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Old 05-26-2014, 07:54 AM   #1
dryden_rider_54 OP
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Trip into the past on a KLR

It was 2013. I was planning to do a trip to the Black Hills from Dryden Ontario on my 2006 KLR. I picked up some gear for the bike but had to road test it.

When I was younger I had taken a summer trip to the Winnipeg Folk Festival which held every July. I think I made it to the first or second one but once I got a job in the forest fire business summers were not my own any more, so had not returned even though each year i had some intentions.

Now being retired i thought what a better time to do this and besides a favorite performer Serena Ryder was one of the acts so this was going to be the year i returned. Also it was the 40th anniversary for the festival. Considering that I started work in the fire business in 1974 it would be my 40th anniversary of returning also.

Little did I know that this would be a trip into my past in more ways than one and I suppose it is appropriate that on the 16th anniversary of my Mom's death I post it.

The weather forecast was for clear skies but of course the threat of summer thunder storms. The Folk Festival in Winnipeg is famous for many things but one of them is the potential for extreme weather and mosquitoes. I packed what I thought I would need to meet the challenges and headed off.

My planned route would be through Ontario on Hwy 17 and then turn off and take twisty bumpy hwy 44 through the Whiteshell area of Manitoba.



As a kid I had traveled this route many times with my parents on family "vacations" to stay with grandma in Whitemouth Manitoba. More on this later but as a budding 10-12 year old it was the worst vacation a guy could go through and as it took me away from my friends and fun, and it was the dread of the summer.

The ride through Ontario was uneventful but as I pulled into West hawk lake the day was warming up nicely and I stopped for a break by the beach.


After a long cold spring people were finally getting out and a few were ready for the day by 10 am.


Highway 44 is an old beat up piece of road, but there is something that is fun and challenging about it on a dual sport bike. It twists and turns, over blind hills, past ponds and lakes and the frost heaves will send you for some air time in the spring of the year.


It was at "The Lily Pond" that a lot of memories came flooding back. When we were a bunch of brushcut kids and sitting in the back of the station wagon inevitably my sister or brother would get car sick as we bobbed and weaved over hwy 44. Of course they would never say anything until the last minute and puke all over the back seat and if they held their hands over their mouth long enough the built up back pressure would spray puke through their fingers and all over the backs of my mother and father in the front. Also the smell of it would trigger each other kid to begin their own version of gut emptying

I think this is where i learned swear words from my dad, but the timing would be such that it was the Lily Pond where we would pull over and everyone would be out of the car getting fresh air and my mom would get stuck with the chore of washing out the car. We would all get a stick of Juicy Fruit gum from my mom to take the taste of puke out of our mouths. To this day if i eat a piece of Juicy Fruit gum I can instantly smell car sick type puke.



I pulled over and laughed a bit at the memory, the great weather of the day surely did not hurt.



Once you leave the Whiteshell Park Hwy 44 gets a bit smoother and wider. It is still a secondary type highway but the twists, bumps and heaves are not up to the park standard. The first place you get to is a small town named Rennie. This town hold a place in my memory.

We would take family trip from Grandmas house to Brereton lake in the park. To me this would be great as a young fellow but we were always under the guidance of a great aunt who thought our safety was paramount and would make us swim in the shallowest and crappiest area under her constant supervision.

I guess my dad was no fan either because they would always "forget" something and we would have to go back into Rennie to get it. Now like every small hamlet in Manitoba, Rennie had 2 things for sure. A gas station/general store/restaurant and a hotel with men's side a "beer parlor".

My dad would take pity on me and take me and a cousin with one of my uncles back into Rennie. The sole purpose of those trip to retrieve the forgotten something was for them to sit and have a cold beer. We would get some coins to head to the store and get snacks and then would sit outside waiting for them to have their beer. For a kid you could always find something to explore and we would walk down to the Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary and chuck rocks into the pond.

Today it was my turn and as I pulled into Rennie I thought I would see just what my Dad found so appealing so i pulled into the hotel.


It looked different than what I remembered on the outside but I am sure the inside had hardly changed in the 49 years since i sat outside drinking a cold Mountain Dew, or slurping down a popsicle.

Inside had been remodeled I am sure but you could almost smell the jar of pickled eggs, kalbasa on the heater and the spilled beer.


