of course, i speak of mac – the venerable moose mascot that stands just north of the tim hortons on thatcher in my home town of moose jaw. mom jokingly previewed the moose’s abundant concrete testicles to mandy, and so we just had to go check him (them) out while there. despite the gale force winds that swept across the prairie that day, it was a successful trip to say the least. the kids cameron and abby ran wildly around the moose pretending to be swept away by the gusts that really just annoyed the rest of us. they had fun…

the trip – i have to admit – was by far the best trip home i have had. mom and gord (poppa)’s house is comfortable and inviting and despite having never been to visit mom in her new home, it felt just like home anyway. well, upgrade mom’s old crappy tv with a big screen surround sound, a media center and an xbox 360, it was just like it should have been.

the journey there was fun: me, driving and being fed timbits by the dozen by my trusty navigator mandy ( who really didn’t care if we got lost ), rachel ( who was awake for about 13 minutes of the 16 hour drive there), lily (who tried to wake rachel when she wasn’t napping herself) and cameron and abby who entertained themselves with hours of pictochat on thier nintendos and stuffing thier faces silly with the cooler of snacks that lay between them. while the kids took a morning nap on the second day, we stopped for a quick break outside of fernie that was absolutely breath-taking and spotted what mandy is convinced was an elk but i’m pretty sure it was a deer about 1/4 mile away in a clearing. that was the first of many deers, foxes, elk, horses, cows, bison, emus, llamas and other creatures along the way we spotted. i’m pretty sure the kids were sick of hearing ‘look kids, cows!’ by the 3rd hour of alberta.

nonetheless we made it to nanna’s house on time and were greeted with a fridge full of my favorite beer and a warm rodo’s pizza, as thick as your neck and as greasy as a frenchman. we spent the first few days catching up with mom as gord was visiting his father in ontario for the weekend. it was nice to have her all to ourselves i have to say and i think she enjoyed the chaos of chasing around 3 kids (plus rachel who also did alot of chasing herself when she wasnt’ playing assassins creed or napping).

i miss the little things about home. i miss the smell of the air before a big storm. i miss the deafening silence of the prarie sitting in a car at the side of the road at night. i miss the assortment of snacks (and yes mandy we’ll get you the box of bounty bars shipped in ASAP). i miss sitting around a fire and talking about really nothing at all.  but mostly i miss the most important things:  cameron spending even just a little time with his (great) uncle mitch. zipping around buffalo pound in his ailing golf cart for the thrill of cam and abby. mitch silencing camerons cries after getting bumped in the noggin with an offer to ‘go kill a woodpecker with this slingshot?’. priceless lessons… i will miss watching lily dote and incessently flirt with her uncle dustin – truly i’ve never seen her put on a show like she does for my brother. she’ll plop herself down in front of him, staring at him, smiling at him, making sure she is the center of his attention until he gives it to her, which only encourages her more. and little ben, getting to meet him for the first time was so great. he’s so chubby and cute, so quiet and expressive and he’s got such an adorable toothy smile that just makes me want to grab his little cheeks and never let go.

a week was definitely not enough. (although mom might say otherwise – i’m pretty sure she slept for 2 days after we left). sleeping in while nanna whips up a breakfast for the kids and keeps them entertained. mandy would rise early too and would sit out in the backyard with nanna, drinking coffee and chatting like a couple old ladies lol. after everyone was adequately bathed (the shower broke before we got there), we’d head out for our days adventure. to the beach, to the mall, to the tunnels of moose jaw. on the grand regina tour where we drove by just about every significant landmark of my childhood. we even stopped at my old elementary school and let the kids play while i sneaked a peek in the windows of my old classroom. then by thom collegiate, and finally by the university. our house on mclean st. the gibbs on stewart (and sheldons and cunninghams and goulds). pat and carls place on mcgillivray. a whirlwind tour to be sure but it was great and i needed it. for posterity, mandy’s camera snapped happily at every post and back alley, every house and school, every building that we passed that i mentioned.

this was also the first canada day i’d spend in canada in some 13 years, which was special to me. we went down to wakamow, surrounded by moose-jawians adorned in red and white, eating hotdogs and shaved ice. the kids jumping on huge inflatable hamburgers and forts. mandy searching for 4 leaf clovers in the park while gord tried patiently to get lily to cross the bouncy bridge on the play structure. then, a fantastic meal at the burger cabin made especially comfy by the fenced park/eating area complete with swings and play cars for the tykes, and a nice view of the river next to us. we never did make it back to the cabin during our trip but its definitely on the agenda for next year…

at dusk a day or so later, the familiar dark clouds began to roll in and the air gets sweet with the smell of rain. flashes of lightening flicker in the distance and its the perfect time to go watch the storm. gord draws a quick map and mandy and i hit the road. out on hwy 363 we make our way to the top of the largest hill outside the city, where you can see the flickering lights of moose jaw perfectly. and in the distance surrounding the city, a singular black cloud, darkening the picturesque horizon. the radio warns us of possible ‘tornadic activity’ but the amazing forked blasts of lightening that i haven’t seen in such a long time make me want to stay. mandy gets quiet and pensively suggests that we return to the city, which we do – probably the smart thing when the radio is suggesting people get inside thier homes and go to the basement as nickle-sized hail is approaching with this massive storm front. it rained a bit on our way back but that night we never actually got the storm, which veered off after midnight much to our dismay.

the week flew by, so quick that even though we ran out of things to do, i could have spent so much more time there just doing nothing more than hanging out at mitch’s cabin watching movies, going fishing, hanging out with my buds james and mike again, or doing nothing at all. maybe next year we’ll take 2 full weeks…all in all it was exactly what a vacation should be. time with family and friends, reconnecting and making sure that despite the old saying, sometimes, you can go home again 🙂