Saturday, December 8, 2012

Open House at the Leg

As I have often done in past years, today, I attended the annual Open House at the Legislative Building. Despite my strong feelings against the current government in power, I think it is a fabulous idea to give the common folk a chance to not only tour the building itself, but to meet our elected and appointed MLAs.

I would encourage anyone who has not visited the “Leg”, as it is informally known, to take advantage of this opportunity that comes about every year at this time.

As is my custom, I arrived early and walked around, taking pictures as I went.


My first official stop was the chamber.

They don’t let you sit in any of the seats, but they do let you in to take pictures.

Starting on the first floor, I walked down one hall and stopped into Comrade Selby’s office. Her claim to fame is having been a reporter for A-Channel. When she first ran for office, Jack Reimer, the sitting MLA for the area, correctly referred to her as a “prop”. For some reason, he found the need to apologize for the remark.

I was her first customer of the day and both she and her assistant anxiously tried to ply me with assorted dainties. While looking around her office, I noticed some artwork on the wall behind her.

She proudly told me that it was the work of her children. She then pointed out the work of “Manitoba artists” on the opposite wall. Her children are not quite at Michelangelo’s level and likely will never be, but they had those other “Manitoba artists” beat.

The pink creature third from the left caught my attention specifically and she said that it was a flamingo. I suggested that it should be more appropriately placed in the office of the MLA for Transcona, since the community is known for its pink flamingos.

Moving on, I passed by the office of Dr. Jon Gerrard, the leader of the Irrelevant Party, which is more formally known as the Liberal Party of Manitoba. I made the mistake of looking inside his office and two of his staffers standing out in the hall tried to hustle me inside like carnival barkers. Thanks, but no thanks. Should he ever try and publish his memoirs, a good title would be “Desperately Seeking Relevance”.

I went upstairs and passed by the Grand Staircase, where one of the many choirs was performing.

As I do every year, I stopped at the Blue Room. This time, I actually got a half-decent picture.

One fault I have with the building is that it is so poorly lit. The Blue Room is particularly dimly lit, but, on this occasion, my camera performed well.

I walked into the Legislative Reading Room and took a couple of shots.

As I walked the halls, I took particular notice of the number of people wearing union jackets. It was a sad commentary on where the power lies in the Socialist People’s Republic of Manitoba. It wouldn’t have surprised me if the performers on the Grand Staircase were singing Solidarity Forever instead of Christmas carols.

I stopped in and saw a couple of more members of the Politburo including Comrade Rondeau. This duck in his office caught my attention.

Comrade Rondeau was also passing out calendars.

Yes, an NDP cabinet minister was handing out calendars entitled “Money Matters: financial lessons for life”.

I need tips on money management from the NDP like I need speech lessons from Elmer Fudd.

Perhaps Comrade Rondeau should consider dropping off one of those calendars on his boss's desk. Under the leadership of Comrade Selinger, Manitoba’s debt has hit record levels and grows with every passing day.

One particular member of the Politburo who I wanted to see was Peter Bjornson, whom I’ve met on two prior occasions. For those that know me, you may already be aware that Bjornson once taught the late Carli Ward, a dear friend of mine and the subject of my second book. Sadly, he was away on business. Oh well.

I covered the rest of the building without finding Brian Pallister, the new Leader of the Opposition. The door to his office was closed and unless I missed him in the PC Caucus room, he was conspicuous by his absence. Even if I did miss him, for someone seeking to be the next Premier, one would think that he, of all people, would have made a much stronger effort to make himself prominently available. Either way, it was a significant faux pas.

After more than an hour, my tour of the Leg came to an end. I always find it interesting to visit and I did not regret the trip.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Misplaced Blame

As the most recent NHL lockout lingers on, the only thing that surprises me more than the intransigence of the owners is the number of people in Winnipeg who are firmly in their favor.

Without question, there’s plenty of blame to go around on all sides.

