Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 6–Kenora to Brandon part 1

I usually do some of my blog writing as we are driving down the road, but the Manitoba highways are not that smooth. In fact they are down right rough.

 

We got another early start – on the road by 7:30 – and made our way out of Kenora, dodging deer as we drove. There were some beautiful lakes as we left the area. It wasn’t long before the terrain started to change. It slowly got flatter with less rock and smaller trees. We were getting close to Manitoba!

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As we drove away from Lake of the Woods I reminisced about childhood memories of spending time with the Crowsons at their cottage. Ski-dooing, skiing, boating.

The landscape really started changing, and the weather – I could tell we were getting close to the open sky of the prairies, and started getting choked up in anticipation. And then… there it was. The trees just stopped and there was wide open land and huge blue sky. Although (or maybe because) I was tearing, I felt a lift of my spirit, as if it were suddenly set free. I love those open views.

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Just after, we pulled off the road into Ste. Anne, a little town just off the highway, to fill up our empty tank. I had to laugh as in the gas station bathroom was one of those old fashioned rolling towel hand driers. Gross, but quaint. I haven’t seen one of those for years and years. It was the cheapest diesel in a long time – 120.9

Cue the 70s music.

I looked at my map and sure enough, just to the south and west of us was the little town of Gruthal. That’s where I used to ride all those years ago (I know I’ve gone on and on about Rainbow Ridge in earlier posts so I won’t again.)

From there is was a short drive to the perimeter highway of Winnipeg. I entertained bored Carm with all the memories of my youth that came flooding back. All my grade school years were spent in Manitoba. I was about 6 when we moved to Rivers (just 30 min north of where we are now). After two years we moved to Portage la Prairie, actually Southport was where the base was (we passed just a few miles north). That was for grade 3 and 4. Next stop was Winnipeg until I finished grade 8 (except for part of 6 when we lived in England). We passed just a few miles from our Winnipeg house when we merged off the perimeter highway back onto the Trans Canada.

So there were lots of memories. Lots. Some were just snapshots in my head. Passing over the bridge of the Assiniboine River, the bee place that we always stopped at on our way to Hartney where my Great grandparents lived. walking to school in Winnipeg, the swimming pool in Rivers,

Some were more feelings, like the feeling of freedom I had as I rode around rural Manitoba on my bike. That feeling of summer (strangely I don’t recall the winters very strongly).

Some were sound memories – like the time I was walking up the road towards Portage Avenue with my transistor radio and Wings Uncle Albert was playing. I can see the tall trees that lined the road and feel the heat of the summer day. Or the music of Pilot playing Magic as I read in the tent set up in the backyard. I can smell the hot canvas.

All these memories swirled in my head as we drove along.

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After we got through Winnipeg it was smooth rough sailing until we found a turnoff for a picnic area just around Portage. There weren’t any facilities, but that didn’t matter as we travel with our own. I finally got to use the picnic blanket that I brought back from NZ.

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At one of the stop lights, a car came along side us and rolled down his window. He shouted up to us that we have a nice rig and that he’s enjoyed driving along behind for many miles. Friendly. Oh yea, the licence plate is “Friendly Manitoba” – I guess they are right! He was on his way to Alberta too.

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see part 2 for rest of day…