A Trip to the Phoenix Zoo


Over the last seven years we’ve visited many, many places of interest within our local area, but there are still a few on our Bucket List. One was the Phoenix Zoo. On Saturday evening, we went. As you will see, it was a different kind of Zoo that we saw that night!

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There was a long line up at the gate when we arrived, just before 5:30 pm. We got into it and all the way to the entrance before we realized that, since we hadn’t purchased our tickets online as most people had, we had to go back to the ticket booth and then to the end of the line! Fortunately, it didn’t take too long, before we were following the crowd through the brightly lit canopy of lights, above a wooden bridge over a stream.

The lit-up giraffe was just a hint of things to come.

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An elephant on top of one of the many Food Stands on the grounds

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A few more on the Ground

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Take a look at more of these lighted, moulded animal sculptures in  this slide show. They are amazing!

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Some of them were animated, like this crocodile.

While most of the live animals were stabled for the night, we did see a few – a huge Porcupine that was hidden in the shadows and on the move too much to capture by camera, a few Reindeer and a few Camels.

And then there were the lights! Lots of lights around trees, and globes, reflecting in the pond, and forming outlines of more animals and bugs! Not as easy to capture, but here’s the best we could do with the equipment we had.

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After nearly two hours of wandering, we were tired and hungry. We made our way back to the Savannah Grill that we’d seen near the entrance. There we enjoyed the delicious Aldo burgers and fries, before walking back to the car. Needless to say, we were asleep early that night.

First Steps into 2020


Happy New Year! Hope you all are enjoying a happy, healthy start to 2020!

How did you ring it in? Were you at home, or travelling?

Ours was quiet. On the morning of New Year’s Eve, I played pickleball with some of my women friends. Then the rain started again, so we took shelter at the movie theatre, seeing Knives Out. It wasn’t anything like what we’d expected, but we really enjoyed it. Later, we walked to the excellent BBQ restaurant located in front of our park and mowed down on tender and delicious pork riblets (the small, flat tips of the ribs), baked potatoes and coleslaw. Back in our motorhome we watched TV and after the Ball dropped in New York City (two hours earlier than here in Arizona) we went to bed to read while fireworks somewhere in our area banged for hours. We could have done more had we chosen. Mesa Regal hosts a big New Year’s Eve Dance every year. We went once.

New Year’s Day we took a couple of friends for a drive to Scottsdale for lunch and a once-a-year only tour of the stable where the Arabian Horses are housed.

We arrived just a little too late to catch outside introduction of some of the award-winning horses, but seeing the inside of the stable blew us away! It was beautiful, with not a hint of odour. Each horse had its own stall, wood panelled on the outside and a note on each, below the black iron bars, indicated what they were to be fed, and when, along with their name. Most of the horses were very friendly and leaned up to the stall bars to receive some loving petting from the crowd of people viewing them.

A few of the horses that we saw.

These horses put on what attendees deem to be an amazing show, The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, every February. We have not gone to it. This might be the year! I’d love to do a story about it.

Christmas Tour to Laughlin, Nevada


It was raining when we woke up at 5:30 on Christmas Eve morning. We were planning to walk the short distance to our pick-up spot for the Worldspan Christmas in Laughlin Tour. We thought it better to leave the car at home, rather than in an empty parking lot for three days, but we could think of no one who would be up that early and willing to give us a ride! Fortunately the rain had stopped by the time we were ready to leave a half hour later.

The bus trip was pretty much uneventful. The rain started again just as we were boarding, and stayed with us all the way. We made a short stop at a fast food restaurant in Wickenburg for breakfast. We wished it could have been at the Cowboy Restaurant we’d visited before, but it wasn’t open anyway. When we got back onto the bus, a movie was cued and ready for our enjoyment – The Christmas Gift. It helped to pass the time, until our next brief rest stop in Kingman. At 11:00 a.m. we arrived at our Hotel – The Edgewater.

