So, it turned out, we could have stayed a couple of extra weeks in Newfoundland. It only took us one day of actual looking, to buy our new (old) car. So we got to spend the next few weeks hanging out in Ottawa, relaxing and easing into our coming fall/winter travels. There was still lots to keep us busy. There were:
Poker games to play
Faucet to replace
Hammi to watch lounge outside
and Fred to help
go on adventures.
The time passed quickly, as it so often does, and we soon found ourselves loading new(old) Fit for our travels north, then west. Having bought pretty much the same vehicle, we knew our life would fit … into the Fit (HA!). So we said our goodbyes to Mom, Hammi and Kathy (aka the bratty sister), and headed off.
Lil’ Black performed perfectly. No issues, and kilometrage seems on par with Lil’ Red. We made it to our first stop in Thessalon, which is a lovely town with a nice motel on the shores of the North Channel. We once sailed past here on our way south, and our friend Chester used to have his summer home in the community RV park. So it always feels right to stop here.
The next day we passed through the Sault, and turned north for the stunning part of the drive along Lake Superior’s shores. The weather was great, so we made quick time, driving past our old haunts near Marathon. This included passing by the Hemlo Gold mine. The operation has shifted largely to an open-pit mine, and the tailing mountain gets bigger and bigger each time we pass by. It’s kinda scary…
Our first house-sit stop of our winter sojourn was to be at Cathie & Joe’s place near Rossport, a village of a few hundred people. Their house is actually in a place called Selim, with a population of perhaps a few dozen, making it the suburbs of Rossport. We often stop here for a few nights as we pass by, but this time we had been asked to stay for nearly two weeks, while Joe & Cathie travelled to Quebec City.
This trip is just the latest in many excursions taken by Cathie and Joe, along with Cathie’s brother Duncan, and sister Margaret. They’ve chartered a canal boat in France, taken a small boat cruise in Norway, and stayed in a village overlooking the Isle of Skye.
Our friends sure know how to live! But so do we, because we got to look after their beautiful home on the shore of Lake Superior, while looking after the cutest dog alive: Piper!
We arrived a couple of days before the gang was to depart on their trip. While we’ve spent time at their Shangri-La house in the past, we were always just guests. Living a life off the beaten path is glorious, but sometimes more challenging. There was plenty to learn about generators and water systems, about maintenance and the garden, about newspaper delivery and garbage day, and most of all, about Piper.
We also got to spend time getting to know Margaret and Duncan. We’d heard so much about them both over the years, so it was great to finally put real faces to all the antics. As expected, both Cathie’s siblings are sweet, incredibly smart, and a joy to be around. We had a grand time just hanging out with them for those couple of days.
We finally saw the gang off, and were left to manage pup and home. Piper was a trooper, and seemed to accept us right away. She kept us busy, with all the walks and regular feedings, and of course daily ball time.
The time passed all too quickly, which happens when you’re constantly busy. In addition to all the Piper walks and plays, we did some minor work around the place. Ann did some cleaning, harvested a bit of the garden and I managed to split a bunch of firewood. We lived well, enjoying the fruits of Cathie & Joe’s gardening labour.
Sadly, our time came to an end all too soon. Cathie, Joe and Duncan returned safe and sound (Margaret flew directly home from Quebec City), with more grand stories to share. We spent one more glorious day hearing about their latest adventure, and then we packed Lil’ Black up, and said our goodbyes. Happily, we know we’ll be back in a few months, so the parting was not so sorrowful.
With some weather coming in, we decided to give ourselves an extra day to do the 2,000km drive. Lil’ Black performed admirably, but with only all-season tires on, we carefully planned our stops to avoid the worst of the wintry weather.
We stopped in places we’d not been before. First Ignace, ON , then Portage La Prairie where we drank some good beer (actually, bought near Kenora) , and met the motel owner: Paul. Turns out Fireball Paul is a local folk singer who gave us an impromptu concert, so we could hear his latest tunes.
On our final day, we stopped for lunch at a Maple Creek Chinese/Canadian eatery. I’m sure the decorations haven’t changed since the 1970s! Food tasted like it was from that era as well. Frozen ripple fries, basic burger, old-style milk shake machine. It was all very good… but felt like a blast from the past.
Our next destination for our house-sitting season had us in Medicine Hat, at a home we had first sat for in the spring. Gail & Pat’s place is nestled on the edge of “The Hat”, not far from the South Saskatchewan River. Their house is located in a quiet community, and is very nice and comfortable. They have two little Morkie dogs, and two cute cats. The dogs went with the ‘parents’, so all we have to do is look after the home, and cuddle with the kitties: