Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What Should We Name This Place? C eh N eh D eh Part 2

For part one, see here.

By the time DM and I reached the Minnesotan/Canadian border, it was dark and few cars were on the road. It was close to 11 PM our time and it seemed that Ontario is in the Eastern Standard Time Zone, so it was almost Wednesday there.

We had brought our passports as identification for the border, even though they are not required until 2007 (or so I've heard). No stamps were added to our little blue books, however we did have an interesting discussion with the border patrol man. Since the purpose of our trip was to go bowling in Canada, we had decided that the reason we should give the man was for entertainment. I chickened out (mainly because I was tired and wanted to find a hotel/motel as quickly as possible to crash) and just left it at that.

He asked for our names, which we gave along with the passports, and then asked us if we knew anyone in Canada. Figuring that he's meaning people we're actually going to visit (because there are a few bloggers and this Moldovan woman who stayed at our house when I was in college that I barely remember), I told him, "I don't think so." I turned to DM and she echoed my response. Then I told him, "I know someone who used to live in Canada!" At that point, he waived us by with that look of, "Stupid Americans." I don't think was that interested in the fact that I work with two people who were Canadian citizens at one point in time.

Welcome to OntarioWelcome to Ontario - More to Discover

We were back on the road, headed for Thunder Bay, about a forty minute drive.
My first impressions of Canada were not what one would call impressive. Do you know that there are not many streetlights along Canadian highways? At least in this part of Canada this is a fact. We would pass the occasional Night Danger! sign and random truck filled with lumber. I kept repeating that, "Canada is dark." Which for the sleep deprived, it quite funny.

We finally found a hotel along the road, a nice, safe looking Best Western. Happiness washed over the both of us as we contemplated the thought of cushy beds and a solid night of sleep. Walking in, we find the desk and there is a very nice woman on the phone, talking to a future guest who had the good idea to plan ahead. She ends the conversation, "We'll see you then," and turns to us.

VNC (Very Nice Canadian): "Checking in?"
B (that's me!): "Hopefully. Do you have any open rooms?"
VNC: "Oh, sorry, but we are full. Actually, all of Thunder Bay is full *because Canada must be extemely popular in May - what?!?*. There is a room left in Kakabeka Falls." (Pronounced Kecka, not ka-ka.)
B & D: Kaka-wha?
VNC: *Smiling* Go back to the road, drive north four lights to Arthur street (just past the airport) and turn left. It's about 25 minutes away.
B: Okay. Thanks.

Back in the car, we are shaking our heads trying to determine if there is a large bowling convention in Thunder Bay and wondering what the heck a Kakabeka Fall really is. We (meaning I) drive north and DM comments about how long we've been going without finding any lights. She says, "Four lights. Am I missing something or is this 'light' she describes different from what I know? I'm a foreigner. I don't speak this language!"

I laugh over the fact that it is the same language and eventually we do find the stop lights the lady was describing (it was a distance). We are on the road to Kakabeka Falls (side note: Kakabeka is now one of my absolute favorite words. Say it. It's fun.) As we drive, we continue to comment repetitvely about how dark it is and how we are now in Canada. Eventually, we pull into Kakabeka Falls to find a "hotel".

First impressions of Kakabeka Falls is that the town is rather small. There is a bait shop (the Bite Me bait shop, none-the-less!) and three motels. One has a room left open and that is how DM and I ended up staying at the TelStar Motel. It was because the rest of Canada was closed.

We walk into the office to find a nice looking man playing poker ont the computer. We're in luck and so is he. We get a room and he can put up the No Vacancy sign and go to bed. As we check in, DM asks him a question I thought we'd figured out already.

DM: One question, um, electricity?
Clerk: Yeah *oh jeez, who does she think we are?* We got it.
DM: Oh, no. Um, I meant do we need adapters?
Clerk: *total guy snort* No.

We check into room 3. I think the motel had 6 rooms total. We settle into the room that is not much protection against serial killer moose and decide to head outside for some dark picture taking.

Motel Signs (1)
Room 3

We went back inside and decided to unwind a little before bed. I hooked up the laptop to give us the joy of iTunes and I could also upload pictures from our memory cards to the hard drive. I decided to play a few games of Boggle while DM read her book. Here are some of the conversations we had (you'll notice a theme):

B: This is the weirdest thing we've ever done.
D: We're sitting in Canada. You're playing Boggle. I'm reading a book about death. Pause that. Write this down. Yesterday we met a guy with a shruken head. We're in Canada. Why are we in Canada?
B: We want to go bowling. And we're crazy.

D: Do you think they have Super Canadas? [We have gas stations here called Super America.]
B: Well, I wonder what they'd be called. Do you think it would be Super Canada?

I mistype something on the Word document. I comment about it.
D: Who worries about grammar in Canada? [Side note: I do.]

Out of nowhere, iTunes starts playing, “One Fine Day.” We both just pause. Then the giggles start. This was right after the last question of, “Do I have this song?” when “Look Away,” by Chicago was playing. Why do I have these songs?

Playing Boggle again:
B: What is "viewier"? [sees definition: comparative of viewy] Yeah.
D: I'm so confused.

We head to bed and I hope to get some actual sleep. DM sets up her C-Pap machine and after two hours of hearing her snore (sorry DM) and listening to this machine that was so quiet and made her sleep better in Portugal whine a high pitched whistle sound, I woke DM up (not cheerfully either) and told her to put water in the machine. Believe me, I was not pleased. I was especially not pleased when I was able to get only 3 hours of sleep and knew that I would be doing all of the driving the next day.

In the morning, our odd conversations continued before we packed up and shipped out.

