Mitch's Blog 7.0

Mitch's Blog


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fall Colors and La Beauté Magnifique du Canada

This past week has not been a good one for sharing the boatload of photos I’ve been doing nothing with. Over the past five days, I not only had to complete the ordinary lab and German homework that I always seem to acquire during the course of the week, but also I had to take three tests. As a result, I had little time to devote to this little place on the internet. Until this weekend, that is.

I have two distinct series of photos I will be sharing in this post. If I wouldn’t have been so busy lately, I would have shared them in two separate posts. But, since the photos are a bit newsworthy – and it’s been over two weeks since I took them – the best thing to do, I felt, was to share them all in one post.

With that sait, the first series depicts how the fall colors looked in the Grand Forks area earlier this month. Though most of the trees are completely bare at this point, for the last week of September and the first week of this month, there was some nice color to be seen in the region. It was at this point that the lofty cottonwoods that so readily grow in the loamy soil of the Red River Valley began to show off the yellow that they’re so well known for in the fall.

Without further explanation, here are the photos:

The following four photos were taken from the top floor of UND's Medical School. As far as I can tell, this is the tallest building that I can legally gain access to in Grand Forks.

This is the walkway leading up to the south entrance of the med school

The grass over at University Park - just a few blocks east of the main portion of UND's campus - was littered with leaves blown off the trees by the powerful winds the Red River Valley is known for

Although you do have to look hard, fall does bring some red colors to Grand Forks

Along the walking path in University Park was a beautiful, old cottonwood bathed in yellow

The younger trees on the western end of University Avenue were also covered in yellow or orange colors

The Greenway, a hiking/biking path along the Red River in downtown Grand Forks, is a great place to walk under the towering cottonwoods

The yellow leaves of a cottonwood on the North Dakota side of the Red River have a good view of a nearly identical cottonwood tree on the Minnesota side

Fall brings a lot of yellow to the Red River - this is looking north, so North Dakota is on the left and Minnesota is on the right

In most places along the Greenway, the ground was completely covered in fallen leaves - notice here in this photo however that a couple strands of grass are trying to peek up from under the mass of leaves

The following series of photos are from the weekend trip I took to Winnipeg two weeks ago. After never having been to Winnipeg before, and not having been to Canada in years, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But, in the end, I was really impressed with what I found. What made Winnipeg so great was not its scenery (the landscape looks a lot like that found around either Fargo or Grand Forks and consequently is nothing to write home about), but rather the cultural flair of the city. Here, just a little more than a two hour drive north of Grand Forks, was an actual "big" city complete with a sprawling skyline, vast entertainment district, and sizable international community.

The two days I spent in Winnipeg really weren’t enough to see everything the city has to offer. Still, I managed to take in a couple of the most well-known attractions: The Manitoba Museum and The Forks.

The Manitoba Museum was comparable in size and comprehensiveness to some of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums in Washington D.C. Just going through the main part of the museum took me three hours, and, to be honest, I wasn’t even stopping to look at everything that was on display. The museum takes visitors on a winding walk through eight galleries that highlight the geological and cultural history and makeup of Manitoba. The walk starts off by examining the fossils of cephalopods, trilobites, and corals - the earliest known life forms to have existed within the present-day confines of the province - and culminates in a two-story replica of what both the rich and the poor sides of Winnipeg looked like in the 1920s. I really wish I would have taken my camera into the museum with me, but I regrettably left it behind because I didn’t know what sort of rules the museum had regarding its use (there weren’t any, as I later learned). In any event, there museum’s official website contains virtual tours that you can take. Click here to see them.

The Forks is both an historical park and entertainment district in the heart of downtown. Its name comes from the fact that it is located at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. The spot has been a well-known meeting place for numerous groups of people, ranging from the aborigines to nineteenth century riverboat workers. The historical portion of The Forks consists of various monuments and structures that are dedicated to the significant place the area has had in the histories of so many people.

