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Published: August 21st 2019
We enjoyed a pleasant sunny day in Duluth, and our next stop was Bemidji, which was a fun city. On to East Grand Forks, MN, just across the river from Grand Forks, SD. The Red River there is both friend and foe: years ago it flooded out a residential community, so they built the Red River State Recreation Area, including a campground. And this year, the park could not open until June because of repeat flooding.
The next day, John's birthday, August 11, we crossed the border into Canada and went to Winnipeg, Manitoba. A somewhat adventurous trip, as we were searched at the border and then encountered almost nonstop construction and rough roads to Winnipeg. We ventured into the city next day to visit The Forks, a lively pedestrian area at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red River of the North, and the Human Rights Museum. And then, we dined at an Indian buffet, John's choice for his birthday feast.
Another two long days of driving, on into Saskatchewan, where tourist information was evasive. We drove into a very small town and a couple of nice ladies told us we had to go to the Qu'Appelle Valley. So we obeyed them and stayed at a wonderful provincial park with a view out over the valley and its lakes. John acquiesced to my plea to stay two days, as I was very tired of long driving days.
We drove on to the capital, Regina (long i sound). We were very impressed by the Mountie Museum, tracing the evolution of the RCMP from the Northwest Mounted Police, and describing their rigorous six month training. That night we stayed in Moose Jaw. We had a funky meal in that very funky town. And our tow car was broken into during the night. Nothing of value, but we will now bother to lock! Onward, and we are now in Alberta. John is spending much time trying to make reservations for the next couple of weeks, around Banff.
In Duluth, we went down to the riverfront (tourist) area. Beautiful sunny day, lots of families. We watched the middle of the bridge rise to let through a 750' boat. (Last time in this city, we drove way away to see one of the 1000' ore boats, so 750' was not a big, big deal.) We jumped at the chance to eat Chicago hot dogs, but they were not really up to snuff.
My expectations of Manitoba and Saskatchewan have been partly met, and I have partly been surprised. I expected endless flat land with grains growing endlessly. We saw plenty of that, but also hills and valleys. The towns are lively. I had wanted John to take a photo of me standing in front of infinite fields, but we didn't find a spot - there are too many tree breaks (brakes?) to interrupt the view. Lots of bales of hay, but we didn't see many cows until the last couple of days. (There was a barn fire while we were in Winnipeg, where 800 of their 1000 cows perished.) There were even occasional hay bales in the medians. We wondered if there is a new breed of corn, because fields had very short stalks even now in mid-August. We saw a wonderful field dense with sunflowers - John estimated it was one by one-half miles. The soil was so dark; it has to be very rich.
We had a problem with the metric system. We were headed along a road when we met a sign warning about the metric height of a bridge ahead. We pulled over to calculate our comparative height and realized we were too tall, so we had to drive back into a town and along the highway. John now figures that we need four meters to be safe.
And the time zone was a problem when we entered Saskatchewan. I thought we had lost an hour, but our maps said that Sask is in the same time zone as Manitoba. Finally we learned that they keep the same time year round, so indeed we needed to set our watches back an hour.
But our silliest problem was at the border. John was in a bit too mellow of a mood, I guess. They asked how long we planned to be in Canada, and he said, "One week. Or maybe two or three..." Then, how much alcohol on board. "Two boxes." How much in a box?? " around five liters, or maybe four." By this time, they were wondering if Canada wanted to admit these numbnuts, so we had to pull over and be searched. The whole RV, including the compartments blow, then the Corolla, even the trunk. Finally, they shooed us on.
The Forks area in Winnipeg was so nice. A very large enclosed market area where you could get absolutely any kind of meal. Several performance venues, walking trails. And it was near the Human Rights Museum, which was quite an experience. It is very unusual architecture, winding around and around and topped by a tower with a view over all the city. John was reminded of the Guggenheim; I thought of Gaudi's Barcelona creations. Inside there was a special exhibit dedicated to Nelson Mandela. Huge photos, stands where we could read exhaustive info. The climb to the regular exhibit area was very, very long; every time we rounded a corner, there was only more ramp. I think a person would need a year's pass to be able to digest as much information as that museum contains. Fortunately, though there was abundant information about infringements of human rights, there were tributes to many heroic people who had stood firm to win/uphold rights.
"Notoriously" Moose Jaw was a quirky fun town. They pride themselves for having been a base for Al Capone during Prohibition. You could take a tunnel tour below the main street to view the speakeasy locations. Many tales of very shady characters.
I guess I will stop now. I'm in a MacDonalds, and my milk shake is nearly gone. John is napping in the RV, and we will soon head on to Lethbridge. Wifi and tv are not easy to find up here. But, wow, have we ever had sunny warm weather, so pleasant for travel.
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