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DAY 9, OCTOBER 18

When we got up this morning all the news from both the TV and people in the breakfast room was all about the high winds yesterday. There were emergency announcements all evening on the TV . Many fires had started, and were quickly out of control. Some from grass fires, some from electrical episodes due to wind damage. One woman told me this morning that when they were coming from Edmonton, rocks were flying across the road, and one hit the car. They also saw one of the trailers from a transport which was parked out in a field with advertising on it actually blew over! It was so quiet today, we decided the wind had no breath left!

The highlight of last night was FaceTime with Cindy and her gang. The girls are just so much fun, and their parents aren’t too bad either!

After an hour of driving we crossed the border going into Montana. Talk about variety! It started out flat, just like the southern part of Alberta where we drove. There was lots of granaries, and a lot of oil well pumps in action. Then we hit the mountains!! Oh, my, around one way, back the other, up and down, with a speed limit of 80 m.p.h. !! The mountain tops were covered with snow. Later on, it leveled off a bit where we saw huge herds of cattle, mostly Angus.

The biggest problems were to find places to get gas, and especially to find a restaurant. We ended up eating in a place part bar, part food and with about 20 slot machines! Then to find a spot to spend the night. We came to a place with lots of motels. but it was only 2:30. Lloyd wanted to stop, but RubyAnn wanted to drive another hour. OOPS We finally found a little place at 5 p.m. in a tiny little area called Dubois IDAHO !!  We definitely did not plan on driving the length of Montana!We are in a tiny room, but it’s clean and the bed feels comfortable. The owner is a very interesting lady, I think late thirties. She has five children, home schools them, volunteer emergency care person, part time 911 operator! Her husband and she bought an old house with a ten room motel, apparently in bad shape two years ago. Her friends couldn’t figure out why she bought “that dump”. First she painted all the rooms and put in new beds, etc, and started renting the rooms. Now each winter completely, she attacks one or two rooms, completely gutting them and modernizing them. Her house was built in 1919, and very little was done to it. So it is all original. She’s pretty gung ho! I very carefully said nothing about the home schooling, since I have a few problems with it. There must be some reason why I went to Teachers’College, then took summer and winter courses, to learn how to teach, identify potential difficulties, and assist the level at which they are working. I guess everyone is an expert in education since they went to school! I know many swear by it, so I just rant on my blog. It’s MY blog, I can rant if I want to!

The best thing of all is the price of gas – averaging $2.60 a gal. WE appreciate it!

Two more days I think to get to our winter home – either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.

DAY 8, OCTOBER 17

If I had a bucket list, I could cross off one today. I have wanted to go to Drumheller for years, While we couldn’t go on the trek to some of the actual site and digs  ( first requirement – hiking boots- told me NO WAY !) , we spent three hours in the Royal Terrell Museum of Paleontology. It went from the very beginning of all eras right up to the Ice Age.

I think every elementary teacher, or parent of a boy (maybe girl) has learned about Dinosaurs. It was the one topic that could get children with reading difficulties excited about reading. Of course I had to use pictures, videos, but while we were there, there were bus loads of kids – all ages- seeing the actual bones! Most of them had things to keep their focus. Some smaller ones sketched, the high schoolers were looking for certain things. It was funny to see the teachers trying to persuade the kids to leave for lunch. I was as excited as they were. Lloyd was too! I learned so much. I haven’t downloaded the pictures yet, but I think I took  as many pictures of dinosaurs as Lloyd did of hoodoos yesterday! I may have to have them printed and make up a book. One things I learned is that when any government or big business activity is involved with digging, a paleontologist is available. When 168 windmills were put up, there were 17 they thought might yield some fossils, and they were found in 14 of them. One man was digging a basement for his new house, and came upon a fossil of a heretofore never seen dinosaur! It was just so exciting to become aware of all of this.

When we went into the museum it was a beautiful, warm day. When we came out it was still warm, but there was such a wind it was hard to keep standing – probably the first time I was ever glad to be heavier than most! I only drove 245 km. but was so tired we stopped early. The wind was blowing west to east, and since I was going south it was blowing against us, and I battled every bit. My shoulders and hands were actually aching.

Today was the second time I have driven in a dust storm. It made me think of the “Dirty Thirties” The fields had been harvested, and I think fall wheat planted, so of course the soil would blow! The sun was shining, but the air was brown!

