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2002 Q4 Random Vacation
(50°17.58636' N, 95°16.04416' W - Crowduck Lake, Manitoba, Canada)

Day 4 - 18 Nov 2002

00:00 UTC - 01:00 UTC (Getting Ready to Go Out)

I did want to go out for dinner, so I got all ready to go again.  Not as layered up as when I was going hiking, but warm enough.  Besides, the temperatures were still around 30 F.  Nice and warm!  As usual, I was not efficient about such things, but eventually I was out the door.

01:00 UTC - 03:00 UTC (Finding Food)

I had intended to leave a little bit earlier, to try to get to the place "Jennifer's" that had been recommended.  They said they would be open until almost 2:00 UTC, but I got the impression from the way the phone call had gone that perhaps they were considering waiting for me.  I had said that if I was going to go at all (and I was not sure) I would probably get there between 1:00 UTC and 1:30 UTC.  So I had about half an hour to get there. 


Of course I had forgotten how far it was.  I raced as fast as I thought I could get away with given the road conditions.  It still took me almost an hour.  I got there at 1:45 UTC.  The place was dark and had a closed sign out front. 


Closed Jennifer's


Woops.  I had taken too long.  No Jennifer's for me tonight.


So, what to do?  I decided to just keep going, but when I hit route 11, go south instead of north as I'd done before.  I would go south toward the Trans Canada 1 Highway, the major East-West route through this part of Canada.  Surely they would have restaurants or rest stops or something along the way.  I was picturing either a rest stop like the Chesapeake House off I-95 in Maryland, or perhaps just an exit with gas stations and fast food places clustered around it.


It takes me a good 45 minutes to get to TC1.  But when I get there, there is nothing at the intersection, just an onramp.  I debate going east toward Ontario, or west toward Winnipeg.  I decided that while making another side trip to Ontario might be fun, I was hungry, and odds are that food possibilities would be better heading toward Winnipeg.  If all else failed, I could drive all the way to Winnipeg, which wasn't all that far away. 


Heading that way, the first thing I came accross was labeled as a rest stop.  But it was the old fashioned kind of rest stop.  A couple picnic tables, a bathroom, and a phone.  That's it.  No food.  Time to continue down the road.


About another 15 minutes down the road I found what I was looking for.  It was a truck stop type of place. 


Truck Stop


I pulled in, and ordered a hamburger sandwich.  I knew that was different from a regular hamburger, since that was also on the menu, but I didn't know what to expect.  It was two pieces of toast, each with a hamburger patty on top of it, with mashed potatos and cooked carrots on the side, with the whole mess (well, not the carrots) smothered in brown gravy.  It was actually pretty good.  At least when one is hungry. 

03:00 UTC - 04:00 UTC (Finding Gas)

After the meal I hopped back in the car and prepared to head back to the lodge.  Luckily, I was paying attention, and noticed that I did not have enough gas to make it the 100 miles or so back to the lodge.  Between here and there were no open gas stations, so it would have been a bad thing if I had not realized this until later, or if I had just "tried to make it" since I knew there was gas at the lodge itself.  That would have been BAD.


The truck stop I was at had gas...  but they were all deisel.  No regular gas.  So I decided to head toward Winnipeg.  As I got closer there would have to be gas stations that were open and had regular gas.  And if needed, I did have enough gas to go all the way to Winnipeg.  Another 30 minutes down TC1 was in order.


On the way, I saw a significant sign...


Longitudinal Center of Canada


So, I was at the longitudinal center of Canada.  Unfortunately, I was way way south of the latitudinal center, so I wasn't at the actual center, but this was still kind of cool.


Another few minutes down the road and I did indeed get to an open gas station and convieniance store. 


So I fill up with gas using my credit card.  Then I realize that I am running low ofn good old canadian cash.  I see an ATM in the store, so I go in to pull out cash.  It is one of those mini-ATMs and it decides it doesn't like me or my card.  I know I have cash in my account.  This machine just doesn't like me.  I'll have to find a real machine at a real bank.


So I headed further into Winnipeg.  I passed the next few major intersections, and there was no bank or other ATM machine visible.  I decided that I could live with just plastic for the next couple of days if I needed to.  It was getting late.  I was over 100 miles by road from the lodge.  I wanted to head back and go to bed.  So I gave up and started turning toward the lodge.

04:00 UTC - 06:00 UTC (Back to the Cabin)

The drive back was dark but not too exciting.  Except for one thing.  At one point I went through a small town...  and there was a BANK.  With a REAL ATM machine.  I screeched to a stop by the side of the road as I saw it and went in.  I pulled out some cash.  Probably too much cash.  So far on my entire trip I had actually been using up the canadian cash that was left over from my LAST canadian vacation back in Q3.  I wanted to time things so that I would have almost no cash left over when I got back on the airplane for the US.


