22 June 2007

We got up at 5 today in order to set off early and beat the afternoon heat. The morning's ride was beautiful--calm, quiet and cool--but I was quickly becoming bored of the monotonous prairie landscape. We stopped in Hanna for lunch, and it was hot by the time we set off again.

We arrive in Youngstown in the early evening. With a population of 170, Youngstown is the smallest town we've been to on this trip. Its main street consists of a gas station, a run-down hotel, and a general store and laundromat. Across the street from the store was a small field with a few picnic tables, a bathroom and a cooking shelter; it vaguely resembled a campsite. We went into the store to ask about this, and were greeted by Greta, who was working there, as well as Betty and a few other locals who were having coffee inside. Everyone was extremely friendly, and really wanted to make our stay a pleasant one. Since the campsite didn't have showers, Betty offered to take us to her place to get cleaned up. The washing machines in the laundromat were all full when we were there. Not a problem: Greta took our dirty clothing and told us she'd do our laundry and bring it by our campsite when it was finished. We hadn't been grocery shopping in ages, so we bought a few items from the store, and good ol' Greta threw in a free bag of peanuts for us. Such nice people!

We went over to Betty's and had our showers. Betty told us a bit about herself. She had grown up on a farm, moved to Youngstown as a teenager, and lived there since. Her husband of 30 years had passed away only two years ago, and she was grateful for the support of her friends and the Youngstown community.

After our showers, we had some dinner at the local (Chinese) restaurant, as it turned out that we had bought the wrong can of propane in Drumheller, so we couldn't cook. We set up our tent, and went to bed before dark.

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