Friday, September 11, 2020

Terry Fox Memorial – 48° 29’ 09” N 89° 10’ 11” W

Not far out of Thunder Bay, high on a hill with sweeping views over Lake Superior and the Sleeping Giant, sits the Terry Fox Monument. Just over 40 years ago, Terry Fox was forced to end his Marathon of Hope as the cancer he was fundraising to cure caught up with him.

He was 18 when he lost his leg to cancer and, while in hospital, was dismayed at the amount of suffering the illness caused particularly amongst the kids. So he resolved to run across Canada and raise money toward a cure. This was a new idea and well before all the 'Run for Cures' we do now.  After some training, he dipped his toe in the Atlantic Ocean in St John’s, Newfoundland and commenced his run back to Victoria in BC.

On one leg and a prosthetic that was closer to a wooden stump than the fancy running legs we have today, he ran an average of marathon a day, for 143 days - 3339 MILES (5,373km) in all until he was too sick to continue. His dream was to raise a dollar for every Canadian –the huge sum of about $24 million at the time. He did achieve this prior to his death.

His legacy lives on. The Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $750 million for cancer research. The Terry Fox Run is an annual non-competitive (and non-sponsored) run held in over 40 countries.

I ran 50km in perfect conditions and vowed never to run that distance again! Terry Fox ran an average of 42km a day in all kinds of weather including snow storms and freezing rain - on a prosthetic limb...

It is seriously humbling.

The highway between Thunder Bay and Nipigon is the only road in Canada that connects east to west.  It is quite fittingly named The Terry Fox Courage Highway.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A precious gift from a precious friend - 51° 04' 58" N 115° 22' 07" W

Words fail me.

A most amazing gift from my extraordinary friend Rachael.  Understanding my devastation with losing Dad, she made me a memorial quilt - sails, 'three sisters', kangaroos and a touching dedication.

Thank you. I will treasure it forever.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Buffalo Lookout Campground – SK 50° 26' 47" N 104° 26' 51" W

The first night sleeping in the car was supposed to be trouble-free, but ended up with us needing outside help!

We were determined to see how bad it could be sleeping with the ceiling 40 cm away from your face all night ... but in a safe environment.  A test of sleeping in the garage was proposed, so at the end of our day, we donned our jammies and toddled downstairs to the garage.

Bed for the night!

We were both surprised at how comfy the bed was and how well we slept.  There was some initial planning required as we enter and exit bed through the rear hatch, so the lack of a door handle provided a minor challenge, but we overcame that quickly (the key fob has an "open/close hatch" button).  We also wondered how long the interior lights would stay on after closing the door (10 minutes) and whether the car alarm had a motion detector component (it doesn't), but those all solved themselves and we were able to get a reasonable sleep.

The next morning, we planned an early getaway but were stymied as we had run the battery down with all our ins, outs and packing with the interior left on.  After a battery boost from our kind neighbour, we were on our way.

Leaving Calgary to the east with nothing but a geographical eastern-most limit was something we hadn't done before.  I was eager to impress on Kate just how big our country was.  On previous trips east when the girls were toddlers, we had gone through the United States to shorten the drive.  With COVID considerations and the two-week quarantine that would be necessary on our return, we had ruled that shortcut out.  We were going over the Great Lakes.  

But first, there stood Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

We decided we were stopping at all of these historical plaques and markers

As our mountains faded into the rearview mirror, the terrain in front of us smoothed out into the ever-vanishing flatlands.  

Not our photo, but this is what we saw

The highlight of our 750km past trains and silos and through fields of wheat, hay and all the other grain, was the pronghorn antelope! We saw a great many of them but they are so skittish, we failed to get a descent photo. So to the internet we went! 

We did see one herd like this, but we mostly saw lone or pairs of pronghorns.

These critters are quite amazing. One of the fastest animals on earth, they can outrun a jaguar over short distances. And what a remarkable sight with their mask-like faces and distinctive markings. Also saw moose trotting on a mission through the wheat crop.

When you travel with a civil engineer,
expect to stop at attractions like the Brooks Aqueduct.

All that driving and we've only crossed ONE province?!?

What else would you expect to find at the Moose Jaw Tourist Information Centre?

Our first night of camping using the Honda worked very well.  We had a dry evening to set up the tent and with a chilly wind blowing through the roadside campground, we appreciated having the snug space off the "bedroom."  Our portable table and chairs fit perfectly in the tent and we we were both snug and smug as we sipped our evening tea, following a full day of driving.

set up for the night

Table, stove, a place to sit, food and utensil bins, water ... what more could you want?

It is cooling off, so we will turn in for the night and continue the drive in the morning.  800 km done but we still have a lot of Canada to cross! 

Canmore - 51°N 115°W

With so many plans cancelled due to COVID and summer coming to an end, we needed an adventure. So we decided to drive across Canada from Canmore to Gaspésie in Québec. Not quite all the way across, we know, but certainly a respectable portion.

We are taking the blue route - still a very long drive!

Our plan is to scurry across the Prairies and meet Sue and Rick at Sue’s family camp just north of Thunder Bay. After a visit, we plan to explore a couple of Provincial Parks along the shores of Lake Superior before meeting Adrienne and Ray at Adrienne’s cabin on Kawagama Lake. Following some R&R, we will continue east along the great St Lawrence Seaway exploring as we go until we run out of country at Gaspé Peninsula. The Maritimes are out-of-bounds due to COVID so Québec is our turnaround. Then it’s back to Kawagama Lake and onto Ray’s family camp in Atikokan (Ontario) followed by a trundle back across the Prairies.