This week's Photo Hunt theme is 'missing/missed'. I'm posting an unusual shot this week . . .
I took this picture from our hotel room this morning. How does this photo fit with the theme? Notice the blue sky and the reflection of the sunrise . . . that has been missing this trip! There has been no sustained sunshine or blue sky once. Of course today is our last day.
What is the weather forecast for home?
7 days of rain.
It will be some time before I feel recovered from this vacation. LOL
First we said goodbye to Paul's sister and family and headed back to the big city. We had had a great visit and it was sad to say good bye. It wasn't as bad as it could have been because they'll be coming our way in 6 weeks.
The drive to Winnipeg is about 90 minutes along the trans Canada highway. The overflowing Assiniboine River flows alongside the highway, meandering back and forth. This is the river that is causing a flood crisis in the province. We were amazed to see how much higher the river had gotten in 5 days - there was one bridge we went over where the water was right up to the base of the road - it was about three feet lower less than a week ago.
The other scary thing was a tad more roundabout. Tomorrow the Province will break one of the dikes to release a large 'controlled' flood in an effort to prevent an uncontrolled breach west of Portage la Prairie. For the past week we have been hearing the names of communities that would be inundated with murky water - today as we travelled along the highway it was close to 40 minutes from the first community that is expected to be flooded to the last one - the magnitude of the proposed flood was overwhelming.
Back in Winnipeg it was snowing as we made our way through the city. Snow in May. SIGH It is safe to in the city known for having the world's largest collection of contemporary Inuit art. It also houses a wonderful collection of contemporary, historical and decorative art from Canada and European masters.
(note, this is NOT my picture - there was rain, snow, and grey skies when we were there).
After we left the the WAG we headed to the Provincial legislative building. The building is famous for the Golden Boy, a gold covered bronze statue based on the style of the Roman god Mercury, or the Greek god Hermes, at the top of the cupola, or domed ceiling.
We walked in, registered, and got a visitor's pass. Once registered and armed with our pass we could wander where ever we wanted in the building - so much for security!
Within the main entrance is the Grand Staircase. This is a perfectly square room measuring 66.6 feet on each side, which is meant to represent the numerological number 666. The stair case is composed of three flights of steps each with 13 steps. The steps are brown-veined Carrara marble, the finest marble in the world. Flanking the steps are life size North American bison. Made of solid bronze, they were modelled by Georges Gardet, creator of the Golden Boy. Each bison weighs 2,268 kilograms (2½ tons). Legend has it that to install the bison safely without damaging the marble floors, the main entrance was flooded and left to freeze. Both bison were then placed on enormous slabs of ice cut from the Assiniboine River, and safely slid into the building.
One of the things that I love about travelling are those absurd contrasts that you sometimes discover when you least expect it. Take today for instance . . . Paul decided that we'd go to Riding Mountain National Park - one of Manitoba's best loved parks.
The town of Onanole is at the entrance to the park. We arrived there after driving for what seemed like forever.
Onanole was DEAD. Nothing seemed to be open. I did manage to snap a pic of this giant elk (Manitobans really seem to love these larger than live roadside sculptures and I love snapping pictures of them).
Not far from the scultpure we discovered Poor Michael's Used Book Shop with a huge sign out from advertising books, cappuccino, and art. Inside it was a dream - I had the best coffee I've had in Manitoba. There was great art. A wonderful collection of rare books. All in all a find worthy of the trek north.
Thank goodness, for when we arrived at the park it was freezing . . . everything was closed (including many of the roads) . . . the lake was still covered with ice. To put it into perspective - in two weeks it is the Canadian May long weekend when everyone heads to the lake for swimming, boating, and sunning on the beach.
It's going to be awhile before anyone wants to go in the water HERE!
Over the years we have been to some of the world's great cultural sites - today we got to experience some sites in Manitoba that are cultural but offbeat.
You know we LOVE offbeat!
