Sunday, 30 August 2009

Home At Last

We are home at last! Four days of driving, and an overnighter at Jon & Alicia's. Total kilometers traveled out and back total 9500 km, or close to 6,000 miles. Do you think we've driven enough? It's good to be home, but I feel like the van is our home, so may go through withdrawal tomorrow. I feel like I've re-entered earth from space. What DO astronauts do to get themselves re-oriented to earth, anyway? I think I need to go into containment or something.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Pembroke, ON

Today's travels include a drive over the Mackinaw Bridge to Mackinaw City; Sault-Ste-Marie (both sides), Sudbury, North Bay, and now in Pembroke. What hilly country compared to what we've been through. Getting tired of driving and it is my firm belief that this country is HUGE! Not sure where we'll go tomorrow – perhaps south again to Ganonoque to see Kim, my maid of honor, and then to Jon's for the night, if we can make it that far. However, we may just head for home via Montreal. Don't think we'll enter the States again. I decided I LOVE Canada – it just makes me feel good. Oh Canada, you're a great country.

We left New Brunswick on July 31st and will arrive back in Fredericton on August 30th. Our trip odometer is reading over 9,000 kms and we've still got a ways to go. I think I'm finally getting weary of driving. Doug drives, and I read maps and interesting facts. I can't believe I can stay in the same place for so long. I think I've truly learned how to relax. Now it's time to get to work again. Pray for our friend Linda, who lost her father to cancer this week (I just found out tonight when I read my email in the hotel). Our prayers are with you and Michel.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

St. Ignace/Mackinaw City

We made it to Michigan earlier today and traveled Route 28 and Route 2. It's now 9:00 (ET). Honestly, these time zones. Mrs. GPS has one time zone, our Montana van has Atlantic time, and we've been in Central and Mountain time. So we really don't know what time it is. Isn't that a song?

Anyhoo, we are now at the Super 8 in St. Ignace, Michigan, which hooks to Mackinaw City. Tomorrow we are going to drive across the Mackinaw Bridge to Mackinaw City. Here's some info on the bridge:

The Mackinac Bridge is currently the third longest suspension bridge in the world.  The bridge opened to traffic on November 1, 1957. style='font-family:Arial; font-size:9pt'>The five-mile bridge, including approaches, and the world's longest suspension bridge between cable anchorages, had been designed by the great engineer Dr. David B. Steinman. Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation's $25,735,600 agreement to build all the foundations led to the mobilization of the largest bridge construction fleet ever assembled. The American Bridge Division of United States Steel Corporation, awarded a $44,532,900 contract to build this superstructure, began its work of planning and assembly. In U.S. Steel's mills the various shapes, plates, bars, wire and cables of steel necessary for the superstructure and for the caissons and cofferdams of the foundation, were prepared. The bridge was officially begun amid proper ceremonies on May 7 & 8, 1954, at St. Ignace and Mackinaw City.


We changed our mind and do not think we're going to Flint, Michigan and cross over at Sarnia. We think we're going to cross at the dual Sault-Ste Maries. But things change. They usually do with Deb & Doug. Either way, we will be back in Canada tomorrow and be heading somewhere. Today we drove from Bemidji, MN to St. Ignace, MI (925+ kms).

Corner Gas and Looking for Paul & Babe Bunyan

Well, this continent is certainly large! This morning we started out at 9 AM (MT), traveled south through Saskatchewan. Stopped in Rouleau, SK, which is the town where they filmed Corner Gas. Saw the station, the Dog River grain elevator, the hotel, the water tower, the arena, and my mother and father's house (I tease my parents that they remind me of Oscar and Emma). There really wasn't much going on in this hamlet. We stopped at the convenience store and spent $9.00 on two batteries, a soda and a coffee. Tourist town. After all that excitement, we hunkered down over the plains to the border town of 'Regway, SK' (hey, Reg and Reg should consider moving there) and into Montana (after consulting with the US customs officer on our 'citrus' fruit, and eating as much as we could before crossing into the state). We have now been in 11 states since we started our trip a month ago. We've been taking U.S. Route 2 and it's a great road. We loved Montana, with its wide open spaces and rolling hills and coulees. Saw a sign for "Range Cattle," warning drivers that cattle could pop out in front of you at any moment. We turned the country music on the radio station and motored. Saw lots of cattle, but none directly in front of us. After Montana came North Dakota, and finally Minnesota, where we are now.

It is 10:45 pm, and we are in Bemidji, Minnesota, population 12,000. The Comfort Inn on Paul Bunyan Highway. This is the mythical home of the mythical Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe. We didn't see the mythical creatures. I think we got the last hotel room in this city. At least that's what they told us. We don't plan very well, since we always drive until we can't drive anymore, and then see if we can find a place for two nomadic travelers. We've always been this way. It is kind of fun, though. Bemidji, from a Chippewa word meaning, 'lake with river flowing through,' began as a trading post and later was a logging boomtown. It's quite a vacation hotspot with its lakes and forests. Thanks, Don and Ann for the CAA/AAA travel guides. I've been reading and referring to them all day long. I think I should become a travel tour guide. A new career for me. That way I get to continue to travel the world.

Earlier this evening, we traveled through the sister cities of Grand Forks, North Dakota, and crossed the river into East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Two interesting facts: in 1893, Frank Amidon, a chief miller (of wheat), invented 'Cream of Wheat.' How many of us more mature people ate that growing up? The other tidbit is that they have the finest hockey facilities in the world (that's for you, Don).

Well, Mum & Dad and friends, we're on our way home. Not sure which route to take yet, but our plan for tomorrow is to continue on to Duluth, Minnesota, across Wisconsin, down to Flint Michigan, and cross over into Canada at Sarnia, Ontario. Not sure yet whether we'll take the northern or the southern routes through Ontario, for we may cross over again into upper New York, New Hampshire or Vermont states, depending on where we cross. We're just flibbertygibbets" (play that in your Lexulous games, you wordsmiths!).

The comfortable beds at this comfort inn are calling. We couldn't find anything to eat anywhere, so I brought my toaster in the room and cooked up some toast (of course). Camping out at $107.00/night. And they gave us an AAA rate, just because I said I was using the AAA books Don & Ann loaned us. Louise, another bonus, eh? Oh, the guy at the service station in Dog River told me that we must be Americans because we had a 'twang.' "No," I replied, "We're Maritimers." I should have added, "And proud of it." King Cole tea anyone?

When you think you have forgotten,
And have lived the feelings down,
And have shoved the best that's in you out of sight,
Just get a horse and saddle,
And drift out from the town,
to the thoughts that steal upon you in the night.
(From "They Keep A Stealin' Upon You in the Night" by Rhoda Sivell, in VOICES FROM THE RANGE, 1912)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Rugby, North Dakota

It is 5:22 Central Time, and we are in Rugby, North Dakota, the Geographical Center of North America. Thought you might like to know where we are. Just stopped at an internet cafĂ© to get a coffee to go. Must continue on…hoping to get into Minnesota by nightfall.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

These pictures are in reverse chronological order. And that's the kind of day it's been here in Saskatchewan...

