Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hello folks.  Thanks for stickin' with me.  The last week and a half has BLOWN by.

I never did finish writing about our fourth day of traveling so let me sum it up.  We drove through Vermont (beautiful) and New Hampshire (beautiful) mainly on two lane roads after a brief stint on a very quiet interstate.  Vermont was very quaint with rolling hills and farmsteads dotting the landscape.  I think it was in New Hampshire that we saw some of the most quintessential "New England" towns.  If anyone remembers the Bob Newhart show, it looked exactly like the opening scene.  We entered the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Ava couldn't say enough times how "beautiful" it was. She wanted to stay there forever.  When we started out the day, we were not even 200 miles from Brunswick but the GPS (yes, it talks to us) said it would take over 3 hours to get there so we were trying to keep driving as long as possible but we finally had to get something to eat at 2:00 in the afternoon -- yummy Dairy Queen. :)  Just after lunch, we entered Maine and stopped at a rest area to take a picture.  The kids were a bit stir crazy and hopped up on ice cream so took off like rockets around the parking lot.  While we were trying to herd them up and get them over to a sign for our last picture, Max took off across the driveway right in front of a police car that was turning in.  I felt like parent of the year as I yelled and ran for him.  The police officer was very nice and ended up taking our picture for us.  She probably noticed all the hair missing from my head and the crazed look in my eyes.  When we told her we had just driven for three days from Minnesota, she looked at us like we were either super parents or insane.  I'm betting it was the last one.

We packed up and left the rest area to finish up our trip.  We were so close it was painful.  The last 70 miles through Maine were just painstaking as all the roads were again 2 lane with a max speed of 50 mph.  It was pretty though as we passed from mountains to lakes to lobster shacks.  We couldn't see the ocean but we knew we were close.  Bruce and I started to recognize roads from our trip in July and then.....we were here.  We pulled in front of our garage (at least we thought it was ours, it was unlocked anyway) and immediately were greeted by some of the neighbors -- all military, of course.  They said "hi" and offered to help unload when we were ready, then left us to get settled in.  As soon as we started pulling things out of the truck, the neighbors were back with reinforcements and the truck was cleaned out in no time.  We were able to set up beds and sleep nice and snuggly for the night after wolfing down Papa John's pizza at 9:00 pm.  It felt so good to finally be here!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Days three and four of our trip to Maine.

