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Manitoba
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May 11- Day 35

Resting Heart Rate: 58bmp (the tent is cooler than before... it took me 15 minutes just to FIND a pulse!) I got a feeling it'll hang in the high fifties throughout the trip.

It's been five weeks since I left Victoria. FIVE weeks! For me that's a little hard to grasp right now. For some reason it always feels like I left "not too long ago" and will finish the trip "not too long from now".

Ken let me dry my tent in their dryer, hope he didn't overdo it. I noticed a couple of places on the mosquito netting that seemed to have "shrunk" from the previous time.

Though it's not raining, the grass, and therefore my pant legs are already wet. I don't know if I should risk wearing normal clothes today or the rain gear.

Another food score! Before I left, Ken's wife gave me a half dozen oatmeal and raisin cookies and two granny smith apples! Woo-Hoo!

I'm in Brandon, and it's slow going. Right now my average speed is about 18kph. The headwinds are back. On the plus side, there is no rain, just heavy clouds right now. I'm at a truck stop hoping to get an interview with a trucker, clean the chain on my bike, and trying to call dad before he leaves.

The cookies, by the way, aren't raisin. They're chocolate! And homemade!

The people here are not the most receptive. Oh well, maybe some other time.

I'm somewhere between Carberry and Sydney right now. I've got 20k to go before my minimum is reached, but wanted to update some things before I forget.

Up until now, I hadn't seen a living thing on the roads of Manitoba. Lots of roadkill, of all shapes and sizes (and messes), but nothing alive. Well, since then I've seen three hawks (one of which cried out, which made me feel alive), and finally some gopher (I was beginning to miss them). These gopher are different, though. Smaller darker, and slightly longer tails.

Manitoba WAS flat, now it alternates between eXTREMELY flat and eXTREMELY hilly (actually, to be fair, it's not hills, but valleys). The increasing number of trees out here is encouraging. I'll probably camp in the woods tonight, even though I have yet to get a single Manitoba interview... we'll have to wait and see what turns up. But if I do camp in the woods tonight, I'll have to work double hard for interviews tomorrow.

My speedometer broke again. This time I couldn't fix it easily, something was wrong with the cords, I thought. Then I thought it was the contacts. By the time it was fixed, I had to remove so much wire, the speedometer is now on the fork of the front wheel! It's actually not bad there, to be honest.

I had a really major a**hole of a truck driver nearly drive me right off the road! He didn't honk to warn me, and had no traffic keeping him from moving to the passing lane. Most truck drivers are EXTREMELY courteous, and not only give wide berth, but sometimes honk in support after they pass. Jerks like this one shouldn't be on the road. What if I had panicked? I might have crashed off the side of the road, or even los control and swerved right into him.

Oh well, at least I got that out of my system.

Time spent cycling: 6 to 6 and a half hours?

Distance traveled: 116 km (+3km south out of the way)

Total distance: 2474 km

Average Speed: 19 kph (approx)

Maximum speed: 50.2 kph (no way I topped that)

Current Location: campground in Austin, Manitoba, right beside Agriculture Museum

Just so you know, between the time the speedometer broke and the time I fixed it, I traveled about 2 hours, so most of the stats are educated guesses or established by other means like road signs.

In Sydney, there were no stores, and I was low on water. I stopped at a portable pre fab house with Christmas lights on it all year round and got my big bottle refilled by a thirty something guy with messed up hair, no shirt, half asleep (at 5pm) and a kid crying in the background.

I left before I ended up on an episode of COPS.

I take that back. Yes it was funny, but the guy was nice and helpful. No point in making it seem otherwise.

Austin is where I finished today's journey. There is an agricultural museum only a few klicks off the #1, which I figured was an excellent diversion for tomorrow (it's six now, so it was closed), and coincidentally, Austin is almost exactly at the spot I planned on stopping today. So there is a 3k digression aside from that, but so what? An interview with the curator of a different museum in a different province would make an interesting addition.

There is a campground beside the museum, but I'll be damned before paying for another night! I set my bike up behind some trees on the side of the road and prepared to make camp...

However, I saw someone leave the museum and head for the little mom and pop (literally) restaurant across from it. Thinking this might be the curator, I went in and talked to him. He was just a gardener (who looks almost exactly like Rev. Jim Baker), but told me the campground here is free! Well, that changes my plans. It's hard to refuse free!

I'm typing this section in said restaurant, by the way. This place is so archetypal that it could easily be used as a movie location. It's decor is definitely several generations old. In its own little way, it is perfect. I can only hope it stays this way until 2050 so people can still enjoy it. I asked the gardener, and he says its 47 year old! 1953 style, I thought as much. He says it hasn't changed much since then.

The campground is nice, a little too orderly, but at least it's free (technically it isn't, just like in that place in Sask, but who am I to argue with a local?). Again, if money weren't an issue, I would have paid... well, no I wouldn't. I wouldn't have stayed here. My spot across from the local cemetery was good enough.

However, I'm glad I stayed here. There is a tourist from Quebec who is full of ideas, and I think he's willing to do the survey. The tent is all set up, I'm as ready as I'll ever be, so let's see how it goes.

What great timing. No sooner do I wrap up the survey, but it begins raining. Good thing the tent was already set up. We talked a little longer, and then I retired for the evening, putting my bags inside and the bike into the covered washroom, all amidst the sound of softly pelting rain and thunder in the distance.

The gentleman, a retired aircraft mechanic, was an interesting interview, only a little bit of a language problem. His wife and their guest (son? I don't know) didn't speak much english, so I wasn't able to make much of a connection with them. But the man translated when needed. They just listened for the most part. He had some interesting answers, and is one of the few people who would want to be frozen upon death if it was available to them.

I'm inside the tent typing away, the rain pelting around me. Let it. I'm one lousy day away from Winnipeg, beside a museum in a campground. Hell, this is so nice I'll stay here another day if the rain persists!

You know, I am a little disappointed. Not too many letters regarding this trip have come into my email. It appears I have failed to make any kind of Phillius Fogg kind of stir amongst my close associates. I suppose nobody is following my journey on a map, putting little pins in mentioned locations, or anything of the sort. Oh well, perhaps if I went around the world you'd all stand up and notice! I suppose what I'm saying is, if anyone out there does find this trip fascinating, and is following this journal with interest, to please let me know. It would do a lot for me right now!

The sound of rolling thunder, and soft pattering of rain against a tent.

Okay, I've got some repairs to do, and then it's a bit more reading before retiring to bed.



Onto Day 36...