From Regina to the world

Shopping Trip to Moose Jaw

A few weeks ago Jessica and I decided to go on a shopping trip to Moose Jaw. Now that the snow is gone and the roads aren't so messy, I plan to get back on the road more often. I also took this opportunity to try out some video creation. After seeing some of the awesome content people like The Saskatchewanderer are putting out, I decided to try it out for myself.

Moose Jaw is about 45 minutes west of Regina, and is famous in Saskatchewan for its old brick architecture, small-town vibe and myriad of underground tunnels. Two tunnels tours exist in Moose Jaw. One is based around the famous gangster Al Caopne (whose cell I visited while in Eastern State Penitentiary) and the other is about Chinese immigrants who were forced underground by the Canadian government's "head-tax". Both tours are fascinating and I've done both several times. While we visited them on this trip, we didn't actually go on any the tours.

Although Regina is a larger city that Moose Jaw, downtown Regina lacks the quirky mom-and-pop shops you'll find in Moose Jaw. For the past few decades, much of downtown Regina has been transformed into either banks or big box stores, all which pushed the smaller boutique shops away. The past few years have seen a resurgence of them, but there isn't nearly as many as there used to be. Moose Jaw, on the other hand, has very few big box stores in its downtown area and still has scores of quirky boutique shops and restaurants.

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Meet Your 2018 Saskatchewanderer

Every year Tourism Saskatchewan hires somebody new for their "Saskatchewanderer" position. This individual will visit the far corners of our province, exploring caves, lakes, hills, cliffs, deserts, coves, prairies and even the skies above us. Every year I also reach out to the Saskatchewanderer and learn a bit about them.

Just like how Tourism Saskatchewan likes to mix up where the Saskatchewanderer visits each year, they also like to mix up the person they hire. A few years back they hired Ashlyn George, a teacher turned travel-blogger who has since visited every continent in the world. After that they hired Neil Fisher, a tech expert who worked at the Vancouver Aquarium. Last year they chose Andrew Hiltz, a Saskatchewan-born and raised bartender who had returned from Vancouver. This year they chose somebody different, who's love for Saskatchewan comes from a desire to see what's beyond the city limits. He's a casual traveller who decided to explore the province on weekends and ended up with the best job in the world.

I would like to introduce you to your 2018 Saskatchewanderer, Kevin Dunn.

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Has My Opinion on Innsbruck Changed?

Long before I started my blog, many, many years ago, I visited Innsbruck, Austria. I was on a Contiki trip through Europe and visited a plethora of locations such as Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Lucerne and Innsbruck, just to name a few. It was an incredible experience and one that I think was a transformative moment in my life.

Off the record (or, on the record now, I guess), of all the places I visited, the only one I didn't like was Innsbruck. I couldn't get into it. We visited it in late March, so the weather wasn't the best. The trees didn't have any leaves on them, the grass was brown, and everything had a post-winter grey look to it. After visiting Munich and spending the night in St. Goar, my mind wasn't thinking about Innsbruck at all. Instead, I was more excited to go to Venice the next day, and the Vatican the day after that. My time in Innsbruck was uneventful, and all I wanted was to get back on the road.

That was in 2011, and now it's 2018. Has my opinion on Innsbruck changed? I would say yes. I'm more mature now and if I went back, I would better appreciate what I was seeing. As I've gotten older, I've been less impressed by the massive buildings and more enthralled by the history that created them.

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The Curse of Mexico City

If you've been following my blog for anytime now, you know I'm attracted to the strangest of places. Radioactive wastelands, concentration camps, nuclear bomb sites, haunted doll islands, abandoned houses; the list of depressing places goes on. There are many reasons why I visit these places, but it's primarily because I find the history behind them fascinating.

Normally I know these places are "unique" before I visit them.

This wasn't the case with Mexico City.

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100+ Things to do in Regina

A few summers ago I put out a list of 20 things to do in Regina. I thought it was a pretty good list and it got some positive reviews. It came on the heels of a few other similar, smaller lists of places people should visit in Regina and was meant as "grand finale" of lists.

