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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 35: Cypress Hills and Maple Creek

People say that driving across the prairies is boring. They obviously haven't driven across the prairies that we drove across. Or make that zig-zagged across...And no doubt therein lies the distinction.

For to zig-zag north then south, using the TC as but a touchstone for hitting the big towns, is to see green and yellow and beige and blue as you have never seen those colours before. It is to see skies so expansive that you lose all sense of time and space, not to mention of the place where you yourself begin and end. It is to find yourself in a landscape at once overly full, at once astoundingly empty...If that sounds like a contradiction, it is.

For the prairies are not only a rolling tapestry of flats and folds. The prairies ARE the fold...That post-structuralist folding of intensity into banality; an astonishing scenic moment rendered all the more extraordinary for its emergence out of the plain.

It's all just downright brilliant: badlands and grasslands and sand hills and fields upon fields upon fields of gold and emerald and taupe and indigo...We loved our zig-zag across the prairies. We were sad, on Day 35, to realize that our drive into the Cypress Hills would signal our last full day in Saskatchewan.

After waxing lyrical to this effect whilst traveling the B roads between Grasslands and Maple Creek, we stayed the night at the Cypress Hills centre block campground. From a lovely wild-flowered lookout above this busy RV and Tenting Mecca - a remote spot called Bald Butte - we could gaze out at the dramatic Cypress Hills west block, which rides the border between Saskatchewan and Alberta. From our campsite, we watched mule deers cavort through a dramatic daytime thunderstorm. And moving on the next day through the rancher's town of Maple Creek, we enjoyed some interesting signage.

Goodbye Saskatchewan of the Living Skies. Medicine Hat, Alberta, here we come!