Tuesday, August 31, 2010

5th state * * Ohio * *

From Covington, Kentucky, we drive across a bridge over the Ohio River into Ohio.

Then, just 1 hour drive to the end of our first journey. All we have to do then is put the furniture into storage and rest for a couple of days.

4th state ** Kentucky **

Towns: Barbourville, Corbin, London, Richmond, Big Bone Lick State Park (love the name of that one), Lexington, Florence and Covington.

At Covington we are at the Ohio border. I75 goes down hill towards Cincinatti and you get a beautiful view of the city.

3rd state * * Tennessee * *

Chattanooga, Sweetwater, Knoxville, then Jellico on the Kentucky border.

We will be going through the Smoky Mountains. 

2nd state ** Georgia **

Once in Georgia we will drive 360 miles to reach Tennessee.
I like the names of some of the towns we drive by.

We will drive through: Valdosta, Tifton, Cordele, Perry, around Macon at the I-475 extention then meet up with I-75 to continue north. Next, Atlanta, which is the halfway point in this leg of the journey to Ohio. Then we have some wonderful town names like; Smryna, Marietta, and then Dalton.

1,000 mile drive through 5 states

First Part of Move

Florida to Ohio

1,000 miles

We will be driving a 24 ft Budget truck, and a Kia Sedona.

2 adults, 3 kids, and a dog.

We will be driving through 5 states.

We will take I-275 to Tampa to pick up I-75.

It will take 4 hours to go from Largo, Florida, to the Georgia State line.
In the summer we normally start this part of the journey at 3am, and arrive in Georgia just in time for breakfast at 7am. We arrive in Ohio at 8pm same day - 17 hours later.

This time, we are driving two vehicles, so we cannot make the journey in one day. I have no idea how long it will take to reach Georgia.

I have to stop thinking in hours to drive through a state, and think in distance instead. Approx. 250 miles to Georgia.

Some of the towns we will pass through in Florida are;

Ocala, (known for horse farms)

Gainesville (location of University of Florida) , and Live Oak (love the name).

TIP: Double click on map will make it readable.

At least we won't get lost.

This is the road we will take from Largo, Florida, to Detroit, Michigan, before crossing into Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

I'm not stressed

Less than 2 weeks to go!

Where in Florida are you?

Map of Florida.

Pinellas County is in red.

Purple area is Lake Okeechobee in south Fl.

Close up map of Pinellas County.

We live in Pinellas County in central western Florida.

We are just outside the city of Seminole.

The area is often referred to as Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay is the body of water between Pinellas County and the city of Tampa, hence the name of the area.

The Pinellas Peninsula divides Tampa Bay from the Gulf of Mexico, and is the most densely populated county in Florida. Pinellas County has a total area of 608 miles/1,574 km - and a population (2006) of 924,413 - although the population is likely much higher today after the real estate boom.

The name Pinellas is translated from the Spanish Punta Piñal ("Point of Pines" or "Piney Point").

The Gulf of Mexico is known for its white powdery sand and spectacular sunsets. Luckily, we didn’t get any oil from the BP spill. During the summer the water temperature can reach an average 86F/30C, and in the winter temperatures average mid 60F/18C.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Let the packing begin!

A few months ago just before we put the house up for sale we sorted out a lot of items and put them in storage. We also got rid of a lot of things then.

Today we are emptying out the storage locker.

We have reorganized the garage to take items from storage.

Now the packing boxes and bubble wrap (kindly donated by some friends who recently moved) are in the garage.

The rest of the house is normal. Only the garage shows the coming move.

I'm feeling stressed. This stressed feeling comes without warning. Going to have some calming camomile tea.

Our old life still looks normal (on the surface).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A nice start to the day

One of the things I really enjoy here is the Pinellas Trail. We began cycling on this trail only about 3 weeks ago, after abandoning another cycling route.

The Pinellas Trail runs the entire length of the county, approx 46 miles, and was made from an abandoned railway corridor.

We like to start about 6.15 am. It's very hot this time of year, and we try to avoid the heat and humidity by starting so early, but sometimes it's still about 82 degrees at 6am! When we first starting cycling so early I thought we'd be the only ones with our bike lights, but it seems a popular way for cyclists to commute to work, so there are lots of cyclists with their lights on.

