After arriving at Sue and Jack’s house in Stonewall in the late afternoon, we spent a lovely evening chatting with them and having dinner at a local hotel Pub. After returning home, we talked for a while longer over a glass of wine, then retired to the RV for the night. The next morning (Wednesday), we went out for breakfast with them. The restaurant we went to was quite the place as everyone knows everyone including the senior aged waitresses with attitude. We laughed so much. The less than 24 hours with them was one of the highlights of our trip. We made plans for them to come to the Island and coordinate with Mary Catharine for a weekend of fun and frolic! The next morning we left for the Rally site in Winkler, arriving about 1:00. After getting settled, we spent the next few hours connecting with some people we had met at the Osoyoos Rally earlier and making some new friends among our neighbours.
After a delicious dinner (all meals were prepared and served by young people from the local Mennonite Community; the Rally site is on the grounds of their Bible Camp, which is technically “dry”, so all Happy Hour gatherings were kept a bit circumspect), there was an Orientation/Meet n’ Greet session, followed by a rousing Card Bingo session (we old farts still know how to whoop it up). We won, (hold on to your hats), a journal and a deck of cards! We then daringly stayed up until after 11:00, fortified by good wine and good conversation with our neighbours.
After breakfast on Thursday morning, we attended a seminar put on by the Leisure Travel Van reps. After lunch, we boarded a bus for an Artisan tour in the town of Morden, which included Pure Anada (a local family company that produces and retails a line of cosmetic products made from pure, hypo-allergenic ingredients, which started in the founder’s kitchen and has now reached the stage where it ships products all over the world). Even as the token testosterone in the group, I quite enjoyed seeing how they went about making these products.
Putting the soap to the smell test
We have a winner!
Morden Bell Tower, built in 1915 and home to two of the last hand-wound clocks in Manitoba
There was also a stop at the Quilters’ Den, occupying an old barn moved to this site and restored. Fortunately, our credit card emerged unscathed. (The same cannot be said for the cosmetics store.)
After dinner, we all gathered for a beach fire beside the camp’s small lake, accompanied by a young lady playing classical guitar.
Lest we forget we are at a Bible Camp.
As we headed back to the van, we were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights, not as spectacular as in the Northwest Territories, but still a nice surprise this far south.
Next morning we had to be up by 7:00 in order to get our van to the factory for some repairs to a couple of things that had happened en route. Our table anchors needed replacing as did our sky light. We (or should I say Chris) had to use every bungee cord we had to secure the table from shifting back to front, right to left, and to tie down our sky light from flying off! So we got there on time and had a shuttle back to the camp ground in time for breakfast. After that we stayed in the dining room for a cooking demonstration geared for making meals in an RV. Again, this company, which is now international, started in the owne’rs kitchen. She was part of a Mennonite family, married with a child, but suddenly found herself embroiled in a divorce which was not her choice. Finding herself a single mother, she started cooking for dinner parties etc. and was encouraged to write and publish a cooking magazine. Her first edition was mostly made up of recipes from aunts, cousins, Mum, etc. from her community. The business grew and grew and she is now a very successful business woman. Both parents were at the demonstration and she told lots of stories of her upbringing and her parents’ values. She was very proud of her family and their legacy.
The demonstration mostly centered on Italian cuisine and we all received samples of what she was cooking in front of us. Seared scallops with tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, and black olives (Chris predictably declined that one); baguette slices with fig spread and brie; a different sort of tuna from Italy salad with olive oil and balsamic just to name a few. It was a very engaging demonstration with lots of laughs.
In the afternoon, we took a 3 hour bus tour of Winkler, narrated by an old boy who has lived here all his life (more about his narrative later). After watching every new residential and industrial complex roll by, we had a chance to get out and explore the lovely local park:
In the second paragraph in the picture above, there are references to “military exemption” and “difficult decisions”. These diplomatically relate to the fact that, although the Mennonite community were conscientious objectors, several young men enlisted. When the survivors returned, they were shunned by the community.
When the early Mennonites arrived, setting up businesses was not a priority for them. Travelling Jewish peddlers soon filled the void, setting up retail establishments along the main street. Our venerable tour guide used the following less than politically correct phrase to explain this piece of history: “The Jewish like to sell things”. The other deathless phrase to escape his lips several times was “If you look out your side of the bus…”. When we got back Chris was taken back to the factory to pick up the van. I had wine with some good people from Manitoba. I fretted about how much the repairs would cost even though they had to be done. So Chris arrived back and parked in our spot. I went over and said “OK just tell it to me straight. How much?” He put a little grin on his face and said “Nothing”. We think that the Leisure Travel Van people want to ensure that their owners are happy and well taken care of. The thought being that we will tell potential buyers that the company is very good at looking after their people after the fact, even after warranty is up. I was amazed and very grateful. And we would pass on the information of client care to anyone interested in Leisure Travel Vans.
In the evening, a group of us went to a Junior A hockey game between the local Winkler Flyers and their American rivals, the Thief River Norskies. It was a lot of fun to watch, and the local team was victorious, 5-0. We were then given a tour of the team change room and training facilities, and learned a lot about how the team operates. As often happens, we found a connection to home; one of the Winkler players had “Lacasse” (Number 11 below) as his last name:
After breakfast on Saturday morning and a lot of goodbyes, we finally turned towards home, heading west for Moose Mountain Provincial Park in Saskatchewan, about 20 km. north of the Red Coat Trail, which we are using instead of the Trans-Canada. Around noon, we stopped for lunch in Souris, whose claim to fame is what is reputed to be Canada’s longest swinging suspension bridge (604 ft.)
We arrived at the park in mid-afternoon, and after some confusion, finally settled into our campsite, but not before coming across this about-to-be-married couple being photographed.
About mid-morning on Sunday, who should roll in but our neighbours from the Rally, Connie and Gary, who live in Kelowna, and, like us, are on the way home. Once they were settled, we joined them at their site for a pot-luck breakfast; we reciprocated by hosting Happy Hour later in the afternoon.
We will be leaving first thing in the morning for Grasslands National Park, about 5 ½ hours away, for 2 nights. The next jump will be to Lethbridge, where we have booked a hotel room for the night. We are undecided about what follows, but we will probably be 2 more nights on the road, arriving home sometime on Saturday the 16th.