Sites of El Paso and the End of the Journey


We’ve been in Mesa Regal for two weeks now, and I’m finally getting this post done. Because of competition for internet connection, I decided the only time I was going to be able to get the photos added was to work during the night. So here I am.

We finally got our windshield replaced on Monday, November 6th and were on the road by early afternoon. Once we got back into New Mexico, Jim searched out a State Trooper, hoping to file an Accident Report, but he told us it was too late. However, after seeing how upset Jim was, he offered to give our “friend” Mark a call and try to mediate a settlement. It turned out that Quality Towing was on the rotation in that part of New Mexico, so Mark was a little worried when he got the call. However, he first said he didn’t remember the accident, then had a great excuse as to why he wasn’t paying – “They wanted me to pay for their accommodations, and food as well as the windshield!” We sat with our mouths hanging open. Sure, he should by rights pay for the extra days at the RV Park, but we’d never mentioned that. The insurance company just might, though. Anyway, he finally agreed to have Jim call him to work out a settlement. Before we stopped for the day, Mark called us and asked Jim for a mailing address. He said he’d have a cheque for the window in the mail the next day. As of the date of this posting, the cheque still has not arrived. Fortunately the insurance company paid for all but our deductible, but we had hoped to get that back and pay the insurance company back. Enough of that saga.

While we were in El Paso, Shawn introduced us to many things that we would never have seen if we hadn’t been stranded in the city. As I mentioned before, he checked on us every day of our twelve day stay, and when he learned that we were not yet leaving, he took us out. One day was spent searching for a windshield wiper without success, followed by lunch and grocery shopping; another was spent trying to find someone to weld a very small spot on our old wiper after Jim had managed to fix it to work. Shawn saved the day when he thought of a friend who works for Job Corps. We took it there and had the job done by a student in no time flat!

On other days we saw the highlights of El Paso:

We drove up the mountain to view the city of 700,000

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We visited the Chamizal National Monument

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Cool Murals on the Outside Walls

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Jim and Shawn

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Interesting that the US and Mexican Gov’ts could come to an agreement

US-Mexico Border

The sculpture in the distance marks the US-Mexico border

We peeked through the gates of Southwest University Park, a fairly new Baseball Field that is seldom used, Shawn told us.

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We toured some of the History Museum

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A moving history lesson on the wall, controlled by the observer

History Museum Digital Wall

We had our picture digitally taken and emailed to our friend in Cincinnati

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A very Antique Fire Engine

We strolled through Concordia Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in El Paso. It was the Week of the Dead, following Halloween, a time when people visit and decorate the graves of their loved ones, and there are often parades through the cemeteries, but this one had few visitors. Except for the Monument to the Buffalo Soldiers, it looked to be abandoned.

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Donators to the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial

Donators to the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial

We spent a good portion of another day enjoying the warm sun while walking through the very modern campus of the University of Texas El Paso (UTEL).

University of Texas El Paso Campus

Beautiful Buildings

Lovely Parks

Lovely Parks

University of Texas El Paso Campus, plants

Interesting Plants. Who knows what this is, at the base of a palm tree?

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By Sunday, Shawn’s wife was home and she and her mother met us downtown in the afternoon at the Art Museum where we found many interesting works of art, especially the Day of the Dead collages created by students from many of the local schools, mostly commemorating deceased music artists.

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We stopped into the Ysleta Mission, located in the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. It is recognized as the oldest continuously operated parish in the State of Texas.

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On the way back to our “home”, at Jim’s suggestion, we stopped into the largest Harley Davidson Store in the country. I think we got Shawn dreaming of riding down the highway with the wind in his hair.

Again we expressed thanks to Shawn. We really did enjoy seeing the city through his eyes, and he said he enjoyed learning a thing or two about Canada. It worked out well. But by Monday we were ready to be on the road again.

Year Five of Our Trips to Arizona – Continuing the Journey Part 2


After our stroll around the Camp Washington property, and chatting with our RV neighbours, Lisa and Vicky, and the maintenance guy, it was 10:30 before we left to go back to the Caverns. We spent a couple of hours taking our time and taking pictures on the 1¼ mile walk down to the bottom, doing the self-guided tour. Trying to capture the beauty was difficult without more sophisticated equipment, but we did our best. It’s amazing!

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By the time we reached the bottom it was well past lunch time and we’d worked up good appetites, so we took advantage of the sandwiches and drinks that could be purchased in the only area where food was permitted. We wanted to continue touring the 8.2 acre “big room” but decided, since it would take another hour and a half to explore its perimeter, we would have to return another time. We were anxious to get to El Paso so we could touch base with the glass company and the tow truck driver and get the windshield repaired.

