From travel

Exploring Saskatchewan with a 2016 Ford Explorer

For the weekend, Ford Canada lent Jordon a 2016 Ford Explorer and sent us to the 2016 Ford World Women’s Curling Championships in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

2016 Ford Canada Explorer

Since I was working this weekend at Safeway, I got some co-workers to cover my shifts at around noon on Friday, Jordon showed up at my work and picked up essential supplies like some Pepsi, Diet Coke, iced tea, granola bars, and some Twizzlers for the trip.  After a short bit we were off.

As I climbed into the 2016 Ford Explorer, I couldn’t help but notice that there were seats where there were none before.  The back area has two seats and Oliver was in the third row of them.  He was buckled up and pretty pleased he had to share space with no one.    That left the middle row to Mark who was just as happy.

The third row of lay flat seats in the 2016 Ford Explorer

The Explorer is really nice on a road trip like this.  Oliver played his Nintendo 3DS XL in the back seat and wasn’t heard of for three hours.  Mark chilled out and read in the middle row of seats and never said a word.  Beside him was a small cooler we had that was full of ice and goodies.  He distributed the pop and the treats.

Up front there was a lot of room.  I wasn’t feeling good on Friday and had a sore lower back.  While Jordon was fiddling with his seat, he found the control to the seat massager.  Combine that and some heat, I was in a much better frame of mind.  It really made a big difference.  There is a low and high function for the massager.  I found the high a little too much but the low was perfect.

Interior of a 2016 Ford Explorer

For the ride down, we had ESPN Radio the entire way.  There are all sorts of charging jacks in the Explorer which are perfect for iPods or the iPhone but once with Sirius Satellite radio, what more do you need?  There are so many options.

Ford booked us a hotel at the Motel 6 in Swift Current.  The hotel is gorgeous.  We had a suite and kitchenette.  We didn’t really need one since we were only there for a night but I took the drinks out of the cooler and put them into the fridge and the ice back into the freezer.  Jordon wrote that the room felt like an Ikea showroom.  He was right.  From the color to the platform beds, it looked and felt like an Ikea.

Oliver on the bed in the Swift Current Motel 6

The beds were comfortable, the room was quiet until about 3 a.m. when a parade of loud drunks wandered in but all things considered but that only loud for a couple of minutes.  The hotel has fast wifi, the lobby had free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.  All things considered it was a really nice hotel.  I’d not only stay again but it would be my go to hotel in the area.

For dinner, everyone suggested Tong’s Wok.  It is gorgeous in there and I recommend you eat there if you are in or passing through Swift Current.  We ordered the meal for four.  Instead it looked like a meal for 8.  We were all hungry and ate exactly half of it.  The portion sizes are out of this world.

Oliver working on his angry face

Saturday morning we got up really early so we would have some time to explore a bit of Swift Current.  We grabbed breakfast at a packed Humpty’s and then went to Cypress Motors Ltd. where we picked up our tickets for the 2016 Women’s World Curling Championships.

After that we explored downtown Swift Current and saw the gorgeous First United Church and the downtown core.

The Imperial Hotel in Swift Current, SaskatchewanInnovation Credit Union in Swift Current, SaskatchewanInnovation Credit Union in Swift Current, SaskatchewanFirst United Church in Swift Current, SaskatchewanFirst United Church in Swift Current, Saskatchewan

At noon was the opening ceremonies at the Credit Union iPlex.

Heading into the Opening Ceremonies at the 2016 Ford World Women's Championships

Our tickets were split up so Oliver and Mark watched from a row higher than we were while Jordon and I sat below.

Opening Ceremonies at the 2016 Ford World Women's ChampionshipsThe M.C. was talking and all of a sudden he was interrupted by 13 bag pipes going all out and a squadron of drummers as the teams marched in.  It totally drowned out the iPlex’s sound system which was both funny and awesome.  There is nothing like 13 bag pipers marching in athletes from all over the world to get your heart beating.

