Longest seven-hour drive EVER!

High Level, Alberta, Canada
Thursday, August 13, 2015

Haven’t left yet, but the cars are washed and mostly loaded, the food coolers are packed and waiting on ice, and we’re just waiting on the husband/father’s return from work. He still has to pack his own bag and get a hair cut, but that shouldn’t take long and then we can hit the road. We’re taking both vehicles this time, but only as far as Calgary. We have some boxes to bring back from Calgary on the way home and our schedules are not terribly favourable to get that done later in the calendar year. So we’re taking advantage of this trip to multitask. First stop (in the early morning) will be High Level. Normally we push through another three-hours to Peace River, but we’re leaving Yellowknife around supper time, which means we won’t arrive in High Level until around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Then we have another 12-hour drive to Saskatoon tomorrow, so we have to stop in High Level to get some much needed sleep.

I’ll add more to this blog later to let you know what, if anything, we saw or experienced on the drive.

Longest 12-hour Drive EVER!

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Friday, August 14, 2015

So tired, it’s taken me four days to get around to writing this entry. We arrived in High Level at 2:00 in the morning. So very proud of my daughter for completing her first ever three-hour drive on the highway! She passed several vehicles, maneuvered by two wide-load modular homes heading in the opposite direction, and she kept up with her lead-footed mother, too 🙂

Got some sleep, enjoyed breakfast, promised to hit the water slides at the hotel on the way home, and hit the road again by 10:30 am. Stopped at Mom’s place in Edmonton at 6:15 pm just long enough to leave the F150 there and pick up homemade sandwiches, then back on the road by 7:00 pm. Arrived at our hotel in Saskatoon at 11:45 pm.

Uneventful trip consisting of roughly 18 hours of driving time completed in less than 29 hours. Whew. Thank heaven for Spitz!

A day for family

Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada
Saturday, August 15, 2015

Today we bade our final farewells to my mother-in-law. The funeral, lunch, and interment were well attended by family and friends, many of whom we hadn’t seen in a long time. Pretty sure Mom was giggling at us from wherever she is now while we were set upon by heavy rain, wind, thunder, and lightning during her interment at the cemetery.

Visited with Martin, Kathy, and Lillian before heading back to Saskatoon. A very lovely visit with very lovely people living in a very lovely rural area of Prince Albert.

Upon our return to our hotel we took time to have supper with more family before relaxing at the waterslides/hottubs and visiting with even more family, followed by a relatively early night. We were in bed by 10:30-ish, which is really early for us.


Visiting long lost great grandparents

Titanic, Saskatchewan, Canada
Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015

After a family breakfast, we parted ways temporarily. While everyone else headed home, our family headed to Titanic. No, not the site of the sunken ship; Titanic, Saskatchewan. It’s not terribly far from Duck Lake, on the other side of Beardey’s First Nation land. The community of Titanic is no longer there, but the small area is very well kept. There’s a memorial chapel for St. Anne’s church there, and the cemetary is still there and still in use. That sounds weird. Of course the cemetary is still in use. I mean, there continue to be new occupants.

Our purpose for seeking out Titanic was to seek out Dan’s great-grandmother, Barbara Kuppenbender. We found her, as well as her sons Barthol and Aloysius. GG Barbara died in 1907, Barthol died in 1911, and Aloysius died in 1918. We also noted the spelling of their last names as K-U-E-P-P-E-N-B-E-N-D-E-R. Note to self when researching that line of the family. Jessica found two more Kuppenbender grave sights, one passed away in 1928 (?) and 1946 (?); their headstones spelled Kuppenbender without the E after the U. Dan is speculating the E immediately after the U was dropped after the First World War in an effort to disassociate from their German heritage, but we really don’t know if that’s true. I cannot emphasize how beautiful the area is. The road leading in needs some work though.

We drove back to Duck Lake, stopping briefly to see the site of the Duck Lake battle where they also had a memorial plaque for Aboriginal veterans. In Duck Lake we visited the museum, which was very well executed with plenty of well documented and exhibited information on the history of the region. The building included a central tower (for lack of a better word) which took us up three or four storeys from which we could see all around for a significant distance. We could even see Minichinas hill (or mountain, depending on who you talk to). Locally the hill is called Minitinas, and it’s right near Bellevue. I highly recommend a visit to the Duck Lake museum if you’re in the area. Uneventful drive back to Mom’s in Edmonton after that.

