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Report 8: Ottawa ON to Cochrane AB.

We are on the road again...at last. Getting reintegrated into Canadian society (read, satisfy all the Government departments) was time consuming and frustrating, especially getting proper medical care. With that past us, we have a rough plan this year to cross Canada, spend the autumn in BC, do US101 (the Pacific Coast Highway) this winter, then go north to Alaska in the summer. Only time will tell where we will actually go. Meanwhile, here is the first instalment of our 'voyage'.

Route:

The trip westward was along Trans Canada Highway, highway 17, which becomes highway 1 in Manitoba.. Near Winnipeg we turned onto the Yellowhead Highway, highway 16. We stayed on the Yellowhead out of Winnipeg and turned north on highway 6 to Prince Albert. From PA to Wainwright we took highway 3 then 40, which becomes 14 in Alberta. We stayed on highway 14 into Edmonton. From Edmonton to Airdrie was straight down highway 2, once we worked our way around the SW corner of Calgary on the ring road. From Airdrie to Cochrane was west on 567 to highway 1.

Highlights:

Since we stayed so long in Ontario, the trip west was not as leisurely as we had intended. We stopped only overnight until we got to Winnipeg. The scenery into and out of Sault St. Marie is as stunning as we remembered from our previous trips, except that we had a better vantage point in the RV. As usual, the rest of Northwest Ontario goes on endlessly.

The condition of the Trans-Canada Highway, highway 17, especially the portion from Ottawa to North Bay, is a national disgrace. West of North Bay most of it is not bad. We took two bad stone bruises in the window of our car and had to have it replaced in Winnipeg. Wouldn't you know it, we got a stone chip on our brand new windscreen before we got to Prince Albert. There, we had it repaired, but it was a crummy job.

Along the way, we met some interesting people, most notably a British couple travelling on motorbikes from Dubai. They have already done Europe and are now crossing Canada on their way to Alaska. They intend to go from there to South America. Their web site is www.aroadlesstravelled.net/ Way cool! Another interesting couple had a motorcycle with a side-car; it looked like something out of a WW-II movie. They were touring around Ontario for the summer. We were astounded to learn that their 'vintage' motorcycle is nearly brand new. It's a Ural (http://www.imz-ural.com/), which is a Russian copy of a BMW motorcycle.

It was great to see our relatives and friends again. Visiting relatives and friends was the primary reason we elected to travel through Canada, even though the trip to BC would be shorter going through the USA. Before heading westward from Ottawa, though, we went to Martintown ON, where we visited our daughter, Michelle, and her family for a few days; it was a good visit. At Winnipeg we visited with Maurice's cousin, Marg, and his friends from work, Alf & Jack. Marg and Maurice are into family genealogy, so while in Winnipeg we took a side trip to Carman, where we visited the graves of Morris and Elizabeth Nunas, Maurice's grandparents. It was interesting to stroll among the graves and read the inscriptions. In Prince Albert we spent time with Louise-Ann's brothers, Ralph and Corey. We took a side trip up to Candle Lake, where Corey and his girl friend, Cheryl, have a mobile home. This was our first opportunity to get to know better Corey's youngest son, Callaghan. Alas, we missed seeing Ralph's son, B.J. And Corey's daughter, Candace but we did get to talk to her on the phone. We also had coffee one evening with an old high school friend that Maurice had not seen for about forty years. In Wainwright we had a nice dinner with Corey's other son, Christopher, and his girl friend, Rebecca. In Edmonton we hosted a family BBQ at the RV park, and spent time with Maurice's brother, Keith, and his nephew Dean & his family. Visiting people in an RV is way better than travelling by car, as we can stay in our 'home' and invite people over to 'our house'.

Our Australian Labradoodle (www.laa.org.au), Molly, is getting used to travelling by RV; when we first got her she was so afraid of it we had to carry her inside. Every day we see her coming more out of her shell. She has discovered birds, squirrels and ground-hogs, all of which she would like to chase. Most recently, she has decided that children may not be so bad after all, and allowed two of them to pet her. Everywhere we go people ask what breed she is...everyone loves Molly.

We've seen some wild life along the way, especially deer. In Candle Lake there were herds of them everywhere. In Kenora a nice buck wandered into a grass strip in the Wal*Mart parking lot. Maurice and Molly walked near it, gradually getting closer, until a jerk in a truck rushed out with a cell phone camera and charged the deer, which, of course, bolted.

The weather for most of the month has been wonderful; September seems to have become the new August. Our lucky streak was broken just before we left Edmonton, when it turned cold and blew like crazy. The wind and cold persisted during our stay in Calgary.

We stopped in Calgary just to have our fridge repaired. That simple repair turned into a 3-day saga that saw the control board in our fridge replaced and, when that did not fix the problem, had our inverter replaced. Mercifully both were done under warranty. The fridge actually was working, except when we tried to use it when 'dry camping' (i.e., staying in places with no hook-ups). It turns out the frequency of the power from the inverter was changing from the normal sixty Hertz to 120, and at times various other frequencies up to 190 Hertz. This happened when the battery was anything other than fully charged...weird! It is a testament to Alan, the technician at Fraserway RV, that he was able to find this fault. It is something that has been plaguing us intermittently since we bought the coach. We recommend Fraserway RV (www.fraserway.com) to anyone needing repairs to their RV.