Have Bike will Travel!


Just when I was sinking into the depths of the doldrums, the second of the two e-bikes, mine, that we’d ordered in July,  finally arrived on Wednesday!

Today, we got together with two other couples and went on a beautiful 30 km ride.

We met in East City, an area of Peterborough, and got onto the Rotary Green Trail and headed north toward Lakefield. The sky was still cloudy and the wind was a little chilly. I was wishing that I’d put a hoodie on beneath my jacket, but before long the sun broke through and the rest of the day was filled with blue sky and sunshine.

This trail is beautiful, especially this time of year with the colours of the trees starting to turn. The bright yellows of the golden rod and the red blossoms of the sumac shone vibrant in the sun.

Once out of the city, it meandered through arches of trees and then suddenly took us beside the Old River Road to show us the glorious sparkle of the Otonabee River.

We rode along the road, past the campus of Trent University, before picking up the trail again. We made a stop at the wooden bridge that spans a little pond where Canada Geese swam, taking some pictures, before winding our way through the streets of Lakefield until we reached our destination – Shakers Diner.

We were more than ready for the big mugs of coffee and platters of home cooked breakfasts or sandwiches with fries.

I knew I was out of shape because my legs felt like rubber. If anyone thinks that you don’t pedal with an e-bike, give one a try! After lunch I was ready for a nap, but once we got going again my energy returned.

On our way back, Jim led us on a different path, through the University Campus. and gave the others some bits of history about the land where it had been built. He grew up in the area called Nassau.

We crossed back over the trestle bridge that spans the Canal and were soon back at our cars, tired but happy.

I expect to sleep well tonight! I’m looking forward to getting some more rides in before the winter weather hits.

Thanks to Julie and Jim for contributing some of the photos.

My First Job – at F.W. Woolworths


My friend Carol has just recently joined Facebook and has been discovering all kinds of things about people and places we knew when we both grew up in Brockville. She introduced me to the sites, and they have brought a lot of memories and filled in some information that I’d forgotten.

When Carol posted the question, “Who worked at Woolworths in Brockville,” I could answer “yes” but I’d worked there only for a couple of days. I still don’t know why, but now I have some names to put into my story.

When I turned sixteen my mother thought it was time for me to find a summer job, although I don’t recall her ever mentioning it to me. She just came home from shopping one day and told me that I was to go the next day to see Mrs. Shipman at the Snack Bar in Woolworths. She’d asked her to give me a job!

Now, contrary to what a lot of people thought about me, I was really very shy. But if I was told to do something, I’d do my best. So I went to see Mrs. Shipman. I filled out some forms and I showed up for work on the day she told me.

I remember only a few details about the job. The first day I spent my entire shift in the upstairs kitchen, putting together ice cream sandwiches. At the end of the day, I was given a uniform and told me to go back the next day. I took the uniform home with me, because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I’d wear it back for my next shift. She’d given me no instructions and I was too shy to ask. Later my mother got a phone call telling her that I wasn’t supposed to take it home and to make sure I took it back.

The next day I was behind the counter. I was taught how to take orders and put together lunches. I was taught how to make banana splits, and I was given a tip jar. I got to know Gloria Byrd, who helped guide me through the day. She went to my high school and lived not far from me. I don’t recall being too busy, until the lunch crowd started coming in and a whole family sat down and ordered six banana splits. I had to make them! Maybe Gloria helped me.

At the end of my shift, Mrs. Shipman gave me my tips and said she’d call me when she wanted me to come in again. I left my uniform there. I think the only call I got was to tell me to pick up my pay cheque.

For years I wondered why I never got called back, but now reminiscing, I imagine it’s because I wasn’t outgoing enough for such a job. Too bad. I think had I’d been given a chance I might have learned how to relate better and stepped out of my shell sooner.

August 11, 2020 Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic


Writing anything has been a challenge for me lately, as have many things. I lack motivation. But I keep trying to set daily goals of some sort and push through.

