Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day 56, August 21, 2007

Day 56, Tuesday, August 21, 2007
We got a bit of a late start today but only had a few hours to Calgary so there was no panic to get away. When we left the campsite in Edmonton it was cloudy and windy out of, I thought, the southwest or east. We hit the #2 highway and the wind is out of the northwest which is good because it’s hitting the passenger side rear corner so not too bad but it is a strong wind. This tends to toss us around a little but not too bad and the good news is it does push us also. With a wind at the back, it is a lot quieter up front, less wind noise. As the road bends and twists on the way to Calgary the wind tends to catch us sometimes at the side and sometimes at the rear. From the rear, the vacuum gage goes from about 9-10 inches to 15 plus. If from the front the vacuum has dropped to as low as 3-4 inches. 10 to 12 inches is about normal. The higher the inches of vacuum the better the gas mileage. Now the side wind is good and bad. The good new is that it is not a head wind. The bad news if it is a side wind and throws us around something fierce. Not that you move across the whole road, but you use every bit of your own lane and can give the drivers in the other lanes a bit of a start when suddenly you are right on the line. Also with a side wind you are steering into the wind so when something blocks the wind like a row of trees or a big truck you tend to do the Highway Dance, “The Two Foot.” It’s two feet this way and two feet that way and back to the middle and then two feet back again and two feet to the middle. Well you get the idea. This dance can be done to any tune on the radio or the tune the passenger happens to be screaming when the dance starts. The wind must have been 50-65 k/h and maybe gusting higher. Not for the novice driver and needless to say Tegan was not driving. Closer to Calgary I noticed a 5th wheel on the side of the road dealing with his awning, I think it must have come loose and they were having quite a time putting it back up, if they were even able to. I would think if it had come loose it would have done damage to the arms or the track the awning slides into. He had some help so I didn’t stop and it would have been tricky to try and stop with traffic and the limited space on the shoulder of the road. Speaking of shoulders, a few of the highways have no shoulder at all. I wouldn’t want (knock wood) to have a reason to have to stop on one of those roads. Other than the wind the this segment of the trip was good and we rolled straight to Calgary and found a campsite on the NW corner of Calgary and only $30.00 per night. Met some nice people on either side and across the road. The couple on the passenger side are a younger couple with twin girls 3 years old and they have one of those decorative metal signs hanging in the window that says “Gamblers and loose women may frequent this establishment”. We found it quite humorous. The couple on the other side, he is helping his son in construction for a few months and the couple across the street are from Smithers, BC and they are just finishing their cross Canada trip. They had left in May.
We did get a hold of Jonathan and he came out to the campsite and had supper with us. He was on call but had no calls until later in the evening. Jonathan works for NCR (National Cash Register) Company. He is on loan for a few week hears from the Vancouver office. He has stored his car at our house while he is away. May do some cruising. He bought a 2001 Ford Mustang Cobra, convertible, candy apple red. Very nice car and in real good shape with low mileage. He’s very proud of it and has a right to be. Well it is 7:00 in the morning of the 22nd and we are on the last leg of our Cross Canada Trip. Tonight we stay at Keith and Lillian Bennetts which is in Salmon Arm, BC. We could just see the mountains on the horizon coming into Calgary and after almost 2 months they did look good. Should be well into them by noon if I can get Willa and Tegan moving soon. I just looked over at Tegan sleeping and I find it interesting where people put there arms when sleeping. Tegan has one arm under her head with the hand holding her head and the other in front of her face with the hand holding her forehead. Interesting position. Another time when mom came camping with us to a Kraft reunion about 4 years ago. She was sleeping in the motor home she had her hands under her head in such a way that it reminded me of a little girl sleeping and she was 89 at the time. Bit of Trivia. Ok now to start the day……………………”WILLA, TEGAN GET UP. IT’S TIME TO HIT THE ROAD, WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS ANY HOW, YOU ARE WASTING THE DAY AWAY, COME ON GET UP”…………………………………………”yes dear I’ll be quiet, you want to sleep longer, that’s ok dear, yes I am sorry I yelled, I was just trying to impress some people but it was a bad judgment call on my part, you have a nice sleep. Lillian can wait.” (Willa couldn’t get up because Melvin snored all night!!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 55, August 20, 2007