When we got back down to the highway and saw a sign telling us that there were no services for the next 138 miles, Jim pulled into the only gas station around to top up our tank. That shouldn’t have taken long, but a while earlier there had been a gas spill there and the pumps had been turned off. We had to wait until the manager returned to reset them!

At last we were headed back south at 2:30 pm. The scenery was boring with nothing but  dry, empty fields for miles and miles. The sun shone bright and hot through the front windows.

Desolate road

Desolate road

The battery on our Bluetooth speaker had died  so we could listen to no music – no radio stations, no cell service, just desolation. By the time we arrived at Mission RV Park in El Paso at 5:00 local time, we were both out of sorts. The sun reflecting on the windshield cracks (which had spread further) made it difficult for Jim to see where he was going to find our spot. I had a major tension headache. When Jim checked in he asked how far it was to the nearest restaurant. Five miles! Across the highways! But they did have take-out menus for a Chinese Restaurant and a Pizza House. After a heated discussion we settled on an order from the Chinese Restaurant. Jim tried to order from his phone; it wouldn’t work. Before that he’d tried to put the slide out; it didn’t work. Hence the “heated discussion” over what to eat for dinner! I called in the order. The menu was very confusing and we ended up with enough food to last us for three meals, which was a good thing, since we were miles away from a grocery store and had no idea how long we’d be here.

The next day Jim called the glass place (Safelite), only to be told that none of their suppliers had our windshield and there was nothing they could do for us. We wondered if that meant the motor home would be written off because the windshield couldn’t be replaced! One reason we chose this RV Park is because it has an RV Repair Shop and the windshield wiper also needed to be replaced. Jim went in to see them but they didn’t have a wiper for us and made no offer to try to track one down. They did, however, have the name of another glass place that might help us. Jim made the call and got good/bad news; they could get it in, but it would take 5 to 7 days! He called the glass place back home that had previously replaced the passenger side glass. They could have one shipped to us in about the same length of time. Jim called Mark Moisa at Quality Towing in Carlsbad to tell him what was happening, since we had not heard anything from him. He didn’t answer his phone, but returned the call right away. He asked Jim to send him the information for the local glass installer that we had, saying he’d call him. Then we waited for his approval to order the glass, because he was going to pay for it. And we waited. Jim called again in the afternoon and was told by whoever answered the phone that Mark was in a meeting and would call back in about an hour. He didn’t. Jim called the glass fellow and learned that Mark had called him to get the quote, saying he’d call him back. He didn’t. Later that evening, Jim blocked his cell phone number and called Mark again. When he answered and found out who it was he gave an incredulous story about being at an accident scene that involved his driver being hit and there were police cars, and ambulances and he had been talking to the police for three hours and had to go talk to them again, but he would take care of us as he’d promised. He’d call back “in a few minutes.” That was the last we heard from him.

Jim tried once more on Friday, but was again told that he was in a meeting. We gave up and called our insurance company with the story. An adjuster called back for more details. Jim gave him a quote from the local glass company, and the one in Canada, but still the adjuster said he’d have to send out an appraiser, and then we’d need to get more quotes. He also wanted quotes for the other damage (windshield wiper, and few dings/cracks in the fiberglass). He said it would be two weeks before the windshield would be fixed or replaced! Jim told him that was unacceptable and reminded him of our circumstances and the extra expense of continuing to stay in this park. He relented, called the local glass company for the quote and then gave permission to order the windshield.  We have to pay the $300 deductible. The insurance company will go after Quality Towing for reimbursement. I hope they have better luck than we did.

Oh, Jim asked the adjuster if the motor home would have been written off had we not been able to find a replacement windshield. His response, “No we’d have a new one manufactured, but it could take up to six months.” Thank goodness we found one and it is now on its way to us! We are still here, waiting.

There have been a few positives since then. Jim figured out what was wrong with his phone, and was able to fix the slide out problem. I did some baking and made a pot of chili. I got caught up on my blog posting and laundry.

We have made a few friends that have made the waiting easier. On Wednesday night we shared drinks and conversation with a couple from New Zealand who were parked next door to us. Sadly, they left the next morning. Friday afternoon another couple came in on the other side of us. They were here for the weekend to watch their son play hockey. They took us with them to the Friday night game (about which I’ve already posted). We stayed mostly in the park on Saturday, venturing only a couple of miles on foot up to the highway interchange where we found a full service center that carried some groceries and a Subway, if we got really in need of food. We bought some bananas and a bottle of wine to carry back. We played some pickleball on the vacant tennis court.