We saw many large herds of beef cattle. In fact, we have only seen one herd of dairy cows, and that was in Saskatchewan. Of course there were lots of oil wells working, with cattle eating all around them! We also saw a machine that looked like some kind of harvester, but instead of grain coming out, it was rutabagas! There were huge trucks, piled high with them!

Lloyd was reluctant to make this trip across Canada, but now he is really glad we did. He said he had no idea there were areas of ‘badlands’, hoodoos etc. here in Canada. He had always thought they were just in the U.S. I feel the same way. It has been great.

Tomorrow we are crossing into Montana. We will probably reach our winter home by the weekend.

 

 

 

 

DAY SEVEN – OCTOBER 16

We loved our travel today. It was great driving, with only challenges in Regina and Medicine Hat. In Regina they are building a ring road, so we had the construction challenge added to traffic.

What a variety of landscapes – land so flat, that fields go as far as the eye can see, rolling hills and the amazing gorges and hoodoos around Drumheller. We were wondering how anyone could decided where to start when working in the fields, and how many seeders in the spring and combines in the fall would be needed.

There are a few of the old grain elevators we have all seen in pictures, but mostly they are huge steel granaries. Most of the harvesting seems to be finished.

Of course there are lots of oil wells here in Alberta. It looks neat to see oil wells pumping in a field that has a herd of beef cattle. For the first we saw solar panels and wind mills, but nothing like we see in the U.S.

Lloyd is sure we have been seeing swans, but I am sure they are snow geese. Regardless there were a lot flying today, and standing around water holes. Of course there were lots of Canada Geese and ducks. We also have seen a bird I can’t identify. It is a bit bigger than a crow, black and the wings have a lot of white when lifting off.

There seems to be a lot of mineral that looks like salt, around water holes, and we passed an operation at one place that seem to be ‘harvesting ‘ it. I am going to have to do some research.

We did not intend to be in Drumheller tonight, but between gaining (losing?) another hour, and the scarcityof motels, I just kept driving – over 800 km.! Our challenge is to find a place that allows pets. One actually accepted dogs, but not cats!

Tomorrow we plan on spending a long time in the dinosaur museum. I’d love to be able to go out to the sites and see the bones embedded in the rocks. My mind may want to, my body refuses!

We will putter around here for a while, then head toward the south of Alberta.

There just are no words to describe what we have seen this last week, and especially today. What a magnificent country we live in.

 

DAY 6, OCTOBER 15

FINALLY OUT OF ONTARIO

When your body time is still on home time, you tend to get up early – new time. So early, in fact, we were on the road shortly after 7 ! After two more hours we finally entered Manitoba.

We started out with the temperature at -7. There was a frost fog, with all the trees and branches coated in white, and a bit of fog. Later on we came to REAL fog. and crept along very slowly for quite a while. But eventually it turned into a great day, with the temperatures going up to 15.

We were both surprised that Manitoba is as flat as it is. For some reason we both thought it would be like our part of Ontario. Instead it was more prairie. There were lots of fields already harvested, with straw piled in huge, long stacks. Some of the corn is harvested. There was no work being done. Most farmers don’t work on Sunday – reasons could be religious, tradition or just the need of a day off to spend with family and friends.

We saw several Bald Headed Eagles flying over head, sadly several deer which had been hit. We also went by an elk ranch. We know we went by a feed lot somewhere. We could tell by the fragrance! Lots of beef cattle, but didn’t see any dairy. Something strange was that several areas on the edge of the road had been bailed for hay!

We drove past a marker that said we were at “The longitudinal Centre of Canada” ! It reminded me of the first time we passed “The continental divide” in the U.S. and Lloyd wondered if it would be all downhill from there!

Driving was great , not much traffic. Of course there was construction, even though it was Sunday. I think they are racing to get finished before winter strikes. The only heavy traffic was on the perimeter road around Winnipeg. The speed limit on the divided highways was 110 for most of the way.

We had our lunch in Austin, Manitoba at a little cafe. Apparently, it was where everyone went after church, or just as tradition. Lloyd and I were the only ones who didn’t know everyone! It was that good “Mom and Pop” kind of restaurant, and we really enjoyed our meal, and the break.

I was amazed that after taking five days to get out of Ontario, after a little over five hours, we were in Saskatchewan!

