Archive for December, 2012

White Boxing Day and a not so tropical Christmas

Posted in Boxing Day, California, Christmas, Collingwood, Cuba, Los Angeles, Niagara, Ontario, Pasadena, Snow, thorold, Toronto, Tournament of Roses Parade, Travel, Vacation, Weather, Winter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2012 by Amanda

While we had trace amounts of snow on Christmas day here, it was last night that we had a significant snowfall.  To me the amount of snow didn’t seem like all that much (though unfortunately it was the heavy type of snow) but it was apparently the most snow they’re had around here in close to two years!  The temperatures here have certainly been a lot colder (though still quite tolerable) than last year when it seemed tropical to me!


At the Science Centre


Downtown Collingwood

I haven’t been too busy since my long drive here but I’ve been busy enough not to feel too bored.  I did way too much Christmas baking.  I also went on a couple of short trips out of Niagara: I drove my brother to the Science Centre in Toronto and I drove my sister to an interview she had in Collingwood.  After my long drive here, both trips felt very minor.

I have two short vacations I’m very excited about coming up soon!  My mom and I are flying to Los Angeles on Saturday and we will be there for five nights.  The main purpose of our visit is to see the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena though, of course, we we see other things as well.  It seems that a number of people think we’re crazy as you can watch it on television and see it for free!  But I’m sure it will be much better in person and that paying $90 a ticket for something you really want to see is an okay price.  My second trip will be to Cuba; I’ll be gone from January 9 through the 18.  I had some trouble deciding between going there or to Costa Rica.  I ultimately went with Cuba because flights there were a bit cheaper (though getting a flight was kind of complicated but I won’t write about that here as I’ve been accused of complaining too much on this blog!) and because  it sounds like the country might change greatly quite soon.  I will be doing a small group tour which is looking to be very small unless people join at the last minute.

Trois Rivieres to Thorold

Posted in Brockville, Driving, Moving, Ontario, Quebec, thorold, Trois Rivieres, Weather with tags , , , , , , , on December 10, 2012 by Amanda

I arrived here late yesterday afternoon but was too tired and lazy to write a post until now.

I was woken up by the snow plow at the hotel around quarter to six on Sunday morning.  I wouldn’t have been so annoyed if there was enough snow to actually make plowing worthwhile!  Before leaving Trois Rivieres, I drove around the city for a few minutes and took some pictures.

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Trois Rivieres

I didn’t really enjoy driving on the highway in Montreal.  I think it would have been a horrible experience had it been during rush hour during the week as it seem pretty crowded on a Sunday morning!

Once I entered Ontario, I noticed that there are a bunch of new service centres along the 401 called ONroute.  They were very nice and clean.

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One of the ONroute service centres

One of the other places I stopped briefly stopped on the way home was Brockville.  There Wal-Mart is definitely the largest I’ve seen in Canada which is surprisingly as its not that big of a city; this Wal-Mart also has a Tim Horton’s inside.  Across the street I saw a car wash and that also contains a pet wash which is something I haven’t seen previously.

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The car and pet wash in Brockville

The drive was generally pretty routine but I found that the Burlington Skyway quite windy and after I crossed it it began to rain quite heavily and the visibility was not great.

I am glad that I don’t have drive anywhere too far anytime soon.  The drive was definitely very tiring!

Baie Comeau to Trois Rivieres

Posted in Baie Comeau, Driving, Ferry, Moving, Quebec, Ragueneau, Saint Simeon, Tadoussac, Trois Rivieres, Weather with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2012 by Amanda

I didn’t manage to really sleep in but I am feeling a lot less tired today. Today’s drive was definitely more pleasant. There were many more places to stop and I didn’t have to worry about when I’d encounter another washroom!

I took a fairly quick look around Baie Comeau this morning before getting on the highway.  Other than some industrial areas, it looked to be a nice city.

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Baie Comeau

At Ragueneau, I noticed a sign for a lookout.  It was a really worthwhile stop though the road to the lookout was unpaved and very icy; it was certainly a bit reminiscent of the driving in Labrador.  Otherwise the roads today were pretty decent.  Before the Quebec City area, the highway had quite a few turns and hills but they weren’t as frequent and the I think the bare pavement made driving them feel a lot more comfortable.

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I took a short ferry ride across the river at Tadoussac.  It was a pretty short ride; I waited much longer to drive onto the ferry and then for the ferry to leave than I did actually moving on the ferry.  This was the first time I was a driver on a ferry; they really made sure the vehicles were parked close together!  After crossing the river, I stopped to take some pictures shortly afterward and by the time I got on the road again all the other vehicles from the ferry were in front of me.  I made me think that I’ll miss how easy it can be some places to make sure that you aren’t near any other vehicles!

