This is a very poor picture of a very beautiful quilt, but it’s also a very large blanket and I did not have any way to get sufficiently UP so that I could take more of a straight-on picture. But I think you can see it well enough to see all the beauty in it – the animals, the dates, the map, the love. This is Honour’s gift to me and it is a treasure.
This was it! The last leg of the trans-Canada journey. We were arriving at the Bay of Fundy. We needed to get up early because we had to drive to catch the ferry. Some islands have bridge access, some islands have ferry access, some have both. We needed to take a ferry to get where we were going. I know that I have, at some point in my life, been on a car-carrying ferry but I cannot remember where or when. Maybe I’ve just read a lot of books and think that I’ve been on one. 🙂 As usual, Jamie, Duff and Fergus were really excited about their upcoming first-ferry experience. *grin*
Honour got up first (as usual) so she could feed everyone and head to a hardware store that opened very early so that she could buy a LOT of cleaning supplies. She’d been warned that the house was not in the cleanest of conditions. In any case, she wanted to clean surfaces and such before moving in any of her belongings. Her belongings…. you know, we STILL had no word from the movers. They’d said it would take 7-15 days to get there with all of Honour’s furniture and belongings. We’d made it in 7. We were frantic in case the movers were hot on our trail and might get there before us. There was also the matter of payment. Apparently the deal was payment in cash. Neither of us was carrying that much cash. Honour should have been stopping at bank machines all along, withdrawing her daily limit but somehow we never remembered to make that stop. The lack of sufficient funds was very worrisome since we did not know WHEN payment would be required. And yes, there is a point to why I’m mentioning all of this.
I got up and dealt with packing. This was to be my last night with Honour, so I needed to determine what was staying with her (my shampoo and such, you remember all of that, right?) and what was coming with me. Honour “complicated” my chore by giving me the most spectacular thank-you gift ever – a GORGEOUS quilt, map of Canada, from one of the First Nation stores we visited. Obviously THAT was coming in my bag!!! My bad – I have NOT taken a picture of it to add to this post. Maybe I’ll give the blanket its very own post!
We got on the road early but neither of us really wanted food – just coffee. Of course there was a Tim Horton’s handy. 🙂 I had a feeling I was going to need a lot of energy so I got the darkest strongest roast and had it turbo’d with an additional shot of espresso. I was ready!
We had to wait for our ship to come in. “The way we do it here” (a phrase that Honour has already heard dozens of times and will undoubtedly here scores more as she settles into her new life) for the ferry is to line up along the side of the road, waiting for the ferry to arrive. It pulls in, and the ferrymen direct vehicles off the ferry. They do indeed direct vehicles on and off the ferry in order to keep the load balanced.
We met the couple behind us who were vacationing from Maine. Yet another small-world story. They were from White Plains, NY originally, a place to which I go frequently. 🙂 John and I were taking pictures and videos. His wife and Honour watched us, expressions of amusement and indulgence on their faces. Never mind – John and I had a GREAT time. Once on the ferry and underway, he and I roamed all over the boat, taking pics of EVERYTHING. I have photos of the shoreline receding, the shoreline approaching, the seagulls, other boats, islands, water, sky. It was wonderful!!! The weather was perfect. I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this or not, but we have been amazingly lucky with the weather. You can see the beautiful blue sky and puffy clouds as we made our way across the water.
We reached shore and docked and all the cars disembarked. *grin* Of course, everyone was getting onto the same local road so it was a bit of a lineup. But this was IT!!! HONOUR’S ISLAND!!!! We had the map up but she didn’t need it. She’d been studying this island for sooooooo long she could have done this trip in her sleep, even having NEVER been here before. It was very very very exciting. We were both grinning and laughing. We were HERE!!! And there it was – HOME!! We paused at the slight rise of the hill before her house, and then pulled up the street and into the driveway. HOME!!!!! 6032 kilometers and here we were. (I see that Honour has said elsewhere it was 6007 km, but I’m pretty sure we marked it as 6032. In either case – quite a journey.)
We jumped out of the car and raced to the house. *grin* You might be wondering when we got the keys. Oh, didn’t you know? The way we do it here is that no one locks their doors. I’m not sure if Honour EVER got keys; the sellers weren’t even sure if there were locks on the doors. 🙂 Yeah, that’s going to change real soon. Jamie, Honour and I began exploring. The boys were extremely excited as well (not) but we did not take them for the initial exploration. First we had to block any possible hiding holes in the house.
