I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday about our time in Winnipeg, despite being in the car for 15 hours, so here are a few photos and impressions:
We stayed at the Inn at the Forks – it was super nice, and the location was top notch. It was right at the forks in the river (Red, I think), and there’s so much green space around there. It was hot and sunny while we were out walking around.
It was the kind of place that I could definitely see myself spending more time in. However, when we were walking around the Exchange District, there was a distinct lack of people. Very odd. Maybe everyone was downtown? But the buildings were beautiful.Lots of great architecture.
And it was super windy! Jenn also enjoyed taking some pictures:
We had a nice meal and then headed back to the hotel. I’m pretty sure that I was asleep by 9:30. Solid.
Today is our longest day. All told, it will probably be about 15 hours door to door. We’re driving south of Lake Superior in the US instead of staying in Canada, as it cuts almost ten hours off the drive. Neither Jenn nor I were interested in a fifth day in the car.
There isn’t much to say about this part of the US. There are lots of trees and lakes. And A&W restaurants. It’s a bit slow going because there is lots of construction on the two land highway, which can be madening at times. I think we’re also hitting a bit of long-weekend holiday traffic. Tonight we’re going to sleep in, so we won’t be hitting the road quite as early tomorrow. Likely sometime around 10 or 11.
I realized that I’d been in the car too long when I looked up and realized that there was a sunroof, and got really excited because it was a different direction in which to look (I wasn’t driving at this point).
Oh yeah – the other really funny thing that happened was I got pulled over for speeding! I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket in my life, and I managed not to start yesterday. The officer was very kind and mis-took my speeding for not understanding the actual speed I was going, being from Canada and all:
Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Me: I think I might have been going a little fast.
Officer: You were going 77 mph. It’s a 55 zone.
Me: Did it change recently??
Officer: No. The entire peninsula is a 55 zone.
Me: Uh oh.
Officer: I don’t know what that is in km/h, but it’s too fast.
Me: Yeah, I don’t know what that is either.
Officer: I’m going to let you off with a warning, but slow ‘er down.
Yes! No speeding ticket for me, so the winning streak continues. Did you know that the most significant traffic violation I’ve had is expired plates? Those of you who have drive with me may be surprised to hear that, but it’s true.
Last day tomorrow!
Leaving Calgary, Jenn left the gps on to see what our next instruction would be. In true Alberta / saskatchewan style, it was to drive 736 km on the same road. So here we are in Brooks, and I have to say there doesn’t seem to be much to recommend it. However, McDonald’s has really stepped up its game. There are salads available (without meat!!), a nice ambiance, and relatively clean bathrooms. Could be worse.
Jenn and I are going on an epic road trip. We’re driving from Calgary back to Ottawa. Money is even on whether or not I make it. There are direct flights from the Sault though via Porter, so that’s always an option. (JK: if you’re reading this, just kidding!)
But seriously, this is going to be a great trip. I’ve never really understood the appeal of Canadian wilderness, so seeing it first hand, even from a highway, will hopefully make it a bit more accessible.
In terms of plans for the trip, I’m interested in a couple of things. Firstly, I’m interested in checking out a variety of yoga studios – there are Mysore-style classes in Calgary, Regina, and Winnipeg, so hopefully I’ll make it to a few of those. Secondly, I’m interested in doing a bit of photography – urban landscapes mostly. I’ll post some of the better photographs on the blog, although they’re part of a bigger project exploring contemporary interpretations of Canadian landscapes that will likely take me several years to finish.
I’m also going to use the time to do a bit more work on the photo project that I’ve been working on for about a year. I’m going to try to put it into e-book format so I can disseminate it to people. I’m going to use Lightroom and a blurb plugin to try and make that happen.
Finally, I’m also looking forward to a bit of contemplative time. I’ve had a number of interesting revelations about my future lately – what I want to do with my life, and how I want to do it. It mostly involves a lot more writing and photography.
Stay tuned for updates from the road and our progress. I’ll be tweeting and blogging the whole way, so you catch me at urbancorn.wordpress.com, or connect with me on twitter @jessmarindavis.
All over Havana, buildings are being restored. Some of them only need some patchy repairs, while others require more extensive renovations. All of this must be extremely costly. Ross and I chatted with one of our neighbours, Santiago, who works in the construction business. He told us that he has all the work he could ever want….but the pay is so low that he has to moonlight in the tourist industry. (Sidebar: his “moonlighting” in the tourism industry is as a tout for a local paladar – he brings tourists to the restaurant, and gets a small cut of whatever they order. For this, he likely earns 1 or 2 convertible pesos (CUCs) per tourists that visit the paladar.)
I was particularly taken with the construction projects that seem to be stalled.
The scaffolding is there, and some repairs have been undertaken, but the growth of the plants around (and on) the building indicate that activity has stopped….whether because of lack of money or materials or for some other reason….
This construction site was close to our casa particular (Casa de Pepe y Raphaela, Calle Sol y San Ignacio, San Ignacio 454, $35 CUC per night). On the weekend, it was taken over by local kids and converted into a make-shift football pitch.
Overall, Havana’s under a lot of construction – even more than last time we visited. It does seem to take a long time, either because of the issues mentioned above, or perhaps because the jobs are very involved and detailed, and therefore time consuming.
On our second day in Havana, I relaxed a bit about the photos I was taking, and started shooting a bit more liberally.
Ross and I set out towards Central Havana and the Barrio Chino (Chinatown) to get a sense of life outside of the tourist destinations. It was a bit more lively, a lot less hustling, and generally a good amount of fun.
While the skies were threatening, we didn’t get rained on. We did see some nice views of the Capitol building though…and from a different angle than we were used to!
We stumbled on a neat train graveyard….or restoration site? It’s entirely unclear, but it was really neat to poke around a bit.
The Barrio Chino is pretty small, but they have a nice arch….although not quite as nice as Ottawa’s, IMO.
The Malecon was being hammered by waves and wind, which meant I had to protect my camera…but I still got some neat shots. Later that day, Ross and I took a bus tour around the different neighbourhoods in Havana….very fun. Although I would suggest that if you do the bus tour, watch out for the untrimmed trees….the top of the bus is open, and Ross and I were hit in the face more than once by errant branches. All part of the adventure…..!
On a side note, Ross and I also visited the National art gallery – Cuban art. It was totally worth the trip. I’ve never seen a collection arranged in this way – the art was arranged chronologically, and it was all Cuban. I really got a sense of the political forces that influenced Cuban art, as well as international art movements. It was very good! (And sometimes not subtle in a really fun way.)