Thursday, August 28, 2008


We spent time outside in the morning, playing in the pool and with all the toys outside. It was a beautiful morning and it was great to see our friends! (I'm so excited about all the potential for pen pals for the kids from this trip!)

We left around 11 and drove the 2 hours to Ottawa. On our last trip through we missed the Parliament Tour and I erased our photos from the city, so we really wanted to go back. We parked downtown and immediately noticed how many more people there were strolling the streets of Ottawa this hot day in late August, compared to the post-thunder shower day in late June on our previous trip.

As we walked up to Parliament Hill we passed by the Ottawa Locks on the Rideau Canal and were just in time to watch them guide someone's boat through. Not only was it fun and interesting to watch but the boat pilot had a parrot! Okay, that's not really that exciting but the kids though it was funny, like he was a yacht pirate or something!

We made it exactly on time for a tour (which are first come first served and run 4 times an hour for free) so into the Parliment we went. It was really gorgeous inside, a lot of amazing stone work and stained glass. The library was beautiful and we learned lots about the House of Commons and the Senate (most notably that Royalty cannot enter the house of Commons and could lose their heads if they do! =) Always the fun facts...) We ended the tour with a trip up to the clock in the Peace Tower and then a look at the memorial books.

From there Mattea was at the end of her rope and we needed to get going, so we walked back down to the car and drove out of the city passing by the Prime Minister's house at 24 Sussex Dr.

From Ottawa we just wanted to get going and see how far we'd get. We weren't sure if we'd make our way back to Quebec City or not so we just started in the general direction. We did end up bypassing it, going on the south side of the river and stopping just across for the night.

This is a beautiful spot, if anyone is interested... we're at the Hotel Bernieres, in Saint-Nicholas.

Today (the 28th) we are setting a course for New Brunswick. I don't know if we'll make it all the way to Moncton but we're hoping to catch the Hopewell Rocks this time around.


We hit a bit of a kink in the plan this week and had to take our van in for servicing in Oakville. the breaks were seized so it was definitely something that needed to be dealt with. We spent the morning playing and doing laundry before heading into Toronto, $1000 poor-er because of the van.

We parked downtown and tried to do a tour of the CN Tour but the line was really long and we only had so much time. We took pictures and touched it... then walked to the Hockey Hall of Fame. There was way more to see and do there than we expected and all the kids were thrilled to be able to touch the Stanley Cup! Even the building, an old bank, was stunning.

Walking around downtown was fun, I love the big cities, but Barton does not so he couldn't get out fast enough! We drove out via a visit with some friends that moved to TO in June. They've had a baby since so it was awesome to have a very quick catch-up and a little cuddle.

Out of Toronto, we drove 2 hours to Kingston where we stayed again with friends that just moved here.


After breakfast at the hotel we were en route again, heading for Michigan, which would take us up past Detroit towards the border. It was a beautiful drive without incident with really pretty landscapes that are all very much like the Canadian prairies. A few more roadside runabouts and a stop at the Target in Flint, Michigan and we were all of a sudden crossing the bridge over Lake Huron into Sarnia, Ontario! Back into Canada with another smooth border crossing!

So, we’ve got quite the collection of maps going! Do you need a map? We have now been through 10 provinces and 7 states, including our shopping trip to Washington… but we didn’t get a map!
We stopped in Sarnia at the beach on Lake Huron... we were meant to dip our feet but somehow (are you shocked?!) both boys ended up soaked and covered in sand!

We made our way back to Oakville, Ontario where we stayed again with our cousins there.


We went through 4 states today!!

We crossed the Mississippi River today as we skirted Minneapolis. Did you know that Minneapolis is practically on the border of Wisconsin? We didn’t! As soon as we were past the city we were headed into a new state!

Southeast through Wisconsin took us all the way to the bottom corner and into Illinois. We had lunch in a really nice rest area (all the State rest areas are very nice!), and had dinner at Culver’s where Mattea had her first taste of ice cream! Well, it was frozen custard but she was a monster once she’d had a taste!

We came through Chicago at night and it was so beautiful! We didn’t get any time to explore, so I guess I’ll have to go back! The city lights were awesome and we passed by the massive O’Hare Airport and then Wrigley Stadium, where unfortunately we missed a baseball game, just hours earlier!

A future tip for anyone passing through, there is the equivalent of about $5 in random tolls along the way, have a bunch of US coins ready.

We wanted to get out of the city before finding a place to stay so just passed Chicago we crossed into Indiana - State #5!!

