Archive for Manitoba

Road Trip!!!

Day 55: Jun 8 – Winnipeg to Kenora

I left the hotel nice and early at 9am (early for me on vacation mode at least)!  And headed over to the Winnipeg airport to pick up a rental car.  This is the part where my cycling adventure becomes a road trip because quite frankly, cycling Northern Ontario solo TERRIFIES me for the following reasons:

1) Very remote – some towns (and accommodation options) are 100+ km apart.  Given I am only tracking about 70km a day, this means I would have had to guerrilla camp (camp on the side of the road) several times.

2) Narrow or non-existent paved shoulders on a highly trafficked road

3) Wildlife!  Pre-trip this fear was of bears, however mid-trip it has shifted to ticks! lol!

It took about an hour to pack all of my gear into the car, after which I ran some quick errands – groceries, food for dash, bank machine – and started heading east to Kenora!  About 100km out of Winnipeg the scenery started changing with more trees, rolling hills and rocks (signs of the Canadian Shield).  Another 50km or so and lakes started mixing in with the trees, rocks and hills as well!  This would have been a fantastic stretch to take in the scenery at the much slower speed of a bike and the shoulder was still relatively decent to ride on at this point (even though the highway does change from a 4 lane divided highway to a 2 lane highway).  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any one-way car rental options out of Kenora.  Oh well.  The scenery was still quite amazing to take in.

When I arrived at Kenora I quickly ditched my stuff at the hotel and headed down to the lake to dip my toes in and just absorb the view around me.

Dash's response when I tried to pack up her trailer in the rental car....it's a good sign that she still likes her trailer! lol!

Dash’s response when I tried to pack up her trailer in the rental car….it’s a good sign that she still likes her trailer! lol!

Ontario Border!

Ontario Border!

Trees, rocks, water - amazing scenery!

Trees, rocks, water – amazing scenery!

Dash finding a friend in the mirror...

Dash finding a friend in the mirror…

Lake of the Woods - Kenora

Lake of the Woods – Kenora

 

Day 56: Jun. 9 – Kenora to Thunder Bay

I spent a pleasant hour walking the waterfront of Kenora.  After this walk I then got back in the car and continued heading east.  In Dryden I stopped for a picnic lunch.  My only other real stop of the day was Kakabeka Falls before heading into Thunder Bay for the night.  The scenery really is phenomenal.  Trees, rocks, water and hills everywhere!

Husky the Musky in Kenora

Husky the Musky in Kenora

Kenora waterfront

Kenora waterfront

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So far I have only seen bears in statue form

So far I have only seen bears in statue form

Seaplane docks

Seaplanes at dock

Lack of the Woods in Kenora

Lack of the Woods in Kenora

Kenora wouldn't be complete without a train running through town

Kenora wouldn’t be complete without a train running through town

Dryden

Dryden

Ignace Fire Tower

Ignace Fire Tower

Bald Eagle statue in Ignace

Bald Eagle statue in Ignace

Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls

Me at Kakabeka Falls

Me at Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls

 

Day 57: Jun 10 – Thunder Bay to Wawa

I spent the first hour walking along the waterfront of Thunder Bay while listening to the sound of a ship slowly coming into port.  I say listening, ‘cuz it was very foggy this morning so I could only faintly make out the outline of the ship in the distance but I could certainly hear its horn! :)

After checking out Thunder Bay I was back in the car.  Next stop – the Terry Fox Statue.  It was just East of Thunder Bay that Terry Fox had to stop his cross country marathon due to a reoccurrence of cancer.  The statue stands on a bed of amethyst (found locally in the area), the determination that they have captured in Terry’s stance through the statue is quite spectacular.  I spent about 10 minutes here absorbing and reflecting in the moment.

Next stop for the day was Ouimet Canyon.  This was a recommendation from my parents and was pretty impressive to see – even if my view was somewhat limited by the fog around me!!

My next highlight of the day was seeing not one, not two, but three moose!  They were all on different sections of the highway, grazing.

My stop for the night was Wawa which is a cute little town inland from Lake Superior just a bit, on Wawa Lake.