Shopping Day

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday, July 17, 2015

Shopping day. Went to WEM and purchased a two piece swimsuit. Don’t go getting all excited (or more appropriately, appalled); the suit is a swim tank top and swim shorts – complete coverage required, but ease of getting into and out of it is also required. Quick lunch before going to MEC, where we found Jessica’s travel back pack for when she goes to New Zealand next year, Jarod’s water shoes, and my kayaking PFD. Unfortunately they did not have water shoes in Dan’s size. Typical. Supper at Olive Garden with Mom and Andy, followed by a movie. The food was on the salty side, but the movie was The Man From U.N.C.L.E, which was really good. Jessica and I then allowed my mother to kick our butts at Canasta. The woman is full of horseshoes (that’s the nice way of saying it…).


Get Your Geek On!

Vulcan, Alberta, Canada
Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tuesday, July 18, 2015

Road trip day. Started with breakfast at Cora’s before hitting the road for the Lacombe Corn Maze. Very cool place with a lot more than corn mazes. They had these huge bouncy things (we didn’t go on them), plenty of kiddie games, food cannons (they threw corn, potatoes, and melons at a school bus), three corn mazes, goats, a donkey, chickens, roosters, a piano ( I know, very random), and giant games of chess, snakes and ladders, checkers, and jenga. After doing the longest, hardest corn maze, Jarod and I played a game of chess (which he won because of one stupid move on my part).

We went from the corn maze to the Starlight Diner Car in Bowden for a very late lunch (excellent milkshakes and alien theme…very cool…might want to make this a regular stop on holidays). After dropping off the F150 at the brother-in-law’s we went to Vulcan for the night. Yes, Vulcan. We totally got our geek on. But we got there later than we intended, so only went for a short walk that evening. We stayed at the Wheatland Motel; don’t let the sign fool you – the place is very well kept, the rooms are very clean and comfortable, and the neighbours are respectful.

Planes, Treks, and Automobiles

Okotoks, Alberta, Canada
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday, July 19, 2015

Had a late breakfast at a local diner (meh) and then went to see the visitors centre. The lady who runs the place is very informative and enthusiastic. They had a separate area to try on Star Trek costumes and take photos. And they have quite an extensive collection of Trek items. Turns out there’s a museum we didn’t know about in Vulcan; unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit it this time. It’s really a nice little town.

We snagged a geocache while we were there, too, before heading over to Nanton to visit the Bomber Command museum. Again, a very cool place, with plenty of World War II aircraft and lots of wonderful and thorough information about bombers, Canadian pilots and bomber crews, and other WWII events. We even met a 98.5 year old veteran who told us what he could about his period serving for the Air Force – much of his work was scientific and secret. Very interesting fellow.

Next, a brief stop at my brother’s place in Okotoks to drop off our gear before going to see the Aero Space Museum in Calgary. Unfortunately it was much later in the day than we anticpated by then, and we arrived at the museum at 4:10, 10 minutes after they closed. At lease we weren’t the only ones; a family from France also tried to see the museum when we did.

We killed a little time before going to The Locked Room for a bit of puzzle fun. The Locked Room is an escape-the-room place where you get locked in a room with up to seven other people and have to solve puzzles and clues to figure out how to get out of the room within one hour. We were in the Mutiny on the High Seas room, where we were pirate sailors who had unsuccessfuly mutinied against the captain and had one hour in the brig before we’d have to walk the plank. We walked the plank. Trying to solve the puzzles was fun, but the four of us were paired with four teenage girls and eight people in that room was a bit chaotic. We think we’d have gotten more accomplished if we’d been able to do it ourselves or been with four other people we knew. Definitely going to have to try again.

Supper at the brother-in-laws came next, visiting with more family, and doing some preliminary planning for the houseboating portion of the trip to come.

Rain, rain, go away!

Sicamous, British Columbia, Canada
Friday, August 21, 2015

An early morning after a late night generally does not suit me well, but I think I managed not to bite any heads off or offend anyone – or I’ve got selective memory on the issue. If the latter, I apologize.

