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COLUMN: Dreaming of not so exotic locales

A resolution to travel more in 2023 is commonplace, but these destinations aren't typically at the top of anyone's list.
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Eight bridges cross the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon.

Travel is a fairly common new year’s resolution as many people look to tick off bucket list items by visiting far flung locales. I’m feeling that kind of itch as another year gets underway, with my eyes squarely fixed on a couple of exotic destinations I’ve yet to visit in my 50-something years. 

In 2023, I am resolving to make it to Saskatchewan. And Montana. OK, so exotic might be stretching it just a bit, but given Saskatoon is affectionately known as the Paris of the Prairies, something tells me that good times are in my future. 

Having lived in Greater Vancouver for most of my life, there have been many road trips to B.C. vacation spots like the Okanagan and Vancouver Island, expeditions into Alberta as well as countless excursions down the I-5 corridor. When it came to a driving holiday, it got to the point where it was tough to find somewhere new to go as our family had pretty much exhausted options on or near the West Coast. 

Now that we’re here in Alberta, it’s opened a whole new set of road trip possibilities, although circumstances have conspired against us to be able to take advantage of our new surroundings up until this point. 

The first year-and-a-half in Alberta was spent in Beaumont during the height of COVID restrictions so unless you count Pigeon Lake or Camrose, there wasn’t a whole lot of travel going on. Since moving here last spring, a new job and a new house have limited travels to places like Waterton, which was definitely picturesque, and Lethbridge, which was less so. 

A new year, however, offers new opportunities so I’d like to explore more of my new province — now that I’ve checked off the Calgary Tower, Drumheller is next on the list — as well as neighbouring jurisdictions. 

I’m sure there are many people from Saskatchewan who would advise me not to get my hopes too high prior to a visit, and I’m fully aware that I won’t find some sort of tropical oasis simply by heading east on the Trans-Canada Highway, but I’ve got to get to the Land of Living Skies at least once in my lifetime. 

Ditto for Big Sky Country. From Greater Vancouver, I made it as far east along the I-90 as the Spokane Valley and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, but never into Montana, so it’s become another spot to cross off the list. Again, I’m under no illusion that just because I cross the international border the landscape is going to change dramatically but given it’s only about a four-and-a-half-hour drive to Great Falls, it’s just too close not to go. 

Ideally, I’d like to make it all the way to Yellowstone National Park to watch Old Faithful erupt, which would allow me to add Wyoming to the list, but that might have to wait for another day, hopefully one that includes Grand Teton, Great Salt Lake and other natural marvels. 

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to more attainable destinations, places that might not necessarily be tourist hot spots, but ones that will look just fine to a new set of eyes.