It’s here! My Book! Have a look.

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Last winter, I got up every morning in the dark, at 5 am, so I could write til 8:30 or 9 and pull together some of my thoughts about my trip, maybe a book. (Thanks to Kevin for suggesting that early morning is a good time to write. At the time, I didn’t believe it, but you are right) At the time, I did not think that anything would come of it. For one thing, I had not finished my quest across Canada. How could I write about it. Well, I did it!’

Having some fun with the book.

Having some fun with the book.

I can’t tell you how exciting this is for me. If you want to share it with me, please go to the “Reflections on the Road – the book” page and it will tell you how to get one for your very own.

You could look this happy.

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Thanks for your support. Vicki

Sept. 16 – trip numbers and other things

It rained all day today. A perfect day to think about my amazing summer in the middle of Canada. I met so many wonderful people, some of them actually reconnecting me to family I had lost touch with. It was great. So many beautiful memories.

Wednesday I took Vincent for a spa day. He was washed and scrubbed from the carpets up. He also sidled up to an oil bar and had a sip or two of the good stuff. He looks pretty smug today. The seats are still not back in and he tells me he could be ready to ride pretty quick. Naughty guy, really knows how to push my buttons, but I am ready to be home for a while now to watch Austin grow.

The boy has gained 7 pounds, 2 inches and 2 shoe sizes since I left. Wow, it didn't seem that long.

The boy has gained 7 pounds, 2 inches and 2 shoe sizes since I left. Wow, it didn't seem that long.

Doing the math, which I hate to do, I find that this summer I went 12,640 kms  and paid approx $1244.00 in gas. Wow. The gas was between $.88.9 cents a litre and $1.29.9. Usually I averaged about .95. I think a couple of years ago, I could not have done the trip when gas prices were up around $2 a litre.

Next year I will be trying to get to Northern Manitoba, Northern Saskatchewan and the North West Territories. Again, I have to say that Canada is BIG. What an understatement. It really is bigger than we can imagine, even if you often fly over it. I found prairie people exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Some times I think I could just bury myself in different parts of the country for ever. Other times the call home is very strong.  It does feel like a life calling though.

Oh, and big news: within the next few days I will send an announcement about my book. It is finally within my reach. If you want to take a peak at the front and back cover, as well as 10 pages from the inside, go to my home page, look for the button that says Vision and click on that. You will find the book look there.  Don’t buy it yet…just get as excited as I am about it now.  I will have a copy for you soon. Take care. Talk soon.

Sept 10 – A colourful welcome

To a lover of sky, this sunset is a great welcome home

To a lover of sky, this sunset is a great welcome home

Well, here I am, a full month or so before I expected to be. The last few days of driving was almost other worldly, as I skimmed, barely touching the asphalt. I stopped in Callander to visit with an friend I have just recently reconnected with. It was so nice to see her. It added to the nostalgia I had accumulated after driving through Sudbury, past Christopher’s old apartment and the University.  Then I drove through Sturgeon Falls my old house and the swimming pool where I spent so many fine days, then past my grandmother’s house, past the gully where we used to spend hours getting dirty and finally the cemetery.  By the time I got to Nancy’s place and we started to reminisce about the good old days when our kids were toddlers and just starting school, I was in a good old Boo Hoo mood. So, I am not sure if I have a head cold today or just the after effects of all of those tears.

I got home to a stellar greeting. Wanda and Pointy practically turned themselves inside out as I unloaded Vincent…load after load, did I really pack that much stuff?

Finally I got everything into the middle of the kitchen floor before I stopped and had some fresh corn and garden tomatoes for supper. Austin stopped by for a hug…has he ever grown, and I am ready for a hot, deep bath before I go to bed. Tomorrow I will consider what it feels like to be here. It is quiet. The sky has turned to a  strawberry, indigo swirl while I have been writing this.  I am glad to be here.

Talk soon.

Sometimes an evening walk is just the thing for your soul.

Sometimes an evening walk is just the thing for your soul.

Sept 8 – flying

Lake Superior in a mood

Lake Superior in a mood

There is something liberating, exhilarating maybe, about putting the petal to the metal and just going. No stopping except for gas and the occasional walk about. Setting the cruise just a little over 10 km over the ridiculously low Ontario speed limit and just hitting the groove.  Ummmmmm. On days like today, I could imagine being a long distance truck driver.

