Saskatchewan Stopover

Approaching Regina’s airport, I got my first glimpse of my beloved coulees.

I’m home at Haven, “living off the land with Charles and Caroline” (that’s what they told me to tell you).

The first part of April has been about racking up as many billable hours as possible. I haven’t had much leisure time and haven’t been in the mood to blog. I’ll pick it up again as I head south and I do have a bunch of drafts in the pipeline, but there just haven’t been enough brain cells left at the end of the day to string together two sentences.

So my parents came back from their holiday on Friday (the 14th) and on Tuesday (the 18th) I headed to Haven. I had an absolutely uneventful and pleasant flights with Westjet, with a short layover in Winnipeg. It was a week where Air Canada and United Airlines were in the news a lot for being despicable to their customers so I want to publicly thank Westjet for reliably being the airline that gets me around without any drama and with smiling personnel who seem to love their job.

Charles and Caroline were waiting for me in Regina when I landed on time at 5:23PM. We were at our hamlet just past 8PM. I’m staying with them since Haven has no water, power, or internet, plus it’ll be easier to pack if I’m not trying to live and cook in my space.

Wednesday morning, Charles and I went to Haven to see if we could start my truck. He reconnected the battery and it took only two tries for my Moya to roar to life, no boost needed! Haven itself was in fine shape, just more mouse poop and spider webs than I expected. The only thing of note is that I now have a proper street address rather than just a land description!

It wound up being a pretty lazy day. I spent a few hours at home figuring out a plan of attack for packing, including reaching the conclusion that I’m better off using cardboard boxes rather than Rubbermaid totes. I plan to unpack quite a bit even while housesitting because I’ll be staying in the guest casita for six month and so it’s not like all my things will spend the summer in cardboard boxes getting mouldy. This way, I don’t have to buy new storage containers for Haven and I won’t have a bunch of useless Rubbermaid totes to store in Mexico.

I also made a call to schedule some service for Moya since she needed two new tires, an oil change, and a minor repair. They couldn’t fit me in till Monday, which didn’t work for me since I wanted to go to Moose Jaw to stretch Moya’s legs. Plus, I had to drive a certain distance and then have the wheels retorqued (the fact that Moose Jaw has a great all you can eat sushi restaurant is purely coincidental). The garage managed to fit me in today, Thursday, for the new tires and we put the rest to Monday.

It was an early morning since I had a largish job to do before heading out in the afternoon to run errands with Caroline in Assiniboia and get the tires put on Moya. I got it done in the nick of time, but, of course, Google is not compatible with the crap internet here. I remembered at the last minute that Bing works well here and was able to do the research I needed to do to get the job sent off. I then headed out with Caroline, dropping her off for her appointment before going to the SGI office (DMV).

There, I picked up the registration I’d paid for by phone on Wednesday. Moya will be duly registered and insured for the next 28 days. After that, she will have a valid plate, but not be street legal in the US and Canada since the Mexico insurance will take over. I also had a new driver’s license done since my current one expires next spring and I don’t want to have to fly back here to renew it! I want to keep it active so that I don’t have a gap in my Canadian driving history even if I end up getting a Mexican license as well. Slight hiccup, the new license won’t come for two weeks and I’m hoping to leave on Tuesday. So added to the list is trying to figure out how to DHL my license to Mérida. There’s always something!

I tested my new real address and their system took it, so it’s legit! It’ll be great to have a proper address on my driver’s license now. It also means that people who wouldn’t ship to me for lack of a street address would now. Actual unexpected progress. Getting an address was going to be my next fight…

The SGI stuff was quick so I went to the bank to drain my USD account to cover my meals on the way down. It’s not much, but whatever I don’t have to convert from CAD will be appreciated.

I then picked Caroline up and we went for a nice lunch at the Greek restaurant where my immediate neighbour works as a server. It was lovely to catch up with her. After, I left Caroline at the library to do the updates on her new Mac. I headed to the gas station to fill up and went next door to the home store to get house numbers for my property. 🙂

It was then time to drop off the truck and I kicked myself for forgetting the laptop so I could do a post, but they wound up being too fast for me to do that anyway! I was able to start the post on my phone and upload a photo, though, so that’s why you get a picture. 🙂

The tires weren’t cheap, but now Moya has shoes I can trust to get me to Mérida. She’s had enough service there for the mechanic to say that my road warrior might not be pretty, but he’d bet that she’ll get me there without incident, which was good news! I found she handled a lot better after the tire service.

