Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Reunion

I forgot how dark the night could be. Except for the flickers from the flashlight Ryan turns on from time to time, there is no light around us. Mostly what I am experiencing on this Manitoba gravel road is the sounds of voices. My mother is talking to the man who lives down the lane. The next voice I hear is from a second man who stopped when he saw our car on the side of the road. Eventually the two men begin talking between themselves, and the conversation weaves to what they have in common.

What they have in common, we discover, is a lack of ability to fix vehicles that die on the road. Each one had looked under the hood when they first approached us, and shrugged their shoulders. “I don’t know anything about cars,” they said in turn. What else they share, it appears, is wanting to keep us company. Not exactly the kind of help we need.

My mother digs out her roadside assistance card and makes the second call to them today; we have an hour to wait.

I have been in Manitoba just over 24 hours, after crossing three provinces to attend the family reunion. A lot has happened in 24 hours. My son, Ryan, has been here for even less time. Because of a delayed plane, his luggage was on a later flight. So, the next day, instead of following our carefully arranged schedule to get to the reunion, we had waited for the luggage to arrive.

Not wanting to hold up the other family members, we sent my brother Dale and his son Josh ahead to the campground in Treherne. With them, we sent the pasta and potato salads, a bag of fresh cucumbers, and most of the rest of the food in my mother’s fridge.

The luggage had finally arrived in the late afternoon. We had set out for the hour and a half journey west of Winnipeg to the Morriseau-Gosselin family reunion. Once we left the house, we realized we were hungry so had a brief discussion where to stop. Ryan chose his favourite. Subway. Subway was definitely not my first choice, but I was feeling desperate. It fit the criteria – fast and now.

Ryan was the appointed driver. We were in Penny’s Dodge as Penny had a previous engagement in a canoe on the Bloodvein River and would not be attending the reunion. Come to think about it, the plan wasn’t to be in Penny’s car either. Originally, my mother had her own car in mind.

The very car my mother used to pick me up from the airport, just over 24 hours ago. Coming back from the airport, my mother suggested that we stop at my sister’s apartment to feed the cat and find the coupon book for our evening restaurant meal. When we pulled up to Penny’s apartment, we met the mechanic my sister and my mother shared. He had just brought Penny’s car back from doing work on it. On the street, my mother had a chat with him. After saying farewell, we got back into my mother’s car. Silence. The second time, I watched her turn the key in the ignition. Nothing.

“Is this a usual problem?” This was the first time I had been in this particular car, but I had heard stories about quirky tricks of previous ones.

“No,” she said, “I haven’t had this problem before.”

“What now?” I asked.

“Why don’t we take Penny’s car? I have the keys.” That’s how Ryan ended up driving Penny’s car to the reunion. Not quite.

After our car change, my mother and I had gone for a lovely dinner, prepared for the reunion the next day and picked up Ryan. With Ryan’s late arrival, and my mother arranging a tow truck to bring her own car back to her parking lot, we were up well past midnight.

As we had been getting ready for sleep, Ryan’s annoyance towards airlines was renewed when he realized the implications of his clothes and toothbrush being in the suitcase between Vancouver and Winnipeg. He was in the middle of a rant about the deplorable conditions of our air transportation system, when I remembered.

“I brought that toothbrush you left at my house.” I rooted it out of my luggage. With his faith in humanity restored, he had brushed his teeth and we all had collapsed into our beds.

That was only 18 hours ago, I thought, as I look up at the impressive Manitoba night sky. Now here we are, about four and a half miles from the reunion site. So very close, considering how far we had come.

My mother dials her cell phone, trying Dale’s number, again. She had already tried several times along our journey. When she gets the voice mail, she hangs up and then digs in her purse for her address book. She finds the number for the farm where the reunion is being held, and dials. A cousin answers the phone. I can hear the music, laughter and voices from where I am standing. He doesn’t know who Dale is. My mother persists. He doesn’t know where Floyd is. “Sorry, can’t help you.” Click.
I am imagining changing the license plate to Helpful Manitoba. That has a ring to it.