Reg is an RCMP man, too! Louise is making a funny face while she holds her wedding picture.

Reg & Louise at their new house in Regina

Ann, Louise, Deb, Doug, Don, Reg at Applebee's in Regina. Deb had major hot flashes in this restaurant, so when we arrived at Reg & Louise's house, they gave us an air conditioner to take home. Honest! It came out west on the moving truck, and we now have it packed in our van to go east again. What goes out west comes back east. Thanks, Reg & Lou!

Deb & Doug

Yes, that's the back of my head! On the river in Moose Jaw with Captain Jack

Travis, Roy & Blair
Two Debs at Ann's Bar & Grill

Everywhere he goes, Papa Doug sleeps

Wednesday morning we are homeward bound. Thank you, thank you to Don & Ann. We love your B & B and your Bar & Grill!

Will post when I can....!Deb & Doug

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Pool Time at Our Parents' House


Our adopted parents, Don and Ann Parent, have a lovely B & B, as I said, and last night it was time for a pool party. Travis (their son and a good friend of ours) joined us for this momentous occasion. Don and Deb won the tournament, believe it or not. Probably because Doug and Trav had those crazy chicken hats on their heads.

Earlier in the day, after a humongous brunch, Doug and I took off in our Montana van to ride the Saskatchewan plains - flat, gravel roads out here. We traveled to Young Seeds, where Doug used to work while I was attending Briercrest Bible College (six years ago). Rene and Donna Young, proprietors and friends, invited us to lunch and then we had a tour of the plant where "The Doug" machine is housed. "The Doug," as they call it, is a seed processing machine that Doug built and installed. It has been working non-stop for five years, since Doug built it. They run every seed through Doug before it is shipped to market. It was neat to see Doug working out here while we live in New Brunswick.

Rene and Donna took us on a tour through more fields of green to a little community they are building for the Ukranian workers they have on staff. The Ukranian people are building a new life for themselves on the prairie. So neat to see.

After good-byes, we traveled back to our parents' place for dinner, then over to Shepherd's Gate, a ministry for children which Deb & Trav have. They take care of children on this ranch, which includes a llama named "Osama Bin Llama", four dogs (hey, Nat -- they have a Great Pyrenees dog which kept butting me (Jalene & Stefan used to have one of these); Big Al is his name), guinea hens, calves, a turkey, and a huge flock of sheep. I took a three minute video of the sheep all coming towards us, baaing in 40 part harmony. I said they sounded like old men pretending they were sheep. It was hilarious.

Deb & Trav have a unique ministry going on here, and we spent some time with a set of twins and a four year old girl they have. I played the guitar and made up a couple of songs. Sarah, one of the twins danced to my silly songs, and the four-year-old, Summer, played the harmonica. Deb & Trav adopted three boys as well, so there were six kids there last evening, but yesterday they had eleven children running around. Doug and I could see ourselves working there for a time in the future.

Well, today we are going on a riverboat tour in Moose Jaw -- Captain Jack is his name. Then on to Regina with Don & Ann, to meet Reg & Louise, who just moved there from Fredericton this month. Don & Ann are originally from Fredericton, so it will be an eastern reunion tonight. We head for home tomorrow morning. If I could, I'd head to Winnipeg and meet up with Josh & Natalie, who are taking Aiden for allergy testing tomorrow. We had a hard parting, as usual. But God will allow us to see each other again this year; He is good to us that way and seems to make a way where we think there is no way.

This morning at breakfast, Don and Doug started talking relatives and discovered that Doug and Don are second cousins once removed. Don said he knew that years ago, but we forgot. Imagine, just when you think your parents are your parents, now they are your cousins! Just like the Maritimes where everyone seems to be related to one another. And the standing joke in our family is that EVERYBODY seems to be Doug's cousin. Have a good day.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Don & Ann's B & B

Here we are in Caron, SK at Don & Ann Parent's B & B. What a wonderful place! Need a resting place when in Saskatchewan? Come here! We arrived last evening and I'll post later about our adventures.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

My 50th Birthday

We started out the day with good intention: celebrate my birthday by going to the Sam Waller Museum, hike to the caves, do a walking tour, go out for supper and end it off with Dairy Queen. However, things didn't turn out quite like we anticipated. After breakfast, Nat decided that she needed to vacuum out the car so we could drive around in a spiffed-up automobile. It didn't matter to me, as I've been driving around in her Versa for three weeks. What's a bit of sand in a car, anyway? Didn't bother me. "Would you watch Aiden while I vacuum out the car," she asked. "Sure," I replied. She went down in the newly renovated basement to fetch the vacuum cleaner. Doug and I were in the living room with Aiden. All of a sudden, we heard a loud crash and tumble. "That doesn't sound good," I said to Doug. I thought Nat must have dropped the vacuum cleaner down the stairs. We went to check it out and there Nat was, at the bottom of the basement stairs, sitting disoriented – glasses off, vacuum cleaner beside her. She dropped herself down the stairs instead, having made it to the top step. She said it was like slow-mo. Said the reason she fell was because she looked back to admire the handiwork of the newly renovated basement. "Pride comes before a fall," she retorted later. We helped her to the bed, and I doctored a few wounds with Polysporin. One on her back is especially large and looks very sore. She banged her head and applied an ice pack. I googled "concussion" to make sure I didn't need to take her to the hospital. She thinks she hit her head on the stairs and definitely hit her back on a large stack of sheetrock, as the gypsum powder was all over her back. Some Advil and Tylenol, and she rested for the morning on my bed. Doug vacuumed her car for two hours. I took Aiden for a walk, fed him lunch, and put him to bed. Then fed Doug and Natalie lunch.

After we lazed around for another while, Nat and I took off in the newly cleaned car. Our destination: the grocery store, of course! But on the way, we discovered a street party, complete with country band in a parking lot. We noticed this older woman with an flowered orange dress dancing up a storm, flailing her arms around in a random manner. It was hilarious, and we had to take a trip there again after one of our stops, just to watch her dress. I said she must be the northern dancing queen.

After the grocery store, we went home and tried to watch a movie, but time ran out due to phone calls from well wishers (thank you very much). RCMP man came home from work and we piled into the car, with me driving for some reason. But I thought RCMP man was driving, so no one had keys. Mr. Policeman had to break in his own house, and I have a neat picture of just his feet sticking out as he put his 6 ft 5 in frame through the open window. It only took him about 4 minutes to break in. We didn't arrest him, however, but headed on to the Good Thymes restaurant for my birthday meal and cheesecake. No Dairy Queen because we were too full, but that's OK, because earlier in the week, we deemed it "Dairy Queen" week and went there as much as we wanted to for caramel sundaes. After all, you're only 50 once, and we only went there three times this week.

Tonight I put Aiden in bed and sang to him, and prayed and cried, as I cherished the moment, asking God to protect my sweet grandson. I prayed that he doesn't forget us. Oh, parting is such sweet sorrow (which play is that from, Becky?).