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Waiting for the ferry at Tadoussac

Until close to Quebec City, the highway drove right through various towns which made the drive very interesting.  It looked like a lot of these towns are well-visited by tourists during the summer but most places were closed today.  There definitely weren’t many tourists around today.  I was surprised that I didn’t see a single vehicle (other than mine, of course) with a non-Quebec license plate.  I thought the town of Saint Simeon was particularly scenic though a bunch of the streets were much to steep for my liking (at least while driving).

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Saint Simeon

By the time I got towards Quebec City (though I didn’t actually drive too close to the actual city), the highway had become one that didn’t go through towns.   By that time there was some rain and snow.  The snow became fairly heavy after Quebec City and the visibility wasn’t the greatest but the road was quite straight so it wasn’t that big of deal.  I arrived in Trois Rivieres around 3:45 this afternoon.  I plan to look at the city a bit in the morning and then then if everything goes as planned I should be done driving by late afternoon!

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Just before the rain and then snow began

Labrador City to Baie Comeau

Posted in Baie Comeau, Driving, Labrador, Labrador City, Manic 5, Moving, Quebec with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2012 by Amanda

I left Labrador City around 7:40 (Atlantic time) this morning and arrived in Baie Comeau at 4 pm (Eastern time).  I stopped for a gas and a snack at Manic 5 and I stopped a few more times take pictures today.  I did most of the drive in the daylight but it was dark when I left Labrador City and when I arrived in Baie Comeau.  I think I am even more tired than I was yesterday.  I’ll let myself sleep in tomorrow but I doubt I”m capable of actually sleeping in!

The road I traveled today was definitely in much better condition than the road I drove yesterday.  However, I felt that I really needed to pay attention because there were constant turns and hills.  I don’t think there were very many straight sections that last more than a minute.  I think missing a sign could have very tragic consequences.

One of the many, many signs depicting turns on the road!

Early on in my drive I had to cross what seemed like a million railroad crossings; there actually may have only been about a dozen.

One of the railroad crossings.

I had to wait for about 35 minutes to cross a one lane bridge that was being worked on.  The sign said that the wait could have been up to an hour so I suppose I was somewhat lucky.  I crossed three one lane bridges today, one of which was rather scary; I also crossed one yesterday.  Once all the trucks that had waited at the same time as me had passed me, I literally didn’t see another vehicle behind me for three hours!  I saw a few more cars today but the traffic was still trucks.

The closed bridge.

Quebec provides emergency phones periodically along the highway rather than letting drivers borrow satellite phones.  As the phones were space rather far apart, I certainly felt safer yesterday having a satellite phone.

One of the emergency phones. You can see that they are located quite far apart!

I had heard Manic 5 was huge but I really wasn’t prepared for just how enormous it actually is.  I think it seems even larger because it really isn’t near anything!

Some of Manic 5. This is just a part of it!

The scenery today was truly amazing but I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more as a passenger than as a driver!

Some of the scenery along the highway.

I was very happy to find that my hotel is located on a street with a lot of stuff.  I really didn’t feel like driving anywhere tonight!  As the fast food options weren’t appealing and I wasn’t in the mood for a meal at a sit-down restaurant, I opted to buy a salad and some fruit at the grocery store in the mall across the street.

Goose Bay to Labrador City

Posted in Churchill Falls, Driving, Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Labrador, Labrador City, Moving with tags , , , , , on December 6, 2012 by Amanda

I am quite tired after driving all day but I am very happy that it went well. I think my tiredness is at least partially attributable to my sleeping so little last night. I was pretty worried about this drive because it is so isolated and the road is unpaved and not so nice in some places. I picked up a satellite phone this morning as there is no cell phone service along this highway; luckily, I had no reason to use it! I left Goose Bay around 7:30 this morning and arrived in Labrador City a bit before 4 this afternoon with only a stop for gas and a snack in Churchill Falls (the only town at all in between the two places!) and a few breaks along the highway; I would have taken an extra couple of breaks but I only noticed some of the places I could have stopped after it was too late to stop. It took me longer than it takes a lot of people but I was still able to pretty much avoid driving in the dark.

The satellite phone.

Tomorrow I head to Baie Comeau. It is apparently paved for all but about 80 kilometres but it is quite turny in places. Hopefully, that goes well.

I didn’t see all that many other vehicles. I actually think I saw more birds on the road than vehicles. I did see one vehicle that looked like it had been abandoned a while ago; until I got quite close I thought there was a tire in the snow and when I was driving away I noticed that both of the passenger windows were open.

The abandoned vehicle.

Most of the vehicles were trucks of some sort but I saw two other cars: one was going the opposite direction and I actually passed the other car I saw (the only vehicle I passed). It was very slow going in places prior to Churchill Falls because it was very bumpy (I went only 18 km/hr at one point) but things went a lot quicker after Churchill Falls as the road was almost all paved and the bit the wasn’t really wasn’t that bad. My car did get a lot of snow on the back of it; it was impossible to kept the license plate visible!

The back of my car