I have clearly miscalculated.  Unless I was to go on a complete cash spending splurge the last few days, I would have cash left over at the end of the trip.  A decent amount of cash.  More than the last trip.  I guess it is a good way of savings.  That cash will get stuck in an envelope in a bag in a corner of my apartment until next time I go to Canada.  It will sit next to the envelopes with British Pounds,  and the envelope with small amounts of currency from other random countries I have somehow accumulated over the years.  I only have amounts worth mentioning of Canadian Dollars and British Pounds though.


Anyway, after collecting my cash, I headed back to the lodge as quickly as I could.  I was getting tired.

06:00 UTC - 07:00 UTC (Derise)

Being tired and all, I started getting ready to sleep pretty much as soon as I got back.  I should have done the log for the previous day, but I was tired. So I decompressed for a little bit by watching TV, then I headed to bed.

07:00 UTC - 14:00 UTC (Sleep)


14:00 UTC - 16:00 UTC (Log)

On getting up, because I had skipped it the previous day, the first thing I did was work on my trip log.  As usually, not efficiently.  At the same time I was watching TV, playing com,puter games, munching on random snacks, etc.  Just a relaxing morning.  It just happened that in between, I was trying to write up a little on what I'd done the previous day.

16:00 UTC - 17:00 UTC (The Dilemma of Flight)

Now, several weeks before my trip, I had emailed Whiteshell Air to ask about cost of charter flights.  They never answered me.  I decided that I would actually call them.  (Gasp!!)  So I asked the woman who answered the phone what their prices were.  She asked "for what".  I said a sightseeing trip.  I wanted to fly over a specific spot and take pictures.  She said all the floatplanes were put away for the winter (not much good on frozen lakes) and the only thing they had available was a bit larger plane.  It would be 525 $/hr.  Ouch.  I told her thanks, but that was probably out of my budget for this time.


Then after hanging up, and for that matter for the next 24 hours, I debated over and over in my head this issue.  First of all, my immediate "no" reaction failed to take into account that the price was in Canadian Dollars.  In US Dollar terms that was more like 325 $/hr.  And my little trip would not take more than a single hour, I was sure of it.  And I could indeed get away with charging that amount. 


But it was still above my mental limit.  If I had several people to share it with, then sure.  Split three or four ways, this would be fine.  If it was a little less, fine.  Maybe even if they had the float planes running, making it a little more exotic.  In any case, I could do this if I really wanted to. 


But I had the little devil and angel on my sholder fighting.  The devil said do it.  The angel was telling me how at this time of year my finances are always tight, that I had to borrow from my savings and from cretit cards to finance this trip already, and that I shouldn't be spending more money.  And that for the cost of this, I could do many other things. 


In the end, I decided not to do the flight over my spot.  I would continue to second guess this decision, and many times considered calling them back and saying I would do it anyway.  But the smart thing to do was clearly not to go charter a plane just to fly over my spot.

17:00 UTC - 18:00 UTC (Prepare to Leave)

As I continued to mull over this decision, I got myself ready to go, and finished up my log of the previous day.  Once I had everything together, it was time to head out again, although I did not yet really know what all I wanted to do.  I had a vague idea that I might want to go back to that snowmobile trail up by bird lake, to see if I could hike it.  But that was just a vague idea.

18:00 UTC - 19:00 UTC (Petroforms)

I started out just heading west again.  I was figuring maybe I'd go to lunch at that Jennifer's place that was closed the previous night.  But then on the way I saw a sign pointing out a Petroforms location.  OK.  I'll pull over for that.


The historical marker signs explained what they were. 


Petroform Sign


Assemblages of rocks in the forms of various animals and designs, created by the aboriginal peoples thousands of years ago.  Apperantly they played an important part in religious rituals, and are still important today as spiritual locations for native Americans of the region.  The signs implored visitors to treat the formations with respect, basically not to touch them or disturb them in any way.


Don't Touch!


So I headed up the path, and eventually came to the top of a hill.  It was snow covered, but apperantly much of the area was actually bare rock when the snow wasn't there.  At first I didn't see the petroglyphs.  Then I almost stumbled over a small one. 


Not Nazi


The first one I saw was the shwastika like symbol, but backwards from the Nazi version, that native Americans had used for many thousands of years before the Germans used anything like it.  I forget what it is supposed to represent.  But it isn't Nazi.  :-)


After that I kept walking and they were everywhere.  Much larger than that first one, and more animal like.  There were fish.




There were turtles, lots of turtles.  There were snakes.  And there were other things I couldn't really identify. 




And there were rags hanging in trees. 


Rags Hanging in Trees


The sign at the bottom said that was part of the modern religious ceremonies that still happened here.