Nat is feeling better and I just applied more polysporin to her back wound. Her neck is stiff. She no doubt got whiplash from the steps. And she no doubt will be very sore tomorrow. She said she was sorry for ruining my birthday, but it didn't ruin it – it made it quite interesting, as a matter of fact. I'm just glad that she's OK. I took pictures of her wounds tonight, but I won't post them – they're just for posterity's sake, and for a good laugh later on, once the pain is gone. (smile). We're due to head out tomorrow, but it depends on how she's feeling and whether she can take care of Aiden or not. Time will tell.

And that's the kind of day it's been – my 50th birthday. All is well.

We're heading further west for a time and if I can post on the road again, I will. Thanks for following my northern adventures. And thanks to all the people here in The Pas who we met and who have been so supportive of us and Nat, Josh & Aiden. You guys are great! May God bless you all and we hope to see you again soon.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Little Miss !Deb is 50

Aunt Viv sent me this picture via email -- taken in the Fox homestead. It looks like I'm learning to walk, and my dear aunt is assisting me. Aunt Viv was like our second mother growing up; she's Dad's sister. Aunt Viv and Uncle Earl had three boys and Dad & Mum had three girls. Those three boys were like three brothers to us. Gregory is one of my brothers. Thanks to everyone for continuing to assist me in my struggle to 'walk' again.


Well, I've had a couple of minor breakdowns the past couple of days, with some tears. I saw The Pas Debbie at the grocery store this afternoon, hugged and said good-bye to her, and stood there and cried (imagine, crying at my favorite store). I shared with her my emotions of leaving The Pas and leaving Nat, Aiden and Josh, plus the fears that overtake me about my health. Debbie told me to continue to share my thoughts and feelings on the blog; that I was an inspiration. I struggle with crying but realize I'm still grieving, and grieving takes time. I talked to Doug and Natalie about it today, and that I just want to be able to accept what has happened and just move on, like I've moved on from all the other 'mishaps' that have happened in our 31 years of marriage. This one seems like a biggie to me, however, but you know what? Not to God. Cancer is not a biggie to God. I know that I've been pushing down my emotions, but they leak out, and just thinking about leaving Nat makes me cry. We've been parting for eight of her nine years away from home now, and it doesn't get any easier. Probably because we get closer and closer – as mother and daughter, and as mother and friend. Not once during this whole time have we got on each other's nerves or in each other's way. We just love being together.

I'm reading a novel called "Aprons on a Clothesline," based in Minnesota (hey, I was there just three weeks ago!), and a character in the book made a comment that I identified with: "I've been trying to keep ahead of the sadness in my heart." And, "I need to stop running and face the pain." Yup, that's what I've been doing, and I need to stop running away from the pain and shoving it down inside, and face the pain, deal with it, grieve it, and move on. Perhaps the pain will always be there, but in a lesser degree, just like grieving a loved one or a lost opportunity. I must remember that God is sovereign and He holds my life in His hands.

I'm preparing to do a womens' retreat in September. I'm calling it "More Than A Survivor II" (Part II, since I did one two years ago called "More Than A Survivor"). Some of my friends are helping me, and speaking as well. I've asked them all to think of what they have survived this past year and the lessons they have learned from it. I've only made a list of the things I've survived. Can't seem to get to the lessons yet, but I know there are many. Here's a list I made in my journal on August 12th of the things I've survived this past year: Death and disease, mastectomy, chemo, radiation, hair loss, weight gain, pain, fear of dying (still struggling with that one), fear of treatment, loss of income and career, being set aside, loneliness (like no one understands what I'm going through kind of loneliness). I think that's quite a list, and I thank God that He has brought me through these things this year. Years ago, Jessica gave me a sticker that read "I am a Survivor." I thought that was true at the time, and even more so now.

I'm still studying Jonah, OT Director – every day the same passage. I'm keeping my end of the bargain, just wanted you to know. Got lots to share with you from my journal.

Well, Nat is making supper tonight (I bought a BBQ chicken at the grocery store, and some strawberries to go with the rice pudding she's making. Yes, the Ultimate Rice Pudding recipe, K. Mason). Doug has been working all day, but tomorrow we're going to celebrate my 50th. "50," I can't believe it. I made it.

"O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me" (Psalm 30:2).

Happy Anniversary to my baby sister, Janet, and her husband Brent. How many years is it? 21?


The name "Charlene" follows me everywhere. Natalie answered the phone last week and a woman asked if "Charlene" was there (French accent "Charlene"). I was out on the town somewhere, so Nat thought I was calling her from a pay phone to 'prank' her, and started to laugh, but realized maybe it wasn't me. Then she thought it must have been one of my friends from the east who know the story about me and "Charlene," but held off from making a fool of herself on the phone. Nat replied, "No, you must have the wrong number," and the woman said "Thank you," and hung up. Nat told me about it later. I thought it was pretty funny. This name will no doubt follow me the rest of my life. God has a sense of humour!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Happy 9th Anniversary, Natalie and Josh. They enjoyed an evening out at Good Thymes last night while we kept Aiden. We were going to play Settlers of Catan when they came home but we were all too tired. We are all exhausted by day's end, we've been working so hard here on the renovation show. (And I'm also on a continual cooking and baby show as well).

Today renovations continued, with Doug and Josh installing a bathroom fan, and a family sheetrocking party in the basement. The power was turned off midway through lunch preparations for about 45 minutes, but my carrot muffins miraculously baked to perfection. There is one left on the counter. If you want the recipe, it's the first carrot muffin recipe in the Barbour Cookbook, a staple in the Maritime woman's kitchen.

We had to blockade Aiden in the kitchen, due to the mess the men were creating in the bathroom and hall, and the poor kid didn't understand why he couldn't run to all parts of the house. We amused ourselves by amusing him for over an hour in the kitchen. I took a couple of videos for posterity's sake.

Mid afternoon I went to check on Aiden and ended up in my bedroom with the album my mother created for me for my 50th birthday. I haven't been able to open it for three weeks, because I knew I would cry to see my life in pictures. But it felt right to do it this afternoon, so I laid on the bed and was so blessed by the album. To see my life from birth to now was really touching; to see the different stages of life, babyhood, childhood, marriage, children, grandchildren, and even a picture or two of me while undergoing chemo. I cried when I read the card that accompanied the album, and what my mom wrote at the end of the album. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it (she loves me, so I'm sure it's OK)…

    This scrapbook of memories was lovingly put together for Debbie for her 50th Birthday, August 22, 2009. This was a difficult task to choose from the 'MANY' pictures taken of our 'firstborn' over the last 50 years. Hopefully, what I have chosen will bring joy and fond memories of the wonderful times we have had together. Share and cherish all of these memories with your children and friends. You are an inspiration to us and we love you very much. Mum & Dad Eccl. 3:11, 12

Well, Mum, I'm sharing it with Natalie right now, over a cup of tea. Perhaps I will make her an album for a significant birthday of hers in a couple of years. It's very special, and I thank you.

On my 50th birthday on Saturday, August 22nd, I will have lived 18,289 days. Praise God.

