Archive for the ‘2008-05 to 06, North America’ Category

Twentieth Anniversary Trip to Mexico!

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Here’s the first real “travel” post in quite some time…

We popped down to Mexico for a very brief week on a shitload of points to celebrate our twentieth anniversary. Here’s a couple of pics from our snorkeling mask cameras on our first afternoon after flying all night across the continent:

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Links to Christmas 2009 Newsletter and Video’s

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

We’re really bummed because our annual Family Photo Christmas Card seems has been lost by Canada Post!!! It’s been over 2 weeks and no cards. Usually we have our Christmas Cards and Newsletter mailled out by now. So for all those who can’t wait we decided we should post them up on our family weblog!

christmas_news_2009.pdf

As mentioned in the newsletter, during our holidays in Dawson City, we were filmed by the Canadian Tourism Commission, so here is the video we partly starred in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwODnynTnt8

Funny enough when we got back home to Fort Smith, the same film crew was here filming kayaking on the Slave River, so here is two video that show some local flavour and, our amazing world class rapids.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTE5vEcOwJU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDiQXnKaxUw

And here’s another couple videos from different groups, of the rapids. Really amazing…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vD8HfXuWJtY

http://fskayak.webs.com/apps/videos/videos/view/5047477-jacqui-s-slave-river-2009

Slave River 2009 from Jacqui Whitehead on Vimeo.

Updates

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

While I had done some extensive catching up a few weeks ago (finally), I seem to have gotten quite behind again. The one main contribution I made in the last two weeks was a brief main page blurb about the very original inspiration for this trip in my mind. You can see that “Inspiration” link on the left near the top, or click to it from this link below:


http://weblog.jamesworld.ca/trip-inspiration/

Officially today we have rounded off our trip of eleven months around the world with our return to Edmonton. While we had left home on July 31, 2007 driving South, our first flight segment departed Edmonton on August 9. It’s been completely amazing and I will continue with finishing up a few posts (backdated of course) describing our experiences and visits throughout Western Canada. While we all breathed a little sigh of relief and satisfaction on returning to Oilberta, it is also not with just a little sadness that we conclude our Grand Adventure. Now it’s time to pay off some debts and start saving and planning for our next one.

WAHOO!

Northern British Columbia

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

While we were all a wee bit weary of road travel, we soldiered on. It was still very enjoyable to meet and reconnect with various friends along the way. From Vancouver Island we headed straight North to Kamloops. Originally we had planned on meeting up with my brother Jeff’s family camping at Barkerville in Northern B.C., but a more thorough look at the map quickly derailed those plans. Similar to getting to Cairns (or even our loftier goal of Bill & Linda’s in Darwin) in Australia, this thought proved to be just too many kilometers in too short a time period. I looked up a friend I had worked with at Diavik who lived in Kamloops. When I was first talking about the trip a few years ago, he extended the invite to stay a night or two. And so Rob and his family welcomed us all with huge open arms for supper and a swim at their neighbor’s pool. That was particularly refreshing and wonderful considering the extreme heat. We hadn’t encountered such conditions at all except for Egypt on pretty much the rest of the trip. Luckily we had planned to hit most other hot countries during their colder (+25ish) seasons.

The other terrible thing about the Kamloops area was the massive devastation of the pine beatle. Well over three quarters of the area forests were the stark burgundy of dead needles. Worse though, is that with global warming, these pests are moving steadily North and wiping out everything in their path. If that alone isn’t terrible enough, the extreme danger of forest fires sweeping through these heavily populated valleys is an even larger concern by all. I’d have nightmare’s if I lived there for sure! It was also about this time that we finally watched Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. Even more ammunition for those afore-mentioned nightmares. It really does seem overwhelming! Until the politicians get out of the back pocket of utility companies and car manufacturers, there seems little hope of genuine development of reasonable alternatives. Sadly we just all need to choke it back, and take a hit to the economy before any sort of reasonable progress can be made. Time will tell…

After a great night in Kamloops we headed back South to Kelowna. We were staying at Jeff & Jo’s house while they were away, but managed to spend the afternoon and supper with my youngest Aunt, Reola. She had a great condo with a pool that the kids thoroughly enjoyed, and even better was the fact that her son was visiting. I hadn’t seen him since before we had moved North, so we all had a great visit catching up. I also finished showing her and Josh how to manage their domain registration and hosting accounts. She had designed most of her own web page for a commercial project and was getting supremely hosed by a local company who were maintaining it to the tune of about $1,200! That was the equivalent of about $90/year that I set her up with, and two hours (absolute tops) of work they had done setting up and transferring files. Crazy what people will stoop to get away with if the poor customer doesn’t know any better.

That night we went the Artiss’ home and marveled at the incredible garage they have. All the toys a guy could ever want, and then some. Wow! They showed up in the gas guzzling behemoth that is their cozy but older motorhome the next afternoon and we had a wonderful night visiting together. We even shared another bottle of the Strawberry chocolate wine in our cross Canada efforts of exposing everyone possible to Rush Creek Wines in Southern Ontario. This proved very “fruitful” (pun intended of course) for rush Creek as Jeff & Jo and another couple of friends later ordered a few dozen bottles. That’s pretty amazing, I figured, coming from residents of the Okanagan Valley.

The next day we headed back to Kamloops for another few nights, but this time with Uncle Steve and Aunt Helena, (my dad’s youngest brother). We had stayed with them our last time through the area several years previously and it was also great to catch up. They were empty nesters now, with a big house high in the hills and a very “sportly” equipped garage. We did even more relaxing and visiting while Auntie Helena cooked a great lasagna. It was naturally fabulous but Luke was particularly thrilled as he hadn’t had any in quite a while. Friends of ours from Smith, the Gauthiers, had planned on staying the same two nights in Kelowna on their way South to Vanc. Island for their family vacation. With a huge landslide on one highway, they were extensively delayed, but still showed up for some re-heated lasagna before heading to their hotel. I had booked a mine tour for the eight of us the next day at Highland Valley Copper pretty early so we crashed shortly after.

The hour drive out showed valley after valley of more dead coniferous forests. Still an incredibly sad sight. Speaking of raping and pillaging the earth, the mine was one of the largest open pit operations in Canada. Very incredible to see. There were a few good photo-ops and the eight of us were the only ones on the tour. After a great day wandering around Kelowna we headed East to Cowtown (and, sadly, even closer to home) the next morning.

