Vacations 2007, Part II: 1st Vacation

I can’t wait for Marc to finish chronicling our summer road trip anymore…  So, let’s get on with our first vacation of the year — which was actually in the summer, but the weather was straight crap and may as well have been in October.  We were supposed to go to Summerland in August but between my sister-in-law not having Joshua until July 28th and needing an emergency c-section and us being exhausted from the house flooding and resulting renovations, we were in no shape to drive across the western provinces.

Instead we went on a spur of the moment 4-day vacation through small town Saskatchewan, doing a number of the drives in Saskatchewan Scenic Drives. I had leafed through the book on Saturday night to try and figure out where we should go, if we were going to go, and on Sunday morning we had a route and I called our hotels to make reservation. I then packed our suitcases and we were on the road by mid afternoon. We drove to Saskatoon for the night, to get a bit of the driving out of the way. We had supper at Red Lobster, went swimming with the kids at the Cavalier, and indulged in some late-evening fries and a milkshake.   A great start to the trip.

The next day we made our way through Rosetown to Hershel where there is an interpretive centre and an archaeological walk, which we would’ve taken, had it not been for the wind, as you can see… 

We then drove back roads to the Addison Sod House, which is the oldest inhabited sod house in Saskatchewan. The lady, who lived there until last November when she had a stroke, was the daughter of the man who built it. He walked from Saskatoon to Kindersley when he first got to Canada and noticed all of the sod houses falling over. He built this one with the walls 4 feet thick at the bottom and 3 feet thick at the top. He hollowed out a bit of the middle so that the walls would fall into each other, preventing the house from toppling over to one side. It is also the only sod house with a second story. Very cool. I’m 5’5.5″, with pretty long legs — look at how thick the walls are!
They’ve put siding on the house, obviously.
We then drove to the Great Wall of Saskatchewan. Built by a farmer over the course of 30 years to keep himself busy and out of the kitchen where he’d otherwise be bothering his wife. It is quite the structure and goes on and on like this.

We wanted to keep driving to the end of it. Marc asked if the road looked okay. And I said, “it’s fine.” Moments later we got stuck in the mud. Big-time stuck. Early evening, middle of nowhere with no cell-phone and the nearest farm who knows how far away stuck. But with a lot of pushing from Marc and some half-decent driving by yours truly (and Marc yelling at me), we made it out.

Our ride to Kindersley was rather bumpy because of all of the mud on the car. In fact, our brand new (to us) van would begin shaking violently if we went faster than 80km/hr. We were pretty nervous on the long drive to Kindersley where we just wanted to eat and go to sleep. We made it, and Marc, after several attempts at finding a car repair shop the next morning, discovered that the wheels needed to be washed out just a bit more than he’d done when we arrived in Kindersley. We played in the pool the next day and started our trek north.

We had a reasonably short distance to drive that day, from Kindersley to the St. Walburg area, but between a stop at a park to feed Olivia and Marc stopping every 5 km to take pictures of abandoned farm houses, it ended up taking almost 4 hours instead of 2.

Near St. Walburg we found the studio of Count Imhoff who came from Germany early in the 20th Century to Saskatchewan where he painted in his barn- turned-studio (it was filled, floor to vaulted ceiling, with beautiful religious canvases — just the kind of art I love).  He painted canvases for church buildings. The church below is in Paradise Hill, where we stopped next.

We then drove through Frenchman’s Butte which is a beautiful little town and were going to go to Fort Pitt, but the roads were a little wet and we didn’t want to relive the experience from the day before. We drove through St. Walburg which is also another beautiful town and then made our way to North Battleford. This was a long day in the car and poor Olivia was getting fussy. Marc ended up sitting in the seat next to her and as soon as she saw someone’s face she was happy. Poor thing — staring at a seatback for hours on end.  That night the kids discovered the waterslides in North Battleford and Marc got a workout hauling them up and down. Lifejackets — that’s what we’ll bring next time we got to a pool.

We decided to stay an extra day in North Battleford because the kids were having such a good time. The first day we drove to the largest tree in Saskatchewan and by the Doukabour caves (which were closed).

