Brandon to Tim’s Canada Road Trip
June 30 to July 12, 2012
On June 30, 2012, I left my home in Calgary to drive to Ottawa and then on to Toronto. In Ottawa, I would attend the 50thAnniversary Celebration of Project Overseas, the pre-eminent international program sponsored by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation and its Member provincial organizations. In Toronto, I would visit with Kalie, my youngest child and Ben, her significant other, both of whom worked in the metropolitan area.
The messages that follow, emails sent to my family along the way and some received in return, serve as a rough sketch of my travels and encounters and of memories created in this 12-day road trip across much of Canada.
June 30, 2012 (entry written July 1)
Calgary to Brandon
I made good time today coming from Calgary to Regina, on to Indian Head and then on to Brandon, Manitoba where I am spending the night at Motel 6. Good drive today, with light traffic and a very memorable stop at the farm. I haven't been there for over 30 years and things haven't changed too much at the Head. I found my faithful tractor, the 1950 Minneapolis Moline Model U sitting on flat tires and with a bit of vandalism. It's not in its old shed as that fell apart when it was moved to where the granaries are now located. The grass was very deep around the old granaries, four of which are falling down, some leaning onto the one metal granary that still seems useable. In the grass, I found my discer, rod weeder, cultivator, grain auger and grain wagon, none of them probably used since I last farmed here away back when. It was good to see them, nevertheless, and to think about times I had at the farm and people I met there. Then I drove over to the ESSO for gas and supper. The restaurant is where I often ate when I was farming here.
Driving east during sunset and after dark was interesting as the bugs were out in force and the front window took on a very furry look from my side of the glass. Cleaned it at a gas station at Brandon before checking in for the night.
I have lost an hour and it is now 0130 so won't tarry too long on the computer. Hello to everyone and much love. Tomorrow I should get well inside Ontario before stopping again for the evening. Will write from there, wherever "there" turns out to be.
Yes, Rebecca, I'm enjoying the drive but I think you would be just on the verge of "nuts" about now if you were with me. Love you anyway.
Hello to you
Sounds like you are having a good trip so far. It was nice that you could stop at the old farm. Everything here is fine. The weather is finally nice. Mae had me spend a long time on the swing last night. I think it is her favorite spot. She got the cutest cowboy boots yesterday. Galien said she sent you a text picture of them. Mom and I went to Costco yesterday and we found a good barbeque cover for only $19.00 and it fits great. Not much else to report here. Travel safe and maybe you shouldn't drive so late. Love from all of us, Rebecca x0 :)
July 1, 2012
Brandon to Nipigon
Here I am back in Nipigon, Ontario, a place I stayed when driving Kalie's car to Toronto. Gas station is open but I had to eat at Tim Horton's, the classiest establishment in the place (and the only one still open).
Another good drive today through endless Ontario with its 90-kph speed limit! I'm averaging 100-kph which is giving me very good mileage (over 45-mpg) and at the cost of premium gas, that's a blessing.
Stopped earlier tonight to get a better rest as I was feeling tired later on this afternoon. I stopped to photograph a passing train (with a grain car from Alberta "Visit Wetaskiwin") and then stopped at an amazing set of waterfalls at Thunder Bay called Kakabeka Falls. A good walk-around, killed a large horse fly that was in the car and took a few photographs.
Not sure how far I will get tomorrow but may get pretty close to Ottawa. Don't think I will have time to stop to see Boyne as she lives quite a way to the north of my route. If Ottawa tomorrow looks likely, I will phone, Rebecca, and see if you can get another night at the Ottawa hotel for me.
I hear fireworks in the background. No telling what I might see on Canada Day evening concerning incendiaries here in downtown Nipigon.
Hello to all. Hope the horse show was as enjoyable as our first time there (G: pass on some information to Shezuka about your visit there).
Here are a couple of photographs from the adventure so far.
July 2, 2012
Nipigon to North Bay
Just finished a good dinner at Boston Pizza (spaghetti and meat balls with a Budweiser) and am now in my room at the Hampton Inn in North Bay. I travelled about 11 hours today and covered a lot of this province, but there is a hell of a lot more that I will not see on this trip. I'm staying in a nice hotel tonight because the one last night in Nipigon had many shortcomings. The owner was a wildlife guide in his other life and the place looked a lot like a camp in the boonies.
Because this has been the long Canada Day weekend, there were no stores or restaurants open from Nipigon to Sudbury. The exception was Tim Horton shops where they occur and I think if it wasn't for Tim's, the entire population of western Ontario would starve on such occasions. I was lucky to find one in Marathon about an hour after leaving Nipigon and had a good breakfast. That and the occasional snack was all I had all day until just a little while ago when I had a great dinner at Boston Pizza.
The country I am driving through is really beautiful. The forests are thick and lush and full of interesting tree varieties. There's just no end of them, that's the only problem. Ontario's highways up here are good roads but narrow and slow - the speed limit is 90-kph. I had a fellow ask me where all the bugs came from that adorn the front of my car. I told him I came from a part of the country where we are allowed to drive fast enough that if we hit a bug, it will die and stick! (this in reference to the slow speeds here in the western part of the province).
