One Year

 

You passed away one year ago today.  That’s one year of sadness, loss, pain, sorrow and regret.  We’ve tried really hard to not be super sad.  You would tell us to ‘get over it’.  You would tell us ‘it is what it is’.  We don’t get to hear your blunt matter of fact voice that held more than a tich of sarcasm most days.  We can’t phone you up whenever we want to tell you how are lives are going, or discuss the things we found funny, ridiculous or interesting this week.  You’re not here to share what you know about family recipes, family history and family stories.  You can’t try to explain how to fix things or drag out your sewing machine and miraculously repair a broken zipper or torn seam.  There are these reasons and a 1,000 more why we have spent the last year with sadness, loss, pain, sorrow and regret.

BUT, (there’s always a but), it has also been a year that our family has worked together, supported each other and got each other to today.  We’ve had a long year!  We’ve laughed.  Worked.  Moved.  Vacationed.  Travelled.  Lived.  Survived.

Becky sat us all out in the sunshine in your yard and dyed bits and pieces of our hair teal blue. We drank more than a few adult beverages and told funny stories about you.  We had our family reunion in July and all those faces, noses and feet that remind us we are related, celebrated our family ties.  They came from everywhere across Canada and gathered to laugh and have a good time and talk about their lives and remember those we’ve lost.  Your son has started a new career on the rails with CN.  He works lots, but he’s home more than he was before.  You would like that.  Your daughter has managed to juggle looking after your house, working from home, and spending time with her friends.  You would like that.  Your brother and sister and I met in Vegas and spent a few days hanging out buying $$ drinks and laughing at how ridiculous things are priced in Sin City.  You would have liked that. Your Powell River family really miss you.  Your friends miss you, but they remember you with a laugh, and they all have shared stories with us.

All our stories and memories that show what a character you were, how you always said what you were thinking, even when you might have been better off to have sugar coated it.  OH WAIT.. THAT was SUGAR COATED!! haha.  Your face gave you away anyway, so no worries, we all knew what you were thinking.

I’m going to start this next year remembering and reminding myself that you lived, not that you died.  I’m going to remember the good times and not the bad.  The laughter and not the sad.  You would like that!

“Drunk Me”

Disclaimer: I have an eye infection.

Result: I am trying to be super vigilant about having clean hands.

After a few beers and wine at Happy Hour, followed by more wine around the fire pit at the trailer… we head inside. I wash my hands in smoking hot water, shut the hot water off and proceed to make a snack for dinner. It’s now 9:30 PM.

Make a snack (which results in a blow up in the microwave).

Clean microwave.  Eat snack.

Decide it’s time for bed. Get off the couch and discover wet rugs, pooling COLD water EVERYWHERE!!

What the hell? Confusion reigns!

ahhhh, the bathroom sink still has the plug in it and although I shut the HOT water off awhile ago, “drunk me” left the cold water tap ON…

Result: bath towels used for clean up are now soaking wet, bath mat is soaking wet, and carpet runner is soaking wet. All are outside and should be dry by mid day tomorrow. And Drunk Me is telling her tale so all may snort, laugh and have a good chuckle to end/start a new day!

Bull-Riding, Beer and a Bar!

Image result for pictures of bull riders clip art

We were looking for some local activity.  Something different to do.  Something fun!

We found just what we were looking for:  Bull-Riding, Beer, Bar!

There’s a bar in Coolidge, Arizona called The Galloping Goose.  Attached to the bar is a bull riding ring, and on the first and third Friday nights they have a local bull riding competition.  We drove over there, parked, paid the admission fee, grabbed a bleacher seat and waited for the show to begin.

It was Ugly Christmas Sweater night.  Spectators, Employees, Bull Riders – all wearing sweaters with loud colors, bows, baubles, flashing lights, garland, you name it, they were wearing it.  Young ladies making goo goo eyes at the young men and little boys making goo goo eyes at the young men who were riding the bulls.

No gathering would be complete without a 50/50 draw.  We purchased a strip of tickets and we and the others who gathered waited in anticipation for the draw.

