Manitoba Ramblings

We ‘re back on the road after a quick stop at Tasty’s, a restaurant off the Trans Canada Hwy, outside of Virden, MB, which is just west of Brandon. And yes, they serve a darn tasty burger.

We didn’t leave Kenora, ON, until close to 10 a.m. today. There was an unexpected delay at Tim Horton’s, what with a burnt bagel with no butter, a bagel not toasted enough, forgotten orange juices, and questions from the cashier about the size of our travel mugs. She didn’t know whether to charge us for medium or large teas. Why does tea come in different sizes? You only ever get one tea bag.

The drive through Manitoba has been surprisingly flat; for some reason, I thought it didn’t get flat until Saskatchewan. Shows what I know. Though I have to say that blasting Winnipeg’s 92.1 CITI FM radio station helps with the monotony of the landscape, especially when we’re grooving to the “Rock Block,” which features tunes from the likes of ACDC, Aerosmith, and Scorpion.

Anyway, here’s a quick recap of what Trevor and I have noticed/seen/experienced since leaving Kenora:

  • we crossed into Manitoba at 10:53 a.m. Doing this made it feel like we were really getting somewhere. It took so long to get out of Ontario.
  • we crossed the longitudinal centre of Canada at 11:59 a.m.
  • it feels weird to be the only Ontario plates in Manitoba. I’m sure there are others, but we haven’t seen any. And since leaving Toronto, we haven’t seen another car with bikes on the roof.
  • we decided to drive through downtown Winnipeg instead of going around, and the city is really quite beautiful. Trevor wants to check out the parliament buildings on the way home as they were built like a pagan temple by masons. Oh, and we missed the intersection of Portage and Main.
  • 2 toilet bowls about 20 feet off the highway…being used as planters
  • tons of flooding on either side of the highway. The picture below doesn’t adequately represent it, but the land was covered in water. We thought this was maybe normal (?) until we heard on the radio that a crazy rainstorm hit on the weekend, with over 500 houses severely flooded, as well as a few roads and a highway. Estimated damage is $1,000,000.

  • what looked like a circus caravan in the slow lane on the highway. This is what Trevor and I can agree on: 1. there were four people in their early twenties – 3 men and 1 woman. 2. one man was really tall, like close to Guinness Book of World Records tall. 3. the first guy in line was pushing a shopping cart. And then this is where we differ: I thought the woman was pushing a baby carriage; Trevor thought it was another shopping cart. I thought the tall man was shirtless; Trevor thought he wore a tank top. I also thought the shorter guy was shirtless; Trevor couldn’t recall. I guess we wouldn’t make very good eyewitnesses.
  • radio show signs: they’re all along the highway telling drivers what stations to tune into to get the local radio show. But our beef is, how come there are no signs telling us how we can get CBC Radio? Shouldn’t this be a given? I mean, it’s our national broadcaster. We’re left fiddling with the dial.

3:57 p.m.

Ah! We just saw a bike on top of a car, with a kayak, too. Illinois plates. Oh! And minutes later we spotted a bicyclist loaded down with bags, with a cart attached to the back of his bike.

We were racing the train below when we were in Saskatchewan. (Okay, not really.)

Wawa Didn’t Want Us

We’ve run into a lot of bugs on the highway.

Bugs don't look too bad in this photo.

See why I was making an “ew” face:

You should see our bikes. Yuck.

Anyway, it was getting late last night (around 11 p.m.); we had driven over 900 km and we had to decide to push on through the night or stop in Wawa and find a place to sleep. We decided to stop at the Wawa Motor Lodge, a nice-looking motel with a Vacancy sign, and pulled in, only to be told they didn’t have any rooms left. So we go outside, notice all the Hydro One pick-up trucks in the parking lot, and deduce that it was the drivers of these vehicles who had taken all the rooms. The lady at the counter told us to drive a short ways down the main Wawa drag, so that’s what we did. No vacancy anywhere! We must’ve looked at eight motels. Everything was packed, even the parking lot of the Wawa legion. Who would’ve thought that Wawa was such a jumping place? So we left. (No car troubles, Laura P!)