Once in awhile there are glimpses of things that are of interest; Lake Superior, when one sees it, is magnificent, an actual inland sea of fresh water. And the Mennonites out haying this afternoon made me do a rapid U-turn to go back toward them to photograph them haying with horses and some wonderful equipment. Finally, the goose at Wawa. The kids may remember a long yarn I made up about the name of this place based on the fictitious story about the sound that geese make in flight (wa wa wa wa). That would have been on a trip to the National Ballet School one summer. I photographed it from this angle as it nearly matches the photograph I made at Frank Lake a few weeks ago of a goose landing there.
Tomorrow, a short visit to Canadian Tire here in North Bay to see if I can find a headlight lamp for the Benz. One is burned out and the other is likely close behind it. Then on to Ottawa on a fairly short drive of about three hours. I will be happy to be stationary for a while in the nation's capital. Enjoying the driving but am realizing now that I have to do it all over again in the opposite direction after visiting Kalie and Ben. Rebecca, why don't you and Mae fly to Toronto and drive home with me??????? It's time for some television so will sign off for today.
Thanks for the return messages from those who sent them (you know who you are!!).
July 3, 2012
North Bay to Ottawa
Thanks again for messages from home and abroad. I arrived in Ottawa at 1430 this afternoon after a three-hour drive from North Bay. The highway was really poor with lots of construction taking place to try to upgrade it somewhat. So didn't make the kind of time I expected but still managed all right.
Hotel check-in was very efficient and the place is quite quaint and lovely. It's an old apartment building that has been done over with lots of big oil paintings, interesting floors and other features. It is in a really good location, just a couple of blocks from By Town Market area where lots of restaurants, neat shops and so on co-exist. I have a room on the fourth floor with a patio outside that is as big as the room itself. This would have been a bachelor apartment back in the day. Tomorrow I will make some photographs to show the layout.
In North Bay this morning I stopped at Canadian Tire to buy a bulb for the left low beam. My computer told me one was needed and sure enough, the light was burned out. Took me a few minutes to figure out how to get the new bulb back into the socket but I finally managed and then got on the road. Almost immediately, another message appeared saying the parking light bulb on the same side was burned out. That one can wait for Toronto and Kalie can help me install it.
There was a nice and noisy reception at a pub on Spark Street this evening and I attended and saw a lot of long-time acquaintances plus all sorts of teachers who had served on Project Overseas but who were from other provincial teacher organizations. On the way there, I stopped at an Irish pub for supper and had stew and a Guinness. My waitress was recently arrived in Canada from "just south of Dublin" and I encouraged her to speak to me just to hear the beautiful lilt in her voice. Ruth Carse of National Ballet fame passed by while I was dining and I was tempted to go to her and thank her for her support of Galien.
Walking back from the reception, I stopped for some desert - a mini rocky road brownie with coffee. Although I could hear my arteries hardening, it was delicious but I couldn't finish it all. But got the sugar levels up to where they feel comfortable.
Tomorrow morning, after breakfast in the hotel lounge, I will go to a car wash to get the Benz cleaned and the radiator cleared of the bug collection. Working on replacing the bulb this morning was an interesting olfactory experience as my nose was close to the warm radiator that had started to bake the bugs once again.
In the afternoon, there is a boat cruise on the Rideau Canal and then in the evening, we all attend the banquet in the Chateau Laurier. Should be an interesting day all around. Will write again tomorrow evening. In the meantime, love to all. Take good care and be creative.
I have my suspicions that you may be out partying ‘til the wee small hours with your international organization friends. I hope that you do not call anyone a beer wench during this time, as it might not be as funny to say it to a professional in a conference setting.
I have tried calling you tonight but you did not answer, as you may well know since we haven't spoken. If you get in to your hotel before 11:30 give me a call. I just want to confirm that you are coming here tomorrow and what time you are planning to arrive.
I can't believe you'll be here so soon! I am sooooo excited!
If you are too late to call tonight, call in the morning, I will be en route to Joe between 7:35-8:30 give or take so I might not get phone reception. Call anytime before or after.
I hope you had a great time in Ottawa!
July 4, 2012
From: Tim Johnston <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wednesday, 4 July, 2012 10:27 PM
To: Tim & Rebecca Johnston <email@example.com>, Aaron Johnston <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Teknik <email@example.com>, Harley and Nicole <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Galien Johnston <email@example.com>, Kalie Johnston <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Shizuka Ishibashi <email@example.com>, Dolores Robertson-Kaelin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Wednesday in Ottawa
A busy and quite unusual day. Started off with a good breakfast in the hotel lounge then drove the car to a carwash and later for fuel. The carwash folk were exceptional and, after I explained the de-bugging I wanted done on the radiator (and showing how to open the hood) a really first class job took place, with the entire engine compartment being sprayed to clean it up and then a full-on hand/machine car wash. After fueling up at the cheapest gas in Ottawa I set the GPS for the National Aviation Museum and drove there for a visit. As I was waiting to pay my admission, I overhead that there would be a tour of the storage hangar and so I signed up for that and really enjoyed seeing the unrestored collection that the massive building contained.
Driving back to the hotel, I parked the Benz in the garage then walked down the street for lunch. Afterward, I walked to the Rideau Canal to join up with the CTF folk for a cruise down the canal on a tour boat. A nice ride I have taken before but hot and sunny. Sunburned the old schnoz a bit but it was either stay out on the rear platform and cook a bit or sit in the cabin and sauna a bit. I chose the platform and breeze.