Earlier in the day there was a horrible freeway accident near Marana, Arizona.  Traffic was backed up and delayed for most of the afternoon.  The trailer hauling the bulls was caught in the backlog as were some of the bull riders that were trying to make it there for the event.  This resulted in a shortened program and general confusion for the organizers.  You could tell that they were doing their best to put on a show for the crowd.  It was announced that the 50/50 draw would be delayed and drawn in the bar after the bands first intermission. In to the bar we went.  It was fun watching the people dance, sing, playing pool, laughing with their friends.  Lots of flashy belt buckles, cowboy hats and well worn jeans.  We were definitely part of the local crowd.

Then IT happened!

THE 50/50 DRAW!

and WE WON!

Here we are, the happy winners!  It’s noisy in there, it’s dark in there, and it’s getting late.  We have to drive back to the RV Park, so we delightedly accept a Christmas Sock of $$ and head out.  We leave the bar, start the vehicle and head out.  As we are driving away we pull the $$ out of the sock…

THERE’S $12 IN THERE!

YES – TWELVE DOLLARS!

12!

We can’t go back now!  We’ve walked away!  We’ve driven away! No one will believe us!

We dejectedly drive home.  The glow from the sweaters is just a memory for us now.

The smell of the bulls is fresh in our minds… we feel like they smell!

What can be done?

A ha – I know – I will contact the organizer and explain our situation.

It’s close to midnight now, it’s been a long day for the organizers, they’ve obviously been under a lot of stress all day.  I found them on Facebook and sent them a message:

We were at the Bull Riding tonight. We won the 50/50.  When we got home we opened the envelope. There was $12 in there. There is no way that this is 50% of the amount raised.Can you help?We don’t mind supporting local events but this seems kind of crazy 🙂

NOW THIS IS WHERE THE STORY GETS SO AWESOME!

Within 18 minutes they replied that there had been a mix-up with the envelopes and that they would make it right for us!

After a day that I imagine they just want to forget.  The stress.  The waiting.  The stress of waiting.  They dealt with it.  They fixed it.  They made it right!

DirtWidow Bull Company – Casa Grande –  Making it right!

YOUR BULLS ARE MEAN BUT YOU ARE SO FREAKIN AWESOME!

 

 

I’ve met some new friends and I think they are trying to kill me!

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We are spending the winter in Arizona at a RV Resort.  Lots of activities to keep you busy.  You wanna play crib?  Cross crib?  2500? Bridge? Majohng? Poker? well do you?

I’m not much of a card player so to insert myself into the group here and get to know some of the fine people that surround me I decide to join some of the more physical activities that are offered here.

Pickle Ball?

 I’ve played badminton in my younger years, I can hit a ball with a paddle, I’m pretty sure of that..  Off I go and sure enough I can hold my own out there with the others.  What else can I join?

Billiards?

  I’ve played some billiards in my younger years, I can hit a ball with a cue, I’m pretty sure of that… Off I go and sure enough I can hold my own in there with the others.  What else can I join?

Hiking?

I can walk a mile or two or three, I’m pretty sure of that.  It’s the desert, it might be kind of warm out, but we are leaving early.  I’ll wear shorts and bring a couple bottles of water.  I’ll be fine… Off I go…

Me and 12 of my new friends meet at the clubhouse at 8AM.  They look innocent enough, they have white hair, grey hair, dark hair and are a cross section of your typical winter snowbirds.  Tall, short, medium, stout, skinny, wood walking sticks, titanium walking sticks, fanny packs, bright orange hiking shirts, durable footwear, smiles everywhere.  Looks harmless… right?

My assumption is that we are going to all go to the site of our hike and then break into our “easy” and “arduous” hiking groups and all will be good.  One group jumps into a van and off they go.  The rest of us separate in to 3 trucks and away we go.  We drive in the direction of The Wild Burro Trailhead in Marano, Arizona.  When we arrive the 3 trucks park and we disembark.

‘Where are the people in the van?’ I ask..

I am told: “They went on the “easy” hike on Casa Grande Mountain.  But don’t worry you’ll be fine!”