My first view of Lake Superior - the haze in the middle is a ship slowly coming into port

My first view of Lake Superior – the haze in the middle is a ship slowly coming into port

Thunder Bay Port

Thunder Bay Port

Terry Fox statue

Terry Fox statue

Oiumet Canyon - through the fog!

Oiumet Canyon – through the fog!

River does a 90 degree turn at the falls

River does a 90 degree turn at the falls

A Moose!!!!

A Moose!!!!

A closer view of the moose

A closer view of the moose

So much green

So much green!

Now green with the highway running through it...

Now green with the highway running through it…

Wawa is ojibwa for 'wild goose' - they have a few goose statues in Wawa

Wawa is ojibwa for ‘wild goose’ – they have a few goose statues in Wawa

Here's another

Here’s another

Wawa lake

Wawa lake

 

Day 58: Jun. 11 – Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie

There were a few pull offs along the highway that called to me today, so I made a few stops.  The first stop was a beautiful beach view of lake superior, the second stop was at Agawa Rock which has some Indian Pictographs on the cliff – unfortunately the edge to this cliff is slanted and goes into Lake Superior – had it not been raining all morning I would have gone out to take a look at the pictographs, but with the slippery conditions I thought it best to pass this one over.  This decision was further supported when I slipped on a wet slanted rock on the trail back to the parking lot – fortunately there were other rocks to stop me from going into the lake! lol!  Another stop was at Aloma Bay pull over (a view of lake superior) and another stop at Chippewa Falls.  The stretch between Chippewa Falls and Wawa is known as “the gap” because it was the last stretch of the Trans Canada highway to be completed due to the rugged terrain and hard granite rock.  This stretch was completed in 1960 – I didn’t realize it was so recent that the trans canada highway was finished.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior with the fog coming in.  The fog actually made the scenery more dramatic!

Lake Superior with the fog coming in. The fog actually made the scenery more dramatic!

A family heading out on the canoe

A family heading out on the canoe

By Agawa Rock

By Agawa Rock

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Agawa Rock - this is the cliff edge that I opted not to walk out on to see the Indian Pictographs

Agawa Rock – this is the cliff edge that I opted not to walk out on to see the Indian Pictographs

They had three of these warnings along the 400m trail to Agawa Rock - third time means it's serious...

They had three of these warnings along the 400m trail to Agawa Rock – third time means it’s serious…

Here's the part of the trail that I slipped - the camera is straight, the trees and rocks are slanted...

Here’s the part of the trail that I slipped – the camera is straight, the trees and rocks are slanted…

Northern Ontario with the scene setting fog

Northern Ontario with the scene setting fog

Chippewa Falls

Chippewa Falls

 

Day 59: Jun. 12 – Sault Ste. Marie

I dropped off the rental car at the Sault Ste. Marie airport and got back on my bike for the 20km ride downtown.  It felt SOOO odd riding my bike without all the gear (just Dash with me for this ride)!  Getting downtown I headed over to Mary’s Island and Whitefish Island to check out the canal and lock.  This is the channel where Lake Superior and Lake Huron connect.  On my walk I learned that Sault Ste. Marie has an Emergency Swing Dam, one of only 9 that were built in the world and the only one that was actually put to use in an emergency:

Information on the Emergency Swing Dam in Sault Ste. Marie

Information on the Emergency Swing Dam in Sault Ste. Marie

Front page of the Toronto Star when the Emergency Swing Dam was used in 1909

Front page of the Toronto Star when the Emergency Swing Dam was used in 1909

Canal in Sault Ste. Marie (with bridge crossing to US in the background)

Canal in Sault Ste. Marie (with bridge crossing to US in the background)

Lock in Sault Ste. Marie

Lock in Sault Ste. Marie

Creek on Whitefish Island in Sault Ste. Marie

Creek on Whitefish Island in Sault Ste. Marie

Another pic of the bridge to the States

Another pic of the bridge to the States

Dash sitting tall beside a statue dog

Dash sitting tall beside a statue dog

Bears fishing! :)

Bears fishing! :)

A loooooooong ship

A loooooooong ship

Now that my blog is up to date I’m going to head down to a patio on the water and have an early dinner and perhaps a daiquiri or two :)

G’bye Prairie Wind!

