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…
May 2018 The Circle is complete and I’m sad.
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.
Jan-2018 The Desert isn’t always flat and dry.
We’ve been in the desert now since Christmas. We’ve been in Mesa where we visited my Uncle Al and Aunt Jean. We travelled on freeways and other state roads and seen roadrunners, coyotes, and a bobcat. Different types of cactus appear as you go up in elevation and disappear and change as you descend.
There are mountains here, more than you would expect. They have cool names: The Superstition Mountains (Mesa), Picacho Mountain (Casa Grande), Black Mountains (Oatman) and the Chocolate Mountains (Parker). There are 194 mountain ranges in the state. There are lakes created by dams along the Colorado and Salt Rivers. We’ve seen boats in marina’s along the lakes and rivers and we know there are places to fish in the summer here.
We haven’t done a huge number of tourist attractions (and there are many here). I guess we are kind of “touristed out” after all our travelling. We have been to Oatman and seen the burro’s, taken the Dolly boat ride on Canyon Lake, driven to Tortilla Flats and saw the fountain shoot over 500feet in Fountain Hills, and visited The Pima Air & Space Museum all while in Arizona. There is lots to do here and it sure is nice to be warm and dry. I miss the green and blues of Campbell River, but I don’t miss the grey winter rain. We will be home on Vancouver Island in 30 days. Hard to believe our circle is almost complete!
Dec 1-2017 Making a Bee-Line to Arizona
It’s hard to believe that it’s time to leave Florida now.
Bye bye beach fishing for Pompano, Black Drum, Red Drums and Blue runners. I’m going to miss waiting for you to hit my line.
Bye bye white squeaky sand beaches that stretch for miles and miles.
Bye bye to all the “southerners” (real and transplanted), we loved how friendly you were, what courteous drivers you are and how polite everyone was around us.
We are making a bee-line to Mesa, Arizona so that we can spend Christmas with my Aunt and Uncle. We spent 6 weeks in Texas a few years ago, we were in Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Austin so will basically make a couple of pit stops on our way north and west to Arizona.
First stop was Biloxi, Mississippi. It is a beautiful small city that has been hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and is still recovering. I saw lots of damaged piers and empty lots along the sea shore and beach highway. I found The Old Brick House and gravitated towards this MASSIVE oak tree in the back yard. It was amazing. Majestic. Historic in it’s own way. How old it must be. Who used you for shade? Who climbed on you? What conversations took place under your limbs, leaves and branches?
I parked down by the Visitors Centre, walked the beach, strolled thru Lighthouse Park and listened to the kids playing on the swings. Watched the traffic on the Beach Highway negotiate around the Lighthouse that was there long before the road was built.
After leaving Biloxi we pointed the nose of the truck towards San Antonio and we were off.
We overnighted in Beaux Bridge, Louisianna and went for dinner at Crawfish USA. We ate everything “Cajun” on the menu: oysters, catfish, crawfish, frog legs, crab, shrimp, bread pudding. I also stopped at the market there and bought cracklins and supplies to make gumbo.
Next evening we landed in Beaumont, Texas. Didn’t think we were going to make it there safely as we drove thru a thunderstorm that wiped out our visibility and slowed freeway speeds from 75MPH to 45MPG. I left permanent imprints of my hands and fingernails on the steering wheel. Not much fun. It continued to rain thru the night with temperatures in the 40’s F.
Get ready to be entertained: Now remember it’s been pelting rain and lightening and thundering for the last hour. 2 ladies in a 4 door truck pulling a 30ft travel trailer pulled in beside us. Lady #1 is unhooking the trailer, putting down jacks etc. It’s still raining lightly. Lady #2 opens the door of the truck and this BIG DOG jumps out of the truck, takes 4 steps thru the puddle and jumps back in the truck.
Lady #2 Opens back passenger door (bpd)
Dog jumps in to front passenger seat.
Lady #2 closes bpd – opens fpd.