Above is Boca Ciega Bay. When we start on the trail it is still dark, and when we get to Boca Ciega Bay the sun is just coming up. This really makes my morning. I often see flying fish, or dolphins.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Things to do before we leave

We are at the point where we talk about packing the house up, have actually rented a moving truck (yes, we are moving ourselves), and it is the calm before the storm.

We are down to just under 3 weeks before the move.

I'm making a list of things we want to do before we leave.

1. Eat at Cape May Cafe, at Disney Beach Club Resort. Yes, we're Disney nuts.
2. Visit Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
3. Visit the Gulf beaches.
4. Visit with friends.

I know I'm supposed to start packing, but I can't seem to get started yet.

House is sold so what happens next?

Ambassador Bridge between Detroit Michigan, and Windsor Ontario.
This is our entry point into Canada.

We are leaving Florida on Thursday September 16th! Goal is to be in our new home in Canada by October 1st.

Well, today we ordered a 24 ft moving truck (Budget had the best prices) for Wednesday September 15th. We will spend the day emptying the house into the van. Close the house with the buyer first thing Thursday (16th) morning.

We have 2 moves and 2 moving trucks to rent.

First move: we will go to southern Ohio, and store our furniture there. We will drop off the kids and pup with family.

Eric and I can easily make the drive from Largo Florida to Franklin (just n. of Cincinatti) Ohio in 17 hours. Our usual summer drive to Ohio goes like this: leave our house in Florida at 3am, arrive in Ohio at 8pm. We have done this for years - we told the kids when they were young - if it is light outside, don't even ask if we are there yet.

This trip to Ohio will take at least 2 days. We cannot change drivers. Eric will drive the moving truck, and I will drive the car. Too bad oldest boy is not able to drive yet ;) We will have to stop often, so our goal is to get north of Atlanta the first day, possibly Dalton. We expect to arrive in Ohio near the end of the following day.

Next, we will go to Ontario to find somewhere to live. Let's see, we have no credit, no job, no income, no rental history (owned a house) and a dog. Should be easy! We have a copy of our US credit history (showing years of mortgage payments) which may help, and hopefully will find somewhere soon. I know it'll work out.

Then we will return to southern Ohio to collect kids, dog, and furniture. Sounds so easy in a blog entry.

Second move: Rent another moving van and load furniture from storage facility. We will take I75 north to Detroit, cross the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, Canada.

Our entire drive from Tampa to Detroit will be on I75. At least we won't get lost.

Eric will land as an immigrant, we will import our car and furniture. Once Eric is landed, we will take Hwy 401 to our new home in Guelph.

Florida warning

Florida warning billboards

These are warning billboards on I75 drivers will see when they enter Florida. They warn tourists that Floridians have the right to shoot you if they feel threatened.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pinellas County, Florida, schools are back in session

School buses start running here around 5:30 am.

School bus inspector times bus arrivals on 1st day of school.

If it's dark enough you need a flashlight to see your watch, it's too dark for children to be crossing busy intersections.

Here are some local children waiting for the school bus at 6.00 am. High Schools here start at 7.05 am.

Tropical Storm Earl

Click on photo to make it larger.

There are 2 storms in the Atlantic right now, Hurricane Danielle, and Tropical Storm Earl.

so..... here we go again. We are at risk from August through September for hurricanes. Now we watch, and update on Noaa regularly, the weatherman becomes your new best friend.

Hurricane Danielle seems to be going north towards Bermuda, but TS Earl, has all the earmarks of a late summer hurricane. It depends if it strikes Cuba and which direction it takes as to whether it enters to Gulf of Mexico. I'm hoping it turns more northward.

See, all we Floridians are weather experts.

Gotta go - time for Bay News Weather on the Nines.

Category 4: In the Path of Hurricane Charley Part 2

There is a part 3, but the sound does not work. If you want to see it, it is on You Tube at


In The Path of Hurricane Charley Documentary Part 1

Hurricane Charley was supposed to hit our area. We had watched as it made its way through the Caribbean, and started on its way up the Gulf. If we are to evacuate before a hurricane comes, we have to leave about the time it enters the Gulf to give us enough time to out drive it. Hurricane Charley was a Category 1 (sustained winds of 74-95 mph or 119-153 km/h). We decided to ride it out. What a mistake that turned out to be. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are very hot, and Hurricane Charley quickly intensified to a Category 3 111-130 mph or 178-209 km/h) and then a Category 4 (131-155 mph or 210-249 km/h). It was too late for us to leave, so we resigned to our fate being in the direct path of a Category 4 hurricane and riding it out in the laundry room.

