Saturday, 30 June 2012

Day 8 - Surprise Surprise!

This morning we were up fairly early.  We packed up the gang and headed to the southern tip of the campground.  That is where the interpretive trail is for the Buffalo. Even me, the great navigator that I am, led us down the wrong path.  I did in the end find the way.  We got to see some Buffalos.  We thought we would see them free in the plains but the only place we saw them was in the paddock (where they feed them).  Pretty cool non the less.  We hiked a little bit up the trail.  Bones was loving life!  He was hunting prairie dogs like crazy!! He had his nose so far down the hole! It was hilarious!  We headed back and packed up the trailer and headed west towards Medicine Hat.

Buffalo Pound Park
Bones hunting

Justin was on the phone with his mom when all of sudden we come across a part of the highway where both sides are covered with some white substance.  He hangs up, pulls over and I turn to my friend Google to find out where we were and what this might be.  We are in Chaplin.  This is what wikipedia tells us:

 'As well as being the home for shorebirds, the main business of Chaplin also uses the sodium sulphate deposits of Chaplin Lake. Saskatchewan Minerals, a private company, harvests the sodium sulphate through an evaporation method; large salt deposits are visible from the Trans-Canada Highway. Additionally, Artemia Canada, a seasonal company, catches and packages the brine shrimp that thrive in the salt water of Chaplin Lake. Both of these industries support the needs of shorebirds by ensuring an adequate supply of water in the spring and summer.'
What we came across on HWY1 in Chaplin
It was pretty cool to see.

Figured we would stop somewhere along the way and again, my trustee google told me that there was a kite festival in Swift Current! Justin loves kites and hey, why not?! We parked the trailer in the field, got bb girl all bundled up and headed towards the action.  It was actually quite different and cool to watch.  People have kyte routines coordinated to music.  It was soooo windy! What a perfect place for a kyte festival! We heard some locals talk about how it isn't always that windy - a few years back they barely had any wind!  It was so windy today that they had to put weights on their kytes in order to control them better.  What a cool spot to randomly hit!
Dancing kite
These three girls did a show with their long dresses flapping in the wind.
Different and kind of cool!

BB Girl enjoyed the kites!
Picked up a little lunch!
While Justin was driving, I was trying to catch beautiful pictures of the prairie skies and in particular the trains going by!  You can see them for miles.  It's very pretty! The train director must have seen me, because he blew the train whistle at us!!! I waved! :)

We crossed into Alberta at around 1500 (guessing as we didn't write it down).  Of course, out we went for 'the' photo op!  The Alberta sign was our least favorite.  It was just older than all the others and wasn't as well manicured!  We grabbed some cuddles with baby girls and continued on our way!

Cuddles before hitting the road again.

We arrived in Medicine Hat fairly early - 1630ish.  On our way we saw the worlds BIGGEST Teepee! whoohooo!!! We would soon come to find out that Medicine Hat likes to be renowned for weird big things.

World's biggest teepee

When we arrived at our campground, there were a lot of people wearing Search & Rescue uniforms. We figured maybe it was an excercise as the campsite was city owned.  Turns out it was a real search for a young girl that had gone missing.  We have no further info. The campground, Gas City Campground, is the nicest one we have seen yet!  The layout was very smart and the campground was well manicured!  I gathered our stuff and went to do the laundry!

BB Girl keeping busy while we setup.
At the kite festival, bones was running around in long grass.  Justin felt something behind his neck while he was driving and thought maybe it was a tick.  When our site was setup we checked Bones! OH! GROSS!!! We found 3 ticks on him!!! EWWWWW!!!! 
Yucky tick!

On my way back, how I laughed when I noticed who are neighboors were.  What do you know....Bob & Cindy - our friends from the depot!  Justin was giving bb girl a bath while I went to the laundry and bb girl was freaking out!  Justin went to apologize to the neighboors and that is when he realized who they were! How cool! They drive the biggest nicest fanciest Winnebego rig!

Bob & Cindy's Rig
They gave us the tour. Two washrooms...need I say more! wow! Poor Bob was so disappointed because he couldn't get his satellite feed on his 50 some inches big screen!!! Gotta love camping!  A local told him that if he moved his rig a few feet forward, he would have perfect reception.  Poor Bob! Too much work to move his rig forward.  I didn't understand!
I said Bob?  Are there too many buttons to press??  He had a good laugh!! He doesn't put his jacks down by hand like we do! :)

We enjoyed a beautiful Medicine Hat sunset.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Day 7 - Underground in Moose Jaw

This morning we decided to take things slow.  Justin and Bones went for a walk around the campground and to the beach.  Justin says, the rednecks all have nice boats to take on the lake.