Dog jumps in to back passenger seat.
Lady closes fpd and opens bpd
Dog jumps in to front passenger seat
Lady outsmarts the dog (finally) by leaving BOTH doors open.
Dog jumps over to the drivers side of the truck.
Dog 1 – Lady 0.
Lady #1 arrives to help with dog extraction.
Dog bounces back and forth a few more times until he gets too close to Lady #1 who yards him out of the truck by his collar for the win!!
It continued to rain thru the night with temperatures in the 40’s F. We got up in the morning and continued our trek towards San Antonio. We drove thru rain all day, but not as heavy as the day before and successfully negotiated 7 lanes of traffic thru Houston, stopped in Schulenberg, Texas for the night. We were only 100 miles to San Antonio but we are in no hurry to get there (The Riverwalk isn’t going anywhere..) As we approached San Antonio we got caught up in a 2 hour traffic jam because a car-hauler broke in half and scattered cars all over the highway.
Not everyone has the patience to sit in traffic for that long. We saw a young Texan who looked like he decided to drive thru a ditch / median and on to an adjacent highway. Well, he ditched his truck in the weeds and caused lots of damage to his front end. Not sure how he’s going to explain that to his insurance company! The temperatures remained cool and well I might as well use the word COLD – it freakn snowed in the late evening. YES! SNOWED!. Very unusual, but it does happen occasionally.
We’ve been to San Antonio before so we didn’t visit the Alamo this time, but we did go down to the Riverwalk in the evening and took the Christmas Light Tour on one of the boats that go back and forth on the Riverwalk. Very festive.
We have 2 more days of driving to get to Carlsbad, New Mexico. We will break the trip in half with an overnight stay in Fort Stockton, Texas. This is one big State, that’s for certain. We already miss the southern hospitality. Texans are not near as friendly as their neighbours to the south and they certainly drive more aggressively too. I feel like I’m back in red-neck country.
We visited Carlsbad Caverns more than 20 years ago and we were so impressed by it that we decided to stop in for another visit on this trip. When we walked in I was impressed and in awe all over again. It is amazing, beautiful, the size of the caverns, the different formations, your eyes travel around, up and over. You have to go there, you just have to add it to your list of things to see if you are in that corner of New Mexico. You won’t be disappointed.
Next stop: Mesa, Arizona. Get to spend time with the relatives.. YAY!!
Are you a Boondocker or a Resorter?
Before we started RV’ing we travelled a bit to different places. When in Mexico, Belize or Thailand we chose to stay in places that were a bit more rustic. Gaps in the walls, holes in the window screens, basic shelters with handmade furniture, a stove, a sink and rusty appliances. We’ve travelled to cities in the USA, stayed in Paris, London, Barcelona and Lisbon at places that I refer to as “Brass and Glass”.. they have all the fancy staff, stuff, and all the amenities.
How do you travel?
How do you RV?
Are you a Boondocker who choses to stay in places that are out of the way, a bit rustic, are you comfortable without electricity, wifi and tv?
Are you a Resorter who prefers swimming pools, hot tubs, hot showers, laundry, free cable tv and wifi?
We’ve certainly tried a bit of each on this trip and other RV Parks that are a bit of both.
We’ve overnighted at farms that raised alpaca’s, goats, lambs, or chickens. We’ve visited wineries in Canada and the USA and tasted wine and bought a few to take with us on the road. We’ve overnighted in a few driveways of people who are kind, inquisitive and generous with their time and made us feel so welcome.
We’ve been in RV parks that have dirt roads, gravel roads, and paved roads, we’ve dealt with roots, ruts and steep sites from back to front, more often than not the sites are level. We’ve been in public showers and bathrooms that are spotless, with perfect hot water and great water pressure, and some that are none of the above. Laundry room machines that function and are spotless., and some that aren’t.
Both choices have their charm and place in any road trip. It all depends on how you like to roll!
