Nearly 200 airline cabin cleaners walked off the job at a New York City airport overnight, striking over health and safety issues that include fears over possible exposure to Ebola.
The protest involves Air Serv cabin cleaners in Terminal D at New York’s LaGuardia airport, a contractor that serves Delta, as well as supporting workers from LaGuardia and JFK International airports.
Protesting workers carried signs and chanted during today’s rally, protesting against conditions that they say often find them encountering hypodermic needles, vomit and blood.
Meanwhile, the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ was scheduled to conduct infectious disease training today for airport cabin cleaners, terminal cleaners and wheelchair attendants.
“The training will cover current guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA),” the union said in a release. “This includes guidelines for cleaning airplane cabins and lavatories, for cleaning an area with possible Ebola exposure, and for determining which equipment employers are required to supply.”
It’s been a long summer but one of the highlights was spending some time with the 2014 Ford Escape. I reviewed in 2013 and the SUV is essentially the same. Instead of just driving it around Saskatoon (done that before), I decided to take it on the road. This is after all where a crossover is supposed to come in useful isn’t it (that and as a hockey kid taxi). So the four of us got up really early one Sunday and took a long one day drive from Saskatoon to Drumheller and back. It’s around 1000km in a day if you are keeping track. At the end of the trip we were going to either love or hate the 2014 Ford Escape.
We packed relatively light. Even though it was a brand new vehicle we tossed our emergency kit in the back, three camera bags, a cooler, and some extra jackets in case the weather forecast was horribly wrong. That took up about 5% of the rear cargo space.
We got into Drumheller at about noon where the Ford Escape met this guy. I know I signed something that stopped people from smoking in the Ford Escape, I couldn’t remember if I was covered by stampeding dinosaurs. So I sent Mark and Oliver up to deal with the T-Rex.
After an epic struggle, they subdued the beat and saved the Escape.
I have driven from Saskatoon to Calgary many times and each time (generally at Hanna), I would get out and feel the pain in my back after four long hours of driving. This time it was completely different and here is why With the Escape, there was none of that. The air conditioner kept the kids cool while the heated seats kept Wendy and I feeling a lot more comfortable. If only they had a back massage feature.
After lunch we checked the GPS for directions to the Atlas Coal Mine. It couldn’t find it. It found every other little attraction in Drumheller but missed this one. Obviously Ford downloads these attractions from a database but I was surprised a National Historic Site was not on it. Ironically enough Siri with it’s much despised Apple Maps found us a way and we arrived after our failed conversation with Ford Sync. Apple 1 – Ford Sync 0.
Once at the Atlas Coal Mine, I discovered the true value of the Ford Escape. We explored an abandoned wooden bridge (which was home to rattlesnakes) and was almost completely rotten.
Explored the mine site
Wendy stumbled onto a model shoot
We took a mine tour
Climbed the “walk from hell” (this is important)
Where I tore my right quad and put myself in incredible pain (not all Ford reviews have happy endings). After heading back down the “walk from hell” (it’s what the miners called it), I limped back to the waiting Ford Escape while the family kept exploring (thanks guys!)
The pain was incredible, my leg was almost useless and I limped back to the vehicle in incredible pain. I got in and actually had to lift my leg inside, turned on the Escape, turned on the a/c and turned on the heated seat. It didn’t take away the pain but facing a five hour trip back to Saskatoon and realizing how much better it made my leg feel, it was amazing. (and made me add a tensor bandage and A535 to my emergency kit) when I got back into Drumheller.
I felt good enough to limp out and explore the Star Mine Suspension Bridge in Rosedale. While I never recommend walking on a moving suspension bridge with a torn quad, the heat kept it from getting really bad.
18 hours after, one rattlesnake sighting, two provinces, one radar dome, one torn quad, 1000 kms, three McDonald’s and one A&W run later, we rolled back into Saskatoon. Instead of whining and complaining despite being well past their bedtimes, the boys hopped out the car and Oliver said that was fun. He then hugged the Ford Escape goodnight. Yeah you read that right, after an 18 hour day, my six year old hugged the Escape.
It was then I realized why you want a 2014 Ford Escape. It is a lot of fun to drive in the city and the highway. It’s safe and like I wrote about the 2013 Ford Escape, it saved my families life when a guy lost control on icy roads. It looks great. Sirius XM radio is a lot of fun.