Day 51: Jun 4 – Brandon to Sidney

Daily Distance = 72.13km, Trip Total = 2,003.16km

After having a bagel with peanut butter and packing up all my gear, I was on the road around 10am.  It was another strong headwind day (about 40km/hr), so I kinda just put my head down and tried to knock out the kilometres as comfortably as possible at a speedy 11km/hr.

With a couple breaks at the 25km and again around the 50km mark I was able to make it to my campground around 6pm.  At the 50km break point a transport truck driver acutely observed that it was a ‘windy day for a bike ride’.  When I got to the campground the owner asked if I was doing the cross Canada trip, when I said yup he was quick to respond with ‘we get a few people with that disease through here’.

After taking my sweet time setting up camp, showering, eating and refilling my water for the next days ride, I took Dash for a walk around the campground.  After getting back from this walk I scanned Dash for any unwanted bugs.  I’ve done this scan after every walk and break since finding those 3 bugs in Regina and up until today she came up clean every time.  Unfortunately this time she had about a dozen of these bugs on her and there were even some crawling on my clothes.  I’m 99% certain at this point that they are ticks.  GROSS, GROSS, GROSS!!!  I spent from 10pm ’till 11:30pm inspecting and patting down everything to try to find and rid Dash and I of all these ticks.  GROSS.  I could even see them crawling on the tent.  GROSS.  By midnight I tried to will myself to sleep, but I woke up at least 1/2 a dozen times overnight feeling something crawling on me only to find another tick.  GROSS.

My first rest spot for the day

My first rest spot for the day

My bike at the rest spot

My bike at the rest spot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horses in a field

Horses in a field

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Train crossing on Hwy 1

Train crossing on Hwy 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open highway and the stream of a plane overhead

Open highway and the stream of a plane overhead

Sunset in Sidney

Sunset in Sidney

 

Day 52: Jun 5 – Sidney to Portage La Prairie

Daily Distance = 57.17km, Trip Total = 2,060.33km

After an incredibly unrestful sleep at the campsight I have dubbed tick-nation I woke up around 7 and was VERY happy to pack up and get on the road.  I scanned all my gear and removed a tick that was crawling on my bike handlebars, 6 ticks that were crawling on the outside of my tent (even on the tent poles) and doing one last scan of both Dash and I (both of us came up clean this time – so that’s promising). 

Once on the road my ride was pretty quick.  I think because I was still freaking out a bit about the ticks.  It also helped that the wind was much milder (only 10km/hr).  About 15km into my ride in my tick-distracted state, it took me a couple seconds to realize what was going on when a transport truck (taking up over half of the paved shoulder) sailed past within a foot of me.  Yikes!  It’s a good thing I was keeping to the furthest right of the shoulder otherwise I’d be a pancake right now.  It’s hard to believe that any vehicle would get so close to a cyclist when the shoulder is 6′ wide.  I should mention that this one vehicle was definitely an anomaly.  A large percentage of the vehicles (in particular the transports) make a very conscious effort to not just drive in their lane, but actually move over to the left lane when they pass me.  Which is unnecessary given I have a 6’+ wide paved shoulder, but is certainly appreciated.

The first shade tree on Hwy 1 in over 1000km!

The first shade tree on Hwy 1 in over 1000km!

10km west of portage la prairie I lost the paved shoulder, but the gravel was still ridable (good thing it wasn't raining tho!).

10km west of portage la prairie I lost the paved shoulder, but the gravel was still ridable (good thing it wasn’t raining tho!).

