The Rurus - Adventure Before Dementia

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Month: June 2016 (page 1 of 3)

29/6/16: Precambrian Shield, Falcon Lake to Kenora – 69.4 kms

Our tyres now cross The Canadian Shield (also known as the Laurentian Plateau, or Bouclier Canadian). It’s a large area of exposed Precambrian igneous and high-grade metamorphic rocks that forms the ancient geological core of the North American continent. Stretching north from the Great Lakes to the Artic Ocean; it also extends south in the northern reaches of the U.S.

DSC02097-1280x853Rolly polly would be the adjectives we would use to describe it in lay-persons terms! The forests, lakes, waterways and swamps were stunning. Why the deer crossed the road when trying to capture the undulation had our heads shaking. Right place at the right time except you can’t see the on-coming vehicles because they are in the dip part of the picture. It would have been a different photo only moments later!

DSC02102-1280x853Lyons Lake was a gorgeous mirror of water one could position a mobile home and live at. Further up the road, we saw such a home for sale. That had our heads nodding and asking the question, “how could we make that happen?”

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DSC02110-1280x853In-between those two pics taken, we crossed over into the Ontario Province. When looking at a map now, the gap is increasing from the first pedaling and closing toward the last. The terrain reminds us of B.C. except the bumps are shorter. The sense of sound with the songs of birds are much more prominent; and the sense of smell is rewarded with the flowers in bloom along the route. Keeping the mouth closed so as not to swallow flies and mossies was not senseless but more common sense. They taste yuck!

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DSC02122-1280x853Another storm warning prompted us to cover the distance early. We were a little ways out of downtown from where we found a bed but took a risk and did a bike run to pick up supplies for dinner and tomorrow’s longer haul. The skies darkened whilst during our shop and it was a mad dash back to home before the deluge and the bolts started to earth themselves. Made it just in the knick of time to watch mother nature do her thing. We do some crazy things at times!

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Kenora is a township that resides on the edgewaters of Lake of the Woods. It also stretches into the U.S. If I ripple the water where we are, would it travel all the way to the neighbours next door? Doesn’t matter. We are told the Canadian Shield is connected to the neighbouring Appalachia Trail.

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Perhaps we get to touch the after all!

28/6/16: Giant Human Fly Swats, Richer to Falcon Lake – 91.1 kms

The prairie lands are no more!

We have been there and done that. Or to refer to the terminology correctly, done them.

DSC02082-1280x853If the contrasting landscape wasn’t an indicator yesterday, then today’s ride through the Sandilands Provincial Forest most definitely was. Birdlife noise spoke strong in-between the passing traffic. Deer feeding on the vegetation beside the highway spooked easily to bounce off into the undergrowth.

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The Richer fires of the 1950’s burned an area 2/3 the size of Winnipeg. The Eagles perched on the branches of the dead trees were easily spotted but too quick for a snap shot.

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DSC02074-1280x853It was our first time we encountered no road verges to cycle on meaning we had to share the right hand lane with motorists. The lead vehicle that slowed beside us and driver pointing backwards to then speed off with a sign affixed showing wide load follows had us swerve onto the gravel to allow a wide berth to the two rigs carrying buildings. Today we also dodged a flattened turtle road kill; it was a long way from the ocean!

Another first for us also today was the giant human fly swats we became. All of a sudden with the changing landscape came the hordes of flies tagging along with us. More so smacking into us like a bug does at night when they appear in the head lights and then when daylight comes, have splattered themselves all over the front of the car. Except everything that hit us ricocheted off. We think the ones that landed and hung on for dear life actually bit. But when we stopped for a ride break, they didn’t hang around. At one stop, I even asked Stinky Shoe Ru Poo just to make sure there was no goo under her shoe! Nup, wasn’t that. Very weird.

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DSC02085-1280x853Falcon Lake is a tourist hot spot and with the holiday season picking up, the next month or so will see the population increase. So too will the signs go up not to feed the wild life. Passing the bill board to remind folk about bear safety stamped home that the little tandem bikers on the prairie are done and dusted.

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Time to dig out the bear spray from the depths of ones kit. It’ll will now take it’s rightful place as we leave Manitoba tomorrow and enter Ontario.

The fly spray applied as underarm deodorant!