When it comes to writing for this blog, I don’t know what I have that my readers would find interesting or helpful as they too take this journey. It’s been suggested that travel writing should be focused on local things of interest now, to entice visitors, but during this time, we’d rather not have too many visitors here in our small, virus-free community. Most of us feel a little panicky when we see out-of-towners congregating on our small beaches, or lined up at our ice-cream shop, without masks. There isn’t really much room for more than half a dozen people to observe social distancing.

So, what else can I do? This week, after a week of bouts of unspecific sadness, I’m determined to jump back into a few projects that I’ve been neglecting, two of them involving walking down memory lane.

I spent several hours over the weekend updating my Family Tree on Ancestery.ca and I found some interesting information that I knew nothing about before. I plan to post an article or two about that to my other blog site, Unfolding Our Past, one I started a few years ago, but then walked away from.

Another is work on my Memoirs, which I’ve been working on off and on for many years. If I’m ever going to get it done, now is the time. The years are slipping away too quickly.

Yesterday I decided to merge the several versions I have and try to get it together. When I found the very first draft, that I’d revised a little, I was encouraged by the  positive feedback I’d received when I’d submitted it to an online writing community that I had joined probably fifteen years ago. I’m trying to remember the name of it. I wonder if it still exists? I wonder why I dropped out? No, I know why. I went back to work, and began to travel more, and my writing focus changed, to travel blogging!

Now that we aren’t traveling, and have no idea if/when we will again, it’s time to get back to it. It’s interesting that when I was reading through what I’ve written so far, I felt a bit of an epiphany, like I was looking at my story through different eyes. The stress, that I usually feel when remembering the pain, frustration and resulting depression during the bad times, lifted. I’m not sure where this will take me, but I’m hoping to completion, whether published or not.

There are a few chapters (or beginnings) included under the Memoirs/My Memoirs Tab on this website, if you’re interested. Feedback is always welcome!

And on days that I feel I have to get out of my head for a while, I still have that quilt that I’ve not yet finished!

July 17th – Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic


In the mornings of the two days that we went to see the eye doctor, I’d wakened up with a bit of a scratchy, sore throat and I was tired, so I wondered if I needed to postpone the appointments, but I was pretty sure that it was due to my allergies and extreme heat. By the time we had to leave for Peterborough, I was feeling just fine so I answered the questions at the doctor’s office honestly. But, by Thursday evening my throat was really sore and my ears were blocked. Again, under normal circumstances, I would have gone with the allergies diagnosis, but I began to worry about the slight chance that it could be COVID and I felt very concerned about having been to the Optometrist office the day before.

On Friday morning, after breakfast and allergy pills and using the netti pot, my throat was back to normal. In fact, I felt better than I had for weeks! Still I felt that I should go to the local clinic for a COVID test just to be sure. It was in the next town over from us. The info we found online wasn’t up-to-date so it took a couple of tries to find it, only to discover that it wasn’t open on Fridays! I’d have to wait until Monday, or drive further to find another clinic. It would have been nice to not worry over the weekend, but I knew I wouldn’t get the results before the next week anyway. So we kept pretty much to ourselves all weekend, going out only for an evening walk around our rural block. We don’t usually meet up with anyone we know to stop and chat. When we did see friends who were standing in line at the ice-cream shop, I kept my distance while they chatted. I’d forgotten to take a mask with me. That night my throat got really sore again. I was so disappointed.

The weather cooled down some. I slept better and regained my energy. I had no more sore throat after that. I kept doing the Self-Assessment on the phone App. I never did have any fever. By Monday I was confident that it wasn’t COVID, but I made appointments for both Jim and me to get tested anyway, to relieve everyone’s mind. We had to wait until Tuesday.

The Clinic visit was a horrible experience. I was called in first. Jim filled out the questionnaire while he waited in the car. I was expected to fill it out while also answering the verbal questions that were being fired at me from the technician! I have no idea if I filled in the written pages with all the correct answers! He finished his questions and then waited impatiently, holding a very long stick in his hand, for me to finish my form.

“Take off your mask. I’m going to put this way up your nose. Don’t cough and don’t pull away,” he said. And there it was, pushing further and further through my right nostril until tears rolled down my cheeks. I resisted the urge to pull back by holding my breath. Even after it was removed, the pain lingered. Outside, the slight breeze entering my nose increased the discomfort. I wish I had a picture of that!