All of that is amazing but you buy one because the Escape facilitates fun times together with others. Whether that is an epic road trip with family or a weekend getaway with friends, it made a great trip better. It made a long day seem shorter. It made an improbable one day trip possible. It is small enough to be fun to drive but large enough that you can bring people along. It is everything a SUV should be. Since the first time I drove the Ford Escape, I fell in love with it and said that it was my favourite vehicle to drive. Since then it has become my families favourite vehicle as well. It facilitates fun.
You can read all about the technical specs here but in the end, they add up to one thing; great times spent together.
- I have been reviewing Ford cars for three years. Oliver is now six and since her first saw the Ford Sync GPS display, he has been fascinated. He sits in the back seat on a painful angle the entire time so he can see the display. That hasn’t changed. I hope to review a Ford car in 2015 just to see how long this continues. It’s weird. Of course the one advantage of Ford Sync GPS screens is not navigation but the fact that you never hear, “Are we there yet?”
- The bad thing about turn by turn instructions is that if you deviate off your course to take the scenic route (which I did), everyone panics and start back seat driving. Wendy is chirping at me, the boys are chirping at me. Sync is telling to “turn right, turn right, turn right”. I’m like, I just want see some scenery! EVERYONE CALM DOWN and Sync is still going, “turn right, turn right, turn right”. Why does no one trust me?!
- The Escape is fast. Shockingly fast for a SUV. Very comfortable to drive on a two lane highway. When I wanted to pass, I could.
- The Sync still crashes. Every Ford vehicle I have reviewed has had something go wrong with the Sync. The last time it wasn’t that bad but it asked me to go to a dealer. Turning the Escape off and on rebooted it (it is from Microsoft after all). Instead of asking me to go to a dealer, it should just say, restart your car. It’s not a big thing but I can’t believe it still does this. Then again, Microsoft. I should be used to it by now.
- Speaking of taking the scenic route, you will take more of them. The handling of the Escape is great and it kind of calls out for winding roads and rolling hills. A lot of fun.
- Even though the body design is older, it still turns heads. As I was limping towards the Star Mine Suspension Bridge someone turned and said, “that is a nice looking SUV”.
The Triumph left Galveston, Texas on Feb. 7, 2013, for a four-day cruise highlighted by a stop in Cozumel, Mexico. After departing Cozumel, a fire broke out at about 5 a.m. in the ship’s engine room Feb. 10. It left the ship without engine power and most of its electricity, forcing passengers to endure human waste running down hallways, limited water supplies, noxious odours and extreme heat.
After about five days in the Gulf of Mexico, the ship was finally towed to Mobile, Alabama., and the weary, bedraggled passengers disembarked Feb. 14.
Carnival sought to make amends by offering each passenger a $500 check, a voucher for a future cruise, refunds of most on-board expenses and reimbursement for transportation, parking and so forth.
For many of the passengers, those offers were an insult and multiple lawsuits were filed seeking millions of dollars in damages.
In the current trial, Judge Graham has ruled that passengers cannot collect punitive damages and may only get damages for past and future medical costs that are conclusively linked to what happened on the Triumph.
Many of the 33 passengers involved in the trial complain of lingering emotional issues such as PTSD, anxiety and depression; some have physical ailments they blame on squalid conditions, including leg pain, diarrhea, upper respiratory problems and even aggravated hemorrhoids.
Most of the passengers are seeking $5,000 in damages a year from Carnival for the rest of their lives, claiming they will need continuous medical monitoring because of what happened aboard ship. They want the money in lump sums based on government tables estimating their life expectancies.
Can’t you just have a really sucky experience anymore without getting lawyers involved or is this now mandatory if something bad happens.
I woke up early for the gold medal hockey game. I tried to wake up Wendy and then Mark but was essentially told to go away.
One the slugabed’s awoke, we decided to take a road trip. I told them that we were going to Waskesiu and then took Highway 11 south towards Chamberlain and then Moose Jaw.
A washroom break was needed at Chamberlain where we stopped at Bennett’s Garage. That didn’t go so well as the bathrooms weren’t clean and the Twizzlers were stale. It stopped the complaining and we were off to Moose Jaw.
We got to Moose Jaw just in time for a Tunnels of Moose Jaw tour. We took the Chicago Connections tour which had our group as bootleggers out to run Al Capone’s booze down to Chicago. The first stop was above the Java Express Cafe where were taken into a private club with a table reserved for Al Capone. As we were about to be bothered by the corrupt Chief of Police, we were taken into Al Capone’s office and then his bedroom. Things were okay until there was an Al Capone sighting and then we were brought into the tunnels underneath Moose Jaw where we met, Gus, one of Capone’s henchmen.
