Archived and current articles published in magazines are available at:
Snowbirds & RV Travel
A series about our 2009 northern trip started June/July 2009 and continued for the following months: Aug/Sept/09, Oct/Nov/09, Dec/Jan/10, and Feb/Mar/10. Click on the month and “turn the pages” until you arrive at the article. Stay tuned for April/May/10 issue.
Although previous 2007/2008 articles may not be in their archives, the latest one for Jan/Feb/10 titled “20 Must-Do’s in Northern BC, Yukon and the Northwest Territories” is online. Go to articles and issue #133 Jan/Feb/10.
Part 5 in a series published in RV Times free magazine 2007. www.rvtimes.com
Crossing Canada Selling Books, Driftwood and Brandied Blackberry Sauce
Going Home: Manitoba to BC
Barb and Dave Rees left their home in Powell River, BC, May 26, 2007 on a working holiday, taking Barb’s book RV Canada On A Dime And A Dream on a cross-Canada tour. Their working holiday took them to farmer’s markets from coast to coast, travelling in their temperamental van named “Boo” pulling a 27-ft.trailer.
Good looking cowboys, bucking broncos and the announcer yelling, “He’s holding on, no he’s off!” The stands erupted with cheers at the Double “B” Beausejour Rodeo.
On Sept.6 I’d cheered “Manitoba! Only three provinces till home!” We took #12 south to Steinbach heading for the next market at 4:00 p.m.
A Mennonite market with lots of fresh produce and shoppers chiefly interested in produce meant one book was sold. A kindly couple gave us a jar of honey to sweeten our day.
The next morning at the library we searched online for a rodeo, and found Beausejour Rodeo who accepted us with three days free dry camping.
We left Steinbach in a windstorm, heading north to Beausejour. Because we took the “scenic route”… known as getting lost, we found the Great Woods Park and Campground where we dumped and filled our water. The Beausejour sani-dump is behind the rodeo grounds.
And that’s how an old Calgary Stampede girl like me came to be surrounded by cowboys, horse trailers, and cowgirls. Next to us a couple groomed 2000 lb. Percherons.
The farmer’s market was inside a big chilly barn. A $2. pancake breakfast started the day with families in cowboy hats discussing livestock problems. At 10:00 a.m these hardy folks held a big parade with floats, horses, clowns and antique tractors with antique drivers.
At the market we realized people weren’t there to spend money. They were there to see a rodeo so once the rodeo started that was the end of any sales. By then our neighbors, Ron and Maxine the fudge makers had moved outside and invited us to put a few of our things on their stall. Suddenly my Dad’s rodeo photos from the 70’s attracted the cowboy’s. One said, “They aren’t going to believe I found these after all this time. Do you have one of my grandpa Harry Dodginghorse?” When I asked Dad he laughed, “I often covered the rodeos he was at.” Soon we had a crowd of cowboys sorting through photos and an hour later we’d sold 22 pictures. The finale to our day was the sky exploding with fireworks and our neighbor letting us plug into his generator.
The next day we moved everything outside with the fudge-makers. In the flow of traffic we talked to many people and watched the rodeo too. I tried my hand at taking bucking bronco pictures while the announcer kibitzed with the clown. We had so much fun, met new friends, and sold Dad’s photographs. By 5:30 p.m we left for Winnipeg. Following the perimeter road took us around Winnipeg to Portage la Prairie. West of Portage on the Trans Canada is a Flying Jtruck stop, a good place for RV’ers.
Our first stop in Portage was the dump station. We settled into the line-up and then watched the guy ahead of us grab the ‘potable water’ hose and use it to rinse his black water hose. Yuk! When we pulled up we were all shaking our heads, so I got bleach from the others to disinfect the hose. Lesson: Carry a spray bottle of bleach water or spray can of Clorox to disinfect the water hose before using.
We found the Wal-Mart mall on the highway devoid of other RV’ers and settled in for a peaceful night. Not! It sits in between four train tracks! But we had a very relaxing evening reminiscing about our gypsy adventures.
.Next morning a spectacular sunrise spread gold’s and mauves over Wal-Mart. There I stood in the lot in my old blue housecoat taking pictures. After breakfast we fueled up before we visited Island Park and our favourite trees. “I’m back,” I said to the ‘elephant feet’ trees whose character I fell in love with four years ago.
The Brandon Tourism office is off the Trans Canada in the Riverbank Discovery Centre. Lois told us about the cement igloo outside called the “ecodome” built from sandbags by university students as a demo emergency hut.
By then the winds were fiercer than ever so we took cover at Meadowlark Campground and RV Park. We enjoyed being set up with all the amenities and WIF for $27 …including Oprah!
