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Gill's Moving Journal


Tuesday February 16 to Sunday March 7 1993 11.20 pm,
Tuesday, February 16, 1993

Prairie Schooner and Tender Behind in Calgary early March 1993

So ends the first day, in a double room with double beds at the Chignic Lodge somewhere short of Port aux Basques.  We were racing to catch the ferry, knowing we’d be at least fifteen minutes late for the check-in time, just to get a blowout on one of the inner rear tires of the truck.  It is 11.20, the kids are settling down, the dog is pacing as she insists she’s hungry, despite being offered food in the parking lot of the Kozy Korner in Deer Lake, and Chris is sitting next to the pay phone hoping that the 24 hour tire service in either Stephenville or Corner Brook will return his call at this time of night.

We are at the end of the first day in our odyssey from the eastern edge of an island on one side of the continent to the eastern edge of another island on the opposite side of the continent, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, from Newfoundland-the oldest, most economically bankrupt province in Canada to British Columbia-the newest, economically vibrant province.

This trip really started two summers ago when summer still had not arrived by mid July.  We went on an annual trip to Trinity for a sailing event and the wild roses had not yet flowered, the apple blossom was still really pretty, the lupins were nowhere near flowering, and an iceberg was very noisy as it cracked and turned over and over in the bay.  The second annual baseball game for the sailors from St. John’s was played with players and spectators blowing on frozen fingers and jumping up and down in order to keep the blood circulating.  It was all of 4 Celsius!!  I had decided prior to that weekend that if summer had not arrived then the kids and I would take off to Atlantic Canada.  Well summer did not arrive and off we went.

What a trip, we took close on six weeks to travel 8000 km around Atlantic Canada, Quebec and New England.  Almost everywhere we went we stayed with friends, in Halifax, near Saint John, in Quebec City and Montreal - the only places we stayed in hotels or cabins was in Summerside, Prince Edward Island; in Bangor, Maine or whilst in transit.  It was a time of freedom, fun, sea, sunshine, loads of kids, laughter, drinking, eating and just joy.  It was a time when the real world did not exist except for the few minutes every couple of days when I phoned home to Woof to check that Cheryl was managing to solve most of the immediate problems.  I think during that time I became aware of just how isolated St. John’s is if we want to travel as a family.  As Frank O’Connor said, St. John’s is at the tip of the tail of the dog.  It’s sure a long way just to get to Halifax, and most of Canada thinks of Halifax as the end of the country.  If we were based somewhere else we could visit so many places in continental North America - the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, San Francisco, Algonquin Park, Banff.  There are so many places that we could travel to in reasonable times if we were based in either mainland Atlantic Canada or British Columbia, not adding at least four to five days on to the trip just to get back and forth across the island, the ferry across the gulf and Atlantic Canada.  I suppose it was there that the germ of the dream was born.  In Montreal I remember saying to Astri, “Well one of these days you’ll look out of your window and see a four ton truck outside on Sainte Antoine Ouest, towing a 25 foot brown sailboat with “On ne sait jamais” in large letters on the side and you’ll know it’s us.”

Well, it’s not a four ton truck, it’s an eight ton truck and it, like the boat, has large lettering on the side, U-HAUL.  It contains everything we own - except the contents of the wine cellar.

Our house in St. John's
from the front.
Chris and I spent a week in British Columbia in November and decided that since his position was terminating in Newfoundland very shortly this was somewhere we could create a new life.  The rest of Atlantic Canada is just not exciting enough after the extremes of Newfoundland.  Newfoundland gets so many storms, a very short summer, a long hard winter.  The environment is spectacularly beautiful and far more rugged than the rest of Atlantic Canada.  And of course Newfoundlanders are the most friendly people in the world.  All in all we decided that if we were going to change then everything had to change - ocean, mountains, people, climate, economy - you name it and it’s different in British Columbia.

So we made the decision and here we are at the Chignic Lodge, late on a Tuesday evening in February.  On Saturday at about 10.00, Chris, Jonathan, Wayne, Sean and Sean’s friend Dave started loading the truck by first hauling the freezer up the snow bank using a wooden toboggan that will never recover from the abuse.  We were really lucky with the weather as it was cold, about minus five Celsius with snow on the ground.  The inside of the house became rather treacherous as the day wore on.  It was just like a skating rink with the amount of snow that was tracked in.  I continued packing up the kitchen, taking most of the day.  This was in spite of over a month of packing boxes, taking apart anything that could be taken apart and made smaller.  We had had estimates from moving companies before Christmas telling us that we had about 2000 cubic feet of stuff and we had to shoehorn this into a 1500 cubic foot truck.  We had measured everything we could and estimated everything else and entered all the dimensions into a database on my Macintosh.  Our own first estimates were over 1600 cubic feet but as we took apart and packaged and re measured it slowly crept down to just under 1400 cubic feet.  We ended up at the end of Sunday gently easing in the two sheets of pegboard that were across the back of the truck at the bottom of the load as we pulled down the back door of the U-Haul.  There is no risk of that load shifting.

At about 4.00 everyone started to really slow down, they were tiring, understandably.  Suddenly I noticed the tempo had picked up and found out that Tom had arrived.  Tom is well over six feet and very strong.  He was single handedly picking up boxes and placing them above his head into small spaces.  Everyone really worked hard until about 6.00 when the truck was solidly packed to within four vertical feet of the back of the truck.  Then Chris and I went out to Leslie and Dan’s and had a wonderfully relaxing evening.  Leslie’s brother Graham was in town, so her sister Pat and Ian were there too.  We had some wonderful smoked steelhead trout from Baie d’Espoir.  It is so much nicer than any smoked salmon.  I hope we can get some on the west coast, or at least something of equal quality.

On Sunday we had to clean up the house and finish loading the truck.  Chris had done such a great job “condensing” our belongings that there was room for much of the stuff that I had scheduled to put into the boat.  Tom and Ted tied the ropes down to anchor the mast on to the roof of the U-Haul.  Chris had notched several pieces of wood that were the same width of the truck so that the mast could rest on top.  It is too long to be put on top of the boat as it would hang way out the back in order to not hit the truck in front.  Tom was so careful to make sure that nothing was too high on top of the truck.  He was concerned because he has driven several large trucks across the country and is very aware that the lights on the rig must be at the top of the rig.  During the day many people visited to say goodbye, and some to help clean the house.  Julie helped for some time before anyone else arrived but had to go off and look after Noah.  Mary kindly donated her day to helping clean up the house in which she had worked for more than five years.  Cheryl put it a good day too, maybe to finally make sure we really were going and that she would truly have to run Woof on her own.  Diana spent as much time as she could before she went off to prepare our last “home-cooked” meal in Newfoundland.  It turned out to not be the last as we did not actually leave the next day as I was at the hospital making sure the pains I had been feeling were not appendicitis.  Jan came by just to say goodbye and ended up steam cleaning the carpets.  I think it was her first experience of this activity and I’m almost certain it will be her last.  Doreen helped her.  She was also an unexpected steam cleaner.  She came along with Tom and when he and Ted worked on the mast, Jan persuaded her it was such fun to steam clean carpets!

The back of our house in St. John's
The huge back yard goes down to the Waterford River
We cleaned until everything shone in a way it had never in our experience of the house.  When we purchased it the house was absolutely filthy and became even more so during the extensive renovations that had gone on over the time we spent there.  The worst had been the four storey, three flue chimney being removed!!  We had tried to get it clean but when it is full of furniture it’s impossible to get perfection.  It was so wonderful to see the house perfect that I would like to have moved right back in.

The St. John's House in summer
We went back to the Moirs where we had been staying since Friday and I lay down.   I had been feeling worse and worse all day and ended up vomiting, missing supper and being kept awake most of the night by the worst pains I have ever experienced outside of labour.  The next day I called Renee and asked her about the symptoms that her daughter Jennie had experienced on Boxing Day.  Jennie had ended up having her appendix out that day.  The symptoms were very similar, so Renee volunteered to come to emergency at the Grace and wait with me to get it checked out.  I did not want to find out it was appendicitis halfway across the gulf on a ferry!!  We spent over two hours waiting in order to spend two minutes with a doctor who told me not to worry about appendicitis but to get a check up when I get out to BC in case it is gall bladder problems or an ulcer condition.  He did not rule out stress!!  Maybe just an anxiety attack.  Anyhow I was warned off greasy, spicy food.  Not an easy recommendation to follow when eating at gas station restaurants.  So I ended up eating the last home cooked meal at the Moir’s, on Monday, instead of the planned Sunday night.

Today Chris got up at 7.30 so that he could move the rig out of the driveway into the road before the rush hour - traffic is a little crazy along Waterford Bridge Road between eight and nine o’clock.  We all had a fairly leisurely breakfast and the kids were amused by looking at the video they had been making all weekend while Chris finished loading the truck and the car.  He put Flair’s bed right at the back with all the luggage between.  I tactfully suggested that perhaps she would be more comfortable closer to the front.  In fact it’s me that’s more comfortable with her closer to the front - I just love having her doggy nose lying on my shoulder as we barrel down the highway, even if she drools a little sometimes. 

Renee and Duncan phoned during breakfast to say that they had come down at 7.30, seen no sign of life, and “Just when are you leaving so we can come and wave goodbye.”  They came back down and were given cups of coffee.  David Baird stopped on the other side of the road and he and I got into a long discussion about his burst furnace at the old girl’s home in the midst of farewells.  Frank arrived at some point.  Mary Pratt come over to say goodbye and give hugs.  Marge Wilansky stopped as she was driving by and said “The Clampetts have got nothing on ye!” (I had to be told they were the Beverly Hillbillies) and to wish us well.  I told her not to worry and that we’d see her in Trinity this July.  Finally photograph time - all kinds of group photos of course including both dogs (Flair and Kelpie), and then into the vehicles and a great video of the rig “Prairie Schooner” driving west.  I took the video camera back and drove east in “Tender Behind” to Royal Trust to attempt to sort out the credit card problems.