Yes, the players make gobs of money. More than the average person on the street can comprehend.

So do the owners.

Revenue is growing at unprecedented levels. The owners are making money hand over fist.

And it is the owners who decided to shut the league down in order to get even more.

In past disputes between players and owners, there were justifiable reasons on each side.

Players held out for the right to be able to have more freedom to choose where they wanted to work. This is a right that most of us take for granted. With a limited window of opportunity to enjoy the fruits of a career at the NHL level, who can blame them for wanting to be able to ply their trade with the team of their choosing at a salary dictated by a free market system?

By the same token, owners have every right to ensure that their business remains economically viable. They have invested large sums of money and are entitled to reap the rewards from that investment. The “cost certainty” that the owners fought for has enabled all of the league’s franchises to thrive on and off the ice.

This dispute has no such honorable motives.

This lockout is about nothing more than pure, unadulterated greed.

The NHL’s owners, including Mark Chipman, are playing us all for suckers. And I know that I’m not the only one who is utterly disgusted.

The day after this past season ended, I called my television service provider and proudly cancelled my NHL Center Ice subscription. I enjoyed watching the Dallas Stars, but I’m not coming back.

Yet, many fans in Winnipeg paint Chipman as an innocent victim and cry foul because the players have the audacity not to capitulate.

Chipman is not innocent. His vote counts the same as hard-liners like Jeremy Jacobs in Boston. He is no more or less responsible for the current lockout than any of the rest of them.

The players are giving in. But they’re just not giving in as much as the owners would like. Led by stronger leadership than they’ve ever had in their history, they’re not just going to fold like a house of cards.

The longer the lockout goes on, the more entrenched each side will become. It could be years before the stalemate is broken. Both sides are digging in like soldiers on the western front in the Great War.

In the meantime, as far as I’m concerned, Gary Bettman, Mark Chipman and Don Fehr can all join hands and jump in the nearest lake.

Don’t bother hollering for a life preserver.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tim Tebow to Join Winnipeg Police Board

New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has reportedly accepted an invitation from incoming Winnipeg police chief Devon Clunis to serve on the Winnipeg Police Board.

The outspoken Christian athlete will join a panel of Winnipeggers in advising the Winnipeg Police Service.

Tim Tebow in prayer during a recent NFL game.

A spokesman for Clunis said that “Tim Tebow will provide the Winnipeg Police Board with the kind of direction that the Chief feels will mesh perfectly with his new vision for policing in Winnipeg. We look forward to welcoming Tim to the Board and for him to begin his work on behalf of the Lord.”

Earlier this week, Clunis, when asked about Winnipeg’s entrenched status as the Murder Capital of Canada, said “People consistently say, 'How are you going to solve that?' It's not simply going to be because we're going to go out there and police it away. I truly believe that prayer will be a significant piece of that.”

“Tim is thrilled to accept this position with the Winnipeg Police Board,” said a spokesman for the quarterback. “He joins with Chief Clunis in this calling from God to introduce the power of prayer to the Winnipeg Police Service. Tim looks forward to coming to Winnipeg and he is anxious to begin his work directly with the officers on the street to put down the force of arms and instead unleash the immense power of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour in the places that it is needed the most.”

The announcement was well received by community leaders.

“I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this,” said Jerzy Idzikowski, chairman of the North End Professional and Business Association. “My shop gets robbed every odd week and I’ve taken so many knives to my gut that I’m on a first-name basis with the nurses at HSC. Yet all the cops do is come by and confront those punks with guns. Put down those guns, I say. Bring Jesus into their lives. He and He alone shall solve all of our problems.”

“Man made crack cocaine. Jesus didn’t. Jesus is love,” said Stella Margolis, a member of the Selkirk Avenue Residents Committee. “It wasn’t the lack of police that made those crackheads storm into my house last week, put a knife to my throat and take my grocery money. It was Satan. And I couldn’t be happier that we finally have a police chief that understands that. He and Tim will clean up everything that’s wrong with the police and teach them the power of the Scriptures. Only then can they truly rid our city of the evil that stalks the land.”

