Back On Track

He's had a rough go of it lately, and I have not been the one chosen to go with him when he succeeds; but we're back on track. For some reason Dairy Queen is in favor at the moment.


Dry Humor

Nathan gets static electricity in his hair.


Wonderland Collapse

The neighbour's shed out the back has collapsed at some point over the winter. The snow makes the scene look pretty, though.


Back To Winter

Kicking The Fresh Snow


Road Trip: Day 7

One last day in the car. Everyone slept well after we got home.

This was the most challenging drive so far -- there was thick, less-than-100m-visibility fog in the morning, and that was topped off with freezing mist and snow squalls just before lunch. Despite this, some drivers still insisted on going 90 miles an hour. The Forester handled this fairly well, letting me push perhaps faster than was absolutely wise, but helping me stay out of the way of faster traffic.

We made it home before 6PM, which made it a good day. Ceili clearly missed us, she spent the evening curled up next to me and wouldn't leave me alone overnight.

Overall the trip was mixed. The problem with travelling isn't the travelling, per se -- the kids do just fine in the car for the most part. The problem is the not-being-at-home part overnight and at the far destination. The kids are bored, confined, and don't have access to their stuff, so pester constantly for screentime or TV. They do better when we have activities, like the Aquarium and the Zoo, as long as we don't push them too hard. And then there's me. At the end of day four I just felt totally done with the trip. I did better with the travelling part, as I'm more engaged and take control of that part of the decisions and execution than I do with managing the family. But it was still a long week for me.

The Forester is a decent car -- not a rewarding car to drive in the same way that the Mazda is, but more comfortable. It absorbed the milage we threw at it with ease, without being wearing to drive. I doubt that I could drive the Mazda as far (even without family!) and be as willing to do it all again the next day. The Forester's behaviour in the mist and snow was exemplary, especially considering I didn't have any limit-testing experience with it -- it never felt like it was going to do something stupid on me, even if I didn't have the subconscious trust in the car like I do with the Mazda (the ability to let my subconscious drive the car briefly while I mentally do something else). It has the same vague-feeling on the centerline that my Legacy and both Imprezas that I've driven had. Jenn and I were thinking about whether or not this would be a suitable car for use while the family has the dog -- we have concerns about the long-term space (both kids are probably going to be big like my brother and Jenn's uncle, and the dog isn't small either) but we could probably make it work for a few years.

Next for us is back to Cambridge for the dog training. Then maybe Calgary in July, depending on how we do with the dog. I think that this trip has helped Jenn decide not to drive to Calgary, which is good (less time in the car) and bad (more expense). If we were to do a road trip I'd want it to be a road trip, where we did an activity then drove on to the next place. I think that might work better than staying put in one place.


Road Trip: Day 6

Alex has been waiting for this day for two years. Today, we went to the Market Parking Garage in Roanoke Virginia.

I think the pictures tell the story.

Despite two traffic jams (including a one-hour stop on the I-77) and the 90-minute detour to Roanoke, we still managed to push back all the way to Martinsburg and ended up staying in the same place as we did on the way out. Unfortunately it was Friday night, so all the restaurants were busy, so Nathan didn't get to eat at (another) Applebees'. We ended up eating at the hotel, which turned out to be adequate.


Road Trip: Day 5

Today we went to Zoo Atlanta.

Because of the weather, there were many animals off-exhibit, including many of the cats. They did have the baby pandas out, though.

For our last dinner in Atlanta, we went to an IHOP. We tried to eat at one for lunch on Wednesday, but it took too long to find an open one (one was closed, one was under renovation) and the kids were cranky so that got aborted. Now I can say I've eaten at one. It was very affordable, but not really anything special. The staff at both places were very nice, though.


Road Trip: Day 3

Today we went to the Atlanta Aquarium.

They have three whale sharks, and some of the biggest rays I've ever seen.

Dinner was at a Cheesecake Factory, which turned out to be a disappointment -- the serving sizes were big, but the food didn't really work for me. Also I was too full to try any desert.


Road Trip: Day 2

A bit later start to the day again caused us some problems at the other end -- however we'd decided to push through to Atlanta and eventually ended up there around 8PM. The biggest problem? Finding a hotel that had an indoor pool. Seems many of the hotels in Atlanta have outdoor pools, probably on the theory that they can be used through more of the year than in colder climates.

Alex had a hard time. All through Virginia they had signs every 5 to 10 miles telling you how far it was to Roanoke, and when we didn't make that turn he was very disappointed.


Road Trip: Day 1

Day 1 was our first long slog in the car. We borrowed Jenn's parents' Subaru Forester, which turns out to be a reasonable car for this kind of use. The kids did fairly well, all things considered. We had a later-than-expected start, and a few longer-than-expected starts, and finally stopped at 6PM, which might have been a bit early all things considered. With all that going on we didn't make the distance we wanted to on the first day. We overnighted in Martinsburg.


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Dog, Prelude

We travelled up to Cambridge for the first meeting with the National Service Dogs people. We stayed overnight Friday in Cambridge so as to avoid having to rush up Saturday morning.  The trip up was very good, I thought we'd see far more traffic on the 7 and 115 on a Friday afternoon/evening but there was not too much and we were mostly unopposed travelling up -- I was able to pick my own speed without hounding slower traffic or being hounded by faster traffic. 

This was an information session and an evaluation session. The trainers were evaluating us to see how we dealt with dogs who were less than perfect, so we got to do some exercises with younger, not-fully-trained dogs. Then they did a questionnaire and brief interview about our home lives and Alex's temperment. They have a number of dogs graduating right now, and this was all about shortlisting some matches so that when we go for our week-long training they know which dogs to try us with.

One thing that surprised me was that when we were doing the introductions with the other parents, we were clearly the veterans in the Autism world -- most of the other parents only had three or four years in, as opposed to our decade. Also, we were the only ones to show pictures of our kid, and that really surprised me. I mean, this is my son, I'm proud of him, I want to show him off. I'm surprised the other families didn't show the same thing.

After the three-hour meeting, we got back in the car and drove back to Ottawa. Again I went up the 115 and 7, and again I was shocked at how little traffic there was on that road. There were long periods of time where there was no traffic running with us and five or ten minutes stretches where there was no oncoming traffic, either. We only saw one police cruiser in "speed trap" mode, but apparently either he was just faking or I wasn't fast enough to be worth chasing. Overall it was a good trip.

In the next while we'll be off for a whole week of training, and when we come home, we'll have the dog.