Thursday, October 27, 2011

Home Sweet Home

No pictures today. You have all seen it anyway.

Just a post of random reflections on our trip also known as useless trivia and facts. Things to keep my mind occupied while travelling.

We live in a really, really big country.

I am glad this trip was not in my truck.

It is almost time for another oil change and it was only done 3 days ago.

I could never be a long haul trucker. But I already knew that.

On the west coast the cars were small and energy efficient with many hybrids and electric cars. As we travelled east the number of larger vehicles and trucks grew.

Vancouver must have the most coffee shops in the world. Every block seemed to have a Starbucks, a Tim Hortons, another chain I don't remember and then there was the odd private store.

In the States we saw lots and lots of trains. Only one after returning to Canada. However, at any given point of our drive today we could see 3 or 4 semis. It would appear that Americans transport much more by train than we do.

Everyone in the US wears camouflage (at least at this time of year). Men, women, children, old and young everything from coats to pyjamas in camo. The odd person we saw not wearing camo was wearing red (presumably so they don't get shot by those who are).

Caitlin managed to drive every time it rained, except once. I got to drive through all the construction zones (and half of the continent is undergoing roadwork).

Caitlin prefers driving 70 mph, not 70 kph. I am content in the middle.

We travelled 4 days and thousands of kilometres through the States. We saw a total of 7 police cars - 3 at accident scenes in Seattle, 3 cruising around Ritzville, Washington and one that startled me just outside Duluth (he came out of nowhere and stopped the guy who had just passed me going 20 mph over the speed limit). We spent 7 hours driving in Canada. We saw dozens of police cars.

When we were in the States we saw an average of 3 dead deer a day and a multitude of dead skunks and raccoons. Today we saw a grand total of 1 dead coon. Are Canadians better drivers? Do we venture out less at night when the animals are out? Maybe our road crews are faster at removing the dead animals? None of the dead deer were anywhere near the deer crossing zones. Maybe Canadian deer are smarter and cross where they are supposed to? Maybe we don't have as many deer to start? Has anyone else noticed this? Help me or I won't be able to sleep for trying to solve this dilemma.

The price of the hotel does not reflect the amenities and enjoyability of your stay. Our favourite hotels were not the most expensive. Location sets the rate.

In the average year, I might travel away from my home 3 or 4 times. Mostly Christmas shopping or trips to visit relatives. Lately I have only had a vacation every 3 years and we have stayed in Ontario. This year has definitely been a record. Last September we drove Tori back to University and went through Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and a day trip to Nova Scotia. We spent Christmas at my sister's in New York. We vacationed in Bar Harbor, Maine in July and travelled through Vermont and New Hampshire. I flew over Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta last week and landed in Vancouver. (So I covered all but 4 of the provinces in 13 months) Then we drove through Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan (thereby visiting 11 of the 13 states that border us to the south) Anybody for a road trip to Pennsylvania and Ohio?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Duluth, Minnesota to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

We don't own a GPS. Occasionally we debate the need for one. I borrowed my Dad's for this trip. We had a trip tik and maps but I thought the GPS might help if we were wandering in circles in a strange city after detouring for gas or a meal. It did help us find somewhere to get an oil change, but usually it would give us directions we knew were contrary to our destination. This morning we got directions to get back on the highway from the hotel staff. When that got us lost we turned on the GPS which was no help either. It wanted us to go north to Thunder Bay and all the way around Lake Superior so we turned it off and finally got on the right road 45 minutes later. We occasionally turned the device back on just to check on it and sure enough 6 hours later it clued in and gave us correct directions. Mostly I find the advice received from the GPS to be "Whenever possible, make a legal U-turn" or "turn left, turn left, turn left" which both send me back from whence I have come. What about you? Do you have a GPS? Do you love it?

Anyway, not many pictures today. Because the drive pretty much looked like this

Occasionally a train would break the monotony.Or a view of a lake
Or a deserted building.