I also share this birthday with Valerie Harper from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Cool, eh? I'm gonna make it after all…

And last but not least, Barbie is 50 years old this year. Must not forget Barbie, who is an inspiration to us all. (smile)

Run for the Cure Auction

Well, the Century Farmers in St. Martins did it again. They had their annual auction this past weekend and raised $3500. for Team Dancing Queen. I'm sure the Run for The Cure organization will be ecstatic! Thank you, Linda and Byard for hosting the event, AND thanks to all the attendees who paid above and beyond for items auctioned off.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Quiet Day

Last night, the mercury went down to 5 degrees here in The Pas. RCMP man had to turn the heat on in the house! Is this summer? But this morning, it was sunny and the temp climbed to about 18 degrees. After breakfast, I went on a long bike ride on the paved trail that encircles the town. Out the highway towards the Carrot Valley, along the Saskatchewan River, by the bridge that looks like the old Carleton Street Bridge in Fredericton, and back again. It was a wonderful bike ride – me and my IPod Touch, listening to Chuck Swindoll talk about Job. I can identify with Job for some reason, and Chuck put it all into perspective. RCMP man is trying to buy my IPod Touch from me, but I said "No!" Sometimes, really. He could just get his own, couldn't he?

I stopped by the CIBC bank in town this morning to buy some U.S. money. I bought a Run for the Cure pen, and told the teller that they were organizing a run in The Pas for me. Kind of neat….

After making Doug a delectable sandwich for lunch, I baked a cake. I'm going to slather it with whipped cream, blueberries and nectarines for supper. This afternoon I took care of Aiden while Nat & Doug did renos in the basement. We made a trip to the library, and I happened to let him down for a minute (after making it UP the ramps to the top of the library, and zap! He was gone – I found him at the top of the stairs. I held him tight after that. I can see why I need to lift weights – babies are heavy! I quieted him in the library by whistling (leave it to me NOT to be quiet in a library) In went his thumb and he put his face by my mouth as if I was a cuddly toy. He is so cute!

Not too much going on for me – just learning how to be. Lots of cooking and baking, cleaning, changing diapers, resting, exercising. Nat is enjoying herself with her Papa, learning home renos. She's got her own Mike Holmes.

Well, Aiden is hungry and looking for food, so I must go see what I can garner from the magic fridge (Janet White #1's term), and put the fish in the oven.

Developing the quality of patience, I am… !Deb in the North

Monday, 17 August 2009

Cold in the North!!!!

It's still cold here in The Pas. It rained all day Saturday and Sunday and today has been overcast and cold. Tonight it's supposed to go down to 5 degrees! Where is the summer? According to the weather forecast, it should be 19 and sunny by Wednesday. It's so cold that I made meatloaf and baked potatoes for supper, and was just warming myself by the stove!

Renovations continue downstairs. Doug and Natalie are doing some wiring and sheetrocking. Aiden is in the playpen, and I'm at the kitchen table waiting for the troops to come to the table to eat. This morning Nat took Aiden to the emergency room to check out his inner ear (again), but it seems to be OK for now. He's been having some trouble of late, and last night was up twice in the night. I awoke and made blueberry muffins and after lunch whipped up a batch of banana bread, which RCMP man wolfed down during his mid-afternoon drop-in visit. He's out of control when it comes to sweets! Saturday afternoon I made carrot muffins and he ate eight of them by 6'oclock! Nat says that's why she doesn't bake much for him. I just think he needs strength for his job. He's been working very hard this past week.

Nat and I cleaned the house again, since it's Monday, and I processed many loads of laundry today. Just a basic manic Monday. It's 6:30 and we still have not eaten, but soon and very soon, we will have meatloaf. Perhaps I'll get out for a walk tonight. I did manage to get on the treadmill this morning and do some weightlifting (oh, yes, I'm a body builder now – my goal is Fit at 50, remember?).

Nat wants us to stay longer and we're both starting to feel sad that soon our visit will be over. I told her there will be a next time. I figure if Canada wasn't such a big country to travel, we'd be able to see each other more often. If we'd been born in Scotland, Luxembourg, or Prince Edward Island, think how easy it would be to visit each other. Oh well, must go eat – the workers came up from the basement.

Saturday, 15 August 2009


I knew when I wrote the birthday post that I was forgetting somebody significant in my life. Of course, Brenda's son, Luke! He turned 13 on August 14th -- a teenager. Hard to believe. Happy Birthday, Luke Richardson in Shelburne, NS. From your favorite aunt & uncle...

Well, Nat and I are going out on our bikes with Aiden to check out yard sales in The Pas. It is 12 degrees! Nat has her fleece sweater and jeans on, although I'm staying with summer wear (due to my continual hot nature, I will stay this way).

Friday, 14 August 2009

Speaking of Birthdays

Happy Belated Birthdays to K. Mason and Reg H. May you have many more, and may the grace of God be upon you!

!Deb & Doug

Campobello Friends

This is the first year in many years that I have not attended an all-week retreat for mothers and children. I decided to come visit Natalie instead, and have not regretted it, but I certainly do miss the Island girls. They sent me these pictures this week of one of their craft activities: a cake for me! A 'missing you' cake -- thank you girls -- and I really, really miss you all. Perhaps I could pretend it's my 50th birthday cake! Thanks again!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Josh waterskiing on Clearwater Lake

Natalie Tubing on Clearwater Lake

Cakes and Dogs

Today I rose and shone at 9:15 (my mother would appreciate this; every day she would wake me up in her cheery voice. "Rise and shine!"she would call as she entered my room). Doug and I shared coffee outside, something we've been doing of late. I made a trip to the grocery store at Natalie's request to pick up strawberries and whipping cream in order to save her 'disaster' of a birthday cake she made for Debbie W. We had several laughs over this cake. Nat has inherited my cake decorating skills, which I inherited from MY mother. The cake looked like a white Leaning Tower of Pisa with a strawberry moat around it. However, it received rave reviews as to taste at the party, which was held at Nicole's at noon. Debbie really liked her cake that Nat put so much effort into. Happy Birthday, Deb. You don't look a day over 30. Fireman Richard barbequed and a good time and food was had by all. After lunch, a few of us checked out a dog breed book they had, and found great pleasure in that for some reason. Natalie especially. I was hoping that they had a cat book as well, since Nat loves cats so much. Kelsie said she's going to get Nat one for Christmas.

I walked home on the walking path, taking pictures of flowers on the way. Nat and I then took a trip to Giant Tiger, where I set the alarm off twice, and had to explain that I recently had radiation. The manager said, "Oh, well, we'll let you off then. But you look great." Thanks. I've set off a couple of alarms around town. I found a great bargain on a hardcover book called, "The Cat Who Talked Turkey" by Lillian Jackson Braun. I think I paid $1.60 for it, and purchased it for Nat. It's about this man who solves mysteries using his cat. For some reason, I read one of the novels years ago and actually enjoyed it. I can't wait til Nat reads it, and since it's a gift from her mom, I'm sure she'll be sure to read it. We checked out a new clothing store run by a very nice Polish man, and met his dog, who also works in the store. The breed is very different, to say the least. A large dog, a Slovakian hunting dog, I believe he said. We've never shopped with a dog before, nor been waited on by one. First time for everything, I guess.

