Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mi Casa Su Casa - Musings on Living in Vancouver - Dec 26 - Dec 30

We are slowly becoming accustomed to our temporary home. Some things we have had to get over include the feeling of “guilt” when we open drawers and cupboards in the kitchen to find various kitchen utensils, etc.; getting used to sleeping in a strange house (you would think we are used to that with all the different beds we have slept in over the past 4 years); and just generally being on high alert not to damage anything. But, the house is perfect, the location is central, and the view over to the mountains beautiful. I have attached a couple of pictures taken from the front garden.

Although we have had a couple of rainy days, and some cloudy days, the past two days have been sunny with blue skies. The temperature has generally been between 7 and 10 although it dropped down last night and tonight I believe there is threat of frost. But, we feel lucky to be out of the extreme cold and snow. After all, we can still “see” the snow, but we just don’t have to suffer it’s negative consequences.

While on the road, I talked about coming through areas with “avalanche” warning signs. Last night on the news, we heard about an avalanche just outside Hope which sadly killed a snowmobiler. It wasn’t a “high alert” area, but most areas in that vicinity are subject to avalanches.

Another new sensation, is the feeling of size. The greater Vancouver area is about 2.1 million in population I believe compared to the greater Toronto area of 5.6 million (2006 figures). You notice it! It doesn’t take as long to get from one place to the next, you can actually conceptualize the city and surrounding area fairly quickly, and you don’t get so much of the feeling of “urban sprawl”. I like it. I think it creates more of a feeling of community – although, I doubt that my friends living in North Vancouver would feel that way. Not sure if this feeling is caused by treks through larger world cities such as Mumbai (14 million), Buenos Aires (13 million) Delhi (12.25 million) and New York (8.4 million), but in any event you probably have to “visit” here to consider the macro view.

Ray got a new Garmin for Christmas, and so yesterday, after taking a day or two to learn how to work it, we went for a 50 minute run to test it out. Actually, we did an hour's run the day before but he couldn't get it to start. Running from the house will soon get us fit. There are hills in every direction, and even if we start out downhill, we soon have to go up hill!! There is a nice shopping area about 10 mins walk from the house which I can’t wait to investigate. Looks like some nice Chinese greengrocers, a few interesting looking restaurants, and some dress and furniture stores worth visiting. The houses around here are beautiful; some very small; some quite large; all very expensive. The feeling is very much of Edinburgh, or parts of England and the UK, and given that some of the names of the roads that we ran on or by included MacKenzie, Balaclava, Dunbar, and Blenheim, that is where the original influence came from. Try $3.8 million for a corner lot and a renovated house. We read an article in the Globe that Australia is the country with the most expensive real estate but Vancouver as a city tops the rest of the world. Now, I know it’s a great city, but I think something is out of whack. You have to wonder how long the real estate market will sustain itself here. How do young people here afford a home? Someone was telling us about a house he is renovating which should really be pulled down because the construction is so poor. The couple paid over $800,000 for it. Haven’t discovered yet what all the people do who own these homes. Wages are said to be much lower than Toronto, for example. Is it really all the Chinese affect resulting from the influx from Hong Kong in the 1980s?

Yesterday we drove down to Richmond (about 6 – 7 km south) and went to Costco. It was bedlam….massive…..tons and tons of shoppers, but efficient. Everyone was working very hard and curiously enough there was no line up to exit. We also went into a Great Canadian Superstore, and once again, another huge premises. Richmond is just south west of Vancouver, is located on tons of little islands and has a population of around 200,000.

The rest of my time has been spent working on my course material. Alanna is coming over tomorrow and we are going to have a really riotous time……studying!! Poor Ray, not sure what he will find to find to do to occupy himself, but he is pretty industrious and I am sure will come up with something useful....

If I don't get the opportunity to post another blog before the new year, a "very guid new year to one and a'."

Friday, December 24, 2010

December 23 2010 - Christmas Eve in Vancouver

Merry Christmas!

It’s funny spending Christmas without any snow and at 10C! But it feels wonderful to be here and to be close to Alanna. We haven’t done much since we got here: walked Robson Street a few times looking at the shops; ran in Stanley Park and on the Sea Wall; went grocery shopping for Christmas; and generally lazed around Alanna’s flat in the West End. Everyone is walking around with “purpose” and many are smiling and saying “Merry Christmas”. I think the shop attendants will be very glad when they close the doors at 6:00 p.m. but generally the atmosphere is very friendly. I won’t say that there is a lot of Christmas decoration around, or even Christmas music, but just more of the Christmas spirit.

