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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Variance of Circumstance

Yep, I'm still talking about our trip. You can read more about it here

Okay, so I'm talking less about the trip per se, and more about where we stayed. We stayed in a campground. It was interesting. I highly recommend it to anyone who's doing some traveling: not only is it relatively inexpensive compared to a hotel, it's also more infinitely more interesting. 



You see, in a hotel, you are in your little room. Alone. You don't necessarily encounter other people who are staying there as well. A campground is different. We were there for five nights. Some people were just passing through and stayed one night. Others have been there much, much longer. 

We discovered after the first day or so that a significant portion of the people at the campground were actually living there. Because you move about the campground going about your routine such as laundry, washing dishes, using the bathrooms and showers, etc, you see a lot of them.



Most people who are living there are temporary workers from other parts of the country; for example, one woman I talked to was from Edmonton. She followed her husband there. She told me every time she saw my kids she felt homesick, missing her grandbabies who were about the same age. 

We had Steven King staying in a decrepit camper across the road from us. I swear, it was Steven King. Okay, not Steven King as much as it was Stuart Redman, a character from his 1970's novel, The Stand. Minus the dog. And none of that Captain Trips stuff. (If you understood all those references, does that mean you're a geek too? The first Steven King novel I ever read was "The Stand". I bought it at Value Village for $2 when I was with my friend Kelly. The book smelled like cigarette smoke. I was twelve years old.)



Okay, okay, the point... 

I found myself humming one of my favourite Carolyn Arends songs, Travelers (The Airport Song).  The song is about... well, traveling. And waiting in airports. Which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with a campground in Regina. But there's a line: 

"There is variance in circumstance 
Direction and occasion
But the truth is we're all travelers
Who have not reached our final destination"

 

that sticks with me. 

In that campground, there was that variance. Some were there for happy reasons, like us. Some where there strictly for work, like the Edmonton lady. Others, like the family next door, appeared to be living there for other, less joyous reasons. The husband came and went each day in his work uniform, and probably wasn't a migrating worker like the Edmonton people. The wife often cried in the bathroom at night. The two kids were rarely seen, and smiled even more rarely. 

In our life, and in our faith, we all have that variance in circumstance, direction and occasion. Again in Ms. Arends' words: "There are signs to welcome daddies, There are flowers and balloons, Business trips and funerals, And happy honeymoons."
  

I suppose that lesson has never been more vivid in my life. How we can all collectively be in the same physical space, and yet none of us are in the same place.


Our faith, which for all intents and purposes is a never-ending journey, tends to make us occupy the same physical space while rarely being in the same place. It happens every Sunday. Each of us there are at different points in our journey home.



And some are stuck at the airport. Others are in mid-flight, but have terrible turbulence. A few are flying smoothly over a clear, jet-blue ocean. 

It makes me question where I am on my own journey. And who's flying the plane. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Queen City

The best part of your vacation is the coming home part. - My Dad


Canola field near Broadview, Saskatchewan, with storm clouds in the distance

Our trip was, to put it mildly, an astounding success. I kid you not. 

We spent a luxurious five nights in our camper at a campground just outside the city limits of the beautiful city of Regina, Saskatchewan, AKA the Queen City (In case you were wondering, the word regina is latin for queen). Yes, we went to Saskatchewan for our holidays. 

Quit laughing. We like it there. We went to Moose Jaw for our Honeymoon. 

Really, you can stop laughing now. I happen to like Saskatchewan. 

Okay, those of you who don't live in Canada may be confused at this point. Saskatchewan is often the brunt of jokes. It can be very, very flat and treeless at times (although that's really a relatively small part of the province. It's unfortunately the part you see if you're driving through on the Trans-Canada on your way to someplace better). It's epitomized by the lyrics to the popular Canadian sitcom, Corner Gas (which just happens to be about Saskatchewan)... "You can tell me that your dog ran away, then you tell me that it takes three days...".

Saskatchewan... hard to spell, easy to draw...


The kids did very well. Abby exceeded our expectations. She ate and slept well. She used public restrooms (we had lots of issues with that until very recently). She tried new things, and was generally a very happy kid. She was very ready to come home by the time we left. LOL. 

Regina is a beautiful city. It's hard to believe that it is, in a sense, totally artificial, with all the trees and such. 

Confused? 

Where Regina was built is a semi-arid, treeless, flat... expanse. It's almost a desert. There was nothing there 150 years ago except a trickle of a creek that has since been dammed and built up into the beautiful Wascana Lake and adjoining park. Every tree is planted. Every hill is sculpted. Every blade of grass is meticulously watered to keep it from dying. 

It's natural beauty is entirely man-made. Cool, eh?   
 

