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It's Okay, I Missed My Grad Too

It has been ten years, but I still remember my teacher's face when I told her I wasn't going to grad. In disbelief, she triple confirmed that I was deliberately missing out on the biggest celebration in a student's career. I then triple confirmed that yes, I wasn't going. Then they called my parents. My parents confirmed it too. A month later there was another phone-call. I would be winning some awards at graduation – would I be there to receive them? No, I would not be at graduation.

In 2010 I made a decision to miss my graduation. This year, countless people are forced to miss theirs. The situation is different, but I'm here to say that it's going to be okay.

When the 2010 yearbook came out, I saw pictures of my high school friends at graduation, celebrating, cheering, and having fun. I would be lying if I said there was a void where I should be in those pictures, but there was not. I doubt many of my friends even remember I wasn't there that night. Some acquaintances even thought I moved away.

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An Unboxing Mystery from Mortise & Tenon

Mortise & Tenon, located at 2415 11th Avenue in Regina, is one of my favourite locally-owned businesses. They sell a plethora of knickknacks and trinkets, sourcing from both international and local vendors. When they opened, they wanted to be a signature trinket store like in other major cities, and they have succeeded.

I love shopping there, and even highlighted them on my blog a few years ago in my "What Makes Downtown Regina So Cool" article.

Unfortunately, like many other businesses, Mortise & Tenon was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They had to close their doors, change their business model and start doing curbside pickups. One of the best things about their store was wandering around and looking at and touching all the quirky items they found, and that was now impossible.

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Meet Your 2020 Saskatchewanderer

Leah Mertz became the tenth Saskatchewanderer in 2020, opening up a new decade in the Saskatchewander program. Much like past wanderers, she has a love for content creation, travel and a soft spot for Saskatchewan. Her journey in the program has been unique so far this year, so I sat down with her (virtually) and asked her a bit about the first half of herself and her time as the Saskatchewanderer.

First off, where are you from?

I originally grew up near Chestermere, Alberta, but probably around the time I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to leave. I went to university in Edmonton but it wasn't a good fit so I eventually moved to Vancouver and went to school there. I was there for 6 years and then moved to Montreal for 4 years. Now I'm living in Saskatoon and it's barely been a year, but it's already changed my life in many ways. I feel like I'm from all of these places in a sense; they're all a huge part of who I am. 

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Reviewing Authentic Ukrainian Christmas Chocolates

Merry Christmas in May! Now that we all live in a pandemic void where time does not matter and space is finite (because we are all indoors), I figured we could review Christmas chocolates in May.

Or, maybe it is because I just finally got around to it. Whichever you want to believe.

Last Christmas my friend, Kateryna, went back to Ukraine to see her family. When she returned, she brought me back some traditional Ukrainian chocolates. Some I had had before in my Experience Mosaic From Your Home article but several others were brand new.

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Signs of the Pandemic Times in Regina

This is a hard article for me to write. On one side, it is easy because I am going to let the pictures do most of the talking. On the other side, it is really, really difficult. It is difficult because for every "closed" sign on a door, there is a family without money, a table without food, a student without a job, a business without a profit and a future that is uncertain.

Even though the Premier of Saskatchewan has put out a 5-step plan to reopen the province, nothing is happening for at least another month. A lot of businesses, restaurants, shops and stores will never be reopened. Post-pandemic Regina will be quite different than just a few months ago.

I think it is fair to say that nobody will take for granted a festival, a concert, a sports game or any type of event ever again. Nobody will take for granted steady employment, a paycheque, a job or a future.

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Where to Stay and Hike in Arches National Park

Arches National Park in Utah is world-renowned for their stone archways, dynamic terrain and breath-taking sights. However, this park is only one of the many incredible parks in southeast Utah, belonging to the Southeast Utah Group (SEUG) of attractions. The park can be entered for $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle, with access for seven days. However, if you're looking to visit other nearby parts of the state, including other national parks, it would be more economical to get the SEUG Annual Pass for $55.

If you want to visit national parks in other states, or outside of the SEUG, it would be best to get the "America the Beautiful National Park Pass" which is $80 a year, or $20 a year if you're a senior. Seniors can also get the "America the Beautiful National Park" lifetime pass for $80.

There are several options on where to stay near Arches as well, with Moab only about ten minutes outside the park. Although it has a population of around 5,500, the town has everything you need, from restaurants to gas stations to hotels to museums and even a variety of outdoor hiking trails.

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My Deadly Hike to the Delicate Arch

Utah is known for a lot of things, but it's their national parks that make it world-renowned.  The state is not only home to Arches National Park, but also Canyonlands National Park, Zion National Park, Fishlake National Park, Capitol Reef National Park and Monument Valley, to name a few. It's a rugged, diverse, beautiful and deadly state unlike any other in the country.