Clunis is expected to be formally sworn in as the Chief of Police next month. Tebow will begin his duties following the current NFL season.

Friday, October 19, 2012

From the Depths of Downtown Winnipeg

There is something weird to be seen in every visit to downtown Winnipeg.

Take today, for example.

While washing my hands in the washroom at Cityplace, a man comes up to the sink beside me after using the urinal. He wets the tips of his fingers and sticks them up his nose.

I didn’t bother to ask what he was trying to find as he ferociously gouged out the inner sanctums of his nose through both nostrils.

Next, comes this sign at the front entrance of the Millennium Library:

The library apparently now has a social worker.

I’m still trying to figure out why.

When you think “library”, you think books. Magazines. Encyclopaedias. Reading. Writing. Research.

The Oxford Canadian dictionary definition of “library” reads as follows:

“A collection of books, periodicals, recordings, electronic reference materials, etc. for use by the public of by members of a group.”

Not so in the capital of the Socialist People’s Republic of Manitoba.

Now, it’s a resource center to help you, as the sign says, to find housing, welfare, or the more politically-correct euphemism “social assistance”, employment and counselling. The list goes on ad nauseum.

These services, if they are needed at all, shouldn’t fall within the scope of any municipal government, let alone a public library.

While the councillors and the mayor keep patting themselves on the back on how efficiently they run the city, they authorize frivolous, redundant and no doubt expensive services like this.

Next time you wonder why your taxes are so high, add this to the multitude of reasons.

Monday, October 15, 2012

40 Years Later

Last Thursday, I risked life and limb to visit the Winnipeg Free Press News Café, located in the heart of the Exchange District. The most newsworthy part of the story to come is that I survived without being mugged, stabbed, or shot.

The occasion that brought me to this exceptionally crime-ridden area of Canada’s armpit was a gathering of five members of the original Jets squad on the 40th anniversary of the first game played in the history of the WHA.

I wrote an article on the evening for the WHA Hall of Fame and recorded 41:00 of the interview on my camera. For the article, pictures and accompanying video, please click here.

Under the mistaken belief that many hockey fans would have made the effort to come and hear these former Jets share some priceless stories from the WHA years, I arrived exceptionally early in order to get a good seat.

Sadly, I was wrong. I could have arrived midway through their interview with reporter Geoff Kirbyson and I could have had the pick of any seat in the house.

Perhaps there was a larger contingent watching the interview online, but it had to be disappointing to the players to see not more than 10 or so people scattered throughout that run-down hole in the wall.

I can certainly understand the hesitation in venturing anywhere in the downtown area, but this was a priceless opportunity to meet these Jets legends and hear them give us an insider’s view of the best era of Jets hockey.

I was glad that I made that effort and the many of you who weren’t there missed something special.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Taxpayer Trophy Train

Today, I ventured over to Union Station to see the Taxpayer Trophy Train as it stopped in Winnipeg as part of a cross-country tour. You might know it as the Grey Cup Train.

I’ll state up front that I am not a fan of the Taxpayer Football League, nor am I a fan of being an involuntary sponsor of its local team.

So why would I go?

I used to be a fan. I have the beer that a group of unruly firefighters threw on me to prove it. I have somewhat of an appreciation for the past history of the league and, additionally, I have an adopted fondness for trains, so I decided to check it out.

Upon my arrival, I was shocked to see the lineup just waiting to get in.

It was no better inside Union Station.

The Bombers had their mascots around and they some posters on display throughout the station. This is “Buzz” and at right is a poster for Manitoba Taxpayers Stadium II. Thanks for the reminder. I can only imagine how much of a kick in the gut it must feel like for people who live in Fort Richmond.

After waiting about 45 minutes, I got up to the platform and saw the train.

Green is the color!