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I got some rain early on, and then the weather man didn’t quite know what to do, some sun, mostly cloudy, a sprinkle here and there. Perfect day for driving. I froze for the early part of the day. Really need to get that heater looked at. The air conditioner works well though.

A wolf stepped out of the woods and onto the road this morning.  She turned my way and crossed right in front of me. There was no one coming in either direction so I slowed down to a crawl. She stopped and looked at me, then loped into the bushes. I have heard that an animal crossing, and making contact with me is an important sign. I just don’t know what it means…but if you have the book, you could pass the info along to me.

I am in Sault Ste. Marie tonight…popping cold fx. Hope it works. Looks like it will be a good day for a drive again tomorrow. Talk soon.

train tracks - no train

train tracks - no train

Sept 7 – Rainy day

Enjoying the Canadian Sheild

Enjoying the Canadian Shield.

Can't beat this scenery, the weather and a walk.

Enjoying it. Thanks for the weather Gail.

I left Kenora early today hoping to make it through to Nipigon (I did). Right now I am inside, not camping in the high winds, cold weather and rain. All that and it was still a good drive.

I think I have mentioned how I feel about trains. At Gail’s, every time I stepped outside, I could hear a train rumble by on the track below her house. I love the sound. I love the feeling. She says it shakes the house and yard. I thought it was my heart pounding. Twice on my drive today I was on the road beside the tracks, and out of the rain, I could see the bright light of an engine heading toward me. It is heart stopping. I wanted to pull over and watch all of the cars roar by, to hear the whistle…and feel the rumble, but I didn’t. I couldn’t even get a good picture through the rain.

Rain and fog.

Rain and fog.

Perfect spot between showers.

Perfect spot between showers.

I will follow the shore line to Sault Ste. Marie tomorrow. It is supposed to keep raining and maybe even frost tonight.  The colours are really starting to pick up. Frost will really make it look like fall. Talk soon.

Sept 5 – On the way to Kenora, Rennie

When I was in Winnepeg, I stayed with Anne and Ram. I really enjoyed myself with them. Again…go out and couchsurf, it is a great way to meet the best people. Before I left, Anne suggested a scenic route to Kenora. She said I would have to go through Rennie. Rennie? Lynden turned Rennie after she married Ryan. Maybe there is a relationship. Who knows.

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She also told me I should go to the goose sanctuary.  Good time to go because I can see the geese forming up for a good flight south. The interpreter said that there are about 288 geese who actually call this place home, but that day there were over 400 visiting and chowing down for the trip south.

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Back roads are wonderful.

I am now in Kenora with Gail, chilling, walking, talking. The weather is so beautiful. Not too warm, not too cool. Is it fall yet? That is my absolute favorite time of the year. Gail is like a sister…I might bring her home…although then I would have no excuse to visit her here. Oh well, guess if you want to meet her, you have to become a couc surfer.

A not so friendly Kenora resident

A not so friendly Kenora resident

I am in Ontario. Gail says it is still closer for me to go to Kelowna BC than it is to go home, so I will be a little while yet. Talk soon.

Sept 3 – Fort Qu’appelle

Old train station and tourist info

Old train station and tourist info

Being in Fort Qu’appelle has really lent appeal to the idea of living in the prairies. The town is nestled into a river valley but the flat prairie is very close. People are friendly. The two women in the tourist centre kept me there for  for at least an hour chatting.

View of the Qu'appelle River Valley

View of the Qu'appelle River Valley

I headed to the museum which apparently is only open from May to Aug 31 so I went for a walk on the trans Canada trail. It runs along a marshy area adjacent to a lake. I saw some incredible, large birds flying over the water, not seagulls, way too big, not herons either. Could they be pelicans. I headed over a wet path toward the lake. Suddenly I was besieged by thousands (no exaggeration) of mosquitoes. I decided that the trip to the waters edge was not worth it. The bugs were so heavy on my arms and jeans that I could slap once and kill a handful. I am not too squeamish, but this was more than enough. Once I was back up on the main path they were manageable again. Annette says the birds probably were pelicans. I wish I had been able to get some pictures but the price was just too high.

