We woke in Fredericton and headed downtown to have breakfast at the Creperie. Fredericton was a pleasant surprise; a bit of a hidden gem. It is bright and clean and steeped in deep history, straddling the banks of the St. John river. We played at the legislature and then headed to Quebec. It was raining, but we were determined to make it to the free Cirque du Soleil show in Quebec City, which runs 5 nights a week during the summer months. We waited in line in the rain as others dropped off, concluding that they could come back to tomorrows show. We couldn’t, so we stuck it out and it was worth it. The sky opened, and it remained dry until the completion of the show, at which point it started to rain again. It was however, as beautiful and magical as anticipated. We then decided to drive through the night to get home, so that the kids would have the surprise of waking in Arnprior. It had been almost two years since we left . Being in the Ottawa valley was bitter sweet. It was wonderful to spend time with friends and family, but it was a reminder of how much we are missing by being away. We hit all of our favourite restaurants – Jim’s, The Prior Sportsbar and the Blackbird cafe in Burnstown. Hana celebrated her birthday by having a bowling party and going to high tea at the Chateau Laurier. We shared meals with all of our loved ones – Parents (grandparents), Aunts and Uncles, cousins and dear friends. The place we are from seems to be an intrinsic part of who we are, and it was just as hard to leave this time as it was the last. The week was jam packed with sharing time with those most important to us. Hana was overwhelmed by the fact that her childhood friends have gotten bigger and older. Elijah was overwhelmed by the people he thought he was supposed to know, but couldn’t remember because he was so young when we left. He is truly in his element when surrounded by family. All in all, it was a reminder of how important it is to keep family and friends close even when you are far away. We said our goodbyes on Saturday, and vowed to be back soon. On our way out of town the kids wanted to stop by our old house, and knock on the neighbours door one last time to see if they could say hello and goodbye to their friend Dakota. Seeing him was to be a highlight, but unfortunately he wasn’t home. I could go on and on about how wonderful it was to be with family, all of the great food and great times, but as the trip and life itself, the story must go on. The experience of saying goodbye, and one important goodbye being unfulfilled made Northern Ontario especially grueling. We all cried and travelled silently wondering if we had made the right decision moving out West for work. I wondered if I had robbed my children of the riches of life surrounded by loved ones. Bitterly, we concluded that we had no choice; there was simply no work in the valley and drove on. It was extremely difficult to appreciate the beauty around us. We stopped at Science North in Sudbury for a few hours to stretch our legs and play. Then we stayed at Eric’s sisters again hoping it would ease some of the pain but it meant we had to say goodbye to her and her family again. We left Kelly’s in the morning with a haze of gloom engulfing the van. We remained in it until we hit Pancake bay. The magical sparkling waters of Lake Superior seemed to wash away our sadness and invigorate us. There we began the next chapter of the great Canadian Road Trip.