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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day Four and Five of Our Lincoln Highway Road Trip

I did not post a blog yesterday as we got in to our lousy motel late and I was too tired to blog so I am combining days four and five with this post.

Yesterday had us driving from Medicine Hat, Alberta to Winnipeg, Manitoba. We passed through the flat prairie lands of Alberta and Saskatchewan and saw lots of rolled hay, cows, and grain elevators. We had dual highway all of the way so we were not bothered by the millions of semi-trailer trucks on the road. We also had a speed limit of 110 kph through Alberta and Saskatchewan. When we entered Manitoba the speed limit dropped to 100 and I haven’t the slightest idea why. It was the same road with the same conditions. It’s seems Manitoba wants everyone to slow down. This did not bother the trucks as they kept going 110 and so did I

We stopped in Moose Jaw at Tim Hortons for lunch. There are Tim Hortons all throughout Canada. It’s sort of a buffet fast food joint and bakery where you get breakfast all day and sandwiches if you don’t want breakfast. We hit this Tim Hortons at lunch time when the local high school had let out for lunch and had to deal with the unruly and urchin looking Canadian high school kids. It appeared everyone in Moose Jaw bought their clothes at the local thrift shop and they never washed their trucks. Yes most of the people in Alberta and Saskatchewan drive pickup truck or SUVs. It’s farm country. No smart cars here.

After lunch we stopped at the information center and got some books onFXP_8491 Moose Jaw and Saskatchewan, I also took photos of the 9-meter high moose. In the information center there was a replica of a Canadian Pacific locomotive made of Styrofoam. It was really quite fascinating how much detail the artist was able to get from the stuff coffee cups are made of.

Once on the road again we had a long haul to Winnipeg and the only hotel we could get reservations at, A Howard Johnson with a restaurant. Due the time change from Mountain Standard to Central we lost an hour and got to the motel at 20:30 hours. We checked in and had the usual second floor room with no elevator. I hate these second floor rooms. The restaurant was supposed to be open until 10 pm, but when we attempted to open the door we found it was closed. I guess the staff decoded to go home early.

The room was big but that’s the only positive thing I can say about the Ho-Jo hotel. Oh, I forgot to mention that everything was in English and French. It looks like the pea-soupers in Montreal won the dual language battle.

As this hotel did not offer breakfast for the $96 dollars per night we had to get up early and go over to the Tim Hortons for a breakfast sandwich. The breakfast set us back eight bucks for the two of us and it was not bad. I would not recommend the Winnipeg Ho-Jo.

We were finally on the road to Thunder Bay, Ontario at sunrise. We were breezing along the Trans-Canada highway on a beautiful morning when disaster struck. Clipping along at 110 I hit the remnants of a truck tire on the road. I attempted to avoid it but I ran over one chunk of the tire and heard a bang under the van.

When we stopped at the border of Manitoba and Ontario I check under the car and saw something hanging down and driving on pavement. It looked like the plastic shield over the gas tank. I knew I had to get this thing looked at as I would be dangerous to drive with this piece of the van dragging on the ground.

Fortunately about thirty kilometers down the road we found a Toyota dealer in Kenora, Ontario. We pulled into the dealer and explained to the service manager what had happened and he told us, after twenty or so “heys” he would be able to fix it. He told us to go across the street to Tim Hortons and get a coffee while they put in on the lift.

It took about an hour to for the mechanic to remove the damaged shield. But while doing so he discovered our spare tire was dangling loose and he could not tighten it as the little winch that raises and lowers the tire was broken. As it would be extremely unsafe to drive with the spare tire in this condition he suggested he cut the cable, put the tire in a bag and we could carry it in the van. We now have one more thing loaded in the van, our spare tire. Oh, well such are road trips.

The folks at the Toyota dealer were very nice and helpful and the total bill was $91 dollars. Once the van was fixed and the tire secure we were on the road again. Since we had lost time we decided to stop for our picnic lunch at Vermilion Lake, a very picturesque location in the Ontario Lake District.

We had our ham and cheese sandwiches and spent some time using the facilities and taking photos. The gold and yellow of the birch trees were great. This was a lovely place for a lunch stop.

The speed limit in Ontario is 90 kmh. It seems the more east you go in Canada the slower the limit. Trucks, however, still do 100 or 110. I held it at 100 so I would not encounter another deputy Mobley.

We lost the dual highway in Ontario and for the 375 kilometers to ThunderBirch Trees Bay we had a single lane highway with frequent passing lanes. There were also two construction sites where they hold up one lane of traffic to allow the other lane through. One took about 15 minutes and the one going into Thunder Bay took over a half hour — ugh!

We finally arrived at our Comfort Inn in Thunder Bay at 8:15 pm and ordered a pizza delivered to our room so I could get the photos up to my gallery and write this blog while watching the D-Backs and Brewers.

Tomorrow we will explore Thunder Bay and head east to Kirkland Lake.

You can see all of my pictures by clicking here. Don’t forget to click the “Slideshow” button at the upper right to view the largest image.

Till tomorrow night.

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