Shoulda joined us, Pinksters! Donalda is my idea of what small town Alberta should be! This little town really “gets it”. They typify one of the slogans that Wild Pink Yonder has used over the years, “Small towns can make a big difference.” They understand promotion (they’re spending millions to bring Stettler’s “Prairie Steam Tours” rail line here) and they understand philanthropy (we’re looking into how to expand Donalda’s participation in Wild Pink Yonder next year). And it’s a cute little town. Maybe the cutest ever. (Am I prejudiced? <grin>) Main Street is divided with a row of trees on the median that runs down the middle. At the end of Main Street they have the most beautiful giant replica of an old fashioned oil lamp … and every night it radiates a soft yellow light that warms your heart and makes you feel very much at home. They are a going concern. Between their ag society and their promotions society, there’s no moss growing in Donalda!
Coulda seen the signs welcoming us back to town and stayed at their magnificent Equine Centre. There’s an indoor arena, an outdoor arena, beautiful, clean pipe pens for the horses, a full kitchen and flush toilets. The whole nine yards! And this facility is pristine. Nothing’s broken (well, except the door handle on one of the women’s bathrooms – Cookie nearly had to spend the night in there!) – and everything is painted bright and shiny. Could not ask for a better facility … and it’s right on the edge of the northern tip of the Canadian Badlands!
Woulda ridden with the very friendly and accommodating ag society volunteers who took us out to see some incredible sights. You ride down into the Badlands valley. On either side, you see hills that have been eroded away over millennia. There are no hoodoos here. (Well, apparently there is one, but it is well hidden.) What you see is layer upon layer of different colours of rock. At times, we’d ride up hills into forests so thick you’d swear you were in the Rockies. At other times, it would be flat and reminiscent of a desert. Definitely different terrain and great riding. I think everybody enjoyed it as much as I did.
So there we were: 14 riders and 4 ground staff (Carole DeSchover [“Cookie”], step son Keven Thomas, our old friend, Hugh Martell, from Vancouver and me). We’re growing in small increments. Cypress Hills had 11 riders. Hinton had 12 … and finally 14 in Donalda. We enjoyed a hot breakfast from Cookie, then hit the trails … came home to a hot meal in the evening followed by a bonfire on two of the three evenings. (On Saturday night, we went to the local bar.) And the weather could not have co-operated more.
Hopefully Donalda is going to turn into an annual event. And hopefully next year you’ll all want to come with us and I’ll have to turn some of you away! (Ha! That’s a problem I’d love to have!)
In the meantime, you really missed a good’r this long weekend in Donalda!