We are at the Whitewood Inn in Whitewood Sask.It is the best one yet! First the cost – $69 plus $10 for Samson, then the room – perfect! Last night’s was so funny. They asked if we wanted one or two beds. We said one was fine. We got in it and realized it was quite small. Now I know we are used to a king sized bed, but this one was not even a queen, but a double! We decided we both are a lot bigger than when last we slept in a double bed! This room has two queen sized beds! Another bonus – the gas is down to $1 a litre!

No idea where we will end up tomorrow, but we are enjoying our limited view of more of Canada.

STILL IN ONTARIO

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14                 DAY 5

Finally a day without problems!

We traveled for over 600 km. today and are STILL in Ontario -Dryden! it doesn’t matter how many times I had looked at maps, listened to people who have made this trip, I had to experience this to understand the vastness of our province!

We were just stunned at the beauty of this area with highlands, the coast of Superior and the stark contrast between the dark evergreens and the trees with golden leaves and white trunks of either birch or poplar.(we didn’t know) . We went by areas which had been recently logged, many had been replanted, and some ready to be harvested.

We were surprised to discover that Central time starts in Western Ontario, not Manitoba. All of a sudden the clock on our navigation system moved back – rather disconcerting when you had decided to drive until 4, and all of a sudden 2 p.m. had become 1 p.m.!

For all the signs to watch for moose, we never saw a trace. However there were lots of trucks hauling fourth wheelers that we suspected were on the way to hunt. This seems to be a paradise for hunters and fishermen. The only unusual thing we saw was a young bald eagle with a bunch of ravens picking at something dead along the road.

Everyone who hears about our unusual way to get to Arizona thinks it is a great idea. We agree. Even if we don’t make side trips we are getting an idea of our country’s varied beauty.

The only down about it is the price of rooms. This is the first one below $100 – and then not by much. They also have a great way to get extra money from pet owners. Tonight it was only $10, but last night it was $25, and we were in a room where pets were allowed. So the $25 certainly was not used to scour the room so allergic people wouldn’t be bothered. They would have just been put in one of the rooms where pets have never been allowed. The price of fuel is rather terrible too – about $1.24 9/10. We couldn’t afford it every year – and we may be living very carefully in Arizona for a while! But knowing what can happen in one’s life, we are glad we are doing it.

Tomorrow, we should reach Manitoba.

 

 

 

SIGH

DAYS 2, 3, 4

OCTOBER 11, 12, 13

We left Huntsville around 8 in the morning on Wednesday and had a great drive. To get to #400 we had to take this narrow road, no shoulders, a solid line in the middle for the whole way. It was constant turns, hills and bumps! Thankfully there was little traffic because only locals came anywhere near the speed limit. When one of them came up close enough to read your navigation screen through the back window, you found a place to pull over. The road went around every rock , and there were lots of them. But it was a beautiful drive and we really enjoyed it. Then we went on #400, again traffic wasn’t heavy, and then on to #17. We had been spoiled by the wide roads, but now had to share -back to both directions on the same road.

As is our custom we stopped for lunch – our only restaurant meal of the day. It was a local restaurant, which we prefer. Lloyd had a good old club house sandwich and I ordered chicken poutine. I have had it before, chicken strips on top of poutine. NEVER have I had mushroom gravy with huge slices of mushroom on poutine. It also was not cheese curd, but chunks of cheese. I ate half of it, grumbling all the time!

We made such good time that we decided to go past Sault Ste. Marie. So we went to Batchawana Bay and stopped at The Voyageurs’ Lodge. I loved it at first glimpse a good thing since we stayed there much longer than planned It was across the road from the Bay which is part of Lake Superior.  It was where the voyageurs landed and the trail had gone right past the lodge. The place is all wood, with the key on a little wooden canoe, the coat hooks on wooden paddles, and all the furniture in the room and the restaurant were hand made.

All went well until we unloaded the SUV and discovered I had left my computer in its case at the door of the inn in Huntsville! I made the first of many calls to the Knights Inn in Huntsville. First I will tell you that English is not the first language of the owner to whom I spoke each time. When I explained what had happened she told me yes, they had it, but they would not send it ‘collect’ to me by Purolator. I had to arrange that myself. So I went to the main desk, and they found the number for me. I called Purolator and they said, no problem, just go on line, fill out the forms by which I could pay it, and they would pick it up. I explained it was a bit hard to go on line with my computer since that was what they were picking up. So it was suggested I go to the front desk again, and ask to use the computer there. The problem was the owners were away, and the computer was in their house on the property. The waitress, who lived near there was willing for me to use hers, but her husband was away, and she couldn’t leave. SOOOO  back to our room, called P. again, got a snarky man who said the order form had to be sent to the Huntsville Inn, before they could pick it up. When I asked how the form was to be sent, he said on line. I replied – a bit more emphatically “I DON’T HAVE A COMPUTER!!! THAT’S WHAT I WANT YOU TO PICK UP!!!”  He said something else, and I said even more emphatically ” DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME IF I DON’T HAVE A COMPUTER SO I CAN GO ONLINE, I CAN’T DEAL WITH YOUR COMPANY????” Well ,he said, you could call the Inn and give them the address to fill out the packaging slip. Sooo, once again I called the inn – did I mention English was not her first language?  I gave her the address of the Lodge in Batchawana. Then I called back to P. where I talked to a wonderful young man named Craig, who very kindly informed me I had to call back to the inn and have them change the shipping address to the  pickup depot in Sault Ste. Marie, since I couldn’t pay it online! ( I was really beginning to hate the word online), I had to pay there before I picked it up. Assuming I would do that, he said he would book it to be picked up on Thursday and I could pick it up on Friday. He also said the person picking up the parcel would help fill out the form. SOOOOO once again I called the inn, gave her the new address. By this time we had become good friends! So we went to bed hoping all would go well. I’ll tell you right now God and I did a lot of talking!

So yesterday, Thursday, Oct.12, we stayed at the Lodge, which if you have to stay somewhere, is a good place to stay. We walked across the road to the shore. Samson does NOT like waves coming in, even when gentle. WE did this a couple of times. I read and we watched TV. We bought two meals – breakfast and dinner. I had fresh pickerel caught fresh from Lake Superior for dinner – delicious.

This morning we woke up and wondered how things would go. I called P. at 9 and was told it had been picked up (phew!) but had not been scanned yet. So we decided at 9:30 to drive back to the SOO and search for the depot. I must say that Katie (our new SUV’s navigation system) is wonderful! I had no address just ” 40 Industrial A Court” I put it in, and lo and behold, it showed us the way! So we went , found it, paid for it, and headed on our way!

We are now paying $1.23 for gas!

I have heard people talking about how boring it is driving through this area – just trees- but I have to disagree! It was like driving through one of the Group of Seven’s paintings, with the trees, rapids and lakes. We loved it. The traffic was light, and it was a good day.

We are in Marathon. We did not get as far as I had planned for the third day of driving, but did OK saying we had such a late start. I don’t know if we’ll get out of Ontario tomorrow, but will enjoy wherever we end up. I don’t think many people realize how huge our province is.

I would say Friday the  13th didn’t turn out too bad. I have my computer and survived my 75th birthday. Imagine – three quarters of a century!

 

DAY ONE, OCTOBER 10

After getting the last of the things packed, dishes washed up. and a few things finished outside, we were off at 9:03… in the fog!  We hadn’t gone far before we heard Samson coughing. Lloyd had forgotten he shouldn’t have given him soft food before he got in the vehicle. So I pulled over, we cleaned up the cage… sigh… and were off again. Then Lloyd decided we should stop in Gananoque to get some money from the bank ...sigh . FINALLY we took off!. We stopped in Napanee for breakfast and top up the gas tank $1.07 a litre …sigh.

We stopped at Ivanhoe Cheese factory and bought curd and extra old cheese – supper!!

We went through Bancroft, Barry’s Bay, Whitney and finally to Algonquin Park. We didn’t see any moose this time, but the colours were beautiful. There don’t seem to be a lot of red ones, but a lot of the beautiful colour sort of a mix of gold and orange. We stopped to eat a sandwich in the Park, then headed toward Huntsville.

I want everyone to know all is right with the world – road construct work is flourishing!

I think the last two weeks of preparing for Thanksgiving Sunday dinner ( for 22), and figuring out what we needed for Arizona for the winter, and packing it all, as well as doing all the driving caught up with me. I was really tired, so we decided to stop in Huntsville for the night. All we needed was to find a motel – easy right? No way ! The first one we stopped at was $160, plus tax, for a small room with one queen sized bed. I was very honest and told her that was way more than we planned to pay. We finally stopped at Knights Inn, and it was pricey enough . I sort of forgot to tell them we had a cat. There was no sign saying no pets, and I figured at $130, I was already paying enough!

 

So the first day, only 420 km., but we are on our way