Cross-Country to Montréal

Our diary of taking our electric car from Vancouver BC to Montreal PQ with a diversion to Fallingwater, PA

Well, the day has finally come! We are packing up the car, the cooler, the luggage, the clarinet and the charging cables to start east. We have a free-ranging itinerary, with some key dates;

Fallingwater Tour August 8, Montreal Schalkwyk family gather Aug 10, and KlezKanada Aug 21. Along the way, we’ll try to capture interesting sites and share them with you. D & T

packing up Nik for the road
Three Vallley Gap along the Trans-Canada Highway used to be a family stopping ground for our family. It must have suffered lots of setback over Covid, but most of all the loss of Gordon Bell in 2017 seems to have taken the wind out of the their sales.

Three Valley Gap is one of those grand projects that had to take tremendous energy to build and sustain. It’s in a windy crag at the end of the icy-cold Three Valley Lake and has an amazing collection of old farm and train equipment.

The creation of Three Valley Lake Chateau and Heritage Ghost Town was a labour of love for the Bells. It began in 1956, when the couple purchased the land here. By 1960, the Bells had built a seven-seat coffee shop, seven-room motel, and museum. Today, the chateau boasts 200 rooms , a swimming pool and a theatre. – Canada’s History

Three Valley Gap has lots of construction wonders, seems it must have had its own metal fabrication shop, attested to by the uniquely shaped lights, and several custom bridges
one of the many custom metalworks around Three Valley Gap

Day 3, Canmore: 892 km covered, 4579 km to go. On Friday we arrived in Canmore, for a day of rest in the Rockies. A morning of paddle-boarding around the Banff Canoe Club was glorious as we plied the green waters of the Bow river. Dave needed some help getting back to the dock after deciding he would jump off his paddleboard and swim to the dock, underestimating both the temperature and the current. The dock staff seemed very eager to do a rescue and brought the rescue canoe around before he drifted too far down towards the rapids…

The Canmore folk festival is this weekend so after dinner at Rocket Pie we will try to catch the evening concert, then off across Alberta tomorrow morning…

Day 4, Swift Current Saskatchewan, 1467 km covered, 4004 km to go.

Day 5 Katepwa Lake Provincial Park, Saskatchewan 1,944 km. Dave really wanted to be at a lakeside on this holiday Monday so we detoured to Katepwa Lake, a provincial park in Saskatchewan. Just like most provincial parks on a summer long weekend it was abuzz with kids in blow-up devices, watchful parents, and fast jet-skis.

Day 6 Winnipeg 2,332km so far. We wanted to be in the city, and found this new boutique hotel called there mere along the river. They have complimentary bikes for guests so we rode all along the riverwalk. I wish we had time to see the Museum of Civilization!

Day 7: Fergus Falls MN, km 2,775. We’ve established our morning routine since we move every day, with repacking various bags and gear to be more efficient. As we reach one of out daily charging spots we decide how much farther we want to drive and start looking for accommodation. I check where the standard fare come up – Motel 6, Super 8, Hampton Suites, they are all about the same look and the same price but vary a lot with location. Then Tilly checks airbnb while I look at TripAdvisor for anything that might be more interesting, and figuratively or literally off the beaten track. We are getting better at this, and were rewarded with a beautiful airbnb house on a farm outside Fergus Falls MN.

Day 8 km 3,207. After Fergus Falls we went through Tom Tumbles and Tim Trips. Just kidding. Since we only want to drive about 6 hours each day we kind of draw a circle around the area we want to stop and look for accomodation there. For Day 8 the circle was around Monomonie WI, but accommodations seemed limited to the basic travel hotels. I was about to settle for one of those then decided to look a little farther down the road and Eau Claire sprung forward with many more hotel options. It turns out Eau Claire (which we’d translate as Clearwater) is one of the best places to live in Wisconsin – a delightful town with some well-maintained old sections and a riverwalk that featured a live concert when we were there.

Day 9, km 3,713 Chicago IL. We have a couple must-meet dates on this trip. On August 8 we are booked for a hard-to-get tour of Fallingwater, so we decided to spend our anniversary in Chicago and splurged on staying at the Sofitel. Had our anniversary dinner (and bubbly) at Mccormick and Schmick’s and the next day took the Architecture boat tour.

Day 10 Lafayette IN, km 3,913. While not so exciting in the accommodation department, Lafayette is the home of Purdue University and my restaurant-fu led us to the on-campus 8Eleven Bistro. While I chose it for its menu and great reviews I was unaware that it was named for Purdue alumnus Neil Armstrong, who flew on the Gemini 8 and of course Apollo 11 missions. And the food was out of this world…

Onion soup at the 8Eleven Bistro

Day 11, Mill Run PA km 4,630. Scooting through Ohio we headed for Pennsylvania to get to our reserved B&B in Mill Run, just a five minute drive from Fallingwater. Tilly had to navigate the car through an Ohio deluge of biblical proportion but rolled into the Starlight Bed & Breakfast, and a sneak photo of the Fallingwater sign…

Day 12, Fallingwater km 4,999. It’d been a dream of mine for many years to see Fallingwater, but in spite of long beta-sites in Crawfordsville IN, and many visits to printing plants in Wisconsin I never could quite arrange a trip there. So finally, August 8, 2022 I got to visit Fallingwater. I took many pictures but these two stand out. The quintessential view from where the Kaufman’s thought the house would stand, and a glimpse of the natural sandstone formation that inspired Frank Lloyd Wright to echo that in the very structure of the house.

The natural sandstone that lines the Bear Run Creek
Falliingwater over the two waterfalls. It is spectacular.

As hard as it was to leave Fallingwater we had a couple days to press on to our Montréal destination, and took a couple hours to play around Gananoque and take a tour of (some of the) Thousand Islands. Oh, and Thousand Islands dressing was indeed invented here and consists of green relish, ketchup, and mayonnaise. Now you know.

Montréal has been our destination, for a few days of a Schalkwyk family reunion, then drive north for a week of KlezKanada. It’s been a long drive, with may ups and few downs.

4 Replies to “Cross-Country to Montréal”

  1. Yup, the view from Calgary to Winnipeg. So familiar. My family drove from Saskatoon to Winnipeg every summer to visit grandparents . What an otherwise scenic journey you are on! Thanks for sharing.

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