Day 55, Monday, August 20, 2007.
Today was a duplicate of what happened yesterday. The differences were 1) the West Edmonton Mall opened at 10:00 am. 2) We had more time to shop, let me rephrase that, “they had more time to shop”. Tegan did well, got a lot of her school clothes. I walked around the Mall. Now I know what the ugliest hooker in town feels like. I found one shop that has a hand gun shooting range in it. It is almost in a bunker but what an idea. You could choose from several hand guns anything from a 22 upward. Prices weren’t too bad I don’t think, $19.00 to enter and about $29.00 for shells which gave you 50 shots of the high caliber and a 100 shots of the 22’s. Another shop I found very interesting was called “The Store of 100 Gift Stores”. This store is franchised out of Ontario and is made up of 100 plus little displays. If you have items you want to sell you rent space from this company and they set up a display of your products. You pay them a percentage and they look after marketing and selling it for you. For a cottage industry who can’t afford a space in The Edmonton Mall this is the answer. I was very impressed with the shop and the idea. Something for everyone. You need a week at the West Edmonton Mall to do everything and a hotel room in the mall would be perfect. We are off to Calgary in the morning and hope to meet up with Jonathan, our son. He is working in Calgary for a few weeks. Apparently they are short handed and he is going to fill in. I imagine lots to see and do in Calgary. The weather has been cloudy and a little rainy the last couple of days but today started off cloudy but no rain and turned sunny in the afternoon, not that I could see the sun from where I was. Can’t think of any thing else unless you want a step by step litany of my walking around the mall …………………………….”I thought not!

Day 54, August 19, 2007

Day 54, Sunday, August 19, 2007.
We left the campsite about 10:00 am and headed for the West Edmonton Mall. We were a little early but we got inside and did a little walking around to orient ourselves to the Mall. It is unbelievable the size of this Mall and I was told they are looking at more than doubling the size of it. Tegan had the run of the Mall. We have walkie/talkies that we are able to keep in touch with one another, she can call when she runs out of money. The process works quite well especially for Tegan. Actually she had her own money to spend but my story sounds better. Willa and I walked around together and later in the day she joined Tegan and I started walking the perimeter of the Mall. In 2 hours I did not cover 1/2 of 1st floor. Now I did stop at some of the stores and looked around but the size is unreal. We had lunch at the Mall, but breakfast at the campsite restaurant. All and all it was a good day. The girls are heading back tomorrow. I will spend a little time with them but may visit a cousin that lives across the street from the Mall. If all else fails I will go out to the motorhome and either read or watch a movie.

Day 53, August 18, 2007

Day 53, Saturday, August 18, 2007.
We didn’t get as early of a start this morning but didn’t have as many miles to cover either. The roads between North Battleford, Saskatchewan and Edmonton, Alberta were the best we have been on for this trip. Mostly 4 lanes and very little rough areas. The speed limit is 110 k/h and I set the cruise at 99-102 and that is the way we rolled all day. The GPS gives me an average moving speed and it averaged at 101 k/h before we hit Edmonton. So we made real good time and had a tail wind all the way except when it came at a rear corner because of the bend in the road. Some of that road is absolutely straight for as far as the eye can see and that is a long ways. The traffic was light until we got into Edmonton. On the way, we stopped in Lloydminster. Willa had a visit with her Mom’s cousin Jean Skinner. She had always wanted to meet her, and was glad she did. Nice lady.
We started calling campsites in the afternoon and they were all filled because of the celebrations that were going on in Edmonton. So ended up in the overflow at the Glowing Embers campsite just 6 miles from the West Edmonton Mall. This was all that was available for this evening. So we took it with the hope we can get a site with full hookups for tomorrow night. This is a real nice campsite. It cost about $30.00 per night with full services which includes WI/FI. There is a restaurant, store, nice washrooms and showers and a repair shop right on sight. 238 sights plus the over flow. We set up camp then headed over to the restaurant to have supper. Very reasonable cost and a good meal and didn’t have to drive anywhere. Well the next two days are Tegan’s. She wants to spend them shopping for school clothes. So it is off to bed. We don’t have to be up too early because the Mall does not open until 11:00 am. Nice part it is only 6-7 miles away from the campsite.