“We’ll send you the results in two to three days, or you can go online to get them,” the other, female, worker said to me as she handed me a page of information. She was very pleasant.

Jim had his turn. He didn’t have to fill our questions at the same time as answering verbal questions, but he did have to endure the same pain. He was unable to resist pulling back and the fellow held his head!

I can’t imagine President Trump and his staff going through that every single day!

On Wednesday we drove to Cobourg to look at storage sheds for our new bikes, which should arrive within a month. On Thursday we went back to order one and all the materials needed to build the floor. I stayed in the car and Jim, of course, wore a mask and used hand sanitizer. We had no way of bringing it all home, but one of our neighbours offered to pick them up with a trailer when they will be going that way on Monday. We know what we’ll be doing next week to fill in some time! Assembling.

This morning, we went online to get our test results – NEGATIVE!

May 24th – Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic


Another month is quickly slipping by. It’s been a better month for sure. Mothers’ day brought great comfort, with phone calls or chats with all of my children, and gifts from my step-children left at the door, with a distancing visit.

The box of paints, brushes and a canvas were meant to prompt me to try something new. I took that challenge and found an online Paint Workshop that was suggested. I didn’t join it live because the time wasn’t convenient, but I did it on my own time the next day. It turned out that was good, because I struggled at first with mixing enough paint to do big sections, in different shades of blue, but I persevered. Unlike using watercolours (which I’d tried many years ago) my mistakes could be painted over and corrected. Well, most of them, until I ran out of the very important white paint required for mixing. Then I had to improvise. The two-hour class took me most of the day to finish this one painting. But, in the end I felt  good to have completed it, and it didn’t look too bad for an amateur. I enjoyed the challenge and hope to get some more canvas to try another one, sometime.

IMG_20200515_165830

Another gift was a jar of sourdough starter. It brought back memories of the delicious and light sourdough muffins that I used to make. The recipe made big batches and, because the starter had to be divided up with some to feed a new starter and the rest to be used in baking, once a week (actually it seems to me it was more often) my freezer was full of frozen muffins of a variety of flavours. My son told me years later how he used to often sneak down to the freezer to grab one or two and eat them frozen. I didn’t even notice the missing ones. I had to wait a week until it was time to feed the starter before I could use some of it, but I kept those muffins in mind.

I had several days when baking was my outlet, creating another (better) lemon meringue pie and chocolate/peanut butter squares one day.

IMG_20200513_164954

Another day I recruited Jim to help me make a big batch of perogies, one of my favourite quick from the freezer meals, but that I’d never made myself before. They were a lot of work, and took a long time, but we worked well together.

 

When the day came to feed the sourdough I was having a major pain day, which usually causes some brain fade. That day was no exception. For one thing, the new way of measuring ingredients is by weight instead of volume. Fortunately we have a scale that we used for weighing packages when doing product shipping for our online businesses, but I had to learn the trick for adding multiply ingredients. Then I put the water in before the flour, which made mixing more difficult. I doubted that it was going to work, but the next day I saw that it had.

I made a batch of muffins, not the recipe I used to use. Seems I didn’t keep it, never expecting to be doing volume or sourdough baking again. They might have turned out good if I hadn’t been trying to do something else in the kitchen while they were baking. I somehow tuned out the sound of the timer and they got way over baked. Not burned, but rather dry. Disappointing.

Oh well, the sun came out the next day and the temperature climbed.

We had a few ukulele players over to our lawn to play some tunes one day, keeping our distance and staying no more than an hour. We limited the invitation to only five of us in total. It was a welcome change.

One Friday evening we ordered take out Fish and Chips from one of our local restaurants, a restaurant that had been closed completely for two months and just recently started doing order-ahead take outs. We invited another couple who lives in the building to join us at the twelve-foot table in the Common Room, each of us with our own orders, using our own plates and utensils, sitting at opposite ends of the table. It was nice to chat and get caught up, something we hadn’t been able to do since we’d been gone for six months.

I bought vegetable seeds and planted one of the three planter boxes that our Condo Board acquired so we could have a little community garden.

