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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oh, Canada! Saskatoon Berry Gin, trains, donkeys, & beer cuisine!

On day 6 of our 10 day drive from West Virginia to our guided hunt in British Columbia, we crossed the border into Canada at Portal, North Dakota/North Portal, Saskatchewan. From ezbordercrossing,.com we learned that Portal is a 24-hour border crossing, and as we had no clue how long the drive would really take us, this seemed like the best place to cross. On our way to the border we stopped for dinner in Minot, ND at the Badlands Grill House and Saloon, and happily discovered Monday is Half-Price Wine Night AND that if you don't finish your bottle you can take it with you! :-)

I have to thank the Canadian Customs Officials for being really nice and making it simple and as stress-free as possible! We waited for about half and hour while they checked us both out online, and apparently we checked out okay, as that was it!
The BIG shock, however, came when we discovered right there at the border that a) our Garmin GPS didn't work, and b) our cellphone didn't work!!! So we pulled out our handy, dandy AAA Canadian Guidebook- which THANK G-D we had brought with us!!- the map that came with it, got out a pen, and went "back to the future" big time!

It was already night when we crossed the border, and we drove 30 minutes to Estevan, where we spent the night at the Days Inn-Estevan on our Wyndham hotel points. We were delighted to spend our first night in Canada enjoying the rest of our Minot wine in what is undoubtedly THE fanciest Days Inn room in the world: Jacuzzi and all! :-)

Our first Canadian breakfast at Blackbeard's at the Days Inn:
The next morning we drove to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, stopping along the way to photograph cool things and chase trains!

Chamberlin, Saskatchewan
“Surveyors had a huge impact on Metis settlement because of the river lot system the Metis had used to settle at Batoche and along the South Saskatchewan River. The surveyors—often despite themselves—were very disruptive to the Metis life, and their coming to the Northwest was at the root of the ‘troubles’ that ensued.”

On our way towards Edmonton we stopped in Regina, Saskatchewan, so that, (railfans that we are), we could enjoy a glass of fine Pillar Estate wine from Collona, BC in the restored dining car at "The Last Spike Restaurant"- at the Regina Casino! We had a super-nice waitress in the dining car- where we were the only customers- and after enjoying our wine we wandered around the beautifully restored train station casino for a bit, and photographed the train parked right outside on the tracks!

The train parked outside the restored trains station that is now Casino Regina
We then took the advice of our GREAT AAA book and had a really yummy beer-centric "foodie" lunch paired with samplers of Canadian beers at Beer Bros Gastropub in downtown Regina!
Beer Bros. Gastropub in downtown Regina

Drinking Liefman's Raspberry, Granville Kitsliano Maple Cream, & a Ginger Beer w/yummy beer-centric cuisine at Beer Bros. Gastropub!

Historic downtown Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

After lunch to Saskatoon, and spent the night at the Saskatoon Holiday Inn (on our points :-), where we had the luck to find a REALLY great bartender!
A Lucky Bastard G&T with Saskatoon Berries!

I asked if he had any local, Canadian drinks to offer, and he told us about the Lucky Bastard Distillery, Saskatchewan's premium micro-distillery, founded by a couple who won the lottery, and decided to launch a boutique distillery with their winnings, and all the interesting products they make, and then made us delicious Lucky Bastard Gin & Tonics, with yummy little Saskatoon Berries!  The next morning we found the distillery, and had a great tour from one of THE Lucky Bastards, got to meet "Ginger", their gorgeous German still, and got to taste enough of their products to decide that we had to buy a lot of them! We bought their excellent Gambit Gin, which is made with juniper, coriander, angelica root, lemon peel, anise seed, cloves, chamomile and Saskatoon berries, their unique liqueurs made from local, Saskatoon Berries and Haskap (Blue Honeysuckle), and their absinthe spray! Our one big regret was that their new rum and whisky weren't ready- and they don't export to the USA yet!

Dan with "Ginger" the Lucky Bastard's gorgeous still!

Dan with one of THE Lucky Bastards, getting the Grand Tour- and Oh, for a taste of that peaty, smoky whisky they're making!

We then headed towards Edmonton, Alberta, chasing trains across the plains, and stopping to feed the donkeys...

Elisse and Dan, chasing trains across the Canadian plains!


And the donkeys who herd them! 

Donkeys like potato chips!

Galloping donkeys - catching up with their herd!

Cool stuff along the way...

Next: Edmonton and Jasper, Alberta, Canada!

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