When people ask me what there is to see in Saskatchewan, I don't know what to tell them. This isn't because there's nothing to see in Saskatchewan, but because I'm not sure where to start. Although I've lived here for over 20 years, I've only seen a small fraction of it. Thankfully, that's why we have the Saskatchewanderer.
In an earlier blog I introduced Ashlyn George, Saskatchewan's fourth Saskatchewanderer. The past year Ashlyn has been driving around the prairies going on a plethora of adventures both above ground, below ground, in the water, and in the air. From mining underground for potash in Vanscoy to raising the dead in Indian Head, Ashlyn is on her way to breaking over 38,000 kilometers driven by years end.
Although she's done just about everything, from snow kiting to wind surfing to air gliding to pizza growing, Ashlyn's favorite adventure hasn't been the scheduled time, but the unscheduled time – the time when she had the "freedom to wander".
Every town in Saskatchewan has a story, and every town has something unique. She found the best way to really discover a community is to ask the local residences what there is to see. It was the unexpected adventures and spontaneity that created the best memories. One of these was her unexpected bump in with the jiggers just outside Shaunavon.
Ashlyn was also able to spend the night in some pretty extraordinary places, like the teepees of Grasslands National Park, the yurts in Flora Bora and the Water's Edge Eco Lodge in Meadow Lake.
When she wasn't waking up to some of the most gorgeous landscapes our province has to offer, Ashlyn was getting her hands dirty with geologists up at Axis Lake by Stony Rapids, archeologists in Wanuskewin, picking berries in Bend on the River Berries, feeding the cows at Rayner Dairy Research and even catching herself a 25 pound, 43 inch northern pike.
Ashlyn even had the opportunity to fly with the mesmerizing Snowbirds, and took an incredible selfie while flying with the Saskatoon flying club, 3,000 feet into the air!
Unfortunately, Ashlyn's incredible stories of being the Saskatchewanderer are coming to an end. Her final day is December 18th, a little over a month away. Thanks to Ashlyn and Tourism Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewanderer program has blossomed, with over 5,000 followers on Instagram, 6,000 followers on Twitter and 17,000 likes on Facebook. Her inspiring travels have shown corners of the province people knew very little about, and have brought lesser known stories to light – like the fact that Indian Head was once the national capitol of baseball from the 1940s to the 1950s.
The end of Ashlyn's adventure ushers in a new Saskatchewanderer, one with very big shoes to fill. People can apply for the position, but only until November 9th at noon. The position runs from January to December 2016, and you are paid between $55,000 and $60,000 a year.
The website description of the role is: "[To] promote our province to the world, showing what it's like to live, work and play in our province. Some of your responsibilities will include: choosing locations and events to explore, setting up and conducting interviews, shooting and editing video, writing stories and populating a blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with high-quality content that shows off the best of Saskatchewan. You will need to be able to work well independently, since most of the time you'll be on the road on your own."
Whoever gets in, Ashlyn has some advice:
"Just be you. Have your own personality."
When asked if she could go back and give herself any advice, she responded:
"I wouldn't do anything different. The summer was really busy... but, there's no way around it. There's just so many great things to write about, so many stories to tell. You want to make sure the whole story's there. I wouldn't change anything I did.
That's satisfying saying that, knowing that. I did the best I was capable of giving all year. I gave it 110% all the time!"
And all of Saskatchewan thanks you, and will miss you.
I've known Jenn Smith Nelson for several years now, and I often look up to her for inspiration and guidance on how to grow with my blog. I remember hearing about her book over a year ago, and I've been holding my breath in anticipation ever since.
Smith Nelson teamed up with Doug O'Neill, another talented travel writer, to cover two Canadian provinces. Their new book, 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, is a part of a Firefly Books series that showcase Canada's diversity of nature.
When I started my blog, I wanted a place to tell stories. I wanted a place where I could keep memories and show them off for people later. My earliest entries on my blog are from 2011 (published in 2014), right after my trip to Europe. They're messy, they lack detail, and they are full of inaccuracies. Not the mention the wretched photography.
So, there's only been a slight improvement since then. Hahahahaha.
Four years later, my blog has become my hobby, my joy, my escape and my work. I spend hours writing content for my blog. I spend hours editing pictures, researching details, and adjusting content for SEO (search engine optimization). It's a full-time gig, and just the other day I published my 200th article. After 200 times of doing something, you'd think the articles would get easier, but they really don't. Each one is unique unto itself, and each one is a special time in my life that I shared with my readers.
I have been told my entire life that Winnipeg was just like Regina, but slightly larger. This gave the impression that there wasn't much to see in Winnipeg and that it, along with Regina, were more-or-less "fly over destinations". Since starting my blog, I've learned Regina is an absolutely incredible city so I imagined Winnipeg was the same. I then proceeded to contact Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba to find out the true Winnipeg, and ended up going on a multi-day excursion of their city.
Since a lot of my readers are from Regina and they almost all know somebody heading there for the Banjo Bowl in a couple of days, I thought I'd put this list together. There's a lot more to see there than just Investors Group Field, and the city's history is incredibly fascinating, so I hope you enjoy this list of 100 things about "Canada's Gateway to the West".
Several of these facts are taken from Frank Albo's tour of the Manitoba Legislative Building, but there are many I didn't mention. If you enjoyed them, I encourage buying his book: "The Hermetic Code"