Echo Valley Provincial Park- Winter Edition

All winter I have been eyeing the weather, and availability for a yurt at Echo Valley.

It finally happened, one night available. *Sold*

One night was all that we wanted as this truly was an experiment. This was as “winter camping” as it gets for us. We honestly had no idea what to expect with regards to how warm or cold we would be. I had called the park inquiring about the heater situation and was informed that there were 2 radiant space heaters. We were still worried, worse case scenario we freeze – or pack up and go home.

Fun fact – our family of 5 only had 2 sleeping bags. Maybe we weren’t ready for this?

I swear I tried to be minimal (as the truck is packed full).

Here’s what we packed:

  • Sleds
  • Skates
  • Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows
  • Winter gear
  • Clothing
  • Food for supper night one
  • Food for breakfast
  • Snacks
  • Kettle for instant coffee
  • Dishes/ cutlery

After a big dump of snow Thursday, it was still snowing Friday – the perfect time for winter camping – a snow storm. Upon arrival the park was pretty quiet ( ie we were the only ones there).

We set up our beds in the yurt and Ty started the fire for our gourmet hotdog and brown beans supper.

The kids were being not their best selves. It was bad, and really dragging us down. We contemplated going home. Privileges were lost (marshmallows, movie before bed, tv for the week). My six year old told me he was never going to talk to me again, even when he is an adult.

It turns out everyone was HANGRY. I swear as soon as we ate a switch was flipped and we were back to having the best time ever. Hanger can truly gets the best of us.

After supper (it was a later supper). We decided to skate the park. Selfishly I really wanted to see it all lit up. Upon arrival (it was dark) , P was scared of wild animals, specifically – wolves.

We made it one lap, I didn’t even put on my skates (just so much effort). P was so scared, the kids started to get cold, was everyone crying? Maybe?

This is the point of our weekend where we realized we would have a flat tire in the morning. Thank goodness for tire sensors am I right? Not sure how, or when, but it was something we (Ty) would worry about in the morning. Spoiler alert – at some point we drove over a screw. Cool, cool.

As we listened to the sound of popcorn popping and fire crackling, you could hear the sweet sweet sounds of a toddler yelling “Mom!” “Dad” echoing through the trees. Nature, so zen.

We ended the night with a popcorn (and a popcorn meltdown). S wanted more popcorn and there was no popcorn and the ultimate solution as a 2 year old is to yell “popcorn” at the top of your lungs, so we obviously bribed her silence with chips. Also, now just realizing no one brushed their teeth.

I lied. We ended the night with a diaper blow out. Pooping in a diaper seemed better than a 2 year old and a pit toilet at 9 o’clock at night, the blow out was a bonus. The only reason we had extra pyjamas for her was to use as a fleece layer under winter gear.

Everyone had a sleeping bag and blanket, the children slept wonderfully. Sweet little S was the last one standing around 11pm. Bless her. Ty and I slept as comfortable as you could as millennials in a camping cot (our backs). We had moments where we felt cool in the night, but never uncomfortable.

Rise and shine! We woke up around 7am and had a gourmet breakfast of muffins, cantelope, and yogurt juice. Ty and I enjoyed some instant camping coffee mochas. Ty also enjoyed changing the flat tire.

The kids played on the snowbanks while I packed up. Why are sleeping bags so hard to put back in the bag? Why?!

To end our 24 hour adventure I really wanted to try something new, I then changed my mind, but Ty persisted. Snowshoeing. Rentals are available at the park office for $10 a day, $5 for children. We took advantage of the rentals for less than 1% of the day.

We tried to follow an existing trail to a look out, and carved a little bit of our own path as well. The kids really enjoyed getting to the look out. The kids did not enjoy having to snowshoe back. P cried hysterically the whole path back. I’d also like to make in known that we were snowshoeing for less than 30 minutes. M had a good attitude and let me know at the end that he was just thinking about what he would order for lunch.

Lunch – we planned our final meal to be from the Echo Ridge Golf Course stationed at the visitors centre. Ty and I both got the cue bowls (pulled beef or pork, mac and cheese, coleslaw). M went with mac n cheese, P went with nacho Doritos (the snowshoe was hard on him- anything goes). S was able to take anything from anyone. We tried eating outside, but it didn’t last long. We saw/ heard the signs and packed up to head home.

The kids slept soundly on the drive home, we played a new game that I had started on the way there. Anyone who falls asleep on the drive gets a prize. Everybody wins, it is my new favourite game.

Final thoughts – The snow fell magically all weekend, it was beautiful. We really enjoyed our one night in the woods. There was chaos followed by calm and despite our challenges (behaviour, hanger, meltdowns) we would do it again, and even for 2 nights (weather depending).

You don’t know if you don’t try – so we try.