My original destination today was a campground about 9km east of Portage La Prairie, but to be honest the concept of spending another night with the ticks completely grossed me out.  So when I got to Portage La Prairie I checked into a hotel (after calling my dad to get a pulse on whether I was overreacting or not) and immediately had a very hot shower followed by a very hot bath for Dash.  I then used the on-site laundry facilities and washed absolutely everything.  After this I headed over to the Canadian Tire and bought a bottle of ‘tick spray for the home’.  I doused this spray on all my newly washed clothes, pillow, sleeping bag, panniers, tent, shoes, etc.  I also spent several hours researching ticks in Manitoba.  Here is what I’ve since learned:

Ticks appear to be very common in Manitoba, the two primary kinds are: Black Legged Tick and American Dog Tick (or Wood Tick)

The Black Legged Tick is the one that can carry Lymes Disease and is not known to be in the area I’ve been travelling, but further south in Manitoba closer to the US border (phew)

The American Dog Tick (or Wood Tick) is very common in the province and appears to be more of a nuisance than anything (also phew, but still GROSS)

Ticks can’t jump or fly, but usually hang out on tall grass and wait for somebody (or thing) to come by for them to crawl on to (the tick-nation campground had very long grass)

Permethrin is speculated to be an ingredient that ticks will stay away from (the tick spray for the home that I used has permethrin in it)

I went to sleep tonight feeling much more comfortable that I have rid both Dash and I of these pesky things and am happy to report that I have found no more of them on either of us (or any of my gear) since.  Prior to my trip I was worried about wildlife along the lines of bears, wolves, elk, moose.  Never did I imagine something as small as a tick would be the first creature that causes me to freak out and put a damper on the camping experience!

Day 53: Jun 6 – Portage La Prairie to Winnipeg

Daily Distance = 91.86km, Trip Total = 2,152.19km

I was on the road around 10am this morning and immediately headed a couple blocks south to Crescent Lake in Portage La Prairie.  I followed the trail along the lake for about 3km before heading back to Hwy 1A to meet up with Hwy 1.  The 3km along the Lake in Portage La Prairie was an incredibly beautiful ride, here are some pics:

Lake Crescent in Portage La Prairie

Crescent Lake in Portage La Prairie

Crescent Lake in Portage La Prairie

Crescent Lake in Portage La Prairie

And one of main street Portage La Prairie (which was a very cute town as well):

Main street Portage La Prairie

Main street Portage La Prairie

I was very pleased to find that the wind was coming from the South today – not a tailwind, but it wasn’t a headwind either!  Woooohoooo!  The ride to Winnipeg was incredibly flat and for about a 50km stretch it was incredibly straight too!  The temperature really started to warm up in the afternoon getting to the mid-20’s.  It was an ideal day for cycling.  Around the 40km mark I came across an intersection and noticed several picnic tables on the SW corner so I pulled over and stopped for a snack and a break.  Turns out it was actually a school and it being around 1:30 on a Thursday, school was in session.  I really didn’t think I was supposed to be there but I figured I’d stay put until either I was done my break or somebody kicked me out (it’s very rare to get a break with a picnic table on the trans canada!).  Sure enough, somebody did come over and asked if I needed help but when I explained that I was just taking a quick 10min break from my bike she smiled and walked away.

As I started getting closer to Winnipeg there were more places to take breaks so I started taking a quick 10min break pretty much every hour.  When I got into the city of Winnipeg I picked up a trail that followed the Assiniboine River (the same river I sat by in Brandon a few days ago!).  This trail was much nicer than the road to cycle on.  While stopped to take a picture of an interesting looking building a jogger came by and we chatted for a bit – she was super friendly.

I got to the hotel around 6pm and began the process of unpacking my gear, the wonderful post-bike-ride shower and orienting myself with my surroundings.  On my way out to get some food (Subway), I happened to pass by a Liquor mart so I had the pleasure of having a cooler with my sandwich tonight!

Just outside of Portage La Prairie

Just outside of Portage La Prairie

An ambulance trying to get through construction on Trans Canada Hwy 1

An ambulance trying to get through construction on Trans Canada Hwy 1

This was my view for about 50km - very flat and straight!

This was my view for about 50km – very flat and straight!

Winnipeg!!!

Winnipeg!!!