Went to Eddy’s to load up the vehicles around 7:30. Still didn’t end up on the road until around 9:30. I would say it was an uneventful morning, but that would be a lie. It started raining around Midnight last night and didn’t stop. It was pouring buckets, gusting wind, and general nastiness all the way into the mountains. My lead foot did not prevail this day. Even if it had, it wouldn’t really have helped because of what looked like avalanche clearing just outside of Revelstoke and other construction delays. Somehow we still managed to make it to Sicamous by 3:00 PST (4:00 MST), an hour before we were supposed to check in for the boat. Eddy and Marie went looking for the farmers market, I think Dave and Heather went with them, while Dan, the kids, and I went for lunch at a little place called Blondie’s Café.

John and Leah arrived just in time for the boat orientation at 4:00. Captain John and Lieutenant Dan went through the orientation while the rest of us were directed to our parking spot where we waited. While waiting, some of us went for a walk and discovered at the Twin Anchors Houseboating Vacations not only the washrooms but also a lovely little store and a seafood restaurant. After the boys went through the orientation, the shuttle quads arrived to take away our luggage. Jessica, Anna, and I went ahead to the boat to do the inventory checklist with our host. It got a little chaotic for a bit while Dan and John were finalizing paperwork, we were doing the inventory, and luggage and people started arriving, but we managed it and soon were settled on J Cruiser. A host captain drove the boat for us out of the harbour and then left us to it, departing on a zodiac.

The first evening went along swimmingly until we realized it was time to find our first port for the night. It took a bit to find a suitable ‘beach’, in this case a rocky shoreline, and it was getting dark by the time we got there. Being our first time beaching this three-storey monstrosity, it was a challenge, not so much getting it on the beach as keeping it straight so as to tie it to the shore properly. But we did achieve success, in the dark, and all was good.

Three of the Four Elements

Shuswap Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Saturday, August 22, 2015

Our first full day on the water! We started by having a swim off the back of the docked boat, the kids using the water slides and water guns while the rest of us just swam around using inflatable craft, water noodles, and PFDs. The water was cold at the first dunk, but warmed up quickly. Compared to home (i.e. Back Bay or Long Lake), it wasn’t even really cold, just a little surprise. Dan, Jessica, Jarod, Leah, and I built an inukshuk on the beach to mark our visit – we named him Captain Kuppenbender. We ‘chilled’ like that for a bit then got everybody back on the boat and headed out on the lake towards another arm. We didn’t really plan much, but got through the Cinnemousin Narrows and randomly decided to drift to starboard into the ??? arm. We slowed to a crawl for a bit so the guys could troll out the aft (no luck catching anything) but eventually realized we didn’t really know how far we had gotten. We had to refer to GoogleEarth’s satellite view on Leah’s phone to figure out where we were. Once we did we decided on a place to aim for. We landed at Cottonwood Beach in time to put the BBQ beer can chicken on and to watch the Riders play the Stampeders. Of course Eddy and Dave had a bet going: if the Riders won Dave would serve Eddy drinks all day Sunday, if the Stampeders won Eddy would serve Dave. Well, the Stamps won, so…

Dave was the master of the BBQ beer can chicken and it is a well deserved title. It was sooooooo good! Half the chicken was rubbed with a rosemary-thyme-lime rub, the other half with a paprika rub. Both were fantastic. Served with potatoes and vegetables. Mm-mm-mm.

While the food was cooking the kids did some more swimming while Dan, Jessica, and I built another inukshuk to mark our new spot. The beach this time was less rocky and more sand/gravelly, but on each side were really interesting and varied rocks and boulders. We also found a little spiderman action figure amongst the boulders, which we decided to place on our inukshuk’s shoulders and hence the name of our inukshuk is Peter Cottonwood.

I spent some time on the beach with Anna cleaning pebbles (the sand/gravel of the beach) until supper was ready. After supper games of cribbage ensued for a time while the kids watched some space dog movie. Jessica and I tried to make peanut butter cookies (we had brought a massive 1kg jar of peanut butter, so there’s plenty to use). The oven didn’t really work the way we were used to though (it was gas, we’re used to electric), so half the cookies were half cooked well after they should have been fully cooked. Disappointing, but the cookies were still eaten. I think we’re going to try some freezer cookies tomorrow.