Yesterday was notable for several reasons.
We've made it to the Central time zone.
We've never been here before -- once we passed Kakabeka Falls, we're further west than we've driven in Canada.
This is the first night of five provinces in five days, something Allan loves, and I also think is cool.
And it didn't snow!
From Sudbury to Wawa was 488 kilometres and it was a long, grueling day. Yesterday we drove 706 kilometres and it was so much easier. Yesterday was also the longest planned leg of the whole trip. From now on the driving will be a little less each day.
We started the day with a big breakfast at North of 17, the same place we had dinner the previous night. This excellent breakfast included toast made from homemade bread. As I said, the diner of my dreams.
I was getting a bit stressed about the time. I woke up at 6:00, got Allan up at 7:00, yet somehow we were getting on the road close to 10. I was worried that we'd be driving at night again. A and M reassured me: a portion of every day's drive will be in darkness, and that's just the way it is. The daylight hours are short, and we can't start early enough to stop before dusk. If we did, we'd be driving in the dark anyway -- in the morning. This made me feel much better. One more thing to let go of.
The weather was sunny and cold again, emphasis on the cold. The windchill was -30 C (-22 F). For weeks I've been saying that on this trip, I'll go for a good walk with Diego every morning, and we'll walk him together every evening. It never occurred to be it might be too cold for that! Diego is getting a little antsy from lack of exercise, but there's not much we can do about it right now. It is just too damn cold. (PS: it's +8 C in Port Hardy right now.)
The first part of the drive was really beautiful, with amazing views of Lake Superior, and surrounded by snow-covered evergreens. The road was completely clear -- in fact, as soon as it started to snow the day before, there were plows out -- and seemed newly paved. We switched driving a few times and "made good time," as the saying goes. Somehow we can't find our ice scraper, so when we stopped for gas, I picked one up along with three (small) bags of chips, which became our lunch. Not good. I don't need a giant salt infusion in the middle of the day.
Speaking of which, we've had some discussion about what to do about eating on the road. M would prefer we stop at a supermarket, buy food to take with us, to save money and be more self-sufficient. Allan and I will sometimes do that on road trips, but on this trip, that just feels like too much work, and kind of unpleasant. We can't eat outside (obviously) so that means eating in the car. How much money or time would we really save? Allan and I agree that we don't want to go to a restaurant and spend an hour on lunch, but we could pop into a Tim's or something similar. With everything this move is costing us, spending a few more dollars on food is fine. Right now convenience and a bit of comfort are more important than economizing to that extent.
Around Thunder Bay, the highway widens and mostly straightens out, and we were able to drive faster. I'm using cruise control, hoping that will allow me to drive more without pain. So far, so good. Oh yes, speaking of pain, my finger hurts, and likely will for a long time -- but luckily it's on my left hand.
Somewhere west of Thunder Bay but before our planned stop, we passed a plaque marking the beginning of the Central time zone. I was driving, so Allan changed the clock in the car, and was very happy of suddenly "gaining" an hour.
We made it to the Westwood Motel in Ignace, Ontario, about ten minutes after M pulled in with the truck. It's a bit of a dump, but it's clean, the bed is comfy, the pillows are fluffy, and there's plenty of room for Diego's crate. We went around the corner to the Mystic Bar and Grill for dinner. M declined again, and picked up something to microwave in his room. I think at the end of a long day, he feels this is more relaxing. Me, when we stop for the night, I am going to a restaurant, eating dinner, and having a glass of wine. Non-negotiable!
When we did our last-minute packing, I found an almost-full bottle of vodka in the freezer, and we still had a carton of orange-peach-mango juice. So after dinner, M came to our room, we busted out the little plastic motel cups, and I tended bar. We had a good time... and then totally crashed. I very nearly slept in my clothes; it just seemed like too much work to do anything else. Allan kind of shamed me into being more civilized.
Today, Manitoba! We've never seen the prairies, and despite everyone saying there's nothing to see, it's a new landscape and we're looking forward to it. We're also hoping to connect with a friend in Winnipeg, on our way to Brandon.