I knew I had 150k to go and needed to be alert for the ever present White Tailed Deer hazard so after a lite beer, a bottle of water and a snack I carried on. I was about 1/2 hour from Whitemouth where I would spend my summer vacations and planned on spending a bit of time there.

One highlight of my summer vacation in Whitemouth was going swimming down at the "rapids" in the river. When I think back we were downstream from a hundred farms with cows, pesticides etc and I am not sure what we swam in but at the time innocence ruled.



The rapids was close to an aunts house, and it would include visiting my girl cousin who was close to my age (maybe a year older) but miles ahead of me in life experience. We would always walk down to the river and play around the bridge. She would have some smokes and tell me of the things she would do for fun.

I think you grow up quick in small prairie towns. She would tell of going out to parties, drinking, riding in boys cars drag racing. I thought I was living fast smoking cigarettes i would steal from my mom, but she was a mile ahead. The fast living would seemingly always result in an early pregnancy, a marriage to a guy with little future, move in and live with his parents on the family farm, and an eventual, but inevitable divorce.

Like the fast and fun times the old bridge had seen far better days and was going through its own form of deterioration and divorce with an attempt at recovery.




After spending a few moment reminiscing I headed off through town to Grandmas old house location.

I can remember all the times I would walk down this main drag in Whitemouth. It would always be blistering hot and normally empty of traffic save the odd person driving by and the sounds of cicadas and grasshoppers. Even though I was only a kid they would always look and stare at me like I was a stranger in town.


The names on the businesses have changed but the format was the same, Hotel, grocery and general dry goods.


My grandparents were business people in Whitemouth. Grandpa trapped in the winter and they ran a service station for a few years. I think this was known as Cousin's Texaco which they either worked at or managed for her folks or relatives. Not sure of the details. My Grandmothers maiden name was Cousins

Except for the lack of signage and pumps and lack of paint it basically has looked like this from across the highway at Grandmas since I knew it as a kid




It was this station that my Grandparents operated for many years. It has changed considerably. It was an Esso station and had the typical restaurant, general goods convenience type stuff when I was a kid.



The old house has been long torn down. Kind of sad really. My uncle tried to keep it going but time got the better of it. There was wood stove heat, no running water, and the bathroom was out behind the garage but there was a HUGE garden all the time that i would raid for peas and carrots as a kid. My grandpas old garage and the well house were still standing

House location and garage




Well house and firewood storage. They had the only well for a ways around so there would always be folks coming to it for water. It was hard water with a real distinct taste that i did not care for.


There was an attached 2 holer outhouse that was behind the garage but is long gone now


The garage door was open so I ventured inside and it was like I was transported back in time. It looked like the local rubbies had turned it into a place to have a snort or 2 but a lot of my grandpas old stuff was still in there, and the place smelled just like the inside of his old Ford truck. It was kind of neat. I sat on the picnic table for a while and took it all in, watching the traffic head by. At one time this was the way to Ontario and thousands would pass daily, but today the odd whoosh of a car and the bump bump as it sped through town and over the train tracks a couple hundred feet away were the only sounds.



I remembered this old lamp that used to be in the living room beside the chair where my grandpa would smoke his pipe and watch wrestling on CTV Saturday afternoons.


Well that was the end of my childhood memories and I headed for Birds Hill Park and the folk festival. On the way i breezed past farmers who had probably work this land for generations and whose kids probably brought home a pregnant girl and wondered how many of them had "made" it. I am sure there were a few but there were as likely as many sad stories and I felt grateful that I had been taken hostage those many years ago and seen the difference so i could truly appreciate where I was today both physically and in my head space.



I set up camp in the park and then went and found myself a nice spot to enjoy the fabulous weather and evening.


Picked up some snacks and sat back to enjoy the show and my girl Serena Ryder


It did eventually thunderstorm that night and i slept well. Got up the next day and showered and headed home. I purposely headed into the city and took the main highway home. Dodged a few storms but made it home in one piece. All the gear worked out and was ready for my trip to the Black Hills.

That report can be seen here as A KLR to Sturgis and Beyond http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=940984
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dryden_rider_54 screwed with this post 05-26-2014 at 10:10 AM
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Old 05-26-2014, 04:18 PM   #2
Tsotsie
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Nice. Thank you.
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Old 05-26-2014, 05:06 PM   #3
fastredbike
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that was fascinating.

