Thursday, July 22, 2010

YandA in Manitoba IV homeward bound

Tues. 20/7

A nice warm day started with a nice warm walk to the marina and back along the summer houses on the shore. We had planned to connect to the internet today in order to catch up with mail and hopefully talk to Hillel on skype before his bedtime, so got through breakfast and returned to our cabin while the rest went to the pool.

Getting connected took some bureaucratic efforts including an extra expedition sortie to the office for additional explanations, but eventually all was well and two hours were bought for 3 dollars. Only Hillel was not in evidence and messages were left. Arkee put out the previous blog, sans pictures despite inhuman efforts the application is still not working, much to our (and our readers'?) disappointment.

Finally he went off with camera and book to the pool and I waited hopefully till the end of the session. But when the time was up and I got into my costume, the weather had changed. Clouds and a breeze came up and rain threatened. I got in a few splashes but the children had already retired and over a late lunch we discussed whether it was worthwhile risking a round of mini-golf. The decision was that it was, but the rain caught us in the middle of the round, we retired to the office temporarily and waited it out. We finished up on the soggy tees, splashing our way on the paths without too much difficulty despite the drips from the trees, great fun was had by all.

The real storm broke while we were having dinner at the restaurant overlooking the golf course. Flashes of lightning accompanied pouring rain and made for a dramatic show. The manager of the course had to enforce regulations in order to call in the last insistent golfers who saw no reason to take shelter from the lightning and the rain..

Thursday 22.7

Yesterday was travel day. We managed to walk around the campsite before packing up and leaving with some regrets. Our account was credited for the lack of hot water

in our cabin which all the king's trucks and all the king's technicians had not managed to fix before we left. Traveling route 2, we were going through farms and very small locations with hardly a gas station to be called by a name. About a quarter of the way to Winnipeg we stopped for lunch in a tiny town called Carberry and then started looking for a famous site of sand-dunes left behind by the delta of the Assiniboine river when it flowed out under the 2km high ice cap in the area. The area is well-known for its peculiar formations and vegetation and sandy paths. The shortest walk to view the dunes is 1.5 km each way, it was quite hot and the younger children found it tough. We took a small bottle of water with us and continued with David and Rafi up the sand-dune ladders to the top and slid down the other side - fun if you don't slide into the bushes by mistake..

Quite a hike for septuagenarians, after which we insisted on ice-cream as a reward, but had to make do with the local supply from the refrigerator in another tiny town. When we needed to fill up with petrol the only station for miles belonged to a local supermarket and was closed. It had to be activated by a membership card, luckily a friendly member was there and accepted 10 dollars from us to give us the equivalent from his card.

Everyone was happy to be home, chaos was soon more or less organised and after supper we returned the car with ease and compliments. We slept well on the sofa....

Thursday in Winnipeg

This was our last day in Canada and it rained most of the time. We spent some time in a mall shopping. I turned the town upside down but did not find the exotic Lego that Ma'ayan requested. It will have to be ordered on line. We did do the Saba trip to the electronic games shop and we picked up a few other things. The rest of the day the children played with their new possessions. Tomorrow we are on an early flight to Toronto and will be back in Israel on Saturday and back to the real world.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

YandA in Manitoba II


Friday 16/7

At last the promised good weather has materialised. After a late morning and a somewhat frustrating walk which took us past a marsh only five minutes away before joining the path with the main road (!), we got ourselves together with the rest of the family to take the cruise on the lake. This is mostly a boat ride around the shores pointing out the other beaches and areas of summer habitation (there are no services in winter, so very few people are permanent inhabitants and the people in the restaurants and hotels who serve us are mostly college students and others on temporary summer jobs). We also witnessed people on various water sports, canoeing, fishing and variations on being pulled behind motor-boats - water-skis and inflatable dinghies which bounce across the wake of the motor-boat at incredible speeds, leaving nothing to roller-coasters. Shira made great friends with a little Mennonite girl and they ran together around the upper deck chatting away gaily, the contrast in their styles of dress and background hampering the relationship not at all.

Lunch in the cabin was followed by a quiet afternoon and a reading session for us by the pool while watching over Shira swimming.

