Archive for June, 2011

Road Trip Final

It is June 30 and we got home this afternoon.  We left on June 1.  Pat and I had a month of discussions and sharing but only finally agreed on two things…I drive too fast and she drives too slow

Great trip with lots of great scenery, lots of dinners with friends and relatives and generally very good weather, except the last day.

We left Edmonton early yesterday morning expecting to sleep in our beds tonight.  Nice warm morning but when we hit Jasper the rain started and we had heavy downpour all the way through the mountains.  Miserable drive but worse was to come.  When we were approaching Hope there was a sign that the No 1 highway ahead was blocked.  Apparently earlier in the day there was a mudslide that swamped both sides of the divided highway. The slide was east of Chilliwack where there is a choke point of traffic heading east or west.  (see pics)

There is only the Trans Canada or a small secondary road on the other side of the Fraser.  All traffic was diverted to the smaller highway which just crept along.  We were 4 hours travelling the 35 km from Hope to Chilliwack.  By the time we got through we had missed all the ferries home so had to check into a hotel (that was filling with others like us)

This morning all the traffic that missed the ferries on Thursday were trying to get across so we had a 1 ferry wait and then only made the next ferry by 2 vehicles or we would have been there all day.

Great to be home


Mudslide traffic

Road Trip continues

We had two long wet days travelling from Ontario to Winnipeg.  We took the route south of Lake Superior and ran straight into torrential rains.

On Wednesday we had dinner with old friends in Winnipeg and moved on this morning to Regina.  The flooding in Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan is unbelievable.  The rivers were stretching way beyond their shores and because Manitoba is so flat, even between the rivers the fields are like lakes.  We only saw one dry field in crop in 4 hours of driving so this is going to be a bad year for the farmers.

In Saskatchewan the trans canada highway was flooded East of Regina so we had to take a one hour detour through Melville.  Fortunately the day was lovely with the blue skies and puffy clouds that I remember from the prairies.

Visit to Oakville

Arrived in Oakville yesterday and last evening joined our old neighbours the Gales forBBQ dinner.  They had invited all the other old neighbours including the people that bought our house.  Great evening must have polished off a dozen bottles of wine (these are big wine enthusiats)  Sat outside on the deck until 11:30.  One of few things I miss about Ontario is the warm summer evenings. 

We were pleased to see that the QEW widening that had been under construction for the last 5 years we lived here was finally complete.  The QEW is now 10 lanes wide through Oakville and when we drove through last night the 5 westbound lanes were just as jammed and traffic was just as slow as when we lived here and there were only 3 lanes each way.  This I do not miss.

Tonight we join my old friends from work for a BBQ and tomorrow off to Markham to visit the Morras and the Talbots   Fun weekend

The Help

We are spending a week with Vedran and Janine.  I am keeping busy with various projects around the house. This last weekend Ved and I took out a toilet in the basement.

The house is 76 years old and while lovely upstairs has a mostly unfinished basement. In the basement was the ugliest toilet you ever saw in a rough cast concrete closet beside the laundry equipment.

Roughly 5  foot by 3 foot with rough walls, a wooden door and no sink. No one ever used it so we decided to take it out, cover the hole in the floor with concrete and turn it into a closet for their bikes.

Last night we went to a movie and saw a trailer for the upcoming movie “The Help” Basically the story of black servants in southern homes in the 1940s. A key point was that the help were not allowed to use the toilets upstairs so the houses were built with crude toilets in the basement for the help.

It finally dawned on me that that was what this ugly toilet was in the basement. The original owners had black servants.

So our removal of the toilet was a strike against racism plus adding a storage closet.

Fashion Show

So last Friday we had a special treat.  There it was the fifth game of the Stanley Cup and Janine had duitifully arranged for all of us to go to a fashion show instead. 

The University of Cincinatti apparently has one of the top fashion design schools in America and each year the graduating class has a fashion show preceded by a cocktail party.  This is actually a big deal with 1500 guests (well guest is not the right term since the tickets are $100 each)  and people come from New York to see it.  Top graduates get to go work with Macys or design houses. 

The show was actually very good.  Professional models, big sound system, flashing lights and all, not what you would expect as a college function.  Some of the designs were every bit as good as you see on the Milan runways.  Vedran and I actually had a good time as we kept a vote on the best designer, best outfit (and of course prettiest model)

In the end we had a great time and made it home in time to see the end of the hockey game where Vancouver squeeked out a victory.  Not a bad evening

Arrived at Janine and Vedran’s

We had the last day of our eastern direction with the arrival at J&V this afternoon (Thursday).  We were only 3 hours away but we wanted to take some back roads so we did not push through yesterday.  4500 km so far with average of 25 mpg

Janine did not understand why we did not just drive on and arrive last night.  The whole point of us driving was for the road experience.  If we just wanted to get here we would have flown and it would have been cheaper. 

What Pat and I wanted was the experience of driving through US on a road trip and see small towns and countryside.  You cannot see those from the interstates.  Granted with the heat we did blitz through much of Nebraska and Kansas but having grown up on the prairies the novelty of flat land is nothing new. 

Southern Indiana, Illinois and Northern Kentucky has gorgeous countryside.  Ancient farms and thriving small towns.  We forget how much of America is defined by the mid American small town.  Virtually every town we went through had a sign of pride posted, either pride in the local championship high school team, someone famous born there (Red Skelton, Gus Grissom, William Jennings Bryant, Harry Truman just to mention a few) and local heros like the town that celebrated that the 2009 US female shot put champion was born there. 

And of course you cannot drive 5 miles without finding a plaque to some historical site even if it is mundane (I suspect every bathroom break by Lewis and Clark has been identified and featured in a plaque) 

It was a lovely drive and aside from Pat continuously telling me to watch out for this or that when I was driving, we had a great time together.  Of course I ate too much and no chance for exercise so I feel bloated. 

