Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mom and I just returned from a road trip to Regina and Saskatoon Saskatchewan. I might add that it's a long way from Winnipeg. Our new mission president, President Thomas, invited us to the Saskatchewan Zone Conference  to participate, to get to know the missionaries on the other side of the mission, to deliver a new car and sell a mission pickup truck.
We left on Monday July 16th and drove to Brandon MB where we stopped for lunch. After a wonderful repast at Mc Donald's we tried to use the "clicker" to unlock the car door but to our surprise nothing happened. So here we are with no way to get into the car. I took the battery out of said "clicker" and cleaned it hoping it would work. No luck. Mom asked where the real key was and I had no idea. I spied a stereo shop across the highway so over we go and replaced the battery in the remote. Once again no luck, still locked out. Now we are becoming concerned and I'm thinking a lock smith or equivalent (crow bar, big rock?) After a prayer we try once more and the "real key" fell out of the bottom of the remote onto the ground. It's a Dodge van and that's where the real key lives we just didn't know. Small miracles happen.

Our drive to Regina was about five plus hours and we specifically took the route through Regina so we could see the Regina Temple. It was very beautiful but very small. It's in a nice neighborhood and easy to find. The trip over was interesting since we had never been out of Winnipeg. The landscape is pretty flat but not quite as flat as our previous mission president had indicated. He said it was so flat that if you stood on a tuna fish can you could see a train coming for two days. It was flat with some small rolling hills and all farm land. We saw lots of grain elevators, canola fields and some flax fields as well. The canola is bright yellow the flax was blue. We also saw lots alphalfa and wheat. Aside from the farm crops there was not much else to see. The divided highway was similar to a freeway but had no rest areas like we would be used to in the states. We found one that was signed as a rest area but it was a little park. The wash room facility was a two holer out house, vault type. No running water, just the hand sanitzers like in a port-a-pot. It seems to be that way in the provinces of SK, MB and ON. If you are in need you have to keep your eyes peeled for gas stations along the way.
We arrived in Saskatoon and had a nice place to stay, at least several steps up from our usual Motel Six or equivalent. The interesting thing was that the Hells Angels were staying there too. We weren't too concerned but we did share an elevator ride with half a dozen of them. They were pleasant enough.

My job at zone conference is to check the mission cars; tires, cleanliness, damage etc. and to show a driving safety video or safety message. It's necessary, some keep their cars tip top and others need encouragement. So after two days of that I sold a mission pickup and we were off to Winnipeg for another assignment. We drove back a different route and saw more farm country and some neat old churches along the way. We spent Thursday night at our apartment and Friday we loaded up some furniture items for an apartment in Dryden Ontario. That's about 400 km east of Winnipeg. We drove a mission pickup and pulled a trailer borrowed from the church facilities maintenance guys. The truck is new but when you add the trailer and all the stuff we hauled over we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies. I was Jethro and Mom was Ellie May.
About 40 km east of Winnipeg there is a sign announcing the geographic center (east/west) of Canada.  As we proceeded east we suddenly left farm land and transitioned into forest. There are rolling hills with spruce and quaking aspen everywhere. Lots of lakes too, almost at every corner once we hit Ontario. As we passed in to Ontario we noticed more police on the road than we have seen since we have been in Canada. The speed limit was 90 KPH on the two lane highway. It it's about a 5 hour trip stopping for lunch. I really enjoyed the drive, kind of similar to driving from SH to Bend. Just a good time.

