Where the Antelope Play

Return Trip: Day 10

The wind howled around the trailer/camper all Tuesday night, rattling the vent and shaking my bed, waking me up off and on until my alarm went off at six. The weather forecast had been calling for gusts up to 90 km/h, and I’d say it delivered. As I drove across the dead flat prairie, a formidable crosswind wreaked havoc on my gas mileage. I can usually get over 200 km on half a tank, but we were lucky to get 120. At one point I experimented to see just how slow I would have to drive on this 110 km/h highway to get my usual mileage. Ninety? Nope. Eighty? Unh-unh. Seventy? Pfft. Sixty. Sixty. I would have had to drive 60 km/h to avoid spending an extra $120 in gas. And then it would have taken me something like eleven hours to do the six and a half hour drive to Swift Current. Fuuuuuuuck.

Even though it was entirely out of character, my impatience won out over my fiduciary duty, and, with wanton disregard for my savings account, I drove at 100. Or 110. Something like that.

The good thing about not being sensible is that it means that you do tend to have a good time. I arrived at Kelly and Daphne’s in very good time, and about the second thing out of Daphne’s mouth was the query, “Do you want to go for a ride?”, and so off we went over the prairie on our horses – Pai reunited with her boyfriend Vader – dogs charging on ahead, in the last of the evening sun.

Kelly and Daphne live and raise cattle on pasture land that stretches as far as the eye can see. It is stunningly beautiful – all that grass and sage under a big sky. The wind finally died down, and the evening was silent aside from the occasional bellowing from the cows that Sam and Charlie riled up. As we rode towards a hump of sand hills, we passed a herd of antelope that fled when they saw us.  We rode until dark. On the return home, we saw more antelope, and coyotes began barking in the distance.

Daphne and Sam.

Daphne and Charlie riding along the sandhill.

We had a great dinner with vegetables all from Daphne’s garden (including potatoes good enough to rival PEI ones), and I heard some very funny stories about dogs, horses, a duck and a fawn, and a lost truck.

As I was having morning coffee at Daphne’s kitchen table this morning (after the best sleep ever, in a bed that was very hard to rouse myself out of), I looked out the window and saw the prettiest sight ever: a man in cowboy hat and jeans and and boots, leading a saddled horse, silhouetted against the morning light. Anyone who knows me well knows that in my alternate universe, I am a cowboy instead of a veterinarian. I ride my horse and fix fences and look for stray cattle and get wet and cold, and shoot the odd goose for dinner (in my cowboy universe, I am not a vegetarian).

Cow pony wannabe.

Kelly and Daphne were off to Maple Creek this morning, letting me make myself at home at their place in their absence. Pai and I headed out on our own for a couple more hours of riding. We found the antelope again, but never got close enough for a decent picture.

This afternoon, loaded down with vegetables from Daphne’s garden, we’re setting off for Vanessa’s place in Taber.


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