Sunday, September 23, 2012

Letterboxing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Last weekend I got out to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to visit Books40Boxes and see that great city. Verdict: fantastic! If I could sum the trip up in just a few words: the best things in life are free!  I did some amazing things on this trip - visiting the parks, strolling the town, visiting the art gallery, and viewing the cosmos, all for free.  Get your hiney out there and see this awesome place!

Unfortunately, not too many boxes in the city.  And none in the greater area.  The very definition of a letterboxing desert.  I did manage to plant one more, Happy Mantis, but didn't notice before carving and flying out there that there was a preexisting happy box.  Oops.  But at least there is now a whole lot more happy in Saskatoon, right? :)

On arrival the first day, I went to bed.  True story.  Jet lag is a bitch.

For the rest of the trip, I was good and raring to go.  After first indulging me in my horrid coffee addiction, we strolled around the city, visiting in particular the waterfront on the Saskatoon.  The kind city had held off in its autumnal shift and was only starting with the faintest wisps of yellow on the trees when I arrived.  The city clearly cares about the waterfront and there are some stunning trails to follow on both sides.

It was along one of these sides that I found Jay Bird's Happy Duck, at a beautiful gazebo along the water.  Second finder, hopefully to be found by many more!

Saskatoon is known for its bridges, and from one, the Broadway Bridge, you can see that folks have painted rocks along the river with cute sayings and images.  You can sort of see it from this image here, but keep in mind that those rocks are huge, not teensy which is how they sort of appear in the photo. You could easily sit on any of them, cross legged and have tea while watching the river go by. 

I'm not sure how this trend started, but there were literally hundreds of rocks that had been painted.  Loved it.  Stared down at them from the bridge for a few moments before continuing on to visit the cute shops on Broadway.

One of the fantastic things we did while I was visiting was go and see the University of Saskatoon's observatory. It is a wee little thing, and when I jumped out of the car to take some quick pictures of it, I saw that the door held a plaque stating that the observatory was open to the public and listed its hours.  By chance, its hours included time that night, so we returned after dark for a visit of the interior.  The building is fantastic and old, the telescope let us see some stars despite the overcast sky, and the basement held some excellent exhibits about telescopes and the universe. This place is just begging for a letterbox...

University of Saskatchewan's Observatory

What? Open to the public? Tonight? We. Are. In!
 Unfortunately, no night pictures - it was very dark and I didn't have a camera that would take a decent low-light shot.

Those darn geocachers; they're everywhere.
Over the course of the visit, Books40Boxes handed over a few stamps she carved for Box ON!.  They're fantastic. And then she showed me the tool that she used to carve them. I was shocked, horrified even.  She was using some rusty, dull, v-tool meant for wood carving.  On the one hand, I was impressed that she was able to carve such intricate designs with such a big blunt tool, but on the other hand, upset that that was what she had been forced to use.

Luckily, they designed this thing called "Google" to solve these sorts of problems.  After some quick searches, I found out that there was an art supply store called Art Placement.  And it was less than five-minutes walking distance from her apartment.  Cool. So, off we went.

It was fantastic.  Pink stuff, Speedball carving tools, and a book making supplies area.  What more could you ask for?  Friendly & helpful staff? Great prices? Sale on everything, 25% off?  Yes to all three.  We were both very impressed, and I went back for a second time - I couldn't pass up the amazing price of their pink stuff.  I even blogged about it on the fly, here.  If you're in or near Saskatoon and looking for some art stuff, haul your butt in there, pronto!

We headed down again to the water to find Books40Boxes' own letterbox, University Bridge, which as you stamp in, you can see its eponymous bridge and the water flowing under it.  Delightful - and a gorgeous carve.  A must see and a fantastic box for Saskatoon.

University Bridge. Went on a ride on that boat, too - also beautiful.

Speaking of art, we also headed down to the Mendel Art Gallery, free and on the water.  The gallery had a nice greenhouse garden in the one side, begging for a stroll.

Fountain at the centre of the Mendel Art Gallery greenhouse.
My favourite part of this gallery is the art room, where they invite everyone to come on in and make art with a whole bundle of supplies they left for doing so.  Magical.

Art galore.  And posted for the world to see.

Printed on the wall of the room.  We letterboxers are collectors in the truest sense.

More collecting in the Cabinet of Curiosity.
After visiting the gallery, I went off to plant my own letterbox, Happy Mantis, who now happily lives in a fantastic abode with a river-view. More than I can say for myself.

All in all, I had a fantastic time in Saskatoon.  Saskatoon was warm and beautiful (speaking about both the environment and the people), with a rich history, and a laid-back feel.  If there were more letterboxes, I would move there for good ;)

Happy trails!

1 comment:

  1. ... It's not rusty. And I'm working on coming up with a box for the observatory - still looking for the perfect image.

    Glad you had a good time!