I find it disorienting to revisit places that were important in my youth but that I've had little connection with since. I always struggle with how much is different about me but how similar the place remains.

thanks!
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Old 05-26-2014, 08:25 PM   #4
dryden_rider_54 OP
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Originally Posted by Tsotsie View Post
Nice. Thank you.
Thank you for the compliment
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"It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.".
His - 2006 KLR Red, 2010 F800GS 30th Anniversary edition
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Old 05-26-2014, 09:52 PM   #5
calan818
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Excellent stories and memories!

Hey Dryden Rider! I really enjoyed being transported back in time along with you. I have been thinking a great deal about retirement and my own history ever since I turned 50 last summer. I appreciate you opening up your book of memories and sharing them with us on ADV. The pictures of the old garage and finding the lamp was very poignant and must have been an emotional experience for you.

I loved the story about Rennie and you dad sneaking away for a beer. The projectile vomit story was hilarious! And I know it was always up to our poor mother's to cleanup the messes us kids would inevitably make!

I too had grandparents I would "have to visit" and too would wander around the small prairie town of Winkler, looking for new adventures sometimes with an "older" cousin to make it more interesting. Those memories are burned into my heart and mind forever, and the coming of age memories were always surrounded by innocence and youthful ideals and thoughts.

Whenever I drive by my grandparents house which is still standing, I immediately become 10 years old again.

Its funny that this very evening my wife and I were just discussing her Aunt who passed
away 30 years ago at age 38. Deborah's dad mentioned that her grave never had a marker and they were going to go buy one so she would not be in an unmarked plot.

I guess we all just want our lives to be remembered and for our family to not think ill of us. You have kept some of your memories alive forever by sharing them on this awesome forum and I thank you for that!

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Old 05-27-2014, 05:17 AM   #6
dryden_rider_54 OP
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Originally Posted by fastredbike View Post
that was fascinating. I find it disorienting to revisit places that were important in my youth but that I've had little connection with since. I always struggle with how much is different about me but how similar the place remains. thanks!
Yes it really is a bit of a time transport for you but for those who live there it is just a bit of change at a time. Taking the time to sit back, watch and listen and let the memories flood through is kind of pleasant though.
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"It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.".
His - 2006 KLR Red, 2010 F800GS 30th Anniversary edition
Hers - 2003 KL250 Super Sherpa Green, 2010 F650GS Biarritz Blue Metallic
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:32 AM   #7
dryden_rider_54 OP
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Thanks and in putting this report out there I found out what a small world we live in and a relative i never knew about. In the end memories are all we are really have that are truly ours. It is a great place to discover and relate. That is why I put these dinky ride reports out there. You never know what it will stir up or who you may meet because of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by calan818 View Post
Hey Dryden Rider! I really enjoyed being transported back in time along with you. I have been thinking a great deal about retirement and my own history ever since I turned 50 last summer. I appreciate you opening up your book of memories and sharing them with us on ADV. The pictures of the old garage and finding the lamp was very poignant and must have been an emotional experience for you.

I loved the story about Rennie and you dad sneaking away for a beer. The projectile vomit story was hilarious! And I know it was always up to our poor mother's to cleanup the messes us kids would inevitably make!

I too had grandparents I would "have to visit" and too would wander around the small prairie town of Winkler, looking for new adventures sometimes with an "older" cousin to make it more interesting. Those memories are burned into my heart and mind forever, and the coming of age memories were always surrounded by innocence and youthful ideals and thoughts.

Whenever I drive by my grandparents house which is still standing, I immediately become 10 years old again.

Its funny that this very evening my wife and I were just discussing her Aunt who passed
away 30 years ago at age 38. Deborah's dad mentioned that her grave never had a marker and they were going to go buy one so she would not be in an unmarked plot.

I guess we all just want our lives to be remembered and for our family to not think ill of us. You have kept some of your memories alive forever by sharing them on this awesome forum and I thank you for that!
__________________
"It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.".
His - 2006 KLR Red, 2010 F800GS 30th Anniversary edition
Hers - 2003 KL250 Super Sherpa Green, 2010 F650GS Biarritz Blue Metallic
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Old 05-27-2014, 05:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dryden_rider_54 View Post
Yes it really is a bit of a time transport for you but for those who live there it is just a bit of change at a time. Taking the time to sit back, watch and listen and let the memories flood through is kind of pleasant though.
I agree dryden_rider_54, It's all about taking the time. We miss so much, assuming we are in such a great hurry.

Glad I took the time to read this. Thanks.
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