Southern British Columbia

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

After a refreshing but quick visit with Grandpa James & Grandma Dianne in Lethbridge for the night, we continued West into BC. Pete was a very welcome addition to our traveling party, and found some “spots” to lay claim to in the car. He rotated every so often among them, but didn’t seem to quite get the same captivated attention from watching Hogan’s Hero’s that the kids and I did. We were following the GPS through Trail and up the hill a little ways to Rossland. Mike & Michelle Tanguay had lived in Fort Smith for several years before we arrived, but moved South a few years back. Mike had long worked at the neighboring mine to Diavik, but now worked locally to Rossland while Michelle flew up to the Arctic for three week on, three week off shifts. Sadly, Michelle would be gone working during our single night stay there. We had a spectacular visit with Mike, Logan and Lilly though. With a few steaks cooking we all got caught up on things and shared computer ideas while the kids ran around outside and explored the neighborhood a bit.

While we had the option to stay two nights in Rossland, we decided to continue on to Vancouver Island and try and spend the night with parents of some other neighbors of ours from Fort Smith. The (only slightly) senior Keizers come up to Smith once a year it seems and we have come to know them fairly well. They have a spectacularly large house (for empty nester’s that is) just outside of Victoria in Esquimalt. Deer and all sorts of other wildlife frequent their backyard forest which backs on to the Canadian navy base. The next morning after wolfing down some huge homemade waffles, we hit the road for the couple hour trip to Ladysmith, just outside of Nanaimo.

While there were several possible tourist stops along the way, we were only up for one viewing point balcony overlooking the inside coast. It was higher up and gave a rather nice view of the coastline and all the stunningly green islands. We quickly concluded that the pine beetle can’t swim in salt water… There were fruit stands galore on the side of the highway, and we made it to Ladysmith in quick time without too many stops. We settled in for lunch with Dad & Janet after some hugs all around. It was nice to spend a few days relaxing, visiting and just generally catching up. We arranged an evening picnic in a Nanaimo park to visit with any James relatives on the Island who could join us. That was a blast, and after even more hugs all around we sat and ate, and even tossed the frisbee around a bit. It was wonderful seeing so many James relatives that we hadn’t talked to in several years (since the last time we came out to the island, now that I think about it; Hmmmm…) and swapping stories (all true!) about Grandpa James. We had originally planned on touring the island a bit and hoped to go to the West Coast of the Island and up North a ways past Campbell River a bit. Due to time these extra options went the way of the dodo, a visit to crazy Horse and a “leisurely trip across the country”. Perhaps next time, in a few years, once these bills are paid WAY down.

We departed after less than a week on Vancouver Island, heading North towards Kamloops & Kelowna. We didn’t even bother stopping in Vancouver at all, and just trucked on through. Vancouver traffic is CRAZY! But still not as bad as Montreal or Toronto I sadly have to admit, (Or Hanoi, Vietnam for that matter). Still, I have no idea how people can possibly live in such concrete jungle conditions…

Fulfilling a dream!

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Part of my expectations for our adventures was to drive across Canada, as I believe as Canadians we need to get to know our neighbours. I have always been amazed at how much Canadians (in general) will spend to visit other countries but have never been 2 provinces over from where they live. Therefore if we were going to drag our kids around the world, I thought it our duty to make sure they had been everywhere in Canada.

So I can now finally say that 9,600 KM later, we have crossed 9 provinces (we were in PEI 4 years ago, and lived in what is now Nunavut 96-99) and traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Rick and the kids will still need to go to the Yukon, but I can now officially say I’ve been everywhere in Canada, fulfilling a life long dream.

Prairie Provinces

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

The drive across the prairies was nice. Well, it was OK; they’re pretty cool to see once, but a half an hour later… Ugh! We drove from the Cook’s in Thunder Bay and traveled to the other side of Winterpeg to get a hotel room on the side of the road in order to get a quick start the next morning. A little ways past Regina we stopped for the night at Dale & Brian’s home in Morse. Dale had lived in Taloyoak (a small Inuit community on the Arctic Ocean) during the same time we had before we left in 1998. Dale had run the craft co-op there and it was really great to see her again and catch up, as well as finally getting to meet her husband. We had purchased a few groceries to carry from one friend’s house to another. Mainly, we had a few boxes of cereal but I had also grabbed a large package (of several boxes) of microwavable KD. Luke brought this entire thing into their house to cook a couple of the small boxes up to go with the burgers for supper. They were good, but the next evening in Lethbridge I received an e-mail asking me to pass on a message to Luke from Brian. It was quite brief and simple, yet my poor son screamed in abject horror when I read it aloud to everyone, “Tell Luke that Brian says thanks for the rest of the Kraft Dinner he left behind”.

The next day (a Saturday, for those keeping track…) we continued on to Lethbridge for a surprise meeting with my Dad and his wife Dianne. They had scooped Pete (our pet Jack Russle Terrier) that morning from my Mom’s house and were going to stay the night before heading back home then next day while we continued Westward to Trail BC. It was unfortunate we weren’t able to meet up with them anywhere else in our year of travels, but it was still great finally meeting up with them now. We met in a park where unfortunately the kids recognized Grandpa’s well labeled “Truckers Toybox ” van before even seeing them. Pete was still a pretty good surprise though and their was much joy. After we caught up and enjoyed a good nights rest, it was time to ramble on.

Northwestern Ontario

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

We finally arrived in Sault St. Marie and after crossing the border (with almost thirty bottles of wine and a one gallon jug of hooch) we arrived to the Waters’ home just in time for supper. They put on a great meal (man, we were really getting lucky that way with the generosity of friends along the way!) and we visited late while catching up on each others lives. Time and Emily went on a school field trip down into the States the next morning. With the school year almost finished Laura had no qualms about keeping Maggie home for the morning while we packed up and the three kids ran around and played outside. I was great to see the Water’s family again, and we visited and shared lotsa stories, many that only Northerners could understand.

To get to our next stop was an interesting drive all along the Lake Superior shore. Thunder Bay has always had a very Northern “feel” to it. Even though I’ve never been there before, just the way everyone talks about it gives that strong impression. The blackflys in the area also probably help out a bit too with such an allusion. I enjoy confirming these loose assumptions about Thunder Bay with people we meet. Most tend to agree that that is indeed their opinion of Thunder Bay. The interesting part is that Thunder Bay is below the forty-ninth parallel. This means that it is at a lesser latitude (or “height” up the globe from the equator) than all of Western Canada. That’s a pretty wild thought for most people.

