Culture Shock at the Store

I really had my mind set on going to Moose Jaw today to do a big grocery stock up trip, but I was waiting on some payments, a cheque and a PayPal transfer to be able to do so. The cheque wasn’t in today’s mail and I only initiated the PayPal transfer on Friday, so I wasn’t expecting the funds till later this week. Desperately in need of food, I decided to run to Assiniboia for a few things to tide me over.

On the way there, I had a thought about how much it costs me to drive to Assiniboia round trip, $12, never mind the time that I really didn’t have to waste this week. Why was I being such a moron about this? Just go to Moose Jaw, stick to the budget, and use the credit card. It’s not like I’d have to pay interest on the purchases since they would be paid off in days. But most importantly, I still had work to do today, but I definitely had time to go to Moose Jaw and back. The rest of the week was looking iffy.

My decision made, I still made two stops in Assiniboia. The first was to fill up my five-gallon water jugs, which cost me almost $8. I miss my at home delivery for about 80 cents per five-gallon jug! But I do get the next one free… I made this stop in the morning for two reasons. 1) If the water machine was broken, I’d be able to get water in Moose Jaw and 2) I knew I’d be too tired to stop on the way home.

Last year, I was transferring the heavy jugs to a dispenser and actually did that in Mexico just for the exercise, but I treated myself to something on the way home that is crazy expensive, of poor quality, and hard to find here here and the complete opposite in Mexico:

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Next stop in Assiniboia was the Co-Op gas station for a coffee, which was really an excuse to get change for the parking metre in downtown Moose Jaw (can’t believe I thought of that!). The coffee at the gas station is actually quite good and they have hazelnut creamer, so it’s a nice road trip treat.

The trip to Moose Jaw was uneventful, just a scenic hour of rolling hills. Oh, I love this landscape!

First stop in Moose Jaw won’t come as a surprise, DK Sushi! The food was as good as ever and since the last few days have been extremely lean food wise, I didn’t worry too much about my waistline and ordered whatever I wanted within reason. 🙂 DK Sushi in Moose Jaw is in my top five of best sushi restaurants in the whole of the US and Canada, and I think I’ve been to enough sushi restaurants in the US and Canada for that statement to have some weight. 🙂 How lucky I am that they are the nearest sushi restaurant to me… even if they are 3 hours away round trip!

Then, it was time to spend beaucoup bucks. I’d like to share with you how I plan for big shopping runs like these. I use an app on my iPhone called Our Groceries. I have been using this app since I had an iPod Touch (six years) and can’t believe it’s still free. There are ads, but they’re not intrusive and you don’t see them if data is turned off.

I use the app to keep track of everything I need to buy regardless of if it’s to be bought in Assiniboia or Moose Jaw. I have a list for each store and categories that are not list (store) specific. When I lived in Yukon and was doing supply runs for my friends, I would use the categories to keep my friends sorted within each store. But now, I use the categories for things like produce, household, and meat.

Here are some screen shots of the app. First, the main screen, where you see my lists, which are by store. The numbers represent the number of items I need to buy at that store. As you can see, I didn’t get everything on my lists today!

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Inside each list is everything I want to buy at that store, sorted by categories:

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As you can see, I didn’t do too well with dairy and meat. A tub of yoghurt that is 2CAD in Mexico was 7CAD here (SAME BRAND)…

My first stop of the day was M&M Meat Shops to get chicken breasts. That was the most important thing on my list and would determine how much I had left to spend in the other stores. Chicken breasts wound up being $6 off per box, so I got four boxes, essentially getting a box free!

As I shop, I just tap on the items I’ve added to my shopping cart and they get removed from my lists and saved for the next time I want to build a list. But what if a store doesn’t have what I need?

I organized my shopping by likely least to most expensive. So after M&M, I went to Dollar Tree (yes, there’s a Dollar Tree in Moose Jaw!). There, I was able to get household things like freezer bags, plastic wrap, and bleach, for very cheap compared to even Walmart. But there were a few things I couldn’t find. What I would then do is tap the little (i) next to the item to bring up this screen:

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That would then let me select another list for this item. So what I didn’t find at Dollar Tree got moved to my second to next stop’s list, Walmart.

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Some stores don’t categorize things the same way, so I can also change the category of an item:

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What a great app! I would be lost without it when I have to do big shops like these. I just build my lists as I think of items. Over the years, my list of items in the app has grown and I rarely have to type out the entire name of an item before it pops up.

