Thursday, July 3, 2008

Into Saskatchewan - July 1

Getting to this point in our trip was pretty major and had the realization that we had really only 3 or 4 days left of travel. I knew that Ontario would be a long stretch and because I’ve done the BC-Man route before, I figured once we were on that road it would go very quickly. For such a short amount of time you really don’t need much, so we did a serious repacking, keeping only one small bag out for me and the kids. It’s now much more easily accessible and there’s less stuff to fuss over at each stop.

if I knew then what I know now about this trip, I would have packed so differently. Isn’t that always the way? When we went to Florida I had each of the kids pack a backpack which was a mistake because it was just too many bags to worry about. So this time, I put all of our stuff into one bag and this too has been a mistake. I thought of it last minute, that pulling the hockey bag down from the roof top box might be a pain, but we stuck with it unsure of what was the best system. Now I realize that one small bag per two people would have been best. I did do a few smart things though, I packed one hockey bag full of stuff that we are not opening or touching until we get to our final destination; nicer clothes or other items I knew we wouldn’t need. That bag is at the very bottom of the trunk. Also when we were in Florida, I bought a bunch of nylon drawstring swim bags for $5 at the Nike store. They were very useful as swim bags and are now even more useful. One is a jammie bag, so that at the very least, it is easy enough for a quick night stop to pull it out and I’m not scrounging around in the dark trying to find everyone’s night wear. Another one is an underwear bag, in which each member of the family has a large Ziploc with clean underwear in it. This bag is only for removing underwear to wear and I am the only one allowed to put underwear back in. This is working well, because you know how dirty underwear inevitably gets mixed back in and then who knows what everyone is wearing? The final drawstring bag is for dirty laundry. Luckily we’ve been staying with people along the way and have been able to do laundry so we only need to have one small bag to get us from place to place. But that way, anything wet or dirty can just be put in there to deal with later.

Ziplocs are definitely my friend. One for plastic cutlery, one for baby wipes, another for the first aid items in my ‘car kit’ etc. To go with the drawstring bags we have two toiletries bags with tooth brushes, contact stuff etc so that quite literally, if it’s a quick stop we can pull out that and the jammie bag and that’s all we need.We discovered that used Gatorade bottles, the ones with the closable squirt tops, make great bottles for skim-milk-powdered-milk. Squirt it over your cereal and away you go. If you reuse them for water (yes, I know you’re not supposed to do that…) they are good for refilling bottles etc because of the squirt feature. The new ‘cereal bowls’ that General Mills put out are good for cereal on the go. I wouldn’t normally buy those because they are expensive compared to buying boxes of cereal for at home. Consequently, they are cheap compared to breakfast out! Plus you can rinse and reuse the bowls for dividing other snacks later. We also have a cooler that plugs into the cigarette lighter and that has been fantastic. It fits between our two front seats so it also doubles as an arm rest, cutting board or tray as well as laptop stand for watching movies. I’m not sure who designed the cooler but they put stretchy cords across the top so that’s where our information booklets and maps go. Thank you Canadian Tire! Also, to put in the cooler, water or Gatorade bottles work really well for freezing and using as ice packs. By the time you’ve exhausted your water bottles they’ll be melted enough to use. Just for your info, Gatorade expands considerably more than water when frozen! Take a big swig before freezing.

Back to the travels…

After repacking and doing some laundry we got away late, just before noon, and burned off the rest of Manitoba before getting to the Saskatchewan border. We wanted to make it to at least Regina if not further that day. When discussing our trip with others, we noticed that most people made the comment that all of the drive would be interesting except The Prairies. I happen to think that the prairies are quite beautiful. Considering most of the other times I’ve driven through Manitoba it’s been brown, it was lusciously green and lovely. It’s also so much less stressful driving here, the road is dead straight, little traffic and not a lot of danger, resulting in no tense shoulders watching for moose, no fog and much less fatigue. We did of course see countless road-kill, officially seeing many more dead deer than alive.

I hate to say this, but we completely burned off Saskatchewan. I’m really sorry, this is not for any reason other than time. I had wanted to see family in Saskatoon and stomp around their grounds but time is not allowing. It is looking more and more like we’ll be heading back this way so we will prioritize this part of the county for our return trip. I would like to say though that the long fields and pockets of farms and trees are so peaceful, we really did enjoy the drive through. It’s also fun to count trains and watch hawks chase little birds and vice versa. We actually saw a little bird riding a hawk, no lie.

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