We wait and wait. Finally, we see the tow truck turn off the highway and head towards us. What a glorious sight! We are eager to be somewhere other than on the side of a road. The sooner that we get moving, we figure, the sooner we will be joining our family at the reunion.

Penny’s car is secured to the tow truck when the driver tells us we have a problem. There is only room in the truck for two people, and there are three of us. “If you want, one can ride in the car,” offers the driver. I wonder about safety and legality, can’t even imagine any other options. We had better stick together, I conclude. I volunteer.

“Of course, she can’t travel in the car alone.” My mother is emphatic. And so we say good-bye to our roadside companions, thank them for their company, and set out to the nearest garage. Treherne. The same town with the campsite we had stopped by earlier; the same campsite where we had dropped off our luggage in Dale’s travel trailer; the same luggage that had been delayed with the airline. My luggage, though, I had decided not to move from the trunk of Penny’s car, just because. It is being hauled with the rest of us to Treherne.

“Treherne?” My mother is full of thought. “This doesn’t make any sense. What if they aren’t able to fix the car? What if they don’t have the parts? Treherne is pretty small. Seeing as this is the last tow on my roadside card, what will happen if they are not able to fix it there? How would it get back to Winnipeg? I think the best idea is to take it Winnipeg now.” Her logic is undisputable.

We have a new problem. How to get this message to our tow truck driver who is heading in the opposite direction? How are we going to get his attention? From the driver’s seat, I honk the horn. No response.

“Flash the headlights,” my mother suggests. The high beams bounce off the chrome. No response. I remember the flashlight.

My mother aims it through the back window. No response.

“I have an idea.” My mother aligns the beam of the flashlight with the tow truck’s rear view mirror. Finally, the vehicle slows down. Once we stop, my mother explains the dilemma to the driver and he agrees to take us to Winnipeg. Since my mother knows the directions, she trades seats with Ryan.

Once the front end is raised, Ryan and I are perched like astronauts headed into space. The tow truck starts accelerating; we have no idea of the actual speed, but it is definitely unsettling. He is a fast driver. I am wishing he was paid by the hour. There is no way to ask him to slow down. On top of that, there is a constant bouncing motion from the joins of the concrete under our wheels. I wrap my arms tight around myself to try to stop the motion, but it is useless. Bounce, bounce, bounce. All the way to Winnipeg. The trip feels like an eternity, though there is a good chance that we are there in record time.
When we get to my mother’s apartment parking lot, the driver wheels Penny’s car beside my mother’s. The mechanic has a lot of job security with these two. I haul my suitcase from Penny’s trunk into the apartment.

“I’m hungry.” Ryan goes to the fridge and opens the door. Other than condiments, the shelves are bare. All the food is in the Treherne campground, with Dale.

“I can make something,” my mother offers.

“No, I just want to sleep.”

Once again, without his suitcase, Ryan is not amused.

“Where’s the toothbrush I gave you last night?”

His face brightens. “In the bathroom.”

We climb into bed. It is 4 am.

The next morning, I wake up to my mother’s voice. She is talking to Dale on the phone, who called wondering where we were.

“Did he notice the suitcases on the floor of the travel trailer? Did he not wonder where we were all night?”

“He thought we were having fun.”


It’s a new day, with a new problem. We need to get to a reunion. Sounds like yesterday’s problem except there are no family cars left. If there was, I am pretty sure of my vote.

“Rent a car,” I suggest. I call rental companies.

“Long weekends are the worst time to look for a rental car,” one relates to me, in a tone that insinuates that I should have better planning.

And keep calling. Finally, at one company, the renter doesn’t show up. Our lucky break. We leave town immediately as we are traveling light. It is late in the afternoon when we leave Winnipeg for the reunion. Again. Not wanting to miss any more of the festivities, Subway is chosen again. Sigh.

