Monday, March 06, 2017

Woodstock Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

I was planning on getting away early this morning but we didn't get out of bed until 8:00 AM. By the time we got ready and hauled the bags down to the car, it was 9:00. Sandy didn't feel like the hot hotel breakfast so we stopped at McDonald's after I fueled up and got something to go. Once again, the service here was excellent. When we order at the kiosk in Sudbury, we watch the young folks hustle and bustle behind the counter for interminable minutes. Here, the more mature ladies had our custom order raedy in about ninety seconds. Good staff and good managers.

What is that on the roof of Mark's Work Warehouse?

An early goose

Highway 401 was not busy as we started east. I planned to get off at Highway 8 and take the street level to 24 but I was one ramp too soon and had to use Fountain Street. This is a good way to avoid the jams that build up between 8 and 24 on the 401.

There was virtually no snow on 24 or Highway 9. It did not look like early March and I can only imagine the frustration of the local snowmobile clubs.

Near Guelph - no snow

Still no snow near Airport Road

Bare fields on Highway 9

They surprised us where Highway 9 meets Highway 400. There has been a left turn onto the ramp for as long as I can remember. Until today. Suddenly, as I lined up for the left turn, I saw that there was a new ramp to the right. This will work much better but they could have used some more descriptive signage now.

Has anyone noticed that the new LED headlights are painful if not adjusted properly? Do the police ever consider stopping the people whose low beams burn holes in the retinas of oncoming drivers? If not, why not?

The Barrie On Route was a good bathroom/coffee to go stop.

On Route - Barrie Ontario

State of the art service area

Not a lot of people on a Monday morning

There was enough snow at Mount St. Louis that a few skiers were enjoying the slopes. Probably not for long since a fine rain started just north of there.

Mount St. Louis skiers

Parry Sound Airport and aircraft factory

Highway 400 near Parry Sound

There was more snow in Parry Sound but it was still pretty slim going considering this is part of Ontario's snow belt. Winters are not what they used to be.

We did spot an OPP cruiser lurking on a southbound on ramp north of Parry Sound. One thing that bothers me is that no one travels the speed limit on any Ontario highway. Officers use their discretion to decide how much over the limit you have to be before they will pull you over. This is all well and good but we never know just what speed will attract their attention. And that is not fair considering one of the principles of a just society is equal enforcement of the law. Different officers have different discretion and direction from supervisors may change how a certain section of road is enforced from day to day. Technically you have committed an offence at one KPH over the limit and have to rely on luck from there on. But if you do maintain the speed limit on a two lane road here, you can get run over by other impatient drivers. There has to be a better way.

The temperature was down to the freezing mark with a light mist falling as we reached Still River, so I slowed down and went into defensive mode. I hoped that the drivers coming the other way were doing the same thing.

We arrived in Sudbury before 3:00 PM. The only notable thing the rest of the way was a lady on the ramp from Highway 69 to Highway 17. She was coming from town and had a yield sign where our two ramps merged. She didn't look. Not at the yield sign and not at me, as she aimed for the same space I was about to simultaneously occupy. I noted the lack of observation and took appropriate evasive action so it wasn't even a close call, but I marveled once again at how people can be so unaware.

It was 34F as we pulled into the driveway. Soon it will be spring and we are looking forward to being on the road again.

Today's Route (314 Equinox miles):

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Woodstock Ontario - Jasper's Birthday

My watch alarm went off at 6:00 AM but we ignored it. I think we finally rolled out of bed around 7:00 and didn't get down to breakfast until well after 8:00. The sun yesterday did its job and most of the paved surfaces were snow free, so it was going to be a shoe day.

The parking lot was clear

The neighbors were sleeping in

Heather and Tom's

When we got to the house, birthday boy Jasper had opened the gift Sandy bought for him. It was a Lightning McQueen raincoat and cap. He is enthralled with all things Cars related. Fiona just smiled like she usually does.