This little story is a tale of what happens if you ignore the minimum payment requirements in a recession.  Times were that if you missed a tiny minimum owing, especially if you’d just paid the whole balance down two days before the statement was issued, that there was no problem.  Your card would never have been frozen.  Read on ye credit card holders who sometimes do not pay your minimum due on time. 

In January we paid down the whole balance on both our mastercard and line of credit from the Royal Trust.  When I received statements asking for minimum payments of $10 on one and $7 on the other I didn’t bother to send checks - too small.  Well, what a mistake to make.  We’re like everyone else, trying to get all the “points” we can get out of each of our credit arrangements.  So I was determined to pay all our bills with the Mastercard card so we can get the maximum number of points.  When I paid the $110 cash yesterday the card was reactivated.  What I had not considered was that the amount of credit already used since our last statement was $2000.  Although I had given them a check to cover this it did not clear until the next day.  This meant that the $4000 charge for the U-Haul truck put us over our $5000 limit, so it was still refused.  I made such a fuss that it finally did go through, but no one at Mastercard had bothered to tell me why there had been a problem.  I had assumed that the $110 had not been credited properly and the card was still inactive.  When Chris told me last night that the card had been refused at Canadian Tire I just lost my cool and told him he always blamed me for these problems etc etc etc.  Poor Cabot, who had just come in with a bottle of port for us, beat a hasty retreat.  It was the second such diatribe that he had been subject to in a week.  I’m sure he thinks I’m either a bitch or crazy.  I think I’m just angry that he has my wonderful home and I’m plain jealous and totally irrationally mad with him.  I know it’s not his fault, we listed it, but some reactions are gut.  To get back to the card story.  I went into Royal Trust to change the date on the $3000 post dated check so that the account would have more than $1000 credit available, so we would have some room for excess spending.  The women there said they would try to credit it in less than 24 hours but doubted it since it was not a certified check.  As it was 9.30 and I really wanted to hit the road I asked them to try and I’d phone back.  So I phoned in from Clarenville at noon.  By then I had remembered my line of credit also with Royal Trust and I asked if they could transfer money from that to the other account.  How excited I was to discover they could.  We could have purchased tickets on the ferry tonight without credit problems if we had arrived there!!  You just never can tell.

I left St. John’s about 20 minutes after “Prairie Schooner”, stopped twice to make phone calls, once to change the ill fated ferry reservation and the second time to let Jean know we would be at the Clarenville Irving just before noon, and passed Prairie Schooner just after Goobies.  The kids had a wonderful time being rude to each other on the CB’s, in fact they weren’t all that rude, the conversations consisted mainly of “What did you just say, over”, “Hold the mike further away from your mouth, over”, “I can see you, can you see me, over”.  I’m sure any trucker listening in would have been amused. 

Lunch with Jean was a splendidly sad and happy occasion.  She treated us, gave us two Nana Mouskori tapes which apparently include one song that is appropriate to our situation, and gave the kids a magic purse full of change.  It will never be empty if you never take out more than half of what it contains, and you must never take more than half of any kind of coin, and if you’re happy it will refill itself magically, but at a finite rate.  What a wonderful gift for two boys who love to spend money on arcade games.  I will really miss Jean.  She has been one of the “real’ Newfoundlanders, a true “bayman”, who I have become close to.  She is one of the reasons Newfoundland will always survive.  The women are what make this province so special. 

What a day to start this trip.  Newfoundland pulled out all stops to create the most perfect day possible.  It was cold, but sunny and almost cloudless.  I found myself close to tears at times looking at this dear, familiar, rugged, wild, extreme, environment.  It was at its most beautiful.  Up until central there was almost no snow, all the scrub willow beside the road have got that purple look they get to fox you into thinking spring may be just around the corner.  It’s a cruel joke, as spring will not come here before early May and with all the sea ice this year will probably not arrive until mid June or later.  Nowhere, in the world that I have ever travelled, do you get such clarity of the air so that you feel you can see individual trees on a hill many miles distant.  Unlike England, where the not so distant hills have a purple haze, there is no haze here.  It is most noticeable upon returning from foreign places.  We take it for granted here.  One of the great boons of low population and no industrial activity is the cleanness of the air.  The smell of the refinery at Come by Chance is as obnoxious and obvious in the same way that the smell from your clothes is after you leave a smoky bar - when you are in the bar you do not notice the smell anywhere near as much, just as in an industrial area the smell of this refinery is much less obvious.  I am so glad that Newfoundland smiled upon us on this our supposedly last day as residents.

Next stop Gander, Chris wanted me to check out for an International Dealer since the fuel filter light was on.  I went on ahead with Nick.  We stopped for gas and asked about a U-Haul dealer.  They just happened to be next door.  I asked the mechanic who said he could check it, so the first back tracking started.  I was pretty certain that Prairie Schooner was about 20 minutes behind, so I got Nick to try to raise them on the CB.  “Prairie Schooner, this is Tender Behind, do you read me?”  “I read you” came the clear reply and suddenly there they were rounding the next corner. “I see you” came the next message from Nick and great excitement from Alex “Where? Oh yea I see you too?”  So we turned around and the tender finished its task by escorting the vessel into the gas station. 

The mechanic told us that all of these trucks always had this light showing, it had been like it since the first were made.  However as we left Chris CB’d over asking Tender Behind to find the International dealer in Grand Falls.  On we sped to the rescue again.  Suddenly we heard a large bang, it sounded just like we’d hit a rock, but looking back in the rear view mirror I could see no rocks.  Nick yelled out “Mum the antenna’s gone”, so I pulled over.  Sure enough when we walked around to the back of the rabbit the antenna was hanging by its cord.  And worse the roof rack, “the coffin”, was not attached at all to the roof.  The bang I had heard was the attachments pulling free!!  How it had stayed on at all is beyond me.  Nick and I pushed and pulled and got it further forward on the roof, re-attached it and waited not too long for Prairie Schooner to arrive.  Nick wanted to call over the CB but I made him wait.  When Chris arrived we added a whole heap of green rope from the roof rack to the front bumper and back and through the car, no possibility of it coming off short of the cord breaking.  Onward again to seek out International.  We found it after stopping at a self serve gas station who had to phone to find out where it was.  Again Tender Behind escorted Prairie Schooner into rescue.  The filter was full of crud and they changed it. 

At this point Alex joined me and we scooted across to Deer Lake where we found the Kozy Korner after doing a u-turn at the end of the divided highway.  Alex and I ordered supper and I made an executive decision to stop in Corner Brook if Prairie Schooner did not arrive by 7.20.  She arrived at 7.20 and Chris decided to continue.  I ordered a cheese and ham sandwich for him while he moved loads of stuff out of the rabbit into Prairie Schooner so that the kids and the dog would fit and on he went.  We ate a wonderful meal.  I had been fantasizing about liver and bacon for several hours and it was better than I had imagined.  The service and friendliness at the Kozy Korner was really wonderful and to be recommended.  Poor old Flair did not get too much supper as she got in and out of the car to feel safe.  Talk about mud on the seats!! 

At 7.45 I tried to pull out of there.  We poured back into the car, Alex in the back with the two dog beds and the dog, not much room.  The seat belt was stuck under the seat and after trying for a few minutes, realizing that if we did get it we would have to repack the trunk, poor old Alex ended up without a belt.  Nick was in the front as he tends towards car sickness.  We went down to the Esso station to get gas.  After waiting a while we discovered it was self serve.  Nick tried to fill it but the cap was frozen so another backtrack to find a full serve gas station.  But the road directions in Deer Lake are a little confusing and I found us going west instead of east on the TCH.  So a second u-turn at the same place and roar back to the first full serve that appeared to have closed at 8.00, by then it was 8.02!!  Back again to the trusty Irving who served us immediately and pointed out that the filler cap was missing.  Poor Nick, distraught, tears in eyes, says “I took it off at the Esso, and it must still be there.”.  We went back to the Esso and found it.  Luckily we found the way west again successfully and at 8.20 we reached our u-turn spot for the third time and finally managed to pass it.

We raced along in fourth gear at 5000 rpm, as fifth gear had earlier decide to not work.  Every time I put it into fifth gear it would jump out after anything from five to fifty minutes, with absolutely no warning.  As we approached Corner Brook we passed the Marble Mountain resort and the groomers were out on the slopes.  The headlights flickering through the trees looked like they might be fireflies??.  It was so pretty. 

At the end of the divided highway I saw a car backing up on the other side.  How dangerous I thought to myself.  Of course it was cop car.  No one else would have the temerity to back up in that kind of a spot.  My immediate assumption was that he had noticed that I was 5 km over the limit and was going to pull me over.  No, he just stayed half a mile back all the way through Corner Brook.  After that we made better time and about an hour out of Port aux Basques with 40 minutes to check in time I recognised a large rig parked beside the road.  Prairie Schooner had had a blowout on an inner rear tire.  We moved lots of the stuff from the car to the truck to make room for Chris with us and we travelled for about half and hour and ended up here at this wonderful lodge.

Now it is close to 1.00 in the morning and Chris had just come back from bursts of phone calls to U-Haul’s road service people in Arizona and periods of waiting for the phone to ring.  “Newfoundland - what state is that in?”  I must say we were impressed at their ability to identify and contact the tire repair place, though it was amusing to hear them realise that the truck would have to travel two hours to us!  By mutual agreement Chris and the tire technician will meet tomorrow morning.  The alternative would have been to wait up till at least 3.00 - not a good prospect on top of the last few weeks of activity.

