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Breakfast with the Goose

I’d known for several days that we would be heading to Wawa, Ontario. This intrigued me greatly. wawa gooseI know that there are people reading this blog from many different locations, but there are folk from NJ among you. We Jerseyans have a convenience store called Wawa (I tend to buy my gas there). I was SURE that there must be some connection between Wawa Ontario and the convenience store as I’d never heard of any other Wawa but the store. Alas, this is not the case. I did finally do a search on the store and discovered to my great surprise that there is a Wawa, PA and THAT is the source of the stores. Live and Learn.

Honour has been telling me (repeatedly) that ‘back in the day’ it was the ‘done’ thing for young ‘uns to hitchhike across Canada. Everyone would do that and it worked great until they hit Wawa. what the goose sees 2For some reason, no one would pick up hitchhikers in Wawa. It was common knowledge and there were T-shirts and such about “I’m stuck in Wawa”. Truth be told, we DID see someone hitchhiking on Monday morning as we headed from Wawa to Ottawa and we did NOT pick him up. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that our car was packed to the roof with animals and stuff. Historically the town is known for mining, forestry, and the fur trade, whereas today it is popular for snowmobiling and sport fishing.

Chairs in Wawa welcome centerWawa is also known for its goose. Quoting here from Wikipedia: The community is known for its 8.5-metre (28-foot) metal statue of a Canada goose, which was built in 1960, and dedicated to the community in 1961. Wawa takes its name from the Ojibwe word for “wild goose”, wewe. Wawa was defined as wild goose in The Song of Hiawatha. On July 5, 2010, Canada Post made a commemorative stamp of the Wawa Goose as part of its Roadside Attractions collection. It’s hard to miss the goose. mining in wawaIt is obligatory to take at least one picture of the goose. Far be it from me to argue. I have pictures of the goose, and pictures of what the goose sees (as it gazes down at Lake Wawa. Unless of course that water is really the Michipicoten River but I’m fairly certain the goose is looking at the lake, not the river. 🙂 ) We had breakfast at the Tim Horton’s (you can’t be in Canada without at least ONE coffee from Tim) and went to see the goose. There is a lovely welcome center giving a history of the area, with a demo mining setup. I loved the flowers and the view – mist rising off the lake. Jamie liked the lawn. We were parked next to a family who were traveling with 2 cats as well. JamieTHOSE cats were roaming freely about their car (probably because no one had been thoughtful enough to give them a cat bed under which they could cower). The family was relocating from Ontario to Vancouver. *grin* Apparently lots of Canadians criss-cross the country, moving here, moving there. Not just Honour.

Ontario is filled with trees, hills, water and rocks. I took a zillion pictures (Honour was driving). I have pictures of the rocks along the road, the trees and lake, the vistas. I have to confess – beautiful as it all was, it DOES tend to blur a bit and look the same after awhile. I would gasp “oh look it’s so beautiful” and take a picture. wawa welcome centerLooking at all of these hundreds and hundreds of photos – it’s a bit hard to distinguish one view from another. 🙂 I will tell you also that it’s a bit difficult to take pictures from the car when the driver refuses to slow up EVER, even when there is not a single solitary person ANYWHERE in sight. The world might have ended for all the other traffic we saw but when I’d say “stop, slow” I heard “we’re on a road”. Sigh.

Eastern Lake SuperiorWe were on Rt 17 heading south to Sault Saint Marie. We stopped along the way to get gas, make a phone call and shop a little (see the prior post with the adorable stuffed moose (not a REAL stuffed moose)). This is where we saw all the people who were NOT on the road with us. There was a line for gas. There were tons of cars in the parking lot and the stores were bustling. We probably spent way too much time there before we headed back on the road to Sault Saint Marie.

locks at saint sault marie 1We stopped for lunch at an A&W (we were doing all the traditional Canadian dining spots). I confess – I was pleasantly surprised. I was able to get food that was NOT fried. Truly appreciated. While we were sitting there the Travel Agent in the Sky pinged us and told us we HAD to go see the locks!!! We were RIGHT THERE!!! There was a lovely woman sitting next to us who began to give us directions, but she wasn’t certain if it was this street or that one. In the meantime the TAITS had texted me directions. 🙂 We were indeed only 10 minutes from the locks. We headed over there.

