Tuesday, 3 July 2012

On fields of yellow and blue

Leaving Treherne behind, I came across the renewed line of hopper cars in waiting. It "only" lasted for a little under 6 kms including a couple of significant gaps. I used the iPhone to make a note of some of the owners markings. Once I get home I will make a fuller report.

The land in that part of Saskatchewan is flatter which has the effect of making the horizons seem that much closer, especially in areas with trees. It also makes the sky a bit smaller. My mental contrast is with the highway between Calgary and Medicine Hat where I could see a CPR train reduced to insignificance by the landscape. However, the openness of the Manitoba landscape is highlighted by the fact that a couple of times I could see the grain elevator of not only the next town but also that of the one beyond it at not inconsiderable distances.

Shortly before I arrived in the village of Starbuck, I saw and picked up a license plate by the side of the road. It was bent but readable so I tucked under the bunt securing the red bag of camping gear. It was near a sign for the Starlite Colony, a Hutterite community. It was also near the Starbuck glider port.

I have passed a number of canola fields in the last few days. Their bright yellow flowers make a pleasant sight especially on overcast days like yesterday. At around the same place as I found the license plate, I was greeted by the pleasing contrast of my first flax field in full blue bloom next to a canola field.

The downside of canola is that it makes me less visible in my yellow biking shirts. I was a little bit put off when a driver rolled down his window yesterday to say I was particularly visible to him. For the record, I was wearing my 25 Tour de l'Ile biking shirt in yellow and black.

I pulled into the town of Starbuck hoping for a convenience store where I could get a nice iced tea for my elevenses. I started at a convenience store (c-store in the local short hand) which was closed as it was also a post office and yesterday was the substitute day for the Canada Day legal holiday. The other obvious businesses were also closed. I was walking back to Leonardo when a man I'd seen cleaning the windows an insurance office called out the offer of refreshments. He and his wife and daughter were taking advantage of the day off to spruce up their offices. After providing H2O and relief, the man asked me my opinion of the student protests in Quebec (I'd mentioned I was from Montreal). He accepted my opinion (they're self-serving idiots) as it was pretty much the impression he'd got from the media.

I reached the Winnipeg perimeter highway around 1. After lunch at Timmy's, I made my way towards Winnipeg on what was a relative back entrance. I passed some signs for the Manitoba Star Attraction of the Fort Whyte Experience which gave no idea about what it was. Well, I had an idea it involved bison, but that was it. Consequently, I simply headed straight into Winnipeg.

After a certain amount of cross-checked navigation involving two differently scaled maps and three separate iPhone functions, I found my hostel.

As mentioned before, the AC is mostly on the fritz and the place gives off a weird vibe. There is poster from when the place was renovated about five years about. However, either the renos weren't very good or the place has been allowed to run to seed. Certainly, the front desk don't impress me as one of them gave me poor directions when was looking for supper last night.

Not that I am immune from poor planning. For some reason I hadn't realized there is a MEC in Winnipeg! This been a double boon. First of all, it allowed me to get new Chaco sandals to replace the ones I left behind. (The cheap sneakers from Moose Jaw have gone to Goodwill.) Secondly, as it sells bikes (not all MEC stores do) it will provide me with a bike box within an easy walking, distance of my hostel. When I asked this morning, they didn't have any big ones available. However, the bike guy said that he had some new, big bikes he had to assemble this afternoon and he would put aside a box for me.

I dropped the license plate off at the RCMP. Alas, the plate wasn't valid which meant no one was looking for it. Also, I wasn't allowed to keep it as a souvenir. This afternoon, I visited the Manitoba Museum. Between the reproduction of the Nonsuch and the references to the Hudson's Bay Lowlands, the paternal unit must pay it a visit if he ever comes here.

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