A roadtrip through Saskatchewan doesn't seem that much fun, but this one really was. A couple weeks back after my littles stayed with their grandparents for 10 blissful days, I drove 1500 kilometres in a solid stretch of sheer boredom to pick them up in southern Manitoba. Driving with tots is not often easy and besides having dvd players in the car and many books, colouring puzzles and the like, breaking it up in bits is definitely the way to go. We left Niverville quite early on a Sunday and our first stop was the town both Coco & Bee were born in, Brandon, Manitoba. We've only been in Edmonton just over 2 years, and I wasn't a real fan of Brandon in the first place, but all the feels as we drove into town and by the clinic I went to weekly when pregnant, the hospital where they were born and the home that we owned there where we brought them home. Sigh. After gassing up at Co-op where you are treated to someone besides your husband pumping the gas for you, we met up with our friend Jaime for lunch at Qdoba (the place I miss the most!) and had a good catch up. If you love Mexican food, you will never find a better chain than Qdoba - the queso is the best you will ever put in your mouth.
The road to Regina is flat. Mundane. Littered with seniors who refuse to go 1 kilometre over the speed limit and farmers who drive too slow in the left lane. At this point I put Snow White on the dvd players and was both listening in pure revulsion from the front seat while simultaneously rolling my eyes at why I had to endure such torture for the upcoming 13 hours in the car. We have fancy headphones for the dvd players, but they don't seem to fit tiny heads correctly so were tossed off in less than 5 minutes, hence why I was either forced to listen to complaints and fighting or the Disney horror show. Nissan, who do you think is sitting in backseats watching dvds while traveling? Hint, not ADULTS. Get smaller headsets, please. In also managing to keep the peace, promises of treats ahead! The last time I was in Regina SK, we passed a little shop named Le Macaron and I made a little note to ensure that next time I wouldn't just pass it by at all. I have to say that I wasn't expecting a sweet little French café when we walked in and I was mildly surprised. The shop is beautiful, as were the treats and pastries. These girls have been to many the fancy patisserie before and both bee-lined to the macarons immediately. I ended up buying a box and we shared a few together after having an Apple, Brie & Prosciutto crepe that I cannot describe in words other than unbelievable. (I would have preferred the chevre, onion and fig, but that it not kid friendly. I was surprised that they didn't complain about the "ham/cheese/apple" one. (that's how I sold it) Motherhood; a great opportunity for using the thesaurus and other word weaving to convince children of anything. I snagged a heavenly London Fog for the road and we were on our way, with a few macarons in tow for our fancy Saskatchewan princess hotel that night.
I must have driven the road from Regina to Saskatoon 50 times of more in my lifetime. And while there have been some small developments, it has largely remained the same. When you don't want to 'just get there', stopping for ice cream in Chamberlain right on the side of this highway at Twisted Sisters in a must. The stand it self is just that and they have a small kitchen where you can order burgers, fries and the like, however most people are stopping for some sort of frozen delight. I have to say that these little girls have, for the most part been excellent back seat travellers and stopping for another treat after just having cookies and Italian sodas less than an hour previous was a solid reward for their behaviour. TS kid cones come with a little teddy graham on top and it's kinda adorable. As is my girls 'cheers-ing' with their ice creams. Not much longer to our overnight stop in YXE.
Saskatoon is a quaint city, it really is. I will admit that in the past when driving through Saskatchewan to Alberta <--> Manitoba, besides having a restroom stop or grabbing a coffee, I have never had the desire to stop anywhere for more than 10 minutes. I have just wanted this road trip to be over as fast as possible. With small kids it's entirely too hard on everyone to try and do that and when moving from Brandon back to Edmonton in 2015 we ended up staying at The James Hotel in Saskatoon which was delightful and has the best breakfast buffet I've ever has. Stay there if you get the chance, but without kids. Walking along the river and the streets downtown, it's hard not to enjoy how lovely Saskatoon in fact is. I had been watching the hotel rates on Hotels.com (I ALWAYS book though them now) and finally was able to get a room at The Delta Bessborough for under $200. This hotel is an old Canadian Pacific hotel and like it's sisters, it's beautiful. It looks like a castle sitting on the river and what better place to stay over night for 2 little princesses and a silly puppy named Jellybean? Upon check in, we were given champagne flutes with a punch of fresh berry juice and 7up and you couldn't have seen more thrilled girls. They pranced around the lobby thinking that Flynn Rider would be walking through the door to greet them at any moment. Adorbs. Our room was gorgeous and after a long day in the car, we decided that after exploring the hotel a walk down the river path and some dinner might be good thinking. Across the road from the hotel was an old British red double decker bus that served little snacks and we bought a bag of popcorn while a man played guitar on the little square and Coco and Bee danced and clapped for a solid 30 minutes. Back to the hotel for room service, where we somehow managed to get the kids meal of real chicken tenders and fries with fresh fruit complimentary and the food was excellent. I rewarded myself with a 9oz glass of wine and the night was over. next time I might want to consider getting a room with 2 doubles as opposed to 1 king but after the self medication, it wasn't that bad with only a few kicks to the face and kidneys.
