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Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Having had no luck getting a non-smoking room at a hotel or motel near the Canadian border, we decided to just continue north until we either found a room or ran out of petrol – make that gas.

There is no border crossing from America, but the Canadians won’t let you in without giving you the once over.  The border control officer was about to bring us into their offices for interrogation but then we confirmed that we had three children and two grand-children back in England and they changed their minds.  Clearly we no longer posed as great a threat of becoming illegal aliens!

Twenty miles down the road and we arrive in Estevan and the only room in the town is a jacuzzi spa room and although it is double the normal price, we are happy just to have a space to rest our now very weary heads.

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Driving through North Dakota and then into Saskatchewan in Canada, you come across hundreds of nodding donkeys.  Some lucky farmers have found oil on their land and the nodding donkey is as old as oil discovery and they way the oil is brought to the surface.

You know farming is your passion when you have oil on your land but you don’t stop farming – you just plough around the wells and continue planting.  It was such a surreal sight having the oil wells interspersed between the hay bales and wheat fields.

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Have you ever thought why certain manufacturers need to tell you the blindingly obvious?  Take for example the chocolate nut bar with the warning – ‘May contain nuts’!

Here is another fun one that I am not sure how you are meant to read when you are driving –

‘Things may be closer than they appear in the mirror’

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Driving along – Big country, big sky, great company, country music – I think I am in heaven!

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On the wrong side of the road, in rush hour – we are heading out of the city and towards our first stop on the trip.

We are bone weary after waking up at 5am on Friday morning and arriving at the motel almost exactly 24 hours later.  Sign in and ready for dinner.

Our jet lag cure seems to have worked because we only had water all day and ate dinner at 9pm US time – that is a long time without eating but it was worth it because we slept well and got up at 6am ready for breakfast and the drive north-west.

Weather is incredibly bright and sunny – cloudless skies to accompany us on our journey – life is good.

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After a long wait he is back with a case number and all the contact details.  The customer services people tried in vain to find a wheelchair place that they could send us to for the repairs but eventually they were convinced that this was no ordinary chair and without a dealer in the country a repair was unlikely.

Luckily the chair works in the upright position even though difficult to steer!  Watch out door frames and knuckles….

Being the weekend we cannot contact Trekinetic until Monday morning so until then we will muddle on as best we can – at least the next 3 days are driving up into Canada so it will only require some light use – in and out of eating establishments – we have to keep up our strength and sense of humour or I would probably go mad!

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Disaster in Minneapolis!  I could cry – spoke too soon about the K-2!  It was handling rather strangely but it wasn’t until we tried to pack it into the 4×4 and it wouldn’t collapse!  Very strange – but then hubby realised that the release for the shock absorber wasn’t working and the shock and pin is bent.

I can’t believe this – again!

After an incredibly long day, hubby now has to head back into the terminal building to report it otherwise they won’t accept our claim.

I am sitting waiting in the underground car park – will keep you posted….

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What an enormous airport.  We would have been lost without our personal guide.

Chair intact!

A quick tram ride across to terminal 3 and only a half hour to wait before we board for our next flight to Minneapolis.

I love this place already – not only patriotic, but we have just found an incredible popcorn shop and couldn’t resist all those cabinets of cheesy goodness.

Snack in hand, we board for the 1 hour flip northwards…

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Flying in over Lake Michigan, into Chicago and the sky is blue with no clouds!  I am as happy as a lark.

Almost at the end of our first leg of the journey….

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Is it just me or do you have an uncontrollable urge to shop for unnecessary paraphernalia the minute you check into an airport for a holiday flight? I know I have everything I need but darn, these minature soaps and toothpaste have such a lure -a little like the need to have an endless assortment of pens, pencils and notebooks – even though you can only use one at a time!
Can one actually have too many mini travel items?

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I have it from a valuable source – the discovery channel – that to counter jet-lag, you should starve yourself before and during travel, and on arrival eat a meal. This resets the body clock and should save all the hassle of catching up to the new time zone.
Therefore, in a valiant attempt to fulfil the requirements, I have gone for a biscuit and latte instead of the full English!

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The story starts with hubby and I eventually deciding that we want to go back to visit our family in Canada for our very late summer holiday. I believe that October is definitely Autumn-but better late than never!
With our pockets much, much lighter, we have booked our tickets and can start planning….