At 1300, we drove the 40kms into Moose Jaw.  We found Moose Jaw to be a lot bigger than we thought and again another beautiful prairie city.  The town was full of nice old buildings and murals.  The Tunnels tour was on Main street.  We missed it twice but finally found it!

All ready for the tunnels!

We started out on the Chinese tour.  It was interesting to see all the old photographs depicting the story of Moose Jaw and the Chinese building the railroads.  The one gal play explained how badly the chinese ('Coulees') were treated when they came to Canada.  They had to work to pay for their head tax as well as their trip over.  The chinese were not liked at all so they would hide underground and work and live in horrible conditions.  For this particular story, they depict the Chinese working for a laundrymat.  Living underground in tight quarters, working with strong chemicals that caused burns for mere pennies a day. We had a little over a half an hour to kill before the next tour so we went and indulged in some gelato that we had come accross on Main street.  It was a delicious treat.

Break between tours

The Al Capone tour was cool but not nearly as informative as the previous tour.  It was more of a tourist/entertaining tour and we just didn't enjoy it as much.  BB Girl let us know that it was time to head back.  We stopped at Safeway to pick up a few things.  I have to say that I love Safeway.  We don't have them at home.  It's a very nice grocery store and can you believe that they offer to bring your bags to the car every time! The girl was wondering why I had that look of surprise on my face when she asked if I wanted my order taken to the car. I told her ' Wow! Now, that is service!'.  Then, Justin made a quick stop over at Walmart.  Our blind in the dining room had fallen off and we needed a replacement as well as more storage container and a camping chair.  After arriving at the campground.  Justin drove off with Bones to try and have a look at the Buffalos.  He was pretty upset when he got back because he wasn't able to find the trail.  We figured we would try again in the morning.

Buffalo Pound Lake
Mommy and BB girl having some fun!

That's the day in a nutshell.

Day 6 - Regina the beautiful

We were ready to go by 0830 today.  We thought it was 0930 but my trustee iphone was saying it was 0830.  I looked in my atlas again to look at the time zones and in fact we were only supposed to change time once we crossed into Alberta.  I seemed to remember something about one of the provinces not adhering to daylight savings time (DST).  And yes, of course, Saskatchewan does not so my trustee iphone was right! Man I love my iphone!

This morning we reached the 3000 kms landmark.  I missed it!

We arrived in Regina at 0930.  As soon as we entered the city we saw a Mr. Lube. Perfect, as we needed an oil change and a fuel filter.  We had to unhook the trailer because we wouldn't have made the turn out of the garage.  What a great company.  Pull in, offered coffee or water and the morning paper.  The guys pulled up our information on the computer and away they went.  We were out of there in no time.  (We love Dragon's Den and especially Jim - this is one of his companies).

We then decided to head on over to the RCMP Heritage Museum and Depot.  On Friday's they have the Sgt Major's Parade so we thought we would get there on time to see it.

Our experience didn't start off that great.  The young lad at the kiosk was not sure of himself and he also did not give us the police discount as explained on the website. We didn't think much of it and went on to visit the museum as the tour was only starting in a half hour.  The museum is very nice but we both didn't find it that informative, we didn't visit the second half though because the tour was about to start.  Our tour guide was a young girl who again was not very confident and didn't look that enthused.  She took us around and pointed to the buildings around the academy and didn't not offer much more information than what was on the signs in front of the buildings.  Most of the buildings have been renovated so there isn't much history.  The cadets were walking around and it must be our military background but we weren't that impressed with their deportment.  They do have a very old wooden chapel on the grounds that was very nice to visit.  Cadets are at the depot for 6 months.  There are new intakes of 32 cadets that come in at various times during the year.  I was surprised by that because I assumed they all came in at once.  You can identify at what stage the cadets are at by their dress.  They start off with running shoes, pants and a shirt.  As they get further into their training they get the stripe on their pants, their gun belt (minus the gun) and, eventually their riding boots.  The Sgt's parade consisted of an inspection and a march pass.  It was interesting for us to see the drill as they do dismounted drill.  A little different than what we are used to.  Their parade square is beautiful.  

