Campbell River, BC. May – 2017
We are getting ready to leave, travelling in a circle. We will be RV’ing to the east coast of Canada, south to New York, and Florida, west thru Louisiana and Texas, north to New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and home to Vancouver Island in March 2018. Lots of miles, stories and photo’s in our future.
Here’s our home for the next 10 months. It’s not huge, but it will do. We are picturing ourselves lounging outside in sunshine not cooped up inside with each other in the rain and wind. Lets see how it goes…
Quebec City, Quebec – July 2017
Holy crap, I’m so behind on this Blog.. haha. We are now in PEI and I’m still posting pictures from Quebec City. But, I need to do things in an orderly fashion, so I update my story and this site when I have time to sit down and spend a couple of hours organizing things.
What can I say about Quebec City? It wasn’t HUGE, but it was so charming. Different styles of architecture in doorways, roof lines, window shapes and building materials. Copper, Tin, Brick – it has it all.
We did NOT enjoy driving there. The streets are narrow and do not run in a straight line. You have triangle intersections with angled stop lights and stop signs. One way streets, signs in French only.. aye yaye yaye. It was frightening, and I’m really happy to report that I didn’t run anyone or anything over. I did cross a few lanes abruptly.. but no one seemed to mind.. tee hee.
Quebec City is very hilly, you would sure get your butt in shape if you lived there and walked to work, or home, or grocery shopping (for instance). I can not imagine how awful it would be in winter – it must be frightening. There is NOT a good public transit system like in Montreal. Part of the reason is possibly the size of the City?? It’s not huge and the population is not as dense as Montreal’s is. This is just a wild guess on my part. We would certainly have taken advantage of it if it had been available.
The FOOD in the Province of Quebec is amazing – the French sure know how to cook. Smoked Meat Sandwiches, Crepes, Poutine, Lobster Poutine (OMG it was delicious), Cheese, Pastries.. you get the idea.
We took advantage of the hop on – hop off bus (our driver was a jerk), but the tour was still worthwhile. We saw the Plains of Abraham, The Citadel, Churches, Art, Historical Buildings, New construction. It is a busy city with a European vibe and the French have a great sense of fun and joy with each other. I would recommend any one who is interested to go there. Don’t worry if you don’t speak French (because I don’t), and everyone was very accommodating and friendly towards us.
Montreal Botanical Gardens – July 2017
I absolutely love photographing flowers. I like their colors, the details in the leaves, or stems or the flower itself. While in Montreal I took an afternoon to myself and found my way to The Montreal Botanical Gardens. They are near the 1967 Montreal Expo Site so I got to walk past there as I found the entrance to the Gardens. Here are my 3 photo’s that show the colors and serenity of the gardens.
Montreal July 23 – 2017
Yikes, we are on our way to Montreal, as in Quebec, as in I don’t speak much French, as in I heard the driving there is brutal. We are both a little nervous about the language issue and if we can just find our campsite and get settled maybe we can just take a cab or bus everywhere we want to go. That would alleviate the “driving” issue – right?
We leave Cantley, a couple of freeway exits and we are on our way. Driving is a snap. We turn off the freeway in Terrebonne to get to our campground, and BOOM, a detour of some kind. We follow the arrow around the corner and then we have no idea where we are going. All the signs are in French (of course).. Garmin-dy gets her butt in gear and calculates a new route for us. Which is great, but there’s no way to tell her that we are pulling a trailer. Consequently she sends us thru a residential neighborhood with traffic circles and windy streets, eventually we get out on our intended road and to our campsite. Camping Plateau Etoiles 5 – we arrive and the spot that they intend for us to park in is a eensy teensy weensy entry around trees and posts. They offer to guide us to another spot in the campground.. we drive around to the next camping street and of course we are now facing the wrong way to successfully back in to the next spot they’ve chosen for us. We then perform a 3 persons yelling at me (with directions to turn around in the campsite beside the one they want us in) – and then somehow drive out of there and back it into the other spot. I’ve just successfully backed into THIS spot – why can’t we just stay there? It’s empty! Is it really empty? Yes it is. Ok, yes, you can park there. But I’ve already driven mostly out of it, so after a few more manouvers we get ourselves back in there. Phew! That’s awesome. Nicely treed park (no satellite reception though). But it’s nice and we are happy.