After the ride, I walked back toward the hotel but felt the need of a cold beer, drunk in the shade of an awning. I passed by such a place and turned in. There were four people sitting on the patio and I recognized one of them, David Kilgour who had been a Member of Parliament for a south Edmonton riding, four years as a conservative and four years as a liberal!! I paused and looked to be sure it was who I thought it was and he looked back. "I know you," he said to me, and a brief hello passed between us. I had once invited him to speak at a project I had organized in Sherwood Park in Edmonton. I went inside to see about getting a beer and the waitress said to sit anywhere on the patio I wished so out I went and was shortly joined by a bottle of Steamboat beer and a glass of water.
I sat with my drinks, relaxing and enjoying watching the passing people. Then Mr. Kilgour came over and invited me to meet his colleagues and to join them at their table. His colleagues were first, Dr. Truda Rosenberg, a prominent Ottawa psychologist who just celebrated her 90th birthday, and Ms. Lyn Fong, from Singapore. Dr. Rosenberg is a delightful woman and she shared stories of her life with me at the prompting of Kilgour. We seemed to hit it off very well. She said to me that it was such a pleasure to meet complete strangers and to have meaningful conversations with them. Ms. Fong is very well educated but is looking for full time work in Canada. She is a recent visitor from Singapore. With her background, I said she should start speaking with Calgary oil and gas companies and that I thought her chances of employment would be rather good out west. Se she may turn up in Alberta one of these days.
Here is the letter I wrote to Truda on July 24.
Dr Truda Rosenberg
This is a little reminder of a chance meeting with you, David Kilgour and Lyn Fong early in July. I greatly enjoyed our conversation, especially in the company in which it took place. David was an outstanding representative of the people of south Edmonton during his time as a member of parliament. He spoke at an event I had organized in his riding along with Don Massey, the member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly for the same area. Meeting Ms Fong and trying to twist her arm to come to Calgary was equally enjoyable.
The glimpses of personal history that you shared were most appreciated. I was born in 1944, safely and into a caring society, and I know nothing first-hand of the kind of dreadful situations you and so many others in Europe endured. But I have studied the history of the time. Speaking with you, even briefly, allowed me to share more personally some of the things you experienced and survived.
So here you are in my photograph, wearing a jaunty summer bonnet and a gentle smile, sharing your time with the three of us in a caring place, this Canada of ours.
Best wishes, Truda, and thanks for the visit.
Yours sincerely, Tim Johnston
I then left and returned to the hotel to shower and change for the evening events at the Chateau Laurier. It was quite a wonderful evening with around 200 people in attendance in the hotel's main ballroom. An excellent dinner, great company, lots of hugs and hellos and generally a superb celebration of this exceptional program.
Some awards were given out and then, after dinner, a new category of awards began, with certificates of appreciation to provincial staff member who work hard to support CTF and its international programs. My colleague at the ATA who is now the international officer was the penultimate awardee and she told the audience that the award should really go to Tim Johnston, who had encouraged her to take on the ATA's international portfolio, and who had done so much prior to her time in support of international work. Then the host whispered in her ear.
The next and last award was given to yours truly and I gave what I thought was a very nice speech of thanks, recounting one experience and recognizing the cooperative work I carried out with CTF and ATA folk over the years.
The event ended and we all went our separate ways, me back to my hotel to unwind and write to all of you.
So that was my day in six short paragraphs. Most enjoyable, all around. Tomorrow I will leave for Toronto at around 1000 for the four-hour drive. I spoke with Kalie on the phone and we arranged that I would probably pick her up at her work at around 1730 and drive her home. I'm so excited at the prospect of seeing her and Ben and to visit for a few days with the younger daughter and her significant other.
So until tomorrow, when I write from Kalie's and Ben's home in Toronto, good night to all, have a wonderful tomorrow and be creative.
Great stories so far. I have enjoyed reading your writing immensely.
This last email was crazy! Your award is fantastic – you're awesome.
I love (mostly all) of the pics. You know, my Mom always asked me for my council on her photography for my 'eye'. Really great seeing your interesting and composed photos – I loved the goose and the cloud/land pic and a few others too.
Reading your stories has made me think 'I never knew driving across Canada could be so neat?' But that's just down to good writing and behind it a very interesting man, indeed.
We bought a Pear tree from Holes for the back of the yard, it arrived today. Travel safe and keep shooting, etc
July 5, 2012
Ottawa to Toronto
I left the nation's capital today at around 1000 and headed south and west to Toronto. A good drive and finally traffic that is moving at a fairly good rate of speed. Passing through Trenton I remembered that the big air force base there has a museum attached. Finally found the place with the help of the GPS and arrived at an imposing building with an even more imposing collection of aircraft in a large field next door. Enquiring what the cost of entry might be for a senior, I was graciously informed by an even more senior that the cost was nil and that a donation would be appreciated at the door on departure. The camera was retrieved from the car and I set about on a tour of the place.
The key artifact of this establishment is a restored-to-display condition Halifax bomber. The Halifax was eventually almost the equivalent of a Lancaster bomber and was used extensively by the Canadian air force over Germany during WWII. This aircraft crashed into a Norwegian Lake and sank to 250 feet in the frigid water where it remained for over 50 years. It was raised, taken apart in Norway and flown to Trenton by the RCAF where, after 10 years of labor, it looks today just like a new aircraft.