The Canadian family we had met up with in Thailand recently moved here, and so we stayed with the Cook’s. We had rented an apartment next to them on Phuket Island with the shared swimming pool. It was pretty cool to to see Phil & Joy again, and our kids immediately set out to the trampoline to join Kyla & Josh working off some energy. Phil had a magnificent roast on the BBQ and we sat around and caught up for the rest of the evening. It turns out that as much as they enjoyed living and working in Thailand, the company there had proved unreliable and so they returned to Canada. The next morning, the kids stayed home from school to fool around with Alex and Luke for a couple of hours while we leisurely packed up. After a huge breakfast we said our goodbyes and departed on to Winterpeg.

Last Time Through the States

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

The border crossing from Sarnia into the U.S was pretty uneventful. Well, except for Claudette being oblivious to the stop signs in the lineup. The guy gave her a pretty harsh-toned lecture on paying much better attention in the future. He also explained that all of the posts sticking out of the ground on the sides were a battery of sensors which could detect explosives and/or nuclear devices.

The road north through the U.S. was pretty decent and twinned most of the way. With a speed limit of seventy miles per hour, we made pretty good time. The two huge bridges across the Great Lakes Ship transportation routes offered a far reaching view of the vast surrounding area. It is funny to see many odd signs around the world. Twenty miles out of Flint was another good one. It said: PRISON AREA: DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS. Actually, there were no less than four of these signs along that three and a half hour stretch North to the Canadiann border. That sounds like a whole lot of prisons!

Our GPS has been nothing short of reliable. Same with the three previous models we had rented or used in Australia and throughout Europe. We started having problems with it half way up the State of Michigan though. The distance to go was quite a bit out on the GPS compared to the road signs… After scratching our heads for a couple hours and gave up. Then it hit Claudette when she saw a speed limit sign of 70 that everything here (including the distance signs) were labeled in imperial measurements. It turns out that we had forgotten that imperial distances on signs would be smaller numbers than the metric settings in our GPS.

This was our last time going into or through the States for this entire trip. This means that even though Claudette had assured me we could go to Crazy Horse, she never really wanted to. It would have been an extra couple of days, and we were having to cut stays and visits in many other areas so it was only fair for me to have to give this desire up, (along with a stay at my Aunt & Uncles on Vancouver Island and Claudette’s long awaited visit to Euclulet). I was also enormously tempted to try and go through Detroit so we could go to the Motown museum for a few hours. I didn’t even try and bring this up with Claudette, since we were so short on time to get across the country and she has only a passing interest in music. The profound impact of Motown and the many talented singers and bands it represented on modern music is something I would LOVE to have explored. Perhaps another time… Instead we stayed a little North of Windsor and crossed the border their on our way to Flint (Michael Moore’s hometown) and then North.

Southwestern Ontario

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

We stayed at a friends parents house in the sweet little town of Aylmer. Actually it was a little in the Countryside near Aylmer. And it was a VERY nice, picturesque spot indeed. A little river ran adjacent to their property and Wayne had every conceivable “device” I would ever have expected to see on an acreage. Not only was there a nice floating dock and a few boats, but there was a large multi-story treehouse, various kids playground toys and most impressive of all there were several large wind down bird condo’s. These were on tall poles but had a hand winch at the base so that the condo complex could be brought down to open up the houses and see inside. Very impressive! Still not as impressive as the back room. There was an electrical and other “stuff” contraption that was very elaborate, but unfortunately must remain nameless.

Just a few hours to the Southwest was Point Pelee National Park. This is a long narrow marsh and sand point stretching out into Lake Erie. It is not only a beautiful spot, but is the most Southern Point in Canada. It is well below the latitude of the North border of the State of California. The most interesting part (to me) is that there used to be over 300 lots with cottages all down the point forty years ago, but Parks Canada bought and moved them all out. We were hoping to wade out on the point a little further South than friends from Smith had two years previously, but the Gods were not with us today. It was a pretty windy day, and the entire point of sand was blown under water, up to where large rocks were placed. It was still a pretty cool experience though and we went swimming a little ways North where the currents weren’t so dangerous.

In the area of Aylmer were tonnes and tonnes of crops. This was previously the area of Canada where about 75% of the tobacco crops were grown before all operations were moved to Mexico a decade ago. Being so far South, it is some of the best growing land available in Canada. Even pretty good for grapes and other fruits. Rush Creek Winery is just a kilometer away from Wayne an Jackie’s place. We had wanted to take a tour, but missed the closing time on our first two nights in the area. Instead we only had the chance to swing by at 9:00 AM on the day we were heading North to Sault St. Marie to continue our journey across Canada. The lady was a little surprised that we couldn’t go through the whole relaxing wine tasting routine, but just wanted to buy some and get going. Tim & Jo had shared a bottle of DECADENCE (an incredible Strawberry Chocolate concoction) with us at the very start of our trip in August when we met up. So we bought a case of that and then twelve assorted bottles of most of their other other types. We’ll slowly throughout the next several months open them and experiment with our taste buds. If any of you are ever within a couple hours drive of London, Ontario, then a visit to the winery is highly recommended. Check it out at: http://www.rushcreekwines.com

Ottawa

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Back a few months ago we had arranged to meet with our MP in Ottawa and get a personal tour of the Parliament before getting to watch him in action during a question period. Unfortunately due to our car arrival screw-ups, Dennis had to leave Ottawa a couple of days before we were able to arrive. Luckily he arranged with his assistant Joy (also a former Smith resident) to sign us in and give us a quick tour. This included going up to Peace Tower, all alone up the elevator and then all by ourselves up top checking out the views in every direction. It was a great tour until we attended question period of course. The intensity and degree of heckling was questionable at best, and downright astounding and unacceptable at worst. Still, it was pretty interesting to see. The library was certainly the most beautiful and opulent room we saw in the House of Commons. The public are only allowed to enter and stay behind a roped off area to stare in awe at the splendor…

The McBride family wonderfully set us up here with a great place to stay with some friends of theirs for our three nights in Ottawa. The Mills family had a nice home near Carleton University and were awesome hosts. We spent our first full day in town at Parliament and then wandering around downtown a bit. We headed North that evening to visit some old friends from Smith who had moved to the bedroom community New Gower. Claude & Esther had a great property here with a swimming pool and a couple acres of grass for the boys to run around on. We had a great BBQ and caught up on each others lives. Before departing we agreed to meet up at the laser tag place in Ottawa the next day. None of us James’ had ever played laser tag before so we were looking forward to it. Only three quarters of us played with the three Doucette boys, but we all had a blast! At eight bucks per person for a twenty minute game, I thought that it was somewhat reasonable but not too often of course. When you hit a target that any other player is wearing, your information is transmitted so their pack registers who gets credit for the hit. Once you are hit, your weapon and pack powers down for five seconds. At the end of the game, everyone is scored and ranked according to how many hits they got and received. It was a pretty fun time!

