Tuesday, 08 August 2017 05:19

Picnic on the prairie near Val Marie provides a welcome relief

Written by  Andrea Carol
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Al Hargarten, Dick Carter, Shirley Carter and Elaine Hargarten enjoy a picnic on the prairie on their way to Grasslands National Park. Al Hargarten, Dick Carter, Shirley Carter and Elaine Hargarten enjoy a picnic on the prairie on their way to Grasslands National Park. Andrea Carol

The loneliest road in southwest Saskatchewan might be the #4 highway South of Swift Current.

Though the road is lonely, it is scenic, breathtaking and a delight to drive during the summer months. Travelers will enjoy expansive open spaces and scenic prairie backdrops that line the highway.
On my way to Val Marie in June, I came across a vehicle on the side of the road. Outside the vehicle were four seniors sitting on lawn chairs around a small table enjoying what looked like a picnic lunch and some beverages.
I couldn’t help myself and had to stop to talk to them as they were literally in the middle of nowhere.
“This has been going on for a long long time,” said Elaine Hargarten of Saskatoon.
Dick’s wife Shirley piped up, “I’ve been to Arizona, Alaska, Shuswap, New York, East Coast, Nashville, Copper Canyon, British Columbia (and more) in our RV’s,” she said.
Hargarten described some bad luck on their last trip.  “our trip to Vancouver Island, we had our motor home stolen at the end of our trip so all they got was my dirty laundry”, she laughed.
Though the group of plus seventy adventurists couldn’t agree on what year for sure they started travelling together, one thing was certain, they were great travel companions.
Picnics are a regular occurrence for this group of retirees. On this journey, they were headed to Grasslands National Park and were staying at the Convent in Val Marie.
They invited me to join them and were more than happy to share a beverage with me.
When I asked them if they made a habit of “picnicking on the prairies,” they all laughed and nodded.
“My husband does not like eating in restaurants. Want me to tell you the last time I’ve been to a restaurant for a meal?” Shirley asked. “I can’t remember. Now we are talking years,” she explained.  “The tour boss was really good at studying the map and finding places to stop and picnic. So, we always stopped on all our trips to picnic.”
The four boomers were excited to experience Grasslands National Park. Plains bison roam freely inside the park and the curious tourist can find black-tailed prairie dogs and the black-footed ferret. Being one of our 39 national parks that represent prairie grasslands, it is also one of Canada’s darkest sky reserves that draws star lovers from all over. Not only will you find rare plants, birds and animals there, it is home to pronghorn antelope, sage grouse, burrowing owls, ferruginous hawks, short horned lizards and prairie rattlesnakes.
These Saskatoon boomers succumbed to wanderlust and set out to experience one of southwest Saskatchewan’s most fascinating places to visit. And why not have a picnic on the side of one of the loneliest roads in Saskatchewan on the way?

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