I then travelled on to Toronto and made good time until I neared Kalie's business office and the traffic just came to a stand-still. I finally got to her office at 1730, just as she was about to leave the building. When she came out, I had the Nikon ready and shot off a couple of frames of my baby girl emerging from her design office.
Kalie took me to a Korean restaurant for supper and Ben was to join us but he wasn't there when we arrived. A phone call home woke him up and he elected to meet us at the apartment instead of trying to make the drive during rush hour.
We had a nice visit back at the apartment then walked to Starbucks for an evening coffee and snack. Then the air mattress was inflated and we all went to bed, except me. I am writing this while sitting on the end of the mattress, in the dark, and beside a fan. I'm pretty tired now so will attach some photos from the day and sign off until tomorrow.
Hello (from Galien),
Sorry I didn't have a chance to write yesterday. We ended up being out the whole day but we had a really nice time. We started the day off by meeting up with Mark at the zoo. He had never been before so he was some excited by the prospect. It was 30 degrees here, which I know is nothing compared to Toronto but much hotter than we've been having here! All the animals were out and active and we had a great viewing of the hippos and the newcomers to the zoo, the ostriches. When we approached the elephant zone we noticed alot of commotion and a crowd gathering in the bleachers. We got closer to discover that one of the elephants had fallen into a deep mud pool and was stuck on her side, unable to get up. There were about five zoo keepers working to try to free her and after about 20 minutes Kamala was rescued to the applause of the watching crowd. It was quite interesting to watch and when it was over the elephant was giving nose kisses to the man doing most of the helping which was very sweet to see. After the zoo we were all hungry and Mae wanted her chicken strips so we drove down to 4th St and ate at Earls. By this time it was about 4 and Yukichi had a Stampede function he was to dance at at 6 so Mark invited us over to his place for a bit to get out of the heat and have a rest. Mae had lots of fun playing with Mark and Nafize, (his boyfriend who joined us there) and at 6:30 we made the walk back to the ballet. When we got there we discovered that the "stage " they were meant to dace on was a bunch of plywood tables pushed together and the dancers expressed their concern at having to perform on them. Jean immediately canceled the performance and so we just relaxed and enjoyed our first ever Stampede Pig Roast. We had a lovely evening eating and visiting with friends and Mae of course had a blast with her two best friends, Tara and Asaka!
Today we hit the Stampede for the rodeo and are all quite excited about it. I'll be sure to take lots of photos and will try to send some over before you leave Toronto!
Glad to hear you are having such a great time with Kalie and Ben. Give them big hugs from all of us here!
I love you,
July 6, 2012
A nice and very hot day in Toronto. Ben left for work early and I went across the street to "The Only Cafe" with Kalie for a bit of breakfast. Kalie just reminded me to write about the grouchy old fellow I encountered as we walked in the door. That kind of started off our day. Kalie then went off on the subway and I returned to the apartment for a shave and shower. I took a drive around the neighborhood afterward then drove north on Yonge Street to see what I could discover. Not much, as it turned out, but it gave me an opportunity to be a boulevardier for part of the morning, drinking lemonade and watching the passing parade. Afterward I went to the Ontario Catholic School Teachers' office to visit my friend Diana Thomson, a long-time acquaintance from my days with Canadian Educational Press Association. I have given her a matted photograph annually for the past several years, usually by mail, but today in person. She was extremely busy because an agreement had been reached with government for a new collective agreement but the teachers didn't feel they had been given enough information and so lots of calls were coming in and Diana was part of the team trying to calm the waters. Earlier I had sent her a copy of the photograph of the goose at Wawa and said it was a harbinger of things to come. When I spoke with the receptionist, I asked her to call Diana and tell her that there was a goose that wanted to see her. The reason for all this nonsense was that the photograph this year was of a Canada goose making a landing almost beside me at the Frank Lake migratory area.
Having spent a busy morning watching folk and a short visit to my friend's office, I decided I had earned lunch and ate at a nice sports bar on Bloor Street. I started on the patio in the shade but soon headed in to the air-conditioned interior. It has been extremely hot here today and air conditioning, wherever it can be found, is welcomed.
Back to the apartment for a nap and then onto the subway to head to the theatre district to meet up with Kalie and Ben. The plan was to have supper at the TIFF Lightbox canteen, located in the theatre complex of the same name. I got there before they did and spent some time looking around the complex and finally having a beer in the second floor lounge while watching the people on King Street passing by. Then up to Chapters for a book look and a return to the canteen to meet Kalie and Ben. When Kalie met up with us, she was a bit perturbed. Some stupid woman had driven her car past the open door of Kalie's streetcar as she was exiting. Kalie smacked the hood of her car, which resulted in a barrage of abusive language from the idiot driver. But a lovely supper got her into better sorts, helped just a little by a good gin and tonic. I sampled a dessert of lemon flavoured custard topped with fresh berries. Delicious. Afterward, off to the neighborhood Cineplex to take in the new Spiderman movie. Most enjoyable. Home on the subway and these notes on the computer.
