Flight delays & bitter cold all part of Regina trip
Two weeks ago I was constantly checking the weather reports, as Pat and I had to fly out of the Nanaimo Regional Airport. Pat was scheduled to adjudicate piano exams in Regina for 10 days plus single days in Yorkton and Moose Jaw. In the early morning hours of the day we were to leave, I peeked outside our living room window and was pleased I was able to see the twinkling lights of the town of Gibsons across Georgia Strait without any problem – a positive sign for clear weather. Great, I reasoned, the reported snowstorm hadn’t materialized.
I few hours later I awoke and as we were readying ourselves to leave, to my dismay snowflakes began to fall. My brother Terry arrived at 7:30 am to give us a ride to the airport. Checking the Air Canada website on my iPhone as we rolled down the highway, the screen flashed that the first two morning flights scheduled ahead of us were delayed because of the increasing snow. Our flight, the third one set for the morning was posted in bold red as cancelled. However, we pushed on through the snowstorm to Cassidy.
The airport was in chaos as people needing to make connections (including us), hounded the beleaguered staff on what to do. Some bailed the terminal and headed for BC ferries. However, we decided to stay and thankfully about 10 am the snow eased up and the ground crew came out of hibernation and began digging out the two Dash aircraft sitting on the tarmac. The first delayed flight from 6 am finally got into the air around 11:00 am.
Fortunately we were able to obtain seats on the delayed second aircraft, which got away around noon. We missed our direct connection to Regina but did manage (after being placed on standby) to get on board a 3:15 pm flight to Calgary. After spending several hours in Cow Town, another flight put us into Regina about 10 pm local time, albeit minus my luggage.
(Photo above) De-icing in Nanaimo consists of one ground crew employee hanging from a bucket lift, pushing the snow off the aircraft with something that resembles a rubber rake. He then squirts some gel-like liquid completely over the aircraft from a heavy hose. The laborious process took several hours and we got off the runway about 3 hours behind our scheduled departure time.
Due to our late arrival in Regina the Enterprise rental car company had given away our car so we had to switch to Avis. The Prairie Provinces had been suffering through a deep freeze for a number of days and getting our rental vehicle from the airport parking lot was a lesson in survival. It was 38 below zero as I pried the frozen car doors open and had to kick at the trunk to spring it loose. Unplugging the extension cord from the block heater, I fired up the engine. After scraping layers of ice from both the outside and inside windows, we patiently waited for the car to warm up. It was so cold it took almost a half hour before there was any discernible heat coming from the air ducts. Using my GPS for directions we headed downtown.
Pat’s original itinerary had called for her to make a 2.5-hour drive to Yorkton upon arrival to adjudicate for one day before returning to Regina for an extended week. With our late arrival we decided to stay in Regina overnight and drive north to Yorkton the following morning. I’d phoned ahead from Calgary for a reservation at the Hotel Saskatchewan, Regina’s unmatched heritage hostelry built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1927. We hadn’t had any sustenance since breakfast except Air Canada Pretzels so the clubhouse sandwiches we ordered in the hotel’s high cedar-beamed 30’s styled decorative lounge were welcomed beyond words. Our warm bedroom was pure paradise.
Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina
Arriving in Yorkton the following morning, I drove around the city while Pat carried out her adjudication sessions. One doesn’t go walkabout with a temperature reading of minus 30 driven even lower by a bone-chilling prairie wind, so I headed for that temple of modern day distractions, the local mall. I soon noticed that I was one of the few people who actually shut off their car engine in the parking lot. The prairie winter custom it seems is to leave your car running while one runs inside to shop, keeping your vehicle nice and toasty for your return. I wondered about the area’s car theft statistics considering many owners didn’t seem to lock their vehicles.
Overnighting in Yorkton it was back to Regina, stopping for lunch at the tiny lake cottage community of Fort Qu’Appelle.
(Above) Photo of the Hudson Bay Store in
Fort Qu’Appelle. Built in 1897, it was constructed entirely from stone.
Arriving in Regina we re-checked into the Hotel Saskatchewan and returned the rental car to the airport. It was wonderful to be back to the comfort of the opulent Hotel Saskatchewan. We enjoyed a superb evening meal of Diefenbaker Trout (albeit expensive) in the hotel’s luxurious dining room.
The following day I took a cab to a local music store and rented a Korg electronic keyboard. I wanted to use it to feed piano parts into my laptop computer so I could begin arranging the orchestra parts for the Hello Dolly musical I’m accompanying as musical director this coming summer. Taking a break from the computer work, I used my iPhone’s map App to find my way to the correct bus stop in order to travel to a theatre in South Regina that was showing the movie “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” A great flick but I think I’m going to need to see it a second time, as there are so many flashbacks in the plot line I found it tricky to follow.
Later in the week on another respite from computer work I visited the Regina Science Centre to view an exhibition of artifacts from the 1912 sinking of the infamous Titanic passenger ship. I found the visit somewhat ominous considering it was the same week that the top news story was the sinking of the luxury cruise liner Costa Concordia off Italy’s west coast.
Wrapping up the piano exams in Regina we picked up another rental car for a 1-hour drive to Moose Jaw where Pat had an afternoon examination session.
(Above) The piano examinations were held in Moose Jaw’s Zion United Church, a stunning heritage building that had been constructed in 1907.
While Pat was adjudicating in Moose Jaw I took a walk around the downtown. The prairie deep freeze had finally fled, driven out by some warmer air spilling over the Rockies from BC. I was actually able to sit on a park bench, remove my heavy parka and enjoy the sunshine.
Holding a prominent position in Moose Jaw is a luxury hotel called Temple Gardens Mineral Spa. The hotel, which was built by municipal taxpayers to enhance the local economy, features huge indoor and outdoor pools which source their Geo-Thermal water from a well deep beneath the city. The water was accidentally found in 1910 when a deep well was bored in an effort to locate natural gas. Despite efforts between 1932 and 1971 to make use of its water, the original well was finally plugged in 1971. However in 1980 the City of Moose Jaw decided to access the well and develop a unique downtown resort that has become a must-visit destination in the province.
Built between 1920-22, Moose Jaw’s old CPR station (above) is a designated heritage property. The station features a six-story clock tower and a two-story waiting hall. The building is clad with Tyndall stone. In order to save the building from being destroyed, in 1998 the Government of Saskatchewan took over the station and relocated the city’s government liquor store into the premises.
After staying overnight in Moose Jaw, we drove to the Regina Airport to catch a morning flight to Calgary. From Calgary Pat & I were scheduled for different flights. Pat’s plane got away on time and made her connection through Vancouver to Nanaimo without a problem. However my flight from Calgary was delayed and I missed the connection to Vancouver Island. Unfortunately for Pat she couldn’t leave the Nanaimo Airport for home. She had to wait in the airport for three hours for me to catch up. We had forgotten I had the only keys to the house that we’d brought with us in my pocket.