We parked our car sideways against the garage door to minimize losing the garage door which would then provide lift on the roof and we could lose the roof. About 1 hour before Hurricane Charley was due to make landfall, we just couldn't bear to watch the weather any longer, so we turned the tv off. About half an hour later we turned it on again, and found that Hurricane Charley had very unexpectedly sweved and hit Port Charlotte instead of us.

This documentary (courtesy Frank C Harris) shows the experience of a family in Port Charlotte where Hurricane Charley unexpectedly made landfall. If you have never experienced a hurricane before, this gives you a sample of what it is like.

I feel so bad for this family, and the people of Port Charlotte. They had no warning at all. Until the last minute their weather reports were warning that Port Charlotte would be hit by the outer edges of H. Charley, with possible tropical storm force winds. With less than an hour's notice, the hurricane shifted and hit Port Charlotte instead of Tampa Bay.

Watching this video makes me realize how lucky we were. Especially when you see the size of this hurricane at 4:45.

Hurricane Charley 145mph demolishes gas station

Hurricane Charley was one of four major hurricanes to hit Florida in 2004.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Here is what a Category 4 hurricane can do

These are photos from Hurricane Charley.

Florida Hurricanes

I won't miss hurricanes.
In 2004 we were hit by 4 hurricanes in 8 weeks. Watching neighbors board up their homes every other Saturday became known as the "Florida wave".

This is hurricane Charley, a category 4 hurricane that hit Florida in 2004.
Hurricane Charley was coming right for us in Tampa Bay.

The choice to evacuate has to be made by the time the hurricane turns into the Gulf of Mexico, or there is no time left to leave. Our neighborhood was under an evacuation order. Charley was only a mere category 1 hurricane when it passed Cuba, so we decided we would ride it out. Then.....it turned into the hot waters of the Gulf of Mexico, quickly upgraded from a category 1 to a category 4. By this time it was too late to leave, and it became too upsetting watching the weatherman telling us how bad the damage was going to be.

Most tv channels had non-stop coverage of the hurricane. With only 1 hour left before the hurricane was due to hit us, we turned off the tv, decided what room was the strongest in the house (the laundry room), and just resigned ourselves to our fate.
Outside the wind picked up and the weather severely deteriorated.

There was a real concern we were going to lose our house and maybe worse.

About 45 minutes later we turned on the tv to see how bad it was going to get, when the weatherman said "If you haven't been watching the weather lately, you will be glad to hear that the hurricane is changed direction and will hit just south of us in Port Charlotte." Whilst I am sorry for the people of Port Charlotte (who had no warning at all they would be hit), I'm glad it didn't hit Tampa Bay directly, although we were sideswiped by the hurricane.

At its peak intensity when it made landfall it attained 150mph/240km/h with gusts up to 175mph/280km/h.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our pup

This is Sophie, our 3 year old Miniature Schnauzer.

Today she is modelling a Roots Canada t-shirt.

We did not intend to get a dog. We had a 21 year old cat, and told the kids once he went, we were going petless for a couple of years and then get a dog.

Then one day a neighbor came over with a very cute puppy and told us about her sister, who was also cute. Aren't all puppies cute? The kids begged to let them at least go and see the puppy. Eventually we agreed to go see the cute puppy, but we told them we were not going to get a dog!

90 minutes later, we had a new puppy.

Sophie has been a great addition to the family, and we all love her so much. The poor thing gets so much attention, but tolerates being dressed up etc. She has the sweetest nature. She also gets lots of playtime outside. Ugh! Such a hard life, I know.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Là où j'appartiens? (Where do I belong?)

Florida and Ontario are very different, but they are both very beautiful places.

Obviously there are things about Florida I love, and will miss. There are things about Ontario I'm looking forward to seeing again. I love both places.

I've lived in Florida for years. I met and married my husband here. My children were born and raised here. I love my house. I have some very good friends here.