I picked up Caroline, we ran a few more errands for her, and then we headed home. She made us a lovely dinner (coquilles St. Jacques!) while I was on standby to run to the basement to pick up pantry items as needed. 🙂

So tomorrow will be a Moose Jaw run for a 300KM run to work out any of Moya’s kinks in case I need the garage to look for anything else on Monday. I’m also going to Bulk Barn to pick up spices.

Saturday, I’ll do a thrift store run to drop some stuff off and start packing. Sunday will be another packing day. Monday will be an Assiniboia day and then I should be able to leave on Tuesday. We shall see if that comes to pass since I still have a bunch of paperwork to sort out, including my bilingual inventory. But I prefer to aim for Tuesday as that’s going to light a fire under my butt.

But let me tell you, I wish I could stay home for a spell.

I Need to Plan Better for Impromptu Mini Road Trips

Work was really slow today, so, on a whim, I took off for Moose Jaw at 11:00 this morning. The plan was to get sushi for lunch and then find jeans and a couple of skirts for my upcoming grand adventure, as well as possibly get a new nose stud, just for a change of colour. I’ve been doing a lot of online shopping for bits of my travel wardrobe, but it’s so hard to find jeans that fit me properly that I wanted to buy them in person and shipping on the skirts I wanted was outrageous, so I hoped to find something locally. I wasn’t optimistic on the skirt front, though, since it seems that no one wears skirts anymore, especially not out in my rural area, so choice is poor in stores.

Well, I hit a snag in my plans immediately after a very delicious and satisfying sushi lunch (DK Sushi is as great as ever!): I managed to leave home without my wallet!!!! OMG. There I was 150KM from home with about 75 cents in cash on me. I thought I had a US 20 buried at the bottom of the purse, but only just discovered that I had taken it out and put it in my foreign currency bucket at home. So yup, I had about 75 cents on me and an $18 lunch bill…

The CIBC is at the opposite end of the same block as DK, so I thought that I would see if I could make a cash withdrawal with just what I had on me for ID, which was my phone, which would give me account numbers and balances. I asked the cashier at the restaurant if she would let me try in exchange for leaving my truck keys. Yes.

So off I went to the bank, where I was greeted with the usual, “How can I help you?” and I replied, “I don’t think you can, but here goes, I left my wallet at home, south of Assiniboia.” The woman burst out laughing and said, “You just need some cash?” “Yes,” I replied meekly. “Not a problem!” she replied to my immense surprise. I had to give her the phone number on the account, the account number, the balance to the penny, my full name, and my date of birth (not in that order) to make a withdrawal that would, hopefully, cover all my purchases for the day. I mean, I was already in town so I might as well pursue my plans, but be extra careful with my driving!

I settled the restaurant bill and burst out laughing at the fortune I got with my cookie:

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Little did I know, Passport Canada inefficiency notwithstanding, the cookie fortune would prophetic.

First stop was the Salvation Army Thrift store, where I found the exact model of jeans I wanted, in my size, and with a tag still on them. They were a lighter wash than I wanted, but at less than $2.50 (half off special!), I knew I would regret not buying them.

Then, I went to the jean store, whatever it’s called, in the Town and Country Mall, where my piercer is situated. They didn’t have darker jeans in the same style I’d just bought, but, get this, I found my skirt! It was exactly what I wanted in terms of fabric and cut. And it was buy one, get one half off! I ideally wanted two skirts to go with me since I knew I’d live in them, so that was an incredible deal. Less than $50 for both!

Unfortunately, my piercer was off on maternity leave, something I would have known if I had checked her Facebook page before leaving. I could have bought a new stud, but would have had to put it in myself. I’m not able to do that without a lot of pain because my fingers are so big and clumsy, so I passed. I don’t mind the one I have now; it would have just been nice to have something different since I can actually see my stud when I look down at my nose.

I was at a loss at this point about where else to try for jeans since I’ve never bought clothes in Moose Jaw except at the thrift store when I had a brilliant epiphany: Reitmans moves to summer stock about this time of year and the fall/winter stuff goes on sale. I hoofed it up to the store on Thatcher Drive and learned that I was right: all jeans were 50% off, so $24 instead of $48! They had exactly what I wanted, so I was out of there very quickly! I’m not sure I’ll have room for both pairs in my suitcase, but it would be nice to have the lighter pair for casual things so I can keep the darker ones for when I want to be a bit dressier.