We were going to take the scenic drive (from the book) to the Petrofka Bridge and then back to North Battleford. The road was pretty overgrown, with plants growing up in the middle of it. But it felt like an adventure, so we kept going. We came to a fork in the road and we were supposed to go left. There was a stick with a flourescent orange square on it, but I told Marc to ignore it. Madeline immediately said, “I don’t think we should go on this road.” We drove a little ways and then our road disappeared. Marc got out and took some pictures (of course), and then very carefully turned around. We were even more in the middle of nowhere than when we got stuck in the mud. Plus this time our van could’ve actually gone into the water.

See, there’s our van.  And below… there goes our road.

But we made it out again. We went back for some dinner and more swimming and the next day packed up to go home. On our way to the Crooked Trees we saw a bunch of pigs in a field, so Marc and Madeline and Luke got out to see them. Every time Luke got near them they ran away…

We got to the Crooked Trees (the one road we’d been worried about from the beginning about it being impassable, and it was perfectly fine). The kids ran and ran in there. We got a family picture, which I’ve posted before, and then Luke got upset when I wouldn’t let him take pictures with our camera.

And then we were home. The kids traveled well. We saw some interesting, unheard of places. The kids will probably find this kind of trip completely boring in a few years, but they were more than happy with all of the playgrounds they got to play at in small town Saskatchewan. Marc got to stop as many times as he liked to take pictures of fields and farms. And I got to enjoy the bittersweet surroundings of old, abandoned, small-town Saskatchewan. It was a nice little holiday.

Posted in Family, Travels | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Vacations 2007, Part II: 1st Vacation

  1. Angie says:

    That sod house is really neat. I have never heard of that place!

  2. Nicole says:

    LOVE the ups and downs of family trips. They make the trip all the more memorable! Looks like you took in a lot in a short amount of time. I also have to say, I lived in SK for 6 years and never in all my time there had I heard of most of the places you visited … very cool trip!

  3. Ang says:

    This does sound very cool…perhaps something to add to our list of things to do as a family.

  4. Tal says:

    SK seems WAY cooler than I had initially thought. Beautiful pics Dixie!

  5. Angela says:

    Dixie, Thanks for making the time to come for a visit – it was so nice to meet you and your kids. I read Marc’s blog once in a while and wanted to visit your blog now that we’ve met. What a great road trip! This is totally something that we would enjoy, and I am trying to figure out when Chris and I can go to Count Imhoff’s studio on our next visit to SK. I was intrigued when you told me about it and now seeing the pictures, I am fully convinced it would be worth the drive. I’ve enjoyed reading the rest of your blog, too. You write so well, and I find myself relating to a lot of what you share.

  6. Dixie says:

    It was great to meet you too, Angela. I hope you can figure out how to get to St. Walburg to find out about Imhoff. I could’ve sat in his studio all day, but, alas, the children… And it turns out that Luke didn’t have an ear infection that day we were at your house. He must’ve just been really tired, b/c he was exhausted that day but fine the next.

  7. Maryanne says:

    Oh my goodness, you’ve made me so homesick. So very homesick. I thought that the discussion of driving around Kindersley was the most homesick I would get (Chris used to teach near there, and when he went out for his interview, I came along and we took pictures at a bunch of World’s Largests), but then you had to include pictures of the waterslides at the Tropical Inn. Where I spent several Christmases. (After my Grandma sold her house and moved into an apartment, we stayed at the Tropical Inn at Christmas when we’d go to see her, and we always managed to wheedle the staff into opening up the waterslides on Christmas morning. Thus our family tradition of Yuletide Watersliding.) (I digress.)

    That looks like such a good vacation. My Mom totally loved this post and has been telling people about all the cool places you guys saw.

  8. Dixie says:

    Very cool, Maryanne.

  9. […] we head out on our summer vacation.  If you’ll recall, last summer our vacation consisted of four days in small town Saskatchewan.  And it was awesome.  Last year we hit some of […]

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