Friday, August 30, 2019

Sherkston Shores Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

Heather, Tom and the kids would be going home to Woodstock tomorrow, but Sandy and I needed to get back to Sudbury because there would be a celebration of life for Rita Chauvin, our long time friend Diane's mother, tomorrow. Rita was a nice lady and we wanted to show support for Diane and Leo.

The day looked calmer as we headed out about 10:20. We would have left  later in the day but it was Friday of the Labour Day Weekend and we would be traveling north out of Toronto. Long weekends are crazy with the denizens of the Greater Toronto Area trying to escape to Cottage Country all at once. We were used to seeing them stopped in three abreast lines of traffic on Highway 400 as we headed the other direction, but this would be the first time we would be traveling amidst the mass migration. I hoped we could beat the rush.

Lake Erie looked friendly today

After getting on Highway 406 at its southern end, we joined the Queen Elizabeth Way. It was moving well until the Burlington Skyway, where everything ground to a halt starting with the left lane. This was an eight-lane highway and I had trouble picturing why the fast lane stopped first. We never did get an answer.

'59 or '60 Studebaker Lark in Port Colborne

Main Street Tunnel under the Welland Canal

Mount Welland landfill

Traffic stopped as we approach the Burlington Skyway

Once across the Skyway, I decided to pay the outrageous toll charges and bypass Toronto congestion on the Express Toll Route 407. Traffic moved quickly as it took us across the top of the city to Highway 400 North. This was where I expected we would begin to encounter trouble. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Highway 401 was moving well in both directions as we passed over it.but, as expected, traffic on 400 was heavy. It was stop and go all the way up to Barrie, where the six lanes split into two four lane highways. Stop meant stop and go, at times, meant 70 MPH.

Canada's Wonderland was busy

Traffic was moving well at King Road

One of our stopped spots

Once we cleared Barrie and a lot of cottage goers (Cottage is a southern Ontario thing. In Northern Ontario, we say camp) split off on Highway 11, traffic on 400 started to flow steadily. As things opened up, we were passed by quite a few cars. These day, I travel at 15 kms over the posted limit which meant I was doing 71 MPH in a 62 MPH zone. That is the point at which demerit points kick in.

It did occur to me that if the Province really wants to deal with the huge current deficit, it would up the speed limit to 120 KPH (75 MPH) and set up photo radar units. No demerit points since the driver can't be identified and no reporting to the insurance companies. It would just be a tax on going fast, and the drivers are faster the closer you get to the GTA.

Mount St. Louis ski hill will be operating sooner than I want

Clouding over as we approach Waubaushene

At Derek Roberts Esso in Waubaushene, we stopped for fuel, a Subway sandwich and coffee, along with some muffins from the Country Style donut shop. The CS muffins are so much better than Tim's that I can't understand why their stores keep closing.

Traffic was lighter and lighter as we headed north.

There was one incident just south of Still River on the two-lane Highway 69. We were behind an SUV following a couple of semi's as we got to the passing lane south of the Magnetawan River. They were doing about 50 MPH in the 56 MPH zone but, when they got to the passing lane, they immediately pulled left to pass a slow RV trailer. That maneuver took the entire passing lane but that was fair. There was another long passing lane coming up.

When we got to the next passing lane, the trucks (which were now doing about 55) again moved immediately to the passing lane even though the semi ahead of them was about a quarter mile ahead. It is legal to pass on the right in Ontario when there are more than one lane in EACH direction, which made a right side pass in this situation illegal according to my reading of the law. Still, there are limits. I passed on the right and held the horn button down as I did. Sandy asked if this was to let them know I was coming. OK, that sounded good but I really wanted the inconsiderate SOB's to know that I was displeased with their driving. Not Road Rage but Road Annoyance.

No one going to Sudbury but us

Rather than take the bypass when we got to the city, Sandy wanted to go through town and check out the new mural on the old hospital. It certainly was bright and cheerful, sort of like a rainbow exploded. We both liked it.

The former Sudbury General Hospital where Sandy and our kids were born

We pulled into the driveway about 4:45 PM. In just a week, we would be leaving again for the VROC Reunion in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and then the reinstated VROC Maine Weekend in Bethel.

