Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

Whiteshell Provincial Park, or "it still tastes like soap".



Friday

At Oak Hammock Marsh, a huge nature preserve filled with birds in wetlands, the baby grebes rode the waters perched on their mothers' backs. On solid ground, small, colorful frogs hopped along the trail, while a ground squirrel perched in its hole in the middle of the trail, with only its head visible.

We drove into the interlakes region, between Lake Manitoba and the worlds' tenth largest lake, Lake Winnipeg. Families sunned on the beach at Winnipeg Beaches. We browed an art store while the new Roches album played on its sound system.

We drove to Gimli, the center of New Iceland. Though the museum was closing, the attendant fired up the ten minute film which explained how, in 1875, 300 families came to the shores of Lake Winnipeg to escape a hardship in Iceland punctuated by the death of some 300,000 sheep. One hundred people died of smallpox in the first winter. Of those who remained, all but fifty of the three hundred families left for North Dakota in a religious schism. The families who remained behind sold land to outsiders, learned how to fish and farm, and created a set of charming small beachfront towns, including Gimli.
We toured a set of tents wihch represented a "Viking Village", complete with locals in regalia. We drove past charming yet non-ostentatious little residences and cabins. The whole place had a kind of winning calm about it. Lake Winnipeg, a huge shallow lake, looked as if it had secrets it might share with us another time.

We drove past crops of wheat, barley, and blooming sunflowers. We ate dinner at a small cafe which served very good little steaks, but passed up the chance to participate in a "meat draw", a kind of local raffle for butcher shop products.

We settled into our cabin, and then sat out beside the water in barrier bay. Birds the "Manitoba Birds" text identified as Golden Crowned Kinglets and Ruby Crowned Kinglets hopped around near us, as did a brown creeper.

We slept in our very comfortable cabin while birdsong serenaded us.

Saturday

I woke up early, and sat outside the cabin, watching a chipmunk, a ruby-throated hummingbird (one of many we saw), and several other birds flickering about.

We went to hike the Pine Point Rapids Trail at 9 a.m. The trail recently had re-opened after the "big blow-out" on June 23, which felled several trees right upon the trail.
The evidence of the blow-out remained, as some trees looked as if they had been sheared with dull scissors at their half-way point, and places that were formerly thick woods are now clearings. We saw numerous butterflies. The rapids were running very quickly, as water levels were quite high. I saw a lovely, large garter snake, who promptly crawled away. We required 2 hours and 35 minutes to walk the 8.2 kilometer walk, which is neither particularly fast nor particularly slow.

We stopped at a little general store at Lake Nutimik, where I picked up a pack of local chewing gum called "Thrills". I rather liked the sweet-plastic grape-taste of the gum, but my wife assured me it was awful. We both laughed when we saw the package itself contains the logo "It still tastes like soap!".

We drove next to Rainbow Falls, a particularly crowded tourist campground whose atraction is yet another small, rushing falls. As with the three falls at Pine Point Rapids, the falls has very little height, but a good deal of width. The crowds in cabins and campers were much more palpable than in the more wooded northern Whiteshell.
We lunched at a credible cafe which somehow delivered me a cheeseburger instesd of a chickenburger.

We drove to the Alfred A. Hole Goose Sanctuary. Mr. Hole was a mink farmer, whose farm was mostly granite rock and coniferous trees. In 1939, a fried presented him with four Canada goslings, and bet him that he could not keep them alive. Mr. Hole rose to the challenge, "fell for" the geese", and soon had their descendants migrating to his farm. The place became a provincial preserve in 1959. Numerous Canada geese live there all Summer, and then fly south in the winter. Although in June, we might have seen goslings, by August, the goslings had grown to about full-sized. We hiked around the little lake, which featured stark granite scenery. We drove through Rennie back to highway 44, and then had breaded pickerel for dinner at the Otter Lodge Resort.

We then returned to our cabin, where I fished without success.

Sunday

We woke up to a cloudy, whitecap day, which changed our initial plan to rent the motorboat. From our cabin, we saw an otter surfacing down by the lake.

We borrowed the resort's tennis balls and rackets, and drove to the nearby tennis court. Although we had not played in years, and the borrowed balls were somewhat past their "bounce by" date, we had a great time playing tennis.

We had a wonderful meal of "lemon pepper chicken" (read: chicken schnitzel) at a cafe called Jennifer's in Seven Sisters Falls, where the menu cautioned us that all meals are served AS IS, and that a three dollar and ninety five cent charge was imposed for substitutions. We knew for sure we were not in Los Angeles then.

We went to the Whitemouth Park in Seven Sisters Falls, where the Whitemouth River runs through cool granite rocks. A Mennonite church group was having their Sunday picnic there--girls with skirts and bonnets played volleyball, boys spoke to us while we fished
in English, and to one another in German. We caught no fish, but snapped some nice pictures.

We stopped in the Whiteshell Museum,a nice small exhibit of the animals and rocks of the region. Whiteshell granite is apparently billions of years old. We learned about the lynx and the trees.

We tried to go hike the Foresters' Footsteps Trail, but it was closed due to the blow-out. We saw hundreds of cut logs at the trailhead, an illustration of the massive storm of June 23.

We instead hiked the cross-country ski run at Nutimik Lake, which proved to be a heavily wooded setting with a wide trail. We enjoyed the shady ambience of the place.

We dined at a place called Lobo's Steak Pit, where the food was good but not as good as last year. Still, we enjoyed the good service and the fine grilled chicken breasts.

Monday

We awoke at 4 a.m. to drive to the Winnipeg Airport. We could hear the sound ofthe loons trill as we left, a first for this trip. We saw two deer and four skunks on the way. We had a cinnamon roll at Tim Horton,and thankfully finally found an open gas station. The innovation in Texas with the credit-card-operated pumps has apparently not caught on in Manitoba, or else there is some trick we could not figure out. We finally found such a pump,and made our way.

We had a Tim Horton cinnamon roll, and turned in our rental car. Our airline had canceled a leg of our flight, which required us to re-route through Toronto instead of Denver. We admired a sculpture in the airport of cubes floating in water. It was my first time in Ontario, albeit only in an airport. The net result was that we landed at 4 instead of 1. We picked up our dogs, who were glad to see us. Ted has picked up a cough, as happens in kennels sometimes.

I used the afternoon and evening to rest from our journeys. We had a very good time.
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