17 Jul

Bidding Adieu to Gimli

On Wednesday, I was part of a bus tour along with 33 other passengers and passengerettes for what was, in all probability, my last visit to Gimli. Many of you who know me understand the strong emotional tie I have to the little cottage community nestled along the shore of Lake Winnipeg. I was looking forward to going, but I was not looking forward to the return trip.

001_holidayinn

I arrived early at our pickup point at the Holiday Inn, formerly the Red River Hotel, formerly the Holiday Inn and waited for the bus. While waiting, I was talking with a couple from Mississauga who decided to go on this day trip to Gimli in the midst of their first-ever visit to this part of the world. I was telling them about Gimli and some of the sights they might like to check out and they sounded like lifelong Winnipeggers as they grilled me on how much it cost to get into each of the attractions. I could just hear the flock of birds circling overhead squawking, “cheap, cheap, cheap.”

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After the bus came, a couple of health care professionals pulled up nearby.

Following the second pickup, we were on our way north and Al, our driver, took PTH 8 north, the faster of the two major routes. As I learned, Al was short for “All Business.” Most drivers on these trips are very personable and outgoing. Not so with Al. He was, however an outstanding driver. Unlike so many others I’ve had, he kept his eyes on the road and was alert at all times. I would only hope to get him again.

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Interlake – Inland Oceans, Infinite Possibilities. This sign appears on all major highways heading into the Interlake region.

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The “exits” to Gimli. Seeing this and similar signs elsewhere in the SPRM always make me laugh. I-94 has exits. Pokey two-lane Manitoba highways have turnoffs.

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An hour after our departure, we were in Gimli. After a bathroom break at the Lakeview, I set out on my four-hour journey.

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Waterfront Center.

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A visit to Gimli is not complete without a visit to the Viking Statue, which is due for a refit.

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The Icelandic Air Force was patrolling the shoreline.

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060_moonlightbay

My first destination was Moonlight Bay, located in South Beach. Given that I was there on a weekday, I had hoped to find it unoccupied, as I often have on past trips, but alas, there was a collection of rowdy teenagers there whooping it up. The fact that dogs are expressly prohibited on the beach didn’t prevent them from bringing theirs. Even though I was far away from Winnipeg, it was yet another reminder that I was still in the SPRM, where the rule of law and common decency are so often flagrantly disregarded.

Moving on, I went west towards PTH 9/Seventh Avenue.

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Savage’s Sugar Shack.

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South Colonization Road. Not to be confused with North Colonization Road. Or Colonization Road.

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The familiar lighthouse near Shelley D’s at the intersection of PTH 9 and South Colonization Road that greets visitors on their way in.

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The flags were already up in preparation for the upcoming Islendingadagurinn, the annual Icelandic Festival that I attended last year for the first time.

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Welcome to Gimli.

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Sounds like a good idea.

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Gimli Park Road, which is at the opposite end of town from Gimli Park.

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083_rates

Near the corner of Sixth Avenue and Roddy-S Drive was a Manulife agent offering some terrific rates on a savings account and a GIC. I don’t think any financial institution can beat 245% on a five-year GIC. I’m surprised this agent wasn’t beating off prospective investors with a stick.

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“Surley” common sense should include consulting a dictionary.

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The old bus stop. The Grey Goose sign is still there, despite the fact that bus service to Gimli has long since been discontinued.

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Moving north, I stopped at Gimli High School for a while. As many of you who know me are well aware, this is one of the schools that the late Carli Ward once attended and one of the places she visited during the last months of her life when she was a resident of Grace Hospice.

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Before leaving later in the day, I also made sure to go past the office of MLA Peter Bjornson, who was one of Carli’s teachers.

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Continuing on, I made my way to Gimli Junction.

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I spotted this blue straw in nearby Gimli Park, which is similar to the ones given by P.E.T.R.O.-Canada for their slurpees. Message sent. Message received. You may understand. You may not.

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In two weeks time, this tranquil park will become a midway for Islendingadagurinn.

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A river of sludge along North Fifth Avenue, not far from the intersection of Fifth Avenue. No, this is not the Love Canal.

Returning south, I decided to take a stroll along the beach. This stroll would prove to be, well, interesting.

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For starters, I spotted this guy busily tapping away on his iPad. Why bother coming to the beach if you’re just going to spend the time with your electronic toys?

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Care for some “Kool-aide”? How about a “Revele”? Or perhaps some “lemanade”? Top it all off with an ice cream “sandwhich”? Remedial spelling is in order for someone.

As I headed for the boardwalk, I couldn’t help but think of the often grotesque images at PeopleOfWalmart.com as I spotted two examples of beachgoers who should seriously reconsider their decision to put so much of themselves on display.

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Cleavage. From the back. Oy.

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Is he about to give birth? Twins, maybe?

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Mercifully, I made it back to the main dock before taking a tour of the harbor area.

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An artistette paints a mural.

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Boats in the harbor.

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Direct from Artesia.

Since I had a little time to spare, I took a walk down Centre Street for one last time.

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Seeds of your future garage sale.

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Golko’s Hardware.

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Check out these antique “cateloges.”

With my time in Gimli coming to a rapid conclusion, it was time to re-board the bus. The four hours I had spent on the ground seemed like five minutes. Before leaving, our driver asked for a show of hands if anyone wanted to stop and buy some smoked fish. Three of the 34 passengers raised their hands. He then asked how many people wanted to stop at the Half Moon in Lockport for ice cream. Five people raised their hands.

“Majority rules,” he said. Two vocal people then complained, so he gave in to this NDP-style majority and decided that we’re stopping anyways. Fortunately, we escaped a frivolous stop at the fish place because they had no fresh fish left, but he would take us to the Half Moon against the express wishes of the overwhelming majority of the passengers.

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Before leaving Gimli, we were treated to a skateboarding display from some teenager on Centre Street. Of all the streets in town to hone his skills on, this is easily the busiest and the one where he is most likely to get hit. Like so many law- and logic-defying joggers in Winnipeg, however, if he was in a less-travelled location, he wouldn’t be noticed. That’s why he’s out there.

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At the Half Moon, I disembarked just to use the washroom and take this picture. The day’s adventure came to an end with our return to Winnipeg shortly thereafter. Gimli is a place I will miss, but I have plenty of fond memories from my many visits over the years to fall back on.