From Bats to Broken Windows

A journey into Saskatchewan

We’ve visited Saskatchewan before.   I’ve flown to both Regina and Saskatoon for work.   We have driven to Saskatoon a few years ago and if I were to look far enough back, we even camped at Meadow Lake in northern Saskatchewan.   This trip was to be different though.   The kids, who really are adults now but I still called them “the kids”, will not be joining Evelyn and me.  It’s just the two of us and our goal was the south.   We have rarely seen southern Alberta so southern Saskatchewan was like a foreign country to us and that needed to be changed.   This was the trip to do it even though we were departing on Sunday and had to be back in good time on Wednesday.   That isn’t much time but I figured it could work.  After all, this isn’t BC with mountains in the way of making good progress so we should be able to go the distance.   Well it sounded like a good plan anyway.

On day one we learned the value of duct tape.   I was pulling the tent trailer down a road less travelled so that we could visit The Great Wall of Saskatchewan.   It’s a huge wall built of those rocks that seem to grow in a farmer’s field.  You see piles of these types of rocks on every corner of most farmers’ fields.   There is a fellow named Albert Johnson (any resemblance to the Mad Trapper of Rat River is likely only a coincidence) who wanted to make use of those rocks so he started building a wall back in 1962. It took 29 years to finish the wall so this project continued until 1991.  When he stopped – likely due to back trouble – the wall was over 600 meters in length.     The average height is just under 2 meters but it is 3.6 meters in some places.   He didn’t use mortar or cement in the construction.  He just placed the right shape of rock in the right place and it has held fast to this day.  He also built a sod house using material from his own land and the house is open for visitors.   Albert Johnson doesn’t live there anymore.   I’m sure you would agree that this is a worthy destination for day one.   Well it was a fascinating place to visit and I highly recommend a trip there, especially since it is fairly close to the Alberta border.

Everything was falling into place as I drove our 20 year old Ford Explorer toward the Great Wall and then there was a loud explosion that sounded like gunfire.  It was our back window that imploded into thousands of little pieces.   There was little traffic on this road so I pulled over and surveyed the damages.  The only people we could see was a farmer operating his tractor and his parked vehicles nearby.  Could someone have shot at us?  It’s possible but why?  I’ve heard of sunroofs spontaneously shattering but never a back window.  No amount of puzzling over this would solve the question and we needed to do something about this huge opening or we would become as dusty as some of Saskatchewan’s roads!   Duct tape to the rescue.  Duct tape and an old tarp in the back of the Explorer allowed us to cover that window up and it lasted until it was fixed after we got home.  In fact it was hard to remove when we got home. Hopefully that would be the end of strange occurrences on this trip but it wasn’t.

We camped at Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park.  It’s a nice enough place for people with young children who want to explore the river valley.  Comfort wise it wasn’t exactly rich in amenities.  There were very few washrooms and they relied on solar light without batteries. This meant that at night when there is no solar power, because it’s dark at night, there is also no light om the washrooms.  In the daytime, when the sun is strong and you don’t need the light they worked fine.  This is also the only place where we met a person in Saskatchewan that wasn’t very friendly. In fact the campground host seemed rather unhappy that we were even camping there.  It’s a long story and I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say that we planned to leave early the next morning. All we really wanted was a safe and comfortable place to park our trailer so we could explore the countryside without the trailer in tow. So early the next morning we took the trailer down and moved on to a place near Swift Current called, Kilton Hill Campground.  It was perfect for us.  Clean amenities and a friendly host.  Immediately we set out to raise our tent trailer so we could continue to explore this province. Once the top was lifted I found a dead bat that had somehow become caught when the roof came down at the last campground. That’s never happened before.  I’ve rarely even seen bats before this (the last time I saw a bat was in Ontario).  There was nothing I could do for it so we finished the set up and Evelyn was just checking in the trailer to see if we needed anything before we left. That’s when she heard the strange sound. It was another bat but this time very much alive.   Apparently even the bats don’t like Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park as it was a stowaway in our trailer.  It’s quite amazing how fast a woman can run when she sees a bat. Evelyn left it to me to rescue this bat unharmed and release it outside.  It flew to a bunk-end and I was able to throw a towel on it and gently carry it outside and set it free. Bats may look a little weird and even kind of creepy but they are wonderful creatures because they eat huge quantities of mosquitoes.  How can anyone dislike a creature that clears the area of mosquitoes? I wish I took the time to get a photo of it but Evelyn was quite insistent that I clear it out of the trailer so that was the prime objective.

Day two in Saskatchewan has just begun and look at how many adventures we’ve already experienced.   Stay tuned for more blogs about our explorations.

There is no substitute for a roll of quality duct tape.
Great Wall of Saskatchewan
A Sod House at the Great Wall of Saskatchewan
Inside the Sod House
This wall is huge and I understand it was basically built by hand.

One of our goals on this trip was to see the Big Muddy, otherwise known as Castle Butte. We’ve visited badlands before as Alberta certainly has it’s share in the Drumheller area but this was different. Castle Butte rises out above the landscape like a mountain. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Some people hiked up the big hill and I was game for it but we had a long drive back to our trailer and the day was passing quickly. That climb would have to wait. So would exploring the backroads of this fascinating area. This is a must see for anyone near the southern Saskatchewan area. It’s basically south of Moose Jaw.

Saskatchewan isn’t all Flat
People on Top of Castle Butte

4 thoughts on “From Bats to Broken Windows

  1. Little bit of an adventure! Last summer I did a bat tour and learned a lot about bats, I don’t mind them so much.

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    1. Thanks Jenn. I don’t mind them at all as they eat mosquitoes which I do mind. However I prefer that they stay out of the trailer.

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  2. Interesting to see Castle Butte. First I heard of it. The great wall is an interesting way to get rid of filed rocks. I bet that farm still turns over new ones. Rocky soil never seems to run out of rocks. I recall picking rocks on our farm, standing on a stone boat (aptly name), pulled behind a tractor. I think I must have made the mistake of saying I was bored one day. Thanks for sharing. Allan

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    1. It’s a rite of passage. I also put in some time filling up the stone boat. I was very young at the time and probably though spending time on the boat would be cool.

      Liked by 1 person

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