When we find our way to the wide-open spaces, I allow myself to get excited. I am looking forward to talking with cousins and aunts and uncles. My grandmother had a family of 12 brothers and sisters; it is their children who are now the elders. Both my mother and I have done family genealogy. We are both longing to hear the stories, and fill in the gaps. With me, I have brought pages showing the family tree, and many questions that have arisen over the last few years. My mother has brought carefully labelled photo albums. How perfect to have everyone together, and meet people whom I only know as names on paper.

When we get close to Haywood, we decide to go straight to Uncle Andrew’s farm, down the same road we attempted the night before. I hold my breath when we pass the memorable spot. We pull into the field that is now a parking lot at Uncle Andrew’s farm and I spring from the car.

The reunion is full of activity. Before me, I see a huge stage with musicians and singers, and tables full of people. I realize that every one of these 400 people is related to me! The buffet dinner is being served, so we take our place at end of the line, chattering all the while. By the time we sit down, many have finished their meals. Steady streams of people approach us as we eat, faces beaming brightly and arms outstretched. “Marie-Louise,” they squeal to my mother. “We wanted to say goodbye.”

“Goodbye?” we gasp. “We just got here.”

Monday, February 23, 2009


Eight months after I decided that my cable TV had to go, I now have had one night when I wished I had the right channels. Now, I get 2 channels and neither aired - The Oscars. When I heard that Oprah thought they were the best Oscars she had ever seen, and she has seen them for 44 years, I thought.. "Figures."

I did, of course, hear all the news when I went online later that evening. So I knew the winners. I could even read the acceptance speeches if I wanted.

Instead, what I did go and find was some curious facts about the Oscars...

Posthumous Award

Heath Ledger was the second actor who won the award after he died. The first was Peter Finch, who won it for his 1976 role in Network. Though the Academy Award was to go to Ledger's 3-year-old daughter, Matilda, she is underage and so cannot sign the legal agreement that the Academy requires all winners or their heirs, promising to sell their Oscar back to the Academy should they decide they no longer want it. So until she is 18, the Oscar is going to be held in trust by her mother.

Gold? Statue

The Oscar statuette isn’t made of gold - it’s made from an alloy called Britannia, which is 93% tin, 5% antimony, and 2% copper. It is only plated with gold. It weighs 8 l/2 pounds.

Missing Oscars

In 2000, 55 Oscar statuettes were stolen en route to the Award show. Fifty two were recovered next to a trash bin and one was found years later in a drug bust but two are still missing. Willie Fulgear, the guy who found and turned in the Oscars, was given $50,000 and two tickets to the show. Ironically, burglars broke into his flat afterwards and stole most of his prize money.

Oscar Revenge

Expecting to be nominated for 1962's Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, Joan Crawford was most put out that she wasn't, and furious that her co-star and deadly rival Bette Davis was. Seeking gloriously malicious revenge, Crawford then wrote to the other four nominees, saying that if they won but were unable to attend the ceremony, she'd happily accept the award on their behalf. So, Anne Bancroft won for The Miracle Worker, couldn't attend, and Crawford went up to claim the prize, leaving Ms Davis seething in her seat.

As for me, while my travels of the day didn't take me to Hollywood, I went to the Slocan Valley for a Storytelling Festival. Which is essentially what the Oscars celebrate. Storytelling.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


My friend Katherine is thinking about travel stories. This morning we laughed together when she asked how it is that we write about places that we go to visit, but not about what we know best. When we go to a place, we bring our fresh eyes. Another writer, Rita Moir, encouraged us in her writing class to find that special view when we want to write.

So then I got to thinking about Nelson. Nelson is a city in the midst of the mountains. If I could have imagined it when I was a child, I would have seen it from the book, Heidi's perspective. A favourite of mine when I was a child, Heidi is brought to the Swiss Alps where she lives with her grandfather where she thrives. She thrives on cheese, milk, and bread - all foods on many people's sensitivities list. Not a story based in this time.