 Last night we went to dinner with Lee and Tom whose house we are baby-sitting. The house is lovely and it is in a really nice neighbourhood. We are looking forward to investigating the park, shops, library, community centre with swimming pool and gym, and of course the local restaurants which are within walking distance of the house. This is all a wonderful new experience for us….to be able to walk to shops, restaurants, etc.! Tomorrow we are spending Christmas day with Alanna, and she has invited another couple who are here from South Africa and their 6-month old daughter to join us for Christmas dinner in the evening. Alanna is already cooking; she has made the turkey stuffing with bulgar and hazelnuts, and is busy making an apple crumble for desert. Mom is sitting back looking up recipe information on the WWW, when requested!! It is a very pleasant difference. So……here is wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas wherever you are.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday December 20 - Safely in Vancouver

Neither Ray nor I slept much last night and we were both awake, lying in bed, and listening to our IPods early morning. When we left the motel for breakfast we realized that Hope is nestled at the base of the mountains. Everywhere you look there are mountains all around you can see from the two pictures of Hope. It was -2.5C and the owner of the motel was complaining about the "frost". Yesterday morning when we left Golden it was about -20C! We weren't complaining. We had about an hour and a half's drive down through the mountains, along the banks of the Fraser River into Vancouver. There was a slight drizzle when we arrived and the temperature on the car read "10C" .....(note, that is PLUS!). We arrived at 12:30. We were all very excited to be together again.

We went out for lunch and it all felt so familiar to be here again. Nice and warm, not a drop of snow! So, now we begin our stay in Vancouver. I won't promise to write something every day, but I will certainly update you on the blog as to what we are doing. Thanks for following along and hope you enjoyed the journey.

Sunday, December 19 – On the Road Again – Golden to Hope, BC

True to his word, Ryan called us this morning just after 10:00. Ray, still concerned that the car wouldn’t start, set out on his 1 km journey to the garage. About an hour later, he arrived back with the Audi in good working order. We loaded up and set off on our way just after midday. If you haven’t travelled east to west in Canada, or vice versa, I don’t think you can say you are Canadian!!! The journey we have made over the past few days has been through the typical scenery that we learned about Canada in geography lessons in the 1960s. Canada is a beautiful country. The scenery in the Rocky Mountains and other mountain ranges in the west of Alberta and the east of BC is absolutely stunning and a match to the Andes, the Himalayas, and the Alps. We are still in it. We are spending the night in Hope, before driving the last 150 km into Vancouver tomorrow. Alanna is so excited… are we!!

The last part of the journey although beautiful, was snowy and once again through the mountains. Up over mountain passes in the gentle snow, and down through the valleys, then up again and finally down to Hope. The journey from Kamloops was made in dusk. It is taking a little to get used to the diminishing daylight hours. Darkness descends around 4 p.m. and daylight does not really start until after 8:00 a.m. We saw several accidents, which made us really cautious. Also Ryan, and another couple we met in Golden warned us about certain parts of the road so we were double cautious.

You know you are in the wilderness when there are Avalanche Warnings posted along the highway….and Avalanche Courses offered in Golden. In fact this morning, we heard them “blasting” to unsettle the snow this morning in Golden. So, I have a new addition to my bucket list. Spending a month in the Rocky’s either in winter or summer or both! It is so beautiful and walking, hiking, biking, etc. would be wonderful…..except for the bears. Mmmmm, we would have to learn how to cope with them. We didn’t see any on the journey this time, and no mountain goats, or sheep…and no moose! Actually, we really didn’t see any wild life except the deer. They are so gracious and elegant.

So our journey is almost over…not quite…and we will complete the final stage tomorrow….stay tuned…

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday December 18 - Grounded in Golden, BC

We were up early this morning and Ray was in touch with Ryan at Selkirk Service. He was all set to deal with the problem. Fortunately, the Audi started and Ray was able to drive it the kilometre to the garage. Ryan discovered that although the serpentine belt had become detached, it was actually the belt tensioner that had blown apart. Between the time of Ray's phone call and getting to the garage, Ryan sourced a replacement belt. But it looks like it won't be needed. Once discovering that it was the "tensioner" Ryan set about connecting with his contacts to see if he could source a replacement.  So....the part will be arriving by bus from Calgary this afternoon around 3:00 p.m. It shouldn't be a difficult job to replace it and we hope it will be fixed this afternoon. Then we will leave tomorrow morning for Vancouver.

