The road often travelled loses its allure after a few
decades so it lovely to have fresh eyes with which to appreciate it.
A road trip to southern Saskatchewan was in order this week as we had a cousin visiting from Ontario. It’s awesome to have a driver on these trips and my wonderful other half joined us in that role.
The crop report from several hours of travelling is that not much harvest has occurred yet and the canola is seriously behind. The wheat type crops are short but maturing with a few pulse crops being already harvested. We saw a total of two combines running in 10+ hours of driving.
With this opportunity to showcase what Saskatchewan has to offer I felt a trip to the Big Muddy Badlands was essential. Our province gets a bad rap about being so flat but it’s because most tourists don’t get off the beaten path. I had her turn as we drove up into the hills from the Regina Plains and look back at it. Last we would see of flat till we returned that way.
I find it hard to believe but apparently I’ve never taken my husband to see Castle Butte. Glad I corrected that defiency a mere 4 decades later. We had perfect conditions and so we climbed to the top for a spectacular view.
We wandered around the base and checked out the legendary caves which lead to a discussion of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. Did they or didn’t they? The border is no more than 10 or so miles from here.
We are keen travellers of back roads and so headed into the hills behind which afforded us another spectacular viewpoint. Castle Butte looks small from this angle and in the distance, if you know where to look, you can see the Big Butte which is a landmark hill just south of my home town of Ogema.
We then wandered our way over to Big Beaver and were lucky enough that Aust General Store was open. Mom had a nice visit with the owner, as their friendship goes back a few years, while we explored what a store carries if you are the only store around for miles and miles. I guess if they don’t have it you don’t need it but he’s happy to order in stuff as well.
The town of Big Beaver makes Ogema look like a booming metropolis. The ranches are few and far between down there. It makes you think about how self reliant these people have always been and ponder how tough it must have been 125 years ago as settlers.
Our stomaches called us back to the present and we zipped back up the road more travelled, aka the highway. Before our trip home began we played tourist in town. We’d done the drive around the night before with my Mom playing tour guide.
We then did a walking tour of main street Ogema. We stopped at Solo Italia for some pasta, saw the old BA gas station and the firewall. On to the centotaph, which like most Saskatchewan small towns, is front and center at the end of main Street.
Behind the cenotaph is a restored train station, albeit not the original one to Ogema. That one resides in my cousin’s yard.
For small towns to survive they must continue to grow. The other option is to fold up and leave as the school closes and the businesses shut down. Ogema has, to date, been on a steady stream of continued renewal. The train station is a case in point; they redid it and sourced an old train. The train tours are usually sold out and bring in a lot of tourists.
Lucky for us they hired a summer student so we were able to see inside the restored building. They’ve done a first rate job.
That concluded the home town tour and we then made our way north to our home. No visit would be fit for the family records without a photo of the visitor; especially if she’s the family historian!
More on the family history later as we did spend hours talking and I learnt a lot.
It was fabulous to have a visitor just as keen on big sky country as I am.