Friday, February 27, 2015

Trans-Canada road trip: Nipigon to Ottawa

Trans-Canada road trip: Day 4

August 17, 2012

Click for larger image (link to map)

We didn't get the best night's sleep in Nipigon. The small inn we'd chosen the night before was right on the highway, so for most of the night we could hear large semis and other traffic barreling along the road. Another startling occurrence happened sometime in the middle of the night when our room door that led outside to the parking area at the back of the building suddenly blew open with a strong gust of wind. Since we had come into the inn through the main entrance to pay, and then had come upstairs to our room through the inside, we had never used the outside door. It must not have been totally latched from the last tenants or from the cleaning people earlier in the day. We woke up from our sleep to the very startling bang of the door hitting the wall and the chilly wind blowing in through it, but Jonathan quickly saved the day by getting up to shut it and make sure it was well latched and locked for the rest of the night. Needless to say, we didn't have much restful sleep, and we were up pretty early to start another day of driving.

Before we started our drive, we had to make a decision about which route to take. We had a goal to reach by that night, to get all the way from Northern Ontario to my older sister's house in Ottawa. One route would take us a more northerly route, staying north for longer as we traveled east and then eventually directly south to Ottawa. The other would take us southward along the lake first and then east further down in the province. Both routes were about the same distance and time. While the northern route would have taken us right through Iroquois Falls (near Timmins), where my aunt and cousins lived, we decided that since we wouldn't have time to stop and visit anyway, we might as well just keep along the shores of Lake Superior and take the more southerly route. Much of the drive in the morning and early afternoon was within sight of the deep blue water of Lake Superior as we traveled south along it's northeastern shore.

We made two quick stops in the morning, the first one when I saw signs about Winnie the Pooh as we neared White River, ON. This town is the hometown of Winnie the Pooh, where a Canadian lieutenant, on his way to England during the First World War, bought a black bear cub from a hunter and brought her across the ocean with him. He named the bear "Winnie" after his adopted hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. (More information on the historical origins of Winnie the Black Bear and Winnie the Pooh in the History/Origin section of the Winnie the Pooh entry on Wikipedia.) It was neat to stop for a few minutes in this town and snap a few pictures of the Pooh Bear statue.

Just a little bit later on our drive, we stopped in another town to grab a meal at Subway and this particular town, Wawa, just happened to have several large Canada goose statues around town. We snapped photos of these as well, and looked them up later on to find out why they were there. The main goose, overlooking the highway was built in 1960 to commemorate the town, which takes its name after the native Ojibwe word for wild goose. (More information on this northern Ontario roadside attraction in the Tourism and attractions section of the Wawa, Ontario entry on Wikipedia.)

As we continued our trip after our satisfying lunch, a little bit south of Wawa we drove around a corner and spotted a pretty bay just below. As we drove closer, we saw signs for Old Woman's Bay camping area in Lake Superior Provincial Park. We made an impromptu decision to stop in and explore the beach area for a little bit. It was a very pretty spot, and the steady wind roused up some good-sized waves for us. We enjoyed the rugged outdoor environment and the chance to stretch our legs on the empty beach. As we headed back to our truck, we spotted a quick little chipmunk and stalked him for several minutes before snapping some great photos of him when he was sitting still for a few seconds.

After that stop we knew we had to get going again and keep pressing onward in order to arrive in Ottawa that evening. We drove right though the center of Sault Ste. Marie, ON, another town that I had always been fascinated by because of that grade three socials textbook, but we didn't spend any time exploring.

As we started on the eastward part of our trip to cross the width of the province, I took over driving for the first time so far on this trip. (Every time before this I had asked Jonathan if he wanted to trade, he had said he was fine and I much prefer being the passenger, so I didn't push the idea any further after asking each time.) Soon we were in the heart of some long miles of construction somewhere between Sudbury and North Bay, which didn't make driving much fun, but we eventually got through that area. After driving for about three hours, we were ready to switch again and Jonathan drove for the rest of the day. We finally arrived at my sister's house in Ottawa long after sunset, but we were very glad to have made it. We were very much looking forward to the Sabbath and a day of rest from our travels! We were also very much looking forward to homemade meals and visiting with a family member that we hadn't seen for awhile.

- Ali

Daily driving total: 1,376 km (855 mi)

Next up: Ottawa & hiking in the Gatineau hills

Monday, February 23, 2015

20 weeks

Today is the halfway mark in this pregnancy. Or at least, the supposed halfway mark. :) Wow, I can't believe that it's already the mid-way point and that from now on I will be counting down weeks rather than counting up. How did that happened so quickly?!

By now I have finally realized that my stomach sticks out far enough to prove that I'm pregnant (although probably nobody else except for us can see that, since it's the middle of winter and I wear my fuzzy warm sweatshirts constantly.) I've even stopped pestering Jonathan with the question, "But do you think I'm really, actually pregnant?" (to which he always answered something similar to, "Ali, yes, of course. There are plenty of signs..."). Good thing he's so patient!

