I Like That

I Like That
See, hear, taste, touch and inhale the wonders of the world.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Testosterone Driven Shaunavon

Shaunavon, Saskatchewan is a male testosterone scented town. Located south on Highway 37, west of Moose Jaw, the industrial looking municipality consists mainly of a truck-refueling centre, Quonset huts used as stores, wind gusts and a dry gulch feel.
We arrived early evening on August 13, 2012, and looked for a safe place to stay for the night. The best-looking building we found was the Stardust Motel, run by a very caring Korean couple. The free pen was a perk.
We chose Shaunavon Pizza & Chicken, located directly across from the motel, to purchase take-out food but were so disappointed with its greasy food that we could hardly manage it. We were hungry enough though to peel off the re-deep-fried chicken coating and munched on the meat around the bones.
The following morning we headed out of town and stopped at Manny’s Place to fill up on gas. I asked Manny what keeps the city going and he laughed and said, “Two shacks and an outhouse makes this a small town, Missy.” He revealed to us that agriculture and some oil and gas keeps the place going.
“I’ve been here eight years and I still don’t feel like I’ve landed,” he said.
Manny is the only independent gas station owner in Saskatchewan. In the thirteen or so minutes it took him to fill our gas tank and handle the transaction, he told us that he’d lived in Russia during Stalin’s time and that he’d left after the man died.
“I took my boiler-maker journeyman’s ticket after that and travelled to every country in the world except for Argentina and New Zealand,” he said. “My wife heard that there were earthquakes in New Zealand and told me she didn’t want to go. So, I never got there.”
His phone rang and interrupted his story telling. We left the building and climbed into our van thinking about our next destination – some place west.

Manny's Place

Avoid Pizza & Chicken

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Just When You Think You've Seen It All

I LIKE THAT my husband and I are both passionate about visiting museums. In every country we’ve ever lived in or visited over the past nine years, we have always made a point of discovering the history of the territory and visiting as many of the small towns as possible.
We left Cut Knife, Saskatchewan on August 8, 2012, headed east on Highway 40 and turned north on Highway 4. Crossing the North Saskatchewan River brings you to North Battleford and the Western Development Museum. Indoors, you can follow the timeline from 1905 to 2005 and outdoors you experience an agricultural support village by strolling down the boardwalks and slipping into the restored town buildings.
As we sauntered from building to building we caught the attention of folks who were preparing for the upcoming ‘Those Were The Days’ festival. It was Frank’s kilt that ignited Dan’s curiosity. He asked Frank if he was visiting from Scotland and was still satisfied to hear that we are both from Campbell River on the Vancouver Island.
“Is the elevator open?” Frank said.
“It sure is. I can give you a tour if you like,” Dan said.
The expert elevator operator touched on every aspect of the workings of the decommissioned wooden structure. Frank told the guide that he’d been around elevators most of his life but had never had the privilege of having a tour.
“What do you think of our museum?” asked Dan.
“Oh, just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s more history to Saskatchewan than a person recognizes,” Frank said.
The truth is that you could spend nearly a lifetime exploring the small towns and museums in Canada. For a relatively young country, we’ve got a splendid and colourful history.

Red tractors and Red River Cart
History of North Battleford

Largest Tomahawk in the World!

I LOVE EVERYTHING SASKATCHEWAN. Frank had the privilege of growing up in the Que’Appelle Valley and so we’ve driven two summers in a row from our home in Campbell River to various towns in this Big Sky province. I love his relatives, who represent the wholesome, kind-hearted mindset of the small-town citizens. You can simply pull up into a driveway, knock on the door and you are welcome to stay as long as you like – we were offered a week, for example, at Julia’s in Grenfell.
Once we left Paradise Valley, we travelled south on 897, turned east on Highway 14 which, when it crosses into Saskatchewan, turns into Route 40, also known as the Red River Trail. Our conversations included what we knew about the ox cart routes connecting the original Selkirk Settlement at Fort Garry in Winnipeg, Manitoba, all the way to Saskatchewan and beyond. The Americans had the chuck wagon and the early Canadian explorers had the Red River cart. It would have been a grueling expedition considering that the adventurers had to sometimes make their own trails. Now, as we move at 60 kilometers along this secondary highway, we are thrilled to know that we are travelling the same route.
We stopped for a late lunch at Cut Knife, Saskatchewan, and fell in love with its carefully restored outdoor museum and campground. To our great surprise, there stood the largest Tomahawk in the world. Here’s a quote from the plaque: Constructed in 1971 as a symbol of cooperation among local cultures. The tipi, a traditional First Nations shelter, symbolizes respect, humility, faith, and sharing. The Tomahawk or stone tool was used to build and create as well as for a weapon. It was recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Largest Tomahawk.
We had a long, informative conversation with Bob, the groundskeeper, who shared with us that he’s been very busy servicing the Centennial events of the incorporation of the town.
That evening, we showered in the facilities and enjoyed another thunderous night of rain and lightening. Ah, Saskatchewan.
Next stop: North Battleford and the Western Development Museum.

