Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Below are my thoughts from the last few days - I'll add more pics later. Enjoy!!

Leaving the House

We left the house on Friday around 12:30. Very sad – we were both a bit sniffly. Especially as Chloe had given us quite a scare. I’d gone to return our high speed modem, and Sean had stayed behind loading the camper. When I got back I went looking for the cats – Cleo was worshipping the sun on the floor of the spare room, but Chloe was NOWHERE to be found. And losing a 12lb black cat in an empty house is pretty hard! My panic level was rising, wondering if she’d slipped past Sean into the great outdoors. Sean said he’d look for her while I washed out the fridge (he knows distracting me is a good way to keep me calm.) Still, it was hard to concentrate while straining my ears to hear how the search was going. First he tried all the places I’d already looked, then he just started opening closed doors in the basement. And in the storage cupboard under the stairs he found her, just sitting on the shelf recently vacated by cleaning supplies.

He brought her upstairs and put her in the cage, figuring she’d likely sneak off again. Once he told me where he’d found her, I went down there to see how she’d managed to get into that cupboard. While the cupboard was full, we’d never noticed the hole between the laundry room and the storage cupboard where the dryer vent goes through. It’s not a big hole, but obviously big enough for her to sneak through when she caught wind of something big happening. OTOH, she didn’t run from Sean when he found her, so maybe she was just frightened and looking for somewhere that felt safe. For all we know, she’s been sneaking in there from time to time over the last few months!

I still can barely express my relief when I heard Sean talking to her, knowing I wouldn’t have left the house till we found her, new people or not (they took possession at 6pm on Friday). However, that didn’t come to pass and now we’re keeping a close eye on her.

Back to actually leaving the house – it’s funny, though I was sad, I wasn’t as bereft as I thought I’d be. Guess I’ve always known it was a transitional house, so that helped. But still, we made it into a real home for the five years we were there, so I expected to feel far worse than I did. Have to admit, it was hard seeing my garden coming back to life and knowing I wouldn’t be there to tend it this summer, but when we briefly met the new owner on Wednesday (he came for a walk-through with his agent), he said they were looking forward to the garden. That made me feel much better, so I reminded myself of that on Friday.

Day 1 – Ottawa to Sault Sainte Marie
We set out early in the morning, by 6am, just as planned. The weather was perfect and there wasn’t much traffic at all. Chloe and Cleo serenaded us for the first little while, then just Chloe *g*. I did get a tad weepy as we passed the exit to our old house for the last time, but that passed quickly. And pretty soon Chloe settled down as well.
The run up Highway 17 was lovely – with stops in Deep River and Sudbury, as well as a lunch stop somewhere between Sudbury and the Soo. We just pulled into a snowplow turnaround for few minutes. Cleo woke up and had herself some lunch as well, but Chloe neither ate nor drank till we stopped for the day.

I took quite a few pictures of the early morning scenery - still water, blue sky and budding trees.

At some point, though, I had to stop because otherwise I’d have used up all my card space on very similar pics!

We arrived in the Soo around 3pm, stopped for gas then went to find our lodging for the night. I’d booked us a cottage at the Glenview Cottages and Campground (their trailer area isn’t open yet). By that point the cats were more than happy to be released from their cage. For at least the first hour they trotted about, looking at everything, then settled down for dinner and a nap. One they seemed comfortable, Sean and I took a little walk around the campground – out to the pond first, where they have a windmill that appears to be generating electricity for something (Sean thinks it might have been water pump of some sort). We then continued on to inspect where we would have stayed if the trailer section had been open – it looked really nice, but with the trees still not quite in leaf, things were a little bare.

Back in the cottage we found Battlestar Galactica on the tv, poured some wine and began dinner – a pouch dinner that we reconstituted – it was actually pretty good! We’d had them before while camping with the motorcycle, so knew basically what to expect.

By 10, after West Wing and L&O:CI, we were pretty exhausted and more than ready for bed. The cats weren’t quite so ready *g*, but around 11 they came to join us – at least for a while. They got up early and had some playtime, which, considering the long day on Monday, is a good thing. Chloe did, however, bring her red wool ball into bed with her – Sean found it there this morning when he woke up. She uses it half as a toy and half as a teddy bear – it’s quite adorable.

Day 2 – Sault Sainte Marie to Kenora
It’s now Monday morning around 10:10 and we’ve already been on the road for over four hours, with stops in Wawa to see the goose.

And White River to see Winnie the Pooh.

And pick up coffee and doughnuts (not our normal fare, but while on the road, comfort food is essential).

After their active night, the cats haven’t been too bad this morning. Chloe made a fuss for a while after we first set out, and again after our stop in White River, but overall they’ve been doing pretty well.

We’re heading for Kenora today and hope to make it there around 6pm. Of course, if the weather gets bad, we might have to stop earlier, but we’d really like to get this long day out of the way. We want to be in Saskatoon tomorrow night, so getting as close to Manitoba as possible today would be a good thing.

