Day 25 CCR: Short Ride, Nice Visit
Beginning today and for three of the next four days, I planned to make short rides, in part to allow myself a chance to catch up if I had to delay for weather or mechanical reasons and in part just to slow down and enjoy a chance to take serendipitous detours. That plan worked out well today.
We pulled out of the Oreland Motel in Flin Flon, chose a Tim Horton’s for breakfast at a convenience store that didn’t have any indoor seating, ate sitting on our bikes, then headed down the road, expecting and getting a changing landscape again. Don and Susanne had told us we would see a burned over area as a result of a large forest fire, and for about 20 miles we had nothing but scorched trees to look at as the Canadian Shield slowly gave way to flatter, forested land.
Our only real concern today was finding gas along this lonely stretch of road that has no real gas stations for about 200 miles. My bike could go about 270 miles on a tank, but 200 miles begins to approach Steve’s “running on fumes” condition. At about 130 miles into today’s ride, and right where we thought it would be was a small store/farmhouse/bakery that advertised “Gas.” We pulled in and the lady who came out to greet us, seeing we were on motorcycles, said there was premium gas down at the resort by the lake, a half mile away. We thanked her and carefully putted down the dirt road toward the lake and the Moose Horn Lodge.
But the premium gas wasn’t the best part. The lady who came out to help with the pump was the best part. Of the whole day. Smiling and laughing, she set the pump and said come on in to pay. Once again, I had discovered that common breed of Canadians like Don and Susanne who seem to be everywhere I go. Since I had only had coffee and an apple fritter for breakfast, I was ready for something more substantive. Like coffee and a candy bar. I asked if she had coffee and she happily went to the back to make me a cup, which she insisted on giving to me. As I started to pay for the candy bar, I notice a sign that advertised homemade Date Squares. She said they’re in the cooler. And there they were, just like my mother used to make. The candy bar went back in the box and I settled in to drink fresh coffee and eat my nostalgic date bar. And get to know Carol Savage.
She told us she and her husband, Daryl, farmers from near the town of Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, (not the bay itself) about three hours drive away, decided five years ago to bid at an auction on the Moose Horn Lodge and campground. They still own their farm and lease the land, but now they’re full-time proprietors of the lodge and campgrounds on Little Bear Lake in Saskatchewan and love it. And what’s not to love (except maybe the winters).
Daryl was gone, taking care of business, but I wish we had had the chance to meet him, too. I imagine he is as personable as Carol. For an hour, long after my wonderful Date Square was gone, we talked and laughed. She asked about us–where we were from, what we did before we became full-time motorcycle riders, where we had travelled. And she told us about her and Daryl’s travels to the States, to Costa Rica, to the Panama Canal. She told us about her parrot that talks at inopportune times. She told us about fishing on Little Bear Lake and showed us a mounted 30 pound lake trout Daryl had caught a couple years earlier. She told us about some of the campers who had been camping there before she and Daryl bought the place and continue to come back year after year. She was, in all ways, a delight and another example of these amazing Canadian people who keep me coming back to this beautiful country.
I walked down to the beach to look around at the 13-mile long lake and thought how nice it would be to spend a day or two or maybe a month or two fishing for lake trout and pike and walleye and sitting by a campfire at night talking to neighbors and sharing fish stories. But, after watching a swarm of yellow swallowtail butterflies have a very active conversation among themselves, it was time for us to leave delightful Carol Savage and beautiful Little Bear Lake and get back on the road to Prince Albert for the night.
It’s unlikely I’ll ever get back to Moose Horn Lodge. But not impossible. Who knows? It’s a beautiful place with friendly Canadians. A nice combination.
Down the highway a few more miles, I took the turn my GPS directed me to take to Prince Albert, but after about a quarter mile, the asphalt ended and a long stretch of packed dirt road opened before me. How long a stretch, I didn’t know. Maybe a mile or two or maybe ten or twenty of fifty. With rain still a possibility, the prudent move seemed to be to turn around and take an alternative route I knew would get us there but that was about 15 miles longer. I chose prudent and turned around.
I had expected we would see rain again today about 150 miles into our 250 mile ride. I was wrong. It waited until we got to within 20 miles of Prince Albert. We suited up once more, rode through a few sprinkles, and got to our hotel before the heavy downpour unleashed on Prince Albert. Given our experience with rain this trip, I’ll take today’s light shower anytime.
A short ride scheduled tomorrow to Lloydminster. But maybe I’ll make another detour. They seem to work out well.