The City Limits: Northeast Rural Edmonton

Last weekend I continued my  exploration of the countryside North of Edmonton. Again I headed up 82 st in the early hours to avoid automotive traffic and on reaching the the army base at 195th ave I turned East. The plan was to follow 195th until it ended. Google maps seemed to show it ending at the river, which would give me a new stretch of shoreline to explore. This area is within city limits but is definitely rural in nature with nice country roads and farmland. I moved pretty briskly along, especially when a strong tailwind propelled me effortlessly down 195th ave. Of course I would pay for that on the return trip. The quick progress was brought to a disappointing halt by the change of 195th from paved to gravel at 25th St.

The gravel road begins here. I decided to time my approach to avoid the dust clouds thrown up from the occasional car.

The tracks also cross through this intersection. The freshly plowed field to the East provides a nice prairie scene. It’s hard to resist the temptation to include lots of sky in a photo like this.

I couldn’t resist a little walk on the rails. The rural house I grew up in was so close to the tracks that a derailment would have been a Very Bad Thing. Trains only came by twice a day and we spent a lot of time goofing around on the tracks. Rail walking was a big past time and until now I hadn’t done it in decades. Like riding a bike, it’s a skill that stays with you.

I had company on my rail walk.

Flattening coins was another big youthful pastime. There were stories about this causing train derailments but I’ll bet that those were started by parents to discourage their kids from playing around the tracks. I waited for a short time but no obliging train came along.

An electrical line runs past the tracks here. My Dad worked for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro so the synapses in the nostalgia center of my brain continued busily firing away. Aside from that, I like the big towers for their looming geometric splendor.

Inside the tower.

While I was snapping photos of the tower I heard a train horn blowing. Unfortunately I was to far away to scurry back to place a coin on the track for flattening. That was one nostalgic indulgence denied me.

I did get some good pictures of the train thundering past as I stood a couple of feet to the side. The shaking ground, the heavy rhythmic  sound of the wheels and even the smells were richly evocative of my childhood. It’s strange, but I’ve seen innumerable trains in the city without experiencing such nostalgic overload. The rural setting must make all the difference.

When the train passed ( and I was finished wallowing in childhood memories ) I continued cycling down the gravel portion of 195th Ave until it ended.

The road ended on a high bluff overlooking the river. There was a steep path down that I could have explored but the morning was wearing on and I decided to save it for another trip.

I was interested to see that this road also ended at Riverbend Gardens. This is a farm that sells produce at the Farmer’s market I shop at.

This is Aaron, one of the farmers at Riverbend Gardens, who stopped to chat while I was loitering around snapping photos. He was pleasantly welcoming and invited me to cycle down through the farm, an offer that I accepted. He  told me that the farmland in Northeast rural Edmonton is at risk due to proposed developments. This is prime farmland with a micro-climate that allows a longer growing season. In the short time I have lived in Edmonton I have already seen urban sprawl gobble up farmland so I can well imagine the economic pressures at work. I wish them well in their efforts to protect the farmland. I would much rather see their riverside farm and others like it prosper than roads running through or it being parceled out for affluent urbanites to build monster homes on. There is more information at Friends of Farmers.

I like the juxtaposition of the picturesque wagon and the solar panels.

At this point my camera battery ran down so no more pictures but I will definitely be back out this way as the summer goes on. The ride home was good although the headwind was a killer and the increased traffic made picking my return route a little trickier.