We DID have a wonderful, restoring sleep (and confirmed no wedding parties!) in Hammond, Indiana.


We slept very late in the cool, dark basement, even Mattea made no peep until 9:30! It was a slower start than planned, but we repacked and got going. We picked up Becky and headed to the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg. We did a tour there and learned a few interesting things, like that particular mint makes coins for quite a few other countries (including Madagascar!) and that at any given point, about 40% of people around the world are carrying coins in their pockets made at the Winnipeg Mint. We all held a gold bar worth $500,000 and also learned that they don’t transport their coins in armoured cars, but random company semis like Safeway, McDonald’s etc. That made our semi-spotting a little more interesting along the drive since! Unfortunately, because we did the tour on a weekend, the machines weren’t running. That’s a note to self... go on a weekday.

We dropped Becky off and said our farewells, for much longer than 2 months this time. From there it was south to North Dakota… huh?

We had no trouble crossing at the border, which was a blessing as we were not keen to take everything out of the van! We made a quick pit stop and I discovered one of the smartest things I’ve seen in a long time! At one of the rest stop bathrooms, they had in the stall a pull down seat, made exactly lie those pull down change tables, (but small) with a harness so you could strap your child in and go to the bathroom!! What a novel idea!

We had lunch in the car (making sandwiches on the road is quite a task) and stopped for supper in Fargo. Almost immediately after that, we crossed into Minnesota.

In Minnesota we drove south/east through St Cloud and spent the night just on the outskirts of Minneapolis. We found a Hampton Inn and Suites and got a steal on a great room. It was quite a beautiful hotel with a pool and it included breakfast for all of us. We settled into our kushy beds for what we hoped would be a long, restoring sleep.

At 1:30 we were awoken with a clatter and Barton sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Unfortunately, it was not an early surprise visit from ‘you-know-who’, but a mass of drunken idiots. Is that fair to say? Sure… so, after repeated bangs on our door, slamming of other doors, shouts and miscellaneous other ruckuses, we had to make a call… and then another. A take-charge kind of woman with a big mullet (I’m saying that only because it made her seem so much more serious and not the type you’d mess with…) came up and started yelling at them all to get to their rooms. It was the third warning and after that, apparently the cops get a call. At 3:30 am, I fell asleep hoping ‘this’ would be the time they don’t come back. We found out the next morning that there were TWO weddings in the hotel and we happened to be on the same floor as one. There were also many red-eyed patrons at the continental breakfast… the kind people at the desk covered the cost of our room and though we wouldn’t hesitate to try the same chain again (the beds were awesome!) we have learned our lesson now that even if it’s a Motel 6, we’ll be asking if they’ve got a wedding party staying the night!


We arrived in Winnipeg in the afternoon on Friday and went to Barton’s sister Becky’s house. Twice in two months, that’s pretty good! Her garden has flourished since we were last there producing zucchinis the size of baseball bats and yummy tomatoes, squash and kale. We had a short visit while the kids played in the fish pond again and then I headed over to the house of old family friends, the Koslowsky’s, where we would spend the night.

Plans, but not details, had been laid beforehand, so with the help of a family member we ‘broke in’ and got ourselves settled. We needed some cool, quiet-time, Mattea desperately needed a nap and I needed to sort the disgruntled food box. Once we were all ‘realigned’ we headed back to Becky’s for supper where we made pizzas with her garden veggies. Yum!

We went back to the Koslowsky’s house and settled in, watching some Olympics and heading off to sleep. Becky picked up Barton late from the airport and dropped him off.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Saskatoon to Elkhorn, Part 2 Day 5 - Aug 21

On Thursday morning we ate breakfast and did some laundry. I cleaned out the van a bit, repacked the top box and was ready to go.

Reuben is a Saskatoon Police Officer and he took us to his Department and gave us a tour! It was really fun and the kids thought it was really cool. We got to see the jail cells and hear a woman kicking the door down to try to get out =). They showed us where they take all the dispatch calls, all the computers with the maps and grids as well as the interview rooms. We even got to watch someone dusting an alarm box. We left the station discussing who would now be the paleontologist and who would be the police officer. The boys liked the idea of being in the communications department where their lives wouldn't be in danger... I guess they're not 'there' yet. =)

From there we drove south to the outskirts of the city where we went to the Western Development Museum. The kids loved the car museum and I have a new goal in life - to own and drive a car from the 1910ish era. SO COOL! The museum is set up really well with a whole indoor town and then an antique farm machinery museum. Some of the shops are even working, you can watch a blacksmith, eat in the cafe and have your picture taken 'western style' at the photographers. We left at closing, 5pm and drove for eastern Saskatchewan... or so we thought...

