The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

April 16, 2008



Basically, what this means is the next two weeks of my life are going to be hell. Fun, hopefully, in a twisted sort of way, but still hell.

In order to protect the innocent, namely me, I'm not going to mention any real names here, or at least not full names.

I'm not going to name the two teams involved, for example, for fear of fans googling the team names and finding this sad combination of two posts.

And then hunting me down and lynching me if they don't like what I write over the course of this best-of-seven series.

But you may be able to pick up the name of the Manitoba team I'm covering, a squad of players aged 17-20 who will advance to the national Junior A championship in Ontario next month if they win this series.

I've been covering some of their playoffs in the past two weeks so they know me a bit, but now they're going to get to know me a lot better. And if the series goes sour for them, I may not be the most popular guy.

But I have to document what happens, good or bad. That's life.

Suffice to say that on Thursday, I'm starting out on my roughly seven-hour journey to a place called Humboldt, in our neighbouring province of Saskatchewan.

I've been through and to Saskatchewan many times, for different reasons. Most often, it's been a place I've needed to travel through to get somewhere else. There are people I hold dear there, but nowhere near Humboldt.

Saskatchewan is another prairie province here in the Great White North, and Humboldt is one of the many smaller cities within it.

Did you know, for example, that Miss Saskatchewan 2007 hails from Humboldt? I didn't think so. She's quite attractive. Maybe I'll be able to meet her.

A fellow sports reporter grew up in Saskatchewan and she says I should stay in the monastery in nearby Muenster because I've been able to get a hotel room only for two of the three nights this weekend.

I told her I'd better not because I'd expect to find all her old boyfriends there with funny haircuts and robes and weird urges.

At the bottom of this post, I've included a Google Earth map that you may or may not be able to click on to enlarge. Trust me, Humboldt is there, not all that far from Saskatoon, if that helps you.

And I'll be there too.

Which brings me to this: Why two posts in one? Well, because these two events or incidents are directly related to this assignment.

I basically discovered, when I went out to Portage la Prairie to cover my team's practice Tuesday night, why I'm a writer and not a photographer. And so will you when you look at the pictures to follow.

In the first pic below, the pony-tailed guy on the left is a national award-winning photographer for my paper who's been around forever. He's there taking pix to illustrate my stories.

The guy on the right is the Manitoba league's communications guy, who handles their website, can write and take pictures with a much fancier digital camera than mine and who evidently doesn't worry about his hair when he wakes up.

These next series of pix are my shots from the players' bench, taken with my Sony Cybershot camera, which is about as wide as a graham wafer that was dropped into the glass of milk and left there.

I'm bringing that camera with me, but I can only take pictures of things that aren't actually moving, as you will see below in Post No. 2.

There's a one-second delay or so between when I press the "take picture" button and when it actually takes the picture. Slight draw-back for us professionals, but I can admit when I don't have the proper equipment.

Now, for Post No. 2.

Usually when I go on these short kinds of road-trips, I just drive my own car. But the old gal is getting a bit undependable, so I said I wanted to rent a car or use a company car.

Our supreme being boss, being a female, opted for the latter.

So for the first time in some 20 years or something, I had to take the bus to work on Wednesday so I could pick up that company car and drive it home for my Thursday morning departure.

It takes me half an hour to drive my own car to work at the best of times. And I haven't been with Transit Tom in a long time. So I brought my camera along to attempt to document this Back to the Future experience.

But first, I had to check out the city transit website. My tiny brain almost exploded. Of five options to make my way to my office from the south side of the city to the north, I picked Option No. 5.

Believe it or not, this was the simplest way to get to my office from my home. I still have a headache.

At the appropriate time, I soldiered on bravely. I even had my $2.50 in change. Many years ago, I could have done something like this in my sleep...and it would have cost 50 cents. Not now.

I arrived at the bus stop.

I plopped my bag down with my work laptop inside it. Is nothing free of advertising any more?

My bus came a few minutes late. An exceptionally overweight woman was driving it.

She growled when I got on. I meekly let my toonie and 50 cents drop down into the pay-me-or-else thingie and asked for a transfer.

My plan had been to take all kinds of pictures, but the bus was so crowded I figured I'd be eaten alive by all the other passengers who do this every day.

I did, however, manage to get this shot of our corner of Portage and Main, Winnipeg's most famous intersection, which by the quality of the shot could just as well be Ma and Pa Kettle's fork in the road.

This next shot is me risking my life and limbs to prove to you that I actually was on a city transit bus.

And I have no idea whether you'll even be able to view this, but below is a video I accidentally took trying to take the picture above. I hope you enjoy it.

Surprisingly, I actually made it work. And here's the second bus that transported me there.

I actually had only a few minutes' walk to my building, below.

And after all that trouble, this is what I end up with and what I'll be driving to Humboldt. It has no automatic anything, except for transmission. I have to crank it to start it up (not shown).

And here's that Google Earth map I promised you. There are some beautiful things in Saskatchewan and some beautiful people. I only hope the jalopy above is able to get me there and back in one piece.