Coalhurst to Moose Jaw Saskatchewan Aug 6, 2014

Bob & Molly

Bob & Molly

Despite weeks of planning and organizing I didn’t get to bed until after midnight and asked for a 6 a.m. wake up call. Most of the packing was done and in the car.  I had room in my suitcase and we even had a little bit of room in the trunk of the car. I hope I remembered everything!  Just as we were set to leave I checked my email only to find the deposit we paid for our January Panama rental is in question.  The owner said he did not receive the money from PayPal but my account shows it was paid.  I spent a few minutes trying to sort this out before we left, and as of tonight…still no word from him.  We have paid for our flights so I hope we aren’t now going to have issues with our Panama rental. So much for good planning!

Our sweet little dog Molly is not in good health and is responding only so so to treatment, and as a result I found it very hard to say farewell ( for now) to her this morning. She is a bright little thing and knew something was up. I hope she will forgive us for leaving for two months.  It was also hard to say good bye to our friend Bob as he takes over running the house and caring for Molly.  These trips would not be possible without his assistance.

I had hoped to leave home no later than 0900 this morning but we left in good time…just before 8 a.m. Anyone will tell you this is a rare occurrence for me.  I always have last minute things to attend to.  As the trunk still had room, I did toss in our portable printer. The morning was warm and the skies sunny. I’m a prairie girl at heart and I enjoy looking at the fields of corn, potatoes and grain. We even saw a field of sunflowers in bloom.

Cypress Hills in the distance

Cypress Hills in the distance

As we approached Medicine Hat the scenery gave way to barren hills and ranch land. From the Highway we could see the Cypress Hills off in a distance. On the Saskatchewan side of the hills is a high hill called Bald Butte. When you are standing on it, you are at the same elevation as the town site of Banff Alberta, in the Canadian Rockies. This outcropping was left behind during the last ice age and is a sight to behold….a forest in the middle of the prairies where you can find elk, bear and streams of trout. 

We arrived in Swift Current ( my birth place) at noon hour.  My husband suggested Wong’s Kitchen which is located on the highway.  This used to be a great place to eat when I lived here so we opted to give it a go. What is the saying “You can’t go back” well that surely applies to my home town.  The restaurant looks like it hasn’t had an update since it was built and while outside you could smell food, on the inside, you got the overwhelming smell of mold. I’m afraid my Trip Advisor review is not flattering, yet it was filled with locals.

As we were driving along I tried to remember all the surrounding towns and my have things changed.  I really miss the old grain elevators,

Prairie Icon crumbling - near Gull Lake Saskatchewan

Prairie Icon crumbling – near Gull Lake Saskatchewan

for one thing you could see them miles away and they broke up the landscape.  We saw remnants old these prairie fortresses and the new replacements simply do not have the charm and appeal of the old grain elevators.

We arrived at our evening destination of Moose Jaw a couple of hours early and checked into our hotel ( which will not get a good review). We had booked to tour the “Tunnels of Moose Jaw” at 5 pm but they were able to move up our tour time. Between the mineral springs and the tunnels, Moose Jaw has become a bit of a tourist destination although the city isn’t trying hard to put on a pretty face.  The Tunnel Tours

Al "Scarface" Capone wasn't here

Al “Scarface” Capone wasn’t here

offer two tours, one telling of the Chinese immigration to the area and the other is the “Al Capone” connection.  We opted for the Al Capone tour and while entertaining, it didn’t tell you anything about the tunnels.  They want you to think Al Capone stayed in Moose Jaw while doing some rum running business, but in reality, he never stepped foot in the place.  It was obvious the tunnels were rebuilt in places and after doing some digging I found out the truth about the tunnels.  They were not for Al to hide his cache and hide from the law, instead the neighbouring building steam engineers, developed the tunnels so they could move goods around in the winter without having to endure the bitter prairie cold.  They were used during prohibition era, as booze was moved through Moose Jaw to Chicago on the Soo rain line.  They fell into disrepair after and have been redone and restored and turned into a tourist attraction.

After a disappointing meal at the local Bonanza, we took a ride around the city. Tomorrow we have a journey of 553 km ( ten less than today) as we travel to Portage La Prairie. We expect to continue to enjoy the prairie scenery for one more day.