He showed us his gun collection, told us stories of gangsters, Moose Jaw, and Capone, showed up the stills, and finally led us on an escape from the RCMP who had shown up at the club with warrants. Along the way he harassed Mark, Wendy, and several other guests, while keeping the tour fun and moving along.
Mark loved the tour as he was identified as having potential within the Capone crime family. Oliver was a little young and was scared during part of it but in the end enjoyed it as well.
It took about 40 minutes and was worth the $40 it cost us as a family to take it.
Moose Jaw has a lot happening for it tourism wide. There is the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa, Casino Moose Jaw, the Tunnels of Moose Jaw, Crescent Park, and a popular Western Development Museum. Not only that but Main Street in Moose Jaw has come alive with places like Brown’s Social House. In addition to all of these things, it has some of Saskatchewan’s best architecture.
It’s worth a visit.
It’s that time of year again when people start searching the web for Christmas gifts for loved ones. For the last several years I have published a gift guide of what to get for your husband on JordonCooper.com and this year is no different. So without further ado (and I know how much we all hate ado), here is my Christmas gift suggestions for your husband/boyfriend/father (and all of the other men in your life). If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments – Wendy.
Sony RX-100 II
If you are looking for the world’s best point and shoot compact camera, here it is; the Sony RX-100 II.
- It has a huge one inch sensor (which means better low light performance and more vibrant photos)
- It features an extremely fast F1.8 Carl Zeiss lens which again will mean excellent low light photos and action shots.
- Connection to your smartphone via Wi-Fi or if you have a new Android powered phone, NFC.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $748
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $549
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $120
GoPro Hero 3+
You have probably seen one of the hundreds of amazing videos that have been posted to the GoPro YouTube Channel or seen one of the many thousands of more videos that have been posted over the last couple of years with these amazing cameras. While GoPro has competitors, none match the features that GoPro offers or any of the many mounts that GoPro has to secure the camera to your car, head, chest, poles, floatation devices, or bikes with ease. For $20-$30 you can literally mount a GoPro on anything.
The camera itself is a lot fun with a super wide angle view, HD video, slow motion video, and time lapse features that allow you to film your ideas. Jordon has one and has had a lot of fun over the years with it. Your guy will as well. An added bonus is that GoPro has released a free video editor so you can easily edit and upload your adventures.
- Purchase the Black Edition from Amazon.com | $399
- Purchase the Silver Edition from Amazon.com | $299
- Whatever edition you choose to get, you’ll need a Micro SD card. You can get a high speed card from Amazon.com for $23.
The bright f/1.8 lens lets you capture quality pictures not normally possible with a compact camera. Noise is kept to a minimum without boosting sensitivity, while camera-shake and subject motion are prevented due to high shutter speeds. And thanks to the large aperture, you can also create attractive "bokeh" blurred background effects.
With it’s retro styling, it’s also a camera guaranteed to be noticed even before you take those great photos.
- Purchase at Amazon | $249
Electronics is cool but so is writing stuff down with pen and paper and nothing beats a Moleskine notebook and a quality pen to do that with. You can find really nice Moleskine notebooks in any bookstore but for about half of that, you can find journals at your local Staples or office supply store.
- Purchase Moleskine notebook at Amazon | $29
- Purchase Parker Metro Fountain Pen at Amazon.com | $17
- Purchase Cambridge Business Notebook at Staples | $12
I purchased Jordon a pair of Bose IE2 in ear headphones last year. He put them in his ears and could not believe the difference between them and the $20 headphones he had used forever. As he said, "It’s like hearing my music for the first time again". For Father’s Day, I got him a pair of Bose AE2 headphones that go over the ear and the sound was even better. It’s easy to dismiss high end headphones as not being worth the money but I can really say that these are. Both are incredibly comfortable and bring a bit of luxury to your world no matter where you are listening to them at. Everyone needs a retreat and this does that. I can’t recommend them enough.
If you are looking for a less expensive option, check out JVC’s Xplosive Xtreme headphones. $16 gets you an attractive bass booming set of in ear headphones that are great for everyday use.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $16
For over the ear comfort and sound at a great price, check out Sony’s MDR-ZX100 headphones. We have a couple of pairs around the house and they are much loved and oft used.
