We took a 4 week vacation this year from mid August to mid September. After 5 years away from Canada we went back to visit friends and family plus do a bicycle tour of Cape Breton.
Stop one: Winnipeg
The flight from Auckland to Vancouver was uneventful other than the guy sitting behind Emma passing out in the isle. He ended up being ok. At Vancouver our 5 hour layover stretched to 7 hours due to stormy weather holding up WestJet planes in Winnipeg. It was very late arriving in to Winnipeg and then we had to wait in line for quite a while for a taxi as few taxis were at the airport at 2 am.
Big sleep in the first morning at mom’s, then first stop was Tim Horton’s for Emma’s first ever Tim Horton’s coffee. It was a disappointment after all the yummy flat whites available in NZ. After that went for a nice drive north of the city showing Emma the locks on the Red River at Lockport. We then went through Selkirk past my old high school then back to Winnipeg via hwy 59. Very odd being on the highway as it was so straight and flat. Very unlike New Zealand travel which generally twists, turns up and over hills etc. Had a nice walk in the evening with mom. We were glad for the A/C in both the car and the house because 34C was pretty hot for our first day there!
The next day we went to the Pan Am Pool for a morning swim. I forgot my goggles and had to borrow a pair from the lost and found. There were lots of kid sized ones but very few for adults. It was a nice 50 meter swim tank and we shared a lane. This way, we could circle swim Kiwi style and not have to worry that we were going the wrong direction. That evening there was a family and friends party at my brothers place. Seemed that us dropping by made for a good excuse for people come together for a visit. Everybody admired Doug’s new truck.
The following morning we started with a run before the day got too warm then off to be tourists. Mom showed us where my brother is planning to build his new shop then we drove north of the city to Grand Beach with mom joining us. Grand Beach is a beautiful white sand beach on Lake Winnipeg. Grand Beach has been in use since the early 1900’s. People used to take the train to the beach where there used to be large boardwalk, dance hall and carousel. A fire ended the hall and a modern board walk with food stand replaces the old one. Lots of families out at the beach were enjoying the beach and the lake. We had a nice walk and look around followed by lunch at the food stand. I found the flat straight highway drive rather boring after 5 years of New Zealand driving. Emma wanted pictures to show co workers the flatness so we stopped at a pedestrian overpass at Birdshill Park and took some pictures.
We found out when at Grand Beach that our Canadian bank account bank cards were not working. So we stopped at the bank and found that the cards need to be replaced as the bank have upgraded to a different card. The teller was able to get new cards sorted out in short order. Since we near the right store we did some window shopping for a new laptop for mom.
Emma feeling better today after a not so good feeling tummy yesterday. We headed out of a bit of shopping and lunch out with mom. Lunch was at a French restaurant in St Boniface, a French part of Winnipeg. The restaurant is located on a bridge over the Red River. The tables were all reserved much to our surprise, so we took seats at the bar. The service was good and food very good. The waiter started off in French but soon switched to English when he released we are English speakers. Mom asked how many of the customers speak French and the waiter said about half the clients will use French when ordering etc.
I took my bike saddle with me so it could compare it to the saddles at the bike shops. Went back one shop where Emma got some shorts the other day to look at saddles. Made a note of two that might be options and headed off to another shop. The second shop had the same brand Selle Italia as my 20 year old saddle. They still make a saddle identical to mine, but I want one with a cut out. Was able to look at a new model that is very close in shape and profile wise to my saddle. Ended up buying the saddle as am pretty sure it will work for me and my current saddle can go on my track bike as the saddle currently on it is not quite right for me.
Grand Beach Rescue Gear
Winnipeg New Museum
Emma with Snow Shoes
Stop Two: Cape Breton
We got into Halifax from Winnipeg the previous evening. Was a good flight with a 3 hour stop over in Ottawa where we had lunch and picked up some t shirts at one of the airport shops. Was a shock to find out how far out of town the Halifax airport is. It was something we just never thought about. Too used to cities where the airport is on the edge of or in town. We had a nice supper in the hotel restaurant and had a bit of a walk about before turning in for the night.
In the morning we had a nice run around the Halifax Citadel and through the public garden before breakfast. In the park they had these geese that must be of an older variety. The picture posted lower down does not truly show how big the goose was. We went to Smitties for breakfast then went for a walk down to the waterfront and through the farmers market.
The cycle tour people were to pick us up at our hotel at noon and we were not sure what would happen with lunch so we picked up some subs to take with us. A van picked us up and we had to pick up other people at other hotels and at one residence. Bit of trouble finding the last guy but did not take long to get underway.
Lots of chatter in the van as everyone introduced each other. One girl was from Calgary and Emma had a nice chat with her. I was surprised at how good the roads were. This likely is partially do to the past 5 years in New Zealand and not being used to traveling on major highways anymore. We had one stop for food etc and then pushed on to Baddeck Cape Breton where we would spend the night. Emma and I were given a nice cottage to stay in. After getting settled we got our cycling gear on, grabbed our peddles and saddle and setup our tour bikes for the week. I brought a few tools, a measuring tape and measurements off our our own bikes to aid in setting up our rental bikes. Once we had the bikes setup we went for a short ride to get used to them and make minor changes to Emma’s bike. The oddest thing for me was that the brake controls are opposite what I was used to. I always setup my bike moto style with the front brake control on the right. North American and maybe other places for some reason setup up bicycles with the front brake control on the left. The bikes we have at home and bought in New Zealand are already setup moto style as that is the norm in New Zealand and Australia.
We headed out of Baddeck after we all had breakfast together. Everyone spread out a bit but other than one keener no one sped off alone. We had some unpaved road to ride early in the day but it was not an issue for anyone. The van was never far away and there were plenty of opportunities to pick up water and or a snack from the van. They gave us trip sheets to carry that gave good directions so we would not get lost. But that did not prevent the keener from making a left instead of a right turn at a T intersection and get lost for a long while. It was not till she did not turn up a the lunch stop that we realized she was missing. One guide took the van and drove up and down the road, phoned the hotel etc trying to locate her. Her navigation error had her doing the first part of the days ride a second time. The van found her and gave her a ride to the hotel as the rest of us had finished the days ride by that point.
Halifax Public Garden
First Day on the Bike
What Me Jump!
Hell Yes, I’ll Jump
Salmon Poaching Equipment
A Bit of Canadiana
Stop Three: Calgary