Now, how do we get the 30KM in to the city? Do they have a shuttle? NO! Can you take a bus? SORT OF! What does that mean we ask? There’s a bus that goes past the campsite, and it drops you off at the Bus Terminal where you catch another bus to the Rail Terminal and then you use the Subway/Train to get downtown. We decide to drive the 8km to the Bus Terminal and take the bus to the Rail Terminal. All in all from Campsite to downtown Montreal takes a little over an hour. Once we figured out which bus to take and which rail line takes us to where, it was incredibly easy and efficient and we could figure it out even using English. It was nice that we didn’t have to drive and could just enjoy the City. We went to The Basillica, Old Montreal, The Casino and The Botanical Gardens. We took the Aqua-Bus tour of Old Montreal and then they slide into the river and you can see Montreal from the water. Pretty cool stuff. You couldn’t possibly eat in all the restaurants there – it was hard to choose where to go. We had Brazillian BBQ, and Seafood Pizza. Both were fantastic! It rained a bit while we were there – nothing torrential, just drizzly, then sun, then clouds etc. It’s always nicer when the sun shines :-). I decided that Montreal is so colorful that the buildings and street scenes really look better in black and white… it simplifies them and creates a better texture and feel for the streets there.
Ottawa – July 18 – 2017
Well, what do you know? We made it to the nations capital city of Ottawa. What a great country we live in eh! Our campsite was in Cantley, Quebec about 30 km outside of the City. It always amazes me how you can drive 20 minutes away from a metropolitan area and be transported to another style of living. Away from the bustle of traffic, people everywhere, tall skyscraper buildings, the noise of the city, the hectic energy and the feel of commerce.
Cantley was small, quiet and rural. Our campsite was set in rolling hills, surrounded by farms and a few houses scattered around the area. My 10 words of French that I remember from 3 years of straight A’s in school 45 years ago is tres’ rusty. Good thing that most everyone around us can speak both languages and are happy to do so. I admire their ability to switch back and forth when needed. They always start with Bonjour and as soon as you say Bonjour back to them they switch to English because it is readily apparent to them that I AM NOT French.. sorry Mr. French Teacher from School, my accent still sucks.. haha.
The first evening there we ventured in to town and met with my high school friend Ingrid. She lives in Ottawa and gave us parking instructions and a tour of her downtown neighborhood. She walks to work and her area has everything you need. Groceries, liquor, gas station, pharmacy, restaurants, museums. Big City Life right out your door. I always wonder what it would be like to live in a big city, to have so much opportunity for entertainment, shopping, and professional sports teams within a reasonable distance. I’m sure I would bust my budget quite quickly buying tickets to everything that interested me.
We took the hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the city. It took us thru Ottawa, over to Gatineau, along the Rideau Canal, Justin Tudeau’s residence on Sussex Street, past the RCMP Musical Ride barracks and training ground and thru the ritzy neighborhoods of the Governer General and past the foreign embassies scattered near the Parliament Buildings. Day 3 we decided to “park” downtown near the Parliament Buildings and wander around the grounds of Parliament, and walk down to Byward Market and stroll the streets looking around. Sounds like a plan. We are driving our Ford F150 down busy streets, some of them under construction and it’s BUSY. We are 2 blocks from the Parliament Buildings when we spot a parkade that is OPEN.. wahoo Yabba dabba doo – I turn off the street and BLAM, there is a yellow bar looming inches away from the windshield indicating that the height restriction for this parkade is 5’8″ or something equally ridiculous. No way is the truck going in there. I put the truck in reverse and can hear a car horn behind me, luckily I stopped before backing over top of them. I open my drivers door, stand on the running board, point to the low hanging yellow barrier bar and just as I am about to say something. A Construction Guy yells “IT WON”T FIT”. I guess he sees this kind of action all day. The young lady in the car behind me is now yelling (in French) to everyone around her to back up and let ME back up. Randy is out of the truck and directing traffic and now helping me back up without hitting anything to make our great escape. End of story – we eventually found an open parking lot (not underground) about 10 blocks away and continued with our walk about. Here are some of my favorite shots from Ottawa:
Niagara Falls – July 2017
We left our trailer in Angus and headed down to Woodbine Race Track for the running of the Queens Plate on Canada Day. Alas, you won’t get to see any pictures of the horses, or the horse races, or the people, or anything else I saw because I wasn’t allowed to bring my camera in to the track. Well, I could bring it in, but I couldn’t take any pictures as that is not allowed under the rules of the Queens Plate apparently. We tried not to make a scene at the security check point as they examined my camera and determined that it was too “professional” to allow past the gate. I asked to speak to the supervisor in an attempt to get an exemption as I am NOT a professional, and was NOT intending to sell any of my pictures, I was merely looking for something fun to do while at the races. Any of those who know me will know that I don’t really like gambling a WHOLE lot and taking pictures would have been a ton more fun for me. The Security kindly let me bring in the camera if I promised not to take any pictures. As I am a women of my word, I did not take any pictures – sigh!!
