DAY 11, OCTOBER 20

The last day of one of the most amazing excursion one could hope for.

We had gone to bed early the night before, and were up and on the road before 7 am, 3’C. It was so dark, and very challenging because we were driving in the canyon areas of Utah. I am sure the locals who were following me as I gingerly went around hills would have loved to be in front of me! The problem was there were absolutely no places to pull off- no shoulder, no gateways.

As always the visual experience was awesome as first the sky started to lighten, with the morning star bright in the sky. Then as the sun came up behind the mountains – there are no words. I will admit once the sun came up, I had over a half hour of blinding sun. It didn’t seem to help no matter where we put the visors. I actually drove with my left hand, holding my right hand up to block the sun. There was a break every once in a while when a mountain blocked it. If you have ever seen the rocks in the Utah canyons, you will understand why I have no description to do it justice. We experienced Bryce Canyon with its amazing rock formations – unbelievable colours and shapes.

Eventually we were in Arizona, and the beauty was the same. Finally we reached #17, and started the final lap. At the ‘rim’ of the valley where you find Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, etc., and of course Apache Junction, the temperature was 18″C, by the time we got to our place, it was 31! The total descent from the rim to the bottom of the valley is 18 miles, almost continuously going down – good brakes are essential!

We came around a corner, and there it was – a Saguaro cactus with its arms out welcoming us back! Then there were lots more as we proceeded. Finally we saw that beautiful sign “LaHacienda” welcoming us back! Nothing like a LaHa welcome!

We carried everything into our place, but that was mostly it for the day. We had stopped at the local Walgreen’s and bought milk, bread and canned soup. I had tea bags , so we were set for the night.

I cannot begin to explain what these last eleven days have been like. I thanked God each day that He gave us this opportunity to see some more of our beautiful Canada, even if it was just brief glimpses. We also saw two new states- Montana and Idaho, and saw another part of Utah. Each area was different, but gripping in its own way.

We will probably never do it again, but the 6336.5 km. we traveled in the last two weeks were a dream come true.

Thanks for making the trip with us.

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DAY 10, OCTOBER 19

The end is in sight! We are in southern Utah and should be in our LaHa home some time tomorrow afternoon. It has been quite an experience.

We left about 7:30 and stopped about 4:30. When we started out the sun wasn’t up, but the sky was light. The part of Idaho we started from is quite flat. What a sight with the eastern sky a beautiful colour as the sun was coming up, and you could see for a long distance both ways, with just a few hills afar off. It felt like I was driving at the top of the world! This beautiful driving did not last long – mountains from there into Utah. Then we drove for close to an hour through solid traffic – up to six lanes- I don’t know how many places we drove through, and where one ended and the next started. Salt Lake City was the biggy!

I must admit I was tired and a bit stressed! But as we got down to three lanes, there was a sign – Cracker Barrel !! Every time we travel we always see a Cracker Barrel Restaurant either too early, or two late for lunch. Today it was just right! We were there for about 45 minutes which gave me a chance to unwind. I also bought a sweat shirt for $20 – purple with glittery flowers! I never remember clothes for Arizona in December!

We got back on the highway, buzzing along, and all of a sudden traffic stopped and two lanes of solid traffic crept along for miles and miles. Then we saw construction ahead signs. Later a sign said the right lane was closed, so we all squeezed in, came to the top of the hill, and…..nothing! There were no more signs, no construction – nothing! I suspect there were hundreds of very annoyed drivers, as we all sped up to the proper speed!

The navigation system says we have about eight more hours of driving. I think we will just have enough energy to pull the lawn furniture from our back door so we can get in, and probably the rest of the stuff will come in the next day.

Early up tomorrow I expect.

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.