6 months on the road, we’ve packed and pulled over 12,000 miles and I’ve had 4 haircuts
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 northern 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.
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 pastries, 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.
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.
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.
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!
Washington, DC – the 2 M’s
How do you decide what to do in DC?
You can do both, but you can’t do it all in 5 days I’ll tell you that much. Much like it was in Montreal we took the bus to the train, and the train in to the City. I loved DC, it’s clean with wide streets, the traffic wasn’t insane, the drivers didn’t seem overly aggressive (like the whole province of Quebec), the streets weren’t filled with honking horns (like New York City). The history, the monuments, the museums, the overwhelming size of the buildings. The Capitol Building, The Archives, The Department of Justice, The FBI, The Pentagon, The Smithsonian, and on and on.
The Memorials were impressive: The FDR Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, The Vietnam Memorial Wall, The Korean War Memorial and on and on.
Our favorite was Franklin D Roosevelt’s. It’s located next to the Jefferson Memorial and near Martin Luther King Jr’s memorial as well. FDR’s memorial has no stairs and is wheelchair accessible as you would assume it should be. It is a large open space with statues of him, his wife Eleanor and their dog, a Scottish terrior named Fala.
New York City – Squares and Circles…
I was so excited about our trip to New York City. It’s been a part of the trip planning since the trip plan began. Who DOESN’T want to go to New York City? First step was to find a place to park the RV – that turned out to be an easy decision after we saw a UTube video of a couple on the Looong Honeymoon describe their stay at Liberty Harbor Marina RV Park in Jersey City. The location is excellent and that is it’s attraction. It is basically some RV spaces in a parking lot at the Marina. Gravel pads, electricity and water and a sewer dump on site. A building with showers and toilets in one corner. Nothing fancy, but we weren’t planning on sitting around the trailer.. we are talking NEW YORK!!
Driving in to Liberty Harbor and Jersey City was a nightmare for me. I took up two lanes on some narrow bridge and blocked all the traffic behind me (But like Randy said afterwards ‘no one was honking at you, so it was no big deal’). Then I got to an intersection under a overpass and was in the wrong lane to go straight thru so I put on my signal light and did another one of my patented “tourist turns” while holding up everyone behind me who wanted to turn right and couldn’t because I was waiting for traffic to clear so I could continue in a straight line. (still no honking – such polite New Yorkers). I managed to negotiate thru road construction barrels, squished my way past a bus and navigated narrow bumpy streets to our destination. No scratches, dents and only a few swear words were heard.
There is a water taxi that runs between the park and Manhatten ( once again location, location, location ). The cost is $6.50 per person per trip. It runs in the morning until 9:45 and then begins again in the evening at 4:15 until 9PM. So you are limited to extended night time stays in the city if that is your mode of travel and when you go over in the morning you are now in NY City all day. There is a train (the Path) which runs over to NY but we never bothered to figure out it’s path or the schedule. We heard that the Taxi’s don’t like to go over to Jersey because then they inevitably have to return empty to NYC. We could have used Uber I suppose, but didn’t try that either. You can tell we aren’t much for partying with the night owls.. haha.
New York City is HUGE! It’s MASSIVE! It’s just like you would imagine after seeing it on TV and reading about it. I discovered quite quickly that it is impossible to capture New York City in a photograph or many photographs. How can you capture what your eye can see, in a picture?
It’s a city of Squares & Circles and much more:
Times Square and Union Square (which aren’t really square in shape), the Memorial Pools at the 911 Memorial (which are squares). Madison Square Garden – is a round arena with a rectangle for a rink. You get the idea of what I’m saying. Columbus Circle, traffic circles, archways and angles of the World Trade Centre and Brookfield Place on Vesey Street. I will include a few pictures that I took that show the complex shapes and overall feel of how BIG the City really is. I would go back any time and see, walk, eat and be entertained. What a great City!
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, 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.
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.
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.
