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North America 2004

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Journal for 23-June-2004 : Moose Jaw

Morning Headwind. The riding not so easy today, we had to earn the Ks. The road not quite as good either. Lots of ice cracks and gravelly bits of shoulder. Hardly any traffic though, and what there was extremely kind to us.

Lots of little (by American standards) towns along the route today. The prairies are huge and fairly densely populated, but no-one at all seems to live out on the land. They are concentrated in the small and not so small towns.

Lots of ponds and small lakes in this ocean of grass today. There are plenty of rolling hills, but not always any obvious creeks or water courses. So there are lots of places winter water settles into low lying pieces of land, often in the most unlikely looking places. It looks strange to see fences and telegraph poles disappearing into a pool sky blue water by the road.

Not much at Chaplin, even if it is home to over 300 people. Presumably they mostly work in the town's major industry: the salt mine. The approaches to town look like they are covered in snow. That is partially because for 6 months a year it is covered with snow, but also because this is at the edge of a large isolated lake that evaporates away each summer.

All these seasonal wetlands attract a lot of bird life, mostly migratory species which use this spot as a refueling stop en-route to and from the arctic.

After hours of repetitive cycling, something bolted in fear from long grass by the road. This Coyote He darted across the road, took a quick peek at us, the sprinted across the road, through the roadside fence and way across the neighboring paddock.

At rest area we enjoyed a well earned spell, and needless to say the local prairie dogs put on a show for us with intentions of sharing our snacks, if rather unsuccessfully.

The best thing I can say about Moose Jaw so far is it has a great name. Having said that, after 5 hours of headwind and 2.5 hours of cross wind riding without seeing anything resembling a tree I was too tired the only thing I was capable of appreciating is the sign “All You Can Eat”.

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