Calgary to Kelowna

Up before dawn to fly to Kelowna for breakfast. Taxi late. Taxi went to wrong entrance. Taxi then drove past right entrance without stopping or looking to see if anyone was waiting in lobby. Grr.

Airport security, yeah well. Airport food, never mind. Forty-five minute flight to Kelowna fine. Once again, pilots unknown to me. We were sitting close to the wheels, so the landing was “authoritive,” at least by Caroline’s standards.

Car rental people very nice. Upgraded us to Mitsubishi RVR.

Dingbat at death’s door. His power connector had been damaged in the suitcase and he could not recharge properly. He’s old these days, and his battery life is measured in minutes. Panic sets in.

Struggled to drive RVR to hotel because A) mostly lost with Dingbat suffering blackouts, and B) transmission in sport position that required manual gear selection while wiggling Dingbat’s cord and begging him not to leave us.

Caroline got us checked in early, courtesy of very nice manager formerly from Thunder Bay. While she was doing that, I snuck the owner’s manual out of the glove box to find the secret unmarked gearshift position that provides fully automatic function on fancy constant velocity transmission. No one saw, so I may be able to keep my man card. It’s pretty tattered anyway.

Found replacement cord for Dingbat in Best Buy for $21. Don’t ask me how I found Best Buy. Dingbat restored to grouchy glory.

Visit to Quail’s Gate Winery. My trout was good, but everyone else’s lunch was just expensive. I do like a Chenin Blanc, though, and QG’s is quite nice.

Dinner with family. Delightful.

 

Drive: Picton to Ottawa

We could fill several more days in Prince Edward County, but our time is up. There were many more wineries we didn’t get a chance to visit, there were another forty-seven kilometers of the Millennium Trail to hike, there were bicycle rentals, and we never even set foot in a shop, unless you count the grocery store.

The county must be Canada’s headquarters for old barns. You could spend a week just photographing them. Or buying them- there were real estate signs all over the place.

One thing we got right was Brown’s Manor. We had looked at several inns and B&Bs online before we booked, but when we saw the others as we drove around, we never once said, “Oh, we should have stayed there!” Brown’s was splendidly located, very comfortable, and Dianne’s breakfasts were delicious.

There was a wind warning today, and that cemented my desire to avoid the 401. It’s by far the quickest way to Ottawa, but it has a lot of truck traffic, and the idea of sharing the road with all those transports in winds of up to 80km/hour seemed like a recipe for disaster. My first thought was to take the free ferry across the Bay of Quinte and pick up the Loyalist Parkway. It’s only a ten or fifteen minute ferry ride, and it lops off quite a few miles. Ferry service was cancelled today, I think, because of the winds.

We decided to drive the long way, on old highway 2 and 33. When I say we, I mean Caroline and I. Dingbat didn’t like the idea. We had to enter Napanee as a via point and exclude motorways, and then he wanted to zig-zag all over a bunch of county roads to save a few minutes. We didn’t bring a paper map, so we resorted to launching MapQuest on Caroline’s smartphone. Two GPS are not better than one. The two computerized voices argued over which of the routes we didn’t like was the best one. The atmosphere got positively fractious.

We pulled off at a viewpoint place to watch the waves while we calmed them down and got it sorted out.

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In the end, we got our way, but we had to follow highway signs. Who does that?

In Kingston, we decided we should get lunch. The first thing we saw that wasn’t a chain restaurant was The Greek Islands. I’ve never found a Greek Restaurant that did awful Greek food. Awful decor, maybe. When Caroline saw me pull out my phone after we were seated, she asked if I was checking it on Trip Advisor. I laughed out loud at the mental image of us finding awful reviews and making our escape by crashing through the window like action heroes. Seriously, I was just checking my Twitter feed. Dining in the Information Age. The food was fine, although not quite like Dino’s back home. She had chicken souvlaki, I had a beef & lamb gyro.

The drive went better after we humans got something to eat. Our route into downtown Ottawa was pretty simple, and although rush-hour traffic was starting to build, it was in the other direction.

Unloaded Sonnet at the Best Western Victoria Park Suites, then returned her to National at the airport. All the driving we did consumed just fifty liters of gas. I liked the Hyundai Sonata. It was comfortable. I’m tall, and there were oodles of leg and headroom, even with the sunroof. Easy to drive, with many modern touches that we don’t have in our ten-year-old CRV: a backup camera (except Dingbat was suctioned to the screen most of the time). Keyless operation, proximity warnings for lane-changes and reversing. Caroline was not so happy. Her seat lacked the multiple power adjustments, and she found the low seat position made her hips sore.