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We wouldn’t be given our room keys until 3:00 pm, although our luggage would be taken to our room at some time before that. We were given our Casino playing cards though, but not our promised food vouchers. So what was there for us to do for four hours? Within an hour, Jim and I had lost the meagre allotment that we allowed ourselves ($15.00 between us) on the slot machines. We’d checked our carry-on baggage and coats at the Valet desk, but Jim thought we should go for a walk along the Board Walk that spanned the distance between the Edgewater Hotel and the Colorado Belle. The rain had nearly stopped, but a cold wind still blew. I wrapped my scarf around my arms and dashed out. It was worth it.

On our way back through our lobby we looked into one of the gift shops and ended up buying a new weekender bag to replace the patched one that I’d brought with me. By then the rain had stopped and we retrieved our coats to walk across the street to the Outlet Mall, where we managed to do window shopping without spending much. We were tempted by all the bargains.

Back at our hotel lobby we enjoyed the complimentary hot chocolate and Christmas cookies that were offered, and commiserated with fellow tour passengers about the long wait, and the fact that the Christmas Eve Buffet that we’d been promised had been cancelled. One woman, who was on her own, had been looking forward to it.

At 3:00 we were given our room keys. We picked up our other things from the Valet desk and made our way to the eleventh floor. The elevators smelled of stale smoke and the halls were very cold, but our room was large and comfortable. There was no mini-fridge for the bottles of juice and coffee that I’d taken with us. I was exhausted and laid down, hoping to have a nap, but it was of no use. We’d planned to meet our friends (who had gotten on a different tour and were at a different hotel) for dinner. We walked to the Riverside Hotel and got to compare it with the Edgewater. It was bigger and had more amenities, like a movie theatre, a bowling alley and a ballroom for evening dancing, but our friends weren’t very pleased with their room. Both hotels are some of the older ones on the strip.

On our walk back to our hotel, we toured through The Aquarius, where we saw the first sign of Christmas lights, and took some pictures of the other nearby hotels that were lit up.

We were in bed early, too tired to keep our eyes open any longer.

Christmas Day was the day we looked forward to. Jim was up early, ready to meet the fellow from Second to None 220 Tours, who would take him to pick up the Polaris Slingshot that he’d reserved. He was so excited that he forgot what day it was until I wished him a Merry Christmas upon his return!

The rain had returned during the night, so we got showered and dressed and found the Breakfast Buffet to fill our bellies, hoping that by the time we got back to our rooms the clouds would be lifted. They weren’t. At 10:30 the sun began to peek through the clouds so we bundled up because we knew it would be cold, and climbed into the Slingshot and headed across the bridge, back into Arizona, with big smiles on our faces.

The sun soon disappeared and rain splashed on our helmet visors. I made use of the cloths that had been left in the glove box just for such purposes. We also made use of the woven blankets that were tucked behind the seats, to help keep us warm.

We arrived in Kingman in time for lunch and warmth. When we left, the sun was shining again and accompanied us the rest of the way up the mountain on a narrow, winding section of Route 66.

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Had to get this shot in KIngman before we left

There were signs of recent flooding, parts of the shoulder crumbled, and at one spot we had to drive slowly through a small patch of running water that was flooding the road. Fortunately, it was only a few inches deep. We were on our way to Oatman, which turned out to be on the other side of the mountain. I was grateful that Jim is a careful, mature driver.

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About half way to Oatman we came across this little museum, and some beautiful vistas.

Soon we were descending into Oatman. I think the photos will tell the story.

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We were back at our hotel in time to chat with family on the phone, and enjoy the complimentary Christmas Day Buffet, before Jim took the Slingshot back to Second to None 220 Tours, where the owner met him and drove him back to the hotel. Needless to say, it was another early night.

Boxing Day was a lazy day. The rain was back. We got bagels and cream cheese and coffee from the lobby donut shop to eat in our room. There were no tables or comfortable chairs anywhere in the lobby. There was nothing else to do, it seemed, but gamble. We stayed in our room until we had to be out at 11:00 a.m., but we were told not to board the bus until 1:00. We claimed our complimentary pieces of pizza from one of the restaurants. Jim did things on his iPad. I’d run out of data on my phone, and my tablet was just about dead, so I put another five dollars into one of the slot machines and played for twenty minutes to pass the time. I left with $4.97.

