Hemingway’s world

Hemmingway haunt: La Bodeguita Del Medio Empedrado, Havana, Cuba ‎ +53 7 571375 (Darrell Noakes)

Hemingway famously spent a lot of time at La Bodeguita Del Medio Empedrado, a popular restaurant-bar in Havana, Cuba. (Darrell Noakes)

At Saskatoon’s latitude, February 15 is the date when the sun reaches above the horizon high enough to chase away my winter blues. Every year, it’s like someone waves a magic wand over the landscape. That’s the date when you can really feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Before that, from the beginning of November, the sun shines a cold, blue light — bright enough to need sunglasses, to be sure, but lacking in warmth and colour. Each year, I look forward to February 15 the way a kid looks forward to the day after the last day of school.

Winter can be a lovely time of year. I love the way freshly fallen snow sparkles under a full moon. I love the bright, clear night skies with so many brilliant stars. Looking out on a winter landscape is like living in a sentimental Christmas card. But I hate what the darkness of the long night does to me. Continue reading

Quest for coffee

I love a strong cup of Dark French roast to start the day, especially when I’m travelling. That first sip of Joe breathes an air of familiarity into whatever corner of the world that you might find yourself. It grounds you.

 (Darrell Noakes)

Mmm. . . . first coffee of the day, a rare treat on this tour. Binscarth Regional Park, Manitoba. (Darrell Noakes)

Camp coffee is my favourite. The aroma wafting through the morning air starts the day off right. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, or if it’s minus 40 degrees Celsius. Coffee makes every day warm and sunny.

I don’t mean cowboy coffee, either, although that’s pretty good — coarsely ground beans dropped into a tall enamel coffee pot that has been brought to a boil, then left to cool slightly (a dash of cold water helps settle the grounds just before serving).

I prefer to travel with one of my little macchinetta coffee makers, setting the pot on a compact alcohol stove to heat and brew while I go about other camp chores or preparing breakfast. Whether I’m bike camping or car camping, it’s always possible to find someplace to tuck the coffee supplies. Continue reading

Sagging for GASP 2013

GASP 2013, Lake of the Prairies (Darrell Noakes)

A broken spoke can really wreck your day, especially if it’s an outside spoke on the sprocket side of your rear wheel. Fortunately, someone had a spare “S” spoke for such emergencies, and we got our cycling colleague back on the road in fairly short order. GASP 2013, Lake of the Prairies (Darrell Noakes)

“So, what does ‘SAG’ mean, anyway?” someone asked.

Well, as long as I can remember, cyclists where I grew up referred to the support vehicle that accompanied them on trips as the “sag wagon”. Where the name came from, nobody really knew. What the term meant, everybody had their own opinion.

On the club tours that characterized my early tour experiences, the sag wagon was there to offer support and encouragement to tired riders, besides carry gear. We referred to the driver as “mom”, regardless of her or his gender or age, knowing that whoever was in charge of the van would look out for us and take care of whatever we needed. Continue reading

Summer nights’ jazzy lights

Aurora borealis over downtown Saskatoon skyline, night of June 28-29, 2013 (Darrell Noakes)

Aurora borealis over downtown Saskatoon skyline, night of June 28-29, 2013 (Darrell Noakes)

I’ve enjoyed the works of Herbie Hancock and Dr. John as long as I can remember. Back as a teen in high school, I worked evenings and late nights at a small town FM radio station. A weekly jazz show was my only respite from the endless, dreary “easy listening” background music that took up most of the station’s airtime.

I’d like to be able to say that the Friday night jazz show came across as something along the lines of John Corbett’s fictional KBHR disk jockey character in Northern Exposure, but our station management would have had none of that, anyway: just play the music, kid, and keep the talk to a minimum. Come to think of it, though, Trail at the time of my youth had quite a bit in common with Cicely, except the isolation maybe, and could have benefited from someone like Chris Stevens. Continue reading

Kinsmen Park memories

No rides in Kinsmen Park this year. After closing the rides at the end of last season, the City began construction of new attractions that are scheduled to be open in 2014.

City of Saskatoon offers free rides (normally $1 per ride) on the last day of operation of the Kinsmen Park train and carousel, Labour Day, Monday, September 3, 2012. The City is decommissioning the miniature train and carousel for a 25-year multimillion-dollar plan to renovate the 46-acre Kinsmen Park. A ferris wheel was removed several years ago. On March 5, 2013, the City of Saskatoon announced that the 38-year-old train had been sold to Country Fun Farms, a 70-acre theme farm 10 km east of Prince Albert. (Darrell Noakes)

City of Saskatoon offers free rides on the last day of operation of the Kinsmen Park train and carousel, Labour Day, Monday, September 3, 2012.

Continue reading

Summer nights at the beach

Burger Buoy, Manitou Beach, Victoria Day Weekend Saturday Night (Darrell Noakes)

Burger Buoy, Manitou Beach, Victoria Day Weekend Saturday Night (Darrell Noakes)

When I was growing up, we never had summer nights at the beach. There were plenty of beaches — Christina Lake, Champion Lakes, Kootenay Lake, Arrow Lakes, probably many I never heard of — that people went to. A lot of my friends’ families had cabins at “the beach”, and they went there regularly. We didn’t do that.

Instead, we went camping, often roughing it for weeks at a time, staying at old forestry camps up in the back country of the West Kootenay region, mainly up around Whatshan, Mosquito (aptly named!) and Caribou lakes. I really enjoyed those trips and still cherish the memories of them (even Mosquito Lake), but I never experienced the phenomenon known as “going to the cabin” or “going to the beach”. Continue reading

Banking on words

Crawford's Used Books, Perdue, Saskatchewan.I was just thumbing through an obviously well loved, but also well cared for, copy of the Money-Saving Cookbook by Ida Bailey Allen, published by Nelson Doubleday Inc., 1942. Three years into the Second World War, on the heels of the decade-long Great Depression, folks on the home front no doubt would have appreciated whatever advice they could find on how to stretch scarce resources to make ends meet.

I really enjoyed that warm September day in 2011 when we found that cookbook. I had received an assignment from Westworld Saskatchewan Magazine to photograph Ralph Crawford for a back-of-book piece about his bookstore, Crawford’s Used Books, in Perdue, 60 km west of Saskatoon. Continue reading