Ryan has been extremely helpful. He took the initiative to book us into the Super 8 Hotel when he found out we were paying $116 at the Best Western....and now I think it is about $76 a night instead!! We thanked him profusely for taking the initiative and made the move!  The room, although not as large as at the Best Western, is quite comfortable, clean and warm. The couple who own it are very welcoming. In fact everyone in town is friendly and chatty. It's a nice place.

So, what can I say about Golden. It is situated in the south eastern part of BC at the junction of the Columbia River and the Kicking Horse River and lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Purcell Mountains; so that all you see are mountains all the way around you.  The current population seems to be about 4000 with another 3000+ in the surrounding area. I get the feeling it is one of these unique places somewhat like El Chalten in Argentina - a very natural hub for hiking and all kinds of sports activities. There are lots of young people around, the energy is high, and it is totally unpretentious. Very much our sort of town! It is about an hour from Banff, two and a half hours from Jasper, and one and a half hours from Revelstoke.

The town was founded around 1807 when the explorer David Thompson, an explorer and fur trader crossed the Rocky's. Then in 1885 when the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed, Golden became an important railway stop. It's economy is probably connected to the forest industry.

After we had sorted out the car, had breakfast, and moved, we took a walk into town. Probably close to a 3 or 4 km walk one way to get there. The weather is absolutely gorgeous with bright sun, blue skies, but freezing cold - I think it was around -15C when we started warming up to around -12C - but we wrapped up well and thoroughly enjoyed the walk. The town is not huge, and we didn't get to do too much investigation; stopped and had a coffee and then made our way back. You can see some of the pictures I took on the walk.

We have often been asked about how we pass our time in the car on our various journeys. It is easy really, and we never seem to get bored. I mentioned earlier that we discussed various issues. One of the issues we discussed to some degree along the way was the pros and cons of wind power. This was after passing a small wind farm in Manitoba. I was checking out a web site for my not-for-profit governance course and somehow or other ended up on a site discussing this very same issue. Interesting to note that the research that has been conducted on wind turbine syndrome is flawed and there is no argument strong enough to cause us to stop production. Even the argument that bird migrations are interrupted is being dealt with by the production of systems such as radar to counteract this.  In summary, wind power remains one of the most environmentally friendly methods of producing energy we have; it has been around for over 5000 years, and !no matter how much we use, it will never run out! Some of the other hot topics we have discussed include whether or not Julian Assange should have leaked the material on covert operations or not. It seems he has a lot of supporters. We realized we really didn't know exactly what he had leaked but were aware only that it jeopardized troops in Afghanistan and maybe Iraq.....and who knows whether he is a sex criminal or not. Anyway, he has certainly created some interesting discussions if nothing else......and I will not dare to give my opinion one way or other in a blog....I've already had some interesting comments over the years and don't wish to encourage any more!! 

I spent the rest of the day working on the material for my course. Ray read through the 166 emails he had, mainly regarding his position on the board of Mountain Springs. He has only been gone a week! We had a lovely dinner this evening and are now back in our hotel unit and set to get an early night.

Incidentally, the part didn't arrive at 3:30 but came in from Vernon BC on the 6:30 bus. Ryan is all set to work on it tomorrow morning around 10 a.m. He thinks it will take around half and hour. So, we are hopeful to be on our way around mid-day.We will aim for Kamloops, stay the night there and drive into Vancouver on Monday - arriving probably in the mid afternoon. Can't wait!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday , December 17 - A Magical World - Swift Current, AB to Golden, BC

If you have never driven across Canada, you should add it to your "bucket list". Canada is a most beautiful country with some amazing scenery. The "culture" in each province is so different and we are blessed to have such diversity within our own country.

This morning when we left Swift Current it was about -15C and freezing fog. It was like driving through a magical world of a black and white movie. The trees were all encrusted with snow and ice, there was no colour, visibility was low, and it seemed as if a light snow was falling although it never seemed to accumate....the freezing fog,  This continued until we reached Calgary. Then, out of nowhere, the foot hills of the Rockies appeared through the fog. And so very quickly we were surrounded by mountains. The sun came out and outlined the jagged tops of the mountains. Then the moon appeared was all such a beautiful day. Soon the light started to dissipate as we travelled towards Radium Jct and the hot springs between the Kootenay River and the Columbia River. The route was so beautiful I  just don't know the words to describe it. As we approached Radium Jct the road went between two granite walls of rock.. so very impressive. Our original route took us through Kicking Horse Pass but as we neared Lake Louise signs told us that the Pass was closed. So we had to take a diversion which was probably an extra 100 km. It was so well worth it.This route down 93 and up 95 was truly wonderful.