Other than a different movie, the trip back to Mesa was just the opposite of the one to Laughlin, including the rain.

Would we do that trip again? Probably not. But the Slingshot ride to Oatman made it all worthwhile!

Quick Summary of Our First Two Months at Mesa Regal, 2019/20


When we arrived in Mesa Regal on October 23rd we had a few things to take care of, mostly mundane like catching up with laundry, getting the levelling jacks down, figuring out what was wrong with the furnace and putting the awning out and the gazebo up.

The day we first put the awning out, we noticed that it was beginning to crack and wear.

“We’ll probably need to get a new one this year,” Jim commented. “I’ll just put some tape on it for now, when we get back.” We were on our way to stock up on groceries.

While we were gone, a micro burst of wind passed through our park and upon our return we found all but a few inches of the awning fabric had torn from the frame and was hanging on the ground!

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Awning down

Jim had already been to the Parts Department of Worldwide RV, which is located just at the entrance to our park, for parts for the furnace. On his next trip to pick up an ordered part, he asked about the price of a new awning.

“$1200 to $1500.” Not what we were hoping for!

“Do you care about the colour?” the staffer asked.

“No,” said Jim.

“Well I have one that’s been in stock for a few years because no one liked the colour,” she said. “You can have it for $100. You’ll have to check with the Installation Department for costs.”

The next day I went back with him to look at it. I didn’t figure the colour could be too outrageous, but thought I should just make sure. It looked fine – neutral colours. But upon checking, we discovered that that particular one was two inches too long for our frame. However, they did have another one that she gave us for a really good price and it was just the right size. We went to Installations and were told that it would take three hours to install at the rate of $130 per hour!

Jim got on the internet to find out what it took to install it ourselves. It didn’t look so difficult and we had two younger neighbours who were quite willing to help, so after we got the motorhome professionally washed, the four of us spent about an hour total, including figuring out the best way to complete the operation, putting it up. It was perfect and only cost the price of providing our helpers and their spouses with a home cooked meal (not that they wanted anything).

In the meantime, Jim gave up on fixing the furnace himself and called in a professional. He was frustrated to learn that if he’d taken out just two more screws, he would have seen the problem and been able to complete the task himself! Oh well.

By the time we got all of those tasks taken care of, and finished setting up the patio, I was deeply involved in Pickleball. I’m doing my second, and final, year on the Club Board as Vice-President and Webmaster of the website. We have a big annual three-day Tournament in December which raises enough funds to insure that we can provide court time and many programs to our members without a membership fee. But it is a lot of work for those that are willing to volunteer. I could find no one available to help with photography, so I spent seven hour days running from court to court to capture some of the action and waiting for the end results to take pictures of the winners. It was fun, but exhausting! Poor WiFi reception from our motorhome didn’t help. I had to take my computer to the Computer Lab to plug in directly to the internet on many days.

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Some Mixed Doubles Pickleball Action

December has been a much easier, more relaxing month. We’ve had time to take in a couple of movies on some of the many rainy days that flooded our pickleball courts and meant sending out mass emails when help was needed to clean them after the water was pumped out.

We found more time to visit with friends and play pickleball and ukulele.

The last week has been filled with Christmas Parties and one Celebration of Life for one of our residents.

Playing Ukulele Christmas

A few of our Ukulele Class Members Performing on Stage at Thursday Morning Coffee and Donuts

Next week, I’ll have a much more interesting post. We are taking a bus tour to Laughlin for Christmas with an exciting side trip.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas, or Best of the Holiday Season, whichever you prefer!

Memoir Monday – A Taste of Things to Come


For the first time in several weeks, I have free time – no place I need to be, no deadlines, nobody waiting for me to perform a task. So I thought that I’d do some writing. But I’m not sure what I feel like writing about. I promised I’d do another blog post, but do I want to write about the things that have been keeping me so busy (and often stressed) since we arrived in Mesa Regal? Or do I want to re-establish my Memoir Monday theme?

I opened one of my memoir files and found a short piece of writing that could become the introduction to a Memoir. I’ve decided to share it with you, my readers to see what you think.

