Sunday, February 15, 2009


Three days later and I finally have a chance to give an Ottawa/Winterlude report.

With Jim in Germany, I had to make the 5 hour drive to Ottawa on my own, so I left Friday, mid-morning after my dentist appointment. My biggest fear did not pan out, that being that the weather would not cooperate and I would have to drive through snow, especially along a stretch of I-81 where lake effect snow traditionally accumulates 12 feet of snow! But the travel gods were good to me and I had a sunny, clear day with the temperature dropping the closer I got to Ottawa. Even getting through Customs was easy!

As I approached Ottawa, I made a mental note of where my turn was for the airport, so when I came back to pick up Jim at 11 PM, I had some idea of where I was going. I continued on to the yarn store which is right on the way into Ottawa. It was here that I caught up to Bob and Sally. Sally and I each stimulated the Canadian economy with a yarn purchase! As I drove the final stretch to the hotel along the Rideau Canal I noticed that the canal was closed to skaters. Because the temperature was well below freezing at this point I had every faith that the canal would open the next day.

We are staying at the Chateau Laurier, a historic old hotel, right next to the canal. I got a nice room with a little work area in one of the turrets! Sally and Bob are right down the hall. The three of us had dinner at a restaurant that we have eaten in before in the Byward Market area. I then had to stay up to get Jim at the airport. Fortunately, his flights from Germany, all went as planned and he arrived on time.

Saturday we got the word that the canal was not going to open until 1 PM, so Sally, Jim and I walked across the Alexandra Bridge into Hull, Quebec to visit the snow playground. Bob was XC ski racing this morning. Unfortunately, we didn't get the word that that too did not open until 1, so Jim decided to go back to the hotel and go for a run and Sally and I went shopping in the Market.

By one, we were ready to go. Bob was back so the 4 of us headed to the ice to do what we come to Ottawa in the winter to do~Skate! Because the stretch of warm weather that we experienced at home, extended up here, the canal needed some work to get it fully ready for Winterlude skaters. Just over half of the canal was open to skaters. The other half was used for the pond hockey tournament that was supposed to happen on Dows lake. So we skated back and forth, enjoying the sunny skies and crisp cool air. Jim and I skated about 15 km, or just over 9 miles.

We were a little worried about where we were going to eat dinner on Saturday night because it was Valentine's Day and on Friday night we had tried to get reservations in 5 different places and all were fully booked. So, after some good skating we cleaned up and went in search of a meal. One of the other things we really enjoy about coming to Ottawa is the abundance and variety of restuarants that are a short walk from the hotel. The food gods were looking out for us that night because as we walked by one restaurant, Bob suggested we try asking for a table, and low and behold, they offered us one in the bar area and we had a great meal!

Today again dawned cold and clear so we went for a morning skate after breakfast at Zak's. We were on the ice shortly after 9 and all 7.8 km were open today as the hockey games were moved to Dow's Lake, the originally venue for this competition. The crowds were much reduced this morning and the skating was grand, so grand in fact that I skated an extra 5 km after the others moved on. I think my total for the day was at least 20 km! After lunch in the food court, Sally and I again walked to the snow playground and this time got to enjoy the snow slides, snow sculptures, a snow maze and a general fun atmosphere!

Now you may be wondering, where the heck are the photos?! Well, I am working on Jim's work computer and cannot download the pics from my camera. So this will give you something to look forward to later in the week, when we get home.

Tonight dinner was at one of the restaurants that turned us away for last night's dinner and we had a good meal. I had a lamb shank that was yummy! For dessert we used our coupons for free beavertails~delicious!

Tomorrow we are off to the Ice Hotel in Quebec. It is located just east of Quebec City so we have about a 5 hour drive. Please, think of us tomorrow night and send all your warm thoughts our way. It should be a memorable experience. I have to keep telling myself that this was my idea!

Hope all is well!

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