With Wendy working at Safeway and her shifts being all over the map, we need to plan ahead as a family if we are going to enjoy all of what Saskatoon has to offer this summer. While we won’t get to all of these events this summer, here is my list of why I think Saskatoon is a great place to spend the summer.
- June 24 and 25th :: Broadway Art Encounter :: This is done in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival so there will an interesting selection of art and some great jazz to see.
- July 10th :: Regina Red Sox vs. Saskatoon Yellow Jackets :: Wendy and I have been meaning to go to a minor league baseball game since the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets came to Saskatoon. They are a Western Major Baseball League team and I am told it’s not bad baseball to watch. $8 per ticket.
- July 18th to July 25th :: Arlington Beach Family Camp and 50th Reunion :: I am taking the entire week off work and spending most of it at the cabin with the boys. Wendy will be out for part of the week while she works a couple of shifts at work.
- July 23rd and 24th :: Rotary Club Dragon Boat Festival :: Not sure if we will be back from the lake but if we are, we will take this in along with the Taste of Saskatchewan.
- July 20th to July 25th :: Taste of Saskatchewan :: I really like the idea of Taste of Saskatchewan but in reality, I don’t really enjoy going. The food can either be good or mediocre, it’s a really crowded event, the music is too loud to have a conversation, and parking can be brutal. My honest feeling is that it would be a better event with fewer (but better restaurants), a larger venue, and a sound stage that doesn’t feel the need to blow out your ear drums.
- July 29th to August 7th :: Saskatoon Fringe Festival :: Good food, lots of stuff made of hemp, hundreds of people smoking pot while the police look the other way. I don’t generally take in the plays but instead just enjoy myself on Broadway Avenue with the boys.
- July 31st :: Hamilton Tiger Cats vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders :: It’s the Riders Centennial which means like all Saskatchewan Roughriders fans, we must make the mandatory pilgrimage to Mecca and take in a game. We are choosing to see the Riders lay down a smackdown on the Hamilton Tiger Cats. There is a reason why we have a cabin that is only an hour away from Mosaic Stadium.
- August 4th :: NASCAR Canadian Tire Series :: 250 laps of NASCAR goodness at the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway. Oddly enough, Pierre Bourque of Bourque Newswatch is also in the series. Sadly, the Conservative Party is no longer sponsoring his ride, maybe because NASCAR drivers only turn left.
- August 8th :: Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan :: I know it goes all summer but what could be a better way to spend a Sunday night than taking in some Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice) and then head to a place with a patio for coffee and dessert.
- August 10 - 15 :: Saskatoon Exhibition :: This is the highlight of Mark’s summer and is fun to go with Wendy and Oliver as well.
- September 3-4 :: Saskatoon Fireworks Festival :: After years of taking in really lame fireworks shows in Saskatoon, the Saskatoon Fireworks Festival changed everything. It is a world class, must see event that is perfect for River Landing. Let’s just hope the Traffic Bridge doesn’t collapse before that weekend is over.
- September 29 :: Calgary Flames vs. New York Islanders :: I know I broke up with hockey a couple of years (I said some things, hockey said some things… you know how it is) but we have been checking out each other on Facebook and I may grab a thing of nachos and see how hockey is doing.
I am off to the cabin for a couple of days and to celebrate Mother’s Day with Wendy and the boys. We aren’t doing to much up there this weekend other than installing a new front step, planting some grass seed and I plan on getting some reading done. In other words I will be a long ways away from my cell phone, the internet, and the rest of society. I hope your weekend is great as well.
Wendy and I have been talking about vacation plans in 2010. We are starting now because 2009 was a vacation debacle. Three of the four extended times away I had to come into work. It wasn’t so much works fault but staff were sick or injured and we didn’t have enough staff at the time to make things work.
This year I have some structural changes that I am initiating that should make our structure look less like a deck of cards and I can get away without being under stress or putting people under stress (or at least compensating them to be under stress).