Opening ceremonies of the 2016 Ford World's Women Curling Championships in Swift Current

Opening Ceremonies at the 2016 Ford World Women's Championships

Of course Canada came in to a large and loud cheer.  There were many short speeches and the World’s were underway.

There was about 90 minutes to kill between the opening ceremonies and the first draw.  Instead of leaving for a bit and rushing back, we saw the food selection at the iPlex and ordered there.  Such a better food selection than what SaskTel Centre has in Saskatoon.  I was happy, the boys were happy, my wallet was happy.  This is what stadium food should be.  Of course is was right beside the souvenir area.  Jordon wanted to buy me a toque that looked like a curling stone.  I vetoed that but he did get me an event shirt and some curling rock earrings.  Oliver was adamant that he got a Canadian Flag to wave.  How could one say no to that request.

2016 Ford World Women's ChampionshipsOpen Ceremonies at the 2016 Ford World Women's ChampionshipsOpen Ceremonies at the 2016 Ford World Women's ChampionshipsOpen Ceremonies at the 2016 Ford World Women's Championships

Our tickets were right beside the house for the Canada-Denmark game.  I had no idea what was happening at the far end but you could hear everything that was said in the Canada-Denmark game.   The seats next to us were empty so Mark and Oliver moved down to where we were.   Watching four games at once is challenging but as the Canada-Denmark game went on and went into extra ends, the entire stadium was full of tension.  When Canada won the game not only was everyone happy but relieved as well.

2016 Ford World Women's Championships2016 Ford World Women's Championships2016 Ford World Women's Championships

Now we need some shots of Canada.

2016 Ford World Women's Championships

Sitting in a stadium seat for several hours didn’t help my back that much.  After leaving, stretching and heading north up Highway #4, I turned out the heat on my seat and it felt amazing.  I know heated seats are sold as a winter feature but on a day like yesterday, they are worth so much more than helping the car stay warm, they really make a big difference when  I wasn’t feeling great.  It’s a great SUV and made this trip a lot of fun.

Off to Swift Current

Okay, this is cool.  Ford Canada is lending Jordon a 2016 Ford Explorer and is sending us to the 2016 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship in Swift Current tomorrow. 

For those of you (like me) who have never been to Swift Current before, we are driving east to Rosetown and then heading straight south to Swift Current.  In case that sounds like a boring drive, Jordon assures me that it is not and it is one of his favorite drives.  It’s a hilly, windy highway through a massive SaskPower wind farm.  According to Jordon it is a fun two hour drive south. 

When we get there, we are staying at the Motel 6 which looks to be quite nice.  From the photos and the reviews, it looks like I’ll be staying in an Ikea show room.  I feel like I may have to dress trendier just to stay there. 

Since the hotel advertises “fast Wifi”, expect some photos to be posted online of the drive tonight and a lot of photos to be posted to Twitter tomorrow as the curling gets underway. 

The Weekend

Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

The weekend was a quiet one around here.  Today we woke up early, grabbed our day bags and took off for Moose Jaw where we at lunch of the famous Déjà vu Café (I reviewed it here).  It’s a milkshake and chicken wing restaurant in downtown Moose Jaw that is a lot of fun.  After that we explored parts of Moose Jaw, took some photos some some of their amazing architecture, and then headed back home to Saskatoon for dinner.

The more time I spend in Moose Jaw, the more I enjoy it.  We have gone four times now for the day or have spent some time over night and I love the downtown and the Wakamow Valley.  Toss in the Western Development Museum and Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, Temple Gardens Hotel and Spa, Casino Moose Jaw, the Tunnels of Moose Jaw, Crescent Park and some of the attractions south of it like Claybank Brick Plant and the Southern Prairie Railway, there is a lot to do around there.   Jordon wrote up a Moose Jaw Travel Guide for Don’s Photo if you are thinking of visiting.

My finally thought from the weekend goes to the ice fishing hut that was about 10 feet from open water at Buffalo Pound Lake, you are either incredibly dedicated or foolish.