This section dedicated to Doug Flutie was the highlight for me and an unexpected bonus. I never watched Flutie play in the TFL, but I was very dedicated fan of the USFL’s New Jersey Generals, the team that he made his pro debut with in the spring of 1985. This is a picture that I’ll probably use in the book I plan to write on the Generals’ three-year history.

Is it “Michael” or “Micheal”?

Farmers’ Republic of Saskatchewan Roughriders – Grey Cup Champions.

More from our western neighbors.

Outside on the platform, I took a couple of shots showing where the trains roll into the station. This is not an area where the public normally gets to visit without a train ticket, which is one of the reasons that I decided to attend.

I also took note of a pair of jerseys hung out on the platform.

Fans had the opportunity to stand behind the jersey and have their picture taken in a Roughrider uniform. There was a Blue Bomber jersey right next to it as well.

Upon leaving the station, I noticed the lineup outside.

I was relieved that I came early. I can only imagine how long these people had to wait to get on the train.

To my surprise, the actual Taxpayer Trophy wasn't on the train, but outside in one of the displays. I came for the train and I had no need to make a special effort to see it, so I left to return home. Despite the crowds, I was glad that I went.

The Job Nobody Wanted

I hear that Winnipeg will be having a new police chief soon.

I only hope that’s true.

In reality, the office of chief of police has been vacant for more than a decade.

Under the virtually non-existent leadership of the people who have been occupying that position, Winnipeg Police Service has transformed itself from a respected law enforcement agency into a self-serving Crown corporation.

Law enforcement has been so laggard that a culture of entitlement to break the law has enveloped the entire city. People do as they please because they know that there are no consequences for their actions.

A police cruiser could drive right by and would turn the other way at the sight of a crime, big or small. I’ve seen it happen.

Oh sure, police are in full force when there’s major accident. They’re stringing their yellow tape, covering a five-mile radius around the accident scene. And they’ll sit there blocking the scene for the better part of a day or more. Because they can. And they’ll give you a snarly attitude to go with that.

If you dare object, they cry foul. You don’t respect law enforcement.

Sadly, law enforcement and the WPS have long since parted company.

It’s no wonder that the vacant chief of police position did not attract many good candidates. It’s a job that needs a take-charge person. Someone who is willing to take on the challenge of his or her career. It is not a “mind the store” job.

I hope that Devon Clunis has what it takes. Because Winnipeg doesn’t need a football stadium. It doesn’t need more festivals. It desperately needs a law enforcement agency more than anything else.

I have a sinking feeling that it’s not about to get one anytime soon.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Installing SQL Server 2012

After having downloaded the 1.3 GB installation package, I finally got around to installing SQL Server 2012 Express Edition.

I was pleasantly surprised that the process for installing SQL Server 2012 went relatively smoothly. For those that remember the process under SQL Server 2008, the wizard that took forever to load would keep sending you to site after site for one prerequisite after another. After installing one prerequisite, you’d have to go through the process from scratch, only to have the wizard tell you that you’re missing something else.

Fortunately, nothing like that happened during my installation of SQL Server 2012, but I did get a couple of interesting message boxes along the way.

I received this pair of incredibly informative alerts on two separate occasions. After pressing “Retry”, everything seemed to proceed normally, and the database is currently functioning without any apparent problems. I installed a new named instance, though I was given an option to upgrade any instances I had from SQL Server 2005 or 2008.

The entire process, however, took more than two hours. I will be the first to admit that the computer I was using was anything but top of the line, but it’s hardly a clunker either. One note for prospective installers and installeresses is that it is my understanding that SQL Server 2012 will not install on Windows XP. If you’re lagging behind on technology, you’ll have to stick with SQL Server 2008.

Once the installation process completed, you will first notice that the UI for Management Studio is patterned after Visual Studio 2010. IntelliSense, which is a common feature in recent Microsoft development environments, is also included, as it was in the SQL Server 2008 Management Studio. I find it useful, but annoying at times. I presume that there is a way to turn it off and I’ll find it if I find that it’s getting too annoying for me.