Thanks to Nawton and Peggie, Carol and John for taking our minds off our troubles for a bit.

A friend of Jim who lives in Connecticut happens to have a friend, Shawn, in El Paso. He suggested Jim give him a call. On Sunday Shawn took us out for a tour of the city, lunch, and then to stock up on groceries. He’s recently retired and his wife is away for the week so he was happy to have company and something to do. Yesterday he took us sightseeing again, and drove us around in search of a wiper, to no avail. Today he’d planned to take us downtown to some of the museums, but when Jim showed him how he thought he could repair the wiper if he could find someone to do a tiny bit of welding for him, Shawn thought of places he could take us. Each place was unable to help. We even went to the Ford Dealership to inquire about ordering a new wiper. They had nothing in their catalogue. Then Shawn came up with the idea to check with a former colleague of his who now works for a job training center. What a good call! His friend got one of the students to do the welding.

An enormous thank you goes out to Shawn, who has kept us from going insane. Maybe tomorrow we’ll finally get to tour downtown. 🙂

Now we have everything taken care of except the windshield. We’re hoping it will be done by the end of the week and then we’ll be on a direct route to Mesa, Arizona.

Life is much better now, thanks to these generous people.

Year Five of Our Trips to Arizona – Continuing the Journey


We left Stanton, Missouri on Sunday morning and headed toward Springfield, hoping to have lunch at Lambert’s Café again. Unfortunately it was just too busy. We didn’t feel we wanted to wait the hour and a half to get a seat, so we found a little Mexican Café in the mall across the street, and were soon on our way again. We pushed on to Edmond, Oklahoma before stopping for dinner and the night at the local Cracker Barrel Restaurant. That was not a good place to spend the night. It was located at the intersection of two highways and there were two truck stops on the corners. The noise continued until well into the night, so we didn’t get much sleep.

We were on the road by 9:15 the next morning and crossed into Texas before noon. Since we were not far away, we made a detour into McLean again. This time the restaurant and the museum were open. We spent a couple of hours eating and looking around, before journeying on through to Amarillo arriving in late afternoon.

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Just a few of the many, many interesting historical items in the Museum

As we turned south onto I-27  Jim saw the sign for Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Remembering that our friend Alice had suggested we should go see it, we followed the directions. We were glad of it. It’s beautiful! We drove around the canyon before the sun was gone, and took lots of pictures. We camped there for the night. All was dark and quiet, a big difference from our last night stop.

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The next morning we continued on to New Mexico. Our plan was to go to the Carlsbad Caverns. When we stopped for gas at Tulia, Texas, we watched this crop duster at work.

We arrived in Carlsbad at 2:30 in the afternoon and stopped into the Chamber of Commerce to get information about the Caverns and camping. We were too late to catch the last tour of that day, but we learned that there was a big bat exodus from the caves in the early evening. Donna was very helpful in finding us a place to park for the night as there was nothing at the Caverns. After stopping for some groceries on the way out of town, we drove south toward the Caverns.

That is when our plans took an unwanted turn! The highway wasn’t very busy. We were cruising along in the right hand lane and coming up to a flatbed tow truck that was riding in the left hand land. It had two pickup trucks on it and Jim hesitated to hurry past it because the load looked possibly precarious. I was just going to comment on it when suddenly the cap came up off the first pickup. We thought it would just go over the other truck and land in its bed, but instead the wind turned it into a flying missile heading directly for us! Jim braked as hard as he safely could and swerved slightly to the right. Visions of the thing crashing through the windshield and knocking Jim out flashed through my mind. With a very loud thump it hit the windshield right in front of his face, but fortunately it didn’t break through! The tow truck seemed to keep on going until Jim blasted the horn several times. Our windshield was badly cracked, but the worst of it was below eye level, so Jim could still see. Eventually the truck pulled over to the right shoulder ahead of us and a white company pick up pulled in behind it. We were both in shock! The tow truck driver/owner walked back to see if there was any damage. He was looking at the body of the RV. Jim pointed out the windshield. He introduced himself, apologized many times, got a clipboard from his truck, and began writing down the details of the damage. The windshield wiper was broken off and there were a few dings on the fiberglass. At first I thought he said that the cap hadn’t been strapped down, but later he said that it had but the strap had broken. He said that he saw it go flying. He immediately took responsibility, calling a mobile auto glass repair company and asking them if they could get a new windshield for us. He told them that he wanted to pay for it right away, but they said they would let him know if they had one first. He told us we should drive to the nearest big city, El Paso Texas where we should be able to get the wiper replaced, and to let him know where we were when we arrived so that the glass company could find us. He gave us his business card. I asked about compensation for an extended stay and, although he didn’t think that would be necessary, he agreed to pay for one night. We had no cell service on that desolate highway, but we felt confident that he was going to make sure we were taken care of.

cracked windshield

Our cracked windshield

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The cap being put into truck

We watched the cap being loaded into his pickup truck and strapped down (the tow truck had already been taken away by the other driver), before we pulled back onto the road and made our way to Carlsbad Caverns. There was nothing more we could do.

