A slow week and a chance to just relax. Very few photos but stay tuned for next week.
Monday 21st May
Woke to brilliant sunshine with no fog or mist obscuring our view of Port Hood bay.
We are heading back to PEI today and we could have tolerated a wet day, instead we get a brilliant sunny day which is what we wanted yesterday.
We drove through three Provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI.
Alecia researched somewhere for lunch and found Murphy’s Fish and Chips at Truro. It was some distance off the motorway but it is rated as the best fish and chips in Truro. It was a strangely located restaurant in what might be called a strip mall. Externally it did not look all that interesting but once inside, the décor made us feel more comfortable. The crowded tables also gave us more confidence. That said the fish is a local Canadian haddock and is quite tasty. Once more we were pleased they serve real fish and not the imported catfish, Basa, from South East Asia. Unlike many Australian fish and chipperies which serve up the yukky un- Australian Basa. Shame shame shame.
The highlight of the trip was from New Brunswick to PEI on the 12.9 Klm long Confederation Bridge.
There is a big hump in the middle to allow cruise and other tall ships to pass underneath. (I would not be surprised if an iceberg or two passed underneath too)
Tuesday 22nd May
Today was a lay day for us to recover. Tyler went to work, Vianna went to school and Alecia went shopping for fresh veggies to take on her flights to Calgary when she returns to work tomorrow.
Checking our tickets which incidentally Air Canada have modified twice since we booked in December. We now have a 6 hour layover in Montreal before our connecting flight to Calgary. Grrr!
We called Air Canada and after a 23 minute wait were told there is not an earlier flight. Double Grrr!
We drove Alecia to the airport at 5pm for her several connecting flights to the Alberta oil sands site to begin work tomorrow.
Wednesday 23rd May
Up early. We drove Alecia’s car to the airport at Charlottetown and left it in short term parking for Tyler to collect later in the morning. At the ticket counter we found there is an earlier flight to Montreal. We were booked onto that earlier flight (at no extra cost but we did have to pay an extra $57 for our bags. There is no free baggage allowance) Instead of a 6 hour layover in Montreal and arriving at 9.30pm we now just have time for a quick lunch and arrive in Calgary at 4pm.
At Calgary Donnis neice, Simone was waiting for us but surprise, surprise so were Myah and Ivan were there too (they are Simones in-laws) Unbeknownst to all of us they were on the same flight as us. There were sitting just forward in First Class. They have just returned from a trekking holiday to the mountains of Peru.
We dropped Myah and Ian at their home. They have been travelling for more than 24 hours and are severely jet lagged. From there we went to Simone and Lazars house for dinner. Lazar used the last of his wild caught red salmon. He goes on an annual fishing excursion in the wilds of Princess Charlotte Islands which is north of British Columbia in the permanent ice fields and 365 days snow- capped mountains. He cooked the fish in his smoker/barbecue and we had a delicious smoked salmon dinner sitting outside. It is amazing really. We left the cold east coast of Canada and a few hours later at Calgary the temp is 27° and people are in shorts and Tshirts and can eat outside. We were somewhat overdressed in warm clothes and jackets.
Finally we arrive at Joan’s house, a hot shower and we were ready for bed.
Tomorrow is not planned although we expect family here in Calgary will make some plans for us.
There is talk about going to “the mountains” next week and perhaps joining Myah and Ivan for a few days travelling to Banff and on to Golden and to their resort ski lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain. Lazar commented there was still skiable snow there last week.
On the news tonight was a report that Nova Scotia had snowfall today. That would have been fun if it had occurred while we were there on the weekend.
Thursday 24th May
Another lay day. While Donnis went to visit her mother I stayed around home getting up to date with my notes and photo editing.
In the evening we drove to Ivan and Myah’s house for a barbecue. Joan, Simone and Lazar rounded out the numbers. They put on quite a huge meal, Bulgarian style, including toasts with grappa. First up there was a cold yoghurt based Tzatziki soup followed by various salads including a wonderful roasted capsicum in a simple marinade of vinegar and olive oil. The green salad had these wonderful Pickled Peruvian Peppers about the size of a little finger fingernail. Only then did we start eating the steaks which had been resting. Dessert was a tiramisu with fresh berries.
Lots of good food, good conversation and good fun.
Simone gave us the use of her Audi for a few days.
Friday 25th May
Today I tried to get a simple Pre-Paid SIM card from local telcos.
I will never (and I ask others to do the same) never complain about Telstra again. Telstra is easy to deal with, has Australia Wide coverage and phone and data costs are reasonable.
I tried talking with Freedom Mobile. Nope. Do not have a simple plan. Nope your phone is not compatible in our system. Try going to Telus. If your phone is not compatible on their system it will not be compatible anywhere in Canada. I mentioned I was on foot so he directed me to an obscure Telus office where I only had to cross two major roads. Funny thing about footpaths here in Calgary. They simply end in the middle of nowhere then start again 200 metres later.
The Telus office was obscure and the only officer there was curious how I even found the store which is located in a lcomplex mainly used by panel beaters and accident assessors. Geoff, who served me, said he has never had a walk in client in two years. Go figure.
