Location: ON, MB, SK, Canada
Aug. 22, 2012
Today, Eric woke up at 3:00 am and started driving. This was our twelve hour driving day from Pancake Bay, Ontario to Blue Lake Ontario. Amazingly, the boys were able to sleep. I woke up off and on. I took over driving about 9:00 am with almost six hours of driving already done! Those six hours of Eric driving with the boys sleeping were priceless. About an hour into me driving, we saw a sign for Amethyst mining. We decided to pull off the road, and go. It was so cool. We mostly did it for Nicholas because he always says that he wants to be a Miner when he grows up. But, half the time we were there, he was catching frogs! Basically, they had these big water hoses that you would point to the rocky ground, and it would sort of bring up rocks and wash them off. There were so many pieces of amethyst, quartz, and really neat rocks that were everywhere. They hand you a bucket and a chisel, and you get what you want. At the end, you wash your loot, and leave what you don't want. They then weigh it, and you pay by the pound. We let the boys get five pounds worth of whatever they wanted. I also was able to get a few neat pieces. The amethyst jewerly that they had in their gift shop was beautiful, but I had to stop at just the mining!
We then hopped back in the BRT, and drove another six or so hours to Blue Lake, Ontario. We had been told to look out for "Chip Trucks" along the way in this part of Ontario. Chip trucks are food trucks that have amazing fish and chips right on the roadways. We did see alot, but by the time we actually saw them, we couldn't turn around. It is too hard in the motorhome. Finally, we found one, that we actually turned around to go to because we were getting close to the end of the Ontario border. We walked up to it, and I wasn't so sure. It definitely didn't look like one of the food trucks that you see on the Food Network. The one cook was a much, much older man, who I was sure was missing teeth in this rickety old food truck. We went ahead and ordered fish and chips (chicken strips for our non-seafood eating child, William). The Dietitian in me noticed no gloves, no hair net or baseball cap, but I had to walk away. I tried to look for bugs crawling around, but didn't see one, thank God. The old man was super nice, I do have to say. We got our food, and man, it was the best fish that I have had! Holy cow, Eric and I were kind of quiet for awhile, just enjoying the moment. About thirty minutes after we enjoyed our fish in chips from the questionable chip truck, we passed another chip truck that was nicely painted with a sign and a covered porch, and flowers all around it! We just sighed and passed it right up! I did wonder if those people had hair nets or gloves!
We then made it to Blue Lake Provincial Park campground where the boys swam until sunset.
Aug. 23, 2012
We woke up and headed out of Ontario and into Manitoba. We stopped in Winnipeg and toured the Royal Canadian Mint. It was pretty fascinating because 60 percent of their business is making coins for over 70 other countries including the United States. It was really neat learning and seeing how these coins were made.
When we were done, we were sitting in the parking lot trying to figure out where we wanted to have a quick picnic before our driving began, again. This older couple pulled up beside us and asked us is we needed help finding something. We told then we were looking for a park. They told us to follow them to their neighborhood because the park in their neighborhood had a duck pond and was on the river. So, we drove, and drove, following these very nice strangers. Finally, we got to the park. The man got out of his car, and gave us about a 20 minute history lesson on the river and the park. Eric and I just nodded and nodded until he was done. We acted like we knew what he was talking about because we had told him we were from Alberta.
After the picnic, we kept on driving until we went through Manitoba and into Saskatchewan. We drove until we stopped at the Walmart in Moose Jaw at about 11:00pm.
Aug. 24, 2012
We are on the home stretch! Only seven hours until we get home! Everyone has said that driving through Saskatchewan is flat and boring. I have to say, that I love it. It is very pretty, and it reminds me so much of driving through Texas. So, Saskatchewan has one fan!
Well, we have travelled through 8 provinces out of the 13. We have stayed at 9 campgrounds, 2 Holiday Inn Expresses, and 2 Walmarts. We have driven over 3800 miles.
Wow, what a trip it has been.
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Today we went to Canada's Wonderland in Toronto. It is an amusement park and water park. William rode all of the huge rollercoasters mainly by himself because Eric and I are too chicken to ride them, now. William will ride anything! Nicholas could ride some, but he was not tall enough to ride the really big rollercoasters. We did go to the waterpark, but the boys only did two things because the water was freezing.
We then managed to take showers, in the motorhome, in the parking lot of Canada's Wonderland. Then, we drove four hours to a Walmart parking lot to spend the night. Wow, what my life has come to! I promised myself I would NEVER be one of those people who would park their camper in a Walmart parking lot and spend the night! But, it wasn't too bad. Where else can you get a cup of coffee, change of clothes if you need to, and deoderant plus a parking lot to sleep in? Only at Wally World! Plus, it knocked of four hours to our five hour drive for tomorrow.
We also hit the 2000 miles mark on driving!
Tomorrow, off to Pancake Bay on Lake Superior.....