The only firm dates we have booked at for the 50th Anniversary of Arlington Beach (and the 100th Anniversary of the Arlington Beach House) which should be interesting. I’ll be honest, the best part about Arlington Beach is the amazing quiet. I am told that we are in the quietest part of Arlington Beach but it doesn’t get much louder wherever you are. It should be a little noiser that week in July but on the flipside, we get to see a lot of friends.
The other place I really want to go is to Johnston Canyon with Wendy and the boys this summer. We have been talking about this for a while and we are thinking of stopping in Drumheller so Mark can check out the Royal Tyrrell Museum and I want to check out an abandoned coal mine outside of Drumheller.
Then the idea is to push through Calgary, see some friends and then head to Banff for a day of hiking and exploring before tackling Johnston Canyon the next day. I am tempted to tempt fate and try doing this in September when the weather is still nice (hopefully) and the crowds are a lot less.
Mark has never seen the mountains before so this would be a great time to teach him that hills are not mountains and he should never call Mount Blackstrap, “Mount Blackstrap” and keep a straight face while doing it.
I am trying to convince Wendy that we need to go Victoria this spring but we’ll see how that goes.
I have become a big fan of Dopplr over the last years. It’s a service that allows you to plan and share your trips online. It also does some fun things like track your personal velocity which as you can see, isn’t that impressive (Joi Ito’s personal velocity is that of a Whippet while Larry Lessig’s is the same as an elephant while Wendy’s is the same as a glacier) and also shows how much carbon you are emitting.
It also ties into Flickr and shows your photos for each of your previous trips.
Like all Web 2.0 sites, it allows you to share data with your friends and also contribute reviews of restaurants, places to explore, and places to stay when you travel. It uses Flickr’s machine tags to link your own photos of places to places where you have been. I have contributed to places all over the world but if you look at Arlington Beach on Dopplr, you can see how it works in a local community.
For those of you with an iPod Touch or a iPhone, there is also a great Dopplr app that allows you to find attractions and reviews of sites in your area. I would have loved to have it when I was Chicago earlier this year.
One of the reason however that I have become a big fan of Dopplr is that as a family, it gives us a chance to visualize what the next couple of months have in store for us. It let’s us look at our schedule, budget, plans, and goals and helps us find when we can go to the lake, do some travelling, and figure out when work is going to put demands on us. Wendy is using Dopplr now as well and even Mark is going online to check out hers or my profiles to figure out when he needs to be packed.
The other cool way Dopplr is helpful is their annual report that is generated for all users. Below is one for Barack Obama which gives you an idea of how much travelling he had to do in his run for President of the United States.
My friend Dan Sheffield who works for the Free Methodist Church in Canada uses Dopplr. Dan’s world travels would make his annual report fascinating (to me anyways). It reminded me that it would be an effective for any denominational executive or someone who both had to travel a lot and be responsible to a constituency.
I would love to see my city councilor, MLA, MP, and other elected officials use Dopplr (I would give bonus points to anyone who actually gave honest reviews that made my travelling easier). If you are using Dopplr and want to connect with me, you can find me at dopplr.com/traveller/jordon.
While up at the lake, we ran low on homogenized milk for Oliver and needed to get some on Sunday. We drove out of Arlington Beach to the one horse town of Cymric. There is a store in Cymric but they don’t have whole milk. Instead of turning right to Strasbourg, we went left to Govan. Govan was totally shut down. Not a thing was open. We then drove 20 kilometres to Nokomis where again the entire town was shut down except for one gas station and it was closed down for lunch. Still no milk. So we headed back to Cymric where Wendy wandered into the store and the owner phoned down to Digger’s in Strasbourg to make sure there was milk for Oliver. (Map of our route). A quick look at Google Maps, shows that we took 126 kilometres to get 4 litres of milk and an Oreo ice cream bar.