9/11 – I always wake on the anniversary of this date thinking about the terrorism which changed the world forever. I sat in my safe little home remembering. No one knows when our loved ones will be taken away.
First stop was the new Wal-Mart for a spray can of Clorox. , then #10 South. After vast expanses of ripe sunflowers, we hit Souris and didn’t stop at the agate pit this time. We were so thrilled at “Welcome to Saskatchewan” we opened a package of Twizzlers to celebrate! In Carlyle, our friend Judy was glad to see us and interrupted her work to put tea and coffee on so we could catch up.
Later we settled at the Weyburn Wal-Mart located on the west end of town between the #1 highway and a train track, but fairly quiet. While taking a sunset picture I paused to remember those who never saw another sunset after 9/11.
Sept.12 and off to the Weyburn Pubic Library to collect our email. A one ton 13’2” diameter wheel celebrating their history hangs on the library wall.
Ogema, a little farm town has a camp ground so we pulled in for lunch and the sani-dump. It offers all the services but the water tastes awful. We’ve learned to taste the water before we fill up the tanks with ghastly water.
I started calculating how much we saved by making Dave’s coffee. Every morning I’d make a thermos of coffee for the day. We reckoned we saved close to $1000 towards Boo’s fuel.
In January 2007 CBC radio interviewed me about my book. In Mackenzie people heard it and told their friends Diane and Grant who searched CBC archives and emailed about the book. We became good “e-buddies.” Then they moved to Mankota in southern Saskatchewan so that’s where we were headed to see Diane in the hospital.
Turning at Lafleche we were heading for Mankota in another wind storm. Suddenly over a rise on this very narrow farm road loomed a combine machine with its arms extended the width of the road. Dave tried getting over but there was no where to go. I sat frozen watching this monster coming straight for us. “He’s going to hit us,” I whisper. At the last second he swerves and misses’ us by inches. My heart’s pounding and Dave says, “That would have made a good picture.”
Later at the hospital we meet our friends. “Imagine you coming all this way to see me”. Dave and I felt like we’d known them for years.
We head north for Swift Current and our next market. Swift Current with 2374 annual hours of sunshine has grown up. They now have a new Wal-Mart mall, but we head up to the Wheatland mall where the market will be held the next day. Soon we were parked at the back of the mall overlooking the valley in what became “our spot” four years ago.
The wind rocked the trailer all night long. After breakfast we set up in the mall among Hutterites with many tables of produce. I watched a lady walk towards us and point at the poster for Dad’s rodeo pictures. “ I know this man. He’s my brother-in-law.” I just stood stunned, “You do?” As my mind raced to think who was related to Fred Kobsted, I blurted, “Who are you?” “I’m Shirley Millis,” she said. It hit me. She was my Mom’s brothers ex-wife …he died years ago. I walked around the table and put my arms around her in tears. “I’m Dorothy’s daughter, Barbara.” Then we both cried. What a beautiful gift to meet an aunt I never knew and find out I had a cousin close by. Shirley lives in Prince Albert and was down visiting her brother adding to the chances of our meeting.
Sales weren’t great but I had enlightening conversations with the Hutterite women from the Main Centre Colony. Without TV, radio, computers or divorce they are happy. If you want to meet the locals and get a feel for the area, sell at farmers or flea markets, and it helps with gas. Shirley brought her daughter Kathy over who invited us to dinner.
Sept. 14: We enjoyed tea and coffee in bed looking at the map of Canada with our highlighted route. Imagine how much we would have missed if we hadn’t dared to live the dream?
I took my prescriptions to Wal-Mart to be filled, something we can’t do in Ontario or Quebec without going to a clinic. It’s a good idea to stock up and keep the empty bottle when you do need the order filled because of all the information.
At the end of the day we went to my cousin’s ranch at Success. Her husband Rick, says that their ranch of 900 acres is nothing by Saskatchewan standards. A sunset drive after dinner gave me great pictures of an owl and a sunset that seemed to last forever.
Sept.15: Around us Hutterites joke with customers, old timer’s slap each other on shoulders, children vie for attention. The best part was Diane and Grant coming up from Mankota to have dinner with us. After they left, the wind died down so we could sit outside listening to meadowlarks sing and enjoy the valley view.
A.L William’s said, “We perform best when we have a crusade because it adds meaning and purpose to life. Crusaders have inner strength, and carry on when others quit.” Our trips are crusades not just tours because we inspire others to follow their dreams no matter their circumstances.
The latest article found in the autumn/09 issue 011 was from our northern trip up the Dempster Highway.