She was very energetic and is close to really swimming (no waterwings are needed), and we just relaxed and read till dinner time before Shabbat came in (late). After Shabbat, with no electronic games allowed, dominoes, word games and others came to the fore and made for a sociable evening.

A: The lake shore itself evoked childhood memories since at our old cabin at a lake in Minnesota. the woods come right down to the is usual for Northland lakes. The exception we saw was Lake of the Woods that had interesting geology and basalt formations, some of them decorated with ancient First Nation petroglyphs that no one can decipher today. Here the narrator prattled on about man-made objects and promos for local business which we mostly ignored. The spruce forest is now undergoing a population explosion of beetles whose larvae decimate the foliage. We are told that this happens every 25 years or so and the forest survives. It is a bonanza for the avian population so I expect the prey-predator equilibrium will come about as it always does.Despite the insects, the forest is most impressive with birch along with the spruce and pines. The reward for summer rain is the greenery and the abundance of water.
YandA on the water:

Shabbat - Ode to a sock lost in a loony bin.

Shabbat, as was fitting, was a very quiet day. We arose late, had a skype chat with Maya and went to the Loondramat to launder. This is an institution situated behind a gift shop called after the local bird, the lady says she works in the Loony bin. Several socks were actually misplaced but retrieved later, however one has remained in limbo, for which Arkee continues to mourn.

Shabbat means no electronic toys or games so we were actually able to interact with the kids, play games and talk. While the mighty Hoults lay around their cabin and the washing machine turned we went out to the town and eventually had a late lunch at an oddly named Italian restaurant known as T.J. McKoy's (sic). The food was good and the waitresses very nice.

As evening approached, we got Hadass and the kids out to a playground. Among other things, we found a 3x3 meter checkerboard with pieces that you kick from place to place. Ari set up a tournament: In the first round Rafi defeated Shira and Saba won over Ari. In the thrilling finals, Saba won the family checkers crown by avoiding a Rafi trap and then jamming him so he eventually had no move despite having six pieces including a king on the board. Saba enjoys preening himself on his success.

Later at about 2230 Shabbat went out and Havdala was marked with due ceremony, albeit with grape juice since no one had brought wine. We went back to our cabin to pack and as Mr. Pepys would say and so to bed.

Sunday 18.7 Up (relatively) early to pack up and to retrieve the entropy of the eponymous Loondramat. Net loss, one Saba sock, c'est la vie, We checked out of Thunderbird Lodge . Wasagaming, Riding Mountain National Park and set off to Oak Lake in the so-named Provincial Park. We passed through a metropolis called Brandon, had lunch and restocked on food at a Safeway. We are now at Oak Lake after a few wrong turns etc. and are now settled, the Hoults in a huge fancy cabin with virtually no cupboard space and YandA in a large and comfortable house-trailer with innumerable cupboards, shelves, corner ledges and all mod. cons. including air-conditioning. There is a huge trailer-park next to and around us, a lake, mini-golf and bathing-pool and wi-fi(for a fee), restaurants, trees, mosquitoes and an anti-noise ordinance. All we could possible want. We hope to have a relaxing time here as well.

The trailer park is a resort where people bring their hotel-size caravans and park them for the summer, complete with electricity, gas, running water, extensible rooms and netted in porches for eating outdoors alone or with their families and/or neighbors. Some people obviously come back to the same slot year after year and have gravel paths, fences, and garden furniture and decorations that they bring with them. There seem to be hundreds of them. obviously brought to the spot by trucks and parked for the season. The smell of outdoor cooking pervades the area. Many people have boats, either parked next to the caravans or in the boat-car parking lots.

We went off to play golf, three kids and a Saba, with an audience of Hadass and Yosefa. It was a hilarious game full of wild events. Naturally no one kept score. The designers of this course were significantly more creative than those at Clear Lake and the obstacles were quite weird. In one case, we were called to drive our balls through a cannon pointed at a 45 degree angle at the sky. Rafi, who had been consistently hitting off the "fairway" into the environment shot through the cannon and his ball vanished totally. We thought it was stuck somewhere inside the cannon and peered in from both ends, but it was Shira who spotted it in the grass about ten meters away from the hole. It was great fun and the ladies will join us next time.