Keep on sasking [in the snow] ❄️

2021 Holiday Gift Guide

Super excited to present my 2021 gift guide! This list is genuine; these are all items that we actually use (or gifting this year). I consulted some friends (thank you – you know who you are) and they gave me some really great ideas.

Drum roll pleeeeeease!

1. The Great Saskatchewan Bucket List – Robin and Arlene Karpan

Ok – I actually bought this book at Coles in 2010 – is Coles even still open? It honestly was kind of tucked away until covid when we really got into “adventuring”. Now I bring this baby on every trip. I look to see what is featured in the area, and mark the dates that we visit that bucket list place. It’s been fun. $25

2. Glow Sticks

Great stocking stuffer! I know glow sticks seem simple (cause they are). We love them for camping, and any sort of outdoor evening activity – especially in the fall/winter when it gets dark out real quick! @busytoddler also throws these in the bath! ~ $2

3. Yeti Tumbler

Who likes their coffee hot?! Ok actually I don’t, but it’s great for people who do! Yeti is magic and keeps hot beverages hot, and cold beverage cold. Available in a variety of sizes and colours. ~ $40

4. O2 Cool Mist’N’Sip

A friend had one of these this summer at the soccer field. It was so hot that day and a water bottle with a built in mister seemed genius. ~ $20

5. Catch’N’Fish

Got this at the dollarama! It’s a card game that practices addition and subtraction. You can also adapt to just practice numbers. We will keep ours in the camper for the summer. ~$3

6. East Coast Lifestyle Adjustable Dad Hat

Just launched – I love the look of these vintage washed hats. Available in 4 colours. Will likely buy myself one.

7. LED Toque

I first saw these last year from @bowsandbentos. I think they would be perfect for outdoor play in Sask winters. Also would have come in handy for fall camping… and spring camping?! The LED light is USB rechargeable and the toques come in a variety of colours! ~$20

8. Bush Pie Maker

Friend recommendation, turned into stocking stuffer. Give me one good reason why a delicious sandwich cooked over the campfire wouldn’t be magical. Pizza sandwiches, grilled cheese, fancy sammys. The bush pie maker has no limits – I just looked for recipes ideas on Pinterest. I repeat there are no limits. ~$20+

9. Kids Shakespeare Spincast Kit

We were gifted one of these a few birthdays ago, but really got our use out of it (and bought another one) this summer. It was great way for the boys to practice their casting and pretend to be fishing. Also a great distraction when we had lake-side camping sites. ~$20

10. Windriver Women’s HD1 Long Puffer Jacket

This jacket is available at Marks, and I have 2 of them from previous seasons. It’s so lightweight, but also so warm. Covers the bum, and has a 2 way zipper. There’s 4 colours to choose from and I want brown. I looked back and bought it on sale for $40. I HIGHLY recommend when on sale. ~ $120

11. Camping Journal For Kids

This was a gift (thank you friend!). 3-4 pages are dedicated to each trip with prompts, places to draw and add in any memories (tickets, photos, a leaf). We have the one pictured, but there are lots of options out there. ~ $12

* Included with this gift was a scavenger hunt game. There’s tons of games and books for outdoor scavenger hunts available.

12. Thermacell

I’ve contemplated a Thermacell for a few years now. As soon as @chasingkennedys recommended I ran to the store. We have the “Halo” and from my experience it works. This year Ty might be getting the portable repeller from Santa. I think this would be great for hikes, and well anywhere the mosquitos are – sports field, yard work, camping. etc. Also if you don’t know what a Thermacell is – it is a no spray, no scent, deet free mosquito repellent. ~$35+

13. Female Urination Device

@marinas_and_mountains made me do it. Once Lindsay recommended I was on board. Adds to cart > puts in stocking. I’ll keep you posted. ~$20

14. Waboba Bouncing Ball

When we were at Kenosee Lake my brother-in-law had one of these and it was perfect for the kids to play with in the lake. Once I found out he bought it at Allison’s (the store in the provincial park) I followed suit. ~$15

15. Woods LED Light

My dad has this light and we took it camping when we were in New Brunswick. We then purchased for our fall camping when our light sources were limited. Perfect lantern for night time cards, reading your camper manual when trying to figure out the furnace, or trips to the washroom. It is LED rechargeable and the brightness is adjustable. ~$40

16. Outdoor School – Hiking and Camping

Outdoor School has a few books that look great for outdoor adventuring. We have the one pictured on the guide and my oldest (6) just looks at all the pictures. A lot of great information in an easy to read format. ~ $20

17. Kids Ski Goggles

Santa got these for the boys last year, they have been awesome for snow days, outdoor play, and sliding. ~ $30+

18. Bumkins Snack Bags

We have been using these for a few years now. They are perfect for all the snacks – fruits and veggies, crackers, cereal. Easy to open, and easy to clean. They come in a snack size 2 pack, and a sandwich size. I found them in the baby section at Superstore. ~$12+

Ok! That’s all I got! If you have any questions please send a message

I hope you have found this helpful this holiday season.