I wandered around for awhile, just taking it in, and being amazed that these rocks had been here for as long as they had.  You'd think they long ago would have been moved or disrupted by vandals.  But there was no sign of anything of that sort.  Here is turtle.  I think.




And there was one that appeared to be a person.  I am the shadow.


Person Petroglyph


As I was leaving the petroglyph area, I was being watched though...



19:00 UTC - 20:00 UTC (Lunch)

After that I continued heading for Jennifer's.  As I was almost there though, I remembered that I had been told it was closed on Mondays.  Woops.  There would be no Jennifer's for me today.  As I was nearing that spot though, I noticed another restaurant.  So I pulled over.  This would be lunch. 


Day 4 Lunch


I had a burger.  I neglected to ask for plain though, so it had mustard and stuff on it.  But I ate it anyway.  Might as well get a local feel for what they put on the burger when you don't specify.  Mustard and some sort of green stuff.

20:00 UTC - 21:00 UTC (Back to Bird Lake)

At this point I decided that I would indeed head back up to Bird lake, where that snowmobile trail was.  So I started north and then east.  At about this time I realized that by the time I got there, I would be starting my hike just as late as I'd started the previous day.  I estimated from the map that the tril might get me five miles closer to the spot.  I would not have time for a ten mile round trip walk before sunset.  Grr!  Oh well, I'd have to try my best.


I got to the spot where the trail joined the main road, pulled to the side of the road, and left my car next to the sign identifying this as a hunting trail.  Time to hike.


Hunter Route N

21:00 UTC - 23:00 UTC (The Hunting Trail)

The first bit of the trail actually was a road.  I could have driven up here.  I probably should have driven up here instead of walking.  I wondered how far you could drive up this road, and considered going back for the car.  But after about a third of a mile, there was a boulder barrier accross the road and signs saying snowmobiles only past this point.  This is where I should have parked, not on the main road, but I wouldn't have been able to drive miles.


So I continued walking.  This path was aimed almost directly at my random spot.  I was sure I could at least beat the 10.2 miles I had gotten the other day near Booster lake. The path was wide and easy to walk the whole time.  No places where I would have to jump over bodies of water. 


Nice Path


Nothing like that.  And in the snow dozens of footprints of various things.  At least one other human.  And a bunch of hooved animals.  And then there were bear tracks.


Bear Track


OK, I know it was probably actually a dog, but it is more fun to think it was a bear.


Most of the time though it was just a wide path with nice views off to the side of fields...




And of course lakes... 


Trees and Lake


I walked out about an hour.  I broke the 10 mile from my spot mark.  And the path still went forward in front of me.  Straight at my spot. 


Straight at Spot


I knew it couldn't go all the way, there was a river blocking the way, and the trail map showed this path curving away before it got to the river.  But I would bet this path would take me a couple miles closer yet.  I could probably get to the 5 mile mark.  I was 9.98 miles from the spot.  The closest I had been yet. 


9.98 Miles


But once again, I was fighting the sun.  It was now less than an hour until sunset.  I needed to turn around and head back.  This made me so mad.  I was not yet even remotely at my limit for how long I could walk.  If I had skipped lunch...  or if I had waited to do the petroforms another time...  then I would have had time to go another mile or two.  But no...  I had done these other things, so I was out of time.  I saw the way closer to my spot right in front of me.  But I couldn't go.  I had to go back.  I was very mad at myself.


But, I remained rational (a theme this trip) and I turned around to head back to the car.

There were a few more nice views on the way back.  Here was one red tree in a bunch of green trees.


Red Tree


Here I am on the walk back.  I had a helpful tree take the picture.


Sam Walking


By the time I got back, it was quite dusky. 




But the car was still there. 


The Car Was Still There


I was so mad I hadn't gotten as close as possible to the spot.  Maybe I would charter the plane after all.  Nah...  Maybe I would come back and do this again the next day...  nah...  This had been it 9.98 miles was as close as I was going to get.  A shame, I was mad at myself.

23:00 UTC - 00:00 UTC (Heading South)

From this spot back to the lodge was about 20 miles as the crow flies, but because you had to go around lakes and streams and such, was just about 100 miles by road.  I sure do drive a lot on these vacations.  But I like driving, so that is OK.  After a bit I passed a convieniance store, realized I was thirsty, so I stopped to buy batteries.  (Uh...  and a drink.) 


Wear Orange or be Shot


The store owner pointed out that while I was wearing a bright yellow jacket, that it was hunting season for the next couple of weeks, and I shouldn't be out there without wearing "oranges", the special reflective neon orange hunter color.  "You probably don't want to get shot", he said.  I agreed that I probably didn't.  But I also probably wasn't coming back again this trip, so I didn't buy any orange stuff from him.


As I was heading back on the road to the lodge, Day 4 ended.


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