Greetings from Moose Jaw

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

When last I posted I was in Winnipeg but decided to leave the Winnipeg report until my next post.  So I'll start with that.

I'm from Winnipeg and many of my relatives still reside there.  As a consequence, Winnipeg was all about family.  I stayed with my cousin Marilyn and her husband Earl.  They were very kind and generous to Sugar and me; Earl was especially kind to Sugs vis-a-vis treats.  Though they do not have dogs, they still had dog treats in their cupboards.  When I arrived, I boldly stated that Sugar was a very good dog and has never done any damage and that I could confidently leave her alone.  The first night we went out leaving Sugar in their home, she mangled a sheepskin rug that their daughter Kim had brought from Scotland.  When I went into the living room there were bits of sheepskin fur all over the place.  She even tore the skin part.  Obviously I was embarrassed and am now on the hunt for another sheepskin.  I guess I can now confidently assert that Sugar won't do any damage unless there is a sheepskin rug in which case all bets are off.   So even though Sugar was a bad dog, they still liked her and gave her treats and took her for walks.
Marilyn still liking Sugar

Sugar getting some ear action from Earl
Marilyn and Earl have a cottage on Lake Manitoba and Earl spent a good deal of the time I was there at the cottage to ensure it didn't flood (or at least that's what he said).  When I left, there was a 10 foot high dike very near the front of their cottage which is a good way from where the shoreline normally is.  He was showing me pictures and it is really something to see how high the water still is.  I'm glad my little cabin is safe from the ravages of Shingle Lake.  I took some pics on the way to Saskatchewan along some of the rivers.
The hugely over its banks Assiniboine

Marilyn and Earl have two daughters who get along really well.  I don't get it myself but there you have it.  Krista, the younger of the two, had Marilyn and I over for supper one night with Kim and her husband Ronald.  Kris's husband Roger showed up after work and it was very nice to see that both of them married really nice guys.  Roger took me for a ride in his new Charger and I was thinking I might get one until I realized I couldn't see out of the back window.  That night, Kim joined me on a long walk with Sugar and it was kind of nice to touch base with her now that we are both adults.  I'm only about 6 or 7 years older than Kim but she was always a kid when I lived in or visited Winnipeg.

I spent some time with my brother Jim too.  Jim is the eldest in our family.  He had a stroke several years ago which affected his speech but we find that we communicate well over movies.  We went and saw Midnights in Paris which Jim had seen before but enjoyed enough to see a second time.  I think it's the best thing Woody Allen has done in a long time.  We also drove down to The Forks for lunch where Suggie sucked up to Jim to get some of his lunch.
Sugar looking like a good dog so Jim will give her some of his lunch
I went on a bit of a nostalgia tour with Jim to all of the old houses he and/or he and I lived in.  On my own I went to the house that my mom and step-father built in Charleswood.  This was the last house I lived in in Winnipeg.
The old shack.  The trees have really grown in 35 or so years
While it was nice being in Winnipeg and seeing people it was also a really sad visit.  My cousin Gayle's husband David died of cancer while I was there.  David was one of those really sweet and gentle men who didn't say a lot but spoke when there was something worth saying.  I am very sad for Gayle and their two kids Sheena and Michael and for my Auntie Dorothy (Gayle's mom) who loved David a whole lot.  He will be very much missed. 

I had to leave Winnipeg at some point and so I did.  I was picking up Sue (not my Sue) in Calgary on Friday morning so I headed west on the Wednesday.  I stopped over night just outside of Swift Current at a park called Saskatchewan Landing.  I have to say that Saskatchewan in very beautiful and all you naysayers have likely never been here. 





 

Saskatchewan Landing is on Lake Diefenbaker and it is gorgeous.  I just missed the sunset but I did wake (at 4 ish) for the sunrise. 
Moon going over the hills




The bridge over Lake Diefenbaker

So as you can see the landscape of Saskatchewan is not all flat and wheat-covered.  Nope, lots of it is flat and canola-covered.