After we left Woodbine we drove to Niagara Falls. We booked a room at the Hilton and when we went to check in at 1:30 we were told we were too early and to come back at 4:00. We ventured out to the Falls and around the town, up the observation tower and arrived back at the Hilton at 5ish to check in. Unfortunately (for the Hilton), and fortunately (for us), our room was not available so they had to upgrade us to a two bedroom suite with king sized beds, Jacuzzi tub, fireplace and view of the Falls. AWESOME it was!! When we walked to the Falls I tried to take a traditional photo and a non-traditional photo. Here they are:
Driving thru Ontario:
It’s a long way to drive thru the width of Ontario. It’s beautiful and one thing we’ve enjoyed is the scenery. The Great Lakes, tiger lilies, daisies, buttercups along the roads. Old stone churches, graveyards large and small. In the next 10 days we will be leaving Ontario and heading into Quebec. My French is non-existent, I hope they are ok with that 🙂
Sudbury, Ontario Jun 28-2017
We overnighted in Sudbury on our way to visit my boys in Angus, Ontario. We didn’t do too much while we were there. We walked a bit along the shore of Ramsey Lake in Bell Park. Bell Park is amazing, it was named for William J Bell who donated the land to the City when he died. It has rolling terrain around Lake Ramsey with lots of parking for vehicles, picnic area, a swimming beach, walking trails, nice landscaping and plenty of grassy areas for everyone to enjoy.
Agawa Canyon Train Tour from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Jun 25-2017
One of the recommended activities when visiting Sault Ste. Marie is to take the Agawa Train Tour. This is a full day trip. It leaves SSM at 8AM and arrives back around 6PM. The cost is approx. $90 each. Food and beverages are extra (of course). The trip is 114 miles to the canyon bottom where you have 90 minutes to roam thru the park on well groomed trails. You can walk to Black Beaver Falls or Bridal Veil Falls or take the more strenuous trail up to the viewing platform. The viewing platform consists of approx. 300 stairs and is quite a hike. Not for the faint of heart or people with sore knees and sore feet (like us .. haha). I easily walked to both falls, took a wack of pictures and made it back to the train in plenty of time. There are picnic tables as you get off the train and the trails are level and well maintained. Watch out for the BUGS – they were brutal.. black flies, big and little, mosquitoes by the ka-billions. We brought bug spray but left it in our bag on the train (not too smart). I must have looked quite distressed about the bugs because a real nice gentleman offered me his bug spray (much to my relief). It made picture taking much easier that’s for sure. Here’s a couple of shots of the Agawa River and the funky trees along the trail and 2 shots of Bridal Veil Falls. I did take a couple of pictures of Black Beaver Falls but it was so shaded in there and overgrown that the falls are hard to photograph. The Agawa River looked like you could throw a line in and catch a fish in seconds. Not sure if that is true, but it looked pretty appealing. The Canyon is only accessible by train or by water. No roads go in to this area of the river.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Jun 24 – 2017
For those who don’t know this – there are TWO Sault Ste. Marie’s. The one we wanted to visit is in Ontario (which we all know is in CANADA), and the second one is in MICHIGAN (which most of us know is in the U.S.A). It would be pretty hard to end up in the wrong SSMarie because you would find yourself on a bridge, in a lineup, and see a Customs Officer waving you forward to provide your passport and such. So, while it would be hard to GET there, it’s REAL easy for our Gar-Mindy to search for addresses in the USA and try to send us to the USA when that is not where we want to go. The second issue with SSMarie CANADA is they have some one way streets (which I may have missed seeing the sign and perhaps drove down one the wrong way for a short period of time). The downtown area is scenic, there’s a walkway along the St. Mary’s River which borders the Canada / USA border and a huge bridge which arches over the river and contains the customs area. You can see all the traffic waiting on the bridge to enter or exit. There is also a nice walkway along the river which seemed to be well used. I can’t believe the old buildings everywhere we travel in Ontario, Churches, City Halls, Post Offices, it’s amazing and it never gets old for me. Such a sense of history as you drive along the highways and thru towns, villages and cities.