After crossing the border we spent a few days in Bar Harbor, Maine. What a great seaside town to wander around in. It’s small on size, but big on tourism. Cruise ships, restaurants everywhere, tourist trinkets, tshirts, and busy streets. Lobster pounds, BBQ pits and more lobster. Very similar to eastern Canada which is only a couple of hours away. The trees are shedding their colors and will soon shed their leaves. Awesome scenery as we drive to our different campgrounds.
Next stop was Boston. We stayed at The Minuteman Campground (which is the closest campground to Boston). You can tell we are not “city folk” as we were kind of shocked when we found out “closest” still means 2 hrs away (give or take) by public transport. Drive, park, catch the train and return in rush hour traffic which the locals say starts around 4PM but you couldn’t really tell by me. Holy crap is it busy on the roads. There’s a good reason I have never lived in a major urban area. NO THANKS!
Boston is brown, brick brown, red brick, brown brick, brown. It is not a brass and glass city like Vancouver or Toronto. Rough streets, exposed man hole covers, construction, old trains, old subway tunnels that need to be cleaned up a tad. It has the feel of a working mans city. Very serious vibe, maybe the fact that it was windy and rainy added to the mood. We took the Old Towne Trolley Tour which is a great way to see the sights, have a beer at Cheers, go to Quincy Market, or the site of the Boston Tea Party, follow the Freedom Trail, eat chowder, eat cheesecake, just eat something. Don’t let the color fool you, there’s lots to see and do in this city.
Bye Bye Canada – see you in 180!
And just like that our piece of the Circle that included eastern Canada has ended. We circled back to Moncton and then Saint John, New Brunswick and hung out in the sun for a few days before venturing across the border into Maine.
No exciting stories to share, just usual run of the day stuff. We caught up on laundry, washed the outside of the trailer and truck and ate all our food in the fridge and freezer so we would be all neat, tidy and empty when we crossed the border. While we were in Moncton we drove out to Hopewell Provincial Park and saw the famous Hopewell Rock formations. We got there in the rain AND at high tide so any picture taking was out of the question. The Bay of Fundy is interesting, lots of red cliffs, rock outcroppings and muddy red water. We drove back over to Shediac and fished off the pier for Mackeral, we bought a couple of lobster off a boat for 1/2 the price of what you can buy them for in the grocery stores. We had dinner with friends that used to live in CRiver. It was great to catch up with them and see what they’ve been doing since moving way out here.
We then left Moncton and headed to Saint John NB in preparation for heading across the border. Updated our health plan, worked on my photo’s and blog. We got our air conditioner looked at and temporarily fixed. No guarantees that the gas won’t leak out again, but it’s working for now. The weather has turned warm and we are heading for warmer climates so we are glad to have it working. We are going to need it we think. I drove around one day and discovered Lepreau Falls which is about 30 km out of Saint John towards the border of Maine. Nice falls and park there, not busy at all, would be a great place for a day picnic. Very scenic. The area below the falls was used by Rum Smugglers in the 1920’s and 30’s as they prepared to head out on the Bay of Fundy and sell to ships off shore from the USA.
Halifax – Cool Harbour, Cole Harbour and Peggy’s Cove.
Every Canadian hockey fan knows that Sidney Crosby hails from Cole Harbour which is in the suburbs of Halifax. It’s NOT Halifax as he pointed out when asked where he was “from”. Halifax Harbour is a mix of industry, business and tourism. Cruise ships, tug boats, freighters, yachts, marinas, museums, restaurants, bars, shopping. A boardwalk stretches between Pier 21 and Casino Nova Scotia. It’s 4km (about 10 blocks) of people watching, water watching, beverage drinking and food eating fun!
Parking was NOT fun. One way streets. Construction everywhere. People everywhere. Narrow Streets. Finally after driving around for about 3 circles of the harbour I figured out how to enter a parking lot and gladly paid the daily fee of $16 for a few hours of harbour fun.