After Dollar Tree, I went next door to Bulk Barn, the most wonderful store on the planet. There, I could buy just as much as I wanted of everything from brown rice to nuts to flours (kamut and multigrain today) and spices. Instead of spending several dollars each for containers of cumin, tumeric, basil, garlic powder, and more, I could spend 30 cents or 80 cents or 50 cents on just the quantity I need to get me through the summer. I normally spend a lot on nuts in this store, but I was on a tight budget, so I restrained myself. I was pleased to be able to buy almond butter and tahini in bulk, too, for much cheaper than I pay through mail order.

By the time I came out of Bulk Barn, I had already spent a third of my budget for the day. On to Walmart, which is just a normal one in Moose Jaw, not a Super Center with a big grocery section. I got paper goods, found Rustoleum rubber coating for my roof (all appendages crossed), and got a bunch of canned goods.

Next stop was Super Store. I usually like to buy my groceries at Safeway, but after hearing so many people tell me how much more expensive they are than Super Store, I decided to try that first. I really don’t like Super Store, finding it overwhelming and the selection in some areas lacking, but grocery prices in Canada keep going up and I really need to start paying attention to my pennies at the grocery store.

My Super Store experience started off shakily since the produce quality and selection was dismal. There were no Brussels sprouts and the onions were worse than the ones in Assiniboia were last year (and that’s saying something). I almost abandoned my cart in the ‘Mexican’ aisle full of Old Paso crap, but persevered for a bit and was rewarded with an increasingly full cart as I started to be able to cross things off my list.

I only had about $130 left to spend at this point, so I tallied everything up as I put it in my cart, switching between the Our Groceries and calculator app on my phone. I stuck to my list, second guessed every decision, and skimped on meat and dairy to come in at $143. Whew. This was in no way a ‘stock up’ cart. I’ll need a top up on a lot of things quickly. But at least the pantry basics of vinegars, oils, sauces, and condiments were in the cart as well as enough dairy and meat (in combination with the M&M chicken) to last me a while. There really isn’t anything I can use to cook up a storm and make up a huge batch of anything. I’m going to watch the Co-Op fliers and get missing items, like ground bison, there. I actually found things at Super Store that are cheaper at the Co-Op. Co-Op does do sales very well and now that I have all my basics, I can look forward to a ‘ten for ten’ sale to get some really good deals on certain things.

My favourite bit of Super Store was their ethnic foods aisle. Tucked into a corner was a proper supply of true Mexican foods, including, almost out of sight, bags of Maseca corn flour for making tortillas! I was so pleased when I found this! The bag was about $5.50 and will make a lot of tortillas, a much better deal than the $5 bags of tortillas I was buying last year!

Next to the Mexican groceries was a Middle Eastern shelf with everything from za’atar to tahini to stuffed grape leaves and more. I was very impressed!

All that said, I won’t be going to Super Store again except to get specific items. I didn’t find their prices that much better than Safeway, their selection was much smaller, they didn’t have good deals on meat, and their produce was dismal. But at least I didn’t come out of there feeling that I got robbed (too badly) or that I had wasted my time.

It was getting really late when I came out of Super Store and I had spent my budget, so I postponed the trip to Canadian Tire and the visit to Safeway for more produce (I did find frozen Brussels sprouts at Super Store, which will tide me over). I stopped at McDonald’s for a black iced coffee, the one thing that is way cheaper in Canada than in the US (1.30CAD here for a medium versus about 2.50CAD for a small in the US!).

The drive home was lovely and I made one last stop in Assiniboia. I hadn’t had any luck at Dollar Tree or Walmart in finding containers for my spices, so I decided to try our dollar store, which is huge. I found suitable containers there at a good price, so the stop was worth my time.

I got in around 6:00 and spent a bit of time unloading and putting things away. I had plugged in the freezer before leaving, so I stashed some things in there even though it’s rather silly to pay the power to run it with so little inside it. I need to get cooking!