My next step was to install Books Online (BOL), but the staple of recent SQL Server versions is now part of the Microsoft Help Viewer. When you first start the Help Viewer after the database engine installs, all you’ll get is a picture of a cow eating grass. To install the full content, start the Help Library Manager and choose Install Content from Online. The installation of the help modules took over an hour.

Nonetheless, after a lot of disk grinding, everything installed properly and I have a fully-functional database server complete with local help.

The handy “pubs” database no longer comes with SQL Server, so I downloaded the AdventureWorks database. Microsoft only provides you with an .mdf file, so you have to attach it to your server using a wizard within Management Studio or a T-SQL command similar to the following:

CREATE DATABASE AdventureWorks2012
ON (FILENAME = N'c:\program files\microsoft sql server\mssql11.sql2k12\mssql\data\AdventureWorks2012_Data.mdf')

If you choose to use a directory other than the one that SQL Server creates during the installation process, however, you will have to manually assign rights to the service on that directory.

I copied my .mdf file to a different directory and kept receiving an “access denied” error message. After some digging, I found the service name in the access control listing for the SQL Server data directory, but if you want to assign it manually for any other directory, you must specify “NT SERVICE\MSSQL$SQL2K12”. Replace “SQL2K12” with the name of the instance you specified in the installation.

Having heard about the many new features of SQL Server 2012, I’m looking forward to seeing how they work for myself.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I was on the West Perimeter Highway in the last week and I spotted something that I never thought I would live to see.


Not only have the lights been taken down at Roblin Boulevard, but all four lanes are open on the bridge crossing the Assiniboine River.

As I stopped to take the picture, I thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me. Fortunately, they weren’t.

All four lanes on that bridge are indeed open. The bridge that has provided quasi-permanent employment for so many workers is no longer a construction zone.

Further proof that Armageddon is indeed close at hand.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Big Fat Guy

Dripping wet, I sat down at the downtown library on my way home today and powered on my tablet to check my e-mail.

Seconds later, a big fat guy comes behind me and starts squeezing his oversize frame between the wall and the back of my chair.

He has the entire library to himself, but the call of the chair two seats away from me is too powerful for him to resist.

Somehow, he manages to rearrange his expanded girth through that narrow passageway. I make no effort to make it easier for him.

While my tablet is powering up, he takes the seat he worked so hard to reach. Finally settled, he begins loudly jabbering to no one in particular. Nothing is too trivial for Big Fat Guy to make a comment on.

Apparently, Big Fat Guy missed the sign outside that reads “library.”

I finish my business and get up to leave.

When I am two steps away, Big Fat Guy asks, “Something I said?”

Welcome to Winnipeg.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Floodway Trail

Over the past number of months, when crossing the Red River Floodway, I had begun to notice a gravel path following the west side of the floodway.

At first, I thought it was a pathway for maintenance vehicles. There had been a lot of construction to expand the floodway, in addition to building new, higher bridges over it, and I figured it was there to facilitate the movement of machinery.

Then, this summer, I heard that Greg Selinger, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Socialist People’s Republic of Manitoba, officially opened the floodway trail. Not only was this pathway that I had seen part of it, but it was also connected with the new foot bridge over PTH 59 into Birds Hill Park.

Today, I decided to check it out for the first time. I went through Transcona and crossed the Perimeter Highway at the new interchange at Dugald Road. I expected to find some signage and a path to access this trail.

Instead, I found a rough patch of dried mud and unmowed grass that workers had probably been using during the construction of the new bridge at this location.

It wasn’t exactly a welcome mat. A passing motorist would not have known that there was even a trail there.

After getting off my bike and walking down, I did find the trail and, from a first glance, it seemed decent enough.

I took the trail for about a mile north, but it was less than ideal on account of the loosely-packed gravel.