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $15
Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff | Jordon grew up with Detroit cable television and for many in our city, they have a close affinity with Detroit. This is the story of what went wrong and is told from a personal perspective. Back in his broken hometown, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Charlie LeDuff searches through the ruins for clues to its fate, his family’s, and his own. Detroit is where his mother’s flower shop was firebombed in the pre-Halloween orgy of arson known as Devil’s Night; where his sister lost herself to the west side streets; where his brother, who once sold subprime mortgages with skill and silk, now works in a factory cleaning Chinese-manufactured screws so they can be repackaged as “May Be Made in United States.”
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $21
The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006- by Paul Wells | This is the book that every one of our friends is reading or wants for Christmas. In The Longer I’m Prime Minister, Paul Wells explores just what Harper’s understanding of Canada is, and who he speaks for in the national conversation. He explains Harper not only to Harper supporters but also to readers who can’t believe he is still Canada’s prime minister. In this authoritative, engaging and sometimes deeply critical account of the man, Paul Wells also brings us an illuminating portrait of Canadian democracy: “glorious, a little dented, and free.”
- Purchase from Amazon.com | $20
Samsung 2.1 Channel 100-Watt Dual Audio Dock | If the guy you are shopping for is a music lover, you will want to consider this amazing Samsung wireless speaker dock. Incredible sound and rich, warm styling makes the Samsung DA-E750 wireless audio dock the perfect addition to your home. The unique vacuum tube amplifier technology lets you hear music the way it was meant to be heard. Compatible with both Samsung and Apple phones, this device lets you stream music using either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology, or load it from a USB memory stick.
- Purchase 100-Watt Dock from Amazon.com | $459
- Purchase 40-Watt Dock from Amazon.com | $249
- Purchase 10-Watt Dock from Amazon.com | $85
If your husband is a fan of the radio (nothing better than baseball on a summer’s night over the radio), check out the SANGEAN WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio. Elegant simplicity combined with state-of-the-art performance sets the Sangean Model WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio head and shoulders above the competition. In true Sangean tradition, AM/FM reception is excellent providing clear and static free listening. Rotary dials adjust the volume, selects AM/FM bands, and precisely tunes your station selection displayed in a softly lighted analog display. An LED tuning eye assures you’re achieving the best reception for your selected station. In addition, a stereo headphone jack and provision for an external AM and FM antenna is also provided. An AUX-In jack for playing your favourite MP3 music from your portable devices is available as well as a Record-Out jack for routing to your recording equipment or external devices.
Plus baseball just sounds better played on one of these radios.
- Purchase from Amazon | $85
X-Mini II Portable Capsule Speaker | Jordon gave me one of these last year and I thought it looked cute and didn’t think much more about it but they work fantastic. The big difference with the X-Mini II speakers is that you can link them together to create better sound as well as more volume. We take ours with us everywhere and its nice at the cabin or even in a hotel room on a vacation. There are some other two speaker options as well but you can find the X-Mini’s almost everywhere and they are about the same price.
- Purchase from Amazon | $20
Keep your belongings, and yourself, stylishly organized with Kenneth Cole’s lovely messenger bag. Contrast stitching accents its rich leather body, while a short handle and long, adjustable strap keep your carrying options open. The flap closure opens up to reveal a roomy main compartment, complete with a full-length zipper pocket for your smaller necessities. Front gusseted pockets include a cell phone pocket to keep it handy and within reach.
Soft, Columbian full-grain leather and casual, but polished styling make this messenger the perfect bag for work and everyday. The interior is simple, but versatile enough to carry a laptop, papers, books, etc. There is even a cell phone pocket plus organizer features in the front gusset pockets.
- Purchase from Amazon | $68 (you save $180)
- Purchase from Red Canoe | $24.99
- Purchase from Red Canoe | $149.99
RCAF Dopp Kitt | Unlike many women who require a small suitcase for their toiletries, a traveling man needs only a few essentials to be happy. Nevertheless, a man needs a place to stow these items. Enter the Dopp kit. Now you can get a $5 shaving kit from Wal-Mart but that has no class What you want is something with personality and I think we can all agree, this dope kit has personality. Not only will it keep you guy’s stuff organized, it will be something he holds on to for years and years.