B & K have tomorrow planned already but will report on the day's events in tomorrow's message
July 7, 2012
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Views from Toronto
Date: Sat, 7 Jul 2012 22:45:40 -0600
We had a full and busy day today, starting with a walk for breakfast to Tea and Bannock. As we went by a small forest area near a public park, I saw a little older woman standing in front of one of the tree trunks. The vision of her startled me and I immediately wanted to take her photograph in that setting. As I approached to ask, she told me her car had been locked into the parking lot and her friends had gone to see if they could find someone with a key. We looked the situation over and decided it would be quite easy to just drive it out by gently bumping over a low concrete curb, across the grass, around some trees, down a sidewalk and gently bumping it back down over another curb onto the street. The car was a brand new Mercedes B 200, just like Mom's. Her friends had joined her by then as had a neighborhood resident that assisted guiding me on the little trek. They were delighted to have their car freed from behind the locked gate and, in parting, Kalie took a photograph of me and the other chap along with the three women and the car. Just one of those interesting and amusing moments during my time in Toronto. We carried on our walk down to the market area then into the business section of town. We stopped at an interesting design museum and a bit further on at the Joe Fresh store in the giant Loblaw store in downtown. Kalie had been involved in the design and development of several of the women's tops and she pointed them out to me and explained her contribution. It was quite wonderful to see the output of one of my children in such a setting.
We then rode streetcar and subway back to Ben and Kalie's and had short power naps. At around eight o'clock we drove (yes, drove!) to an Italian restaurant south of here for a very nice supper. Coming home afterward, we looked at photographs of mine on the meet-up site and of Kalie's of their trips to New York and Montreal. Kalie's designer's eyes are quite evident in her photography and I enjoyed seeing what interested her in those two cities and how she captured those things with her camera.
Tomorrow it's off to Hamilton to the air museum there. I was there once during a summer of the girls at the ballet school but since then the museum has been sheltered in a brand new purpose-built building. The unique feature of this museum is that most of the aircraft are actually flown from time to time.
So that was a look at our day in Toronto: from rescuing a Mercedes for a dear little lady to Kalie's work at Joe Fresh, a wonderful supper and a fun viewing of images of other explorations. Talk to everyone tomorrow. For now, lots of love, and be creative.
Hi dad, and thank you for the updates. I enjoy the pictures and it looks like you are enjoying yourself.
Hello from Istanbul! Tis is my fourth time here and the city is pretty incredible. I arrived tonight and all I've done is get a taxi into town and come to the hotel but I am already excited by the prospect of the next few days.
Tomorrow I am doing a workshop with Vodafone Turkey for my products. My manager came yesterday and tomorrow we run through all our products in Consumer Services. My two products are the most exciting and interesting, of course. Then Brian comes on Thursday and we stay the weekend. His race is again this Sunday and he has been training since February. He is really looking forward to it.
I want to visit the Roman cisterns on this trip, and to see a little more of the nightlife. The city comes alive in the evenings when it isn't as hot so it will be fun to explore, have tea and maybe a bubbly bubbly apple bubble smoke thingie. I expect you know what I mean.
The hotel is great. I've developed a taste for boutique hotels and this one is a dandy. We have a great room to call home with included wifi and breakfast. Very pleased to have a bit of a break from London.
Well, it is two hours later which means getting up two hours earlier. I have a bit to prepare in the morning so I think I will sign off now. Will take pics and send to you :-)
July 8, 2012
On 8 Jul 2012, at 23:44, Tim Johnston <email@example.com> wrote:
Today we left home at around 0930 for a drive to Hamilton and a visit to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. The drive took about 50 minutes with Ms. Kalie expertly guiding the Mercedes down the freeway and into the museum parking lot. There have been many changes here since I last visited, back when Galien was dancing at the National, with a new building replacing the old wartime hangars that were in use when I was last here. There had been a serious fire in one of the hangars some years ago and several priceless aircraft were lost. The irreplaceable Lancaster was sitting on jacks with its wheels off when the fire broke out in its hangar but somehow the fire crews managed to save it. Once the fire had been beaten out, it was still very unsafe in the hangar as the roof had fallen in over the fire areas. The museum staff was afraid it would fall in over the Lancaster and so permission was finally given for volunteers to quickly replace the wheels and roll the aircraft out of harms way.
We had a good look around and I explained things I knew about the aircraft to Kalie and Ben. After a tour around the outside apron, we came back in and had lunch in the museum cafeteria. Quite good. After a final look around, we left the building and had our photograph taken by another visitor in front of the F-104 trainer that is mounted on a steel shaft outside the building. Then back to Toronto with me driving.
I started a load of wash and then Kalie and I walked down Danforth in search of a coffee on an outdoor patio. We settled instead for the inside but beside the open window of a small pub. I had a Steamboat beer and Kalie a gin and tonic. It was nice to have some time alone with my little girl and to talk about her plans for coming back to Edmonton in the fall. Coming home, we walked the residential street parallel to Danforth and encountered a blooming bush covered with Monarch butterflies. Kalie made photographs of one that landed and stayed on the shoulder of my shirt and we spoke with the owner of the property who was out tending other parts of her garden. She told us the name of the bush was buddleia (commonly known as the butterfly bush) and I will see if one might be available in Calgary. Feeding butterflies has to be less expensive than feeding all the birds we now look after at our bird feeder!
Tonight, I think we will go out for sushi down the street. Tomorrow, Ben returns to work and Kalie stays with me for the day. She and I will see how many of their things we can cram into the Benz and, after supper tomorrow, I will start my return trip to Calgary. I hope to get up to Barrie at least in preparation for the ferry ride across part of Lake Superior to Manitoulin Island and then back to the main highway.
