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Author Topic: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)  (Read 9519 times)

oscar

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Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« on: September 11, 2013, 06:12:45 PM »

Last month, I took a trip to northern Manitoba, after a few days in the Dakotas visiting family at the 100th anniversary celebration for my father's hometown, Rosholt SD.  I spent about a week total in Manitoba before heading back home.  The trip to and from Manitoba was unexceptional -- the most interesting thing that happened was a chance encounter with cpzilliacus (Marylander on this forum) at the Roy Rogers fast food restaurant in Cumberland MD (he was returning from a tour of Corridor H in West Virginia).  So this is all about Manitoba.

My basic routing within Manitoba was MB 10 from the U.S. border at U,S. 281 to its north end at the Saskatchewan border in Flin Flon; then cut over on MB 39, to MB 6 north to Thompson; then an overnight train up to Churchill on Hudson Bay and the same train (after a ten-hour stopover) back to Thompson; then back south on MB 6 almost to its end, where I cut over on MB 67 to Selkirk; then after wandering around the southeast shore of Lake Winnipeg up to Manigotagan, back south on MB 59 through Winnipeg to the U.S. border at US 59.

The border crossings into and out of Manitoba, and elsewhere on my trip (two crossings into and out of Ontario), went smoothly for once, no secondary searches or other hassles like on some previous crossings in other places.  Less pleasant was the speeding ticket I got on my first day in the province, as I was dialing back from the high speeds and speed limits in North Dakota.  Manitoba has been cranking up its speeding fines lately, and I was fined a few hundred dollars for an offence (26km/h over the limit) similar to what drew me far smaller fines in neighbouring Ontario, which is not exactly speeder-friendly either.  Welcome to Manitoba, eh?

The speed limits on primary highways default to 100km/h (about 62mph) in rural areas, with lower limits in urban areas and parks.   They are all paved, though many have only unpaved shoulders.  Of course, distances between towns are normally very long in northern Manitoba, and the scenery is usually exceedingly boring, especially in the "interlake" region along MB 6, where everything interesting seems to be on the lake shores to the west and east.  Service availability is also much more limited along MB 6 than MB 10, with no chain motels and only a Subway or two for chain restaurants along MB 6's entire ~740-km length between Thompson and Winnipeg (but services are abundant in Thompson, and of course Winnipeg).  Leaving Thompson at about 1:30pm after my train got back from Churchill, there was no way I could make it to Winnipeg by sunset, so I stayed over in one of the two el cheapo motels in Ashern before completing my Manitoba visit the following day.  I probably would've been better off sticking around Thompson for a night and leaving in the morning, so I could get to the Winnipeg area in one day.

MB 10 has bypasses of Dauphin, Swan River, and Flin Flon, with the city route numbered 10A in each.  (There are other A routes, both in some of these towns and elsewhere in the province.)  The bypasses are nice if you want to zip past the towns, but there are few services along the bypasses so you'll often need to go into town.  10A in Flin Flon looks like a shortcut on the map as MB 10 loops well north of town, but it's a slow slog, as is the western part of the mainline just north of the Saskatchewan border, which passes through downtown.

Flin Flon is named for a character in a science fiction novel, Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin.  Alas, it's basically a mining town, very industrial, and not nearly as interesting as its name.  It is served by not only 10 and 10A, but also the north end of SK 167.  Also, secondary route MB 291 starts in Flin Flon but cuts through Saskatchewan (no border signage, or other signage confirming that the part in Saskatchewan is part of MB 291, but there is no road link to the rest of Saskatchewan except through Manitoba).  The eastern Manitoba segment of MB 291 is slow and unpaved -- "provincial roads" (secondary routes numbered 200 and above) are often gravel, while "provincial trunk highways" (primary routes numbered under 200) are all paved.

The side trip to Churchill was more interesting, with even an unexpected roadgeek bonus.  I took the Via Rail train from Thompson, which started in Winnipeg, on which I had reserved a sleeper berth for the overnight trek.  Thompson is the last major stop before Churchill where the train stops in daylight (usually) in both directions, though the secondary road network continues north to Gillam if you don't mind a few hundred miles of gravel road, and getting on and off the train in the middle of the night.  There is no road connection between Churchill and the rest of Manitoba, so it's basically either the train or a plane to get to Churchill.

