Shoestringing Sea To Sea – Canada 2

We arrived in Saskatoon on Friday night and have been enjoying John and Terry’s warm hospitality for the past few days.Here’s an update on what we’ve been doing along the road.

Wednesday, August 22:

We woke up to a cool misty morning and enjoyed breakfast and coffee using our new French Press, an idea we hadgarnered during our visit with Grace and Paul. We found it to be a huge improvement over the Instant coffee we’vebeen enduring throughout our trip (always a good reason to stop at Tim’s though). On past trips, we’ve alwaysbypassed Sault Ste Marie, but this morning we took a tour of the downtown area on our way to the RobertaBondar Marina. There we located Grace’s brother Fred on his boat, a beautiful vessel polished and gleaming insideand out. We spent an enjoyable hour with Fred, visiting and learning about the dangers and joys of sailing onLake Superior.

As we rejoined the highway, the fog closed around us and we found ourselves driving with limited visibility for mostof the morning. Coming up behind a huge FedEx truck, we decided to use him as a beacon so followed him throughthe fog for a couple of hours until the sun appeared and we were able increase our speed and leave him behind. Patches of yellow and red were visible throughout the treescape, and I imagine northern Ontario will be ablaze withcolour before long.

We stopped for the night in Thunder Bay and decided to treat ourselves with dinner at Boston Pizza. Normally, Fridayis “pizza night” at our house, but we have not had a pizza since we started our trip so thought pizza night would bean excellent idea, despite the fact that it wasn’t Friday. Zorro decided he’d like to have pizza night too and gave us a scare by jumping out of the trailer and racing for the street. Luckily, Massey’s voice is like a foghorn and Zorrocrumpled to the ground before reaching the road. I then put my heart back into my chest and we carried on withpizza night.

Thursday, August 23:

The day was crisp, clear and sunny as we headed west, past Kenora and out of the Shield. One notable town passedwas Atikokan, “Canoe Capital of Canada”, perhaps worthy of a mention in the 7 Wonders of Canada! As the morningwore on, it turned cloudy, and by the time we crossed the border into Manitoba, it was COLD and we ate our lunchin the car. We decided it was a good thing we had taken this trip in the summer rather than the fall as we’d originallyplanned. Shoestring definitely isn’t made for indoor living.

Later in the afternoon, we took a stone in the windshield so decided we’d better get it fixed before the crack spread.By this time we were close to Winnipeg, so we found a campsite on the outskirts and phoned for an appointment at Apple Auto Glass for first thing the next morning.

Friday, August 24:

Upon waking this morning, I pushed aside the curtains to the brilliant oranges, reds and yellows of a spectacularPrairie sunrise. We lay in bed and watched, marvelling at nature’s light show until the rays disappeared into thelow grey cloud cover. Another day of ever-changing Prairie skies.

With Gertie’s help, we found our way easily to Apple Auto Glass and discovered the owner to be a Newfoundlander.We chatted with him while the car was in the shop, telling him about our experiences on The Rock. When Masseycomplained that he hadn’t seen a moose the entire time we were there, the incredulous response was, “When Iget off the ferry, there’s generally one there to greet me!”.

The upside of having to get the windshield fixed was that we got to go right into the centre of Winnipeg rather thanjust skirting it on the Perimeter highway. Winnipeg is such an interesting city, with a great ethnic mix. We stoppedat a McDonald’s for a coffee and found ourselves in a neighbourhood that seemed to be almost totally French-speaking. It was “coffee row”, francophone style! The tables were filled with seniors, all chatting, laughing and greetingnewcomers as they arrived. It was obviously a standard meeting place, and it was interesting to listen to the chatterand try to make out the gist of some of the conversations.

Our route through the city took us right past the Manitoba Legislature and Golden Boy, another of the nominees forCanada’s 7 Wonders. We followed historic Portage Avenue out of town, enjoying the bustle of mid-morning Winnipeg until we were out on the open road again.

Once on the prairies, we passed fields in various stages of the harvesting process, from golden stalks waving in the breeze to land dotted with round “shredded wheat” bales. Passing from Manitoba into Saskatchewan, ominous stormclouds and intermittent rain gave way to blue skies dotted with fluffy white cottonballs. Combining was in full swing,with the promise of the year’s labours rapidly coming to fruition for many farm families. Along the Qu’appelle Valley,we came upon a beautiful scene – late afternoon sun on velvet green hills, dotted with “miniature” cattle peacefullygrazing. There is something about the prairies that gives one a sense of well-being. I think it has something to do witha 360 degree view of blue skies and sunlight that can’t help but diminish cares and worries, while at the same timeconjuring up thoughts of infinite possibilities. I guess I’ll always be a prairie girl at heart.

Posted from Canada:

posted Monday August 2007