The bat flight was to begin at 5:45. We arrived in the parking lot, after a seven mile up-hill climb, at 5:00 and had a quick snack before finding our way to the amphitheater situated at the entrance to the bat cave. A Park Ranger talked to us about the thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats that would fly en-mass from the cave for a night of feasting on insects. He told us that there would be no more than two chances to witness this flight before the bats would leave to migrant south.  In fact, there was no absolute certainty that they would even appear that night, but shortly after six the exodus began. Everyone, even the small children, sat in perfect silence, watching with mouths agape, as the bats flew in funnel –like formation before moving off in clusters in search of their prey. By seven o’clock they were still emerging, but the sun had gone down and we were cold and tired and still had to find our campsite further down the highway so we left. Our hearts were in our mouths when we noticed that we’d left the motor home lights on! Jim was amazed and relieved when the motor turned over with the first turn of the key.

Bat Flight

We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the actual flight. This is a picture of a picture.

Us in front of bat cave

The accommodations that Donna had booked for us were not at an RV Park, but one of three sites at the Camp Washington Conference Centre. The two nearby RV Parks were both completely full. We knew from the map the general area of the Camp and we put the address into the GPS. Finding the exit off the highway was easy, but we were taken on a long winding dirt road back into the woods, toward a mountain, and then a sharp turn. We were told that it was a beautiful spot, but it was so dark, we had no way of knowing. Finally we came upon a large building with a lighted parking lot – the office. We were told that it would be closed, but someone would collect our money in the morning. The trouble is, we could see no sign of any other RVs. There was supposed to be one other. We looked around with a flashlight, and started down another road that seemed to lead to other buildings, but it was narrow and the willow trees hung too low for us to get under them, so we backed up and turned around. Jim found a notice on the building that said the RV sites were on the north side of the property, which would be somewhere behind the building, but we saw that there was a lake there! We drove back the way we’d come until we found another dirt road to the right. It looked doubtful to me, but Jim pushed on. The road got more and more narrow. We came to an old Fire Station. Then we saw an arch with the sign Camp Washington. We eased our way through and as we turned around a clump of trees we saw the other motorhome and a few other buildings. After we pulled in, our neighbour came out to greet us and assured us that it was a really beautiful spot in the day light. At least it was quiet, if cold. We were so happy to crawl under the covers for a good rest.

I was up at the break of dawn hoping to catch some good photos in the sunrise. Here are some of the things we saw before and after breakfast.

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I was wishing we could stay another night, but we wanted to see the Caverns and then had to be on our way to El Paso. On the way out we discovered that at the fork in the road coming in, we should have taken the one to the right, not the left.

Year Five of Our Trips to Arizona


Many of you know from following me on Face Book that we are now in El Paso, Texas, stranded until we can get a windshield replaced. I won’t go into further details now, because I’d rather share some of the lovely trip we’ve had along the way before this problem suddenly hit us. Before now I’ve not had adequate internet connections to post anything.

 

After his carpal tunnel surgery, Jim was forced to wait until October 17th before he had his second appointment with his surgeon and was given the green light for us to leave for Arizona. By then we had most of what we needed already loaded into the motorhome, and we’d planned to finish up some things in Peterborough while we were there, in preparation for leaving the next morning. Well, as usual, the best laid plans don’t always work out. The US money that I ordered wouldn’t be into my bank until the next day, and our barber wasn’t working that day. We got the rest done and figured we’d just stop back in on our way through Peterborough in the morning.

We were up very early to load the remaining items, mostly the food and the electronics. It didn’t seem like much, but it was 10:30 by the time we got away. When we were finished making our stops in Peterborough it was lunch time. We picked up wraps at Tim Horton’s and then finally got on the road. We’d planned to go only as far as Jim’s cousin’s place which we thought was near the Windsor/Detroit border. They were expecting us for dinner. It was just a tad further than we thought, but we arrived by 6:00 pm, exhausted. After a delicious meal of organic beef and fresh vegetables from their own farm, a couple of their friends joined us for some old fashioned hymn singing. One son played his guitar and Jim played his ukulele. It was a lovely evening.

