Adventure in Manitoba
After a long day across the Canadian prairies our now group of three find ourselves in Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Tired and sticky from the days extreme heat we roll into a KOA campground around midnight to find the office closed and what appeared to be the entire campground asleep. We had been stopping at every campground as far back as Regina only to find them all completely full, not even room for 3 bikes and two small tents. One problem with the prairies is that there’s nowhere to pull over and camp because the fields belong to someone and there’s nowhere to hide a bright coloured tent in a field. Surprised by the amount of tourists in the Regina area we were very relieved when two figures emerged from the darkness of the campground to find us a vacant spot and check us in.
The next morning we decided to head North in an effort to escape the direct and uneventful route of the Trans Canada Hwy. On the internet Karol was able to find a campground on Lake Manitoba that cost only $10 for a tent site, so I typed the town of Meadow Portage into the GPS and away we went. Crossing the provincial boarder into Manitoba we noticed the increase in trees and lush green brush lining the road. We made a stop for gas and caught a glimpse of the attendants watching the local weather radar on their computer. They said there was a storm warning out for the area with heavy thunder showers and even the possibility of hale. I found the idea of hale kind of farfetched considering the temperature was a boiling 47 degrees Celsius with the humidity, but you never know with mother nature. As we rode out of town we couldn’t help but stare in our rear view mirrors at the horizon decomposing into a state of glooming black clouds. Having faith in the GPS we pressed on towards Meadow Portage heading North allowing us to enjoy the bolts of electricity through the clouds to the left of us. The farther we pressed North the more the fields became saturated with water, to the point where it looked like small lakes that had always been there. Was this the flooding everyone talked about in Manitoba?
A few turns later and a couple dozen splattered dragon flies we were on the final stretch. (I’ve never seen dragon flies like that before. Tons!) The rain began to spit as if to warn us but I ignored it knowing that the town was only 900 meters ahead. Surely I should be able to see it by now? I look down at the GPS to see, “Arrived at Destination”. There are fields on both sides of us and with no signs of anything different ahead my thoughts turn to the riders behind me. Where have I led them? With the hope of civilization ahead I open the throttle and accelerate as if now scared and wish to out run the rains. Out of nowhere a church appears followed by a community hall; I brake and pull into the clearly closed and lifeless community hall. We agree that there has to be more of a community ahead and Karol now takes the lead as we continue North. Within a few hundred meters a sign comes into view, “Hill’s Resort next right”. As we pull into the driveway a man spots us and disappears inside the front door of his house. By the time we reach the house the garage door is opening. “You guys looking for shelter from the storm?” We look up at the black clouds which apparently can travel faster than we can ride because they managed to stock us the whole way here and now surround us. As the rains begin to pick up we gladly accept his offer and roll the bikes into his garage. He disappears inside the house once again this time returning with three ice cold beers. Awesome! Shelter and beer! He invites us to watch the storm out on his porch where he was sitting before we rode in. Enjoying the beer and the progressing storm we talk about our days travels and he is surprised to hear that he (Hill’s Resort) was our days destination. He was even more surprised to hear that we planned on tenting and mentioned that he had cabins for rent for $70 a night. I told him that was too much for our budget and we were happy to tent. He said if we were going to tent we were welcome to stay for free. The storm was now pushing hard. The thunder sounded as if someone standing next to you was firing a shotgun and it shook your ribs. I’ve never heard thunder like that before. The rain was heavy and thick blurring our view with a grey blanket of water. I’ve never seen rain like that before. A van pulls into the driveway and the man’s wife and kids make a mad dash for the front door. The wind picks up and slams blankets of rain against us even as far back as 5 feet hitting the front door of the house. I’ve never seen wind like that before. We retreat back into the garage where another round of ice cold beers is dispensed and the attention moves to our bikes and travel plans.
Just as I finish my second beer Erin says “There’s blue sky out there.” That’s it? That wasn’t that bad… We emerge out into 4 inches of water that had blown in and accumulated by the front door. There where leaves and branches all over the lawn and the property owners front field had significantly more water in it compared to when we rode in. We walked around the corner to find his newly installed playground structure complete with swing set laying on its side and in pieces. The wind had slayed it, ripping the rebar anchors right out of the ground and snapping many of the wood posts. (Unfortunately travelling everyday and meeting many people I can’t be sure on the man’s name that owned the property, but we think it was Roger… so for the rest of this tale I shall refer to him as Roger.) Roger then took us down to the lake and along the way pointed out a spot that he thought would be best to set up our tents. We passed by what used to be the camp sites which were now a pond with RV hook ups sticking out of the water. As we walked past the submerged campsites our attention turned to more destruction left behind by the storm. Two trees were blown over and now laid across a number of boat and the outhouses also lay blown over by the wind.
Near the edge of the lake a system of dykes and dams were set up, keeping the water out of the property. Roger tells us that the lake is 5 ft over its maximum water level and if you look at the size of Lake Manitoba, that’s a lot of water! There was a large pump running off a diesel tank that moves water through an 8 inch hose 24 hours a day. We headed back to the garage to retrieve the bikes and within 2 minutes of conversation with Roger and his wife, they kindly offer us the earlier mentioned cabin for free. We gladly except the offer as it’s only the 3rd night we’ll have spent in a bed so far on our travels. The storm had knocked out the power but we were still thrilled and cooked dinner on our stoves by the light of our head lamps. The next morning we packed and cleaned the cabin to the state we were offered it and went to thank our hosts but they were gone for the day. Luckily we ran into Roger in a town about an hour south and were able to thank him once again.
We are now well into Ontario and loving the abundance of “BC” landscapes and free campsites. From the free WIFI of McDonalds in Sault Ste Marie, cya next time kids.