The beauty in a prairie landscape isn't always obvious.  The sky is as much a part of the landscape as the land is (not literally of course).  There are such a variety of colours and textures on the land that I found it really breathtaking.  Even though I am a proud Manitoban, I have to give the hand to Saskatchewan for being more lovely.

After my night at Saskatchewan Landing I booted over to Calgary because I had to pick Sue up at about 9:00 in the morning.  I found a hotel near the airport, did not explore Calgary, and had my supper at the hotel.  So nothing to report on Cowtown.  I shall end this here and the next one will contain my adventures with Sue.

Catching up in Winnipeg

Monday, 11 July 2011


Because of my not posting for a while, this may be a little long.  When last I wrote, I was just heading to Guelph to stay with the lovely Rocky and Renee.  I spent the first night in the Holiday Inn where I had wireless access.  Over at R&R’s, however, I could not get on their wireless as they couldn’t remember the password for the router.  (So a message to all of you, please write your less frequently used passwords down and update up when you change passwords.) Anyway, Rock and Renee were, as always, great hosts.  They snagged me the guest  suite in their condo building so Sugar and I had our own space and I could still go up in my jammies to watch The Daily Show and the Colbert Report.  Sugs loved the guest suite.


Rock and I would take Suggie for a nice long walk every morning on the pretext of giving the dog some exercise.  Typical of southern Ontario, it was hot, humid and sometimes hazy so while the company was pleasant, the walking was not always.  Both Sugar and I are not used to breathing in such heavy air so it was a bit of a trial.  Luckily Rock and Renee had beer for me and water for the pup.  Renee spent lots of time looking after Sugar who is getting spoiled but I don’t blame that on Renee.  As you can see from the picture below, Auntie Renee was not indulging her so she is looking for treats elsewhere.


I took a day trip to London where my aborted PhD took place.  Here is the site of my travails—Talbot Hall. The Philosophy Department has now moved to another building but the stench of my failure still hangs heavy over this faux Scottish design building.  


I trudged up the hill to the place where philosophy now resides and sought out Samantha Brennan with whom I hung around with for a spell.  I also met up with Caroline McLeod (a Dal grad) who kindly invited me for supper even though they were having a grad student over that night.  At dinner, I got to meet Caroline and Andrew’s ball of energy (a/k/a their son) who was a lot of fun and Stephanie, the grad student, who seems a lovely person.  After that, I booted over to Samantha’s house to see the rest of her family.  I met Samantha my first year at Western and she and Jeff took me under their wing.  They would feed me dinner on Thursday nights and I would baby sit their VERY cool kid Mallory while they did grocery shopping.  Samantha and Jeff have had two other kids, Gavin and Miles.  I last saw the Brennan-Fullerton Clan some time ago and so Mallory, while still cool is no longer a kid and Miles is a large young man.  Gavin was around but in this photo he is being played by Miles’s left foot.
Mallory, Miles, Jeff, Samantha

I finally picked up my trailer too.  Very exciting.  Rock came with me for moral support and he agreed that my backing-up the trailer really sucked.  I’m still practicing because it still sucks.  I suspect that by the time I get back to Nova Scotia, I’ll be able to back up all the way to my house but for the time, I look for drive through spots.  I am very pleased with my little guy.  It is so easy to pull that I don’t even know it’s on.  As you can see, it is very small but just perfect for my hound and me.

My first big drive with it was up to David and Leah’s cottage in the Muskokas.  Rocky came up in his vehicle because he was just coming up for the night so he was spared the nerves of me driving with trailer until I realized that it was the same as driving without trailer.  It was a rainy couple of days so we mostly sat around and chatted. There was lots of talk about Sue, about the old days, and about how things have changed.  David and Leah have a lovely old dog which didn't bother Sugar and nor did Sugar bother Savanah.  Sugar spent her time plotting how to steal Savanah’s food;  I think she and Savanah also shared tips on being old dogs.
It’s so like me to take a picture of the dogs but not my hosts.  Sorry about that David and Leah. 
Oh, no pictures of Rocky either.
 