We had a welcoming committee, although it was a bit shy and hurried off after the initial meeting. I’m sure snakes are good for SOMETHING in the garden? The house was indeed…. not clean. I think I’ll leave it at that. But it was intact and it was standing and it was Honour’s!!!! It has a FANTASTIC view and a nice piece of property. We could see that they’d already started digging for the septic system. We began the process of checking each room for cat safety. Once we thought we had every unsafe area blocked, we brought the cats in, one at a time. As it turned out, we’d missed a hole, but they came out that night and Honour had a chance to block it then.
We brought them in one at a time. They weren’t happy. Actually, Jamie wasn’t all that happy, either. Every time Honour went out to the car, Jamie sat staring at the back door, willing her to COME BACK. Even if she was only gone for 5 minutes, Jamie stared that door down. Duff came in/out first, meowed loudly and tore off to find safety. Fergus was next and did exactly the same. We began moving other items. I discovered Duff cowering in the bathtub on the first floor. Poor baby. He was so unhappy. Honour suggested putting the cat bed on him and I did. *grin* He seemed much better after that. I did observe the bed moving around in the tub, so I knew he was alive. Fergus saw me and tore up the stairs to the second floor. Honour kept telling me that the boys had NEVER seen stairs before, but I must say that Fergus took to them like a native. 🙂 I guess nothing could be worse than being on the same floor with me. *grin* Honour spent the entire trip assuring all the animals that EVERYTHING was MY fault and that everything horrible was because I made it so. *laughing* I guess they believed it. And it was okay with me because, after all, Honour has to live with them. 🙂
You might think that after getting everyone and everything into the house, we could sit and relax and enjoy everything. Not so much. We needed to go shopping and order appliances for the house. The realtor had told Honour that “the way we do things here” is to go to this certain US store and they deal with all the export/import paperwork, do delivery and (I think) installation. She needed a stove, refrigerator and other things as well. So off we went to do things the way they were done here.
We needed to cross a bridge to get to that town. All along the side of the road there was a flea market!!! I mean it was on the shoulder of the road, not in an adjoining lot. On the ROAD! 🙂 Of course I took a picture. I KNEW we were in civilization because there was a DUNKIN’ DONUTS!!!! Actually, I really like Tim Horton’s coffee, too, so I’m not sure why DD was so much fun to see. Honour had a chance to check some email before we headed out. She heard from the movers (who had her cell phone number, you know, so they could have CALLED her or TEXTED). They were still in Alberta. You remember Alberta, right? That was day TWO for us. And by the way – a bank draft would be fine. So all our frantic attempts to accumulate sufficient cash in 48 hours (which failed, by the way) were unnecessary.
We stopped for lunch as well and I FINALLY got some Maine blueberries!!!! The pie was FANTASTIC and I only wish I’d been able to buy an entire pie to bring home. Unfortunately I needed to go home. I would have stayed another night or 2 with Honour but we could not find any place that had 2 nights open. Honour could not take me to Bangor for a flight home on Friday, as she had to wait for various workers to come turn things on that day. Although, in hindsight, I don’t know WHO actually came to do WHAT, because everytime Honour had tried to reach Bell Aliant they told her “oh you’ll have to buy that equipment and install it yourself”. Honour is going to be learning a LOT of new skills on that island. 🙂 Our trip together ended with me in a Bangor hotel and Honour beginning the long trip back to her island home. 🙂 The fantastic view, her dog, her cats, her home.
Finally!!! On the journey from Edmunston to St. George, The Axe appeared. And let me tell you – that was one heck of an axe. It was totally unexpected and I was taken by surprise. Let me tell you how it happened……
We woke in the morning knowing that we had only a short trip ahead of us that day. We needed to be in St. Stephen in the afternoon so that Honour could sign the papers that made her a homeowner in the Bay of Fundy. By the way – did you know that the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides on earth? Because of the shape of the bay, the tides can be as extreme as 16 m (56 feet) (the height of a 5-storey building). That is extreme extreme. It’s also beautiful on that waterfront. The Rockies are awe-inspiring and make you gasp in wonder. the prairies are impressive in their own flat fashion. Northern Ontario is a wooded wonder with wandering waterways. But the waterfront along the north-eastern North American coast is heavenly. (I reserve the term “paradise” for the Jersey shore.) If I were not determined to live down the shore I would agree with Honour that the only place to be is along the water in north eastern Canada. Of course, I have not experienced winter there. *grin* Yet.
