Today marks a milestone birthday for yours truly. A half-century is being celebrated by someone who barely acknowledges any birthday.
So, what did I do? I travelled — two back-to-back trips, one to the east, one to the south, with entirely different themes, involving a lot of driving, multiple short-haul flights, a handful of ferry rides, a few urban centres and a bunch of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them small towns.
Travel can be unpleasant and uncomfortable at the best of times. Speaking from my own recent experiences, it certainly is challenging now. Pack along as much patience as you can. Be grateful and polite; saying thank you to every staff person or server you meet goes a long way. Say it twice. Give yourself plenty of extra time (especially flying), and plan as much as you can, knowing things will go off the rails at some point.
Whether or not you decide to venture out of the Okanagan, or B.C., this summer, the best advice I can give is to have a theme. It doesn’t matter what it is. Looking for the best coffee within an hour’s drive? Go with that. The most unique cocktail bar near you? Why not?
Trip number one for me was driving to Saskatchewan.
I know you’re wondering why. Ultimately, it was to visit the Doukhobor Dugout House near Blaine Lake (pop. 499) and witness a historical re-enactment.
My ancestors settled in a stunning spot next to the North Saskatchewan River, surviving from 1899 to 1904 in caves dug into a ravine. Despite warnings to not leave their area, the neighbouring Muskeg Lake Cree Nation brought the Doukhobors a horse to help them clear the land after witnessing women pulling a plow.
The theme for this trip started out as discovering my roots. It quickly morphed into one of making new friends. The people of Saskatchewan are some of the friendliest anywhere. Karleigh Sanchez, the proprietress of Betty’s Diner – the best gas station diner in Canada, in my opinion – sat with us for a half-hour to share her family’s history. Ed, from Muskeg Lake, and I bonded over a plow. Glenn, a total stranger, guided me down a ravine to see the dugout houses.
Trip number two’s theme started with crossing off a couple of bucket list items.
First, was seeing the Toronto Blue Jays play in Seattle. The Jays lost, but it was still great fun. The second was to dine at one of the Pacific Northwest’s best restaurants, Canlis. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not only for the food, but also for what became the theme of this trip—reconnecting with old friends.
I’m not going to go anywhere for a while, but I am so grateful I did go where I went.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.