Unfortunately, half way up the Columbia River Valley about 87 km from golden, Ray suddenly said: "What's happening.....something is wrong, I don't have any power steering...the car has quit...." but in fact it hadn't quit....although there was no power steering - and the battery generator sign came on and we assumed it was the alternator or something else affecting the battery. We weren't sure that we would make it to Golden. It was sort of lonely, as it was almost dark and we were travelling up a river valley between two imposing mountaint ranges. We both had wild images of being stuck in the middle of the mountains. Fortunately, it is only about -12C not too cold and conditions were good. Anyway, we have made it safely to Golden, and are holed up in the Best Western which is quite passable and we have a lovely big room. Had dinner in a barbecue grill which was lots of fun and the most energy we have experienced on the trip. Tomorrow we will have to see about getting the car fixed. The entire Serpentine Belt has ripped apart and Ray is hoping nothing else has caused it to happen....we contacted a garage and they were not certain they would have a part to fit the Audi...but we are keeping our fingers crossed. Not sure if we will need a tow in the morning but we have that lined up too. The car might start. It is all wrapped up in its blanket and hopefully.....we can drive the very short distance to the garage.  It really couldn't have happened at a better point in the journey. We are about 700+ km from Vancouver.....and there is a Greyhound Bus service we know we can always get to Van for Christmas! There is also a ski hill right behind the'll keep you posted.

Today, I plugged in the Ipod and we listened to Tony Blair's is really inspiring and it is so obvious how intelligent he is and also what a good person he has been. It is a book everyone who is driven to achieve something should read. We have only listened to about 3 hours,but I am looking forward to hearing more about his political life.

I have attached some pictures. I think they will give you some idea of the scenery. I am sorry about the quality of the pictures, but it is really hard to get good ones as there is no place to stop along the highway and we really aren't in the right mood for "sight seeing"...we just want to get the journey done! You may have to "click" on the picture to enlarge it so see all the detail.

I have replaced the picture I mentioned yesterday is the one that says: Tourist Information. It just struck us as funny as we were literally in the middle of nowhere and couldn't see a tourist attraction for miles around!

Anyway, I'll report tomorrow night as to our status....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December 16 - Winnipeg,Manitoba to Swift Current, Saskatchewan

The Gods are with us!! Yesterday evening, as we were feeling really good driving along a snow free highway, Ray asked the question whether we should push it through to Brandon, Manitoba, as opposed to stopping at Winnipeg as we had earlier planned. After some consideration, I suggested that we not do so, because taking the extra two hours at night, would mean leaving later in the morning, and therefore we really wouldn't gain distance, and we would be driving more tired at night. So we stopped in Winnepeg. When I opened my email, Randall was advising that there was a storm moving east through Manitoba. I looked at the Manitoba road information on line and we discovered that the roads past Portage La Praerie were closed, and further the roads past that that were not closed were "ice covered". We were very happy that we had stopped.

We left Winnepeg this morning just before nine o'clock - once again it was a beautiful morning. The sun was out, the skies were blue, and although it was -15C when we left it warmed up to -9C when we arrived at Swift Current. So what happened that was interesting along the way?  first, we missed our turn off from the ring route around Winnepeg. We began to wonder why the sun was on our right hand side when we were supposed to be heading West. Mmmmmm, found we had driven about 10 mins past our turn off and were heading back towards the east. Fixed that and had a wonderful drive along the highway. The previous two days we talked about the lake view, the forest lined roads, and today it was the prairies.....flat, flat, flat!! But beautiful! The trees and bushes were frozen white, and on either side of us the white bed of snow stretched far into the horizon. There was one stretch of road before Brandon that was a little ice packed, but the rest were fairly clear. Ray was chatting with some guy in Brandon who told us about the storm last night. He said there were 67 cars in the ditch and so the police decided to close the road. Regina was shrouded in fog and driving conditions were generally dreadful. Even this morning we saw about 10 cars in the ditch and one truck rolled over.  There is much more snow past Portage La Prairie than earlier.  Our second "interesting" moment occurred as we were about an hour and a half outside Regina. Ray was having his aftenoon nap, then suddenly he woke up, looked over and said: "do you only have 60 km of gas left?". As I answered "yes", this figure changed to "50". Since everywhere we looked we could only see snow covered fields (look at the pictures!!), we were definitely becoming a little worried. The GPS was saying that the nearest gas station was 68 km away. I was all for turning back to the last town; or calling the CAA and asking where the nearest gas was. But we kept going confident we would find something.......and we did. We rolled into an Esso Gas Station with about 40km left on the tank.To say we were were thankful, was putting it mildly. So, obviously, one of the pictures is the gas station! There was a also a sign outside the gas station that left us a little perplexed.....maybe it all looks different in the summer time!