I was beat by this point and still had work due tonight, so I headed home, not bothering to get any groceries. Prices aren’t really that much better than in Assiniboia and I’m trying not to keep too much in the house since I’ll be leaving withing the next three to four weeks.

I took the scenic route home and enjoyed blazing fast internet (by Saskatchewan rural standards) at a stop I made to enjoy the view, more than 30KM in any direction from any settlement bigger than a farmstead. Meanwhile, my hamlet, a proper community with all other services (except cable TV) is half that distance from a proper town with broadband and we’re too far from civilization to get service. Got to love SaskTel’s logic!

Thank you to CIBC for saving the day! I’ll be better at putting my wallet back in my purse from now on! 😀

A Scotiabank Account Can Save International Travelers a Lot of Money

Withdrawal fees sure add up when I’m traveling outside of Canada. In addition to CIBC’s $5 charge, I have to pay the other institution money, too. I wanted to rein in that expense this year, and since there are Scotiabanks in Mexico, that was the logical place to start. As it turns out Scotiabank is part of the Global ATM Alliance network and an account with them means free withdrawals at banks all over the world, including Scotiabank in Mexico and Bank of America in the U.S.

After 25+ happy years at CIBC, I had no desire to start over with another bank, but I thought that getting a very basic Scotiabank account made sense. It would be $3.95 a month for up to 12 transactions and would mean that I would gain the following:

-up to 12 free withdrawals per month

-being able to take out smaller amounts more frequently and not having to carry a ton of cash on me

-not having my main bank card on me when out and about

Transfers between banks are now easy thanks to Interac e-transfers, so I could transfer my allowance from my CIBC account to my Scotiabank account at no cost and with no significant delay. There is also the possibility that I could link this account to my PayPal account in addition to my CIBC one, but I have to double check that.

I confirmed all of this during a chat session with a rep and then booked an appointment for 10:30 this morning to open an account at my nearest Scotiabank branch, which is in Moose Jaw (another reason I don’t want it to be my main bank!).

I convinced my neighbour Caroline to turn today into a girls’ day out. We took off around 8:30 this morning. She had errands to run around the Scotiabank, so she did that while I went in and did my thing.

Opening the account was quick and painless. The rep who assisted me did not attempt to upsell me or get me to switch from CIBC. It was strictly do what the customer, who appears very knowledgeable, wants, and absolutely nothing else. I had been told to present two pieces of ID, but ended up having to show four for some reason. Finally, I had to make a token deposit to cover at least a month’s fees. That was it!

Scotiabank isn’t super convenient in Maz, unless I can find the one that is supposed to be on Aquiles Serdán in Centró, but there is one near the big Waldo/big Ley and also, of course, by the Soriana on Rafael Buelna. So it’ll be fine. It’s not like I have to go to the back end of nowhere that I otherwise have no reason to be.

Caroline was coming into the bank as I was going out, talk about good timing! We got back in the truck, went to Kal Tire to have my truck tires re-torqued, and then headed to the north end of town. Bulk Barn was our first stop, where I loaded up on spices to take down with me.

Then, we went to Walmart, where I decided to price a burr coffee grinder so I can grind my own beans this winter. I have a grinder, but I also do spices with it and there’s starting to be cross contamination. It is also very difficult to make a coarse enough grind for a French press with that grinder. Walmart had what I wanted, Black and Decker brand, for $36.95 and I decided to get it. even though that wasn’t cheap! Well, it rang up at $16.95… I believe in karma, so I spoke up. The teller said, “Are you happy with the price that came up?” I said yes. “Then that’s the price!” WOW.

We then made a stop at Superstore, a store that just makes me cranky… I ran a couple of quick errands and then sat in my truck with my phone while Caroline stocked up for the apocalypse.

Then, it was beyond time for lunch. She was game to try DK Sushi, so we went there and both came out pretty stuffed! She had some cooked sushi as well as vegetarian, plus tempura and beef teriyaki. I had my usual spicy tuna and eel, with bites of some of her vegetarian rolls, plus dumplings. It was really nice to linger over a long meal with her and we ordered in two rounds since our first orders weren’t quite enough.

I drove us home into a slowly setting sun, helped her get all her purchases in house, then collapsed with a glass of wine and some pet cuddles before dragging myself back to my feet and heading home.

It’s been a great day! I shouldn’t have to go to town again before leaving on Friday so now I can focus on closing up the property and packing!

