This time Elsie is helping write this, so it will at least be polite this time....

We left Fort Steele on Wednesday September 11, 2002(remember that date?).  It sure was nice there, and we will certainly return in the Spring or Early Fall.  Few people and very quiet.  Just what the "ole Doc" ordered for two frazzled retirees.  The way East led to the Crows Nest Pass, and the flat lands.  I was sure getting tired of mountain passes and huge hills.

Before we left, for the first time, I had to replace the propane in the first of our two supply tanks.  This was a virginal moment.  I had to take the tank out of the Folly and carry it around to the pump where it was weighed and then filled.  We had to pay 39.9 for each litre, and the total cost was 17.00.  I wonder if there was all that much put in, but the way they have this setup, you can not tell for sure just what you are getting.  Oh well, that one tank lasted us for the week in the interior as well as the week coming up here.  Talking about fuel usage ... with the truck the mileage is getting interesting.  Coming up from Vancouver, we were getting around 10 mpg and going from Osoyoos, it has not gotten much better.  Those passes sure sucked the diesel out of the truck.  I noticed that when filling up here in Fort Macleod, we now are getting 14 mpg even considering the Crowsnest Pass.  It will be fascinating to see what we get while we motor through the flat lands.

The trip out here was pretty uneventful, and the truck just rolled along.  We did stop at the Frank Slide viewpoint and read the inscriptions.  Interesting, but hardly "earthshaking" (yeah, I know it is a bad pun) for us.  We arrived in the Buffalo Plains RV park.  It is just 3 kms from Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump (no s**t[Elsie is editing this so ...] ... apparently some Indian decided that he would like to see the view from under the cliff as the buffalo were driven over the top.  That year the drive was particularly good, and there were lots of buffalo going for the drop.  Guess what ... the pile got very large, and he got a "smashed in head" ... Hence the name..)  Read here: this place is an Indian make work project.  It has been declared a World Heritage site by Fergie and Prince Andrew several years ago, so I guess that justifies them charging $8.50 per person. This designation puts it in the same league as the Pyramids, Taj Mahal etc. … a very, very large reach, me thinks.

As you park the car in the lot, there is a bus that will take you, what turns out to be, the 100 meters up to the start of the display. But, ... for a price, as we learned when we arrived at the display.   The building is pretty impressive and is built into the same limestone cliffs over which the Indians drove the buffalo.  You take an elevator up 4 floors and walk out to the “kill zone” and have a look.  Then you wander back in and then walk down the floors looking at Indian artifacts and dioramas that supposedly told the story of the Blackfoot here in this area and their use of the “jump”.  One board that I read, mentioned, I’m quite sure, that this area has been used since the 1700’s and more often then not, went generations without being used.  Just what the big deal was, I’m not sure, but all the people working there were of Indian status so draw your own conclusions.  The land is owned by the Govt of Alberta so the Indian boondoggle is not just confined to the Feds!

On leaving, we walked back to the truck in about 2 minutes -- without having to make a contribution to the bus driver.  We then headed to Fort Macleod as it was approaching 3:30, and we had to get dinner.  We had heard that there was an RV supplies store so we wanted to replenish our TP stock … 1.00 per role is expensive so we treat it as gold.  We drove through Fort Macleod and found the RV store, but there was not much there so we only bought the only package of TP.  Oh well .. conservation pays!!!

We have decided to head to Swift Current tomorrow.  It will be about a 5 hour drive on the bald prairie. It will be interesting to see just how tired I get driving.  In a car, I am usually good for 8 or 9 hours at a stretch, but towing the Folly, 4 hours and I find that I’m getting very tired.  Tomorrow will be fun!

On the way to Swift Current, Elsie sucked up enough courage to try to drive the "Folly".  I sat and chewed my fingernails and Elsie, after saying that she could never drive this thing over 80 kms, was charging along at 110kms.  So much for cowardice.  Fortunately, we hit a "police incident" and had to stop and wait.  Elsie relinquished the steering wheel, albeit very sadly, to me, and we continued at a more sedate 100kms.

Can we talk about "bugs" a bit???

The old joke ... "what is the last thing a bug sees as it hits your window" springs to mind.  The punch line is hereby omitted as Elsie will for sure edit it out anyway.  We still have some of the bug repellant left from our Africa wanderings, so we can deny most of the bugs their dinner on us.  The thought of the West Nile Virus is never from from Elsie's mind.  You should see the front of the Folly.  A razor blade scrape over one section on the front piece and we would ave meat for days.  Hmmmm, I wonder if the dogs would notice ....?

We entered Regina and got gas there to make sure that we did not run out as we headed to Moosomin.  Just outside of Regina the RV Gods realized that we were doing well, so they kicked up a little bit of joy to test us.  The wind blew like hell from the south, and we were heading due east.  The prairies are nothing it they are not predictable, so if we are going due east, and the wind was from the south, the slab-sided Folly took a direct hit for 300kms.  In my mirrors, I could see the tail end of the Folly swinging back and forth, and the truck moving to compensate.  The gusts were the worst part of it.  All of a sudden, the trailer would swing, and if we were on one of the very rare curves, it was hard to keep the Folly in one lane.  It was particularly pronounced when we hit the single lane parts of the Trans Canada.  As the wind blew, I was slowing down to be a little more safe.  The bugs were also affected and, believe it or not, Elsie's sided window was as bug splattered as the front windshield.  The little darlings were hitting the side of the truck at between 70 and 90 kms, we learned later.The wind, of course, had very little influence on the Semi’s and other cars.  I was down to 70 in the so-called 100kms limit.  This just irritated the peasants even more.  Unfortunately, I could not find any areas to pull off to let them pass.  So, the tension just increased in the truck.  The more the wind blew, the longer the lineup behind us was.  Needless to say, it was with a great amount of happiness that we finally found Moosomin.

