I'm determined to get my money’s worth by visiting the bison enclosure at Riding Mountain. Well, it’s 20km down some of the nicest backcountry dirt road ever, in a nice hardwood forest. A coyote, skunk, and several whitetail deer spook as I drive by. What a glorious morning.
But there's a little issue with the map, or more likely, the map reader. I'd understood that you drive *by* the enclosure, with the option to go in. No. You must go through to reach the road that veers south back towards my planned route.
I have passed not a soul on this road. I really want to see bison. But given that I've heard TWO first-hand accounts of bison aggression toward motorcycles, and the lack of anyone else here, I opt out and double back down 20km of dirt road. I know, big wuss. But I'm not too disappointed, as it’s a glorious day.
So instead, I headed north towards Dauphin, and past an odd abandoned Ukrainian amphitheatre/theme town. I seem to recall my friend mention a massive Ukrainian festival happens here. The prairies are chock full of Ukrainians.
After a pit stop at Tim Horton's, its due west to Saskatchewan. At the border starts the driving, relentless, rain, straight up misery all the way to Saskatoon. It’s all about figuring the gas stops, every 200km; about trying to keep warm. The bike is misfiring at idle in the heavy rain, not that I blame it. So am I. A resolution is made to not leave Saskatoon without buying a heated vest. The grips have been on full blast all day and it's barely keeping me going.
The big potash mines on the way into town are really something. I try to get the bike into position to get a shot of the enormous, enormous mountains of tailings (30 stories says a buddy) but it’s not to be.
At times the smell of Saskatchewan is overwhelming. Manure? Fertilizer? Especially past freshly tilled fields. It keeps my interest when there is otherwise not much else.
A funny scene unfolds at the first 7/11 I see in Saskatoon, where I stop and ask the cash girl for directions to the motel malls. While examining the map, some old guy has come in and is just standing there, staring at me. Funny. I guess I am a soggy mess, quite a sight in my awesome yellow Miami-Vice argentinian sniper glasses.
Finally, I arrive at a suitable hotel. load in, and audit everything. left boot: soaked. Sleeping bags: damp. Rider: pooped, frozen. I boot up CSI Miami and run the bath.
Why do they have road signs in Saskatchewan announcing every upcoming village, 1km ahead? You can see the thing coming for miles.
I'm having a great time. But tomorrow, things start to get way cooler.