First we headed north - AWAY from the flooding Assiniboine River to the town of Neepawa - birthplace of famed Canadian author Margaret Laurence.
This house was her birthplace . . .
Neepawa is also famous as a producer of some of the finest and most diverse lilies in the world. As of 2009 over 2,000 kinds of Lily were grown locally. These flowers are shipped directly from Neepawa to many of the major international floral markets. Neepawa proclaims itself the "Lily capital of the world" because of this.Neepawa also attracts a number of tourists throughout the year in part because of the lilies. An estimated 12,000 people visit the Lily Festival and Neepawa each July.
Given the LATE spring weather we're having this year there were NO lillies anywhere to be seen.
Neepawa is also home to the famed Chicken Corral and their hot chicken sandwich (we DID manage to find THOSE . . .)
Leaving Neepawa we headed off to Arden - home of the world's largest crocus.
The World’s Largest Crocus Monument welcomes visitors year-round at the south entrance to Arden (population 150). At the north end of Arden, thousands of natural crocuses bloom each April on a vibrant native Prairie grassland site.
Arden is also home to a working grain elevator. At one time these used to dot the Canadian Prairies but over the years they have been replaced by metal silos. This one is unique as it is one of the few in the world that is certified organic.
Leaving Arden we headed to the tiny community of Gladstone. There we found a wonderful bakery AND the town mascot Happy Rock (get it - Gladstone = Happy Rock?)
We had to stop for a photo op . . .
Back in Carberry we napped for a few hours . . . ahh . . . vacation!
It is just our crazy luck to be visiting SW Manitoba when the major river running through the area is experiencing a 100 year flood. We're fine where we are but so many people in the area are fighting to save their homes and businesses.
Yesterday while we were driving here we noticed diggers lined up along a waterway. It turns out that this is a major diversion channel for the Assiniboine River and they were racing to raise it some 12 feet to handle the increased flow.
Further along a large convoy of military vehicles, carrying soldiers to help reinforce the dikes, raced pastus towards Portage La Prairie.
It's a scary time for many people.
Today we headed out to explore the area. The weather is cold and gray - as if we had entered abizarre time warp and ended up back in MARCH!
These pics show some of the extent of the flooding.
Here's hoping that the rest of our vacations this year are disaster zone free!!
Yesterday was our only full day in Manitoba's capital. We'll pack our bags later today and head to Carberry to stay with Paul's sister and her family until Friday. You're to be forgiven if you've never heard of Carberry - it's a rural community of about 1500 located in the middle of Manitoba's major potato growing rgion. You can find it on a map east of the larger community of Brandon, Manitoba - a town you might have heard of because the Prime Minister has just dispatched the army there to help with the flooding Assiniboine River.
We woke early and went to a Winnipeg institution the 'Pancake House' for breakfast. I can't figure out if it is a part of the chain from the 50s/60s or not as the menu is very different from the menu you'd find in the chain restaurants. Regardless, we barely managed to beat the Mother's Day crowds and had a good breakfast (although in truth I wasn't all that hungry, still full from our tapas feast the night before).
After breakfast we wandered around the Forks park where we saw the impact of the rising Assiniboine.
The flooding in Winnipeg isn't as bad as in previous years. The blue line of tiles in this picture is designed to show the extent of the flooding during the worst flooding in the city's history. The current water level is about 5 feet BELOW that line.
Our first stop of the day was the Manitoba Museum. The museum is the largest heritage centre in Manitoba and focuses on the human and natural heritage of the area. Paul timed our visit here perfectly - we beat the Sunday crowds!
The Manitoba Museum is the first Canadian museum to recreate marine life as it was 450 million years ago. A virtual underwater observatory shows the Hudson’s Bay region during the Ordovician period. Manitoba is home to the giant trilobite. We were fascinated by this award winning exhibit and spent a good deal of time just watching the recreating of the ancient underwater scene.
