Saturday, May 30, 2009

This Old House

Now that I am actually in Pictou and have internet access after four days of being off the grid I find myself so busy trying to get things done and have little time for writing.

We made a $500 purchase at Home Hardware and armed with paint, tools, and plumbing I have spent the last couple days banging, painting, washing, moving, lifting and generally exhausting myself to the point of coma like sleep.

So far I've primed and painted the livingroom, painted the kitchen, assembled at least 5 pieces of furniture and unpacked most of my belongings. My Dad, who is a godsend, has assembled the more complicated pieces of furniture, replaced my kitchen tap, smoke detector and front door handle, and started helping lay out the very big fence that's going in. My mom has helped a lot too and her organized brain thinks of things I often miss.

I do have photos but they are on a camera who's USB cable is non-functioning. I'll upload and download them tomorrow and update the progress. It's quite remarkable what a little paint and TLC will do. A new/old couch was bought today and that almost completes the livingroom.

So far I love this place. The house is coming up with small roads blocks which are not insurmountable and with a plan of action and knowlegdable help I'm confident this little house will soon be a great little home.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Over Canada

Woke up early at 6am today in Riviere-du-Loup to a brisk windy day. Didn't mind the early start since I wanted to get on the road and arrive at my parent's place in good time. Got everything loaded quickly, realized I'd forgotten to do my hair and had to unpack hair product after it was in the truck. Sigh - can't meet the day with bad hair.

The dogs hopped in for the last leg of driving and after a bit of a wrong turn in what turned out to be quite a pretty little French town I headed toward New Brunswick, missed the highway signs and had to double back ... twice.

According to the "welcome to' sign New Brunswick was closed but they let me in anyway. I suspect they mean the tourist info place is closed ...

New Brunswick is littered with hills. Not twisty winding hills but long gently sloping hills that kill your mileage and your time. I think those hills added about 2 hours to my day. And they are hills of solid rock. Solid. I do believe it it s wonder of human tenacity and engineering that they managed to cut highways out of this solid solid rock.

So all day I'd be bombing along at 100 with a tailwind and when I'd suddenly be down to 80 and listening to the truck growl. This went on for hours. I could not wait to get out of that damn province.

It turns out that New Brunswick also has moose.

According to the signs they are kind of goofy looking, a little crippled and they freely approach cars - perhaps to take your order for poutine.

New Brunswick is very treed, riddled with hills, made of almost solid rock under just a foot of dirt and bilingual. Can you tell?

So far along the way the Nova Scotia border sign has been the most welcoming - or perhaps I'm biased.See the light house and the pretty design all around it? So nice. And as an added bonus Nova Scotia was not 'closed'.

Driving into the province and along the coast toward my parent's house was a true pleasure. What a gorgeous countryside.

My first glimpse of the ocean, or the Northumberland Strait for purists, and it was an exciting moment I can tell you. That's the water waaaaaaaay in the background there beyond the farm.

So here I am ... 5000km across the country from all I have known. It's been a relatively easy drive and for far, with just under 100km to go, it's been almost entirely problem free. What an adventure. I was looking last night back on the roads I've driven and thought "I actually drove that my very own self." Tamzin, 4 trusting dogs, 3 patient cats, an amazing truck, a cheap trailer and all my worldly goods. Yes ... I'm damn proud of myself.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The French Connection

After a year of forgetting I finally am getting around to uploading the photos from my trip through Quebec and New Brunswick. This time last year Archer chewed through the camera cable and made loading these last few photos onto my computer impossible on the trip. Here are the missing photos from those two days ....

Archer tried to get me up at 5am this morning. I said no way and he let me sleep until 6:07am. It was a beautiful day in Pembroke, Ontario and we hit the road after a quick stop at McDonald’s for my breakfast and a much needed coffee.

After Leeloo tried to kill herself we got safely on the highway again. One major stress for much of this trip has been anticipating Montreal. I wasn’t too worried about Ottawa since the highway was pretty much a straight shot right through and I’m used to travelling on the Deerfoot 500 in Calgary. Montreal was a little more serious.

The French, as we know, are a bit of a different breed. All along the way I was watching for the provincial signs on the right hand side of the highway. Every single province put them on the right hand side. The French? No chance. I almost missed this sign because it was on the left hand side between the two highways. Honestly ... what are they trying to pull?

I saw nothing of Montreal except a brief impression that most of the road I was travelling on was elevated. It was incredibly stressful, fast, confusing. I was in a heavy, awkward rig surrounded by busy Frogs in a big damn French hurry. There were signs that kept indicating the highway I wanted but way earlier than I intended to get off the 40 I was on. Fortunately I trusted my instincts and managed to get to Highway 25 without getting lost.

A tunnel! I didn’t know there was a tunnel! The Somebody Lafontaine Tunnel. Did I mention Montreal is in Quebec? Just as in Alberta they make no provisions for French, in Quebec they make no provisions for English. You can’t read French? Shrug. A great bloody warning sign as you enter the tunnel told me to be aware of something: Watch for stopping? Don't stop? Whatever.  