Geoff, the only person in the store listened and retained what I told him. He used his SIM card in my phone and it worked. Next I needed a plan and this where we ran into the first of several hurdles. The plan for $45 included half a Gb of data and unlimited local calls. Hmmm! I will want to use it in British Columbia. It is no longer a local call and it will cost 61 cents per minute extra but data is Canada wide whereas phone is limited to the Province for which it is set up. I could pay an extra $5 per month to modify the extra fee down to 25 cents per minute. Sheesh! No problem said Geoff when you want to make calls from BC, call me and I will change your location. Hmmm! I am getting a little antsy about now but agree to proceed. Now comes payment. Geoff could not get his computer to accept my Master Card Pre -Paid Traveller Card which I have used everywhere we have gone in Canada including buying meals, groceries, WalMart purchases, airline baggage payments and ATM withdrawals. He rang a colleague who, maybe, should be able to process the card. Nope! Nor could they process my regular Visa credit card. Telus will only accept Canadian or US based Credit Cards. WTF. Hmmm! Geoff found a solution. A 48 hour free call was attached to the phone so I can go to a convenience store and buy credit and then activate my account. But first they need an address. I do not have an address I am travelling and have no idea of my address because it has things like SE and SW and North and 98 street W in the name and I only walked the 2 Klms to get here and memorised the way so I can walk back. Hmmm! So Geoff uses his address. OK so far but wait. I have to pay $20 for the SIM card. OK $65 for the convenience is acceptable. But we are not finished. There is a $1 tax on the card.
I walk the 2.5 Klm to the convenience store only to find the minimum card is not $45 but $50. But wait there is still the tax to be added. The simple $45 pre- paid SIM card has now cost $73.50 and I can only use the phone and text part of the deal while I am in Alberta. If I want to go to BC to use the phone I have to get Geoff to change my location. The service by Geoff was fantastic. He went way beyond my expectations even when I was ready to call it quits early in our conversation. His dogged determination to get me what I wanted or at least most of what I wanted was worth a round of applause. The trouble is with the inflexibilty of the Telus and Canadian mobile phone system.
At least now we have access to Google maps so we can find our way around and people can call us and vice versa…provided it is in Alberta. It seems if somebody from BC or elsewhere calls it will be a long distance call. I am unsure after discussion with Geoff who pays that long distance call. The caller or the called?
Later… I looked it up on the internet. Hmmm! The Canadian system is complicated. It seems both called and caller pay a fee. Seems wrong to me but that’s the way it works in Canada.
Saturday 26th May.
It rained overnight but has since turned sunny. Maybe I can wear shorts again today.
As it turns out …no shorts.
In the morning we took Joan’s “truck” a Toyota Tacoma Ute, to the tyre depot to change to summer tyres. This is interesting. There is a set of tyres for winter conditions, big chunky knobbly tyres to cope with the snow and ice conditions. In the summer those tyres are not needed as they are uncomfortable, noisy and increases fuel consumption. It’s probably what helps to make a mess of local suburban streets. Today the tyres were changed to summer. The winter tyres are wrapped in plastic then stored in the basement near the furnace. Imagine if you will. Every house has a basement with a furnace and stacked nearby are a set of tyres with or without rims. I wonder what people do where there are several cars in the family!
I now understand why the suburban streets are in such a poor state and why there is a build up of fine grit or gravel on the edges of the road. During winter and the heavy snow a salted grit or gravel is laid down by road workers. The cars and trucks with their chunky tyres grind the git and slowly little holes are formed followed by bigger holes. The gritty substance gets pushed by the traffic to the edge of the road. Sometime in the spring…now… the grit is scooped up by front end loaders to be used next year. This further damages the roads.
Donnis and I used our new Telus pre-paid card with data to find our way to Simones house so we can water her garden. On the way back the data disappeared and so did the phone network. Using Joans WiFi I finally got through to an operator who explained my account was set up as a Pay By Use and not the $45 plan Talk Text and Data Plan I asked and paid for. Eventually after being on-line for nearly an hour they called me on the mobile, apologised and gave me an extra 500 Gb of data. I now have a $60 talk text and data plan. Tomorrow will be a test when we go to Andrea’s house for dinner.
Sunday 6th May
A whole day can go by leaving you wondering why it took so long to get things done. It’s the driving back and forwards to relatives living in different parts of the city.
Today was a good workout with our Telus data plan and it passed with flying colours.
After leaving Simones house – where we went to water her veggie patch – we were passed by an ambulance and shortly we were stuck in a gridlock of traffic. We turned around and had coffee nearby. After coffee we discovered the gridlock was even worse. Somewhere along our route had been a major accident. Luckily we were able to plan an alternate route back to Joan’s house.
Apart from watering Simones plants again we drove to visit Donnis mom in a nursing home then took her to visit niece Andrea and husband Brett and their two boys. After a barbecued dinner we took mom back to the nursing home where Donnis decided to do a load of washing and drying. We finally left there at 8pm.
So ends the fourth week of our journey. It has been a pretty quiet week but things will get busy again in a few days and the camera will get a big workout again. I am looking forward to going into the mountains. There is still some snow and the black bears are moving around looking for food and lady black bears.