Of course as we got back to the cabin, Mark wanted to go to the local ice cream stand which was open on a Sunday afternoon. After sending him down on his bike to confirm the unthinkable (that in one of the mecca’s of Free Methodism, commerce would be allowed on Sunday), we all went down and had ice cream on Sunday at the Treat Spot (you can also find it on Dopplr). The kicker would have been if they had whole milk but they didn’t but we did grab some pop, a game of mini-golf, and found a nice cool summer breeze.
Growing up, my mom talked about the first time she was allowed to get an ice cream cone on a hot Sunday and what a big deal that was. Somewhere in heaven she is celebrating the fact that even Arlington Beach is now cool with having ice cream on a Sunday afternoon.
We are back in Saskatoon for a couple of weeks before we head back to the lake for another week. While we were up there, I took a couple of photos and uploaded them to Flickr.
Here is our gazebo at night. Even before we bought it, Wendy purchased some wicker lights and the star tea light holder at Jysk. We added a couple of lanterns and it gives off a nice cozy feel once the sun goes down.
Despite the photo, it was Mark and I who got some mini golfing in. Mark isn’t acknowledging who won and who lost.
And Hutch continues to prove why he is the world’s dumbest dog. Just seconds before this photo, the dog was crying because a quad drove slowly by within 20 feet of him. That was all that happened and Hutch wept and incapacitated by fear. Oliver doesn’t look really pleased that there is a dog in his wagon.
We did take some time to walk along the beach.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we took a queen sized bed up to the lake and barely managed to get it inside our bedroom. Like Pierre Trudeau I believe that government should not be involved in what happens in a bedroom but in this case I thought I would make an exception and post a photo.
There is about three feet alongside the bed and about 4 inches between the end of the bed and the wall. It’s a cozy fit but it works. It also means that Wendy and I can sleep without the fear of falling out of our old three quarter bed.
We are back in Saskatoon for a couple of days (Wendy had to work a couple of shifts, there was some laundry to be done, and I needed to see a doctor) while we are on vacation. We did take some time to explore a bit of Saskatchewan and took a drive from the book Saskatchewan Scenic Drives. We headed down to Craven and explored some of roads and trails that lead us to the historic Fieldstone Inn, the Hidden Valley Conservation Area and the St. Nicholas Anglican Church.
Wendy and I are off to the cabin for a while. No big agenda, no major projects (other than some painting) but just some vacation time as a family. The plan is to eat some good food, check out North America’s oldest bird sanctuary, race some remote controlled cars, read a couple of books while chilling in the gazebo, and spending some quality hours handing out with the dogs and the boys in the lake.
No phone, no cell coverage, (oddly there is wifi), and no distractions. Cue up the “Life at the Lake” playlist on my iPod…
A friend of mine asked me the other day if we had any regrets about purchasing our cabin last summer. The discussion revolved around the size, the restrictions on use, and the idea of the being permanently anchored to one place for vacation.
There are four of us using under 300 square feet. As you can imagine, it is a bit crowded with three beds, four people, and two dogs.
Instead of planning any addition, we are working at adding some outside space. The gazebo will feature two resin Adirondack and two Cape Cod chairs along with a small coffee table. The cabin isn’t insulated which means that it gets pretty warm in the summer. We added a dual action window fan which makes a big difference in cooling down the cabin at night but the gazebo is where we plan to spend our evenings.
For the mornings, we are adding a small patio in the front. We had talked about building a full deck but we settled on paving blocks. The patio won’t be any larger than enough space to put a bistro table and two chairs out front. I know that doesn’t leave Oliver and Mark with a chair but we won’t worry about that until they star drinking tea and coffee to start out their morning. Plus, it may not be the worse thing to have a portion of the property that is for adults, at least for part of the day.
During the dry summer months, Mark crashes outside in his three person tent where he seems happy. Of course once he gets too much older and his feet hang out of the end. When that happens we will either explore the idea of adding an out building, putting up a Boler or a tent trailer, or just getting a bigger tent.
Some have asked if the four of us could live up there and with some interior renovations we could in that amount of space. We have talked about adding a loft and with one it would work okay. It would necessitate a much simpler lifestyle but as many have shown, it is possible to live in something smaller than a McMansion.
