Well, it didn’t start as a Murphy day, but it kind of ended that way. Today’s objective was to visit Prince Albert National Park and Candle Lake and then continue on to Flin Flon. Two out of three ain’t bad? We made progress, but not much.
Knowing it was a long ride today, I left Prince Albert shortly after 8:00 a.m. It was a drizzly, cold kind of day, but the rain wasn’t bad and the traffic was all headed in the other direction – out of the park. I enjoyed this, because it allowed me to pull over here and there and take pictures of the pretty flowers in the ditch. 😊 We cruised into the little town of Waskesiu in PA National Park without incident. It was very reminiscent of Wasagaming in Manitoba with its log buildings, little streets with shops and the waterfront close by.
Spying a yellow awning with red patio umbrellas, I thought that had to be a restaurant and turned towards it for breakfast. Aptly named the Patio Café, it supplied me with good coffee and delicious French toast, over which I had a nice conversation with the only other person in the place at that time of day. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask his name, but he saw the riding gear and was a rider himself, so we struck up a conversation. He has a place up at Waskesiu that he enjoys with his family and goes to Sturgis once in awhile with his son. Friendly gentleman, as I have found everyone in Saskatchewan to be.
After breakfast, I toured around the town a bit, parking the bike and strolling around the Visitor Centre and lake front. I really liked the little story boards at the visitor centre that had snippets of history.
Grey Owl, the naturalist and conservationist, is a big deal around these parts as he had a cabin up in PA National Park. He lived, died and is buried at the location. It is a 20 km hike into it after getting there by canoe or something, so wasn’t on my agenda to see in person. I did find some pictures on the internet though, so I could pretend I was there. There is a Grey Owl Centre in Waskesiu but it was not open when I wandered by. The park was busy with families and holiday folks in spite of the cool, wet weather.
While visiting over breakfast, I confirmed that the road to Candle Lake between the Park and PA was 53 kms of gravel. So I left the park and headed back towards Prince Albert, to take the highway over to the Candle Lake junction. The clouds were building to the east and we arrived at the junction to Candle Lake to leaden skies. I said to Night Fury “What do you think?” My iron dragon just growled “We’ve been caught in worse than that is going to deliver”. So, giving them a nod of respect, we turned our heads into the ever-darkening skies. As it turned out, aside from a couple of little showers, Mother Nature returned our nod and did not rain on us hardly at all. The fly in our ointment was the driver of a pick-up truck a few kms out of Prince Albert who considered it his civic duty to keep all traffic 10-20 kms under the speed limit. With all of the oncoming traffic returning to PA, there was no chance of getting by him. In spite of numerous opportunities to do so, he would not pull over and let the ever-growing string of vehicles behind him pass. Nothing to do but sit back and hope that the cars that let their impatience get the better of them didn’t cause an accident. Much to my dismay, he also took the turn-off to Candle Lake and continued this infuriating behaviour for another hour. The bloom was entirely off Candle Lake by the time I arrived there – at least an hour behind schedule. I filled up with gas, took a quick run around, saw the lake and skedaddled. Sign number 1.
Back at the Candle Lake intersection, I turned left at the sign indicating Flin Flon to the left – 350 kms. With still plenty of day left, we would make Flin Flon by 6-ish. After about 20 minutes, the road ended abruptly in …… slime. Wet, sucking, slippery mud. Saw it coming in time to bring my speed down and be able to turn around ever so carefully to go back from whence we came! Sign number 2.
Pulling over to chillax for a minute after that little adrenaline punch, I checked my phone to see where I had gone wrong. I needed Hwy 106, not 120. My cousins Fred and Gerty had posted a comment on my blog site that they were in Tobin Lake. Sign number 3.
Checking google maps, I discovered just how close I was to Tobin Lake and thought maybe I’d just call it a day there if I could reach them. By the time I got back to the Hwy 55, the headache that began when following Mr. Wanker to Candle Lake was becoming a bit more persistent. As I approached the turn-off for Hwy 106 to Flin Flon (the road I should have been on), I decided unequivocally that I did not have another 4.5 hours in me to get there and headed for Nipawin. Stopped briefly to message Mom and ask her if she had some phone numbers for me. About 10 kms out of Nipawin, I saw a Tobin Lake sign, but knew I should go into town first for gas.
Topped up with gas and found a place to park and drink my Gatorade and eat my protein bar. Mom had found numbers for me so I called Fred’s cell, but didn’t reach them. Thought I might just head out there and see what I could find. Asked a couple of people about getting there but got conflicting directions and google maps wasn’t telling. But I figured since I saw the sign a few kms back, how wrong could I go? Well, let me tell you how wrong. Up the opposite side of the lake wrong. The road wasn’t in great shape, but it was paved and with some care and attention I had no trouble getting the first 20 kms in. Then, once again, it ended abruptly - this time in soupy gravel. I thought it actually didn’t look too bad and since I was within 7-8 kms, maybe I should try it. Ummm……no. Managed not to drop Fury, but after 2 close calls, again managed to turn her around and get the heck outta there.
Headache meaning business now, I crossed the mighty Saskatchewan River once again - back to Nipawin - and checked into the Northern Greens Resort. Ian at the front desk very kindly got me set up in a very comfortable room and I unloaded Fury and started the hot bath. Called Fred and Gerty again and was successful this time. Which is how I found out I was on the wrong road! Now that I know where to go and how to get there, I will try to be up and out in good time tomorrow to go have breakfast with them before heading back towards Flin Flon.
All in all, the kind of day that is a comedy of errors that’s only funny when you’re on the other end of it! Off to bed early tonight after some stretching and some time spent with the torture massage ball. Here’s to more satisfying adventure tomorrow!