Regina to Winkler, Manitoba
Today is our longest distance so far and is the final day of our sojourn across the Prairies. Our original destination was the Winnipeg KOA, but they emailed us a few days ago advising they were flooded and consequently had to cancel our reservation.
We called Winkler Tourist Park yesterday, to make a reservation, and the phone was answered, “Winkler Aquatic Centre”. Therefore, we departed Regina with no idea what to expect on arrival.
Saturday 26th July 2014
Temp – Much cooler, around 15C with a very brief increase to 20C
Weather – overcast with frequently rain. About 80 mls West of Winnipeg we passed through 2 torrential rain storms. Wipers, even at full speed couldn’t cope.
Clox – moved ahead 1 hr to Central Daylight Saving (Z-5)
Distance Today – 368 mls
Total Distance – 1,440 mls
Another easy one for the Ace Navigator, or so we thought. It was a short hop from the campground to the Trans-Canada, followed by just over 310 mls along Hwy # 1 to Manitoba Hwy 13, then South for 57 miles to Winkler.
Departure Kings Acres Campground
With the hours clox and additional distance we wanted to be on the road early, so packed most things away the previous evening. Got Judi up at 06:45 and we both got started, Andy working outside in the rain and Judi finishing inside, and most importantly making the tea.
Great start to the day, as we hitched to the trailer, navigated around the extra vehicles at the adjacent sites and departed the campground by 07:30. Great omen, or so we thought!!!
The Detailed Voyage to Winkler
About 1 mile, after clearing the campground, we were back on the Trans-Canada heading East. Everything had gone really well so far, so what could possibly change our great start to the day?
Fuel possibly, as I prefer not to fill the truck when towing, unless going to a truck stop. We get about 400 to 450 miles per tank, and prefer to have about 100 miles left in the tank on arrival. Based on previous fuel usage the computer thought we would have about 80 miles of fuel remaining on arrival, so must monitor closely. The 2nd good omen of the day was the strong tail wind giving us free energy and saving tons, well maybe a couple of gallon of fuel. At 300 miles to go, we had 100 miles of spare fuel and at 240 miles to go we had 125 miles of spare fuel, so no fuel required, unless we hit strong head winds.
The highway is devoid of rest stops, so after an hour we pulled into a small town (hamlet) just off the highway. Hunger pangs were stirring, so time to enjoy a quick breakfast, and to feed and walk the dogs. Back on the highway, the tail wind, overcast sky and rain were almost constant, as we navigated the straight, flat roads of the Prairies.
On crossing into Manitoba we noted, while they are in the same time zone as Saskatchewan, they observe daylight saving time, but Saskatchewan does not. Therefore, watches and clocks moved ahead 1 hour.
Our next stop, for lunch, was at a truck stop in Brandon. Andy got the dogs out, again in the rain, while Judi whipped up some sandwiches using the left-overs from last night’s dinner. Jolly fine sandwiches and with full tummy, it was back on the highway. Only 3 more hours, or so we thought.
About 100 miles West of Winnipeg, our perfect day started changing for the worse. Judi, the Ace Navigator and Lookout, noted some serious storm clouds with heavy rain on the port bow (left side). No problem, says I, this road is dead straight and it should skirt around the edge. Shortly afterwards the GPS flashed the warning “Left Curve Ahead”. Judi had explained how they put curves in occasionally to keep drivers awake, so this would be a brief turn and then we would return to our Easterly course. However, no, we kept heading NE’ly directly into the storm. The rain was horrendous, even wipers on full speed couldn’t clear the water, so speed was reduced to about 30 mph. Shortly after we cleared that storm, we hit another one of similar intensity. The next day we heard on the news the storm, spawned a few tornadoes.
Finally, we reached Hwy 13 and turned South, heading towards friendlier skies. After a few miles, the rain eased off and finally stopped. Our next challenge was to find the campground on the GPS, as leaving Regina, we could not find any POI’s in Winkler. As with previous trips we expected to see them when we got closer, but no, the GPS gave us a network error. No problem, we can get the address from the cell phone. Judi pulled out her cell, but no signal. No problem, surely we will get a signal approaching the town. HaHaHa, welcome to rural Canada, where on the outskirts of Winkler we still had no signal on the cell.
It’s only a small town, how hard could it be to find a campground or aquatic centre, surely there would be signs. Alas, the answers were – not easy and No. We followed the GPS to the centre of town, not seeing the campground or any signs. Accepting defeat, we stopped a chap walking along the street and asked directions.
Normally this wouldn’t have been an issue as Andy reviews all trips on Google Maps, Street View and Satellite Earth, and has them committed to memory before we start. However, we only booked last night and due to hopelessly slow campground Wi-Fi, he was unable to complete the usual thorough voyage planning.