Your Great Escape to Cypress Hills July 11, 2017 · 2 min. readWhile the thoughts and opinions are my own, this article was brought to you by a third party. Also, this article may contain affiliate links.
Were you planning a road trip to Banff, but plans bottomed out? Or were you looking to camp somewhere that isn't Sherwood Forest? Just a few hours west of Regina is a little-known place called Cypress Hills, and it's the great escape you didn't know you needed.
Although this is the second year I've visited Cypress Hills, I still loved every minute. Built from a geological phenomenon, Cypress Hills has one of the oldest and unique landscapes in Western Canada – and the highest point in Canada between the Rockies and the Newfoundland Peninsula.
As you can see from my piece on ZenSeekers.com, there's plenty to see and do in Cypress Hills such as biking to hiking to kayaking the beautiful Elkwater Lake. The nearby townsite also has an incredible museum, a restaurant and offers access to a variety of sporting and beach equipment. If you want to go on the water, on the beach, on the disc golf course or anywhere else, they have you covered.
One of my favourite things about Cypress Hills is the absence of crowds. I love travelling (could you tell?) but I can't stand crowds. I hate standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers, hoping none of them will breathe on me. While Banff is beautiful, during the summer and winter months it's impossible to get around. Cypress Hills, on the other hand, is much more laid back, peaceful and tourist friendly – and Medicine Hat is only 40 minutes away if you forgot anything.
While in Cypress Hills, you can tent, stay in a cabin or glamp in one of their many lodges. For the outdoorsmen and indoorsmen, or for those just looking to escape the summer heat, Cypress Hills is the perfect great escape.
For more information about what to do and see in Cypress Hills, read my full piece on ZenSeekers.com.
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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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.
The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.
Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.
Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.
Earlier this year I did a presentation at The Artesian about the Spanish Influenza. It was the first time I had ever done a presentation like this and I was nervous about the number of people that might attend. I told my mother I would be thrilled if five people came that night, but forty people showed up instead. For a topic that very few people know anything about, I was excited to see so many people interested.
But one person in the audience was so interested that several months later she reached out to me to see if I wanted to do my presentation again. Instead of doing it in Regina, she asked for me to travel to Craik, Saskatchewan to tell the Craik Museum and Oral History Society about what I had learned.
For knowing so much about a topic nobody ever asks me about, I was super excited to talk about it. The organiser reached out to Craik School to ask if the students would be interested in attending the lecture too. The teacher said they wouldn't be able to make the time slot work but asked if I could speak to the students about being a blogger at a different time.