Word's Largest Tomahawk
Frank prepares for the Fiddle-Fest

Paradise Valley

WE HAD THE DISTINCT PLEASURE of turning south off the TransCanada Highway 16 onto 897 South, and driving through a district of ranches hosting various breeds of cattle and several herds of bison. We were on the hunt for the distinct ‘Climb Thru Time’ restored grain elevator in the town of Paradise Valley. On Tuesday, August 7, 2012, we found a local campsite at Three Cities within the confines of the village and settled in for the night. We prepared a small meal from the back of our van and relaxed to the rustle of leaves, howling coyotes and honking geese. Ominous clouds blackened the prairie sky and we packed ourselves into the back of the van. We fell asleep on the bunk, eventually. Even the bombardment of thunder, bright lightening and pounding rain couldn’t interfere with our need for a deep snooze.
The following morning, the pretty, young museum hostess opened the doors for us at 9:00 a.m. and we ventured for nearly two hours up to the very top of the grain elevator. Frank said that it was the first time he’d ever been to the annex and the view from the small windows presented a memorable image of the vast expanse of the district.
The artifacts in the museum were plentiful and the displays were presented in such a way that you felt part of the time gone by. Our journey up the easy ramp was rewarded by a stop at the gift shop where we enjoyed a beverage and a sample of homemade sweets. I purchased a few items that I will display proudly at home.
Our destination was the John Archand Fiddle Fest ♫ near Pike Lake, Saskatchewan, but first there were more small towns to visit and museums to explore.

Paradise Valley offers a fabulous museum.

Captured By Ukrainian Culture

I LIKE THAT Frank once had a girlfriend who was Ukrainian. He’s mentioned her quite often and so when we saw the road sign broadcasting the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, we turned off the eastbound Yellowhead Highway outside of Edmonton and wandered around the museum. The temperature on August 6, 2012, was hot and the sky a brilliant blue but it was worth every wipe of my brow.
At the village, you can either take a guided tour for one hour or just wander around the property at a leisurely pace. You are transported back to 1892 and travel, building-by-building and character-by-character through to 1930.
The employees are trained to remain in character no matter their conversation. For example, Frank recognized quite a number of the artifacts and mentioned the updates that have occurred since their creation – like the advancement of farm implements. The young man, who was acting as a farmer, did not give up his roll as an 1892 grower and gave Frank a quizzical look. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” he said in his broken English and Ukrainian accent.
The woman of the house shared her borsht recipe with me and her husband led us into the next room where I spotted a violin. The farmer claimed it and agreed to honour us with a Ukrainian tune. The young man asked Frank to play a song and afterward he removed his bones from his kilt pocket and tapped along to a few more renditions of fiddle music. The other tourists were quite smitten with the show.
We left the open-air museum destined for Paradise Valley, Saskatchewan.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village
A buggy ride into the past
Ukrainian Fiddle-Fest

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Clear Water Plunge

On August 3rd, 2012 we left Kamloops at 8:30 a.m. and drove north on the Yellowhead Highway, also known as BC_5 N. Our destination was Clearwater to attend the annual Thompson-Nicola Baha’i Summer School.
On the way, we stopped at Country Store Antiques located on Highway 5 in Louis Creek. Frank recognized nearly every item on display, and he revealed his history with each artifact. He was most impressed with a chair much like the one we have in our living room. It was identical to his grandfather’s seat from his law office in Neudorf, Saskatchewan.
We drove north and took a dip in Clearwater’s public swimming hole. I was left with the impression that the beach was man-made with tons of soft sand poured over the weeds and rocks that appeared around the rest of the small pool of water. Frank and I waded in cautiously before we plunged our full body and head into the cool, refreshing water.
After a relaxing sit on the beach, we drove the short distance to the location of the school. We parked our van in the shade and prepared for the other campers to settle in. It wasn’t long before we met up with old friends and made new ones.
The theme of the school this year was Abdu’l-Baha. There were word portraits that brought tears to my eyes and those of others, discussion on Abdu’l-Baha and Race Unity, advice from Abdu’l-Baha and conversations on what Abdu’l-Baha’s example teaches us.
With our limited vacation time in the backs of our minds, we chose to leave our dear friends on Sunday, continue north on Route 5 and meet up with Highway 16 at Mount Robson. 

Explore - Fiddle - Sleep

Friday, August 17, 2012

Vacation Conversation

I LIKE THAT our August 2012 two-week vacation landed us first in a town called Yale. We left Campbell River on August 2nd at 2:30 a.m. with little conversation, boarded the ferry, sailed to the mainland, travelled east on the Trans Canada Highway and stopped to explore the Historic Yale Museum. Our travel conversation on this first leg of our journey to Saskatchewan consisted mostly of upbeat plans to explore as many small towns as time would allow.
Yale was quite a nice surprise. Their museum archives the way of life in the mid-1840s and praises the work of the thousands of Chinese immigrants who built the expansive Canadian Railway. The comical aspect of the museum was the amount of energy put into trying to explain the Sasquatch phenomenon.
Later, we took a lunch break at the Alexandra Bridge rest stop and shared our passion for the simplicity of dining out of the back of our vintage van. Frank calls it chuck wagon meals. A path through the forest took us to the decommissioned Alexandra Bridge. It’s a sturdy structure that still withstands the pushing power of the mighty Fraser River.
We carried on to Kamloops and spent the evening with Frank’s daughter. She kindly offered us a bed in her home, but we chose to spend the first night of our adventure on the bunk. Frank whispered to me that we would change our direction and travel on Yellowhead Highway 5 the next day.

Historic Yale

Alexandra Bridge