The babies look like cows from a distance.

If you didn’t know, last year I took on the task of coordinating the communications for the Royal Canadian Artillery’s 150th anniversary.  Needless to say, we “pivoted” to a mostly online event so communications became more and more central to creating a celebratory mood.  In that year, I met and worked with a great number of people, all virtually.  This trip East is in part my effort to meet as many of those people as I can.  With that in mind, you will understand that we are zigzagging a bit as we travel to the Maritimes.

Earlier this week, we camped at Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, Sask, on our way to Shilo, Manitoba.  The park offers a great number of activities for all ages.  There is a huge lake with boating and fishing, a pool, lots of hiking and biking trails and plenty of quiet areas to camp.  Our site was in one of those quiet areas, sort of at the end of the park.  Leon suggested we take our bikes and ride down to the store and pool area.  I did not recall the hills and the distance to the pool.  Of course, I started getting tired at the bottom of the first hill and did more walking with my bike than riding.  But after a hot walk/ride, we managed to find the second store and pool and enjoyed a popsicle before heading back to our site.  I was impressed with the clean flush toilets and showers throughout the campground, as well as the fresh, clean drinking water.  It is truly a family destination where we could have spent a week.

Before leaving the park, I wanted to explore the bison holding area.  It was a very hot day and we didn’t get there till almost noon.  After a short walk, I convinced Leon that the bison were likely hiding from sun and we should just get back on the road to our destination.  Wouldn’t you know it, I sighted a small group of bison on top of a hill, grazing happily, on the way out of the area.

On that same day, I lost my watch.  Our camper has an area in the back that is called the pit because if you drop something down there, you probably won’t find it short of removing a good part of the bed benches.  Leon and I tried very hard to find my missing watch.  We found $3 instead.  Leon even tried to unscrew the panel that covers the front of that area, where the water tank is located.  But alas, the watch was gone.

I considered buying a replacement as it was Amazon Prime day, but I was too busy to shop online, so I never got to it.  After 3 days, I was grabbing my small backpack and didn’t I find the darned thing in the side pocket, where I likely left it when I went for a shower a few days earlier.  Sheesh!  Anyway, I’m up $3, instead of down $140.

Moving on, we had to be in Shilo, Manitoba for a change of command ceremony on July 15.  Joe, the new commander of 1 RCHA (look it up, it’s more artillery talk) had been super helpful to me during the previous year as he is a very talented videographer.  I really wanted to meet him in person, so we planned to be there.

We managed to get free camping on the base (the mosquitoes were a particular add-on we did not request).  We spent the evening cooling off at the pool and the swatting (we did a lot of swatting).  The pool was amazing!  We were even lucky enough to see a young deer just outside our camper.

The next morning, we toured the base, stopping to meet the new crew at HQ, visiting the museum, and generally meeting quite a few people that I had hoped to run into.  We had an early wake up call the next morning as I wanted to wash my hair (which I did in the kitchen sink).

Dressed and bug sprayed, I was ready for the change of command parade which took place on the firing range.  There was a gun salute with 3 M-777s firing 4 rounds each.  I suggest you look those up too.  They are pretty impressive.  They make a loud bang going off but more importantly, they have such a long range that the noise of the projectile landing comes almost a minute later.  It’s an interesting lesson in the speed of sound.

The ceremony went well and after a brief reception, we were headed West again.  Say what?  Yes West!  We have another change of command ceremony tomorrow that is for another friend I have made over the past year.  Colonel Shawn and I have shared some great conversations and I will miss working with him as his new tasks will take up too much of his time to continue his website work with me. 

At any rate, we are headed to Regina tomorrow, staying at the same campground we stayed on the way to Shilo 3 days ago.  After the ceremony and reception, we hope to head East again and we might even stay at this same campground for a third time.  The pool is amazing here too!

The morning after. That tree was still standing (luckily) but those white chunks are pieces of the roof from the building.

Editor’s note:  What should have been a quiet night turned out to be an adventure in climate change.  Before going in for the night, after being beating at Scrabble yet again, I noticed the skies were quite colourful and unusual.  There was a red horizon with low clouds that looked like mountains, and a darker cloud cover over that.

As we went to sleep, I kept the blind open as I was fascinated with the lightning display that went on for close to an hour. I figured Prairie thunderstorms last a lot longer than what I am used to. But suddenly, the wind started to come up and the rain came down quickly enough for me to close to bedroom windows.  And then there was more wind and a loud thump on the roof.  The power went out in the campground and the van started to rock.  I woke up Leon and kept an eye on the trees on my side of the camper.  It got more and more violent.  We looked outside to see the roof of the arena behind us had come down.  That was likely what hit our roof.  Luckily, it was made of Styrofoam and tar paper.

There was a sudden calm which I figured was the eye of the storm and sure enough, it started again for at least another hour.  Some of the neighbours came around to see if we were alright, which we were, and we tried to make the best of it until the storm (or tornado) finally passed.

In the morning, we woke up to a scene that looked like a bad party where no one had picked up afterwards.  Trees down everywhere and miraculously, not one camper hit.  The pool cover was all messed up though. 

We checked for any damage and finding none, packed up to make our date in Regina, driving through town as we headed for the highway.  We saw a lot more downed trees but not structural damage.  There was a tractor trailer completely on its side at the highway entrance. As you can imagine, we did not return for a third night at the Grenfell Recreational Park.