Hello all! I’m writing to you from my room at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello in rural west Quebec. As some of you may remember, this weekend away was part of my plan to have things to look forward to in January, especially things that would get me out of my spiral of bad.

I took yesterday off work (my last possible vacation day until April!) and had a great morning. Mostly, I got up, had breakfast, and went back to bed for an early morning nap. Felt a little bit like heaven, and I slept for a whole hour. Tidied up the house a bit, did a load of laundry, packed up my bits and headed out the door.

After a brief stop for snacks (cause I’m on a budget and $22 for breakfast and more for lunch seems a little steep to me), I headed across my nearest bridge to Quebec. Let me pause for a moment to say I’ve never been to Montebello before, even though it’s a bit of an institution, because I’ve never worked in an area of government that had the money or the cojones to book something here.

So, I have the printed instructions and they say to cross at the Macdonald-Cartier bridge and take Exit 2 to hwy 50. I’m absolutely positive that the bridge nearest to me is the one in question, so I pop over it. And there’s no exit 2. And certainly no highway. No problem, I say, I’ll just head east! So I mosey down the quebec side of the river for a ways to the next bridge (which I know has no highway), and blew past the one after that (where there was probably a highway entrance) and at the third one said “yanno, I’m pretty sure it’s the one at the other end of downtown Ottawa”. Crap. So I crossed BACK into Ottawa and drove down a road so that I could cross again into Quebec. I should say that these two bridges are so close you can see them. In detail.

Anyway, after some rampant confusion I got on the highway only to find out that my instructions call for me to get off at exist 165 George Street to get on Hwy 148, but there’s an exit for Hwy 148 almost right away!! Screw it, I say, stick with the instructions. You can always yell at the Fairmont people later.

Anyway, after a lovely drive (all told, it took about an hour, including my miscues), I rolled into the grounds of this resort, which is the largest log cabin structure in the world. It’s really quite remarkable, actually. The main building is shaped like an asterisk, with a multi-storey lobby and giant stone fireplace in the centre and rooms in the wings. My wing also has the entrance to the “tunnel” (really a heated enclosed path) to the spa and sports complex. There’s also a sports place (where you pick up your x-country skis and snowshoes and in the summer rent your water sports stuff), a dog sledding area, and cross country ski trails galore. 

I checked in at 2pm and went for a little recon, mostly to see the hot tub. I have a thing for hot tubs. I like them. They make me feel coma-like relaxed, and you know that ain’t easy for me to accomplish. The hottub is in the indoor pool complex which, I’m not gonna lie, made me feel like I was in the Dominican. It was warm and humid in there. It’s below freezing outside, and everyone inside is laying on pool chairs in their wet bathing suits. Need I say more? There’s a gym in a separate building that includes your basic cardio equipment (not gonna lie – it was busy!) and a squash court and an indoor tennis court. This place is decked out, people.

Anyway, I came back to the room and had a snack (bread and peanut butter, mmm) and put on my suit and headed over to the poolhouse. I waited for creepy dude with a ponytail to get out of the hot tub and got in. 15 minutes of silent bubbles. My heart was pounding when I got out, but oh the body was happy. I had a little nap on a pool chair while my body cooled off, and then (moving like I was wading through molasses), I headed back to my room.

After doing a bit more hotel recon (and determining that I’d like to try an off-site restaurant for dinner tonight), I realized I wasn’t all that hungry and decided to graze for dinner.

You see, I had more important things to do, namely TRIP PLANNING! I’ve decided, since this is the anniversary year of the El Camino, which means roughly 10 times more people this year will hike it than in normal years, it’s not likely to be a good year for Kerry who doesn’t like crowds. So, I have another trip in mind.

I. Hold onto your hats, cause this is a very weird vacation for me. Am going to do a road trip. In the US. For almost four weeks. And for hte most part, I’ll be camping.

What what what what what, you say? I know. A road trip. In the US. Camping. And yet, I’m actually beyond excited about it. So, what am I going to do? I have ideas, so I’ll give you the basic rundown of states.

I’m going to fly to Calgary, Alberta. There I’m going to rent a car and head south to the Can/US border point located in Waterton/Glacier National Parks. This part of the trip is really a transit stop only to stretch my legs.

Then I’m going south through Montana and Idaho until I get to Utah, where I’m going to Arches and Bryce National Parks, with potential stops at Dead Horse Point and Kodachrome state parks. Then I’m going to head over to Colorado to see some national forests, some fossils, Great Sand Dunes National Park, possible Mesa Verde National Park, and then, on the way back up to Wyoming, Rocky Mountain National Park. In Wyoming I’m going to Grand Teton National Park on the way to Yellowstone National Park. If I can figure out how to do it, there will be a stop at Mount Rushmore on the way, but if it takes as long as it looks like it will to drive there, the dead presidents are out.

From Yellowstone NP it’s a lovely two day scenic drive back to Glacier National Park, which abuts the Canadian border and then I’m back to Calgary and home.

Last night I mapped out my dram places to go. Today I’m going to figure out how long it would take to do all that (with the requisite two hours of hiking a day), and then refine accordingly.

Then, people, I’m looking for co-pilots. Not for the whole thing, but for parts of it. If you want to fly out and meet me for a week of goodness in Utah, let me know. Or Colorado, cause that could be awesome. Or, wyoming, cause what is life if you haven’t seen Yellowstone? And, if you’re with me, we’ll stay in a hotel instead of camp, cause it’s nicer for you that way!

Stay tuned on the itinerary. And if you are interested, you should know I’m likely going in August or September.

Updated to add: nice try, people. I’m not taking your kids with me. You couldn’t pay me enough.