We made it the Soo at dinner time, ate and had a swim and we will be home tomorrow. It will be a long drive since our audiotape is finished. If Caitlin is driving I let her listen to country. And she does most of the driving. Like I said, it will be a long day.

Travel joke of the day
A minister was preaching and asked, "Who wants to go to heaven?"
Everyone shot their hands into the air except for one small boy.
"Don't you want to go to heaven when you die?" he asked the youngster.
"Oh yes sir ... when I die. But I thought yu were getting a group up to go now."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dickinson, ND to Duluth, Minnesota

We were on the road for 12 hours and travelled close to 900 km again. The days are starting to blur now. The scenery isn't as stunning and we are almost done our audiotape so the last day will be very long.

We went to the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, ND. (Jamestown is also the birthplace of of Louis L'Amour and Peggy Lee). There are 3 rare albino bison there but I didn't get a good shot.

This pic is for my dad. More than 25 years ago my parents came to visit us in Edmonton. I took them to Elk Island where the buffalo roam free. Despite repeated warnings my dad insisted on getting out to get a better picture of a buffalo. Then I watched as he ran for my little Datsun 210 and folded himself back into the seat as the buffalo did not want a close up. Do you remember that Dad?
This was done with a chainsaw!
This picture was done on a bison hide.
The "feathers" are quite iridescent.
All being well, we enter the land of multi-coloured money and Tim Horton's tomorrow. Yippee!

Travel joke of the day
(because we have seen a LOT of cows in the last few days)
What happened when the cow jumped over the barbed wire fence?
It was an udder disaster.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Butte, Montana to Dickinson, ND

Caitlin and I don't check each others blogs until after we have both posted. I am hoping you get a different perspective from both of us and between the 2 of us we cover everything.

We were on the freeway at 7 this morning and crossed the continental divide 10 minutes later. We enjoyed this sunrise an hour later outside Bozeman. The sky radiated colour but the camera didn't catch it.

The scenery wasn't quite as breathtaking as the last 2 days but I really wanted to get out and run around and explore those hills. There are deer on the top of one of those 2 buttes below - I just can't remember which one!

To keep busy on our drive we both read (but not at the same time!), take pictures and I knit as well. We also listen to lots and lots of CD's. There's not a lot of radio available so it is good that Caitlin has all her CDs accessible. Today we listened to Country and Veggie Tales, Christian worship, Shrek soundtrack, AC DC and oldies like Janis Joplin and Roger Miller, Great Big Sea and Country (yes I know Country is there twice). We are also listening to the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer. My sister Lynda introduced us to it this summer. It is hilarious and sure helps keep us alert.

We travelled 885 km today - our longest break was waiting for an oil change in Billings. We have at least 2 more days to go. We are currently experiencing some confusion as to which time zone we are in. Some of our electronics (and the room clock) are in one time zone, the rest in another. The clocks in the lobby show both times. It's not really important but we don't want to show up for breakfast an hour before the restaurant opens!

Travel joke of the day:
Shawn had just received his driver's license. The family all climbed into the car so he could take them for a ride. His dad immediately jumped into the backseat, directly behind the newly minted driver.
"I'll bet you're back there for a change of scenery after all this time of having to sit up here with me, teaching me how to drive," said the teenager.
"No," replied his father. "I'm going to sit here and kick the back of your seat as you drive, just like you've been doing to me all these years."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ritzville, Washington to Butte, Montana

We covered 645 km today. A few things slowed us down. It was very foggy for the first hour. Then we decided to go see the world's longest freshwater boardwalk in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Coeur d'Alene is rated as one of the 5 prettiest lakes in North America and CAA called the boardwalk a gem and mentioned osprey and bald eagles. We expected a nature walk. This is what we found - see that blue building on a boardwalk surrounding the marina. Very disappointing. The most interesting part was that the water inside the boardwalk is much calmer than the outside because of the skirting underneath.
We stopped at a big silver store/casino/restaurant because Caitlin broke an earring and lost an earring last night but we didn't find any hoops. The scenery and fall colours continued to be breathtaking. And we saw 6 deer - 3 of them were even alive!