Thunder Bay, Ontario Jun 20 – 2017
Thunder Bay is located on Lake Superior in Northern Ontario. We visited Kakabeka Falls which is on the Trans Canada Hwy leading in to Thunder Bay. Lots of parking, a picnic area and boardwalk on both sides of the falls so you can see the falls from all sides. We also visited Fort William and drove out to the Terry Fox Memorial. It’s mostly an industrial town so it’s not the most scenic city we’ve been in, but there were lots of brick buildings that caught my eye. Lots of churches, they amaze me with their size and how many of them there are. They are hard to photograph because they are so tall and just plain massive, and they all seem to have power lines running thru them. Here’s a few shots from our time there.
Kenora, Ontario Jun 16 – 2017
Kenora, originally named Rat Portage, is a small city located on the Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario. It is approximately 200km east of Winnipeg, Manitoba. When we drove in to Kenora the weather was sunny and the Lake of the Woods was so beautiful. Dark blue glistening waters, scenic vistas around every turn of the highway. Of course the day I went out for pictures, it was overcast grey and rain. To make it worse my camera was set in some sort of crop mode that cut all the tops and edges of my photo’s. I figured out how to fix it the next day but a lot of my shots were “short” on composition if you know what I mean. I did get a couple of hours of shooting in one evening in the setting sun. Once again it was so beautiful. Your environment definitely has an impact on how you look at things.
Here are a few shots of the buildings that give you a hint of the history of the area and one of the view of Kenora across Lake of the Woods as the sun set on our stay there.
Marathon, Ontario Jun 21 – 2017
Marathon is on the north shore of Lake Superior between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. Population just over 3,000. We stayed there overnight on our way to The Sault. A nice quiet town along Lake Superior. I saw a sign for Pebble Beach, had to check it out. It is a beach full of mostly rounded rocks of various colors in various sizes. I’ve never seen anything like that. I took a picture of the beach and one of a lone boat out on the Lake. Looked like they were fishing out there.
Winnipeg – Jun 12 – 2017
What can I say about Winnipeg? Well I can’t call it “Winterpeg” because it’s summer.. mmm.. first impression? We had to drive straight thru what felt like downtown towing our travel trailer, the roads are extremely bumpy, uneven and full of holes ( that is definitely an indication of “Winter” wherever you are. Most of the drivers were courteous and only a couple dashed around and in front of us like their car was on fire!
I love old buildings, when I see buildings built in 1902 or 18anything that just lights a fire in my imagination. I imagine the people that lived there, built them, worked in them or lived in them once they were built. What their lives were like compared to how easy we have it today. We can build impressive buildings (like the new glass tower on Portage and Main), but these guys have style and character and they’re so solid, so enduring, a visible link to our history and how this country was built. Those men and women were incredibly tough and resilient. Not that we aren’t – but they had a tougher lifestyle and look what they left behind for us. Here’s some generic “tourist” pictures from our boat tour of The Forks and a quick walk down main street to Portage and Main.
The connection of family – how / why is it like it is? No matter how many years have gone by, how many things you have not been there to celebrate or mourn. You are welcomed. We had an overnight visit in Loydminster, Alberta/Saskatchewan and stayed at my cousins. We visited my Aunt Donna who quickly launched in to action and cooked us hamburgers and corn and best of all? – Shared her birthday bottle of Rye with us..