Speaking of parking: We drove out to Peggy’s Cove (40KM from Halifax). The most photographed lighthouse in the universe. You know what that means? It means there’s a kabillion people flocking to a small piece of rock to take a photo of themselves, their family, their friends, the lighthouse, the rocks, and the birds. So when a kabillion people show up and there are only 300 parking spots there is a problem. We couldn’t get within a mile of the place so settled for a drive around and left it at that. Very scenic coastline and well worth taking the circle drive from Halifax.
We visited the Halifax Public Gardens. Free entry and it’s close to The Citadel so you can see both places and only pay for one parking space.. haha.
Stepping back in Sydney, Nova Scotia!
After leaving Baddeck and the Cabot Trail we moved location to the Arm of Gold Campground just outside of Sydney, Nova Scotia. The distance between Baddeck and Sydney is about 70KM.. haha… not a very long drive but we wanted to be near the city and check it out without driving back and forth to Baddeck.
We drove downtown, saw the giant fiddle at the Cruise Ship Terminal and watched people fish for mackerel off the pier there. A fellow who fishes there all the time let a young oriental girl reel in the mackerel and then they left it on the pier while we watched a otter come up and whisk it away right in front of everyone. The joy she exhibited while reeling in the fish, the amazement as a little critter scurried from behind the wall and grabbed the fresh catch and then ran off to feed his family was something that she and her friends will never forget. What a simple gesture that meant so much.
We drove out to Glace Bay and toured the Coal Mine and went on a tour beneath the sea in a coal tunnel. It was dark, wet, and cramped. I never want to go see that again. I have such admiration for the men who made their living this way. What a horrible job they had, with poor working conditions and low wages.
We drove out to The Fortress of Louisbourg and wandered the grounds and the buildings. It was free admission because of Canada’s 150th Birthday. The Fort was founded by the French in 1713 and partial reconstruction began in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The project employed coal miners and they used some of the original stonework. I love walking back in time and imagining how the people lived, worked and survived the elements 300 years ago. They were tough, hardworking, resilient people.
Weather – how it can change your outlook on the Cabot Trail.
oooo… ahh.. you’re going to the Maritimes? you’ve GOT to go on the Cabot Trail.
It rained, it was cloudy, it was windy and then it rained a bit more. But we have decided not to let the rain get us down and really all you have to do to carry on with your activities is to wear a different coat.. right?
We leave Baddeck for a drive along the Cabot Trail. We strike off down the highway and randomly choose an exit to begin our circle of the Cabot Trail. We (of course) went too far and have no idea exactly where we are and none of the brochures mention that you will need to take a cable ferry (which we have somehow driven directly to). We reverse direction, head back on the highway, drive for a wee bit and take another exit that will take us along the Cabot.
We drive thru windy narrow roads which are lumpy bumpy and under road construction, it’s also windy and cloudy but hasn’t rained YET. The road is nicely banked with sharp corners and would be awesome to navigate on a motorcycle. We didn’t find the scenery that inspiring but continued our drive toward the beaches that were mentioned as well as the areas for watching whales. Another hour of trees, grass, some water scenery and threatening clouds and that was it for us. We turn around and head back to Baddeck and because we didn’t want to go back thru the road construction we turned down a different road and sure enough – We are on the opposite side of the Cable Ferry. We’ve driven around and around and are right back where we started a couple of hours ago.
Would I recommend The Cabot Trail to other travelers if asked? Yes I would.
Did I think The Cabot Trail was fabulous? No I didn’t.
Was it the road construction? Or was it the lack of spectacular scenery? Or was it because we wandered around a tad? Or was it just the crappy weather? You’ll have to go there yourself and form your own opinion me thinks!
PEI – Gables and Potatoes
First thing about going to PEI is the prospect of driving over the Confederation Bridge. An engineering marvel – I couldn’t wait to see it and be able to feel like you are driving on top of the ocean. It is fantastic. 12.9 KM (8 miles), the longest bridge over ice-covered waters in the world. It was opened May 31, 1997. You can get over the bridge for free but have to pay on the way out. Cost us $65 with the truck and trailer. Way cheaper than BC Ferries which cost us $300 when we left Vancouver Island. (Granted the trip off Vancouver Island to the mainland is longer than 8 miles).
