Monthly Archives: December 2013

New Year’s Eve in Guelph

Day 6: Guelph, ON. 2,389.7 km.

First of all, before I forget again: thanks to everyone who's been leaving comments! Ali and I both read them all and look forward to them!

We started this snowy day by driving half an hour to Elmira, to go to a place called At The Crossroads Family Restaurant, which is (locally) famous for its weekend breakfast buffet. Since it's not actually the weekend, though, we got the smaller weekday buffet. But you know what, it was big enough! Bacon, eggs, sausage, fruit, pancakes, toast, cinnamon rolls, and more, all you can eat for eight bucks — delicious AND reasonable!

It was a neat little place in an area of Ontario that has a lot of — I think — Old Order Mennonites, so we passed a few horses-and-buggies on the way there. (Didn't get a picture, because I was driving!) After breakfast, we browsed around the two stores attached to the restaurant; a sort of gift shop called The Mercantile, and a quilting store called Quilter's Nine Patch. We didn't buy anything but they were neat places to wander around.

Next stop was a little bit of shopping in Waterloo to pick up a few items we needed. I wouldn't mention it except that I was amused that one of the cashiers, upon learning that we were from Winnipeg, commented that we hadn't managed to escape the cold by coming to Ontario. I disagreed; I'll take “-11° C, snowy, and windy” over -28° C any day!

The rest of the day was pretty sedate…though I made oliebollen / apple fritters, which was something new! Well, Erica had made the batter; I just fried them up. They came out pretty random sizes but they seemed successful!

Then after church, Erica went out to a New Year's party and we were left to babysit her five kids plus three extras! It went fairly well; mostly we left them to their own devices, confirmed that the house wasn't burning down and nobody was likely to sustain a major injury, and then watched the countdown at midnight.

Then it was snacks and bedtime — for the kids, and soon, for us…after an unexpected but welcome video call from Pamela, Nik, Alexa, and everyone else at my parents' party!

Happy New Year, everyone!



Gone to Guelph

Day 5: Guelph, ON. 2,285.8 km.

Today, we slept in!

For the first time this trip, we didn't have any reason to get up at any particular time. So, we slept in until, oh, 9:30 or 10:00 or so (though apparently Lars was awake at about 6:30).

When we did get up, we visited with Kelly, played with Lars, and finally went out to explore Strathroy at around noon. We went for lunch at the Strathroy Ale House, which is in a beautiful old post office building. That was really our first “dining out” experience of the trip so far (lunch at Pizza Hut doesn't count!), so it was a nice way to spend an hour.

Afterwards we went to explore the Strathroy Antique Mall — just browsing, not shopping! — which was much bigger than we expected. Then the plan was to go wander around town a bit and take some pictures, but it was cold, and the weather wasn't fantastic for photos, so we went to Tim Horton's for hot chocolate (we are, after all, in Ontario), and went back to Kelly and Trevor's place to pack up.

A note on the “cold”: Yes, I realize that it's -30 or something in Winnipeg right now, and it was, I don't know, -9 or so in Strathroy, so I'm not expecting a whole lot of sympathy from back home. But: first, -9 here is a lot colder than -9 in Winnipeg, because of the humidity, and second, we weren't dressed for it, and third, whatever, it's our vacation, stop judging us 🙂

We took our time packing our bags, jammed everything into the car (which seemed just as full as before, even though we left some stuff behind!), said goodbye to Kelly and Lars, and drove to Guelph.

We got there (here?) at about 7:00, said hi to Erica and the kids, unloaded all our stuff into the basement, and gave the kids the presents we couriered from Winnipeg (some from us, some from Grandma and Grandpa).

Then we chatted with Erica, I spent some time setting up the computer that I brought for the family, and we went to bed.

Oh, and we saw the wedding present that we need to bring back to Winnipeg!

It'll be a bit challenging fitting that into our car, but it'll be worth it!


Lazy Sunday

Day 4: Strathroy, ON. 2,111.5 km

Sunday! Not much to report, because we didn't do much. Went to church, had cake and coffee, took Lars to feed the geese but the geese weren't there (and it was a little rainy and cold anyway), went “home” and chatted into the evening, went to bed.

That's a pretty short post, so here are some pictures of Lars!


Back to Canada!

Day 3: Strathroy, ON. 2,109.1 km.

We slept in this morning, ate a great big breakfast at our hotel (eggs, toast, tea, coffee, chocolate milk, orange juice, donuts, yoghurt), and wandered outside at around 9:30 AM to brave the wintry Indiana weather:

It was beautiful again today — we hit temperatures of around 7° C again, and the roads were, once again, clean and dry. It feels like spring here: the snow is melting, we're not wearing jackets, and the grass is even green in places! The snow tires we put on our car before leaving haven't had a chance to make a difference for us, but we aren't complaining! Especially since we hear Manitoba was hit by snow and cold!

