Fall Trip 2017

Reddish Pink Saskatchewan Sunrise as we’re driving away 7:30 a.m. This beautiful October 20th. Morning. A bunny turning color stands and stares as we put car in garage and bring the SUV out. Hubby’s last words, “Is Boo in?” (our granddaughter’s teddy bear). Tough good-bye last night. Well, for the adults anyways.
Glad we saw Warren’s clogging performance last night. Leaving lots as we head out 11th St. not knowing what route we’ll take. Same as life. Also leaving an expected high of nineteen. Last year snow was here already.
Greeny gold grass and stark, no leaf willow and poplar trees. Lucky there are evergreens as yards and fields are readied for winter. A white snow geese slough. A magpie floats. Thousands of migratory birds headed south east as the sun rises at 7:45.
Glad we played tennis up to yesterday morning. Inspiring that an eighty-nine year old and his partner beat Bob and I eight games to six. Five deer before Delisle where a new double lane highway is happening soon. We are seeing the aftereffects of the 100 plus kilometre windstorm the other night as a mangled granary is rolled around a power pole.
Steel grey skies meet golden stubble of the gently rolling hillsides Rosetown to Swift Current. Love the autumn colors even if interrupted by black oil storage tanks. Glad I had solid eight hours sleep; only two awakenings. Been totally off the sleeping pills for three weeks. Averaged four, then five, then six hours sleep during those three weeks. The two months previous when took the half sleeping pill; did get more than the one and half hours had been getting, but never felt myself. I’m free again.
Experienced a road being built and it looked like from scratch as we followed a pilot vehicle for twenty four minutes between Cadilac and Val Marie. It’s nineteen degrees at noon and we’ve crossed the border with hardly a question.
Hours of cattle country with up to ten mail boxes at adjacent road intersections. One time we saw a cattle drive but today only spruce pin covered hills on the outskirts of grasslands. Third porcupine road kills the day; otherwise lots of antelope and those deer. We then move into really pretty pine treed country side where signs say “Half Breed Creek,” “Twisted Trail and Ambush Roads.”
At Billings, Montana we see our first Albertson’s. (like a Co-op or Safeway).Speed limit is eighty mph which is one hundred and thirty km per hour up this huge incline over miles to leave the city. Dead grass landscape. Hope no fire starts as saw damage the grass fires can do. And then we have a rainbow and a shower in that order. Feels good to be filling up the vehicle for less than $30.00 even if it is US. Now we’re climbing up to the Bighorn Mountains on the Crow and then the Cherokee Indian Reservation. See a long coal train.
Sun is setting and the storm clouds are giving the sky a northern lights look. Shimmering pinks and reds and we can see why they call it Big Sky Country. A sixty five dollar hotel with hot breakfast has an Irish Pub next door with enough food for tomorrow’s lunch. The food still has my mouth watering after back in the hotel room for the night.
DAY TWO: Breakfast shocker. Bob finishes with biscuits and gravy. Falling star as we leave before seven am in the dark. An eagle and many antelope in ditches as day is breaking. Three creeks in a row called Crazy Woman. Saturday morning hunters carting their guns over the fence. Bob hits the brakes as two young bucks cross the road.
A discussion on our future in Saskatoon as it relates to golf, tennis, family and friends. Reading the morning paper adds to conversation as we try to understand connection people have nowadays with technological advances that were unheard of when we were growing up. Are connections face to face challenging for some with texting the way to go? We’re then on to today’s opioid crisis in light of why people using and relationship to drug companies. We then speak of the transgender issues in relation to exclusions they face. We talk about the prevalence of sexual harassment and violence, whether it be in Hollywood, sports, politics, work or everyday life and it’s relationship to colonialism and patriarchy.
Go by a power plant wondering if it’s nuclear or gas as no water near by. Did see lots of gas wells and an abundance of wind farms. Wind gust warnings are in effect. We can feel it. Drive by a graveyard of farm machinery from the turn of the century to present; and get into another comparison of life now and then.
We’ve moved into a greener landscape with interesting mesas; still few inhabitants except cattle and there is few of them as we are halfway through Wyoming. The best for me each year is traveling south with the sun pouring in as I am doing nothing, sitting in the sun the whole day. It’ s beautiful out and there is no litter. The few and far between ranch yard sites are outlined with Scotch pine windbreaks. All highways around here are marked with poles for the snow plows needing to see where the road is during the winter dumps.
One thing we notice is there is no buses as transportation besides the school buses. We’ve only seen one big motor home pulling a big truck. At the border we were the only car going through. Getting close to Denver at noon on a Saturday. A work zone is happening and amazes that we can travel sixty-five mph in a work zone.
Basically two hours to get through Denver with a few put on the brakes stops. One was for a four vehicle accident and another slow down has us realizing we’re on the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway. How things have changed economy wise since we bought in 2009. Lots of subdivisions built since then. Unemployment is the lowest since 1973; forty -four years.