I had the trail to myself, but I was actually scared that a dirt bike was going to come barrelling around the corner at any minute. Given the poor quality of this trail, that’s about all it’s good for.

I promptly got off my bike and walked through more brush to get back up to Dugald Road.

The next time I’m out that way, I’ll take the paved shoulder on the Perimeter any day.

I applaud the initiative, but the implementation of this trail has left much to be desired. They can find other ways to honor the late Duff Roblin.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Northeastern Manitoba Tour

On Wednesday, I set off with 50 other passengers and passengerettes, mostly the latter, on a tour of northeastern Manitoba that included stops at Lac du Bonnet, Pinawa Dam Provincial Heritage Park, Whitemouth, and, finally, Lockport.

Soon after we departed, our tour guide, Judy, introduced herself. I groaned when she told us that this would only be her second tour. I would groan louder when we got to Lac du Bonnet.

We took PTH 44 east around Garson and Tyndall before getting to Beausejour. At the junction of PR 302/215, we spotted a group of cyclists heading east.

As you can see, PTH 44 narrows to two lanes east of Beausejour and has no paved shoulders.

The cyclists were certainly well within their rights and did have reflective gear on, but I have to question their wisdom in choosing this route. The less-travelled PTH 15 through Anola would be a better option. Another better choice would be PTH 1, which has paved shoulders for much of the way between Winnipeg and Ontario and, furthermore, is twinned for most of the way.

I also noted what looked to be the old highway on the north side that could have been a safer alternative for them. While it’s probably not in great shape, it’s got to be better than taking your life in your hands going elbow to elbow with cars and trucks along this narrow, busy highway. Whoever thought that this was a good idea, to borrow a line from Rambo III, needs to go home and think it over again for a very, very long time.

After we passed the cyclists, we turned north at Seddons Corner and followed PR 214. For those not familiar with highway history, this was where PTH 44, originally known as PTH 10, ended back in 1925. The original PTH 11 followed the current PR 214 north from here and meandered its way north to Lac du Bonnet and beyond.

Just south of Lac du Bonnet, I spotted a misspelled sign for McArthur Avenue. I remain amazed as to how often I spot these signs. My collection has grown to the point that I have more than enough to fill at least one book.

We disembarked in front of the Lakeview Inn, where Judy neglected to tell us when we needed to be back on the bus. I caught up to her and asked. I shrieked when she told me “15 minutes.” This was a busload of mostly seniors who needed 15 minutes just to get on and off the bus. Still, she insisted on the 15 minute time frame, so I set off for a very accelerated tour of the community.

The beach.

A new condominium development under construction.

Second Street.

Huffing and puffing, I made it back only to have Judy tell me that she misread the itinerary and that we had another 40 minutes.

Gee, thanks.

Trying to catch my breath in the humid 35° heat, I tried to cover some of the rest of the town.

Apparently, it’s not Lac du Bonnet, it’s “LAC DU BONNET.” I know at least one reader who will appreciate this.

This sign doesn’t shout at you.

I did what I could with my remaining time there and, dripping with sweat, I returned to the bus.

Our next stop was the Pinawa Dam Provincial Heritage Park. It is the home of the ruins of the old Pinawa Dam that once provided electrical power to the trolley buses in Winnipeg.

Our driver, Reny (I hope I’m spelling it correctly) drove us across a grass-covered field down to the dam site.

From there, a local guide, Vivian Thompson, met us and gave us a guided tour of the site.

Old turbines on display.

The old dam.

One of the many walkways through the ruins. It’s not as bad as it looks, but if you’re planning a trip there, my advice would be to dress for agility, not for fashion. Leave your high-heeled shoes at the park entrance.

We ignored the sign and continued along our journey.

The rapids and rushing water in the midst of all the greenery you’d expect to find in the Canadian Shield makes this an absolute must-see destination.

Most of the people in our group went along for the journey, but some stayed behind.

Above is Judy, our tour guide.

