I hated Saskatchewan. We moved to Regina when I was 12 and blessedly left for California when I was 14. Nothing good happened to me while we lived in Regina. It was a tough time of life anyway, but on top of normal teenage angst and awkwardness, I was stuck in bed, sick, for months at a time, much of it in the hospital with a bunch of old people, one of whom died in the bed next to mine while I wondered what to do. As I thought about going through Regina on this trip (and yes, I have heard all the limericks), I wondered about facing the ugliest part of my childhood and stopping there.
But I am ahead of myself.
Our visit to Saskatchewan started on the heels of some wonderful visits with cousins I had not seen for about 50 years. Phil and my cousin Lynda (shown with one grand-daughter in this photo – another was sleeping) kindly had us over for lunch on our way from Calgary to Edmonton.
We then had dinner in Edmonton with two more cousins, both brothers of Lynda. Walter and Mary, and Harold and Kathy, had driven two hours to meet us, then drove two hours back home right after the meal.
We struggled to remember the last times we had seen each other. Funny how much we have changed in appearance over the years, but the essence that makes us who we are still remains. Walter (with the big bushy beard in the back) was the oldest of the cousins and I really looked up to him, and was always amazed at his strength (all of these cousins being farm kids) and how far he could hit a softball. Harold (far right) was my age and we had the most in common. I remembered him as always smiling, and that has not changed. Lynda was a year younger, and a girl, so we didn’t hang out a lot when I visited their farm as a kid, but there was no mistaking her friendly smile the moment I saw her.
We also had a lovely visit with a cousin from my dad’s side, Carolynn with her husband Doug:
The photos in the background were taken by Doug, a true artist with a Nikon. Carolynn is involved with physical medicine and finds herself coming up with physical therapy plans in her head for total strangers she comes across. I forgot to ask her to write one down for me. Doug has struggled with debilatating back pain for years, and we both agreed the best way to deal with pain is between your ears and not with pain medication.
One of the highlights of traveling by motorhome is the friends you can meet at the campgrounds. Our first overnight stop in Saskatchewan was a stay at the lake house of some dear friends we met at an RV Park in Sedona AZ this Spring. In Sedona they parked in the space next to us, and we discovered that Harv and I were both retired attorneys, Jean was a retired financial advisor, and they and I were Rotarians. Fifteen minutes after they arrived, we were on our way to the Sedona Rotary Club, and we quickly became friends. They live in Battleford, but have a house on a lake about 30 minutes north, and that is where we stayed with them. We had a delightful time and enjoyed their wonderful meals and hospitality. They took us on a tour of the lake and adjoining village, with Harv giving us astonishing details about the history, issues, and politics of the area. Surprisingly, they have a serious property crime problem in their area, something I would not have expected in rural Saskatchewan. I asked if either of them were involved in some way in local governance. They both smiled, and Harv acknowledged that he was the Mayor.
We left Harv and Jean’s lake house for a quick over-night stop in Saskatoon. I began to think back on my childhood in Regina, and wondered if I really should face up to that black hole of my past and go back there. I was sitting in a Starbucks in downtown Saskatoon, wavering, even checking if there were any decent RV Parks in the Regina area (they aren’t).
Some, maybe most of my readers may be aware that I have had juvenile-onset rheumatoid arthritis since I was 7. That affliction was running at (literally) a fever pitch when I was a kid in Regina. Modern medicine has since stemmed most of the worst of that affliction, but over the years both feet, and my left ankle, have been fused and do not move. As a result I am the proud owner of a hard-earned handicap placard. I have often said that the ONLY good thing that ever came from having RA was that placard.
Leaving the Starbucks in Saskatoon I found this under my window:
So much for the benefits of a handicap placard.
So that’s it, I’m fed-up with this Province. We packed up and headed for Manitoba on the Trans-Canada Highway. As we took the bypass highway around Regina, I looked off in the distance at a skyline that is substantially different than the one I left in 1967. And I kept driving, heading east, wondering if there is an extradition treaty between Oregon and Saskatchewan for parking ticket evaders.