Day 29 – Steinbach MB to Warroad MN – Total distanced traveled – 2813kms

I had a glorious day of cycling today: perfect weather, virtually no wind, very low traffic, great roads. I’ve now crossed the US border into Minnesota and am camping in the busy seaside lakeside resort of Warroad. It feels like the sea because Lake of the Woods is huge and it’s got that seaside feel to it.

I’ve just had locally caught Walleye at the Lake Side Restaurant and it was excellent. Unfortunately I don’t have my gear with me so I can’t import my photos from today but there were many.

Last night I got a nice little surprise when I flipped open my iPad and for the fun of it checked for wifi. It worked! The Steinbach campsite has wifi and didn’t even mention it.

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Waking up to a sunrise at the Steinbach Campsite

I saw a lot of wildlife along the road today: deer, falcons, and flying horses. The horseflies were particularly interesting. At first, there was just one circling me as I was riding. A few minutes later, two. And then four and then six. Now this is starting to get annoying. It’s ok while I’m moving but what will happen when I stop? I’ll be eaten alive, that’s what!

So I went into a higher gear and sped up to 25kms/ hour. Then 30. They’re still with me! Next, 35 and then 40kms per hour, My legs are really burning now, but they’re still with me. I don’t believe this! I’m already planning my next move: stop, dig out my tarp, get under it, and scarf down my lunch in the heat of the sun.

But a funny thing happened: when I stopped the horseflies kept on going! It seems they were just hitching a ride to the States to pick up a pack of Virginia Slim Jims. This really happened, Scouts honour.

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The grasslands along Highway 12 south of Steinbach

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Time for a nap at a rest area, 75km from Steinbach

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Site of a major forest fire that swept through the area a few years ago

About 110kms from Steinbach and finally there’s a restaurant off the highway in Sprague. Folks are really friendly and they happily got me a cup of coffee. You see I was literally falling asleep on my bike. Not enough sleep last night I guess.

By 4pm I was crossing into the states being interrogated by the border crossing guard: Alcohol? None. Cigarettes? Nope. More than ten thousand dollars? I wish. Ok, you can go.

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Minnesota! I can stick another pin in my National Geographic wall map.

By the way, for all the talk of mosquitos in Manitoba, I didn’t see any. Not that I’m complaining or anything…

Ten more kilometres, oops sorry, 5 miles to Warroad and I’m in a typically US city: flags are flying, liquor stores are open, it’s actually a really nice town.

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Lake Road in Warroad

You can’t mention Warroad without talking about Marvin Windows and Doors which has a massive factory here and is obviously the main employer.

You also can’t mention Warroad without mentioning hockey. For 50 years the Warroad Lakers won just about every tournament they entered, in the US or Canada. I can’t figure out why the Warroad website keeps referring to the team as “infamous” though. Maybe it’s because they seemed to have kicked every other team’s ass they play?

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Lake of the Woods

Tomorrow I continue on for another 150kms 95 miles to International Falls MN. Then I’ll cross the border into Canada and I’ll tackle Quetico Provincial Park which is almost the size of Algonquin Provincial Park. I’m psyching myself up for that and I think it’s going to be an awesome adventure. I’ve checked the weather and it looks pretty good for the next week. Tunder Bay, here I come (mis-spelling intentional).

Stats
Distance traveled today – 147kms
Moving time – 6 hours and 52 minutes
Moving avg – 21.3 kms/hour
Elevation – 330m

Day 28 – Winnipeg to Steinbach – Total distance 2668kms

I was in no rush to leave this morning. Plush sheets, a jacuzzi whirlpool and a shower with a rainfall shower head were more than enough to convince me to delay my departure. I know that for the next few nights I’ll be camping and my destination tomorrow, Steinbach, is not very far anyway.

I’ve come to realize that I enjoy the finer things in life. Ok, I already knew that before, but now I know I can’t live without the finer things in life, at least occasionally, and I consider myself pretty damn lucky. But the way I look at this trip, some nights I’m camping and eating for almost nothing, and on other nights I might live it up a little, and in the end I think it works put to be a pretty reasonably priced adventure. Plus I don’t have to pay for gas, right?

Tonight I’m going to camp, not because I’m trying to save money, but because I want to. There’s something about climbing into a warm and cozy sleeping bag and falling to sleep while reading a good book, that makes me feel like home. It sounds strange but it’s the best way I can describe it.

After a few more photos with Eman I headed across the bridge to Boniface for a closer look the cathedral. It was clearly massive at the time. They’ve now build a modern church inside the facade. Here are a few photos from the area.

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Me in front of one of the original MTS buildings. If you look closely you can see the vertical letters M-T-S on the facade.

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Crossing the Red River

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I finally got to try some bison. It was in the form of a smokie. It taste just like every other smokie I’ve ever had. My brother Cliff had promised to make me bison when I get to Toronto and I’m going to take him up on that (Cliff is a great cook).

My next stop was a little park in St. Vital to consume my smokie, chips and a grape soda. The community was established by francophone settlers in 1822, and is the second-oldest permanent settlement in Manitoba. Guay Park in north St. Vital contains a war memorial erected in honour of St. Vital residents killed in the two World Wars and in Korea. These a plaque that describes how John Robert Osborn, Victoria Cross (January 2, 1899 – December 19, 1941) of the Winnipeg Grenadiers threw himself on a grenade which exploded killing him instantly saving many of the men in his company. Holy cow.

I crossed the longitudinal centre of Canada. Good thing I’m not cycling to the Atlantic otherwise I would have another 4 weeks of cycling ahead of me.

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I came to a brief crossroads at highway 12: do I continue on to Kenora or head south to Steinbach as planned? The only reason I pondered this question was that I was facing a string headwind from the south, and cycling 160kms into a headwind doesn’t thrill me. A phone call to Eric confirmed that tomorrow the wind will be from the west. So on to Steinbach as planned.

The last thing I want to tell you about is me visit to the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. It’s very well done. I’ve always been curious as to why the Mennonites have scattered clusters of population. There are a lot of Mennonites near Kitchener in Toronto, but why also Manitoba? The map below kind of explains it, but visit the website explains it even better.

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Some photos from the village:

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Beauty around every corner

As usual, I’m running late and I’ve got to go. I have four 150km days ahead of me to reach Thunder Bay by Tuesday evening. Vicki and I were looking at some of the very remote areas I will be cycling through (google directions from Warroad, MN to Thunder Bay and you’ll see what I’m talking about) and I’m starting to get those butterflies in my tummy again…

Stats
Distance traveled today – 67 kms
Moving time – x hours and y minutes
Moving avg – x.y kms/hour
Elevation – 240m

Giving

If you’re enjoying my blog please consider making a donation to the United Way here. The United Way of Toronto is about helping others in our community to have a better life. I hope that my journey will serve as inspiration for others, that if you sent your goals big and overcome challenges you can do amazing things. The United Way gives people in our community the support they need to overcome their challenges.

FYI, all the donations are collected through an organization called CanadaHelps through a feature called GivingPages, which enables people to raise money online for the charities they support, such as the United Way of Toronto.

Thank you all for the donations yesterday. They helped a lot to bring me closer to my goal of raising $1 for every kilometre cycled, or $4500.