Moose Jaw -- Part 2 of 2
Another outing on the prairie was to Gravelbourg, a small town that promotes itself (or at least did for a while) as the "Paris of the Prairies", or as having "a touch of Europe". That, and a large Catholic church was enough to draw us there for a look-see.
Turned out to be a bit of a stretch, but they tried. The Paris connection is the Café Paris and a pastry/bakery shop that calls itself a 'boulangerie'.
Gravelbourg did make it into Hank Snow's song, "I've Been Everywhere" though. And Moose Jaw didn't... go figure.
The menu. We were curious as to what 'Prairie Fog' was -- under hot drinks. I forget what they told us. We enjoyed a very Canadian BLT.
Jane signed the guest book.
We had to check out the boulangerie. Had a coffee & picked up some sweets.
Post offices still survive in small towns.
Quite elaborate light standards for a small town.
Another attempt to draw a few tourists I suspect.
Gravelbourg carries the name of its founder Abbé Louis-Pierre Gravel. “Between 1906 and 1926 more than ten thousand Canadian citizens, many of whom were then living in the United States, answered the call of Reverend Louis-Pierre Gravel to make their homes on the broad plains of Saskatchewan, where they built towns and established French-speaking cultural institutions.”
A small parkette by the post office.
...with an unusual religious statue.
The cathedral was closed. Apparently, with a phone call or two, we could have had a personal tour of it. We decided not to bother anyone.
We walked around the grounds of the cathedral. This 'fairy ring' or 'pixie ring' of mushrooms was under one of the evergreens. I'd heard of them but this is the first one I've seen.
Our third outing on the prairie was for a 2-hour ride on a tourist train. We arranged it online, before we left, since reservations were required. It was about a 2-hour drive from Moose Jaw.
The drive down was quiet. Very little traffic. We stopped to soak up some prairie air. There aren't many places where you can stand on a highway for a picture. It was a secondary highway so you could hear & see traffic coming, when it did. There was probably a 3 or 4 minute gap between vehicles. It was a Sunday so things were quieter than they would have been on a weekday.
It was a bit like the movie "High Noon". We were the only ones there, other than the woman that called us re the cancellation. She apologized, but she had done her part. She offered us a discount for next year, gave us tickets to a local museum, and offered to pay for our breakfast. No complaints. We decided that we'd probably pass on the train ride next time we're in Moose Jaw though. We saw enough from the car.
So, this turned out to be our train ride.
Ogema is another small town, with a very wide main street.
A heritage site in Ogema.
As chance would have it, the highway followed the railway tracks, so we did see pretty much what we would have from the train. We just missed the 'train experience'. As it turned out though, we had a great day anyway. The drive back to Moose Jaw was through the Cactus Hills, some rolling hills with some great prairie views.
Our rental for the week--a Ford Fusion. I enjoyed driving it. My loyalty is still with GM though.
Where there are few trees or bushes, birds take advantage of any perch they can find. This combine & truck were parked, waiting for the land to dry out.
This slough was at the same stop. The water had killed off the small trees but what was left made for some convenient perches at least, and kind of a cool shot.
A little further down the road Jane spotted these Sandhill Cranes. We're not usually in Moose Jaw in the fall to catch any of the migrations. Seeing the Yellow-headed Blackbirds and the Snow Geese earlier, and now the Sandhills, made me think how much more you could see if you lived on the prairie.
Mind you, being raised there, I don't remember seeing any of the migrations that we saw on this trip. So much of what we see in nature is purely by chance. We didn't go looking for any of them, we just happened upon them. Go looking for them, and likely as not, you wouldn't see anything.
This patch of red weeds stood out. The white on the edges of the water is alkali. The cranes dotted the hills beyond.
There were a couple hundred cranes on the hills, over a range of a mile or so. These ones, along a creek bed, were much closer.
They're a beautiful bird.
How much of a push would these bales need to roll them down the slope?
These two derelicts were on either side of the highway. A bit unusual in that they were so close to the highway. Most surviving, deserted homes are on back roads, further from civilization.
Further along, we happened to meet a couple combines on the highway that were going into this field to harvest the crop. Some drier land at last. It's obviously a large operation. Most farmers have one combine. These must be leased, or maybe the farmer hired a custom-combiner.
I was 12 at the time. I remember the teacher marching us a block away from the school, and telling us to "go straight home". The display brought the memory back.
My school is in the background of this shot (top-left corner). We were too young to appreciate how lucky we were.
To end on a cheerier note, this is a shot of Crescent Park in the heart of the city. There are lots of Mallards along the creek, as well as the odd muskrat.