I’ve decided to give up on recounting my journeys through Brazil, Australia, Thailand and New Zealand in chronological order as it was starting to hurt my brain trying to organize everything out, so from now on, they will show up at random in a post here or there. Otherwise, I will write about more recent travels in as chronological order as possible starting with a road trip I did with one of my best girlfriends, Catherine. We started in Saskatchewan and road tripped all the way down to LA and back up the coast in a month, camping and hiking along the way.
I believe fully in traveling in style. I also believe in traveling with the bare minimums, taking only what you can carry in a backpack. I love traveling this way as it really opens up your mind to your “wants” vs. your “needs”. After travelling Australia, Thailand and New Zealand with just a backpack, I had come to truly appreciate the simpler things in life. I took pride in being able to survive on very little. So naturally, when planning this month long road trip, my friend and I (she is a geologist and used to living out of a backpack too) decided to take full advantage of the fact that we had a car and packed it to the roof. And i’m not talking a tiny little smart car here either, where you have to decide whether you want to bring your friend or your water bottle with you, as both won’t fit.
No. We traveled in a massive ford Taurus with a trunk large enough to hide several bodies under your suitcase. And here is where I put the *DISCLAIMER* (nobody was harmed, killed or stashed in our trunk for the duration of this trip). Should I ever do this trip again, which I most definitely will, i will pack differently. But as it was, i learned a few interesting facts…
1) border guards have accepted the sexist view that women going camping always way overpack and won’t blink twice at large amount of gear in your car or your story.
2) If you “strategically” place some bikini tops and other clothing of a personal nature on top of all said gear in trunk and back seat, border guards will not be over enthusiastic about tearing through everything in search of contraband.
3) state you are a nurse and a geologist and they will happily let you in the country as it is common knowledge that both professions make lots of money (where they get this idea I will never understand, but i’ll take what i can get)
4) don’t bother starting the trip with your car meticulously organized to the standard of a Tetris master. By the end of the trip, you will have succeeded if you managed to keep the car to a somewhat my side- your side arrangement.
5) and this one is the most important one!!!!! always put your headlamp in the same easy to get to spot such as the glove box. there is nothing worse then pulling into a campsite at 2 am, in the pitch black and you can’t find your headlamp.
Anyway, we started out our trip with a 5 hour drive from my tiny home town of 350 people to Moose Jaw, SK. Moose Jaw is an awesome little town famous for its ties to Al Capone, the prohibition and bootlegging and of course its awesome mineral spas. A lot of the downtown area has been preserved with old store fronts and is a walker’s paradise of cute little stores selling everything from souvenirs to musical instruments. One of my favorite stores Rings n’ Things is a huge collection of jewellery, wall hangings and bath bombs. Across the street is another store that is full of homemade fudge, a million flavored ice creams and candy out the wazoo. There is also the most delicious coffee house down the street, Coffee Encounters, that makes the best apple cider I have ever had. I highly recommend checking this town out! It is fantastic!
We spent the afternoon in Moose Jaw checking out the tunnels which are a huge tourist destination. Hidden from view under our feet was one of the largest collection of tunnels that connect almost every building in Moose Jaw. Most of the stores and homes for that matter have a door or cellar that connects to a tunnel that leads to everywhere if you knew how to get there. These tunnels were built during the time of Canada’s expansion to the west through the railroad. Many of the tunnels housed Chinese immigrants who worked on the railroad or in the laundries of the time. During the time of the prohibition, these tunnels were put to another use by the bootleggers who would sneak liquor into businesses and homes and they even house the room where Al Capone himself would stay during his many “business” trips to Moose Jaw. The company who runs tours in the tunnels have done a fantastic job of redressing the tunnels so that they look just like they would have back in the day and have done a great creative job of reenacting what life would have been like during that time from the perspective of either a new Chinese immigrant or a new bootlegger joining Al’s ranks. The tour invites you to join in on the fun and become actors in the play. Me and Catherine had a lot of fun joining in, as neither of us is shy. I highly recommend this tour to anyone! In fact here’s the link to the company if you want to check it out!
During this trip we did not have time to check out the spa or the mineral pool, but as i live only 45 minutes away from Moose Jaw, I have been to them since and would highly recommend them!
After Moose Jaw, we needed to make some miles, so we jumped back in the car and drove. Suddenly, looking to my left, I noticed something that only a prairie small town person would appreciate… Dog River! Catherine who is from BC did not understand my excitement, but I ignored her ignorance and jumped out of the car to snap pictures of the Corner Gas show set. I had no idea that it was on the way, and I have since gained an appreciation for life’s little surprises on the road and off as there was many more little surprises on the way.
The Medical Diagnosis
Cost: $25/person for both tunnel tours, the mineral spas will usually cost around $15/person
What’s your favorite historic site to visit? what mineral hot spring have you visited?