Great day to tour the countryside

Autumn colours and ferry, Highway 782, St. Laurent, SK (Darrell Noakes)

Autumn colours and ferry, Highway 782, St. Laurent, SK (Darrell Noakes)

We have been experiencing an uncharacteristically warm autumn. Yesterday, for example, it was reported on the news that Saskatchewan broke 27 daytime high temperature records. I guess it’s only fair. We had such a long, cold winter, followed by a delayed, cool spring. So far this fall, we have yet to get an overnight frost. Winds have been light, too. As a result, leaves are turning brilliant shades of yellow and orange, clinging to their trees, except for occasionally drifting lazily to the ground.

You can’t let this kind of weather go to waste. On Sunday, we took a drive up to St. Louis, mainly to check on progress of the new bridge, but also to see how things were looking at Riverlot Orchards winery and their new bistro overlooking the river. We decided to tour up the river valley as much as possible, taking the bridge east of Rosthern, then cruising up Highway 782 past Batoche and St. Laurent. Even at a leisurely pace, it seemed that the winery materialized into view quickly. Continue reading

Quest for coffee

I love a strong cup of Dark French roast to start the day, especially when I’m travelling. That first sip of Joe breathes an air of familiarity into whatever corner of the world that you might find yourself. It grounds you.

 (Darrell Noakes)

Mmm. . . . first coffee of the day, a rare treat on this tour. Binscarth Regional Park, Manitoba. (Darrell Noakes)

Camp coffee is my favourite. The aroma wafting through the morning air starts the day off right. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, or if it’s minus 40 degrees Celsius. Coffee makes every day warm and sunny.

I don’t mean cowboy coffee, either, although that’s pretty good — coarsely ground beans dropped into a tall enamel coffee pot that has been brought to a boil, then left to cool slightly (a dash of cold water helps settle the grounds just before serving).

I prefer to travel with one of my little macchinetta coffee makers, setting the pot on a compact alcohol stove to heat and brew while I go about other camp chores or preparing breakfast. Whether I’m bike camping or car camping, it’s always possible to find someplace to tuck the coffee supplies. Continue reading

Sagging for GASP 2013

GASP 2013, Lake of the Prairies (Darrell Noakes)

A broken spoke can really wreck your day, especially if it’s an outside spoke on the sprocket side of your rear wheel. Fortunately, someone had a spare “S” spoke for such emergencies, and we got our cycling colleague back on the road in fairly short order. GASP 2013, Lake of the Prairies (Darrell Noakes)

“So, what does ‘SAG’ mean, anyway?” someone asked.

Well, as long as I can remember, cyclists where I grew up referred to the support vehicle that accompanied them on trips as the “sag wagon”. Where the name came from, nobody really knew. What the term meant, everybody had their own opinion.

On the club tours that characterized my early tour experiences, the sag wagon was there to offer support and encouragement to tired riders, besides carry gear. We referred to the driver as “mom”, regardless of her or his gender or age, knowing that whoever was in charge of the van would look out for us and take care of whatever we needed. Continue reading

Summer nights at the beach

Burger Buoy, Manitou Beach, Victoria Day Weekend Saturday Night (Darrell Noakes)

Burger Buoy, Manitou Beach, Victoria Day Weekend Saturday Night (Darrell Noakes)

When I was growing up, we never had summer nights at the beach. There were plenty of beaches — Christina Lake, Champion Lakes, Kootenay Lake, Arrow Lakes, probably many I never heard of — that people went to. A lot of my friends’ families had cabins at “the beach”, and they went there regularly. We didn’t do that.

Instead, we went camping, often roughing it for weeks at a time, staying at old forestry camps up in the back country of the West Kootenay region, mainly up around Whatshan, Mosquito (aptly named!) and Caribou lakes. I really enjoyed those trips and still cherish the memories of them (even Mosquito Lake), but I never experienced the phenomenon known as “going to the cabin” or “going to the beach”. Continue reading

Banking on words

Crawford's Used Books, Perdue, Saskatchewan.I was just thumbing through an obviously well loved, but also well cared for, copy of the Money-Saving Cookbook by Ida Bailey Allen, published by Nelson Doubleday Inc., 1942. Three years into the Second World War, on the heels of the decade-long Great Depression, folks on the home front no doubt would have appreciated whatever advice they could find on how to stretch scarce resources to make ends meet.

I really enjoyed that warm September day in 2011 when we found that cookbook. I had received an assignment from Westworld Saskatchewan Magazine to photograph Ralph Crawford for a back-of-book piece about his bookstore, Crawford’s Used Books, in Perdue, 60 km west of Saskatoon. Continue reading