Tuesday, December 10, 2013

No Vacation, No Problem: Saskatchewan Staycation

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There really is nothing better than Christmas season in Saskatoon. Everything is exciting – the lights, the snow, the skating and of course the people. Sometimes, though, it is nice to trade in the cityscape for something a little different. Here are some day trips that make you feel like you’ve had a bit of a vacation without having to cross any borders.

 

The Crooked Trees

 

While the twisted and looped trees can make for an eerie feeling more fitting for Halloween, the crooked forest is surely majestic coated in snow and frost. If you’ve never heard of them before, the crooked trees are a cluster of aspens that grow mysteriously warped. About an hour north of the city near the community of Hafford, these trees are a mystery to everyone. Some swear the trees grow crooked because of UFO activity while others claim other less supernatural sources. Whatever it is, it’s not the soil or the air, but in the trees – people have propagated the plants and grown their own crooked aspen. Whatever the cause of the mystery, it is definitely a beautiful sight to see so close to home.

 

While you’re here, there is a restaurant in Hafford I’ve been meaning to try, prefaced only by its reputation - The Silver Sword & Chalice Steakhouse and Knights Inn. I’ve never been here, but legend has it this place has rock bottom prices and ridiculously sized portions – portions that could make a fast-food junkie, calorie-zealous southern American man cringe. Happily, of course. The Super Koloso Ultimo burger has an epic name for good reason – it weighs in at a whopping 40 pounds! There’s a $5.00 cheeseburger for the lightweights that only checks in at half a pound.

 

The Longest Walk over Water

 

Did you know that Saskatchewan is home to North America’s longest pedestrian bridge? Part of the Trans Canada Trail, the bridge over the Saskatchewan River in Outlook is over 150 feet above the river and provides a beautiful, panoramic view. The bridge carried its first train in 1912 and its last in 1987. When you’re finished walking the SkyTrail, you can stop in and take a peek around the Outlook and District Heritage Museum. The museum is full of nostalgic charm, including hundreds of salt and pepper shakers.

 

Good Things Come in Small Towns


While it may only be home to 100 people (and even that might be a little generous), Meacham has a surprisingly vibrant arts community. The Dancing Sky Theatre puts on high quality live productions that tell Saskatchewan stories. The theatre is also home to a quaint dining room, which boasts a delicious fusion of down home cooking and international flavours. After the 45-minute drive east of Saskatoon, you’ll be rewarded with an effervescent and exciting performance. While you’re in town, stop by the Harvest Moon Antiques and Gallery. This gem opened its doors in 2008. Husband and wife operators combined their passions – hers for collecting antiques, his for creating paintings, sculptures and photographs. Nearby, the Hand Wave Gallery showcases original artwork by established and upcoming Saskatchewan artists.

 

What’s Old is New

 

Willkommen! This agricultural community is a little bit of Germany in the heart of the prairies. The small city boasts clean streets and a quaint downtown with German facades, with new stores always popping up. But sometimes the classics are the best.

 

Vintage shopping has made huge gains in popularity – at least partly due to pop songs like Macklemore’s Thrift Shop – and Humboldt has a true gem. The Good Neighbour Store is store run by and for the community. All the workers are volunteers and all the profits go to good causes around the community. This organization is such a success it has literally donated hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you’re looking for baby clothes, Christmas decorations, teapots, furniture, skates, jewellery or an old camera, you’re sure to have hours of fun poking around this store. Check ahead before you make the hour drive east, because it is volunteer run the hours are a little sporadic.

 

While you’re here, why not stop into the historic Humboldt and District Museum & Gallery? There are always new exhibits and events for the young and old. You can also stop in at the Willkommen Centre to learn a bit about the city’s heritage. Cruise by the water tower and the courthouse, and you’ll have a history lesson you enjoyed learning. For this festive time of year, you can finish with a drive through the Festival of Lights.

 

Don’t feel disheartened if you’re not hopping on a plane to relax in a hot destination – spend some time exploring your own backyard and all that Saskatchewan has to offer.

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