We were back at the hotel in plenty of time to go for a walk, so now Caroline knows her way to the Sheraton, where Can-Con is. She may meet me for meals to save time.

Our dinner plans for tonight are vague. Pizza somewhere on Elgin Street.

Prince Edward County, ON

The trip to Ottawa begins.

We did contemplate driving, but flying is so much faster. WestJet had us in Ottawa about two hours after departing Winnipeg, and we were at our Bed & Breakfast in Picton three hours after that. Driving from Kenora to Picton would take several days.

We brought Dingbat, our familiar but quirky old Garmin. If you are a GPS, the only thing worse than being transported a thousand miles while you are sleeping is waking up in an underground parking garage with no satellite reception. It must be something like The Morning After, a movie in which Jane Fonda wakes up with a hangover and a dead guy. Where am I? What the hell just happened? After we pulled out into Ottawa’s autumn sunlight, it still took nearly ten minutes for Dingbat to recharge and get his bearings.

Our rental car this year is a 2016 Hyundai Sonata. I christen her Sonnet, after an obscure elf warrior from Mon-Colle-Knights. Sonnet has many modern conveniences, including some well-thought-out digital bits. I speak fluent Windows, passable Android, and a few words of Apple, but I was able to find trip meters, fuel economy numbers and cruise control settings in just a few minutes without reading the manual or asking a stranger. I also discovered that she has some kind of proximity warning that you can set off with a lane change in tight traffic.

We needed lunch, and we spotted a Moxie’s on the way out of town. They served food, but I won’t be writing it up.

Same goes for two hours on the 401. There were trucks, and Mondayish amounts of traffic near Kingston. There are still some nice fall colours, although they peaked a week or two ago.

In Picton, we are staying at Brown’s Manor, a beautiful old B&B. Dianne greeted us and got us settled in, and Ross will give us the low-down on things to see and do tomorrow. The forecast is nice, so we plan to do outdoorsy stuff like hiking and scenic sight-seeing first. Later in the week, remnants of Tropical Depression Patricia may bring wet weather, so Wednesday might be a good day to visit some wineries and do indoor things.

Tonight’s dinner plan is Blumen Bistro. Dinner Debriefing to follow.

Can Con 2015

I had to cancel my plans to travel to Spokane for Sasquan this summer for reasons related to health and health insurance. I cautiously set my sights on Hal-Con for the fall. I’ve always wanted to see Halifax, and there would be lots to do: the Cabot Trail, the Maritime Museum, Halifax Harbour, Theodore Tugboat. However, by the time I felt ready to book, Saturday had sold out. This is probably because the costume ball falls on Halloween, an opportunity not to be missed by Cosplayers. For writing geeks like me, though, it meant I would only be able to attend the Friday and Sunday events, amounting to about half the total schedule. It’s likely that I would have missed some major panels and workshops. Maybe next year.

This year, Ottawa’s Can Con also falls at the end of October, so while I was thinking of Halifax, I was resigned to missing Ottawa. I loved Can Con last year. I pitched my novel to Dragon Moon and Bundoran, did a workshop with Jo Walton, and met a bunch of other writers. So I’m going.

We have enough Air Miles to fly to Ottawa from Winnipeg, and enough RBC Rewards to rent a car. The Sheraton has arranged a splendid room discount for convention guests, so it’s all starting to gel. We’ll start by driving out to Prince Edward County to see some wineries and sceneries. There are also cheese producers, and the whole county is a foodie paradise, with many fine chefs and restaurants. If we’re really lucky, there might still be some fall colours.

We’ll take Dingbat, our quirky but lovable Garmin GPS. He gets left and right mixed up sometimes, and there’s always some excuse: the museum expanded and was relocated across the road; the intersection was redesigned; the official address is on one street, but the parking lot entrance is on the side road. The lovable part is that if it wasn’t for Dingbat, Caroline would be navigating, and heated words might be uttered. I can utter all I want at Dingbat- he neither hears nor cares.

Once we’re back in Ottawa, we’ll return the car. The Sheraton is walking distance to Byward Market, the restaurants of  Elgin Street, and many other attractions. And enough coffee shops to get me a different dark roast every day. I’m starting to get excited.