Restrictions on Use
One of the conditions on the lease is that it is alcohol free. I don’t really have a problem with that. Arlington Beach was originally a Free Methodist camp and it is a part of the holiness movement heritage. Wendy and I very rarely consume anything alcoholic and so to be alcohol free is no big deal. The upside of this is that I don’t have to worry about Mark getting into any alcohol or getting harassed by some drunk while he is walking to the washroom. While people are up late sitting around a bonfire or drinking coffee, it is a different kind of noise that you get when the booze is flowing freely. The only impact it has is on my plans for beer can chicken at the lake. Of course I have been told by several beer drinkers that one should never waste a beer on a chicken and one can get the same impact from alcohol free beer or even water in a can.
Attached to one place
I love to travel with the family so I thought this would really bother me but it hasn’t. The ability to get away to another place is a big plus for us. We had talked about buying a Boler, small RV, or just tenting equipment before we got this but in the end, this was the right investment for us (I am not a big fan of tenting and I am not sure the idea of a Boler and a campground was going to work either). We are still planning to get away to Victoria in the fall but it does give us a place to spend our vacation time this summer without worrying about expenses. It also serves a base to attend Saskatchewan Roughriders games with it only being an hour away from
Taylor FieldMosaic Stadium at Taylor Field. As I mentioned Regina is an hour away and the drive to Moose Jaw through the Qu’Appelle Valley is stunning. If you haven’t seen the book Scenic Saskatchewan Drives, it offers several amazing day trips around Saskatchewan and many of them are easily accessible from the cabin.
So a year later and I don’t have a lot of regrets in making the investment. The cabin is pretty modest and it fit our budget. It was recently appraised at being worth $2,000 by the local R.M. and even with having a large lot, it is worth well under $5,000 which is many times more money than we paid for it.
While last year it felt like we were still heading to a vacation property, this year it has become more like home. The paint is ours, Mark has his own bed, the other beds and kitchen have been upgraded and improved. While not quite the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis, Massachusetts or the Bush Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, it is ours and for right now, it’s a pretty good fit for the family.
We had Maggi out at the lake two weekends ago. The great retriever lacks the elevation to find her Frisbee when it gets tossed out in the water sometimes and here she heading back to shore so she can get a couple of feet higher and find the disc. I am not sure if she got it this time or if Mark and I had to go get it for here as there was probably 100 or so tosses out there before she was satisfied with her swim.
I am not a passionate fisherman by any extent of the imagination. I went a couple of times as a kid and I can count all of the fish I have caught on two hands but since we own a cabin and I have a kid who wants to fish, so I decided we needed a couple of rod and reels.
For Christmas I gave Mark a rod, reel, and tackle box and he gave my brother the same thing. That took care of those two but I still needed reel and rod. This week at Canadian Tire they are blowing out all of their stock and they had rods on for 75% off. I went out and bought a Zebco Horizon for $9.95. It’s not professional grade but since I live within a couple of miles of North America’s oldest bird sanctuary (that features lots and lots of pelicans), there are not a lot of fish by our end of the lake.
Now all I need to know is what kind of lures you catch Walleye with (which is Saskatchewan’s provincial fish). That and I need to learn how to clean a fish. Either that or I need to talk Alan Creech to take his summer holidays at my lake.
One the other end of the scale is a couple of fishing rods I bought at Dollarama for a $1 a piece. They aren’t good for a lot other than if Mark has some friends up, we have some rods that if they get broken, no one will care. The reels are not the smoothest I have ever used. Apparently no one fishes in the part of China where they were made.
We just got back from the lake a while ago. We were going to head up on Friday night but some complications arose as Mark’s baby sitter took the kids to the zoo and they got back late. Wendy and I were dead tired and instead of driving up to the cabin, we decided to give Mark his gift for finishing grade three. He is going to Beaver Creek Camp in a couple of weeks and was stressing a bit over not having a cool bag to go to camp with. We were in Wal-Mart and saw a big duffel bag with a Maple Leaf and Canada on it. It screamed out “take me to camp” to Mark and so we got it for him. We also got him a iTunes card.