lock looking toward saint sault marieWe wanted Jamie to join us but in this location we really thought she needed to be on a leash. Unfortunately her leash was somewhere in the car (*gestures helplessly to the mess that was our car). Honour, undaunted, found a solution – the towing rope included in the car kit. 🙂 Yes, she led that 5 pound little fluff ball with the bright yellow 2 inch wide cord with the 5 inch long clasp. This is another occasion where I have several dozen photos but I’ll restrain myself to just 2 – one each direction from the middle of path over the lock. I can not, however, resist sharing a picture of the truck carrying all the logs. It fits my trans-Canada theme. truck carrying lumberThe logs might be coming from BC, where I’d seen logs lining the river banks. I know, I’m a bit strange. Cope. 🙂

Rocks along Rt 17 and Lake SuperiorBy now it was mid afternoon and we still needed to get to Ottawa. We’d gotten a bit laissez faire about the time. We knew that there would be street lights and buildings and such in Ottawa, so we were not too worried about arriving after dark. Indeed, we did not check in until 11:28 pm. That is significant because I’d set a goal for reaching the hotel by 11:30. *grin* It was helpful to have all those city lights after the blackness of our campgrounds in Wawa.

What we hadn’t counted on, however, was the sheer sameness of the road. It was at this point in our journey, I believe, that we succumbed to sign fever.

Once the landscape fails to enchant, and you’ve finished the really interesting podcast on S-Town, you need to find something to amuse yourself. We turned to road signs. bugland signWe’d been having fun with the moose signs along the road, but somewhere in Ontario the fun turned to addiction and hysteria. I see that I have pictures of “road curve ahead” signs and the traffic light in the middle of the trans Canada highway (it was red, of course), and yet another moose sign, all from the trip from Wawa to Ottawa. Little did I know that it was to get worse, much worse.

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More to Come, I Promise

I have not forgotten you!!! I have collected the photos to share (okay, I take a LOT of pictures of rocks/trees/water) and am set to start writing. Don’t lose faith! Because FINALLY I can show you …… the axe was unveiled. 🙂

Nackawic

Saint John River

Driving Not Writing

We had two looonnng days on Monday and Tuesday – trying to reach New Brunswick by Tuesday evening so that we could get to the lawyer on Wednesday.

Monday had a lot of fun events but also a lot of driving. We didn’t reach Ottawa until nearly midnight. The picture below comes from one of our road stops. 🙂 My sister and son both benefited from that – although they don’t know it yet. Honour’s brother got birthday wishes. I only wish there had been room in the car and my carry-on bag for that moose!

stuffed moose

Tuesday was northern Ontario: Ottawa to Edmunston. Edmunston was the first stopping point we reached before the sun set, although just barely. Tuesday was another day when we realized that there is a lot of not much there in huge stretches of Canada. When you read the post about Tuesday you will see that we had to rely on our own sense of humor for that stretch. I have wondered often on this trip if anyone else would find us as hilarious as we find ourselves, or if this is a case of leaving the ventilation system on recycle for too long. What you see below is Quebec’s idea of mountains. Now that I have seen the west coast, I too can be snarky about anything less than the Rockies.

Quebec's idea of mountains

Wednesday was Edmunston to Saint George, a mere 300 or so kilometers. At this point anything less than 800 km is akin to driving around the block. We reached Saint Andrew by the Sea. The tide is out, but this is the Bay of Fundy. New Brunswick is gorgeous, simply gorgeous.

bay of fundy st andrews

Tomorrow (Thursday) we actually reach Campobello Island and see the house for the first time. With any luck, I’ll have time to do some writing and share some of the really fun things we saw on the way.

Kenora to Wawa

cut in the rocks

Neither of us slept well at the Super 8. clouds road sky in OntarioNot really sure why (maybe hunger pangs???) but we also had to wake early to get on the road early because we knew we had 10 hours of driving without stops to make to Wawa (where my Travel Agent in the Sky had booked us into Catfish Lakefront Cabins). We went down for the free breakfast but it didn’t really work for either of us. We’ve been living on breakfasts with lots of protein and not much carbohydrate or sugar. The coffee was fine but we needed to go elsewhere. The nice young woman at the desk directed us to the Yesterday’s, the restaurant next to the Travel Lodge on the other side of the lake. As we were at the narrow end of the lake, it was only a few minutes to get there. We did inded have an excellent omelet breakfast. I had a raging headache, however, and left Honour and Gypsy2 on their own as I closed my eyes and napped for about 2 hours. I suspect I didn’t miss a lot. One thing we have noticed since we reached northern Ontario is that they have only one tree that they replicated many times. sun and rain over lake superiorSince both Honour and I have created textures for Second Life, we feel that perhaps they need to contact someone and get a few more textures to put on these prims.

