Archive for January, 2013

Kenora to Yorkton

Posted in Driving, Kenora, Langenburg, Manitoba, Moving, Neepawa, Ontario, Portage la Prairie, Saskatchewan, Weather, Winter, Yorkton with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2013 by Amanda

I began the day in Ontario, spent most the day driving through Manitoba, and finished the day in Saskatchewan.  The roads were a bit messy in parts and it is quite windy a lot of the way with snow blowing on the road.  It wasn’t scary but it did slow me down somewhat.


The sign at the entrance to Manitoba


The sign at the entrance to Saskatchewan

I made the mistake of filling up my car in Kenora at 122.9 when I would have only paid 104.9 if I’d waited until I entered Manitoba.  I think the prices in Manitoba must be set by the government as all the stations in the same area had exactly the same price.

I noticed a sign for a rest area not too far into Manitoba that said it had heated washrooms and sure enough the entrance was cleared well and the washrooms were open and clean.  This was a pleasant surprise!

Another interesting thing I noticed in Manitoba were signs for odometer checks.  The had numbered signs every kilometre for ten kilometres.  I guess they are for people to make sure their odometers are working?  I’ve never heard of odometers not working or odometer checks before!

I opted to drive through Portage la Prairie and have lunch rather than taking the option of bypassing the town.  I found lunch okay but it didn’t seem like the nicest place overall.

In contrast, I drove through Neepawa later and it was an extremely nice-looking town.  It is apparently the world lily capital and the place where Margaret Laurence grew up.

I finally saw some sunshine around 3 pm!


The Goliath

Upon entering Saskatchewan I drove through the town of Langenburg, home of the Goliath which is the world’s highest swing.  It is also is apparently the “town of the future” and has signs about “family & friends.”  It seems like this little town is really desperate for attention!

I am spending the night in Yorkton.  I decided to walk to a restaurant for dinner as it was less than a five minute walk from my hotel and  I was rather sick of driving.  This proved to be a mistake!  I fell on a really slippery section of sidewalk and then I fell again while trying to get up!  I’m not hurt but I suspect I’ll be bruised tomorrow.  On the way back I was extremely careful and didn’t fall; however, I was walking into the really cold wind.

Terrace Bay to Kenora

Posted in Driving, Kenora, Moving, Nipigon, Ontario, Terrace Bay, Thunder Bay, Weather, Winter with tags , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by Amanda

Today was another dreary day.  I didn’t see any sun at all but I didn’t have any trouble with my car today!

I was actually happy to see some frost on my car this morning as it actually allowed me get the windows clean (at least for a while).  It was only slightly foggy when I left Terrace Bay but it became really foggy off and on during the first 50 kilometres or so of the drive.  I really needed to slow down in order to see what way the road would curve!  There was some fog after that but it didn’t make me slow down much.

I noticed a bunch of signs while driving through Nipigon saying that they have the smallest Canadian Tire but I didn’t get off the highway to investigate just how small the store was.

I didn’t bother to see anything in Thunder Bay and just drove through the outskirts of the city and stopped for gas and an early lunch.  I’m sure there was plenty to see there as it is a pretty large place but I really didn’t have the time.

I entered the Central time zone today.  I was impressed that the entrance to the sign was actually well plowed!  Most places along the highway are closed for the winter and you can’t easily even enter the parking lots.

I noticed, for the second day in a row, a Greyhound bus was a Courier Express trailer on the back.  I guess there courier business must be doing well.

I just stopped for a few quick stops on the way to today’s final destination: Kenora.  The roads in this town are messy and I find it worse in a way to drive in a town was messy roads as it is really hard to guess where left-hand turning lanes and such are located!

Blind River to Terrace Bay

Posted in Blind River, Bruce Mines, Driving, Moving, Ontario, Sault Ste. Marie, Subway, Terrace Bay, Thessalon, Wawa, Weather, White River, Winnie the Pooh, Yellow Brick Road with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2013 by Amanda

Today’s drive was definitely tougher than the drive yesterday.


Blind River

Not too long after leaving Blind River I had a warning light telling me that the traction control was off come on a few times and eventually just stay on.  This worried me a bit but I know that I’ve had cars before that didn’t have traction control at all!  I decided to get off the highway in Thessalon and when I turned off the car and started it again the warning light went off and stayed off for the rest of the day.  Hopefully, it was just a flukey thing.  I was interested in seeing Thessalon anyhow as my sister had spent a summer around there.  It was not quite as small as I’d expected.

I noticed that Bruce Mines, population 600, had an Indian restaurant which was surprising in such a tiny place.  Too bad I was there at 9:30 in the morning!

The roads got to be rather messy around Sault Ste. Marie.  I really didn’t see much there (other than the washroom in Wal-Mart!).

Not too far past Sault Ste. Marie I decided to stop at which looked like a great place to take a picture.  The snow didn’t look very deep but once I parked there I realized that the snow was deeper than it looked!  It took me a few minutes to get back on the road.  It didn’t have to resort to using a shovel but I think I’ll be much more careful about where I stop now.  I really felt like a moron after that!


The picture I shouldn’t have taken!

A bit later the road became not too great and there was really nowhere good to take a break.  I was very relieved when I got to Wawa though I ended up being disappointed with the town.  While it plenty of motels (which I wasn’t looking for early in the afternoon), there wasn’t a whole lot else there.  So I ended up having lunch at Subway which would have been more enjoyable had I not had dinner at Subway the night before.  I know Wawa is famous for its goose; I saw three large geese and ended up taken a picture of the least official-looking one as it was the easiest to take a picture of!