On the train ride up to Churchill, the morning before I arrived there, I took pictures of a lot of short tripod-mounted old telephone poles along the track, with glass insulators:



The poles no longer have wires strung between them, nor are they used for anything else.  They seem to be unmaintained, and many have collapsed or otherwise fallen into disrepair.

By coincidence, a group of a dozen and a half geocachers from Florida took the train up with me.  They stayed for a few days to hunt down caches scattered around the Churchill area, but I did Churchill as a day trip, catching the next train back to Thompson that evening.

Churchill is very walkable, with just about everything within a few blocks of the train station.  However, the airport is a long drive east of town.  Besides, walking far from town is not advised, due to the risk of polar bear attack.  While Churchill bills itself as "polar bear capital of the world", I didn't see any of those godless killing machines while I was there, not even on a "tundra buggy" afternoon tour into bear habitat inside an enclosed vehicle riding on giant tires.  But polar bear sightings, and attacks, seem more prevalent in cooler seasons.

On the bus out to the tundra buggy tour, I saw unusual signage for the one provincial road (secondary highway) in Churchill, the road to the airport:



The unusual feature of the signage is that the route number is in the range reserved for provincial roads, and has a "PR" prefix, but the route marker uses the format for provincial trunk highways.   An example of a standard PTH route marker (no "PTH" prefix), at the north end of MB 59 in Victoria Beach:



Provincial roads, on the other hand, usually are signed like this (in Thompson, where MB 391 ends at the north end of MB 6), with no "PR" prefix:



The provincial road to the airport seems to be the only one in the Churchill area.  (There is another road southwest from town, which I didn't have time to check out, but the Manitoba official highway map -- oddly enough, plenty of copies available in Churchill, even though it's disconnected from the rest of the highway system -- suggests that it isn't a provincial road, while the airport road is marked as such.)  The tour guide said the airport road was paved for a royal visit to Churchill.

One last tidbit:  MB 6 out of Thompson has this warning sign recommending winter survival gear -- in mid-summer, with temperatures near 80F:



Accomplished during the Manitoba part of my trip:

-- went to every census division of Manitoba, filling in a large gap in my Canada counties map -- so I can bypass Manitoba on my next trip to western Canada, and enter Canada in one of the western provinces where I can legally use my radar detector :)

-- clinched MB 6 (including the southern part covered on a previous trip), MB 10, MB 39, MB 59, MB 67, and all the MB 10As and the one MB 83A I know about.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 03:54:38 AM by oscar »
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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2013, 06:27:57 PM »

the most interesting thing that happened was a chance encounter with cpzilliacus (Marylander on this forum) at the Roy Rogers fast food restaurant in Cumberland MD

I would find that pretty interesting!

there was someone a few years ago who posted on the forum that he spotted New Jersey license plate ALPSRDS.

I've never bumped into a random forum member anywhere.
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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2013, 09:39:54 PM »

the most interesting thing that happened was a chance encounter with cpzilliacus (Marylander on this forum) at the Roy Rogers fast food restaurant in Cumberland MD

I would find that pretty interesting!

there was someone a few years ago who posted on the forum that he spotted New Jersey license plate ALPSRDS.

I've never bumped into a random forum member anywhere.
Would you know? I was in San Diego a few years ago and we could have been sitting at adjacent restaurant tables. Just look for a guy with a Bugo shaved head and a very gray beard. Can't be more than one of us.
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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2013, 12:32:02 AM »

the most interesting thing that happened was a chance encounter with cpzilliacus (Marylander on this forum) at the Roy Rogers fast food restaurant in Cumberland MD

I would find that pretty interesting!

there was someone a few years ago who posted on the forum that he spotted New Jersey license plate ALPSRDS.

I've never bumped into a random forum member anywhere.
I once bumped into someone I knew from Massachusetts while on vacation in Wisconsin. Turns out it was his nearly-identical younger brother, and he wasn't there. That's the only coincidence I recall offhand from my travels. I have on a couple of occasions found myself in the same city as someone else without planning it (Jeremy, Doug).

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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2013, 03:17:17 PM »

Last month, I took a trip to northern Manitoba, after a few days in the Dakotas visiting family at the 100th anniversary celebration for my father's hometown, Rosholt SD.  I spent about a week total in Manitoba before heading back home.  The trip to and from Manitoba was unexceptional -- the most interesting thing that happened was a chance encounter with cpzilliacus (Marylander on this forum) at the Roy Rogers fast food restaurant in Cumberland MD (he was returning from a tour of Corridor H in West Virginia).  So this is all about Manitoba.