We made an early stop in Michigan City, Indiana to visit a Hobby Lobby store — an American chain that Ali was interested in. It was huge, and full of tempting things:

Of course we bought some stuff: Ali got crochet and sewing supplied, and I got origami and papercraft supplies. Then we hit the road and headed to Michigan. We stopped more often today than on the previous days…first at the Hobby Lobby, then at a rest stop near Lansing, MI to stretch our legs:

Then we stopped at another rest stop, between Lansing and Portland, so I could check the map they had posted and confirm that, yes, we were on the wrong interstate :-(.

It was our only navigational error of the trip, and it happened because our directions said we needed I-69 North, and the exit sign was for I-69 East. We realized the mistake pretty quickly and turned around at the next exit (Portland, MI, where we also got gas), and it only cost us 15-20 minutes or so.

After that, we cruised for the border! Canada, yay!

We pulled up to Trevor & Kelly's place in Strathroy around 6:00, having lost an hour early in the morning due to the time change, where we had supper, delivered various packages from Winnipeg, and visited with Trevor, Kelly, Owen, Arlene, and of course Lars, who loved the belated Christmas gifts.

And now we're heading to bed! Tomorrow we should be going to sleep in the same city that we wake up in, which will be nice!


One day, four states

Day 2: Gary, IN. 1,520.3 km

Today was possibly the biggest drive we'll do on this trip. (We haven't planned the drive home yet so I don't know for sure.)

We had a small breakfast in our hotel, left Alexandria at around 8:30 in the morning, and drove until we got to our hotel in Gary, Indiana, passing through Wisconsin and Illinois along the way. We stopped for gas in Minneapolis, had a sit-down lunch in Tomah, WI, and stopped for gas again in Durand, WI, ending up at our hotel pretty much twelve hours after we left the previous one.

I drove the whole way, to my own surprise. The one time I was getting tired was around lunch, and Ali was tired too, but after our lunch stop (probably around 45 minutes), I was more awake and good to go again,

Once again the weather was on our side: mostly dry roads, and no rain or snow. It would have been rain, actually, since it was above freezing the whole way — our high temperature today was 6° C!

Traffic, on the other hand, was not quite as nice as yesterday. We hit morning rush hour in Minneapolis and afternoon rush hour in Milwaukee (I just can't get away from that place, it seems!). But that meant we went through Chicago well after rush hour, and with up to seven lanes on the freeway, we were glad of that! And we had a fantastic view of the Chicago night skyline as we approached. (Also a good view of all the planes approaching/leaving/circling O'Hare!)

The only reason that traffic was a concern at all was that, starting in Wisconsin, we noticed drivers being VERY aggressive with their lane changes after passing on the interstate. I would be driving along with the cruise control on in the right-hand lane, someone would come up behind and pass me, and then pull RIGHT back in front of me as soon as they passed, often leaving less than a car-length between us! Slightly unnerving at 65-70 mph! And then, after we were used to that, we got to Chicago, where people seem to merge on the assumption that other cars will just get out of the way for them.

Oh well…we were startled a couple times but it was once again a pretty uneventful drive. We had a small supper in our hotel room, and we expect a shorter drive tomorrow morning. And we're glad we're on the east side of Chicago and won't be driving through morning traffic there!

My favourite local attraction that we drove past: in Wisconsin, the “Deke Slayton Astronaut And Bicycle Museum”. And I couldn't help but think of Pamela when we saw a billboard for a scrubs warehouse store!


Road trip!

Day 1: Alexandria, MN. 538.6 km.

Well, time for a great big road trip! There are a lot of firsts: the longest vacation I've ever taken, the first road trip Ali and I have taken together, the first road trip that I've been the primary driver for, the farthest east I've ever driven…should be interesting! I can't promise that I'll blog every day, but we'll see how it goes!

We left fairly late, getting away from our house at about 1:30. But we knew we weren't planning a huge drive for the first day. And it was a boring, uneventful drive (thankfully!). The roads were clean, clear, and dry the whole way, and traffic was light. The border crossing took no time at all, and went smoothly (though I worried a bit when he asked where I worked and I remembered stories I've heard about border agents being reluctant to let unemployed people in).

We drove straight south to Fargo and then turned east. We arrived at our hotel in Alexandria (a small Minnesota city with about 11,500 residents) just after 7:00, and immediately heard someone say “You betcha“, which made me grin. I was glad to arrive, and glad that the hotel was easy to find, because I'd been driving in the dark for about an hour and learning that Minnesota doesn't give you any warning before the interstate curves, and doesn't put any reflectors up to show you where the road goes either!

At our hotel, we brought in everything that we didn't want to leave in the car overnight, confirmed that we didn't have any stowaways in the trunk (apparently that was a possibility), picked up supper (and re-learned what an American “small” drink looks like), and turned in for an early night. Tomorrow is our longest drive of the three-day trip; we're hoping to get a good night's sleep and get going on time so we arrive at our next hotel without too much driving after dusk.

No pictures today, and not much else to talk about, so, time for bed!