27/6/16: The Longitudinal Centre of Canada, Winnipeg to Richer – 81.9 kgs

Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba. Before we hit the road out of town, we ventured down town.

DSC02009-1280x853The Assiniboine Park reminded us of our home town Hagley Park in Christchurch with trees, gardens, old buildings, sports fields, people walking dogs and fitness fanatics exercising. Freshly cut grass has a smell to make anyone slightly home sick for a couple of bike rotations.

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The residential properties up one oak tree-lined street were both absolutely humungous and beautiful. No doubt we fitted in trundling passed in our lycra with homelessness look. Not!

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DSC02025-1280x853At the heart of Winnipeg is The Forks, an historic site at the intersection of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. Except the water colour is both muddy and brackish. Nearby are well-preserved turn-of-the-20th-century warehouses converted to shops, restaurants and galleries. For us, it was stop/start at different plaques to read up on the transition from Aboriginal inhabitants to European settlement including the variety of forts that used to protect the pale faces. Adjacent to The Forks is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, very poignant given it’s history. Even though our tour was short and sweet, it’s was really interesting and worth the time invested.

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Another stop/start moment happened when we approached a road sign that read 96o 48’ 35”.

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The Longitudinal Centre of Canada.

We took from this that if we had of cycled in a direct straight line from West to East, we would have now covered one half of the country. This would mean that we would have one half of the country to go, if in a direct straight line.

The bums were happy!

However, we have approximately 1000 kms still to pedal before we reach the half-way point of the distance to be covered in kilometres taking the route travelled. Furthermore, there are hills on the horizon again.

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The latitudinal lines are going to be going from flat to bumpy!

That wiped the grins off the bums.

26/6/16: Stinky Shoe Ru Poo, Portage la Prairie to Winnipeg – 80.6 kms

Jackets were worn as we departed today, only being encapsulated a couple of times by rain. The wind up the jacksy was capitalised on keeping pace greater than 30 km/hr most of the way.

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Damage to trees; the odd bit of building tin missing and water lying in the fields were the gifts left from the storm the other night.

DSC01998-1280x853The side road used for a failed nature stop by Claire had her shoes sink in the mud. The goo under the shoes was gluggy and smelled like she had jacksied herself. Stinky shoe Ru Poo!

Thank goodness it wasn’t blowing into the wind from behind.

Come to think of it, it was!

Pedal faster so as to keep the nose out a head of the scent.

Any wonder we made great time to Winnipeg.

Wish I had one of those back up the road a bit.

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25/6/16: Sonic Boom, Portage la Prairie Lay Over Day

All the light that glowed in the room was the red light being omitted from the television indicating it was switched off and from time to time, the mobile screen after an update or message was received.

The sound of thunder aroused the deep sleep. The forecasted storm had fermented.

The next flash lit up the room eliminating the other glows within.

The sonic boom that followed shook everything in it’s path, including us directly below. We were now wide awake.

Curiosity to such a storm would normally have us get up and peek out of the curtains and watch. We hid beneath the covers as with each bolt and boom, the show came to us! It was a lot worse than the one previously encountered back in Herbert.

The isobars were smashing together all over the Province and beyond.

When natural light extinguished the atoms causing the friction, the debris outside certainly reflected the nights fireworks.

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The weather forecast threatened a repeat. Even then, the winds were strong and therefore, the decision made for a lay over in Portage la Prairie.

Catch up on shut eye.

Or four.

24/6/16: A Relief Stop Isn’t Supposed To Have Any Fuss, Brandon to Portage la Prairie – 126.5 kms

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The call came from behind, “Anytime soon for a roadside relief stop would be good.”

Men can pee more easily than women when it comes to a nature call in the openness on the prairie! It’s just another process without making a fuss.

Except our chosen side road had a van and car trailer parked up.

When we arrived at the location, a young couple were waiting for us. Total strangers, just waiting.

What happened next nearly had tears well up.

DSC01976-1280x853Their names were Leland and Emma. They were re-locating from Calgary to Toronto. The couple had recently cycled from Calgary to San Francisco. However, Leland had cycled across Canada like we were doing.

This couple were carrying Gatorade, apples, banana’s, muesli bars and tubes. They were sitting on the edge of the car trailer being offered to us.