We begin our walk along a flat trail.  It’s beautiful.  My new friends point out different flora, fauna and cute little sing song birds that we can hear and see all around us.  We walk for 15 minutes and stop at the kiosk.  The kiosk is where you sign in to the trail system ( I found out later it’s so they know how many bodies they may need to retrieve if you fail to survive the Wild Burro Trail…).

We casually continue our walk along the wash towards the Tortolita Mountains and pass the lovely Ritz Carlton Hotel and Dove Mountain which you can see up the rise and off to our left after walking about a mile.  I’m having a great time, I’m seeing chain fruit chollas, saguaros, ocotillos, ironwoods, agaves and jojobas.  This is fantastic!

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We have now reached the end of the wash and my new friends have stopped for a break, we drink some water, discuss the hawks, bunnies and birds that we’ve seen so far.  Then our fearless leader points to the purple sign post that says “Wild Burro Trail” and the climb begins..  Are we really going UP THAT MOUNTAIN? … well yes we are.. OMG and before I know it, the 7 brightly colored orange shirts are off and climbing with ease.. It doesn’t take long before me and one other skinny guy wearing jeans are bringing up the rear.  My new friends are being pretty polite, they holler down the trail to ask if I’m ok… I weakly wave and give a thumbs up that yes, I’m OK.. (can’t they hear me and Mr. Jeans gasping for breath from where they are?).. This torture continues for at least an hour as we climb, stop and gather our breath, climb, stop, climb, stop, stop..  We finally arrive at our intended lunch break spot at the basin of the Wild Burro Trail.  We have a beautiful view of Marana and the valley.  There’s an old ranch site, stone walls and round depressions in the rocks called morteros.  They are thousands of years old and it is hard to imagine how many years of grinding it took to wear an 18 inch deep hole in a granite rock.  Were they grinding acorns? nuts? beans? Maybe all of those things?  Archaeologists aren’t really sure.

After catching our breath, battling the little gnats and flies while eating our lunch, we begin our return trip.  I’m relieved when I find out that we are taking an easier route back to the truck.  Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you I’m thinking.. then away they go.  We begin to climb a little more (I’m officially horrified to learn that we have to climb around this little mountain before we begin our descent).  The view was incredible, there was a nice cool breeze, and we saw a batch of colorful flowers along the trail.

The name of the return trail is called… wait for it.. The Alamo Loop.. (you know what happened to the guys at the Alamo right?).  But there’s not much I can do now, here we go.. down, down down, switchbacks, rocks, ledges, head down watching every step, don’t trip, don’t fall, don’t grab a cactus for support (Mr. Jeans learned that on the way up when I stopped suddenly and he had no choice but to grasp at the nearest thing to support himself).. poor guy, I felt bad for him.

We safely negotiate our exit, arrive back at the wash and trudge our way back to the safety of our vehicles.  All in all our hike lasted 5 HOURS and our distance travelled was 7 MILES.  I had survivor’s euphoria when it was completed.

 All in all, I enjoyed my hike, it was longer than I thought it was going to be, it was more exercise than I thought it was going to be, but my new friends were very supportive, made sure I had water, didn’t leave me behind and didn’t manage to kill me or Mr. Jeans.  I will definitely join them on another day!

 

The CIRCLE HAS CLOSED and I’M SAD

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We are back home on the Island.  We’ve been here since the first week of March.  The cooler weather was a definite shock to our system… yuck.. back to damp clothes.. but yay.. back to the smell of the sea.

People have been asking what the best part of the trip was. You know what I tell them?  I tell them that the best part was just “doing it”..

We had a dream, we hatched a plan, we started driving and here we are.  It feels weird to have driven so far and now we are back where we started.  25,000 km (15,000 miles) and here we are back home again.

So why am I sad?

I’m sad because my sister died a few weeks after we got back from our trip.  She wasn’t feeling well when we left, and throughout the last year she didn’t get any better.  Every month or so another symptom, more medication changes, more unanswered questions, more pain.  She did everything you would expect a sick person to do.  She saw her doctor regularily, she took the medicines they said would make her feel better, she took all the blood tests, scans, MRI’s.  And she died.  She’s gone.  And she’s not coming back and I’M SAD about that.