We drove another 91 km to a place called White River and found a motel there. Trevor asked if there was a CAA discount and the lady said, “I already gave you the 2 for 1 special.” Huh? Aren’t two people usually allowed to stay in one motel room? No matter. It was clean, and the bed was super comfy. The only thing is that she never gave us/we never asked for the Internet password, which is why I didn’t post yesterday.

We’re driving by all sorts of signs on the highway, and some of them have very strange names. My favourite so far is Baldhead River. That’s right. Baldhead River. I had to double-check with Trevor that I saw the sign correctly. I couldn’t get that name out of my head. How does a river get such a name? Was it a bald-headed man who discovered it? Is it a place where bald-headed people congregate? And how many bald-headed men have had their pictures taken in front of the sign for a laugh? Call me crazy, but I need to know this. I will Google Baldhead River when I get the chance, but it’s probably something as simple as there being lots of smooth round rocks on shore. We couldn’t tell at the time because it was dark.

Trevor just noticed a sign for Yellow Brick Road, but we decided not to follow it.

Look carefully and you just might see a Trevor.

1:30 p.m.

We’re coasting down a majorly long hill, and what do we see? A man in one of those low-to-the-ground bikes (the kind that looks like you’re reclining on the sofa) pedalling up the hill. Man, now that’s what you call an up-hill battle. Ha, ha. Who knows how long he’d been at it. He definitely looked like he was struggling; his bike was wobbling back and forth. He must’ve been on some sort of cross-country journey as his bike was loaded down with bags. This reminds me, we’ve seen three other bikers (riding regular bikes) on the highways. I wonder where they’re all headed.

We stopped at a place called Stillwater where they were selling all sorts of amethysts. Trevor picked out two for the car, and they’re now sitting on our dashboard.

11 p.m.

Checked into a Days Inn, and finally able to upload posts. Tomorrow we’re hoping to drive about 1000 km to Swift Current, Saskatchewan. And the next day’s target is Trevor’s friend Rob’s place in Calgary.

On the Road

3:30 p.m.

Here’s the first official BC Bound entry, and I’m writing it in a word doc on my laptop as we pass through Parry Sound. We bought this neat inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter, which we can plug our laptops and cell phones into. Yay. So we can write on the way.

We got out of the house by noon, which was our revised departure time seeing as how the ridiculously early hour of 5 a.m. just wasn’t going to happen, especially when we were still sorting through our camping gear around 11 p.m. We tend to be notorious over packers (especially Trevor, which he freely admits) so it was hard to whittle everything down.

The back end of the car is a little low...

Can you believe we’ve already had our first missed exit snafu? The 400 of all things, but we sorted it out. No thanks to the Michelin Road Atlas, though, which had Dixon Rd in the wrong spot. This worries us slightly as this is the map book we were planning on following for our entire trip!

I think this was before the missed exit.

Oh, and we had our first random person meeting. We stopped in Parry Sound for gas, then a washroom break at the Golden Arches, and ran into Thom, someone I used to work with at TVO. What are the chances? Turns out he, his wife, daughter, and sister were visiting family. So we had a nice chat and then headed our separate ways, with promises to get together in the future.

In the evening, we passed through Lake Superior Provincial Park, a place I had never visited, but Trevor had been to with his good friend Pat. Wow. Talk about beautiful. We were driving by as the sun was setting over the lake, and the colours were spectacular. The water looked like it belonged in the French Polynesia – pinks and blues and yellows. We’re definitely camping here on the way back.

Lake Superior from the car.

Departure Time: One Day

Holy cow. We’re leaving tomorrow. And our To-do lists are still way too long. Maybe we should stop adding to them…

Today is all about last-minute supplies. I think I should find that stack of Cdn. Tire money and put it to good use for once.