It’s not furious, but it is fast. The Autobahn, or federal roadways in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, are amazing pieces of engineering and speed.
So I left a couple of days ago for my third cross Canada trip, but the first one where I drove. Compared to being a kid when your parents make all the decisions, I learned a few things about the long haul that I would like to pass on.
1. Make sure to get your car serviced before you make the trip. My car needed an oil change at 16,000 km and it was going to hit that mark on my trip, so I got it serviced early to avoid the headache. My service person checks everything out for me, they topped up all my fluids, rotated the tires and even changed my wipers.
2. Have a good idea of an itinerary. Knowing where you want to stop for the day, stops along the way, and other breaks will help you stay on track and on time.
3. Don’t be afraid of breaking the itinerary. Our unexpected delay outside of Sudbury, caused us to change our itinerary. It was a great move, as the motel in Wawa was a lot nicer that the one we were going to stay at.
4. Snacks are your best friend. We were able to save money by buying one lump of food and not buying breakfast, lunch and dinner. A cooler with protein shakes, carrots, pepperoni sticks, cheese, and water and a bag full of crackers, bread, wafers, bananas, chocolate almonds, and veggie stix were sufficient for our whole trip.
5. It’s good to stop every 400 kms or so. Stop for the bathroom, for a point of interest, or even just to stretch your legs. It was pretty easy to break up the trip between towns or points on interest
6. When packing your car make sure you are not cramped in the seat and have all your necessities within arms reach.
7. Podcasts. Even music gets boring after a while. Dad and I have a similar interest in history, so I downloaded the Stuff you Missed in History class podcast. It is quite interesting and most of them are only half an hour long.
8. It’s a great idea to stop at the first information kiosk when you pull over. We found ourselves on a new road that was not on the outdated map that we had, or on the garmin. Stopping at information will give you the most update maps and it can give you some ideas of where to stop in the province.
9. Keep your eye out for the roadside information attractions. There are some neat attraction stops along the highway and you get to learn a little bit of history on the way. Some of the ones we passed by are: the halfway point of the TransCanada hwy, the Arctic/Atlantic watershed divide, the longitudinal centre of Canada, the provincial boarders, and the boarder of where Northwest Territories was in 1877.
10. Keep your camera up front. There are so many amazing photo opportunities on the side of a highway, and you never know when you might come across wildlife. They could run away before you get that camera out.
The LAST leg of the journey.
Today is kind of a sad day. Today, I drop my dad off at the airport and continue on to Whitecourt, my new home. I don’t think it has hit me that everything has changed. JKKKKKKKKKOIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIOIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII (That was my grandma’s cat jumping on my keyboard I just have to keep that also look how cute they are!)
We left Lloydminster early, hoping to sight see on the way to Edmonton Airport. We’d be passing through Elk Island National Park, and we wanted some extra time in case we spotted some wild life.
Our first stop was at the giant egg, also known at the Vegreville Pysanka. It was one of the many centenary projects that happened in Alberta in 1974.
This part of the province has a large Ukrainian population, so we stopped at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village to see the rich history of the county.
Here we learned about the history of the Ukrainians that came to Canada in search for a life. The Village is a recreation of the different time periods from small, crude huts, to the rich towns built by the people. All the workers were in period garb and play acted. All of the building you could go into and explore. (I also spotted a bust of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Go Golden Hawks!) My dad was almost attacked by a pair of Canada Geese, but don’t give him sympathy, he provoked them.
Our next stop was in Elk Island National Park. Here you can see bison, deer, bears, wolves, beavers and more. What did we see? Nothing. Not a single animal. I am thinking I would like to go back when the weather is a little nicer and do some hiking on the trails they have.
We pulled into the airport much earlier than we thought we would. Saying goodbye sucked, but I know they are only a phone call away.
They rest of the trip was to Whitecourt. Whitecourt is in the Woodland County. There are trees and trails everywhere. I can’t wait to start my new job and get to know this little town.
Here ends my road trip across Canada.
Alberta is probably so excited to see me that it cried with happiness. All day.
Rain was the challenge today. It rained off an on for most of the trip through Manitoba and was just cloudy through Saskatchewan. After Portage la Prairie, we wanted to take the Yellowhead Hwy. It was a road that dad and I have never been on.
The Yellowhead Hwy starts at the corner of Portage and Main outside of Winnipeg, MB and continues on through Saskatchewan and Alberta where it forks in British Columbia. At the base of Mt. Robinson, the tallest mountain in Canada, the hwy splits North to Haida Gwaii and South to Hope, BC.
The highway has an interesting history. The Yellowhead Hwy was named after Pierre Bostonais, a Metis fur trader and explorer. He had blonde hair and was nicknamed Tete Jaune which translates to yellow head.
There wasn’t much to see in Manitoba. We saw trains and small lakes, but there were not many towns on the Yellowhead. The towns that were there seemed to have many closed own businesses and run down buildings.
I absolutely love Saskatchewan. It is so flat, the sky is so big, and for the first time, you could feel the enormity of Canada. You could watch two different storm systems pass on either side of you. Towns here seemed to be more prosperous and more plentiful than Manitoba. I realy liked the town of North Battlefords. It was starting to get hilly here and the landscape was stunning. We stopped at the Mountie statue.
