He’s just resigned his post as the Newell County tourism director but before moving on, he treated Glenn and I to another superb tour of his Badlands area, only this time, we toured at night. Glenn wanted to get him on tape just shooting the breeze so, we all decided that taping on the road with Bob driving might be our best bet.
Bob loves to drive so he picked Glenn and I up from the Robin’s Nest B&B in the little town of Castor, a good two hours drive north of Brooks. We decided to make our first pit stop Cactus Corners, just east of Hanna. What sets it apart from most North American truck stops are the lack of overhead lights even though it’s open 24/7 and caters to a huge trucker clientele. Except for building lights, the area is pitch black and hard to make out on the prairie landscape. Nevertheless, it’s a major pit stop for travelers especially Saskatoon weekenders as Bob calls them. They head home to Saskatoon from Calgary by the hundreds every weekend.
For years, Calgary has been a mecca to Canadians from across the country seeking employment. Alberta is booming from its huge oil and gas reserves. Saskatchewan however, has recently been touted to become the next big boom economy in Canada for its oil and gas, so it’s just possible some of those weekenders are going to be making their way back home permanently. At any rate, thousands of them stop at Cactus Corners every year. If you happen upon it in daylight, you’ll understand how it got its name by the huge steel green cactus standing at its entrance.
Now, I couldn’t figure out what the advantage of a dark truck stop at the major intersection of highways 9 and 36 would be until 20 minutes later when we were headed back up 36 towards Castor. That’s when we first caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Bob quickly found a gravel road off the highway and we stopped for a better view. It was incredible. Living in downtown Toronto, I’d forgotten just how magnificent they are. And I had no idea I would see them this far south in Canada or in warmer weather.