After a few more stops including my gluten-free store I shop at, we were extremely tired and Aiden even more so. I picked up a chicken at the grocery store for supper, added leftovers and Voila! Supper! After supper, I went outside and gave Doug a haircut. Oh, I didn't mention I was a hairdresser? I used the electric mowing machine as Doug calls it, and did a superb job, if I say so myself. I told him I was glad it was HIS hair I was shaving, and not him shaving my hair. And that I never want him to have to shave my head ever again. Speaking of my hair, I've got waves on the back and curls on the side, with straight up top. Strange but true. It will be interesting what it looks like once it gets back to normal.

Well, Doug and I are going to worship team practice tonight. Natalie is staying home with Aiden, and Josh is working. Another day almost completed in The Pas. It seems I'm waiting for something, but not sure what. I want to start working again, I think.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Well, I'm standing at the kitchen cupboard blogging on the computer AND bathing Aiden in the sink. A multitasker. It's another hot day here in The Pas, though not as hot as yesterday. Just came back from a walk with Aiden. Nat is out at Debbie's birthday party. I was too tired to go. This morning, Nat and I did our exercise in the gym downstairs, then got on our bikes and biked to the grocery store, Aiden trailing behind Nat in a bike trailer. I saw more of the beauty of this place, and if I have time, want to go take some more pictures. We love the grocery store, it seems, and the grocery store loves us.

After lunch, Nat started to make a cake, and I deleted over 5,000 emails from my computer, because everyone here was giving me such a hard time about having so many on my system. So, there you go; my machine is now empty – I'll make a clean start. So everyone – start filling it back up again! Email me! I don't know what to do without any on my system!

The afternoon just sailed away with emails and cakemaking, and playing with Aiden on the floor. Doug has been working downstairs all day doing home renos. He should have his own TV show. Call it something like, "Handyman Doug" or "Papa's Renos."

Nat and I can't believe that it's almost Thursday. Almost two weeks have passed since we arrived. Time flies when you're having fun. Well, I must go and put Aiden to bed and make a phone call or two back home to see what's happening. Miss you all…

!Deb in the North

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Yesterday, Nat and I were workhorses. We cleaned the house in the morning. Oh, it felt good to vacuum again. Housework is exercise! Especially in the heat out here. Yes, it has been upwards of 30 both days. The heat here is a dry heat, however, and not humid like we have in Fredericton, so it's much easier to bear. Plus it cools down a lot at night. In the afternoon, Nat worked in the yard and spread wood chips, and I looked after Aiden. Looking after Aiden is exercise, too! He's SO cute! Every day he steals my toothbrush from my room and takes it around the house. I was worn out by evening and went to sleep in the movie we've been trying to watch since I got here ("Only You" from 1994). I've wanted to watch this movie as in every scene it seems, Marisa Tomei has a different hairstyle. That always fascinated me for some reason. Now I know why – perhaps it has to do with having a different hairstyle?

Today was even hotter than yesterday, so at noon we drove out to Clearwater Lake to boat for the afternoon with Richard and Nicole and family. However, about ten minutes in the boat, Aiden started to cry, so we headed back to shore, and I drove him home in the car and put him to bed. Like a good Gram Deb. It was OK, though, as the sun was giving me a headache. I, too, had an afternoon nap. At close to 5, I drove him back out to the lake. The two boats were just coming in from an afternoon of water skiing, tubing and swimming. Josh took me out for my own private boat ride. After supper around a campfire, we packed up and came home. We're expecting a thunderboomer soon. I'll post pictures of Josh and Nat's water activities once Richard sends them to me.

We're missing New Brunswick already. We know we're easterners!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

An Adventure to Flin Flon

I've been so busy it's been hard for me to write. It seems we work from sun up to sundown. On Saturday we took another road trip. As if we haven't driven enough! Doug, Natalie, Aiden and I traveled to the city of Flin Flon, 1 ½ hours north of The Pas for the afternoon.

Here's a brief synopsis of the city (since this blog is part travel blog lately): "Beginning with a prospector's claim and a dime store novel, Flin Flon started mining in the 1920s and is now Manitoba's sixth largest city. Built on rock, the city sits proudly on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. Set in a beautiful vacation land on the edge of the Precambrian Shield, the area is notable for its distinctive greenish, fine-grained stone – greenstone. Standing at the entrance to the tourist park, the 24 foot statue of Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin, designed by cartoonist Al Capp, welcomes visitors to Flin Flon. Flinty was the hero of a science fiction novel found in the wilderness by gold prospectors in the early years of the century. When they found gold in 1914, they remembered the story and called their claim Flin Flon. The name stuck, and that's how the town got its name.

Brightly coloured Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company headframes are unmistakable landmarks on the Flin Flon skyline. The company has been mining in the area since 1927. Today it is the city's major employer."

Flintabbatey Flonatin – say that five times without making a mistake. We toured the town, took pictures (which I may put on here if I can get Doug to download them). Interesting to see were the sewer/water lines on top of the ground, as the city is built on the Precambrian shield. Doug was interested in these for some reason. We drove by the nickel mine and into Creighton, SK and stopped at a tourist info centre and had our picture taken in front of a Northwest Mounted Police hut (we didn't know what the building was until I read about it later). After a stop at Canadian Tire and Walmart (hard to believe that these stores are so far north, but anyway), we drove back to The Pas by 5 pm seeing many lakes and small communities along the way. It's a nice place to visit, but I don't think I would like to live there. It reminded us of Minto, and by the time we left there was a haze of coal or nickel dust in the air, and I was beginning to cough.

Today we went to the Alliance Church, Nat & Josh's church, and Nat and I were in the worship team. It was nice to be in church again, after missing last week due to travel. Doug and I took a bit of a tour around town with our van before lunch. After lunch, we all had a nap, except Josh who was RCMPing around the town. At 3:30, Doug and I decided we needed another road trip, so we traveled through the town and out the other side. We saw Josh twice in his cruiser, and he teased us about looking for a van like ours with some 'questionable people' in it. We then made our way towards the Saskatchewan border, traveling through the famous Carrot Valley (I love saying this), through fields of wheat, mustard, oats and hay. We made it to the SK border and the road turned into a dirt road, so we turned around. We drove over 100 km on our pleasant Sunday afternoon drive. It's 28 degrees here today, and not a bit of humidity. Beautiful.

Well, must go for a walk up to the Dutch Drive Inn, which looks like an old fashioned A & W. We're going to have ice cream and Josh will eat supper. He's been working very hard the last couple of days. We're very proud to have an RCMP officer in our family. He's awesome and a great husband to Nat and father to Aiden.

Monday we'll be back at home renos and such. Nat and Doug are going to work together and put up some walls in the basement. I will look after Aiden and cook and clean. My back is out a bit today, so I hope it feels better tomorrow, so I can be a workhorse like Nat. Doug's back is a bit better. He slept on a futon in the middle of the living room floor last night, so we're in separate beds for awhile. Bed wars honestly; one of us is always having an issue with our bed. I wish I could just be suspended from the ceiling when I sleep.