10 Myths of Family Travel, Debunked

Katie Arnold looks at some myths and solutions to travelling with kids.  Here is my favorite.

10 Myths of Family Travel, DebunkedMyth 6: You Need to Bring a Ton of Gear

Kirkby: The tendency is to try take everything you think you might ever need. We do the opposite: We only bring the things we absolutely have to have. Hair cutting scissors? You can buy those in Bangkok. An extra sweater? You can pick that up on the road. We went as light as we could. A lot of gear is harder and more time-consuming to pack and exhausting to carry. I knew I needed to be able to carry everything for all of us, so Christine could hold the boys close in congested places. I had 150 pounds in two duffles, one on my back.

Pitkanen: Our essentials were water, snacks, sun hats, and wipes. We always let our boys bring a special stuffy, a little piece of home, and a couple books. And they each brought a pencil case full of whatever toys they could fit in it, which were mostly Legos. On the ship, I had a little activity bag full of new little things they could pull out everyday. Afterwards, I left it on the ship for the crew to give to their kids. We also had a little reward system for good behavior, and when they got to five points, they got local currency to buy something. This made them very interested when they went to markets.

20 years

A couple of weeks ago it dawned on me that Jordon and I are going to be married 20 years ago next October.  We started to toss around where to go and what to do.  It’s still a year and a half away but if we were going to go somewhere great, we needed to save.

On monday, Jordon posted a 5000 word long travel guide to Banff National Park on the Don’s Photo blog.  It’s worth the read if you a photographer who enjoys travel.  One of the ideas that I loved was a night at the Skoki Lodge, a historic alpine lodge that is a 11 mile hike up the mountain.  It is $200 per person per night but the food is great the setting is breath taking.

The problem is that the time of the year could mean either snow or hiking and we don’t cross country ski.  Snow shoeing 11km up a mountain is a lot harder than hiking it and I am not sure if after 20 years of marriage if I can talk Jordon into carrying me.   Also while we had only planned to spend a night, it is a two night minimum which meant it would cost us $800 for those two nights, it was more than I wanted to spend.

I looked at the Chateau Lake Louise which is $699.99 a night for a basic room.  We have a history there (Jordon proposed to me there) but it is a luxury hotel and the $700 for the room was just the beginning of what it would cost.  Breakfast can easily cost you $100 in the hotel.

After looking around, a hotel that we have stayed in before in Banff has a wonderful jacuzzi suite with a fireplace for only $120 a night.  We have thought the normal rooms are wonderful so the idea of staying in this kind of room sounds like a lot of fun.  Also since it is right in the middle of Banff, we can walk everywhere and not have to worry about parking (not that Banff is that busy in October).

Red Carpet Inn in Banff National Park

Saving some money on the hotel also means that Jordon and I can spend some more time in Banff tooling around and hanging out together.   I can’t wait. 

As for what we are going to do… probably some of the same things we often do in Banff and Jordon has suggested hiking around Stewart Canyon and Lake Minnewanka or heading to Yoho National Park and checking out the Walk in the Past Trail.

Exploring the Kingsmere Lake Trail in Prince Albert National Park

On Sunday, Jordon and I decided to take the boys (and dog) for one last hike.  We checked the weather and it said that Waskesiu would be about 6 degrees above zero so we decided to go for it.  I don’t think it ever got that warm but it was nice enough to hike and explore the Kingsmere Lake Trail which goes between the north part of Waskesiu Lake to Kingsmere Lake.

As you start, you go 500m down the trail towards Grey Owl’s cabin until you come to a long flight of stairs to the stream below.  After crossing a bridge you follow the portage rail track until you get to the Southend Campground before heading back.  It wasn’t the longest hike but it was a nice way to end the season and the boys had a great time exploring one more trail in Prince Albert National Park.

For those of you who noticed the ridiculous socks that Jordon is wearing, they are compression socks and are supposed to help his leg heal.  For the record, they aren’t working.

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