About 40 minutes later with a full tank of gas and a coffee in hand, I left Maple Creek in search of more random awesomeness (of the photographic variety). From Maple Creek I jumped back onto the Trans Canada highway and started heading east towards Moose Jaw. Other than getting to the Provincial Parks with the intent of making one of them my second nights home, I kept my options pretty open, and luckily so as I encountered tons of amazing and beautifully photogenic spots throughout the day.
First stop along the highway was a set of grain elevators located at Gull Lake. While I never really took the time to venture around the town much, I did spend over an hours composing different shots around the elevators. Looking back at Google maps it's a bit comical that the Gull Lake water body itself is no larger than that of the actual town-site.
I headed back out onto the Trans Canada and continued on east. I remembered hearing a while back about some sort of salt flats near Moosejaw so I decided that would be my next destination. I wasn't quite sure the name of the salt flats or even where its actual location was so I opted to make a pit stop in Swift Current to grab some gas as well as stop at Timmy-Hoes for a coffee and something to eat. During that break I utilized the ol' Google to search for the location of said salt flats and was happy to find it located in Chaplin, right along the highway only about an hour east of Swift Current. After about a half hour or so in Swift I jumped right back in the car and headed towards Chaplin to see what the salt flats were all about.
Chaplin Lake is Canada's second largest inland saline water body, which makes it an excellent source of high-quality sodium sulfate. When you are approaching Chaplin you can see white salt flats for quite a distance, as well as massive piles near the Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals facility located at the edge of the town. Chaplin is also rumored to be renounced as a shorebird habitat as well, though I didn't see much in my brief visit (nor did I have the length of lens to work with either).
I continued along north for a few more hours along highway 19, passing through Douglas Provincial Park, stopping a small towns and hamlets along the way. Shortly after a brief stop in the town of Elbow located along the shore of Diefenbaker Lake, I decided to start heading back west towards Alberta and start wrapping up the trip as the weather was looking pretty sketchy and I wasn't really too keen on tenting it in the rain (this is where I wish my car was a Subaru Outback that I could modify the back into a sleeping area). I did a quick tour around Danielson Provincial Park, which was a ghost town at this point in the year being early spring. It looked like it could be a pretty fun place during the summer with a load of boating related activities on the adjacent lake.
I was extremely happy to have unintentionally ended up crossing over the Gardiner Dam, let alone during a really nice storm overhead. The Gardiner Dam is one of the largest embankment dams in the world and was created to control the flow of the South Saskatchewan River (it also created Lake Diefenbaker). While it was insanely windy at the time, the conditions were far too amazing to pass up on shooting some more photos. There were points in time where I was actually being pushed from the wind, it was just crazy! The clouds overhead had so much depth and detail, and while the stacks seen are hydro related, the whole scene at the time (and how I envisioned the image) felt more like some sort of nuclear power meltdown brewing up some crazy ass storm you'd see in a shitty Ian Ziering movie (yes, that was a Sharknado reference for those keeping score and/or scouting for his next movie).
To me this seemed to be the absolute perfect ending point for my first #RandomRoadtrip and I would DEFINITELY make a return trip back to Saskatchewan. In fact I have already been doing a bit more research and locating a slough of grain elevators to hit up to generate a nice collection of images ... who knows, maybe I'll do some sort of calendar or book or something one day of these disappearing icons.
Full (ongoing) gallery of photos from this trip can be viewed on my website > http://www.neilmcelmon.com/SW-Saskatchewan/