Lastly – don’t underestimate the power of stickers, bubbles, and popcorn twists.

It’s Fall Y’all

Here are some seasonal family favourites happening right now across Saskatchewan.

Cedar Creek Gardens (Regina) – We love Cedar Creek! I LOVE the petting zoo friends, they are just the cutest. Open daily > check out the corn mazes, mini golf, and gem mining.

Happy Hollow (Lumsden) –  Open on Saturdays and Sundays, there’s lots to do out here. Check their social for themed weekends and events. There’s more than corn here! The jumping pillow, spider web, and corn cannon are always a blast!

Youth Farm Corn Maze (Rosthern) – Definitely worth the drive from Saskatoon. There’s so much to do for all ages. Animals, jumping pillow, pedal karts, corn mazes, climbing wall, and lots of pumpkins!

Roberston Valley Farm (Saskatoon)  – Pumpkin patch featuring beautiful sunflower fields! Open Wednesdays – Sundays.

Black Fox Farm & Distillery (Saskatoon) – Pumpkin u-pick and seasonal fall flavours in the distillery (yum!). Reserve your spot online.

Berry Barn (Saskatoon) – They have some special events and weekend attractions happening this fall, as well as pumpkins available for purchase.

Paintball Paradise (Prince Albert) – Pumpkin patch, and corn mazes. They have a children’s maze which features a story along the way. The larger maze turns into a haunted maze in October ~ spooky!

Strawberry Ranch (Saskatoon) – Corn maze on Valley Road, open weekends ( Friday – Sunday).

Corn Cob Junction (Estevan) – Open on Saturdays and Sundays check out the corn maze, hay rides, scavenger hunt, and climbing wall.

Corn Trails (Canora) – A non-traditional corn maze, also on site are mini golf, and picnic areas.

Bosers Greenhouse (St Walburg) – Currently featuring pumpkin fest and a corn maze. They have lots of fall events happening over the next bit.

Full disclosure – with the pandemic things are constantly changing, check out their websites and socials for details.

Camping Bedtime

Ever wonder how to get kids to sleep when you’re camping? SAME.

Here’s what we do that occasionally works.

60% of the time, it works every time.

Brian Fantana, Anchorman

Our beautiful structured bedtime of 7:30? We left that at home.

We value our sanity and we have learned that fighting regular bedtime hour and routine just isn’t worth it.

The boys get one movie, and that’s it. This movie can start at 7 pm or 9 pm – every night is different.

If they haven’t fallen asleep after the movie they can either stay in bed or sit by the fire.

Listen to your children’s cues. We learned that when P asks for a cuddle, he’s telling us he’s ready. He can ask us cutely or can ask us via a tantrum.

For M we need to be really clear with our boundaries.

“After this movie, it’s bed/ quiet time”

“I’ll cuddle you for 5 minutes, but then I need to check on Dad”

S (18 months ish). Ty or I take her for a stroll around the campground until she falls asleep. The bumpier the road, the better. She enjoys sleeping by the campfire until we retire for the night. We have no idea how this is going to look like next summer.

We let the boys sleep in whatever bed (ours, theirs, or S’) , and then move them if needed when we go to bed. Some nights there’s a round of musical beds.

We usually find when camping for multiple nights the nights get earlier, and the mornings get later (except for that one time S woke up at 5 am, that was not cool S, not cool).

Bedtime is rarely a flawless operation, this is just something we have come to accept. Our “relaxed” approach and being consistent when camping has for the most part worked this summer.

Good night & sweet dreams.

Bend in the River Berries

Just south of Moose Jaw you’ll find Bend in the River Berries. I recommend using the location coordinates on their website, we definitely went down a few of the wrong roads. Hot tip – if you go past 15 wing you have gone too far.

Ty gets credit for this adventure- I think I’m rubbing off on him!

Bend in the River offers all the berries listed below. We were there for the Saskatoons (that have another 7-10 days left of prime time).

  • Saskatoons
  • Raspberries
  • Cherries
  • Haskaps
  • Plums
  • Gooseberries
  • Rhubarb

When you arrive you receive a bucket and bag to wear for your picking. Picking the berries was very easy, since the berry bushes grow quite high the adults got the top of the bush and the kids picked the bottom.

M ate more than he picked I’m sure. S was grabbing anything she could. She didn’t realize you could eat the berries until supper that evening.

To fill our 5 lb bucket it took 30-40 minutes. They bag your berries before you leave and weigh what you picked (pay what you pick).