Our next laser tag booking wasn’t for a couple of hours so we headed to the National Science and Technology Museum. This a HUGE building, with all sorts of incredible displays and some very impressive, (and large) historically significant machines for the viewing and touching fascination of the public. They even had four original steam trains and a couple of regular cars set up within the building! There was far too much to see before we were due back for our second laser tag games, but luckily our tickets would allow us back in to the museum after another round of laser tag. The Mills dropped off their daughter, Nicole, to join us for the afternoon of shooting as well. After the second game we resumed touring the Science museum until almost closing time, before heading back to the Mills for a scrumptious Turkey Dinner. After a last evening of visiting with the Mills, it was time to turn in and prepare for our drive the next day.

Situational Elitism

Friday, June 13th, 2008

I discovered here in Quebec City that the Act Of Quebec signed in 1774 seems to be the route of our slightly messed up country. This wonderful little piece of legislation gave the entire area (now “Province”) to France for their own settlers. This was after the French had been generally tossed out of governing or generally “owning” any portions of the country. Such a huge and valuable area was given up only because the English were afraid of an invasion (and rightly so it turned out) from the Americans to the South. Now, 135 years later we are still paying dearly for some bureaucrat’s generous decision to give up an enormous chunk of very valuable land and all of the “distinctness” that came with that.

If only that negotiating team could see today what they have done; transfer payments that are the most lopsided of any province, seperate “federal” laws from the rest of Canada, and a constant whining for formal recognition from every other citizen in Canada of their Society being “distinct” within our extensive and very diverse magnificent country. This smacks of such elitism when every other area of Canada is so uniquely distinct from almost every other region or area. Comparing a Cape Breton Fisherman to a Saskatchewan Farmer. Neither would compare to a Quebec provincial bureaucrat who is ingrained with the “gimme, gimme, screw everyone else who needs it more than me” philosophy of life.

I really can’t fathom how any single citizen or group of citizens is/are any more distinct than any other individual or group. We met many residents who were wonderful and friendly, but until the CANADIAN citizens of Quebec start thinking this way of themselves (and electing some party other than Bloq) the rest of us should remain uneasy and rather offended.

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As a parting thought (and in all fairness) I should also add this little point about the three Northern Territories. While Quebec’s transfer payments are unbalanced and the whining rate excessive, the second largest federal budget is DIAND. Granted, we don’t whine “too” much, but if Southern Canadians really knew how their hard earned tax dollars were spent on “Indian & Northern Affairs” there would be mass riots in the streets. That would constitute a whole other post, (and probably not on this blog).

Quebec City

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

When looking at hotels here Claudette didn’t even bother looking outside of the “Old City”. Since we were going to pay for a hotel anyways, we figured why not pay the extra $20/night (roughly) premium to stay within walking distance of everything we wanted to see and do. The only problem with this was that parking was about three blocks away in an underground parcade. We had transferred all of our clothes and “daily need” things into just one suitcase which made it handy in that we could just leave the other three bags in the car. The whole experience here quickly immersed us back into Europe where the roads are small, hotel rooms dingy and sidewalk restaurants plentiful.

On our free day we started with a citael guided tour and made plans for a City walking tour at 2:00 that afternoon. The citadel is a working Canadian Military base and home of the Van-Doos. It was a pretty interesting tour and the fort had a broad, commanding view of the St. Lawrence Seaway. After a bite to eat we lined up for our scheduled walking tour. This was officially put on by Canada Heritage, so we used our season pass yet again for a discount. We were together with a mid fifties Kiwi couple, and an older couple from Toronto. We were supposed to take around ninety minutes all total but after the first fifteen minutes it started raining. It looked like it would be a hard rain, but probably not too long. As the downpour started, we were asked by the guide if anyone wanted to continue in the rain. The older couple were incredulous that such a option would even be presente. Both of the New Zealanders said sure, and the James’ proclaimed a resounding “Yes!”. For those who weren’t sure, I announced that I’d heard that skin was waterproof. The Kiwi lady quickly changed her mind and dropped out. While the older couple were waiting for the guide to dig their ticket stubs out of his pocket, I had to ask nonchalantly “So where are you from again? Toronto is it?” in a quizzical yet innocent voice. They readily confirmed and I broke out in a broad grin before proclaiming, “Oh yeah, the place where the military gets called in with a little bit of adverse weather.” They sheepishly acknowledged that “yes, the rest of Canada will probably never let us live that down…”

The tour itself was very informative and interesting, if not more than a little damp. I kept the camera bag tucked under one arm as the five of us followed along with occasional questions or clarifications. The guide was a jolly young man who was very personable and knowledgeable. He also had a new staff member along who was observing and learning how to do the tour. We ended up at the local park office which was part of the old wall, and right beside one of two original powder storage bunkers. They had excellent displays including a large 3D relief model, with movable pieces showing the stages of development over different eras.

The one other notable thing about old Quebec City was the fact that it was jam packed with grade school field trips. Every age and both “official” heritage designations (Francophone & Anglophone) were well represented. The rain didn’t seem to bother the school kids as much as the “other” tourists either. Every doorstep and stoop was packed full of people who ”were” just wandering the roads a few minutes previously, but now were scrunched in tiny dry spaces like sardines to avoid the rain. Just too funny to watch… Still thoughm not as funny as the fact that the English had built most of Quebec city originally.

Plans

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

We are currently formalizing our plans for travel across North America. We toyed with many different stops and routes and think we have finally come up with something that’s going to work best for us. As Claudette briefly mentioned previously, we’re looking to visit friends and family to visit along the way where possible. We’re also looking for living room floors or foldout couches when appropriate to allow us to stay up late and share a bottle of wine too. We’ve had several commented and e-mailed offers already, to which I heartily thank you all. Here’s roughly what we plan. I should emphasize that the dates are EXTREMELY flexible, and absolutely not set. Plus I’m unsure of the accuracy of my travel times in between locations. This current routing is also flexible and we are easily open to many deviations along the route. Just send us an e-mail! 🙂
We were quite delayed in getting our car shipped from Montreal, but are now on the road and seeing the rest of Canada!