We have a week here at J&V and then on to Toronto for some evenings with different friends.

Road Trip Day 8

We are in Vincennes Indiana tonight.  Only 3 -4 hours from Janine’s place but this is where we paused on our trip.

Left KC this morning and took the interstate I 70 to St Louis.  Interstates are great for moving across country at high speed but are boring so once we passed St Louis we chose to travel on Highway 50 which will take us all the way to Cincinnati.

Frankly the interstate is the only way to go in Nebraska and Kansas and maybe Missouri but Illinois and Indiana countryside is much more interesting.  Highway 50 precedes the interstate system and for its day was a major route, but it has been replaced by I70.  Think of Route 66.  Still excellant condition.

Slower drive (55 mph vs 75) but passes through interesting towns and farms.  We stopped several times although at 98 F it is still too hot to get out of the Mo very often.

Vincennes is a small college town most famous as the birthplace of Red Skelton.  I treated Pat by checking into a new Holiday Inn as we came into town.  More expensive than the cheap motel I would have picked, but we needed guaranteed air conditioning.

Drove around town to find a restaurant for dinner.  A college town with lots of pizza places and fast food but not much else.  Finally selected a small Italian place that promised more than pizza with authentic Italian dishes.  Kind of a simple place but we settled in.  Ordered a bottle of Chiani to go with our Ravioli and stuffed Penne.  The 19 year old waitress asked us to show ID to prove we were over 18 (apparently an Indiana law that I expect is only followed by places with recent liquor license)  Still a thrill to be carded at our age.

The bottle showed up and it was beyond warm.  When I mentioned that it was warm the response was that it should be served at room temperature, problem is that the  kitchen room temperature was probably 95F.

We added some icecubes and it was great and then I noticed that while the price was only $14 for the bottle it was actually a very good Chianti with DOCG designation.

The food was excellant and when I asked the cook (who also ran the till) he said he actually makes the penne and ravioli and meatballs on the premise.  Surprisingly they were very good but as the average client orders pizza I expect he was happy to make a real meal.

Watching the Hockey game tonight and on to Janine and Vedran’s tomorrow.  I will continue the blog when we are back on the road again

Road Trip Day 7

We are in Kansas City Missouri.  Best day of the trip so far.

Easy run this morning so we arrived at the hotel by noon.  Had lunch then walked down to the Kansas City Royal’s stadium to buy tickets and then checked in to the hotel.  We had picked this hotel from the internet and it was a perfect choice.  10 minute walk from the ball field and first class accomodations.  Big bonus was that they have a cocktail hour at 5 with free booze and food.  No need to go out for supper.

When we first planned this drive to visit Janine and Vedran we picked Kansas City to see a Blue Jay game so a lot of our timing was to be here for this day.

The ball stadium is magnificant.  Built only for base ball with natural grass and no compromises for tractor pulls, football or rock concerts.  It is different than the Sky Dome in Toronto as it is located in the suburbs where 2 freeways intersect.  The football stadium is beside it and they share 100 acres of parking.  Down side is there are no restaurants or bars nearby (aside from a Dennys a couple of blocks away) so everyone has to drive to the game.  But great for tailgate parties.  Different view of how to enjoy the concept of going to a game.

We had seats 15 rows up from third base with great sight lines.  Warm evening, the KC fans around us were welcoming and friendly and best of all the Blue Jays won.   It was hot (95 F) and windy all day but it cooled to 83 by game time so just perfect.

Tomorrow on to some place in Indiana, who knows where.

Road Trip Day 6

We are now ensconced in a hotel in Salina Kansas.  A long drive this morning through Nebraska and then down to Salina.  For the first time we primarily drove on one of the interstate highways as we wanted to get here early. 

Remember what I said about Nebraska being flat, well Kansas isn’t much rollier.  The scenery is not much so the best way to pass the time is while reading a good book but unfortunately Pat made me put the book down when it was my turn to drive.  Still managed to pass the time listening to Broadway tunes on the Sat Radio

Stopped at a  little town and went looking for a park.  Turned out to be a nice park beside a river.  It was 97 F in the shade so we kept the visit short but a nice surprise or us.  This is the second small town Lions park we have used for our lunchs,  too bad they are not listed in the travel guides. 

Lots of sun and blue skys but hot.   Eventually hit 101 degrees when we pulled into the hotel.  Supposed to cool down over the next few days but when we went out for dinner the temp had gone up to 103. 

The sat radio has been a boon as we have been able to catch Blue Jay games as we travelled.  We should be seeing them live in Kansas City tomorrow night.

Unfortunately the hockey game is not shown in Kansas so we may have to sit in the hot vehicle and listen on Sat radio

Road Trip Day 5

Oh No Nebraska,  Is there a flatter state, I ask Ya

We are in North Platte Nebraska.  Half the day we were driving across Wyoming which is a very desolate state.  I think all the surrounding states took the land that they wanted and what was ever left was called Wyoming.  Lots of sage and buttes but not much life.  Still an interesting drive.

Strangely as we passed into Nebraska the land turned lush and green but frankly more boring to drive through.  Wyoming may be desolate but it has more to look at and lots of strange sites.  At one point we stopped to get a picture by a sign at the side of the road that said “Hell’s Half Acre”  I looked around and hell’s half acre looked like all the millions of acres we had past.

We were all day driving from Lander to here basically following the old Oregon Wagon Trail.  Temp was up to 91 F.  Not bad on a paved road in air conditioned cumfort with cold water but I cannot imagine what it would have been like in a wagon in the old days.  Not for me.

A boring day tomorrow as we move across the flat plains on the way to Kansas