Day 52, August 17, 2007

Day 52, Friday, August 17, 2007
Well this was the earliest we have started on this trip. We were on the road by 6:30 am. The plan was to stay in Saskatoon, Sask for the night but when we got there all the campsites were booked because of some celebration they were having, in fact it was a baseball tournament. So we decided to drive to the next town. Either they didn’t have a campsite or they weren’t what we wanted so we kept driving and the next thing you know we are in North Battleford, Saskatchewan and have driven just under 1000 k or 600 miles. The longest day we have ever put in on this holiday. We were on the road 12 hours, Willa drove about 1-2 hours and Tegan drove about 1 hour, so it did give me a little break, but still a long day... in fact too long. I was wiped by the time we set up camp. The weather was wet all day and it was the first time on the holiday we drove most of the day in rain. I haven’t heard as of the writing of today’s diary but when we passed through Saskatoon there was a big storm heading there way. We fought the head winds right up till Saskatoon. As we headed west to north west we could see the storms coming. It looked like we were going to go right through the middle of the large storm then the road turned and it looked like we might go through the smaller storm but we ended up through the calm area between the storms and ended up with some rain but the winds had shifted and we had a tail wind most of the way to North Battleford. Good roads all the way with a lot of 4 lanes. Even in Battleford the campsite was booked but we were able to get an unserviced site so we took it. I was in bed and asleep by about 8:00 pm and didn’t move until the morning. I was absolutely wiped, just too long of a day. We are running short of time so decided to carry on to Edmonton in the morning. I have some relatives in the North Battleford area but would be hard to visit just one and not the others so decided to pass through. Also, we are back here next year for a Kraft family Reunion, so will see everyone then. This is also the town I was born in, North Battleford, Saskatchewan. Just a bit of trivia for you. Many, many moons ago!

Day 51, August 16, 2007

Day 51, Thursday August 16, 2007
I got up about 6:00 to go to the bathroom and was it ever cold. I checked the thermometer it said 40.8 f and that was coolest of the trip. We got rolling about 7:00 am and got ready for the Coopers and their daughter Andrea coming to dinner. Had to do a little cleanup in the motorhome and I had a couple of things to do outside. Took some time this afternoon to read my book and just plain relaxed, needed that after the last couple of days of putting mileage on. We had popcorn for lunch and afterwards I fixed one of the blinds in the back of the motorhome. The blinds have little plastic grommets and the cord pulling through them for the last 14 years wears one side out and then the cord starts to pull through the blind. I was replacing the grommets with metal ones and then ran across the idea of turning the plastic grommets around and hope they are good for another 14 years. Its very pleasant outside at 79f but there is a steady breeze. We lazed around the afternoon and about 4:00 pm I started to get everything ready for Tom, Gwynne and Andrea Cooper coming over for dinner this afternoon. Tom and Gwynne will be here about 5:00 and Andrea closer to 7:00 pm. We had a real nice visit with them. As of August 1 Tom has officially retired, I still say I am too young to have friends retiring. It was real great to see them and we decided it was about 5 years ago we last saw them in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. That was the night of the biggest storm I had ever seen. T and G had picked us up at the campsite and when we got back a hurricane past near the campsite and caused some problems. One motorhome had its awning torn off, a tree fell on a Jeep, and there was so much rain the sewer system had backed up. We had branches up to 4 inches in size fall all around the campsite but not one hit the motor home. The rain came down in buckets and flooded the underpasses and there were cars everywhere. No one seemed to get hurt which was surprising. Even in T and G subdivision any low area was filled with water. Thunder and lightning like you wouldn’t believe unless you are familiar with good old prairie thunder storms. When T, G and A left we cleaned up the BBQ and put every thing away getting ready to leave in the morning. Hoped to get an early start. (Again!)