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DATE LOCATION FAMILY / NOTES
——- ————- ——————–
2008-06-12 Ottawa Mills / Davis
2008-06-15 Alymer Cahil’s
2008-06-17 Saullt St. Marie Water’s
2008-06-18 Thunder Bay Phil & Joy’s
2008-06-19 Winnipeg hotel?
2008-06-20 Morse Potter’s
2008-06-21 Lethbrige secret visitor (hotel?)
2008-06-22 Trail Tanguay’s
2008-06-24 Ladysmith Edmundson’s, James’, Keizers?
2008-06-27 Vancouver hotel? (leave Isle early for long drive)
2008-06-28 Barkerville Artiss’
2008-07-01 Kelowna Artiss’
2008-07-02 Kamloops James’ & Gauthiers
2008-07-04 Airdrie Perpar’s & meet with McBride’s
2008-07-07 Edmonton Everyone Else!

So, that’s how things are “roughly” shaping up. Now, I just need to contact everyone written above that we’re presuming on staying with and confirm those dates are OK. 🙂

Looks like the nicely aligned columns of my typed in table are gonzo once I publish this. Bummer…

New Brunswick

Monday, June 9th, 2008

We booked a little B&B in a town called Alma, just outside of the Bay Of Fundy National Park. We had one night to spend in between Halifax and halfway up New Brunswick. While there are many parks in between those two towns, the Bay of Fundy really captures the imagination of us “Prairie People”. The largest tides in the world is really something worthwhile seeing. We had previously done the jet boat tour at the reversing falls (HIGHLY recommended!) in St. John, NB, but the kids didn’t really remember much about it. We stopped at the Park Office & Interpretive center. Sadly, the displays were about the most basic and pitiful that we’d seen in any park. This could normally be written off to budget cuts, or an apathetic staff & lack of guidance and interest from the Superintendent. Here though was different. Pitiful displays and explanations were coupled with the most thoroughly stocked and amazing gift store we had yet to encounter in a National Park Office. Complete with a uniformed staff member, we were left with little doubt of where the emphasis of staff resources were directed. The visitor services lady we spoke with as at least helpful and friendly in describing different areas on a map that we might be interested in visiting.

We picked a spot a little ways away that had a long inlet and would be pretty cool at low tide. After a brief walk through the trees from the parking lot, we were blown with a pretty strong and steady breeze coming up the inlet. There wasn’t any sand here, but we wandered around hunting interesting rocks and building rock bridges in the small stream of water running down towards the ocean still. It was pretty wild to look at the high water mark that covered everywhere we were walking. With tides of 10m at a 382 minute (6H22min) interval, the Bay of Fundy has the largest tide difference in the world. After a while of fooling around, we followed the small stream down to the open water. We were about 90 minutes past low tide, but still had to walk a ways down. When we finally got there things were changing fast; quietly lapping water was quickly climbing up the gently sloping beach to creep closer and closer to the high tide mark. We stood on a nice long gravel bar that was higher than the mud flats around it. As we watched the water creep up stealthily on both sides, Claudette and I were hypothesizing on how many minutes it would take to cut off a “dry” escape route for us. I guessed that within about fifteen minutes we’d have to retreat. Claudette studied the creep up the mud flats for an extra few seconds and guessed that it would be within ten minutes, or maybe even a little less. I stuck a 14cm tall stick in at the water line and watched it get quickly but quietly envelope within barely ninety seconds. After watching that, both Claudette and I revised our estimates to barely another three minutes! This proved to be accurate, and certainly much better than our initial, uninformed estimates. The kids and I then messed around by standing on a couple of big rocks while Claudette filmed the water surrounding us, and then she capture our last minute leaping to dry safety. Well, I should say “dry” for Alex and I only. Dryness seemed to just somehow elude Luke, as it does with most 10-12 year old boys (including me at that age I wholeheartedly admit) I’m sure. We had a pretty good time there retreating up the valley with the encroaching water several times for the camera before finding some awesome skipping rocks and throwing them on the way back to the car.

Five Summers ago we had flown out to New Brunswick for Claudette’s sisters wedding, (Monique & Greg). With a rented car we had a great opportunity to explore around the province as well as Prince Edward Island. Greg’s parents live in an incredible little spot near Blackville in the Mirimichi area. Our only purpose this this trip was to visit with Frank & Sylvia again for a couple of nights before continuing on West to Quebec City. They have a great place on a couple acres a little ways from the town of Blackville. Most importantly there is a little river (or large creek) running adjacent to their beautiful property

Bartholomew River can get up to 1-2 meters deep, but with little rain lately it was just covering our ankles and up to mid shin in some other spots. Perfect for a nice relaxing float on air mattresses downstream. Unfortunately we only had one (which Luke accidentally put a rip in that morning playing with it). So the kids and I drove off to Blackville to buy a couple of new ones to float down on. The fishing store, a boating store, the drugstore toy department, the grocery store an the hardware store staff all gave us a blank look when I inquired. The best answer I got was that the Home Hardware store at Mirimichi or Doakville would “probably” have them. The trouble with that was the fact that those two towns were almost thirty minutes in either direction from Blackville. That would be quite the waste of gas especially considering that I’d wasted some already traveling the ten minutes from the house to Blackville.

Instead, we drove back to the house and scrounged a couple of life jackets and a small (ten liter) jerry can to float down on. Claudette drove us up the river a little ways to a spot I’d found previously while hunting around on the gravel roads. It was a bit of a treacherous hillside in the dense bush from the road to the river’s edge, (especially for Luke’s bare feet!) but we managed. More intense, distracting, and indeed, OVERPOWERING were the bugs! After being away fromn the North for a year, I quickly came to the conclusion that we were absolute bug wimps! Missing was the nice toxin buildup in our systems that prevented the huge welts and scary looking reactions. As gorgeous as this little river valley was, the density of mosquitoes was rather alarming. Still we plunged in to the 20 cm deep water and waved Claudette a cheery wave goodbye before madly trying to get downriver a bit and away from the infestation of nasty, flying, blood sucking little things with unmarried parents. After getting underway, it was wonderful, exciting and relaxing all at the same time. We had about a half an hour float down the river until we came upon the big white rock inn the middle of the river indicating that we were at the Burns homestead.