            10.00 pm, Wednesday, February 17, 1993

So ends the second day, in a junior suite at the Chignic Lodge somewhere short of Port aux Basques.  Yes, we’re still here.  I think the gods have decided it’s not time for us to leave yet.  It’s 10.00 and we’ve spent the last hour watching four of the large rigs, that have been stranded here with us because of the weather, attempting to get out on to the road.  What a day, what a difference from yesterday, which turned out not to be our last day, not even the penultimate.  Today was 100 +++ km winds, gusts much higher, snow, then freezing rain, then rain.  Yesterday was calm, clear blue skies, bright sunshine, just so wonderful. 

We got up just after 7.00 and Chris went off toward Port aux Basques to get gas for the rabbit as I was nervous about the amount left.  Having to drive in fourth gear used up much more than earlier in the day.  He came back at about 8.00 with the story of a truck upside down, blown off the road.  Diane, the delightful waitress in the dining room, agreed to keep an eye on the kids while I drove Chris back to the rig.  Nick was still feeling nauseous despite half a gravol I’d managed to purchase from Diane when she arrived just before 8.00.  I really didn’t want to travel up with two kids and the dog with one kid needing us to stop every mile or so to try to throw up. 

The wind was something fierce.  We stayed at a fairly slow speed and came upon Prairie Schooner after half an hour.  She was fine but no tire man.  So I left Chris and headed back here with instructions to call Jim at Sumner Tire in Corner Brook.  He said his man had set out at 6.00.  He sounded concerned, but a couple of minutes later Chris and Stacey arrived having discovered Stacey did not have a winter tire the size we needed only a summer one.  The nearest ones would be in St. John’s or Halifax so we resigned ourselves to staying here for a while.  Truckers started pouring in, there were eleven or twelve huge rigs, an ambulance and during the day Dwight Spence, the 65’ dragger “Cape Ashley” skipper arrived.  He is on the fisheries advisory board with Chris and Bill Maybe designed his boat about a decade ago.  He’s one of the luckier captains, he owns his million dollar rig and he still has a quota, but it’s costing more and more to catch fewer fish so I get the impression it won’t be long before he reaches break even point and it’ll actually cost him to catch fish.

We had some wonderful conversations during the day with the truckers.  They are such quiet unassuming men.  Most of them are quite introverted, which of course would fit with their kind of life style.  Flair was a major success with all of them.  Loads of questions about her.  When we discovered that one of the guys was from Nova Scotia Chris caused great amusement amongst the others by saying that Flair also was from there and he had always believed that that was why she was so hard to train.  The Nova Scotian trucker took it rather well.

Later in the morning Stacey came back in and said that he had managed to put on a similar circumference tire and it would be fine.  We should just get the lug nuts tightened once we get to the mainland as they sometimes loosen.  Chris decided to go back with Stacey and get Prairie Schooner as he was nervous leaving it beside the road as it was starting to snow.  He thought it might be a problem for the snow plows.   The wind had picked up to over 80 km by this time with pretty hairy gusts, but he took it carefully and slowly.  His worst moment came in the parking lot here when the wind caught him and the rig sailed across the parking lot into a snow bank.  He managed to get it out and parked it nose to wind, as all good sailors do.  He was very concerned at the motion of the truck and trailer bouncing in the gusts as he put on his snow gear to get in here.  The bouncing seems to have changed the way the boat is lying in the cradle, it’s not exactly vertical any more, but maybe it’s happier like that.  Time will tell.  As he said to one of the truckers “The boat can’t go anywhere but up”.  He and Tom did such a great job on beefing up the trailer including a chain around the base of the keel to stop it sliding back or forwards.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful.  The dog and I took a two hour nap, Chris and the kids spent all their spare change playing pinball and pool all afternoon.  The kids showed signs of boredom but all in all were very good.  Having such a large audience was good for them.  After supper I went to pay for the meal and the room.  I asked if we could have extra towels - no problem.  I asked how much extra for the junior suite - $10 normally but same price as the double today.  Obviously we had spent so much on the machines that the owner decided to give us a break.  He runs a wonderful operation, really good rates, clean rooms, friendly staff, excellent food.  He only bought it two years ago.  “It was really run down, but I’m fixing it up.”  I told him I thought he was doing a great job.  We’d really enjoyed our enforced visit.


            11.30 am Thursday, February 18, 1993  Log reading 1025 km

Finally we’re on board the ferry, but the gods had one last try to stop us.  We got on the road by 8.00 planning to get breakfast at the ferry terminal.  I decided to stay behind Prairie Schooner as it was only a half hour drive.  Nick and I were discussing the age of the mountains here as compared with the Rockies.  These are such ancient peaks, a mere shadow of their former glory many millions of years ago.  I was explaining how new mountains have sharp peaks but these are rounded from weathering.  Prairie Schooner went over a bump in the road and she took off, all of six inches into the air and back down into the cradle and a piece of wood fell on to the road.  I picked up the CB and screamed “The boat’s flying, you’ve lost the middle cradle, pull over, pull over”.  Chris pulled over, we picked up the wood and stopped behind him.  I was convinced it was the middle cradle as that one had had problems with wood splitting when it was fitted but it was the front one.  Chris had said yesterday at the Chignic that the only way the boat could go was up, and, boy, was he right!!  Not only had the wood cracked but the front near side support pad was no longer flat to the boat, but it had flipped out and the bottom edge was pointing upwards into the side of the boat.  It would have gouged a rather nasty hole in the side of the boat if it had not been noticed.  It seems that Chris had removed the rope that was holding the bow down as he was more concerned about the Laser flying off the top of the Kirby. 

Chris had to jack up the other pads and lower the flipped pad in order to get it back in line.  He then put the piece of wood back in place and took back the rope to tie down the bow.  The kids were acting up somewhat so I headed back to the Chignic Lodge and we had breakfast.  By the time we got back Chris was just tying down the ladder on to the trailer.  I gave him a couple of sandwiches I had made out of our breakfast, one bacon and one marmalade toasted sandwich, better than nothing.  (It was much later that I discovered the bruises on his legs.  In order to get enough leverage to push the pad back into it’s correct position, Chris had knelt on a piece of wood to use his weight as a lever.  It worked but something broke and he ended up falling about five feet on to the Trans Canada on his knees.  The bruises are something to behold.)

So on we went again.  We arrived at the terminal in Port aux Basques at 10.15 and the Joseph and Clara Smallwood was sitting at the dock looking very pretty.  We passed through the free car wash but didn’t get washed.  We proceeded to the terminal to pay and our incredible luck continued.  Chris walked up to the ticket counter and said,
 “Two old age pensioners and one vehicle and trailer under 15 feet.” 
“You got all the right answers but it won’t help” was the reply. 
Despite having been quoted $250 for the truck, trailer and Chris we only paid $103 for the “car” and trailer, and $51.50 for the rabbit.  The dog is free.  We had been told last night that the ferry was going to sail at 7.00 this morning but it didn’t.  We proceeded across the icy, rutted, snow covered lot following the vehicle that the despatcher was driving.  What a difference from the summer time, when there are dozens of guys directing vehicles in the lot.  I was asked if Prairie Schooner didn’t get on if I wanted to go anyway, I said no.  There was talk of splitting the truck and boat and sending the boat on the next ferry, but finally they squeezed us on.  Flair is barking her heart out in a cage in the dog cabin.  She has her bed but that is small comfort.  I hope she is not too sick, but we do have another bed in the car for her to sleep on, so it won’t be the end of the world.  The kids have changed $10 and the two $2 bills of Alex’s into quarters so they can lose it all in the games arcade, but right now they are on deck watching the ferry leave the terminal.  Newfoundland decided to smile with sunshine as we left the Chignic Lodge both times this morning, but now it has clouded over.  All the trucks and other vehicles are chained down, Nick and I have taken gravol and I’m wearing my blue wrist bands that help with motion sickness (I hope).

            12.30 am Friday, February 19, 1993.  Log reading 1454 km

Well the day is over, almost.  The kids are in bed, Chris is outside giving the dog a walk around.  Poor creature, she barked almost non stop for six hours on the ferry and has slept most of the six hour drive since.  No one was actually seasick, but we all took gravol.  My blue bands really do work.  This is the first time in my life that I have been aware of people feeling worse than me.  It is startling to say the least.  I was able to walk around like normal folk. 

The swell at first was really wild.  But once we got into the ice it eased considerably.  At first we saw only one seal in the water swimming, but later we saw many, never more than two in a group.  The slob ice had pans that were just what the sealers must have leapt to chase after the seals when the hunt occurred.  Once we came out of the ice pack the sea was mirror smooth.  There was still a swell, not as severe, but not a ripple on the surface for at least half an hour.  As someone having lived in Newfoundland for over 20 years I found it amazing.  Very, very occasionally in the summer it may occur on Conception Bay, but I have never heard of it in the winter.  Later ripples did appear and the sea surface became more normal

We met all of our friends from the Chignic Lodge who were on the ferry.  The 7.00 sailing had not materialized and there were truckers who had been waiting over thirty six hours, since the last ferry, the one we had just missed.  It was a very full car deck  but not many people, so unlike summer sailings.

When we disembarked Tender Behind played its name role to the full as we stayed behind Prairie Schooner almost all the way.  The blown tire and the flying boat incident made me aware that it is better to follow and if I stop at least know they are up ahead.  If I am ahead and stop and don’t see them pass me then it would cause problems.

