "smartphone" he snapped a pic of him and me - his new best friend. In a flash he was off in search of formal accommodation (without divulging his name or asking mine). I turned around and noticed retired farmers Marie and Bill Barron laboring in their impressive veg garden. I enquired about the usual (water and camp site), but before long my tent was pitched on their lawn, my clothes were in the washer, and I was under the shower. It got better from there, as I found myself propped up at the table with a cold beer in hand, and hearty farm food was presented.
The following night it looked like rain again, I asked at a farm and Janet said OK I could camp on her horse's hay under a barn roof (yes it did rain, and hard!). John in particular was an armchair traveler dreaming of getting to faraway places, and I told him stories while I was happily chugging down his beer (quite aptly, his last name is Mc Entee - rather close to the famed Mc Ginty Irish pubs).
Well, it didn't take me all that long to get to Winnipeg (half way between Vancouver and Toronto), where I am staying tonight with Warmshowers hosts Art and Sue. They have stuffed me full of pizza, which was great as I haven't had that Western "delicacy" for some time now. I'm also using their internet to post this update.
Daily distances cycled since my last update from Medicine Hat have been:- Gull Lake 189 km; Morse 120 km; Moose Jaw 135 km; Indian Head 146 km; Wolseley 52 km; Oak Lake 230 km; Carberry 99 km; Oakville 124 km; and Winnipeg 60 km. The total distance cycled so far in one month in Canada is 2 683 km, and the total distance cycled so far on this trip is 112 483 km.
My bike (Old Saartjie) on the first day of this trip, 27 March 2007.
PLEASE HELP TO KEEP OLD SAARTJIE'S WHEELS ROLLING: In order to fund this cycle trip I'd sold everything I had, but that has long gone. Please help if you can! If you want to contribute, then please contact me on my e-mail, and I will give you details. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My Cycle Route
Starting in Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 March 2007 - 141 941 km so far
My name is Ernest Markwood, and I am a South African formerly from Cape Town. I am a Research Psychologist by profession, and operated a Market Research business before embarking on this journey. I sold my posessions and took off by bicycle all the way through Africa from Cape Town. Since then I've proceeded via the Middle-East through Turkey, the Caucusus, Iran, Sub-Continent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal), China, South-East Asia, Indonesia, Australia, South- and Central America, and the USA, crossing Canada from the West to East and then all the way down the East coast of USA, and Jamaica. Currently my mission is to close gaps in order to form a continuous route around the world. I left Cape Town on 27 March 2007. This was not intended to be a race, but rather an experience (and so it is!).
Me (Ernest), on one of my better days
. . . . on this trip I have looked like this . . . .
- - - also like this . . .
. . . . and I've even looked like this!
I have not been cycling on my own for this entire trip. Leana and I left together on 27 March 2007 from Cape Town, South Africa (our former hometown). Since then we have cycled separately at intervals, although in total we have been together much of the time. We split in 2013. For more about her see leananiemand.org.za