That article is old, but it's still fairly popular. Normally I wouldn't pay much attention to it, but a few months ago somebody commented on it and informed me that my list, and my blog in general, "sucked". Ouch.

It took me a bit to think about how I should respond to this person, so in rebuttal I have complied my longest list ever, consisting of over 100 things to do in Regina. I spoke to people at Tourism Regina, The Regina Downtown Business Improvement District and the The Warehouse District Business Improvement District to help put this list together.

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Journey to Castle Butte & Stonehenge

Stonehenge, Saskatchewan, is just a little over two hours southwest of Regina, just past the town of Assiniboia. I've explored this area of the province before on previous trips, but I've never been to Stonehenge. In fact, my journey started out as a trip to Castle Butte, but after seeing a nearby marker for Stonehenge on a map, that quickly became my primary destination.

I've driven this area a few times looking for abandoned buildings. Normally I'd keep an eye out for them, but I knew most of them were a little further south. Before I got that far, I took the turn off to Ogema.

From Ogema I drove down Highway 13 and turned right before the ghost of Horizon. I took the train through this area a few summers back with Jessica, but it looked substantially different being covered in ice and now.  

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Escaping Winter With a 2018 Ford Escape

Although I try my best to embrace winter, this winter has been difficult. First it was extremely cold for weeks on end, and then we have been hit by blizzard after blizzard. My Dodge Avenger handles snow about as good as Spiderman handles Thanos, so I've had my fair share of snow-bank sleepovers, tow truck pickups and early morning public transit excursions. I don't mind the snow, but I mind it when it gets in the way of my car.  

When I was asked to test drive a 2018 Ford Escape Titamium, I was relieved to give my little Dodge a break. The weather forecast predicted the "storm of the year" to be approaching, so it gave me the chance to see how a new vehicle handles storms compared to my current one, and maybe actually not get snowed in for the weekend.

If I was to compare last year's Ford Explorer to this year's Ford Escape, the biggest difference would be the size. The Explorer was large and bulky, and I felt like I was driving a Megazord. The Escape is a little smaller, a little more compact and a lot friendlier. I can sneak around vehicles more easily, instead of sitting behind cars like a giant, red mammoth waiting for them to move.

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Creating a Better Regina with Tactical Urbanism

Last autumn I visited Kingston, Ontario for the first time in about seven years, and while I mentioned I had been there before, I never explained why.

Several years ago I travelled to Kingston to represent Southern Saskatchewan at the NEXT Generation Leaders Forum. The purpose of this international forum was to discuss urban planning in the mega-cities of tomorrow. We had to think outside the box and solve problems like housing, garbage collection, employment, energy and transportation. When the forum was complete, and we submitted our ideas to a panel of judges, my group won the "Global Vision" award for our ideas on improving housing for the future.

For seven years that award and my time in Kingston sat on my bedroom shelf collecting dust, and while the experience was memorable, it never amounted to anything.  

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What Makes Downtown Regina So Cool

Throughout the past few months I've been sharing a lot about downtown Regina, and there's a reason for that. Downtown Regina's urban centre has undergone a massive revitalization the past few years, and since I love Regina, I felt it was important for me to talk about this. For those who don't travel downtown regularly, you'd be surprised to find out it is no longer the downtown of the 1990s. A lot has changed, is changing, or has been completely transformed.

Scores of people had to come together to make this happen, but one of the driving forces behind this transformation is the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID). This organisation was established in 1981 under the belief that entrepreneurs, diversity and creativity should thrive in the hub of the city. It may have taken time, but after decades of work their efforts are finally being rewarded. Today, downtown Regina is the epicentre of festivals, vendors, concerts, movies, art displays, and outdoor activities. This winter the RDBID lit the Christmas tree downtown, has been operating the skating rink twice a day everyday, and helped to arrange the crokicurl rink – the new sport that is sweeping the nation. 

In the summer the list gets even longer – thanks to many partners and sponsors – with the Regina Farmers Market, Market Under the Stars, Cinema Under the Stars, AfroFest, Doors Open, Yoga in the Park, art {outside}, Parkin(ing) Day, Pop Up Downtown and dozens of other events and festivals.

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