Dischord and Casinos

horse and buggyThe 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.

road sign no trucksWhile 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.

racing the train on the way to OttawaWhen 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.

giant huskyIt 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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

Levis signWe stopped in LΓ©vis 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). LΓ©vis 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 franΓ§ais) was passed in 1968 that ruled everything must be in French. directing trafficI was okay with the menu but I’d never have been able to converse with the waiter. πŸ™‚ 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 LΓ©vis, we were stopped at a 4 way stop. The Canadians are sooooo polite. 4 way arretEvery 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. black and white cat at pet storeI 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

We got to Edmunston in daylight, as I said, so we had time to unwind a bit. lying down deer roadsignThere 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. πŸ™‚ 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’. deer crashing car road signIt 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. πŸ™‚

St Lawrence river
St. Lawrence River in Northern Ontario

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. πŸ™‚ ) 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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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.