- Purchase from Red Canoe | $45
Sipping Stones is the aficionado’s choice for chilling a drink. It eliminates a common problem for all connoisseurs of fine whiskey: it cools your drink perfectly without the dilution from melting ice. Now all your favorite drinks are able to be served the way they were intended to be, perfectly pure and precisely chilled. Sipping Stones are non-porous meaning there is no odor or taste to tarnish your drink. And unlike ice, Sipping Stones provides a smooth chill that does not overwhelm the character of your beverage. Each set of Sipping Stones comes with nine finely crafted cubes made from soapstone, a safe alternative to ice. Sipping Stones is a great gift for anyone who loves the perfectly chilled beverage. Or you can use it as a conversation starter at your next party. Simply keep the Sipping Stones in your freezer until you are ready to chill your next glass of whiskey.
- Purchase from Amazon | $15
Finally, how much fun would any guy have playing with an AR Drone 2.0 quadcopter. It’s easy to fly, records in HD video and if he does crash it (you know he will), there is a large stock of replacement parts.
That being said, the automated features of the AR Drone 2.0 make it almost impossible to crash making it stable platform to fly, do stunts with or film video with. Take a look at the video below to see how it performs
Purchase at Amazon.com | $299
Netatmo Urban Weather Station
The Netatmo Weather Station contains a unique set of sensors to monitor your living environment and wirelessly transmits all your data to your Smartphone. The Netatmo App displays your Station’s indoor and outdoor measurements into clear and comprehensive dashboards, graphs and notifications. All of your data is recorded online and made permanently accessible for you, on your Smartphone or PC. Seamlessly measure, track and monitor your Weather and Environment, indoor and outdoor, at any time and from anywhere. The Netatmo App is available for free at the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. With the app you can:
- Connect multiple Stations to your Smartphone or computer
- Check the your Stations from any Smartphone or computer
- Share the info on your favorite social networks
We spend 80% of our time indoor, resting, playing with the kids or at the office. The Netatmo Station monitors your indoor air quality (CO2 concentration), and reminds you to ventilate, at the right moment. The Netatmo Weather Station allows city dwellers to monitor indoor air quality, get real-time updates on local Air Quality Index report and pick the best moments for outdoor activities.The Netatmo Weather Station also monitors noise pollution and measures home or office acoustic comfort.
- Purchase at Amazon | $180
Bushnell 10×42 Binoculars
Bushnell Powerview Roof Prism Binoculars are designed to provide high-quality optics in a versatile and durable format at an affordable price. Constructed with a rugged, shock absorbing rubber armor for a comfortable, non-slip grip and equipped with the roof prism system for increased durability, Powerview Binoculars are suitable for multiple applications from sports to nature viewing. The 10×42 Powerview Binoculars offer powerful 10x magnification with larger, light-gathering 42-millimeter objective lenses that will perform well anywhere you use them–from a bird watching hike to a stadium. Meanwhile the BaK-7 prisms and multi-coated optics provide high-level image resolution and clarity. Additional user friendly details include a center focus knob for easy adjustments, fold down eye cups, and a tripod adaptable base. Bushnell Powerview Binoculars carry a limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship for the original owner.
Purchase at Amazon.com | $69
Give the gift of great coffee. Tonx sources the best beans from exceptional coffee farmers who are as fanatical about tasty coffee as we are. To make the best cup, you have to start with the best ingredients. Tonx has years of experience finding and working with the best farmers in the world.
They then ship that amazing coffee to your house. It costs you $19 per 12oz shipment and you have a new shipment coming every two weeks. That’s right, fresh coffee beans coming to your house every second week. How awesome is that?
Purchase from Tonx | Prices vary according to plan
He Likes Black Coffee | This is a mug for Jordon. Over the years I have given some cool (and not so cool) gifts but his eyes light up every time he sees a cool coffee mug. Of course there are some limitations. Your guy has to like black coffee but if he does, he will love this gift.
Purchase from Indigo | $10
I am biased because Jordon has been selling some amazing photographs of shots he has posted to The Daily but have you considered the gift of art this Christmas? Image Kind has hundreds of incredible artists selling amazing art on archival quality paper. Not only are you supporting local artists but you are getting someone you love something that they won’t get at your local big box store. Check out his Saskatoon, rural, and travel galleries. You may be surprised at what you will find there.
Am I missing anything? Do you have some great ideas I should be thinking of? Let me know in the comments.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2013 Christmas Gift Guides online here. There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life. Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season!
I guess this means that Saskatoon has the second worst roads in the world.