Colorado Springs, the Pro-Rodeo’s headquarters with a statue of a rider on a bucking bronco. The Costco and Walmart parking lots are full. Green and gold leaves are still on the trees and the city is full of them. Now we’re on the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway and we haven’t left it. It’s seventeen above. We climb three miles to the Ron Pass on the Santa Fe Trail. Getting past the tree line. Close to the clouds. On our way down see sign, “Welcome to New Mexico: The Land of Enchantment.”
Four o’clock antelope are out again. Had a short rain shower and can smell grass like you’re a laying down kid in the pasture. Remarking that in this vast country, people settle where there is water. The countryside today is reminding me of out bus trip across Australia when it was forty-five degrees Celsius and Bob adds, “the kangaroos were out on the golf course.” Bob thinks we need to find Mexican food tonight.
DAY THREE: Plum, pear and apple are nice choice selections along with a hot breakfast included in hotel cost. Frost on the windshield. It’s light enough to write this but no sunrise as of yet. Treed hillsides with rock cut throughs for the road. Windmills, power lines, satellite towers and white roofed houses sticking out of the trees. Crows are patrolling the highway.
I’ve had three nights of solid sleeps. Feel rested. Mountain mesas off in the distance. This is the first fall trip we’ve not seen any snow. Now red rock hillsides and then next mountain cut through is yellow rock. Sunrise and a cloudless sky. Read today that the shooting star we saw yesterday was part of meteor shower from the Haley’s Comet.
Note for future: The Mexican food last night in Las Vegas, New Mexico was not the world’s greatest. This morning’s sun is like a yellow ball of fire. Can’t look back to see if cars behind us as all I can see is blinding sun.
Adobe houses are now the norm. Read last night there are nineteen different Pueblo cultures in this area and they’ve been around for millenia. In Santa Fe, notice that a tree half way between a cedar and a Scotch pine is the main landscaping tree. See the first DIP sign. It warns road can flood.
Albuquerque: The balloons are flying. They are BIG. Six are lifting off at once. Leave one highway for another and Bob says, “Here comes the trucks.” There are non stop semis moving product from one side of the US to the other. We stop at a Love’s Truck Stop for gas. Huge. Many truckers have spent the night; others having tires fixed, showers, meals; six different choices for $5.00 each. Person greets us, “Welcome to Loves. Full scale shopping. Leave and get to the top of the next hill and see solid line of trucks as far as we can see. We are going one hundred and thirty kilometres an hour and so are most of them.
Totally cloudless day. No wildlife sightings. Still the few and far between cattle grazing the scrubby, desert looking grass. Mountains all around us in the distance. Trying to take a picture of these giant red rock mountains that remind me of a cathedral or a monument. We come into Arizona and cross eleven miles of what is described as the world’s largest Indian Reservation: The Navajo. Have advertisements that Indian City is coming up with genuine souvenirs,handmade knives, jewelry, rock shop, t-shirts two for ten dollars, clean restrooms,pottery, art and crafts and best fry bread. When we get there, it’s a huge adobe building and we’re onto advertisements to stop at Fort Courage. When we get there, all is for sale.
Elevation is 6000 feet. We decide to check out radio stations. We don’t last long with Fox news talk show, a Catholic radio station and a few country. A public service announcement says to run warm water for thirty seconds on each wrist to relieve anxiety. Proven to lower heart rate.
We now move into the high country of Snowflake and ShowLow. It’s a national forest area where residents of Mesa and Phoenix come in summer to escape the heat. It’s nineteen degrees today where Phoenix is thirty eight. These towns remind me of a BC resort town like Radium. We stop for awhile; share lunch.
Leave and drive through an Apache reservation. A scenic, scenic, twisty, turny spectacular green and gold foliage with red rock formations that catch your breath. Warming up fast and it is the warmest trip down and most colorful one we’ve ever had for fall splendor. First cacti is the Aquave: tequila plant.
Canyon after canyon. I keep saying “Pretty Spectacular.” Bob says next day “Brutal” in retrospect when he thinks of the next few hours of driving. But when we are in it, I say, “A feast for the senses.” Hairpin turns. I feel miniscule. It is scary for me. Holding on to the door. Scared when so close to the railing. See nothing over the edge. Sometimes there were falling rocks. They keep having , “In loving memory” signs. We go up and then there’s a six or seven per cent grade going down. We slow to nothing.
We thought we’d be in Mesa by now and we are no where close. We get to Globe. It has a drive in theatre. The foliage is thick and overgrown like a jungle as we leave for Superior. I’ve never seen foliage this green in all the falls we’ve experienced. I know if someone were seeing this scenery for the first time, they’d be filled with awe.
First saquaro as we’re screaming down into Superior. Through there and it’s thirty two degrees outside. Air conditioning is turned on. Smoke is heavy in air for awhile from California wildfires.
So we came into Mesa in a way we never have and I’m happy to be here. Making a grocery list. My sister and her husband who’ve been here for four days are having us for supper. Is good to see the Phoenix sign on the mountain and the Superstitions. The first beaugenvillia is just outside our gate. I’m so glad we’re here. Did I say that already?


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