As a final note, I was really grateful for my iPhone today. It’s not only Monday, but the first of the month, so I got several client emails today about invoicing and availability, all of which I was able to respond to promptly thanks to the Mail app on my phone. A summer project will be to set up the ‘FileMaker Go’ app on my phone so that I can consult my invoices while out of the office. A client wanted to cut me a cheque today, but I couldn’t send her the invoice right away. She said she could send the cheque without the invoice if I could give her the invoice number, which I didn’t have. I made my best guess about the number, but when I got home, I realised I was two numbers off and gave her the number for an invoice I made for another client. Thankfully, that other invoice hadn’t been sent yet, so I was able to switch the two around. I’m starting to wish I had a PA to handle this kind of stuff for me. 🙂

That’s it for today. It’s been a very long one and I have heaps of work to do tomorrow and in the next few days. Whew!

Sleep Deprived

I’m home from my very brief trip to Quebec! Between the sleep deprivation (I always sleep poorly at my mother’s for a variety of reasons), a cold (thanks, kids!), and the high carb diet, I’m feeling surprisingly rundown. But I am glad to have seen everyone.

Sunday, my mother and I spent the bulk of the afternoon working on the floor plan for my cabin! So exciting! 🙂 I’m nowhere near ready to start on construction, but having a very rough plan will help me make some decisions over the winter.

Monday, I borrowed the car and drove to Ville LaSalle to see my cousin. We had lunch and she sent me on my way with books and Japanese treats!

I was out later than planned (lost track of time gabbing…), but I made it back to Chambly in time to have dinner with my family and my grand-mother. We had pâté chinois (shepherd’s pie), so that was two times in one day eating beef! I very rarely seek out red meat, but I do eat it if it is offered, no problem.

It was a very early start today, 6AM, with just enough time to finish packing and gobble down a cup of coffee and a little cottage cheese. My step-mother gave me two beautiful wool vests that I’ve always admired and my sister gave me two tops, a pair of brand new jeans, and an incredible jean dress (yay for a 60lb weight loss!), so let’s just say my suitcase was VERY full.  So full, in fact, that I wound up layering the two vests!

I managed to squeeze the books from my cousin into my tote, but the Japanese treats and a small loaf of my mother’s fruitcake had to travel in a plastic grocery bag. I love my new carry on bag (a Grand Traveler by Vera Bradley), but I could have carried a bigger tote than I did, been better able to distribute my load, and would have looked less overloaded for carry on. My bag still fit fine under the seat since it was 100% squishable, but I got a scolding from the flight attendant for the Montreal to Winnipeg flight. She also made me put my tote in the overhead compartment even though it had traveled between my legs the whole way east and barely gave me time to get what I needed from it for the flight. It was only a 2.5 hour flight, so it wasn’t worth getting up and opening bins to find the one with my iPad, computer, wallet, passport, etc…, but I was one of the first ones up to claim her bag when we arrived!

I had hoped to be at the airport for 7:30 this morning, but Montreal traffic is disastrous and we got to the terminal around 8:10. Boarding was to commence at 8:20 and the flight was departing at 8:55. Thankfully, there was no line up at security! I learned from my Regina security experience and was not wearing a belt or under-wire! My head scarf did get patted down, a first, but I was asked beforehand if I was wearing it for religious purposes and if it was okay to touch my head. It was one of my easiest and quickest security checks ever! Even my mother’s fruitcake, which looks like a block of hashish, got through no questions asked!

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My mother’s fruitcake didn’t raise any eyebrows. Dang that stuff is GOOD. It’s going to be a nice treat on high activity days. I have it with a piece of cheese and it makes a full meal. Next to it, some of the Japanese treats!

After security, it was a mad dash across most of the airport to get to a gate that felt like it was halfway to Winnipeg! I arrived just as boarding started, so I had just enough time to use the washroom first.

Other than being in an aisle seat and not having access to my tote, the flight to Winnipeg was good. It was my fourth time (at minimum) landing in Winnipeg in six years and I can officially say that there’s something up with landing in Winnipeg. I have never had a smooth landing there and I always arrive with my ears blocked!

I was quite hungry by the time I deplaned, but I only had about 40 minutes till boarding for the next flight, not enough time to get a meal at TGI Fridays (a YWG treat when I have time). I settled on some of the strangest sushi I have ever seen as it contained HUMMUS. Made with brown rice, it was a satisfying meal, but rather strange!

The flight to Regina was super quick. We were in the air less than an hour, barely enough time to receive and drink a cup of coffee! This commuter flight had ‘Skycheck’, which I love!!! It’s the best of both worlds: you don’t have your big bag on the plane, but you don’t have to wait at baggage claim to get it back. I also had Skycheck’ from Ottawa to Montreal. There, we boarded at ground level and put our bag on a trolley. In Winnipeg, we boarded higher up and our bags were sent down to ground level on a conveyer belt.