A Day In Moose Jaw (and the Western Development Museum)

I made a rather spur of the moment trip to Moose Jaw today. I just couldn’t stand the idea of another day at home just doing busy work, so late last night, I headed to Trip Advisor to see if there were any museums in Moose Jaw I hadn’t seen yet and found the Western Development Museum, which, as a bonus, was on its last weekend of a traveling exhibit about the Franklin expedition, a topic of interest to me. It has been seven years almost to the day since I visited Saskatoon’s Western Development Museum!

I set off around 8:00 this morning and after a couple of stops in Assiniboia, made it to the museum around 10:00. It’s very easy to find, being the only turnoff between the TransCanada and Thatcher Drive, plus there’s lots of signage. The museum’s name only hints at what is on display inside. In fact, I found very little on western development per se, and rather lots on transportation. In fact, this used to be the Moose Jaw transportation museum.

You could spend hours in this museum with its warren of rooms if you read every placard, but I was there about 90 minutes, only reading up on things that caught my eye.

The Franklin exhibition was a bit small, but still interesting. It focused on the forensics of what happened to the expedition team members and how Arctic survival has, and has not, changed since then. Definitely not an exhibit I would have driven 300KM roundtrip for, but it definitely added value to my $10 admission fee.

Here are just a few things that caught my eye in my wanderings:

The museum's drab exterior belies the treasures within.

The museum’s drab exterior belies the treasures within.

I miss these old phones that had style!

I miss these old phones that had style!

First models of smartphones.

First models of smartphones.

Rather scary looking fella!

Rather scary looking fella!

Snowbird planes.

Snowbird planes.

Homemade plane. Such a tiny cockpit!

Homemade plane. Such a tiny cockpit!

Lots o' planes!

Lots o’ planes!

Telex machine (I've always wondered what they look like!).

Telex machine (I’ve always wondered what they look like!).

Love the midnight blue paint job.

Love the midnight blue paint job.

Ambulance.

Ambulance.

Early snowcat.

Early snowcat.

Autoboggan.

Autoboggan.

Model T.

Model T.

All the difference SK license plates over the years.

All the difference SK license plates over the years.

Just a small smattering of the many cars on display.

Just a small smattering of the many cars on display.

SK is "home of the RCMP"

SK is “home of the RCMP”

I wish I'd lived in the '50s just for the cars!

I wish I’d lived in the ’50s just for the cars!

Car and wonderful trailer.

Car and wonderful trailer.

Look at the woodwork! This is the bunk.

Look at the woodwork! This is the bunk.

Dinette.

Dinette.

Kitchen area and tons of cabinets.

Kitchen area and tons of cabinets.

Even the ceiling is lovely.

Even the ceiling is lovely.

Dinettes really haven't changed much!

Dinettes really haven’t changed much!

I love the bay windows at the front and back.

I love the bay windows at the front and back.

More lovely cars.

More lovely cars.

Old ambulance!

Old ambulance!

Interior of the horse-drawn ambulance.

Interior of the horse-drawn ambulance.

Loved the colour on this one.

Loved the colour on this one.

Electric trolley coach.

Electric trolley coach.

Streetcar.

Streetcar.

The exterior of the trolley car shows that it wasn't a bus, but rather ran along electric wires.

The exterior of the trolley car shows that it wasn’t a bus, but rather ran along electric wires.

Found the Hogswart Express!

Found the Hogswart Express!

Caboose.

Caboose.

Work for $1.50 a day building the railroad... but give up three days' wages for room and board.

Work for $1.50 a day building the railroad… but give up three days’ wages for room and board.

Cozy bunk in a carriage.

Cozy bunk in a carriage.

And here's a kitchenette area.

And here’s a kitchenette area.

See the typo? Bottom right.

See the typo? Bottom right.

Unusual colour.

Unusual colour.

I WANT THIS CAR.

I WANT THIS CAR.

See how the doors open upwards?

See how the doors open upwards?

"The only car for a lady." *snorts*

“The only car for a lady.” *snorts*

Apple II computer.

Apple II computer.

My childhood.

My childhood.

Iron lung.

Iron lung.

Prosthetic limb made from 2x4s, a door hinge, and and rubber tire! The point of this was that the man lost his leg because he couldn't afford medical care and that Medicaid saved future Canadians from things like that...