Assiniboine River - same river that goes through Brandon

Assiniboine River – same river that goes through Brandon

Some info on the importance of the river as a means of transportation over the years

Some info on the importance of the river as a means of transportation over the years

Me on the assiniboine trail in Winnipeg

Me on the assiniboine trail in Winnipeg

Interesting building where I met a local jogger

Interesting building where I met a local jogger

 

Day 54: Jun 7 – Winnipeg

I started today with the continental breakfast in the hotel – this time it was actually a hot breakfast in a restaurant which was a nice change.  I then took Dash out for a quick half an hour walk, took her back to the hotel and then headed to MEC to pick up some supplies (mostly protein bars, dehydrated food, etc) for the next leg of my trip.  I wanted to get my bike tuned up, but they didn’t have any room left for a tuneup today.  Oh well, my bike should be able to see me through to Toronto…..I hope….

After these errands were complete I went out for a walk to the Forks.  The Forks is where the Red River and the Assiniboine River meet.  There is a pretty large park area with many walking paths, so it was a pleasant stroll.  I spent a few hours just hanging out at the park, enjoying being by water and grabbed some dinner and a drink at a nearby patio.  All in all – a perfect afternoon :)  It did become overcast with a bit of rain and some lightening in the distance, but that wasn’t enough to phase me.

Back at the hotel I then caught up on emails and my blog.

Sculpture that sprays water and creates fog

Sculpture that sprays water and creates fog

Dash checking out the Red River

Dash checking out the Red River

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They aren't lying about the flooding

They aren’t lying about the flooding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Forks - where Red River and Assiniboine River meet

The Forks park - where I spent a pleasant afternoon

The Forks park – where I spent a pleasant afternoon

With some background aboriginal music :)

With some background music – the person in the middle gave an impromptu performance

It just wouldn't be complete without a train or two...

It just wouldn’t be complete without a train or two…

The Red River and Assiniboine River meeting

The Red River and Assiniboine River meeting

Info on a bridge that crosses the Assiniboine River

Info on a bridge that crosses the Assiniboine River

Model of said bridge

Model of said bridge

And the actual bridge

And part of the actual bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridge across the Red River

Bridge across the Red River

Me in front of 'the meeting place' sculpture

Me in front of ‘the meeting place’ sculpture

Funky building by the forks

Funky building by the forks

Part of the Winnipeg skyline

Part of the Winnipeg skyline

Another day, another province, another timezone

Day 48: Jun 1 – Moosomin to almost Oak Lake

Daily Distance = 80.86km, Trip Total = 1,870.04km

After being hunkered down for two days hiding from the elements, I woke up this morning super keen to get back on my bike!  This excitement was further enhanced when I realized I was facing a crosswind (with the occasional tail) instead of a headwind!!!  I’ll take it!!

Dash waiting so patiently and properly (luv the crossed paws) as I went to retrieve our bike and trailer

Dash waiting so patiently and properly (luv the crossed paws) as I went to retrieve our bike and trailer

I made pretty good time to the Manitoba border and at times I could even coast!  GASP!  What is this?  The bike keeps forward momentum even when you don’t pedal for 5 or 6 seconds?  That is joy!

Reaching the Manitoba border I had to stop for the mandatory pic and I took the opportunity to let Dash run in the park for a while.  Not only did I cross a provincial border, I’ve also crossed another timezone!

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About 5km later I came to the Manitoba visitor centre and chatted with the gals working for a few minutes.  They suggested that I sign the cycle log.  They have a guest log specifically for cyclists!  How cool is that?  As I quickly scanned through the log I noticed one entry that started with ‘slow and steady’. I commented out loud that this was my mantra to which the tourist info gals said this group had come by about a week ago and they were optimistic I would catch up to them eventually!  Not likely, but I appreciated their optimism in my abilities! lol!  The tourist info gals also commented how crazy it is that we have had so many days with such a strong easterly wind.  I felt like this further validates that I’m not just imagining or exaggerating the wind factor.

At the Manitoba visitor centre

At the Manitoba visitor centre

 

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Heading back out on the road about another 15km I started to notice my legs were getting a bit toasty – oh crap!  I forgot to put on sunscreen!  I just happened to be pedalling past a gas station in Elkhorn, so I pulled over and immediately applied the necessary sunscreen (albeit a little late, I did get a bit burnt).  I didn’t stop again ’till the town of Virden where I claimed a picnic table at an ice cream place and quickly chowed down on some trail mix and a protein bar.  While sitting there a lady came by and asked about my trip and commented that it was good I wasn’t ‘bucking the wind’ today! I couldn’t agree more! lol!