The road is a bit bumpy now, which isn’t making the cats too happy – guess it’s hard to sleep when their cage is bouncing about. We’ve tried to secure it as best we can and have lined it with one of their favourite blankets. Cleo slept much of the day yesterday, but she’s awake now and mewing a bit. It’s funny, cause she’s the one who is meowing the loudest, even though she’s still about 4lbs smaller than Chloe. Of course, maybe it’s the tunes they’re objecting to – Sean has fired up the CD player.

We’re just passing Marathon and now have under three hundred kms before we reach Thunder Bay, the next major centre and where we’ll probably break for lunch before pushing on for Kenora. That’s about another three hours past Thunder Bay. If we get that far, we’ll be camping for the night.

Though it means the girls will have less room to run around, it also means less back and forth from the camper, which made me nervous with the door opening so many times. I’m still a tad worried even in the camper, but I’ll just have to hang onto them when Sean goes out to turn off the propane after we’ve had dinner.

The road has smoothed out again a bit, though we’re now in a very twisty, turny, hilly section of the road. Makes for beautiful scenery!

There are lots of little lakes all along the highway and, despite the wind, some of them were glass still earlier on.

Well, here we are, just outside Ignace – with another two to three hours to go before Kenora. The kitties were getting restless, but after we stopped for a snack and I gave Chloe some Greenie treats, they’ve calmed down. We’ve noticed Cleo gets upset mostly when Chloe does. For most of the afternoon they slept cuddled together – very cute.

Outside Thunder Bay we stopped at the Terry Fox memorial to take pictures and use the facilities there.

It will be cool to post my own photos on my Terry Fox page (when it goes back up), instead of linking to them. While there I called my mum to give her an update – the cell service was great at the top of the hill!

The road here is much straighter and less hilly – something for which I’m grateful after the twisty highway up to Thunder Bay. I can’t say for now how much of the Rockies I’ll see as I’m scared of heights *vbg*, but that’s still a few days away.

It’s now started raining again. We had a bit of rain around Thunder Bay, but it had cleared up quite a bit over the last while. Then again, when Sean and my brother-in-law did this drive 8.5 years ago they had a lot more rain, so we’re counting ourself lucky. Now it just has to stay clear for our run through to Saskatoon tomorrow.

The good thing about this evening is that we crossed into the Central Time Zone, thus gaining a much needed hour. Even so, we might not leave quite so early tomorrow, knowing that we definitely have a warm welcome awaiting us no matter what time we get there. With Sean doing all the driving (he and I both prefer it that way), I want to be sure he’s well rested.

Chloe and Cleo are now fast asleep again - how adorable is that?

Aha – we’re now 186 kms out of Kenora! The light at the end of the tunnel!!! What a relief.

Oh, I forgot to mention the one bit of excitement we did have on the way to Thunder Bay. Just outside Terrace Bay, Sean rounded a corner going a tad too quickly – just in time for an OPP officer to clock his speed. Yep, you guessed it, we were pulled over and Sean was issued a ticket.

The officer was very nice about it and even apologized for having to pull him over! As Sean said "You shouldn’t be apologizing to me."

Since then, Sean has kept a closer eye on the speedometer and made use of the cruise control whenever possible.

Well, that’s about it for right now. If I’m feeling up for it, I’ll continue after dinner - but then again, maybe not. Cooking will be an adventure as Cleo is fascinated by the sound of boiling water and the last thing we need is her jumping onto the stove with a live flame. She did it at the house, but there’s far more room there to get her off and even then, she only did it twice. Maybe she’s learned her lesson from how quickly I snatched her up and dispatched her to the floor.

Day 3 – Kenora to Saskatoon

Well, here I am out on the prairie, just approaching Winnipeg. This morning’s start was a little later – we slept till 6 and left our campsite just before 7.

The drive into Kenora was longer than we’d hoped yesterday evening because of the rain. I have to admit, I was really relieved to see the sign for Anicinabe Park. We found a nice sight and set things up. Only catch was there was no A/C power and even though when the manager came round to register us he said he’d switch ours on, something never quite worked. Still we made do.

The girls were fascinated by a flock of gulls on the river bank – that kept them occupied while we cooked dinner. Cleo was on the bunk looking out, while Chloe perched on her cushion on top of the cage.

With dinner done, we settled in with a glass of wine and enjoyed some relaxation time, still hoping that maybe we’d get A/C power. By 9:30 it was clear we wouldn’t so we got ready to go to bed. Not that it was a hardship as we were exhausted after 13 hours on the road.

In the middle of the night we were woken by a) a kitten crawling all over us searching for somewhere to sleep and b) by a driving rain.

I had no idea rain could sound so loud, but when you’re 2 ft from it in metal camper, it’s pretty incredible. Cleo finally settled on me, half on my chest, so I lay awake for a while listening to the rain.