We had at first planned to stop in Truro, but the weather forecast is for snow starting at midnight and dumping 25 cm on Cape Breton and lesser amounts further west.  So we have stopped at Amherst, although we both would like to have gone on to Moncton or even Sussex.  My eyes were starting to close and itch, the car had decided not to stay in fifth again, and there was a Wandlyn Inn right by exit 3, so I took it and have found a lovely family room.  Chris missed my directions over the CB and managed to cross into New Brunswick and had to come back again.  He passed two weigh scales one in each direction, but we still don’t know if Prairie Schooner counts as commercial or not.  I’m sure we’ll find out before the trip is over. 

Chris and Flair have come in while I’m writing this.  Flair is very distressed by all the voices in the hallway.  Chris is taking a bath to try to warm up his hands which got very cold as he retied some of the ropes.  Apparently an RCMP officer came by to chat and look at the rig, he turned out to be from St. Anthony.

To bed and to sleep, I am really tired but a little wired.  We did not manage to get any video shots of the ferry because the camera had been on standby yesterday and was discharged.  The first thing to be done on entering any hotel room or friend’s house is to plug in the Mac, the camera and the battery recharger!!  Talk about a high tech move.

8.00 pm Friday, February 19, 1993.  Log reading 1695 km

We are finally in Rothesay.  It was one of the easiest days so far, we only spent one hour at the weigh station to find out that we are 1600 kg overweigh!!  The rig actually weighs 13600 kg, the axle weight for the trailer is only 1300 kg, with an allowance of 500 kg per axle for a total of 2000 kg and we’re still overweight.  On top of all this the license on the truck is up at the end of the month and we will not be there.  U-Haul says it will pay the fines.  We spent another hour and a half at the VW dealer in Moncton trying to sort out the fifth gear problem.  It seems to have been the linkage and was diagnosed immediately, but the guys liked Flair so much that they took the car in again just to pat her - I think.

We had stopped at a Wandlyn Inn that had a pool so of course we had to all swim at 8.00 this morning.  The pool was warm and pleasant, the sauna and the whirlpool were wonderfully hot, but the decor was rather tacky.  It was 1960’s not updated.  But what an inn, a notice in the room said that guests should quieten down by 11.00 pm.  If guests found it too noisy they should contact the front desk.  Noisy people would be warned once and if they did not behave then the RCMP would be called.  There was even grafitti in the sauna that was pretty incredible.  It is really a very tacky place.  All the schools were cancelled because of the weather forecast, but no snow materialized in northern Nova Scotia or southern New Brunswick.  Cape Breton got much more than forecast so we made a good decision to continue on late that night.  We have had yet another day of sunshine and dry roads.

After we arrived in Rothesay, Chris parked in the Hickman’s driveway, and spent over two hours repairing the wooden piece that broke and tying the Laser and the Kirby more securely.  I spent the time in with Juliette Hickman drinking tea and eating cookies and trying to pretend that the laundry didn’t need doing so we could stay until Sunday.  I would really like to spend the day with old friends, but the weather appears to be deteriorating by Sunday so Chris is very concerned that we leave tomorrow.  The compromise appears to be that we will leave after lunch tomorrow and spend the night in Edmunston, then travel on to Quebec on Sunday.  Apparently there is a ski hill five minutes out of Edmunston which has night lights and this is helping Chris’s decision to not attempt to go all the way in one day. 

11.00 pm Saturday, February 20, 1993.  Log reading 2105 km

Another day over, and we are at another Wandlyn.  A much cheaper room, $49.83, much smaller but basically the price is because of more competition. 

This morning the dog got up first and 4.00 and roamed around the house until we put her in the small bathroom off our bedroom where she whined until Hazen got up at 6.15.  Everyone except Val and me were up by 8.00.  We made a more leisurely start to the day.  Magoo made excellent blueberry pancakes for breakfast.  He only managed to get two but since the second one was larger than his plate he did not suffer too much.  We all sat around chatting and decided to go ice boating and skating on the Saint John river by the Rothesay Yacht Club.  Was it ever wonderful!  There was absolutely no wind, very cold and very sunny.  It was an incredibly experience walking on a river which is close to a mile wide at that spot.  I saw one pick-up coming up river with a ski-doo in the back. 

Nick borrowed an old pair of Val’s skates, and Alex used a pair belonging to a friend of Jamie’s.  But first they played with the iceboat.  Magoo pushed to iceboat along with a hockey stick as there was not a breath of wind.  It does not steer very well but they really enjoyed it.  Flair thought it was some really weird new game and ran barking alongside the rig bouncing in the air and not really under control.  When I called her back to me she would come with great enthusiasm and go into a four paw skid and continue past me much to her disgust.  After about an hour the wind came up and Chris got in some wonderful time in the boat.  I went home soon after that as the effective temperature dropped like a stone when the wind came up.  Nick came back full of stories of the boat taking off without him when he was out of it turning it around to come back.  He had to run ahead of the outrigger skates and then literally jump on board.  Magoo’s father, Rory, had made the comment that Nick did not lack courage. 

Val made some sandwiches and I extended a tin of soup by adding lots of vegetables and seasoning.  It was a lovely meal, so enjoyable  to be with close friends.  Chris had noticed my reluctance to do an laundry last night, interpreted the reasoning correctly and suggested that it was a necessity SOON.  After lunch Chris went and had a nap.  He had said that we should leave by 2.00 so we got away by 4.00 which had always been my estimate.  We have had a good run up here to Edmonston.  Driving up from Fredericton along the Saint John river with the sun setting is just so exquisitely beautiful.  I’ve done this drive twice in the past two years, one year in August and another year in September, and this is the prettiest.  The bare trees, the frozen river, the lack of colour - shades of grey and green.  I think we are so privileged to be seeing all of Canada in winter, to be present at the time of year usually reserved for locals, not usually shared with outsiders, except at winter resort locations, which is not the same.  We are going to carry memories of this trip for the rest of our lives.  Already we have the meeting of the truckers, riding the ferry through sea ice, seeing seals, skating, walking and ice boating on the Saint John river - and we are only about one third of the way.  To come we have several ski hills and who knows what disasters, potential disasters, excitements, thrills, etc.  The roads were almost empty, especially for the last couple of hours.  I reckon there are very few people out on the highway on a Saturday night except for local driving. 

I am seriously wondering if I shouldn’t leave the family when we get to Calgary and let them go skiing and I should fly over to Nanaimo and try and get a house organized and fly back to Calgary.  I haven’t mentioned it to Chris yet, but I am a little concerned about arriving with no where to unload.  Both Chris and I independently have been fantasizing about purchasing a brand new house with an unfinished basement that we can unload into for the next year or two until we really decide where we want to live.  The thought of renting and then having to move all this junk again in the near future is just not a nice one.  My recurring nightmare is that Chris will find a job very quickly and will leave me to reconstitute the home.  It’s not a “just add water” job either, everything we own that can come apart is in pieces and Chris really is the only one qualified to put most of it together again.

Tomorrow the pool does not open until 10.00 but there is only about a three to four hour drive so I expect we will stay so the kids can use up some of their excess energy.  I’ll make sure their hair is really dry before we venture out.  It is well below minus thirty I would estimate outside now.  I had to keep pushing the car heater up more and more until it was on full and it was barely heating the car adequately.  Chris has just moved Prairie Schooner around to near our room as there is a plug for the block heater.  I wish Tender Behind could be plugged in too.  I hope she will start tomorrow.  I’m sure she’s rarely met such extreme temperatures.  What is happening in Canada?  Everywhere seems to be much much colder than any other year.  There is lots of snow here.

I must plug this creature in so that it won’t start warning me that the battery only has enough power to close it down. 

6.00 pm Sunday, February 21, 1993.  Log reading 2570? km (calculate)

At last we’re in Quebec City.  We had planned to be here last Thursday evening and would have been leaving here by now if all had gone as planned.  The longer this trip takes the longer it will be until I have to face reality again.

This morning we found out for sure that the pool did not open until 10.00.  After querying, I found out that the pool is unsupervised and asked since the children really wanted to swim and we had to leave early whether an exception could be made, but no way, it had to be checked out for the chemicals etc first.  We persuaded the kids that it would be more fun to get to Quebec earlier so that we could go on “la glissade”, they agreed, so we got up by 8.00 and all had the buffet breakfast for the vast price of $4.25, except Alex who had pancakes and bacon.  Chris rushed off to start the vehicles, it was really good that he had plugged in the truck as it was quite hard to start, and the rabbit wouldn’t start at all.  It was -35 Celsius!!  Chris parked the truck away from the building and with the help of two big men we pushed the rabbit back down hill, very very slowly.  The gear oil was so thick, and turning the steering wheel was extremely hard work.  At first Chris used the booster cables on the right of the truck until he realized that this was just for boosting the truck.  He had to take the step off the driver’s side of the cab, to find the battery and move the truck and trailer around the building in order to get it to the other side of the rabbit.  Once he had done all of this it started fairly easily.  Then we re-packed the vehicles and set off.  By this time it was 10.20!! 

We travelled into Quebec and up across to Riviere du Loup on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, back to almost the Atlantic.  As we went across the northern part of the Appalachians the scenery was exquisitely beautiful.  At one point the river must have been moving fast enough not have been frozen and for many miles down stream of this the river was steaming and all the trees were coated with what looked like leaves of ice.  It reminded me of when I lived in Sweden and in the cold, still depth of winter all the trees “grew” ice leaves.  As they transpired moisture was given off and it froze close to the tree.  Since there was absolutely no wind it just stayed there growing longer and longer ice crystals.  This was obviously not the same phenomenon but the result was just as beautiful.

Once we got to Riviere du Loup the driving was much faster for Prairie Schooner.  The highway extends along the southern edge of the gulf and there is a wonderful view of the mountains on the northern shore.  Over 100 km short of Quebec the ski slopes of Mont Ste. Anne are clearly visible.  Each slope could be picked out just as if it was the diagram at the base of the slopes.  Alex was asleep at this point.  I woke him up to show him but he just rolled over and went back to sleep.  He was quite put out when he finally awoke that he had missed the sight. 

