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Last week time and weather cooperated and we decided on short notice to hitch up the camper and head west. Grasslands National Park has been on our “bucket list of places to visit in Canada” ever since we moved to Saskatchewan ten years ago.
Our summer continues, the mercury keeps soaring during the day. We have had no moisture to speak of in months, perfect for camping but worrisome for grass and forest fires. We experienced neither.
We chose to travel south on # 4 Hwy from Swift Current where we stocked up on some groceries and water. The road is under construction this year, so it took longer than estimated to reach our destination. We arrived 10 minutes before closing at the information centre for Grasslands National Park West Block on Labour Day Monday and decided to spend the night in Val Marie at the town campground, the gateway to Grasslands. Early Tuesday we broke camp and drove the 30 minutes to Frenchman River Campground, stopping at most Eco Tour points of interest to explore vistas and watch wildlife.
Prairie Dogs are abundant and worth the various stops to photograph their antics. Solitary buffalo kept their distance from the road on day one. After setting up the camper at Frenchman River Campground we continued on the Eco Tour and eventually made it to Borderlands Lookout. It was well worth the drive. We were happy we had dropped the camper as the last stretch of road was quite steep.
We enjoyed a relaxing time in Grasslands National Park (West Block) and even took in a few short hikes. It was just too hot to brave the longer loops. We were fortunate to witness the full moon rising on Tuesday night and inspired others to do the same on Wednesday night.
Eventually, the buffalo moved closer to the road which provided great photo opportunities. A bunny at sunset and the 13-Striper were very tame and seemed to be happy to pose for photos at sunset at the old Larsen Ranch site, just down from our campground. We heard coyotes in the background serenading the rising moon.
I didn’t neglect my Miksang practice with so many textures and details. Nature is the best artist and just calls out to be captured with the camera no matter where I go.
It was time to pack up and head on home on Wednesday. We spent a good hour watching and photographing a large herd of buffalo. When we started up the car and pulled ahead a rock bounced off the camper and broke the back window of the car. It is the second time this happened during a camping trip in Saskatchewan. We weren’t’ travelling fast nor were we spinning tires… it is considered a fluke but did put a bit of a dent into our experience. On the positive side, we did not have to flee hurricanes, fires or other natural disasters! Cars and windows can be fixed.