The morning began well. Honour had already gotten the car filled with gas by the time I woke. We asked at the front desk for a nice place for breakfast, a restaurant with sit-down & waiter service. Again, the front desk sent us to the place with “pirate” in the name. We decided perhaps we had MISSED this wonderful restaurant the prior night in the dark and rain and our fatigue, so we drove over there in the bright sunshine. No. There was no fine restaurant. Just the same fast food convenience we’d found the night before We obviously had a different idea of “nice”. We got back on the highway and figured we’d pull off at the first exit that indicated there was food, and we’d hope for the best.
We exited at St. Leonard. As we came off the ramp, we saw a HUGE sign welcoming artists. (I’d have a better picture but I was driving and you-know-who doesn’t like to take pictures. And when we left you-know-who wouldn’t slow down so *I* could take a good picture. There was NO ONE behind us!!!) That coming weekend was Le Rendez-Vous Des Artistes 2017 – a yearly gathering of hundreds of artists and crafters from around the world. We could see them still building stages and saw the poles flying international flags. The local children had gotten into the act and had painted large billboards all along the main entry way to the town. They had their names painted on the signs. The signs were great. It was an absolutely perfect trip moment: clear bright sky, the happy signs, the neat homes on the main street. We pulled into a very nice restaurant where we had a sit-down meal with good food and lovely waitstaff. It was a great start to the morning and we got back on the road in high spirits.
We were driving along the St John river on our way to St Stephen. The GPS was refusing to cooperate again. No matter how I entered the address for the lawyer, Gypsy refused to find it. It was quite annoying. We didn’t really NEED her, however, as we knew all we had to do was stay on Rt 2 (trans Canada highway) until we hit St. Stephen. Again I have dozens and dozens of water-hills-trees-sky. And of course moose signs. We saw a sign for Nackawic. Nackawic is a lovely little town along the St John. It was originally named Otis, and was built so those forced to relocate as the result of the Mactaquac Dam being constructed would have a place to reside. There is a beach along the St John (I saw 2 houseboats), a lovely community playground, a town center and ….. THE WORLD’S LARGEST AXE!!!!! WHY is there the world’s largest axe?? Citing the Tourism New Brunswick website: Forestry is the lifeblood of this “model town,” which was named Forestry Capital of Canada in 1991. To commemorate that honour, the town commissioned the World’s Largest Axe (seven tonnes), which stands proudly on the waterfront.
You KNOW we had to stop and see the world’s largest axe. *grin* How could we NOT??? We pulled off the highway and followed the signs. We couldn’t find it. How silly is THAT???? Surely there would be signs, or just the axe itself. We were heading out of town wondering where it was when my phone rang. It was our Travel Agent in the Sky saying “oh no!!! You’ve gone past it – you needed to stop and see The World’s Largest Axe!!” I explained that we were TRYING to find it but somehow we missed it. So our TAITS began to direct us, using 2 different online maps to track us and describe road turns. We pulled into the town center parking lot so Honour could take care of some banking while I set out on foot to find this elusive axe.
I was focused on the water, watching the houseboats with the TAITS saying you’re right by it. I cleared the recreation building and finally looked away from the water and – OH EM GEE!!!! THERE IT WAS!!!! THE WORLD’S LARGEST AXE!!!! *laughing* I don’t really understand how we missed it although I do know how. We were so focused on the road signs and the road as we pulled into town, and on things close to the road (looking for the sign), that we never saw The Axe. We even remarked on the tennis courts which are just in front of the axe when viewed from the road. 🙂 Of course I took pictures. Our detour for the axe added an extra hour to the trip, but we knew the lawyer would understand (Honour had already informed her that my friends and family had decided perhaps Honour was really packing an axe on this trip). We got back in the car, on the road, over the pretty green bridge over the St John and back to Rt 2.