After cleaning off and drying up, we settled in for our last evening here while Claudette took off with Sylvia to “take in” a Parish Council Meeting. Luke played for a few hours with Nick who had just finished a four day canoe trip with his Dad at the Burns’ house. His Dad had gone back to town to get their van, while the kids played outside in the bestest (and free) mosquito restaurant in town. We’d been good so far in Canada with NOT leaving things behind, especially after Luke’s precedent’s with clothing articles and mine with chargers. Unfortunately, Claudette and Alex BOTH left their PSP’s behind in the Mirimichi, and we had to ask Sylvia to mail them ahead to us.

CAPE BRETONN AND HALIFAX, (Part Two) Actually Doing Stuff.

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

We drove a bit of the Cabot highway heading North to Sydney for the ferry last week, so on our way South we went through Louisebourg. This was a historic French fort and city which protected the entrance to the St. Laurence Seaway and thus the main Fort at Quebec City. There was also the governor’s residence for the New World in Quebec City that needed protecting. Louisebourg was a very impressive fort, but even more impressive was that it fell inn battle to the English. TWICE. After the first time, the English moved in themselves, but a couple years later the French and English signed a treaty which gave this fort back to the French as well as guaranteeing everlasting peace. Just a few short years later they were at war again, and the Brits launched another massive armada of ground troops and ships from Halifax. This time when the took the un-takeable fort, (again) the English blast every last stone building and wall to the ground. They wanted to ensure that the French would never control this strategic point again.

We enjoyed wandering around the fort and city. It is difficult to understand how the English could have taken the place with the extensive fortifications and armament. The land was swampy, crappy and muskegy; simply the worst possible stuff for battle. We were visiting there on June first, which was their first day of opening. This historic site also did things up real well with all kinds of staff in all types of period costumes and “living” the parts of characters from a few hundred years ago. When visitors talk to them, the period staff reply and act completely in character. In some places where there were no other visitors I would have an extended conversation and ask how long they’d been working there. Only one guy we encountered was five years (or “seasons” really). All of the rest were at least ten to twenty years, with several upwards of thirty and one at thirty-eight years! This is their life long careers for the most part. Some work other odd jobs for the remaining eight months of the year, but most just seem to go on pogie.

The remainder of our drive to Dartmouth was pretty uneventful. We had stopped at New Glasgow on both the way up and the way back for lunch. It was only after we got back to Halifax that I tracked down a number for a friend I had surveyed with at Diavik. When we finally got to chat on the phone it turned out he didn’t live just outside of Halifax as I had thought. Instead he lived in New Glasgow! That was quite the bummer, since we didn’t have the time available to go back there for a visit. Another great guy I worked with at Daivik who was in Dartmouth was difficult to meet up with due to his travel schedule and ours taking off to the Rock. He was in between shifts in Saskatchewan somewhere and going off to Montreal to buy a three year old Mercedes SUV. I can’t remember the price he was paying, but it wasn’t much more than the $25,000 we payed for the year old Ford Freestyle AWD. For an early twenties guy there’s probably no quicker way than that to get a girl who wants a ring and to settle down. I guess only time will tell on that one.

During our last few days in Halifax we managed to get around quite a bit. Id’ always wanted to go to the Maritime Museum of Atlantic Canada just to go through their famous displays on the Titanic and the Halifax Explosion. When we came around the last turn before the exit there was a HUGE bonus display as well. A large part of the cityscape set from Theodore Tugboat along with all of the boat characters were set up on display! This was also a long time wish of mine to see. I’d given up on the possibility though several years ago when the show was canceled. The ships we got to tour there were really interesting to crawl around on as well, especially for us land lubbers with no real experience in such matters of sea faring ships. The Acadia was a government survey ship for the duration of it’s almost fifty year working life. The interesting thing about this ship was the sumptuous cabin and office of the lead surveyor, who was officially inn charge of the ship. The captain could overrule him anytime he felt the surveyors directions would endanger the ship or crew, but for the most part the surveyor ran the show. The assistant surveyors cabins were also pretty nice by ship standards,a nd they had their own nicely appointed common room, where they made day plans and drafted as well as where their meals were served by waiters. This ship had completed extensive bathymetric surveying (measuring the sea floor) all up and down the East coast of Canada as well as large portions of the Arctic. This included not just the shipping lanes, but bays, inlets and off of all coastline just for any future reference.

Just a couple days before our Nova Scotian departure, we took an day trip up to Lunenberg. On the way there we passed though Mahone Bay which would seem to me to be the most picturesque little community we’d seen. Set in an incredibly beautiful and very well protected bay are large and colorful Victorian style houses and a quaintness that Westerners dream of. Lunneberg itself was enormously tourist-centric with correspondingly high prices. Still we had a great meal and then wandered down to the Fisheries Museum there. The displays and demonstrations were excellent, and it was obvious that they were used to many, many more tourists at this time of year. The high Canadian dollar is obviously discouraging a considerable amount of their American travelers. Still though, we enjoyed ourselves. They had a retired “long line” fishing ship and it was open for visitors to climb around on and try to envision what life was like for these guys.

Before leaving town I was hoping to get back to another used clothing store to get some more stuff, but never really got the opportunity. Nor did I get the chance to go and visit Ralph’s; a friendly looking little neighborhood bar a block from Marc & Wendy’s house. In the meantime Marc had finished the new Settlers board holders while we were away and I packed one up inn protective cardboard to take back to Wendy’s brother, Tim, in Fort Smith. We were all loaded up with a new SIM card for the cell phone and electronics to fill every last bit of space in our bags. While in the Rogers store I had also grabbed a portable high speed 3G data modem. This allowed us to hook up the computer to internet whenever we were in range of a Rogers 3G cell tower. Good for traveling where local phone companies offer WIFI in a sparse fashion and for way too much money. This rogers modem only costs $50/month for unlimited high speed bandwidth, a pretty decent deal I figured. The speed is ample, and easily handles big downloads and skype phone calls with ease. The other electronic purchase I had sorta “splurged” on was two more VERY cheap PSP’s at a pawn shop. They were the thick models and therefore easily hackable with the new Pandora’s Battery I had set up via instructions from the Net. Changing the operating system allows for greater consumer control on how to operate the device and what they can do with it. With a bit of further effort I could hack any slim PSP model as well, but so far have just kept it to the programming for the phat models.

