The road, the wind and the weather

FTLComm - Neepawa - Monday, July 7, 2003 Pictures by Judy Shire
Sunday we did not get out of Winnipeg until late afternoon and headed West into a 25 knot wind. Though few of us can say this with any scientific proof it just seems that 2003 has beena windy year. Crops in Manitoba seem outstanding except for a few that had been planned on a windy day and they are spotty. On our visit recently to the Swift Current area residents there expressed their dislike of the standard wind component to each and every day.

On June 30th as we made our way from Tisdale down to Crooked Lake South of Melville the wind was blasting out of the East and I remarked at a stop in Wadena to a motor home traveller that he was lucky to be headed West. The man looked at me puzzled leading me to explain that it would cost more in fuel to drive into the wind. This still seemed not to register with the owner of the huge motor home and then it dawned on me that if you can afford a vehicle of that size fuel was not something that entered your mind.

Sunday late afternoon as we moved out of Winnipeg and onto the horizontal world that stretches toward Portage and Brandon we were working our way along amidst the towering semi units making their way West, also into the wind. Though the van is less disturbed by wind than a small car it still shuddered with the vortex formed around a passing semi. The image above and below are of a brilliant canola field between Winnipeg and Portage with a few islands of trees to provide the contrast that makes each scene dramatic.

Just East West of Portage we took our leave of the TransCanada and its legions of travelers as we joined the legions of truckers heading West on the Yellowhead. We stopped in Neepawa for supper, but before we did I snapped this picture on the West side of the town of the awesome display of tortured clouds that seemed to be careening overhead driven by the relentless wind.

Clearly, these clouds told of rain as we moved from a broken sky at Neepawa to overcast conditions at Minnidosa. The huge amount of traffic on the Yellowhead makes it the second most busy road on the prairies and from Neepawa to

Minnidosa there is a major widening consttuction project underway.

This picture was taken about midway between the two towns looking North toward the range of hills that forms the area where Riding Mountain National Park is located. The pipes of cloud here are low to the ground and you can see virga in the distance and perhaps rain in the higher ground to the North.

West of Minnidosa the sky had thickened and with the lower light of the late day the cloud formation formed the layers of blue seen below framed against a foreground of another canola field.
Somewhere West of Shoal Lake it was time for me to relinquish the steering wheel and I lay down as we dove under the deepening darkness to the West. I awoke at Langenberg to see a bit of spray on the windows but when I next opened my eyes we were on the outskirts of Yorkton with a steady good rain falling, leaving the streets in puddles and the ink of total darkness.

After a snack I was at the wheel once more heading through the steady semi traffic West on the Yellowhead. The wind had not taken a recess but was settling down a bit as we worked our way through a series of squalls that were giving way to a break, first in the North then spreading along the western horizon as the rain and the clouds were moving behind us to the East and by Foam Lake the highway was dry once more.

At Elfros we turned up 35 to make our way home and once more it was time for me to ride and ride I did until we were back in Tisdale.

A total of 676 kilometres is the trail from Winnipeg to Tisdale. In theory it should take just under seven hours travelling time but in every case we use just over eight hours to make the journey. The whole thing is far more enjoyable with a series of stops than trying to bull through the whole distance. Were the only traffic other cars it would not be as perillous a journey, but those three factors overcome any safety in the road. The wind, the semi units and the weather. No trip from Tisdale to Winnipeg or the reverse is made without discomfort from Russell to Minnidosa, that ugly patch of blackness is always where one has to guard against fatique and being squashed by eighteen wheel vehicles driven by tired people determined to make it from Edmonton or Winnipeg or Winnipeg to Edmonton.

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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