Day 675: Onefour What For

Breakfast was over and Sophie’s husband had gone off to work, but Emma’s school was on break, so she was home. Although it is a bit irregular for tour leaders to take their children with them on tours, Sophie decided to do it. Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours are free, so was unlikely that anyone on the tour would ask for their money back. Sophie and Emma sat on the sofa in their living room in Alberta. Sophie described the Emerald Victorian in some detail for Emma. Then both closed their eyes, and a few moments later they were standing on its front porch. In the kitchen was a packet of hot chocolate mix in addition to the usual packet of coffee beans. Soon both were sitting in the library with their respective drinks. Emma found a copy of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows to read while Sophie planned the day’s tour.

Sophie’s group spent the morning in the Historic District of Medicine Hat and then headed south to Onefour. The rural post was given its less-than-inventive name because of its location of Township 1, Range 4. Though not much remains of the postal grouping, its name lives on in the Onefour Livestock Substation of the Lethbridge Research Station, which is dedicated to grain research for bovine consumption. Near the research station campus is the Onefour Heritage Rangeland, where Sophie, Emma, and the tour participants spent most of the day hiking and nature viewing.

City folk sometimes view the prairie as desolate, but this area contains extensive wetlands, badlands, grasslands, marshlands, springs, and streams. Among its abundant population of wildlife are rare species, such as the loggerhead shrike, the burrowing owl, and the mountain plover. There aren’t many towns in the area, so in the afternoon they stopped at the research station before returning to Medicine Hat.

The research station employees graciously served the adults tea or coffee, made hot chocolate for Emma, and spun yarns about research station life. One of the best was about a new employee named Sue and an infamous steer, named Houdini because he had a way of escaping. Frustrated during one of his escape attempts, Sue leaped on a horse, caught up with Houdini, and wrestled him to the ground. It turned out that as a young woman she was a steer wrestler who regularly competed in rodeos around the area, including the Calgary Stampede.

Back in Medicine Hat, Sophie delivered her group to their hotel. They would all meet for dinner later at a steakhouse. It wasn’t likely to have much for children, so Sophie took Emma to a malt shop. She didn’t need to go to a bar to pick up local gossip. She already had a limerick.

To this day it is strong local lore
That a gal named Sue settled a score
When she and a steer
Engaged without fear
In the place that is known as Onefour.

Day 674: Leaving Town in Saskatchewan

Laetitia’s cousin Sophie settled into a comfortable chair in her living room in Alberta, Canada. Her husband was at work, and she had just returned from taking her daughter, Emma, to school. She closed her eyes, cleared her mind, and moments later was standing on the porch of the Emerald Victorian in front of its green six-paneled front door. A few days earlier, she had received a packet from Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours headquarters—wherever that is—containing a key, an agreement, and a set of instructions. Laetitia had briefed her thoroughly, so she knew what she would find when she inserted the key in the lock. She opened the door and walked into the sumptuous entry hall, with its molded plaster ceiling. Though she knew she needed to get down to the business of planning the day’s trip, she allowed herself a few moments to admire the William-Morris-inspired paisley wallpaper.

Entering the kitchen, she looked for and found the packet of coffee beans next to the grinder. It read, “Peet’s Coffee, Uzuri African Blend.” Walking into the library with a steaming cup in hand, she paused briefly to scan the book collection, the globe, and the Harold Balazs silkscreen print above the fireplace with its message, “Transcend the Bullshit.” Then she sank into a comfortable chair with maps and guidebooks she had gathered and began planning the day’s tour.

Since Sophie was new to the business, she decided to stay in the familiar territory of western Canada. Laetitia ended yesterday’s tour in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, so Sophie decided to start there, bring her group to Climax, near the southern border of the province, and ending the day in Medicine Hat, Alberta. On the way, they stopped for hiking and wildlife viewing in Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park.

Going to Climax was Laetitia’s suggestion. When Sophie and her group arrived there, they found it a hamlet of slightly fewer than 200 inhabitants. It had a grain elevator, ballpark, and a community museum, which they visited. A local man at the museum told them a joke about a Montana couple that, having gone north across the border on their honeymoon said, “We got to Havre, then Turner, but we never made it to Climax!” The group, which consisted of several couples, had lunch in a local bar. All the men had several drinks and were in a bawdy mood when they climbed back in the van. There were loud snickers as the group passed the Climax water tower, a tall cylinder of phallic proportions. But the water tower was only a foretaste of what was to come. Climax has the usual “Welcome” sign, but as the group left town, there were loud shrieks of drunken laughter from the men and frowns from the women as they passed the sign inviting visitors to return.

When the group arrived at Medicine Hat, they did a walkabout before going to their hotel. Sophie gave them instructions about when and where to gather before going to dinner. She knew Laetitia often hung out in bars looking for gossip that would inspire the limerick of the day, but Sophie didn’t know if she would adopt that practice. She would think about it tomorrow. She already had the limerick for today.

As we drive out of town all the men
Who are laughing and screaming “Amen”
Do the women much peeve
As from Climax we leave
Past the sign saying “Please come again.”

Day 673: Moon Balloon

Laetitia and her group left Kelvington and drove west and then south, stopping at Quill Lakes for some wildlife viewing. There they turned onto Trans Canada Highway 16 and proceeded west toward Saskatoon. On arrival at Saskatoon, they visited the Mendel Art Gallery, the Ukrainian Museum of Canada, the Saskatchewan Western Development Museum, and the Saskatchewan Railway Museum before going to the Delta Bessborough Hotel, the former Canadian National Railway hotel where they were spending the evening.

Laetitia found a western-style saloon for her happy hour sojourn. From her perch on a barstool, she watched a local lounge lizard making the rounds. When a woman at one of the tables refused his offer to buy her a drink, he walked out in a huff and mooned everyone in the saloon from the sidewalk. His timing was bad. Just as he dropped his pants, a gang of roving teenage boys walked by looking for water balloon targets. It didn’t end well for him, but it gave Laetitia the limerick of the day.

‘Twas a hoot yesterday afternoon
When a disgruntled local buffoon
Proceeded to moon
The entire saloon
And was hit by a water balloon.