Sunday, June 17, 2007

Indiana - Canada

1981 miles so far!

A morning off from driving! We thought we deserved it. We had a leisurely morning then headed out of the hotel to the Indiana Dunes State Park, which is right on Lake Michigan about 30 km east of Chicago. This park is famous for its natural sand dune mounds (highest is 123 feet tall!) and sandy beach. The beach was really nice fine sand and it was hot. Its right on the lake and there was lots of people there.

The paths in the park were sandy. Some of them were so sandy that you struggled to climb up the hill because you foot sank completely out of sight with each step. It was beautiful back in the trees though and amazing to see all the sand deposited by the winds.

Our memories of Michigan.
We werent in Michigan that long. Only a fewhours really.

The biggest thing we noticed today was roadkill. We had seen lots over the past few days, but Michigan took it to a new level. I make absolutely no exaggeration when i say that during our 6 hours of driving today from Indiana to canada, (most of which was in michigan) we saw at least 15 deer, 2 dozen raccoons, 6 coyotes, and another 2 dozen assorted bloody mounds on the roads. I couldnt believe it, especially the number of deer. I made a joke near the end that i could get my camera out to catch one within a minute or two of driving, and sure enough, the resulting picture. It was sad. I saw a live deer in the brush looking at the road and yelled at it to stay safe and off the road. Who knows if he heard me. I wonder how long the roadkill stays there until they clean it up? The other big thing on the road was huge pieces of tires all over the road at quite frequent intervals.

And then the big highlight of our day was seeing this sign

It gets tiring to not know where anything is or what each restaurant or store has in it when you want something,etc. So we were looking forward to hitting Ontario, with hopes of good salads (see previous post) and familiar stores and good old colorful Canadian money and a cellphone that would work again. And maybe a little less roadkill! Plus, we got on a video chat with our son bennett and thoroughly enjoyed talking face to face with him as he told us about his day. Isn't technology great!!

So we crossed the big bridge into Canada about 930 pm and now have one more day of driving before we arrive at our destination. Im not sure how much internet we will have at the camp for the next 2 weeks, so I'll say thanks now for joining our journey from your armchair!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Minneapolis- Chicago - the toll roads!!

First thing after breakfast we hit the Mall of America. I couldn’t remember if it was supposed to be bigger than West Edmonton Mall or not, but we went to check it out since it is definitely the largest Mall in the USA. (For info – it is NOT bigger than WEM). We had coffee and walked around and shopped for an hour. It was ok. I liked that it was a loop and not a long straight line like WEM, but otherwise it was just a normal mall.

So today we hit four different states. Lots of driving. From Minnesota we went through Wisconsin, then Illinois until landing in Indiana for the night right on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. I think we drove over 800 km.

We didn’t see too much except a lot of road kill. Yeah. Yuck. And we did notice what I am thinking is a cultural observation of food and the reason partly that perhaps the rate of obesity is growing in the USA at a much faster rate than elsewhere. (Don’t feel too proud, Canada isn’t that far behind). We both wanted a salad for lunch. One of those yummy signature salads that have things like pecans, goat cheese, feta or crumbled bacon with some divine dressing. Well, we tried numerous restaurants and I kid you not, they had no salad. They had sandwiches, fries, cream based soups and larger than huge portions, but you couldn’t even get a plain garden salad. They weren’t on the menu. And these were not fast food restaurants, they were sit down establishments with the word restaurant in their title. No wonder you cant eat healthy as easy when no one provides those type of options when you go out. I had to make do with marinated veggies on the side of a sandwich.

We hit the road after lunch to Chicago and got there after dark. The skyline was beautiful and we had lots of time to appreciate it between traffic and half a dozen stops to pay the toll roads. Once we paid $2.50 for the toll, then drove 3 km, hit another toll station for another $0.45 etc. There were lots of them. All that stopping really took its toll on us. (Punny joke courtesy of Paul)

So now we finally hit our hotel, a bit nicer than the slightly sketchy one we had last night, and are going to bed.

Love Chantelle

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bismarck - Minneapolis

Hmm. We hit the Starbucks that was conveniently located across the road and then hit the road for fargo ND. We drove by the Worlds largest buffalo.

We drove for 3 hours to Fargo then stopped to do some geocaching. We found the first one easy but were foiled after that. It was wet and rainy and lots of mosquitos who loved my capri's. So we only went 1 for 4 we attempted. We really need a handheld.
This is the only one we got.

We were glad we werent headed this direction on the highway. This jam went on for miles.

The scenery changed to more decidious trees and higher humidity. I loved these trees.

And finally, we noticed the plethora of water towers and discussed how Americans havent yet figured out the key to water pressure. Then we saw all the towers and thought the manufacturers must have had a fire sale on this one model.

Sorry, not much else to say. *yawn* Im already tired of driving.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Day Two - Moose Jaw - Bismarck

Once again we didnt manage to leave the crack of dawn. Maybe since this is vacation we arent supposed to anyhow? Hehe

I got an early appointment to a chiropractor since my neck was really out. Thankfully it helped a lot, and hit the road. Nothing too eventful to report. More beautiful scenery along the road towards the border. We stopped in Weyburn Saskatchewan and had a picnic. Our picnic table was surrounded in true Saskatchewan style with oil pump jacks, graineries, trains and fields.

One surprise that allyou good Canadians will understand is we went through Dog River, the town from the hit tv show Corner gas. It is actually there in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan. The whole set is there. Here are some pictures.

Then we crossed the border into North Dakota. No trouble at the border even though our truck is so full it must look like we are moving in illegally. We headed 2 hours down the road to Minot where we took a break and geocached! For those of you who dont know what that is, check

Here are pics of the three caches we found. Not too shabby considering we dont have a hand held device and had to make it work with our vehicle device and Google Earth pics for the location :)

So now we are heading to bed in Bismarck.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Calgary to Moose Jaw!

So we got away a little later than hoped today and drove for 7 1/2 hours to Moose Jaw Saskatchewan.

It was a beautiful sunny day out which lifted our sad spirits (see next post for why). We had our newest toy working ( a vehicle GPS mapper i co-bought with my dad) to easily guide our way and our truck is packed to the hilt!

We stopped in Medecine Hat and saw the Worlds largest Teepee. It was...big.

Then we crossed over into Saskatchewan and the roads immediately got worse. Im not lying. Those of you who have driven there know its true!

The scenery was beautiful. Big rolling plains and hills and fields. Im thankful for a day to be joyful for all we have and not only sad for what we give up.

The sad goodbye

So as some of you know, moving to Africa for us has meant we need to give away our dog. He is a 3 1/2 year old wonderful chocolate lab names Sanka. We could physically take him with us, but his quality of life would plummet. The heat, the bugs, the disease, not to mention no place to go for runs or swims, and people who would hate him and try to poison him (im not even joking). So we had to make the hard choice to love him enough to give him a good here where he would be happy. I am getting tears in my eyes all over again even typing this.

Well our good friends Clark and Jenn and their son Carter are taking Sanka. I am reassured that he will be well loved, maybe even spoiled, and still have a great life. But letting go of him was sooo hard. We told Bennett to say bye to sanka, that he was leaving to go live with someone else, and Bennett gave him huge hugs and love while Paul and I watched and both cried. Then sunday night we brought him to C & J's house and left him. I cried for a long time. We love our dog. WHy is letting go so hard? If we clearly didnt know that this was what we were supposed to do in life we would never put ourselves through the torture.

We also had to leave Bennett and Arielle behind with the grandparents for a few weeks while we are in training which is killing me too. We have never been away from bennett more than one night. I know they will be having lots of fun, i just hate not being there with them. This too shall pass.

SO I guess I am going through a natural process of grieving. I know it will continue to happen, especially as we leave our family when we fly to Niger. *sigh* I know grief is natural and God is with me through it all. But its still awful and we appreciate your prayers.

Giving the love

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The BIG Thank Yous

So we are almost out of our house. I say almost because we still have a few little piles of scattered junk lying around to get rid of, and our truck to pack for Quebec. But our storage is all moved out and the shipping container is all packed and ready for pickup Monday am. There is some hard stuff coming later today...but i'll save that for a post a few days from now.

So i wanted to say thank you to some people who helped us tremendously over the past little while with the gigantic work load of logistics and moving far away. Please indulge me to list a few of you :)

Thank you first of all for all of those who love and have prayed for us during this very stressful time.

Thank you to my neighbors Gina and Janet, for your oft offered childcare so I could pack, for towels so i could pack mine,for our organizing the scrapbook memory sheets which are precious, and for having a little champagne send-off.

To Kirk for helping us with all the physical labour and finally emptying our garage ;)

To Dad, Chad and Michelle - for giving up your vacation time and taking time off work to come pack like crazy. Chad you are shrink wrap king and michelle - i dont know how i would have done it without you.

To Bryan and Lisa for staying that extra while back up here to be part of our days, build things with paul and helping us pack and throwing the family get together for us. And for storing some of our stuff!

The container has begun to be packed!!

To Danielle - for taking our couches to love and for helping pack and making us supper.

To Kristi -for making the diaper run to Costco for me even though you are moving too and have no kids. Im sure the stares you got were pretty funny! In case anyone was wondering, 13 cases of diapers is over $600!! Yikes.

To all our family who came for our commissioning. It was so special you were there.

To Captain Mike for stopping by and giving us free Fire Department t-shirts :)

Its hard to believe that we leave for out East tomorrow. Wow. We will update along the way as we can!!