We swapped over the driving and ultimately arrived at Lake Superior. There was the most stunning mountain cliff as we approached the beginning of the lake. I was driving and could not take pictures. Honour had made it quite clear in the Rockies how she felt about me suggesting gently “take a picture of that”. You will have to take my word for it that it was indeed a stupendous mountain cliff with beautiful rock striations of different colors. But, alas, there is no picture.

We stopped at Pays Plat F.N. (which I have learned means Flat Country First Nation) for our rest break and swapped drivers. There was a shop in the convenience store selling lovely First Nation goods. Honour bought TWO tee shirts and a blanket, discovering in the process that the blanket was made in – wait for it – British Columbia. You remember British Columbia. Pays PlatThat’s the place Honour couldn’t get out of fast enough. I could now take zillions of pictures of water-lake-tree. It’s really a darn shame about that tree. Just think what the view would have been with a few other varieties.

On the other hand, Ontario DID give us the most exciting fauna sighting yet – we saw a young bear as we were driving. It was on cliff above the road. It had come out of the forested area and was looking towards the road as we came into view. We saw it and started squealing in delight. It saw us and turned around and went straight back into the woods. But it was a bear. And we saw it. lake along the Ontario road Still no moose, although, as you will learn, they have great publicity.

We were spending 10+ hours driving through unvaried scenery. We needed to do something to amuse ourselves. Thankfully we had road signs and the GPS. The trans Canada highway in northern Ontario runs around and through mountains (or at least through what folks from the East consider mountains). This means that the road goes up and down and around and about. There are signs to tell us that the road is curving. And curving again. And again. And again. Lake SuperiorGypsy2 felt it was incumbent upon her to make sure we truly understood the road curved. She would flash an orange band at the top of her screen, informing us that the road was curving in 200 m. In 140 m. in 150 m. We were a bit concerned she might exhaust herself, but we comforted ourselves with the thought that compared to the trip across the prairies, Gypsy2 now felt extremely needed and useful. She had true purpose. (I did say we needed to amuse ourselves. )

Not only did the road curve, but there seem to be many dangerous angry moose in Northern Ontario. road rage mooseWe HAD seen moose warning signs earlier in our trip. Those moose were standing still, observing the road from their signs. It was quite clear that they could show up but they seemed well-adjusted. In Northern Ontario, the moose appear to want to charge your vehicle. The signs show them looking like raging bulls in the arena. It must be because there is more traffic on the road in Northern Ontario (as compared to the prairies where there was no one else on the road). I guess the moose don’t like the traffic. We have named these moose “Road Rage Moose”. Should you ever see a twitter/facebook/other social media handle of “RoadRageMoose” you might be able to guess who is behind that. It’s not me, to give you a hint.

We reached the Wawa area (again, alarmed by all the traffic fleeing west) island in lake superior and again Gypsy2 failed. To be fair, my phone failed as well. They both insisted our campground was about 21 km ahead of us. I was playing with the phone, trying to get a map, when Molly swerved violently with Honour yelling “Catfish Cabins!!!!” Indeed, there was Catfish Lake and the cabins. Kudos to Honour for spotting our destination despite the dusky gloom and the lack of technical competence.

The folk at Catfish Lakefront Cabins are incredibly nice and helpful. catfish lake After my sister had booked the cabin for us online, she suggested we call them directly because there were a few things about the booking that left her uncomfortable. I did indeed call and Bev said she did not see our reservation but that it might not have come through. She called me back a little later and confirmed our reservation. I told her we might be arriving very late and she had asked me to give her a call once we left Thunder Bay so we could all get an ETA. We pulled in around 9:30 and asked after laundry facilities. We’d taken care of the animals but poor Honour had sent on most of her clothes with the moving van and had not had a chance to do her own laundry. cabin 4 Bev set it all up for us and gave us directions to a restaurant in town. We pulled up to our cabin and got out, including Jamie. The 2 young children sitting outside the adjacent cabin came running up to meet and adore Jamie. They also told us there would be a bonfire down by the lake later that night.