I marveled at how much Eugene and Jason remind me of their Dad. They hunch over like he did when they drink, they laugh like him, it was awesome. I miss my Uncle Larry, he was such a character, didn’t follow many rules, was always doing something crazy. Aunt Donna and the boys just shake their head and laugh when the stories start.
VISITING THE PAYNTER FAMILY FARM IN KINISTINO, SASKATCHEWAN JUN 7 – 2017
I have not been out to the farm in Kinistino for more than 30 years. I’ve missed weddings, births, and funerals over that time. As part of our Making a Circle trip I just HAD to make it out there. What a great decision that was! I got to reconnect with family and meet the new additions as well. My Cousins, Uncles, Aunts have not changed since we were kids. They made us feel so welcome and yes, some of us have more wrinkles and grey hair, but we are family and time doesn’t change that. It did make me wish I had visited more often though. They have such a sense of fun, hard work, more fun, more hard work. That’s what happens when you are a farmer I suppose. The Paynter Family Farm has been recognized with the Century Family Farm Award in 1996. Now they are in to their 121st year of farming the same land. That is such an accomplishment.
June 2 – 2017
Home of the Hoodoos, Dinosaurs and the Badlands. There’s no other geography like it. The weather was part stormy tornado clouds and part hot hot with blue blue skies and blazing sun. Here’s a link to an album on my Flickr site for more pictures of the Hoodoos etc…
SHERWOOD PARK, ALBERTA
May 30 – 2017
We stayed at Barr Estate Winery as part of a membership in a group called “Harvest Hosts”. Harvest Hosts is a site that you can join for an annual membership of $40 USD. It allows farms, wineries etc to offer up RV spaces on their property at no fee. You are encouraged to purchase an item from them in exchange for your overnight stay. Check it out if you are interested at harvesthosts.com. I didn’t write down a lot of information about the winery, but I do know that they are only allowed to make the wine from product that they grow on the farm. If you are in that area you should check them out, they give wine tasting tours and you can pick your favorite flavor and it’s as easy as that. We paid $21 for a nice crisp tasting bottle of rhubarb wine. We also visited my niece and her husband and finally got to meet my new “grand-niece”. She is a 1 year old bundle of happiness, cuteness and joy. What a treat to be surrounded by such innocence and it is a reminder to live in each moment as they happen. Another bonus to travelling this time of year is all the “springiness” in the air. Bright green foliage and baby animals everyhere you look. It’s wonderful. Here’s some pictures of some of the original outbuildings at the winery as well as some of the baby animals that are there.
May 29 – 2017
Well, we said our good-bye’s to the family and headed east to see Joyce & Jim in Kinuso, Alberta. Joyce is an old school friend of mine from Grade 3. We met when our family moved to Willow River near Prince George in the 60’s. But that’s another story for another time. The drive to Kinuso was fine, I kept telling Randy that it would be a “flat” drive, but it turns out that it wasn’t “flat” as much as it was a “straight line”. Turns out there’s a difference.. lol.. and our truck would agree as it spent most of the day in 3rd or 4th gear pulling the trailer up small inclines and up some more. We stopped for gas somewhere along the line (McLennan I think?), which was a good thing as when we got to Kinuso we discovered there were no gas stations there and the next closest was in Slave Lake.
We spent a couple of days visiting, they let us camp out in their driveway, fed us, we walked around the town and then went out to their cabin on Lesser Slave Lake for the afternoon. Such a peaceful place, and their cabin (which they built themselves) is super comfy, homey and beautiful. Great place to nap as it turns out.
Here’s a few pictures from my walk around Kinuso, a blurry squirrel and some straight poplar trees. I forgot how many poplar and birch trees are in this area. It’s quite a change from the big evergreens, cedars, spruce and fir we see on Vancouver Island.
FT ST JOHN, BRITISH COLUMBIA
HUDSON HOPE, BRITISH COLUMBIA
May 27 – 2017
Feels great to be back in the North where I grew up. Spending time with family last night and getting a visit from the Northern Lights just after midnight. WOW!