We seem to never deny ice cream, so we ordered some treats from the Urban Escape Café. They mostly feature sweet treats, and vanilla soft serve. The fresh berries used in our order were delicious. There were picnic tables outside for us to sit at (bonus – they had umbrellas for shade).

We checked out the chickens and roosters before again before we left. They also offer 2 seasonal cabins { Orchard View Bed and Breakfast }.

Check out their website and Facebook page for more info and up to date berry reports. This is definitely a Moose Jaw gem.

Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park – Camping

June 2021

Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park is located 45 minutes north of Swift Current on Lake Diefenbaker. Sask Landing offers hiking, beach, playgrounds, golf, mini golf, boating, fishing, equestrian camping, and I’m sure there’s more.

Our first camping trip of summer 2021 – 4 nights, the maiden voyage for our new in 2006 tent trailer.

We were tired before we even left.

It took approximately 8 hours to pack the vehicle. I keep telling myself it’ll get better, but with S still being little she really needs the extra gear. We were engineering a way to fit everything in the most strategic and efficient way.

  • Hiking backpack – definitely needed. We completed all 3 hikes that Sask Landing offers. This ended up being S’s nap time.
  • Stroller – Needed for S to go to sleep. A couple laps each night and she was out.
  • Bikes – fun for the kids to bike to the playground or do laps around the campground loop.

We booked a site at the Riverside campground loop for a few reasons:

  • Smaller and quieter – The kids need to work on a lot of safety items (road safety, bike safety, water safety, fire safety), so the less traffic the better. We could see the playground from our site, so they could also play independently when we were making meals or cleaning up (except S , she cannot be trusted).
  • Trees – The opposite of lakeside sites seemed to be more treed than the other campground loops. The sites were close together and tagged as semi-private which was an accurate description of our site.
  • The view/ beach access – we chose a site on the opposite of the lakide – once again for safety. The water was low, so it would be quite a jaunt for the kids to make it to the water. The beach was accessible and nice for beach toy play. Looking at the lake and the rolling hills in golden hour was a treat every night.

The Riverside loop had a brand new service centre that was shared with the Nighthawk campground. The service centre and other washrooms were all very clean.

We didn’t really have any plans other than that I wanted to complete all the hikes. It worked out that we would do a hike each day (in the morning- this is when they are their best selves) and the kids would could choose the afternoon activity. We chose to do the hikes from the longest to shortest. The kids definitely struggled on some parts of all of them. They might hate hiking when they are older.

Prairie Vista Trail

On our first full day we completed the Prairie Vista Trail in the morning, and went to the beach in the afternoon. There was not a soul in site at the beach. The Cottonwood beach area is beautiful. There are large trees, green space, and a playground. The water was low, so for us it was more of a muddy bottom, but there is lovely sand and it would be prime as the water rises. The kids didn’t care and still played.

Cottonwood Beach

Our second day we completed the Ruts and Remnants trail. Their afternoon activity choice was marina mini golf. Ty had the brilliant idea of biking there. It took an hour to bike 4.5 km to the marina. The trail path through the campground to the marina was great, but a lot of work (hilly) for the kids (especially after the morning hike). We have learned that mini golf isn’t usually fun for us with the children, and this time wasn’t any different. S had a death grip on my ball and club as she walked the course. The boys would skip ahead or play all the balls. Ty and I cannot have a friendly competition in these conditions!

Marina Mini Golf

I didn’t think we would ever make it back from the longest bike ride of my life. We stopped at the store for ice cream and energy. 3 km hiked, and 9 km biked was a lot, they were exhausted. We were quite proud of them.

On our final full day, also Father’s Day, the kids slept in (must have been that 12 km of activity the day before). We completed the Ridges and Ravines trail, and had to have celebratory ice cream as we completed the final trail. S also lost her hat somewhere along the way, so I had the pleasure of completing the hike twice – good news – found her hat. We played in the sand at the Riverside Campground in the afternoon.

One thing we do when visiting provincial parks is check out all the campgrounds. It’s usually a time where the kids also sleep, and they (we) need that. We were checking out the equestrian campgrounds for horses and to my surprise there were a few! We checked again the next day and counted 15 horses. We went out to say hello to them, and also caught a family returning from a trail ride, so we said hi to them (and their horses too).

Campground Summaries:

The Bearpaw and Sagebrush camp sites had some trees, were more open, but also more spacious. There’s a loop in Sagebrush that houses some treed- and private sites. I imagine those are a hot commodity. Bearpaw sites along the water were nice. There was also a small campground beach area. Nighthawk campground was quiet, fewer sites, fairly open. The service centre is shared with the Riverside Campground.

Bison Hollow and Prairie Meadow are closer the main beach area along the water. Quite open, some trees. Prairie Meadows offers group camping sites. There are no showers in these areas.

If you have any questions regarding Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park please reach out in the contact me section.

Information from Sask Tourism is linked here.