We headed out for dinner, enjoying our usual banter about the traffic (which has been nonexistent). We had a very nice dinner in Wawa and headed back. Again with the nonexistent traffic. fire on the mountain We pulled up to the cabin and did indeed see the bonfire down by the lake. I went it to use the computer and Honour was feeding the cats. I heard her calling me to come out now. I did and there was a fire burning across the lake, across the road and up the hill in the woods. As we watched other folk came out of their cabins. The smoke was red from the flames and the smell was unmistakenly burning wood. We heard that it was the Halfway Lodge burning, a building we’d passed on the way to the cabins. The fear of course was of the surrounding woods catching fire and having another wildfire raging in drought-stricken Canada. We could see the fire engines heading down the road to the fire and shortly the smoke disappeared. It was a bit unnerving to be standing there, watching the fire spread (as evidenced by the red clouds), having come through all of the wildfires in BC.

Honour and Jamie came in and went to sleep while I made hotel arrangements for the next evening, when we planned to reach Ottawa.

bridge for Jim

Family Tradition: photos of bridges

ontario sunset

The Day of The Bugs

We have had a lot to concern us on this trip. In BC we worried about the cats and the fires. In Alberta we worried about cats and shade. In Saskatchewan, it was the Day of the Big Bugs. Also known as “Day of the Squeegee”. I regret I have no good pictures for you of all the bugs smashed on the windshield. My most sincere apologies for that lack.

We woke on Day 3 happy in the knowledge that we were going to Calli’s for breakfast. She fed us a feast!!! The most delicious pancakes I have ever had in my life – ricotta pancakes with orange zest. Also – sensational coffee. She said it was a BC company called Kicking Horse. I really hope I can find that online or I’m making Honour move back to Delta and mail me coffee. Hmmm. Honour has just informed me that she won’t oblige (oh and so what else is new). Oh Clair……. 🙂 Not only did Calli feed us magnificently but she took all the animals’ bedding and washed it!!! ahuva's tiaraWe’re not sure if Fergus, Duff and Jamie cared but Honour and I were thrilled. I also got to use the wifi and managed to do the prior tl;dr post. I also got to wear my tiara for breakfast! We had much fun chatting with Calli and her husband. Calli has 2 fantastic dog sculptures in her front yard, made by the daughter of a neighbor. My photos do not do them justice but they are truly magnificent. Calli and her husband also helped us plan out travel stops for the next few days. We already had a hotel reservation for that evening but they recommended we get one for the next night as well for when we stopped in Wawa.

I began calling places in Wawa and every pet-friendly hotel was booked. I really hate traveling because you have to do things like make reservations. If I can’t get the reservation I want in a maximum of 2 calls I start getting very unhappy. Some might even say cranky. calli's sculpturesIt is at times like that, that I turn to my travel-agent-in-the-sky. Or wherever she might be. I use ‘sky’ because of this very funny story that Honour could tell you if she would only do her own posting. But mostly she dictates to me what she thinks I should be writing. But it’s a great story about her mother and the GPS. Maybe someday she’ll tell you. ANYWAY, my TAITS is my sister. My sister not only excels at hunting down the best reservation she even seems to enjoy the process. I called her and said please please help me. She, being the fantastic sister she is, said sure. So we could finally start off again on our journey. I took a picture of Fergus and Duff and their excitement before we left Calli’s house. (In case my photo fails to capture their joy, you can notice the clean cat bed under which they are hiding.) They spend a lot of time like that. As with many parents taking children on long journeys, we are disappointed that they are failing to appreciate this great cultural opportunity we have given them.

Day 3 was a lot of nothing very exciting and a lot of dead bugs. You can tell because I have almost no photos for this post. close up of dogs I only had 2 on-the-road pictures, and one of them was a sign I saw as we pulled out of the gas station. I’d like to point out to all of you who have asked me – well what is it you DO do? that I EXCEL at squeegeeing. Honour pumped the gas but I cleaned the windows, the headlights and the license plate. They have VERY big bugs in Saskatchewan. What we did notice, besides the bugs, was that no one else on the road appeared to be heading east. They were all going west. We wondered what they all knew that we did not. Even the trains were going the opposite direction. I finally managed to have my camera in hand when one was approaching. I don’t know why I find the trains so appealing but seeing them come with that big headlight shining made me smile. And worry because they too were heading west…..

We were booked into a Super 8 in Kenora. We’d made pretty good time and were looking forward to having a chance to have some dinner and relax before collapsing into bed. cats under cat bed Our GPS, however, felt we needed a bit more excitement after that long bug-filled ride. She (I have named Honour’s GPS Gypsy2 – because MY GPS is named Gypsy) insisted that we needed to turn left to reach the Super 8. I was driving and refused to listen as we were on a bridge over a lake. I crossed the bridge, turned around and headed back, thinking perhaps I’d simply been slow to respond but no, now she wanted me to turn right into the lake. I didn’t remember the reservation saying anything about needing a boat and since Molly (the car, you remember) doesn’t have pontoons, we decided to ignore Gypsy2 and try to find someplace else to stop. We drove on and tried to get our phones to also cooperate and pulled into a gas station. There we learned that the Super 8 was just ahead on the left, after 2 more bridges. .