Leah and I killed a bottle of wine one night (or was it two) which was great because I’ve never really talked much with Leah before.  I repeat, I’m so lucky to have such good people in my life.  David and I drove around looking for cottages of famous and/or rich people.  Alas, no luck but I did see the boat shop where Julianne Moore had some boat repairs done.  That was almost as good as seeing Julianne Moore herself, right?

From the Muskokas, I headed up to Sudbury where Sugar and I were hosted by Alexis and Chris. Alexis was a Women's Studies MA student at years ago and Sue was a big fan of hers.  Chris I just met but he seems like a real good guy.  We had great conversations about music, feminist movies, and, well, pie.  In the morning I set off having been prepared with sourdough pancakes and good coffee.  I'm hoping I can connect up with them in Alaska again because that sure was good pie conversation.
Alexis, Chris and Sugar who is wearing her safety harness for driving.

While in Sudbury I of course had to see the Big Nickel but first I had to find it.  You would think that a big monument of a five cent piece would be easy to see given that it is perched above the town but for some reason couldn’t find it right off.  I must have gone about 5km out of town before turning back and seeing it in its rather conspicuous spot.  It’s a good thing I’m not on a tight timeline since I seem to be having to double back quite frequently.
You can see how easy it is to miss this subtle landmark. Boy, one of us needs a haircut.

Sugar not noticing the Big Nickel

 I have to say that the section of my trip I had been least looking forward to was the part from Sault St. Marie to Thunder Bay.  I recall it being heavy with trucks, few passing lanes and long stretches of nothing.  Well clearly my memory was false (ha ha).  The ride around Lake Superior was gorgeous.  I shot a few pics while driving but none of them really convey how beautiful it really was because I shot them while I was driving.






This was at a lookout so I did get out of my truck to take the shot.





 There were a number of people cycling, more than a few motorcycling, and one guy walking while pulling a cart. He didn't have a sign or anything and he did wave. A few days later, the Thunder Bay newspaper had a story on the guy.  He's from Singapore and he is walking around the world for no particular reason.   I also saw a few moose, a deer, large pieces of construction equipment and lots of trucks.  All but one of the truckers were great and I let the one who was an asshat pass me.   


I drove from Sudbury to Ney's Provicial Park just outside of Marathon.  I of course made a stop in Wawa.
Sugs and the Wawa Goose

The further north I got the better the weather got.  Whereas it had been nothing but rain since leaving Guelph, the sun started to stay out and it got brighter.  Woot.

I had intended on staying around Wawa and there were numerous campgrounds before Wawa.  However, when I reached Wawa I still felt good so I kept on driving.  For some reason there are few campgrounds past Wawa.  I ended up driving past Marathon and just as I was thinking about staying at one of the dubious hotels along the highway, Ney’s Provincial Park appeared.  Ha, finally I get to spend the night in the trailer because since I picked it up I had been sleeping at friends.  Unfortunately, I just missed the sunset over the Lake which looked beautiful from the colours I could see.  The park does not allow people to use the drift wood for fires because it is a part of the natural eco-system of the park.  Consequently, there was a lot of driftwood on the beach.  Perhaps it was the driftwood that attracted an inordinate number of blackflies.  I had a goose egg on the back of my head so large that I don’t think my head properly touched my pillow.
Ney's Provincial Park.  I just missed sunset. Damn.


video
Here is a brief video of me and Sugs in the trailer. It's not really that interesting but there you have it.


I started to get excited about seeing Thunder Bay again.  I hadn’t been back since we moved my Mom out to Edmonton (don’t ask me how long ago that was because I suck at dates but it was a long time ago).  As we got closer, distantly remembered names came into view –Nipigon, Red Rocks, Hurkett.    Finally I reached Thunder Bay and I just drove around re-orienting myself to the place I went over my friend Joan’s which, for some reason, I could absolutely remember the street address.  She was pulling up with her friend Judy and we all went into the backyard and had a nice cold beer.   I was going to sleep in my trailer at Joan’s but that required getting the trailer into the back alley which ends with a dead end.  This meant backing up the trailer.  Joan volunteered her partner Wendy for this task and, to her credit, Wendy didn’t shove the keys up my ass.  I announce here in black and white that I shall learn to back up my own trailer before this trip is through.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Joan and Wendy and seeing Joan’s kids Kendra and Anson.  Well, they’re not kids anymore and it is frightening to think that their getting to adulthood means I’ve aged a hell of a lot.  Joan, Sugar, and I took a ride out to Ouimet Canyon, a lovely little geologic marvel not too far from TB.  

