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Chaplin, Saskatchewan

I had to get up and go over to the bushes by the tent about seven times last night – once for every cup of coffee – so I didn’t get a lot of sleep and got a late start, but the going was good today. Hardly any wind, except for a couple of hours when it got up a bit, and warm and sunny – wearing shorts and t-shirt for the first time in a while.

Did 90km – could have done a bit more but after Chaplin there isn’t a lot, whereas here there’s a truck stop with a restaurant with wireless internet plus a free campground – free because it looks like it’s shut down. No showers, no electricity, no water, no other campers. The gas station here is closed as well, but the restaurant is open and I’ve just had an excellent soup followed by a Zesty Meatloaf with a baked potato and vegetables, dessert to come – all for $8.95 (less than £5).

That’s another good thing about Canada – you can eat out really cheaply. More cheaply than buying food in a supermarket – I spent $25 this morning on supplies – granola bars, bread, cream cheese, tomatoes, chocolate brownies, peanuts, nutella and bananas. I invented a very good sandwich yesterday – nutella (a chocolate hazelnut spread) and bananas: great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as a main course or dessert.

I seem to have developed a sweet tooth since I’ve been here. Don’t know if it’s the cycling that makes me need more sugar or whether it’s this country. They seem to be into sweet things here. Coffee and doughnuts shops all over the place, plus ice cream shops, and many people seem to spend the evenings a places like that rather than in bars. In quite a few towns I’ve been through the coffee and doughnut place or the ice cream shop have been the only place open.

I climbed the first proper hill I’ve climbed in about three weeks today. The landscape is changing. It’s been almost totally flat ever since Kenora, Ontario, and wall to wall fields. I’ve seen a lot of combine harvesters, harvesting their combines, but now the landscape is more wild. Rather than crops there are now cows in fields which don’t appear to have edges. The cows all stare at me as I go by. Some of them are bulls and they give me really hard stares. When the cows are sitting down they often stand as I pass, out of respect I guess.

It’s another 89km to Swift Current, which looks like a reasonable sized town. That’s where I’ll aim to get to tomorrow, then it looks a bit barren until I get into Alberta, which’ll probably be the day after the day after tomorrow. It’s supposed to get flat again in Alberta before the foothills of the Rockies start.

I’d better pace myself on the coffee tonight. Two cups so far.


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