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Days 8 and 9

Not quite naked. I was wearing rubber boots. Borrowed ones.

The day started in Swift Current (“Speedy Creek” to Wayde and to me, “Swift” to locals) after a great sleep at Kinetic Park, which was suggested to me by Carol, who has been like a special fairy godmother on this trip. As well as providing me with accommodation options for Swift Current and for New Liskeard, Carol stocked me with a road trip care package, that included podcasts of Wiretap, a David Sedaris article on travel, and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. This last is a marvel. Just about every second sentence resonates with me.”We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us”and “Equipping Rocinante was a long and pleasant process. I took far too many things, but I didn’t know what I would find. Tools for emergency…” and “In long-range planning for a trip, I think there is a private conviction that it won’t happen… I didn’t want to go. Something had to happen to forbid my going, but it didn’t.”

We lunched in Moose Jaw, alongside a quintessentially Canadian small town statue. Every small town has one.

Our next stop was Fleming, Saskatchewan, whose claim to fame is that it is the smallest town in Canada. We arrived at the farm of my home barn owner’s brother and his wife in a torrential downpour, and I set up my little portable electric pen in a grassy field, and parked my rig up next to it – Pai likes sleeping right up close to mum, and, in a big paddock, will chose the spot closest to the rig to lie down for her sleep. Within seconds, my trousers were soaked; within minutes, my Blundstones were awash with water; within a few more minutes, I was wet to the skin through my optimistically labeled “waterproof” jacket.

Good times. Loves me a road trip.

I took off my boots and poured the water out. Some hot tea fixed the chill I’d gotten, and I had a great evening with Rick and Beryl, who had me stay for dinner, washed down with some of the homemade peach wine.

The prairies are, in a word, buggy.  One of the bugs I became intimately acquainted with that night was the wood tick. After being warned about them by my hosts, I patted myself down and was squicked out to find two on my person. And a third on the Scoot. I had just gotten settled into my bed when I heard the gentle patter of rain on the roof. You know how a tent or a tin roof can make the slightest trickle of rain seem like a deluge to rival The Flood? I thought about Pai in her pen without a roof. It’s just a little rain. And then the patter became not-so-gentle. She’s fine. It’s way warmer than BC. And then there was a gust of wind that shook the trailer. She’s fat. I snuggled under my covers. But what if it gets colder? And it’s windy. And there are no trees for shelter. You know how that conversation with self will always end. I got up to go blanket my horse – the fat one who has been out in the wet BC spring at 5 and 8 degrees C for the past eight weeks – but was horrified by the idea of more ticks invading my clothing. And by the idea of becoming soaked yet again – I was running out of places to put wet clothes in my submarine-cabin sized living quarters. The answer was obvious.

There’s no punchline, really – no one saw me staggering around in the dark wearing only rubber boots, manoeuvering like a Ninja through the three strands of electric tape, and throwing a blanket on my horse. But I bet it would have presented a perplexing picture.

I left Rick and Beryl’s farm with a pair of hand knit slippers and a jar of honey, having left them with a bottle of BC wine and some of my handmade soap. This evening I landed in Richer, Manitoba, to camp out with Myriam, a dressage acquaintance I’d “met” online and who had cheerfully offered me a place to lay my head. We took Pai and her Sally out for a little trail ride around town, and then headed out for dinner at the local pub and restaurant. The bar was hopping on Friday Night in Richer, and we shot some pool with her friends, and I discovered the existence of electric cigarettes. Who knew.

PS An eighteen year old ladies man at the bar suggested he stow away on my trailer for the remainder of the trip. Cue John Steinbeck: “And then I saw what I was to see so many times on the journey – a look of longing. ‘Lord! I wish I could go.'”

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