The problem with getting together with long-lost relatives is that there is so much catching up to do and it’s hard to stop talking! Once again, we didn’t get on the road until after one in the afternoon. Therefore, we didn’t get too far that day either. We did have one new little adventure though. Dave had suggested we take a the ferry across the river from Sombra, Ontario to Marine City, Michigan, instead of our usual trip over the bridge into Detroit. It was small, and we had our doubts that there would be room for us, but they squeezed us on! It was a short and easy crossing into the US.

Wondering if they will take us

Wondering if they will take us

We squeezed on!

We squeezed on!

Entering the US

Entering the US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US Customs, Marine City

US Customs, Marine City

From Marine City we just pushed onward. Traffic going through Detroit was very slow, taking us over an hour to get through the city. Shortly after 6:00 we crossed the state border into Ohio and forty-five minutes later we called it a night in the Walmart parking lot in Napoleon, about two hours from the border into Indiana. The sunset was beautiful.

Sunset in Ohio

On day three we were up early and barreled right through Indiana and Illinois, stopping only for gas and meals. As usual, we got a little lost going through St.

Louis Missouri. We stopped at the KOA RV park in Stanton Missouri for a couple of nights so we could see the Meramec Caverns that we’d missed due to timing the first couple of times we were there. It had been raining off and on all day and was still drizzling when we arrived.

The next morning we left for the Caverns. This year we don’t have our trailer and motorcycle with us, so we have no transportation other than the RV. Jim thought we would unhook it and drive down to the Caverns, but it was only three miles. I thought we could walk as it was a nice day. After the first mile of winding, hilly road with little to no shoulders, we stopped at a yard sale to buy a backpack for $1.00 because the temperature had climbed and we found our hands were too full with cameras and water bottles, and the sweaters and jackets that we no longer needed. When we saw the sign for a very steep grade, we knew we might be in trouble when it was time to climb back up. The going down was difficult enough. We think that the three miles was as the crow flies, not as the road turns!

When we finally made it to the Meramec Caverns Centre, we had to nourish ourselves with pumpkin pie and coffee at the cafeteria before embarking on the eighty minute Cavern Tour.

At the entrance to the Caverns is a large room that was set up with a stage and chairs, ready for the 150th Annual Gospel Sing that would happen later in the day.

Meramec CavernsOutside Meramec Caverns

Outside Meramec Caverns

 

It wasn’t until we were about half way through the tour that we began to see the beautiful “decorations” inside the caverns, but it was a worthwhile, if pricey excursion.

Stalactites and Stalagmites

Stalactites and Stalagmites

Rippling Texture

Rippling Texture

Water Reflections

Water Reflections

Stalactites and Stalagmites

Stalactites and Stalagmites

Light Show Finale

Light Show Finale

Light Show Finale

Light Show Finale

Light Show Finale

Light Show Finale

When we returned to the surface we considered buying tickets for the Gospel Sing, but I was just too hungry. We hit the cafeteria once again for lunch. Once back outside we watched people taking the Zip-line over the parking lot and river. If we hadn’t been so tired, and hadn’t seen most of the participants struggle to make it back to the stand on their return trip, we might have tried it ourselves. Of course the cost of $50 each was a little prohibitive too.

Taking off

Taking off

And away!

And away!

Struggling against the wind

Struggling against the wind

We could postpone our trek back up the hill no longer, and we were right. We were in trouble. Half way up we started putting out our thumbs. The Gospel Sing had just ended and there was plenty of traffic, but the first half dozen cars passed us by. Finally, a nice senior couple stopped and cautiously allowed us into their back seat. I’m sorry that I didn’t get their names, but we had a nice chat and we were ever so grateful. We had walked over seven miles at that point, once again reminded that we are not as young as we sometimes think we are. We were in bed very early that night.

Adventures in British Columbia, Part Five – Heading Home


On Monday, August 29th Jim, Pauline and I climbed into their SUV and began the execution of the plan Jim and I had put together several days before. He had a meeting in Comox so he offered to take me with them in the morning so I could catch the Island Link shuttle from there to take me to the Nanaimo Ferry Terminal. We had to leave early to catch the first ferry off Hornby Island. We were already too late.

We caught the second one, which took us to Denman Island. On the other side of Denman we boarded another ferry to Vancouver Island and then drove down the coast toward Comox, stopping for brunch at a beautiful resort dining room somewhere between Courtenay and Comox.

