Archive for Saskatchewan

Regina, Saskatchewan

July 22, 2008

I went way out of my way to get to the Dieppe Memorial in Regina.  I drove and drove, winding thru a neighborhood.  Per the map – and it’s just a dot, with no address, it is on a river.  In my mind, I was anticipating this really cool memorial where the soldiers are getting out of their boats and running ashore or something…that they could have done, since it’s near the river.  But alas, no.  It’s in a neighborhood, next to the Dieppe Grade School.  And it is just a cement block with some words, and the flags.  What a disappointment. [I suppose they also didn’t want to somehow showcase their “retreat” by having more there.]

I drove around downtown.  It is a dumpy downtown…nothing of interest to me.  I wanted to see the Legislative Building, but couldn’t see/find it downtown.  And it’s not on my map.  I asked a local, and she gave me directions and said it is wayyyy across the bridge.  I was gearing up for the long haul.  Come to find out…it is less than ½ mile away.  But there are NO signs…nothing.  No signs saying turn here, no signs saying what it is.  I saw a building, and thought it is either the Legislative Building or it is an art museum.  Later, I found out that Walter Scott [first premier of Saskatchewan] had the building designed to be similar to the Lovre in Paris.  So…thinking it was an art museum was not so far off!

I parked and went into the building to look around.  You walk in, and there is a kindly older gentlemen sitting there.  Just him.  No security guard, no security screening device, no nothing…just him sitting there.  He said that I can’t just walk around, BUT there is a tour every 30 minutes.  I had 20 minutes to wait.

I decided to scam the system and asked him if I could go to their café.  Sure.  He asked my name, and wrote it down in a log book and gave me a visitor’s badge.  That’s it.

Went to the café…annnddddd…I’m back to eating poutine!  Poutine = French fries + gravy + cheese curds.  Gotta love it!

Went back to take the tour.  They give them in French and English.  The gentleman told me that there is a couple waiting for each tour, and the guides s/b out any moment.  I walked up to one of the men waiting, and said “English?”
He responded “Why, yes I am” with a British accent.  He’s probably thinking…how in the world did she know?  Ha.

During the tour I became a 14 yr old boy:
In my mind, when I think of Regina, I pronounce the “I” as eee.  However, the locals pronounce the “I” as eye.  Every time the guide said Regina, I lost concentration to what she was saying and thought back to that Seinfeld episode, where Seinfeld has forgotten the name of his gfriend, but knows that it rhymes with a female body part.  I giggled to myself. 

They call the native people Aboriginals.  Lots of them living in Regina.

Per the guide, most of Saskatchewan is river/lakes and trees. Only the south is prairie and flat.

They have a public library inside.  Anyone can come in and use it.  Can you imagine the White House having a library that anyone can come in and use?

In the legislative chamber, the gov’t party sits on one side, and the opposition party on the other – facing each other.  In the gallery above, people sit so they can see their “side”.  Thus, above the gov’t party sits the opposition party’s people.

The Legislative Building sits near the river.  There is a trail by the river, and lots of flowers and ducks. It seems that a lot of people use the trail, but no one/vessel was in the water.

After the tour, I took off for the 7.25 hour drive to Calgary.

Little did I know that yesterday was the prettier part of the drive to Calgary.  Unsure what the definition of prairie is, but this is probably it.  Reminded me of west Texas.  Towns were smaller [1 or 2 buildings] and further apart.  Most little towns didn’t have a gas station.  It was a really boring drive.  So boring…that I started listening to my learn to speak French cds, which I rarely put in…cuz I’m looking around me taking things in.

When I looked at the route a few weeks ago, it did look like there was nothing between Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary.  But I just assumed that I was an ignorant American and just don’t know better.  There isn’t.  I would NOT recommend this route to anyone. 

There are lots of trains going by – both yesterday and today.

No mile markers.

Before a little town, there are what looks like homemade signs advertising places…and they are ?? probably 3’ high and 5’ long, and close to the ground [not high up].

Remember when a highway went thru a town?   Or I should say, the town grew/expanded around the highway.  Then in the states they built the interstate and bypassed the towns.  You drive on the interstate and think…oh…there’s a town somewhere over there, I wonder what it looks like?  That is why I like to drive the old highways and not the interstates…so I can see the towns.

Here [at least the Trans Canadian Highway 1] they still go thru the towns.  I like that.  There is a sign stating “Important Intersection” and a speed limit change…so you can pull off/on.

It was 95’ at 6 pm with no clouds in the sky today!!  This must be some sort of a record.

Immediately once I entered into Alberta, the landscape changed – baby mountains/hills, short grass and sand.  But this didn’t last too long, and I was back at boring.

Near Medicine Hat were some really pretty scenery but that came and went…and I was back to flat.

There are oil and gas equipment/facilities [pump jacks] everywhere.  There are cows/farmland/pump jacks.  And did I mention flat?

About 1 hour from Calgary the baby mountains/lumpy hills/pretty green pasture land started up.   Pump jacks still all around.

20 km [12 miles] from Calgary there is zero sign that a city is anywhere nearby – just farmland.

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Crossing the Canadian Border [again] and Winnipeg, Manitoba

July 21, 2008

 

I had problems at the border again.

