Hello Ontario!

I woke up many times through the night in the Kenora hotel.

When we got there, I was thrilled to have a real bed and I felt guaranteed I'd get an excellent sleep. The girls were in one bed while Ben and I shared the other.

Everyone was up late and super excited to have a TV in the room. Eventually Ben and Sophie crashed but Ellie just couldn’t let slumber get the best of her.  She was up non-stop. Constantly she came to my bedside and tugged on my blankets to tell me that she just couldn’t get comfortable, she missed the tent.

Of course she did!

And she let me know…ALL…NIGHT!

So sleeping like a log in the hotel didn’t happen. But it wasn’t all lost, because I did have two long hot showers. And they were well worth it.

In the morning, there was a warm breakfast included so my plan was to take advantage of that, find a campsite in Lake of the Woods, and camp for a few days but when I opened the window coverings, it was clear that camping wasn’t that enticing because there was a torrential downpour outside. The night before, was a beautiful sunny evening.  What happened to our sunshine?!! 

Rain down on me!

Rain down on me!

I hadn’t looked at the forecast in days, so I had no idea what was in store for us, and I’ll be honest with you, even with a crummy sleep I was very happy that I wasn’t waking up to that rain in a tent.

We went for breakfast and my favorite travel buddies and I watched the local morning news with warnings of heavy rainfall in the area for the next two days.  We had to come up with another plan. Canada certainly was big, so to wait out the rain would put us behind on our travels. We wanted to have some time to explore the east.  Together, we agreed that the rainy day should be a drive day.

I was disappointed that Lake of the Woods was a scratch, but I knew that there was always the drive back!

So we got in the van and pointed Black Betty eastwardly.

Unfortunately, the DEF light didn’t magically disappear through the night so I also had to deal with it. But Matt was certain it could wait until my next gas stop. So I drove.

Picnicking at Aaron Provincial Park

Picnicking at Aaron Provincial Park

Eventually we pulled over and picnicked at Aaron Provincial Park, still it was pouring rain, and Black Betty won herself some points when her awning proved to be a wonderful add on to keep us dry.  Later that night, we rolled into Sandbar Lake Provincial Park to set up camp. It was still raining. I cooked under Black Betty’s awning and the rain didn’t dampen the kids’ spirits, they were happy to splash around in the mud.

Aaron Provincial Park - The only kids playing at the playground in the rain.

Aaron Provincial Park - The only kids playing at the playground in the rain.

Making mud rivers in the rain at Sandbar Lake Provincial Park.

Making mud rivers in the rain at Sandbar Lake Provincial Park.

That night, we slept in the van.

We loaded up the next morning and got back on the road. I had DEF on my mind as I pulled into the next gas stop in Dryden. It was a Petro-Canada with a 7-11 attached to it. When I went in to ask for DEF, the woman behind the counter had no idea what I was talking about. Well, that made two of us.

Now what?

I got in Black Betty and dug out the Sprinter user’s manual and found a page on DEF. It stood for Diesel Exhaust Fuel.  In bold letters it said not to put DEF in the gas tank with the diesel but to pour it in the DEF tank that was clearly labeled, exactly that, under the hood.  Simple enough, I guess.

I drove the van down the road to the next gas station and went in to ask if they had any DEF. They did! Score! But I expected it to be in a small bottle, like oil.  The only thing they had was a very large jug.  When I asked the attendant at that gas station if they had smaller jugs, he wasn’t sure what was a standard size jug. He had no idea what it was for or where to put it in the vehicle so I was one up on him. Still the jug seemed so big to me!

After reading the instructions, DEF in hand, surely this would be easy enough. I popped the hood.  And yes, even in the heavy rain I got the hood open. I even found the DEF cap so I knew where to pour it. But Black Betty was so damn tall, and I was so damn short. Even on the tip of my toes, I could barely get the cap opened.  I’d also read in the instructions that DEF was a strong irritant so that if I spilled anywhere but the holding tank, I was to wipe it immediately.

So short me, tall van, pouring rain, massive jug…of course there were spills. Frantically I tried to wipe it. But I couldn’t tell what was rain and what was the stuff. I was getting frustrated. Eventually I quit.  I couldn’t pour it in without pouring it all over the van.

Step back.

Deep breath.

Ok…no problem…I’ll get the cooler.

I pulled the cooler out of the van and though it got extremely slick in the pouring rain, I stepped up on it.  It was slippery but I braced up against our black beast and poured as best I could.  Thing is, I had no idea how much I could pour in. I couldn’t see an indicator of how full it was. I kept pouring. I imagined that it would overflow and I’d have the strong irritant everywhere and I would be most irritated over it, but it never did. Instead, it took the entire jug. And I closed Black Betty up like I knew exactly what I was doing. I started the engine and the light was gone. Yay! A high five to my team, and we kept going down the highway!

I wasn’t on the highway more than 10 minutes before the beeping and alarms of the dashboard went off again.

Black Betty was obviously demanding.  

Rain day = drive day!!

Rain day = drive day!!