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Can you spot my bag? I’m such a girl! 😀 There’s no mistaking mine, though, in that sea of black!

I left Montreal in a cold drizzle and arrived back on my beloved Prairies in sun drenched HEAT. Landing in Regina, I didn’t have a feeling of ‘being home’, but I still had 2.5 hours of driving to do! I found my truck without any trouble, it started fine (wasn’t worried!), and then it was time to pay for parking. That’s $11 per day, so I expected to pay $77, but was only charged $71. Six bucks is six bucks! 🙂

I probably should have picked up food while I was in the city, but I just wanted to get home. It wasn’t until the Moose Jaw skyline (what little there is!) disappeared behind me and the landscape started to undulate that I started to get that little hit of emotion that told me that I was heading HOME.

It was wonderful to pull into my very own property for the very first time in my life after a long trip far away! I topped up the water tank, fired up the water heater, had a shower, and then collapsed in my very comfy bed for a much needed nap!

Tomorrow, it’s back to work and between spurts of that, time to close up the property, pack up the truck, and get back on the road!

Moose Jaw Grocery Run

I decided to do a Moose Jaw grocery run today so that I can avoid leaving home for the next couple of weeks, except for perhaps a Willow Bunch run to get some produce. I have tons of work to do. Also, C&C are starting the addition for their house and have a list of chores for me, so I am going to be VERY busy through the rest of the summer. Might as well start with a full larder even if a four hour drive felt like a bit much today.

My GPS doesn’t like the road east to Willow Bunch and tried to route me through Assiniboia, idiot that it is (no matter what setting I picked), making the drive to Moose Jaw much longer than it needs to be. But I knew I could head to Willow Bunch, swing north on highway 36, and then cut east to Moose Jaw on highway 2, cutting the trip almost in half.

There is literally nothing but a few farms between Willow Bunch and Moose Jaw. There is even a sign at the 13/36 junction saying that the next services are in Moose Jaw, 100KM away, and a matching sign at the 2/36 junction saying no services till Willow Bunch.

The drive was very scenic (but of course) although I had to really watch the pavement since it was in very bad shape, nearly as bad as major highways in Quebec. I must have looked like a drunk, driving around all those potholes!

I got to Moose Jaw around 11:30 and the first order of business was lunch. I had heard good things about DK Sushi and so decided to take a chance on it, hoping it would be good enough to be my habitual Moose Jaw treat. I had no trouble finding the restaurant and quickly opted for the $16 all you can eat menu as it was varied enough for me.

Everything was fresh and delicious and obviously made to order. Their miso soup was very yummy. I indulged in a couple of gyoza and even though they were fried, they were very flavourful. I had a total of 24 pieces; eight of BBQ eel, eight of yam and avocado, and eight of spicy tuna. All great! The tuna was VERY spicy, but that was offset by the sweet eel sauce. But no more spicy tuna for me as it’s made with mayo and I have firmly ascertained that eggs are what has not been agreeing with me. 🙁 The eel was so good that I decided to also try it on their ‘pizza’, of which you get a quarter per order (a couple of bites), which was perfect. Again, there was mayo (the Japanese use mayo the way Americans use ketchup), so I’ll have to watch that for next time. I finished with chocolate ice cream, which was also really good, very rich and chocolately, not the cheap ice milk that’s usually offered. I definitely got my money’s worth!

I made a number of stops after, learning the hard way how to set up an itinerary for the next trip as I had to double back a couple of times.

I first went to Canadian Tire to get some more garden hose, quick connects, and a sprayer. The store was overrun by bratty screaming children, so I gave up on shopping for anything else and was grateful that the garden centre was quiet for five minutes so I could figure out what quick connects I needed.

After, I went to Walmart for a small run, mostly for cat litter and an oil change. I helped out a customer looking at the solar panels for his RV (mostly to tell him that a 5W panel will be useless to him and that he needs about 60W, then giving him a little bit of info on how deep cycle batteries work and the best way to charge them). I continued the battery discussion with a couple of the mechanics and one just grinned as I kept confirming information that he had told another tech.

I’ve figured out that I need to go no more than 4,000KM between oil changes. More than that and I just end up pouring in oil that will end up getting drained too soon. I did buy some bulk oil for just in case, but I’ll make it a point to get to an oil change place more regularly than I needed to with my little car.