I’ve gotten used to grocery shopping. It seems to be the new normal for me now. More people are wearing masks, and so far there has been no news of CORONA-19 outbreaks in our small tri-town community. I have to admit that that might not necessarily be a good thing, only because it becomes too easy to forget that we still have to be diligent with our social distancing and mask wearing. I was shocked when, one day after I was introduced to the woman who agreed to rent us parking space for the motorhome, without thinking I reached out to shake her hand — and she reciprocated! That weighed on my mind for a long time. I sanitized my hands as soon as I got back into the car; I hoped that she did too. I didn’t sleep well that night, after that incident and after hearing the latest COVID case statistics. The curve was rising, or at least no longer falling in many places in Canada and around the world. I had another major pain day.

We sat in our car by a nearby beach and watched and listened to the peacefulness.

IMG_20200521_130749

This morning I woke up feeling optimistic and planning things I wanted to accomplish. It was to be another sunny day. But the first thing I saw when I opened my iPad was a message from someone who cares, warning me that “take out” food is dangerous unless we’d cooked it again at home for ten minutes at at  least 80 degrees. He’d seen Jim’s Facebook post about our sharing with neighbours. Then I opened a news app and saw huge crowds of people on beaches enjoying Memorial Day  in the US, and I thought “they are never going to get out of this virus if they continue like this.” When I opened an app with Canadian news I saw the same thing happening in a park in Toronto! There goes my optimism and respect for my fellow human beings.

At least the sun is still shining, today.

And the flowers are blooming in the beds.

And a mother robin has decided to build her nest in a corner of the building, on the ledge of our bedroom window! How beautiful is that?

PLEASE STAY SAFE! AND KEEP YOUR LOVED ONES SAFE TOO!

May 9th – Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic


The weather has been crazy; spring can’t decide if it’s going to stay or not. It’s as confused as we are.

Snow on the deck, May 8, 2020

Snow on the deck, May 8, 2020

 

I’ve been having trouble working through this lately. Maybe because I haven’t set any goals to complete projects, but that’s because the projects I have now are my own and they don’t have any urgency. There is always tomorrow, right? The calendar is blank. I’ve heard others make the same observation.

Calendar

 

Each day I wake up feeling a lingering sadness, even if I have something in mind that I might do that day. Today, I realized that, after nearly three months of avoiding close contact with people, then avoiding them altogether during self-quarantining on our way home from Arizona, and then continuing upon our return, and then becoming so conscious of the danger of not constantly washing my hands, or sanitizing them when out (wearing my mask) to do grocery shopping, this has become the new normal. As much as I long to sit down at a table with friends and family, to return to playing pickleball and ukulele in a group, I have trouble imagining being able to do those things again, without fear.

I’m one of the fortunate ones. I get to stay home where it’s safe. I don’t need to worry about losing my job or not being able to pay my bills if I don’t want to go to work in one of the dangerous environment out there, without adequate protection. I don’t need to feel obligated to risk my life to help save the lives of those who have been hit with the virus, although I shed many tears for those who are brave enough to do it.

And I do feel guilty about being so privileged. This is my new normal. Who knows if it will ever change?

Thank goodness for all the beautiful, and funny, video clips that are shared through the internet! They help to lift my spirits.

I’d love to hear from people around the world. How are you working through COVID-19?

Journaling Through COVID-19 – May 1st


Wow, I can’t believe it’s May 1st. I thought that I’d be writing and posting more frequently as I intended to Journal Through COVID-19, but although I’ve done nearly daily entries in my personal, hand-written journal, I’ve managed to find several projects to keep me busy with self-imposed deadlines, so my blogging got pushed to the back burner.

What have I been doing? Well, I first decided to try making a couple of face masks for Jim and me to use when we began venturing out to the grocery store and post office.

Jim's mask with ukulele chords on it!

Jim, of course, wanted one with ukulele chords on it!

Then I heard about a number of people making cotton face masks as requested by the local hospitals to be used for non-medical staff and patients being discharged. In exchange for some elastic that I had on hand and was no longer available in any stores that were open, a friend left me some of her extra fabric so I could make some too. I made twelve of them.