When we got to Comox we made sure we knew where the bus stop was for the shuttle. My phone data was all used up so I couldn’t check email or check in for my next day’s flight until I was somewhere that I could get WiFi, but I didn’t feel any urgency. Jim’s meeting was at 1:00 pm; my bus left at 12:50 pm. After running some errands and taking a walk along the boardwalk, they dropped me off at about 12:35.

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Plane coming into small Comox Airfield

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Boats along the bay at Comox

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Pauline with me

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Pauline and Jim

Perhaps I should have gone into the MacDonald’s to use their WiFi, but there wasn’t that much time, so I didn’t. Soon a young woman named Rose, who was headed back to University in Victoria joined me. We waited, and waited. By 1:10 we began to get concerned. I went into the service station to see if they knew anything about it. They didn’t. Rose looked up the Island Link website to get a phone number so we could call, but there was only an email address. What good would that do at this time? I had a reserved seat; Rose did not. At 1:20 I texted Jim to ask him to check with me before they left for home. At about 1:30 an Island Link bus drove in and dropped off some passengers.  The driver told us that our bus would be arriving shortly. I told him that it was supposed to be there 45 minutes ago. He knew nothing about it. He seemed to be done for the day and left.

To make a long story shorter, I’ll just say that Rose called her Aunt to pick her up. She’d try again the next day. Jim and Pauline came to pick me up and had to drive me all the way to Nanaimo, an hour and a half drive away. It was too late for me to catch the 3:10 ferry that I’d planned on, so the rest of the well laid plans also went down the drain. Pauline and Jim’s grandson Matt was going to meet me at the ferry at Horseshoe Bay and I was going to have him drop me off at the Sea Bus Terminal. From there I’d cross the bay and catch the Sky Train to Burnaby, where Ann would meet me. It was a good plan. Instead, we cancelled Matt and I had to ask Ann to drive all the way to Horseshoe Bay after work to pick me up.

At least this time I didn’t get lost at the Ferry Terminal and I had time to connect to the internet to do my flight check in while I waited. Once aboard, I found an empty row of seats, and slid over to the window. I was too stressed and tired to do anything but watch the waves roll by for a while.

An older woman with a thick accent, perhaps German, dragged her large suitcase into the row in front of me before she stood looking around and mumbling something to me, or herself. She said something about having to call her daughter. She caught a woman wearing the uniform of an employee and asked her some questions. When she was told where she had to go when it was time to get off the ship, and assured that someone would come to help her, she sat down and slept or read for a while. I was deep into my book when I caught movement to my left. I looked up to see her pushing her suitcase toward me.

“I have to find the Purser,” she said. “I need to call my daughter to tell her where I am. Can you watch my suitcase for me until I get back?”

“Of course,” I smiled.

She trotted off, seeming uncertain as to where she was going. I wondered if she’d find her way back on time. As I continued to read, I kept an eye on my watch. Time passed; my anxiety built. I had no idea what her name was or how to find her or what to do with her bag if it was time for me to leave and she hadn’t returned! Eventually the employee she’d spoken to before came looking for her, I thought. But she was looking for her suitcase. She had the woman safely in her office. Thank goodness!

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Ann arrived at Horseshoe Bay at just the time my ferry was docking at 6:30 pm. We’d both been up since 6:00 that morning and were anxious to get home, but traffic was backed up for the first part of the drive. Frank was waiting for us when we arrived at 7:45 and we all walked down the street to the local pub for dinner before Ann and I had to get organized for the next day (her for work; me for my flight) and crawl into bed.

At 6:30 the next morning Ann dropped me at the airport on her way to work. I had time for a good breakfast at The White Spot, which was just outside the Security lines. My first flight was to Calgary and took only 45 minutes. Before it left I got online to check my email. There was a message that had been sent an hour after we left Hornby Island the day before, from Island Link informing me that because of mechanical difficulties, the 12:50 shuttle bus from Comox had been cancelled and I should take either the 12:20 or the 3:20! I wrote back to say that I hadn’t received their email or text on time, and asked for a refund for my ticket. So far I’ve not heard from them again.

I had only a short wait to catch my final flight to Toronto, and it went smoothly, well except for the fact that I may have caught the exposed toe of a woman who decided to step into the aisle just as I lowered my heavy suitcase down from the overhead bin! Sorry!

