Highlights of Our Ontario Summer


Wow, I can’t believe it’s been six months since I’ve written anything about my travels. I guess that’s because, after our weekend in Midland at the Ukulele Festival, we didn’t do any more travelling until October.

Our summer was spent mostly playing pickleball and ukulele, with a few short trips to catch up with family and friends within relatively short distances from our home town.

The highlight of the summer for me was a visit from my daughter, Sarah, her husband and my two grandchildren in August. We did take them to the local Dinosaur Park and Reptile Zoo,

One of many animated dinosaurs at the park

One of many animated dinosaurs at the park

Dinosaur Park, Peterborough

Crocodile at Reptile Zoo, Peterborough, Ontario

Crocodile at Reptile Zoo, Peterborough, Ontario

Tortoise at the Reptile Zoo

Tortoise at the Reptile Zoo

One of several snakes at the Reptile Zoo, Peterborough, Ontario

One of several snakes at the Reptile Zoo, Peterborough, Ontario

Snakes

 

…and to a gravel pit to fish. My grandson loves to fish and the pit was a perfect spot.

Good catch of large mouthed bass

Good catch of large mouthed bass

I also spent a few days with them at Sarah’s grandfather’s old log cabin, that included some baseball games, and fiddle music, that warmed my heart.

Barns at the Farm

Barns at the Farm

Granddaughter Entertaining her Great-Grandfather.

Granddaughter Entertaining her Great-Grandfather.

Then, before we knew it, it was September and time to start planning our trip south. When my niece told me that they were having a belated 80th birthday party for my sister in Vancouver on Thanksgiving Weekend (Canadian) October 12th, we considered doing the cross Canada trip on our way to Arizona, as we did four years ago. We started making plans to leave on October 1st. Then we got the news of early snow storms in our Midwestern provinces, and snow in the mountains of British Columbia where we would have to travel to get to Vancouver. Some further research told us that after October first we would need to either have snow tires on the RV (we don’t) or at least have tire chains onboard in case they were needed (we didn’t). The final straw was when Jim calculated the cost for gas to travel that extra 2200 kilometers across Canada before turning south to Arizona. I researched flights and found we could both fly, return, to Vancouver and back for half of what it would cost us just for gas to drive. I booked our seats and the tension in my shoulders eased considerably. Doing the trip in September was quite different than it would have been trying to do it in October.

We carried on with life as usual for another two weeks, gradually taking belongings to the motorhome and getting it ready for our trip south.

On October 12th we flew out of Toronto and arrived in Vancouver by lunch time, where my daughter, Ann, picked us up and took  us to her place to stay (another cost saving). I especially enjoyed that weekend, having the chance to catch up with both my daughters and spend quality time with my sister and all her family and friends. Sunday was a family-only Thanksgiving dinner at Ann’s. I got to meet two of my great grandchildren for the first time. What a joy!

Monday we did a tour of Granville Island with Ann, enjoyed a dinner of Thanksgiving leftovers, and then got our things together for our morning flight home.

At 1:00 pm on Thursday we were all packed up ready to go again. After a stop for lunch at one of our favourite Hastings restaurants – Banjo’s Grill – we were on our way.

Trying to Do My Part to Save the Environment


For many reasons I’ve decided that it’s time to take more seriously the concept of reducing single use plastic and start taking some baby steps in that direction. I’ve made a few changes like switching to shampoo bars, and laundry detergent strips, and dryer balls, and mesh produce bags. They all work great. The biggest challenge is how to enjoy the take-out cold drinks without using one of the single use plastic cups.

In the summer, we always enjoy the frothy cold coffee and fruity concoctions at Tim Horton’s, but they all need to be made in the  “sterile” plastic cups because they’re mixed by a sterile machine, or so I was told. So I gave up my Cappuccinos for Iced Coffee and started taking my own reusable cup with me. The coffee is poured into my cup, a squirt of flavor is added, followed by a scoop of ice cubes. No cross contamination right? Well, a few service people tried to say they couldn’t do it because their hand stirrer could not go into my cup. Then someone told them, just use a plastic straw to stir it. That was fine until I got stainless steel straws and began taking one with me. “Don’t worry about stirring it,” I’d say. “I’ll do it myself.” Everyone was happy.

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Then we ventured away from the franchises that had become familiar with me. Too often, even though the service person would agree to make my coffee in my own cup, I’d catch them making it in their plastic one and then pouring it into mine. I again explained why that was unacceptable and how it could be remedied. Obviously they had no concept of why I was doing this and some got quite defensive with me.

One time, I went onto the Tim Horton’s website and sent a message of complaint, about that policy, and their need to reduce their garbage better recycling. The next day I got a lovely boilerplate reply telling me how they are reducing waste with their recycling bins.

Things were going smoothly until a week or so later. We were at a Tim Horton’s in the Brookdale Plaza in Peterborough. I asked for an iced coffee to be made in my cup and, “don’t worry about stirring it. I’ll do it myself with my own straw.”

Her reply? “I can’t make it in your cup, but I can pour it into there once it’s made.”

I tried to explain nicely to her that it can be done without violating any health codes, but she wouldn’t even listen.

“I’m not allowed to do that! I’ve been working here for four years and I’ve never done that!”

Jim asked to speak to the manager. She claimed she was busy serving the drive-through. “You can call the owners if you want,” she yelled from the other end of the counter. “Or you can call Head Office. They’ll tell you it’s not allowed. Peterborough Health Unit won’t allow it.”

Again I tried to explain that there would be no cross contamination, that it wouldn’t be any different than refilling a hot coffee mug. But she would have none of it. She even said something about she couldn’t touch my cup.

I eventually got Jim to walk away and we went to MacDonald’s, where, after I explained what I wanted and how to do it, the manager said, “I can do that.”

The next time we were in our own local Tim Horton’s and the owner/manager cheerfully accepted my cup for refill, I told him about my Peterborough experience. He was surprised. He told me that he’d worked for the Head Office for several years, setting up franchises across the country, before deciding to become an owner, and that that woman was totally wrong. He said several people now take in their own cups or mugs just as I do.

Have you taken steps to try to reduce your footprint on the environment? If so, what has been your experience?