Day 50, August15, 2007

Day 50, Wednesday, August 15, 2007.
We got away at 9:30 am Ontario time but I had set the clocks for the time change and so it was 8:30 am, depending on how you look at it. We were at Thunder Bay last night and the time change is just 10-15 miles West of Thunder Bay. So I cheated a little! It was cool in the morning when we left about 54f and stayed that way most of the day until we got into Manitoba and it started to warm up, with it came the head wind to Winnipeg. We had a real good drive the roads were all good and again letting out the extra air in the tires seemed to smooth the road quite a bit. A lot of trucks on the road. We traveled Highway 11 from Thunder Bay which is the Trans Canada Highway. Being a main road is probably why all the trucks and do they ever move along. The speed limit is 90 k/h. I set the cruise at approx 94 k/h and they were piling up behind me. I finally set the cruise at 98-99 and I finally moved along with the traffic. When a truck did come up behind me and a passing lane was available I would wave them by. If I didn’t slow down for them I would beat them up the hill and still have them behind me till the next passing lane. They seemed to appreciate it and would flash either their tail lights or back up lights to thank me (or else saying what a rotten no good for nothing Rv’er). The other thing that I do when the big rigs or motorhomes pass, when it is safe for them to pull back into my lane, I flash my head lights at them to let them know it is safe to pull in. Again they seem to appreciate it and flash back at me. I’ve had a few do this for me and it is helpful. I don’t pass too much because I just don’t have the power or the speed. The units I do pass are the ones that are sporadic with their speed. I had one motorhome today that was generally at about 94 k/h then down to 80-84 then back up agin. So I finally passed him but I always wait for a good looooooooooooooooooooooooooooong opportunity. He tailed me for awhile after I passed and then slowly fell behind and never did see him again. Generally the traffic moves very well and not too many doddlers but a number that must be over 100 k/h including the big trucks. We were just about 20 miles from Ignace, Ontario, we had come through some construction when I noticed an area of about 200-300 feet across of trees that were laying down and broken off about 12-15 feet up. At first I thought it was part of the construction and then realized there must have had a tornado or hurricane go though just that area. When we got to Ingnace they had one go through the day before. One building had its roof rolled up like the lid on a can of sardines. There were broken windows and a large sign had all the plastic blown out. Again in just a little strip so it must have been a twister that touched down. When we got to Winnipeg and the campsite the ladies there were saying a tornado had been through their area, although they didn’t get the wind destruction, they got the hail storm and some of the wind. One trailer had its awning flipped right over the rig. Lots of hail damage, cracked windows and one motorhome had a window blown right out. We were lucky and missed it all. Started to get a little warmer closer to Winnipeg and so did the head wind, got stronger that is. We pulled into the campsite after spending 7 hours on the road without a stop (other than one potty break for me) and covered 690 kilometers or 428 miles. The more driving we do the longer I am able to stay behind the wheel and not get tired. Willa had made reservations on the Satellite Phone while we drove so didn’t have to worry about a campsite. We needed groceries so we picked those up before setting up at the campsite which is the Traveller’s RV Resort. Difficult to move once setup and takes time setting up and down. We used the talking GPS to find a grocery store. Willa had bought me one for my birthday in June. (Oh! Thank you). She asked for a grocery store and it told her where it was, gave the address, then proceeded to give us direction on how to get there. (Turn left in .5 miles, turn left now and so it went.) She, we’ve named her Nagging Nelly, was right on with every turn and brought us right to the Safeway store. Isn’t technology something else. I do not understand how it works but I understand how to work it. We have Gwynne and Tom Cooper coming out for dinner tomorrow night and needed some supplies. Haven’t seen Tom and Gwynne for about, had to think on this but can’t be but must be about 8-9 years ago, when we were out to Saskatchewan for the last Kraft Reunion which was in 2000. Man that is hard to believe, time just flies. We watched a movie in the evening after supper then turned in. Very windy all evening. Got cool when the sun went down.