Next stop was M&M Meatshop! Wow, I haven’t been to one since I left Lethbridge! I spent quite a bit on pork, chicken breasts, and fish, but it’s all good stuff and will be tasty. I was just about to pay when I noticed boxes of cod fillets and made sure to add one to my order. They will be a welcome addition to my diet.

I then headed back behind DK Sushi to do my main grocery run at the Safeway. A lot of the stuff was crazy expensive ($7 for two bunches of kale?! $1 for a single lemon?!) but I got such good deals on other stuff that it all evened out. My card savings were $40.24 and I also got a 5 cents per litre fuel discount. So when I went to gas up after, it was at $1.19, the cheapest by far that I’ve paid since I got back to Canada.

The one thing I didn’t find at Safeway was almonds in bulk and I suddenly remembered that Moose Jaw now has a Bulk Barn. It wasn’t in my GPS. I asked a lady also getting gas if she knew where it is. Yup, right by Walmart. Dang! I headed back up there and got a few things. Oh, Bulk Barn, how I have missed thee! I have not been to one since I left the Ottawa area. When I lived in Ottawa in the late ’90s, my world was within a 45 minute walking distance radius of my Sandy Hill apartment. A big treat was to hop on the bus and go a few stops away to get to the Bulk Barn at the Gloucester Centre.

Moose Jaw has really grown in the last five years! Last time I was there, it was very sleepy and there weren’t that many stores and restaurants. It has really built up and feels like a proper city. One lady I spoke to said that Regina has a Costco, but otherwise there’s no longer any reason to go shop in Regina except for really specialized stuff.

It rained hard for most of the afternoon and there was a major storm watch for the Assiniboia area, but the drive home was under clear skies and felt like it didn’t take any time at all. It is cooling down now and the internet is misbehaving, telling me that the promised bad weather is indeed incoming.

A Saskatchewan Education, Or Not So Humble Humboldt

This past weekend, I joined Gary and Jody on a road trip to visit some members of Gary’s family who live near the small town of Humboldt, SK, which is a little under two hours north-eastish of Saskatoon.

Gary and Jody have done this trip many times and know the Saskatchewan road quality, or lack thereof, very well. So, they decided that the less bumpy way to get there would be going through Swift Current, Moose Jaw, and skirting Regina, and we would come home by way of Saskatoon and Moose Jaw.

Mid-afternoon Friday I loaded my stuff into my car and headed to Jody’s workplace. There, I moved my gear to her car and we took off for Gary’s workplace. There, we loaded up their rig, a 20′ travel trailer and truck, and headed east. We were on the road towards Medicine Hat by about 6PM.

The drive to the Saskatchwan border was pretty uneventful. I looked forward to doing the bit between Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw on the TransCanada since that was the only section of it I haven’t done, except for whatever’s in Newfoundland. I have to say that south-east Alberta looks a lot like southwest Saskatchewan. 🙂

Back to Saskatchewan!

Jody ran the deli Friday night and I was so hungry by that point that I didn’t think to photograph my dinner until I was halfway through:

the remains of my Friday dinner

It was coming onto 9PM when we hit Swift Current, and Gary was beat, so we pulled into the Walmart for the night.

Jody made up for the previous night’s late dinner with this breakfast:

breakfast Saturday!

Complemented by oranges, coffee, and yoghurt. I have been well fed since landing in Lethbridge! 😀

Gary and Jody’s rig; much shorter than mine!

We pushed on eastward through Moose Jaw, the Qu’Appelle valley, and then we skirted around Regina before heading north. The roads were so bad I thought we would be launched into orbit!

I was put on deli duty and discovered that is not easy to make a sandwich in a moving vehicle. Notice how smooshed my lunch is:

lunch Saturday (made by me!)

We passed through the town of Engelfeld, which hosts an annual pig roast to raise money for charity.

the Englefeld pig

I really enjoyed this drive; there is just something about the Prairies that awes me.

We arrived in Humboldt in late afternoon where I was introduced to my hosts and was settled into a guest bedroom. We were served a very yummy dinner and then my hosts took us out to see the sights. I think that might actually have been more for my benefit. I’m very thankful!

The first thing we saw were pelicans! I had no idea you could find pelicans this far north! Unfortunately, they were super off in the distance and even my trusty zoom wasn’t able to get a good shot of one.

pelicans!