A lovely day today and looking forward to tonight's supper. Being with these two is a lot of fun and I am enjoying my time with them immensely.
Some pictures are attached, some from yesterday and some from today. Hope you enjoy them.
From Toronto, on my last evening here with the kids for this trip, love to all. Be creative.
July 9, 2012
Toronto to Wiarton
Ben was back to work this morning, leaving the apartment at around 0630. Kalie got up at around 0730 and I followed suit just afterward. While I showered, my delightful daughter walked down to the 7-11 and brought back coffees for us.
We started our outing at around 0930, taking the subway to Union Station and the streetcar to the waterfront. We then crossed the channel to Toronto Island by ferry. What a lovely way to begin a day. The cool air drifted into the open deck of the boat while the sunshine warmed the water around us. Leaving the ferry, we walked to the outer shore and boardwalk and spent some time on the observation jetty, watching amazing flights of birds and the arrival of a very large cargo vessel that was headed for Toronto harbour.
Then we set out looking for the little house with a restaurant for morning tea. Because we diverted from the shoreline boardwalk more inland, we didn’t come across the building. We finally found the island fire hall and decided we had missed the restaurant by not staying on the boardwalk. So we reversed our direction but this time on the boardwalk expecting to see the restaurant. We didn’t.
A look at a map back near the jetty showed us that we had missed the place by not going just a bit further past the fire hall. By this time, we were getting tired and hungry so we went to another restaurant nearer the ferry landing and had very nice BLTs and salad.
Back onto the ferry for the return trip, then onto the streetcar to Union Station and the subway to the Eaton Centre. Kalie was looking for a new pair of walking shoes and we had a thorough look. There were none that appealed to her so we retuned home by way of the Danforth subway line with just a brief stop at a gelato shop.
At the apartment we got serious about what to pack in the car for me to take home for them. We started with a small wood cabinet that the television sits on and fit that into the back seat of the car. Then Ben arrived home from work and he carried a special synthesizer keyboard down and we placed that in the front of the trunk. The television set, carefully wrapped, followed and was placed face up on top of bags of clothes that we set behind the keyboard unit. We continued to add bags and boxes of things until we were pretty sure we had filled all the space available. My big suitcase sits on the back seat and my small one that I take into motels is on the front seat beside me. Camera and computer ride in the front seat foot well. More bags of clothes and sound equipment fill the back seat foot wells and are stuffed between my seatback and the wooden cabinet. When we had finished, we walked to a nearby restaurant and had exquisite hamburgers for supper, then returned to the apartment for my departure.
While I was looking forward to beginning my trip home, I was kind of sad to leave my little girl and Ben after the fun days we had had together. So after some quality hugging, I finally set off and headed for the parts north. My route this evening took me north on the Don Valley Parkway to Hwy 401 then west on 401 to 400, the northbound freeway that took me just past Barrie. I then turned west and came into Collingwood, followed the south shore of Georgian Bay to Owen Sound and then headed up the Bruce Peninsula to the town of Wiarton. I found a hotel on the north side of the town and booked into a room where this little missive is being written. You will note that this is an attachment and not a direct email as web service is not available in my room. I will send this as an email tomorrow morning.
The ferry to Manitoulin Island leaves at 0700 and 1100 tomorrow morning. I plan to catch the 1100 trip as I still have 77 kilometers to travel to the dock and I would have to arise around 0530 to catch the first sailing.
So that has been my day and part of Kalie’s today on my Ottawa-Toronto adventure.
I will write along the way as time and Internet service allows.
July 13, 2012 (it shall become clear)
Wiarton to Marathon
I've missed a few days of the travel log and I am, in fact, now home in Calgary. The attachment covers leaving Toronto and driving north up the Bruce Peninsula, the spear of granite that serves to separate Lake Huron from Georgian Bay, and finding a motel for the night at Wiarton, a pleasant little village near the tip of the peninsula. All pretty routine and a very pleasant drive.
I will write one more entry for this trip tomorrow. It will be a spellbinding account of a water voyage across an immense lake, terror in the dark woods on an Ontario night, encounters with wild and exotic species not usually associated with hood ornaments, police involvement at Marathon, Ontario and the marathon that followed to finally get myself back home. Gripping, I tell you, gripping!!
So I will leave you in suspense for a day but promise to sent the final chapter soon.
I suspect you are somewhere in northern Ontario by tonight. Mom said you were worried that you might not have Internet connection again tonight but in case you do I thought I'd send you a little hello.
It was a little difficult being back at work today with my yappy, awful boss behind me and a never-ending pile of work in front of me. Especially difficult after a nice, relaxing weekend with my nice, relaxing father and also sending a good chunk of stuff back seemed to make a mental difference in knowing that the move is truly on the go now. While walking home from the grocery store tonight Ben and I concocted a plan to try to convince Garry to come from Moose Jaw for a similar "vacation" and car full of things. We'll see how that goes.
I had another very successful run tonight. About 4 km. Had to write a firm email to Mr. Hattori to help encourage him to work on his direct communication skills. Ha. He sent me a cast list with a bunch of random last names scattered all over the age. I wrote back saying, "Can you please just tell me how many dancers are in the piece?" I guess this lead to a small laugh at my expense at 244 Prestwick as all imagined my voice slowly rising in pitch while asking the question. Ha.
