Friday, June 17, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We have been home now for 24 hours and have managed to get most of the washes through, the car cleaned out and our stuff put away. The kids were off to school this morning, and actually both were happy to be going.

We won't see much of them this weekend since both have already made plans to hang out at friends' houses. After being with them every day for 7 weeks we're not complaining!

We loved our trip and were so glad to have seen so many family and friends along the way. It's a trip that we will be reminiscing about for a long time.

Thanks for following!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

NB Bound

Matt and Nancy live 5 minutes outside of town in a great house with a huge yard. We enjoyed some Quebec pizza for supper and then went to watch Liam (6) and Chelsea (9) play soccer.

We then checked out the football field at Bishop’s and drove past the place where Tom lived when I first use to go to Bishop’s to visit him – ah, the good old days!

Alex slept in Liam’s room and Kathleen slept in with Chelsea. The kids had a good time together and the girls were heard chatting until 11pm and then again at 6am.

Thanks so much for putting us up guys. Hopefully we'll see you in the summer.

Before leaving town we had to make a stop for some Quebec poutine. It was a bit early for it, but it was still yummy.

We are heading to Fredericton and should be there in 6.5 hours. Everyone is getting anxious to see NB.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Monday morning we planned to leave Brampton and get to Ottawa by evening, with a stop at the Toronto Zoo along the way. The zoo was super. Highlights were the orangutans, giraffes, penguins and a grizzly bear who was having a blast playing with a big ball in a pool.

Due to heavy rains and construction, the drive was very slow and we only made it as far as Kingston and then pulled into a hotel for the night. Of course we spent the evening watching the hockey game. We then decided that we would skip Ottawa and head for Lennoxville the next day. The kids are starting to get homesick. They are both anxious to get home to Maya and their friends. I guess we’ll be sending them on the grade 8 trip to Ottawa.

The trip from Kingston to Lennoxville is about 5 hours. We decided to break it up with a stop to the IKEA store in Montreal. We’ve driven by so many that it was time to stop and check one out. It was worth the stop. The car is packed pretty full, but I was able to find a few little things that we could fit in. The drive through Montreal was a bit hectic, which I guess is normal. We are on the road to Matt and Nancy’s house now and this evening we will take a look around Bishop’s campus and hit a few of Tom’s favourite old spots.

Brampton and Toronto

Wednesday evening we had a great time at the McCarthy’s in Brampton. Jim and Carolyn, Mike, Becky and baby Grady, Jane and Stephanie were all there for the evening as well. We had a delicious supper and enjoyed catching up with everyone. The kids watched game4 and kept us updated as we depleted Jim’s Red Wine reserves.

Thursday, once we could pull ourselves out of the comfy bed, we were off to Niagara Falls, which is about an hour and a half from Brampton.

We took the Journey behind the Falls and got quite wet from the spray on the lookout deck. It was a nice sunny day and so there was a beautiful bright rainbow over the Falls.

Here’s a piece of Niagara Falls trivia that has stuck with us – the only person to survive an unintentional trip over the Falls was a 7 year old boy in 1960, after a boating accident. He was pulled out by the Maid of the Mist at the base of the Falls and was said to be fine. Yikes!

From Niagara, we went into the city to stay with Mike, Becky and Grady for a few nights. We hit the CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, a Blue Jays game and the Ontario Science Centre. We had a great visit with them. Thanks to Mike and Becky for feeding us so well, helping us navigate city transit, organizing the Blue Jays outing and just being great hosts.

Sunday morning we decided to hit the Ontario Science Centre. We spent 5 hours exploring the place but definitely were not able to cover all of it in that time. It's a great spot.

Sunday evening we went back to Brampton for the night. In addition to the crew who had been there on Wednesday, Carrie, Lindsay and Brendan were there as well. The 5 kids had a nice swim in the well heated pool and were even treated to warm towels when they got out – Nana and Papa provide excellent service!

After another great meal, we had a fire outside and roasted marshmallows and made smores. None of the kids had school the next day so were able to spend the night. It was nice for the kids to meet each other and get to spend some time getting to know one another - new Facebook friends! We so appreciated the McCarthy’s hospitality, they were all very warm and welcoming.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Push East

We haven’t done much over the past few days but drive, set up camp, sleep, tear down camp and get back on the road. On Saturday, we went as far as Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. We were pleasantly surprised with the Saskatchewan landscape. It is not perfectly flat, at least not along the trans-Canada. It has some soft rolls, fields of green, farmlands, a few trees from time to time –we thought that it was nice. Around 8:00, we found a small, cheap campground which was great until we realized it was right next to the train tracks. We can’t seem to get away from the trains!

From Qu’Appelle, which is 50km east of Regina, we went to West Hawk Lake, which is just inside the Manitoba/Ontario border. We found a nice provincial campground on the lake and had a good night. There were a few white tail deer around who were very tame and came right up to Alex. He tried feeding them dandelions, which one did take from his hand but then spat out.

The rain started in the evening along with some thunder and lightning but we had the tarp up over the fire pit so we kept cozy by the fire and enjoyed the storm for awhile before turning in.

Monday morning we crossed into Ontario. By Wednesday evening we will have reached our destination in the province, Brampton (Tom’s university buddy Mike McCarthy’s parents’ home). In between we camped at Kakabeka Falls (a provincial park just West of Thunder Bay). The falls were quite impressive as was the price of a provincial campsite in Ontario! We visited the Terry Fox Scenic Lookout, where Kathleen filmed a BTV segment.

We camped at a KOA in Sault Ste. Marie where again we had thunder and lightning, but this time it was in the morning and right over our heads. The noise woke us at 6:00 so we decided to get up and get an early start.

