After work on Friday the 13th, I set out to Jackfish Lodge in Saskatchewan, the site of a board/management planning session.
Each participant had been provided, about a month earlier, with a description of the facility and a website address for more information. More recently, we received a photocopy of a Saskatchewan road map. The map had two alternate routes highlighted in yellow and a black dot to indicate the Lodge. Unfortunately, the dot and the destination were not the same.
Let’s just say, at the outset, that I made two tactical errors. First, I did not take the phone number of the Lodge. And second, I thought I saw a possible shortcut on the map.
Outside of Lloydminster, I took Secondary 303, jogged north on 21, and then went back to Secondary 303 to hit Turtleford. I then headed south to Edam. Now things began to get interesting. The lady erecting garage sale signs on the highway directed me to proceed a few more miles down the road.
To say the signage in Saskatchewan leaves a little to be desired is to be extremely kind. Actually, the signage sucks big-time! Not only are the grid roads not marked, even highway signs are few and far between. Soon, I’m driving into a farmer’s yard. I’m confronted with two big dogs and a big, big man standing too close and leering. He’s the first person to tell me that Jackfish Lodge is in the Battlefords Provincial Park. This is a critical piece of information.
His directions get me closer to the Park. Eventually, I stop my car in the middle of the road and ask two natives fishing in a creek for more help. “Keep going,” they say “and watch for the sign.” Hah!
When I finally come upon the elusive sign, it directs me to take the next right turn. Next right takes me into an Indian Reserve. In the second yard I visit, I come across three young boys swinging golf clubs. They’re probably 10 to 12 years of age. “How do I find Jackfish Lodge?” I ask. They don’t seem particularly sure in their responses. “Go to the place with the flower.” [It turns out that there’s a flower on the Provincial Park sign.] “Then what?” I say. “Go past the place where the lady looks you over.” [The park entrance booth, perhaps?] “Then what?” Now, they’re getting impatient. “Just follow the signs,” they say as they turn back to their game.
Very soon, I find the park (no thanks to any signs, though). The Park hasn’t officially opened for the season, so there’s no one to look me over or answer any more questions. As I come to a fork in the road, I veer right and decide to follow the Core Area Services sign. Good guess. I eventually find the Lodge much to the relief of everyone there.
At breakfast, I learn that everyone except the CEO (who had been there before) had also gotten lost. Jackfish Lodge — one of Saskatchewan’s best-kept secrets, from where I sit.
*Reprinted with permission