I hope that the drive is going well on the return and that the load isn't bogging you down too much. I also hope that you are having healthy road snacks and not loading up on sugar drinks (that includes juice!). I miss you already as your visit made me realize how homesick I really am. It will be so nice to be closer to you all very soon.
Love you so much! Yes and me!! And hello from Ben. Kalie
July 10, 2012
Well, here it is, the final installment of the "Tim Takes a Road Trip" epic. Hope you have enjoyed keeping up with my travels through all the previous messages.
When we left our intrepid explorer (that would be me), I was staying the night in Wiarton, a little community on the Bruce Peninsula. I was on the road at 0800 next morning toward Tobermory to catch the 1130 sailing of the motor vessel Chi-Cheemaun (Big Canoe). With only 77 kilometers to travel, I took my time, arriving in Tobermory with lots of time to have breakfast and to check the pressure in the Benz's four tires. At 1030, I drove into the boarding lanes for the ferry, parked and took a stroll around the dock area. Near where the ferry would arrive, I saw a fellow working with a professional video camera and accompanied by two women. Turned out he was a reporter for CBC Television in Toronto and was out doing a travel program for the news. One of the women with him seemed very familiar with the ferry service and its history.
When the Big Canoe arrived, drivers were told to start the boarding of the vessel. We drove our own vehicles onto the ship and parked according to directions given by deck hands. I was directed onto a side ramp that went up about 20 feet along the side of the ship, followed the car in front of me, and stopped. Full parking brake and transmission in first gear. No one was allowed on the car decks during the cruise and I was quite happy to go above deck to get my bearings and explore the vessel. The trip across the Main Channel took just under two hours. The woman at the dock had informed me that the ship was quite fast this year because it had just come out of dry dock in Thunder Bay where it had had its bottom scraped of barnacles and whatever other crud accumulates on the bottoms of working vessels. Lots of photographs along the trip, including a few of the CBC fellow and one of the women accompanying him, both waving at me from the bridge. The cruise was a splendid experience and another of the highlights of my travels.
As we neared Manitoulin Island and the port of South Baymouth, I encountered the women again and asked if they could give me the email address of the CBC reporter, as I wanted to send a photograph to him. The more senior one gave me her card and asked that I send the images to her and she would pass them on to CBC. Just before the ferry reversed into the pier at Baymouth, drivers were told to report to their vehicles for disembarking. I sat in the Benz and waited for the vehicles below to exit the ship. Then a steep ramp was let down, my car on it, to the main deck and off I went onto Manitoulin Island. A pleasant drive took me across the island to Little Current where I encountered a lateral swiveling bridge that allowed ships to enter the channel between the island and the mainland. I stopped for lunch and photographs then headed north through Espanola and then back onto the Trans Canada Highway. My route from here to home would be exactly as I had travelled on the way to Ontario. As I had started actual travel rather late, I wanted to make good time to Sioux Ste Marie and then north around the eastern edge of Lake Superior. That meant sticking to the driving and stopping as little as possible. The highway speed in this part of the province is 90 kph and it's well enforced by a lot of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) cruisers. The road is two lane, winding, and full of trucks. Staying the speed limit on cruise required little further inducement.
By 2100, I was feeling the need for a stop for the night. I passed through White River, searching for a motel sigh that didn't have the "No" illuminated but without luck. However, I stopped at a truck stop and had a light supper. Heading now toward Marathon, I hoped I would have better luck so I settled in again, set the cruise at 90 and put the lights on bright. It was a lovely warm evening, very dark but a pleasant time to drive.
About 15 minutes east of Marathon, in a matter of about two seconds, the following sequence of events occurred: an adult black bear raced full-tilt out of the ditch on the opposite side of the road toward my car; I hit the brakes hard as the bear crossed the front of the car and collided with me; there was a sickening "Kawhump" and the bear flew off the right fender and, spinning, crashed into the ditch on my side of the road; the car filled with mist and steam streamed out from under the front hood and fenders; the car came to a full stop.
"Holy Shit!" I said.
It was nearly 2300 on a very dark night in northern Ontario. There was no cell phone service, as I had found out earlier, trying to call home from White River. It appeared that my car was smashed by the impact of the collision with the bear. And where the hell was the bear, anyway?
I popped the hood latch inside the cabin, took out my trusty Mag Light and ventured out to survey the damage. At first sight, the grill had been smashed to pieces and mist continued to pour out of the engine area. Opening the hood, the mist started to clear and, checking to see how much of the radiator fluid had been lost, I noticed that there was no fluid on the ground under the car. A faint glimmer of hope. The mist had an unusual smell and I recognized that the mist was the air conditioner fluid, leaking over the hot radiator and other parts of the hot engine and evaporating. Another look inside the engine compartment revealed that the damage seemed to have been confined to the front of the car and everything else seemed okay. I gingerly started the engine again, dialed in the engine temperature gauge on the computer, and noted that it was exactly where it should be, just over 80 C and not moving. The air conditioner, however, was spewing hot, smelly air and I turned it off.