We arrived in Dryden, found the apartment that had been vacant for 3 months. To our pleasant surprise the Elders had left it in good shape. Mom had called ahead and asked for some help packing the queen sized bed to the 3rd floor. Two Branch members came to help and the 3 of us fought a queen sized up the stairs, at time I wondered who would win. The stupid mattress was stubborn and would fold over and we were like a sandwich. Did I mention it was 30 Celsius (86). That was the tough part the rest wasn't too bad. We didn't finish up until 8:00 PM so we spent the night and slept well. The next morning I drove us the Dryden airport to get a look at the water bombers stationed there. Every entrance said go away but I persisted and finally found an one that looked hopeful. I found the back door to the hanger open and after a shout a nice young fellow came over to see what I wanted. After a brief explanation of my work career he took us on a tour of two planes. He spent quite a bit of time with us even letting me get into one of the planes. In talking to him he mentioned he was an apprentice airplane mechanic . The normal apprentice program is three years but he had to do only two years because his high school grades were at 95 percent. He makes $23.00 per hour gets overtime and will make $36.00 an hour when he becomes a full fledges mechanic. We had a nice visit and headed back to Winnipeg. There were no Hells Angels at our motel in Dryden.
We are always in hopes of seeing a moose or an elk but no luck so far. A sad event a RCMP officer was answering a domestic disturbance near Saskatoon SK and hit a moose on the highway; the officer died from the impact. Moose are so tall that a car or pickup takes them out at the legs and the body comes right into the windshield and you're a goner. They say that there are two seasons in this part of Canada, winter or construction season.  Lots of road repairs here, it takes all summer to try to fix all the winter damage beside trying to build new stuff. In front of our apartment there is a three lane boulevard which had a few bad spots to be repaired. The road crew dug out the bad spots and put small barriers in front of each spot but put up no signs to warn of lane changes previous to the work sight. So, while getting ready one morning we hear the screech of tires and a crash. Looking out the window we see a car has definitely ran into the barrier. Later the same day there was a three car rear ender at the same place. With no warning and traveling at 70 KPH there is now way to escape with all three lanes full of cars. We have found some things like that a bit different than it would be at home.

After out Dryden trip we had part of the week to get ready to go to Dauphin MB. We again set out looking like the Beverly hillbillies with mattresses, table, and apartment paraphernalia for a new apartment for new Elders to become established in the small community of Dauphin. Dauphin is the size of Sweet Home. This time it was just a long one day trip. The road to Dauphine goes through Riding Mountain Provencal Park. It's a slow trek but worth the drive. Again lots of spruce, aspen and lakes. There are real identifiable ridge lines and some modest elevation, enough to make your ears pop. It's called a boreal forest in this part of the world. All countries above the 50th parallel have the same forest. Trees are not as tall and I believe they have peat bogs and muskeg too. The park as well as everything in Canada is dual labeled because both English and French are spoken here. So we saw some interesting construction signs. Speaking of French I chose a major brand gas station to fuel up at in Winnipeg. Once I started the process at the pump it was all in French. I poked wrong buttons and finally had to go inside and have the guy reset the pump so all I had to do was fill up the truck.
While in Dauphin we did a little sightseeing. We found the 100 year old rail station and took a few minutes to talk to the lone employee of the rail  museum, a young man ready to start university this fall. He didn't even charge us the full price to enter, he just asked for a donation. He had been hired for the summer and his boss gave him two days training and left for a one month holiday. The kid said he has figured the rest out on his own. Luckily he knew how to operate the model rail road so we enjoyed watching for a few minutes. Next stop was a Ukrainian Cathedral on main street. They are very impressive with the large domes which can always be seen when you enter town. We also stumbled onto the RCMP training  facility in Dauphin.

On the way home we stopped in the small town of Onanole MB to check out their very large elk statue and to get a RCMP officer off our tail. While there we smelled a great little restaurant called Barnaby's Grille that served racks of barbecued pork ribs. I had the ribs and Mom had a steak. Try as I might I could not keep my hands and face clean. Mom kept pointing to the dirty spots and as I wiped them I created more of a mess. I finally had to go to the washroom to get cleaned up. Good meal though. After that it was on to Winnipeg returning about 10:30 PM.
That's been our schedule for the last several weeks. This upcoming week is missionary transfers so we will be busy again. It surely makes the time go by. In two weeks we will be halfway through our mission. Time is flying by.

Love you all,

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