The 4 top things that make Nelson special....


This is one outdoorsy place. People come to visit in the summer and people come to visit in the winter. Here we climb mountains and slide down them. I can immediately think of 6 shops selling outdoor goods.


Basically everything is built on the side of the mountain. Except for the mall and the waste transfer station, which are on the flat land, right by the water. Curious. Since the winters are relatively warm, we experience spring-like conditions many times during the winter. During the melting, water winds its way downhill and then at night, it freezes. Which brings a big market for these. But when the clouds part and we can see the peaks on the mountains with snow, it is a truly magnificent site.

Nelson is also parked on the West Arm of the Kootenay Lake. Mountains and water and rocks.


In the 1980s and as an antidote to the tough economic times, Nelson restored many buildings to the splendour of the heritage days.


Nelson definitely is one of those places that can boast having four distinct seasons. Each season is awe-inspiring in its own way. The long autumns are really the best kept secret for when to come and visit. The temperature is warm but not hot so hiking is pleasant (well, if you call working real hard pleasant), and the vibrant colours are a wonderment to the eyes. And mountains, well, they attract snow. (Except for this year - quite the oddity.) If you like snow, this is the place. But what is still a novelty to me after 14 years is the moderate temperature in the middle of winter. I like to experience spring time temperatures in the middle of winter. That may mean that the snow is heavier to shovel, but it is a good trade off.

What else is special about Nelson??

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where did you always want to go?

I got a call from the library yesterday that my reserved book was waiting for me - Old Friend From Far Away. I am on the second round of borrowing this book, and it does feel like an old friend; actually, it did the first time I got it. Natalie Goldberg has pulled together writing practice memoir ideas in her newest release. Indeed, her years of doing writing practice has resulted in a great panning of gold.

For example, "what have you held onto too long?" or "Write everything you know about mashed potatoes."

"Where did you always want to go but didn't?" Natalie prompts.

I am sitting in my living room, and when I look up I see the windowless wall with a laminated poster of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock.

Nelle brought the poster back for me when she went to Australia many years ago. I remember a conversation we had about the moon the night before she left. The moon was full, and we pondered what it looked like from down under. She made a point of calling me when she got off the plane to say it looked exactly the same.

When I was 19 years old, lonely in Winnipeg, I dreamed of going to Australia. I don't remember what beckoned me to the land so far away, except perhaps that it was that far away. I saved my hard-earned money from the factory work in a special bank account - each pay day, I walked the several blocks to the bank and knew that I was one step closer to my dream. Eventually, I knew that the work that gave me the opportunity to save, was draining all of my life energy. With $600 in the bank, not enough to get me to Australia, I went back home to ponder.

And then, I was caught up in the wind of life, that takes you so far off course, you can't even remember where you were.

For years now, the laminated poster has been put up in every living room where I have moved. Sometimes, the tacky adhesive pries loose and the poster falls on the floor behind the couch or the TV and I am reminded again, of those long-ago dreams. Old friends from far away.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

100th Post

This is officially the 100th post that I have placed on this blog. And though I would love to be in a place far away and telling you about all my adventures, my 100th posting is my adventures at home.


Yesterday morning, I was in my bedroom putting on my makeup when I heard a crash in the kitchen. I immediately thought of the vase that had the tulips... and Julia. Then I thought of the laptop which was also sitting on the table. And I ran. Sure enough, the tulips and water were dripping from the table onto the floor. Julia was sitting close by and looking at the water dripping, me in a flurry. I looked straight at her and said, "Go away. I don't want to see you right now." And off she scrambled.

When I came home from work later, and opened the door to come inside, she ran outside. She is an indoor cat with her sights on a bigger world.


I had little time to focus on the cat, and getting her back inside because the pilot light in the fireplace had gone out - AGAIN - and the house was an ice cube. My pilot light problem is not so simple as when it first started. Previously, I would light the pilot light and then it started working. Now, the pilot light does not stay on. And the handy guy is out of town.

