Monday, July 11, 2011

Clear Lake

One day after my trek to Rat Portage, I was back on the same bus heading north west bound for Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park. I had been through the park last year on my way to Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin, but I had never stopped inside the park before, so this was to be a new adventure.

I had travelled this route before, but the trek on this day was not without its share of sights, scenery, mixed in with a little bit of humor.

I took note that the Esso station in Elie was temporarily closed for badly-needed renovations. Sadly, I didn’t have my camera ready to capture an image of the sign outside that read “Sorry for any inconveniance”. I was kicking myself for that faux pas all the way to Clear Lake.

As we neared Portage la Prairie, we passed a pickup truck hauling a load of firewood. The truck had a vanity license plate “GUD WUD”.

Once we got to Gladstone, our bus driver pulled over to allow us the chance to take pictures of the Happy Rock statue.

This time, I had my camera ready, as you would expect. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Farther down the Yellowhead, I spotted a pair of cyclists heading east and another heading west.

As you can see from the picture, there is a paved shoulder that can’t be more than couple of feet wide. That can hardly be any source of comfort for any cyclist, particularly on a high-traffic, two-line highway like the Yellowhead.

Having the legal right to be on this highway is a right that is dangerous to exercise and some better judgment needs to be used here. To borrow a quote from Rambo III, “you need to go home and think it over for a very, very long time”.

Moving on, we reached Minnedosa and turned north. This is one of the most scenic areas of the province and I’m glad I was in the front seat of the bus to capture some of the imagery.

Heading north along PTH 10 passing the northern junction of PTH 16/16A, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this sign. Evidently, having good spelling and grammar skills are not prerequisites for a job putting the messages on these signs.

North of Road 91N, there are some more scenic rolling hills, and I got a couple of shots through the window of the bus.

Upon arrival in Wasagaming, we disembarked and headed out to the pier to board the Martese that was preparing to take us for a cruise around Clear Lake.

I got a number of good shots from the front of the ship while being swarmed by hordes of giant flies. It was very windy and the boat was rocking back and forth, but that didn’t stop me from taking pictures. Like yesterday’s cruise through Lake of the Woods, however, no camera can do justice to the surroundings.

This shot of a large building reminded me of the lodge in The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson. Even if Jack was running around with an axe and his son was writing “RED RUM” on the walls, I was far enough away that I need not have been concerned. We have enough of those problems with wannabe-Jacks roaming the streets of Winnipeg.

More shots from the Martese.

After getting off the boat, we had an hour and a half of free time and I used some of that time to check out the Ominnik Marsh Trail at the southern edge of Wasagaming.

For any of you familiar with the Fort Whyte Center, the Ominnik Marsh Trail is like Fort Whyte on steroids. The boardwalk didn’t fall apart, but I didn’t feel all that safe on it either. There was a crowd behind me and I wanted to keep moving to keep clear of them and, in retrospect, I was glad they kept me going a brisk pace until I reached firm ground once again. The boardwalk sank into the marsh in several places and only after looking at the pictures the next day did I realize how shaky the boardwalk was.

Nonetheless, covering the entire trail was well worth the sweat under the midday July sun and it was probably the highlight of my time in the park. I only wish I had been there in the morning with less heat and less crowds.

I didn’t stop to knock on the door to see if the beavers were home.

Using what little energy I had left, I walked back to “downtown” Wasagaming, as our bus driver called it, and took a few pictures around the resort town.

While strolling around, I wondered if there was anyone left in Winnipeg and Brandon. Wasagaming seems like a charming little place, but it would probably be best experienced on a cool Monday morning in early October instead of Saturday afternoon in the middle of July.

I walked past the beach and I couldn’t believe the crowds. If any of them had the idea of wanting to get away from it all, it might have been better to stay home.

In any event, it was another memorable experience to savor as we embarked on the long trip home. I picked up another few hundred shots for, covering Manitoba a mile at a time, and I was particularly pleased that we took PR 357 from Erickson to PTH 5 for some new highway shots.

My thanks to Doug, our bus driver, for getting us there and back safely, and to Roswitha, our tour director, for a job well done two days in a row.

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