The next item of business was dinner which was resolved in favor of a take-out pizza. YandA drove to the local restaurant-cum-golf course to pick up a six-pack of (local) Kokanee beer which went very well with the pizza. We then walked back to the take out place for soft ice cream just as they were closing. We pleaded that we had spent time eating their pizzas and the manager relented and provided the ice cream, bless her buttons. We then walked down to the shore of Oak Lake for a lovely view and back to our housing units. Good night all.

Monday at Oak Lake, 19.7 waiting for hot water because they screwed up. We had brekker and a walk and a visit to the office. Y did anthropology and photographed the environment, the world of trailers and RV's. Walking past one of these houses, camera in hand, we were invited inside by the proud owner (after removing shoes) and shown the ship-shape arrangements including a well-set-up "dungeon" which could contain "up to eight kids" with sleeping accommodation, stairs and a platform, a basketball net and a close-off door...

When towing this 33ft. monster (which winters in a hired facility in the nearest town) the sliding extensible portions are closed up, to be used for extra seating, storage and sleeping space in the summer.And there are plenty larger ones than this on the lot, with small tents beside to be used as spare rooms or maybe doghouses!.

The hot water issue went unresolved and we showered at the Hoult cabin. Eventually the local staff gave up and called the service from Town. When we returned from our afternoon trip, all was well and we have hot water. In the afternoon, we visited a town named Souris about an hour's drive from here. It is famous for a swinging foot bridge, 177 meters long over a river. The bridge is anchored at each end but oscillates as you walk on it.

It was built by the town founder in 1904, destroyed in a flood in 1975 and rebuilt a few years later. It was quite an experience to cross the river and come back swinging to and fro. We then repaired to a Victorian tea house in a building that had once been a church. . The place is called "The Plum" after the Plum River and the colour in which it is painted and decorated.

The tiny cafe was full of mementos of the town and royal souvenirs - pictures and books - as well as local handicrafts for sale.

There too the colour plum was dominant, as well as in the offerings of jam and fruit tarts. Orders for baked goods were baked on the spot. We had tea and scones in the true English tradition.

We also saw an old caboose

in the middle of town standing as a memorial to the railroad history of Souris, full of old railroad documents and pictures. It made me think of Israel Rail who threw their last steam locomotive into the steel plant furnace. The history is raw and new by our standards, but this is indeed Western Canada that was really settled only late in the 19th century.The whole historic part of town is typical of old style life on the prairie with, of course, a pickup truck in every driveway. The weather is lovely--today was my first shorts and sandals day since arrival in Western Manitoba. We hope it will hold to the end of our stay

Thursday, July 15, 2010

YandA in Manitoba III

YandA 1 Manitoba 2010

Y.: Rain!

Any thoughts of a morning walk or a nature trip were off, I even vaguely considered detaching all our hungry electronic devices from the wall overnight when I saw the lightning, but it did not come close till this morning.Then it was clear we were not going to be able to fulfill any grand plans.

We had a late breakfast and did some shopping, after which we made some failed efforts at internet connection but the storm had obviously done some damage. But in the afternoon the weather suddenly cleared and the family decided to take advantage of this and try to find the local bison.

We took off all together in the van, to the designated bison enclosure, a huge area through which one drives and hopes to find the animals grazing. One is warned not to get out of the car, nor get too close as if they get frightened, a couple of adult bison can easily trash a small car and would do so if they thought they were being attacked. So we drove into the enclosure without much hope and got out at the lookout which is the only place where you are allowed out of the car.Overlooking a huge meadow we could just see at a long distance a stationary car and one tiny dark bison. Then we climbed back into the van, somewhat undecided as to whether to call it a day or to go on. We went a bit further down the road, around a slight bend - and there in front of us was a whole herd of some forty-fifty bison! David slowed down immediately, there were two more cars almost among the animals, standing stock still with the bison milling around them suspiciously but still moving along slowly on their intended route. We got as close as we dared and opened a window taking picture after picture watching how the leading bull kept the younger bulls away every time they tried to investigate us... and then we breathed a great sigh of contentment that the day had not been wasted.

It finished up with the kids on the pedal-boat on the lake.