It was a good trip. It was quite windy and chilly on Saturday which I didn’t mind. I finished The Kennedys by Peter Collier & David Horowitz which is a really sad look at what the Kennedy family had to endure. At the end as I reading about Robert and Ethel’s older kids who bore the brunt of not only losing Jack but also Bobby in rapid succession, it was heart breaking. After I was telling Wendy about how much the Kennedy’s harassed and bugged each other, she quipped that she had no idea that she had married into the family as that is a little what we are like. We may be but none of us over pronounce our vowels or have a staccato voice.
We had planned to do some painting while up there but we never got around to it. Mark and Maggi went for an extended swim on Sunday that eventually included Oliver, Wendy and myself.
The Treat Spot was open for the first time we were up there. I had never been inside before but in addition to being the keeper of the mini-golf course, it also has an assortment of ice cream and pop.
We did manage to bring up a cabinet and and a simple end table that we repainted. The cabinet is a now a microwave stand and another pantry while the end table is in the living room. Neither piece of furniture was all of that attractive but both were painted a mochachino brown color and look passable as cabin furniture now.
The big change at the lake was the removal of the Cottonwood Lodge. I think it was an old ATCO type trailer that was made into dorm style rooms. It was used for a variety of things over the years and while it would have looked a lot better all fixed up, I won’t miss it now that it is gone.
The only thing that I didn’t like about the trip was that Wendy is sure that my ball glove belongs at the lake which means that I never have it at home to play catch with Mark. On the latest trip she not only thwarted my attempt to bring my glove home but managed to leave Mark’s up there as well.
Well we are into the start of the Saskatoon summer and things aren’t really going as planned. As Wendy writes on her blog, she is struggling a bit with her depression which impacts us all in the house. That has changed our travel and vacation schedule so instead of going up to the cabin this weekend, we are spending Father’s Day in town. We also canceled a quick trip to Calgary in early July. For now, I have to work next Sunday morning which means for a quiet weekend. I am not sure when I will go out to the lake next. I haven’t been out since early May, mostly because of work obligations on the weekends but hopefully next week we will go out for the Feast by the Lake. I had planned to go out on July 1st but it’s a Wednesday this year which just seems to be a waste of a statuary holiday and Wendy will be working it anyways.
Many have asked if the shelter ever gets quiet or is less busy. While winter has it’s challenges, summer has it’s challenges and it is just as busy. For me it is a little busier as staff books off holidays and takes more days off. While it is a little easier than last year, there is still a lot to do over the summer. A friend of mine who is a pastor was chiding me that I needed to get away for my own spiritual health this summer. I reminded him that most of us get holidays and that’s it. We don’t get the luxury of a study break, extended vacation and a four day work week (Don’t give that I preached on Sunday and so I need an extra day of rest. I did it for a decade and it isn’t that hard once Sunday rolls around and if it is, it means you have downloaded a sermon on Sunday morning and slacked for the rest of the week). He asked, “How do you not burn out?” My sarcastic reply was, “My mortgage payment.” The real answer is believing that I am making a difference in the world and to be honest, I am not preaching 45 weeks a year any more. What I do involves creativity and some ingenuity but it doesn’t require the same kind of creativity that someone who is engaged in a performing art needs every week (no disrespect meant to those preachers who read this by calling what they do a performance but I think there is an element to that). I am not manufacturing creativity on a schedule, different situations require different solutions. It’s a different game.
Of course all of that being said, summer around here does allow me to try some new ideas out. A retreat for some of our longer term clients, a Canada’s Day barbecue, a CFL kickoff celebration, and a really, really big garage sale later this summer. It also lets me figure out what we can do here in the fall and winter. I would like to do an evangelism/discipleship class for guys who are largely illiterate. Something quite a bit simpler than Alpha. If you have any ideas, let me know in the comments.