Monday, July 9, 2012

Friends in Two Countries

We were only about 100 miles from Winnipeg where our fulltiming friends Gary and Anita lived and now spend the summers.  Heading north again would give us a the chance to have personal tour guides of the city and to add Manitoba and Ontario to our travel map.  Our first order of business was to fuel up as diesel was about $4.60 in Manitoba and well over $5.00 in Ontario.  That makes the $3.75 we paid in North Dakota sound pretty good.   
Gary, Nanc, Anita and Jim after a great meal and an evening of catching up on our travel adventures since we last saw them at Betty's in the fall of 2008.  Once again meeting friends on the road is one of the high points of our traveling lifestyle.
HAPPY 1st of July!!! 
Not the 4th, they were celebrating Canada Day with all the usual fireworks and hoopla as our Independence Day.  We are so far north that it did not get dark enough for the fireworks to begin until 11PM.  Most stores, including grocery stores, were closed or had limited hours so their employees could join the festivities.  A novel idea by US standards.
We toured the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg where the have made coins for over seventy countries represented by the flags.  They even made pennies for the United States in the 1990's.  They use a new technique that lowered the cost of making a penny to less than 1/2 a cent. Since then the cost has risen to 1.5 cents so in May they minted the last penny.  They join Australia which has eliminated the penny and the nickle while the US spends six cents to make a coin that many people literally throw away.  Go Figure. 
Here we are checking out our weight in gold and the Olympic medals from the Vancouver games that were minted here.  This year is the 25th anniversary of the Canadian dollar coin that is called the loonie because of the loon pictured on it.  It was so popular that they now make a two dollar coin which everyone calls the toonie.  The whole process, from cutting blanks to stamping coins to packaging, was very interesting but no pictures were allowed.
Gary and Anita took us to The Forks where the Assiniboine and Red Rivers meet.  There is a walking trail and park all along the banks.  The Red flows north out of the US and has flooded many times.  They said we were lucky because last year at this time all this was under water.  The polar bear statues were part of an exhibit of painted bears the city sponsored. 
The Fork includes the historic port that is used by pleasure boats today, a marketplace and the new Humanitarian Museum a unique looking building which is still under construction.  We were surprised at how hot and humid it was.  Temps can range from highs near 40 in the summer to -40 in the winter.
Winnipeg has a very large French speaking population and the neighbourhood around Saint Boniface Cathedral is largely French.  The cathedral was built in 1905 and burned in 1968 leaving only the facade (left), the sacristy (right) and part of the walls.  Rather than rebuild in the old style, a new modern building was constructed where the sanctuary was and connected to the sacristy.  It makes for a very interesting building.  The grave stone marks the burial site of Louis Riel, the founder of Manitoba and the leader of the Metis people.  The Metis were the mix of the early French and First Nation people.  We had a great time in Winnipeg and loved having Gary and Anita as personal tour guides.  I am sure we will see them again somewhere down the road.
We moved on to Fort Frances where we slept in the Wally World parking lot so we could add Ontario to our map.  It was the Fourth of July and while we could not really see them, we could hear the celebration fireworks across the river in Minnesota.  This was another stop on our Travel Back in Time tour as we stayed here two nights on our '82 bicycle trek.  The paper mill is significant because we remembered how bad it smelled.  We were glad the wind was blowing the smell away this time.
  We had contacted Dave and Sarah before entering Canada because we knew they lived in Minnesota, but we were not sure where.  Initially, it did not look like we would cross paths but when I check my email (in Canada we had Verizon coverage near the border) we learned we would be passing through Cloquet, Minnesota at the same time.  We agreed to meet at Wally World and arrived within minutes of each other.  We had a nice lunch together, shared a few tales and were on our separate ways.  Once again it is so neat getting to see friends on the road.  

1 comment:

Molly and Bob said...

Loved hearing all the interesting tidbits in this post! Enjoy your journey and thanks for sharing it!