Friday, 7 August 2009

I'm learning how to 'be' in the North. Be in the moment and be in the day. Nat and I have been 'busy at home' – cooking and feeding Aiden and the men, and working outside in the yard. Yesterday I cleaned the outside windows. It feels SO good to do manual labour. Doug installed new windows in the basement and helped Josh landscape. He hurt his back and is crooked, so he has spent today lying down on the living room floor. Nat and I work out every morning. My goal is still 'Fit at 50,' which happens in two weeks. I am recording my exercise each day on a calendar and want to 'make my body my slave.' Every morning I've been on the treadmill and then weights and floor exercises. I try to get a walk or bike ride in every day as well. I lugged cedar chips and did the front bed which in itself was a stretching exercise. My muscles ache, but it's a good ache. I feel my strength returning and I'm grateful to be alive.

Last evening, we went to worship team practice with Josh and Nat. I played the piano/synthesizer and sang, and will play in church on Sunday with the rest of the team. It's so awesome that they asked me to join their team. I met some more friends: Debbie, Melanie, Dan and Dan's dad, who I played the guitar with later, when Debbie convinced me to sing golden oldies with her. Nat left Doug and I there and went home to bed. We came home at midnight, hoping she'd leave the door open to our 'resort.' (Debbie told me that since The Pas is my 'resort,' that I could stay out as long as I liked as I could sleep in!). We tried to leave two hours earlier, but if you know me and music, you'll understand that I never want to go home when there is music being played. You should hear us play "Meet Me in the River," which sounds like an East Coast song. It's my new favorite song. Richard sings it with gusto, just like an Easterner would. I love Nat and Josh's friends – I feel I already know them. Some of them know me more than I know them as they read the blog. That blesses me, that they would be interested in anything I have to say.

Well, Nat and I are going out to the grocery store AGAIN and a couple of other places. Tonight is girls' night out and we're going to the Good Times restaurant. To have a good time, I'm sure. The men are Aiden-sitting and no doubt watching man shows on TV.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Aloha from the North

Natalie was in the shower when we arrived on Monday, and Aiden and Josh were sleeping. Doug and I took a tour of the property, then came inside and sat on the couch to see if she would notice us. She walked out of the bathroom, looked straight at me with surprise and came forward with a big hug, exclaiming, "I love your hair!" I love it that both our children love my hair. Silver haired fox, Robin from Fredericton calls me. Fitting, I guess, considering I once was a Fox.

The last couple of days have been filled with activities: exercising on the treadmill and weights in Nat's mini-gym, walks, biking, cooking, cleaning, babying, grocery store, a tour of neighbour Marie's garden, landscaping (I cut bushes out back using huge shears), and meeting friends – Richard & Nicole, the deputy fire chief, and Darlene and Brian, another RCMP man. I want to meet all of the friends before I leave. They have been so supportive of Nat and praying for us over these last few months.

Doug has been Mr. Handyman, and will remain so the entire time we are here. He's a workhorse, just like his daughter. Josh is on a few days off now and is landscaping the lawn. Brian, a fellow RCMP man, just came by and gave Josh the keys to his boat for the month, so we plan on getting on the water soon. Nat drove us out to Clearwater Lake (aptly named; it is amazingly clear) the night we arrived and it is huge! A fisherman can catch vast quantities of fish in this lake.

I wondered how I was going to stay here for three weeks, but I'm settling in. I felt this way at St. Martins, too, wondering how I could stay in one place so long. I am learning how to rest, and I told Nat this morning that I want to consider her home a retreat centre for me. A retreat is a place you go to be apart from regular life, to find yourself so to speak, to meet with God and to rest, both physically and emotionally. I know I need emotional and physical healing from these past few months. What better place to do it than with our daughter in the north? Aiden and I went to The Pas Library yesterday, which is one of the nicest libraries I have ever been in. I took out six books, and will no doubt refer to them from time to time in my writings. I'm into quotes now, and borrowed Jan Karon's 'Father Tim's Favorite Quotes' from the library. Father Tim (from the Mitford series) kept a book of quotes and writings he liked. I decided this morning to start my own book of quotes and inspirational writings and Scriptures that I like. Here's a couple I wrote down today from my readings:

There is a fallow time for the spirit when the soil is barren because of sheer exhaustion (Howard Thurman). I identify with this quote! For years, I have been working, working, working.

A full life requires cultivation. The minute we take our hands off the plow, fail to reseed, forget to fertilize, we've lost our crop (Jean Anderson, A Weekend to Change Your Life). I'm in the cultivation process this month.

In addition to my quote book, I am studying the same passage of Scripture every day until I get back home (Jonah 2:2-10). This activity was assigned to me by the OT Director (I haven't had an assignment from her for awhile). I am to meditate on it every day and write my thoughts in my journal. I think I'll share it with you from time to time. Here's a thought I had two days ago: I think the reason why I've wanted to travel away from home since June is because it's a symbol of traveling AWAY from cancer. And the further away from home I go, the further away from the disease I am – like leaving it AND the memories of it behind.

Well, I must sign off. We're going to have DQ sundaes and watch a movie after Aiden goes to bed. I'll post some pics of this little man when I can. I also want to take some pics of The Pas to share this place with you. All for now… I miss you and I miss New Brunswick, my home sweet home...


Monday, 3 August 2009

Manitoba Bound #4

Well, I had a beautiful sleep on a Simmons Beautyrest Innkeeper king-sized bed. I know all this information because I had Doug down on the floor this morning gleaning the information off this amazing bed. Any of you who have heard of my 'bed wars,' looking for the ultimate bed because I can't sleep would understand my passion for finding the perfect bed.


We headed out about 8:00, and Mrs GPS led us out of Winnipeg to northern Manitoba. We really didn't need her help because we already knew the way, but she's nice to have around when she gives you accurate information. Today's drive has been a surreal drive -- the vast blue sky interspersed with clouds and bursts of rain, long stretches of prairie highway, few vehicles and even fewer houses. On this northern highway, you travel three to four hours with absolutely nothing around you but woods and sky. We stopped at Davis Lake to utilize a public outhouse, and I washed my hands in the so-clear-you-can-see-your-reflection water. I read portions of a book to Doug, and worked on the spreadsheet I've been keeping for the trip. Just call me Mrs. Statistic.

1:35 CT -- we are about 70 km from The Pas. Hard to believe we're almost there. Will I have time for my afternoon nap?

I wonder what Aiden looks like now -- it's been three months since we've seen him. Gram Deb and Papa are on their way, Mr. Mini Dubois! Papa and I have been thinking of names for your new sibling (once your parents decide to add one to the family). While traveling through Wisconsin, we saw some interesting place names which we thought could double for monikers. Here's some ideas for your mom and dad to consider: DeForest DuBois; Dell DuBois; Fridley DuBois; Ho-Chunk DuBois; Baraboo DuBois; McCoy Doug DuBois. These would all be boy names. For the girl's name they could consider Poynette DuBois. You can tell that Papa and I had lots to do on our trip. See you soon, Aiden.


BTW, I did manage to eat the cheese of Wisconsin and I can see why they are known for their cheese. I am particularly fond of cheese.


1:44 -- looking for Mr. RCMP man, our son-in-law -- perhaps we'll see him in action somewhere.

