Tomorrow, July 1st in Canada Day. This has always been my favourite holiday. No gifts to buy, no cards, the stores are all closed and the weather is typically wonderful and warm wherever we may be.
We have all been staying home for the last three months or so, and the pandemic is not over, but within our area and across Canada the cases of Covid 19 are most definitely decreasing. Our oldest and youngest are working locally in Ontario, our daughter is planting trees in British Columbia, and our young athlete is ready to head back to Alberta to join his training group.
We are concerned that the airlines have now eliminated spacing between seats on the aircraft (Westjet and Air Canada eliminated seat spacing effective July 1) – and so that’s just plain dangerous for now. Today, Air Canada also announced that it is cancelling many cross Canada routes and flights.
So we will drive our boy west, respecting the measures for physical disancing and quarantine in each province and drive home again. We also need to move some large items (including a bicycle, and some sporting equipment).
We cannot go through the United States, as the borders are still closed – and I think that cases are climbing there, so that’s OK with me for now. It is 34-36 hours of driving through Northern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta – but what could be more fun?
It’s not that we have lots of kids to entertain on a road trip like in previous years. We should be able to see what needs to be seen from the TransCanada Highway, our only need to stop being for a healthy socially distant walk or two, some gloved up gas and drive through food, and a few stays at hotels with enhanced cleaning protocols (we hope.)
Canadians and our American neighbours are chomping at the bit to get moving, but carefully. In Canada, our tourism industry is suffering with the lack of American and International travelers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tourists. Canadians have been renting RVs, and cottages in a flurry! We could not find a small RV to rent for the week (or so).
Thinking that there would be loads of rental cars available for our spontaneous trek – I was just plain wrong. We called so many rent-a-car companies and locations looking for a van, large or premium SUV = and found that they were all sold out of large vehicles – as Canadians were leaving early for the Canada Day long weekend and staying longer. Canada Day falls on July 1, and there may not be any gatherings, but Canadians are going driving, camping and cottaging.
We were frustrated with the online reservation system at Enterprise. It let us reserve several large vehicles at local outlets, but guess what? – they didn’t have any cars. We called all of the franchises within a 50km radius – and couldn’t find an SUV, van or pickup. I’m not sure how the central reservation service could book vehicles if they don’t exist?
We eventually called the Toronto Pearson Airport Enterprise location. No problem – they had every car that you could ever need. Normally we would stay away from this location because it’s a very busy airport. It’s not at all busy these days!
We were happy to rent a brand new Premium SUV with unlimited mileage for 10 days.
We set out with no extensive planning, but a car loaded with belongings, the three of us, a package of masks, a couple of bottles of hand sanitizer, gloves and good intentions. Our plan was to drive the TransCanada Highway – respecting social distancing – with minimal stops – from Southern Ontario up and around Lake Huron and Lake Superior, through Northwestern Ontario – stopping in Thunder Bay, travelling straight through Manitoba (respecting that province’s isolation requirement), then Saskatchewan with a stop in Regina, and finally arriving in Calgary Alberta – and then heading back a similar route.
For our Canada Day adventure we are driving the TransCanada highway for 3500km each way – hopefully seeing some beautiful scenery, spotting some wildlife, and stopping at some roadside attractions for cheesy photo ops – without engaging with the locals.
“The Trans-Canada Highway is Canada’s longest national road. It extends east-west across Canada between Victoria, British Columbia and St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, passing through all ten Canadian provinces and linking Canada’s major cities. Car ferries link both Newfoundland and Vancouver Island to the mainland.”