The night before we left we went to Riverdance in Halifax thanks to Sylvia Burns (Claudette’s sister’s Mother-In-Law) who was taking a bus tour from New Brunswick to see the show. It was awesome to see and a very fitting end to our departure from the Maritimes. This was also the troupes farewell performing city after a five year (I think?) run throughout North America. It was a spectacular show though, and zooming inn on the face of the flamenco dancer gave us a startling revelation. While all the other dancers were between about eighteen and thirty years old, this VERY talented Latino was early to mid fifties. She had a smile, moves and a body (and especially a passion inn her dancing) that undoubtedly made all t6he younger girls very jealous. She was a pleasure to watch.

Newfoundland

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

The Ferryride was certainly longer than I expected. Obviously I hadn’t ever payed close attention to a regional map of the Maritimes. The foundation of my Ferry experiences were based on going from Vancouver to Naniamo to visit the James family with my Dad a few times when I was a kid.

There are two main routes for taking a ferry from cape Breton to Newfoundland. The shorter one leaves from Sydney almost directly North to Port Au bask, the closest town, and is about a 6-8 hour ride (depending upon the seas and darkness). The second route also leaves from Sydney, but heads Northeasterly across the ocean towards St. Johns. I’m unsure how long that route is, since it will not even begin running until mid-June when the traffic gets heavier. This thought was laughable since there was quite the huge line up of vehicles waiting to board, AND we had to pre-book our passage no less. The one cool space saving (but hugely time-wasting) thing they did was to load tractor trailers all along the sides of the lanes, then detach and drive back off of the ship. This allowed the trailers to be butted up to one another with nary a half meter to spare. Our scheduled arrival time was pretty late on the other side, so we had pre-booked a B&B just on the other side. We were delayed leaving a couple hours and when we arrived extra late on the other side, the B&B lady didn’t even bat an eyelash since altered schedules were absolutely the norm and not the exception.

The next morning we headed off North to Gross Mourne National Park, about half the height of the province to the North. All we’d heard about this park was absolutely true. It was glorious, and beautiful and really extraordinary. We visited the main park office and after a quick orientation on their offerings we quized them as per the instructions of our sacred quest. A good friend back home is the visitor services manager for our own national Park. He believes, and very sincerely I have to say, that all (or as many as possible) Parks staff should at least be vaguely familiar with some of the other National Parks across the country. As such, we have been tasked with broadening such knowledge of all Park staff that we encounter. The quickest (and friendliest) way we tend to accomplish this is by asking individuals or groups what the name of and where the largest National Park in Canada is. These guys did OK, and one of them came out with WBNP as a third guess (totally grasping at straws) after Banff and Elk Island. When I went to further explain that we have seasonal forest fires which are the same area as a third of their park, everyone’s eyes widened inn suitable astonishment and wonder.

Due to all of the salesman’s screw-ups with our car delivery, we were sadly short of time on the “Rock”. This meant that we just couldn’t even consider heading East much at all. I also wanted to make the long (four hours extra each way) drive to the North to see the Viking settlement which represented the first settlement of Europeans (or Caucasians) in North America. It was a long boring drive when we were short of time, but we were (well, I was anyways!) willing to invest the time for something so historically significant. Luckily for Claudette we discovered that the Viking historical site wasn’t open until June First! That was still a few days away, and we needed to be back on Nova Scotian soil by then. We had also prebooked our return passage on the ferry for the night of May 31.

After toying with a few different possible excursions, we decided on a few and headed to a town at the South end of the Park. There was more outstanding “things” to see and do inn this smaller section of the Park. Most famous of all were the “Tablelands”. These are flat topped mountains (large hills really) that were thrust up from the very depths of the earth’s crust. They contain keys to our planets makeup and Geologists consider the area an orgy of learning onn display. They were indeed VERY cool, and after a night at a little B&B in Woody Point, we all enjoyed walking along the paths and studying the rocks too. We also picked a nice little hilly path that led to the shoreline of the Ocean. It was only about 5km in, but there was a nice little campground at the top of the cliffs for those who might be so inclined. There were sea caves about 300-400 meters down one way that people can walk to at low tide. We had intended on checking them out but arrived about an hour too late to make it back to the stairs up before the incoming tide would cover the route. We still played around on the beach for awhile and enjoyed ourselves quite a bit before hitting the trail for the mostly all uphill trek back to the parking lot.

We ate our fill of seafood at a few different restaurants on the island, and checked out a few other small towns along the way South back to Port Au Basque. We had gotten word from one restaurant that one of the two ferry’s was down, and the remaining one was massively behind schedule. We checked on our booking and were told to show up anyways, which we did a couple of hours early. With an overcast drizzle and three hours to kill before our scheduled departure, we set in to watch a couple movies and some cheers episodes on the car’s DVD screen. Worse still though, our departure was delayed another two and a half hours. Since we were taking the overnight cruise to return to Cape Breton, we had pre-booked a cabin this time as well. That proved to be incredibly worthwhile. Once parked on the ship, we went directly to the cabin (with an ensuite head) and all immediately crashed. Everyone slept quite soundly and it was a loud and very rambunctious child in the cabin that finally woke us up a little after nine inn the morning. Not bad under normal circumstances, but we had only just gotten to our cabin at about three in the morning. Nonetheless, we splashed some water on our faces and waited for docking before returning to the car and driving off.

Ready to leave Halifax, again…

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Here’s a quick update for those that have been missing our blog, since Rick has been failing in his duties lately.

We had to wait almost 2 weeks for our car so we had a great time relaxing with Marc and Wendy. On one weekend, we visited Peggy’s Cove. After finally picking up our new car on May 26th, we drove to Newfoundland where we visited Gros Morne National Park for a few days. The pictures are spectacular and are already posted in the picture gallery. As well we visited Cape Breton on the way there and back. Louisbourg was great with the staff all dressed up and animating the daily tasks of what the fort would have been like.

Unfortunately we had to hurry back to Halifax as we had an appointment to get some things fixed on the car, although they ended up taking a few more days than we originally planned but luckily, we got to stay with Marc and Wendy for a few extra days. We’ve had a great few days where Wendy went all out for Luke’s 11th birthday hosting a party with family and friends and making a great cake. We also took a day trip to Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, which were both just beautiful little towns. On our last two days we’ve spent visiting downtown Halifax at the Discovery Centre and Museum of the Atlantic.