The kids are now sleeping in the car which surprisingly is the first time they have slept while we’ve been traveling.They have been great travellers, keeping themselves busy during the long drives.

Northern Ontario certainly is big – as is Lake Superior, but the trees and lakes are pretty so we haven’t really minded the drive. Hopefully we will be at the McCarthy’s house before the puck drops for game 4.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Calgary to Coaldale is about a 3 hour drive, but it took us a bit longer because we had to find a post office along the way. Not long after we had gotten on the road, Alex got the call that he had won the silent auction – the hockey cards were his. We made arrangements to send the money to Tim’s along with a self addressed envelope so that they could send the cards home to him. He’s very happy to get the cards, however the $20 bid turned into a $45 expense with all the shipping expenses. We arrived in Coaldale, which is a community of about 6000, 15 km outside of Lethbridge, in the late afternoon. My aunt and uncle, Judy and Doug, live on Fairway drive, right on the edge of a golf course. That evening, after a nice supper, we visited and made some plans for the next day. It was Doug’s birthday so their friends, Jerry and Verta, dropped by to have a drink. Doug’s sister, Jean, was also there for the evening. The kids kept themselves busy between visiting and playing ping-pong and pool in the basement. The next morning, we took Doug and Judy’s car, (our car was at the garage to see if the air conditioning could be fixed – not at that price!) to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. It is a National Historic site where up to 9000 years ago, natives were herding Bison in such a way that they forced them off of cliffs where they fell to their death. The Interpretive Centre had a good film of a re-enactment of such a Buffalo Hunt. We enjoyed the site.

Next, we continued west and crossed over Oldman River Dam, which provides irrigation for much of Southern Alberta’s farmlands. Frank Slide was our next stop. In the early 1900, the small mining town suffered a disastrous slide, the upper part of the mountain gave way and tons of rock came down upon the town. The piles of rock that remain at the base of the mountain, on both sides of the road are incredible.

We then decided that it was time to head back to Judy and Doug’s, since it was a couple of hours away. That evening, after another delicious meal, we worked on the blog and had quite a few games of pool and ping-pong. The kids also got to drive Judy and Doug’s golf cart around the neighbourhood, which was a hit!
The next morning Alex helped work the garage sale that they were having and then we checked out some of the other sales in the neighbourhood.
We started our way east around noon and decided to get some miles behind us in the next few days. Thanks Judy and Doug for opening up your home and fridge to us!


Wednesday morning we left the “Badlands” and headed for Calgary. We made a Tim Horton’s stop along the way, where Alex made a silent auction bid on a stack of hockey cards which were part of a Camp Day fundraiser. He was hoping that he would win the cards valued at $150 with his $20 bid. Once fed, we continued on our way, stopping at a Mall in Calgary before arriving at Cathy’s.

Kathleen and Alex had a great time with their second cousins, Kate and Ben. Kathleen and Kate chatted, giggled, texted Kathleen’s friends and snuggled in front of the TV, while Alex and Ben had a quick soccer game in the park across the street and played hockey in the garage. Of course we all watched the hockey game and were glad that Ben’s favourite team won 1 - 0. Cathy made a delicious meal featuring Alberta Beef and a great apple crisp. My dessert had a candle in it to celebrate my first anniversary of being 40 – a great way to count birthdays this decade – thanks Cathy. The next morning Ben and Kate were off to school before we were up, but left a couple of nice goodbye messages on their macbook. We hit the road shortly before noon and headed for Coaldale.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


We arrived in Drumheller late and grabbed the first campsite we saw convieniently located right beside a Fountain Tire store.

In the morning he went into town to the visitor info building and the site of the largest dinosaur in the world. We climbed to the top and then planned out our day over lunch.
We decided to go to The Royal Tyrell Museum first. What a spot! It was an endless display of bones, fossils and interactive booths. It followed time from 300 million years ago until today. We were there for 2-3 hours then hit the go-karts. I thought Alex would be my toughest challenge but it turned out that Kathleen drives like a pro and I had trouble getting by her.
We then drove a loop that followed both sides of the Red Deer River valley and continued to our next campsite near the Hoodoos.

The next day we went to Reptile World and saw many snakes, frogs, lizards, crocs, alligators, etc. Alex and I got to hold a boa constrictor as there was a grade 7 class there for a tour.
We then relaxed at the campground and visited the Hoodoos after supper. They are sandstone pillars carved out by water and wind erosion. We had fun climbing and exploring the area and even dug into the coal seams and found some chunks of coal.

In the morning we packed up and headed for Calgary to visit Nat's cousin Cathy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Visits in Edmonton and Red Deer

We made it back to Edmonton to visit Justin (Nat's cousin), his wife Sonia and their two wonderful kids, Ceili (soon to be 7) and Anthony (4). It was nice to get to know them better as we don't get to see them very often. Ours kids really enjoyed the younger ones and they had fun together playing hockey, soccer, Xbox and drawing on the sidewalk with chalk.

The adults talked of old times and caught up on the goings on of parents, brothers and sisters. Justin was laid up with a bad back and we hope he feels better by now. Just a reminder that we aren't getting any younger!
From Edmonton we went to Red Deer to look up my cousin Heather. We connected with her eventually at around 6pm. I haven't seen her in over 10 years so it was great to talk with her again. She hasn't changed a bit. She's now 51 but looks as stunning as ever and she is busy with her dog grooming and border business.
Her son, Cale, is now a mechanical engineer near Edmonton and her daughter Farren is running a photography business. We cut our visit a bit short as we planned on being in Drumheller that night.
On to the dinosaur valley!