This is the end… of my vacation

That’s right… the trip has ended. It’s always tough to reach the end of the vacation, but it’s also lovely to be home with a very needy cat and some fresh clothes.

The journey from Winnipeg to Vancouver went well – we even got to be door monitors on the train – we learned how to open the doors in case of emergency. When the air conditioning stopped for a few minutes, we were tempted!

I won’t yap on and on (for once!), but will end this trip journal with photos. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on ideas and happenings, but those are for another post…

Tick tock tick tock…

I’m not sure if the title of the post is a reflection of time running out on my vacation or if it is because there is a clock ticking on the table next to me.  Either way, tomorrow marks the beginning of the last leg of the journey – the train back to Vancouver.

It’s been a busy week here in Winnipeg.  Well, busy if you don’t count that one day that only involved pedicures, lunch out, and a big birthday dinner with a bunch of Bo’s family.  On Tuesday we went to the zoo, the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and the Assiniboine English Garden (it seemed appropriate to end the trip with a garden/sculpture garden visit), and drove through the Exchange District and the North End.

Today we went out to Bo’s family farm. I have heard stories of the farm and her brothers for many years, and today I got to see the place.  It lived up to the stories.  I had a great day, full of new experiences, and I got to drive a golf cart all over the farm.  I love those – I think I was smiling the entire time I was zipping around.

Many thanks to Bo’s brother for letting us visit his place, and to the whole family for making this visit so much fun!!

So many slogans…

I was trying to think of a title for this post, so I asked Bo and her family if Winnipeg had a slogan.  Much debate and Googling ensued.  Winnipeg does have a slogan, which apparently no one knows without looking up – it changed seven years ago.  I’d tell you what it is, but I’ve already forgotten.

As you may have guessed, I’m in Winnipeg now.  On Wednesday we left Halifax on ViaRail.

Leaving Halifax

Leaving Halifax

We were SO excited, because this time we were allowed to check our bags through to Toronto (we found out later that they could have gone all the way to Winnipeg, but this worked out just fine).  I don’t remember if I wrote about the Ocean route in a previous post (Montreal to Halifax), but at that time we were not permitted to check our bags – we ended up in a tiny cabin with two good size suitcases, two carry-on size duffel bags, and two purses.  Oh, and also two of us.  It was cramped, to say the least.

Trains are filling up… it’s that time of year, I guess.  We did “claim” a corner of the Park car – the last car on the train.

Train on a bridge

Train on a bridge

Bo talked knitting with a woman from Chicago, and we were entertained by Steve, the Activities Coordinator – he’s a man who loves his job!  The train was an hour late getting into Toronto, and those of us catching the commuter train almost didn’t make it.  We were walking down the platform at a fairly good clip, and caught site of the commuter train – the attendants were lifting up the mats that covered the gap between platform and train and closing the doors.  We had to run.  It wasn’t pretty, but we made it.  Then the train stayed in the station for about 15 more minutes.  I think they were loading our luggage 😉.

It was a smooth, um, train.  You can say it was a “smooth flight” for a plane, what do you say for a train journey?  They plied us with food and drink, and it was very comfortable.

The Toronto station (Union Station) is very comfortable, which is a good thing, as we had a very long (over five hours) layover.  Rather than go out for dinner, we hunkered down in a comfy corner and took turns going for a Toronto wander. On my wander I picked up an extension cord.  Bo and I have been fighting (okay, fighting is a little too extreme of a word!) for electric outlet use – there are only ever two plugs to use, and between us we have up to six devices that need charging.  We made good use of our layover:

Charging devices

Charging devices

The waiting area got full… so very very full.  Guess what?  The train was also very very full.  It was a totally different experience, and we spent a bit more time in our cabin.

Winnipeg is very pleasing.  Mosquitoes are not.  We’re staying with one of Bo’s brothers and her sister-in-law.  They’re lovely and make me laugh.  We’ve been out wandering around Winnipeg during the Aboriginal Day(s) celebration, to the Museum for Human Rights, and to several extremely amusing family events.

In addition to mosquitoes, I have another complaint about Winnipeg.  Cats fear us.  We keep trying to pet the cats that we see… calling “hey kitty kitty” on the boulevard outside the house where they apparently congregate… carefully approaching cats that are under cars or crossing streets (at least they’re crossing the streets after seeing us!)… making kissy noises into someone’s yard… etc.  They all keep running away.  Sigh.  We’re nice people, honest… just a little starved for some cat -brand affection…

Ah well… Never give up, never surrender!

To’ing and Fro’ing

What do you know… I’m behind on my writing again.  Shocking!  I’m sitting in the dining car on the Ocean route, somewhere in Quebec.  We’ll be getting into Montreal this morning, then to Toronto, then back on the Canadian for a few nights on our way to Winnipeg.  But that’s the future… right now I’m dwelling in the past.

We’ve had such a good week.  After PEI we were off to the Annapolis Valley to visit/stay with a friend of Bo’s.  The drive was lovely, and we didn’t get lost (Bo had figured out the route beforehand and didn’t need my stellar map reading skills).

We stopped at the Grand Pré National Historical Site – our education on the Maritimes continues – and then to the water.  I believe we were at the Minas Basin, part of the Bay of Fundy.  The tide was out really far, and I had a good wander among a lot of sparkly stones… what a gorgeous place.  I managed to restrain my need to pick up a literal ton of stones, and limited myself to two tiny ones.

Then it was off to Margaret and Darcy’s house.  They live in a cozy and wonderful octagonal log home, with a view that could take your breath away.  We had a great visit with the two of them and the enchanting Basil – I think Bo and I both contemplated catnapping her.  Basil was probably very relieved when we packed up and left – she got a LOT of attention.