Nice to talk to you at the Triggerburger place (Roy Rogers) almost under I-68!
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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2013, 05:14:57 PM »

My father is notorious for running into people he knows in all sorts of places. He once ran into someone on the Tube in London. Of course, he's a doctor, so he knows a lot of people (mostly his patients).

I have never had a chance encounter with anyone I know anywhere outside of the city I live in. But then I, in direct contrast to my father, know fewer people than the average person. And I've avoided making friends with anyone who lives in the same neighborhood as me specifically to minimize chance encounters, because who wants their business interrupted by such things?
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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2013, 09:54:00 AM »

the most interesting thing that happened was a chance encounter with cpzilliacus (Marylander on this forum) at the Roy Rogers fast food restaurant in Cumberland MD

I would find that pretty interesting!

there was someone a few years ago who posted on the forum that he spotted New Jersey license plate ALPSRDS.

I've never bumped into a random forum member anywhere.
I once bumped into someone I knew from Massachusetts while on vacation in Wisconsin. Turns out it was his nearly-identical younger brother, and he wasn't there. That's the only coincidence I recall offhand from my travels. I have on a couple of occasions found myself in the same city as someone else without planning it (Jeremy, Doug).

I was flying back from Chicago on Southwest once and, due to their "open seating" policy, I looked around and decided to sit next to an attractive-looking young lady given that the other seating options were near fat people taking up more than their proper seat or people with small children. I'd barely been sitting for five minutes when she asked me if I were (my name). Turned out she was someone from my high school class and we hadn't seen each other since we graduated. I was a bit embarrassed not to have recognized her. Made for a nice flight to Baltimore, though, as we talked the whole way.

I wouldn't know anyone from this forum if I encountered them in person unless I were attending a road meet (logical because I've never attended one).
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Alps

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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2013, 10:25:41 PM »

I wouldn't know anyone from this forum if I encountered them in person unless I were attending a road meet (logical because I've never attended one).
http://www.alpsroads.net/roads and click on the various Road Meets

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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2013, 01:04:42 PM »

Or just dig through old meet photos on the forum.
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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2013, 03:43:53 PM »

the most interesting thing that happened was a chance encounter with cpzilliacus (Marylander on this forum) at the Roy Rogers fast food restaurant in Cumberland MD
I would find that pretty interesting!

Further elaboration - I saw Oscar's car (I prefer not to describe it further in this forum for reasons of privacy) in the parking lot - the lot is smack under the Cumberland Thruway (old U.S. 40, now I-68/U.S. 40/U.S. 220), but curiously did not see him in the restaurant (I had the honor of meeting Oscar once before at the Portsmouth, N.H. meet), which is rather small by the standards of fast food places hard by an Interstate highway.  But I got in my truck and called out to him as he came out and we talked for a little while.
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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2013, 03:46:20 PM »

On the train ride up to Churchill, the morning before I arrived there, I took pictures of a lot of short tripod-mounted old telephone poles along the track, with glass insulators:



The poles no longer have wires strung between them, nor are they used for anything else.  They seem to be unmaintained, and many have collapsed or otherwise fallen into disrepair.

Wonder if they were designed built that way to increase resistance to winds?

I suspect that they have been replaced  by buried fiber-optic cable.
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oscar

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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2013, 11:36:40 AM »

Further elaboration - I saw Oscar's car (I prefer not to describe it further in this forum for reasons of privacy) in the parking lot - the lot is smack under the Cumberland Thruway (old U.S. 40, now I-68/U.S. 40/U.S. 220), but curiously did not see him in the restaurant (I had the honor of meeting Oscar once before at the Portsmouth, N.H. meet), which is rather small by the standards of fast food places hard by an Interstate highway.  But I got in my truck and called out to him as he came out and we talked for a little while.

The tipoff was the Hawaii Superferry bumper sticker with the pseudo-Interstate H-4 logo, which made its final appearance at last weekend's meet in Lebanon NH.  I've since removed the sticker (damaged, probably no replacement available since the Superferry went bankrupt years ago), so that no longer works.  Look instead for its replacement, the French-language version of the Confederation Bridge bumper sticker, which also is on my pickup truck.  Both stickers make people scratch their heads (for different reasons), just what I like in a bumper sticker.  :)
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oscar

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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2013, 11:47:12 AM »

Wonder if they were designed built that way to increase resistance to winds?

I suspect that they have been replaced  by buried fiber-optic cable.