A.:In the evening there was a resurrection of the mythical Eagle Fleagle (an in comment for the family). Shira enjoys, smiles and does not believe a word of what her Saba tells her, alas.

Wednesday AM

We got up a bit earlier this morning, saw some blue in the sky and decided to take a walk around the lake.

We smeared ourselves with repellant and had a lovely hike along the shore path. There are beautiful houses, obviously  summer homes of the Manitoba opulent with private docks and boats, although most of the craft are in the marina near the pier.
The lake provides facilities for any kind of activity, well almost...

We returned for breakfast with the mighty Hoults who were  more or less awake mainly because Shira had become hungry. Today looks promising for some moderately decent weather and we shall start with a grocery shopping trip to a town a few tens of km away and go on from there.

Y.; Shopping was done easily, we picked up some more anti-mosquito remedies as well. Every entry or exit to a car or lodge is done with haste and accompanied by a "shut the door" call from one or several affected persons. Sprays, applications, special wicks and candles are sold everywhere. Life with these pests and the dragonflies that feed on them is part of the local scene.

Shira needed some help in handling the golf-club, but held her place,

everyone else enjoyed the game- 

Hadass got a hole in one around an impossible billiard-table obstacle - until the clouds gathered again and the rain fell in quantities that stopped play at the 17th hole. Even the children gave up after a good soaking

and we went back to the same good restaurant for dinner. After dinner we had to go back to the golf course to retrieve Arkee's sun glasses which had fallen out of his pocket, Ari who had seen them on the ground but not known they belonged to his grandfather came with us and easily found them again. Luckily the distances were short

A: Ari has been introducing me into his world of Intendo and Yoshi the dinosaur. I told him that I have on good authority, namely Ma'ayan and Natan, been told that dinosaurs have been extinct for a long time, in fact 1,000,000 days according to Nathan. I failed to convince him. We played a few games on his Ipod and I lost miserably in every case. Even Shira beat us at bingo. Nonetheless, they are very patient with us and we are all enjoying one another's company..

Thursday July 15

Happy birthday Boaz. We skyped Berlin, but failed to connect to Atlit. Anything in real-time has to be done in the morning and if the weather is not too good, we go down to the cafe and pay the fee for the connection, as sitting outside the office where there is wi-fi but also a chance of rain is not a comfortable option, nor is it easy to talk loudly in proximity to other boarders. There is also much frustration with Google's blogger software that has had the usual failures after an upgrade or whatever. It is now impossible to add images to a blog. There is a huge outcry on the Net so I imagine they will fix it somehow.

In the early afternoon we went to a ranch where the kids had a great time riding horses. This was a special appointment made for them only, so they got all the attention and time they needed, each in turn. First they were introduced to the horses and were allowed to lead and groom them. Then Rafi had a real riding lesson from the lady in charge,

Ari rode a bit

and Shira rode a pony somewhat timidly.

She was not sure that she enjoyed the experience.

The boys however, are quite prepared for their parents to purchase a horse and stable it in the garage in Winnipeg..........

We had a very late lunch in a town called Onanole and then the adults browsed a used bookstore cum cafe and art shop while the kids wrung out another round of minigolf.

Fun was had all around.
We would have loved to have shared our pix with (on inflicted on) you, but the blogger is still buggy.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

YandA in Manitoba July 2010

No getting up at 2am, no taxis ordered at midnight for unearthly hours and getting to the front of the house (where cases need to be schlepped down steps) instead of the back because the dispatchers changed shifts and didn't pass on the instructions... and orderly packing up over three (!) days brought us to the beautiful operatic-symphonic performance of Trovatore the night before, everything almost ready, a relaxed breakfast and as a result a last minute rush to hang the sheets and towels (so as not to have a washing-machine full when I come back _ and almost! forgot my toiletries bag at the last minute!

The airport was so relaxed that after we had had the routine questions asked and told to wait in line for X-raying of our big bags , we were identified as being harmless and shifted painlessly straight to the desk with no morre preliminaries. Little do they know what subversions lie behind our grandparently exteriors! To prove our innocence of any maleficent intentions, we bought some controlled substances - but left them safely under lock and key at the duty free shop and disdained all other blandishments offered in favor of a cappucino before the flight.