We took our trip, we crossed it off our bucket list and we have awesome and fun memories from the last year.  The scenery, the stories, the food, the accents, the people, they all added value to the experience.

I guess I can get philosophical and say that this is an example and a reminder of why we should do what we want to do, do it now, because tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us.  This is true, very true and it’s good advice to follow.  But I’m still sad, that I missed her last year here.  She didn’t want me to stay, she wanted me to go, but I am still sad.  The CIRCLE HAS CLOSED, our family circle has another hole in it and I’m sad.

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4 Haircuts!

6 months on the road, we’ve packed and pulled over 12,000 miles and I’ve had 4 haircuts

messy hair1.

My first hair cut was in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.  The lady that cut my hair had short short spiky hair and loved her job, loved meeting people and my haircut was kind of like hers.  Short, Spiky and FUN,  and off I went.

Up to that point of the trip we had left the rainy west coast and travelled to Ft St John in northern BC and visited my family.  We packed and pulled our way thru friends and relatives in Alberta, Saskatchewan and finally across the prairies to Winnipeg and in to norther Ontario.  The weather was rainy, sunny, windy, rainy and sunny in that order every 3 days or so.  We travelled over the Canadian shield full of rocks, trees and views of Lake Superior every once in awhile.  The bugs were bad but not vicious like we were expecting.

2.

My second hair cut was in Miramichi, New Brunswick.  The lady that cut my hair and long shoulder length hair and she was the owner of the business.  She loved our story of what we were doing, she would LOVE to travel but had other responsibilities: her business, her family, her aging parents.  She had a lot going on in her life, but took the time to cut my hair in the style I requested, not too short, not too long,  and off I went.

Up to that point in the trip we visited more family and friends in Ontario, took a side trip to the Queens Plate Horse Race and Niagara Falls too.  We packed and pulled our way thru Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, around The Gaspe Peninsula and crossed the border in to New Brunswick.  We ate lobster poutine, and bought our own lobster and boiled it up.  The French know how to cook EVERYTHING!!  Gravy, sauces, lobster pizza, Danish, smoked meat, bread, cheese and you can buy beer and wine in the grocery stores which was a nice change from Ontario where we had to drive around and find a BEER STORE and then find a Liquor Store if you wanted wine.

3.

My third hair cut was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  The lady that cut my hair was sitting around doing nothing when I asked if she had time to cut my hair.  She didn’t look real excited to be put to work, didn’t seem excited about hearing about our travel plans and had to cut my hair twice because she didn’t cut it short enough the first time.  Cut, Chop, Hack, blah, boring, blah, and off I went.


Up to that point of our arrival in Myrtle Beach, we had packed and pulled our way across New Brunswick.  Fished for bass on the Miramichi River and on to Shediac, NB where we fished for mackerel off the pier.  We bought lobster from a lobster fisherman.  We travelled across the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island.  Bought more lobster and made our first lobster boil with PEI potatoes and corn.  We found our way to Baddeck, Nova Scotia and drove the Cabot Trail.  We went to Sydney, NS and bent our backs over and explored a coal mine (what a horrible way to make a living).  We drove to Halifax and St John’s and drove the coastline along Peggy’s Cove.  We crossed back in to New Brunswick and visited a friend in Moncton and drove out to Hopewell Rocks.  From there we made our way to Saint John, sat in the sun and waited out our time to cross the border in to the US.  We then got BIG and BUSY by visiting Bar Harbor, Maine, Boston, New York, Atlantic City and Washington, DC.  There’s some big cities in that list and crap are they BIG, they also come with BIG traffic, busy freeways, lots of stressfull packing and pulling.  That’s a lot of places and lots of days passing by and I’m complaining about my hair and how awful it feels, like it got chopped and hacked by someone who wasn’t excited about her life.

4.