Prosthetic limb made from 2x4s, a door hinge, and and rubber tire! The point of this was that the man lost his leg because he couldn’t afford medical care and that Medicaid saved future Canadians from things like that…

My neighbour Caroline called me as I was wandering through the final exhibit, needing computer help that I couldn’t provide over the phone. I told her I’d be by when I got home and asked if she needed anything. She had an order for the Bulk Barn. I hadn’t specifically planned to go there, but I was going right next door to the Dollar Tree and nearby to Walmart, so I had a good excuse to go in and buy some nuts! So that was my next stop.

Then I went into Dollar Tree, which I still can’t believe exists in Canada! I was able to get everything on my list for it and even some of my Walmart things, plus a bunch of other things I only realised I needed when faced with them, like a sleep mask! I actually used one of those my first summer in Yukon, but accidentally donated it to someone. I couldn’t get my bedroom on Isla dark enough last year, so that’s the easiest solution. I also got a big tub of ear plugs, but I hope that I get used to the noise this year because sleeping with ear plugs isn’t particularly comfortable.

After, it was time for Walmart, which was chaotic as it appears that they are expanding. There were a lot of people and it was a very unpleasant shopping experience. I didn’t linger, but I loaded up on things I need that are literally twice the cost in Assiniboia and/or that I can’t find in Mexico. It was most of the shopping trip I would have done in Nogales or, more likely, Benson since I don’t like the Nogales Walmart. I also got a bunch of Rubbermaid totes that are $19.99 each at the Home Hardware in town and only $9.99 at the MJ Walmart!

Then, I was beyond ready for lunch and headed to DK Sushi. There was quite a crowd there today and they mixed up my order with another table’s. I got my sushi, no problem, but instead of two pieces each of yam and crab tempura and two dumplings, I got the yam and a double order each of crab and shrimp tempura! By the time the mistake was realised, it was too late, of course, to give the order to the correct table. I cancelled the dumplings and said that I would do my best with the seafood, but there was no way I could eat it all, not with all the sushi I had before! This is what was left over when I’d had my fill!

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It’s an all-you-can eat menu, so there was no extra charge for all this food, but the waste was a shame. I actually took most of the batter off of what I did eat so I could have more seafood, but I can only eat so much!

After lunch, I walked a couple of blocks over to the Salvation Army and decided that I won’t be going back. It’s just not as good as the one in Assiniboia and has a lot of crap. I almost bought a tee-shirt for $5.75 that had a huge stain under the armpit. $5.75 for a used tee-shirt! I did pay that for another one that still had the label on it, though, and got good deals on a few other things.

I headed back to my truck, with the plan being to take it to Kal Tire to have the wheels retorqued, as per their instructions. As it turned out, the Moose Jaw Kal Tire is on the same street where I park my truck when I go for sushi (Fairford), just a couple of blocks past the Safeway. Talk about convenient! They were able to do the work right away and it took all of five minutes. I had to have the wheels retorqued after 100 to 150KM and was already at 175KM, so I didn’t want to wait to get back to the Assiniboia Kal Tire.

My final stop was Safeway for a bathroom break and to grab a cold drink from Starbucks since it was super hot out. I like their passion tea, which has no caffeine, and I always ask for it unsweetened. But dang, it’s pricey up here compared to in the States! I took a sip and must have made a face because the barista laughed and said, “Do you want sweetener after all? It’s really tart, isn’t it?” Actually, no. I thought that she had messed up and added syrup to it! So it doesn’t taste the same up here as it does in the States either. But it was still a very refreshing treat and one I was glad to sip on as I returned to my oven. I mean truck.

At the last minute, I decided to pop into Giant Tiger to see if there was anything interesting, but came out empty handed. Then, it was time for the drive home, which always feels like it takes less time than the drive to MJ. I stopped in at the grocery store  in Assiniboia for drinking water and cereal, which was on mega special. They have opened up the new entrance and it hints at big changes when the renovations are done…

When I got in, I went to C&C’s to give Caroline her Bulk Barn order, have wine, gets lots of canine and feline love, and troubleshoot her email issue. It wound up being very easy seeing as it was a ‘Gmail is programmed by morons who think that alienating their users is the way to get them to switch to other Google products’ issue with Thunderbird that I troubleshooted for myself recently (hint allow ‘non-secure’ apps). Caroline was rather impressed with how quickly I sorted that out, but she has no idea how many hours I put into it at my end!

Then, I went out and helped her and Charles try to get Charles’ motorcycle into his new barn, but the slope into it is too steep so we gave up. I wound up exerting a lot of energy and muscle. So between that and the walking, I should sleep well tonight!

That was my Saturday. Hope y’all had an equally lovely one!