Saturday, August 22, 2009

Reading Through Western Canada- Road Trip

I don't often post about non-book related things here at the ol' Book Mine Set, and I'll try to not make this an exception. However, it's also about my latest road trip and to be honest, it wasn't the most literary of travels. It was, however, a lot of fun.

So what does one read on a road trip of several thousands of kilometers? I took three books: Val Wake's White Bird Black Bird, Kenneth J. Harvey's Blackstrap Hawco, and the Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm edited collection of indigenous erotica Without Reservation. It's a testament to the beauty of western Canada that I finished none of these books.

The first stop, as you can see from the above collage, was the Northwest Territories/ Alberta border. Odd that after living in the north since 2001 this is the first time I've actually seen the 60th parallel. I've flown over it many times on my way to Nunavut, but I've never had the opportunity to drive down until now. Incidentally, the bozo in the cowboy hat and flexing his nonexistent muscles underneath the Alberta sign has since moved on.

We didn't stop long in Alberta on the way down. Instead we skipped across to Saskatchewan. The border sign may not be as impressive, but it's certainly a bizarre experience to cross through Lloydminster, the town shared by both provinces. The first stop was Saskatoon to see the Exhibition. The kids had a ball despite terrible weather most of our stay there. Next it was on to Aylesbury where we stayed at the Trail's End Ranch. The kids were treated to horseback lessons, we were treated to barbecue, and after supper we all went on a covered wagon tour. Two things I learned about Saskatchewan:

1. While there are flat stretches, overall it's hillier than it's made out to be

2. People from Saskatchewan are not all ranchers and farmers. Some are carnies.

Oh right, this was supposed to have a literary connection. Did I mention that I think I saw Guy Vanderhaeghe entering an IHOP?

Then, once again, we gave Alberta the cold shoulder and high-tailed it over to British Columbia (a 20 hour drive including the awesome Rockies, I might add). We weren't quick enough to get a picture of the border sign, but we did nab one of Othello Rd. Along this stretch are a whole series of Shakespearean themed roads, rivers and such. Anyone know why?

Our first stop in BC was the beautiful Kelowna. The weather was sunny and not too hot and the first really nice day we had on our trip. We spent a day touring wineries and basically falling in love with the place. Book connection? I bought Dick North's The Lost Patrol at the RV Park store.

Next it was off to Vancouver where we walked the world famous Capilano Suspension Bridge. Book connection? Our son has a simple picture book by Susan Canizares called Bridges which features the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It features famous bridges of varying types from around the world. Not that we have any real appreciation for bridge architecture, but we've decided to use it as a travel guide (some of the photos are breathtaking). We're planning to visit another featured bridge this spring when we go to Japan.

The next day, it was off to China Town where our van was broken into and our GPS, a suitcase full of clothes, kids toys and other things were stolen. Book connection? My Dick North book was also snagged. Damn literate thieves. But I shouldn't start with that. I've since made my peace with China Town and I'm now able to think of the pleasant things we did there while no-goodnicks were smashing up our van. I did get to try jellyfish for the first time and it wasn't as disgusting as you might think. That's something, I guess.

Trying not to let the previous day ruin the whole trip, we set out the next day to enjoy ourselves while Chrysler and the insurance people straightened up the mess. We went to the Vancouver aquarium at Stanley Park (book connection: I tried to forget I ever read Timothy Taylor's book of the same name). That evening we went to see Annie performed at the the Theatre Under The Stars, also in the park. It's my daughter's favourite movie and of course, she was in her glory seeing it live.

After shopping and a quick visit the next day with an old friend from Rankin Inlet, we headed off to Alberta. We were finally ready to pay the province some attention. Stopping in Calgary first, the kids hit another fair, we visited another friend from our Rankin Inlet days, and then we had a zombie encounter, a bad tempered one at that.

Yes, I finally got to meet the supercalafragilisticexplialadocious one, Barbara Bruederlin. Barbara was one of the first people to visit my blog back in 1893 I believe it was, and we've been friends ever since. And while her cat viciously mauled my son half to death, it was a superb blogger hookup nonetheless. We were also fortunate enough to meet Barbara's daughter who was yet another great conversationalist. It turns out that while I've been crediting my music and movie tastes to Barbara, it was really the offspring behind the curtain. I tried to convince her to start a blog so I don't have to go through the middleman any more.

The next day was our final stop, Drumheller. Here we saw the dinosaurs: the tacky ones, the realistic ones, all glorious in their own way. Book connection? I picked up a biography of Mary Schaffer at the giftshop. As far as I know she doesn't have anything to do with dinosaurs.

Finally, it was back to the good old North. As much as I love you southern Canada, the North is where it's at.


Jason said...

Glad to have you back! Looks like a fun trip. :-)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Thank you for exposing me as the fraud I really am, John! It's such a relief to finally have that out in the open.

I should add that your daughter carried a book around with her the entire evening and even needed dad to run out to the van at one point, to retrieve a different Junie B Jones book for a particular passage that she needed to read at that moment. Umm, take after dad at all?

You and your clan are entirely delightful! I think all your readers should simultaneously descend upon your home next summer.

Luanne said...

What a great trip - except for the literate thieves - can't believe they stole a book ! thanks for sharing

John Mutford said...

Jason: Glad to be back! And yes, a fun trip was had.

Barbara: Hey, I've never read a Junie B. Jones book! (But point taken.)

Luane: Actually the book was in the suitcase, so I don't know if it'll actually be read. The good news is, I've replaced it already.

Melwyk said...

Now you've been everywhere in Canada, correct? I am so glad you discovered the beautiful hilly scenery in Saskatchewan! :)

John Mutford said...

Melanie: Well, all the provinces. I still need to get to the Yukon to complete my territories badge though.

Wanda said...

Wow, that trip sounds kind of exhausting. Fun-exhausting though, unlike the bathroom reno we did on vacation.

Bummer about the "no-goodnicks" but way cool getting to meet one of your favourite bloggers.

Stacy said...

What a fun post (well, except for the break-in...something like that would have put me in a funk for the rest of the trip, so good recover:) The rest sounded like a great time and loved sharing in your meeting Barbara.

Dale said...

Any trip that includes a Zombie is a well taken one. Sounds like quite a vacation and a great meet up!