It had been a great adventure and I was very happy to have seen so much of my family, but I was sure glad to see Jim waiting for me at the airport. As I opened my eyes the next morning, I wasn’t sure where I was! It’s good to be home…at least until our next adventure begins. 🙂

 

Adventures in British Columbia, Part Four – Hornby Island


On Tuesday, September 22nd my son-in-law Frank dropped me off at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal where I bought my ticket to Hornby Island at the low price of $17.00. I was there in plenty of time, but apparently my brain hadn’t quite woken up yet. I heard the ticket agent tell me to take the stairs up and then follow the red line to Waiting Area A, but the red line part didn’t register. I looked for signs and when I saw a sign that read “Waiting Area A” with an arrow that appeared to be pointing to my right, I followed it through a door and across an outside passenger bridge. That didn’t seem right. I eventually got turned back around and this time followed the red line! The room slowly filled to capacity before we were called to board. Because the vehicle passengers hadn’t yet made it to the main deck, there were no lines at the cafeterias. I took advantage and bought myself a packaged sandwich and a coffee that would be my breakfast and lunch, supplemented with the cheese sticks and granola bars that I had in my bag. Those two items cost me almost as much as the ferry ticket, at $11.25! Be forewarned, if you plan to travel on the BC Ferry System, and you’re on a budget, pack some food if at all possible.

The hour and a half trip went quite quickly. I slept for a while; I read my book, and I people watched, one of my favourite pastimes. I chatted with the woman sitting next to me who was travelling with her daughter and two granddaughters.  She’d traveled by foot before and told me where to find the Island Link shuttle bus that I needed to catch when I got off the ship. I found it without any problem and an hour later I was at Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island, where my sister Pauline and her husband Jim were waiting to drive me, via two more much smaller ferries, to Hornby Island. I breathed a sigh of relief. I could relax for a week.

On the Hornby Island Ferry

On the Hornby Island Ferry

Every time I visit Hornby I am charmed by the island’s uniqueness. This small island has lots to offer to anyone seeking a relaxed vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a place where there are no trains to catch, or crowds to push through. There are no big department stores or grand hotels and the only “traffic jam” you’ll encounter is while you’re waiting in line to catch the ferry when, reluctantly, you need to leave.

Driving up from the ferry you will come to the hub of the island where all roads seem to meet.  Here you will find a variety of little shops, including a bicycle rental shop, a couple of clothing stores displaying colourful summer wear and a few little eateries where you can experience some great and maybe unusual lunch items.  The main destination in the hub is the Co-op, where you will find all the staples you need, such as groceries (many organic), pharmacy items, dishes, clothing and rubber boots.  You will also find the post office nestled in one corner and an ATM somewhere in the middle.  The only island gas station is outside the door.

There are many residences on the island, but they are usually partially hidden from the road by the natural vegetation and are quite unobtrusive.  The pace is slow and relaxed.  The only “industries” are cottage industries – a variety of potters and weavers, and small farms.

Some of the highlights of this trip were:

Outdoor Cooking

Campfire Dinner

 

Farm Animals at Outer Island Guest Farm

Farm Animals at Outer Island Guest Farm

Beautiful Sunsets

Beautiful Sunsets

 

Walks on the Beaches

One of the many sandy beaches, at low tide

One of the many sandy beaches, at low tide

The rocky beach of Sand Piper

The rocky beach of Sand Piper

Rocky Sand Piper Beach

 

Good Food

Clam Chowder by Chef Ben. Delicious with corn bread!

Clam Chowder by Chef Ben. Delicious with corn bread!

Blackberries

Freshly picked Blackberries

Hornby Island Market

Hornby Island Market

Hornby Island Market

Walking the Trails

A hidden treasure along one trail

A hidden treasure along one trail

Helliwell Trail

Helliwell Trail

We also enjoyed a fantastic music concert by renowned Marc Atkinson – acoustic lead guitar, Brett Martens – acoustic rhythm guitar and Scott White – stand up bass, at the Community Centre one evening, and a delicious meal at the Sea Breeze Lodge dining room another night.

Before I knew it, it was time to pack for home.

Adventures in British Columbia, Part Two – Kaslo


My first morning in Kaslo began on a sour note, honestly! After petting the family cat, who had been out all night, I noticed a really foul smell in the room and soon discovered it was coming from her. We all came to the conclusion that she must have been lightly sprayed by a skunk. Kendrick (son-in-law) and Sarah took turns washing her with a mixture that Sarah had found recommended on the internet. Poor Tensen was very frightened by it all. It helped some and gave her coat a beautiful shine, but for me she was not so lovable the rest of the week because the odour returned whenever she was rubbed on the back of her head. She’s a lovely cat and I felt badly.

The smoke from the forest fires had lifted from this valley town, but the normally awesome view of the mountains was still obscured.