The names of all officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

We met a very nice couple from South Carolina, Bob & Cindy.  They were on their way to Calgary for the stampede.  He is a retired Maryland State Trooper.  We enjoyed chatting with them throughout our tour.  He asked Justin if he got in for free, because Bob was excited that he didn't have to pay as a retired police officer.  We told them that we paid full price even though Justin showed his credentials.  We tried to get our money back but the staff said they couldn't do anything. (Note: we would have been happy to pay the entry fee but we were so disappointed in this visit that we figured we would try and get the discount.) Justin left before the march pass was over because Bones was in the truck and it was getting pretty hot.  When I returned with Baby girl we got some lunch prepared and had a picnic.

We then headed towards town to Wascana Lake.  We wanted to make it on time as they were offering free boat rides on the Lake in honor of their 50th anniversary. It was about 1430 when we got to the lake and we saw the boat leave on the tour.  I wasn't sure if they would be going out again but we decided to wait and it paid off because the tour guide took us on the tour.  This park is stunning!  It is a man made lake.  The legislative assembly is on one side and trails go around the entire lake.  we were really impressed.  After the boat tour we decided we had to take advantage of this beautiful scenery so Justin took our bikes down and off we went.  We started off with Bones but he isn't that good with the bikes so we took him back and continued on.  We all enjoyed the ride.  Everyone loves to see BB girl on her bike seat.  We packed everything up and headed out of town - destination: Moose Jaw.

The prairie skies are amazing.  At this point though, we still don't find it crazy flat.  Justin describes it best as beautiful rolling hills.  Just stunning.

I usually don't call ahead but on our way I decided to call the campground to ask for their availability.  Good thing I did because they had no room for us.  None of the campsites in Moose Jaw could take us.  So, we opted for Buffalo Pound Provincial park which is 20 minutes North East of Moose Jaw.  Turns out, it was great because it was a nice campsite and a trail that lets you catch a glimpse of a herd of buffalos.

We set up for the night, fed BB girl and put her to bed.  Unfortunatly, this is the first time we have such a hard time putting her to sleep.  We think she was really overtired today.  Her cry was piercing.  Finally, she went down!  Justin wanted to make a fire.  I was freezing.  I did not enjoy the fire at all.  It's in a raised fire pit and was not warming me up at all!  Justin was upset because I was not enjoying his fire.  Nice thing at the park is that they provide you with wood.  A good way to prevent people from bringing wood from other regions.

All in all - A good day!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Day 4 - Transition to the Prairies

Today we took it slow!  BB girl was up early but came to snuggle with us and we ended up getting up at 0900! (which was 1000 for her if you account that we just changed time zones!!!)  Proof that our BB girl was in need of a traveling break!  We made a nice bacon and eggs breakfast and the plan was to take a nice bike ride in Dryden.  For a small town, they had a very impressive visitor's guide.  They had some nice trails and also a map to guide you through town but as luck would have it, it was raining quite hard so we decided to carry on!

We arrived in Kenora at 2.  You can take Hwy 17A and bypass the city but we decided to drive through and have a look!  We are happy that we did! Turns out, Kenora is beautiful.  It sits along the shores of Lake of the Woods.  The waterfront is gorgeous and we saw some beautiful homes.  We were also very surprised to see how busy the city was.  There was traffic and people everywhere.  We missed a turn to continue on Hwy 17 and came across our first snag.  We ended up in a small neighbourhood and we came down a very steep hill.  The problem was that the hill didn't smoothly transition to flat.  It was hill then straight flat (not a smooth transition).  A near perfect 45degree angle.  Good thing Justin was sharp and went slow because we did indeed bottom out.  Our jack stands were touching the ground.  I got out and guided Justin backing up all the way up the hill (he laughed because I was out of breath - no excuse on my part but it was a steep hill!).  We made it out of town safely and were happy to have made the small detour to explore the city.

We crossed the border at 1400  We thought bb girl was sleeping but she woke up to have her picture taken by the sign!

 We pulled in the visitor centre, picked up a pile of brochures and had some lunch.  We arrived in Winnipeg at 1600 and settled in for the night at Travellers RV campground.  Another perfect park for our needs.  It's a 250+ pull through lots campground with all services.

We settled in and took BB girl on her first ride with our new Ibert Bike seat!  WE LOVE IT!!! (thanks lovers for the tip)  BB Girl had a big smile and enjoyed touring the campsite with mom and dad.

