Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Friendly City

Location: Moose Jaw, SK, Canada
The ride from Morse to Moose Jaw was fairly easy going and really pretty. Gentle rolling hills of golden grasses reminded us of the Peak District back home but there was also the unfamiliar sight of salt marshes with their heaping piles that looked like dirty snow. It was hot with blazing sun and beautiful blue skies streaked with white clouds. We stopped for coffee and pastries in Chaplin which is just past a place called Uren, pronounced urine (?!) and for a cold drink in Mortlach where for some unfathomable reason they were flying the Welsh flag.

Before long we reached the outskirts of Moose Jaw and were super excited to see a lovely big sign welcoming us to 'The Friendly City'. A short ride down some extremely potholed streets brought us to Glenda's place. Glenda is on Warm Showers and we'd actually contacted her weeks previously as we intended to get some bike supplies posted to her, but we were excited to stay with her as we'd been recommended her by both Peter and the two Korean guys at Medicine Hat. She quickly made us feel right at home and soon after arriving we were sharing some delicious salads for lunch with Glenda, Chevonne and Larry.

We arrived on Monday and actually ended up staying until Saturday, which is a totally amazing and hospitable thing in itself, but Glenda really is a wonderful host and went out of her way to help us make the most of our stay in her home town. Because Moose Jaw is important to us Tom and I are both going to write about our time there. So I'm going to tell you about our visit to the Mineral Spa, the Casino and our meeting with the Mayor.

We'd contacted the Mayor's office prior to our visit to see if we could meet her and get a photo and they kindly obliged and set us up with an appointment at 11am on Wednesday. We debated whether Tom should get his hair cut and beard neatened up but did nothing in the end. Mayor Deb Higgins is Moose Jaw's first female mayor and she was down to earth and very interesting. Her assistant gave us a bunch of pin badges and the Mayor gave us a commemorative postcard. We sat in her office and talked for over half an hour, learning about the city and telling her about our trip. Then we went outside and got a photo taken by a reporter from the Times-Herald. After taking our leave from the Mayor we went for a coffee with the reporter and she interviewed us for an article which you can read here.

That afternoon we spent a few hours soaking in the mineral waters of the Spa and reading and relaxing before making our way across the street to the Casino. Peter, who we'd donated our last few US dollars to his Indiegogo project which hadn't worked out, had very sweetly left us a little package of casino chips at Glenda's as he knew we'd be coming through. Our previous experience in Vegas was almost entirely on penny slots or roulette so we hit the roulette table as no one else was on it and we are utterly unaware of the rules and etiquette of anything else in there and didn't want to offend anyone or get ourselves in trouble. Within no time we lost all our money. Also based on our Vegas experience we ordered two beers assuming they'd be free, like in Vegas, but no they were extortionate. That is not how you keep people in a casino losing money on all the gambling!

We decided that we'd given the casino enough of our dough and headed back to Glenda's ambling through the streets to take in a few of the murals around town which Glenda had been pivotal in bringing about. They had even got the artist who'd been involved in the impressive murals we'd seen all the way back in Vancouver Island with Thor and they were part of the city's reinvention as a tourist destination and key to making the residents change how they felt about the place.

We really enjoyed our time in our namesake city. Obviously it helped having wonderful hosts who were a mine of local information and a lot of fun, but it was really nice to be in a little city with coffee shops and restaurants, cool stuff to look at and do, but with less of the tourist hype of somewhere like Banff. I also left Moose Jaw as the best manicured and pedicured cycle tourer on the circuit as Glenda treated me to a girly day with her and Chevonne when one of her other daughters cancelled at the last minute.

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