A: We did buy some Israeli goodies to take to the Mighty Hoults. I think the airport is so quiet and relaxed because everyone is staying home to watch the Mondial final.

We hope it is shown on the plane, but I would not care to bet on it ( later they promised to update us over the PA but could not show us the game as they did not have a satellite connection set up).

Y. I am flying over the North Atlantic, not thinking at all about football, just getting rid of the last bad news from this morning's haaretz - and deciding to see if the entertainment on the plane has anything to offer. and lo and behold -they offer us Invictus - a film about Nelson Mandela and how he inspired South African's rugby team to win the World Rugby Cup in 1995 with the whole country behind them when before that only the whites had supported it and the blacks had always supported their opponents! Of course I wanted to see it, however bad the sound track . What a feel-good film, what a wonderful message, and wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a Mandela? I was smiling all through it and watched the (fictional) rugby with every bit as much enthusiasm as if I had been watching the finals of the Mondial...

We staggered off the plane at Toronto, having napped here and there (leg-room has improved) and were told that the expected stormy weather had cleared. However, it was still leaving its effects on flights and our connection to Winnipeg, already late in the evening, was to be delayed by another hour and a half, so we sat down for supper and are now being treated to WiFi and a total replay of the (result known ) final of the Mondial thanks to Pearson airport.

A. Winnipeg 1:30am Sheraton hotel Final delay was three hours due to a huge thunderstorm which heavily disrupted all flights but at last here we are and will soon be a somnolent YandA

Monday 12.7

We awoke to a new day, got started, picked up the rental car and headed for Riding Mountain National Park. The countryside is flat as flat, roads are straight as straight, but the day was fine and we had had a modicum of sleep. Actually down the road there was one small town with a hill in it glorified by a street named Mountain View - then it was back to the never-ending prairie. When Y had had enough driving we stopped for lunch in a town called Gladstone that boasts a namesake "Happy Rock" all painted up in a park at the entrance to town. The late Mr. Gladstone might have appreciated it.

We arrived finally at the park in mid afternoon and were warmly greeted. Here there are some real hills and even forests, witness the bear-proof trash-bins everywhere.

A nice walk down to the lake and dinner at a place called the Wigwam were followed by ice cream. Then the kids went to the pool and we relaxed. It is delightful to be with Hadass, David and the kids.

OK, now to read Kaniuk and sleep off some more jet lag.

Y.The holiday venue is a huge nature park with recreation areas reserved for intruders, i.e. us.

The accommodation for tourists is in small houses of different styles and attributions, called chalets, lodges, cottages, whatever, also some motels all crowded together in a small area and scattered among the trees above the lakeside. Each group of lodgings has its own pseudo-countrified name and pseudo-rustic style, and does its best to differentiate itself from the others and to avoid any stamp of urbanism by having only rustic paths and few designated parking lots. Our Thunderbird lodges are painted white and have balconies with grills for picnics. Next door's New Chalets are pink and have smaller balconies.. There is a small commercial centre and of course restaurants.

Right now there is a large gathering of guests of all sizes and shapes and modes of dress, all of us prey to - the mosquitoes. These attacked us as soon as we arrived and opened the car door. Luckily I had brought last trip's bottle of spray with me in order not to have to look for a shop immediately on arrival. Luckily I had put it handy this morning as we left the hotel. We sprayed ourselves and the lodge-chalet-cottage as we opened the door, to good effect. This has become such a habit in Canada that the fact has turned into a verb - we DEET ourselves religiously every afternoon and evening!
Defense is also by scratching:

And when I am around Arkee I am mostly protected anyway as he gets preferentially bitten, he must be sweeter than I!.

Jet-lag caught up with us late this afternoon, but we held out with the help of the family. After supper we went to this ice-cream place where every scoop is a monster and were unforgivably tempted into two scoops each. I don't think we will do that again, the quantities are really exaggerated, but the stuff was really good. Then we went to get an internet code from the office (free, but effective only in the area close to the pool and office, so to check and send mail we have to out of the lodge, otherwise work offline as I am doing now. Aren't we spoiled!

Good night for now