D: Hello.
B: Hello.
D: I'm communing with Hippo [her stuffed animal. Mine is Elwood and Ellen gave me him years and years ago. He goes everywhere with me still. He has a brother named Jake. Ellen has him still (I think).] I'm sharing thoughts with him. Those thoughts are, "Why are we in Canada?"

DM looks out the window.
D: Oh!
B: Why did you do that?
D: I don't know.
B: Is it icky out?
D: No. It appears to be blue skies, sunlight...and a live bait shop.

Elwood and Hippo posed for their mandatory pictures and we packed up to get on the road. I opened the curtains to find a maid walking by. She said, "Oh, are you going to be out soon?" That's when I realized that the window was open all night and the chain to keep the Night Danger - Moose! out would have been little assistance. We let her know we were on our way out and grabbed our stuff.

Elwood and Hippo (1)

The entire purpose of the trip was to go bowling in Canada. This bright, chipper morning we were faced with the question of what to do. Should we stick to our plans, head to Thunder Bay, find a bowling alley and go bowling or should we wing in, drive west into Canada and see what there is to see?

Adventure took over and we turned right instead of left taking us further into Canada. A sign notated that Upsala was 171 KM away and we figured we'd eat there. The sky was brilliant, full of clouds, the temperature was decent, and we just drove. We laughed at signs, found certain things really fun, and our stomachs begged us for the promised great food of Upsala, Ontario.

Finally, we pulled into the little town of Upsala. Want to know what is there? Are you sure you want to know? I'll tell you:

A gas station/truck stop with a really ugly fish stuck to a pole outside.

Here's the fish. His name is Waldo. We found him.
Waldo the fish in Upsala

What I can say about Upsala is what they lacked in city life, they made up in decent food, nice people, and good feelings. We ate at the truck stop. I had a delicious BLT and DM had an egg sandwich with bacon. The drive was really pleasant and I do like the fact we went. Would I recommend a trip to Upsala? Probably not. There's not too much to do there.

DM bought a couple of candy bars at the stop and we got back in the car and headed back east towards Kakabeka Falls. Both ways, we kept seeing signs for the Beaver Post and the signs boasted the day the store would open for summer. Somehow, luck was on our side, and the Beaver Post opened THAT DAY. It was destiny. Who can pass up a store that advertises Gifts! Jewelry! and Tackle!

As much as we joked about the Beaver Post, we finally figured we had to stop and we were both glad to spend a bit of time here. The shop is really quaint and full of wonderful Canadian souveniers. I bought a t-shirt with a moose on it (because I had to - don't you understand? It had a pull over me like crack does to certain addicts). I bought a couple of necklaces and bracelets, along with three postcards (two have moose on them!). DM bought some fun stuff too. She got Keem a gift (I covered Char) and I think she bought herself some fun jewelry. We both bought these cards that are very pretty and it helped fulfill the tradition of our holidays of my buying artwork. I didn't get any boots and I am a bit disappointed in myself for that.

The folk at the Beaver Post were very nice and super friendly. DM asked if they call Canadian geese, "Canadian geese or just geese." The answer: Canadian geese. They learned our names quickly, probably because we kept talking to each other throughout the shop. We spoke to them about the size of Ontario and how it really could be Minnesota's sister in certain aspects. The state bird in Minnesota is the loon and it is also the bird of Ontario. If you are passing through this part of Canada, take the time to stop into the Beaver Post. You'll like it.

The Beaver Post

Maybe I'm a total geek, wait, strike that. I am a total geek. I'll admit it. Whie we were driving back to Kakabeka Falls, we saw a sign for the Atlantic/Artic watersheds. This is the point where all streams/rivers/creeks flow into the Atlantic or Artic oceans. Since there were no cars/truck hauling logs or cops for kilometers away, I stopped in the middle of the highway to get pictures! (Yes, this was wrong. I know. But I'm a geek. Didn't I cover that already?)

Atlantic Watershed
Artic Watershed

We kept driving until we were back in Kakabeka Falls. Did you know it's not just a clever name? There are actually falls in Kakabeka Falls. (Okay, no clue where the name Kakabeka came from. I'd imagine it has some type of history.) We paid the fee to park (1 Canadian dollar. This is $0.89 American) and wandered towards the falls, wondering what we're going to see. The signs advertised that Kakabeka Falls were the Niagra of the North (which seemed a little odd since Niagra is north, but I guess it is north-east).

It started to downpour! Both of us wanted pictures of the falls and we kept the cameras going, getting droplets on the lenses and wiping them away frequently. The rain only continued for about 5 minutes, but it was long enough for us both to get soaked.

I had never heard of Kakabeka Falls prior to discovering them in this town. The same can be said for DM and most people we've spoken to since. I will say that I was amazed to visit this place, I want to go back, and it was truly beautiful. We both took a ton of pictures and I even used my tripod to get a couple of pictures of the two of us here.

Beth and Dana at Falls (1)
Kakabeka Falls (3)
Kakabeka Falls (44)
Kakabeka Falls (64)
Kakabeka Falls (98)
Kakabeka Falls (146)
Kakabeka Falls in Rain (18)(in the rain)

We stayed our hour and headed back to the car. I got out the laptop and we cleared our memory cards again. While we were uploading pictures, DM explored and communed with one of her favorite things. She started to hug trees. Seriously folks. She is a literal tree hugger.

Dana the tree hugger (6)
Dana the tree hugger (4)She is even saddened by having to part ways from the tree.

At this point, we got back in the car, settled in for a bit of a drive and headed towards Thunder Bay, decided once and all to skip bowling (yes, we know. It's rather funny that we went to go bowling and it is the one thing we ignored completely. Laugh. Everyone else does), and headed back south to Minnesota. We took more pictures from the car and made it to the border long before sundown.

The rest of our adventure will be told in part three and I hope to have it completed by the weekend.
For all the pictures of Ontario that I took, visit here.