After waking up in our free hotel room we had to leave early and find somewhere to eat breakfast. I think we must be the only people in history to stay in a $300 hotel room and then cook porridge in the car park. It was really cold though so thank you very much for your hospitality Stephanie.
In the morning we went for a quick visit to Lake Minnewanka, then headed off in search of some waterfalls and blue springs. We walked for a couple of hours through frozen canyons, beside a crystal clear lake before coming to a beautiful open valley.
Banff National Park is stunning, jagged snow capped peaks surround lush alpine valleys, it will soon be a skiers paradise.
Finaly dragging ourselves away from the mountains we headed to some family friends of Spike’s for the night. Thank you very much Simon and Feather, we had a fantastic night and even managed to tolerate the abuse you gave our favourite car. In the morning we decided we should really get insurance before heading across the prairies. Up until this point, despite our best efforts to part with our money, we had been driving in Canada with out the mandatory third party lability cover. You would not believe the problems with insuring an imported vehicle. However, after a whole day of phone calls we finally got hold of the Superintendant for Insurance for Alberta who sorted us out and we were on our way….
…Thirty one hours and 1600 miles later we were in Wisconsin, and that’s all there is to say about that. There is just enough habitation in the prairies to make them mindlessly dull.
We diverted a little off the 50th and headed south of the Great Lakes. Diesel is cheaper in the US and also it is not a cold so this seemed like a good idea. Besides, time and the weather have conspired to make the 50th pretty much impossible for us here, so we felt justified in our deviation.
We had a good lunch with Spike’s cousin in Madison, who also sponsored the expedition (thank you Nick) then we headed off to Chicago.
We spent two days in Chicago, staying with Spike’s friend Kim. It is another fantastic city, the lake front has been really nicely done and it is full of cool little bars and coffee shops, definitely another place to go back to.
We then started heading back to Canada and towards Quebec, through exciting sounding places like Kalamazoo and Paw Paw (so good they named it twice). Niagara Falls are just off the route so we pulled another 12 hour driving day and made it to a small town eight miles from the falls. Here we stayed with Harvey and Rusty, a couple we met at a service station. It was so generous of them to let us stay and they even gave us breakfast. This saved us another sub-zero night outside and Harvey was even kind enough to give us a tour of the niagara area, thank you very much.
Having just about seen the falls through the wind and the rain we headed to the Pillitteri Winery for a case study. They are world leaders in producing ice wine, a type of wine that, as the name suggests, can only be produced in seriously cold weather. This made of a very interesting case study and had the added bonus of trying some lovely wines.
I unfortunately had to drive to Toronto in the evening so was restricted to only a couple of sips. As such, we made it in one piece and are now enjoying a great spag bol and a warm night with another of Spike’s friends.
Playing on the Ipod: ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ (theme from The Littlest Hobo)
(Some names have been changed to protect lovely receptionists from their evil bosses)