This is Joan

This is Sugar


This rock formation is, of course, called the Indian Head.



Joan and I had breakfast at the Hoito where I got my first but not my last feed of wonderful Hoito pancakes.  Thunder Bay may be famous for the Persian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_%28pastry%29) but the Hoito pancake is my taste of Thunder Bay.  

Joan is probably my second oldest friend-- I met her when I was in my early 20s—and we’ve had some pretty good and interesting times over the years.  That she is still such good company many years later indicates that I know how to pick friends.  Joan didn’t know Sue well but she had met her during one of our visits here.  Nevertheless, Joan engaged with me in conversations about our life together, her sickness, and so forth.  It felt okay to talk about this stuff although I still find it awfully hard sometimes.  I realize it is also hard for others to know how to talk about it.

Joan had a Canada Day Party which was a hoot.  I saw some folks I hadn’t seen in yonks.

Wendy, Iris, Simon, Dimitri, Siobahn


Sugar: A Proud Canadian

Susan, Joan, Dallas, Wendy, Dimitri, Iris, Simon, Anton

Olivia & Elizabeth

Sugar looks scandalous, I look old, but the kids look great.
I spent some nice time with my oldest friend Paula.  I’ve known her since late high school and I’ve always found her an easy, kind, and gentle presence.   Paula works at the local tv station here and has been an on-air personality in the past so when we go out people tend to recognize her.  Sugar and I stayed over at Paula and Dennis’s for a couple of days.  Dennis was out of town and Paula was babysitting her granddaughter who is the cutest thing this side of Wawa.  Rather, she was until her poop leaked out on my shirt. 
Paula and Brianna--my oldest and newest friends


 I went over to Paula's parents place for a BBQ.  I have fond memories of sitting around the kitchen table playing games and trying to beat her mother.  Alas, I did not have my camera.  Sugar made a complete pest of herself.  Word of advice-beagles and barbeques don't go together well.

I also went over to Sharon and Kathryn's for dinner where some other old friends, Kris and Mari, came with pizza.  I was having a good time but then I really started to miss Sue and ended up leaving in a veil of tears and a ford ranger.  Boy, you never know when grief will hit.  I was really embarrassed. 

I was going to leave TB on the day after the long weekend to avoid traffic but Sugar came up lame.  I don't know what she did.  We were walking back to the trailer in Joan's alley and suddenly she started limping.  I lifted her into the trailer and expected she would be fine the next morning but she was not.  I took her to the vet and, after x-rays and a thorough examination, it appears to be just a sprained shoulder.  She's on meds and can't go for anything but poop and pee strolls.  She can start longer walks later this week. She appears to be fine now but she is a dear old thing.

The road from TB to Winnipeg is one I've done a number of times in my life.  I stopped at Kakabeka Falls just outside of TB and, boy, has it been built up since last I was there.  It still is pretty nice though.


I didn't feel like driving straight through to Winnipeg so I stopped at Blue Rocks Provincial Park just outside of Vermillion Bay.  It was lovely but I had to back my trailer into a spot.  I chose a huge spot with no people around to laugh at me and I ended up with something I was satisfied with.  The bugs were pretty bad so I put up this kids screen house I got for Sugar and we sat in that; I was reading and she was trying to catch flys.  

See how my trailer is behind my truck and it's kinda straight.  Take that short wheelbase.
I am now in Winnipeg and shall end this post as it is ridiculously long.  I really am having difficulty finding wifi.  I even stayed in a hotel in Winnipeg one night and the internet went down in the hotel.