Monday, October 27, 2014

McLean to Swift Current

After our lunch at the McLean cafe we went out to a van that was heavy with wet snow. The roads were wet, but the snow melted quickly and was washed by the rain so we could manage the driving without more care than would be required for driving on a wet surface.

The rain made it difficult to get a good idea of the landscape, but just after Pilot Butte it was clear we had descended the eastern moraine of glacial Lake Regina - the largest of the prairie legacy lakes from the glacial age. This vast area of fertile land has been almost totally converted from natural grasslands to cultivated crops. The periodic grain storage facilities are a testament to the abundance of the crops from this region.

Belle Plaine marked the western edge of Lake Regina with the re-emergence of the elevation rise and rocky soil of the moraine. This part of the plains provides mineral resources as well. Potash mines are noticeable by the numerous igloo-shaped storage sheds visible from the road. Farther along, near Chaplin we also passed by the accumulations of sodium sulfate being gathered from settling ponds.

As we passed my father’s birthplace of Herbert ( with Samantha) we were surprised by the size of Reed Lake – another remnant of glacial formations – this time of Lake Herbert. We turned in to get gas at a small station in the area – and to check whether this was an unusual year for the size of the lake or whether it was at its normal levels. The East Indian staff assured me that this was the normal size for the lake – valuable for ducks and geese, but too shallow for fishing or swimming. Our exchange also reinforced my questions about the changing character of the ownership and operation of enterprises in many of these small towns.

We reached our destination of the day (Swift Current) and pulled in to the Rainbow Motel – tired from the drive. We made good use of the microwave to prepare our pea soup supper before settling in to update our blogs and check our e-mail. We were delighted to receive a Skype call from Samantha as she was working out her education plans for next year.

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