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We've been hanging around Guelph. Nothing too exciting is going on, but today we visited ECHS, which is in a newly-renovated heritage building in Fergus. So of course I took pictures!

This was actually back in Hamilton yet.

These glasses have no lenses 🙂

Old-fashioned blackboards suit the old building

This wall was the exterior of the old building. The old windows are now bulletin boards. On the left is the new addition.

The art room.

Hey dad, why are you crouched down?




Getting a head start

Day 21: Strathroy, ON. 4518.4 km.

We spent most of today slowly working on getting the car packed: laundry, emptying and repacking things so we had the space we needed, and so that we don't have to unpack everything as we drive back.

We got a couple other small things done too; I installed another light for Erica (with Kailynn's help), we planned the drive back home, that sort of thing. After the boys were home from school and we said our goodbyes, we went to the mall (needed to get a refund on a bill that we were overcharged on), had supper (Moxie's; delicious!), got gas (we were totally empty, whoops!), and left for Strathroy.

Home renos with help from Miss K

This was a change from our original plan; we had talked about spending another night in Guelph and leaving from there in the morning, but when we were in Strathroy a couple weeks ago, we decided to spend the night in Strathroy instead, since that's two hours closer to the border, and makes the drive shorter.

Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side. It snowed most of the way, fairly heavily at times. I was in the middle lane on the 401, going 80 km/h, and hardly anyone was passing me…and at one point I was behind a semi that was doing 40. The blowing snow on the road made it hard for me to see where my lane was, which resulted in me accidentally exiting into Kitchener! No big deal…we turned around in a parking lot and got back on track.

This picture is too ridiculous to leave out, even though it has nothing to do with anything.

After Kitchener, the weather started to get better, though we did see one accident (one vehicle that had somehow gone head-on into the guardrail). We had heard that Conrad was stuck on the shoulder with two flat tires, and sure enough, we saw him…in the opposite lane. Nothing we could do to help, though, so we silently wished him luck and carried on (if he had been on our side of the road, we would have brought him coffee!). About 25 km from London, the snow stopped and the roads were clear…and then we turned onto the 402 towards Strathroy and the snow started all over again!

But, the main thing is, here we are, safe and sound. In the end, we never slipped or slid, and the only thing I was really nervous about was merging onto the 401 in low visibility and moderately heavy traffic. It was a longer drive than expected: we left the Guelph mall at about 6:30 and finally made it to Strathroy just after 9:00 — 2.5 hours for a drive that's normally closer to 1.5.

Our first stop was Owen's house, where we got a tour and visited with Owen and Arlene for an hour. Then we went to Trevor and Kelly's, where we chatted with Trevor (Kelly and Lars were in bed) for probably longer than we should have, given that we're planning to leave at 7:30 or 8:00 tomorrow…weather permitting.



It fits! Good thing, too, because we didn't have a Plan B.


My birthday, again

Day 21: Guelph, ON. 4,338.9 km.

Our day (the 15th; late post again!) started bright and early, with Ali telling my “Happy birthday!” at 3:00 AM, when Kailynn woke us up by crawling in bed with us (something we were told to expect while Erica was gone). Ali got up at around 7:00 to send the older boys off to school, and when they were gone, she went back to bed and I got up and watched Davin and Kailynn (and fed them breakfast).

Then it was mostly just another day around the house. I cleaned out the car in preparation for the drive home, and measured it to see how (and if) our cabinet would fit in it (turns out, it should fit no problem, with room to spare).

After the boys came home, we watched Despicable Me 2 (because it was my birthday), and Ali and Kailynn ran out to Walmart for a bit of shopping. We had spaghetti for supper, I went downstairs and played Mario Kart with the boys for a bit, and then when Erica got home, I got to open presents!

Mom's home!

Kailynn picked the card.

Everyone wants to see

Hey Pamela, look what *I* got!

I got spoiled with tea for our new Keurig, a widget for brewing loose tea by the cup, and a gorgeous Doctor Who graphic novel collection (from Ali, who knows what I like!). Then it was bedtime for the boys, and, before long, for us.

Auntie Ali has been busy these last few days. I think it's time to bring her somewhere quiet. (Photo credit: Davin)


Not my typical vacation

Day 19: Guelph, ON. 4,306.6 km.

This morning, Erica left for a short vacation to the US. Which means Ali and I are left here with five kids. Who's vacation is this, again? 🙂

My day got off to an easy start, at any rate, because Ali let me sleep in. By the time I got up, three of the kids were gone to school and Erica was just on her way out the door. We spent the day with Davin and Kailynn, puttering around the house. I did some work on Erica's computer, Ali spent some time organizing and cleaning, I emptied out our car so we could clean it before the trip home, and overall it was a fairly low-key day.

Low-key is nice, though, as Erica's not back until Wednesday — we've got two more days yet! The kids are pretty good — loud, but good — and I can't really complain. But I also don't have much to write about as a result.

Davin did ask me this morning, “Uncle Darryl, are you going to make the same peanut butter cookies that you did last time?” Well, I wasn't planning to, but since he asked…

Final count: 112. How quickly will five kids go through those?


Happy birthday to me!

Day 18: Guelph, ON. 4,306.6 km.