Underway again, I arrived in Marathon and headed directly to the OPP station to report the accident. There were no personnel on duty in the station but a phone beckoned from the wall of the entry foyer. I called in and gave a constable the information. His advice was to stay the night in Marathon, return to the station in the morning and give a full report to an officer in person. About a block away, I spotted a busy motel and went in to see about a room. On the front door was a hand-made sign warning that bears had been spotted in the motel parking lot. "We are completely booked," the young woman informed me. I told her a bit about my evening so far and she asked me to have a seat while she checked other inns in the town. Every place was full, even the bed and breakfast. I tried phoning home on my cell phone but there was still no service on it in this part of the province. "Give me your home number and I'll call for you," my new best friend said and I got through to Rebecca. I told her my version of the story about the teddy bear picnic ("if you drive out in the woods tonight, you're in for a big surprise. . .") then headed out to the car for as good a night's sleep as I could manage.
July 11, 2012
Marathon to Calgary
At 0500 I awoke, after a fitful sleep filled with visions of burst oil coolers, leaking radiators and other assorted mechanical problems. I had breakfast in the motel cafe (open at 0400) then drove to the OPP station once again where I wrote out my tale of adventure on official OPP stationery. With best wishes from the constable, a full tummy and a wonderful little car that had taken a severe wallop, I determined to head directly for Calgary, more or less non-stop.
So the towns passed by, first at a leisurely 90 kph in Ontario (Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Dryden and Kenora) then a little more quickly in Manitoba (Winnipeg, Portage La Prairie, Brandon and Virden) on a straight, flat, four-lane divided highway. By the time I reached the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border, the outside temperature was starting to fall somewhat from the 37 C temperatures I experienced all day. I had fallen back on the old 4/70 method of air conditioning (four windows down at 70 mph). It started to darken crossing eastern Saskatchewan and I arrived in Indian Head near midnight refueling once again at the ESSO station of my youth. The young fellow pumping gas knew Glenn Horsman and I left a note with him to give to Glenn when next he saw him. The young fellow's first name was Taj. "Those are my initials and this gas station is located on Johnston Avenue," I told him.
July 12, 2012
Just east of Medicine Hat, I pulled into a truck stop and slept for an hour then resumed my travels home, arriving at 0830 in the morning, just as Miss Mae was beginning her day with Rebecca.
After a good sleep, I arose and composed an email and selected some photographs to send to the address on the card given to me by the young woman on the ferry. I looked a little more closely. There is good reason for her knowledge of the ferry service. She is the president and CEO of Owen Sound Transportation Company, the owners and operators of the Big Canoe!
Quite a trip. On Friday morning, July 13, I photographed at the Kerby Centre's Stampede Breakfast. Then I contacted the insurance company to get the claim underway. The Benz should go in for its work perhaps next week and will emerge from the shop in top shape and cool on the inside.
Thanks for following along. It was fun sharing this journey with all of you. And I'm very happy and thankful to be safely home.
From: Tim Johnston [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 11:52 PM To:email@example.com; T & R Johnston Subject: CBC reporter
I spoke with you on the ferry ride last Monday when you were accompanying the CBC reporter from Toronto. Looking at your card just now to find your email address, I suddenly realized your actual position in the company! Well done!
The ferry trip was a highlight of my car travel from Calgary to Ottawa and Toronto and back to Calgary. I continued my journey that afternoon and got as far as White River, where I found there were no motel rooms to be had. So I pressed on toward Marathon. At 2245, in the dark of the night, a black bear raced out from the opposite shoulder of the road and collided with the front of my car. Steam filled the cabin and billowed out from the hood. The bear flew through the air into the ditch on my side of the road and I got the car stopped in record time. Fortunately, the damage done, apart from that to the bear, was mainly to the air conditioner and the grill, not the radiator. I continued into Marathon where no rooms were once again available. Spent four hours sleeping in the car then left Marathon for a 25-hour marathon drive back to Calgary, crossing the prairies in 37-degree temperatures, relying on 4/70 air conditioning (four windows down at 70 miles per hour).
If you would be kind enough to share this photo with the CBC reporter and with your colleague, it would be most appreciated. And I will share my pleasure with the ferryboat trip to Manitoulin Island whenever I can.
Best wishes and continuing success in your career.
Hello Mr. Johnston,
Thank you for the lovely photograph. I will send it to Mr. Chambers at CBC, and also down to our Ferry Reservations office for April.
What at trip you had! I am so glad you made it home, relatively unscathed. I too have spent the occasional night in my car in Northern Ontario, for the same reason – either there are literally no rooms, or the proprietors of the motels lock the doors at 2200. I love the homemade billboards that advertise “really clean rooms”. Seriously?
While it was unfortunate for the bear (and your car), I am so glad it wasn’t a moose. At least the bear had a low centre of gravity. Moose tend to roll over the hood, straight through the windshield. They are terrifying. I am sure seeing a black bear dart out in front of you was pretty scary, especially late at night, and out in the middle of nowhere. As I recall, the cellular service is spotty in that area too. Every trip up there is a new adventure. Did you have a chance to take any photographs along the Lake Superior shoreline? I always want to, but I never seem to find a decent (safe) place to pull over. The safe places are not necessarily well positioned for the best photographs.
Thank you for your kind words about our ferry. We have a really good crew on board the Chi-Cheemaun, and the scenery is pretty fantastic. I wish our season wasn’t so short, but it is Ontario!
And that’s the end of this little tale of travel across part of our wonderful country of Canada and of some of the folk I met and events that occurred along the way.
This story was compiled on Sunday, January 30, 2022.