Sunday, 21 August 2022

The Great Canadian Road Trip, part 2

 We’ve been on the road for 19 days and 5500 km. We’ve slept in 10 different beds, crossed several time zones, and done laundry twice. We’ve moved from Lethbridge to Regina, from Regina to Winnipeg.

We picked up Bucky in Regina. He was hitch-hiking. He is posing in Kenora.

Then on and on and on and on to Thunder Bay, after which came Wawa, and Little Current on Manitoulin Island. We stayed two nights in Bothwell (where my sister offered her empty home for a rest – hallelujah!).

 Now we are in Woodstock, where we plan to stay for a week to visit family. Woodstock is where Al and my stories joined up 51 years ago; it deserves a little more time and attention.

Now our friends are asking, “Are you enjoying it?” That’s a valid question. 

 A few days ago, as we were driving along north of Superior, I rhapsodized to the RS, “Oh, I’m just so glad we did this, Al. I’m really enjoying it,” to which he replied, “Yeah, some of it’s okay, but boy, this is a lot of driving.” I think the truth lies somewhere in between. This road journey is like life – there are highlights and wonderful things, and then there are the hard realities and the difficult parts. You’ll read a bit of that in this blog as I share some of the things we've experienced:

1. If Google  tells you that getting from point A to Point B will take 5 hours, don’t believe it. Construction, heavy traffic, and pit stops mean that the 5 hours turn into 7 quite easily. If we decided to spend an hour at a lakeside rest area, it got even longer. As a result, we now sadly realize that all the little byways, unusual sights, and back door experiences we hoped would be part of this trip will not happen, especially not on long driving days. But we are also having some wonderful, serendipity experiences that we had not expected at all. So we are learning to be open, to live more in the moment, and to appreciate what is happening right now, right here – that’s on our good days. But on that long stretch between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay – not so much. That’s just an experience of endurance.

2. Some experiences have strongly impacted our emotions. The Nikkei interpretive center in New Denver, BC, tells the story of the internment of 12,000 Japanese during the 2nd world war. 


How should we react to such a sad story, where the rights of Canadian citizens were trampled, their possessions taken away, and their families often separated? We knew the facts, but seeing how they lived and listening to the stories moved knowledge from head to heart. 


The Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg asked us, “What are universal human rights?” Freedom, dignity, respect? Land, water, clean air? I was moved by the stories of unsung heroes who stood up to fight for these rights, who spoke truth to power and often paid the ultimate price with their lives. How can we make sure their sacrifice is not in vain? 

At Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, we learned the story of the Plains indigenous people. Buffalo were the center of their lives and well-being. It’s estimated that 100 million buffalo roamed the plains before Europeans colonized the West. In a short space of 100 years, they became almost extinct, many victims of predation by those same colonizers. How easy it is for us to arrogantly assume that we can do as we wish, and how easy it is to trample on the rights of others. We feel sad, mad, humble, guilt-ridden ... and hopefully, more self-aware and open to considering our impact on others.

3. Some days are just plain fun. After that long tiring day from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay, we were expecting more of the same as we set out the next day for Wawa, known as home of the big goose (but not much else.) 



I was driving, and we were looking for a pit stop. Jokingly, I said to Al, “I’m putting this out to the universe. I want a pit stop with flush toilets, a beach, and a nice place to picnic.” Within a few miles, a sign invited us to Terrace Bay Beach and I took a hard right and followed the road down, down, down past a golf course, right down to a wonderful Conservation area with ... yes: flush toilets, a beach, and picnic tables. 


And more! An interpretive center, a boardwalk, a view of a waterfall, trails, a gift shop where we bought another little stuffed beaver to keep Bucky company. Ahhh, bliss! 

Later, after a shorter than normal driving day, we arrived at our motel. It was one of those roadside affairs run by mom and pop (in this case, mom and son). Those motels are often iffy, but not so this one. Our first clue that this would not be a run-of-the-mill place was that the driveway gravel was raked! All the furniture in the lovely rooms matched, and it wasn’t dark-brown arborite! The bathroom had been totally remodelled. There was a gazebo with a barbecue.

Then came the icing on the cake. We’d been looking for a simple restaurant for supper, and were told about a family-owned eatery a mile down the road. “Great,” said Al, “Maybe I can get liver and onions.” The parking lot was full – a good sign. The tables were full. Not so good. But then a table opened up and oh, wow! The menu offerings were amazing. Not a speck of liver and onions, though – more like pan-fried whitefish, spicy Caribbean pork, varied stir-fries. 


I asked the waitress (the "mom" in the operation) about the eclectic menu. “Our Mom was from Trinidad, Pop was from China,” she explained. Okay, then. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

It had been a good day, we agreed.

To be continued -- because I haven't told you yet about drawbridges, sandhill cranes, being serenaded at the ferry, the villages on the coast of Lake Erie, and "coming home." And more.


  1. Oh this is so good, Jessie! I'm really going to enjoy your travels from the comfort of my home with it's flush toilets and liver and onions regularly on the menu. It must be difficult to find time and energy to write, but keep it up if you can ... you will relive the memories forever.

  2. Good stuff Jessie . Did that trip twice so know about it somewhat

  3. I'm enjoying your journey vicariously ❤️