We wish we had gone here instead of the boardwalk. We always seem to be too early or too late for the attractions we want. Tomorrow - who knows.

And yes, we finished the whole pie.

Travel joke of the day:
A man was driving down a dirt road and got bogged down in an unexpectedly muddy hole. After a few minutes a farmer arrived with his tractor and offered to pull him out for only $25. After the car was back on dry ground, the man said to the farmer "At that price, you're probably pulling vehicles out of the mud day and night".
"Naw, I can't at night", answered the farmer.
"That's when I haul water to the hole"

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Vancouver, BC to Ritzville, Washington

We left Vancouver at 9:30 and headed towards Seattle. Crazy place to drive. We saw 3 accidents and were glad to clear that city. Within an hour of crossing into the United States, we heard the national anthem on the radio. Americans sure are patriotic! The drive was beautiful. Driving through the beautiful green mountains in the intermittent rain.
Then abruptly we entered the badlands. Still beautiful.

We saw a herd of wild horses
We have a beautiful room in Ritzville (pop 1700). In the first 2 minutes in town, we saw 3 different police/sheriff vehicles from 3 different forces. We feel very well protected.

We had a great meal at Perkins. I had salmon, rice and brocolli - very healthy choice. Then we had peanut butter pie. Melt in your mouth peanut butter concoction smothered with whipped cream on a chocolate ganache. Mmmm! See the picture below?
That is what's left. It was $3.99 a piece and we each wanted a piece - or $13.99 for the whole pie. It was a sound financial decision to buy the whole pie, right? We walked (a whole block)to the restaurant and back and took the stairs instead of the elevator so I am sure we burned off most of the calories, right? The room has a fridge so we can eat the rest for lunch tomorrow. It is packed with protein (peanut butter) and dairy (whipped cream) so it is a healthy choice, right? Glad you agree.

Travel joke of the day:
A woman was frantic when she saw smoke coming from her garage. She called 911 to report the fire.
How do we get there asked the emergency dispatcher?
"Well" said the woman, "Don't they use those big red trucks any more?"

And on a totally unrelated topic, last I heard my dad was doing much better. He showed marked improvement when I saw him Monday and apparently is working on mastering German now.

We're heading home

When Caitlin and Tori travelled out to Jasper the first time their theme song was Alberta Bound by Paul Brandt. I figured we needed a theme song for this trip. Unfortunately it must be the only song that doesn't have a video so here are the lyrics.

I'm Going Home
by Chris de Burgh

I left my home by the ocean,
I left my love by the sea,
Dreaming I could sing my songs in the city...

I thought the streets of London
Would be paved with gold,
But the only gold was in the setting sun,
And these city nights are so cold.

And you know that feeling when you've been too long,
And you wanna go home and it's so strong,

I'm going home, I'm going home,
Oh the leaves are falling and the wind is calling
And I must get on the road,
You'll be alone, you'll be alone,
But if you're crying to the
rhythm of the falling rain,
It's alright, I'm on my way, I'm going home,
I'm going home, yea...

Jilly she's got a smile in her eye,
And a bed just right for two,Silly how much I love her, but I do,

Sunny days will be here again,
She whispered in my ear,
Oh Lord it's funny how much I've
missed the country rain,
That's a sound I love to hear...

And I know that feeling and I've been too long,
And I wanna go home and it's so strong,

I'm going home, I'm going home,
Oh the leaves are falling and the wind is calling
And I must get on the road,
You'll be alone, you'll be alone,
But if you're crying to the
rhythm of the falling rain,
It's alright, I'm on the way, I'm going home,
I'm going home, yea...
Oh hold on darling, I'm going home,
I'm on the way, I'm going home,
I'm going home, Hold on darling...