But The Forks is much more than just a historical site; it continues to be a gigantic meeting place for Winnipeg and Mantioba to this day. To this end, The Forks contains numerous restaurants and markets housed in historical buildings. My favorite was The Forks Market, which is essentially a huge mall housed in a building that was originally two separate stables for two competing railroads. Unlike ordinary malls, however, The Forks Market consists entirely of independent retailers selling, among other things, souvenirs, crafts, and jewelry. Besides that, there are numerous European-style "outdoor" food markets that sell fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, and bread. And as if that weren’t enough, there are also a lot of great restaurants that feature cuisines from all over the world. After debating between the Greek or the Sri Lankan eatery, I decided on trying out some food from Sri Lanka. It was a bit spicier than I would have liked, but, other than that, it was a highly enjoyable experience.

After spending a few hours on a Sunday morning at The Forks, it was time to head south to the border. So off I went with my ketchup chips, bacon chips, French chocolate, and $0.919/litre gasoline. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it back to Winnipeg some day. There is really much more of both the city and southern Manitoba that I would like to explore. Besides, Canada is a great place.

As a result of taking U.S. Highway 75 in Minnesota to get to Winnipeg, I passed through many typical northwestern Minnesota towns like this one, Kennedy

A somewhat colorful street scene in Warren, MN - in what is so typical for the whole of Minnesota, notice how wide and nice the city streets are

Here's another street scene from Hallock

The Two Rivers River, which runs through the eastern end of Hallock, was quite alive in fall color

Two yellow leaves on a cottonwood in Humboldt, MN manage to cling on amid the strong winds that have already taken most of the other leaves off

Here is the Canadian customs building outside of Emerson, MB - As I have marked, I was just a few yards south of the border in North Dakota

This was my first glimpse of the Winnipeg skyline - this photo was taken atop a manmade hill on Winnipeg's westside

A typical street scene in downtown Winnipeg

A typical street scene in residential Winnipeg

A typical street scene in the mixed commercial/residential area of downtown Winnipeg

A typical street scene in the aspen forest of southeastern Mantioba

A lonely dirt road in the somewhat lonely area east of Winnipeg

Canadian railroad croassing signage

This spot is what gives The Forks its name - the Assiniboine River is on the right and the Red River is on the left

A couple Canadian flags were being wipped around in the cold, persistant wind from the northwest

The Assiniboine River

The picture above was taken from this, an old railroad bridge that used to cross the Assiniboine River

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There is a nice path that leads alongside the Red and Assiniboine Rivers

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This is the Oodena Celebration Circle, a natural ampthithetre that pays tribute to the original inhabitants of the region

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The Winnipeg skyline as viewed from an observation tower in The Forks

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I liked the shadows created on the lettering to the entrance of The Forks Market

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The Forks even has an automated weather station on display

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This is an ordinary tipping bucket rain guage, used, of course, to measure precipiation

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This is the entrance to the Peace Meeting Site

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Three Canadian flags rise up from the walls of the ancient-looking Peace Meeting Site

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The French-speaking enclave of Saint Boniface is visible across the Red River

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A sculpture that pays homage to the animals that once roamed the prairies of Manitoba

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The Esplanade Riel is both a pedestrian and vehicle bridge that symbolically connects downtown Winnipeg with the French Saint Boniface district - that's a revolving restaurant in the middle of the bridge

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Even the feathered use The Forks as a meeting place

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Scotiabank sponsors an outdoor theater within The Forks - fireworks are shot off from here on New Year's Eve and Canada Day

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My last glimpse of the trans-Canada highway as it runs through downtown Winnipeg

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My last glimpse of Canada from the now-shuttered border crossing on U.S. Highway 75 in Noyes, MN, the northwestern-most city in Minnesota - I would have liked to have gotten closer to the border, but there were cameras all over the place, not to mention that somebody remains on patrol in the U.S. Customs office

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The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of Mitch Wahlsten and the participants
Mitch's Blog began on December 23, 2001