About 40 km from Quebec Chris CB’d over to me that I should pull off and call Jackie so that we could arrange to meet so that the truck did not have to descend the hill down into Cap Rouge.  She gave me directions to a Metro supermarche and said she would leave immediately so she could shop whilst waiting for us.  We did really well except that I arrived at Jackie’s house instead of the supermarche.  I last saw Chris in the rear view mirror doing a fast left hand turn off the main road to avoid going down over the hill.  I went back and picked up Nick and ran the him and Alex down to Jackie’s.  As we got there, she was just walking around to the car.  I pulled over and she ran over to her friend who had arranged to store Prairie Schooner at an industrial park.  I sent the kids in for Jean to look after them whilst we went back up the hill and found Chris putting in the new battery for the alarm system.. Unfortunately he couldn’t get it to arm itself, but let’s hope no one attacks it tonight. 

In the meantime Jackie and I went off for groceries.  What a wonderful selection of fresh vegetables and fruit at much more reasonable prices than I am used to.  We then went home and found that the petits Nicolas and Alex had gone for a nap.  Flair discovered two budgies and is reinforcing her reputation as a bird dog by standing on her hind legs for minutes at a time staring at these two poor creatures.  All the plants in the vicinity have been moved to safer locations.

Jean volunteered to stay with the sleeping babies and prepare lasagne for supper.  Jackie, Joele, Chris, my Nick and Alex, the dog and I all drove downtown Quebec.  The ice sculptures were everywhere and really impressive.  Apparently it is the first year since Jackie has lived here that the sculptures have been carved out of ice rather than snow.  For some obscure reason the ice had to be brought in from Montreal.  We drove down the Grand Allee where there are many restaurants and sculptures.  Then we entered Old Quebec and passed “Les Trois Colombes” and the Chateau Frontenac.  Products made by Woof have been well represented in both these locations over the past decade.  We parked nearby and walked over to “la glissade”.  We had to pass between the Chateau Frontenac and the river and was it cold!!!  We were all fairly well dressed for the -15 Celsius but the wind was a killer.  Chris bought tickets for all four kids (Jackie falls into this category) for two rides each.  I looked after the dog and Chris videoed the event.  The traditionally styled toboggans are long enough to hold three adults comfortably, four with discomfort, are wooden and have a long padded seat attached with yellow cord.  The intrepid riders haul the toboggan in single file up the right hand side of “la glissade”.  Then at the top they are put into the tracks three toboggans abreast.  The tracks are ice sheathed and have 6-8” high 4-5” wide ramps between each track so that each toboggan races quite independently and safely.  The ramp is between 150 and 200 feet long at about a 30 degree slope with a longer run off on the level at the bottom to bleed off the speed.  All three toboggans are released at the same time and there is lots of squealing of fear and excitement as the toboggans roar past.  Flair was fascinated and really wanted to join in.  By the time our guys had had two rides Chris, Flair and I were more than ready to quit.  Chris suggested hot chocolate somewhere but with the state of all of our finances and our temperatures and the presence of the dog we decided that going home made more sense.

Astri has just phoned and is coming over.  The kids are eating supper extremely noisily.  Les petits Nicolas et Alex have been feeding me carrots and cucumber and I have a half beer.  Life is wonderful.

9.00 am Wednesday, February 24, 1993.  Log reading 2714 km

We’re just about to leave Quebec city, the extra kilometres in the log record the trips to Mont Ste. Anne taken by the boys.  We are just piling into the Renault and the Rabbit in order to pick up Prairie Schooner.  I will write about the stay in Quebec later.

In fact there are two stories of our stay in Quebec.  Chris and the boys skied at Mont Ste. Anne for two days.  Even driving from Cap Rouge to Mont Ste. Anne was a nightmare - I am glad we weren’t trying to travel west - it is snowing virtually continuously.  Day one of skiing was in heavy fresh snow - a bit of a new challenge which sent Alex tumbling so often he decided he didn’t want to ski any more.  It was so windy and conditions were so difficult that the lifts were taking half an hour to get up the mountain - only five runs in three hours!  Day two was so much better and the boys all came home exhausted but happy with a full day of skiing and dozens of runs.  “Dad took us down a black diamond that was ice for a hundred yards - twice!”  It was a mistake both times but they all survived and have fond memories of snowy Mont Ste. Anne and now cannot wait for Banff.

10.00 pm Wednesday, February 24, 1993.  Log reading 3334 km

Too tired to record anything but the log.  Had a rotten time checking in to this Best Western in Pembroke and spent the time I should have spent on this writing extremely rude comments about the check in service and the restaurant on the card for customer service.

10.00 pm Thursday, February 25, 1993.  Log reading 3998 km

Chris is outside this Ramada at Sault Ste Marie parking Prairie Schooner so that it can be plugged in.  It is only minus 13 Celsius currently and it is a little cloudy so I doubt it will go down too low.  The kids are whispering in bed and the dog is pushing at me so that I am having to type with one hand half the time.  I hope after he sorts out the vehicles that Chris will take her for a long walk.  I had a major mutiny on her part this afternoon when I filled up with gas.  I let Flair out for a little run around and took over ten minutes to catch her.  I drove down a side road quite a way with her running alongside but each time I stopped she ran away again.  I only caught her eventually by offering her some lemon cake  - bribery works on dogs just as well as on kids.

I have written almost nothing since Sunday.  The time in Quebec went so fast.  We had wonderful meals on both Sunday and Monday dining at Jackie’s.  After Astri came on Sunday evening, the kids watched a movie and then went to bed.  I didn’t help with supper as I was extremely busy keeping this journal up to date.  It is quite an onerous duty, trying very hard to write it on the same day and at the very worst only a few days later. 

On Monday, Jackie, Astri and I went down to lower Quebec for coffee and dessert and then up into old Quebec for lunch.  Much fun was made of my hat.  I have been wearing a red and white touque stolen out of the skiing bag.  It is revolting at the best of times, but in a town like Quebec where everyone is very “chic” it is even more noticeable.  With my black leather coat, navy and red skirt, green and fuschia mukloks, and the red and white touque I am certainly noticeable.  After lunch I was chased down the sidewalk by a sidewalk plough, Jackie and Astri were convinced it was because he was so outraged by my outfit.  It was so cold there that I am amazed that anyone had enough energy to even notice.  It started off at less than minus 25 Celsius and only got up to minus 15 Celsius when we left on Wednesday morning.  We dined well again in the evening and had to pretend that we had not already eaten and drunk enough for the day earlier.

On Tuesday, Jackie, little Alex, little Nicholas and I all went down to St. Victor where I spent a very educational half hour with Michael Cazeau, one of the two sales reps for St. Victor Woollens, a company that has a staff of 250!  The two salespeople are extremely overworked and poor Michael was quite unhappy about my visit and could only give me 30 minutes of his time.  I have lots of ideas for new products and a better understanding of what they make and why they never respond to my faxes or letters. 

Astri had left just after 5.00 am on Tuesday morning as the roads were really not good enough to attempt in the dark on Monday night.  I was really glad after the trip to St. Victor that we had not attempted to continue on Tuesday. 

On Wednesday we all got up at around 8.00 and Jackie made a very special breakfast of waffles, yoghurt, maple syrup and fresh fruit salad.  We all piled into the cars at 9.30, Chris drove the Renault with Jackie, little and big Alex and little Nicolas, and I had the dog and big Nick.  What confusion to have two families each with a Nicholas and an Alexander.  We found Prairie Schooner covered in about 12 cm of snow.  Chris tried to brush off some of the snow but most of it came off in the first 5 km he drove.  It was impossible to see Praire Schooner from behind, it was just like following a white-out along the highway.  We passed over the bridge back to the road on the south of the St. Lawrence river at about 11.00 and travelled on to Montreal, Ottawa and finally to Pembroke.  Our progress is not as fast as we would like.  We checked in to the hotel at 8.00 so it took us nine hours to travel only 620 km - not magnificent - but the rig only does 100 km maximum and slows down to 40 up hills. We travelled through Montreal before the rush hour and through Ottawa just after the rush hour.  What a special day to travel through Ottawa, the same day Brian Mulroney announced he would be quitting after a new leader had been chosen.  He certainly has not forgotten Clyde Wells’ part in the failure of Meech Lake although his interpretation of it is somewhat different than anyone else’s recollection.  But then of course mentioning the fact that an Indian pulled the plug is not politically correct. 

In Montreal Chris drove past a weigh scale again.  It is becoming quite a habit, but this time just after he passed a police vehicle pulled out just behind me.  I was pretty sure that he was not really after Chris, but I slowed right down and watched.  It was a false alarm, but I am certain that if Chris had been aware of him he would have pulled over and pleaded guilty.  For some reason not stopping at a weigh scale with an overladen vehicle is bothering him far more than speeding.  Although I agree in principle that it is wrong to drive an overloaded truck, the fact that an almost identical Ryder truck has a far higher allowance means that it is not something that is inherently wrong or bad for the road system, but that it is U-Haul attempting to stop people loading more into their trucks than they consider suitable for the trucks.  It is not a safety issue, it is a maintenance issue.

This morning we swam in the pool at the hotel, had breakfast and were on the road by 10.20.  We have travelled 630 km today through North Bay and Sudbury and ended up at Sault Ste. Marie.  Leslie’s brother Graham lives here, and we said we might contact him here when we had supper with him in St. John’s less than two weeks ago.  We haven’t contacted him since it is already 11.00 and we want to swim in the morning and get on the road fairly early.  It’s a long run to Thunder Bay and I’d really like to get there tomorrow night. 