The collections in the museum reflect the heritage of Manitoba. The interpretive galleries are Earth History, Arctic/Sub-Arctic, Boreal Forest, Nonsuch, Hudson's Bay Company, Parklands/Mixed Woods, Grasslands and Urban. Together these explore the history and environment of the province from its northern Arctic coast to its southern prairie grasslands. In particular the museum is famed for its Urban Gallery, which recreates a Winnipeg street scene in the 1920s.
The full-size replica ship Nonsuch, whose voyage in 1668 led to the founding of the Hudson's Bay Company, is the museum's showcase piece. A replica of the original Nonsuchwas commissioned by the HBC to celebrate their tercentenary in 1970. It was crafted using tools and materials familiar to the seventeenth century. She was crafted to be as close as possible to the original and featured many of the features ships of the time would have had such as "hiding cabins" (small bunks hidden within a cupboard). The vessel has peg board used for tracking position and speed, a charlie mobile (a chimney with a mobile head). Like the original she was armed, and in the case of the replica carried six two-pound muzzle loading smoothbore guns. As with most ships of the era she was very ornate carrying many carvings that took months to complete.
When completed, it was placed on a ship and transported to Canada, where it sailed down the Atlantic coast of Canada and the United States. It also sailed through the Great Lakes and then was placed on a semi trailer and taken to Seattle for a voyage down the Pacific coast. It was presented by HBC to the citizens of Manitoba and placed on permanent display in 1973 in the Nonsuch Gallery. Built specifically for the ship, the 90-foot gallery giving the feel of a seventeenth-century scene to visitors and shows the ship at the English port of Deptford, just before embarking on her journey to Hudson Bay.
After our visit to the museum we grabbed some lunch at a diner known for having the best burgers in Winnipeg. Winnipeg is in love with a burger they call the 'fat boy' - presumably this is what happens to you when you eat too many of them. The Fat Boy is a hamburger of one or more patties, topped with chili, tomatoes, lettuce and mayonnaise. When Paul noticed chili on his burger he sent it back thinking it was someone elses order thereby immediately labelling himself as from out of town.
After eating a fat boy and noticing that the sun was out we decided to head to Assibinoine Park - an urban park well-loved by the people of Winnipeg. The park contains Assiniboine Forest, Assiniboine Park Zoo, Assiniboine Park Conservatory, the historic Assiniboine Park Pavilion, formal and informal gardens, a sculpture garden, a miniature railway, and an outdoor bandshell theatre for performing arts and numerous other attractions. A private minimum gauge railway named the Assiniboine Valley Railway is located next to the park and the zoo, while the park has its own miniature railway near the zoo.
It was nice to get outside and get some fresh air - sadly we had forgotten our hats so we got a bit of sunburn as well. It's a shame we weren't about 2 weeks later - there were thousands of tulips in bud and they would have looked brilliant in full bloom. The English gardens were rather dormant but it was easy to see that they too would be beautiful in another month or so.
It was about 3:00 by the time we managed to find the car again and we were both echausted so we headed back to the hotel for a nap.
When we woke, about 2 hours later, Paul decided it was time to use the hotel gym (all the more to try and work off that Fat Boy).
Our dinner reservations were at Hu's Asian Bistro - it looks a bit like PF Changs in the US - an upscale asian restaurant - but I think I liked Hu's better. Hu is a self taught cook who has two restaurants at the age of 24 - pretty impressive.
It was another full day in Winnipeg!
Blogging may be spotty for awhile - there is limited internet capacity in Carberry . . .
It's amazing how much we can pack into a day of travel.
Yesterday was a good example . . . first there was the travel itself what with dropping the car off at mom's, heading to the airport, security, waiting, the flight, retrieving luggage, and then getting the car.
It all went far easier than normal - and the car was upgraded to a luxurious Nissan Maxima with all the bells and whistles.
The only wrinkle came when the GPS refused to find satellites which left us wondering how the hell we were going to find the long list of destinations that Paul had pre-loaded in the GPS. Happily the satellites were found and we were on our way (although we had a similar panic later in the day when the damn GPS battery went dead - turns out the Maxima wasn't charging it properly . . .)