People keep asking me how I'm feeling, and honestly I am quite surprised by this question. Although I always imagined being pregnant would feel very different from not, I never guessed that it would become the main focus of conversation when my pregnancy came up, especially since I'm now well past the first trimester morning sickness phase. When someone asks me how I'm feeling, the first thing that pops into my head to reply is, "Not pregnant," but I've never actually said it to anyone yet, and usually just respond with something like, "Fine," or "Pretty good," or something similar.

I'm feeling absolutely fine (hence why I kept asking Jonathan for weeks if he really thought I was actually pregnant -- I thought I would feel quite different being pregnant than I did before but other than two or three weeks of very mild morning sickness, I feel pretty much the same as I did before I got pregnant). I hope that trend continues as I move in to the second half of my pregnancy, but I'm sure that at some point I'll start to notice those later-pregnancy discomforts that I've heard about.

Although this photo doesn't look all that different from my 16 week photo, I feel like my belly has grown quite a bit in those four weeks. Of course, other factors, such as how recently I last ate, also affect the size of my bump. And again, like I said in the last post, for me looking down from above, my belly really does look quite large.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Trans-Canada road trip: Brandon to Nipigon

Trans-Canada road trip: Day 3

August 16, 2012

Click for larger image (link to map)

We woke up and got on the road early in the morning. Pretty soon into our drive we noticed a really interesting, really long cloud bank hovering right along the horizon. If we hadn't been in the middle of the country, we might have thought they looked like a long line of crashing tidal waves. As we drove toward them, the clouds lifted a bit off the horizon, but they stayed low and long, stretching to the north and south as far as the eye could see.

We zipped through Winnipeg along Hwy 1, but about an hour and 15 minutes further east we made a scheduled stop in Prawda, MB at a gas station/truck stop/restaurant right beside the highway.

I had been introduced to this place in early summer 2008 while driving with my mum, grandparents, and sister from Winnipeg to visit my aunt and cousins in Ear Falls, ON for my cousin's grade 12 grad. The relatives had told us to make sure to stop in Prawda for some amazing homemade perogies. We took their advice and didn't regret it in the slightest. In fact, we enjoyed them so much that we had to stop again on the drive back to Winnipeg a few days later to get some more!

So on this road trip, I made sure that we made the same stop as well. We both bought a serving of perogies, and quickly devoured them. There's just nothing like homemade perogies made by people who still know all the secrets of making this delicious Eastern European dish!

RCMP friend at the restaurant in Prawda
Wildlife pal at the restaurant in Prawda

As we drove closer to the Ontario border, we started leaving the prairies behind and the scenery gradually changed from flat fields to wooded areas, small lakes, and granite rock walls beside the highway. We soon were in the midst of the region of Lake of the Woods, a giant, many-armed lake that spans the border between the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario and the US state of Minnesota.

Small part of Lake of the Woods visible from the highway
We hadn't been able to take a photo of the Manitoba sign the night before since it was dark,
so I turned around and caught this one as we passed it going in the other direction.
The actual direction we were traveling in
We stopped at a small gas station and store a little way into Ontario to grab a picture with this large Inukshuk.
(I have photos with it from 2008, so I made Jonathan get in the picture this time.)
Terrible photo (as so many of them are while using a point and shoot from a moving vehicle),
but we wanted to document entering into the Eastern Standard Time Zone.

We made another stop in the evening when we arrived in Thunder Bay. This is a city I've long been dying to visit since my grade 3 social studies textbook made it sound like one of the most alluring places to see. Although we didn't have much time to spend here, we enjoyed our first view of Lake Superior in the gathering dusk.

After some photos of the lake, we drove a few more minutes east to another stop I have long been wanting to make, the Terry Fox memorial outside of Thunder Bay. For Americans (or anyone who doesn't know), Terry Fox is kind of a big deal in Canada. After losing his leg to cancer as a teenager, Terry decided to run across Canada in his early 20s to raise money for cancer research. He started his trek in 1980 in St. John's, Newfoundland by dipping his prosthetic leg in the Atlantic (there's another memorial at that site as well) and ran an average of 26 miles - the equivalent of a marathon - a day west towards British Columbia and the Pacific Ocean. Sadly, Terry's Marathon of Hope ended in Thunder Bay after 143 days and 5,373 km (3,339 miles) when he had a relapse of cancer, and had to return home to BC where he died nine months later. Although he wasn't able to complete his marathon, he has never been forgotten by Canadians, and never will be as each September schools and communities across the country and around the world celebrate Terry Fox day by running for a cure for cancer.

I have been to the memorial in St. John's and it was meaningful to see this one as well. Such an inspiring life to remember!

View of Lake Superior from the memorial
Our truck and trailer pointed eastward

Although daylight was waning when we left the memorial, we felt we had a few more hours of driving in us, and continued east through the forests of Northern Ontario. An hour and half later, we were quite tired and were very happy to find a room at a little motel in the small town of Nipigon on the northern tip of Lake Superior.

- Ali

Daily driving total: 1,019 km (633 mi)

Next up: Nipigon to Ottawa