Saturday, August 21, 2010

Drinks in two Capital Cities: Regina, Saskatchewan (Day Three, Part Two)

The Prairies as we entered Saskatchewan
After our pit stop in Winnipeg, we embarked on our prairie adventure. Remarkably, for the first few hundred kilometres of the prairies, I really enjoyed the stark contrast to Northern Ontario. I even asked aloud: “Am I the only person who likes the prairies?” The province of Manitoba still has some geographic features to offer – a few minor rolling hills and tree formations, little lakes here and there, probably man-made for irrigation purposes. I discovered beauty in the symmetry of the great wide open; the perfectly spaced electric and railroad poles that look like religious crosses and the endless fields of yellow and green topped with blue skies. The prairies remind me of a Van Gogh painting rather than what I originally pictured as a Nevada highway. Still, I was amazed by what Manitobans refer to as “roads”. Anything off of Highway One was essentially a dusty or muddy or grassy mess, and trucks brewed up dust clouds that followed them like a train as we saw them pull off the main road. One wonders if small cars ever survive this terrain.

At 5 p.m. I looked around at the emptiness around me, the lack of cars, amenities, anything, and thought of rush hour traffic in the GTA. We went a steady 120 km/h the entire distance between Winnipeg and Regina (save a bit of roadwork), and the two lanes were a huge relief from the one lane of Highways 69 and 17 in Ontario.

About 100 km out of Regina I get it. The prairies are long and flat. They last for what seems like forever or maybe they represent what limbo feels like. I acquiesce to all those people who warned me about them.

However, one of the good things about driving west is that you gain a few hours in your travels. We set the clocks back one more hour before hitting Regina, so we arrived there with plenty of time to settle in and go out for a pleasant dinner at The Roof Top Bar and Grill downtown ( We ate outside surrounded by dark wood features and silvery aluminum table tops; there were two fire pits in each corner of the patio, and the trendy folk of Regina sprawled around them gossiping into the night. The service was attentive and friendly, and the meal affordable. Two salads, two meals (including a 14 oz. prime rib!), a bottle of Lindeman’s Cabernet Sauvignon and a three cheesecake sampler for dessert was under $100. What a nice change from big city dining!

Our sleeping accommodation was the Holiday Inn Express, which was conveniently located downtown close to the bars and restaurants. The room was well-sized, and had a spacious bathroom. We were told we had to pay for parking and I was surprised to hear it was $6. Again, it is always great to find that things are cheaper than you expect. I would highly recommend both the restaurant and the hotel if you choose to stop in Regina on your cross country travels.

Day Four entails more prairie-driving through Saskatchewan and Alberta, and then finally, the arrival into mountainous B.C. Stay tuned for more news!

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