Margaret spent the next day and a half of our visit driving us to Mahone Bay, Lunenburg (where we saw the Bluenose II), Chester, Annapolis Royal and a variety of fishing villages (Blue Rocks, Harbourville and many others).  I loved the area, and the fishing villages were everything a photo junkie could want.

Margaret and Darcy spoiled us with a comfy place to sleep, amazing meals and really good conversations.  They had multiple bird feeders on the deck, and I got to see many woodpeckers, mourning doves and an Atlantic region blue jay.  I continue to know very little about birds, but I do find them fascinating to watch.

Thank you both so much for your hospitality – I really enjoyed the visit and hope to see you all again.

After the visit we made the trek back to Halifax – we had some issues at the toll for the bridge, but made it through unscathed (we were yelled at a little, but sticks and stones…!) We found the hotel, in an area of town we’ve never been to, and proceeded to tear apart our disastrous luggage (which had morphed from two suitcases and two train bags into two suitcases, train bags and a variety of knitting bags, laundry bags, souvenir map bags, etc.)  Putting it all back together took some time, especially as we weren’t sure if we would be able to check our suitcases on the first leg of the journey.

There wasn’t much in the way of restaurants around the hotel, so we went to Randy’s Pizza Seafood Donair cafe for takeaway.  We decided that pizza would probably be the safest bet, and it was surprisingly delicious (surprisingly because it was a rather… unprepossessing cafe… the name might have clued you in).

The next day it was back to the station.  Our tickets said departure was at 11, but it turns out that departure was at 12.  Luckily we had the very comfortable business lounge to sit in for two hours.  And we were so lucky… not only were we able to check our bags, but he checked them through to Toronto.  Seeing as our train was an hour late getting into Montreal – we had to run to catch the connecting train as they were already lifting up the mat to cover the gap between train and station – we’re not completely sure our luggage will end up in Toronto, but happily we have a long layover so hopefully it joins us…

Being back on the train was lovely.  The staff was, as always, wonderful, and we felt very looked after.  I think my favourite part of the trip was when we were in the dining car going through a particularly scenic area.  Bo leapt to her feet and starting dashing to windows, trying to get a good picture of the sunset over the water.  The entire car was giggling with her as she hopped from table to table.  She is very recognized now… heehee!

On to Toronto!

Nobody called me Carrots

Fans of the Anne of Green Gables series of books will understand that reference… Prince Edward Island was pretty amazing – the colours, the people, the history – truly a fun experience.

Chez Shea, the B&B we stayed in, was lovely. The food was delicious, the owners a lot of fun and very knowledgeable, and there were animals!  I fell in love with Rosy and Posy (Rosie and Posie?), the two black dogs, and Bebe (sp?), a gorgeous orange cat.

We started to plot out what to do with the one day that we had, and decided that rather than stressing about what we were missing, we would instead pick a few places to see, leaving a bit of time for anything else that came up.  We settled on Cavendish, home of L.M. Montgomery and the site of the Anne of Green Gables house, Cavendish beach, Victoria by the Sea and Charlottetown.

We started out towards Cavendish, but quickly stopped at a shop for a look around – outside and in.

After a little shopping we were back on the road to Cavendish.  We accidentally made a wrong turn, and instead of ending up at Green Gables, we ended up on the property where L.M. Montgomery was raised.  There was a small cabin that held a variety of books for sale, as well as various antiques from her life.  We found out that we could walk to Green Gables, passing the remnants of Montgomery’s farmhouse and going through the Haunted Woods.  Before we could head out, an older woman told us that she wanted to tell us the history of the place.  Turns out that she is the wife of Montgomery’s great great grandson (I might have the relationship wrong… I was getting confused after a lot of genealogy talk), and she told us about the author and the property.  She was quite dear and so obviously devoted to the subject matter.  She and her husband did a lot of restoration on the place as a tribute to Montgomery.

After the talk, off we went, battling hordes of mosquitoes.  Hordes.  I am not exaggerating.  I was walking behind Bonnie on the path, and the air was grey with mosquito wings around her.  I really don’t like those little beasties!  Other than the mosquitoes, the walk was lovely.

After the walk back to the car, we headed off to the beach at Cavendish.  Wow.  The red cliffs were outstanding.  Bo kept stressing me out by wandering/sitting WAY to close to the eroding edge for my comfort.  I tried to take pictures of her on the edge, but couldn’t get the depth perception right – they all just looked like she was sitting level with the water.  She was not!  Sorry for the volume of cliff and rock pictures… I honestly didn’t include all the ones I took!

We both dabbled our feet in what we had heard was warm water.  We were led astray… NOT warm!

Then it was off to Victoria by the Sea… seemed appropriate!  It is a dear little town with a lovely boardwalk.

Yes – we did try the potato fudge… It was a little potato-y, but more than anything it was sweet… really really sweet.

Continuing on with our busy day, we then went to Charlottetown – I really liked what we saw of it.  We wandered around looking for the historically significant Confederation buildings. Finally had to get out the phone and check online to see what we were looking for…. Sigh.  It’s shameful… I know!

Then it was back to Kinkora for dinner at the neighbouring O’Shea’s Pub, and home to the B&B to pack up… again.

The next day we had an amazingly delicious breakfast of waffles with a ginger syrup and fresh fruit… yum!  We said our goodbyes – I had an awful lot of animals to hug – then we set off for Confederation Bridge.  It’s really long (shocking observation, I know 😉).  We were heading for the Annapolis Valley to visit/stay with a friend of Bo’s.  That is a story for another day… although I’m behind on recounting my trip, I’m weary and heading  for sleep.  We’re back on the train tomorrow (the one with WiFi), so I’ll be updating more then.  It’s been an excellent trip so far, and it feels like we’ve been gone for a month!