We pulled into the Super 8 and noticed the adjoining restaurant. I checked into the hotel while Honour fed the cats. I dumped everything in the room and set up my computer to charge. Honour started knocking at the door, despite the fact I had brought her her key. Her key, apparently, did not work. We figured this was no big deal since we weren’t going to be coming and going and we headed out to dinner at the restaurant. train keeps a rollin'The hotel clerk had told us the restaurant closed at 11 or maybe 1 am on a Saturday night. There WERE lights on in the building. We could see people at tables. But the doors were locked. We were tired and hungry so we walked to the other door and tried that. Which was also locked. It was 9:50pm. We finally looked AT the door and saw a sign: Due to unforeseen circumstances we are closed. Okay, that really demoralized us. As we headed back around the building, we saw 4 people come OUT the door. We called to them and asked if the restaurant was open. They said they seemed to be the very last people in the building. We walked back to the hotel where the desk clerk suggested we should order pizza. We thought this was an acceptable idea AND he gave Honour a new key. We walked upstairs (there was no elevator – we needed to walk up and down 2 flights of stairs which were located at the end of the hall furthest from our room). We got to the room and Honour tried her new key. It didn’t work. I took her key thinking maybe it just didn’t like her but it didn’t work for me, either. So I took out my key and guess what – mine no longer worked either. This was even more dispiriting. I gave up and said to Honour that she and Jamie (who we’d retrieved from the car after our non-dinner) could go and get new keys because I actually had one trip down and back ahead of her and I was carrying several water bottles. Honour came back with the young desk clerk, to whom we’d gotten very attached by this point, with 2 NEW keys. horse fair signHe had confided to Honour that he really hoped it was the keys and not the lock because he didn’t know how to FIX the lock.

Honour took her new new key and tried to open the door. It didn’t open. To his credit, the young man did NOT laugh in our faces. He simply said – you have the key the wrong way. Oooookay. In our defense – we were very very tired and hungry. Of course, by this time, it was too darn late to call for pizza. Honour and Jamie went to bed, but I, your intrepid narrator, stayed up writing a post and editing pictures. (I was not going to be this nice to you in the future).

Horseshoes and Dinosaurs

I do not think that I’m a sound sleeper but either I am or Honour and Jamie are the quietest roomies I’ve ever had. Horseshoe CanyonMy cat makes more noise walking up the carpeted hallway than Jamie and Honour make getting up and out in the morning. The morning report on Duff and Fergus was good (I will spare you the detailed descriptions of input/output but be assured WE are monitoring these events.) We all took a relaxed approach to getting out, had a very solid breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We decided that we would take in some sightseeing on the way to Regina. As you can see, we have now begun to PLAN this trip. Up to now, our plan was “Go East”. We figured we’d fill in the details later. After Golden we figured we needed to fill in some details sooner. horseshow canyon 2We have begun booking hotels in advance and deciding where we might stop and refresh & refuel. We would be going close to Drumheller, where the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. To get to Drumheller from Calgary, you go past Horseshoe Canyon.

Horseshoe Canyon is a region of the badlands along Highway 9. It gets its name from its Horseshoe shape. (I don’t want to be disrespectful, but have you noticed the lack of creativity in the naming of geography? “Delta”. “Horseshoe Canyon” “Grand Canyon” “Rockies” ) One of the descriptions mentioned that there were hoodoos in the canyon. I LOVED the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon from the first moment I saw a picture of them. The canyon is RIGHT THERE off the road. We pulled in and I got out to go to the overlook and take pictures. Honour stayed in the car, running the a/c for the cats. 4 way stop in nowhere There was no shade and although it was only mid-morning it was HOT. I was taking pics with my camera when my phone rang. Really? Who is calling me? I pull out my phone and it’s my sister! I say “hello???” And I hear “Is there a reason you are heading north instead of east??? That’s NOT the way to Regina!” I start laughing. She and my husband have been tracking me since I left the house on Monday. She knew we were heading to Regina but there I was – NORTH of Rt 1 (Transcanada Highway). I think this is extremely funny and incredibly sweet. *smile* I assured her that we were indeed where we meant to be. silos While I was enjoying that chat my husband appeared at their door so I got to chat with him as well.