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At the outset I need to clarify that I believe our families are genetically pre-disposed to being adventurous. After all, my hubbies family were part of the original Europeans to immigrate to South Africa back in the 1600’s and believe me they had to be tough to survive travelling around with 16 oxen pulling them and all their possessions in what amounted to a box on wheels for thousands of miles! Also, my brother in law lives in a country that is very familiar with ice hole fishing, dog sledding and no daylight all winter! Yes, they are a tough breed and I was going to need all the help I could get to conquer Johnson Canyon. Don’t they say ignorance is bliss? So with only a slight worry tapping a tune in the back of my brain, one large Canadian, one large South African and one slightly smaller lady in battered wheelchair set off to achieve another milestone on our quest to overcome as much as we could in the time we had been allotted. How hard could it be? I suppose the clue really was that no other wheelchair or disabled hikers passed us on the entire trail and those people with babies had them in their arms or on their backs! The other thing was the well meaning glances we got from those returning along the path from the top of the falls.

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Let me just say at this point that we at least had enough sense to agree that the first set of falls was enough of a challenge for 2 unfit blokes, 1 unfit woman and a wheelchair!

Decision made, and off we set, heading up the nice path indicated on the map… this is easy! Round the bend and up an incline… okay, maybe a bit more challenging than it looked at first glance. Luckily we had wonderful dry weather because I don’t think we would have got too far in rain or snow. The path was well maintained for the tourists and for the most part it was fine (for walkers, not wheelers). It was the trees that suddenly appeared in our path that raised a few worried brows; so we took these opportunities to rest, recover and reconnoitre! I can tell you with all honesty that without the two burly blokes with me, there is NO WAY I would have got near the top, and I would have had to be air-lifted out! They manfully each grasped a handlebar and pushed, heaved, shoved and occasionally lifted me over the worst bits – I cannot remember how many times I asked “are you sure we shouldn’t turn back?” But, hardy stock that they are, we forged ever further up, up and onwards. The views were superb and we used this as an excuse to stop often and admire the scenery. When we eventually got to the first set of waterfalls, it was all worth it; for me anyway! Did I say thank you enough to my brave companions? If not, a BIG, BIG THANK YOU for giving me this amazing memory.   So, in short, this is NOT for the faint hearted, but then again faint heart never won fair mountain (ha ha, you get it?).

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It was around this time that my husband and I realised that a normal wheelchair was just not going to do the job for us! And, as an aside, maybe we could all loose a pound or two and get fit….

Now, can anyone tell us an easy way down this mountain?…..

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I thought I should share a few of my pre-K-2 adventures to demonstrate how much we needed a more rugged wheelchair. Picture this – newish wheelchair user, cheap wheelchair bought off the internet, first trip to Canada. Anyway, we had conquered Sulphur Mountain and needed to move onto bigger and better things – and believe me, there are plenty of bigger, better things at every turn in the Rocky Mountains. Next stop – Lake Louise. How many times have I said “amazing” and “incredible”? Oh well, what are a few more superlatives between friends! Wow, it is truly magnificent and the calmness of the water beautifully reflects the harshness of the mountains and the immense glaciers in the peaks. If I had been able to, I would have pulled up a comfy deck chair and parked myself on the shores with a book and not budged until the weather moved me on.

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We only had a few days so time was our greatest enemy and prodded us onwards. Our next stop – Johnson Canyon and the ultimate trial for the bruised and battered old wheels!

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We spent a wonderful week with our family in and around Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, then it was time to pack up and head for the mountains. When we flew into Calgary the Rockies were just a mountain range painted beautiful purples and blues in the distance. Having grown up in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa I love mountains and could not wait to get there and start exploring – but before that we had a 10 hour drive ahead of us through some extremely flat countryside covered in more wheat and sunflowers than I could ever have imagined. Over into the next province, Alberta supplied the occasional dip in the landscape in the form of a ravine where Drumheller is situated. This amazing town (which may feature in a future episode) is world renowned for its dinosaur finds and superb museum – only time for a quick lunch break before setting off again – we really wanted to reach our apartment in Canmore before nightfall. Tired and travel weary we arrived and settled into our apartment. After a well deserved rest we were fresh for our first trip into the Banff National Park. I could not have dreamed how beautiful this place was going to be and absorbed the atmosphere and scenery into every pore as we adventured deeper into the park. I cannot possibly list every place we went to but will pick a couple that have significance because we managed them all with me in the battered wheels! From Banff we took a gondola up to Sulphur Mountain. They were so amazingly organised that I didn’t even have to get out of my chair. With ramp attached we were quickly aboard and heading up the incredibly giddy heights of the mountain – awesome! Did I mention the few crazy individuals that actually climbed the mountain rather than make use of a perfectly good ride!! At the top at last and we were blessed with a beautiful clear day to enjoy all the wonders from a 360 degree viewing facility.

Many pictures and a good cup of hot chocolate later and we were heading back down the mountain for our drive to Lake Louise.

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