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.

Technology & PINK scans

We all agree that technology is awesome when it works like we expect it to.

It’s simple, right?

We have a Xerox photocopier/scanner at work.

Step1: scan an important document.

Step2: Technology kicks in and it sends a PDF file to our desktop computer which I then attach to an email and on its way it goes.  (This is critical)

Step3: take important document and shred it, don’t be needing it anymore.

Step4: forget to email it to the intended recipient.

Step5: remember the following day that it is sitting in the scan file somewhere.

Step6: No problem!  Open the scan file and send it one day late.

Step7:  SHIT – the scan program isn’t communicating with the Scanner and I can’t access my documents.

Step8:  Get the scanner program talking to the Xerox again, which is now talking to my desktop scan file.

Step9: Do a test scan.

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Step10:  Success

Step11:  FIND IMPORTANT DOCUMENT again, email it for sure this time,  now QUIT SCREWING AROUND WITH PINK-POST-IT-NOTES and get back to work.

Inside OUT

Me: ‘Would you like your invoice and your receipt stapled together?’

Boater mumbled something like: “*(&)”

Me as I’m stapling their invoice and receipt together: ‘Pardon, did you say you wanted it stapled together?’

Boater: “I’ll take it whatever way you hand it to me, I’m horrible with receipts anyway”

Me watching as boater takes my nice and neat stapled invoice and receipt and folds it INSIDE OUT.  By inside out I mean that all the writing is on the inside and all they can see on the outside is blank paper.

lined paperMe: ‘No no no, you don’t want to fold it like that, if you fold it like that then the next time you are looking for a receipt amongst your millions of folded papers, you have to UNFOLD each of them to see what it is’

Boater: “Well, isn’t that the SMARTEST thing ever, I’ve NEVER thought of doing it that way before!”

Me thinking, Don’t I have the most rewarding job ever?  I wonder if teachers feel this way everyday?

Molson Canadian – I AM CANADIAN poem / commercial

“I’m not a lumberjack or a fur trader. I don’t live in an igloo or eat blubber or own a dog sled. And I don’t know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada, although I’m certain they’re really, really nice. I have a prime minister, not a president. I speak English and French, not American. And I pronounce it about, not aboot. I can proudly sew my country’s flag on my backpack. I believe in peacekeeping, not policing. Diversity, not assimilation. And that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal. A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch. And it is pronounced zed, not zee, zed. Canada is the second largest landmass, the first nation of hockey and the best part of North America. My name is Joe, and I am Canadian!” – Molson Canadian commercial

I have this poem on my coffee mug at work.  It makes me smile because I am Canadian!  I don’t drink Molson, but this makes me want to! 🙂

here’s a link to the commercial that I picked up from YouTube