We made it to Regina for supper and enjoyed 'calling' the houses along the river and main road. It's really pretty, old with big trees and Victorian houses.

Out of Regina the goal was to get to Wapella and hopefully stay somewhere near there, or in Moosomin if necessary.

It was Golden and Oyen all over again! All along that road the hotels were full and all of a sudden my gas light was on... we found gas in Broadview right at closing and ended up crossing the border, switching our clocks to midnight and finding a motor inn in Elkhorn, Manitoba. It was 50 bucks and just what we needed to sleep and take off again! (you can take that whichever way you'd like!) Luckily we were kept entertained the whole drive from Regina by an incredible lightening show!

Now, you may be sensing a pattern here of not finding places to stay right? I'm just not sure how else to do it. If you book ahead you are limited to stopping there, or pushed to make sure you get there. Where one stretch might be further than you thought, another is all of a sudden closer and you end up plugging on. In both cases though, had it not been me by myself, Barton and I would have definitely pushed on to the next stop.

We woke up in the Elkhorn Motor Hotel to absolute pouring rain and cold weather. We jumped in the car and took off, eating dry cereal as we went! It was a short easy but wet drive to Winnipeg, arriving at about 3:00.

Kindersley to Saskatoon, Part 2 Day 4 - Aug 20

We left Kindersley at 12pm. We drove the short distance to Saskatoon and stopped for a break. We were a bit early but our hosts were ready for us so we made our way to Warman, to my cousin's house. Vicki, her husband Reuben and their daughter Kiara welcomed us there! Reuben was picking crabapples from the front tree and was already at about 7 bags full. Mattea enjoyed nibbling at one and I made a mental note to take some for the road - they would keep her busy for quite awhile!

We walked around Warman and played at the water park and then had a huge hot dog roast/BBQ and I got to catch up with the whole family! (uncle and aunt, 4 cousins, spouses and kids!) It has been so long since I've been here, since Riley was about 5 we thought. Hopefully it won't be so long before I see them all again. Thanks everyone!!

We visited late and crashed all over the basement. It was nice and cool and dark down there and once again we slept way too late!

Calgary to Kindersley, Part 2 Day 3 - Aug 19

We took our time in the morning and left around 10:30. I needed to stop for diapers and contact solution and wanted Mattea to nap once the errand was done. As I left Dana's the van was making a very strange sound. I got a bit nervous and was just about to make the executive decision to have it checked out when it stopped. Weird. We were out of Calgary shortly after and on the road again!

This time we were heading a short jaunt to Drumheller, the Dinosaur capital of the world! We got to the Badlands of Alberta and enjoyed a trip through the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It was fascinating and of course, so much to see in a short time. The kids loved the massive dinosaur skeletons and I liked seeing that there were tiny little creatures from that time as well. You always hear about the big common dinos but never the little ones. After the museum we walked around outside a bit. It was really hot and we weren't up for the hikes that are around the museum but they would be really great on a day when you're prepared, or not so hot, or not carrying a baby. I have the backpack for her, but already she's feeling too heavy. We left Drumheller in the late afternoon and drove on towards Saskatchewan.

Starting around Youngstown we started looking for food and lodging. You may remember our experience in Golden on the westbound trip? Where every hotel was full? Well, we encountered that again. Apparently during the week there's all kinds of crews and workers filling the hotels. In the middle of nowhere there was a huge, new Super 8 and we thought "surely..." It was full! So, at the very least we got food for supper that way, if I had to, I'd just carry on. We ate at the Oyen Family Restaurant. The pizza was awesome and it was just the place a bunch of kids could be loud, and watch the Olympics.

From Oyen we tried a few other spots along the way and ended up in Kindersley Saskatchewan. This was frustrating because we are now 2 hours from Saskatoon. It was 10pm and showing up at midnight somewhere seemed less than convenient for our hosts, plus if I got a hotel then I would be carrying deadweight sleeping kids into who knows what kind of place. So we made the stop and got the literal LAST hotel room in the city. Conveniently enough it was a suite, with a bedroom, fridge and micro and a fun pool.

We relaxed a bit, had a great sleep, swam in the morning and ate breakfast there. It was a bit of a splurge although they gave me a deal, I think they felt sorry for me travelling alone!