We made it to St Stephen an hour later than we’d intended, but as Honour said – hey – we drove across country to be here now, an hour late is not that bad. And of course we WOULD have made without The Axe. But there was NO WAY we wouldn’t see The Axe. On the way to St Stephen we FINALLY had an occurrence of an animla crossing the road. It was not, however, a moose, nor was it a raging elk. It was a young deer, ambling across the road as we all waited. Given that I have deer wandering about in my front yard these days, I admit I was not all that impressed. Honour signed the papers and as we chatted with the lawyer, the sellers came in as well. They were sisters (inheritance from their mother who had passed away) and it turns out that they still live on the island as well. They and Honour had a great time sharing information and getting acquainted. They were very lovely and did apologize many times for the mess that the house was in. Honour had been saying all along that she didn’t care if there was a “portal to Hell” in the basement – she wanted HER house (the cats already had decided that the CAR was a portal to hell so how much worse could a stationary house be?)
From St Stephen we drove to St Andrews, a lovely shore town. In fact, St Andrews is Canada’s FIRST seaside resort community. It reminded me a lot of Cape May, NJ but of course with it’s own personality. Did you notice that in the one painting it is a view of the street that appears in the photo? We had something to eat and drink while we looked at the bay. The tide must have been out because there was a LOT of mud between us and the water. 🙂 We were both very excited. Honour kept saying “I own a house.” And I was by the water and outdoors which is where I always long to be. Okay, maybe not so much in the winter, but always by the water. 🙂
Finally we decided to head to St George, which is where we were stopping for the evening, before we headed out again the next morning to finally reach the island and the house. There is apparently a Lake Utopia monster but, alas, that did not have the same pull as the World’s Largest Axe and we will have to hunt for the monster another time. We checked in at a very nice motel and headed into town to get some dinner. Again, dinner in a local pub where we ate outside, watching the sun set over the hills in the west, as we gazed at the Magaguadavic River nearby. Tomorrow – The Island!!!!
The next morning in Ottawa did not start well. It appears that we want different things in the morning when we get into the car. Honour wants to know where we are getting gas and eating breakfast and I want the day’s route mapped out. The curious thing about these two different needs is that you can have a conversation that sounds as if you are talking in response to the other person’s need but that is absolutely the wrong response for that need. That is what happened to us, and we found ourselves on a 6 lane road full of heavy Ottawa morning commuter traffic. Neither the traffic nor our moods were pretty. We pulled off the next exit (which has a sign to Nepean – a place where I KNOW people!!!) to look for both gas and food. We pulled into a mall. Very little was open at that hour, but after striking out at the first breakfast-looking place we found (nothing appealed) it turned out that there was a lovely restaurant (Chance’s) open.
While we were studying the menu my phone rang. I had already ignored a text from my son, but a phone call is harder to ignore. I was already quite annoyed and out of sorts and seeing a text about his car not starting was not improving my mood. I left Honour at the table so I could take the call with some privacy. Apparently the battery in his car exploded. The good news about that was that he was NOT in the car when the battery exploded. The bad news is that the car did not start, even with a new battery. The AAA responder thought that the battery had probably damaged all the electronics as well. It needed to be towed. Unfortunately the tow truck wasn’t going to be able to make it for hours, and he needed to get to work. If I wasn’t in a good mood before (and trust me, I was NOT), I was in a worse mood when I returned to the table. Honour seemed to be feeling better, which probably didn’t help me any either.
When we were done with breakfast we had our first, and really only, true disagreement. This was the moment all the nay-sayers had been predicting and anticipating. Would I bail or would I stay? The good news is that Honour was willing to compromise (because I was not). We agreed to a plan for our next steps and that’s what we did. We got gas, I calmed down, we began driving our way out of Ottawa to Edmunston. As I’d been saying to all the naysayers – Honour and I are both big girls now. We can disagree and get over it. We did NOT sit in silence for hours and hundreds of miles. We both were much more interested in getting along and having fun and getting to the Bay of Fundy TOGETHER.
