After The Canadian Cross Country Road Trip.
Article #7: Embarking In The Wide Open Prairies of Manitoba
The sense of traveling seems daunting when you’re sitting at work thinking of the potential risks that incorporate within the decision. The idea that you voluntarily leave your secure lifestyle in exchange for the unknown doesn’t seem logically feasible. It could come off as a distant goal depending on your personal situation. It’s not simple to just get up and leave when you have important commitments like a family and a spouse and debt to name a few. But at some point in your life, there will be an opportunity that’ll open up so be receptive to the signs and take that chance because you never know where a decision can bring you.
Sitting on the northwest end of Ontario, I’m enjoying the beautiful morning sunrise that only the summer season can provide. I’ve been implementing meditation in my daily routine for the past six months, and locations like forests and lakes are beautiful places to sit down and come at peace with myself. My goal of the day was to get over the border to head into Manitoba. I didn’t have any immediate intention of getting on the road, so I took my time and absorbed what I encountered throughout this large province that is Ontario. After having a camp cooked breakfast, I packed all of my gear into the cargo carrier and made my way onto the highway. I got off highway 71 and headed westbound onto Highway 17 towards Kenora. I’ve been using public Wi-Fi to upload my photography and daily vlogs throughout the trip. I had a routine so well practiced that I could have my content uploaded onto Facebook and Instagram before having my breakfast ready. Having the luxury of Wi-Fi at home was something I realized I used a lot and because I was using my data off my cell phone rate plan, I ended paying more than usual. That’s something to consider if you ever plan on using your cell phone as your primary device for keeping in communication with your family and friends and your social feeds. After I got my caffeinated go-go juice and my breakfast, I got into my car and got my GPS to point me towards Winnipeg.
I’ve lived in the prairies for the last eight years and its’ been a change to get used too with the prairie landscape. Having the Maritimes as your daily playground throughout your childhood is an immense privilege to have. Going from the ocean views with sandy beaches to the wheat fields and grain elevators was a change. But having spent time exploring this vast landscape, Ive learned it has its own beauty. The rolling hills and wide open skies, the great colors that appear throughout each season, and the relaxed atmosphere that the kind people throw off to you is a beautiful experience. I miss the Maritimes very much, but the West has treated me well throughout all these years, so I’m very fortunate that have called this my second home. As I make my way on the Trans Canada Highway and towards the Manitoba border I’m starting to see that very familiar landscape once again. I remember when I was making my way towards the East Coast earlier in the summer I was uncertain of what the outcome of this trip would be. Now that I’m coming back and seeing the landscape that I recall from over a month ago, my headspace was a little different. I felt more fulfilled and enlightened and confident of what I wanted to accomplish. With that in mind, I set my cruise control on and relaxed on the beautiful long highways.
Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba. Named after Lake Winnipeg, located near the longitudinal center of North America, it has a population of 663,617 people. This is a great place to come to with the many festivals it hosts throughout the year. Being a very wet location in the summer and cold place in the winter, Winnipeg is the second sunniest city in Canada. Calgary in Alberta has first place on the podium. I was very fortunate throughout this trip with the weather that I received. My end destination was a campground on the southwest end of the city. I got to my location early in the afternoon, so I decided to set up my tent and take a quick nap. Alongside with meditation, I took short naps to help regain some mental charge. I decided that I wanted to explore Pinawa Dam Provincial Park. Manitoba is a great province to check out hydroelectric plants. This particular dam was the first one that provided power to the ever growing city of Winnipeg back in 1906 till 1951. It was Manitoba’s first year-round hydroelectric plant up until it was shut down to facilitate the full flow of the Winnipeg River for the newly developed Seven Sisters Dam. This place is now a historical tourist attraction which is perfect to take photography of. The accessibility you have to view all the parts of the dam is astonishing. The day I went was gorgeous. On the other side of the barrier, there were boats and sea doos and people on floatation devices being very close to where the water would have been flowing when the plant was fully operational. One particular spot caught my eye which was a shallow rapid river that had smoothed out the rocks underneath. The area created a natural waterslide people we’re using, and it looked like a lot of fun. I ended up spending my afternoon exploring this beautiful location.
That evening I spent going through the photos and film that I documented throughout the trip so far. The amount of diverse landscape this country has is incredible to look at when go through them one after the other. I had been so busy trying to get as much as I could of each location through my camera lens and my own eyes that when I sat down and looked at the raw photos I felt lucky to have been in the presence of these places. After I traveled through memory lane I read a little bit into one of my books and called it a night. The next day I crawled out of my lovely living quarters and made my way towards my first destination of the day. Delta Beach is located on the northwest side outside of Winnipeg. Being a part of Lake Manitoba, this lake is nearby marshes that serve as a migration staging area. I wanted to come here to see what the lake looked like, and I was pleasantly surprised by the location. The beach reminded me of some of the beaches in Nova Scotia. One of the differences was the trees that had fallen on the beach with its roots completely exposed. The overcastthat day gave a great shade of gloominess to the shots. My end destination of the day was Riding Mountain National Park. Located further northwest of Winnipeg, the images I could gather off the internet seemed different in landscape than the prairies I’d been in for the last two days. I passed through one town called Forrest which had an old grain elevator that looked like it was in mint condition so naturally, I stopped to take some photos. The drive to the park was great. You get to see the prairies slowly blend into the beautiful forests. This park has a lot going on. It houses three different ecosystems like the grasslands, the upland bored forests, and the deciduous forests. This 2969 square kilometers (1156 square miles) protected playground provides home to all sorts of wildlife like black bears, elk, moose, wolves, bisons, just to name a few. I was excited to see this park. When I made my way to my tent site, there’s the main drag that has all sorts of different little stores and restaurants paired with a beautiful beach with paved trails running alongside it. I was watching a horse and buggy pass by while I made my way to one of the restaurants. After spoiling myself with a peanut butter marshmallow square for dessert, I made my way to one of the lakes within the park. Driving a hatchback sports car with slightly stiff suspension was as exciting as it sounds on a rough dirt road. Eventually I made my way to my end destination. With my camera in hand, I went to work. I’m not entirely sure why it’s so relaxing to be near lakes but after setting the camera down I started to fall into a trance of relaxation as the wind died down and the atmosphere became calm. After spending time in Ontario reflecting on myself on my mental and physical state, I tried to implement as much of a daily practice to analyse and assess how I was doing. As simple as it may sound, I'm confident that it’s something we don’t do enough. I know for myself when I was working a regular full-time job, I never made the time to see how I was honestly feeling within a moment, where I was within myself. I watched the little waves hitting the corner of the dock and turned my focus onto the energy that was in front of me, the entity that is nature. I walked to my car, and with another bumpy ride in the little white stallion, I went to my campsite where I was spending night. I finished editing my photo and video that I was going to upload onto my social feeds for the next day and noticed the rain drops that we’re falling onto my windshield. I was underneath a big tree, so the raindrops fell at a slower pace which made it perfect for sleeping. In the last two months, I’ve never been so connected to the present moment as I have been throughout this road trip. It’s natural for us to focus on creating our pathway to a sustainable and secure future. But for me, I’ve been so fixated on the idea of wanting to try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life that I would at times neglect what was facing me in the present moment. I wanted to make an effort to appreciate what was in front of me on a daily basis, and I’ve been blessed to have had the beautiful country of Canada to be that entity that has been in front of me throughout this time of self-reflection.