This was their ‘pay it forward’ to other cyclists. Why? Because from their experience, they have an understanding as to what it is like to be a cyclist on the road doing what we were doing. And the art of giving to total strangers out there doing it.

We were totally blown away by this random act of kindness as Leland and Emma

A relief stop isn’t supposed to have any fuss.

Some call of nature today.

Some call of nature.

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23/6/16: It Was The Ages That Hurt The Most, Brandon Rest Day

DSC01897-1280x853We headed north by car to the Brandon airport. The 300 foot air foiled shaped black granite wall over looked by a bronze airman stood out before we even parked up.

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DSC01896-1280x853As part of Canada’s contribution to the Allied war effort in World War 2, 130,000 airmen from the Commonwealth trained at schools across Canada, many in Western Canada where clear skies and unbroken horizons were ideal for flying.

The names and ages of men and women who were etched on the wall were a permanent tribute to the sacrifice they made for our freedom”a Between September 1939 and August 1945, 18,039 died serving the British Commonwealth forces. Right at the end were the New Zealander names.

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Only our footsteps on the paved concrete could be heard as we moved along the names in utter bewilderment. It was the ages that hurt the most. War, what a sad waste.

The final sighting of a bison herd roaming the Canadian plains was recorded in 1907. An entire species had been rendered virtually extinct but for a few captured and domestically on a ranch. From that one herd came all the bison left in the world today.

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We travelled north to Minnedosa to a field that housed some bison descendants. Looking very much like the wilder beast of Africa except well fed and wearing huge scarves around their necks. They seemed at peace now in their surrounds even if to keep predators out, including mankind!

 

DSC01908-1280x853Faye and Bob had us watching kids building sand castles on a beach that fringed Clear Lake. We had arrived into Riding Mountain National Park and the excursion around the expanse of water in search of the Moose was without any sighting. We found a lookout that overlooked a prairie where as we munched our picnic lunch, we were again able to be enthralled by bison wandering freely; and swallows ducking and diving around us taking captured food back to young in mud nests affixed to the lookout rafters.

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Arriving home to another happy hour and home cooked meal, their hospitality was exceedingly exceptional in true Canadian style. Just like we have experienced this whole journey.

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But wait, there is more!

DSC01992-1280x853Before we departed New Zealand, we happened upon the author Steve Langston who wrote ‘Canada by Bicycle.’ Able to download his journey, we used this as a guideline for distances and services along the way. Faye and Bob presented us with a copy of his book because they are neighbours of Steve’s parents.

Furthermore, we started this journey by visiting ‘Mile 0’ in Victoria on Vancouver Island, alongside the Terry Fox monument. The monument was a tribute to the 21 year old who lost a leg to cancer; decided to run across Canada but didn’t finish due to his passing. Faye and Bob’s bridesmaid was Terry’s 1st cousin at there wedding 44 years ago.

Faye and Bob, their names etched alongside all those other who have supported our bike ride across Canada by tandem.

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Forever grateful.

22/6/16: Does the One on the Back Pedal at All? Virden to Brandon – 85.8 kms

The delayed start this morning was due to the ripples in puddles being consistent. By the time we got back on the road pointing east, the wetness had dried up which meant no vehicle splash.

DSC01833-1280x853Virden has had more rain than usual making everything green look greener. It’s the first time in a long while that native bush and trees skirted the highway. Stopping to take off the apparel under the sunshine, it was also our introduction to what folk refer to as the ‘Manitoba Air force.’

Mosquito’s!

They could even launch lips through the bike gloves to release the subsequent itch that came from a bite. The kamikazes were the ones we managed to swat and squash; dog fights became a hand swish and slap as often as we stopped.

The more puddles from rain equals more breeding of the mongrels! A google search reveals that only the females are the blood feeders!

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Not sure what made us hang a right at another dot on the map showing the settlement Griswold. Perhaps it was because the road had curvature up ahead and we thought we could shorten the distance by taking a short cut. Wasn’t to be as a road we thought we could take had ‘No Exit.’ We had to turn right again and was now going in an opposite westerly direction to the one we were supposed to be going.

DSC01843-1280x853It led to the Griswold Cenotaph. We usually stop at these to take a picture. Have done so ever since our walk from Istanbul to Gallipoli to commemorate ANZAC day back in 2011.