The most common road debris (second most common seems to be banana peels)

The most common road debris – parts of tires (second most common seems to be banana peels)

Where I applied sunscreen (better late than never...)

Where I applied sunscreen (better late than never…)

Cows!

Cows!

I arrived at Aspen Grove Campground just off the highway between the towns of Virden and Oak Lake around 4:30pm.  After setting up camp and having dinner (fettucine primevara today), I took Dash for a walk around the campground where a lady immediately started to gush over Dash and asked if I could walk Dash over to her site so her hubby could meet her (apparently they also had a min pin that recently passed away).

Dash digging...

Dash digging…

Her aim is true, she was able to place the dirt right on the tent

Her aim is true, she was able to place the dirt right on the tent

 

Day 49: Jun 2 – Almost Oak Lake to Brandon

Daily Distance = 61.01km, Trip Total = 1,931.03km

I woke up around 2:30am a little chilled (temperature dropped to about 1 degree overnight), but once I fully zipped up the mummy style sleeping bag and ducked my head inside I was cozy and able to go back to sleep.  Given the cooler temperatures I was surprised that I slept comfortably until 7am.

Heading out of the campground and just before getting back onto the highway I realized that I had forgotten to apply chamois creme this morning (and was feeling it), so I pulled over and quickly applied (thankfully nobody came by at this time – how embarrassing that would have been!).  Now for those who don’t know – chamois creme is applied to the derrière as well as the inside of your shorts to reduce the chaffing and friction that often occurs when cycling for any length of time thereby reducing (but not eliminating) the effects of ‘bikers butt’ (thanks Jen for informing me of this gem of a creme!).

Since crossing into Manitoba I have noticed a couple things:  it’s a bit more green, there are trees (not overly tall trees, but trees no less), cell reception seems limited.

Otherwise today’s trip was rather uneventful, I really just took in the new scenery and happily rolled along the highway.  There was a headwind, but it was pretty minor (only about 10km), so I was pretty grateful to have two days in a row where the wind was a relative non-factor!

I got to Brandon around 2, where I headed out to a park and a grocery store to pick up some fruit, chocolate milk, cheese, peanut butter and bagels!  Yummy!

I'm surprised it took me this long to take a pic of they Hwy 1 sign....

I’m surprised it took me this long to take a pic of the Hwy 1 sign….

Transport trucks in the fields

Two transport trucks and a tractor in the fields

More green AND trees!

More green AND trees!

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Sunset in Brandon

A fuzzy sunset in Brandon

 

Day 50: Jun 3 – Brandon

Today was super mellow.  I slept in ’till 9:30 and after having breakfast (fruit, bagel and peanut butter) I spent over an hour rotating between the pool and hot tub :)

After this I caught up on some emails and then around 2pm I headed out for about a 10km stroll around Brandon.  I headed to the downtown core, spent some time in a park watching the trains and then meandered along the Assiniboine River while Dash got to run free and off leash to her hearts content :)  I got back to the hotel around 6:30 having picked up a turkey wrap from a local restaurant and then got to work on my blog, uploading pics, reading other blogs before heading back down to the pool and hot tub for another hour!

Brandon University

Brandon University

Downtown Brandon

Downtown Brandon

Watching the trains

Watching the trains

 

Dash and I watching the trains

Dash and I watching the trains

The trains

The trains

Dash waiting for the squirrel to come out of the hole

Dash waiting for the squirrel to come out of the hole

Assiniboine River

Assiniboine River

 

 

Still waiting...

Still waiting…

Heck, I'll just try to dig it out

Heck, I’ll just try to dig it out

Assiniboine River - was moving pretty fast

Assiniboine River – was moving pretty fast

Trees!

Trees!

River, green and trees!

River, green and trees!

 

Me beside the Assiniboine River

Me beside the Assiniboine River

Wetlands by the Assiniboine River

Wetlands by the Assiniboine River

Prairie Grass by the Assiniboine River

Prairie Grass by the Assiniboine River

Some info on the prairie grass

Some info on the prairie grass