Lightning McQueen raincoat

Jasper trying it on

Fiona likes the cap

 OK, it's a bit big

Heather had Polysporin and a large Band-Aid,  so I patched up my wounded heel. I get a little paranoid with foot injuries after all the horror stories I have heard about diabetic people, infections and amputation.

Fiona gets into everything

Mother and child reunion

Jasper watching Word Party

Sandy not watching anything

 Three years old today

We met Kim, Mike, Jolene and Robyn at the TOA truck stop at 1:00 PM for lunch. Then we all headed over to meet Heather and Tom at the Polish Hall for 2:00 so that we could get things set up for the start of the party at 3:00.

The party was upstairs

Lightning McQueen's buddy Mack

Mater is another favourite character

Cars party favours

They call it a chocolate fountain, more like a volcano

Our four grandchildren in one place

Some assembly required

Agnes and Kim

Jolene the photo bomber

Cousins and friends

Jasper and the veggie straws

There was a bit of food

Blowing out the candle

Robyn eating the Mack cake

It was a very sweet cake

Fiona and Aunt Kim

They actually walked in this

There was a good turnout of family and friends. Mike and I are getting a bit crusty because we decided that the only problem with children's birthday parties was the children. Still, everyone was pretty well behaved and the parents seemed to have a good time. Everyone was out and we were packed up by 6:00 PM.

Back at the house, Jasper eventually went to bed and we sat down to watch the pilot episode of This Is Us. I have been hearing great things about this series and the first hour didn't disappoint.

 Fiona shows us that fancy toys aren't necessary.

We left for the hotel about 10:00 PM. There was a jeep in the parking lot with all the lights on so we reported it to the desk. I' hit the sack before 11:00 with my trusty Kindle. We plan to be on the road early in the morning.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Woodstock Ontario

We were up by 7:00 AM and eventually made it down to the breakfast area. It was a good thing they had lots of tables and chairs because the place was overrun by teenage girls and their parents, apparently in town for some type of sporting event. I had scrambled eggs and sausages while Sandy had her usual cereal and yogurt.

In the room, I planned to transfer months of photographs from the phones to the computer. I didn't have a cord for either phone. I miss the days when a USB and a mini-USB plug were all that it took. Now, each device has its own special plug and I hate it. I transferred the photos by downloading a zip file from each of our Google photo accounts and then unzipping them.

Photos downloaded, we headed over to Heather and Tom's about 9:00 AM. After a while, Heather and Sandy took Jasper shopping. They needed to pick up supplies for tomorrow's party, among other things. Tom and I watched Fiona while I sorted the photos. I seem to have a lot of photos. Fiona is a delightful child. She is usually smiling and crawling all over checking out anything she can reach.

Photos sorted for now, I finished blog posts from New Years going forward and managed to get finished up to the end of yesterday. The ladies returned home with Jasper and then Tom went out to pick up the special birthday cake for tomorrow.

Supper was Subway, an old standby. I find their chili is much better than Tim's. It has a little more bite and doesn't just make me think of ground beef soup.

We were back at the hotel by 10:00 again. The young ladies are here with their parents for a basketball tournament. No wonder they all look fit. Back in the room, I proved that I can't be trusted with anything that moves, much less power tools. I rolled the caster on the desk chair up against the back of my right foot and took a chunk out of my heel. I do have three different kinds of Polysporin, but all of them are at home. I'll see if Heather has any in the morning.

I turned in soon after with the Kindle. I'm reading The Day After Never by Nathan Van Coops, the third book in his time traveler trilogy. How about that for alliteration.I got started in the series with a BookBub free offer. It is interesting but, when I get done, I have a large number of non-fiction history and other books (OK, electronic books) that I have been collecting as they caught my eye. I haven't read much in years due to the computer and Interwebs, but it is time to get back to books.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Sudbury Ontario to Woodstock Ontario

Grandson Jasper is turning three years old this Sunday. Heather and Tom are having a party in Woodstock to celebrate and we will be attending. The large dump of snow we got a couple of days ago has been snow blowed out of the driveway. This blizzard was a surprise since we have already had two major thaws since New Years and the snow cover was getting thin. There is another big thaw forecast after the weekend and the sun is getting higher and warmer.