In addition to taking in all the breathtaking scenery, there’s also quite a bit of ground to cover. On a day like this when it was so hot, I was glad that I had plenty of water with me.

I really didn’t know what to expect out of the dam site, but this stop alone already made the trip worthwhile. I hope to get back there again and I would recommend a visit to anyone who hasn’t been there.

For anyone planning to drive there directly from Winnipeg, please note that the dam site is actually closer to Lac du Bonnet than to Pinawa. I would recommend any one of a number of routes that can take you to Lac du Bonnet and then use PR 313 and PR 520, shown above, to access the park.

PR 520 is a low-grade gravel road and, upon your return, I would recommend returning north to PR 313 and a paved road rather than travelling south on PR 520 to PR 211.

Nonetheless, we did proceed south on PR 520 and crossed the Winnipeg River on PR 211, where they were working on the bridge.

Our next stop was Whitemouth for lunch.

Why Whitemouth, you ask?

I’m still asking the same question.

Before leaving us, Vivian said “you’ll be eating well,” when Judy mentioned our next destination.

I knew that was the kiss of death.

We got to Whitemouth in the early afternoon and pulled up to Woodsmoke Adventures, where Anita Geisel, the owner/operator, came out to meet us. We weren’t even sure we were in the right place, since there were no signs and neither Judy nor Reny seemed sure of the directions.

We disembarked and walked in past all the trees as someone across the street at the Whitemouth Regional Health Center watched us with a puzzled look on her face. I could just read that bubble caption over her head that read, “What the heck are these people doing here?”

For many of us, the first stop was the bathroom and there was a long line at the outhouse. They were rather primitive facilities, but at least there was soap and hand sanitizer available.

From there, we had one of two choices for seating arrangements. We could sit inside the greenhouse and baste in a human slow cooker or sit outside and fry like an egg while being eaten by mosquitoes. Apparently, air conditioning has not reached Whitemouth quite yet.

 I chose the slow cooker. It was, however, nicely decorated.

Anita’s helper then put out the menu.

Again, I picked up more material for that future book on misspelled signs, but this was virtual write-off for me. As always on these tours, I came prepared and enjoyed my peanut butter sandwich while chugging down some of the ice water they provided.

During one the trips to refill my water cup, I noticed one of their business cards.

After getting home, I visited only to get a message from my browser saying the site was not found. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the domain name had not even been registered.

Personally, I would register a domain name before getting business cards printed quoting the address for a Web site. But maybe that’s just me.

Before leaving, I took a stroll through the bushes behind their property that lines the Whitemouth River.

After the meal, we returned to the highway and Judy gave us the opportunity to stop at the Hill Top Bakery and Tea Room, which had supplied the buns that most of the people ate.

Before disembarking, someone asked, “Is this the right bakery?”

I responded, “How many bakeries are there in Whitemouth?”

A few minutes later, we were back on the road headed for our last stop, the Half Moon in Lockport. It is a place that I’ve passed by so often on my bike trips, but yet I had never been inside before.

It’s decked out like a 50’s-style diner and seems well-maintained.

I couldn’t help but question the wisdom of this stop, however. This was hardly a long drive from Whitemouth and, especially after being pushed for time in Lac du Bonnet, we made a long stop like this only a ten-minute drive from the Perimeter.

In any event, we returned to Winnipeg safely, where I have more than 600 pictures to show for the day-long outing. I have to give top marks to Reny, who, unlike some of the drivers I’ve had lately, did not do any of the following while driving:

-         read e-mail with his BlackBerry
-         eat a full course meal balanced on the steering wheel
-         pack his belongings in a duffel bag
-         write the first couple of chapters of a novel
-         reorganize his CD collection

I hope Judy will have gained some experience by the time I see her on a tour again. Most notably, I did thoroughly appreciate that she did not succumb to the urge to have a bingo game during the trip. It was one of the very few bingo-free bus trips that I’ve been on.