Florida is familiar to me, but I'm not from here. I'm a local and an outsider in Florida simultaneously.

I feel like a local because Florida is so familiar to me.

I feel like an outsider because the current anti-immigrant sentiment has made me feel I don't belong here.

Ontario is where I'm from, but I'm no longer familiar with it, or how life is in Ontario. I don't have any family left in Ontario (I was a late life baby, and my family are all deceased now). I don't (yet) know a single person in Guelph.

I get to be a newcomer and a native from Ontario all at the same time. It's quite a paradox.

The reasons for our move to Ontario (there are many reasons, and most of you know why), are good. We just cannot stay in Florida.

Melbourne Beach on the Atlantic Ocean

Riding the waves on boogyboards in on the Atlantic.

The Atlantic is very different from the Gulf. First - big waves. Second - much colder. The boys ran into the water, and ran straight out the first time. Water in the Gulf of Mexico is hot like bathwater.

After a while the waves tempted them back in.

Oyster Reef Restoration Project

We are building oyster reefs at Shell Key with Tampa Bay Watch. Oyster reefs are made from oyster shells, layered in netting. They help cleanse the water, and provide homes for acquatic life.

This was the boat trip back, after building the reef.

Kayaking through the Florida Mangroves

We volunteer for Tampa Bay Watch. This program helps restore and maintain the waters around Tampa Bay (Tampa Bay is the name of the part of Florida we live in).

Sometimes, as a treat, we get to kayak through the Mangroves and learn more about Florida acquatic life.

A Mangrove is a tropical tree that grows in saltwater. They have long roots extending out of the water, and often form a shade canopy if there are a lot of them in one area.

Yes, there were alligators and snakes on the trip, but we don't bother them, and they don't bother us.

Redington Shores, Gulf of Mexico

Redington Shores is about 10 mins from home.  This is our local beach.

Typhoon Lagoon's Wave Pool

Every 90 seconds a 5 ft wave crashes over the swimmers in a pool that is twice the size of a football field. Fun!

No, I'm not an ad for Disney. This is just what we have been up to this summer.

We're going back over there this afternoon.

Crush N Gusher slides

You sit on a raft on a conveyor belt which pushes you into the slide.

Next, here's what you see if you gaze over the side of your raft just before starting your plunge down Crush 'n Gusher, at the very beginning of the ride. It looks forbidding, perhaps, but it's fun and not dangerous. The comparison is all the more apt because you bottom out and start climbing right away on this ride, courtesy of those jets which push you uphill. Kinda like a wet rollercoaster.

In the last photo you can see that it feels like you are defying gravity when you go uphill. Photos compliments of Allears.net.

Crush N Gusher at Typhoon Lagoon

Crush N Gusher is a water propelled roller coaster ride.

Each of the 3 waterslides propels you approximately 400 feet through hairpin turns, sudden drops and gravity-defying uphill climbs for an exhilarating plunge into Hideaway Bay.

The attraction is themed around an abandoned tropical fruit processing center and has 3 fruit-themed slides:

Banana Blaster
Coconut Crusher
Pineapple Plunger

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon's Lazy River

My kids think it's normal to go to Disney. We go at least twice a month. They've done this since they were very small.

This summer we have been at the water park once a week.

This summer we bought a Disney water park pass. This includes admission to Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Most homes here have swimming pools - we don't, so it's important to have somewhere to cool off and have fun.

This is the lazy river. You can float around the park and get off where you want to. There are tubes if you want to ride on them. We go late in the day, so we are often on this river when it is almost empty.

Every part of the river has something interesting. The section in the river is where there is a lot of mist. Very pretty if you are there at dusk and the river lights are coming on.

Our Alligator

This alligator lives in our backyard lake.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Now you know where we are going.

Here is where we are at.

We have a 2,000 sq ft ranch style 3 bed 2 bath home, on a lake, in a desirable neighbourhood. At first we will be renting (no credit history in Canada) and we will be living in something much smaller.

We are 15 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico beaches.

We are 90 minutes from Disney. We go there 2 or 3 times a month - the water parks are awesome!

We are going from a very hot climate (how can it be 82 and humid at 6am?), to a sometimes very cold climate.

