Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

I am a little sad to be writing this because we have had such a wonderful trip to Canada and America.

One last trip north on the I35 to Minneapolis airport where we will drop off our trusty steed after a mammoth round trip arriving in Chicago, Illinois, Minneapolis in Minnesota through North Dakota, Saskatchewan, back through Saskatchewan, Montana, South Dakota, touching on Wyoming, then back through Minnesota and onto Chicago before returning to Manchester in the UK.

This journey has seen us encounter many happy moments which we will treasure, and unfortunately a very sad loss  in the family.  The former we will bore our grandchildren with one day when we will incessantly repeat ourselves without ever realising we have told the story just last visit – the latter we will strive to find peace with, whilst supporting our amazing family along the way.

Life is a journey which we cannot predict – therefore we continue with my motto – Living, and Loving, Life….


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A happy thanksgiving from Canada, to all my family and friends all over the world.
We started the day with some lovely homemade scones, jam and cream (sorry England family) and are now busy preparing the turkey and all the trimmings ready for the rest of the guests. Our niece made a special table centrepiece at school….

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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.


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?).


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 know this post is going to be very familiar to those international travellers amongst us, but bear in mind that I have only been a wheelchair user for around 2 years. I have been to many European and South African destinations without any disasters with my cheap (£140), internet purchased wheelchair. So, in September 2008, without a second thought we made for Manchester airport and the long flight and many change overs to visit family in Saskatoon, Canada. Manchester to Heathrow, Heathrow to Calgary and then an 8 hour drive back towards Saskatoon. Sounds simple? Think again! My wheelchair which was loaded at the plane door and should have been safe looked like it had gone a few rounds with an angry Rhinoceros. The back was bent, the wheels crushed and when we opened it bits flew all over the airport car park! The airline customer services we very nice when we reported the damage and they told us to replace the chair and send off the invoices for a refund. Easier said than done when you are about to go half way across a vast country to your next destination. Anyway, we decided to take the chair and have it repaired as best we could in Saskatoon. Considering the damage, the repairers did a great job that allowed me to use it for the duration of the holiday – it just did not open and close any more! Luckily my sister-in-law also has a spare wheelchair and I used this whenever I could in and around the town. The old battered one did however come into its own when we went off track because by then we had nothing to lose and were no longer concerned about damaging it; after all we could not possibly do worse than the airline. 

Canada was a pleasure to get around in a wheelchair and the facilities were very good.  Disabled bays were never used by anyone other than official badge holders – well done Canada!   Some countries can learn a lot from their respect for disabled drivers. 

On a completely different note, the other photo is just a wonderful reminder of many early mornings spent queuing outside Tim Horton’s for fresh coffee and the most amazing selection of doughnuts.  If you are ever in Canada, they should not be missed.

Next episode coming soon….

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