Give me a minute

I hate the idea of blazing from one gas station to the next, leap frogging traffic as you go. However, if a road trip in inevitable, I’m going to stop, explore and wander a bit. This makes it much more enjoyable for me. One such example was this detour off the Trans-Canada Highway in Saskatchewan, to stop and explore Wolseley.

The sign ON the Trans-Canada said “swinging bridge.” I thought that sounded like fun and slowed the truck down to make the turn.

“Mom! Where are we going?” Riley asked.

“Just give me a minute”, I replied. “We’re going to stop and see if we can find this swinging bridge.”

We turned onto the eastern access road, and literally 2o seconds later was the town sign. And at the 45 second mark, a golf course on the left, and a snazzy looking quilt shop sign on the right. So I pulled into the parking lot.

“Mom! Where are you going?” Riley asked.

“Just give me a minute” I replied. “I’m going to check out this quilt shop.”

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Tiger Lily Quilt shop, less than 1 minute north from the Trans Canada Highway in Saskatchewan

Tiger Lily Quilt Shop was just a cute as their sign. Inspiring designs on the walls, shelves and shelves of fabric, and yarn too. And a warm, friendly clerk at the desk. She told me that they’d moved from a location “downtown” to this one, just this year. I asked her where the bridge is, and she replied, “just over the tracks turn left. Then, at the three way stop sign go right. It’s at the end of that road.”

Sure enough, we were at the swinging bridge after a mere minute further of driving. What a beautiful location over the river!

My teen leapt from the car. This obviously looked like fun.

We stolled across the bridge and back, snapped a few photos and looked at the bridge. We paused then to read the plaques. And before you know it we were back headed towards the highway again.

All together it was about a 12 minute pause on our journey, but definitely a highlight. I highly recommend it. Take the detour, stretch your legs and see what a cute town Wolseley Saskatchewan is!

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Dedication, at the foot of the bridge
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Steadying myself as my teen son bounces on the bridge and takes my photo
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Heritage building on the far side of the bridge

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More heritage buildings still in use, down on Front Street

Hotwire: Saskatoon

Roadtrip is not my first choice for travel adventure, but this time, I have personal reasons for making the trek.

Our first stop would be Saskatoon Saskatchewan. It’s my first time in the city and I won’t have time to explore. It’s simply a bed, breakfast and gas stop.

I was very surprised to learn that on a Tuesday night, the going rate for hotels was $170. Whether I checked Expedia.ca, Trivago.ca or the hotel sites themselves…. nothing for under $170. Best Western, Mainstay, 4Points, Courtyard, Holiday Inn… I checked them all.

So, we waited to the last minute to book something. And went with Hotwire.ca

We chose a 2.5star hotel, in the north side of Saskatoon, at $106 per night. Included free parking, free breakfast, WIFI and had guest laundry. As per Hotwire, it had a 95% approval rating. So, that was good enough for me.

We got the Country Inn and Suites. It’s right next to the Sandman Hotel and has a Denny’s restaurant adjacent.

Check-in was smooth, free coffee in the lobby. Rooms were big, the bedroom was separate from the sitting room which boasted a pullout couch, wet bar and microwave. Though the decor was dated, and the room bothered my allergies (probably the carpet) it was absolutely fine. Actually, for $106, it was great!

We went next door to Denny’s for dinner. It was as anticipated, mediocre. Factory prepared food, assembled and microwaved on location. But, I will say that the server, Jenn, was really great. She did her job well and we left her a large grat.

The breakfast at the Country Inn & Suites was actually fabulous! Cereal, 4 types of juice, bagels, muffins, waffles, Canadian bacon, omelettes and more. I was surprised and very impressed with the actual fruit (looked like thawed frozen berry mix) and the actual dairy whipped cream for the waffles. I’m really fussy and won’t ever eat cool-whip or the like. Two thumbs up for the top quality food and selection at the breakfast room.

So, a good day. Decent pit stop. My son would give the hotel/Denny’s a slightly higher rating though… as he found 4 different Pokemon characters in the parking lots here and two more in the lobby of the Country Inn.  That made him very happy.

Edmonton: Bargain Alert!

HOT DEAL!

4 Westjet Flights from Winnipeg

3 nights in a Westin hotel in Edmonton

Taxes included $1200.37

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Why so cheap you ask? It goes like this….

New Leaf Airlines announced a Winnipeg to Edmonton route. (That’s YWG to YEG in airline speak.) Rock bottom prices of $200 round trip taxes included. So, then, Westjet quietly beats the prices on the exact route. $198. That’s pretty fabulous, right?  The route flies Thursday to Sunday. That’s even more amazing. So, you can actually make a long weekend of it.