So I am sitting in a cold house. The electric baseboards in the bedrooms are working so every once in a while, I go there to warm up. Some of my time since I have been home today I spent washing dishes in very warm water. The landlord searched for a heater to do until tomorrow, but there was none. She is thinking now that the space heater was BTF - before the fire. This house that we live in is new - it was built 14 years ago after the first house burnt to the ground. This story is particularly poignant because we live next door to the firehall. So house happenings are either BTF or ATF.

Space heater? That got me to thinking. And I went and checked the second bedroom closet. Bingo! It's working pretty good for not being turned on in over 4 years.


I see again that I have another missed call on my cellphone. These people are persistent - they have called every weekday for the past two weeks. I don't answer the cellphone during the day because I am working. So each time, the call goes to voice mail. And each time, I get charged 40 cents from Rogers. (It's a pay-as-you-go thing.) Whether they leave a message or not. Whoever is calling is NOT leaving messages. I see the number and call them. I get an automated voice - it seems that I have called - ROGERS!

There seems to be a dastardly plot - Rogers calls me, and then charges me.

Today when they call, I am available. The woman says that they are doing a customer courtesy call, and wondering if I am happy with my service. hmmmm....

It's February. Seems that these people mentioned here had a very good idea.

Longing for these days...

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Another new word for my computer dictionary, a word I stumbled upon this weekend. Yesterday, I turned on the television in the middle of the day and happened upon a travel segment on the news by Claire Newell, who is the travel correspondent for Global Television since 1996. She owns Jubilee Travel and has an interesting website called Travel Best Bets. She often announces travel deals - on this day, she found a 7-day visit to Rome with hotel and air for $1,400.

In case you are looking, the company is hiring. On the Travel Best Bets site, they has a section called Voluntourism and a listing of 8 places to volunteer - "Instead of only seeing the usual tourist sights, you help communities and meet the locals who benefit from your generosity."

After doing some sleuthing, I found that navigating through the myriad of sites about volunteering in other countries can be a bit of a slog. Reputable ones? Research time. Reminds me of a discussion I had with a group I facilitated this week - one of the top skills most needed for work in the 21st century is research skills. True for travelling as well. I miss the Travel Agent days. One of my friends recently planned a trip to Central America, and was immersed in pages and pages of website information. She said, it was like having a full-time job.

Picking a volunteer vacation? Where in the world? Here? Or ideas from here? From the home page of this site, click on the causes, and under each one is several sections on "How to make a difference..." The last heading shows how to make a difference on vacation.

Perhaps this will help too.... Publication date is May 2009.

BTW, this author has also written The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life.

Here is some advice and tips on choosing volunteer vacations: How to take a volunteer vacation.

Perhaps you want to work abroad?? Check out this site: Working Abroad.

Here's to planning the next vacation...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Guernsey, Channel Islands

I was thinking today of the travels that we make thanks to others, and their exploration. This can be in the form of a travel log, stories that we tell over kitchen tables, television shows or in books. Some books, like this one have captivated me from beginning to end. Some books can prompt us to pack up our own bags and visit there ourselves. And sometimes, we are introduced to a place we never would have known about. That happened to me this morning.

I picked up a book I borrowed from our local library. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a novel set here. Having never travelled there or talked to anybody about it, I didn't even know about Guernsey Island until today - it is one of several Channel Islands in the English Channel between Britain and France. They are closer to France than Britain, and are not a part of the United Kingdom but they are British Crown dependencies. Complicated.

This novel is set shortly after the Second World War, and is a collection of letters between a London writer and the members of the Society, as well as others, and unfolds the story of the forming of this unique book club during the German Occupation.

There is an array of entertaining characters, and the exchanges between them. I found the letters to be compelling as it gradually gives me a strong picture of their lives, and who they are.

The two authors, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, have created an entertaining piece that so wonderfully takes us into the written word - the specialness of letter writing. Here is the website..

