Biking Across Canada Day 18—Danielson Provincial Park to Saskatoon: Find the River

I have got to leave to find my way

Watch the road and memorize
This life that passed before my eyes
And nothing is going my way

The ocean is the river’s goal
A need to leave the water knows
We’re closer now than light years to go
I have got to find the river

R.E.M., “Find the River”

I spent today following the South Saskatchewan River, and never really seeing it. I could tell from the topography on my left that there was something there, but it was always just out of sight. After about 80 km of this, I put on Find the River by R.E.M., and was struck by how well it captures the wanderlust that drives one to take such a trip.

I saw more of these highway signs then signs of the river

R.E.M. was a big obsession of my teenage years. I even had a Geocities fan website at the time, which probably tells a lot about me. I was fortunate enough to see them live in 2001 and came home with the fruit bowl that Michael Stipe threw out to the crowd. I like that all these decades later their music can still fill me with exuberance and melancholy like it did in those impressionable times.

I spent the first half of the morning trying to get ahead of a rainstorm I could see rolling in. Fortunately I had a partial tailwind, so the riding was easy. There weren’t many places to stop today—just a gas station cafe at the Whitecap First Nation. 

Saskatoon has some decent protected bike lanes, but they also have their share of truck-filled murderstrips, that even in July are filled with sand and gravel from the previous winter.
I was actually kind of impressed that this truck driver blocked the “car” lane instead of the bike lane. Don’t worry motorists, that bike lane ended abruptly shortly after.

I made it to Saskatoon in the early afternoon, and made a beeline for the Bike Doctor so they can fix my wheel. I left my bike there and headed downtown for some sightseeing where I finally got to see that river.

The South Saskatchewan River, finally

While wandering around, I saw the railway hotel, city hall, and a long stretch of downtown closed to motor vehicles for a bustling "sidewalk sale."

The Bez, as locals call it.
This street was packed with people for blocks on an otherwise quiet Thursday afternoon. Great placemaking!
The unassuming city hall had a nice plaza in the back with a podium so you don’t need to provide your own soapbox.

 I also noticed some wonderful street furniture, which I'll expand upon in my next post.

Location-specific bike racks off Broadway
This protective ring still provides bike parking long after the tree is gone.
Parking meter turned into a bike rack. Halifax take note!

Having hit 2000 km, or about 25% of my trip distance, I was in the mood to treat myself so I walked over to 9-Mile Legacy Brewing to try their beers. Tunnel of Love started playing as I walked in, and I looked over to see Dure Straights' Making Movies album, so I could tell I was in the right place. (That song was immortalized by Douglas Adams in So Long and Thanks For All The Fish when he wrote "she moved forward, put her arms round and kissed him, because the record had got to that bit which, if you knew the record, you would know made it impossible not to do this.")

Dire Straits on the turntable
The kettle sour was my fave
Someone brought in a growler from the Banff Ave Brewing Co, where my brother works

After enjoying a couple flights I caught a cab to Theresa and Sanj's house, parents of my friend Lauren from work. They did a spectacular job of making me feel welcome, making me a steak and salad for dinner, being incredibly friendly, and lining up a days' worth of activities for my rest day tomorrow.

I went to bed tired and happy, looking forward to doing some more sightseeing in Saskatoon.

Today's Distance: 106 km

Cumulative Distance: 2052 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle