We’ve been on the road for over 100 days and 21,000 kms, and now…it is coming to an end. What an amazing trip it has been – sketchy motels, rained-out campgrounds, run-over skunks, less-than-healthy road food and all. Every single day has been an adventure and travelling through Canada has often felt like being in a foreign country. We didn’t know what we didn’t know.
Our first stop heading west from Quebec City was Ottawa – to visit our friends Jon and Linda. We met them years ago on Gabriola – at Linda’s summer home. They split their time between homes on Gabriola, Ottawa and Jon’s cottage in the Gatineau Hills. We have now visited them in all three places. It was a gorgeous drive out to the Gatineaus from Ottawa – another area of Quebec we want to return to.
Jon’s newly-acquired raft – exciting playtoy for the grandkids and Stephen. It didn’t stay this calm for long. In true terrorize-the-kids fashion, Stephen swam up behind the raft to grab little toes – lots of screaming and shrieking ensued.
Cottage memories in the making.
Back in Ottawa, we did the obligatory pose beside the poker-faced guards. I asked one of the RCMP officers about the guards – they change every hour ( challenging to stand for longer than that in those hot, heavy uniforms), and no, I would not be able to make them laugh unless I was a family member – their training runs pretty deep.
Below: Stephen, Jon, Linda and me.
We were only in Ottawa for a day, and like so many other places, we will have to return for a longer period of time and really explore the sights, especially their fantastic museums.
Jon and Linda took us to see the MosaïCanada 150/Gatineau 2017, presented by Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montreal, and built in a park in Gatineau in honour of Canada 150. At first, I was lukewarm about the idea (“some structures made out of flowers and plants”), but this exhibition blew us away. We walked through an old train station (made of plants) to see this:
Canada’s first CPR locomotive to bring travellers right across Canada, #374.
This exhibition was constructed in Parc Jacques Cartier in Gatineau, and is open until October 15 – entirely free! There are 33 works of art, covering the 10 provinces and three territories, as well as some memorable Canadian moments, like the big goal in 1972.
Before the exhibition, Parc Jacques-Cartier was simply the usual city park – grass, trees, shrubs and pathways. It is so completely transformed that it’s hard to imagine it hasn’t always looked like this. The work of over 100 horticulturists, including some from Beijing and Shanghai, used 3 million plants (80 different varieties of hardy, seasonally-changing flowers) for their creations.
The plants were effectively used to create not only the figures, but landscape and sea.
This may be familiar to many Canadians – the sculpture of a killer whale done by Bill Reid in front of the Vancouver Aquarium, called Chief of the Undersea World. Not a bad replica.
Or this – the image by artist Nathalie Bertin, used on The Royal Canadian Mint’s $10 silver coin. A lone wolf howls against a backdrop of northern lights.
The puffins, cute as ever, with a mouthful of capelin.
I loved the effect achieved on the muskoxen, how the shaggy grasses match their real-life shaggy coats.
And these extraordinary sculptures, by well-known U.K. artist Heather Jansch are known as “ecological art” – made of driftwood. Jansch carefully selects branches that do not require cutting or altering to fashion her creations – many of them take over 6 months of finish.
The mare Odyssey and her colt Hope.
Our trip west from Ottawa involved two more visits with friends. We spent a couple of days again with Kris and Gord at their cottage at Farren Lake and this time the weather cooperated. We had beautiful swims, long walks and a trip to nearby Westport, one of the scenic small towns on the Rideau Canal system.
Our final night on the road was spent in Toronto with Lorne and Anne – a relaxing dinner and gab and possibly a bit too much wine.
Now we’re in Fergus, staying with my parents for a few days until Stephen leaves for a quick overnight in London with his dad and family and then his westward trip begins. He’s driving through the U.S. – the land of cheap gas, well-designed highway rest stops and a whole different landscape to enjoy.
It will be another adventure to look forward to – solo driver, no ongoing commentary and editorializing to keep him company, and an iPad full of tunes and audio-books.
I’ll be with my folks until September 12th and then fly back to Nanaimo, where we’ll be based until the new year. We’re looking forward to a couple of housesits to get our feet back on the ground and our animal fixes in, and are grateful to be in our old stomping grounds to re-connect with our friends there.
Our plans are to travel through India and Sri Lanka for a few months, beginning in January and we will resume our blog postings then.
Our heartfelt thanks for following along and helping to keep us connected to you all. It has made all the difference to know you’re there.
We may post occasionally before January, as we gather our thoughts about what it means to have no home and how we plan to go forward over the next few years. We’ll share our decision-making strategies, our (rough) financial plan on how we’ve made it all work and lessons from the road.
A final iconic image from our Canada 150 trip.
18 thoughts on “Taking the slow road back home”
Thanks for taking us along ….look forward to being neighbours for a short time
Us too – that neighbourhood is growing on us. We can pass cups of sugar over the fence. See you soon!
Thanks for sharing your amazing journey with us! Safe travels to both of you on your respective paths out west.
Love the garden 150 pictures! Safe travels, look forward to seeing you for some fish suppers! xomc.
Mary Charlotte – it will be great to catch up and hear about all your summer adventures. xo
Thanks Donna – it will be great to be back “home” again. See you in September!
I await more stories from India. Nicola
Hopefully I’ll see you before that – I’ll be in touch soon to see if you’re in the neighbourhood.
Looking forward to seeing you soon. Thank you for taking us on this trip. It was great fun.
Jim and Sheila
it will be great to see you too and hear all about your summer and upcoming travel plans.
Stephen is more than welcome in Saint Paul, if he comes our way! May you be able to fully recharge over the next few months. I have SO enjoyed your chronicles and look forward to more. I hope your reflections include information how you’ve been feeding yourselves. I know life on the road, with no kitchen, can be challenging, even though there have been plenty of delicious things to eat throughout your travels.
Junita – that is a lovely offer, but the way Stephen has planned the route, he will be in Madison one night and Fargo the next. We will be planning trips through the U.S. when our dollar gets a little more robust and will be sure to look you up then. Or maybe our plans will even cross somewhere else – stranger things have happened.
As for feeding ourselves – that is a learning curve, for sure. My body is not impressed with me right now – how to avoid the fat/sugar/sodium trifecta that are restaurant and take-out meals is a big challenge.
Your pictures of the exhibition blew me away! What an amazing undertaking!
Well, all good things must come to an end … thank you so much for sharing parts of Canada I may never see for myself and for reinforcing the fact that we are blessed to live in such a rich and varied country. Wishing you both a safe journey “home”.
Thanks for the kind words and your ongoing support Heather – it means a lot. Next summer we are planning a trip north through Alberta and B.C. up to the Territories, so we may see you and Mitch then.
We are blessed – there is more to see in our own country than we ever will manage in our lifetime – we’re trying to plan slightly less massive trips and see a little more that way.
Ginny: What will I do without your blog. I have been living vicariously through you & Steven for months & months. I say you are brave, courageous and have a “risky” spirit. You have stepped out of the box and brought us along for the ride. Thank you. Safe travels ahead…..xoxo
That is lovely of you to say, Patti, but honestly our risks are few. We have met people our age and older who do groundbreaking trips that involve physical danger and real discomfort. We’ve had tick bites and gale force winds. Baby steps… I’m thinking India might challenge us.
thanks so much for following – we’ll see you in a few months again.
Beautiful photos of the park! Loved the summary of your 100 days, it really was wonderful travelling along with you. See you in BC at some point this fall. So excited for your India/ Sri Lanka trip. You are going to love the sights, sounds and smells, it is unbelievable in every way! Safe travels home and enjoy your visit with your parents. They must be thrilled to death to have you home! Hugs.
Really looking forward to seeing you and Gary. Stephen sets out tomorrow and before we know it, I’ll be back home again as well. These trips seem to follow a pattern – they stretch out for days and weeks and then – boom – the pace accelerates and it’s over. We’re ready to get off the road though – time to just enjoy being in one place with friends and family. We will appreciate any advice and tips about India and Sri Lanka when we see you.
and yes, it’s good to be with my parents and have them to myself for a couple of weeks. They seem pleased.