Oh man, I'm like five days behind on this. I'll keep this short with lots of pictures, and I'm only going to cover Saskatchewan in this post, I think.
So, Thursday, we packed up the condo and left Regina. We drove through Wadena but didn't stop; we were going straight to Kelvington. We arrived at Aunt Leona's house to find her sitting on the front step! She greeted us with smiles and hugs and welcomed Ali and Eden to the family (or “the club”, as she put it). Turns out she had forgotten we were coming that day and was just outside doing some gardening!
We went inside for a bit of a chat, and Aunt Leona promptly got down on her hands and knees to play with Eden! She assured us that she could get up no problem, because she exercises every day, and then demonstrated that she could touch her toes!
After she got herself ready to go out, we got gas, went for supper in Archerwill, ate, and drove back, with Aunt Leona giving us directions and talking up a storm the entire time. We learned that she didn't think I was “the marrying type” but always thought I was good-looking; that she thinks Pamela maybe looks like grandma (she wasn't sure about that though); that she remembers us being out for a party (their anniversary?) and Lisa announced “I'm hungry!”; and a million other things besides, including which farm belongs to Wendell Clark's dad, and that Wendell ruined his life with too much fighting. All told we had a very enjoyable visit with her and it was clear that she was happy we came out to visit.
We made it to Wadena around 9:00, and since we had told Aunt Joyce 8:30, she was getting worried…but she didn't have my phone number so she couldn't call! We had tea and baking and a bit of a chat; Eden was too tired to be friendly though. It had been a busy day and we were happy to get to bed (we picked the downstairs bedroom; Uncle Eddie watched me set up the pack-and-play and thought it was pretty nifty).
In the morning, Eden and I got up and Ali slept in, and Aunt Joyce and Uncle Eddie played with Eden. They loved her and she had fun with them. Eventually Ali got up and Aunt Joyce could serve the breakfast she had planned for us. Afterwards I spent some time showing Uncle Eddie some of the old family pictures that I have on my iPad, and then we went out for a drive!
On our drive, our first stop was Kelvingrove cemetery (where grandma, grandpa, and Uncle Clarence are buried), and then we went to Uncle Eddie's old farm. His first tractor is still in a field there — he bought it when he was 16 with 10,000 feet of lumber. We also drove past the farms where grandma and grandpa grew up.
Then we drove to Grandpa's old homestead, where my dad and the rest of his family lived. The house is collapsing but still there. We hiked across the field for a visit, even though there were a lot of mosquitoes, and we got our legs scratched up. I found a doorknob in the house's door that I pointed out to Ali; of course, she wants it now as a souvenir and for decoration, but we couldn't get it safely.
The next stop was High Tor church and cemetery, where my great-grandparents (my dad's mom's parents) are buried, along with their daughter Catherine (my great-aunt). Uncle Eddie's brother is buried there as well, so relatives of mine make up a significant percentage of the very small cemetery (I didn't count but I'd guess about 20 headstones).
We stopped for lunch there, but ended up eating in the van because there were an incredible number of mosquitoes! Then Uncle Eddie put flowers on the graves, and we went and checked out the church. It was unlocked, so we went inside to explore a bit. It's a tiny church that recently had some repairs done; it's in better shape than it was the last time I visited.
We kept driving, with Uncle Eddie pointing out where their old church was, where old dance halls were, which farms are owned by which people and how big they are, where post offices and towns used to be, where old roads ran, what routes people took to get places… He had a constant stream of stories and information, and I kind of wish I had a recorder or something to capture it because there's no way I'll remember it all. Every road or corner or place triggered a different memory, it seems…this is where Uncle Orville lost part of his thumb when his mom slammed the car door on it, this is where someone got stuck, this is where he was biking downhill at night as a kid and ran into a herd of cows that were crossing the road…it didn't stop!
Eventually we made it to Porcupine Plain, where grandpa lived after he retired, and we stopped for ice cream, and then we drove to Archerwill for supper. Yes, the same restaurant we'd been to the night before with Aunt Leona…but apparently there aren't really any other decent places to eat around, and it's a very good restaurant so we didn't mind!
Finally we drove out to Rose Valley, to visit Uncle Bill's and Aunt Elsie's graves at the cemetery there, and drive past their old house (which I definitely recognized). Then one last stop at Wadena to visit Robbie and Rachel's graves, and back “home” for the evening.
The next morning we got on the road just before 9:00 for the longest drive of our trip: Wadena to Edmonton. We stopped a couple of times (in Humboldt for gas and the Farmer's Market; in Saskatoon for lunch), just outside Lloydminster for gas again (I was hoping to make Lloydminster but the car had different ideas)…and right around Lloydminster Eden decided that she had had enough of this whole “riding in the car” thing, and we took about a 90 minute break for a walk around town and a little bit of shopping. The last thing we did was stop at Safeway for a snack, and ended up buying the best donuts I've ever eaten…we got there just as freshly-baked trays were being put out, and they were amazing.
And, since Lloydminster is right on the Alberta border, I'll end the post there!