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Today was Hockey Hall of Fame day! William was in Heaven. The Hall of Fame is in downtown Toronto, so we parked the BRT in a mall parking lot, and road the subway into downtown. Little did we know that there was a Toronto Blue Jays game about to start just a few blocks from the Hockey Hall of Fame. We waited in line for thirty minutes at the subway station just to get passes onto the subway. William informed us that the Blue Jays were playing the Texas Rangers. We were tempted to try to go buy tickets at the stadium, but this was our only day in downtown Toronto, and we couldn't miss the Hockey Hall of Fame. We would have probably been the only four people out of thousands rooting for thr Rangers.
Anyway, the Hockey Hall of Fame was awesome! When I was walking through, I thought tha,t three years ago, we wouldn't even know any of these players, and that this place wouldn't mean much to us. How far along we have come since we moved to Canada! It is a place where they really have done an outstanding job of honoring all the greats of hockey.
After the Hockey Hall of Fame, we walked seven or so blocks to Wayne Gretzky's Cafe. It is his only restaurant that he solely owns in the world, so it had some really neat memoribilia (sp??) that is special to him. Eric and I both ordered "The Great One" burger that had a "99" branded into the bun. Wayne Gretzky also has his own estate wine.
Over all, it was a great day. Tomorrow, Canada's Wonderland.
Location: Quebec, Quebec, Canada
Aug. 17, 2012
All I can say is WOW! Right when we crossed over the border from New Brunswick into Quebec, it was like we were in another country. Everything is in French. All the street signs, no English. We checked into our hotel, and walked to a really cool restaurant. Everyone always greets you in French, and then they switch to English right when they figure out you don't know the language. They will say "Bon Jour", and we will say "Bon Jour". Then they will rattle off in French. We will then stare and say something in our Texas accents, and they start talking English. What great people. William was trying to use some of his French that he had learned in school. The waitress was very patient, and taught him some words. He wanted to try and make her comfortable by speaking as much French as he could. I just sat there and didn't say much, because it makes me uncomfortable trying the language because it sounds very ugly compared to how they speak. If you cross a Texas accent with a French accent, it doesn't sound very sophisticated (not that I think of myself at all sophisticated!). Eric did well because he learned French in elementary school in Houston.
The next day, we went to the "Old City", which is the city that is walled in. Wow, it was absolutely beautiful. The streets reminded my of when we went to Paris, but much, much cleaner. It smelled good! We walked up the 310 stairs to get to the field known as the "Plains of Abraham", which is the battlefield where the French and English fought a twenty minute battle that determined who would ultimately control Canada. The English won. William requested going here because he had learned about it in school. We then went on a tour of the Citadel which is still a military base and residence of the Governor General of Canada. That was really neat.
We also took a horse carriage ride around the old city. After that, it was alot of walking, and finally settling on a little pub before we headed back to the hotel.
I would definitely go back to Quebec--when I learn French.
The next day, I drove the BRT (The Big Rolling Turd) from Quebec City to our campground by "1000 Islands" in Ontario. Everything in English once again! Tomorrow, the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto....
Location: Fredricton, New Brunswick, Canada
This morning we packed up and left the campground in Cape Hopewell. We then drove to Fredricton, NB and went to the Science East museum. It is a really cool childrens' museum that was very "hands on" and interactive. The museum used to be an old jail from the 1800's. We told the boys that the prisoners were the workers at the museum, and they will all have handcuffs on and be chained to the wall when they are trying to help you do something. They were wide eyed and actually believed us! We told them the truth long before we go there so they would actually go in!
This is the half-way point of where we need to drive, today. Then we had a wonderful gormet meal at Chez Wendy's. There was no lobster! Boo hoo! We are stopping overnight in Edmunston, NB then off to Quebec City tomorrow morning for two nights at the Holiday Inn Express. I think it will be like the Plaza Hotel for me!
We just made the milestone of driving 1000 miles so far. About 2500 more to go.......
Check ya later in Quebec City! Au revoir--for all you hillbillies, it means good bye!
Location: Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada
Today was the day we went to Cape Enrage, which is an adventure center run by local highschool students. Eric and the boys went ziplining. It was really foggy, so it was hard to see the water. They were able to do the zipline three times each. They had a blast! Of course, right when we were leaving, the fog lifted.
Then, we had yet another lobster dinner. This will probably be our last dinner in the Maritimes. So sad!! We went to a little town called Alma off The Bay of Fundy. The tide was still out, so in the harbor, the boats were tied to the pier, but their bottoms were on the bottom of the harbor. When the tide goes out, the boat kind of just follows the waterline down to the dry ground. When the tide comes back in, the boats pop back up and floats on the harbor, again. The boys walked on the ground of the harbor. William also rescued a two year old little boy who got himself stuck in the mud up to his thighs. The mother couldn't get their fast enough, and then I saw William pull him out and carry him to the mother. After that, we all got ice cream. We have a day of driving, tomorrow, and then it is off to Quebec.
