Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to Portage La Prairie Manitoba August 7 2014

Crescent Lake, Portage la Prairie, manitoba

Crescent Lake, Portage la Prairie, manitoba

After a good night sleep, we were up and ready for another day. We have learned a few tricks from our last long road trip and know to bring into the hotel, only those things we need.  We bring in a change of clothes instead of a full suitcase and share a small bag with toiletries, medications etc. So one suitcase and the computer bag come in each night. Periodically we bring in the big suitcases to re-arrange stuff or when we do laundry.  Prior to this trip I checked the internet for packing tips for road trips and they suggested a roll of paper towel, so I tossed one in.  This morning our back window was filthy with dust and overnight dew, so was in need of cleaning and that roll of paper towel came in very handy.

I did all the driving today while Brian played tourist/passenger. The roads in Saskatchewan ( #1 Highway) were not in great condition as opposed to Alberta, but Manitoba was even worse. Maybe that is why Manitoba has a speed limit of 100 on the four lane Highway 1. East of Brandon we crossed over the Assiniboine River and the river is still high and you could see the surrounding areas filled with debris and fields remain under water. When we left Alberta we noticed the crops were maturing fast and the canola is finished blooming and in one case has been swathed.  The further east we drive, the crops are further behind with places in Manitoba – the canola is just starting to bloom. The prairies are unusually green for this time of the year.

We stopped in Moosomin for lunch at the Red Barn. The place is new, spotless and while busy the service and food were good. When we left Moose Jaw this morning

Thunder storm over Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Thunder storm over Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

they were starting to get hit by a severe thunderstorm but we were able to run out of it, but it looked pretty ominous in the rear view mirror. We no sooner left the storm when we hit fog at Regina.  We had cloud cover until after lunch today which actually made the driving quite pleasant.  I am surprised at how light the traffic is. The other thing we have noticed is the lack of gophers( Richardson ground squirrels).  Since we left home we have seen 1 road kill but nary any others. I thought they had over run the prairies, so not sure why they seem to have disappeared.

We arrived in Portage La Prairie early but then found out we lost an hour…so not as early as we thought.  It’s a windy but sunny day so we opted to check out the little town. It has a population of around 13,000 folks but serves a business area of 50,000.  It is a main hub for trains as 72 trains pass through daily. The land around the town is very fertile ( likely from repeated flooding) and grows potatoes, beans, strawberries and grain crops.  The potato plants grown here supply McDonald’s and Wendy’s food chains.  Too bad we weren’t here this weekend.  The are having the potato fest this weekend.

Portage has a lovely large park called Crescent Park which we opted to check out. I loved to see the

Water Lilies

Water Lilies

floating water lilies – in bloom and they have a Dutch style windmill, but can find no reason for it. The lake reminds me of Wascana lake in Regina, especially with the number of geese.  You have to watch your step in the grass!

Tomorrow we are off for Winnipeg to visit a good friend then carry on to Kenora.  Not sure what is going in Kenora, but it was a challenge to book a room, and that was over a month ago! 

Windmill - Crescent Lake Portage la Prairie Manitoba

Windmill – Crescent Lake Portage la Prairie Manitoba

Portage La Prairie, Manitoba to Kenora, Ontario August 8, 2014

I think this is one of those places they mean when people say " You can watch your dog run away...for days!

I think this is one of those places they mean when people say ” You can watch your dog run away…for days!

Today we had arranged to visit friends in Winnipeg and as we did not want to land on their doorstep too early, we had a bit of a lie in then a leisurely breakfast. As it was we still arrived an hour ahead of schedule but our friends were warm and welcoming and didn’t seem to mind the time. 

Don (left) and Brian (right)  "Buddies"

Don (left) and Brian (right) “Buddies”

Don Jones and Brian met while they were working for Ganong Bros chocolate and were part of the sales team. Ganong got rid of their sale force in the 90s but Brian and Don kept in touch and both ended up as independent businessmen selling the same type of goods. If Brian is talking on the phone for more than 15 minutes….I know he is talking to “Jonesie”.  Lynn ( Don’s wife) and I had never met but by the time we left, if it was I had known her forever. 
Lynn & Don Jones

Lynn & Don Jones

I sure wish they lived closer as we had a grand visit and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Five hours went by in what seemed like a heartbeat.

The drive from Portage to Winnipeg is a short one but gave us one last look at the prairies, of course intermingled with more and more trees. The farm land is this area is excellent and I think they could grow anything here with there beautiful dark soil. Once leaving Winnipeg it was obvious we were leaving the prairies behind us and the patch of trees became forests and the fields became lakes and granite.

Assinboine River - still running high

Assinboine River – still running high

We left Winnipeg about 330 pm just as half of Winnipeg headed to “lake country” for this beautiful summer weekend.  Combined with heavy traffic, occasion heavy downpours and road construction it was a slow but scenic drive.

I was looking forward to staying in our “upscale” booking at the Best Western Lakeside Inn and Conference Center in Kenora.  I had checked other hotels when booking a month ago and found most places were completely booked.  They have a rowing competition here this weekend plus another event, so the city is busy. Sorry to say our upscale booking is sadly lacking and very over priced…now I know why they still had rooms when no one else did! We opted for dinner on the 9th floor on this round structure.  The dining room has a killer views and I wanted to take some photos but the windows need cleaning.

taken from the restaurant overlooking the lake

taken from the restaurant overlooking the lake

The service and food were both found lacking and I think we will pass up our 25% off breakfast and find a diner further down the road in the morning. I was also put off by having them put $330 on my credit card to cover the room costs($160 + taxes) and “incidentals.” $170 for “incidentals”…you have got to be kidding!  I was told they would refund the balance in the morning. Best Western always sends out an email survey when guests leave….pretty sure they won’t like mine! Tomorrow – Terrace Bay Ontario – pretty much in the middle of no where.

The Grumpy Grandpas

The Grumpy Grandpas