The weather had been very kind to us with overcast conditions yesterday, and this morning we awoke to a cloudless sky with brilliant sun and minus 25 Celsius temperatures.  Driving was wonderful in these conditions and the temperature came up to about minus 5 Celsius before dark and has dropped back to minus 13 Celsius now.  The scenery was so “Group of Seven”, I felt as if I recognised specific trees that I have seen on canvas - or probably in reproduction on postcards or posters.  It is such beautiful country up here, just the lack of an ocean and a cultural centre would be something I would miss.  St. John’s has so much to offer on the arts scene.  Despite only being a population of just over 100,000, it is a provincial capital so has access to many of the travelling shows and has that wonderful arts and culture centre and so much activity in the arts sphere.  I know I am going to miss it even though I have not taken advantage of it as much since I have had children, I still knew it was there and I could reenter it at any time.  Last night on “As It Happens” almost the whole program was taken up with comments on Brian Mulroney’s announcement, and it was such fun to listen to Rick Mercer’s commentary and know that we had seen his one man show recently and that I saw him regularly drinking coffee in the local cafes. 

Chris had sorted out the vehicles, he has taken the dog out for a walk, the kids are asleep and I think I will quit this journal. 

10.00 pm Friday, February 26, 1993.  Log reading 4709 km

We are now past the half way mark, Wawa was passed this afternoon and by our reckoning that is pretty close to half way from St. John’s to Nanaimo.  What a wonderful day, the sun shone all day and the temperature got up to close to minus 5 Celsius.  We had a wonderful swim this morning after which I ran out and bought milk, juice, cookies and fruit and we had our very own granola in our room.  Even the dog did well out of it as she was given granola and all the left over milk. 

We were on the road by 10.00 which is almost a record, the first and third days were slightly better 9.30 at the Moirs and an 8.00 false start from the Chignic, when the Kirby decided to fly after 5 miles.  Despite the incredibly steep hills, which slowed Praire Schooner down to 20 km per hour at times, we made good time.  We stopped for lunch in Wawa to celebrate our half way mark.  Then we stopped again about an hour out of Thunder Bay for supper.  We have only had to drive for an hour in the dark, for which I will be ever grateful.  As we drove along there was never more than 100 metres without animal tracks beside the road.  Many were from small mammals, rabbits etc, but many were moose and deer.  At one point I CB’d over to Chris that I was pleased that we had stayed in the Sault last night to which he responded positively since it looked like the moose had nightly conventions on the highway.  After supper Prairie Schooner left ahead of me whilst I paid for supper and was given my free refill of coffee in a styrofoam mug, and Nick and I got chatting with a trucker.  I still had not caught up with Prairie Schooner in 40 minutes and although I could hear them calling me on the CB, they could not hear our response as the antenna is too low on their rig for longer distance communication.  I am overhearing all kinds of conversations which Chris is not hearing.  The concern level grew over the 40 minutes I took to catch up.  I explained that I had not pushed it as I was concerned over the presence of moose, to which Chris responded that that was exactly why he was concerned over my slow catch up.

We now know why most of the truckers take the northern route - to avoid the roller coaster!  I would prefer not to travel this road again with a rig like the one we had but it was the most spectacular route on a day like today. 

The boys have all had a swim this evening after we arrived as the pool does not open until 9.00 tomorrow and we want to pull out of here by 8.00.  While they were at the pool I called Cam and Amy who are now living in Winnipeg and said we would be in town tomorrow night so we are invited for supper and to bed down there.  It will be wonderful to see them again, it is over six years since they left St. John’s and went to Baltimore.  Maggie is now 7 and the baby, Rose, who we have never met is 4.  I have a tiny map of Winnipeg in the North American book of maps that we have and Cam has talked me in over the route that we will take tomorrow evening.  It’s amazing what two graphic artists can accomplish with a tiny map and clear explanations.  Only the major roads are shown but I am confident that it will be plenty to enable us to find them.

Greig Crocket had told Astri that we should look up his father Harry when we went through Thunder Bay, but we are again too late to be contacting anyone.  It would be nice to talk to him, but we did see him briefly at a party in St. John’s at Christmas.  That will have to do.

The dog has just decided that she will snack on her dog food.  She is only eating every couple of days.  She is a little muddled at all the change in her life.  I called Donna tonight and told her that Flair is finding that 10 to 12 hours is just a little too long in the back of the rabbit.  I’m finding it hard to catch her after the sixth or seventh hour, her enthusiasm has waned by that time.

The weather channel appears to be promising another wonderful day tomorrow.  We are so lucky, it seems that once we managed to get off the rock the gods decided to let us have appropriate weather.  It has warmed up so much, about minus 13 Celsius forecast for tonight with highs of minus 5 Celsius again tomorrow.

9.00 pm Saturday, February 27, 1993.  Log reading 5435 km

I am sitting at the dining table of Cam and Amy in Winnipeg, full of Cam’s homemade white wine with a coffee next to me, just loving being a a “real” home environment again, not a hotel.  We got up early this morning and were on the road by 8.30.  We arrived here at 6.00, and with the one hour time difference this means we were rolling for 10.5 hours.  Chris is so exhilerated by being with friends that we may end up settling here.  I’m sure that Cam and Amy would not appreciate basement squatters on a long term basis.  Flair has caused great concern here in her extreme interest in the gerbils.  We heard loud screaming from upstairs and found Rose defending the gerbils from Flair who had been scratching at the cage.  None of us are really convinced of Flair’s friendly disposition towards the gerbils so it was difficult to convince Rose.  Now Rose and Maggy have gone to bed in the same room as the gerbils and the door is well and truly closed.  Flair is hoping that Chris is going to take her for a walk, she is lying in the hallway with her head on her bed looking hopeful.  I have put on a load of laundry and hope I am awake enough to move it to the dryer when it finishes.  Although my watch is reading 10.00 it is actually 11.00 on the time zone we got up to and we were on the road at 8.30.

The weather was extremely kind to us again today.  The sun shone most of the day, the wind only came up at after 4.00.  By 5.00 we were gassing up just before the Winnipeg bypass.  Cam had given me directions last night and as I have already mentioned, two graphic artists should have no problem, and we didn’t.  I followed the small map and we turned left correctly, followed the correct highway in, found the road on the right just before the road on the left to take, passed Angus Murray Books and Gifts, the only store in Winnipeg that has ever taken Woof (and still does), turned left correctly and then turned right correctly and ended up at the right house.  Chris got more and more nervous as the streets got narrower and narrower, but it worked out fine.

It was a pretty hard day’s driving, but the thought of old friends at the end was just like a carrot for a mule, or some cheese for a mouse.  In Northern Ontario we drove past many of the stores to which I have been selling over the past decade.  Chris commented he was glad that I had managed this kind of market penetration, to which I responded that it’s a shame that I didn’t have the same market share in Southern Ontario.  In fact it’s not as good as he thinks it is, none of them have reordered for more than three seasons, many not more than two, and so many conflicts of location - selling to stores literally within 100 yards of each other and no others within 500 kilometers.

I have not said all I should about today, but I have run out of energy.  I have to change my Thursday reservation to Tuesday or Wednesday, I have to phone ReMax in Nanaimo and I must phone my mother tomorrow.

11.50 pm Sunday, February 28, 1993.  Log reading 6257 km

Over 800 km today, over 12 hours on the road, exhausted, lots to say, but no energy.  Must talk about the wonderfully friendly people at the little restaurant just off the highway that even has the Lions meeting there twice a month, of the joy of driving across the prairies, the wonderful feeling of limitless vision, of a perfect sunset at suppertime, of Nick cleaning the windows of the restaurant four or five times because I chose the window seats for the sunset, but that meant the dog could paw the window and bark at us, of Chris almost wiping out a little car overtaking him because he was almost asleep just after we had heard about the terrible accident involving a Ryder truck just north of Toronto, of the almost running out of gas because we forgot that prairie folk go to bed early and get up early, of the kindness of the gas station people in phoning ahead to get us a room at the Journeys End in Swift Current.  That is where we are now, with two over excited kids who have been warmed up by a bath at 11.45 after having slept for a couple of hours.  What a lot of stars can be seen in a cloudless prairie night sky, one shooting star, more trains than we have seen in all the rest of the trip together, the last one we followed along at only just a little faster until we flew over it on a bridge.  The first I saw of it was the eerie light of the caboose drifting along beside the road.  I thought at first I was imagining it but then the rest of the train became apparent against the backdrop of the star studded sky.  Nick counted cars until it disappeared under us at the bridge.  I pointed out to him that the green signal changes to red immediately that the locomotive passes it by.  The moon is getting larger, it is almost half full, only five nights ago it was very new, and each night it moved further away from what I assume is Venus, well it’s a very large star that set at about 9.30 tonight. 

We are now in charge of a truck with expired plates, it will be interesting to see whether anyone notices tomorrow.  The gas bar guys noticed it tonight.  The truck is very noisy as a flexible pipe under Chris has a crack in it.  With it being Sunday today we could not find anyone to do anything.  Having come as far as Swift Current instead of stopping at Regina we should make it to Calgary by mid afternoon tomorrow and hopefully have time to sort out this hole, try to get fifth gear sorted out on the rabbit.  I have hardly used it in two days as it will only stay in for four or five minutes before it pops out.  And I can make sure my ticket for Tuesday is ready, and that my ReMax agent knows I am arriving. 

