Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 5 - Winnipeg to Regina, with a Great Stop in Brandon

We drove down the road. It was straight and long. We drove down the road. It was straight and long. We drove down the road. It was straight and long. We drove down the road. It was straight and long. We drove down the road. It was straight and long.

If that was boring to read, you wouldn’t believe what it was like to drive it for 5 or 6 hours today!

We pulled out of Winnipeg at about 8:00am. 2 degrees and overcast, raining just a bit, but that rain didn’t last long today (for a change). The sun broke though the clouds for most of the drive in the afternoon.

We heard the craziest thing on the radio today. The courts in Windsor Ontario found a truck driver guilty of smoking in a workplace and fined him $300.00. He was alone, driving his truck down the road, and smoking. I find it unbelievable how far the government goes to stick its nose in everyone’s face. I wonder how much tax payer’s money will be wasted when this gets move up through all the court systems.

One great thing that happened today was, just before the Saskatchewan border, the speed limit changed to 110kph. Nice to be able to move at a reasonable speed without worrying about getting a ticket. I think that difference cost us abut 15% more for gas though.

The temperature never rose above 4 degrees all day long. We saw a few flakes of snow near Winnipeg, but the real snow came when we got to Regina. We were having dinner somewhere, looked out the window and there was a blizzard outside. Luckily it only lasted about 15 minutes, but it sure came down during that time.

We drove through Brandon Manitoba today and stopped for a few hours there. Lynne’s dad was stationed there for about 5 years during the war. He was a mechanic with the Air Force. He’d told me a few stories of life out there. We wanted to go and see if we could find anything left from those days.

There is still a big base in Silo, about 20k east of Brandon. We drove onto the base and found an Artillery Museum. It was pretty cool looking at some of the cannons and tanks they had around there. One of the officers on duty told us that we were at the wrong location. We needed to go a bit north of town to the airport. The Air Force Museum was on the same grounds as the public airport.

We got there about 30 minutes before it opens, but the girl who runs the place saw us and opened early for us. The museum is Hanger 1 of the 5 original hangers. The other 4 are long gone. We spent a couple of hours looking around. It was very unique, partly because it didn’t have the commercialized polish that any other museum I’ve ever been too has. It was an old hanger with cement floors and draftee dirty windows.

There were a couple of rooms with uniforms and radios and bits and pieces from those WW II days. The hanger was full of old planes and parts. I knew early planes were aluminium and wood frames covered with canvas, but it was amazing to look at a big plane, and then to feel how flimsy if felt. We can only imagine how cold it was for the pilots. There was a turret from a Lancaster bomber. Again, it was made of very thin Plexiglas. Thoughts of all of those old WW II movies came to mind. It’s unbelievable to think about how thin those planes are; how unprotected the guys were.

There was an interesting story about why the Commonwealth aircraft had targets painted on them. The ‘Roundel’ was developed in WWI by the British for identification purposes. From a distance, the British and the German flags looked similar. Pilots couldn’t tell if the planes coming towards them were friendly or enemy. The British took the colours from their flag and created the Roundel. They placed the image strategically on the plane to cause minimal damage if it were used as a target,

Lynne spent a long time looking through the Barbers Books. The barber on the base cut every new recruits hair when they arrived. He had them all sign his book. By the time the war ended, he had 4 large binders full of signatures of everyone that sat in his chair. Lynne looked for a long time to find her dad’s signature, but to no avail. It was pretty amazing to be walking around in the hanger thinking of Jack working there for all that time, so long ago.

We me Archie just before we left. Archie was the pilot trainer during WW II. He’s pushing 90 years old today. He talked about how, when a mechanic signed a plane off as being repaired and fit to fly again, he had to take it out for a test flight. He made the signing mechanic fry that test flight with him. He figured that made for pretty good insurance that no mechanic would fluff off a job. Jack told me once about being taken out for a flight. The pilot scared the hell out of him apparently. Was Archie that pilot? Who knows? We asked Archie if he remembered Jack Green. “It was along time ago” was Archie’s response.

It was a quiet drive for the next hour or two after we left. It was amazing for me to be that close to that part of history. It was amazing for Lynne to be that close to a part of her dad’s history!

We passed a couple of farms with Buffalo on our way into Regina. I took a real double take when I first spotted them! We got to Regina at about 5:00, which turned out to be 4:00. We’d crossed our second time zone since leaving home.

We’ve traveled 2750k so far over 30 hours of driving. We’ll get going early tomorrow. We want to get to Calgary and to see Christine, Emily and Aidan as early as possible. We’ve got almost 700k left to go.

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    I am planning to drive from Vancouver to Winnipeg next week, that would be end of December, what you suggest , will it be safe ?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.