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Panama Trip Was Boyhood Dream

SUNDAY, APR. 3, 2011

I just got back from a two-week trip through the Panama Canal. It has been snowing and storming ever since yesterday morning. It is one of the heaviest winter snowfalls I have ever seen over the years. This storm will be hard on newborn calves. While the storm continues, I will tell you about my trip.

This was a 14-day, excursion on a ship going from southern California south through the Panama and northbound to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was 13 continuous days on a ship. My lifelong neighbour and friend Peggy Ellis from Assiniboia came with me to give me some eyes and to help me on the ship and at the airports. Peggy’s son Scot and his wife drove us to Regina where we took a plane to Denver, Colorado. We changed planes there and then flew to San Diego, California. Here, we boarded a cruise ship, which carried 1,200 passengers and a crew of 550.

The ship carried us south from San Diego past various cities on the Mexican mainland. We went from the Pacific side through the Panama Canal and then northbound through the Gulf of Mexico past places like the Dominican Republic, Cuba and others. Finally, we arrived at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Here we got on an Air Canada flight for return to Regina by way of Toronto. I was very well satisfied with the trip. The ride on the ship and the service was very good. The crew were from the Philippines and I understand they sign on for nine months and then they go back to their homes.

This ship had 15 decks, which were very roomy, and we had lots of services and entertainment. The weather was good, 75 F to 85 F. We had access to most of the decks. There was a nice boardwalk around the ship and many different dining and entertainment floors. The food was excellent.

The most interesting time for me was the day our ship went through the locks on the Panama Canal. The French government first started the canal. They had much trouble and difficulties and finally the U.S. government under President Teddy Roosevelt got the canal organized and built. The U.S. government operated the canal for some time. Finally, the canal was turned over to the Panamanian government, which now has full control. It was a great accomplishment and has been a great help for world trade.

Halfway between my home at Glentworth and the Big Muddy ranch is the Coronach coal facility and a large Coronach electrical power plant, which supplies Saskatchewan with much of its power requirements. Many of the big earth moving machines at Coronach came from Japan by way of the Panama Canal, then up the Mississippi River and by rail to the coalfields. The work of our countries, the cooperation of the governments, the engineering, the work of the labourers and the cooperation between different countries over the years has been marvellous. The Panama Canal ranks high on the list of how the various peoples of the world can get together and produce and serve the people to make living better for all.

Going through the Panama Canal has always been on my mind. I finally made it and it was a great trip. Part of every trip is the people who you meet and Peggy and I talked with many from all across Canada and the U.S. What a wonderful country we are living in when a young boy like I was, who learned to swim (dog paddle) in a beaver dam on Rock Creek, could finally have a luxurious trip on a first class ship from San Diego in southern California through the Panama Canal over to the Atlantic Ocean and across the Caribbean Sea to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. My boyhood dream had come true.

We came home to Glentworth from Fort Lauderdale in one day. Lloyd, my son, and his wife Nyla met us at the airport in Regina and I was in my own home by 9 p.m. There is an old saying “the best part of a trip is when one gets back home.” That is very true.

MONDAY APR. 11, 2011

I put in a good day yesterday. Lloyd’s three sons were home and he and his wife used them to good advantage. Lloyd and Nyla had them help sort yearlings. He wintered close to 400 and the time had come to sort them for the spring and summer months. He was well organized and everyone had their job. When we were finished, he had the steers go east to grass pasture. The heifers were kept in. HE will keep the best of these for his own breeding purposes and some he will sell at a cattle sale coming up soon at Mankota.

We have just come through some very severe weather. Lloyd and Nyla are now well into calving. The big cowherd is out in a very well sheltered pasture. They try to check them once a day. He has his two-year-old heifers right at home and the three-year-olds are contained when weather is bad like it has been this past week.

Now, it has cleared up and the snow is melting and the water is running down the many coulees and moving northward in the Six Mile Creek and into the Wood River. There is snow melting and water running everywhere. The crows, geese, meadowlarks, blue birds and robins are all back. The crocuses are just ready to pop up out of the ground and the pussy willows are jumping out on the tree branches. Spring is a beautiful time except when we get one of these vicious snowstorms.

Lloyds’s three boys were all home for the weekend. The oldest, Connor, 24, is a graduate geologist and has been working in the oil fields east of Weyburn. Right now, work is shut down because of spring break up. The younger boys, Lander and Chay are also home. Lander has just received a degree in agriculture and will work for the Grasslands National Park for the summer. The youngest boy, Chay, has finished his first year in agriculture and has a job for the summer months with a farm machine company. These three boys talk as if they will all farm and ranch in the future. I believe they will and right now they can handle most of the farm machinery as well as the horse riding and trailing cattle to the various summer pastures.

I have not helped much around the corrals for several years now. My eyesight is not good and my movements are not fast. I do not want to be knocked down and injured so I just like to watch the others do their work.

BoydAndersonisamostlyretiredrancher fromGlentworth,Sask.andhasbeena columnistforGrainewsformanyyears

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