This year, at Oshkosh, while enjoying the company of our friends, the Branch family, we made an innocent comment like "we should come visit you in Canada sometime." We decided to make an actual plan out of it and discussed how late October might be the best time, due to weather and the hockey season starting up. One of Brandi and my bucket list items when building the plane was to watch an NHL game in every city that had a team. This would be a great opportunity to cross a couple off the list.
We had made plans to visit the Kranz family last year, but because of weather, that fell through. So, we figured we would bundle that into a big sweeping trip up towards Canada. We were intending to depart on a Tuesday morning but weather was going to get bad at home, so, we decided on the spur of the moment to leave Sunday afternoon and go early. We landed at Red Wing, WI later that evening after a pleasant flight. We stowed the bird in Ed's nice big hangar and headed for his home. It was really great being able to spend several days with Ed, Colleen, and little EJ. While we were there we did all kinds of fun stuff like went to the Science Museum, Mall of America, got to drive his friends Tesla, enjoyed playing fetch with the dog, feeding the chickens, and also went for a ride in Ed's -10 (incredible panel by the way). We caught a Wild hockey game at Xcel Energy Center, which was great fun and another one off the list. Lucy LOVED playing with EJ, the dog, and the cat.
We had planned on going up to Winnipeg to catch a Jets game up there, but bad weather kept us from going, so we stayed an extra night with the Kranz family. Thanks again guys!
We had a long flight out to Montana and it was pretty bumpy the whole time. We landed at Cut Bank, Montana to some INTENSE winds. They were something like high 20's gusting to 52 kts. I've always done fine in wind and it was mostly down one of the runways so we went for it. Taxiing was pretty interesting and pretty difficult. We fueled up and got the heck out of there! Too much wind! Off we went for Lethbridge, Canada, where we cleared customs by getting a confirmation code over the phone without seeing a single person! Super easy! Off we went to CEN4, High River, Alberta Canada, yay! We were a little behind schedule arriving and had plans to catch a Calgary Flames game that night. Once we landed, the Branchs handed us hockey tickets, some Tim Hortons Coffee and doughnuts, and watched Lucy for the night, as Brandi and I drove up to Calgary to watch the game! Its great having such wonderful and kind friends! The hockey game was really fun as it was a rivalry match between Flames and Canadiens. It was the night before Halloween and lots of people were dressed in costumes, which was pretty fun to see.
We had Edmonton Oilers tickets for the next night and decided to drive rather than fly. It was a nice scenic 3 hour trip up there and again, the Branchs played with Lucy and even took her trick-or-treating! It was nice being able to get away and enjoy some 'us' time, since that is a rare treat. Lucy loved playing with Emma and Gavin. They are such great kids.
We were supposed to leave Canada to head home on Sunday night but due to weather we had to sit it out until Wednesday! Better safe than sorry! We were eager to get home, but had a great time anyways and made the best of it. The Branchs have a beautiful house and a really awesome wave pool that we played in one evening. We enjoyed great food, learned more about Troy's exciting Carbon Cub build, played outside in unseasonably warm weather, and overall enjoyed Canada.
We finally caught a break in the weather and headed back towards home. There was a storm front that was moving across the country, so we had to make our way back behind it slowly, but surely. We ended up back at Cut Bank to clear customs (no wind this time!). Then we shot for Billings, Montana to stay the night. We got a nice hotel room and found a random BBQ place nearby, where I had the best brisket of my life!! We were tired of traveling and ready to be home, but we wouldn't be able to get all the way back the next day. We had to stop in Manhattan, Kansas to wait out the weather. We ended up with a big rental SUV (Nissan Armada), got a hotel room, and rested. On Friday, after having been gone for 12 days, we finally made it home through a fortuitous gap in weather, that would later prove to cover everything up for again for several more days soon after we got in. We were glad to be home!
Thank you so much for your hospitality Kranzs and Branchs! Go Wild! Go Flames! Go Go RV-10! :)