The main part of this trip is really completed, only one day to Calgary and one and a half to Nanaimo, and then reality.  Today we talked to Leslie and Dan, to Renee, to Jonathon, Diana, Matthew and Joshua, to Chris’s mother, tried my mother two or three times and Chris’s mother is going to call her to tell her that we are fine.  I left a message on my sister’s apparently unreliable answering machine.  I changed my reservation from Thursday to Tuesday, made a reservation at the Sheraton Cavalier at Calgary airport, left a message at ReMax in Nanaimo and managed to contact John before he flew out to Vancouver with his mother this evening.  Chris thought we must have spent $40 on phone calls, but that may be conservative!!

9.45 pm Monday, March 1, 1993.  Log reading 7097 km

We have arrived at Calgary.  Chris has just booked a hotel at Sunshine for $175.00 per night, which sounds terrible until you realize that all the skiing for them is included.  I just mentioned Flair’s name and Chris has gone kind of ape, she seems not to be included.  I should phone Air Canada and see if I can get her out with me.

7.30 am Thursday, March 4, 1993. 

I am in Nanaimo having yesterday had an offer accepted on a brand new house.  I think I am in shock.

I have not logged anything about the trip since we left the Travellers Inn in Medicine Hat on Monday.  I was too tired on Monday night to say much so I’ll start with leaving the Traveller’s Inn after eating granola in the room so we could get an early start.  It took us a bit longer than we planned because the noise in the truck got to Chris.  As we left town Chris spotted a U-Haul dealer just on the outskirts of town so we stopped to find out if they could do anything with the hole in the muffler that was creating so much noise that the radio could not be heard.  We found out that the International dealer was next door to the Traveller’s Inn, so back we went.  Eighteen kilometres and we were back to square one.  We spent the entire morning at the International dealer repairing both broken exhaust pipes.  No wonder he has been having trouble starting the truck.  The mechanic says the glow plugs aren’t working.  The broken fuel gauge couldn’t be fixed.   

While we waited the kids and I went over to a local mall with the kids and picked up panty hose and a box to keep the tapes in one place in the car and had a cup of coffee - oh so wonderful.  When we got back the truck was not fixed as they had got the wrong parts and had to go to another store to find the correct ones.  I had another cup of coffee, Nick wrote some in his journal, and I talked to Cheryl who is back at work after the CNE Show and managed to get through to Mum.  Both Chris’s mother and Georgina had told her I was OK, but she was very excited to hear from me.  I was able to use the phone in the garage because I am unable to phone internationally on my credit card from a pay phone because of fraud in New York.  Strange, but true. 

We finally got on the road at about noon and stopped after an hour for lunch.  Everywhere we go, people are fascinated by our Newfoundland plates and the boat.  We really are starting to resemble the Beverley Hill Billies.  The drive across the rest of the prairies to Calgary was wonderful - bright sunshine, it went up to plus 15 Celsius- amazing.  It is so like being on a boat, the long slow swells.  Finally an hour out of Calgary we got our first glimpse of the Rockies, a line of blue teeth on the horizon.  So exciting.  We arrived at the Sheraton Cavalier at close to 7.00 and my air plane ticket was waiting for me at the front desk.  I took the boys to the waterslides where they played for almost an hour.  It is just a wonderful pool area, two long slides, a sauna, two hot tubs, a kidney shaped pool with salt water and a paddling pool for little kid, plus a snack bar and an excellent gym.  Chris parked the truck and the boat and walked the dog.  We had a nice supper with a bottle of wine to celebrate no more driving for three days.  Chris said it had been one of the better days for driving with the reduced sound level with the muffler being mended, but he was tired and really in need of a break.  We went to bed early and I had an early call in for 5.30 as I was flying out at 7.30 and Flair was going with me so I needed enough time to purchase and assemble the cloud kennel and then get her in it.

Neither of us slept well, knowing that the phone is going to ring real early always disturbs my sleep and both of us are aware that we will soon be THERE.  Flair and I went to the airport on the shuttle and everything went very smoothly.  She was a little difficult to get into the cloud kennel as she is taller that the doorway, but with a lot of squeezing and holding of paws I got her in and she was wheeled away to an elevator by a porter.  She was not barking much to my relief.  She had spent the half-hour before outside the terminal trying to work out where these small sparrows were that were singing out to her.  She stood with her paws on the railing looking down to where they were, unable to see them in the dark but looking very much the alert urban bird dog.

The flight to Vancouver was uneventful, a little late leaving and a little turbulence, but nothing to worry about.  After we landed there was a two-hour layover until the Nanaimo flight so I went down and asked the baggage handlers to check on Flair.  Since she was calmly lying down I let sleeping dog lie.  Only three passenger boarded the 19 seater to Nanaimo and we completed the 12 minute flight only to find too much fog to land and we passed another 12 minutes returning to Vancouver.  I decided that there were obviously gods that did not want me to get on to this island so I took pity on the other passengers (who gambled on the 11.20 which was delayed an hour but may have got in) and found the dog, rented a car, and took the ferry over.  I managed to track Valerie Bone down and arranged to meet her at her office at 3.30.  Only 5 hours late, but there.  I had wanted to rent a car anyway as Flair can get rather too muddy to put into a stranger’s car. 

I am extremely impressed at Flair’s behaviour.  She had taken to travel like a duck to water.  I have no concerns about taking her back to Newfoundland this summer, unless she shows terrible fright over getting back into the cloud kennel this afternoon.

Valerie took me to see three houses priced at $149,000.  They were all two or three bedroom, one or two bathroom, kitchen, dining and living room upstairs, and garage or car port, washroom, laundry, rec room and/or extra bedroom or office space on the above ground basement level.  All had nice gardens with trees and had an area for Flair.  None were exciting and only one could have been ready for fairly immediate occupancy.  I checked into more details on that one and after talking to Heather at CIBC entertained the thought of making an offer, but decided to look at some more houses on Wednesday.  Dealing with the bank will be interesting as it looks as if we’ll need a guarantor. 

On Wednesday Valerie and I looked at three more houses, only one of which really interested me.  It was on a very attractive lot, with large trees, wonderful landscaping, a tree house, and inside was large enough to work, but only just.  We contacted the selling agent to say we were willing to make a good offer (asking was $155,000 and I was willing to go to $152,000), but we needed immediate occupancy.  Impossible before late April.  So back to looking.  Valerie’s office mate at ReMax, Guy, came in at this point and suggested one of his new house listings as we could move in real fast.  It was listed at $159,500 - not impossible.  I also found an attractive listing at $145.000 that was currently vacant so off we went to look at these two. The brand new one is larger than any of the others I had looked at, with more space to grow into.  It has privacy as it backs on to a wildlife sanctuary and it is almost finished.  It is bright and airy and I immediately liked it.  I realized I was half way sold on it when I was working out where my art pieces would hang!  It is nearer the school than any of the others, near to the most suitable business area for a retail outlet of my style, close to the yacht club, close to Malaspina College, close to the ferries.  All the others I had looked at were in the north end of town.  Valerie felt that there is better resale potential in that area, plus I like the trees and the scenery.  So off we went to the other house, feeling pretty confident that I had found what I wanted. 

Well we arrived at this WONDERFUL house, just the kind of house that Chris and I have always really dreamed of.  After driving up this wonderful hill, with houses nestled in amongst the trees, we found a car port down off the road with 131 in large brass letters.  What an omen.  After walking down the steps every one of which sagged (rot I’m afraid - all needing replacing) we arrrived at a sideways “A” frame house.  The third floor is an “A” shaped attic with one tiny window, but ideal for the boys if a couple of skylights were put in.  The second floor has two good sized bedrooms and a bathroom on the road side of the house with a deck and access through sliding glass doors.  The master bedroom is huge with an ensuite bathroom and a large deck overlooking other hills, trees, houses, the ocean, mountains and islands!!!  The main floor also had an even larger deck with the same view.  The large kitchen, dining and livng room open out on to this deck.  Behind is a rec room that could act as an office.  The place really is what we would love, but I was scared of the possible rot I could see, of the fact it was filthy, it needed to be gutted out and painted throughout.  It included all of the appliances but there was no where suitable for the freezer or the dog.  There are $40 per month “strata” charges on top of the municipal taxes.  Apparently the road is heated as it is so steep and the water and sewer lines are above ground in many places because of the rockiness and the grade, so this extra charge is levied on all home owners.  It is a long walk up hill from the nearest bus line.  Valerie says the kids do use the buses so it might create much more chauffering for me. 

Well what a decision to have to make on my own.  I decided that the amount of work needing to be done on the dream was not what we needed right now.  The new house, although not perfect, will be able to be sold more easily with no work.  We aren’t ready for a dream house possibly with rot, our lives are out of control enough already, and the probability of other dream houses here is so high, after all I’ve only looked at 8 homes and found one I adore.  I hope I’ve made the right decision.  Anyway, I made an offer of $155,000, which was accepted.  The only thing he would not do that I requested was to put a fence around the property, but he had agreed to supply the labour to build it if we’ll purchase the materials.  I think Flair must have a fenced yard with the proximity to the wildlife area.  After all she is a bird dog!!

9.30 am Friday, March 5, 1993  Log reading 7149 km

Chris’s birthday, we’re setting off now, the new log reading is after the kids and Chris’s trip to Sunshine.

11.30 pm Friday, March 5, 1993  Log reading 7814 km

Arrived exhausted at another Best Western - that won’t take dogs even for $10 - in Kamloops.

3.30 pm Saturday, March 6, 1993  Log reading 8255 km

We’ve arrived at Peter and Kathie’s and Chris and I are rushing off to look at an 85 Turbo Volvo in North Vancouver, and leaving kids and dog here.