We got back in the car and headed to Drumheller. There are dinosaurs everywhere. Every store and corner gets in on the act. It reminded me of the painted cows many years ago that appeared all over Chicago – CowParade We made our way to the museum only to find a completely full parking lot. We headed down to the overflow lot – a big empty dirt/stone lot in the full blazing sun. We began to rig up shade in the car for the cats and dog. We got all the way done doing so and looked at each other, looked at the car, looked at the sun and thought – there is no way this can end happily. welcome to drumhellerThen we argued about which one of would go to the museum and who would stay with the cats. “After you, Alphonse.” “No, no Gaston, after YOU”. We took down the make-shift curtains, got back in the car and headed to town, looking for someplace to eat. We got side-tracked by a visitor center where there is a VERY large dinosaur. We decided not to climb up into its mouth but did take pictures. There was a lovely green square with fountains and tables and food trucks, but dogs were not permitted. I considered trying to cram Jamie into my bag but Jamie told me that she was not really that interested in that field anyway. badlandsWe walked back to the car and headed to the main street. Honour had a wonderful erudite (not) conversation with a young woman one of the stores, trying to find a leash for Jamie (whose leash is somewhere in the car) and then trying to find a place to eat. Should Honour ever decide to post a blog she can tell you the conversation, but let it suffice to say that it was not especially helpful. We decided to head out of town and as we did so we found a Subway. Honour was driving. We had to cross a major intersection to get to the Subway, and just in front of the entrance was the merging traffic making right turns to go the direction we were going. badlands 2Honour, being Canadian and polite, stopped to allow the merging car to go first (even though she had the right of way. In NJ, where we are never that polite, there would have been no question as to who was going to take over that spot. 🙂 ). The merging car happened to be a police car. THEY knew the rules of the road. 🙂 As Honour stopped, trying to figure out how to cut in front of the car and enter the parking lot, the office was gesturing furiously out the window for her to GO! So go she did and pulled into the lot. The police car pulled in as well but we went separate directions. badlands 3Honour went first to get food while I stayed in the car running the a/c. Of course you KNOW who was right behind her in line. 🙂 The police officers.

After lunch we headed out of town and got back on Highway 1, heading east, which we thought would be reassuring to my sister. 🙂 We do stop a lot for water, for gas, for Jamie to walk about. I’d like to say that the trip to Regina was beautiful and interesting but that would not be completely truthful. I love mountains. I love water. The prairie was interesting for about 10 minutes. After that, not so much. There is a lot of nothing out there. green dinosaurLots and lots of grass and horizon. It was out there on the endless nothing that I appreciated WHY we filled the tank when it was only half empty. It is a very very long way between rest stops. I think one of the ‘highlights’ of the trip through the prairie (which I keep calling ‘plains’ to Honour’s great frustration) was the 4 way Stop. Yes, in the middle of nothing, where there was another road intersecting the Transcanada highway, we had a 4 way stop. I’m from NJ and there is absolutely nothing I can say in this blog about a 4 way stop in the middle of nowhere where there is no one and nothing. 🙂 I did, however, like moo’ing at all the cows. bench dinosaur This is a family tradition, begun by my sister. If it has 4 legs and is in a field along the road, you moo. There are some mighty odd looking cows out there but hey – 4 legs – we moo. 🙂

There were several storm cells south and east of us, but we were very lucky and skirted about the edges of the bad weather. We had a little rain, but not much. We could see the dark clouds and rain in the distance and were quite happy to not have to drive through all that darkness. We glimpsed rainbows several times in the distance, as well as wind turbines. I find the turbines graceful and elegant. I noticed that many of the streams running through the fields had a lot of white around the banks; other streams had none. big dinosaurI can’t figure out what it might be but I’m hoping someone reading this might be able to tell me. We spent a lot of time walking about in Drumheller and didn’t see any real dinosaurs. But we’d apparently spent enough time there that we did not get to Regina and Calli until 9pm.