We checked into the amazing Inn at the Forks. Here we were upgraded as well.
No complaints. In fact, I am starting to enjoy this.
We had an hour before our lunch reservation so we wandered around the Forks Area. Nestled in the heart of downtown, The Forks is one of Winnipeg’s most beloved places, at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red rivers - both of which were flooding the low-laying area.
This has been a meeting place for over 6,000 years. Early aboriginal peoples traded here, followed by European fur traders, Métis buffalo hunters, Scottish settlers, riverboat workers, railway pioneers and tens of thousands of immigrants.
Today, framed by the banks of the two rivers, The Forks is Winnipeg’s number one tourist destination with more than four million visitors annually. Winter, spring, summer or fall, The Forks is a must for a stunning array of dining experiences, incomparable shopping, a constantly changing slate of entertainment and events, and many unique attractions that encompass the site’s natural, historic and man-made features.
We were able to get a great view of the river when we crossed the iconic Provencher bridge to St Boniface.
Paul had planned our afternoon in St Boniface - a wonderful lunch at In Ferno's Bistro . . . wandering the St Boniface museum, a visit to Louis Riel's grave, and a visit to St Boniface cathedral.
By now we were read for a pre-dinner nap! In fact, Paul wanted to go shopping in the Forks Market but I was too tired for that. Too tired for shopping - imagine.
After a bracing nap we were off to Deseo Bistro - a popular Tapas restaurant in Winnipeg's trendy Exchange District. We were amazed a how good the food was. The only disappointment was that they were out of a wine I wanted to order - a wine from Mexico - never having had a wine from Mexico I was excited to try it. Oh well the blackberry and cucumber mojitos were a tasty substitute.
After dinner we headed off to the MTS Centre to see Elton John in concert. Mom had treated us to the tickets and boy - it was a treat indeed! Elton played many of his greatest hits and wowed the audience with his energy and talent.
See what I mean, sometimes it is amazing how much we manage to pack into a day . . .
My friends Palma and Sandi are frantically packing for their trips to Italy. Today we depart for less historic and cultured locales . . . we're off to Winnipeg and the thriving metropolis of Carberry, Manitoba.
Before you ask (because everyone has) . . . Paul's sister and her family live there. They come every year to hang out in Ontario. Every year Paul goes to visit them. In 11 years I have never made the trek. This lapse was noted last summer - and noted . . and noted . . . and noted. Did I mentioned that it was noted that I had never been to Manitoba to visit them? Did I?
So mom is here to hang out with the cats and we're off for a week.
I should point out that this isn't the ideal time to visit Manitoba - they received 20 cm of snow last week . . presumably spring is a tad behind where we are. Plus there have been hit with floods - we're staying at the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers both of which are cresting at close to 100 year levels. My waggish colleague very helpfully said 'I hope your room is on a top floor.'
Have I said that I adore my colleagues?
Some of 'em anyway.
Don't tell anyone but I am actually looking forward to this trek. Shhhh
First, it will be great to see Deanna, Ian, and their boys. Theyare lots of fun and we don't get to see them enough. Second, it will be wonderful to return to an area of Canada I last visited when I was 12. I bet lots has changed in 35 years (dear lord, pour me a drink NOW). Third, we're going to see Elton John tomorrow night - he happens to be in Winnipeg and mom bought us tickets. Fourth, and best of all, I did nothing to prepare for this trip other than purchase the tickets, rent the car, and arranged for the hotels. Paul has done it all - selected restaurants, decided upon places to visit, programmed all locations into the GPS. He has become a regular travel agent.
I am along for the ride and could NOT be happier.
We'll be in Winnipeg this weekend, in Carberry at Deanna's house next week, and back in Winnipeg nect weekend before heading home.
In case you, like most of the known world are wondering 'what the hell is there to do in Winnipeg?' this video gives you a sense.
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.