Our quick trip out of town and back also provided some other interesting adventures. Most trips do if we are paying attention to what is going on around us.
On our way to Alberta we stopped to change drivers on a little side road mid afternoon. We noticed someone approaching on foot, pushing a little wire 2 wheeled cart filled with camping type gear. It was an odd sight to see on the prairies on a secondary road that is somewhat deserted even at the peak traffic times. Of course, us being us, we couldn't resist hailing him and stopping for a bit of a chat.
The young fellow's name is Andrew Siess and if you google him or check on FaceBook you will find a public page his friends have put together to chronicle his walk around the world. He left his home in Minnesota about 2 years ago and began his walk in Italy. Following a northern route he made his way to China, dropped down to Japan and about 3 months ago flew from Tokyo to Anchorage Alaska. Over the past few weeks he has managed to continue his journey through northern British Columbia and is now in the heart of the prairies, making his way slowly southward into Southern Saskatchewan where he will cross back into the USA, walk through the Dakotas on his way to Florida, return to Europe and eventually make his way back to Italy where he began. He is avoiding main highways, taking the safer and more scenic routes and seems to be enjoying himself immensely. He talked highly of the Germans and Canadians who have been of such assistance to him along the way. It is always nice to hear good things about our own countrymen.
On our way back home yesterday we came across Andrew for a second time. We had another visit but it was shortened by the force of the gusting prairie winds. The wind was howling so loudly we could hardly hear each other talking and we didn't want to hamper his travels to his destination for the evening. He is a fascinating young man and we eagerly await his next newsletter posting on FaceBook. Praying for his safety each day is a task I am going to enjoy.
Having our supper on the way home was also an interesting experience. hahaha Monday evenings on secondary prairie highways are not conducive times and places to locate decent restaurants for dinner. hahaha We finally came across a little town that had 2 restaurants open. The first one was like an overstuffed bar and was crowded out with half ton trucks in the parking lot and crazy noise inside. We decided it wasn't worth trying to eat in that kind of fracas. However, where we ended up is worth a blogpost for itself. hahahaha It is very typical of the sorts of places so common now in dying prairie villages.
The building used to be the restaurant for an aging motel next to it. I am not certain what year it would have been built, but guessing it was in the mid 1950's to early 1960's. I am not sure it has seen more than a coat of paint as decoration and for building maintenance since it was erected.
The first thing that hit us as we entered was the odor: it was the overpowering musty smell of leaking water pipes, with a mild undertone of sewer gas. Oooh, delightful. The peeling carpet on the floors and splotched old paint on the walls were the next things we noticed. Then we saw the giant open dining space with a handful of linoleum covered tables and dollar store style chairs. The ceiling is about 20 feet high, the floor to ceiling windows covered in smudges and hand prints.
It was SO unappetizing, SO unappealing that I was tempted to say, "Hang my dropping blood sugar, just bring me out of my impending coma when we get home and feed me then!" It was SO unappetizing, SO unappealing that we just had to stay and see what kind of food we could come up with. hahahaha
What clinched it was our cute oriental waitress. The howling wind outside was making itself at home inside to some degree as well from the leaking wall joints and this dear girl was wrapped in a big fuzzy parka to stay warm. She smiled brilliantly when we came in, gave us our choice of tables in the huge space as there was no one else there...big surprise.....and she fell all over herself bringing us our menus and drinks right away. We decided that perhaps we could manage an All Day Breakfast sort of meal, not trusting the origin of the various burgers, assuming they would be the prepacked and frozen variety. There wasn't a lot else to choose from other than pizza which I can't eat anyway.
The food was a nice surprise. The eggs and bacon were perfectly cooked and some effort had been applied to drain and pat off the grease. There was tasty whole wheat toast with only a bit of butter applied to it rather than the usual dripping slather we detest. The meal was quite delicious much to our relief!
As we sat there so unexpectedly enjoying our meal in this funny restaurant, another couple drove up. The lady got out of the car and looked around for the entrance door to the restaurant, like ourselves obviously not a local. She got to the restaurant door before her husband, opened it, stuck her head inside, obviously noticed the odor immediately, withdrew her head at light speed, slammed the door shut, motioned to her husband with broad gestures to get back into the car and off they drove to who knows where. hahaha I didn't want to be the one to tell them that if they were travelling in the same direction as ourselves it would be over an hour before they would find another eating establishment of any kind.
Just a few of our adventures on the prairies that we have a lot of fun experiencing. It is just sad to see the ongoing death of the prairie towns, populations decimated by the departure of young people looking for work, growing megafarms that reduce the need for as many family farm operations. Most of the towns we drove through in the past couple of days are towns that my family drove me through as a child when we went on our annual summer visits to my mom's family on the prairies. There is little evidence now of the thriving communities they all were just 50 years ago. What retail buildings are left in many of the towns are either completely vacant or in desperate need of repair, but the most of the mentality of striving for excellence in outward appearance has been decimated along with the population. The prairies are in a state of flux, a time of trouble in many ways and the motivation for improvement is waning. It is just "too much bother" and the way things are is now "good enough". The heart of the people has been hurt and the outworking of that shows up in the quality of services and delapidated buildings. The rural prairie towns are dissolving at an alarming rate.
I am wondering what is going to become of the prairies over the next 20 years.