View from Beach 2008

View from Beach 2008

View from same beach, summer 2017

View from same beach, summer 2017

After a hardy breakfast of porridge and fruit, Sarah and the children, Callum and Skylet, and I headed for the River Trail, always a beautiful hike that begins in upper Kaslo and ends close to downtown in lower Kaslo.

One bridge across the river

River walk, Kaslo

River walk, Kaslo

Callum found a snake

Callum found a snake

Newest Bridge

By the time we got to the end, the temperature had risen and we were shedding our sweaters and heading to the beach where we ate a picnic lunch that Sarah had packed. Kendrick joined us later and they all went for a swim. The stony beach doesn’t appeal to me and my sensitive feet, but I was quite content to sit on a grassy ledge under a tree and observe.

Kaslo Beach

The next day was more laid-back. The smoke seemed a little heavier and the air hotter, making up-hill walking difficult. I met Kendrick’s mom for lunch and then she showed me her new home. We relaxed in the breeze on her porch until Sarah drove down to get me and we all went to the beach again. Air conditioning isn’t something that most people or businesses have in Kaslo, so the beach is very popular.

Sarah made a delicious dinner of pizzas on rice tacos before we crowded around the iMac monitor (they don’t have a TV) and ate popcorn while watching the animated movie, Despicable Me.

There was constant news of more forest fires not too far away, which kept everyone on alert. Kendrick is a volunteer fire fighter and was on call to help with a possible evacuation all day Sunday. But it rained most of the day and into the night, beating back some of the infernos. We all did a little dance of thanks.

Sarah and I spent Saturday and Sunday managing her pottery stall at St. Andrew’s Church hall during the Arts and Culture Tour.

Kaslo Arts and Culture Show

Kaslo Arts and Culture Show

Sarah's latest pottery

Sarah’s latest pottery

Potter at Work

Potter at Work

On Monday Sarah and I struck out with the kids to go fishing at two small lakes a half hour drive up Hwy 31from Kaslo. Callum is an avid fisher. Our first stop was – Fish Lake! However, there was no fishing there that day. Instead we participated in the “Three-year Study of Western Toads to Find Ways to Mitigate Highway Mortality” by scooping up many of the tiny toads and putting them into buckets to carry them across the highway safely. The previous day rains had brought them out in droves.

Unlike most amphibians Western Toads are mostly terrestrial, spending 95% of their life in terrestrial habitats, using aquatic environments only to breed.

A number of nature societies are working together to find a more permanent solution to prevent the thousands of toads from being crushed on the highway, such as installing barrier fencing to guide them through toad-friendly culverts.

Long rescue trough leading to culvert under highway

Tiny Toads on plastic barrier

Toad Rescue

Toad trough going under the Highway

Rescuing escaped toads to walk across Highway in a bucket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did eventually get further up the road to Bear Lake, but no fish were to be found. A cold wind chased us back to the car and home.

Most of Tuesday was spent in Nelson where Callum had a dentist appointment and Skylet had to pick up her new glasses in the morning. We had a great lunch and then Kendrick took the kids to the Community Centre indoor pool for a few hours. Sarah and I got to hang out, picking up some groceries and exploring some of the shops. Because the weather had turned much cooler, I bought a couple pairs of leggings at a second hand store, something that would pack easily into my already bulging carry-on. Of course the next day the heat was back and I never wore them once!

On Wednesday I helped Sarah do some cleaning up in her garden in the morning. In the afternoon we all went to the beach at Fletcher Falls to escape the heat. The breeze was cool and refreshing. Kendrick and Callum did some fishing; Skylet did some swimming; Sarah and I explored the beach for interesting stones.

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fishing on the beach at Fletcher Falls

Fishing on the beach at Fletcher Falls

Thursday, my last day, Sarah took me and the kids across the ferry at Belfour to visit some of the many Artisan Shops in Crawford Bay.

Riding the Ferry from Balfour

Riding the Ferry from Balfour

Broom Maker Shop

Broom Maker Shop

Finished Brooms

Finished Brooms

Broom Maker at Work

Broom Maker at Work

Trimming

A Harry Potter Broom

A Harry Potter Broom

Sculptures outside the Weaving Shop

Sculptures outside the Weaving Shop

A couple more bear sculptures inside the Weaving Shop

A couple more bear sculptures inside the Weaving Shop

The Kootenay Forge

The Kootenay Forge

Inside the Forge

Inside the Forge

Early Friday morning Sarah and Skylet saw me off in Nelson where I caught my bus for the five hour trip back to Kelowna, where Judy would meet me once again.

It was a fun week with lots of interesting things to see and do, but the best part was just having so much quality time to spend with Sarah, something we haven’t had in a long time.