Calli welcomed us and introduced us to the family: daughter, grandson, husband, spaniel puppy (i think it was a spaniel), 2 greyhounds and 1 Irish wolfhound. They were all lovely and welcoming. Calli made us a lovely dinner and we had a great time chatting. Calli is someone who appreciates my Ahuva-ness – she had a Disney tiara for me. It sparkled and had flashing lights. I wore it through dinner. She invited us for breakfast the next morning and we accepted. We know a good thing when we see it.

rain on the horizonThe hotel was only 10 minutes from her house and we got there and parked uneventfully – no hail, no rain. It was a bit of an adventure finding the elevator up as it was around the corner from the stairs. But we were in the bowels of the building and there was no way I was going to walk up at that point. Our room was lovely, upscale and wonderfully comfortable. It was midnight and the 3 of us crawled into beds and fell asleep, happy in the knowledge that we were going to see Calli in the morning.
rainbow and wind turbines

white stuff around the water

sunset through the rain

1001 Kilometers

Well. THAT was a long day. water and mountainThat one day should have about 5 separate posts to cover all that happened. We got on the road around 8am as I mentioned. We made it all the way to Merritt (about 3 -4 hours) where we stopped at the Walmart. My sister, an avid RVer has assured me that the first stop on ANY cross-country trip is at the Walmart for whatever you forgot. We decided we wanted to get shades/filters for the rear windows of the SUV for better protection for the cats (the windows are tinted but it was feeling warm to us and we were concerned for them). We picked up some lunch for Honour and some rice crackers for me (I had breakfast, she didn’t) and gas for the car and a piddle break for the dog.

I should probably do a post just about the wildfires burning all through BC. looking at the Rockies north of RevelstokeI’ve been joking about the haze and not seeing the mountains, but in Merritt it abruptly ceased to be amusing. We stepped out of the car and could not breathe. There was so much smoky particulate matter in the air. We were coughing, our throats scratchy and dry. Haze so thick you couldn’t see the mountains. It smelled. It was akin to sticking your head into the smoke from a campfire. We looked at all the people walking about without masks, having their windows open, dogs hanging out of car windows panting. I have never experienced anything like that – not even the time we went to help a friend collect what was left when his apartment burned. I don’t understand how these people are getting by day to day with this air. Day 1 Mountain 1 BCThe car was coated in light soot. I shudder to think what is happening to everyone’s lungs. We were very happy to get back in the car, shut the windows and keep driving.

After Merritt we made it to Kamloops where nothing really fascinating occurred except we stopped to see if Jamie wanted to accomplish anything. Apparently Kamloops was up to the task. I must agree with her, based on the radio stations. We continued on our way to Revelstoke. It was after Merritt that Honour learned why my husband and son hate to drive with me. “Oh!!! Take a picture of that!! Take that!!! Did you get THAT picture???” If I had a penny for every time Honour said “of for pete’s sake woman!” we could charter our own jet and fly with the cats and dog and car all the way to Bay of Fundy. approaching the RockiesOn the other hand, I DO have photos!! I will at some point even crop them and insert them into this blog. The road to Revelstoke runs along Shuswap Lake – a HUGE beautiful lake with many resorts and lodges for water and mountain sports. Everything was quite beautiful with mountains and lake and, of course, the ubiquitous haze.

We stopped in Revelstoke for gas, stretching and Jamie’s convenience. There was a bridge so of course I took a picture of it. I have learned that A&W is EVERYWHERE in Canada. I had no idea I was in the birthplace of root beer. What a shame that I don’t like it. As for filling the gas tank, Honour thinks (and I agree) that we are best served by stopping for gas when it reaches half a tank. snow shed in BCAfter Revelstoke we began the real climb up into the Rockies. We were already up high in mountains and I asked Honour – is THIS the Rockies and she said no. And I said – how will I know? And she said – They’re going to get bigger. So leaving Revelstoke they did inded begin to get bigger. And I would have been half-way to purchasing my private jet. We realized at one point that we could actually see shadows on the road and that there was sun – and MUCH less haze. We could see many mountains, not just the one in front of us. Rockies 1It was gorgeous. Breathtaking. I can look at mountains all day long. We made it up to Rogers Pass, which my map informs me has an elevation of 1327 meters (4364 feet). The time changed at Rogers Pass – we lost an hour. Probably tossed it in the garbage back in Revelstoke when we cleaned the car.

Honour has been getting weather advisories on her phone and we had been getting advised that the air quality was poor just about everywhere in British Columbia. As I mentioned, I’m not sure we need someone to tell us that. We turned the corner, so to speak, out of Rogers Pass and saw white smoke. More and more white smoke as we drove. As you know, where there is smoke there is fire. Although we did not see the actual flames, we could indeed tell where each separate fire was burning. There were helicopters flying fairly low carrying huge buckets. As we watched (and as Honour took pics while I said – did you get THAT? Do you see the helicopter? Look at that. Look THERE!) one of the buckets was emptied above the fire. Honour did indeed catch that picture. I have been teaching Honour a lot about the electronics in her car and phone and everything else (think seat warmer) but I forgot to teach her the zoom on my phone. wildfires Rogers PassBUT we still do have a really good shot of the fire fighting in action. Again – this may not have been the experience most think of for crossing the Rockies and seeing mountains, but it was quite awe-inspiring. Seeing those many many fires burning away really brought home, along with the air, what “wildfires” means.

