Before I describe today's drive and the places we visited, I must mention the avid reader of this blog who lives in one of the colonies. He noticed the news about British Airways striking again and asked if this would affect our return to the UK at the end of the trip. The answer is yes, and we have already booked on Air Canada out of Halifax, as an insurance policy. So, thank you for your concern, it is most appreciated.
We rose this morning to see steady rain falling. Such a contrast to yesterday. As has been the pattern of the last few days, Kenny left first, then Bob, with us taking up the rear. Yesterday I noticed the Landcruiser was smoking rather badly so I bought some injector cleaning fluid and added it to the diesel in the tank in the hope this might cure the problem. Well, as we drove out of Nipawin we both could see clouds of black smoke coming out of the exhaust as we accelerated. It didn't look good!
The road going due east from Nipawin was dead straight for 68kms before we came to the first bend.
Shortly after, we came to the beginning of 100kms of good gravel taking us into the Northern Provincial Forest.
After 10kms of the gravel section, who should we see coming in the opposite direction but Kenny and DeeAnne! We stopped and they pulled up alongside us to tell us that Kenny had left his camera in the motel and they were driving back to pick it up. We drove on along the gravel road throwing up clouds of dust so reminiscent of the roads we have driven along in many third world countries.
The drive through the forest was great driving with virtually no traffic, but when a car did go past we were blinded by the clouds of dust.
I noticed a truck coming up behind me and I pulled over to let it pass. The truck then stopped and the driver waved me down. Slightly concerned I pulled up by him and he said he had noticed our car and the stickers of past drives and he was interested in what we were doing driving along such an out-of-the-way road. It turned out he was a First Nation Cree and lived in a village called Red Earth which was not far away. We had a very enjoyable five minutes talking to him and exchanged names, website and e-mail addresses. His name was Dearld Whitecap and he worked in education. He proudly told us that his granddaughter's name was Princess Diana! She was called this by his daughter because she so admired the charitable work of Princess Diana. We asked him about black bears in the area and he told us that last Saturday he had shot a bear that had come into the village and was a threat to the children!! Wendy took a photo of Dearld and me in front of his pickup truck. Another very special moment in a wonderful trip across Canada.
The remainder of the drive was about 50kms into The Pas. Once again we crossed the Saskatchewan River, this time in the centre of The Pas.
Our motel, the Kikiwak Inn is located just to the north of the river. The Pas is a small town where the main industry is a large paper mill, though tourism is increasingly important. In the centre of the town is the Sam Waller Museum that houses the collection of Sam Waller, a resident of The Pas. The building is the oldest brick building in northern Manitoba and used to be the court house and in the basement are the original gaols for the female prisoners.
Over many years, Waller had built up the collection which includes many fascinating items such as a large collection of trophy heads but it also had some real oddities such as this extraordinary two headed calf that was born in The Pas in the 1970's. Apparently, it only survived a short time.
By now it appeared that the smoking from the Landcruiser's exhaust had more or less gone. This was confirmed by Kenny who had been following me for some time. It seems the Winns injector fluid really does work!
We headed back to our motel where we are going to have our evening meal. Tomorrow we head due south to the small town of Dauphin which is located near the western shores of Lake Manitoba. Hopefully the weather will improve, though the rain has nearly stopped as I write this. Perhaps we might even get a glimpse of the Northern Lights this evening. Now that would really be 'the icing on the cake'!