Lots of fresh snow

New snow versus old

We finally got rolling at 10:30 under blue skies. The first stop was for fuel. The second and third stops were back at the house because a) Sandy forgot her pills and b) I forgot my 5 Hour Energy drinks. We do need to get better organized before the travel season.

Before leaving town, we stopped at McDonald's to try out the all day breakfast, a new addition to the Canadian menu. They only have a limited selection, but the hotcakes, varieties of McMuffins and hash browns are more than they had before. With the kiosk, it is now possible to order a sausage McMuffin with cheese, bacon and ham. However, the orders aren't any faster. I watched our food sit in a bag for five minutes before a pudgy, self-important young lady got around to pouring my coffee and delivering our order to us. The personal element is being lost as the new technology gets installed.

We finally hit the road at 11:15, rolling past a whole fleet of tow vehicles and sled trailers parked at the Chateau Guay Motel. Southern folks are here in droves to celebrate the recent snowfall. The salt build-up on the highway caused a mild shudder as if we had a tire out of balance. This is a winter phenomenon I have noted in all my vehicles, and it is one I could certainly do without.

The French River bridge was back to two lanes but the construction zone sign at Highway 522 said the highway construction there will be completed by the fall of 2016. Hello? Am I missing something?

The highways are in great shape

Around Parry Sound, the skies clouded over and gave us the idea that we could be expecting some snow squalls. We stopped at Tim's at Horseshoe Lake Road for a quick bathroom break and then continued south. There were snow flurries off and on until Barrie, where we actually got a few patches of whiteout.

Snow squalls in Barrie

Visibility limited on Highway 400 South

We left 400 at Highway 9 since going anywhere near Toronto later on a Friday afternoon was a no win situation. I was pleased to see an advance left turn signal onto Airport Road in Mono Mills. This improvement has been long overdue. An OPP Tahoe turned onto Highway 24 behind me so I drove within 5 KPH of the speed limit to Highway 10 in Caledon where he turned north. The speed seemed excessively slow to me and must have been even more-so to the officer, but what could he say?

No snow along Highway 24

And blue skies are back

There were Canada geese in the park in Guelph. The new long ramp onto 401 west brought us to a slow moving mass of vehicles. But at least it was moving, unlike the eastbound side. Traffic opened up after Highway 8 and we cruised to Woodstock without delay. The last couple of miles, we encountered some more squalls and found snow on the ground when we got to the Best Western Plus at 4:45 PM. This was the first snow cover since we left Highway 400, and it dashed our hopes of exchanging our boots for shoes.

Approaching Woodstock in flurries

Our King room was spacious. Table, desk, couch and bed. Large flat screen TV. We have stayed here a lot, enough times to be a gold rewards member. That means a complimentary bag of nuts and bottle of water when you check in.

Our room

We headed over to Heather and Tom's right way. She was holding a napping Fiona when we arrived, so I took over the holding duties. Tom and Jasper arrived soon after. We played with the grandchildren and Heather made supper of chicken, rice and (Ugh) Brussels sprouts. I haven't eaten them in decades but I managed to get four down. My opinion has not changed.

Napping Fiona

Now she's awake

Cute kid

Still cute

Daddy and Jasper watching TV


Fiona not walking yet, but soon

Fiona is sure mobile. Not ten months old, but she is crawling and climbing. Jasper is a big Lego fan and has some Batman toys. Eventually, Jasper went to bed but Fiona stayed up babbling away until just before we left at 10:00 PM.

Back at the room, I loaded the photos from the camera and uploaded the map of the day's travels to the blog. Then I took my Kindle and joined Sandy in bed for the night.

Today's Route (313 Equinox miles):