Today before we leave Halifax we are meeting up with Sylvia Burns (my sister’s mother-in-law) so we can go see an afternoon performance of the show “Riverdance”. After the performance we plan to hit the road and see what we can see of the Bay of Fundy.

Thanks for following our adventures, and we will try to get back to posting some regular messages. As the kids say that they have some entries but Dad just hasn’t posted them yet (although I know Rick will say I could have done it too). Take care!

Halifax

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

In my previous post I said we completely relaxed in our first week inn Halifax. That’s obviously not entirely true. While there was certainly some relaxing taking place Claudette and I were busy with many little administrative “tasks” as well. Arranging our new vehicle sticker, laundry, buying some new clothes at the Sally-Ann and another used clothes place, along with catching up on publishing my mostly written European posts were among our long lists of things to do. Granted, there was also some hot ‘n heavy scrabble games between the girls that took place in there as well. During our absence from North America there was a new phenomena sweeping our friends kitchen tables across Halifax, Edmonton & Fort Smith. It is called SETTLERS. Settlers is a dynamic game for 2-6 players that easily changes game play from one game to the next. This is due to small hexagonal board sections that can be moved around after each game to provide a unique board each time. Some of my (and Marc’s) spare time was taken up during our two weeks in Halifax with designing a board holder. Settlers comes with a cardboard outline which holds the loose pieces together, but he had scrolled some thin wooden pieces out to make for better containment. Unfortunately his thin wood pieces had warped and the puzzle style rounded links on the ends no longer locked together. After many discussions and a few prototypes we came up with a design that seemed to work quite well. Since we had a nice big piece of maple veneer we made three sets of game boards at the same time. One extra for a friend back home in Smith, and the third for a friend of Marc & Wendy’s in Halifax. I also made a few trips to the “Dollar” store, and made a complete game for us based on various colored pieces of foam stuck to flexible magnets and then all on a cookie sheet. The playing cards I designed on the computer and printed off to glue on to a cheap pack of regular playing cards. The retain game for $40 plus we needed an expansion pack for another $25+. Inn the end I think I spent under $20 for the equivalent.

We got tired of waiting around for our car to arrive one day and took a taxi to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. This is a Federal Government set of research labs and coordinating offices for many experiments and projects. Even though it is a scientific research facility, they have the foresight to employ two four month Summer students each year and provide tours for advance bookings only. We arranged one an got in as just the four of us for almost two hours. She initially started us off with a description of the many types of things that they do and coordinate there. Next we visited the live tanks with running experiments of all varieties. Here we saw some huge and mutant lobsters. Some were blue or albino, and obviously represented some of the oddest specimens. We wrapped up the tour with a visit to a cool touch tank. The kids (and even Claudette!) had fun here while I was shooting pictures like crazy!

We did also manage to take in a few other sights before getting the car and heading off to newfoundland. Mainly the very impressive Citadel had a commanding view of the harbor and city, while showing off a nice little collection of 200 year old weapons and period costumes. Mostly, we “relaxed” and caught our break from the previous ten month mad rush (or so it sometimes seemed) around the world.

Waiting to move on…

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Well, we thought we were being smart! We purchased a used 2007 Ford Freestyle from Montreal about 2 weeks before arriving in Canada. The plan was that the vehicle would be shipped to Halifax so it would be waiting for us when we arrived on the 14th. Well it’s now 10 days later and we are still in Halifax waiting for our car to be delivered. So much for planning ahead…..

We are still planning to drive across Canada with a small detour into South Dakota as Rick wants to see Crazy Horse ( http://www.crazyhorse.org/ ). Hope to see a lot of you along the way, so we will try to keep you informed as soon as we know too. Bye for now, Claudette

Arrival in Canada!

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Landing on Canadian soil again was indeed refreshing. Especially after such a cramped coach ride on our super discount cheap tickets. Marc (a friend formerly from Fort Smith) met us at the airport with a big smile. After hugs all around we crammed our luggage into his car and proceeded to his house where Wendy had several huge homemade pizza’s waiting. Luckily, Marc works at the airport and merely went to the arrivals area with a good book after work to wait for us.

Before getting out of the secured customs area we went through the usual rigamarole (but for the last time EVER on this trip!) The agent we lined up at was an older guy who seemed friendly enough but was obviously tired after a long day. He clearly didn’t understand the significance of our four broad smiles and our barely containable excitement at being “home” again and getting our passports stamped in Canada! We politely and briefly explained the significance of our arrival and he gave us a tired yet very sincere “Welcome Home!”. The vacation charter airline we rode on was Condor Airlines. It had a handful of Canadians on board but most were German tourists landing in Halifax with plans to tour around the Maritimes a bit. Whatever they were doing, it seemed an impressive amount of Germans to be visiting the East coast.

After meeting up with Marc we trundled along quite a ways with our bags in tow to get to the public parking lot. The Halifax International Airport was under fairly extensive renovations, outside and inside. The most disappointing part was the severe lack of transportation options to get into the city. Not only was there no subway or train station out here (understandable considering that the city doesn’t even HAVE a subway or public train system) but there weren’t even public busses that ran out on any sort of schedule. There is only one lone guy that operates an extended van but his fees would be more than a $60 taxi ride for the four of us! With these pitiful options available, Marc was gracious enough to wait around for us after work instead. There was a little concern about fitting all our bags and bodies inside his little Suzuki AVERO (????), but with several months of experience under our belts we managed that too. Wendy greeted us all with huge hugs and lots of home made pizza, a great recept6ion on both counts. Marc’s mom was visiting from Fort Smith as well and filled us in on all the latest news from home.

After getting cozy and sorting out dirty laundry ect, we had the most wonderful time relaxing for the next week. We had bought a car through a broker in Montreal who got us exactly what we were looking for, (a Ford Freestyle) and for an excellent price. While we had tried to pre-arrange everything from Europe to have it waiting in Halifax for us, the brokers cronies messed everything up and we received the car about two weeks later than expected. We arranged with my Mom to mail our old car license plate, and had the motor vehicles in Yellowknife send us a new sticker. Shortly after buying the car we arranged from Europe to get full insurance and e-mail us the pink slip. All we needed was the actual vehicle… When we did finally get it we were all pretty happy (finally) but still made a list of deficiencies that needed warranty repairs. The Ford dealership down the street from Marc & Wendy’s house was swamped so we made an appointment to bring it in after spending a few days popping up to Newfoundland and back.