IMG_20200416_144127 (2)

But I was a little slow to the dance. By the time I had them finished, the hospitals declared they had received enough of them. They were now requiring some made with their own specific pattern, and special fabric that they would supply.

One hospital, however, wanted cotton surgical caps and clothing bags made, as well as crochet “mask buddies” – five inch pieces with buttons on each end that the elastic of the masks could be fastened to, relieving the pressure on the tops of the ears after a long day of wear. I had no fabric left, but I had plenty of yarn.  I started making the mask buddies. I was short of buttons, but a shout out to people in my community produced an abundance. I delivered the first batch of twenty-one within a few days. Yesterday, I dropped off another batch of 30.

IMG_1146

I gave a few of the masks to friends before a notice on one of my Facebook pages brought interest from a friend who works at the local prison. She was happy to receive the eight that I had left, and I felt good that I could help her out.

In the meantime my Book Club has had a couple of online meetings, and I joined a meeting of a Writing Club, also online for now. It was great to make some connections with people, and get some feedback on some of my writing.

A week ago we ventured to Peterborough to stock up on supplies from Costco, so that I wouldn’t need to go into the small grocery stores so often. I know, it’s better to support local businesses, especially during these hard times, but I was finding it just too stressful to safely navigate the narrow aisles while following the direction arrows and waiting my turn to enter. I always forgot or couldn’t find something I needed and was too anxious to have to go back through the maze again.

I was nervous about going to Costco too. I’d seen stories on the internet about the  long lines of people, many of whom gave no respect to social distancing, so I had no idea just what to expect.  We were fortunate to arrive at a time when there wasn’t much of a line. The carts were outside, and a fellow was spraying them all down, presumably with disinfectant, as they were returned, so we knew that the one we took was safe. Both of us were permitted to go in together. We put on our masks and were able to navigate the wide aisles quickly, giving anyone we encountered plenty of room. We were able to backtrack to find some things that were no longer where they were when we left in the fall.

The downside was the price of things, but I just got what I needed and left behind those items that I thought I could manage without for now, and ignored the cost. What else can you do when you don’t have much choice? The bill was far higher than I’d ever spent on food in one trip. But then, it’s been a very long time since I’ve had to make three meals a day, every day, for forty plus days in a row and counting! The extra help added to our Canada Pension cheque will make up the difference.

And the cost of gas is lower than it’s been in years too!

MVIMG_20200430_133118 (2)

We didn’t need to worry about bags, because Costco never has supplied them. We put everything back into the cart and transferred them to our own bags when we got to the car.

On the way home, we stopped at a local chicken farm that has a small store, where we bought chicken and fresh frozen vegetables. Except for some fresh produce that we’ll have to replenish soon, we are good for a few weeks.

I’ve not only been doing more cooking than I’ve done in years; I’ve also been baking more. I dug out an old cookbook that used to be my stand-by many years ago and I started creating some of my old favourites, and some new.

Lemon Pie

Made with a graham cracker crust because I didn’t have ingredients to make a crust! Used a lemon brought from Arizona tree.

Banana Bread made in Coffee mugs

Banana Bread made in coffee mugs, in fifteen minutes from start to eating! I added chocolate!

I thought we’d be putting on weight, but to our surprise, we’ve both lost those extra pounds we’d put on while eating too large portions in restaurants or at pot luck parties, or the chips that come with every sandwich in the restaurants, while in Arizona!

Last weekend Jim’s daughter asked if I could make a few surgical caps for her daughter’s nursing team at the hospital. She brought me some fabric and I found a bit more. I completed and delivered four to her yesterday. I still have two more cut and ready to put together.

Now I’m anxious to get back to writing, reading and perhaps add some more photographs to my stock portfolio.

It’s amazing how much you can find to do, if you just turn off the depressing news and get creative.

Hope you are all staying well and finding positive ways to get through this crisis.

April 6, 2020 – Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic 


I began a much longer post yesterday, a walk down memory lane, my trip to Europe in 1972. But it was a much bigger project than I’d realized, because I had nothing of the trip computerized. I needed to scan photos and post cards and read through the Itinerary to jog my memory. I’m still working on it, but for now I thought I’d share my experiences and emotions from this morning.

