It's very green...
07/04/2008 - 07/13/2008
The green trees and cool breezes of Winnipeg are a nice change from the Arizona heat. The flat prairie this time of year is full of color, with fields of brilliant yellow canola plants and blue flax.
We celebrated my Dad's birthday by taking a short drive outside the city to an old train depot -- home of the Prairie Dog Central. Formerly an old steam engine, the current train in use is a refurbished diesel with antique passenger carriages that are nearly 100 years old. The normal route takes the train to a small Manitoba town called Grosse Isle. However, the day we went was a family event with a Thomas the Train theme...clowns, balloons etc. My nephews, Ryan and Colin, had a great time. To complete the weekend, we celebrated my Dad's birthday with a BBQ and spent the afternoon at the local horse race track (Assiniboine Downs). With only $2.00 bets, we were neither big winners nor big losers.
Winnipeg has many local parks and gardens. We visited the English gardens and the Leo Mol sculpture garden. Dr. Leo Mol is an internationally renowned artist. A Ukrainian immigrant to Canada, he has been appointed to the Order of Canada for his artistic contributions. Dr. Mol has generously donated over 300 bronze statues, ceramics, and paintings to the people and the city of Winnipeg.
We also took a day trip an hour north of the city to a small fishing town called Gimli. On the shoreline of Lake Winnipeg, this town hosts the largest Icelandic community in Canada. In the 1900's, this region was known as The Republic of New Iceland. The name Gimli means "great hall of heaven" in Norse mythology. In 1967, the President of Iceland unveiled a Viking statue to signify the importance of Icelandic heritage. Today, the town has a small fishing harbor and a sandy beach.
Later in the week, I was able to re-connect with some old friends. It was great to catch up on the gossip. Most of my friends have moved away from Winnipeg, but luckily my best friend was also visiting home this week. This past weekend we celebrated my nephew Colin's 3rd birthday. He was so excited all week, telling everyone that Aunty Ann was coming to his birthday party. We joined them again today and enjoyed a sunny day at Grand Beach. The beaches of Lake Winnipeg are really great! The lake is very shallow, and it is actually frozen over in the winter. During the summer, the water becomes very warm and the sand on the beaches is pure white. The surrounding Provincial Park is home to all kinds of wildlife, including deer and black bears.
I've really enjoyed visiting my family in Winnipeg, but I'm looking forward to getting back to Phoenix so that Steve and I can continue our travels. Next stop: Nicaragua.