2:05 -- Hey Els, just saw a sign for Tim Hortons in The Pas! We're 11 km out, and I'm starting to get excited. If I could put this van into turboboost like Nurse Cherry does with the Cherrymobile, I would.

"A & W Roadside Assistance" sign -- what does that mean? If you go off the road you call for a Papa burger? The Pas actually has an A & W as well as several other fast food joints, but I certainly don't understand that sign. Now it's raining to beat the band and we can hardly see. 1 km outside The Pas…


2:11 Central Time -- Here we are! The Pas -- Adventure Territory -- right where we want to be! Thank you, God for guiding us here.


Now for the reunion -- 10th street, here we come! Put the teapot on, Nat….


Sunday, 2 August 2009

Me Again

Still up and checking my emails. Wanted to officially thank Deb Melnychuk, who was my neighbour in Caronport (when I was 44). It was weird, but today I was wondering if you would be reading the blog and realizing I was traveling out west, and then I found out tonight that you are!

You were a lifesaver, Deb. Yes, I did want to go home the minute I arrived in SK. But you were there to help me cope and we had some great talks, didn't we? Hope you and M are doing well. Perhaps we'll get to see you on one of our trips out west. And six years later, I don't want to go home -- yet... I love this freedom of being on the road and seeing so much country -- approx 1300 km today and 3800 km in three days. We're highway maniacs!

Deb had the same name as me, and her daughter's name is the same as mine: Natalie Dawn. Cool, eh? Now I'm going to hit the shower.

Manitoba Bound #3

7:04 CT-- Left the Holiday Express in Rockford, IL heading to Fargo, North Dakota. It'a gorgeous day and beautiful countryside.

7:20 -- Entering Wisconsin, known for their cheese. Wonder if we'll have any before we leave the state.

10:30 -- Eau Claire, WI. Thought we'd stop at DQ, but it's not open until 11:00. Our stomachs tell us it's 12:30 (which it is in NB). Got fuel and snacks, including Wisconsin cheese -- Monterey jack & pepper.

The landscape of Wisconsin reminds us of New Brunswick -- rolling hills and fields of green. Total kms driven today thus far -- 400. It seems we're climbing higher and higher as we approach St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota.

11:30 -- entering Minnesota. Just passed "Afton Alps Ski Area" sign. Yesterday, I saw "Ivy Road." Perhaps today we'll see Jack and Aiden signs.

1:50 -- our Montana van just rolled over to 100,000 clicks. We are in Alexandria, Minnesota. Brings back memories of another time when we were on vacation with Jon and Nat, and our Nissan car did the same thing. Only at that time, we stopped and had a ceremony to celebrate it. No such ceremony today -- just a picture of the odometer. Must keep on trucking. Haven't stopped since 10:30. Doug wants to eat supper in Fargo just so he can say he ate in Fargo. Then he started composing his own Fargo-related country song. Listen for it on the country station.

3:30 -- entering Fargo, North Dakota. Big place -- miles and miles of commercialism on the prairie.

5:00 -- almost to Grand Forks, ND. Three hours to Winnipeg! Should arrive there after eight. It's feels good to be near our home and native land again. I've missed it, even though the ten states we've driven through have been beautiful. There's no place like home.

Speed limit is 75 mph, the highest we've seen in the last three days (approx 120 km). And the highway is as straight as a die; it would make a good landing strip for an airplane.

6:15 -- at the Canadian border -- YES! We made it back to Canada, after 3700 km on the road. Now to make it to Winnipeg before sunset. Nat, we're on our way….

7:30 -- WE ARE IN WINNIPEG! PRAISE THE LORD! Now to find a place to stay -- Mary and Joseph we are…just like five years ago when we came out west and didn't know where to lay our heads.

9:13 -- OK, after trying to find Doug's cousin so we could stay with her (via Natalie's help on the phone), and a wild goose chase with the GPS leading us to an abandoned campground, and then to a NEW subdivision built where the OLD campground used to be, we pulled off and had a talk with the GPS. It seems we are NOT supposed to be camping in a campground on the trip. Maybe on the way home, we will actually use paper information instead of technology that is using information from 20 years ago! I made several phone calls trying to find a room at an inn, anywhere, but they were way beyond my means. A friendly Manitoban pulled up in his car and led us to Super 8, where we are now, and where we have a full kitchen in our room. I just enjoyed some tasty toast for the first time in three days and Doug is looking in the phone book to find the Superstore, because I need to go there before we leave the city in the morning (to buy my special bread). Winnipeg is huge, so this too may be a challenge.


Well, must go have a shower and go to bed. Very tired, having driven yet another long day. Almost there, Nat. See you soon.

Change of plans: Doug and I decided to take yet another trip with Mrs. GPS to try and find Extra Foods, a form of Superstore. But yet again, she led us on a wild goose chase. We're going to fire her. She's not a very good secretary. Now I'm really tired. Good night.


Saturday, 1 August 2009

Manitoba Bound -- Entry #2

Travel Log Day #2: Just stopped at a rest/service area in Leroy, NY where I posted yesterday's blog entry on wi-fi. Don't want Doug out of my sight, but have to let him go to the men's room every so often, and for some reason, I can't follow him in there. After we posted the blog, he Skyped our friend Michel and talked to him in North Carolina. Emailed Mom to tell her where we are so that she won't worry. Bought some water and an Italian coffee ($2.50), and fresh peaches, blueberries and cherries from an outdoor vendor. My arms were loaded with food and drink while Doug carries the laptop around outside, still blabbing away to Michel. I told the vendor that we wouldn't have done this on our honeymoon 31 years ago! How times have changed. While opening the door, I put my coffee on top of the van, so I wouldn't spill it, while opening the door. So, we drove away with the coffee on top of the van, not in my hand, and Doug saw it taking a tumble on the road. Oh well, guess I'm not supposed to have Italian coffee this morning. Good-bye Italy -- maybe I'll drink you again in the future.


Just passed a sign that reads, "Your mini holiday starts in Canada." You are right, Mr. Sign. Oh Canada, here we come!


I've been keeping a spreadsheet of our mileage and expenses, and we are averaging 28 mpg thus far, and have spent $83.00 on fuel (and $2.50 on an Italian coffee).


12:25 pm: just entered Pennsylvania. We're starting to get hungry. Out comes the trail mix until we can forage food for lunch. Lake Erie is breathtaking.


1:05 -- entering Ohio. 73 miles to Cleveland. I programmed the GPS for Morris, IL, just outside Chicago. The map shows many state parks on Interstate 80. Hey! A motorcycle just passed us and the name on the back of the girl was "Deb." I guess I'll live my dream of motorbiking vicariously through her.


1:30 -- stopped at Geneva for lunch at Wendy's. Man, that baked potato was good! Doug said, "Well, Ohio is known for their potatoes." No, Doug, that's Idaho.

2:30 -- entering Cleveland, OH. What a big city. Home of the Cleveland Indians (baseball, I think). And the Cleveland Browns, which is football, I believe. I'm going to take some pictures out the window. Hope my camera isn't gone with the wind (pun intended).