There the mosquitoes really got serious.  Some of the damn things are the size of small robins and there is no way you can get safely away from them.  You can not go out the door without being a "Hemmingway-esque Moving Feast".  The "Wet Coast" looks very favourably to us right now.  The result was that we spent most of our time here indoors.  But, this was the place where we were going to re-visit Tantallon, Sask, and Beulah, Man, the birthplace of my father.

On Saturday morning, we headed out to the small town of Tantallon where one side of the Paynter family ran the general store for many years.  On arriving there, we met again Lillian Clarke whom we had met on our last trip in '94.  She proved to be incredibly kind, yet again.  She hopped into the truck and took us to the Tantallon Cemetery and then off to Spy Hill where there was local museum.  What a treasure pile.  In those two small buildings were many objects, relics and papers dealing with the original settlement of the area.  We found all sorts of material that related to the Paynters but had not enough time to look through it all.  Another trip will definitely be called for.

One interesting thing Lillian told us, as we rocketed along these gravel roads to Spy Hill, was about the cross road situation here in Sask..  The cross roads do not have stop signs, only yield signs, and the farmers figure that there will be no one on the road so why slow down.  I guess the yield signs are there only to be able to prove who was responsible for the accident in the resulting court case.

On the Sunday, we drove out to Beulah and stopped in to the house that Ena Steuart had lived in with her husband, Bill.  Both are gone now, but we met Fran and Dave Brooker who now live there.  Fran is Ena's daughter, so I guess that she is my 2nd cousin.  They both dropped all that they were doing, and showed us around the original Paynter Farm where my Dad was born.  Quite a strange feeling, I must admit.  The farm is 1/2 section and is currently being used by Dave and Francis's kids.  Sure nice to see.  After the tour there, we went to the Beulah Cemetery and saw the Paynter plot.  What with the Paynter clan getting so thin in numbers BC, it is a little scary to see that this is also happening in Manitoba.  Well, Tennyson was correct ... "The old order changeth, yeilding place to the new ..."

On Monday we left Sask. and continued east.  As our destination was Kenora Ontario, we had to cross Manitoba in one day.  The scenery changed, and Elsie continued to hope to spot a Moose.  All during the last trip in '94, she stared out the car window hoping against hope ... Sadly, the tradition continues and the elusive Moose remains an unfulfilled dream.  Though we did see the remains of one that had been hit earlier in the day by a semi trailer truck...  That didn't really count as there was not a lot left to look at....

In Kenora, the campsite had no drinking water so we could not fill up our fresh water tank.  The result was ... no breakfast and no showers the next morning.  Quelle disaster as it was going to be a long drive to Thunderbay.

One thing we did find was gas prices fluctuated here.  In Kenora there was a gas war going on.  Unleaded went for 51.9 and diesel was unaffected at 61.9.  So far, we had paid anywhere from 55.9 to 60.9.  I sure was upset with these prices, I can tell you.  When you fill up 125 litres a few cents does make quite a difference.  But, more of this was to come....

The gas prices for diesel continued to climb here in "Free Enterprise" Ontario.  Ralph Klein would be so pleased at the  skill of the local entrepreneur as they really soak it to those who can not complain...

After 3 loooong days of driving through Northern Ontario ... Kenora to Nipigon to Sault Ste. Marie  there is absolutely nothing interesting to say.  Except that the truck runneth well, the Folly runneth well also and Elsie is not doing badly either ....

We arrived in "The Soo" with no reservations as we thought "who the hell would be silly enough to come here now".  But, the RV gods spoke again loudly and clearly.  I guess we were getting cocky again and needed slapping down.  The KOA campground in The Soo is quite large with lots of the required pull throughs, so we pulled in, dead tired, after 8 1/2 hours on the road.  Guess what?  The entire campgrounds were reserved by a large American Caravan, and we could only find a site for one night.  Being so damn tired, after 3 long days of driving and 3 one night setups, I was prepared to kill someone, but saner heads prevailed (read Elsie), and we took the spot for only one night. We made reservations in the close by but much less posh RV Park.  But what the hell ... we needed a rest.  The next AM (Thursday) we pulled up stakes and moved to the other spot for 2 nights.  The problem we are having about time is that many of the campsites in the East close around Oct 15th, so we are getting a little pressed for time.  We have decided to by-pass the factory where the Folly was made as it is in the southern part of Ontario and head now to Ottawa from here.  This should save us several days, and if we decide to, we can head up to southern Ontario later after our visit in Akron (Sylvia and Bill).

Yesterday, we got the oil changed in the truck as we had done in excess of 4500 kms to date.

The bad thing is though that here we have hit our first rain and thunder showers.  Barley is not happy and can not, try as he might, find a safe place to hide.  Hops just sleeps and could not care much about the thunder.  The rain though is a concern for them.  Going outside to pee in a downpour is not their favourite occupation.  Elsie perseveres and the dogs eventually come back inside, soaking wet, but with smiles on their lips.  We, of course, can sit in our recliner chairs and sip coffee --- totally ignoring what is happening outside.  We are not on the top of the food chain for nothing ....

We have found an internet Cafe where I hope to get this epistle off this afternoon (Friday Sept 20th)

More of this silliness later.  Just when is in the hands of the RV Gods.....


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