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Mom Musings On the Go: Trip Two

By Erin McCrea

 Our latest Saskatchewan adventure was revisiting a place near and dear to my heart. We originally had different plans, but we received a request from somebody we couldn’t say no to – our Momma. She invited us to our hometown to spend the weekend with them. My parents come to the city a lot so we definitely owed them a trip (maybe even two). My partner stayed home to work on our mess of a yard, and my sister, son, and I made the drive to Plenty, Saskatchewan.

Here are a few facts about Plenty: It’s actually not a hometown. It’s a home-village. According to the 2016 Canada Census, the population is 164 people. It was named by the Canadian Pacific Railway as the tracks were being laid. They thought the fields and crops surrounding the area looked like “the land of plenty.” It was an inspired name. (I found this information on Wikipedia).

Here’s another fact: Erin McCrea was born and raised there. Since I’m not a famous person, that means nothing. It means something to me though.

Often, when I’m asked where Plenty is my answer is in the middle of Rosetown, Biggar, Kindersley, and Kerrobert. The drive to my small town includes a bumpy highway and a gorgeous view.

I didn’t love growing up in a small town. I didn’t ever feel like I fit in, but I loved my family, and I love going back to visit now. It also helped me become the person I am now and has acted as inspiration for my writing many times. I’m proud to show my son where I grew up, and he loves it there.

Now, for this trip, we chose to go two different routes there and back. I knew I’d be taking photos, and I wanted to make stops at different locations. The drive is gorgeous. I dare anybody to tell me that Saskatchewan isn’t beautiful. The area we were in doesn’t have a lot of trees or mountains (no place in Saskatchewan has mountains), but it amazes me every time I drive to Plenty.

We left Saturday and spent the night. On the way there, we went through Rosetown. This was also our first stop. We didn’t stay long, but it’s a good place to stop for the washroom and snacks. I also wanted to take a photo of the water tower. It used to be orange, and I remember hating when they changed it. I can’t really remember when the change was made though. (I love water towers. Possibly because they are usually guaranteed to have the name of the town on them.)

The highway we turn on to head for Plenty is not the easiest to drive on. It’s better than it was, but you spend a lot of time dodging potholes. Luckily, we’ve taken it a few times so I was ready for it.

We stopped to take some photos of some old buildings. It’s one of my favourite things to photograph. There is so much depth and history all across Saskatchewan. As a writer and amateur photographer, I love imagining the people who used to live in the old buildings we stop to admire.

My favourite part of the drive is about fifteen minutes before Plenty at the hamlet Stranraer with a population of about fourteen. There is a picnic area across from Stranraer called Mountain View Park. It overlooks what used to be Twin Towers Ski Hill. I was lucky enough to grow up at a time the downhill ski hill was still open. It’s obviously not mountains, but it’s quite a gorgeous location, and it makes me so proud to be from that area. It’s also a great spot to stop with kids. My kiddo usually runs around to check out the view. This time, he wouldn’t do a lot on his own, and insisted his Aunt JoJo carry him. It’s always important for me to find a stop that is toddler approved. We probably could have made it to Plenty, but I wanted to pause to take some photos.

Later, we stopped just off the highway in Stranraer to take photos of a school that’s now closed down. It’s covered with beautiful paintings by Noni Burton. She was my great aunt, and the art on the old brick is amazing. If anybody is near that area, it’s worth it to check it out.

After admiring the school, we headed to Plenty. Anthony was very excited to see his grandma and grandpa, as were we. It was looking like it might rain when we left Saskatoon, but by the time we arrived in Plenty we were greeted by warmth and sunshine… and some very happy grandparents.

We went for a walk to the park. My kiddo loves it. The park is much different than when I used to play there. The only aspects that are the same are the tires you can climb on and a huge metal slide. I’ll admit, it is pretty cool watching Anthony play on equipment I used to play on. The town hasn’t changed a lot, but everything changes eventually. It’s fun walking around town with Anthony as well because I don’t have to worry about traffic. He can walk down the middle of the road without me being worried. Not that I teach him to do it, but we are much more relaxed. In the city, I obviously have a strict “Stay on the Sidewalk” rule.

We spent the day outside making crafts and enjoying family time. We were even able to run through sprinklers. The great thing about going to Plenty is that I can relax. I have some help with Anthony, and there is time to write, read, and just be present.

The next morning was Mother’s Day. My sister and I celebrated our amazing mom, and Anthony… well Anthony had no idea what Mother’s Day was so he was the same as always. I was just happy to spend the day with him.

We left Plenty after lunch, this time heading towards Biggar, using a grid road that connects to a different highway. I don’t love driving on grid roads (even though I grew up in the country), but I love the view on this particular road. We pulled over a few times to take some more photos.

Our first purposeful stop was at a graveyard in Kelfield. This is also a Hamlet, and I couldn’t find the population. It could actually be less than ten. Anthony got out and stretched his legs while I repeatedly asked him to watch where he was walking. We stopped there to visit my grandparents’ grave. I haven’t stopped with Anthony, and I wanted to introduce him to them. I wish they had met him.

On our way out, we took some more photos of an abandoned farm right outside Kelfield.

This wasn’t sufficient for Anthony. He continued to request more stops. We drove off the highway to a village called Ruthilda. In 2006, it had a population of five. It looked more extensive from where we stopped, but we didn’t go into the town. My mom suggested we check out the old water tower there as well. It was a pretty cool stop, and it came with its very own mud puddle. Mud puddles are always a win, but we put Anthony in some rubber boots and got out nonetheless. It ended up being a great stop for all. My sister and I took photos, and Anthony got stuck in the mud. This resulted in some difficulty getting him back in the car.

Our next stop was at a town we frequently pass. This is another tiny hamlet. I’m not sure what the population is, but it has a house that I always enjoy taking in. It’s changed designs many times. Right now it has polka dots, but it is looking a lot more run down than when I was younger. According to my mom, it was owned by a woman who didn’t actually live there. When people complained about the rundown paint job, she decided to paint it in a unique way. She went from stripes to polka dots and probably a few more in between.

As we were walking around the town and looking at the park, and older man came over to talk to us. He offered to sell us a history book about Springwater, but I was sure my mom had one. When I told him her name, he knew exactly who she was and named a few other people in our family. He had impressive knowledge, and it was wonderful to run into him.

We made one more stop in Biggar just to grab some snacks for the rest of the trip. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of the sign, but the town slogan is “New York is big, but this is Biggar.” It’s my favourite.

Anthony fell asleep the rest of the trip home so we didn’t take anymore photos. To be honest, the drive gets a little less interesting on the highway to Saskatoon, BUT the road is a lot smoother.

That was my Mother’s Day weekend, and it was wonderful. I’m lucky to have the best mom ever, and I’m lucky to be a mom. I’ve had a year with a lot of loss, and I am so grateful that I have my healthy and happy son.

Stay tuned for more Mom Musings On the Go from a Write at Home Mom.

To read more of Erin’s work, you can check out her blog “Writing Momma Life,” her Instagram page “The Writing Momma Life,” & her Facebook page “The Writing Momma Life.”

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