4:30 -- bypassed Toledo, and saw the sign for Chicago, Illinois …200+ miles to go. Mrs. GPS says we'll be there towards 9:00 our time, if we didn't have to stop for gas. Ohio is very pretty with miles of flatland, farms, and cornfields so high that all you can see are the tops of barns.

5:30 -- Time to turn the page of my atlas to…. Indiana wants me, no I won't go back there…. Indiana, the Crossroads of America, and I'm having a hot flash. Doug is cold because I have the air conditioning full blast.

Today we have traveled on the New York Thruway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Ohio Turnpike, and now we're on the Indiana Toll Highway. Our toll costs so far? $34.00. At least the gas is cheaper and the roads are flat.

7:30 -- Portage, Indiana -- another toll -- $6.75. Almost through Indiana. Coming up to a sign that says "Congested Sign Ahead." Certainly not like Massachusett's or NY's congestion. We are also changing time zones soon -- Central time, same time zone as Nat in Manitoba. We're on our way, Nat!

7:45 -- Entering Illinois, "The Land of Lincoln." 4 lane traffic -- much larger than Toronto's highway system. "Welcome to the Illinois Tollway." Another toll to pay.

Just saw a billboard with Doug from King of Queens, one of our favorite shows. Watched a lot of Josh's borrowed videos during my treatment period. Made me laugh.

8:25 -- Current mileage traveled today: 1237 km. Yesterday's: 1087 km. And we're still driving. Heading towards Ottawa, Illinois to see if we can stay in a state park.

9:00 (7:00 CT) --"Welcometo Utica, IL --Gateway to Starved Rock." The funny thing about this is that I programmed Ottawa into the GPS and it is taking us to Utica and the Starved Rock National Park(which I did not key in). We're going where the GPS is taking us right now. We're starved and we hope we get more than a rock for dinner. Another strange thing: we stayed in Utica, NY last night and here we are 1300+ km later in Illinois, being directed to a state park by a GPS. Wow. What is it about Utica, anyway? Just went down the main street -- it reminds us of a mini-Moose Jaw.


After a drive through country fields we discovered that there were no campsites available at Starved Rock State Park, so we stopped at a private park. I thought I was in the wild west then -- we walked in the registration office to find men sitting in chairs in a beaten up shack that looked more like a hunting lodge from the 40's. He wanted $30. cash and I didn't really want to part with it, considering we didn't have much U.S. cash left and we needed to save our cash for tolls. I parted with it and Doug signed the papers. The man gave me $5. back for some reason. We followed a red car that sped to our camp site and I trekked to the bathroom. Well, let me tell you, I couldn't handle the condition of those restrooms (Thank you Century Farmers, for having such clean facilities), so I came out and said to Doug, "I can't do this." I should have known by the condition of the registration office what the 'facilities' would be like. An outdoor toilet would have been cleaner. Doug went back in and asked for a refund and on the road we are again. So much for Starved Rock, and we're still starved.


It is now 10:00 our time and the sun is about to set. It is a beautiful night on the prairies, and we have no idea why we went on that little detour, but are on the search for another state park further north. We may just drive until we see a hotel again and leave the camping for yet another day. The thing with us is that we just like to drive and drive and drive. It's always been this way with us. We just want to get a little further on down the road.

10:46 (AT) --Heading for Wisconsin on yet another toll highway. Doug still wants to drive until we see a place to stay. He just likes driving, I think -- 1430 km so far and he's still going, like the Energizer bunny. I've had 1 1/2 sleeps today (figure that out). We also love to drive at night.


We finally took an exit and are staying at Holiday Express in Rockford, IL, after having had problems with the self-serve toll booth. This place is a far cry from the wild west campsite we encountered a couple of hours ago. Now this is more like it. I'm not much of a camper today. Too spoiled, I guess. The desk clerk gave us a break after we told her we were from Canada and had driven 1400 km. Now we're tired. I realize this travel log is probably disjointed and long winded, but that's how the day has been. Good night. Hoping to make it to Winnipeg tomorrow….

Manitoba Bound 2009

Day One -- Friday, July 31

Left at noon from Fredericton, after filling up the van at the Irving station with a donated gift card (K. Mason). Traveled through Vanceboro, ME border crossing. Don't think I've ever been that way before.

The roads to the #6 were quite bad, but not much traffic. We shaved off an hour or so of travel by going that way. Stopped at Irving Station in Lincoln, ME for facilities, snacks and gas. (1:30).


Began to rain past Bangor. I slept off and on. We made it to Portland without traffic, but encountered major traffic on 495 in Mass. At 7:15 ET, we stopped again-- outside Worcester, after having experienced major traffic. The pace is unreal-- we don't want to live here! Trying to make it to Albany, NY, which is a lot further than where we thought we would be tonight. We were just going to go to the bottom of Maine!


It's been raining most of the day, so we may stay in a motel tonight, and it's now dusktime. Perhaps I should sing the Dusktime song to myself, Nat & Jon….


Been driving up the highway gradually to the highest elevation in MA. Amazing sunset through the mountains. Crossed under a bridge that said "Appalachian Trail." It is now 9:26 ET and it's getting dark. We're 47 km from Albany, NY.


9:16 ET -- crossing the Hudson River. Sign says, "Montreal, Left Lane." "South NY City." But we're going towards Buffalo now. New York City will have to wait for me. Now we're going to stop in Schenectady, NY. Doug says he isn't tired. He's only been driving since noon, and it's 10:17 our time.


Well, we just passed Schenectady, and Doug still wants to drive on, so I programmed the GPS to Utica, NY. My job is programming, his job is driving. It is now going on 11 hours of driving. My husband -- a truck driver always. I'm typing on my laptop in the dark (the screen is lit up), and we're passing cars and trucks left, right and centre. We enjoy driving in the dark. Doug says he can see what everyone is doing better. I can't believe I've been sitting this long -- resting.


Well, we're almost to Utica. It's 11:30 Atlantic -- 12 hours of driving. PTL -- It's a Go! Arrived at Super 8 -- didn't like the bed -- too soft. Across the street to the Scottish Inn, owned and operated by people who were definitely not Scottish. Appropriate place to stay, given Doug MacDonald is Scottish. I told the woman I needed a firm bed. She led us to room #106, where I was happy with the bed, but then she took us to room #102, where there were two Tempura memory foam beds-- Ahh! It felt good to lie down and we had a wonderful rest.


Day 2 -- Saturday, August 1


Awoke at 6 our time. Doug made me toast and coffee and we were on the road again at 8. Just entering the Erie Canalway. It's a beautiful morning -- lots of fields here along the NY turnpike (I-90). We've been traveling on great highways -- don't you just appreciate a good road? Set the GPS for Chicago -- it says that we'll be there by 6:14 tonight.


Well, it's 9:45 AM (AT), and we are south of Rochester. Beautiful country -- fields of corn are everywhere. The landscape has a prairie feel to it. Just passing an Illinois limousine - wonder who's in there? Probably President Obama on his way to Chicago. Hi, Mr. President.


Just passed some horses in a field, Cousin Els, and a place where they sell horse trailers. It is so soothing to sit and watch the countryside. I'm glad we didn't fly.