Erica
Faith

 

Ooohhh Canada, ooohh Canada! It's been along time since my last visit to the land of the maple leaf. Twenty-two years to be precise. I was only nineteen when my mom, my brother and I took a train from Mt. View, CA to Seattle, we then jumped on a fairy and hit Vancouver island. That was a blast!

This time we took a trip to the middle of the main land, to a province of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is the prairie providence of Canada which has a total area of 651,900 sq. kilometers and only 228,800 sq. kilometers of land, the rest is water. "Yeah! Lots of lakes, reservoirs and rivers, a perfect place for a vacation." The largest city of Saskatchewan is Saskatoon. Saskatoon is an old city that's nestled on the Saskatoon River. Throughout the summertime, the riverside attracts various festivals. One of the most famous is the Jazz festival, which I had a chance to experience. The town also has a major university.

While I was in Saskatoon, I stayed at the Colonial Square Hotel, located on 8th St. East. The hotel is affordable and conveniently next to two bars in the same parking lot. Also next to the bar is a bombing pizza parlor, perfect for those late night munchies when you're drinking. Both bars let you bring your pie inside to enjoy while getting your drink on.

Bars and restaurants differ Canada. Even though most bars sell food, it's still illegal for minors. The drinking age varies from province to province. It's either 18 or 19 and absolutely no minors.

This kind of sucks because my girlfriend and I had a hard time entertaining her teenage boy and enjoying a cold drink. It wasn't all about drinking, but most of the bars are filled with dart boards, pool tables and video games. We ended up at kiddie land, playing beaver bonk and shooting hoops with a 6 inch ball. It was still fun.

Some restaurants you can eat with your family and still have a drink . We hit up a place called Montana's Steak House. I had a few 44 oz. cold beers over my dinner one night watching Canadian football.

Canada regulates all alcohol sales too. You just can't go to your local 7/11 or Quick Stop and buy a tall can. You have to go to the liquor store that has strict hours and days of operation along with a fat price tag.

One night at the Colonial Hotel we did it up. We didn't know what to expect because when we showed up earlier in the day, with her son trying to play pool, we got denied and the place was empty. But when we came back at 10pm the place was packed. There must have been thirty people rocking to karaoke, both pool tables were rolling, and the bar itself was full of patrons. I really liked the diversity of people. It was a good age group ranging from 20 to 70. Kim and I fitted right in. I was drinking Labatts on tap and Kim was sipping wine. We immediately started making friends. We told the bartenders that we were from TYB and they started flowing us drinks. We weren't on a mission to get pickled, but we also didn't plan on drinking Canadian whiskey all night. We had numerous Fireball whiskey shots. Fireball is now available in the states. I don't like peppermint schnapps, so this did the trick, nice whiskey bite with a sweet after taste. Good stuff.

We did a good job mingling with the bartenders and the local crew. The Canadian men were quick to be friendly with Kim and take pictures. One guy we met, who was in is forties, was still fascinated by Luke Duke, the General Lee and the Dukes of Hazzard. It was funny this guy never mentioned Daisy Duke! We had a really fun night and felt a warm Canadian welcome. I was humbled by the hospitality.

Our main purpose for our Canada trip was to go to Kim's family cabin way up north. To respect my new found friends, I will say we went to "the lake". The lake we went to has over 1000 miles of shoreline. In comparison, Lake Tahoe has a shoreline of about 75 miles. To put it in perspective, we went to a HUGE lake.

Due to boat problems, we got delayed and lost a day at the lake. This also brought on more problems. Now we had to take a pontoon plane to the cabin. (This was awesome and a great experience.) We ended up leaving on Sunday instead of Saturday. Most stores are closed on Sunday and those that are open, open later and close early. Our plane was leaving at noon. We begged the pilot for fifteen minutes to shop for a week. We split up the crew, one for food and one for drinks. I hit the government regulated liquor store in a hurry. I bought a twelver of Labatts, a twelver of Molsen, a six pack of Stella and three bottles of average wine . It was $110.00 U.S. dollars. What a joke! But whatever, we were going for a week and I was on vacation. We also had a bottle of Georges De Latours Private reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Napa that we were saving for a special occasion.

I had a blast at the lake. I showed up to work around the cabin but also had a lot of R&R. We did some row boating, motor boating , swimming and fishing. We met some hardcore locals who live out in the sticks but just for the summer months only. It drops below 40 in the winter.

One of the guys I met was a cool dude named Reece. He was a cattle rancher/school teacher from the mid west. Reece took us fishing. We had an agreement that if we caught a trophy fish 20 pounds or more we would throw it back. Right away I agreed. "Yeah right, I am going to catch a twenty pound fish!" Well we did, and a few of them. Kim caught the fatty, 20 pounds and mine was about 17. They both went back into the lake. Kim's son and I ended up catching a few more fish throughout our stay. The average fish was about 10 pounds, and they were tasty! Reece knew how to do it up, fried fish, breaded fish, smoked, bar-b-que, we ate it all.

One of my highlights on the lake was the short boat trip Kim and I took by our selves. We hit the sunset and drank our bottle of George on our sixth month anniversary. That was awesome!

Canada is a awesome place to visit. I am going to warn you. Plan your trip wisely and check with the consulate of Canada before you go. I almost didn't make it in. After an hour of negotiations at customs, and my girlfriend almost having a heart attack, they let me in. They asked me if I was a felon or if I had ever been arrested. To my mistake I said "No," but I did get a D.U.I. 13 years ago and it is now off my record. Well it wasn't off my record in Canada, and they don't play games. If you have been arrested for any reason in the last decade or two, or if you've had any quarrel with the law at all, you must check with the consulate.

I talked to some fisherman who had a group of twenty guys and one guy had a D.U.I on his record. They didn't let him in. The whole group decided to not enter, a huge loss of business for the fishing camp.

In closing my beer of choice was Molsen in a can. I do prefer the Labatts on tap too. I also really enjoyed drinking the Bud Light in Canada, when served ice cold it has a different taste and slightly more alcohol content.

And for the record, I declared, to my future in-laws that I will only cheer for the Roughriders of Saskatchewan. They are now officially my Canadian football team.

If you are ever looking for a great travel destination, Canada could be a good call. It's close and people are friendly and most Canadians speak English. Cheers!

July 2012

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