But here’s how you take the bargain to the next level, go to a package re-seller like Expedia.ca. Their automated system updates flight prices and calculates and discounts packages. All you have to do is get the right dates. So, I typed in any Thursday to Sunday in September, and voila! $300 per person, for a family of 4. Price includes Westjet nonstop flights, and 3 nights at a really fabulous hotel. #WIN

Why haven’t I tagged any of the airlines in this post? Prices disappear very quickly and when this word gets out, the deals will be snapped up.

If your kids would like to stay at West Edmonton Mall before school’s out,  the August 25-28th price is $359 per person at the Fantasyland hotel.

Other hotels available, from $250 per person (near the airport), up to $424 for the Fairmont.

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Shown Sept 8-11. Prices will vary according to dates

One last tip. If you’re an Air Miles collector, log in through Airmilesshops.ca and you can collect Air Miles on your Expedia purchase.

You’re welcome! And yes, please share with your friends and family if you think they could use a little trip and a heck of a bargain!

Screenshots from 8pm Monday July 18th, 2016.

 

Pokemon Go: Good for tourism?

From New York’s Central Park to the little Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, North Dakota, the phenomenon that is Pokemon Go, is taking over.

Since its release, less than a week ago, the on-line gaming APP has become the best seller on iTunes, has rocketed Nintendo’s stock up in value by 25% and has everyone talking.

Where I noticed it, was on a Monday morning, in a small US city. We were visiting from Canada (where Pokemon Go is yet unreleased) and as tourists we were deliberately in the park to learn and explore. But we couldn’t help but to be distracted by the incredible number of young adults wandering around the park and all engrossed in their phones. They were stumbling about, even some bumping into each other. What was going on? Could the Scandinavian Heritage Park really be such a draw on a Monday morning?

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Nope, it was the game! My teen son alertly recognized this and filled me in. To be certain, I bravely asked a group of guys if they were playing the Pokemon game and they enthusiastically explained it to me and showed me their phones. Apparently, there’s 134 characters to catch and battles that take place in “gyms.” You basically wander about chasing these on-line characters in a hybrid-reality. You can set “lures” to attract character and also other players.

25 foot tall Swedish Dala Horse. A character in the park, NOT the Pokeman game
25 foot tall Swedish Dala Horse. A character in the park, NOT the Pokemon game

But what does it all mean to tourism? Most of these meeting places in the game are public spots…tourist centres, churches, parks and the like. And when you are at a location, little info bubbles pop up on your screen, so as a player if you wanted to learn about where you were located, you certainly could. Of course, you could also actually look up from your phone and see the buildings and sites around you as well.

I chatted with a tourism host at the Scandinavian Heritage Park. She said it was ‘absolutely packed’ on Sunday with Pokemon Go players. She’d never seen so many people. Was that good for business though? Maybe. It was in fact putting this park on the radar of a younger audience. And it was certainly causing a buzz around town, getting the gamers out of their homes and into city streets and public places. But were there increased sales, revenue or even signatures in the guest book? No. Not yet anyways.

What do you think? Is this a new breed of gamer-tourism? Is this going to change the way people travel and interact or are we cluttering public places and creating new obstacles?  Is this the new selfie…being seen in a hybrid on-line/reality game?

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The Gol Stave Church Museum over my shoulder. A Norwegian wood building, made without nails.

Link to a CBC News’ piece on the phenomenon.

 

Family Travel Tip: Road Trip Bingo

Want them to take in the scenery? Put down their gadgets? Just put a Road Bingo card in their hand. Custom cards are easily created to suit your child’s age or your destination.

My kids love these. The squares are just everyday things, but you’ll be surprised how quickly the competition heats up and how many laughs you’ll have.

Sample card:
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You can’t beat the price!

Why not Minot, indeed! Look at these prices! Fabulous hotels and really affordable rates. All include Wifi and most include breakfast.

I’ve been checking out the #minotselfie promotion that’s listed on they Hyatt House page. Great partnerships with local retailers and restaurants.  My to-do and to-see list, is getting longer by the minute.

The Starving Rooster looks like a fun place & so does the Souris River Brewing Company. Will have to put those ones on my list.

10 North Main is the restaurant of famed Minot son & North Dakota Legendary spokesperson, Josh Duhamel. And then of course there’s Paradiso. It’s very hard NOT to go to Paradiso when you visit North Dakota. Manitobans…. we’re starved for good Mexican food at home, like the ol’ Chi Chi’s restaurants we had in the 90s, so it’s not a surprise we race to Paradiso just as soon as we cross the border. Ah, Chi Chi’s, those were the days!

I’ve been told that downtown Minot restaurant, Charlie’s diner, has been serving up top quality breakfasts for decades, making it a must see as quite possibly, the oldest serving restaurant in the city.

I hope there’s a jogging path in the city, or a workout room at the hotel as it sounds like there’s a lot of great eating to do in the “Magic City”. Might have to stay a few days.

Minot, North Dakota. Start your planning here.

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