For those of us who love books and love writing and have a fascination with travelling, this book does it all.

BTW, Happy Valentine's Day!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Great Save

After a long day, with bristly encounters, I relaxed in front of my computer this evening and found a new and exciting feature on Blogger, the interface that brings this blog out to you.

What I discovered was labels, as you can see on the left. In the midst of my labeling, I mislabeled 6 posts - all from my trip to Puerto Vallarta. I was unable to change the label easily so I chose delete in the list, and presto, the entire 6 posts were deleted. That easily! There was no prompt that said, "Are you sure?" I know I wouldn't have been so sure.

I checked and rechecked and yes, they were gone. Totally, utterly.

So, I called Ryan and got a voice mail. And Googled my solution. I found that there are lots of solutions when the entire Blog is deleted. But not individual posts. I did see an entry about caching but what was that? So I did the dishes. And cleaned the kitchen. Ferron says, "clean your house in troubled times."

Ryan called back. Within minutes, he found my 6 lost entries. Technically, he found an older version of the blog that Blogger saves monthly or so - a cache version. I was on the right track but wouldn't have figured out how. To Ryan: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

With my old version in front of me, my task, then, was to copy those wayward blog postings and put them back into the current version. And that is how I finished my relaxing evening.

The Blog is all intact now. Minus the comments. You are welcome, if you are inspired, to go and make comments - February and March 2007 or click on the labels (aren't they handy) to the left.

Ryan says it's a sign of the times... How exactly did you say that, Ryan?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Open Road

Yesterday, I had to admit to myself that I like to drive fast. Not in a Nascar way. More in a I-don't-really-like-to-be-around-other-cars-on-the-road way.

I instructed a computer-training class in Trail yesterday, which is about an hour away from home. I had to be in classroom for 8 am so it was an early morning rising. I realized after getting on the highway that it has been a long time since I have been in any gear above third. These days, my driving has mostly involved around town. It was about 20 minutes from home as I was being curtailed by two vehicles ahead of me - when there was a clearing and I passed them, that's when I realized I was annoyed at driving 5 kilometres an hour under the speed limit. With dry roads, I was ready for the open road. Open road to me means not having anyone around me, particularly in front, holding me back.

Of course, I remind myself, this is a piece of cake compared to the summer on our windy mountain roads where there are very few opportunities to pass. Now that I think of it, I can remember a good deal of the passing areas from here to the coast. There are definitely not enough.

But really, my favourite way to get to the coast is through Washington State. On the two-lane-in-one-direction Interstate, I can put the car in cruise control and pull around any vehicle that likes puttering. For most of the state, I am more often the passer than the passee. But when I get to the coast, closer to Seattle, I have met my match. Those city folk are in some hurry. Fine by me, as long as they move along.

After a lot of time on the road, I have observations which may help others on their journeys....

1. Mountains have unpredictable weather. On July 25th in the late 90s, Aimee and I were driving back from the coast and rounded a corner near Greenwood and the ground was covered in white. For sure, between here and the coast, a usual 8 hour journey, I will encounter sun, rain, sleet, fog, and inspiring peaks. Ryan told me once when he drove from Nelson to Seattle that he experienced freezing fog. According to this article, we can have freezing fog, ice fog, and freezing drizzle. Yikes!

2. Don't speed through any towns or cities. Law enforcement is not fond of this kind of driving. For safety reasons. To me, this is logical. I just don't do it. But when I have seen the person who just passed me being pulled over by the cops, I smile.

3. Think ahead. For an 8-hour journey, bring along entertainment. What I learned is that four CDs is not enough. In the midst of packing, taking out the garbage and the compost, this is an easy oversight, but one that becomes urgent four hours from home.

4. Rental cars don't have winter tires. What the hell are they thinking? One winter, I travelled to the coast to pick up my children for Christmas break; I decided to rent a car as my car was aging. I had a full-attention, eyes-peeled-on-the-road kind of trip. Along the way, I saw two major accidents. And I had my own experience of sliding out of control. Winter tires are required. By the time I got to the lower mainland, it was 12 hours after leaving home, and my shoulders were touching my ear lobes. On the journey back, the roads were clear all the way home. Which brings us back to Item #1 above.

5. Pit Stops. I try to have one new place to stop on each journey. This how I discovered this place and this. And during cherry season, well, the Okanagan is the best place in the world to pass through.

Easter is often my first road trip after winter. This can be the sweetest time of the year to travel as people seem to be staying close to home. Which is perfect for me. There is nothing like the Open Road.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Beginnings of Wanderlust

I have been thinking about the origins of my wanderlust. Definition of wanderlust: a loanword from German to English that designates a strong desire for or impulse to wander. Perhaps it began with my parents who wandered quite far from home. When I was about 3, my parents moved to northern Manitoba as the jobs were scarce in the south. I am supposing that this is the equivalent of going to the oil rigs now. Or going West for the Gold Rush. I don't know if they planned on staying in the north forever, but to a teen wanting the action of the city, it felt like forever. The city was far away. To go to Winnipeg, the biggest city in the province, took 12 hours by Grey Goose Bus and 16 hours by Canadian Pacific. But really, it was cars that were the chosen mode.

When I was a teen, everyone saved up for a car. My best friend bought a brand new Pinto, a baby blue colour, as soon as she could save up from her job at the hospital as a nurse's aide. We did a lot of riding in that car. There was the typical touring around town to see what was happening. There was the beach on Sundays. There was supper at the drive in. And we also drove to other towns and partied in gravel pits. Cars were a high priority.

As soon as my brothers were old enough, they were either driving around in their cars or tinkering with them.

I left for the lights of the city after graduation when I was 18, not yet able to afford my own car. My travels then were mostly on the bus to and from Winnipeg, very often the night bus. Very often arriving in town several hours before it was time to go to work. The journeys on the Grey Goose were long, and full of misadventures - which was the first topic of conversation when I saw my mother. She was very curious about what I had found along the way. And then I went back to The Pas where I grew up.

When I was 19, I finally got my own car, and the freedom that went with it. It was a Ford Custom 500, which had an 8-cylinder engine, as did most of the cars worth a plug nickel at the time. With a monthly car payment, and gas at 50 cents a gallon, I was officially an adult, and ready to explore the world. And during the next few years, I saw a lot of - Manitoba. I went to the Swan River Rodeo, the Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin, Jenpeg while it was being constructed. Jenpeg, interestingly enough, is built on the Nelson River. I travelled through the Interlake to get to the big city at first before the shortcut was built, and then Highway #60 was built across the top of Lake Winnipegosis.

Here is the old stomping grounds.

My siblings and I went to see these guys.

Yep, there was a lot to explore in our own backyard.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Middle of the Winter Musings

I have started to notice a phenomenon in the last few weeks, just about the time that I figured that we had enough winter. I started to hear conversations. Today, in the grocery store when I was minding my own business, I heard a woman say, "I hope you have a great time on your trip to Mexico." She was not talking to me.

At the belly dancing class, I heard, "No, we aren't going anywhere exotic on our holidays. We're going to Hawaii."

At our book group today, Mary gave a synopsis of her planned trip to Mexico and Belize. Her first stop is Isla Mujeres. The Island of Women. She is staying at the hotel I stayed at when I went there on two journeys, Hotel Francis Arlene, a family-run hotel that truly felt like home-away-from-home after an afternoon at the beach or after travels inland. I went there in 1993 with my friends BJ and Monique. We spent a lot of time laughing and staying up late with music and partying from outside. I didn't tell Mary that part.

The phenomenon happens everywhere. At work. A co-worker said, "I plan on spending the entire two weeks on the beach." I am a magnet, it seems, to conversations about travels far away.

Not that I am envious, oh, no...

Rose and I are planning a trip to Castlegar. Maybe even Trail.