Well, here we are, in Guelph again for a few days. It's nice to be able to sit somewhere and “relax” (as much as possible in a house with five kids!) before starting the (casually-paced) trip back to Winnipeg.

Today (Sunday, that is…these late posts are becoming a habit!) was simple. We got up fairly late (I actually forgot it was Sunday!), went to church, and then afterwards, Trevor, Kelly, Lars, Owen, and Arlene came from Strathroy for an (early) birthday party for me!

We had had a bit of a discussion about what cake I wanted; first we were going to buy one, then Erica was going to make one, then I got asked what I wanted, and then Kailynn suggested “Sean's cake” — a trifle — which is what we ended up having. (“Sean's cake”, because that's what Sean had for his birthday…and that only happened because Kailynn destroyed the cake that Erica had made for him!) It was delicious, and huge; we only ate about half of it…and Lars had four helpings!

Singing Happy Birthday

Mmm, trifle!

By the time everything was wrapped up and we went to bed, I was too tired to load up my photos and put a blog post together, so that's why this is late.

It was a wild party.

But it was a nice evening — thanks to Ali, Erica, Owen, and Trevor for planning it, preparing dinner and dessert, and/or making the trip to Guelph!


Back to Guelph

Day 17: Guelph, ON. 4,267.6 km.

We went to bed last night with a forecast of freezing rain, so we didn't know what the day would hold. We awoke at around 9:30, and while we ate breakfast, we learned from Uncle Andy (who had been out on his morning walk already) that there was definitely rain, but what little ice there was had already melted. Thankful for this, we packed the car (a bit sloppily, I must confess, because the rain was cold and I didn't think to bring a rain jacket on a January vacation!), stopped to get gas (still low from yesterday's misadventures, but happily there was a gas station nearby, and cheap too!), and headed for the highway before noon.

The drive today was the only inclement weather that we've hit so far. All day it rained, and for most of the day it was foggy, with both the fog and rain varying significantly in severity as we drove. The rain was sometimes a fine mist and was briefly a significant downpour, but generally it was a light drizzle. The fog never got terrifyingly thick, but at times I could only count about 8-10 seconds from the time an object appeared through the mists until the time I drove past it, so I wouldn't have wanted it much heavier! Ali and I were surprised by how many people were driving in this weather with no lights on; it seemed dangerous, but common.

With a high temperature of 10 °C (this is January, right??) we had no worries about freezing rain, and the wet roads didn't pose a problem for us, but we passed a couple of accidents. Fairly early in the day, we saw a car on its side with a completely smashed windshield, apparently having rolled across almost the entire median (a minute later, we saw a police car presumably on its way to the scene). And somewhere around Toronto, one or two eastbound lanes were blocked by a multi-vehicle accident, backing up traffic for a long way afterwards.

We had good traffic, though, and no problems with slippery roads — not even any scares. We left the fog behind in Toronto, and the rain stopped sometime after we arrived in Guelph, which was nice for unloading the car.

And here we are! In a weird way it feels like coming home, after adventures in Hamilton, Montreal, and Ottawa, and in other ways it feels like we never left. But we are definitely on the return leg of our journey now…though we're in no hurry, and we plan to remain here for the next few days!

Oh, and a piece of trivia that we picked up from Aunt Carla and Uncle Andy that we've agreed deserves to be blogged: their Ottawa church congregation, which has been around for 53 years, has never had a funeral! Apparently nobody has passed away while they were a member of that church. I think they should advertise that; that should attract members!


Last day in Guelph

Day 8: Guelph, ON. 2,408.9 km.

Another slow day…but this is a slow vacation, so that's ok, and tomorrow we're on the road again!

We did actually get out of the house today: a little shopping, we took Kailynn for a haircut, and the church held a “family night”, which was sort of a belated Christmas concert with the kids (apparently delayed due to weather). And we did some around-the-house stuff: Ali did some laundry, I helped the kids get their computer set up the way they wanted it, etc.

Kailynn sat quietly with a fairly baffled expression throughout her (quick) haircut. It was kind of funny, actually, as if she was thinking “What's going on here? You said we were going shopping!”

The family night event was fairly small. All the kids were supposed to participate, but Kailynn wouldn't go up to sing her song. She did decide that she wanted to go up when she realized the kids were getting candy, but it was too late then! In another part of the program, all the kids went up front and had a story read to them, and she went then, so they were all on stage at some point.

And that's it! Sorry for being boring but it's a quiet kind of trip. I thought I'd post something anyway, so my mom doesn't think I'm dead 🙂



Day 7: Guelph, ON. 2,389.7 km.

For the first day this trip, we didn't add any kilometers to our odometer. We just stayed put.

We started the day off right: by sleeping in. The VanLuik kids were still here from our New Year's party last night — they slept over — and their parents came to join us for a big old brunch.

After that, there's not a lot to say, really. Some of the kids stayed in their pajamas all day, that's how relaxed a day it was. We had an afternoon nap, I did some origami, Ali did some crochet, the kids played Wii and Minecraft and games on the various iPhones/iPods/iPads that we have around here, and so on. Ali and I started playing Draw Something with Thomas, which was fun, but then it was “bedtime” so we had to stop for the night (long past bedtime, really; oh well!).

The one productive thing we did was just before bed: we found and booked a cute little hotel for our stay in Montreal. Looking forward to that!


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!