We then went to Waldsea Lake. Saskatchewan has been very wet the last few years and there has been a lot of problems with flooding and rising waters. So, this lake, which used to have a nice day use area and lots of cottages around it, was allowed to spill out from its berm. The cottages were all moved to a temporary holding area and will be relocated. The road to the lake just… ends.

Waldsea Lake

Waldsea Lake

cottages pulled from the shores of Waldsea Lake

We then drove around Humboldt a bit so I could get a feel for the layout, seeing some of the major stores, the schools, hospitals, etc. The town is almost full-service and has a population of 6,000.

Before heading back, our hosts pulled into the drive-thru at McDonalds to treat everyone to shakes. This drive-thru has to be unique since it has an alley cutting right through it!

We ended the evening with a dice game that was very quick to learn. Beginner’s luck was not with me!

I was the first one up Sunday morning and I took the time to get some work done. I had internet through my USB modem, but it was a very sloooow connection. It seems like Dawson City has better cell coverage than does rural Saskatchewan!

Once we were all up we had a HUGE brunch. I didn’t even want to think about food until early evening!

The afternoon was a bit lazy and I caught up on my reading.

Late afternoon, friends and family showed up for a bonfire and wiener roast. What a perfect day for that; we’d hit the mid 20s, with sunshine!

Before dinner, I was taught how to play a gruesome Saskatchewanese game of Russian origin called Bunnock, or Bones. Originally played with horse hooves, this cross between bowling and curling is now often played with plastic bone replicas. I was quite good!

After that, a little boy wanted me to go with him to check out the barn cat’s hideout. There, he discovered tiny kittens no more than a couple of weeks old. They were so cute; no bigger than a mouse, with eyes still shut.

For dinner, I learned how to roast hot dogs over an open fire. Or, rather, how not to. The first one was a tad burnt. 😀 I also enjoyed some burnt marshmallows, but that was on purpose. Marshmallows just aren’t worth eating if they haven’t been set on fire first.

We ended the night chatting around a campfire. One person showed up with a mini marshmallow thrower and I got to learn how to use that. I was a natural, hitting my target (Gary) with my one and only attempt.

The evening wound up around 11. Everyone seemed intent on sleeping in Monday, so I stayed up late to finish a book. Of course, everyone else changed their mind and I was the last one up!

Our hosts live on remote lake-side acreage that is partially flooded right now. Access to the house is through a narrow causeway. When Gary awoke to rain, he was worried we’d get flooded out, so that propelled the early start to the day.

my hosts’ causeway

We were fed another ginormous brunch and then it was time to hit the road, sometime in mid-morning. We drove straight through to Gary’s workplace, stopping only to get fuel and use the bathroom. We were all stuffed from breakfast and only lightly snacked all day.

This was an awesome weekend. Thank you!

LOTS more pictures below!

driving over the edge of the world?

driving over the edge of the world?

Yup, the earth is definitely flat!

Yup, the earth is definitely flat!

Back to Saskatchewan!

Back to Saskatchewan!

the remains of my Friday dinner

the remains of my Friday dinner

Saskatchewan sunset

Saskatchewan sunset

Saskatchewan sunset

Saskatchewan sunset

breakfast Saturday!

breakfast Saturday!

Gary and Jody's rig; much shorter than mine!

Gary and Jody’s rig; much shorter than mine!

weird 5er seen in Swift Current

weird 5er seen in Swift Current

Jody made me believe that's snow. It's actually salt!

Jody made me believe that’s snow. It’s actually salt!

more salt

more salt

entering Moose Jaw

entering Moose Jaw

the Moose Jaw moose

the Moose Jaw moose

lunch Saturday (made by me!)

lunch Saturday (made by me!)

