Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Brandon Manitoba to Thunder Bay Ontario

The alarm went off at 5:30 Central Time. That was 6:30 PM Eastern, the time zone we would be in tonight. We also noted that it was exactly six months to Christmas. It was not a happy observation. The hot breakfast was good, including some surprisingly tasty thick cut ham. We were on the road at 6:40 AM under grey skies at 58 F.

After going around Brandon on the east side, we reached the Trans Canada Highway 1 and headed east with the wind behind us.

Scenes from Manitoba

As we bypassed Winnipeg to the south, we stopped at a Shell station where I used one of my Shell gift cards. Just before stopping, we saw a two seat convertible Mini Cooper. I guess I have led a sheltered life because I don't recall ever seeing one of these before. Wikipedia informed me it was a Roadster, there was a hard top version called a coupe and it was produced from 2012 to 2015. It looked like a fun vehicle.

R59 Mini Cooper Roadster

After rejoining Highway 1, we continued east. We met a westbound oil unit train hauled by CN power. The last car in the train was a rugged looking covered hopper. Then we saw a second unit train, also westbound with a single covered hopper tacked on the tail end. More research suggested these were "buffer" cars that must be placed between the engine and cars bearing hazardous loads. They were to be filled with inert material of a specified density to protect the train crews. Hauling back empty, I guess there was no need to relocate them to the other end of the string. And again I learned something new.

This brought up the question of overall railway capacity across the west. Trackage was finite, which limited the number of trains that could be run. With the delays in pipeline development, oil unit trains were taking up a significant portion of this capacity, which must have been why I read complaints from the farmers that the railways were not able to transport all of their grain to the ports. It will be interesting to watch how this all plays out.

The last time we were in Steinbach was just after a near miss by a tornado

Unlike westbound, only a little traffic disruption going east

Manitoba starts to look like Northern Ontario

The highway went down to two lanes as we crossed into Ontario just before 11:00 AM CT. It was sort of like getting home even if we still had 900 miles to go.

Ontario - Yours To Discover AND Open For Business

Pronounce this.....

We encountered our first flag person right after the first turn off to Kenora. From there, we had a series of both flaggers and traffic lights controlling the single lane stretches of both road construction and bridge work. Where work wasn't going on, the highway was pretty good.

Scenes from Northwestern Ontario

There was a little rain that trucks turned into heavy mist

We stopped at McDonald's in Dryden to get lunch to go. I also went on line and fired up my Wyndham app to reserve a room at that nice Days Inn and Suites that we stayed at in Thunder Bay a few days ago. To my surprise, it was booked up. So were the other Days Inn and the Super 8. The Travelodge still had room so I reserved one, all the time wondering how this could happen on a Tuesday night.

Domtar's Dryden Paper Mill

Max The Moose

Mickey D's in Dryden

Cruising along at 15 KPH over the 90 K limit (demerit points kick in at 16 over so I wasn't worth stopping), I would pass some vehicles until I was in a space by myself. Then we would meet a flagger and I we would bunch up so I would have to start all over again. But it helped pass the time as we drove across a province much larger than the vaunted state of Texas with not much more than trees, rocks and lakes to look at.

Summertime, and the passing is easy....

It looks like the worst is behind us (for now)

The driver of this Alberta truck was not the sharpest

Still awake (for now)

Not much happened until we stopped at the Inwood Park rest area near Upsala. This is the place with the outhouses that we stopped at on the way out. In addition to the bathroom, I needed to wake myself up. The rain was starting to fall, which helped me perk up.

Not long after we got going again, we crossed the last time zone of this trip. Hopefully, our biological clocks were back in line with our location.

Eastern Time

The rain started to get heavy and the Home Hardware B Train that passed us while we were getting the photo of the time zone marker threw up an obnoxious spray. I finally got past him and set my speed at not far over the speed limit. Drive according to conditions.

Not good to follow

Near Sunshine (funny name today)

It continued to rain on us while there a large patch of blue sky lurked just to the north. Then more blue appeared ahead of us over Thunder Bay. The streets were dry when we got to the city.

Blue skies smiling at me....

For my buddy Leo

The Travelodge was down the hill on Memorial Avenue. We pulled in at 6:40 Eastern Time. After checking in, we found it was an odd building with many hallway doors and corridors. Our room was small but had all we needed. We considered a sports bar named Wacky's (probably a refugee from the chain) for supper but it looked packed. Reverting to Plan B, we picked up a sandwich to split at Subway and took it back to the room.

Again, I sorted the photos and transcribed my notes but did not have the energy to finish any blog posts. Make that three days behind. So much for my solemn vow to me. Tomorrow would be another long day with an early start, so we turned in relatively early (after Sandy watched the end of America's Got Talent).

Today's Route (575 Equinox miles):

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