It is a good thing we were getting along because there really was very little in the way of interesting scenery to distract us. I’ve cheated and posted a pic from the trip TO Ottawa – the horse and buggy along the road. We had no good views of Quebec or Montreal from the road. We had some very weird directions from the GPS that seemed to take us off the main highway just to go through 2 local traffic lights (while paralleling the highway) and then get back ON the highway. We were thrown onto our own resources for entertainment. It was back to looking at road signs and laughing. Honour is convinced the deer/elk sign shows the animal stretched out reclining (kind of like a dog or cat) whereas I think it’s leapt off a cliff and is falling. I added to my moose sign collection as well. Honour has promised to write a treatise on “The Moose and It’s Significance in Canadian Signage”. Or something to that effect. I suggested that she make it a poem, along the lines of Evangeline or The Song of Hiawatha. 🙂 She can be the next/female Longfellow! Maybe when she FINALLY gets around to posting HER version of this epic journey it will start “Listen my children and you will hear, of the transCanada trip by 2 women dear”. Except she’ll do it better. 🙂
We stopped in Lévis for lunch, a town I insisted on pronouncing as if it were named for my jeans (that is NOT how it is pronounced, by the way, please note the accent on the e). Lévis is along the St Lawrence and I did get one or two photos of the river, which is magnificent. It’s a good thing we were hanging out together because I would have been lost. At this point in the trip everyone local spoke French and only French. We ate lunch at Mike’s, which could only be “Mike’s” because it existed before the French Language Services Act (Loi sur les services en français) was passed in 1968 that ruled everything must be in French. I was okay with the menu but I’d never have been able to converse with the waiter. 🙂 The best part about this stop was the visit to the pet store, where Honour got a leash for Jamie – no more walking her on the car tow line. While Honour handled that important chore, I went into the cat adoption center to visit the cats. I made friends with a very male cat who decided I could pet and cuddle him. Since I’d not seen nose nor whisker from Fergus and Duff in days, I needed a cat cuddle.
While trying to navigate in Lévis, we were stopped at a 4 way stop. The Canadians are sooooo polite. Every stop appears to be a 4-way stop (or 3 way if it’s a T intersection). Sometimes it was a bit hard on the nerves for a gal who was born and bred in NJ, where we have perfected the ‘rolling stop’. While we waited and waited and waited for OUR turn to go, I amused myself by taking pictures of the policeman directing traffic.
Since the Ottawa/Edmunston trip was one of the shortest of the journey (we rolled into Edmunston in DAYLIGHT), I’ll take a moment to share some reflections. I LOVE how Canada does cash/coins. There are no pennies. They will ring up an amount such as $7.13 and round it automatically to $7.15 and give you the change accordingly. $7.11 would be rounded to $7.10. I love it. I understand they are considering doing away with the nickel too.
Probably under the heading of TMI is the discussion about all the rest rooms we saw. Either we were very fortunate or Canada is much cleaner than the US. There was not a single restroom that was dirty or disgusting or otherwise repellent. And I really am pretty darn picky about these things. In all the traveling there was only ONE time there was no toilet paper and thank goodness someone else was there. *grin* And she was helpful. 🙂
It is totally weird to me that there are stop signs in the middle of the highway in the middle of the prairie, and traffic lights when going through northern Ontario. I can only think this is part of that innate politeness ascribed to Canadians. I have a LOT of pics of traffic lights in what I considered to be the middle of nowhere. 🙂
We got to Edmunston in daylight, as I said, so we had time to unwind a bit. There was a casino less than a half mile away so that is where we headed. Honour hit the slot machines and I hit the bar. 🙂 We were both happy. What we’d forgotten was that we’d lost yet ANOTHER hour on this trip. It was NOT 9pm as we thought but 10 pm. Why is this significant? Because the restaurant in the casino closed at 10. We should have eaten first. We asked the bartender for a recommendation for a nice restaurant. We were directed to some place with the word “Pirate” in it – just past the casino. Back in the car and out in the rain and past the casino and ….. Okay, that is NOT our idea of a ‘nice restaurant’. It was your typical roadside fastfood establishment, with several chain stores, plus a convenience store, and a gas station. Sigh. Yeah, we ate there. And Honour may be Canadian but trust me – she wasn’t really polite about it. *grin* Well, she WAS polite to THEM, but she told ME the truth!
Back to the hotel where we agreed that we would NOT talk to each other in the morning until she had figured out gas and food and I knew where we were going. 🙂
I’d known for several days that we would be heading to Wawa, Ontario. This intrigued me greatly. I 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. For 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.
Wawa 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. It 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. THOSE 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. Looking 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.
We 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.
We 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.
We 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. The logs might be coming from BC, where I’d seen logs lining the river banks. I know, I’m a bit strange. Cope. 🙂
By 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. We’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.
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. 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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.
Neither of us slept well at the Super 8. Not 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. Since 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. That’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. 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. Gypsy2 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. We 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) 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. 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. 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. 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.
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!!! We’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. It 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. 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. 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. 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. He 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).
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. My 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. We 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. 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. 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. Then 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. We 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. Honour, 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. Honour 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. Lots 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. 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. I 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.
The 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.