Yikes!! Day three was crazy!  We ran into LOTS of road construction with stops and detours and loads of slowdowns.  Then Bruce took a turn into Ottawa looking for an information center.  He followed the signs and followed the signs some more and followed....into a pile of busses all pulling in front of us and around us like they owned the place (okay, they do).  Bruce lost sight of the info signs and I lost sight of Bruce until I spotted him in the "Canadian Supreme Court" parking lot talking with a security guard.  Uh oh.  Turns out you can't just pull into a governmental office parking lot with a U-Haul truck and just park there to wait for your lost wife, unless you first talk to a super friendly Canadian security guard who then directs you back to the main highway after your wayward wife in the overloaded van topped by a canoe finds you.  Did I mention yet that the cat had been meowing ALL morning long in the van.....and the kids were tired and antsy.....not to mention my sore bottom?  Okay, okay, everything was still feeling doable but then we entered Quebec and EVERYTHING was in FRENCH with NO English subtitles.  This would have been fine had it not been 6:30 pm and we had already been traveling for 9 hours and wanted to get past Montreal before bedding down for the night and I couldn't get the pay at the pump thing to work because it was all in French and I couldn't quite figure out what it wanted.  I couldn't understand my own kids anymore let alone try to decipher a language I only know two words in -- bonjour and merci (Jill?...Rob?...a little help please?).   Luckily, a friendly information person at the first place we stopped at in Quebec was very helpful even though she couldn't find us a room for the problem...yeah, right!  We finally get headed through Montreal after getting turned around on a detour and heading the wrong way down the interstate toward Toronto -- oops!  Okay, we are traveling through Montreal, fine...fine...fine...yawn...fine...OH MY GOSH WHERE ARE ALL THESE ROADS GOING TO???AHHHHH!  Whew, made it through the ultimate can of worms! Duluth's crazy intersection has nothing on this one!  There were 5 or 6 levels going all sorts of directions.  It actually reminded me of the Jetsons for some reason.  Anyway, we made it without perishing or taking the wrong turn amazingly enough.  After leaving Montreal we hit no mans land.  Where were all the hotels on the side of the road?  Another hour and a half or so later we finally arrive in Magog, Quebec.  We had been very excited to see the beginnings of hills and mountains until it got dark and I just hoped the Moose Crossing signs weren't foretelling the future.  Magog is located in a lovely area with wooded foothills and a lake and river (not that we could see it by this time. that came in the morning)  We followed the little bed signs to find a hotel and couldn't locate anything that looked promising except for one place that turned out to be a long-term care residence -- sorry for the lights folks!  By this time it was nine o'clock at night, we are exhausted and Bruce can't even see the road anymore so I led on to the next exit and we stop to rally.  I whipped out the hotel guide (all in French by the way) that the helpful tourist info lady had given me and find the first listing under Magog (just happened to be 3 star but not too expensive -- yeah right).  I called and luckily the receptionist spoke English with a very heavy accent (remember I can't even understand my own family by this time).  Yes she had a room but how to get there from where we were..... Well, there's a Canadian Tire and a Burger King and yes, yes the street is Sherbrooke... and now a tanker truck driver is honking at us to get out of the way so he can fill up the gas tanks...oh, there's Bruce and the kids coming out of the store after a potty break....jump in and follow me!....yes,yes I see Burger King but I'm sorry I don't know what lublows is...okay, okay follow Sherbrooke past lublows (whatever that is) and turn right on main street then on Rue Merry Nord we are just across from McDonalds....not a problem.  I'll call if we get lost.  We get lost but the only one that knows is Ava who keeps telling me to "just stop mom and call her".  I keep turning in the general direction I'm pretty sure we want to go in and darn it if I didn't find Rue Merry Nord, Yipee!  Then  Ava used her McDonald's sniffer to find the McDonalds and voila, we found the hotel.  Bruce climbed out of the truck and asked, "How in the world did you find this place?"  Answer, "magic, luck and Ava's McDonald's sniffer".  After some quality tv (American ninja competition) and a very short night, we had a nice breakfast with our waiter wishing us "bon appetit".  We took off as quickly as possible with three kids including a very fed-up two-year-old and boogied down the road to Wal-mart (of all places!!) to get diapers.  We had more in the back of the truck but were afraid to open the door as we may never have been able to shut it again.  Twenty minutes later we were at the border with the U.S.  Wow, the border patrol is a riot!  Good thing Bruce went first and paved the way for the crazy van with the crazy lady driving it as kids are hollering and the cat is meowing.  Okay, it wasn't that bad, I just felt VERY frazzled.  The kids were actually great and Rusty didn't even let out a peep while stopped at the border.  He just picked back up when we took off again.

Okay, it is past eleven and I will have to finish day four tomorrow.  Good night!  Sleep well. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day two on our trip to Maine.

Okay so I didn't get the last post published on the first day.  I had to finish it at our next stop.

Well here we are again, finally stopped and relaxing at a hotel.  At one point we had thought we were going to camp each night...NOT!  It feels incredibly good to just stop and plop ourselves in a room where we can walk down to the heated pool -- no worries about setting up tents, sleeping gear or cooking.  Ahhh...

We have made it across Ontario and are close to the border of Quebec in the town of North Bay.  It was quite a drive on a main artery through Ontario even though it was just a two lane road with a 55 mph speed limit...oh excuse me...90km/hour speed limit (sounds better doesn't it).  Tomorrow we should cross into Quebec near Montreal.  We are over half way through our journey and getting very excited  to see our new home.  We actually got an address on Friday but darn if I can remember it....something Chickadee.....I'll pass it along when we get there. :)

I'm afraid that every night is pretty short after eating and swimming.  We all end up going to bed at the same time since we are all in the same room so I will bid you goodnight.

First full day on the road

Well, we took off from Duluth yesterday (Friday), leaving our home town of 14 years and our 6 year old house that we built from the ground up.  We made it to Superior, Wisconsin before having to stop for food.  None of us had really eaten anything all day as it was all devoted to packing and cleaning and loading.  We drove through beautiful northern Wisconsin and stopped in Ironwood, Michigan to stay for the night.  All five of us gleefully jumped into the hotel pool and washed the drive away, then collapsed into bed for a night of sleeping in beds larger than camper beds.

This morning we took off at the extremely early hour of 9:00 am.  Sleeping in felt good. We drove about 3 hours and stopped just outside Marquette, Michigan to have lunch on the shores of Lake Superior.  The kids and Bruce jumped in and swam for awhile in the "big lake".  The lake was shallow in that spot and relatively warm with a beautiful sand beach.  It was a great break from driving so we spent quite some time.  Then we drove the rest of the way to Sault St. Marie and spent the night in kind a dump.  Oh well, all is an adventure.