Retro: The Wilds of Winnipeg

More adventures from my RTW travel log

26th August 2002

Unpredictablility is my choice if I’m ever asked to sum up travelling in one word.

I stayed in Winnipeg a touch longer than planned, it was a nice city, combined with the fact that I was so pleased to be off the bus (30 hour trip from Toronto) and I was ready to settle down. On Friday I had signed up for a tour of a wildlife reserve, the mint, somewhere else and a pub. So when Friday came and I was asked if I was the one on the tour I said ‘yes’.

Now alarm bells started to sound when one of the guys said to the tour leader that shorts and shoes you didn’t mind getting wet were the order of the day. No worries I thought, maybe we’re going to go wading through a marsh at this wildlife place. Then he mentioned life jackets and I just thought, maybe we’re going nature watching by canoe.

The Winnipeg Rapids

The Winnipeg rapids

On the van, on our way out of the city, we passed the mint and the guy sat next to me said: “There’s the mint, I’d like to take a look at that.” Now, I’m thinking: “Well, it’s next on the tour after the wildlife reserve.” After further questioning I find that I’m on the wrong tour. It turns out I signed up for a tour (the mint one as far as I was concerned) but the girl at the desk just added me to the tour that was going Friday. It turns out they only run the mint tour on rainy days — like I cared — in fact I was going tubing on some rapids.

So we get to the rapids, I’m in walking boots and long trousers, so I decide not to go in (surprisingly). But, as it’s hot, and I want to look like I’m not a complete wuss, I decide to shed my shoes and socks and have a paddle. Now I’ve seen a few people slip on the rocks on the edge of the stream, so I take it slow and easy and find a shallow, flat part. I’m standing fine for all of 10 seconds when I slowly slide out to deeper water, then I try to step onto the shore and that’s when it all goes wrong. Half a second later I find myself on my knees in the water, trying to get up I fall again, and again, and again, in the end one of the others practically pulls me out. The only part of me that’s still dry is a small patch behind my neck. If someone had had a video camera running we’d have been guaranteed a fortune from ‘You’ve Been Framed’ (they’d have been running it forever, trust me). I spent the remaining time with my t-shirt off, and everything in my pockets, out in the sun in an (unsuccessful) attempt to dry it.

The Rope Bridge

A rope bridge

Then, to make matters worse, I decide to hook up with a guy called Harris who is moving from Montreal to Vancouver. He offers me a lift, and I figure it’ll beat the bus. So when we get back to the hostel we drive off to find a ‘safe’ carpark – he’s concerned about getting mugged for his stuff – bearing in mind we’re in Winnipeg, which couldn’t seem hostile if it tried.

There’s no room in the passenger seat, so I have to take everything out of the back and repack it. Now he’s carrying everything, including numerous boxes of tissues, staples, notepads, a coffee table, shaving foam, rolls of tape, lampstands. Why, I ask myself? Most of it he can pick up for next to nothing when he gets there.

After about 45 mins I’ve repacked the car so that I can get in it, though my main pack will need to be strapped to the roof. (cont in next log)

Quickly, a few things I’d like to say:

My shaving oil, which comes in a 15 ml bottle, has indeed saved much weight and space (and in a backpack as full as mine, that’s important) but I seem to scrape off about a dozen layers of skin everytime I use it. Still, I haven’t cut myself.

My universal sink plug has proved invaluable (only in the last two hostels have plugs been present) and a bargain at $1.99 (US keyboards don’t have pound signs).

For those of you following the flannel saga: whilst still turning the water a nice shade of blue, it has now stopped covering me in fluff, result.

One overriding memory of my stay in Winnipeg is a girl named Robin (or Robyn) who worked in the hostel, so if anyone knows her, or is staying at the Ivey House International Hostel and Robin/Robyn still works there, say hi from me (not that she’ll remember).

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