The Big Roadtrip 2002!

Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba, Canada to Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

- 28 August 2002 -

Cloudy skies over the Winnipeg metro area. This picture was taken along Loop 101. 

If I had taken the exit that's signposted in the distance, I could have taken Trans-Canada 1 to Kenora -- and that's Kenora, Ontario, on the shores of the famous Lake Of The Woods! :D Thunder Bay, Ontario -- on Lake Superior -- was just a few hundred kilometers away. :D

I was overjoyed to find myself that far east, seeing signs for places that I had only encountered on maps and in history books. :)

At long last -- Lake Winnipeg itself! 

This picture was taken on the beach at Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba. To get from Winnipeg itself to Winnipeg Beach, one must drive about 50 miles across flat, prim, pretty green farmland and countryside that puts Oregon's Willamette Valley to shame as far as verdure is concerned. 

Due to my American brain's inability to thinkmetric, I didn't realize that the lake would be 50 miles out of town. Nevertheless, it was a pretty drive, and it was well worth the drive to see such a famous body of water. (Geography geekiness, thy name is Yansa. :b ) 

More Lake Winnipeg, as viewed from the park at Winnipeg Beach.

This picture makes Lake Winnipeg look small and cozy. In fact, it's bigger than Oregon's entire Willamette Valley! Lake Winnipeg stretches from the farmed and civilized districts around Winnipeg Beach well into the subarctic lands north of the 53rd parallel. If you look straight out into the lake from Winnipeg Beach, you can't see the other side -- and this is a fairly narrow part of the lake! It's a large, large lake. It's one of the few lakes in North America that appears on globes.   

See? What'd I tell you? You can't see the other side!

Big lake. Big, big, big lake. Very big lake. *nods* 

The park at Winnipeg Beach is kind of a funky little park. It's got a lot of buildings that are built in an undeniably '70s style, such as the edifice in the picture above. Said buildings have no discernible purpose; perhaps they are park offices or something along those lines.

In addition to '70s style buildings with walls, such as the one in the previous picture, there are also '70s style buildings that lack most of their walls -- they're just a roof, two pokey little walls, and a concrete floor. Perhaps those are for picnicking, but I only saw one picnic table in those structures. Hmm. Hmmmmm.

On second thought, space aliens are most likely to blame. We all know how those wacky space aliens really go for them there '70s style structures without walls, don't we?

A part of the quaint little town of Winnipeg Beach.

And that is where the interesting pictures run out :b

After visiting Winnipeg Beach, I went back to Winnipeg and continued south to the Canadian-U.S. border. 

U.S. Customs searched my entire car with a fine-toothed comb. I was wearing a lime green tribal-patterned T-shirt, and my long hair was a-flyin' -- I'm sure that the bored government agents in Pembina, North Dakota, were sure that they were going to find something interesting in the Yansamobile that would perk up their whole boring day. Unfortunately for them, my car was as clean of contraband as the proverbial whistle. (Well, whistles aren't proverbially clean of contraband, but they are clean in general, and presumably that cleanliness includes a notable lack of contraband. *nods*)

In the process of ferreting for illegality in a car that was devoid thereof, my fellow government employees rearranged my whole freaking trunk. I had to pull over at a truck stop just out of Pembina and put everything in place the way it should be. *raarsnarl*

After that, it was a nondescript drive through nondescript North Dakota until I got to Fargo (which wasn't particularly interesting). It was 5:00, and I had plenty of daylight to go. I decided to continue on to Minneapolis.

That was a fateful decision, indeed. No, I didn't lose my life. No, I didn't lose my virginity. No, I didn't lose my sanity. However, I lost the ability to tell people that "No, I have never driven right through the middle of a Great Plains thunderstorm... yea, verily, I have never seen bright lavender light flash around me and my entire vehicle as lightning bolts made contact with the ground near the location where I drove... and, yes, it is absolutely certain that I have never slowed down to 35 MPH along with the locals on a road where the rain was pounding down so hard that I could not see anything but water." I lost my ability to say that to people; after that drive, it was no longer true. 

I had thought the thunderstorm was well to the north of where I would travel. I had thought that from the moment I heard the weather advisory on the radio to the moment that I rounded the bend in the interstate that brought me face-to-face with a dark, dark cloud that looked like an inverted ice-cream cone...

When my head hit the pillow that night and I rocketed into the realm of sleep, my corporeal form lay in the obscure little hamlet of Crystal, Minnesota.

Text written very early in the morning (think "two a.m.") on 28 September 2003.
Last updated 19 January 2006.