Although I spent plenty of time in Salt Lake City, the reason for my trip was to explore Arches National Park midway down the state. For those who have ever been, the park is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Salt Lake City, and the highway will take you through blown out mountains, fields, small cities and old towns. If you have a full tank of gas leaving Salt Lake City, you should get to Arches without a problem. If you need gas, Provo, Spanish Fork, Price or Green River, among many other communities, all have gas stations. If you need to fill up before going back to Salt Lake, Moab is just a little south from the park and is the perfect place to rest and refuel.

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks cost $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle to enter. These passes are good for seven days. If you want to visit other parks around southern Utah, it would be best to get the Southeast Utah Group (SEUG) Annual Pass for $55. This covers Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments. If you want to visit national parks in other states, or outside of the SEUG, it would be best to get the America the Beautiful National Park Pass which is $80 a year, or $20 a year if you're a senior. Seniors can also get the America the Beautiful National Park lifetime pass for $80.

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Journey to Ted Bundy’s Cellar

There are three things Salt Lake City is known for: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ted Bundy and skiing. Since we talked about the former already, and I'm no good at the latter, you can probably guess what this article is about.

From 1974 to 1978 Ted Bundy kidnapped, murdered and raped young women and girls across the United States. Between 1974 and 1975, he spent much of his time killing in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, with his base being in Salt Lake City.

Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah Law School, and left his girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer in Seattle, Washington. However, he was not faithful to Kloepfer (besides the raping part) and would date at least a dozen other women while in Salt Lake City.

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The Haunting of Kay's Cross

If you're looking to visit the notorious Kay's Cross in Kaysville, Utah, you might be tempted to just wander down into the hollow and see it for yourself. However, the cross is on private property and the owners aren't a fan of trespassers. Legend says that the owners will shoot you if they catch you, but they told me they would just call the police instead.

Either way, access to the cross is $20 USD, or $28 CAD, and they only take cash. It's a much cheaper option than a trespassing fine or a trip to the hospital so I recommend this approach.

However, a lot of people still take the risk and visit the cross without permission. Kay's Cross – or the remains of Kay's Cross after it was mysteriously destroyed in 1992 – has become a beacon for the paranormal, both for investigators and for practicers alike. My guide told me that Satanists often visit the cross and perform rituals. Once, he even said he encountered a dark entity while down there.

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Teotihuacan: Where Men Become Gods

Forty kilometers northwest of Mexico City is Teotihuacan, one of the most important locations in Mesoamerican history. The existence of Teotihuacan was so influential that its rise and fall even has its own name: The Classical Period.

Teotihuacan began in the 1st Century BCE as a small hamlet. As the population within the nearby Valley of Mexico grew, so did that of Teotihuacan. With a growing workforce, the city could take control of the nearby mines and natural resources. This lead to the city being the birthplace of an economy never before achieved in this region of the world. Soon, its influence expanded far beyond the Valley of Mexico and reached the Mayan regions (current Yucatán Peninsula, Belize, and Guatemala) and the Gulf of Mexico. Within a century and a half, Teotihuacan transformed from a small hamlet to a city of over 125,000 people. These people were called the Teotihuacano.

Prior to Teotihuacan's existence, Mesoamerica was like Central Europe before the Roman Empire. It existed, but it existed independently. The Greeks referred to non-Greek Europeans as "barbarians", and the Romans referred to the Britons as "rude, scattered and warlike people". The same can somewhat be said for the people of Mesoamerica before the rise of Teotihuacan. Once Teotihuacan rose to power, their influence transformed language, religion, culture and economics throughout the subcontinent which can still be seen today.

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7 Things You Didn't Know About Canada

I'm proudly Canadian, and I accept the fact that a lot of people know very little about my country. A lot of people also seem to think cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver "define" Canada. Just to set it straight, while these are beautiful cities, they don't represent the whole of Canada.

Being such a quiet country, we often keep our secrets to ourselves... and often from ourselves. This is a list of 7 things you -- and maybe other Canadians -- don't know about Canada.

Editor's Note: if you liked this article, but want more than just seven items, here is my 150 Facts About Canada article.

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Welcome to Osaka!

The next morning I got up, Skyped home, and got ready for my first full day in the land of the Rising Sun.

I had a bit of a plan made up today, and it involved checking out some of the nearby temples, as well as just exploring Osaka in the daylight. Because my room was being switched, I had to checkout for the day and store my luggage at the front desk until that afternoon. It only cost me ¥1080 ($10.80). I then went down for breakfast.

While in the continental, buffet style cafeteria, I ran into a young woman named Freya. She's 19 years old and is from England, with this being her first ever solo international trip. I remembered my first time abroad so I helped her and kept her company during breakfast. It turns out she's also on the same tour as me! She had no idea what to do in Osaka, so at 9:30 we left together to go find some temples.

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