The boys are so excited about snow. They have only seen it once. They keep asking me if it will snow this year (yes it will).

I wonder how excited they will be about snow after they have shovelled it for a few weeks. I can just imagine at first they will fight about who gets to shovel. "I want to do it"...."No, it's my turn to shovel, you already had a turn". ;)

Centennial CVI

This is Centennial CVI (CVI = collegiate vocational institute = High School).

This is the school our high schooler will attend. They have very high math and science scores. Many of the students from this school attend Waterloo University.

Technological Triangle

Photo: University of Waterloo

Guelph is next to the technological triangle.

There are lots of job opportunities for students who are good at math and interested in engineering.

The Blackberry was developed by Research in Motion which is located in Waterloo, the next town over from Guelph.

University of Waterloo is one of the top universities in Canada. It is an excellent choice for students who excel in math related subjects. There is a lot of research done here. Waterloo has the world's first and largest faculty of mathematics.

Bill Gates names Waterloo a top source of Microsoft’s student and grad hires

Dr. Stephen Hawking recently arrived at University of Waterloo, from Cambridge University, to conduct private research at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Eldest boy is very interested in this university.

Cuppa Tea

Brenda Tremblay, owner of the Boathouse, pours a cup of tea. This is a traditional English tea. Photo courtesy Dave Carter, Guelph Mercury.

In the 1940s, it was a popular spot for dances. Then it was used to house boats alongside the Speed River, giving the structure the same name it bears today.

Owner, Brenda Tremblay, sips some orange pekoe, brewed with loose tea leaves from an Elora blender, from a cup made of delicate white china with flowery details. We also serve Light, Pekoe, and McCrae House private blend.

"”I like tea rooms. There were already too many coffee shops," she says.

Though Gordon Street traffic may notice the ice cream more than anything else, the Boathouse's specialty is English high tea.

Traditionally, the afternoon refreshment is taken at what most Canadians would consider dinnertime, but on the edge of where the city rivers meet, it's anytime until 4 p.m. Cream and jam for scones -- like many people with British or Irish heritages, Tremblay pronounces it "scons" -- sweets, finger sandwiches, and a choice of 20 varieties of freshly brewed tea. It's properly brewed tea; there are no store-bought bags at the Boathouse.

"My background is Irish," Tremblay says. "We always had a pot of tea on the table."

Despite the old-world tradition, high tea is not just for old ladies, Tremblay says. In recent years, she has noticed a definite shift in the room's demographic. Tea has become a fashionable drink, mostly among university students, it seems.

Tremblays says she's not sure exactly why tea's hip. It may be the health benefits: "Lots of antioxidants." And the amount of caffeine is lower than coffee. "It's amazing how many people do like tea," she says.

The Boat House

The Boat House is only open in the summer. They have storytelling nights every other Wednesday.

This is where we rent our canoes.

It is a beautiful tea room.

We are definitely stopping for high tea next time we are in Guelph.

Photo courtesy Waymarking.

Still canoeing on the Speed River

We rent our canoes from The Boat House on Gordon Street. The Boat House serves English High Tea and ice cream.

Canoeing on the Speed River

Two rivers flow through Guelph. The Speed River and the Eramosa River. Here we are canoeing on the Speed River.

Guelph City Hall

Limestone Building in downtown Guelph

Downtown Guelph is known for its distinctive limestone and architecture. Many downtown streets are lined with Victorian era buildings, which are now well over a century old. Photo courtesy Blog Guelph.



Heffernan Footbridge over Speed River

This bridge connects my grandmother's neighborhood with downtown. St. George's Anglican Church is on the other side. Every Sunday morning we would hear the carillon bells.

This is a photo of the fountain at St. George's Square.

The street lights have crowns on them for Royal city.

Guelph's European Ambience

The roads in Guelph are laid out like a British town. Note the limestone buildings on the right.

This is a photo of Douglas Street leading from downtown Guelph (St George's Square) to St. George's Anglican Church. St. George's has a beautiful 36 bell carillon.

Guelph was founded on St. George's day, April 23rd 1827, the feast day of the patron saint of England. The town was named to honour the Royal family, and is nicknamed the "Royal" city.


Guelph University

Guelph is a university town. The prestigious University of Guelph is famous for its veterinary college.