More likely that the tripod poles were to deal with soft or otherwise poor ground, which can't support conventional upright poles (though there are other ways to deal with that problem, used elsewhere on the rail line).  There are high-tension power lines running parallel to the track as it approaches Churchill, which might also carry fiber-optic cable, or maybe the communication links are now entirely by satellite.
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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2013, 11:58:45 AM »

Wonder if they were designed built that way to increase resistance to winds?

I suspect that they have been replaced  by buried fiber-optic cable.

More likely that the tripod poles were to deal with soft or otherwise poor ground, which can't support conventional upright poles (though there are other ways to deal with that problem, used elsewhere on the rail line).  There are high-tension power lines running parallel to the track as it approaches Churchill, which might also carry fiber-optic cable, or maybe the communication links are now entirely by satellite.

Yeah, that ground looks pretty much like it could have permafrost below the surface, and a those "tripods" are away to get around that.

At some point, I am going to "do" the Iron Ore Line (Malmbanan in Swedish), an electrified line in the far north of Sweden and Norway that carries mostly heavy unit trains of ore bound for the Ports of Narvik, Norway and  Luleå, Sweden.  The articulated electric locomotives that pull the ore trains make the old PRR GG-1 electrics look like runts.

I have always wondered how they get the poles that hold up the catenary to stay in place.
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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2013, 12:16:18 PM »

Further elaboration - I saw Oscar's car (I prefer not to describe it further in this forum for reasons of privacy) in the parking lot - the lot is smack under the Cumberland Thruway (old U.S. 40, now I-68/U.S. 40/U.S. 220), but curiously did not see him in the restaurant (I had the honor of meeting Oscar once before at the Portsmouth, N.H. meet), which is rather small by the standards of fast food places hard by an Interstate highway.  But I got in my truck and called out to him as he came out and we talked for a little while.

The tipoff was the Hawaii Superferry bumper sticker with the pseudo-Interstate H-4 logo, which made its final appearance at last weekend's meet in Lebanon NH.  I've since removed the sticker (damaged, probably no replacement available since the Superferry went bankrupt years ago), so that no longer works.  Look instead for its replacement, the French-language version of the Confederation Bridge bumper sticker, which also is on my pickup truck.  Both stickers make people scratch their heads (for different reasons), just what I like in a bumper sticker.  :)

I am not sure of the necessity of a Hawaiian super ferry, but again this is evidence of environmentalism getting in the way of progress. I am all for protecting the environment and erosion control. but these impact studies are far to expensive and intrusive.
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oscar

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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2013, 01:11:15 PM »

I am not sure of the necessity of a Hawaiian super ferry, but again this is evidence of environmentalism getting in the way of progress. I am all for protecting the environment and erosion control. but these impact studies are far to expensive and intrusive.

The whole story is complicated, as discussed at length over at m.t.r. when I still was hanging out there.  But even before the Hawaii Supreme Court stuck in the dagger, the Superferry's economics were looking shaky, so I'm not sure it would've survived even if it had been treated less unfairly by the Hawaiian legal system. 
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Re: Manitoba meanderings (long, with photos)
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2013, 02:23:05 PM »

Wonder if they were designed built that way to increase resistance to winds?

I suspect that they have been replaced  by buried fiber-optic cable.

More likely that the tripod poles were to deal with soft or otherwise poor ground, which can't support conventional upright poles (though there are other ways to deal with that problem, used elsewhere on the rail line).  There are high-tension power lines running parallel to the track as it approaches Churchill, which might also carry fiber-optic cable, or maybe the communication links are now entirely by satellite.

Yeah, that ground looks pretty much like it could have permafrost below the surface, and a those "tripods" are away to get around that.

Not sure if the permafrost is really an issue there. Telephone/electrical poles are a common thing in Nunavik and Nunavut communities, despite their often northerner (55-82°N) location than Churchill (58°N). Here's a shot in Iqaluit : http://goo.gl/maps/vdPIr

To me, it looks like an issue of a very thin layer of peatland or humus on a solid rock bed that would have required extensive drilling for every pole that was overcome by this tripod solution; to ensure maximal stability on a thin, wet soil and minimal replacement frequency in a remote area, the force was divided onto three supports.

Churchill is located where Canadian Shield and Hudson Lowlands meet, resulting in a weird soil composition.

Here is a topo map of the area where I think Oscar might have took the picture :
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 02:27:28 PM by webfil »
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