Kelowna to Calgary, Part 2 Day 2 - August 18th

What a rough night!!! The Kelowna Hospital keeps a small house for doctors temporarily working at there and Barton was able to use this house for the last two weeks of his stay. We arrived there in evening and it was SO HOT. I guess because Barton had been away for a few days in the stifling heat it became it's own little hot box. There was no breeze and only one fan so the boys slept with their heads up against the patio screen door (but wouldn't sleep outside for some reason!) and Riley had the back room with the window wide open. We didn't have a play pen and so Mattea had to sleep with us which never works well. Because she can crawl, walk, roll and knows how to climb off the bed trying to get her to sleep without a four-walled contraption is near impossible. It took forever, because always just as she's drifting to sleep she'll open her eyes a tiny bit and start talking to you, or kicking her legs or just squeaking and chatting. It's SO frustrating! Then all night, most likely because of the heat, she woke up constantly. It wasn't great... but we got up in the morning and headed down to the beach. The nice thing about the Kelowna hospital area is that it is only a few blocks to the lake and there's a fantastic beach with ziplines into the water and a playground. We played there for a bit and had a swim (I say that like I did!) and then around 11am it was time to head out. We left Barton in the driveway and headed East for home.

Our plan was to stop in Revelstoke because they have this great rec centre and on the way west we had told the kids we would stop there on the way back. After that, I would head on to Banff and then Calgary.

One thing to note is that if you're ever in need of a camping spot in the vicinity of Sicamous, the Mara Lake area was really pretty. I don't know much about it but it looked like a nice place to stop.

I found my way to the pool, about 2.5 hours from Kelowna, and if you're ever in the area, the Revelstoke Rec Centre is the perfect stop for a family. The pools are great, including a tiny baby pool, a huge but shallow kid's pool and then a regular pool with diving board, waterslide and a climbing wall that falls into the water. It's also all salt water so when you're done you don't have that gross chlorine feel or smell. It was a refreshing break, even if we hadn' t been on the road too long. If you have the time, bring a picnic because across the road from the pool is a picnic area overlooking the river and it's quite stunning.

If you ever find yourself uttering the words "We'll stop for a quick supper in Banff" you may as well have said "I'll just hop into IKEA for napkins" or "so and so and I are going to have a quick coffee, I'll be right home." It was a total gong show. First of all, the drive from Revelstoke was a bit longer than expected, so we arrived hungry to the point of tears. (peanuts and beef jerkey only get you so far!)

Between the bad parking, the huge lineups and the lack of employees, it took TWO HOURS to get 'fast food'. If you are looking for work, apparently Banff (and I've heard the rest of Alberta as well) is the place to be. One Subway was shut down because they didn't have enough people to run it. The other was run by two people and two people were manning the McDonald's. Had I taken the time to park and walk it would have been better, but I was trying to be 'quick'. Considering Camrose was 15 minutes down the road we should have plugged on. Note to self (and you!) eat in Camrose or Golden before or after your drive through. That being said, Banff is really beautiful and I'd love to have a couple of days there with Barton to stroll and explore. There are lots of great shops, and it's a beautiful setting. I was tempted to stay a bit but it would have had us arriving in Calgary later than we were already set for. We left Banff at 9:30pm.

The drive to Calgary was smooth sailing and we got to my cousin's around 11, after a little roundabout jaunt thanks to the GPS! My cousins Norm and Dana and their sons Jared and Blake put us up for the night and treated us to a crepe breakfast in the am, after we woke up at 9, thanks to the time change. It was really nice to catch up with them- it's been waaaaay too long.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Today's The Day! Part 2, Day 1 - Kelowna

Well, the day has arrived for us to turn around and head home. I'm not sure how the summer went so quickly, but isn't that always the way? Never enough time... Our plan today is to drive up to Kelowna this evening where we'll leave Barton and head on to Calgary tomorrow. Barton will be flying to join us in Winnipeg so for the next week I am driving solo! We'll be updating the blog again so please follow us along and join us on our journey!

Our Odometre in Kilometres

Just moving this over from the sidebar to make space...