It started several years ago with an assignment in an online writing course that I was taking. We were to write a story using dialogue only, with an inanimate object in the room where we were writing.

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My Old Oak Desk

I’ve incorporated that concept into this introduction. I hope you’ll let me know how you like the style, and if the introduction makes you want to know more.

Personal Reinventions

Me:  Good morning Desk. Are you ready to inspire me today?

Desk:  Good morning Judy.  Sure, how can I help?

Me:  I need some writing ideas.  I’ve been thinking about how you came to be mine and how we’ve shared many a move.

Desk:  Yes, I remember.  You’ve dismantled me many times and left me wondering if I’d ever be whole again, or if you would finally abandon me like my previous owner.

Me:  You know there have been times when I almost did because you are so big and take up so much room in small places, but that’s one of the things I love about you.  I just had to find room for you.  It’s lucky that you can be disassembled and reassembled quite easily though.  You would never have fit through the doorways! Ha, ha.

********

The decision was made.  I could no longer take the emotional abuse.  I’d done my best to become what he seemed to want, but now his sights were set on something completely the opposite.  I’d spent nearly a year giving him his space, trying to figure out what I’d done wrong.  He gave me no answers.  He didn’t want to go for counseling.  He had no desire to save the marriage. There didn’t seem to be any hope left.  So we packed up what belongings I could take with me and piled them onto the back of the truck:  the old white iron bed from the room I’d been sleeping in lately, the one without the brass trim and newer mattress; a small chest of drawers that had been in our son, Brendan’s, room once.  It still had some pencil scribbles on the soft brown finish; the pine drop-leaf table that had been a wedding gift from my sister; four restored wooden kitchen chairs; the divan with the faded, blue-flowered cover, a recent yard-sale purchase.  It would fold out into a bed for Brendan when he came to visit; the old blue metal steamer trunk that held the bed and bathroom linens.  I sighed with regret that I could not take the big old oak desk.  I could sure use it for my studies, but there was no way that it would fit into the one bedroom apartment.  The little laminate one that Mom bought me would have to do.

In the awkward moment after the last box had been removed from the truck, he wished me luck, his eyes avoiding mine, and disappeared up the stairs, leaving Brendan behind to help me with the unpacking and setting up.  That was it then; twenty-two years of struggling through life together and this was how it would end. Well, best get on with it.

Brendan and I spent the next few hours organizing my space.  I wasn’t yet familiar with my new neighbourhood, but we found a convenience store where I picked up a few kitchen staples like bread and milk and juice.  Dinner was a sub from the snack bar.

“So what do you think?  How do you like my new digs?”

“Yeah, it’s cool.”

At fifteen, Brendan was a lad of few words even at the best of times. I wanted so much to reach inside to see how he was taking all of this, but the door was closed tight.  I’d given him the choice of moving with me, but silently agreed that it was for the best when he decided to stay on the farm with his father.  He had only two more years of high school left.  He was somewhat of a loner and giving up the few friends he had to start anew in an unfamiliar city would have been even harder on him.  Still my heart ached for him. The next day we drove the fifty miles back to the farm in near silence.  A quick hug and he was gone.  I sat for a minute and looked at the weathered boards on the addition to the old stone house.  I thought about the warmth and coziness of the fire in the stove, the restored old light fixtures we’d picked out at my father-in-laws antique shop, and the gleaming pine boards on the floor, all just inside the door where Brendan had entered.  All of it was gone from me now.

Brushing the tears from my cheeks, I shifted the car into drive and headed down the lane, beginning my return journey alone.

*******

I soon settled into my studies, and much to my surprise, I enjoyed it.  I’d never before been much of a scholar, barely getting by.  At the end of the first semester I was in the top ten of my class.  I made friends with a group of “mature” students, and we all supported each other. For a time I was even flattered by the attention of one of the male students who followed me around like a puppy dog.

Now, fifteen years later, I look back on those twenty-two years of my life as if I’m looking at someone else, and I recognize that the day I carried the last box down the stairs into that little apartment was the biggest turning point of my life. My Old Oak Desk can vouch for that!

Arizona 2019/20 in the Horizon


Well we’ve been in Mesa for six weeks! I started this post soon after we arrived, and then life got extremely busy. Sorry it’s so late. Hope you enjoy the journey anyway.

The day was cool when we left Hastings on Thursday, October 17th, and the inside of the motorhome was downright cold! Jim jacked up the heater and turned on the blower, but after an hour we realized it wasn’t getting any warmer. Before long we both had our hoodies on, hoods pulled up, and I snatched the leg wrap, that my friend Alice had made me a few years ago, off the couch to tuck around my legs and feet.

It was a cold drive!

It was a cold drive without heat in the motorhome, for a few hours!

The sun came out and warmed us a bit so we kept on trucking until we felt the need to stop for dinner. We were still in Ontario and it was obvious that we wouldn’t even make it to the border to the USA before dark. Jim turned on the propane and tried to start the furnace to warm the place up. It didn’t work either! We left it and went into the Onroute rest stop to eat. When we came out, the furnace still hadn’t come on, so we gave up on that. But, when Jim started the engine, the heat began to blow through the vents, and kept us warm during the days all the rest of our trip! The nights were a different story.

Traffic was slow going through Toronto and further west. We spent our first night at another Onroute rest stop at Dutton, Ontario, too tired and too late to go any further. With temperatures dipping close to the freezing mark our only hope of sleeping was to add to the three layers of covers already on the bed. The extra tightly-woven Mexican blanket that I’d decided at the last minute to bring with us to use on the couch did the job, but we kept our hoodies and socks on!

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After a quick breakfast the next morning, we were on the road by 7:40 and crossing the bridge from Windsor, Ontario into Detroit, Michigan an hour and a half later. The Border Security Agent was more thorough than any we’ve ever had before (or maybe more suspicious?) He came aboard and began asking questions about what we had for food in our fridge. Before I could reply Jim said something like “Ketchup, mustard…not much at all.

“I’m going to ask you if you are aware of the rules about what you can and cannot bring across the border,” the Agent said.

We both answered “yes” but he proceeded to inform us that we could not have any fresh fruit, vegetables or meats with us. “Do you have any meat or fresh fruit or vegetables in your fridge?” He then asked.

“No,” we replied.

“Are you sure?” he said. “You know there is a $500 fine (or $5,000 depending on how each of us heard) for not declaring it. You know I’m going to look.”

“Go ahead,” Jim said as I shrugged my shoulders. We knew we had nothing to worry about.

After Jim showed him how to open the baby lock that we now have on the fridge to keep the door closed when travelling, he opened it and took a quick look. Nothing to see but the condiments and a few bottles of coolers that we’d told him about. He relaxed a bit then and tried to make small talk. As he headed to the door he turned at said, “How much money do you have with you?” We told him.

“Where did you get it?”

“The bank at home.”

“Do you have a receipt?”

“Not with us. We didn’t know that was required.”

“Have a good holiday.” Then he opened the gate for us.

That was a new experience for us.

We drove through the day, stopping only for lunch and gas, until we pulled into a KOA in Indianapolis for the night. We were plugged into electric and sewer, making things a little more comfortable. After dinner and hot showers we crawled under the covers to read, but it wasn’t long before we were asleep.

The next day we took it easier. We didn’t leave the camp ground until 10:00. Although we drove for an hour and a half before stopping for lunch in Casey, Illinois, because of the time zone we’d passed through, it was only 10:30.

Casey is a fun small town to visit because it’s the home of  “The Largest…”. Here are a few pictures that I took on a previous trip.

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We contacted our friends from Mesa Regal, Nancy and Dave, to see if we could hook up for a visit. It happened that they were at their granddaughter’s soccer game, just off I-44 where we would be once we got through St. Louis. We made plans to meet for coffee. But, as usual, we managed to miss a turn while going through St. Louis, Missouri and had to back track and follow detour signs before we got heading in the right direction on I-44. Can you believe that we had two maps, a GPS and two cell phones to guide us and we still missed the turn! Nancy and Dave were waiting for us at the restaurant when we arrived. We spent a nice hour catching up with them. Last year they sold their home in Mesa Regal so we won’t be seeing them here anymore.

It was nearly 5:00 pm when we left them. We drove for another hour before stopping for the night in a Walmart parking lot in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. The store closed at night and the parking lot was taken over for a couple of hours by a group of noisy teenagers in loud cars, at least that’s what I assumed. I couldn’t see them from my window. Jim slept through it all, but not me!

We were up early the next morning, but our departure was delayed while we waited for heavy fog to lift.

That evening we parked ourselves in another parking lot, this time in Oklahoma City beside the River Walk – one of our favourite places. I’ve written about this beautiful spot a few times, and posted several pictures. But this time it was dusk by the time we had enjoyed dinner on one of the restaurant patios and were strolling along the River Walk.

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It looked different in that light. There was nothing else to do but to take a few more pictures.

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As we were getting back to the motorhome the sky started to rumble and lightening began to flash. We watched and took pictures until the rain chased us inside.

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The Sky is darkening

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Lightening Flashes Lighting Up the Sky, behind the street lamp

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A Flash of Lightening

We heard a crowd screaming and rushing back to the Party Bus that we’d seen parked not too far from us. After they left and the storm passed, a motorcycle or two circled around a few times before leaving.

On Monday, we drove and drove: through the rest of Oklahoma and across Texas, where we made a brief stop along I-40 to see the Cadillac Ranch to see the line of old Cadillacs buried nose first into the sand, and painted with spray paint by every tourist who stops by.

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We ended the day in Santa Rosa RV Park in New Mexico. The BBQ Rib special that was offered at the restaurant was very welcome. We were in higher elevations again and the temperatures were dropping.

Anxious to get to the warmth of Mesa, we made no more touristy stops. Well, maybe a little in Winslow, Arizona the next afternoon. We took a few pictures, bought a T-shirt, and slept in the RV in the Tourist Information parking lot.

Winslow guitar

We were up at 5:45 feeling too chilled to even make our own coffee.

“Can we just find a place to get a good hot breakfast before we carry on?” I asked Jim. “Sure.”

But there was nothing open in Winslow at that hour of the day, and Jim had planned to get off the busy highway and take Hwy 87. We thought surely there would be a truck stop somewhere along the route. We’d never travelled that road before; we didn’t know that it went through Coconino Forest, and then Tonto Forest. Before long we saw signs warning of low visibility ahead due to a forest fire.

Fortunately we didn’t see much of the smoke and we soon drove past it.

It was 8:30 before we came to an inhabited community and a hot breakfast and coffee at the Early Bird Café. Don’t know when I’ve enjoyed breakfast out more.

At the little hardware store next door,  I spotted a selection of colourfully painted metal flowers for sale at a price much less than I’d paid for my smaller one in Mesa a couple of years earlier. I couldn’t resist. It now graces our little “garden” in front of the motor home.

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Shortly after noon, on Wednesday, October 23rd, we arrived in Mesa, Arizona. The earliest we’d ever arrived. The sun was hot!

More about our first couple of weeks in the next post. I promise it won’t take so long to get posted.

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?

 

 

Rediscovering Wonderful Flavour


I’m visiting my brother in Brockville this week. Tonight he had a craving for Chinese food. He loves buffets, but we couldn’t find one, so we wandered into The New York Restaurant. The name doesn’t conjure up images of Chinese cuisine, but we knew that we would find just that because we’d both eaten there many times while we were growing up in Brockville. It was our parents’ favourite place for dining out on special occasions, or for ordering Chow Mein Buns to take home for a Saturday night dinner.

The New York Restaurant is as classy as the name implies, with white table cloths and red and white accents. It remains as tidy and clean as I remembered it. Notice the banner that declares that it’s celebrating 89 years of being in business. Obviously it’s changed hands a few times,  being passed onto various Chinese families over the years. We arrived before 5:00 pm and had the dining room to ourselves, but take out orders were being picked up often.

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It took me only five minutes of scanning the menu before I knew just what I wanted. Special #3 consisted of one delicious dish I hadn’t had in a very long time and the other two items were just what would go with it.