To one side is solid rock. To the other, a 2,000-foot abyss. In between is a two-way, 12-foot-wide path known as “Death Road.”
Regularly named as the world’s most dangerous route, North Yungas Road was cut into the side of the Cordillera Oriental Mountain chain in the 1930s. Many sections are unpaved and lack guardrails. Warm and humid winds from the Amazon bring heavy rains and fog. There are numerous mudslides and tumbling rocks, and small waterfalls occasionally rain down the cliff sides. These conditions explain why an estimated 200 to 300 people are killed on the road every year.
Special rules apply at North Yungas Road. While the rest of Bolivia drives on the right side, here vehicles drive on the left. A driver on the left has a better view of the edge of the road. Furthermore, descending vehicles never have the right of way and must move to the outer edge of the road. This forces fast vehicles to stop so that passing can be negotiated safely.
Last week Ford invited myself and some other bloggers to the RCMP barracks in Regina to an event hosted by the RCMP, SGI, and Ford (via their Capital Ford dealership) about the dangers of distracted driving.
After going to the closed course, we were joined by high school students from Regina who according to their media interviews, all drove while texting, surfing the web, and using social media and really saw nothing wrong with it. The problem with it is that distracted driving kills more people in Saskatchewan than driving under the influence and RCMP are finding more and more accident scenes where there are no skid marks people didn’t even brake.
They set up several stations. One was a closed course about driving while texting. That didn’t go so well. Surprisingly at another station, most people could not even eat and drive at the same time (which reinforced what several cops have told me over the years), and another one features people fixing their hair and putting on makeup while driving. The end result was there was pylons flying all over a course that was not that challenging.
What was scary was even as the kids got out of the cars and walked to their next station, what were they doing? Texting. It going to be a long road ahead if we are going to change this but it was a good start by Ford, SGI, and the RCMP in changing minds. Of course who do they learn this behaviour from? Their parents. While kids text on the phone, parents in Saskatchewan talk and drive on the phone (and we aren’t talking hands free either). It all needs to stop.
The RCMP also had a crime scene investigation display where they had their Dragonfly drones out on display (I really wanted to fly one) and had a couple of accident scenes set up. My only regret for the day was that I never asked the RCMP if I could test drive this.
How much fun would a high speed chase be on a RCMP tricycle? I could have taken on any mall cop in the greater Regina area.
I posted the rest of the photos from the day here.
On Sunday I decided to take the family along the backroads to Prince Albert. We explored the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Ascension, Fish Creek Church, and eventually the La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Dam east of Prince Albert. Mark shot some video footage while there which you can see below.
Wendy wrote a little more about the day on her blog.
The night before Mark was getting packed and his over the ear headphones were busted. Mark takes good care of his stuff but the ear pad was off. He never asks for stuff to be replaced but I went out and picked him up some new Sony headphones that XS Cargo had. I left the box in the Ford C Max Hybrid and he was thrilled to find it in the morning.
So at 5:45 a.m. I heard Mark get up and take all of the hot water in the house. The kid was excited to get going to his first Ford event, even if he hadn’t quite figured out how he was going to convince Ford to let him drive a car on the RCMP grounds. He still had a couple of hours to work out the details. We drove over to Jeff Jackson’s place. We had been there once before and I was assuming Mark had paid closer attention to where he lived than I did but then I realized it was Oliver who was with me. That didn’t help at all.
Despite Jeff’s place being in the middle of Lakeridge, it doesn’t show up on Ford’s GPS. I kept hoping I would get ‘Samantha’ (Ford Sync’s voice) to give me a warning about driving into unchartered territory but nothing.
It’s a horrible drive between Saskatoon and Regina. There is no scenery at all. I am sorry Davidson but your large coffee pot does not classify as scenery. If only a town would create the world’s biggest hoe along the way.
When we got to Regina and I had Jeff, the guy with Apple Maps navigating for me. That worked out as well as Apple Maps got us lost, didn’t update in time to make the turns and was pretty much useless. We should have stuck with either the Google Maps or the Microsoft powered map in the Ford GPS. It was a loss for Apple, a win for every other map software in the world, including paper maps.
As we rolled into the RCMP Heritage Centre, Ford had a large tent set up and like the other Ford events that we have been at, there was food, information, and drinks everywhere. Believe it or not, the photographer below was photographing the cars and not us. I may be a big deal in Europe but not so much in Regina.