Claire happened to notice a crawling bug on her shoe. On inspection, it was what we thought was a tick. After giving the tick the flick, I was trying to take a picture of it when this elderly chap rode up on his ratcheted old bike.

DSC01846-1280x853He said, “I’ve never seen a bike like that before” referring to the tandem. “Does the one on the back pedal at all?” With grins all round, we introduced ourselves and then conversed some more. He confirmed the bug was a tick! Aaaaaarrrrrrrgh, get bitten by these and you could end up with Lyme’s Disease and that would not be a souvenir you want to take home.

His name was Ed; he was 73 years of age. When we mentioned our interest in the Cenotaph, he pointed to a name on the list of fallen soldiers. “That was my Uncle.” Wow, and with one eye on Ed and one eye on the ground where the tick was flicked, he spoke some more and we listened.

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The unexpected encounters having gone off the beaten track was just a cool fluke. How could we lest forget.

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DSC01872-1280x853The valley just before Brandon was absolutely stunning. Lush green valley floor with forest surfing the walls. It was a climb up out of it back onto the plateau before we trundled the last kilometres into Brandon to Bob and Faye Bradley, our end destination.

They are the parents of Charla (who we visited in Red Deer) and Clayton (who we caught up with in Kelowna). We were welcomed into their home as if we had known them for a life time, except this was our first meeting in person.

It felt like we had arrived home. Happy hour, home cooked meal, washing laundered and dried and a bed to rest the bodies. Neighbours visited to be introduced to and answer inquisitive questions asked.

A rest day tomorrow. Wonder what our adoptive Mum and Dad have got planned for us.

21/6/16: It Was Farewell Saskatchewan & Greetings Manitoba: Moosomin to Virden – 68.2 kms

DSC01777-1280x853The border was crossed in no more than five rotations of the pedals. Under the breath, it was farewell Saskatchewan and greetings Manitoba.

In those same rotations, our clocks went forward by an hour.

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A discussion then followed to determine how far behind New Zealand we now were timewise, knowing we were in there yesterday and that they were in our tomorrow. Too hard!

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The odometer reads 50 kms shy of 2400 kms covered. This time tomorrow, we will have surpassed the total distance covered when we cycled the length of New Zealand back in 2007.

Those moments reflecting certainly help with enjoying the fruits of our labour this journey.

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It makes time fly. More so when you lose an hour!

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20/6/16: That Was A Fast Longest Day Come and Gone: Grenfell to Moosomin – 111.5 kms

From tomorrow, daylight starts to shrink.

Today is summer solstice here or the longest day.

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Knowing the sun was going to spend more time crossing the sky on this cloudless day, we took the opportunity to hang a couple of rights off the trans-Canada and explore three towns that straddle the highway.

DSC01756-1280x853We were making our way along one street in Wapella toward a hotel when an elderly gentleman we spoke with informed us that the hotel had closed down some years back. When it did, the whole town gave up drinking!

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Just further up the street, another elderly gentleman was intrigued that we were cycling across the landscape. We confirmed that it was for pleasure yet he still reached into his pocket and tried to give us a $20 note to help with our travels. Humbling, we assured him that we were okay and in the nicest way possible, declined the gift.

In Whitewood, the woman cafe owner was also the sports shop owner. Both shops adjoined each other. Although the cream of mushroom soup and stuffed red pepper soup wafted through the cafe to make the mouth water, we stuck to a bran muffin (Brent) and sausage roll (Claire) in-between sentences as we chatted with her.

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A large mural on a building wall depicted what the town main street looked like yesteryear. If only the buildings of these towns could themselves speak, we imagined the stories they could shed. I’m sure we heard the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ hammering out a tune from one of them.

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The heart of these towns are surviving through a number of inhabitants like the ones we met today. Most traffic speeds passed the little dots on the map we were following. It is a shame and over time, inevitable. As the population of such towns slowly decline, so too will more buildings become dormant and the stories they hold get lost in the wind.

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Who knows how many summer they have? Hopefully a lot more as another one begins to shrink.

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Arriving into Moosomin, it’s our last night in Saskatchewan. Tomorrow we cross over into another Provence, Manitoba. It’s very exciting.

What’s not exciting is that our clocks go forward by an hour also. Our daylight hours shrink by that as well. That was a fast longest day come and gone!

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