A short, sunny, nearly windless 53 mile ride through the Canadian border crossing at Portal, ND into an even smaller hamlet, North Portal was uneventful. The border agent advised me to be careful at the bottom of the only valley/hill in the 27 mile ride to Estevan. It was a hill I could have cruised down at 35 mph, but there was no way to see an oncoming train, or stop in time if I had carelessly approached.
Today I relaxed, walked most of downtown Estevan, and enjoyed a pizza served by a pleasant 16 year-old (year 10) waitress. Skipping college, she plans a career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (always referred to here as RCMP since horse mounts are only for show now). Like weather does not respect international borders, nor does geology. However, there seemed to be far more oil wells on the north side of the border along with kilometer after kilometer after kilometer of open-pit coal mine(s).
Taking over the family business is no longer a tradition. Evidence: Estevan seems to have transitioned from farm/ranch center to an economic cycle—rising and falling based on oil prices. It shows as businesses close downtown and new ones pop up on the outskirts during good times. Meanwhile to entertain the idle, the city built facilities for year-around inside activities. When I asked directions to the library, I was directed to a modern complex merging a library and arts center in the middle separating an aquatic center and hockey rink where perhaps 8-10 year-olds were being trained in LaCrosse while parents watched from the bleachers and some moms held a fundraiser bake sale in the lobby. The Curling Centre was a separate building sharing the parking lot. I walked the 10 or so blocks from my motel, but did not see one child (or parent) outside enjoying a beautiful spring day. The sunlight vitamin, D, is free and wasted just like south of the border. Over the past week I biked 450 miles and I have to go inside to see people.