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 desert isn’t always Flat and Dry.

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One of many Saguero Cactus near Mesa, Arizona.

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.

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Along the Salt River near Mesa, Arizona.

 

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Along the Salt River in Arizona.

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.

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Mammoth in the rock along Canyon Lake, Arizona.

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Canyon Lake, Arizona.

 

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!

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at Tortilla Flats, Arizona.

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The Fountain in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

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.

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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.

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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.

Boston Brown

 

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 streets busy with people, so much fun there.  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, road construction, old trains, old subway tunnels that need to be cleaned up a tad.  It has the feel of a working man’s city.  Very serious vibe, maybe the fact that is 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!

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Busy Boston intersection.

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Boston brick and ornate clock at Quincy Market.

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Boston lights.

Bye Bye Canada, see you in 180 days!

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 our usual run of the day stuff.  We caught up on laundry, washed the outside of the trailer and the truck and ate all our food in the fridge and freezer.  We will be all neat, tidy and empty when we cross 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 also drove back over to Shediac and fished off the pier for mackerel.  We bought a couple of lobster off a boat for 1/2 the price of what you can buy them for in the store.  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 out here.

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The Coastline of Hopewell Provincial Park and the muddy water of the Bay of Fundy near Moncton, NB.

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The Bay of Fundy with the rip tide line and the coast of Maine off in the distance.

We then left Moncton and headed to Saint John NB in preparation for heading across the border.  We updated our health plan, worked on my photo’s and blog.  Sat in the sun lots.  We got our air conditioner looked at and temporarily fixed.  There are no quarantees 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.  It is about 30KM out of Saint John towards the border with Maine.  The Falls are nice and there is a day use park there, it wasn’t busy at all and would be a great place for a picnic.  It’s very scenic.  The area below the falls was used by rum smugglers in the 1920’s and 1930’s as they prepared to run rum out to the Bay of Fundy and sell to ships off shore from the USA.

That’s where we will be heading next.  Bar Harbor, Boston, New York City – LOOK OUT – we’ll be there soon!

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Lepreau Falls in Lepreau National Park between Saint John, NB and the border in to Maine.

Having an OLD day in Bathurst, New Brunswick. Aug-2017.

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?

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Ste Famille Church graveyard from the 1700’s at the top of the hill in Bathurst, New Brunswick.

 

Or the Old Post Office Customs Building from 1884?

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1884 Post Office and Customs Building in Bathurst.

Or the dilapidated buildings on Bridge and Joan of Arc Streets?

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Crumbling down near Bridge Street in Bathurst.

 

Or the 1836 Church with it’s red doors?

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1836 Church with red doors.

 

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1836 Church with red doors

Or the old Corvette bootlegging it on the main street downtown Bathurst?

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Old Corvette bootlegging it in Bathurst!

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.

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ok, maybe it’s not old but it was abandoned on the beach in Bathurst.