My fourth hair cut was in Panama City Beach, Florida where we are now.  The fellow that cut my hair is a widower, he and his wife worked together in their shop at their house for more than 30 years.  He now lives and works alone.  His wife just passed away a few months ago.  He was sad and seemed lost, not quite sure what he was going to do all by himself.  He has lots of time on his hands and he carefully cut my hair, the first time, and it was just the right amount of short.  Except for the back of my head, where I feel a bit like a boy.. haha.   He started out with a razor of some kind and zipped up the back of my head to start.  It wasn’t what I was expecting but I love how my hair feels, I can’t feel it poking around which is just how I like it and off I went.

Up to our arrival in Panama City Beach we packed and pulled our way thru South Carolina.  We boondocked overnight at a Alpaca Farm where I bought the softest fluffiest Alpaca socks (to wear when we get back to Canada).  We overnighted at a Winery (the people are so freakin friendly in the south).  Did the city tour of Charleston, roamed the beaches, watched the fisherman on the pier.  Boondocked at a couples house near Brunswick, Georgia.  They were so friendly, so welcoming, we wished we could have stayed longer.  They were awesome, their friends were awesome.  We stayed at a farm in Monticello, Florida where they raise sheep, goats and chickens.  The farm has towering oak trees covered in spanish moss – so peaceful there.  You’ve heard about “southern charm?”, it is alive and well and practiced in these parts for sure.  Yes Maam it is.  It is truly heart warming!

Amazing Race – New York

   We participated in our own version of “Amazing Race NYork”, and let me tell you this: it was NOT fun.  Here’s the story:

We had been in NY City all day, close to 9 hours in total, we arrived at the Pier at around 7PM for our return trip to the RV site and there are flashing police lights, motorcycle cops, armed members of the police and helicopters circling the harbor above us.  What is going on?  We have NO idea, so we join some guys at the railing over looking the harbor and we are treated to a futuristic vision of the Osprey tilt-rotor Marine One Helicopter as it lifted off with you know who aboard.

Yes, it was President Trump!

I thought it was fantastic seeing the Osprey lift straight up off the deck, then the rotors tilted and away they went.  2 Ospreys lifted off, one is a decoy.

Cool right?

That was until we discovered that the whole harbor was now shut down for the evening and we are STUCK on the wrong side.  It’s dark, we don’t know the City and the poor young man giving us the bad news is obviously overwhelmed.  He tells us that there is another ferry that goes across to Jersey (that’s good news), we ask him where it leaves from and he points and says “over there”.  (that’s bad news).

Where is over there?

What is over there called?

How far away is over there?

He doesn’t know the answer, just keeps pointing towards NYC.  We find a friendly police man who doesn’t know where “over there” is either.  Seriously?  are you kidding?  (nope, he’s not kidding) (that’s bad news).  Ok, we will flag a cab, except that is impossible because the streets have been closed down by the pier for hours and no one is going anywhere.  We proceed to walk “over there” for a couple of blocks, hop in a cab and ask him to take us to the ferry terminal.  He has NO CLUE where it is, what it is, how to get us there.  Seriously?  Are you kidding?  (nope, he’s not kidding) (that’s bad news).  He eventually manages to contact someone who knows where “over there” is and when he gets there, he drops us off.

Phew..

Where is the terminal?

What is the terminal called?

We can’t see anything anywhere, we are surrounded by office buildings.  We frantically run up to a couple and ask them for directions.  They point us towards the water and say it’s “over there”, just follow the water.  We walk and walk and walk some more and still haven’t seen anything but we can see Jersey City off in the distance so we know we are kind of in the right place.  We stop another person and they tell us to keep following the water and we will see it.  We got there with 3 minutes to spare and ran on to the boat.  (good news).

So what’s the bad news?

We get dropped off at a different terminal which is about a mile from the RV Park.  That would be ok if we had been there before or if it was daylight out (but it’s NOT).  We don’t exactly know how to get to the park but we sort of know its “over there”.. we twist and turn and eventually find our way back to Liberty Harbor.  Stressed, tired, sore feet, but we made it back.