Luckily, the roads were clear after leaving Wawa.  There were a number of hills and turns but nothing too bad.  I also passed through White River, the home of Winnie the Pooh and by signs for Yellow Brick Road!

I was also surprised to see so many transport trucks (they were the majority of vehicles) especially as today was Sunday.

I drove to Terrace Bay and decided to spend the night here.  It is a really nice little town and did manage to find dinner somewhere other than Subway!


Terrace Bay

Thorold to Blind River

Posted in Blind River, Driving, Moving, Ontario, thorold with tags , , , , on January 26, 2013 by Amanda

Today I began my drive out to North Battleford.  Overall, the drive was very good.  The first part of the drive went quite quickly as I made it to the 400 in barely an hour.  Afterwards there was some more snow which slowed me down a bit but nothing too major.  However, despite relatively good roads and few vehicles I did see that two accidents had happened recently!  Most of today’s drive was familiar to me so I expect I’ll probably find the next few days a bit more interesting.  I decided to spend the night in Blind River. I stopped here a while before it was dark so I definitely could have made it a town or two further but I was feeling pretty tired and I found a very decent motel so I opted to stop.


Posted in Bay of Pigs, Cienfuegos, Cuba, Havana, Santa Clara, Travel, Trinidad, Vacation, Varadero, Vinales with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2013 by Amanda

Once again, I have not gotten around to writing a post right away.  I arrived back in Canada from Cuba last Friday.

Cuba was definitely a very unique country to busy.  I found food to be quite a struggle so in a way I’m glad I didn’t go for a longer time.  A lot of times, I really felt like I had traveled back in time!  In some ways the country seems quite poor while in others it doesn’t really seem poor at all.

My flight into Varadero went smoothly but the crowd on the plane was definitely difficult than you get flying to most destinations.  For example, the couple beside me on the plane were on their very first flight and seemed nervous about it but coped with just fine.  I didn’t see too much of Varadero at the time as I arrived in the dark and just took a brief walk around before heading to Havana the next morning.  The town did seem to be dominated by tourists.

I had intended to take a bus to Havana but I ended up in a shared taxi that cost not much more and it was much quicker than the bus would have been.  I stored my luggage at my hotel which had a very strict check-in policy (strange for a fairly nice hotel!) and went on the hop-on, hop-off bus was just 5 bucks!  I got an interesting ride around the city though I only actually got off the bus once.  As the route was quite long that kept me busy until well after check-in time.  It ended up taking about an hour to check-in as there apparently weren’t enough ready despite being late afternoon.  This definitely didn’t leave a great impression.  I think the hotel seemed to rely on its history to get guests.  A lot of famous people have stayed there though I didn’t end up with a room that had been stayed in by a famous person; they put pictures and biographies of famous people outside the rooms they’ve stayed in.  In the morning, I heard a bunch of sirens and saw police cars accompanying another car.  Apparently, the president of Argentina had come to the hotel.

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My hotel in Havana.

We took a bus to Vinales that morning.  I went on a group tour but as there were only two other people (a couple) plus the guide I was a bit disappointed.  A slightly larger group would have been nice!  Vinales is a fairly small town that receives many tourists.  There are only three hotels in the area but there a lot of over 800 rooms within 500 homes that are available to tourists.  That first afternoon, I hiked into a very nice cave; it is seven levels and we hiked into the sixth and seventh levels.  The next morning, I went on a guided walk of farms just outside the town.  While it was interesting, there was a bit too much time spent watching a farmer make a cigar and such.  It was disturbing to learn that most of the farmers (only those whose families had their land before 1959 are exempt) in the Vinales area are forced by the government to grow tobacco!  In the afternoon, I rented a bicycle and explored the area a bit more.

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The next day we drove to the Bay of Pigs.  I went swimming there though other people thought the water was too cold for swimming.  I also visited a  museum before going on to spend the night in Cienfuegos.  Cienfuegos is a very attractive city that is much more organized and clean than any other city I saw in Cuba.  It was established by French people who had come via Louisiana.  It was a nice place to walk around but there weren’t too many attractions per se.

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The next day we were off to Trinidad.  I think Trinidad was my favourite place I visited in Cuba.  It is one of those cities where even the “new” places seem old.  Many of the older streets are covered in cobblestones.  I went horseback riding out into the countryside and saw a small waterfall.  I also took a old train out to old sugar mills.  I was lucky that it was actually running that day as it apparently is broken often!  The scenery is that area was also amazing.  I also spent a fair bit of time walking around the town and I visited a couple of museums.  It was Carnival time while I was there so the streets were busier and there was a lot of loud music at night.

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After two nights in Trinidad we drove through the mountains which were very scenic but had only one good place to stop for a view and Santa Clara on the way back to Havana.  In Santa Clara we saw the Che Guevara museum and memorial which is generally the only place people visit.  We also saw a bit of the centre of town.  Santa Clara definitely looked to be a poorer city.

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The Che Guevara memorial in Santa Clara.

In Havana, I had a walking tour of some of the older parts of town.  Much of Old Havana has been restored but there is still definitely work to be done.  Later that day, I took a bus back to Varadero.  I did the hop-on, hop-off bus in Varadero which was also $5 but much less interesting than the one in Havana.  There just really isn’t anything to see in Varadero.  I really don’t know how people who spend a whole week there don’t get really bored!

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Old Havana