HUDSON HOPE, BRITISH COLUMBIA
May 26 – 2017
Had a great day yesterday driving out to Hudson Hope. The scenery was fantastic, the weather was awesome. Visited Mom’s grave site and had a few words with her, had a nice salad at The Rim, drove out to the dam and David took us down to the beach for a hike in the hot hot sunshine (He may have been trying to kill us, we are not too sure), drove down to the Glenn and sat on the rocks, boy is the river ever low, it was so beautiful out and I had fun travelling down memory lane. A big piece of my heart will always belong out there.
CLINTON, BRITISH COLUMBIA
May – 2017
While we were in 70Mile House, we drove to Clinton for a couple of hours, had lunch and roamed the streets. They were having their May long weekend “Ball”, there were people dressed in Gold Rush costumes and a stagecoach on the road from Hat Creek Ranch.
We joined a site called Boondockers Welcome, you sign up for a 1yr membership for roughly $40 and then check out the hosts as you travel. We arranged to stay at a couple’s place in 70Mile House on Green Lake. They gave us great detailed instructions on how to find their place, and they would have been most excellent if we hadn’t messed it up by turning left 2km early. We circled the lake till we found a spot to turn around (not quite yelling at each other at this point), and worked our way back to their address. We eventually found their driveway and Art was nice enough to offer to park our trailer in his yard where he wanted it. I’m sure we would have taken out his gate posts, ALL his lawn decorations, a FEW trees, and HIS steps to his house and THEN his garage door if he had let us try parking there. Smart man that Art is. Here’s a couple photo’s of the Fraser Canyon and the house/driveway where we stayed.
LEAVING CAMPBELL RIVER
ARRIVING IN ALDERGROVE
VISITING FORT LANGLEY
May – 2017
Left Salmon Point and travelled to Nanaimo in a freakn southeaster headwind. We could have put our awning out and flown there faster. The rain wasn’t horrible, but the wind was wild. We pulled in to WalMart at 8:30PM and we were the only ones there (Bonus), that is until 9:15 when the nice security guy came to tell us that we weren’t ALLOWED there. He took pity on us when he saw our pitiful shocked faces, so relented and said as long as we were leaving early the next morning, that was ok with him. (PHEWWW). Great news! Well, it was great news until 6:14 the next morning when he banged on our door to make sure we were leaving. We were luckily anticipating his arrival so left and made our way to the Ferry at Duke Pt. We got there really really really early. Our sailing was not until 10:15. We explained to the nice lady at the booth that we got kicked out of WalMart and she let us in contrary to reservation rules.
We made our way to the Eagle Wind RV in Aldergrove for 3 nights. It’s on Hwy1 so it’s a tad noisy (where are all those cars/trucks going 24hours a day?) back and forth, back and forth like this they go.
Check out time at Eagle Wind (as in blowing air wind, not wind your watch up wind)…haha. was 11AM. We managed to pack up and pull out at 10:59AM. We are a little rusty and don’t have a great routine yet. We got quite a laugh from our Garmin voice, she kept telling us that Eagle Whined was on our right and that we had reached our destination
We visited with Lona & Bill (Lona is a highschool friend of mine). The next night Randy’s family visited for a BBQ. The 3rd night we went in to Van to see my niece Becky and all her fantastic friends. It was a busy 3 days, but fun to see everyone and say our good-byes.
While we were there, we went to Ft Langley. Here’s a couple of pictures from our day there.
What will I miss about the Island?
I will miss the smell of the sea, my friends, my family, the scenery. I won’t miss the rain, I’m pretty sure about that.
MAY – 2017
How long before you see me do this?
(I say never)
Will I? or won’t I? How long before I am seen wandering thru an RV park or campground on my way to the showers or bathroom wearing my pj’s, housecoat and fuzzy slippers?
How Long? Never? Tomorrow? Next week? Never?
I want to say NEVER – but my friends say it’s no big deal, everyone does it – I’m still saying NEVER, but have promised to share the day when I relent and join the masses. For now I will get up in the morning, undress, dress, walk to the shower, undress and redress. All while NOT being seen in public wearing my pj’s, housecoat or fuzzy slippers.