Tuesday, August 24, 2010 (Riding Mountain National Park, MB)

The wind woke us up early this morning...it was just howling out there! I was up at 6:00 a.m. but Steve managed to stay in bed for a couple more hours. I sat with my coffee and laptop while it was raining and very windy outside...nasty out there!
Needless to say, we weren’t in any hurry to go out into that weather, so it was another slow morning. It was close to noon by the time we decided to go into the town (Wasagaming). It’s a typical tourist town that sits on the edge of Clear Lake. Today the beach area was deserted and the water itself had huge whitecaps as the wind whipped it up.

We explored the Visitor Centre, a Federal Heritage Building from the 1930s. Outside it is surrounded by beautiful gardens and inside there is a gift shop, a theatre, a resource library and the Discovery Room.
Now for just a little history of the park...Archaeological evidence indicates that human habitation of the Riding Mountain area began 10,000 years ago. More recently, the Cree and Anishinabe peoples were followed by people of European descent who came as fur traders, sawmill owners, fishermen, hunters, and vacationers. In 1895, the government of Canada declared the area a Dominion Timber Reserve to protect the valuable logging resources. The 1930s brought many changes including being designated a National Park in 1933. During the Great Depression, hundreds of unemployed men and women were brought here thanks to the Relief Act to building the new Park’s buildings and roads. Today, a quarter of a million visitors pass through the gates every year. The park has lots of hiking and biking trails so we are hoping for the weather to improve so we can explore them...the forecast looks promising.

But today it was just too nasty outside, so we explored the park via truck. Our first stop was at the Wishing Well...the well was lined with stone and the bridge was built in the 1930s. Over the years many people have tossed a coin and made a wish...the coins are collected and donated to local charity. It is surrounded by lovely gardens, making it a favourite backdrop for countless wedding photos.

Back in the truck, we found the road that circles the lake...it was a gravel road but in fairly good condition. We stopped at a picnic area on the south side of the lake when we noticed there was a pile of firewood. With firewood at the campground costing $6.80/bundle, we decided to help ourselves to the free firewood just sitting there so Steve loaded a few armloads into the back of the truck.

We arrived back at the trailer just after 5:00 p.m. and while I was trying to smooth some of the kinks out of my hair in preparation for going out for dinner, Steve was on the laptop responding to some birthday wishes email notes. Our email had taken a very long time to load. Our Rogers Rocket Stick is picking up a connection but it is very very weak. I have much better cell phone connection and with my new smart phone, I am able to have some internet connection there.

We had dinner reservations for 6:45 at TR McKoys...an Italian restaurant recommended by a worker at the Visitors Centre. Mind you, we only had 2 restaurants to choose from. Before leaving for the restaurant, we shared the bottle of wine that we had purchased at Tinhorn Creek Winery when we had been on our wine tours in Oliver...yes...Steve had wine...it was the one that he quite liked. Although it was still fairly windy, the sky had been starting to break up all afternoon with bits of blue coming through. So we decided to walk to the restaurant.

After a very nice dinner, we returned home and made phone calls to family back in B.C. What a great way to end the day! So good talking to everyone.

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