Torbay NL, June 18 - 0
Goobies NL - 170
Deer Lake NL - 660
New Glasgow NS, June 19 - 1210
Moncton NB, June 20 - 1698
Saint Jacques QB, June 21 - 2164
Louisville QB - 2662
Gananoqe QB, June 23 - 3317
Niagara Grimsby, June 25 - 3820
Sudbury On, June 26 - 4390
Marathon On, June 28 - 5238
Sault St Marie On - 4710
Upsala On, 5696
McHunn MB, June 29 - 6158
Brandon MB, July 1 - 6658
Regina SK - 7032
Canmore AB, July 2 - 7927
Medicine Hat AB - 7512
Pritchard BC, July 3 - 8479
Abbotsford BC - 8830

Saturday, August 9, 2008

As Our Time in BC Wanes

Greetings and Happy August!

Unfortunately, our BC time is quickly coming to a close and it's time to update you before we leave on the final leg of our cross country tour. We have had an amazing time her, it's been so much fun catching up with old friends, spending time with family and doing a little sightseeing in our home province.

We had the chance to camp with friends in Peachland and enjoyed some water-skiing/wakeboarding as well as making up silly games on various flotation devices. Riley went to a 5-night Bible camp in Peachland and had a blast making new friends and learning some new skills.

The boys got to go to Mayne Island with Grandma, Auntie Melissa and Uncle Dan for a few days of golfing, exploring, digging, looking for snakes and deer and playing tennis. The older kids also enjoyed time at "The Tower" in Vancouver with their Nana and Papa, riding the skytrain, seabus and buses, going to Science World and spending hours and hours on English Bay. I spent the night there once with mom and set up their tiny condo like a refugee camp with all 4 kids sleeping here, there and everywhere. We took the little water taxis over to Granville Island and strolled the marketplace there.

Barton and I took in a Bard on the Beach a few weeks ago with Clay, Nadine, Kris and Kathryn which was great. We've also enjoyed a couple of other dates which is a nice opportunity!

I've caught up with old friends meeting babies and kids galore and even taking in the wedding of my second oldest friend. The older kids and I had a great day at the Trans Canada Waterslides in Chilliwack last week with Grandpa, Rachel, Caleb and Elijah. Though 'they' called for a 36* day, it didn't end up getting that hot and was perfect. Mattea enjoyed a bonding day with Grandma.

While I have been playing, coffeeing, shopping and on Tuesday I go for a massage, Barton has been working his tail off. I don't think I ever fully explained our purpose for being here this summer:

As part of Barton's training, he was given a couple of months to set up his own work terms to either fulfill missing gaps in the program or do further work in areas in which he's interested. We turned this into a triple whammy by setting these months up close to home so we could visit, and also in places we'd be interested in living; to scope out the work scene and see how we feel about the general area and work environment. He spent the month of July working in the Abbotsford, though unfortunately their spanking new hospital doesn't open until August 24th. He did get the grand tour and was able to play with the machines. He had a very good experience with the staff here and enjoyed the work. For the month of August he is working in the Kelowna hospital and so far has also had a good experience there. The hospitals are very different but each offer their own assets, though commuting to Kelowna on a weekly basis from Abbotsford is not ideal!

We have spent a little bit of time checking out the areas and housing and though it is extremely painful to look at the housing costs here, we think we have found a couple of spots that we'll keep our eyes on. It does look promising but we're not announcing anything yet! Barton has now less than 10 months left until his final exams are over and we can't quite believe we've come this far. All of a sudden it's all within reach, though Barton has a lot of work and study to do before the end!

We have totally lucked out with the weather here this year. We fully anticipated frequent rain and cooler days and have had almost nil of either. I believe it's rained two days and was cooler and overcast maybe one or two others. So that whole extra hockey bag full of rain and cold weather clothing has been sitting unopened under Mattea's crib... and to think of all the extra space it took up in our van!!!! How were we supposed to know? I have worn pants once, so the two pairs of jeans and two pairs of pants have been 'really handy'! Well, fortunately I did intend on leaving quite a bit behind - we have little warm weather left in St John's so it won't be necessary to bring back too many summer items. Plus the kids have outgrown half the stuff we haven't used, so that can stay too! That's also lucky since we've been shopping... =)

Now, as we prepare to leave once more, I am also preparing - mentally - for Mattea's birthday. I just can't believe she is going to be one! It has gone so quickly. She has 8 teeth, says lots of words, somehow got blond curly hair and although she's taken lots of steps, she's refusing to walk. I'm sure 2 more weeks in a carseat won't help that. But that's OK, I'm not ready to chase her yet! She is definitely reminding us of Nikolai and when we look at his pictures from this age, they are almost identical, though he was much fatter!!!

There was a lot of other things I wanted to tell you but I didn't write it when I thought it so now, of course, I've forgotten. As we head out on our journey once again I will keep the updates coming.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer!