After more than 7,000 km of driving, going across four provinces and through nine States, I am back into the swing of things and it didn’t take me long to realize that September is one of the busiest months of the year in the sporting world.
For my birthday I decided to do something a bit different — some might say excessive — but I went on a tour to visit some buddies while also getting to see some areas I have never been to.
I left Prince Albert early on the morning of Aug. 29 and drove all the way to Kelowna to see my good friends Ken and Kathy Karasiuk. While en route, another good friend of mine – Rod Pedersen – gave me a call to be a guest on his radio talk show The Cage on 620 CKRM Radio in Regina. Rod is the voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but he wanted my take on how the Prince Albert Raiders would look this year so for 10 minutes I pulled over on the side of the highway and had a chat about hockey. Was pretty cool actually!
In Kelowna I did a variety of things. Since retiring as a policeman, Ken has taken on a number of jobs one of which is maintaining the estate of Boston Pizza co-founder George Melville (not the one on Dragon’s Den, but his partner). So, the first morning I am in the Okanogan we head out to this beautiful place and I push a lawn mower for a couple hours to help him out. When done that chore, Ken gives me a tour and I discovered real quick that having millions of dollars can buy you a lot of pretty cool things. What an amazing place.
The next day we got in a round of golf before the three of us headed out on the lake in their boat for a couple of days. So that is what you do when you are retired? We lazed around on the boat while moored to a buoy and when we were hot we just jumped in the lake. Several boats were anchored in the area and it appears that everyone makes it a regular outing as a couple from one of the nearby boats popped by for a visit and we did the same by hopping into a dingy and paddling over for refreshments.
From Kelowna I made the arduous journey to Denver to see Bob Hamley and his wife Lisa. Getting to Denver from the interior of B.C. isn’t that simple as it took more than 25 hours of driving, but I knew that before I left. It was during this time I saw some of the most beautiful country as the coloured cliffs of southern Utah and the road out of Aspen, Colorado, stand out in my memory.
Once in Denver, finding the Hamley’s was a bit difficult, but we finally hooked up and it was worth the effort getting there. We went to a ball game at Coors Field and watched the Rockies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers and also got in a round of golf. Again I got to meet other people as the last night I was there was the NFL season opener for the Denver Broncos and I quickly discovered that Americans, even transplanted Canadians like Bob and Lisa, are football crazy. It was unbelievable how that city tuned in to see the Broncos play.
The Hamleys surprised me with a birthday cake that final night and the next day I set out for Minneapolis to see an old high school buddy, Leo Zdrill. The drive to Minnesota was wrought with traffic snafus due to construction, but the overwhelming element was the heat. It was 105 F when driving through Nebraska and after being there once I can safely say that State has nothing to bring me back. Pretty boring!
In Minneapolis, which is one of the prettiest cities I have ever been to, the heat was again excessive, but I managed to get to an antique boat show on Lake Minnetonka and then another ball game. Target Field is just a couple of years old and what a beautiful facility. Seeing the Blue Jays kick the Twins was an added bonus, but I missed getting to see North Battleford’s Andrew Albers pitch for Minnesota by one day; would have loved to have seen that.
A neat thing that happened at the ball game was there were 40,000-plus people and just a few feet away from me were four people from Prince Albert. All are members of the Klassic Kruisers Kar Klub and Arne Lindberg in particular is a good friend of mine. We had a good laugh about bumping into each other way down there.
I did the long journey home in one day and now that I am here it is back to work big time. My editor said he was happy to have me back as he got a taste of how busy sports can be, but in all honesty, the hectic schedule is just beginning. This weekend for example has the Raiders and Mintos playing, the Bears are winding down their pre-season, both St. Mary and Carlton are hosting major volleyball tournaments and all of the football teams are in action. Throw in the Icehawks’ training camp and the start of indoor soccer and artistic gymnastics and you get the picture.
It’s good to be back, but I just have to remember to catch my breath. After all, I am another year older.
Dave Leaderhouse is a reporter with the Prince Albert Daily Herald.