The Day We Didn’t Meet the Prime Minister

Thursday, July 27, I was lying in the dentist’s chair with a mouthful of instruments, listening to the radio when I heard that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was going to be in Kenora the next day. When I got home, mouth numb, I googled for more information and discovered that indeed, PMJT was scheduled to host a community barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Kenora is about three hours away, but I still floated the idea of taking the kids there and M was thrilled at the idea of meeting ‘the boss of Canada.’

So, as lofty as a six hour round trip as a solo adult with two kids seemed, the next day we hustled as hard as we could. We had to eat breakfast, get ready, go to the bank, get out of town — by the time we fought our way through construction on highway 17, and terrible American tourist drivers, and A screaming as loud as he could while I tried to navigate to a parking space at Kenora’s harbour, it was 1 p.m. But all of the information I’d read made it sound like the event was fully in swing till 1:3o p.m. so I popped open the trunk, wrestled out the stroller I’d previously wrestled in, corralled the kids and headed off to the BBQ…

… where all that was left were a few sad hot dogs, some straggling people, and no prime minister. Apparently he had been there at the start and left after that. After M received her hot dog we sat at a lakeside bench and I told her that we had missed the PM and managed to drive three hours just for leftover hot dogs.

Being a three year old she took it mostly in stride. She was a little disappointed, she said, “but at least we can sit here and watch birds catching fish!” (they were seagulls). We watched the MS Kenora sightseeing cruise take off, then I pressed my solo parenting luck and offered to take M for a sit-down meal. With all Kenora offers, kid-free me would’ve gladly sat my butt down on a patio during that 30+ C day, but M chose Boston Pizza so I loaded everyone back into the car, drove literally around the corner, and fed them both with no backup but a glass of wine. It went surprisingly well.

We filled up on cheap gas, visited a few big box stores, and headed right back down highway 17, this time with far less traffic.

I’m still a bit rankled that the info was so unclear that we ended up driving three hours each way for nothing but hey — M said she was more excited about hot dogs than the prime minster anyway.

Kenora Day Trip

Every autumn our local electricity providers shut the hydro down for a day in order to do work on the lines. Last year it was mercifully cancelled and the year before that my dad was in town and we did a day trip to Pickle Lake. This year we wanted to do something new so we set out for Kenora on Sunday, right after the house went dark. It’s about three hours away, and we’ve only gone there a few times intentionally (as in, not part of a trip to or from Manitoba).

Unfortunately it started to pour rain about halfway there, so any hopes of hanging out at the beach, going to a park, or just wandering around downtown were dashed. We still tried to make the most of it, but it sort of turned into a long drive with no purpose other than to kill time! First we visited Egli’s Sheep Farm just outside of Dryden, where M pointed at every sheepskin item and said “Kitty!” We bought her a small hunk of sheepskin; one of those magic pet toys that moves if you stroke it. She doesn’t understand how it works but she likes to grab it and yell KITTY so I figure it’s sparing the cats, at least.

In Vermilion Bay we had lunch at Buster’s BBQ, a restaurant we have driven by countless times, always noting we should go inside one day. With nothing better to do and no looming plans, it seemed like a good time to try it, and hilariously we were not the only ones with the same idea because as we were getting ready to leave, Matt’s brother and one of our friends walked in. The food is really tasty, especially the barbecue sauce. They’re award winners, and I can see why.

Kenora2

In Kenora we ran into major road construction which landed us, conveniently, at the front door of the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company. Matt ran in and bought two growlers while M slept in the car, then we drove around in the rain for awhile, realizing that practically nothing was open.

Kenora

Eventually we turned the car around and headed to Dryden, where we had dinner, then back home. It was a good day, albeit a bit gloomy. I wish it hadn’t rained, but I’d rather be on the road in the rain than sitting at home in the dark in the rain!

It’s amazing how having no power makes everything feel boring — we’re so used to having lights and games and internet access at our disposal. I think 80% of the people I know in town left for the day in order to avoid being in the dark. Once we got back Matt built a fire and cracked open one of the bottles of beer, and I was grateful that we were only missing electricity for one day.