This morning we made pancakes and had a leisurely breakfast. That would prove to be a mistake.
The plan was to go to a park in Manitoba, Spruce Woods Provincial Park, that I visited many years ago that time I drove across the country in 2006. I wanted to show Jenn because it’s a great park. There were two problems with our plan:
- I looked up the drive from Yorkton to Brandon (where we would have lunch) weeks ago and convinced myself it was 2 to 2.5 hours. It’s not.
- As you may know, Saskatchewan doesn’t participate in Daylight Savings. What this means is that it is on Manitoba time in the winter and when all provinces move forward in the spring Saskatchewan switches to Alberta time. That means that when you cross into Manitoba the time changes. I forgot about that.
Basically, we took a leisurely drive through back roads – somehow still managing to encounter terrible construction delays – and did not arrive in Brandon until well after 3PM Manitoba time. We ate a decent meal at a really weird restaurant in Brandon called Lady of the Lake. (There are references to lakes throughout Brandon but it is on a river.) The place was a throwback to those all-in-one general stores: it contained a cafe (not open for dinner except as a pub on Friday night’s only), a general store and a salon. The food was fine but pricey.
Then we drove to the park. Spruce Woods is much further from Brandon than I remember. I believe that’s because I was driving across the country at the time and a short drive felt even shorter. We didn’t get there until around 5 PM (CDT).
To make matters worse, I drove into the campground and got lost looking for the “Spirit Sands,” which are the reason you go to Spruce Woods. When we finally found a map, I realized we had driven into an area with no exit, and we had to go back out to the road, at campground speeds (30 km/h).
Because it’s so close to the solstice, we were able to go for a hike in full sun. The problem was that we needed to get dinner and drive to our B&B later and we wanted to get there before dusk if possible. That limited us to about 90 minutes in the Spirit Sands. We saw the dunes – in full bloom, contrary to when I was last there in the height of summer, when it was much hotter – but we didn’t get completely into them, and we missed out on my two favourite features; a little copse of trees in the middle of the dunes where the temperature drops and the “Devil’s Punch Bowl.” Still, it was nice.
For dinner, we returned to Brandon along the Trans-Canada (we had not come that way) and I got very nostalgic for my days of driving through the prairies many years ago. We found a weird “Canadian” pub in Brandon called Jo Beeverz and learned that their other location is in Yorkton! I ate an utterly insane poutine-wrapped foot long hot dog. Yes, that’s a thing.
After dinner we headed north towards Minnedosa. We had weird directions to our B&B which consisted of counting kilometres from an intersection, turning, and then counting kilometres again.
The B&B is a working farm called Fairmount. There was a slough/pond, sheep (including the babies from the spring), cattle, chickens, a dog and some pretty hilarious barn cats. Given that the in-law’s farm is no longer theirs, this is probably the first time I’ve stayed at a working farm. (It might be the second, but I’m not sure how operational that other farm was.) It was an experience.