Of course, yet again, our ride was cut short as the rain started to come down.  It was almost supper time anyhow so we headed back to our trailer.  We called it a night early!

Day 5 - Winnipeg

Today we were out the door by 0930.  We left bones at the trailer for the first time during our trip.  Left the radio and the fan on - after our return we asked to neibhboors if he barked or cried a lot and our good boy never made a sound (they didn't even know he was there).

First up was St-Boniface.  I have to say that before arriving in Winnipeg, I thought St-Boniface was a town of its own somewhere south of the city.  Turns out, it's just accross the bridge and it's simply a neighborhood.  We found the cemetery where Louis Riel was burried and the cathedral but I was getting really upset as I couldn't find any tourist information at all.  On my map, the tourist info booth was located directly beside the cathedral.
Pierre tombale de Louis Riel

There was a play/tour going in the cemitary for a school group.  One of the girls finally guided me towards the museum and we decided to watch the play as it was just about to start again.  The play was cute and witty!
Play in the cemetery

There was a monument honoring the french Canadian soldiers given by France and it was named 'le poilu'! Too funny! It reminded us of Paul...(Paul a pas de poils sa....)

'Le Poilu'

The cathedral was beautiful, they rebuild it including the remains that were left after a fire in the 1960s.  Unfortunlatly, there wasn't much more information.

La cathédrale St-Boniface

La cathédrale St-Boniface
La cathédrale St-Boniface

BB Girl!

BB Girl was starting to be a little tired so we decided to hop in the truck and head on over to the Forks.  We had a nice lunch and then headed back.  There isn't all that much to visit and seeing as both Justin and I had already been in Winnipeg, we had pretty much seen everything we wanted.  I have to say that the city was much prettier in the summer and at temperatures warmer than -40C!

We got the trailer ready and I went to pay our late departure fee.  That is when I asked the young girl if she recommended visiting the mint.  She said that she had gone on a tour in high school and that it was actually very interesting.  So, on our way out, we stopped in on the chance that there would be some room left on the tour!  Well, not only was there room left on the tour but we were the only ones!  On top of that, when we got talking with our tour guide about where we came from, he told us he was a retired military member! Not any military member, but an ex MP.  Crazy small world! The tour was extremely interesting/informative and Phil, our tour guide, was great!  Our mint makes coins for over 70 different countries due to the fact that we have a special formula that allows us to make them for cheaper.  We also learned that anyone can submit to have a coin made.  If your coin is chosen, your initials are on the coin and you get the frist strike.  Pretty cool stuff!  Phil mentioned to us that the coins are no longer made of precious metals as it was too expensive.  Copper pennies were phased out in 1996.  I asked Phil, if copper pennies were worth more than one cent at the scrap yard and they actuallly are worth 2 cents.  But don't you go and bring your pennies to the scrapyard because they won't pay you for them as it is illegal to deface money! (Dad - you can't say we didn't warn you!)

We finally headed out of town towards Regina.  We made a pit stop at the Jets practice facility to pick up a hat and tshirt.  I was talking on the phone with mom and dad, telling them everything was fine as Justin pulled over and said something was wrong.  We had a long moulding from the rain gutters flapping in the wind.  Justin removed it and we will have to get the trailer looked at to make sure it will not allow rain to penetrate trailer.  We then stopped at a picnic/rest area because bb girl had  had enough.  She barely slept all day.  We can't blame her though. She takes after her mom and is too curious and will not nap when there is action going on.  So, we had some supper and Justin played around with bones.  Throwing his duck around playing fetch.  Tragedy struck when we were leaving.  We couldn't find the duck anywhere.  Justin is convinced that it was right behind the trailer.  Bones' chicken was stolen!  Ah! Friendly Manitoba hey?? Not so much!

We went through Brandon at 2100.  We again decided to drive through the town rather than bypass it.  Again, another beautiful town with beautiful homes, nice city hall.  The river on the other hand was not that nice.  We were surprised to read that it is the 2nd largest city in Manitoba with a population of 46k.

We crossed into Saskatchewan at 2213.  Of course we stopped at the sign to take some pictures.  We moved some picnic tables over so that we could climb the sign.  I realized I was getting old because I was scared to get in trouble! What happened to my rebel days!

We ended up stopping for the night at 2230 in Grenfell.  We had no choice because we needed diesel and the gas station was closed!  So we settled in at the Esso between two huge trucks for the night!

Justin's Big Rig in the middle! Mr W would be proud - he's about at 3000km under his belt!