Have you ever driven across the plains of Saskatchewan? Growing up as kid, I can remember multiple driving trips across this Canadian Province.
While in college, over New Years Eve, I almost froze to death one night in -70 degree wind chill temperatures; because the heater in my car died. That was a LONG night with a story for another time. Do you believe in miracles?
Driving across Saskatchewan was a regular thing for me as a child. My mom is Canadian, so we spent many family vacations exploring the beautiful landscape of our Northern neighbor. While on our journeys, my turn behind the wheel always seemed to occur during the early AM shift. I can think of so many different outings when I drove across the plains of Saskatchewan, listening to “Murder Mystery” on the radio, enjoying the Northern Lights and star-filled skies, while my mom, dad, and three siblings slept in the family station wagon. I was only fourteen years old at the time but in those days, one could secure your driver’s license at that age. Add to this the truth that I grew up on and around the farm. My first solo automobile drive came at the age of seven (7). I still remember vividly that experience. I felt so scared driving our neighbors pick-up into town; sitting on a couple of phone books to help me see over the dashboard. Those were different times back then.
Fast forward to today.
Five week from now, I will once again find myself traveling across Canada; only this time I will be riding a motorcycle.
In a recent phone call to my Uncle Roy, I sought out his advice as to where I might visit in Saskatchewan. If anyone would know the secret jewels in this lonely landscape, it would be Smitty. His advice caught me a little bit off-guard.
“Mike, if I were you, I would stay in Alberta as much as you can.”
Wow. AVOID Saskatchewan? That was NOT the recommendation I was expecting.
Let me be very clear: my Uncle Roy Smith LOVES this Canadian Providence. As a Saskatchewan wheat farmer, who raised his family there, it would be hard to find someone more loyal to this flat spot of dirt. That being said, because of the financial woes of his beloved prairie land, many of the once blacktop roads have now disintegrated into gravel. Definitely NOT the ideal surface for a big Cruiser motorbike.
My Uncle also extolled the truth that I would likely face serious road competition with large semi’s, farmland grasshoppers, and possibly even mischievous hockey hoodlums looking for an out-of-Country motorcycle to steal. For a hockey-loving, back-bacon eater, my once-husky, convertible driving outdoorsman Uncle thought it safer for me to ride in Canada’s wealthier Province. I guess he really does love this South of the border nephew of his.
From his perspective, only a cocky American would consider going against the grain of such experienced, sage wisdom and venture into the outskirts of nowhereville. Hmmm.
And then . . . he surprised me again.
“Have you ever visited the small farming community of Burstall,” he asked. “No,” I replied. “What is in Burstall?”
“Why THAT is where Grandpa and Grannie first moved and lived after arriving into Canada, by boat, from their homeland in Siberia/Russia. How had I never heard of OR visited Burstall before? And just like that a new point of interest was added to my itinerary.
I guess I WILL be venturing into the danger zone among the wild, Saskachewan pioneers. Awesome!
When was the last time YOU ventured to a place that was connected to your generational heritage? You certainly don’t need to ride a motorcycle to check things out; although I HIGHLY recommend such a mode of transportation.
Needless to say, my upcoming summer road trip will NOW feature a jaunt into the outskirts of Saskatchewan; where I hope to capture a glimpse of where my 50% Canadian heritage got it start. And if luck holds out, I’ll stay out of trouble with the rock-spitting Semi’s, motorcycle coloring bugs, or toothless, hungry for some action, Canadian hockey players. Eh!