As we were chatting, we noticed Greg Johnson, the Tornado Hunter roll up in his orange F-150. It makes quite an entrance. Of course Greg was only there for a short time as he had to go out and chase a tornado.
To start of the morning we took part in a short presentation on the Ford electric vehicles and hybrids in a boardroom at the RCMP Heritage Centre. Ford presentations are short, information packed and their specialists can answer your questions very well. On this one we had a specialist joining up in from Dearborn, Michigan via Skype.
“We pride ourselves on offering customers the Power of choice, including 15 vehicles with EcoBoost engines and five new electrified vehicles,” said Scott Kuzma, Ford of Canada’s assistant marketing manager, cars. “We are absolutely committed to top fuel economy with every new vehicle we introduce, and the Power of Choice Tour is helping people learn how they can achieve that in their own lives.”
You can read more about the presentation by clicking on the PDF. Of course not only are Ford vehicles more fuel efficient but Ford is trying to cut back on the amount of petroleum products it takes to make them (which can actually use up more hydro carbons than it will to drive them). For anyone who has read Jeff Rubin‘s books or column in the Globe and Mail, you know what a big deal this is.
Then it was outside to test drive the cars. There was a 2013 Ford Escape, a 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, and a 2013 Ford C Max Energi. Each test drive was done with a Ford Product Specialist who was there to answer any questions that myself (or Mark in the backseat) had. While we were waiting to take some drives, there were other specialists to answer any questions.
I took the Ford C Max Energi and the Ford Fusion Hybrid for quick test drives. Both are great cars. The Ford C Max Energi is very similar to the C Max Hybrid I just had but like the (way more expensive) Chevy Volt, it runs first on battery and then uses gas. The transition from electric to gas was seamless. I had several questions about battery life as the last thing one wants to do is spend a lot of money on an electrified vehicle and then replace the battery pack. The battery packs on those last from 15-20 years which I think is more than acceptable and actually is quite exceptional.
The Ford Fusion Hybrid is also a great car to drive. I never really thought of the Ford Fusion as a luxury car but it is fantastic as a mid-sized sedan. For a lot of people running kids around town, it has the size to do it and the fuel efficiency to make the trips a lot less painful (which I was reminded when gas was $1.30 a litre on the way up and back.
They also had a 2013 Ford Escape but I have reviewed one previously and was going to drive another back to Saskatoon so I didn’t see the point in taking the SUV I love the most for another test drive.
At the Escape with Ford event from last year, they fed us about 8 times. This year we didn’t have the amount of stops but the quality was excellent with sandwiches, drinks and treats everywhere for us to eat. I found out an interesting thing about Mark in that he is unable to eat a chocolate cupcake without part of it going up his nose. I blame his mom.
As we left Regina, we took the 2013 Ford Escape back to Saskatoon with us. I stopped in Davidson to fill up the tank and while I was overtired, I made a horrible and inexcusable mistake. I stopped at the roadside gas station. Jeff and Mark went in to use the washroom and came out deeply scarred from the smell, sex toys being sold in the washroom and what Mark described as something oozing through the walls. I think both of them now have PTSD. That washroom alone is reason enough get a more energy efficient vehicle. The less you have to stop at roadside washrooms, the higher of quality of life you will have.
Since we are still planning to do a hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin, we have been picking up some gear for the trip. A lot of people have been asking us what we are taking so here is the quick list of gear that is going.
Backpacks: To carry the gear, we have some frameless backpacks with hip straps. You can spend a lot of money on these and after reading around, we think we found the right balance between comfort, durability, and price.
If I was walking the Appalachian Trail, I would definitely have purchased a more expensive backpack but it’s only a day and we are only taking so much stuff. I bought our bags on clearance for $30. They are 40 litres and have the external straps I want. They should do the job.
Tents: Wendy and I are staying in a three man tent we bought for $16 from Wal-mart. They had a loss leader going this winter and we got it then. It’s light and just big enough for the two of us. The tent opens up and hopefully we will be able to sleep under the skies rather than under the fly. If it does look like it could rain, we’ll be fine underneath it.
If I was going camping rather than backcountry hiking, we would have gotten something larger and higher quality. Weight and size are a factor. Also the price was insanely cheap ($16 on sale). If it doesn’t last, no harm done but the reviews online were pretty solid. It’s no where near as durable as a tent from the North Face but then again, it won’t be asked to do much more than keep the mosquitoes or drizzle off of us.