Something about the home on the coast and the falling leaves and the rain just made it seem appropriate. Hope you remember this song or can find an old cassette tape and sing along with us.

All you George Canyon fans will have to wait until tonight for Caitlin to update about the concert.

Travel joke of the day
A police officer pulled a woman over and gave her a speeding ticket.
"What am I supposed to do with this?" she asked angrily.
"Be sure to keep it in a safe place" he answered. "When you collect 4 of them, you get to ride a bike"

(Hmm ... maybe that is why there are so many bikers in Vancouver)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Vancouver Day 2

We did not hike Grouse Mountain.

We did not go to the Capilano suspension bridge as planned.

We did not go to Whytecliffe Park.

Why? We started our day getting not one but 3 of Caitlin's tires patched after last nights flat tire. I can see occasionally driving over a nail - I do it all the time at the dump - but 3 in less than 2 weeks since she had her car checked out?

Then we went to CAA and got emergency medical insurance. Just in case.

Then we did go to Lynn Valley suspension bridge and ecology centre. Beautiful.

By the time we finished there it was raining harder and harder so we gave up outdoor activities, went out for lunch then back to the hotel.

Make sure you check out Caitlin's blog tomorrow for concert updates! All being well we leave here tomorrow morning and head south.

Vancouver Day 1

We went to the store Caitlin worked at Wednesday night.We were both up at 6:30 Thursday morning and decided to have breakfast then race up Mt. Seymour (elevation 4,150 ft) to catch the sunrise. My dad speaks fondly of a drive up there many years ago. The fog (cloud)? was so heavy driving up we ended up turning around and heading back down.

We went to Deep Cove instead. You can see the low cloud cover behind us.
We went to Lonsdale Quay, took the seabus across to Gastown. Made a stop at Rogers chocolates (my dad used to bring Roger's chocolates home from business trips and now I get to bring him some). Took the seabus back.

We had lunch on the trunk of Caitlin's car then biked around Stanley Park for a few hours.

And enjoyed the fall colours
Make sure you check out Caitlin's blog too for a different perspective.

I told Caitlin she looks pale in this picture. She said that is because the sun is rarely out in Vancouver. I think the plant behind her is a gunnera. This is exciting for me to see all the plants I read about in gardening magazines.We spotted these two raccoons on the side and took a few pics.
Then we spotted these ones across the road.
There were 7 coons! When I tried to walk to a view down that path you can see in front of Caitlin, one of them stalked me and kept getting closer and closer. I used my bike as a shield and we left. As we rode off someone started feeding them peanuts. I guess all they wanted was food.
A beautiful blue hydrangea

Aquarium Pics

We spent more than 3 hours at the aquarium. Caitlin has been there before so was a little bored because as an aquarium keeper I wanted to absorb everything. We also went to a 4D movie here. In addition to wearing 3D glasses, their are special features built into the chairs and the do things like mist you with water and blow bubbles when appropriate. Very cool.I wish I could remember the names of these cuties. They spend their lives like this.
This is an Irish Lord fish. They all looked grumpy.
Stawberry anemone
A caiman

This is Daisy. She is a Harbour Porpoise and is very interactive.
This is a brugmansia. I tried to grow one for years. It looked nothing like this.
And we finally made it up Mt Seymour! It was almost dark so this is the best shot we could get.And we had an almost flat tire at the bottom. Please pray we have no other problems this trip.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vancouver - Initial Impressions

Vancouver is green. Very green. And manicured.
Everything is big. Big trees. Big bridges.
Big hills. Big leaves.
Vancouver drivers are crazy. Aggressive. Ignorant. I am content to let Caitlin drive. I am amazed how well she has adjusted to big city life. She used to say she wanted to be a hermit. She used to have a very poor sense of direction - had no idea how to get to an adjoining town and now she zips around congested highways at high speed.