Qu'Appelle valley

Qu’Appelle valley

Qu'Appelle valley

Qu’Appelle valley

the Englefeld pig

the Englefeld pig

Englefeld

Englefeld

driving over a causeway; there wasn't always water on both sides

driving over a causeway; there wasn’t always water on both sides

driving over a causeway; there wasn't always water on both sides

driving over a causeway; there wasn’t always water on both sides

driving over a causeway; there wasn't always water on both sides

driving over a causeway; there wasn’t always water on both sides

pelicans!

pelicans!

pelicans!

pelicans!

pelicans!

pelicans!

pelicans! (just squint)

pelicans! (just squint)

dramatic sky

dramatic sky

dramatic sky

dramatic sky

Waldsea Lake

Waldsea Lake

Waldsea Lake

Waldsea Lake

Waldsea Lake

Waldsea Lake

cottages pulled from the shores of Waldsea Lake

cottages pulled from the shores of Waldsea Lake

cottages pulled from the shores of Waldsea Lake

cottages pulled from the shores of Waldsea Lake

cottages pulled from the shores of Waldsea Lake

cottages pulled from the shores of Waldsea Lake

caboose in Humboldt

caboose in Humboldt

Humboldt cemetery

Humboldt cemetery

Humboldt Elementary School (looks like an insane asylum)

Humboldt Elementary School (looks like an insane asylum)

dramatic sky

dramatic sky

dramatic sky

dramatic sky

home of the local plumber, who apparently charges $10,000 for a toilet :-)

home of the local plumber, who apparently charges $10,000 for a toilet 🙂

dramatic sky

dramatic sky

dramatic sky

dramatic sky

my hosts' causeway

my hosts’ causeway

my hosts' causeway

my hosts’ causeway

geese on the road

geese on the road

fog over water

fog over water

fog over water

fog over water

driving into the mist

driving into the mist

in the mist

in the mist

still in the mist

still in the mist

Saskatoon

Saskatoon

Toon Town Tavern

Toon Town Tavern

approaching Swift Current

approaching Swift Current

Moose Jaw

Moose Jaw is an easy fifty minute drive from the campground where I stayed, so let’s say about forty minutes from Regina proper. I’m so glad I did the town as a day trip rather than moving on to it with the coach. Those five nights I spent in one location really helped me recoup some energy!

I left for Moose Jaw around quarter to 8, getting into town just before 9, only to learn that the town opens late! Thankfully, I found a coffee shop and was able to kill some time there before 10, when the Tunnels of Moose Jaw ticket office opened.

Moose Jaw’s tunnels are the stuff of legends. Please visit the website to get some more information on their history. They were originally built as a way for steam engineers to easily access the boilers that provided the steam which heated the city, but they soon became the domain of sweatshops and bootlegging. These two topics were the subject of the tours available.

The first tour I went on took me on a Chinese immigrant’s journey upon arrival in Canada at the turn of the 19th century. The Chinese immigrant experience at that time is a true black mark on Canadian history. The tour very effectively conveys the exploitation and degradation these immigrants were subject to. There wasn’t a dry eye in the group when we got back to the surface.

The second tour is about Moose Jaw’s connection with Chicago during the Prohibition era. This tour was very entertaining, but was based on conjecture (that Al Capone might have sought refuge at times in Moose Jaw) and didn’t really provide that much historical information other than to set Moose Jaw as being the place for debauchery at the time. It was nice to finish up with that one, but if you can only take one tour, I recommend the Chinese one.

There’s a small heritage museum at the library, which I toured, then I bought a brochure outlining the steps for a self-guided tour of the town. The temperature in Moose Jaw on Tuesday was torrid. I can only compare it to my experience of Las Vegas in June. A real 30 degrees, not a 30 degrees with humidity. I couldn’t keep myself hydrated, so I knew that I was going to be cutting the day short.

Every single street light in downtown Moose Jaw has a voice that in tones: “The WALK light to cross XXX Street is now on. The WALK light to cross XXX Street is now on. The WALK–” It got to be very annoying, especially in the afternoon when I was trying to take photographs of various buildings and the heat was sapping all my patience. It reminded me of the annoying elevator voice at my job that calls out each floor.

There’s an extension on the back of the building for the police station. This addition perfectly matches the style of the old post office.

Moose Jaw came off as a charming, but faded, town. It had a grimy, sun bleached quality to it. Downtown is just a few blocks square and is very walkable. There’s a lovely park called Crescent Park, right in the middle of town, with a casino and spa on its edges. There are a lot of things to do in the environs, so if I’d had more time and had gone to Moose Jaw with the coach for a few days, as I’d initially planned, I would have had plenty to do.

Why ‘Moose Jaw’? The accepted theory is that the town is named after the Moose Jaw river, which has a bend that looks like the jaw of a moose!

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Moose Jaw casino

Moose Jaw moose crossing sign

Moose Jaw site of old city square

Moose Jaw skyline