Cypress, Canada - Polarsteps
We took an extra day in Grassy Lake; we'd had a really wet, cold ride from Picture Butte (hi July), with a lot more rain and storming in the forecast for the next day, and it had been a hard leap back into cycling after almost two weeks off. We were in a type of campground that seems to crop up in small-town Alberta but is a rarity in other places: basic tent sites for $10, absolutely nothing fancy, tucked in at the side of the local sports field/community hall; it was a perfect place to wait out the weather.
There have been a lot of tornadoes touching down on the prairies in a short amount of time (the first photo is from the day we spent in Grassy Lake, of a cycloning cloud that dissipated before it got to us). You might remember our road song, 'Apocalypse Bike Trip'; we've added a new verse:
[German death metal voice] APOCALYPSE BIKE TRIP
During a sunny patch we walked out to explore Grassy Lake a bit and see if we could find the lake (we couldn't/there isn't one?). It turned out to be a predominantly Mennonite town, and we got a lot of stares walking through the neighbourhoods.
The weather cleared up the next day and the winds were good; we did a long day to Walsh, a few kilometres from the Saskatchewan border, with a stop in Bow Island for milkshakes and fries at a roadside drive-in diner and to visit the gun-toting pinto bean, and another stop at the side of the road to repair a flat tire. We didn't need anything from Medicine Hat, so cut right past it on a side road, and also missed the terminus of the Crowsnest Highway, which we've been more or less following since Hope, BC. When we got on the highway again, it was the Trans Canada; we weren't sure how it was going to feel cycling the main highway, but it was immediately fine. The shoulder is wide and well paved, the long distances between towns spread out the traffic, and there are few major exits for us to navigate across. We make ourselves as visible as we can and find that drivers are incredibly good with us and will shift lanes to give us the widest berth whenever possible.
We stayed in an absolute dump of a campground, an unmowed field by the highway full of piles of boards with nails sticking out of them, falling-apart picnic tables, and washroom access only at the adjacent gas station that closes for the night. We had a mystery prairie animal visitor at our tent in the night, which in the morning we found out was the owners' dog that they'd left to wander the grounds. We had other surprise guests in the morning, though, who were 1000x more welcome and made Walsh an amazing stop for us...
🚲 Bike Jaunt 🚲