Location: Cape Hopewell, NB, Canada
Today in Cape Hopewell, New Brunswick, we went to the Hopewell Rocks which is on The Bay of Fundy. Our campground was actually right on The Bay of Fundy. This is something you can see in pictures, but until you are there, it is hard to believe. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world. When it is low tide, the water recedes hundreds of feet, so you can actually walk on the bottom of the ocean floor. The tide stays out for about six hours per day. Once the tides comes back in, it looks like a regular ocean. The cool thing about the campground we stayed at was that you wake up to looking out into the ocean, to looking at dry land in the middle of the day.
The Hopewell Rocks, AKA the Flowerpot Rocks, constantly get hit by the tide everyday. The big rock formations look like flowerpots. In the morning, you can kayak around them, and then a few hours later, you can walk around them where their base meets the bottom. They were super cool. We walked around them one evening, then Eric and Nicholas went back the next morning to take pictures of them when the tide was in. The boys really got a kick out of it! Of course they also liked playing in the thick mud when walking on the ocean floor.
Location: PEI and New Brunswick, Canada
Today we played at the beach at our campsite, then went into Charlottetown, PEI, which is the capitol. We then drove about 4 hours to The Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. We will have much more coming on The Bay of Fundy......
Location: PEI, Canada
Today was the day we went to St. Ann's Catholic Church. They are world famous for their lobster suppers that they hold in the basement of the church. We have been waiting to go there for a long time! On our way there, we saw a u-pick raspberry farm. We turned off the road and went picking raspberries. It was alot of fun, and the farmer was super nice. We then piled in the motorhome, aka, the "big rolling turd", and headed to St. Ann's. We all got lobster except William, and it was well worth it.
Our lobster count so far: approx. 7 pounds
Mussel count: approx. 8 pounds
Location: Nova Scotia to PEI, Canada
Aug. 10, 2012
Well, today was supposed to be about a five hour travel time from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island by taking the Ferry. We drive four hours to get to the ferry. We get there at 2:30pm. We wait in line at the ferry for four hours. We finally get to our campground in PEI at 9:00pm. We were starving, and didn't want sandwiches because we are in the land of wonderful seafood. So, there is a golf course and country club close to our campground. Rolling Axcell style, we hop on our bikes (in the dark), ride them to the country club for a pint and lobster rolls. That made our day. Most of the people in the country club looked like they were coming from a hard day's work from the golf course. We just looked like hillbillies coming from the neighboring campground!
Aug. 11, 2012
After kayaking in the river, we are now driving around PEI looking for a place to get auto propane. Our propane is almost out, and it keeps the refrigerator, freezer, and hot water running. There are not many places that sell propane that you pump straight to your vehicle. That is our adventure right now as we speak. Lobster dinner, tonight. More to come....
Location: South Harbor - Funny Story, Canada
At the end of our day of whale watching and fishing, we were invited to eat dinner with the Doucets. When dinner was ready, the moms got the plates for the kids before the adults. Dinner was pork roast, mashed potatoes, and fresh vegetables. On the stove next to the mashed potatoes was a pot of a brown looking liquid. Courtney asked Nicholas, "Do you want gravy on your pork and mashed potatoes?". Nicholas replied, "yes, lots!". Then Mrs. Doucet said, "That's sauce, not gravy". Courtney thought "sauce" was another word for "gravy", so she piled it on Nicholas' plate. Turns out, the sauce was a caramel sauce for our dessert. Needless to say, Nicholas ate all his pork and mashed potatoes! Courtney was really embarrased and everybody else thought it was hilarious!
Location: South Harbor, NS, Canada
Today, we met one of my friends from work that is from Nova Scotia. She invited us over to their place for whale watching, swimming, fishing, and dinner. Our first stop was whale watching. We saw tons of whales (pods, actually). The tour lasted 2.5 hours and we saw whales and seals for the entire trip. We also got to see some fabulous scenery. The scenery in Cape Breton is fantastic and should be added to anyone's "Bucket List". It easily rivals the California coastline for beauty and has the added bonus being very sparsely developed. We then went back to our friend's parents cottage where the boys got to swim in the harbor while we supervised. I mainly supervised the bottom of my "adult beverage" glass. That is why we paid for swim lesson!?! The last trip was fishing and we caught plenty of mackeral. Captain Kenny was great and is a relative of our friend. He was very funny and great with the kids. He works in Alberta in the fall, so we are going to buy him a steak dinner to repay his hospitality. The end of our day involved dinner back at the cottage and getting to know our new friends from Nova Scotia! The day was fantastic and the hospitality was even better! We are greatful for the great day that we spent with our friends.
Location: Cape Breton, NS (Cabot Trail), Canada
Our first day in Cape Breton was hiking the Skyline Trail and driving the Cabot trail. The views along both trails were spectacular! The coastline is so rugged that the rocks just meet the sea. On our hike we saw two moose (not sure the plural of moose.....meese?), a couple of squirrles, and a snake. That's right boys and girls, a SNAKE! Courtney hates snakes and she nearly hyperventilated. William, of course, thought the snake was cool. They then went to the beach in Cheticamp, while I did laundry. Yes....I know how to do laundry. We ate another lobster and mussel dinner to add to our count.