I woke up with a feeling of dread. When I looked at my iPad to get a synopsis of what the latest news was, I couldn’t contain my tears. It all was awful. What broke me most were the articles about how manufacturers of the medical equipment that all countries need so desperately, are inflating the prices to 700, or 800 or 900 percent above the normal price, making it so difficult for hospitals and the smaller health care centres such as Long Term Care Homes, to get them, And then there are the stories of people praying on the elderly by offering to buy groceries and then absconding with the money; or offering to clean their homes with them out of them, and stealing from them. What has happened to humanity?

I dried my tears and went to the kitchen to make some breakfast. Although I wasn’t really hungry, I knew I had to eat. The fridge was nearly empty. I made toast from the last two pieces of bread, and made coffee. One thing we do still have is plenty of grapefruit, so I cut up one of those. I knew I had to go shopping.

Jim thought I should just order it again, but I wanted to be brave and not let the paranoia I was feeling control my life. I also didn’t feel it was fair to put extra burden on the stores and volunteers that are generously delivering for free. Despite my age, I’m healthy. I have a good immune system. And I wanted to keep it that way with some fresh air and exercise. So I made my list and gathered my little wagon and reusable shopping bags. I had a mask I’d made from a kerchief, and disposable gloves and hand sanitizer in my pockets. I didn’t take my phone to avoid it being exposed to anything. I took only the one card that I needed to pay for my purchases. I didn’t expect Jim to go into the store with me. He wore his gloves and went into the Post Office to pick up our mail and then waited outside for me.

When I got to the store, the parking lot was full and I almost turned back. Then I realized that many of the cars parked there were probably the ones that had usually been parked beside the old Community Centre next door. Whether they belonged to tenants somewhere, or the owners of the few businesses that were open, I don’t know, but the Community Centre had recently been torn down and Contractors were working within high fencing, cleaning up the remnants.

I took my mask and gloves out of my pockets and put them on before walking up the ramp to the store entrance. A staff member came to the door and told me that I couldn’t take my wagon or bags in with me.

wagon

I hesitated, disappointed. I felt that there was far less chance of there being any virus on my own cart and bags that had been with us in our own space for three weeks, than there was with the store carts and bags. But I couldn’t argue, under the circumstances. I took the cart and made sure she’d wiped the handle.

By now I could feel myself quivering. There weren’t very many people in the store. Some shoppers wore masks and most of them were very conscious about keeping a distance. Perhaps they were more concerned about me because of the heavy mask and gloves I was wearing. I got very warm and for a moment I thought I might faint, but removing my jacket helped. As I made my way around the store looking for the things on my list I was having trouble seeing clearly. I thought maybe my glasses were fogging up from my breathing through the mask. My quivering continued and I cursed in my head, thinking how terrible it is to be so fearful of doing grocery shopping.

At last I was finished, and through the checkout.

“Isn’t this fun?” I said to the cashier, who was one more time sanitizing the gloves she wore, behind a sheet of Plexiglas.

“I’ve had about enough of it,” she said and I agreed. “Thank you,”  we both replied.

I took off my disposable gloves and handed them to the girl at the door, who said she’d dispose of them. She was wearing gloves too. I was glad to see that the wagon was still where I left it. I breathed a sigh of relief. When I walked out into the sunshine, I reached for my sunglasses and realized I’d had them on all the time! No wonder I was having trouble seeing!

I found Jim next door watching the construction crew, of course. We walked home enjoying the sunshine.

At home I put my mask into the bathroom sink to wash. I carefully handled the groceries and bags,  putting them all away, always aware of what I was touching and wondering who else had touched them. I washed my hands many times.Oh crap! Did I remember to disinfect the counter where they sat? Nothing I used to make lunch touched that side. Is it too late?

Now we have enough food to last us for another couple of weeks. Who knows what things will be like when we need more?

I have no idea how the people who have been dealing with this daily as they do their jobs to provide health care and other essential services, have not lost their sanity. I weep some more for them.

