Tuesday, June 17, 2008

all roads lead to bruno.

today our most gracious hosts treated us to a full day of rural tourism. really, we felt profoundly spoiled. i felt particularly treated, because i got to take a day off driving while tyler drove us around to see the sites. endless vistas aside, there are a surprising number of sites. oh, and speaking of driving - this is what boris' headlights looked like by daylight after driving in last night:

boris is the name of our car. he has probably earned a whole blog post, actually, but we can save that for a later date. maybe when we are in boring old vancouver not action-packed bruno...which gets us back to the story at hand.

we started off with a walking tour of bruno, a town that has all a town could need - post office, old-timey hoosgau, convent and western canada's largest dwarf sour cherry orchard. we also ended up getting a tour of the old hardware store (now the home of the family that runs the adjoining grocery) after inquiring about the amazing tin ceilings. as it turns out, these ceilings are in a whole row of buildings on main street. we noticed them in the drug store, too.

after our walk-around, we collected ourselves and then got in the trunk to go visit some important sites in the vicinity on the way to collect on a dinner/visit invitation from tyler's cousin-in-law, wendell.

first we went to a nearby ghost town (or near ghost town - people still live in farm houses there but the town part has been abandoned) called peterson. it seems there are a lot of places like this in rural saskatchewan; small towns that were able to support a few businesses when the grain trade was a little stronger and it was a little harder to get to the bigger towns and visit their growing number of big box stores.

in peterson, tyler also decided to go look in the windows of some old abandoned buildings on main street and then found a wood tick on his neck. more on that later.

after peterson, we went to look at the sawhill buffalo ranch - a ranch built on what used to be some sort of cold war radar base. apparently, the institutional buildings in the distance used to have big white spheres attached to their tops (there were also spheres scattered about the property), which made for quite a site. tyler told us that the ranch owner doesn't allow random people to come look around and take pictures anymore (and who can blame him? it's his home.) tyler also said that the rancher lives in the old curling rink of the base, it being one of the most stable and permanent buildings on the property. it is good to know that the army had their priorities in place when developing bases. i think i mean that honestly.

after that, we made our way to dana, a small hamlet not too far from bruno where serena and tyler first lived when they decided to make the leap from vancouver to saskatchewan. tyler's cousin-in-law (or just cousin; i'm not sure how that works), was pivotal in all of this. it was at wendell's wedding that tyler first visited dana and wendell let tyler and serena stay in his house when they first came out to the prairie.

this is wendell's son, john. he has some sick skateboard moves.

we also discovered that wendell makes little forms out of a substance called orgonite (related to the orgone boxes that william s. burroughs was so fond of sitting in). i had never heard of this wild invention before but it involves taking steel wool, metal shavings, crystals, wire and other whathaveyous and casting them all into molded resin. allegedly, these conglomerates can cleanse a space of bad energy. if you make them big enough, you can also blast a hole through overhead clouds and chem trails from airplanes. or so i am told. we have yet to try any experiments of our own. although serena and i did point these at our foreheads when nobody else was around. if wendell ever makes a new batch of these guys, they will be available at all citizens.

we ended our big day out with a trip to the mysterious totsky overpass. like peterson, totsky is another of these ubiquitous saskatchewan towns-that-aren't. only totsky really isn't there anymore. like at all. well, with the exception of this big concrete overpass that goes over nothing and connects with no roads.

of course, its non-existence doesn't stop totsky from appearing in driving directions, but that's another story. tyler says he's been asking around about the source of this structure and nobody seems to know anything. it seems to have run over train tracks, but this is also a place where train tracks cross the road even in towns. a google search for totsky only yielded one birth record from 1908. from what we could discern at our visit, it seems the overpass is currently being used by grad classes as a place to burn piles of wooden palettes. but it must have had a grander purpose at some point. if you know what that grander purpose was, please let us know.

oh yeah, and when we got home in the evening, tyler discovered he was covered in wood ticks (presumably picked up in peterson). it was a little creepifying and kept me eyeing my moles sideways all night. aitor was the big man and managed to extract the most attached one from tyler's leg. no more spelunking in abandoned buildings for us.


Anonymous said...

Nice pictures ..

I, too have had the opportunity to tour around Bruno (my mom grew up there, and several of my uncles, cousins and extended family still live there), and love the open skies, and the small-town familiarity and slow pace of life.

The radar base you speak of has personal significance .. my dad was stationed there in the early 60s, and met my mom (who is from Bruno) while serving there. I remember when it was in operation .. the huge domes of radar installation were visible for miles across the prairie, and were often the first indication we were close to Bruno, and close to grandma's house.

sweetie pie press said...


that's amazing! i really fell in love with the whole area on our trip and am fascinated with the history of the places we visited.

do you know anything about the mysteries of totsky? it is so non-existent that it may have been gone by the time you were there. but who knows?

thanks for sharing your information. really, bruno grabbed a special place in my heart during out short visit.