Through the tunnel and out the other side and we safely survived the Montreal gauntlet. It was a cool tunnel, I rarely get to drive through tunnels so it was a real treat. Please ignore the fact I was taking photos in the tunnel while driving ...

Also, what the heck is this guy supposed to be? He was on quite a few of the silos in the Quebec  countryside ... man the French are so weird.

It really is a totally different culture – may as well be a different country really. Not that I want Quebec to separate as they continually threaten – just that the cultural difference is so marked that it seems like the only common ground is our currency. You know? At the restaurant I stopped in to get dinner a girl who’s English wasn’t very good had to get another waitress who had only slightly better English.

This is the St. Laurence River. It. Is. Huge. I followed it all the way up from Montreal to New Brunswick. Did I mention it is huge?

Finally here is the photo of the ‘French moose’ sign I took in Quebec versus the ‘moose’ sign in Ontario. Hysterical. The Quebec moose has its nose in the air and is walking with dignity across the sign … not like the Ontario moose who seems to be involved in some sort of performing arts. Even French moose are different.

Tomorrow will see me in Nova Scotia if all things go smoothly. I’ll be staying with my parents overnight and then a quick drive to my new house. Phew – we’re almost there.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Country Canada

Saturday dawned beautifully. I got quite possibly the best sleep I've had in weeks. A good solid 8 hours. It was glorious.

Things always take longer than you expect and although I wanted to be on the road by 7:30am I didn't get gone til almost 8am. I had to put a tarp over the expens on the roof because the humming of the wind through them yesterday was making me insane. That done I loaded up and off we went.
Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury was incredibly beautiful. I could have looked at that scenery all day. Oh wait. I did.

I stopped to run the dogs at a school yard in some small town where I got gas and saw one of these for real. Sadly, the photos I took of the horse and carriage with the Mennonites(?) in it are still on the camera. When I have them I'll update this page.

The countryside was like a postcard.

I have way more pictures than this but again - the camera cord thing has me stumped. I'll fiddle with it and see if I can get it to to work. I *have* pictures ... and they are really nice so just imagine these green fields, old dilapitated barns and big open sky for like ... 5 solid hours and that was my day.

I arrived in Pembroke ON just before 5pm to find out that the motel I'd made my reservation at almost gave my room away ... fortunately I am now ensconced in room number 3 and the dogs are once again comatose. Just the way we like it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Travelling Roadshow

Woke up to a beautiful day in Thunder Bay. Much better sleep last night ... up again at 5:11am on Archer time.

Once on the road the lake made itself pretty apparent right away.
Apologies for the angle of the horizon, I was driving you know. Don't tell my parents. I like how the lake just disappears into the sky.
Two Canadian icons in one ... the Canadian Shield and Lake Superior.
The entire drive pretty much looked like this so there wasn't an awful lot of scenery besides trees, rock, and glimpses of lake.
Mustn't forget hill after hill after twisty road after bendy 7% grade down slope after chugging up endless inclines. It was a long damn day.
Safely arrived in Sault Ste. Marie - The Soo - to those in the know. Tomorrow I will be calling it 'in my rearview mirror.'

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Littlest Hobo

Thursday morning. 5:18am. I’m beginning to get worried about how little sleep I am managing to get. I get to bed in plenty of time but as soon as my head hits the pillow my mind starts to tick over. Very frustrating.

After a gas up and cuppa joe I got out of Winnipeg in good time and headed into the sunrise of a gorgeous sunny day. Anyone remember grade 4 social studies? Canadian Shield ring a bell? I’ve never actually seen it. This prairie girl kind of thought ‘what’s the big damn deal?’ Look. Neat! I was quite excited. It’s a thick, giant, sheet of rock covering most of northern Canada … really. Doesn't look that exciting does it?
Ontario was very welcoming. And threw me right into Ontario construction. Thoughtful.
Oh look, in case you forgot, or missed the first sign, you have a reminder that you are still in fact, in Ontario. They splurged a little more on this sign too. Money saved not fixing the actual roads with all that construction.
Check. It. Out. When I say that Northern Canada is covered by a sheet of solid rock … seriously, I mean it. You can see where they’ve cut into the roc and there is about a foot or two of dirt and then *solid rock*. Granite. Crazy. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of acres of it. Rock.
The infamous ‘bump’ warning. Sometimes I’d see six of these leading up to a bump that I would barely have noticed, other times there was one sign right at the bump, one of which I was pretty sure nearly sheared off all my tires. Thanks for nothing.
And the moose. The *hackney* moose. I’m 100% sure they don’t really move like this.
And apparently hackney moose are more dangerous at night. Do these ones inflict more damage than daytime moose? How can I tell the difference between these moose? Very disturbing.
Did I mention the water? Lake after lake of it. Bee, Longbow, Foot, Falcon … lakes and lakes. Names seemingly plucked out of a hat full of nouns. So many lakes ... likely because the meters and meters of rock means they don't drain.
A lucky moment. Loons. Hence the name ‘loonie’ for our dollar coin which has none other than a loon on it.
The rig at a pee stop for the dogs. The truck is handling this trip very well. I’m so proud of it. That there is a photograph of everything I own … except the house that waits for me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Corner Gas

Due to lack of internet access for the last couple days I'm a bit behind but still alive. I'll start from the morning of the second day ... we successfully hit the road leaving Swift Current at about 7:30am Wednesday morning. The wind was once again at my back and the road was as flat as one can expect from Saskatchewan.

