Before long the city disappeared in our rear view mirror and we were back in the 110km/hr, vastly open region of the Trans-Canada Highway. With a mere 482 miles northwest to Saskatoon, it honestly felt like today would be a “short” day in comparison to our recent long hauls. An hour or so outside of the city I pulled into a Petro-Canada gas station on the side of the highway as a light rain began to fall. It continued for the next few hours, making the monotonous plains of western Manitoba a little more interesting, the typically vibrant yellow hay fields seeming muted against the grey skies overhead. Our scarce road signs began noting that Saskatchewan was quickly approaching, and after taking a few minutes break to fly the drone on an empty dirt farm road we crossed into our third Canadian province shortly before 13h00. Within the hour the clouds broke up and revealed the blue skies we had become used to. There was a minor scare in the late afternoon that my wallet may have fallen out at a gas station rest-stop two hours behind us, but we eventually learned that there was a “secret” part of the Jeep’s dashboard storage compartment that is relatively hidden unless you’re desperately crawling around in the back seat. I maintained a relative calm during the 45-minute search, emptying out the entire contents of the Jeep and slowly pacing in the restaurant parking lot. Eventually Dani noticed my wallet in this little storage area, and all became right with the world again after a few deep breaths and a little swig of whiskey.
She drove the remainder of the day to Saskatoon, delivering us to a grocery store in the city to pick up final items before reaching Jasper the next evening. We were again staying in a cheap Airbnb, owned by a young couple with a new baby. Their entire basement had been newly redone as an in-law apartment and was ours for the mere price of $34 a night. Dani cooked us a delicious dinner with grilled seasoned chicken, rice, and broccoli, while I got to work doing laundry and drying our camping gear, still damp from the torrential rain in Longlac two nights prior. We drank some local hard ciders while folding laundry and reviewing photos from the QB-5 portion of our trip as I did my best to get some writing done. Sharing this adventure with someone, while an exceptionally nice change to my usual solo-ness, made it much harder to get my usual blogging done at the end of each day. On average it takes me about an hour to write one of these posts, edit the photos, and prep it for publication. She’s been incredibly helpful in driving for a while each day to let me write and edit photos, but I was still way behind. Alas, not being out on this adventure alone was worth any tradeoff I can think of.
The next morning we would begin our final haul to Jasper, Alberta, continuing a manageable 535 miles on our northwest trajectory and reaching the first of the two national parks on our itinerary before the sun set on the Canadian Rockies.