We planned to stop the night in Golden, just the other side of Rogers Pass. Did you know that this is Canada’s 150th Birthday? Did you know that in celebration of that birthday Canada has declared all national parks free of fees? Do you know that July/August is the height of the tourist season in BC? Did you know that there is not a single available hotel room in Golden? We know that. Although it might have been nice to know that BEFORE we got to Golden. multiple firesWe decided we’d drive to Banff and get a room there. So we got back on Rt 1 and headed out of town. Heading out of town on Rt 1 entails a descent down a mountain. A very curvy steep descent. Where our lane is on the outside. Did I mention Honour doesn’t like heights much either? It was an interesting ride. I did mention (gently, I hope, although perhaps I am mistaken) that it would be a tad easier on me without the soundtrack of gasps, pants and “the speed limit is 5km (that’s a lie – the km, not her saying it). I suggested that she close her eyes and not watch but she was the proverbial deer in the headlights.

As the sun set gently in the west behind us, we continued through the Rockies with me saying “boy are you lucky it’s too dark to take pictures”. We pulled into Lake Louise. wildfires2Oh my that is absolutely gorgeous!!! You might not know this but that’s a national park too. And there are only 6 hotels in the Lake Louise vicinity. This was not the information we’d hoped for. We sat down to eat some dinner and got out our phones and began searching for hotels. Not just any hotel, you understand, but one that would take pets. Oh – did you FORGET about Jamie and the boys? I found A room in Canmore (about 30 minutes further down the road) but alas, they didn’t want Jamie. We found their attitude offensive and decide the heck with Canmore if that’s how they were going to behave. Looking past Canmore there’s not really much until Calgary. Calgary has an airport. Airports have hotels. We were pretty sure we could find a room for all 3 of us (the boys said they preferred to room in the car) at SOME hotel there. helicopter at Rogers Pass2Indeed we called ahead and book a room in Calgary, another 2 ½ hours eastward.

The drive to Calgary was, thankfully, uneventful. As we neared the city, we had a wonderful lightening show in the sky. I said it must be heat lightening because we had no weather forecast showing up and it was the sky lighting up, not bolts seen in the distance. None of the uncoming cars were wet. Obviously, heat lightening.

INTERLUDE: I have not told you about Duff. we are not happyNeither Fergus nor Duff are really enjoying this adventure. Fergus has made that clear periodically. I do hope my cats don’t know those words. Duff, however, has passed beyond speech and sat frozen in the back of the crate, eyes larger than any eyes have a right to be, growling whenever Honour attempted to go near him. We were both getting a bit concerned about Duff. We decided that maybe we needed to find a doctor in Calgary and let Duff spend some time on the analytic couch. We are also supposed to be meeting up with our friend Calli, who lives somewhere in the prairies of Canada. East of Calgary but we really weren’t sure were exactly. She’d emailed us to ask when we thought we’d be there. As YOU all know, the answer could be tomorrow, next week, never. I sent Calli an email saying “not sure when, need a vet, please call if you can”. We reached Calli as we were approaching Calgary. She had some brilliant ideas on what we might be able to do for Duff. Her suggestions were very helpful but even more importantly – they helped calm us down a bit with regard to worrying.

We got off the phone with Calli just as I was reaching the hotel. And a few sprinkles of rain began. And them more rain. Heavy rain, Loud on the roof rain. We were exhausted, we were worried about the cats, and we’d been on the road for 15 hours. As I pulled the car under the hotel front carport it began to hail. We watched another guest come out and start taking pictures of the hail. I guess it wasn’t heat lightening. But we didn’t care. We were there and the hotel had COVERED parking. I staggered to the room as Honour got the cats as comfortable as they were going to let her get them. For Duff – not very. But it was cool, it was dark, it was quiest and they had food and water and they weren’t moving and we figured things might be a bit better with them when we saw them in the morning.

Jamie, Honour and I did all the necessities and fell asleep. For hours. Uninterrupted, in a bed, quiet hours.
the road goes ever on


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