I can't say enough about staying at The Bessborough. It really was a fun experience for us and I loved that the staff really treated my tots like princesses. We ordered breakfast in bed the next morning just for the experience and I can tell you that a $5 kids meal was not what other kids meals are made like. Huge pancakes and waffles and sides of bacon/sausage with an overflowing fresh fruit bowl. Housekeeping and the front desk went above and beyond to help me and gave us a few passes to use for places in Saskatoon along with a handful of mini mending kits because I just love those and you can never have enough of them! In the future we will absolutely stay here again.
It's roughly 5 hours give or take to get from Saskatoon back to Edmonton and we weren't in a rush. And not surprisingly no one really wanted to get back in the car any time soon. I had spent some time during breakfast looking for some places to pop by around the area and our first stop was Potash Corp Playland where to our utter dismay and a few tears, the ferris wheel, carousel and train were closed for the season in barely the 2nd week of September. I guess I didn't look quite closely enough at the website that said the season was dunzo and therefore brought on the epic meltdowns that ensued upon myself entirely. Note for next time. A quick trip to the park all but band-aided up the 'broken heart' as Bee deftly verbalized her feelings from the closed carousel tragedy. Every place we travel, I have to stop to find a great independent coffee house and bookstore. Heading over to Museo Coffee, we left downtown over the bridge to Broadway, a cute area that I need to have a chance to walk around at length another time. So many little unique storefronts and it somewhat reminded me of the Kerrisdale area of Vancouver. Museo itself is charming. Checkerboard floor, tin ceiling and a small seating area. My latte was wonderful to say the least and much needed by now. One last stop before we got back on the highway at Westgate books where we each selected something to read. This bookstore is huge and has a wide variety of everything you could think of. A great selection of children's book that occupied these two for a bit while I had a chance to look thought their Literature section for any copies of P&P, in which they had none. (I collect them) I did pick up "Notes on a Scandal" by Zoe Heller because I have not read it and loved that movie. I did find that their books were a little pricey for a used bookstore, but if you go there often they issue you credits and that's helpful to bookworms. The owner was quite warm and helpful as well, so I am always in favour of shopping locally and supporting small businesses. It's also situated on the same block as my fave Starbucks which was all too convenient for a few frappuccinos. Overall, Saskatoon is a true gem of a city in the middle of the bland prairies with much to do and nice people. Had the park been open it's just $2 to ride any of the rides which is plain reasonable and I bet the view from the Ferris wheel is worth the terrifying ride itself if you happen to be scared of heights.
The final leg of our road trip consisted of 2 cranky kids and 1 losing patience quickly mama. Even the stories of 101 Dalmatians or sticker books would not make the sounds of bickering babes lessen. I tried my best to drown out the movie and the fighting by finishing up the S Town podcast with one earpiece in and by finally calling an end to the madness by stopping for bribery doughnuts in Lloydminster, then handing out the dreaded (by me) A&W root beer lollipops soon after our final pit stop.
My initial plan was to drop into Vegreville and see the World's Largest Pysanka as we have in the past, but with a leisurely Saskatoon morning, a colossal headache encroaching and the potential for a late afternoon meltdown followed by a night ending nap, I just kept on trucking. I will add that above all, this road trip was more fun than expected I'm already planning our next one to Banff & Radium in November.