Saturday, August 8, 2009

Prairies through Glass

We are back from our holiday. We spent a crazy four days driving and three days visiting. The ratio is all wrong, I know. We had initially planned to fly, but because we had to bring some extra stuff we decided to do a road trip. A test run, if you will, for future vacations with the wee one to spots such as our very favourite hidey spot, the enchanting Waterton Lakes.

So we drove across the prairies from Edmonton to Winnipeg (approximately 840 miles or 1350 km each way). We took the “old way” there on the Yellowhead Hwy and I must say, there was very little traffic between Saskatoon and Yorkton. I realized that this must be one of the ‘black areas’ at night that we fly over. At ground level, however, it was verdant, rolling, lush and a summer paradise for ducks and other waterfowl.

The prairie provinces of Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan & Manitoba) are vast. People cluster together in cities that shine at night like oases in the desert. The rest of the land is farmland with boreal forest and muskeg in the northerly areas and some desert to the south. For the most part the land undulates and tilts in wide curves where the rivers run through it.

On the way back we took the TransCanada Hwy, a divided highway that took us from Winnipeg to Regina and up to Saskatoon. The landscape was much drier than the old way to the north. We all learned the words to “I’ve been working on the railroad” as somehow it became my toddler’s favourite song.

I grew up hearing that the prairies were the world’s bread basket and that fields of wheat swayed under the sun. I think that might be changing. The dominant crop that I saw along the roadsides was Canola, used for making vegetable oil.

The other crop I saw, a new one to me, was Flax. I don’t think it was in full bloom yet as it appeared between the windbreaks as a moody flush of blue scattered on top of ever-dancing fields. I was mesmerized by it.

While we were away I did manage to squeeze in a little sightseeing, so next up I will share with you a few pictures of a very special garden I enjoyed one beautiful afternoon with one of my dearest friends from back in my university days.

In the meantime, I am very happy to be back to my own home and garden (even though the weeds settled in nicely while I was gone!)


sweet bay said...

What a lovely post, and beautiful shots of the countryside and farmland.

Mary Soderstrom said...

I agree. When our kids were 8 and 12 we took five weeks to drive from Montreal to Vancouver and back. The plan was to speed across the prairies to get to the Rockies and do some hiking there before we went on to similar adventures on the Coast. But we were seduced by the fields of canola, flax and grain, the beautiful blue sky, the immense country. The result was that we poked along, visiting Batoche (we'd visited the Louis Riel house in Winnipeg and had to see where the M├ętis base was) and camping near Yorkton.

We have no pictures of the prairies: thanks for sharing yours with us.


Northern Shade said...

Your photos brought back memories of many trips across the prairies, with the long views, the river topograhy, and the vast fields. A field of flax is an awesome sight, but I have to settle for a little 0.5 metre square field in my garden.

I love camping and hiking in Waterton. There are some beautiful fields of wildflowers there, touching right to the mountains.

Anna said...

What glorious wide open skies. Look forward to hearing about your garden visit.

ruthie said...

beautiful photos, lovely wide open spaces. its lovely to get away, but even nicer to come home again.

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

That's beautiful by any standard!!... ~bangchik

Diane Schuller said...

sounds like a great trip. I LOVE Waterton Lakes. When I lived in Edmonton, for about 8 yrs in a row we spent our vacation (well a week ea time) camping at Waterton and hiking each day. I miss it and love that place so much.

tlc illustration said...

Reminds me of trips we took with our kids when they were little. I stayed in Alberta with some friends for a few months after I graduated from High School - *loved* the prairies....

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

I have realized that I've neglected to visit you for 'ages' so here I am, and what a wonderful visit it is! You have made me think about places 'outside of my box', so to speak! I get so caught up here in my own area that I've forgotten there are so many other amazing areas in this wonderful world of ours! How neat your trip sounded! I really want to get up there now and explore a little! Maybe when we're all feeling a bit better my husband and son and I can do a little traveling up your way! Those fields of canola and flax are fact, I never even thought about how those grew in fields like that! What a wonderful post! Hope you're having a beautiful August;-)

Helen said...

You are brave taking such a long roadtrip with wee ones. They do always seem to enjoy songs that get stuck in your head (as Dina and her horn are now). Pray to heavens that they never learn "The Song That Doesn't End*" by Shari Lewis. Argh! Now I've done it to myself.

Those flax fields must have been incredible. Like growing the sky.

In the early 60s, my mother took my sister and I by bus from Toronto to Edmonton. It seemed to take forever. However, I don't remember much of it (except how flat the Prairies are), as she knocked us out with Gravol most of the way. We did suffer from motion sickness, which makes her decision to take the trip even more astounding.

*It was the song that doesn't end, It just goes on and on, my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was. Now they'll continue singing it forever, just because it was... (repeat, ad infinitum or ad nauseum, whichever comes first)

The Garden Ms. S said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. It pleases me to know that the prairies bring back fond memories for so many of you. You have to spend a bit of time travelling them to feel their rhythm and appreciate thier strength.
Oh, and Helen, thanks for the goes on and on my friend :)