I’ve never been through southern SK, only the middle bit to Yorkton(don’t recommend it) and Saskatoon(recommend it as a pretty little stop).

Since we were in grain country I thought I’d take some photos of ye olde grain elevators. A prairie icon. I remember the one Cochrane had decades ago when I was growing up – I think it burned down actually – a dying icon.
This is what they look like now. Oh. Ew.
This is what delivers the grain to the elevators for the trains to pick up and ship across the world.
Saskatchewan is known for the fields of flat. They grow stuff there. Canola, barley, wheat, sunflowers, corn … whatever. But if you can believe it there is a lake in this photo – super flat, super wide … water.
This is pretty hill type things … fascinating stuff. I swear.
Speaking of fascinating … this is not snow. What is it? No really … what *is* it? Looks like snow, banks and banks of it.
Regina has rabbits … it seems. The road to Regina seemed to perpetually slope upward which killed my mileage and made me like the prairies less than usual. Deceptively not flat.
Manitoba put some real effort into their ‘Welcome to’ sign. And yes, I’m totally photographing each province’s sign. Proof of crossing.

Approaching Winnipeg I saw this sign and had to take a picture for my TLOTR peeps out there.
Trees used as wind breaks have always seemed kind of cool to me. Not sure why.
I arrived in Winnipeg in pretty good time and got on the perimeter road that felt like it would never end. I easily found Jeff & Danielle’s (of Jahina Ridgebacks) lovely house where the dogs could run safely in their 2 acre fully fenced yard and then ...
Blessed sleep.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On the Road Again

If you're following my dog blog you know that I'm in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, about 5 hours east of Calgary in the middle of the prairie. We got on the road after my walk through which was the cherry on the top of the shit city Calgary is. They are complaining about the state of the grass in the backyard ... well duh. Maybe I shouldn't complain - they don't know I had 3 cats and 4 dogs plus three litters of puppies in that place when they thought I only had Halo and the one cat.

So we set out and the truck seemed to be handling the load very well except for the wind. Calgary couldn't get rid of me fast enough with a stiff ass northwest wind pushing me along. I turned slightly south and the truck was like WTF? I knew i had to stop in Brooks for gas and could not wait. Between the wind making the expens on the roof hum, the flapping tarp on the trailer and the water bucket handle clattering against the bowl I was going round the bend. We stopped, gassed, peed, secured things and hit the road again.

From then on it was gorgeous driving. Flat smooth incredible roads. The truck hummed along easily and we made great time and it was easy on the gas. Nice. Here's some clicks I took along the way ...

Ominous clouds to the north which fortunately were heading away from us. Clouds like this are is quite common on the horizon on the prairies. You can see them coming and usually a stiff wind precedes it. Gives you time to alter your picnic plans.
The most interesting thing about the prairies is the sky. Constantly changing, rarely the same two days straight and cumulonimbus is very common, incredibly beautiful and is the rainmaker. Quire serious about it sometimes too. Yes, I did just use cumulonimbus in a sentence ... grade 5 science - thank you Mrs. Miller.
I was heading into a heavy shower for quite sometime. It must have been travelling east a little more slowly than me as I caught it up in Medicine Hat. It's the heavy, cold raindrop kind of cloud and sweeps along drenching everything.
If you can believe it this is a buffalo. I think when I was in school they were almost extinct or endangered or something. Maybe they still are. Here's two of them. I think they are making a come back. Ever been near one? Think cow only twice as impressive ... and scary.
Legitimate wildlife. Antelopes or gazelles or whatever. I think this is what Leeloo is crossed with.
Entering Saskatchewan. Goodbye ... riddance ... whatever Alberta. Cedric - my travelling gnome - was also unmoved by the Alberta exit. I'm not sure what 'Saskatchewan, Naturally' means unless no one shaves or uses personal hygiene products. Could be they are environmentally inclined. I hope it's the second one.
I won't bore too much with Saskatchewan countryside. This is pretty much it. Not all the landscape has a train in it but if it doesn't have a train or something else of note it can get kind of monotonous. Don't believe me? This is sans train. Yawn. Okay - it's a little pretty. These are the Cypress Hills. Impressed?
And this is the direction we're headed. Hard to believe at the end of that road is the ocean and my new home.