Escaping the COVID-19 – The Full Story


On March 11, 2020 we were still in Arizona and had several things on our calendar for the next week. But disturbing glimpses of what could be coming were appearing in all our online news feeds. I wanted to pack up and head for home then. But we did seem to be isolated in our little community and I was convinced to hang on. In my head I prayed that they would all be cancelled.

That night we were in a crowded restaurant for the Sandwich Islands Ukulele Band final rehearsal for the upcoming Aloha Festival, but before we left we’d made up our minds that we wouldn’t attend the huge Festival that usually attracted thousands of visitors – my first sigh of relief. The next day our park management decided to cancel all large-group events, which included the Theme Day, in which our Mesa Regal Ukulele Band was supposed to play – my second sigh of relief. Some of our Canadian band members had already decided to head for home so wouldn’t be there to play anyway.

A Facebook comment from my son, who lives with his wife in Poland, told me to “pack up the RV and get out of there. You don’t want to be caught in a country that didn’t prepare for the threat of COVID-19 earlier.” He was speaking from firsthand knowledge. We decided to heed his advice, but it took us a few days to make it happen.

Since we wouldn’t be back anytime soon, we had a couple of big items to get rid of, like our car and patio furniture. It was probably risky, but I signed us up for the Patio Sales the next day (Saturday), and Jim put an ad online to sell the car. We were successful! While the sale was on we started packing things up. I had the inside of the motorhome mostly ready by that night, but Jim had to unload and reload outside bins in order to get everything he’d taken out, plus a few more new items, in. We weren’t ready to leave on Sunday. Jim wasn’t ready in time, so we accepted the offer of friends to go to their home, outside our park, for dinner. It was a nice evening of chatting, laughing and playing ukuleles, forgetting for just a while about the trouble brewing in the world. Small group gatherings were not yet frowned upon, but we were all conscious about frequent hand-washing.

Monday morning, March 16th, we managed to get the rest of our things into place, give our forwarding address to our Post Office, and check-out. But even that took a while as we stopped to say goodbye to our friends and neighbours along the street. No hugs, handshakes or kisses this time! Everyone was feeling the stress. There had already been 400 or more Canadians pull their rigs out during the last two days and more would follow us soon.

After a quick stop at the bank, we said goodbye to Mesa, possibly for good, and began our 2700 mile trip home. Our fridge, freezer and pantry were filled with food so we had no need to stop at restaurants or stores all the way home. When Jim had to get out to pump gas, or to hook up at a Camp Site, he wore disposable gloves. He had contact with no-one. In the six days it took us to get home, I left the motorhome only once, for about ten minutes to walk along a deserted path at one of the rest stops.

Jim with his gloves on

Jim with his gloves on waiting to pay for gas at the only full-service station we saw.

We put in long days after the first one, and covered hundreds of miles. Most days were uneventful. We listen to music and started an audio book, but found there was too much noise to hear it, even with an external speaker. Transports made up the bulk of traffic on the highways, roads were rough, and wind did blow.

Thursday morning was an exception. I was awakened by the sound of heavy rain on the roof and loud rumbling. I couldn’t decide whether it was thunder or just the roar of the many  trucks on the highway, until one big clap of thunder and the roar of wind got us both out of bed and dressed in a flash! The motorhome was rocking like we’d never felt before. We thought we were in the midst of a hurricane! We were in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so that was a good possibility. We were in a mostly empty Walmart parking lot, with no service of any sort, so I dug out the weather radio that we carried with us, but had seldom used in all of our years on the road. Relieved to learn that there were no Hurricane warnings in the area, but there was a flash flooding warning (2 inches of rain had already fallen and the drain ditch beside us was nearly full).  We decided to just try to relax and have some breakfast. The rain and wind stopped as quickly as it had begun. By the time we had eaten and secured everything inside again, it seemed safe to leave. It was only 8:15. We were both a little testy after that early morning scare. No flooding impeded our way, but we noticed spots where it probably had been up on the road. Fields were flooded. It rained off and on during the day, but Jim kept on pushing. A little nap after lunch revived him enough to keep going until 6:00 that evening. Needless to say, we were in bed and asleep early again that night.