Mosquito paradise. So beautiful

Mosquito paradise. So beautiful

Tonight I took Annette to the craziest little French Canadian Bistro. On the menu, maple beans, tortiere, beets, salmon in pastry, crepes just to mention a few. The woman who runs the place, probably the same woman who decorates with Christmas trees, lights, pink flamingos and a huge assortment of other curios, was really talkative and friendly. I learned more about the community in the 20 minutes that she talked to us, than I could have found anywhere else.  She will stay in my mind as an ambassador of the town.The food was good too.

Well, tomorrow, Winnipeg, so off to bed. Talk soon.

Fort Qu'Appelle

Fort Qu'Appelle

Sept 1 and 2 – family

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I found my cousin Ryan and his family, Melanie, Isabelle and Erik, in the small town of Lefleche. They live in a big old house with a main living floor, a second floor with bedrooms and a 3rd floor attic bedroom. I slept up there and from the windows I could see almost all the way to Alberta. It reminds me of that place we stayed in Orillia Desi.

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The kids were fun, and after they went to bed, we stayed up way too late reconnecting. Ryan has the Beauchamp sense of humour and I laughed a lot. I got along so well with Melanie. She has being involved in a couple of her own miracles and has an attitude that is down to earth and inspirational.  After everyone left for work and school this morning, we just sat and talked. I could have spent much longer. Thanks guys. Be in touch.

The road

The road

The road to Fort Qu’Appelle was straight, although I did pass through a couple of rolling areas where there seemed to be much more cattle. Farmers are out combining their crops and in the bright sun. Saskatchewan is golden.

Tomorrow I will spend most of the day resting and writing and some of it checking out the Qu’Appelle Valley. Annette has been a gracious and thought provoking host. She is a United Church Minister and I think we could have stayed up all night talking if I hadn’t been so tired.

Isabelle and I looking cute. Well, one of us looks cute.

Isabelle and I looking cute. Well, one of us looks cute.

I am facing east and feel the wind from home. I have decided to cut my exploration of Manitoba short and just run for the Ontario border. I still want to keep my daily driving to a minimum so it won’t be too fast. I am taking it slow and easy, like the tortoise, always moving forward. Guess my trip is kind of over for this year…except for the drive.  I still have a few new couchsurfers to meet along the road, so I can’t write it off too fast. Talk soon.

Aug 31 – Running back to Saskatoon

OK, not really running “back” to Saskatoon but all day yesterday as I headed into town, that old favorite from The Guess Who was playing in my mind. If you want a blast from the past click here  : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY0HIXt5IME

again, more prairie

Again, more prairie

I met Cori, Peter, Aiden, Eliot, and Jacob, ( and Jazz the something/standard poodle) and they welcomed me with open arms. Eliot even gave up his bedroom so I didn’t have to sleep on a couch. Cori is a member of La Leche League and the ACL for Saskatchewan. What fun it is to be a part of an active and growing family for a few days. I arrived on the day before school started and watched in amazement as everyone got ready. Wow! What a big job the night before a new year is.  I don’t remember it being so hecktic….oh wait, yes I do. It’s all coming back to me now.

Mendel Art Gallary and Conservatory

Mendel Art Gallary and Conservatory

If you know me, you know that I don’t often head downtown in a strange city but a visit to the visitor centre and Cori’s urging, helped me understand that I could have a great day if I did, so Karma, Vincent and I set off for the Mendel Art Gallery. Saskatoon is not a hard city to find your way around and I found everything I wanted and more.

Inside the conservatory

Inside the conservatory

The art gallary was showing something called “Vista’s: Artists of the Pacific Railway.” It was landscapes created by artists who took the train into the mountains in the late 19th and early 20th century. The galleries were filled with mountains. I stood in the middle over whelmed by the grandeur of the panoramas painted by the artists, some on huge canvases, and yet I stood in the middle of the prairie. It was a little schizophrenic.  It send shivers of delight up and down my back.  Whew. Another gallery c0ntained an exhibit exploring the impact of totem poles on popular culture. That was really interesting. Some of the poles I saw last year in Alert Bay and Skidegate were there, scaled down of course.

Kinsman Park merry go round, the best loonie you will ever spend

Kinsman Park merry go round, the best loonie you will ever spend

After I saw the art gallery I walked down to the dock and caught a sight seeing boat.  Saskatoon is beautiful from the river.

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The young tour guide told me that while she is attending University in town she is staying with her aunt and uncle who are couchsurfing hosts. Cool. My contacts here were not actually couchsurfers so I didn’t meet her relatives but that is the first time I have met someone who has actually heard of couchsurfing…changing the world, one couch at a time. I was thrilled. There were very few people on the cruise so I had her basically to myself and I had fun. She has encouraged me to visit Eyebrow, Saskatchewan. OOO I want to, but not this year.

