So if you have been following along, you will know that I got a new job in Northwestern Ontario! (If you aren’t in the loop, you can read all about it here). But this town is about a 19 hour drive straight from my parent’s place in the Ottawa Valley, and nearly the exact same distance from my old place in the Toronto area. Now I don’t know about you but I can’t drive for 19 hours straight, so we did the more sane thing and drove the nearly 15 hours from their house to Thunder Bay, Ontario and stayed in a hotel there for the night.
There are a few key things to note for this drive. There is not a lot between North Bay and Thunder Bay. You will eat a lot of Tim Hortons. You will also really need to pay attention to your gas tank once you leave North Bay.
We left Foresters Falls at 6am. We stopped at Tim Hortons in Mattawa. I should have gassed up here, but I was hoping gas would be cheaper in North Bay because it’s a city. It was not. Gas was expensive for this trip. I probably spent about $225 on gas for the one way trip. To be fair, the gas prices were between $1.27 and $1.37/L everywhere along the trip, and I have a small car. So I stopped again in North Bay, filled my tank and my windshield wiper fluid. If you are doing this drive in the winter I would also stock up on this; I went through about a jug and a half and used the windshield cleaner squeegee at gas stations about 3x a day. We next stopped in Cochrane, again at Tim Hortons, although there were a few options in this town so you wouldn’t have to eat there. Also worth noting we were able to eat inside in both of these locations. I think they were in the Orange zone at this time. I also got gas, a chocolate bar, and a bottle of water here. I should have refilled my windshield wiper fluid here because about an hour down the road I had to pull over and refill. This was alarming because this road is mostly used by semis. Even if you are well off to the side of the road and you know you are safe, it is still scary to have them fly past you.
Next we stopped in Hearst. I still had about 300km worth of fuel left so I didn’t fill up. I did stop to go to the washroom and my parents filled up the truck. You absolutely must stop in this town. This is the last town for over 200 km. You should get gas and you should go to the bathroom. The next gas station is in Longlac and it would be very easy to miss. It is a hole-in-the-wall and behind a pull-over spot for semi-trucks, so you barely see it from the road. It wasn’t the most expensive spot on route, but it also definitely wasn’t the cheapest. But if you don’t get gas in Hearst you will have to stop here, or depending on what you are hauling.
The next stretch of the road is also dead. A cop got behind me in Geraldton and was behind me for over an hour. It was the most nerve-wracking 75 minutes of my life. My brain was swirling with:
“I can’t afford a ticket”
“You’re white, you’re lucky that your only concern is getting a ticket”
“Sarah Everard was a white woman”
Over and over again for 75 minutes. The heat in my car doesn’t work that great so normally I am cold when I’m driving from October to April, but I was sweating bullets.
Our next stop was Nipigon, we were hoping to stop at Pizza Hut, but it was pretty late at that point and I wasn’t that hungry. So Tim Hortons it was again. By this point we had moved into a Red Zone and we could not eat inside, so we got food and coffee and hit the road again. Here you are just over an hour from Thunder Bay and the end is in sight.
I was so relieved to get to the hotel, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express because we like them as a chain hotel, it accepted pets, and it had breakfast. I set Montana up with a litter box, food, and water in the bathroom and we crashed.
Because we were in a red zone it was not the normal hotel continental breakfast, but they did still have hot breakfast which was nice, and the lady was SO nice and cheerful. You ordered, she brought it out to you, and you took it back to your room to eat. We then packed up our stuff and Montana and hit the road again. I also left a tip, I don’t always but I was leaving a dirty litter box to be thrown away (well I used a compostable paper litter box and compostable litter so I’m hoping the hotel had compost or at least an organics bin), so I felt bad.
I would recommend getting gas/food in Thunder Bay. We were super hungry by the time we got to Sioux Lookout. If you are doing this drive in the summer there is probably more places to stop and eat along the way. I stopped in some random town about an hour and a half from Thunder Bay for gas. There was a grocery store next door and if I do this again I’ll probably grab some snacks there next time.
Now this leg of the drive is where I started to have the “Holy sheet what the fudge have I done??!!!!” (except not that language). Especially once I got up past Ignace. It is remote up here. It is very Canadian Shield-y. Like I describe Highway 41 between Pembroke and Belleville as trees and rocks and trees and rocks to people from Toronto. Which it is. But this is so much more desolate feeling. The houses you do pass are typically falling down. Highway 72 was alarming. Although if you like to hunt, fish, trap, or snowmobile I bet you would love it up here.
I was a bit ahead of my parents, they had wanted to go for a walk before they got in the car again. So I drove around the town a bit before they got here with 2 goals. 1) Find somewhere to eat that isn’t Tim Hortons. 2) Take a drive by of my new apartment and see what it looks like.
It was a Sunday when we got here, and this is not a town where things are open on Sundays. Now, I’m not certain if that is because of Sundays or if it was because the area was going from the Yellow Zone to the Red Zone that night. I have been in self-isolation ever since I arrived so I have no clue. Since everything except Tim Hortons, Giant Tiger (a discount Canadian department store type thing) and Fresh Market/Red Apple, the local grocery store, were closed. So once again we ate Tim Hortons. Here, again, we could not eat inside, so I pulled up next to the truck and we ate in our vehicles before going to my new apartment.
This was the first time that I had ever signed a lease and paid a deposit sight unseen. I was nervous. Also the rental market here is tight none of the real estate agents that I called had anything and one of them told me that her son had moved home and hadn’t found an apartment for seven months. My work contract is only for a year, I couldn’t look for an apartment for 7 months. So I was extremely relieved to have found a place and even more relieved when I arrived and it was nice.
Overall all of my stuff handled the move very well. I have this one rattan-topped side table and some of the rattan got rubbed through and damaged and one of the knobs broke on my dresser but I think superglue will fix that (when I can leave the house to get superglue). Other than that the other crazy thing is that the trailer had rattled so much that several screws from knobs and from my standing mirror fell out. But we recovered them and everything got put back together. I’m not certain what I’m going to do about the rattan table top. There is a rattan repair place in Minneapolis/St. Paul which is about 7-8 hours south of here, but with the border closed due to COVID I don’t know when I’ll be able to get down there or if it is even worth it to fix. It’s pretty small and low and I’m not certain it fits my style anymore. I know that’s not a reason to get rid of something, but if its ruined?
Now since I got to my apartment I have been quarantined, thank god the local grocery store does delivery. I was really worried that they wouldn’t. I also stocked up on dry goods in Renfrew, I’m a bit nervous about the cost of groceries up here and availability of certain things. So far it seems good, but there have been a few things I asked for in my order that they didn’t have.
Now moving is super expensive. Especially over long distances.
I don’t think I feel comfortable putting exact numbers out there, but it was expensive. I had some money saved up when I quit my job but not enough. I borrowed money from my parents to help cover my set up costs and kept detailed track of my costs so that I knew how much money I would need to have saved up for when I move back down south. To be completely honest, I don’t at this point, think that is an if, but a when. I’m very down to give this a few years, but I honestly don’t see myself settling down up here.
Also, I think that next time, I won’t be asking my parents to drive up here and help me pack up my stuff and drive it to wherever I’m going, I really hope to be able to hire movers.
Also I was not expecting the utilities deposits to be so much, or even a thing at all? It has been a while since I have had utilities in my name though, most of my previous rentals have had them included. But lordy, budget more for that than you think you will need.
My quarantine ends this Sunday and I am super excited to see beyond my apartment and my little walk! I just want to go to the grocery store so bad.
Have you ever made a big move for work? Did it turn out better or worse than you expected?