Today's Route (332 Equinox miles):

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Sherkston Shores - Day 5 - An Old Friend

It was a slow morning.

In the afternoon, Sandy and I went to visit an old friend from our work days. Those from Inco Accounting will remember Harold, a well known character around the office and, later, the union hall. He accomplished a lot in his time there. I met Harold my very first day on the job in the Pay Office in 1970 and shook his hand the very last day in March, 2001. He and Bonnie were doing quite well in a lovely house in Welland, had seven grandchildren and were doing some traveling. He was looking good and introduced me to a very nice brand of Guatemalan rum.

Heather and Tom took the kids to the beach while we were gone. From the photos Heather posted, it looked like they had a great time.

We were back in time for supper. If the "red sky at night" was anything to go by, tomorrow was going to be a great day.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sherkston Shores - Day 4 - Funplex Redux

The weather was a lot better this morning.

Heather decided that it would be another good day to visit the Family Funplex with the kids. Sandy, who has an affinity for neither the water nor the sun, decided to stay at the cottage while the rest of us piled onto the golf cart. After a stop at the Welcome Centre for armbands of the day, we made our way to the Funplex.

It was busier than the other day. All the lounge chairs were taken but we managed to get three regular chairs. I watched Heather's backpack and the towels while they hit the pool. Then Heather and Jasper headed for the water slides where he was much happier riding them than he was the other day. Tom took Fiona to the wading pool and splash pad.

If you should happen to get sun block in your eyes, it really burns. If, after that, you rub your eyes with hands that still have a trace of sun block on them, the burning doesn't stop. You think anyone past the age of five would know this. Sometimes I amaze myself.

We returned to the cottage for lunch and then various people took various naps. Later on, we all (Sandy included) returned to the Funplex to explore the arcade that Jasper and Tom had tried out the evening before. The kids had fun, as did the adults. One particular device was a virtual reality roller coaster simulator that would look good in my basement.

When the credits ran out, we stopped in at the adjoining Boston Pizza for supper. I usually don't like Boston Pizza but this was OK. I will have to try their personal pizzas on cauliflower crust to see if it would be a suitable low carb option, but I broke my diet and had a club sandwich. Balancing that, my side was a salad.

After eating, we returned to the cottage in what proved to be a substantial wind. Tom decided it was too windy for a bonfire and S'Mores tonight, so the kids played inside while some of us caught up on our reading. Eventually, everyone wandered off to bed.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Sherkston Shores - Day 3 - Niagara Falls

As forecast, it rained most of the night and was still coming down this morning. The weatherman said it would be off and on all day so Heather looked up some indoor activities to keep the youngsters amused.

Surf's up

Just another ship on the horizon

After breakfast, we headed for Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls. Since neither car would hold more than five people, Heather and Jasper came with me in the Equinox while Sandy and Fiona went with Tom in the Hyundai. We followed back roads across the peninsula for about twenty miles.

Waiting for the other car to get parked

Bird Kingdom

Old Museum

Animal Encounters

Main Aviary

The Main Aviary felt like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. Bird species flew around as we walked through the simulated jungle.

Lorikeet Feeding

Koi pond

On the way out, we stopped at the gift shop where Sandy and I bought T-shirts.

View of the Rainbow Bridge to the USA

It was lunch time so we drove over to the Skylon Tower for the buffet lunch. A trip to the Observation Deck was included in the buffet price so it wasn't too unreasonable. The buffet had a lot of choices and the rare roast beef was especially good. The buffet doesn't rotate like the dining room does but our table overlooked the Horseshoe Falls.

Our family and Georgia from Dallas Texas

When we finished at the Skylon, Tom decided to take Jasper on what used to be the Canadian Maid of the Mist boat ride to the base of the falls. Hornblower Boat Tours won the exclusive contract to provide Canadian rides below the falls in 2014, while the Maid of the Mist continued to operate on the US side.

Jasper's boat ride

The rest of us returned to Sherkston Shores and the cottage, arriving about 3:15. The ladies took naps while I read. Tom and Jasper arrived a while later. Rain started again as predicted so Tom took Jasper to the arcade at the Funplex. Their report was that the games were awesome. Fiona played here at the cottage while the rest of us read.

It was another early night to bed after a busy day.

Today's Route (41 Equinox miles):