So, all in all it was a good day. We didn't make it as far as Medicine Hat - that would have been another 2 hours driving. We are not driving manically, but making sure we get sufficient rest and are fresh for driving. You just never know what you might meet next!

You might think that the drive is boring, but it is not at all. We talk lots; discuss every issue that arises including gun control, the problems on the reserves, polar bears, etc. I have been reading some of my notes on "Not for Profit Governance" and then we discuss various issues arising from the text. And so far, we have not been bored, and haven't had any "disagreements"!! The quiet time is nice. There is not much radio to listen to and I haven't yet hooked up the Ipod with some audio books. There is always something interesting to see. Even in the Prairies. It really isn't so bleak, there is always something on the horizon. And there are all sorts of communities, probably about every 20 km. The roads have been quiet, but not at all today. Lots of trucks always, and today more cars and SUVs and pick up trucks. We are taking each day as it comes, so let's see where we end up tomorrow. We are also marvelling at the capacity of our country to cope so efficiently with keeping the roads open and safe. It's been a divided highway all the way from Manitoba and most of the road has been clear with only some parts where it's been a little slower with packed ice conditions. Pretty marvellous I'd say and the people responsible for all this organization certainly deserve recognition. Thanks for the comments....keep them coming.....and check back tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thunder Bay to Winnipeg - Wednesday Dec 15, 2010

So......when we woke up this morning, it was -29C.....our first thought was: "Will the car start". We weren't able to get a heater inserted because Audi assured us, their cars don't need one. We weren't really convinced about that remark, but it did start, so all was well. Ray actually tucked it up with a blanket the night before, but we were still very happy it started!

We left around 9:45 a.m.. It truly was a magnificent day with lots of sun, cloudless blue skies, and the temperatures slowly warmed up throughout the day to -9C when we arrived in Winnipeg. The first part of the drive through Ontario was magnificent. Where yesterday the scenery was all about the lake, today the scenery was all about the beautiful forests of evergreens that lined the road as it rolled through undulating countryside.And the aromatic, sweet smell of the trees was divine! You really got the impression of vastness. Just miles and miles of trees as far as you could see. We entered into the Arctic Watershed where all rivers flowed north to the Arctic. This whole area is one of lakes and everywhere you turn there is a small frozen lake covered with white snow.

We were almost out of Ontario - had just stopped in Kenora for a snack and a tea and were speeding down the wide, straight, highway, when "zap", we were caught on radar. Fortunately, I think the officer took pity on us when he looked in the car and saw how stacked it was. He came from Toronto, and very politely told us to slow down, and that the police in Manitoba were fiends for speed. Sometimes you need a little lesson like that just to make you realize you are not vulnerable! And when you are treated with respect, it makes far more of an impact than if we had been left criticizing the officer for being "abrupt" or "threatening" or whatever. Oh, and I forgot to mention that yesterday, just after White River we were stopped in a ride program at 2:30 in the afternoon. Again the officer was so polite and friendly. She routinely asked us where we were going, and when I answered "Vancouver", there was an almost indiscernible pause, before she responded "oh"....."have a good journey"! I guess she realized that there was no way we would have been drinking with that vast a drive ahead of us! So now we have been stopped in 2 ride programs, and once for speeding. I hope our stint with the OPP is over!

