On Saturday, I visited Gimli and attended my first Islendingadagurinn, the annual Icelandic Festival of Manitoba.
Though the 60-mile trek would fall within my range on two wheels, instead, I went with www.winnipegbeachbus.com, a new business that offers shuttle service to beach destinations throughout the summer.
Bright and early, we boarded the bus at the Government Forks. Just as the pictures suggest, it was indeed a school bus. There was a sticker on the outside by the door from la Division scolaire franco-manitobaine and the kids even had stickers over the seats with their names on them.
There was sufficient leg room for a large cockroach. I am not a large person, but I felt cramped even though I had a two-seat bench to myself.
Arthur and Anna, our facilitators for the day.
Moments before our bus arrived, there was another bus pulling away from Union Station nearby. A mother and her daughter began frantically running after it, thinking that they had missed the Gimli-bound bus until I told them that it was a different bus. The other tour bus was taking some train passengers around Winnipeg.
We took PTH 9 north and came across this group of cyclists.
As a fellow cyclist, I can appreciate that they have the right to be on the road. However, they do not have the right to act like jerks. This behavior falls into the latter category.
This “TheftMate” anti-theft device was prominently displayed above the driver, reminding us that we were indeed in the Socialist People’s Republic of Manitoba, Crime Capital of the Western World.
Regrettably, they played some loud music in both directions. However, the noise from the souped-up 1917 Model T engine powering the bus did wonders to drown it out.
I was lucky that it had been a while since I had last eaten. My bike has better shocks than this bus did.
Disembarking after our arrival in Gimli.
Before setting off to explore Gimli, I toured some of the displays set up on Center Street and First Avenue.
I saw nothing there besides the seeds of another garage sale. Or make that a bílskúr sölu. It is, after all, Islendingadagurinn.
Perhaps they only recycle Icelandic oil. Nota olíu.
In my last trip to Gimli, I found this vendor who might be the town’s worst speller. What I wasn’t aware of was that he had the same errors replicated on the signs of each of his bikes.
I did the traditional walk on the pier and toured the harbor area.
Though the attraction is lost on me, many people do drink to excess. Naming your boat after this disgusting habit, however, is a little over the top.
Catch of the day.
Come back, y’all!
OK, I won’t park there on “Saturaday.”
I stopped and toured the Viking Village, sponsored by Mysterious Telephone System.
These three ambassadors gave us an introduction before allowing us to pass.
The actors playing the roles of Vikings have been living on “Bill’s Hill” for a week. Why is a question that popped into my head, but I didn’t care enough to ask. I might have stayed a little longer were it not for some foul-smelling smoke coming from something that they were burning. Whether it was cooking smoke or Icelandic incense, my sinuses didn’t need it.
I headed south and found the first of many out-of-country plates.
The Nebraskan that I spotted in Loni Beach obviously has poor choice in hockey teams.
In addition to the plates shown above, I also spotted plates from the Farmers’ Republic of Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.
Once I got to Moonlight Bay, I was floored by the sight of an empty beach.
I sat down on a rock and stopped for a lunch break.
Sacrebleu! La Gendarmie Royale du Canada?! What’s this, a visible sign of law enforcement? I had to rub my eyes to make sure that it wasn’t an optical illusion before capturing this picture.
The two of them sped off down the beach towards Willow Island Road, then returned and headed back towards Third Street while I continued eating.
After my break, I walked south along the shore towards Willow Island.
I made it to Willow Island Road, the causeway that connects the mainland to Willow Island, before returning to South Beach.
I saw more birds than people on this stretch of beach.
A happy face left for me.
Back on Center Street, I headed north to continue my journey.
Elvisfest? I wouldn’t attend if they paid me $20.
If they want a dog party, all they have to do is visit Winnipeg, Manitoba’s largest off-leash dog park.
I ended up at Gimli Park, where a collection of rides had attracted children of all ages.
I didn’t have the energy to do any “runing.”
Keys, phones, beepers, shoes “ec tetera.”
My next stop was back at the harbor area, where the popular Islendingadunk was taking place.
Two unlucky participants sat at the end of a greased pole and whacked each other with sacks of water. The more unlucky of the two fell into the diluted waters of the Red River. Fun, indeed.
Crowds had begun to pick up as the afternoon wore on.
Parking spots on local streets became hard to find.
As my father might say, this is someone who got his driver’s license out of a Cracker Jack box.
Three of the plates that I spotted. You may understand. You may not.
The local spider population has been busy.
I made it north to the lighthouse at Pelican Beach.
From behind the lighthouse, you can see the shoreline up towards Camp Morton and Arnes.
After a long day, I waited with the other passengers at our pickup point. One of them didn’t make it back and we left without him. Part of me wished that I had been that forgotten soul. I really didn’t want to leave, but I knew that I had to.
Fortunately, that ancient piece of machinery got us back to Winnipeg, where I caught a Transit bus that took me back home without incident.
As always, I enjoyed my visit to Gimli. The festival itself, however, left me a little underwhelmed. Besides the Viking Village, there seemed to be very little Icelandic about the Icelandic Festival that one would normally not otherwise see in a visit to Gimli. One vendor was even peddling East Indian wares.
I would encourage anyone to visit the area, but it would probably best be done during a weekday in the spring or fall without all the crowds and noise.