Day 5 – Gold
Early rise to a icy cold Quebec City and back on the road…this looks familiar. We were desperate for some Booster Juice, but had to settle for a Jugo Juice, whatever that is. Unfortunately the one nearest us was dead center of a shopping mall. Once we navigated around the rather impressive mall, we discovered that Jugo Juice, which was supposed to be opened 30 minutes prior to our arrival, was in fact closed. Qu’est-ce fuq? No matter, we found a breakfast spot around the corner and made our way back to the car and subsequently the open road. We were pleasantly surprised with how beautiful Quebec is, and admired all of the ski hills during the drive through Mont Tremblay. We stopped in a small town for lunch, and decided on St-Hubert, which is a rotisserie chicken family restaurant. Now, before I continue, let me just say that although I was granted bilingual status when I graduated high school, I’ve lost some of what I’ve learned about the French language and I totally draw blanks when faced with a conversation with a French speaking person. Luckily, up until and including this point, everyone we’ve come in contact with spoke English pretty well, so I sheepishly avoided speaking French at all costs. At some point Kyle even said to me “do you even speak French?” which was a joke that I did not find funny. Nevertheless, back to my story. Our waitress at St-Hubert was as sweet as pie and when she discovered that we were English, she blushed and said she would try her best with English. Naturally, she spoke English extremely well. I don’t know if it was her kind spirit or the impressive way she stepped effortlessly out of her comfort zone to speak my language, but somewhere between the appetizer and the main course, I had decided it was only fair for me to show the same respect, step out of my own comfort zone and order my dessert in French. And so, although the nervousness messed with my otherwise healthy appetite, after I had finished my sandwich and she had come to take our plates, I began to choke out the workings of a sentence. I thanked her for her kindness, complimented her on her English, told her it was time for me to practice my French, and proceeded to order the Chocolate Mountain brownie, because duh. To my surprise, it went over really well! I realized that maybe it wasn’t that I had forgotten my French, but maybe I had forgotten my confidence in what I knew. In any case, I felt pretty empowered when she beamed with excitement over my French and left to retrieve our chocolately goodness.
We continued our journey through Quebec and found ourselves smack dab in the center of no where. After a few hours of no cell service and some snowy weather, we arrived in the oh-so-quaint town of Val D’Or. We followed routine – after we offloaded our belongings to our room and made Maisy comfortable, it was time to eat. We found another family restaurant, where once again the waitress spoke fluent English. She asked us where we were from, as we were far too polite. Newfoundlanders, wha? We’re some nice. It was a nice way to end our time in the province of Quebec.
Day 6 – Why am I still hearing French words?
It was off to Hearst, Ontario, which turned out to be yet another French speaking town, as well as a logging community. The whole town smelled of freshly cut trees, and it smelled so wonderful mixed with the crisp coldness. The trouble was getting there. We stupidly and accidentally allowed for our GPS to be packed up and shipped with our belongings, and had been using our phone maps, draining our data. To conserve said data, we fell into the habit of mapping a route, getting on the right track and then turning off the navigation. This proved to be a flawed system as we managed to get 30 kms off track! Oops. Luckily we caught ourselves and turned the car around before too much distance had occurred! What’s a road trip without getting lost at least once? Although the town was definitely a nice little place, this stop was painfully uneventful. The motel was below average and we did the same thing we’ve done the past 5 nights: eat, watch tv, sleep. We were ready for some English.
Day 7 – This is NOT the Holiday Inn
It was time to leave Hearst and head to Thunder Bay! I had high hopes for this leg of the trip. So, we put the car in for an oil change at Canadian Tire, and evidently, a part had to be replaced as well for safety reasons. We grabbed a GPS to avoid any similar mishaps of Day 6 and we piled back into our tuned up car. We made a B-line for Thunder Bay, where I was determined to eat tacos, find a Persian donut, and go bowling! We had reserved a room at the Holiday Inn online the night before, so we punched the address into the GPS and off we went. As we drove into Thunder Bay and followed the directions of GPS Lady, we noticed the type of buildings we were passing by. Something wasn’t right. They seem a little run down, don’t they Kyle? I suggested, as we continued down a road not well maintained. There is no delicate way of putting it: we were straight up in the hood. GPS Lady chimed in. “The destination is on your right. Holiday Inn.” The hell it ain’t! We slowly passed what was a very old and run down motel, with a broken light-up sign that read The Holiday Inn. You have got to be kidding me. We pulled over and Kyle began searching for a telephone number for every other hotel in town. To make matters worse, right on cue, a rough looking lady approached our car and knocked on Kyle’s window, but scampered away when she had seen both me and Maisy in the car. Kyle marched into the hotel imposter’s lobby and immediately cancelled our stay. The lady at the desk simply said “oh, you thought this was the big hotel?” Yes ma’am I believe we did. It wasn’t long until we were pulling up at a Days Inn and offloading our belongings. The second disappointment came soon after, when it had come to my attention that there was in fact no Taco Bell in Thunder Bay and I had to settle for Taco Time. ugh, fine. Next on the list? Persian donuts. This is a delicious treat that Kyle’s troop mate had introduced us to during graduation, and they are only made in Thunder Bay. Of course the official bakery responsible for the donut goodness, called The Persian Man, was closed. Really!? We found average Persians at another local coffee shop, but I knew I had been duped, they were not near as good. Ready for the next smack down? For some unexplained reason, I desperately wanted to go bowling. I was ready for some actual fun, following the several days of the same routine day in and day out! We rolled up the the bowling alley and a man greeted us outside the door to inform us that the bowling alley in fact closes early on Mondays. I kid you not. Within one hour of being in Thunder Bay, everything I wanted to do was shot down. The only thing left to do was watch the hockey game in our room and fall asleep. If that ain’t a kick in the guts! There’s always Winnipeg…
Day 8 – Where did all of the kilometers come from?
All I could do was hope that Winnipeg would be a greater success than Thunder Bay was. For some reason though, what we believed was a 5 hour drive was actually a 7.5 hour drive… where did all of those kilometers come from? Regardless, off we went. Nothing noteworthy happened on Day 8! I won a free coffee and then drank the free coffee. We arrived in Winnipeg at rush hour traffic (whoops!) and found our hotel, a REAL Holiday Inn. Bowling was once again a scratch, as the lanes were so busy, so after I dragged Kyle into the Dollar Tree (yeah, in Canada! woohoo!) and we had our financial dreams crushed at Best Buy, we just went back to our room, snuggled with Maisy, ordered Pizza and watched yet another hockey game.
The next destination for us is Saskatchewan! Finally, we are nearing our new province. I am extremely ready to spend some time in Regina, as it holds some of the greatest memories and is home to the best six days of my life. Only single-digit hours away from our final destination, the excitement and nervousness has definitely settled in.