This is a very bloggy thing for me to do but I’m reporting on what I did this weekend. I rented a Ford Fusion from Enterprise (a company I recommend) and drove 800 kms in rural Manitoba since Friday morning, visiting two cousins, making new friends and seeing old friends. Friday I drove to Dauphin, MB, north of Riding Mountain National Park on the edge of which lives my cousin Vonda. We share the family spirit connection.
I spent two weeks of every youthful summer at Aunt Ina and Uncle Derk’s farm just north of Riding Mountain near Vonda’s farm. The shape of the mountain, basically a bit of end moraine left by the receding Ice Age now furred with rich green forest, loomed on the horizon and left an indelible impression. It felt warm and generous being next to that familiar shape again. Here’s a wide view of Riding Mountain bulging along the horizon. This is Friday’s sunset outside my hotel room door.
Vonda’s farm sits at the mouth of a deep and wide valley that opens out of Riding Mountain Park about two miles away. On Saturday afternoon, armed with bear spray and her dogs Rebel and Hawkeye, we took a long walk along the top of the valley through stands of oak and poplar. A creek swollen with melting mountain snow burbled down the valley.
At one spot above the dugout and a small slough we heard an amazing sound coming up the valley wall. It sounded like ducks maybe or crows reading James Joyce or grouse at a lek dancing and singing. It was very horny, urgent, unrelenting. It turned out to be frogs mating as this vid I found demonstrates the sound and its source. Image it loud and incessant arising from an unknown place 200 feet below on a warm, still afternoon.
This is a shot across the valley with creek on left, slough in centre and pasture above. The frog song echoed up and across the valley.
After a hearty home cooked meal and bottle of wine, I spent another night at the Canway Inn, which I don’t recommend. Dauphin has better lodgings. Sunday morning I drove through Riding Mountain National Park on Hwy #10. The speed limit is a leisurely 80 km through the 60 km park. There was little traffic, saw a couple of deer and enjoyed the pace away from the hive.
Highway #10 eventually got me to Brandon where I visited my cousin Duncan and his lovely companion Christine. Brandon is rambunctious with housing development in every direction, as a tour from Duncan proved. Many of the new streets don’t have streetlights, some the streets aren’t even complete before the houses are ready. The place is “growing” so quickly that the city of my birth has become a tawdry example of unremitting urban sprawl and big box stores dumbly built on a floodplain in a valley, many now threatened with flooding by the mischievous Assiniboine River. Ha!
Luckily Brandon has rich and living heritage and I always find a new example of it every time I visit. We were driving down 2nd Street near Princess and a row of old two-storeys caught my eye. Three of them had the same elaborate Eastlake Stick style bargeboard under their front gables. Brandon has other fine examples of the style. I jumped out and snapped all three.
Brandon’s finest example of the style is the former Paterson/Matheson House at 1039 Louise Ave. You can read more about this pile on my Houses page.
I’ve long admired the old stone fence next to my cousin’s house in Brandon. One of its sections needs a good stonemason to get it vertical again.
I drove out Highway #10 south of Brandon to Riverside Park, a favourite stopping place next to the Souris River. The park is no longer beside the river but in the river. The Souris is flooding its banks frequently this year. It empties into the Assiniboine near Wawanesa. This is a picture of the flooded park.
And here the mighty Souris floods on
As I was leaving the park in the ditch two wild turkeys were strutting around, feathers fanned and fierce. The weather was cooperative, it’s too early for serious highway construction to become obstruction, too early for wood ticks and there wasn’t much traffic for a holiday weekend.
I enjoyed the driving but part of the weekend was to test the intensity of my wanderlust this year, at least giving it an initial airing to see how far its range needs to extend. Still pondering that. The familiar scenery, the memories associated with the region and the wonderful spirit of the people made the trip a double dose of spring tonic for me.
To end here’s a shot of the mixed forest along the top of the valley next to Riding Mountain.