June 18, 2008 GMT
Canada Week 2

11 June Wawa to Thunder Bay

Today things seem a bit better.On the wildlife front, Tasha has seen a set of Moose, one large with a hat-stand on its head, and as we stopped in the Thunder Bay tourist centre, a chipmunk. Very cute!

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We are now in a nice hotel with a view of the railway line and the yacht harbour.

So we have survived another day. Oh the 350 mile trip was with the flashers on all the way. Another thing to sort out.

13 June Thunder Bay to Portage La Prairie

Well we reached Portage La Prairie from Thunder Bay. A rather bum aching 862 km.

We stayed on another day in Thunder Bay because we were woken at 5.00am with the wind howling, and rain falling about 5 degrees from the horizontal.

It gave Tasha (we are speaking again) time to tidy the blog, and put a few photos in. And time to buy some wet gear to replace the set the got lost somehow.

The bike has behaved itself since about 20km before Thunder Bay.

Our journey has been through some of the worst weather ever. The forecasters go on about severe weather conditions, and I am beginning to agree. We are presently enjoying evening sun, while our gloves dry. Average temperatures should be 21. They have struggled to make double figures. We are holding up well. Tasha is still hobbling a bit and has a beautiful bruise on her foot.

We are heading to Regina. (Rhymes with China.) There is a family there that Natasha helped with the adoption of an Ukrainian girl, so we hope to see them.

Canada seems to be waterlogged. I get the feeling that if you were to leave the road that you would simply disappear into a bog.The rivers are all bursting their banks, and the amount of weather storms has all the locals telling us that it isn't usually this bad.

We were told by locals in Thunder Bay that we must see Kakabeka Falls - the volume of water in the river is the highest for the last 150 years!

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14 June Portage La Prairie to Regina

We have made it through another time zone into the Provence of Saskatchewan.

Yesterday, Friday the 13th turned out to be not too bad for us. At times the going was a bit tricky, especially the bow wave and wake of the lorries. Most of the ride was through forested areas.

We managed over 800km, which meant that we left the forest and are now onto the plains. A bit like the Canterbury plains in NZ, but they are flat in all directions, and today is our second day.

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Sometimes, the road has a turn or two but generally its straight for miles. Its not to say that it's boring. There are things that change along the way. Abandoned houses and machinery. And signs of flooding.

People we meet when filling the bike, or ourselves with coffee are genuinely friendly. We have even been spoken to by some blokes on Harley's. "Say that's really a big bike, did you ride it from Ing-ger-land?" Well, what would you say?

We haven't had any further woopsies of the falling over variety, But I really don't enjoy being in town traffic. It was that aversion that led us around Winnipeg and on to a small town Portage La Prairie. We stayed in the only motel in town that even had wireless internet ...every so often. So we could read ,but writing a reply was not so easy . This morning, I was talking to a Japanese gent who said he had tried 5 hotels in Winnipeg, and that the one we were in was the first he had found, so that was lucky.

We also met an elderly Ukrainian /Canadian, he was quite touched to see the Ukraine flag on the bike.

So today has been short, just over 300 miles. Natasha has made contact with some people she helped to adopt a little girl from Cherkassy 10 years ago. We hope to meet them later.

So, all seems well and we will continue toward the mountains.. eventually.

15 June Regina to Medicine Hat

Even the computer says PLAIN text.

So we have ridden another 300 or so miles and its still flat. Mind you, the road did cross the railway. That meant two corners, a bridge and another two corners. There were about six corners, not counting the ones necessary to come off the highway, fill up and get going again.

It has been quite cold, hovering around 12C. The road kill here is huge, like deer and moose.

On the still living front, just outside the hotel there is a colony of gophers. They have quite an establishment with burrows, sentry gophers, guard gophers, and one loopy one leaping about in long grass trying to see where everyone is.

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We had a lovely meal last night with Tasha's adoption family. The sweet girl, Katya, was celebrating her 14th birthday, so it was very special. The family is lovely and quite comfortably placed. We enjoyed fillet steak cooked on their barbeque. Loads of it!

We managed to find a Comfort Inn that has guest laundry facilities and internet. So we now smell less like (OK I smell less like the inside of a gumboot.)

The sun has just set over the mall, we have the Canadian phone topped up with credits, ready for the call to Grandma tomorrow. Nerves are being shredded already. (For those who do not know - Natasha's Mum is very disapproving
of our trip and insists on terminating it straight away)

We will head to Calgary, its about 200 miles, and apparently we will have our first sight of the Rockies.

16 June Medicine Hat to Calgary

We have had a gentle day, from Medicine Hat to..... well just the other side of Calgary, then with the sight of the highway stretching into the distance, with absolutely no idea where the next fuel might be available, we turned around . We are in a VERY posh hotel. (Sheraton 75 pn b&b) Perhaps its not that posh, there is a drive thru' Mc Whatsits within walking distance.

We can see the Rockies!!!

They are still a long way off, but after over three days of the plains, indeed, since we have been here, these are the only mountains to speak of. So I hope that will mean that we can have a slap up meal with all the trimmings.Canadian cuisine is not European. It is very filling and there are looks of dismay if you don't want fries with it. No, we are not limiting ourselves to fast food places.

Tasha is having a haircut at the hotel hair salon. The madam of the establishment seems quite intimidating, but tonsorial emporia are not my field of expertise.

More up my line, was the car-wash experience. I treated the bike to a de-grime and insect purge. Considering the cold wet weather, which is supposed to mean no midges etc, the oil-cooler was well choked with skelingtons of a host of yellow and black stripey things.

There were more choices of cleaning options than coffee in a Starbucks. So the bike had the engine clean,shampoo and mocca latte to finish. The other little challenge, was the journey from the hotel, to the carwash and filling station and back. On foot it would have been about 100 yards. It took me about 3km.

The temperatures have been up in the twenties and sunshine all the way.

Tomorrow we will head towards Lake Louise, We have planned to be at the Horizons Unlimited Meeting on Thursday, its not too far away, but there are those hills to negotiate. Natasha is already muttering about perils of mountain passes,trolls and the like.


Posted by Brendon Ball at June 18, 2008 01:30 AM GMT
 



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