My first pelican at the Weir

My first pelican at the Weir

The Weir, a low damn across the river. Apparently the current running over it is so strong that anything caught in it's grip, can't break free. The splash in the picture is a log, banging and diving against the damn and the current. The whole time I watched it, it could not break out of the down pull and get back into the river. They seriously discourage people from being in that area.

The Weir, a low damn across the river. Apparently the current running over it is so strong that anything caught in it's grip, can't break free. The splash in the picture is a log, banging and diving against the damn and the current. The whole time I watched it, it could not break out of the down pull and get back into the river. They seriously discourage people from being in the water in that area.

Oh, you know how much I love walking across bridges. This railway/walking bridge was a must.

Oh, you know how much I love walking across bridges. This railway/walking bridge was a must.

The steps up. They are those open metal steps. I felt disoriented on the way up and really gripped the railing. It is weird being able to see through the steps. Once up, it was fine and coming down is easy.

The steps up. They are those open metal steps. I felt disoriented on the way up and really gripped the railing. It is weird being able to see through the steps. Once up, it was fine and coming down is easy.

The path beside the track.

The path beside the track.

The view

The view

The weather man called for a cloudy, cool day but it was perfect. I had a relaxing day and got back home in time to enjoy a bit of the afternoon with Cori. I was also there for the first day of school homecoming. It was fun. I will miss this rambunctious house as I head for Lefleche tomorrow to meet my cousin for the first time in maybe 20 years. Talk soon.

Aug. 28th and 29th – Vermillion

p8280024 I drove away from Vermillion this morning. It is a pretty little town, tucked into the rolling prairie on the banks for the Vermillion River.  The town was started in 1905 and named after the red mud in the river. I was staying with Howard and Carol who really made me feel welcome. The two of them have moved throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan during their years together while they raised their kids and followed work opportunities, so they have lots of stories to tell.

p8290026Yesterday we got up early, ate a hearty breakfast and piled into the truck for a good old fashioned crop tour. I haven’t done that in years and enjoyed the opportunity to sit in the truck rubber necking while the two of them spun stories of the people and places we visited.

Farm yard

Farm yard

We saw massive farms, crops and live stock and a historical cemetery set on a hill that had a spectacular view of the region. We saw coulee’s over full with water and very happy ducks. They also took me through town and told me a bit of the history of the area. It was like having my own personal tour. I enjoyed it.

While we were out there Howard explained some something that has been mystifying me for the last week or so. Although I am not really a farmer, I have lived in the country long enough to recognize ripe grain crops. I realize that is a time, just before harvest, when farmers cross their fingers and pray for good weather. The heavy grain heads, almost ripe, are fragile. A heavy rain or gust of wind can level a crop. Knowing all of this, I have wondered long and hard when I could see ripe fields filled with tire marks of a big tractors driving through methodically trying to reach all areas of the field. I wondered what would make farmers go in and drive through so close to harvest time. Howard told me that if the weather is iffy and the crops need to finish ripening in a hurry, the farmer will over spray the whole crop with Round Up. This kills the weeds in the field as well as speeds the ripening process. He said this is called “dessicating the crop.”  This year with all of the rain, the crops needed a little push and so that must be why I have been seeing tracks those tracks.

Really? That is amazing. Round Up is used to kill grass and weeds in the field before planting…and it can also be used to rush crops along. Doing a google search, it seems that people do it with pumpkins too.  Really? I had never heard of such a thing. I feel blessed to be in a situation where every day I learn something new.

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Later in the day, Carol and Howard invited family over to meet me and they fed me an amazing Alberta steak, done to perfection.  It was a great day, topped up by a walk in the Vermillion Provincial Park which surprisingly is right in town.

I left this morning after another great breakfast, heading for Saskatoon where I will be staying with a La Leche League family. The kids out here are being packed off to school tom0rrow, so I will be there for that dreaded last day of summer.   How can it be over so soon?

You can tell by looking at my pictures that my love affair with the vast skies has not dimmed in the weeks I have been here. I just keep stopping the car and pulling over for just one more shot of the clouds interacting with the big blue. It is beautiful. Wish you were here with me.

Talk soon.