At last I drifted off and woke to see fog outside the camper, but no rain. With no A/C power, we couldn’t make coffee, so decided to just stop at Tim Horton’s on the way out of town. Chloe, being a smart cat, figured out she’d be caged up soon, so she burrowed into the sleeping bag. Despite her hope we’d not notice, we pulled her out, all warm and snuggly. Have to admit it was tempting just to leave her in there. If she stayed in the sleepng bag all day, she’d be pretty safe, but we’ve no way of knowing if she’d get up or not, so we decided just to bring her back into the truck with us.

The first hour or so was really foggy, slightly rainy. Nor did the terrain change much until we crossed the border into Manitoba – very hilly and windy. But the Lake of the Woods area is beautiful no matter the weather. I can understand why people have cottages there, though I’m not sure I could deal with the long drive very often.

Once we crossed the border, the weather cleared, the highway opened up into four lanes and the hills pretty much disappeared. Despite this, the kitties were still pretty restless, so we pulled over to get gas and give them some more Feline Greenies and some water. That settled them until the highway conditions worsened – we bumped back and forth as though we were driving on a washboard. Chloe and Cleo were NOT amused and put up quite a fuss till we pulled onto the ring road around Winnipeg. We’ve just now rejoined the main Trans-Canada where Sean tells me to expect the highway conditions to worsen again. Hopefully the kitties are deeply enough asleep at this point that they won’t notice. I believe our next stop will be in Portage la Prairie and from there it’s on to Regina. I’ll sign off for now and pick up again later.

It’s now 4:30 and we’re on the road to Saskatoon – about 2 hours out now. We stopped in Portage for gas, then it was on to Brandon where we had lunch (sandwiches from Tim Horton’s). From there we started the seemingly eternal journey to Regina, where we turned north for Saskatoon. It doesn’t look very far on the map from Brandon to Regina, but apparently it takes longer than one might think. The Yellowhead Highway through Yorkton from Portage was our other option, but we had no idea if it was under construction or not. Also it is a two-lane highway, whereas sticking to Highway 1, we knew it would be a four-lane divided most of the way.

Also, taking the route we did meant Sean could show me Wolsley, Saskatchewan where his car broke down about 20 years ago. He and his travelling companions, friends from university, had to stay in Wolsely for a night while the shop to which he took the car had the part for his old Volvo wagon trucked in from Regina.

Below are photographs of the hotel in which they stayed and the spot where the car actually went kaput.

The weather has been on and off – sometimes sunny and sometimes rainy. All around me now, for as far as I can see, is the prairie under darkish clouds, though the sun is breaking through in a few spots. The road is fairly straight and, at least for now, in pretty good condition.

For the last few hours the cats have been asleep, though they did wake up in Brandon when Sean offered them ham from his sandwich *g*. I think they’ve figured out that the easiest way to get through this is just to drift off to dreamland.

Part of me would like to sleep as well, but I really want to keep Sean proper company AND avoid the inevitable insomnia that would result from me napping during the day. So instead we’ve listened to music, chatted and are now listening to Saskatchewan’s CBC drive-home show.

I have to admit I’ll be glad to get to my sister’s tonight and have a few days break from all the driving. Of course, it’s supposed to be cold here for at least the next couple of days, though we’re hoping it will improve enough for us to go to the zoo (I think I mentioned that in an earlier post). But tomorrow evening we’re going to watch our older nephew play soccer. Following in his grandfather and mother’s footsteps, he’s quite talented at the game. We’ve heard him talk about soccer a lot, so it will be fun to finally see him play.

We just passed the sign saying we’re 182 kms from Saskatoon! Yay!! It’s such a pretty city. The last two times we’ve been there it’s been winter, so I’m looking forward to seeing it green again 

Hmm, well that’s it again for now. Will report more as it happens!

Once again it’s started to rain during the last 1.5 hours of our drive! We’re now passing through Dundurn – not sure yet how much further, though I think it’s about half an hour. Wait, here comes the sign – 41 kms!

My sister won’t be there when we arrive, having taken our nephews to their year end cubs celebration, but our b-i-l will be at home with our niece (she’s three).

One thing I forgot to mention earlier – almost all the rest stops we’ve passed over the last three days have been closed! It’s been very annoying, considering how lovely some of them look. At Broadview, Sean and I pulled right up to the gate of their rest area/campground:

It’s STILL raining. Sheesh. Then again, in the south west corner of the province, it’s snowing, so I shouldn’t complain. Had we not diverted up to Saskatoon we’d have been caught in all the bad weather tomorrow.

We’ve now been on the road for 12 hours today. And the kitties are still being good – fast asleep back there in their cage. We’ll give them a big dinner to make up for all this – but I do realize that if we had given them the drugs, they’d also be going without food and water for hours as well. And there is both in the cage with the. I think Cleo might have had at least one drink and it’s possible Chloe did too.

We’re getting into a slightly hillier section of the prairies now. I remember that from a couple of years ago when we went hiking at Beaver Creek. In fact, I’d forgotten we’d been here in Oct 04, so have seen Saskatoon green *g*.

Anyway, at this point I’m just babbling aimlessly, so I’ll quit before everyones’ eyes start to glaze over *vbg*.

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