My first impression and what I will always remember about PEI are the colors of the fields. Bright green grass and farmland, rolling hills, fireweed and buttercups providing more color and country roads criss-crossing the island thru small villages and towns all with churches. The maritime houses with tidy mowed yards that we’ve seen everywhere here on our travels.
You can see potato farms here and there and everyone knows how great the PEI potatoes are. It’s a billion $ industry and a way of life since the 1700’s for the people who live here. The colorful red dirt produces colorful potatoes as well: Russets, Whites, Reds, Yellow, and yes, Blue potatoes are all grown here. You like Poutine? Well it tastes better with these potatoes.. yum yum yum, my poor diet is so shot.. haha. Then of course you have to add Lobster and Mussels to the list of diet crashers. And just when you think it can’t get any worse someone tells you about “cow chips”. What are they you ask? Well they are just ripple potatoe chips dripped with chocolate. No worries, you can try and resist, but it’s probably impossible. Let me know how you make out!
I went on a bus tour of Cavendish Beach, Anne of Green Gables house, the village of Rustico and a preserve shop where I bought a jar of black current rhubarb jam and the diet busting “Cow Chips”. We drove out to Basin Head Provincial Park and saw the “singing sands” beach for ourselves. It doesn’t exactly sing, but it will squeak when you walk on it – cool spot with people jumping in to the river and then swimming thru a channel out to the beach. Looked like fun and it was great listening to all the squeals from the kids as they played in the water.
It was “welcome home” week when we were there so Charlottetown was packed. We drove down to the Race Track / Casino / Fair and joined in the fun for the weekend. It was hard to find parking but the atmosphere of fun and people just enjoying the Island was impressive. It poured a ton on Saturday night and that slowed things down but people carried on. The downtown restaurants were very busy.
Shediac – I think they sell Lobster there!
Shediac, New Brunswick. Just say the name Shediac and anyone who has been here will ask you: ‘Did you go and see the big lobster there?’.
It’s pretty hard to miss – it’s HUGE, people are taking pictures of it, kids are climbing on it, it’s in the center of downtown beside the Tourist Information centre. You can’t miss it.
Lobster restaurants, lobster trucks, lobster stores, lobster shirts, lobster knick-knacks. Yup, they sell everything “lobster” here.
We drove down to the pier and watched the lobster boats come in, we watched the yachts go out on a beautiful evening, people were out fishing for mackerel off the pier, or having a dinner in one of the pubs there. Very exciting place and if you are in the area you should go to Shediac and hang out – it’s lots of fun and you won’t go home hungry!
No pictures of Bass while fishing on the Miramichi.
While driving around Miramichi we drove down to Gordon’s Wharf which was a few minutes from the Sunrise Campground where we stayed. We saw a few guys fishing from shore and they were very open to sharing how they were fishing for bass and showed us the gear they were using as well. The fellow said that he was there often and if we were to return the following evening he would likely be there. We bought a few hooks and some mackerel for bait and drove down there the next night. It was a blast – we hooked 4 fish but they all escaped being landed on the beach. After upgrading our leaders we returned the following night to try our luck again. This time we neglected to get more than a couple of nibbles, no fish on, no fish landed, no fish at all. The other fellows at the beach didn’t have any luck at all either. It was fun to chat with the locals, learn a bit about fishing and Miramichi.
I took a photo the first night of the sun setting on the beach at Gordon’s Wharf.
We stayed at Sunrise Campground and this is a photo of the sunrise over Bartibog and Sheldrake Islands (I think that’s their names).
One common theme as we travel is ROAD CONSTRUCTION – every province has it, every province does it in the summer. In Miramichi they were fixing their bridge, it is a major connector across the river and it created long lineups at certain times of the day.