Once we crossed the border into Manitoba, the land straightened out, and the temperature warmed up. It's only -9C in Winnipeg. We are staying in a Comfort Inn which is very comfortable, had dinner in Michael Pi's; had a very nice chat with a DataValet technical assistant and now my email is wide I am told! Kudos to him. Xplornet isn't a patch on Shaw! So......we're off to bed. Randall warned us that there is a storm approaching Winnipeg, and we noted that roads west of us were closed to we will see what the morning brings! Pauleen: Thank you for the lovely biscuits/cakes: we had some with our morning "coffee" today ....and yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed them!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Soo to Thunderbay - Tuesday Dec 14

After trying to sort out our computer problems, we set off from the Soo in bright sun and blue skies. The drive through to Thunder Bay was sooo beautiful. Typical Canadian scenery. The road was clear, and wound its way, up and down the craggy lake coastline, around smaller lakes hidden in crevices, and through forests of evergreen trees. Earlier in the day Lake Superior was covered with rain-mist, caused by the wind whipping up the water to form a shallow cloud floating across the Lake. But later, the sun came out to stay. We travelled through Pukaskwa Provincial Park and wondered if there had been a fire there some years ago. The best part was after Marathon and particularly around and after Terrance Bay. What a beautiful part of Canada this is. It seemed truly remote, and we noticed all the signs saying "Closed for the Season" including the "rest areas" along the highway! We waved to the Wawa Goose, Pooh Bear and Terry Fox....sites that we spent time at during our last trip in 2009. Sunset was stunning but unfortunately I couldn't get any pictures because there just wasn't an appropriate spot in the road. I have uploaded a few pictures though which will let you see the type of country we are passing through. There's not much snow and I suspect that in Central Ontario you have more snow than there is up here. We have been watching the news this evening and conditions really have been quite challenging around home. Thunder Bay is just a little smaller than Barrie and seems quite lively. Now we are cosily tucked up in our hotel room while the coldness settles on the outside world. It was about -18C when we came in. Not sure what the forecast is. Not sure where we will get to tomorrow. We will play it by ear!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter - 2010

When we announced we were driving out to Vancouver in December, our friends immediately divided into two camps. The first camp thought we were crazy, had lost our minds, and weren't fit to make decisions about our life. The second camp thought that we were about to embark on a great adventure and offered up all kinds of safety advice like take lots of candles and matches, and if you have to stop keep the engine running; and another....if your engine is running make sure your exhaust is not burried in a snow bank otherwise you will die from carbon monoxide poisoning. All very positive coments. Which camp is right, remains to be seen!!

We set off today around 11:30 this morning ....-14C ....and at the tail end of probably the season's first major snow storm in our area. Needless to say, driving up through Barrie and on to Sudbury was not much fun. Can you imagine being in a tub heaving in the rough ocean? This is what our drive was like. The ice packed rutty road, the snow streamers blowing over it, and the gale force wind made it tough to keep the car on the road. We were held up half way between Parry Sound and Sudbury while a tow truck pulled a car out of the ditch. But we did manage to keep the car on the road, and after Sudbury, it all started to smooth out. Around Massey, we spotted an enormous red triangle in front of us,then another in front of that....can you think what it was? It was two Mennonite horses and carriages. I just can't imagine how the passengers were keeping warm. At this point, the temperature was -18C and with the wind chill it felt like -29C....according to the local weather station. Now, you can blame the wind chill factor on our friend Randall since he invented it....but you can't deny the coldness of the weather. IT WAS FREEZING!! Tam - thanks for the chocolates. We ate some around tea time and they were delicious! We decided to keep driving and around 8:30 p.m. headed into Sault Ste Marie. This is a town of about 75,000 and we are staying close to the water front (St. Mary's River I believe). We had a lovely dinner in The Docks, a unique restaurant overlooking the river and the bridge to the US.

Before we left home our Internet had been down for 2 we cursed and swore, and finally got over being frustrated as we knew we would be on the road and a pre-requisite of a hotel for the night was WiFi. Can you believe when we got into the room and tore our computers out of their bags and plugged them in and turned them on.....that the Internet wasn't working ....this time it was ....maybe Xplornet isn't alone in trying to tackle the weather conditions in winter Canada.....but really know where we snows, it rains, it gets cold..... Anyway, it seems to be working now, so hopefully I will get this posted. We will take tomorrow as it comes and plough on as best we can. I note that in the summer, our first night was spent in Wawa. No idea how far that is from Sault Ste Marie, but let me tell you the winter is a whole different story. The country side is still pretty flat and uninteresting, but now the side of the highways are covered with dirty brown snow, and the granite shield is highlighted by the waterfalls of pecan coloured frozen water. Some, but not many, of the houses are lit up with Christmas lights, and the towns are adorned with santas, and bright stars, and manger scenes. I am looking forward to seing Sault Ste Marie tomorrow before we head off to our next destination.