Here are the highlights of our trip: 

Our chalet


Our camper. We bought it earlier this year from the parents of a good friend of mine. While not huge, we thought it was quite spacious and luxurious compared to tenting. Then we saw some of the RV's and 5th Wheels at the campground. I'm pretty sure some of them had more square footage (and a bigger bathroom) than the little house Michael was living in when we met all those years ago. 

The whole camper thing worked out well.  Not only is it a fraction of what a hotel costs (we basically camped five nights for the cost of one night in a nice hotel), you also get to bring your kitchen with you. Makes the GFCF thing infinitely easier. 


Legislative building

The Legislative grounds. My brain still thinks of it as the Palais legislatif from my days in French Immersion/Francophone University. Besides I think the French sounds for sophisticated. It was quite lovely. We didn't go inside but enjoyed the grounds instead. It's on the shores of Wascana Lake. 





That's a statue of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her favourite horse. The statue was erected for the horse's birthday or something. I didn't get to read the plaque very well... it has the words favourite, horse, birthday and statue on it. I had to piece the rest together myself.  *shrugs* Nice statue though. 
  



The kids. Just because they're so gosh darn cute. :)


The lake is really very lovely. It was started in the 1800's, and was drained and islands were created using only hand labour in the 1930's as a  make-work project. The lake was drained again recently (2003 I think) for what they dubbed "the Big Dig", where they deepened the lake and created another island or two (they used machines this time). All in all, a piece of paradise in the middle of the city. 




Isn't that an awesome picture?


It was challenging taking pictures this trip. Abby loves having her picture taken. Rachael hated it, and I often had to ambush her. Weird. 

Anyway, we stopped and ate a snack in a picnic area. 

Eating
  
Abby stuffing an entire piece of... something... in her mouth. 
   
Come on Mom, I'm done, let's go.  

Let's gooooo.... we're boooooored....
  
Rachael patrolling the bathroom perimeter while Daddy and Abby used the potty.   

Totem pole. Obviously. 


There was this awesome totem pole there. Why there was a West-Coast totem pole in the middle of Saskatchewan I'm not sure. The plaque said something about a gift. Maybe it was for the Queen's horse's birthday? (As you see, I wasn't real big about reading the plaques this time out.)

Daddy and his girls


Same shot, except with Mommy.  

Relaxing on the wormy-thing, enjoying the ride

On the other side of the lake, they had this great playground that we actually visited several times. They had this giant wormy thing that bounced. It's hard to explain. The kids liked it. 

Michael riding the big wormy thing


They also had spinny things. Abby discovered she likes to spin, or rather, be spun. There was the big, slow one: 


Brave Daddy with the girls on the big spinner  

 

But then there was a smaller, faster spinner. 


Abby going for a ride


Abby LOVED the blue spinner. We encountered several other playgrounds in Regina that had something similar, and she's want to spin on the them until she was literally green. We felt ill just watching her. We were never too sure if the look on her face was joy or terror, but every time we stopped the spinner and asked if she wanted more, she would enthusiastically sign, "more". 

  video

Walking back to the van

We spent a lot of time exploring the city and finding playgrounds to entertain the kids. One had a big hill, which even though where we live is relatively hilly, there's few actual hills to play on. 

Rachael on her hill-climbing expedition

Crawling down the hill is fun!

Daddy after the rolling-down-the-hill demonstration

One place we stopped also had a big puddle, and a big map of Canada painted on the black-top!

Who needs rubber boots?



Rachael doing her Godzilla thing on Newfoundland and Laborador

We also visited Government House, the home of the lieutenant governor. It was very pretty, with beautiful landscaping and nice flowers. The interior is a museum (and offices, but that part's not open to the public) and they have an "educational playroom" in the basement. 


The kids were less than impressed. It was our last day there. Their favourite part of Government House was the elevator ride. 

Cue elevator music

But I did take a picture of the plaque, fulling intending to read it later... 

We also attended Mass at the Holy Rosary Cathedral. It was very tall. 


I didn't take any pictures of the interior because, well, frankly it wasn't very interesting. It was obviously renovated sometime in the 1970's or 1980's in the "Spirit of Vatican II", not that there's anything wrong with that. There just was this terrible discordance between the gorgeous neo-classical, gothic-esque exterior and the bland, biege and boring interior. *sigh* Perhaps I've been spoiled since our local parish (of approximately the same vintage and architecture) has had a serious restoration in recent years. 

Well, that's the big highlights that I have pictures for. Of course, we did tons more, and I will discuss them in another post. For now, supper is waiting and a cranky toddler needs her Mommy. 

Thanks for reading this super long post!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vacation

Hi! Sorry it's been forever... life has been busy. As I'm writing this, we're sitting in our camper in lovely Regina, Saskatchewan on a little holiday!

In our furthest sojourn from home, our kids are doing great and adapting well to new and novel situations. So don't worry, we're taking pictures and will share our journey with you all when we get home!