I drove up Church Street and found a church! I wish I would have had more time to spend there and go inside and find out it’s history. The name of the church is St. Michael’s Basillica Catholic Church. Google says construction started in early 1900’s and the first mass was held in the basement in 1909.
We had a few thunderstorms while we were there and the wind was whipping across the river while we were fishing too. I found this old tree opposite the golf course, you can tell it’s subject to a lot of wind by it’s crazy shape.
An OLD day in Bathurst, New Brunswick.
Bathurst is a beautiful city in New Brunswick. For some reason the day I was out shooting I only shot pictures of OLD STUFF.
Maybe it was the St. Famille Church Graveyard dating back to the 1700’s that stands on top of the hill?
Or the Old Post Office Customs Building from 1884?
Or the dilapidated buildings on Bridge and Joan of Arc Streets?
Or the 1836 Church with it’s red doors?
Or the old corvette?
I can’t say for sure. It wasn’t particularly sunny the morning I chose to go out. I went to Youghall Beach and walked from the launch around to the Marina and along the boardwalks of the beach there. The mosquitoes had breakfast, lunch and dinner with me as the main entrée. I watched people fishing and boats going out for the day. I wandered down town around the post office and saw people going to the art market and shopping at the little shops along the streets. I drove along bridge street and an old industrial area that’s being decommissioned and along the highway thru the marsh and bird watching sanctuary and out along a spit of land with magnificent houses.
The Gaspe – Scenery? Awesome. Roads? Crap.
The Gaspe Peninsula or “Gaspésie” as it is says on the road signs is beautiful. We travelled from Quebec City to Rimouski, around the Gaspe Peninsula to Gaspe, Perce, Bonaventure and then crossed the river in to New Brunswick. The scenery is awesome, beautiful villages all along the coast. As you travel you enter one village and go up over a hill and down in to another village. Everyone takes such pride in their yards. All the grass is mowed, yards, fences, shrubs, plants all in pristine condition. It is so beautiful. Gaily painted houses, out-buildings and small sheds. The roads? well that’s another story. Granted we are pulling a 30ft Travel Trailer so that carries it’s own limitations. The speed limit is 80 or 90 KM. The Gaspe has very steep cliffs which makes for very steep roads. You might get up to speed half way up an incline, huff and puff your way over the top and BWAM, time to slow down because the speed limit declines from 80 to 70 to 60 and finally 50km thru the village. After clearing the village it’s back up another incline, huff and puff your way over the top and ride the brakes down to 50 and then repeat the same scenario. This isn’t the worst part, the worst part is the condition of the roads. Narrow, patched pot holes, dips, bumps, holes both big and small. Towing a trailer is quite the challenge! The best part is the road ahead of you is always clear. Behind you is a train of frustrated travelers who are no doubt yelling thru their windshields as they stare at our Beautiful British Columbia license plate. Sorry about that folks 🙂
Here are my photo’s from Perce and Forillon National Park in Gaspe and some beach pictures from our campsite in Bonaventure, Quebec.
Rimouski – Metis sur Mer July 29-2017
After leaving Quebec City we headed for the Gaspe Peninsula. We are not travelling far in a day so we made plans to stay at Camping Annie at Metis Sur-Mer just outside of Rimouski, Quebec. We were only there for a day so we drove in to Rimouski and visited Point-Au-Pere historical site. The lighthouse is 108 feet tall and is the 2nd tallest in Canada. The HMCS Onondaga submarine has been brought up on shore, it is the only sub open to public viewing in Canada. We didn’t go inside as we are both a tich claustrophobic and everyone knows subs are notoriously small. Also part of the property is a pavilion dedicated to the RMS Empress of Ireland which sank in May 1914 in the St Lawrence River in 140 feet of water. 1012 people died of the 1477 who were on board. Next part of the journey is: Around The Gaspe Peninsula!
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.