3 Tips For a Prairie Staycation

lake of the prairies

Summer vacation doesn’t start for another couple weeks but we caught the holiday fever anyway. Fortunately, it was a no-packing, no-reservations, no-travel-required kind of vacation bug. And even though loved ones hailing from more populous centres have described our town (and even our province) as “the middle of nowhere”, we found enough entertainment to keep us busy during our three-day staycation. Here are the pictures, and tips, to prove it.

Tip #1: Find a Fishing Hole

Or, more importantly, find someone like the Puckett family to take you to their fishing hole. Our kind and generous friends have forever ruined angling for my daughters, who don’t realize fishing actually means “waiting for nothing to happen” for most people.  They now expect a day on the lake to yield 100 walleye, elk sausage over a fire, and Shelly’s perfectly fried fish.

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Susanna’s double; two pickerel from one cast

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Ainsly and Belén exploring the creek

Like the rest of life, we pay a price for our idyllic outing. This time it’s ticks. Once I realize we’re dealing with plague-like proportions, I promise the child who pulls off the most ticks will be the first to dig into our Snickers stash. This buoys morale for a short time but we take our sights off the prize and onto each others scalps and naked bodies after some of us strip in desperation; modesty becomes superfluous when nature reminds you that survival, or even comfort, cannot be taken for granted. Oh, and the competition? Susanna won with a whopping 59 ticks.

Tip #2: Find a Beach

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On day 2 we head to another lake for some dune-jumping and a picnic. The kids act like it’s summer or something, and spend most of the day in and out of the water, forgetting the ice melted only 3 weeks prior. At the end of the afternoon I voice my concern about not applying sunblock on my girls, pointing out their red legs, while watching them play in the lake.

“It’s more likely a sign of hypothermia than a burn,” comments another mother. She’s right, and though no one suffers from exposure we still build a fire on the beach.

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An educational moment with Shelly: every child strikes a match in an effort to light our paperless fire.

Tip #3: Pretend You’re Somewhere Else

If all else fails–if you’re not outdoorsy, or your definition of a holiday precludes arachnids and icy water–get outta the bush and head to town. Any town will work as long as you have a vivid imagination. On our third and final day of our staycation we decide we’re in Manhattan. We invite Grandma along for the walking tour since it’s her birthday, and because we know she’ll be game for a little pretending.

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We sent my mom this brochure ahead of time to get her prepared.

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We start the day with a b-day breakfast at home, inspired by Chez Cora’s.

Susanna jumps into the tourist role immediately, attempting a British accent that sounds more like she’s hearing impaired. Wielding the the camera like a machine gun she fires off shots in rapid succession and, at one point, launches herself off the curb and into the street for a better angle. Suddenly I’m relieved we’re not actually in New York but in our prairie town where the streets have enough room for errant pedestrians.

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We stop at all the boutiques we never have time for, all 4 of them, and then head to the art gallery. It’s no Guggenheim but we linger in each room, all 2 of them, and read the bio of every single artist. Then it’s time for lunch and Grandma’s first experience at a sushi restaurant. Susanna warns her vehemently about the wasabi while Belén orders edamame and a dynamite role like she’s a twenty-something from Greenwich Village.

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Susie, trying on stilettos, with my mom at a vintage boutique.

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Tasting infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars

Now it’s back to school and work until the end of June. Our staycation invigorated us during the final countdown and reminded us that a holiday doesn’t have to be expensive or exotic. If you, too, find yourself in the “middle of nowhere” with no ticket out, don’t be dismayed. Resist the temptation to look elsewhere for excitement. It’d be a pity to miss the fish, beaches, and boutiques in your own backyard. Ticks and all.

Tricia

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