10.00 pm Sunday, March 7, 1993  Log reading 8423 km

We are finally here in Nanaimo, 20 days of travelling, over 8000 km in the rabbit and just under 7460 km for Prairie Schooner, and about $10,000.  The ferry docked at 5.45 and we came straight here to the Moby Dick motel, checked in, unpacked the rabbit and roared off to look at our new home.  Ernie and several helpers were there working and showed us around.  Nick and Alex each chose their own bedrooms without a fight - amazing and all three love the house.  I am so relieved, in fact I am exhausted - I think the relief of them liking it has just unwound me.  I was very worried about their disapproval.  After that we had supper at the same restaurant I have visited twice before on my visit last week.  Then home, boys to bed, buy some groceries, walk the dog, unpack, put on some music and tap away.

Our New House in Nanaimo

Last Thursday, after I last wrote at length in this journal, I gave the dog a lovely long walk in the pouring rain in jeans and sweater shirt, got soaked to the skin, changed into better clothes, had breakfast, then ran around with Flair checking out many of the routes around town and ended up at the school to check it out.  I met the principal and both teachers, they all seem good and the school is certainly adequate, just over 300 students in Kindergarten to Grade 7 with three streams, English, French Immersion and Core French.  I met Valerie at her office, we went out for lunch and I had an appointment at 1.00 with Heather at CIBC.  It looks like the financing should be straightforward.

I caught the 3.30 ferry back to Tsawassen.  I fell asleep for a little while and when I woke up I saw a profile of a man I thought I recognised, but this is BC not Newfoundland.  I was astonished to find out that it was indeed a profile I recognised, Michael is an old friend of John’s who I have met at many shows in Vancouver over the  past 6 or 7 years.  He represents Maggi B among several other lines, and had been on Vancouver Island servicing his accounts.  We had a good catch up on news.  After we docked Flair and I rushed off to the airport to drop off the car and to get her cloud kennel ready for the flight.  She was less enthusiastic about getting in this time and barked for a while once she was in.  I discovered there is no meal on the 7.30 to Calgary so I had an awful and expensive snack at the airport snack bar and went on through security with my camera and computer.  I found out where the departure lounge is and then checked out where the washrooms are and there, walking towards me, was Peter Bryce.  What an incredibly small country we live in.  He was also flying to Calgary so we got seats next to each other and chatted and drank all the way.  When Flair was delivered to the baggage area, as soon as she heard me speak, the whole cloud kennel moved up and down with great vigour.  She was so excited to get out but calmed down in less then five minutes.  The cab driver refused to take us because of Flair so I called the Sheraton courtesy bus.  Peter came up to our room and we all went down to the bar and had draught beer and he and I had hamburgers.  We bid adieu to Peter and said we’d see him on Saturday, and then to bed.

The next morning we had breakfast but did not swim or use the water slide as the kids had used it the night before and we wanted to get on to the road fast.  We managed to leave by 9.40.  The journey up to Banff is so spectacular.  We saw no animals, although the kids told me they had seen and photographed masses of the rear ends of mooses on the way up to Sunshine on Tuesday.  We stopped for lunch in a wonderful deli in Lake Louise and the kids found a candy store that was reminiscent of the candy store in “The Giraffe, the Peli and Me”, a wonderful kids story book.

Then we started up into Kicking Horse Pass, WOW!!!  We went up and up and up, slower and slower and slower, and then we went down and down and down the other side.  In Calgary we had already been at over 3000 feet and between Kicking Horse and Rogers Passes we went lower than that.  Kicking Horse Pass was wonderful, but just a taste of Roger’s Pass.  The hills in Northern Ontario were worse in the sense that we ended up slowing down much more but the ones in the Rockies were higher.  We stopped in Revelstoke for supper at a wonderful restaurant.  I went in before the others in order to ask about candles for Chris’s birthday, but they said they had a glass “boot” that he could have anything he wanted to drink in it for free.  He chose water!!  So when he had decided on lemon meringue pie for dessert, it was not only on the house, but had a sparkler fizzing on top.  One of the most memorable birthdays despite that lack of gifts, cards and friends.  As I told him my gift was the house!!!  Some gift.  The waitress tried to persuade us to stop in Revelstoke for the night as she said it was only 5 hours to Vancouver.  We decided to go on as we really weren’t exhausted and I preferred to be a little awake for the Saturday evening at Peter and Kath’s in Vancouver. 

So we went on up another hill, and Alex called back in panic that “Daddy has left his boot at the restaurant” so Nick and I turned back to get the boot.  We lost about 20 minutes which I reckoned would take about an hour to catch up but we caught him up within half an hour as a passing truck had kicked up a stone and put a small crack in one of the sealed beam headlights.  Luckily the nearby roadside gas station had a spare one and it was quickly fitted.  So on again to Kamloops.  We got there after 10.00.  So much for the waitress’s 5 hours to Vancouver.  We had taken over 4 hours elapsed time, about 3.5 allowing for the repair.  We tried three hotels before we found another Best Western that had a room with one double bed and a hideabed.  I did not see the large sign saying no pets until the next morning but I did not mention Flair when we registered.  We would have got her in if one of the 300 teenage girls staying there hadn’t said “Ah, what a cute doggie”  The front desk guy called us over “You can’t bring in pets, it’s not allowed”  I said “But you allow 300 screaming teenage girls”  He winced and reiterated the ban on pets.  So I asked him if dogs for the blind were allowed and upon his positive response I said “I’m blind, and I’ll sign a affidavit”  This was all ruined by Chris’s comment on how could I sign my name if I was blind.  By this time I was frustrated and amused so I said “With my eyes shut”,  So Chris asked what the alternatives were and since there were none Flair bedded down in the Rabbit.  It was well over freezing so she was fine.

The next morning we were so disgusted by the hotel not wanting Flair that we got straight on the road before 8.00 and stopped at a gas bar for breakfast, gas and diesel.  Someone stole Flair’s food bowl!  It’s quite amazing.  In Northern Ontario someone stole her stainless steel water bowl.  I can’t get over what people will take. 

Chris stopped just after breakfast at a weigh scale.  I was encouraging him on the CB not to stop, but he did.  He had decided to stop in BC as he did not want to be stopped in the province he intended to try to get a driver’s licence.  He is convinced that he would lose points.  It did not take long and he was not fined.  He had to go in and the guy told him he was just a little overweight.  We were really pleased that U-Haul had found the truck at the Sheraton and put on the new plates.  That was just one of the other little jobs I had to attend to when I was in Nanaimo.  I spent ages on the phone finding out where the plates were - in Toronto - and persuading the woman there to courier them out to Calgary where one of the U-Haul people located the truck while the boys were skiing and changed the plates. 

The landscape in Kamploops is almost African, very barren with single trees at vast distances from one another.  Some vistas were almost lunar.  We had to travel up some more hills and then down into Hope.  We stopped there for lunch and when we left the restaurant Chris noticed that one of the tires on the trailer was flat.  We found out the nearest tire place was Caltire, just across the road.  Amazing, what luck we have had on this trip.  Chris had tried to reinflate the tire with a can of stuff that is supposed to create foam to fill the tire, but all it did was to create bubbles that allowed the tire to slip off the rim.  The guys found a very neat hole that, much to our consternation, looked like a bullet hole!!  They fixed it in jig time and we were back on the road.

What magic, to go from winter to spring in a matter of hours and miles!!  Everything was so green.  We drove along excited by willow in blossom, grass green and growing!!  We passed along the very fertile valley bottom and into eastern Vancouver.  I had never approached from this direction before and got a little confused as we were a little further south than I had expected and we ended up in White Rock.  Chris was very upset when I left him in a gas station to make a U-turn without enough room.  I went on around a corner to wait until he had extricated himself.  There were some rude comments on navigation over the CB.  But next stop, Peter and Cathy’s.

B.C. Ferry

We spent Saturday night there.  We had arrived in late afternoon and left the kids and went off to look at the Volvo I had found in the Autotrader magazine I had purchased in Nanaimo and read whilst waiting for the ferry after purchasing the house.  I had called from Nanaimo and then again from Hope and then again from Cathy’s.  It still had not sold so we looked at it, liked it, bargained and got a 1985 Volvo almost identical to the 1984 edition I had sold in St. John’s for less then $1000 more, and much less rust for my money!!!

It was arranged that I would pick it up when I come back on Thursday to set up for the Trade Show in BC Place in Vancouver.  What a trip, I attended the Atlantic Craft Trade Show in Halifax the weekend before we packed up the truck and I will attend the Vancouver Spring Gift Show the weekend after we arrive in Nanaimo.  We are in the Moby Dick motel for the next three or more nights until we can get possession of the house on Bird Sanctuary Road.  The kids start school tomorrow morning, we have driven up to show them where it is.  I am just so relieved that everyone likes the house I chose, at least from the outside. 

So we’re here, safe and sound.

Wednesday April 14 1993

We’ve been in the house for exactly five weeks.  It is hard to believe.  We all still like the house, in fact we are very much at home.  Eight weeks since we set sail.  We still feel nauseous each time we see a U-Haul truck!  But it is unbelievable that it is such a short time; it feels so long ago that we said good bye.  Of course we were saying bye bye for months!

Our House in 2006
The boxes are mostly empty.  We still cannot find the portable phone.  We think it may be with Alex’s watch.  I’ve heard it’s alarm in the garage - -somewhere!!!  The kids have lots of friends at school and at home.   Alex desperately misses his friends - but he increasingly has difficulty finding time!  We have no friends but no time.  Last weekend we finally got organised to book the boat into a marina in Maple Bay.  We haven’t done any work on it yet but should be ready in a couple of weeks.  We have a great lifestyle - all that is missing is an income!  Of course we are also missing a lawn - just rain and mud - we hope the builder will soon come back to finish the house, driveway and topsoil!

We are glad we moved on the whole.  Only time will tell if Prairie Schooner’s cruise was well timed. It certainly was a unique voyage.

Gill, Chris and Kayla