Flooded Fields Close to Road

Flooded Fields Close to Road

We’d heard that the Canadian Border would be closed at midnight on Friday, to all visitors and anyone without a good reason to be crossing into Canada. It wasn’t looking good. On Friday morning Jim decided we should try to make it to the Detroit crossing instead of carrying on to Buffalo as earlier planned. We had 500 miles to go!

We hit the road at 7:45 a.m. We made short stops for gas and to have meals in our “home”.

While driving through Ohio, we passed these strange looking items being moved along the highway on flatbed transports. The first time we saw two different parts, which Jim determined were some parts of an airplane. One definitely looked like a wing. Hours later we passed another two. At first we thought they were the same ones we’d passed earlier, that they’d gotten ahead of us while we stopped to eat or gas up. But then we noticed that these parts were a little different. One looked like the opposite wing from the first one. Because of road construction at that part of the highway, which involved construction cones along the right hand shoulder, the entire convoy was blocking both lanes of traffic in order to accommodate the right side overhang. We patiently followed along and it wasn’t too long before the construction zone came to an end and the left passing lane was freed up once more.

We made it across the border without any problems at 6:00 pm! That Welcome to Canada sign brought us great relief and joy.

That night we shared parking with several other RVs and transport trucks at the first Onroute Travel Centre that we came to, near Windsor, Ontario, too tired to go another mile. It was noisy with all the traffic in and out, but surprisingly we did get some sleep.

We were up at five and on the road before the sun came up, so anxious to be in our home town, in our small condo. Traffic was light. We got through Toronto in record time and arrived home shortly after noon, to nearly empty streets and cold weather, but it never looked so good! Thanks to Jim’s daughter, we had food in our fridge and pantry that, along with what we had left over in the motorhome, should do us for a couple of weeks.

We’ve been in self-quarantine ever since. It’s been difficult – not wanting to watch the news, but needing to know. I’ve shed many tears, not for fear of us getting the virus, but for our families and friends all over the country and beyond; for the front-line workers everywhere who are risking their own lives to try to save many; for those who have lost loved ones, and those who are stranded in foreign countries where the epidemic is far worse than here; and for the stories that are emerging of the amazing people who are doing so many self-less things to help those who are suffering.

I’m grateful for the phone calls, texts, video chats from family and friends. We even had our Book Club meeting yesterday, by video!

It’s a time for reconnecting with people and appreciating what we have. Soon, tomorrow will be a better day. For now, stay inside, stay safe and keep in touch.

So Much to Do; So little Time! Scottsdale Indian Festival


It was a very busy month! Jim had his 80th birthday and on the day his daughters were flying in to surprise him, he decided we should go to Scottsdale to the parade and festival in the park – The Indian Festival! It was a lovely day, and I could give him no reason why we shouldn’t go. I just had to make sure that we didn’t stay too long.

I’m glad we went; I’m sorry that his daughters weren’t able to go with us. The parade was long, but one of the most interesting parades I’ve ever witnessed – colourful costumes representing the many tribes of Arizona; many school bands and cheerleaders; local representatives in various vehicles from the past and the present. And horses! Lots of horses! And dogs! I won’t tell you how many pictures I took, but I knew that I couldn’t capture it all in words, so I hope you like the shots I’ve chosen to share and take you along.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was well past lunch time when the parade came to an end and the streets were crowded. We finally found the restaurant we’d visited the last time we were in Scottsdale name but there was an hour wait! We settled on a bench and chatted with other patient customers until a table was at last cleared for us. We invited another couple to join us and during another half hour of waiting to be served, we shared stories of our life experiences.

It was 2:00 pm when we left the restaurant. Jim wanted to listen to the Mariachi Band that was playing on the street and check out other performers along the way back to the park, where there was a ring of vendors’ tents set up, and more entertainment along the walking paths. But I knew his daughters would soon be arriving at Mesa Regal, so I made an excuse why we had to get home.

IndianFestival1

We were just getting into our car when I got the text that they’d arrived. They were happy to enjoy the sun while waiting for our return, and Jim’s annoyance with having to leave too soon vanished when he realized it was them, sitting on the couch when he walked into the RV.