When the egg rolls arrived we were surprised to see that they filled our plates. After years of eating Chinese mostly at inexpensive buffets, I’d forgotten how delicious fresh-made tasted!

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Then the main course plates arrived! Everything was hot and fragrant.

My brother doesn’t eat like he used to so he was almost full after the egg roll. He had enough to bring home to last a few meals. Mine was so delicious that I kept eating until I could hold no more. I’ll enjoy the rest for lunch tomorrow.

 

 

Something New is Coming and It Could Change Our World for the Better -The Green New Deal


Have you heard?  No, I’m not campaigning for the Green Party.  They did not initiate this!

A growing number of people are becoming aware of, and fearful, of the rapidly progressing climate crisis. Calls have gone out in the US and Canada for an initiative called the Green New Deal, defined as a comprehensive shift in our economy and government policy to simultaneously address the climate crisis, economic inequality, and the sweeping economic changes that come with automation and Artificial Intelligence. It’s also a call for inclusiveness. It’s been recognized that the only way we’re going to get through this crisis is together, as in non-partisan.

I heard about this a few weeks ago and, being one of those people who understand that there is a real crisis, I signed up to become involved. Last evening Jim and I drove to a small community a half hour south of us, to the first of several Town Hall Meetings being held throughout our area. As I mentioned, it was held in a small rural town, in a small town hall so I didn’t know what to expect. Would very many people show up? We were a little late arriving, but so were others. By the time the meeting got started, there were forty-five people filling all of the available tables and chairs!

There were some politicians there – the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Township; the Green Party Candidate for our federal riding,  Jeff  Wheeldon; and the Liberal Candidate for our riding, Kim Ludd (also our current MP) – but none of them were there to campaign. They all were interested in the same thing, to find ways to solve these crises together.

After a Welcome and introductions from the two women who organized it, we were all given a challenge to write down as many things we’d like to see happen to save our country’s environment and general well-being, and create another list of things that we wouldn’t want to see happen as a result of some of the possible efforts. After discussion among us, grouped by table, one person from each group presented a summary of what we agreed were the most important points. It was amazing to hear all of the suggestions. Many had similar ideas, but there were others who had really done a lot of thinking. In fact there were representatives from a chapter of another movement that I hadn’t heard about before, The Blue Dot Movement, who came up with some excellent and in- depth necessities to fight this crisis.

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Summary from Lists (in no particular order) 

  • Reduce/eventually ban single-use plastics (did you know that most dark coloured plastic bottles, such as those used for laundry detergents and rinses are not often recyclable?)
  • Development of more efficient electric vehicles, and wider provision of charging stations for them
  • Banning all dangerous chemicals used in pesticides and weed killers, such as Round-up
  • Encourage composting by providing municipal pick-up
  • EDUCATE about the need for changes and how to make them, through schools, adult workshops, etc.
  • Work toward the end of fossil fuel use, and replace with sustainable energy sources
  • Retraining for those workers whose jobs would be eliminated
  • Reforestation – bring back annual tree-planting days in schools
  • Create more (electric) public transportation
  • Fight for the Carbon Pricing and Tap and Trade legislation to remain in place
  • Fight for clean-energy strategies
  • Stop the continued decline of our natural plant species
  • Create community gardens, and buy locally

On the other list it was agreed that any of these changes needs to be accomplished without causing personal hardships to the public because of job layoffs or unaffordability.

Two Best Quotes of the Night 

  • There is no limit to what we can accomplish (together) if we don’t care about being the “winner”
  • You can’t have a good economy without a good environment

What I Came Away With 

  • It’s time that we started focusing on the first of the Three R’s, REDUCE. Recycling hasn’t been enough for a very long time, but it was the easiest.
  • There are plenty of like-minded people out there with many options for making reducing less stressful
  • We need to talk about the issue; we need to listen to others; we absolutely need to LEARN.
  • If we work together to accomplish these goals, we will All be WINNERS!

Let’s get involved to save our planet for our children and grandchildren! Let me know what you think is important and how you plan to make changes.