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Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

A Day of Adventure – Toronto to Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan

A Day of Adventure – Toronto to Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan

badlands, grasslands national park east block, saskatchewan

Bob and I had never explored the Canadian Prairies before we planned our summer vacation to the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.  Committed to discovering more of our own country’s unique landscape and culture, we booked a car in Regina, Saskatchewan, for use after flying west from Toronto.  Grasslands National Park East Block was our first destination.

highway south of regina, saskatchewan

Leaving Regina, the landscape was not what we expected.  We quickly left behind the endless stretches of flat plains sectioned off into farmers’ fields.

hills south of regina, saskatchewan

Soon we saw rolling hillocks and mounds that reminded us of the terrain in New Zealand and Mexico.

flooded field south of regina, saskatchewan

Bob and I were particularly surprised to see numerous areas of flooded land alongside the highway.

american avocets, saskatchewan

We jumped at the opportunity to photograph shorebirds at several of the ponds.  At one water hole, a number of American Avocets prodded the mud with their long beaks.

a swainson's hawk, saskatchewan

Other birds that had us stopping along the way included this beautiful Swainson’s Hawk…

a marbled godwit in flight, saskatchewan

and a Marbled Godwit that gave us stunning views.  Bob and I were well on our way to an extensive list of bird sightings in the province.

a grain silo, rockglen, saskatchewan

In Rockglen, an iconic grain elevator that is synonymous with the Prairies made for another reason to pull over onto the shoulder and snap a couple of photos.

a grain silo and waiting train, rockglen, saskatchewan

Modern metal silos were well represented in the countryside, but this traditional grain elevator with rail cars sitting idly by waiting for the fall harvest struck a chord with Bob and me.

grasslands national park east block sign, saskatchewan

It took us 5 hours to drive to the East Block of Grasslands National Park where we decided to complete a hike on the Valley of 1000 Devils Route.  We were in bad need of some exercise.

jean in the badlands, grasslands national park east block, saskatchewan

The trail was 12 kilometres return and allowed us to explore some of the formations in the Killdeer Badlands.  The full hike is detailed in a separate post.

gravel road, saskatchewan

At 7:30 p.m., we set off from the East Block towards Val Marie 2 hours distant.  The small village is perched at the edge of Grasslands National Park West Block.

a coyote, saskatchewan

We were grateful for the extended daylight hours that enabled us to enjoy many sights along the way.  This Coyote bounding up a slope paused for a glance our way.

a richardson's ground squirrel, saskatchewan

Richardson’s Ground Squirrels populated the edges of the roads necessitating due diligence.

red sunset, saskatchewan

The sun set at 9:30 p.m. when we were a few miles outside of Val Marie.

a mule deer in silhouette against a pink sky, saskatchewan

A Mule Deer spooked by the sound of our approaching car vaulted up a bank and was thrown into silhouette against the evening sky.

farm buildings in silhouette against a pink sky, saskatchewan

Being in the Land of Big Skies, there was nothing to interfere with the light on the western horizon.

a great horned owlet at dusk, saskatchewan

As our vehicle rolled up to a bridge over a modest stream, I detected the outline of something perched on the guardrail.  It turned out to be two Great Horned Owlets preparing to hunt under the cover of darkness.  One flew immediately that we drew our car to a halt, and dwindling light made photography of the other one almost impossible.  Bob and I were pleased with our first day’s adventure, and we had lots more to look forward to.

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Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

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