Our night at the truck stop just past the Manitoba border treated us to one of the most spectacular thunderstorms I’ve seen in a long time. Most times there were mere seconds between lightning flashes, and the rain was so heavy, you could hardly hear the thunder inside Lonestar. Luckily, we had unloaded the bike just as the first drops came down, so except for loading Buddy wet the next morning (which just makes for a bit of a muddy floor), no harm done. I’ve always enjoyed thunderstorms. I figure if it’s gotta rain, you might as well get some entertainment out of it.
I Can See For Miles and Miles
We continued on our way in the morning, heading toward Winnipeg. Growing up in a valley, I found it so strange that you can see the skyline of Winnipeg from so far away due to the flatness of the country around it. Mike laughed at me and cracked a joke about his dog running away and watching it go for three days.
I really didn’t know what to expect in Winnipeg. All I’ve ever seen of it has been news stories about how bloody cold it gets there in the winter. Probably doesn’t place it in the best light for tourism. What I found was a bustling, friendly little city with great shopping, pretty residential areas and some really stunning architecture. I even found myself on Valour Road. If you grew up in Canada, you’ll remember this Heritage Minute from the Canadian Film Board.
We hit Costco for supplies, and spent the rest of the day checking RV lots for toy haulers. As mentioned earlier, we have to put Buddy out at night so we have enough room to sleep. Admittedly, the constant loading and unloading every night and morning is beginning to wear on us. If we were somewhere that we could stay for more than a night, like we’re planning to do this winter down south, then it wouldn’t be as much of an issue. But right now, the shine is beginning to wear off, so we’ve begun shopping for a model that will give us a dedicated bed space and also allow us to keep Buddy inside at night. This would be an added boon those nights when you’re unsure of the neighborhood you’re parked in.
Anyway, we spoke to a couple of very nice salesmen, and found a couple of possibilities, but either a bit too pricey or a bit too heavy. Some days it’s a pain in the ass to be so fussy.
Third Time’s The Charm
We hit three different Wal-Marts in Winnipeg before we found one we felt would work. The first was in a major commercial district with an unreal amount of traffic, and the amount of bars and nightclubs around promised that the noise wouldn’t die down anytime early. No go.
The second seemed okay, with one side of the parking lot well away from the road and a few RV’s already in place for the night. But when we walked into the store to pick up a few items for supper, we were bombarded with signage telling us to be ready to show our receipt upon exiting. I’d never had to do this anywhere else but Costco and one electronics store in Texas.
As we were going through the cash, Mike jokingly asked the cashier if this was becoming a policy of Wal-Mart or if it was just a bad neighborhood. She simply shrugged, never cracked a smile and muttered “…Had to do something…” Enough said. We moved on to number three, had a great night’s sleep and hit the road in the morning.
Getting Our Ducks In a Row
Brandon ended up being our next overnight stop. Here we found a fantastic little information center that doubled as a Ducks Unlimited Park, and came complete with a free RV dump station and fresh potable water. Can’t ask for more than that. I even managed to snag a Manitoba magnet for the fridge collection. I’m trying to pick up one for each province/state we visit, although unfortunately I missed ones for New York and Ontario. I’m a bit outside of the norm for tourist season, and I wanted ones with just the province name, not any particular city. There I go being fussy again. Oh well, next time.
So, after spending the night in Brandon, we decide to get laundry done before we leave town. We located a laundromat, and began to laugh. As well as a sign posted on the front door forbidding “oil riggers clothing”, we spotted the following posted above the dryers:
Guess we’ve really arrived in the West.
We continued into Saskatchewan, where we stopped at a little rest area for lunch. While I was making coffee and tea, Mike roamed around a bit, where he found this historic marker:
The marker reads: Near this marker you can still see the ruts created by wagons and Red River Carts as they traveled along the historic trail from Fort Ellice to Fort Qu’Appelle. This early highway was the major link in the system of trails which connected Fort Garry with fur trade posts throughout the prairie west. From the 1830’s cart trains carrying furs and provisions regularly passed this way. Many famous explorers and adventurers used this trail: Palliser, Hector, Hind and the Earl of Southesk among them.
You actually could see the wagon ruts still in the ground (marked by the red arrow). Really amazing, and rather humbling as we took a look at the landscape we were standing in. What a struggle it must have been, trying to drag everything you needed with you, in large, bulky wagons, over rough country and in unforgiving weather. Kind of made me ashamed of complaining about loading and unloading the bike. Sure puts things in perspective fast.