Dad and I are stopping in Lloydminster for two days. Lloydminster is a cool town. It is right on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In fact, the main road running North/South is the border. They have these cool red border markers that are a neat photo opportunity. We totally missed the World’s largest Sundial (next time?).
What is interesting to see here is the difference between the Alberta side and the Saskatchewan side of town. It is growing more on the Alberta side even though there is an agreement between the two provinces for the town.
Saskatchewan might be the most difficult to understand when it comes to time. Although Saskatchewan is part of the Central Time Zone (with Manitoba), the province doesn’t recognize daylight savings time. One of the ladies at the information desk in Lloydminster explained that during the summer, Saskatchewan has the same time as Alberta and during the winter they have the same time as Manitoba.
We are almost at the final leg of our journey, then it’s a whole new adventure from there.
(Posting it after-the-fact because, again, no signal, and the internet at the motel isn’t free)
Well, Holy Mackerel. What a day. We started the day with a light drizzle and a rainbow in Wawa and traveled to the sunny, warm Thunder Bay. We stopped at the Terry Fox memorial to stretch our legs and take a few pictures. You could see the Sleeping Giant rock formation. (I mean, sure, it kind of looks like a sleeping giant.) Before this we stopped at Terrace Bay, and found a really impressive gorge and waterfall, called Aguasabon Falls.
We decided to drive on Hwy 11 rather than Hwy 17, because it was a road my dad had never been on, and it wasn’t that much longer. The southern route follows the Ontario/ US border and was supposed to be more scenic than the northern route. On that route was the Arctic/Atlantic Watershed boarder which separates the flow of rives from one ocean to the other.
I definitely recommend taking that route over 17. It is filled with hills and cliffs and lakes. What was surprising here was the corner of Ontario. Fort Frances looked so much like home. It had hay fields rather than the Shield. It was flat and warm, and completely out of character for Northern Ontario. Hwy 11 swings north to meet up with the TransCanada and that stretch of road was stunning. We followed the major lake, Lake of the Woods, from the boarder to Kenora.
Let’s be real, my dad did most of the driving today. Not only is he more suited (and more experienced) to driving, but after we saw the second moose while I was driving, he told me I needed to sit in the passenger seat to take the pictures.
We finally reached the Manitoba border around 5pm CT, under an ominous sky. Soon, the land started to flatten and going 120km/h was completely normal. The skies opened up and let everything out. It was like driving under Niagara Falls. I missed the first gas station of Manitoba, not realizing the next one was at least 100km away. Well, I pulled into the next gas station, running on fumes. Honestly, I thought we would run out of gas and be stuck on the side of the road, with no phone signal (I thought that only happened in the movies), and in the pouring rain.
(Side note: Speaking about gas, WHY IS GAS 150.9 IN NORTHERN ONTARIO? Is it really that hard to get that it is a quarter more per litre than Manitoba?)
We’ve stopped in our planned place of Portage-la-Prairie, MB and will continue on to Lloydminster, AB tomorrow.
(I am posting this late because I have had ZERO service and I’m tired from driving)
I’m back for another trip! A year after I left for Greece (a year, can you believe it), I’m heading across country to Whitecourt, Alberta. Here, I am taking a reporter job (yay me)!
I decided that I am going to pack up my car and drive the 3500+ km from my small town Ontario to another small town Alberta. After some great deliberation, I realized going by myself was not going to happen. Driving long distances may not be my forte. I like short drives and scenic drives, but long distances make me sleepy. My dad, thank god, loves driving. He has driven across Canada nine times and two of them were family trips when I was younger.
After stuffing my car, which fit a lot more stuff that I thought it would, and a rough estimate of driving times, distances, and stops, we left home. (Okay, mom and I hugged for a really long time. And I’ll miss my cotton ball dog.)
I took the first shift driving 300 k to a small gas station in Pointe au Baril. The views were absolutely stunning. I can really see the inspiration that Northern Ontario gave to the Group of Seven
There was a lot to see up that way. It is where the edge of the Canadian Shield starts. Then, just west of Sudbury, the OPP decided to shut down the TransCanada Hwy BOTH WAYS due to a head on collision. While one person was quickly airlifted to the nearest hospital, the OPP closed down the highway from 7:30am to 2:30pm, when we finally got through. You could imagine the line of cars, a line 10km long.
(Side note: while I respect the police and everything they do (parent are/were cops), I think it is completely unnecessary to close down that major highway for that long of a time. Imagine if there was a truck with livestock that dies because of the heat. It is their prime duty to direct the flow of traffic during a collision, not disrupt thousands of drivers to investigate the non-fatal accident)
We then finally got a glimpse of Lake Superior (named for its superior awesomeness). We came across Chippewa Falls. So what, you ask. Well, it just so happens that Chippewa Falls is the halfway point of the TransCanada Hwy. That’s right from east coast to west coast, the middle of the TransCanada is not even the middle of Ontario.
From there it was a scenic drive up to Wawa. Because of the two and a half hour delay, our planned stop in Marathon was changed. At 9:30pm, we pulled into the tiny Mystic Isle Motel in Wawa, ON. (Hey, that motel was actually a surprisingly friendly, clean, and a comfortable sleep)
We travelled a good 930 kilometres on day one. Not as far as we wanted to go, but hey, Canada’s a big place.
UPDATE: I have added pictures AND A MAP!