 

If I thought the US border patrol went thru my stuff, well, that was nothing compared to the Canadian patrol.  These 2 women went thru everything.  And I mean EVERYTHING. They opened up every bottle, unfolded/unrolled each piece of clothing, unrolled my yoga mat, sleeping bag, undid the lining of my suitcase, went thru every book…literally went thru everything, every nook and cranny my car has.

 

* They didn’t look under the car, under the hood or in the gas cap area.  Note to self: hide things here.

 

* They didn’t look in my purse.  They asked me how much money I had, and they believed me.

 

* I have a baggie with Calcium pills, aspirin and baby aspirin [which we all are supposed to take once a day].  To save room I took them out of their original bottle and put into the baggie.  I originally had them in one of those really small baggies, but that blew out, so I put everything…little baggie and all, into a slightly bigger, quart size baggie.  This got their attention.  ESPECIALLY since I had the smaller baggie inside the bigger baggie.  She couldn’t understand that.  I really wanted to tell her that I don’t have OCD, and don’t even notice, nor am bothered that the little baggie is in there.  They let me keep this.

 

* REALLY interested that I have 20 – 25 in euros in my money belt.  Which I have in case I decide to travel to Europe.

 

* There was always a lot of quiet discussion amongst the 2, but what really seemed to be of interest is:  I have a little purse-like thing that I keep my Baltimore condo keys in.  Inside there is a little yellow envelope that has “337 – to be picked up” written on it, and a key inside.  What is this???  Well, if you look at my address, it will state that I have a condo – number 337.  This is the key to the A/C room, which was left at the front desk for me to pick up.  For some reason, they couldn’t understand why I kept the key in the envelope…and telling them I don’t want to mix it up with the other keys apparently didn’t make sense to them.

 

* There is an armrest in the backseat that comes down between the 2 seats. One can also access my trunk thru a door behind the armrest, which I keep locked [there is NO way to access my trunk if someone should break into my car].  The really “fun” part of all of this was watching them try to open the door.  I could tell there was suddenly a certain excitement and energy with them and they both hovered near the door and tried to open it with the key – apparently it’s hard to open.  And the more it was hard, the more…and I’m serious here…they were almost wringing their hands with excitement…I suppose in hopes of finding what I’m hiding.  I of course was secretly laughing at them.  Ha ha ha.

 

* learned that I need to lie – NOT to say that my trip is open ended and I’m passing on thru exploring CN on my way to Vancouver.

 

The only thing they took was my mace, which I freely gave up in our initial discussion with them…before I was pulled over.

 

Then I was on my way to Winnipeg.

 

Hated Winnipeg.  Reminds me of Indianapolis.  Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba, and was founded at the intersection of 2 rivers.  As I was driving there, I was wondering how long I would want to stay and cycle around the river.  How long…as in…1, 2 or 3 days.  Well, I lasted an hour.

 

Driving into the city, it’s very industrial.  Lots of places that make/sell sausage and pork products.  Once in the city, well, it’s just nasty.  Lots of people just hanging out. 

 

There were lots of cars and people, even though it’s Sunday.  I headed towards the water, thinking, like Duluth, I would enjoy being down there, but I couldn’t seem to find the water. I kept being diverted [the streets] and would end up at a big ugly industrial building.  There wasn’t a restaurant/café that even looked “cute” that I would stop for lunch – and I was hungry.

 

I had booked ahead and got a room at an historic B&B.  So, I drove there and asked to be released from my reservation.  She wasn’t too happy with me…and slammed the door on me.  I thought I should have gotten “something” for at least doing it in person, instead of calling.  But…oh well.

 

I was off west.

 

The next “big” city, Regina, is 6 hours away.  This is the capital of Saskatchewan.

 

The little towns along the way have between a couple hundred to a couple thousands residents.  I stopped in a few, but they were all the same.

 

The countryside is flat farmland.  Pretty, but 6 hours was long.  I wasn’t being tortured driving, so I thought I would just keep going until I was.  I made it all the way to Regina.  From the little I saw last nite, seems like this is a dumpy town too.  There is a Dieppe Memorial that I will check out, and the downtown area, then head to Calgary…which is a 7.5 drive.

 

Unsure if I’ll make it all that way.

 

I have a lot of ground to cover, so I need to just suck it up and sit there and drive.

 

I contacted my Canada Man friend – the Smoke Jumper I met a couple years ago on the ferry to Ottawa.  He gave me lots of suggestions from Calgary to Vancouver.

So far, I have found that it’s been expensive.  The little I have eaten costs about twice as much as I think it should.  I didn’t camp last nite, but I’m thinking that I will need to figure that out…how to camp in the cold.  The hotels here are, to me, expensive…and from what I’ve been told, it is only going to get more expensive as I head towards Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise.

 

The dollar conversion rate:  1 US = 1.007 CN.

 

I was driving last nite and the sun sets around 10 pm.  Impressive.  Then I realized I should look at my cell phone…and yep…time change.

 

At least in Saskatchewan, they believe in full employment – gas stations are full service.  Do I want my oil checked and my windshield washed?

 

I have driven thru 2 odometer check areas.  They have signs along the highway at every km for 10 km.  Went thru 2 of these…unsure why this is needed.

 

Saw a sign for “saskatoons for sale”.  I still need to google to find out what those are.  Later I saw a “U pick saskatoons” sign, so that helps narrow it down.

 

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