Mark is staying in a one person tent from Eagle’s Camp. It is small but it will be only him and his bag. I don’t know how long it will last him but once he gets to big for it, it can be used by Oliver at the cabin. Either way it is really light and since Mark will be carrying it in and out, he will appreciate the weight. We bought some ropes to add as guy wires which opens it up a bit. It’s small but it is light.
We did waterproof and seal the seams and upgraded the tent pegs to something lighter and more likely to stay in the ground. If the weather is miserable, we should be okay.
Sleeping bags: Mark had a sleeping bag but Wendy and I wanted new 1.5 pound sleeping bags. We picked up two at XS Cargo for $10 each. We will have sleeping foams as well. Walmart is charging $20 for their sleeping pads but we bought ours at a liquidation place for $3. We also bought some compression straps so the sleeping bags take up as little as room as possible.
For lighting, Wendy bought me a new headlamp for my birthday and both Mark and Wendy have headlamps and lanterns We also have a flashlight and Nite Ize LED zipper tags on our backpacks so if we wonder out in the dark, we can be seen.
For the kitchen, we have a Primus Classic Trail Stove and Primus fuel canisters. Stoves have their own fanboy culture which I understand but for the price, it can’t be beaten. I know this isn’t the stove to use when it’s winter but since we are doing the hike in July, we should be okay. It also has a five star review on Amazon.com so it seems to be doing the job.
Coleman also has a propane stove which uses their fuel. The big advantage was that you can get the propane at almost any store while you need to get fuel for the Primus at a specialty store like Cabela’s, MEC, REI. The disadvantage of the Coleman stove is the weight of the larger canister and the stove itself. in the end it made more sense to go with the Primus stove which is small enough to be tucked into our cooking gear. Of all of the things we have purchased for this hike, the Primus Classic Trail Stove is my favorite.
For backup we have a Magic Heat Stove and canisters. I picked them up because they were cheap, good for winter travel, and lightweight. I don’t expect to have to use them but we will take them depending on the weather forecast. If it is going to be nice, we will leave them but if there is a chance of rain and the idea of fighting with wet wood doesn’t appeal, then we will take the backup stoves.
As for the camp kit, years ago Lee gave Wendy a great camp set. We picked up three sparks and we are set to go.
As for water, I have talked to a lot of people who had drank right out of Kingsmere Lake with no side affects. There are giardia warnings about the water so we will have some water filters. It’s way cheaper using purification tablets but I am told they are disgusting. Since we are walking along side the lake, we will be using collapsible water bottles to keep weight and volume down.
Food: Basically MRE’s. We have been to Cabela’s weekly testing out one or two of them each time. We will eat some snacks on the way in, have a nice dinner (well away from the campground to keep the bears away) and then a big breakfast in the morning on our way out. Hopefully we get going in time to be back in Waskesiu for a late lunch before heading back to Saskatoon.
Clothes: I went out and invested in some decent hiking shorts and shirts this summer. As a friend of mine told me that chafing is not something that you will want to do while on the trail. We also went to Cabela’s and got tested by the Dr. Shoal’s machine for the kind of insoles we all need. While the custom Dr. Shoals insoles are right there, a row over are competitor insoles designed the same way for a fraction of the cost. They make hiking boots feel a lot more comfortable and will hopefully make the trip more pleasant.
Technology: We won’t be taking much technology along although we will have a GPS, binoculars, and some cameras. The idea is to keep the weight down as much as possible but at the some time we want to have some photographs and video. I don’t expect to have cell coverage on the hike but it won’t matter as our phones will be turned off. We will have our multi-tools and a hatchet with us but I don’t know if that is considered technology or not. In case we do get some rain, we have some gadget bags which are essentially waterproof zip lock bags for gear. It says that you can submerse them but I’d rather not. What they do a good job of doing is if a tent or bag does leak, your stuff will still be safe.
We bought everything local. While MEC had a good price on some stuff, by the time we calculated shipping, it was less expensive to get something at Cabela’s and Wholesale Sports.
The problem hasn’t been getting the gear that we want, it’s the issue of realizing that everything we do take is going to have to be hauled in and hauled back out. Let me know if you have some suggestions in the comments below.
Great public awareness campaign and website from the Government of Alberta on the dangers of texting and driving. I am amazed that despite the Saskatoon Police Service cracking down on it and the large fines that come along with it, many people I know text and use their phone while driving. It’s not that hard to put your phone on vibrate, put it face down and ignore it when in the car.