Lavender, Motorcycles and Prison


It’s hard to believe that half the summer has slipped away and I’m a month behind with my posts. Guess that means we’ve been busy! I now offer a summary of what we’ve been up to.

1. Something to improve My Quality of Living While in the Motor Home

The installation of a new refrigerator in the motor home was exciting for me, and I was happy with the results when we spent a weekend in nearby Preston Springs at the Country Jamboree. We decided to try a house fridge instead of the usual two-way models used in most motor homes, mainly because the very hot, direct sunlight in the spring in Arizona sometimes causes freezing on those, and because the gas components take up a lot of space that I’d rather have for inside fridge space. Household models are also much less expensive than new motor home models. Since we already had a voltage inverter in the motor home, Jim just had to run wiring to reach from it to the fridge outlet, and install a switch so that we can use the coach batteries to power it when we are on the move, and then switch to 110 volts when we are plugged in at an RV Site. It was a bigger job than expected, but worth it.

 

2. Lavender Fields

In mid-July I made a trip to Campbellcroft to meet my Red Hat friends at the Lavender Fields, but  by the time we all arrived, heavy rain and the threat of thunder storms chased us away to the nearest shopping area and an indoor lunch.

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I was disappointed that I couldn’t get any pictures of the fields, so Jim and I took a drive out a few days later. There were so many people there that day, it was still difficult to get good unobstructed shots, but here are a couple.

 

3. A Motorcycle Ride to Picton

Last week, instead of playing pickle ball on a Wednesday afternoon, we joined our friends Steve and Sue on one of the few motorcycle rides we’ve taken this year. We left Hastings at 10:30 in the morning, expecting to be gone a couple of hours, but having no particular destination. By the time we stopped for lunch at 1:00 pm, we were in Picton in Prince Edward County, having explored many country roads and covered many more miles than anticipated. Picton is an interesting community that is heavily populated with tourists and cottagers during the summer months and well worth checking out if you are in the area. We reached it via Hwy. 49, but after lunch we took the Ferry across the bay to Glenora and drove along the shore of Lake Ontario before turning back north through the towns of Napanee and Tamworth, then cutting back west to Campbellford and home. That was the longest bike ride I’ve been on since my hip replacement almost a year ago, and I have to admit that I enjoyed the scenery and the perfect riding weather, but my joints and muscles were a tad sore when we finally got off at nearly 3:00 pm!

 

4. A Tour of Kingston Penitentiary

This past weekend we went to Kingston to tour the Kingston Penitentiary, which ceased operations on September 30, 2013, and was opened to the public just last year. I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy it, but the hour and a half passed very quickly. We were amazed by what we learned about this, the first British North American penitentiary, which sits on 8.6 hectares of land on King Street. It was constructed through 1833 and 1834 and officially opened on June 1, 1835 with the arrival of the first six inmates. Our various tour guides, many of whom are retired guards or wardens, explained the operation, the security systems, the routines, and enlightened us with stories of riots, escapes, work crews, rehab programs and building updates. It was well worth the $25 price of admission.

 

After a visit with family in Brockville over the next couple of days, we stopped in Napanee on our way home to have a lovely lunch with friends on the riverside outdoor patio of a relatively new restaurant that wasn’t there when I used to live in Napanee. How things change in thirteen years!

 

Next week I’m flying out to British Columbia for three weeks to visit with some more of my family. Because they are spread from southern BC to Vancouver to the Gulf Islands, it has been a challenge arranging the various modes of transportation needed. It will be an adventure. Stay tuned!

Canada Day Celebrations 150th Year


We live in a small community of 1200 people, but we are part of the larger community of the Township of Trent Hills, which includes the towns of Campbellford, Warkworth and Hastings. Each town has a multitude of events throughout the summer months, but the times are fairly well coordinated to make it easy for the citizens of Trent Hills to attend as many as they’d like. When a major event happens, like Canada Day, the celebration venues and times are also coordinated throughout the day.

So we started our day with a pancake breakfast at the waterfront park in Campbellford. Despite the threat of rain, there was a good crowd.

We skipped some of the later events, and missed the Opening Ceremonies in Warkworth, but we were in downtown Hastings for the Opening Ceremony there. We grabbed lunch from one of the many food vendors; we joined in the singing of Oh Canada while a local pianist played the newly presented “community piano.”

We watched a medieval sword fight presented by the Blades of Glory.

We enjoyed watching a performance by the Firelights Belly Dancing Troup, and the brave efforts of audience members during a lesson in the art.

At 4:00 the parade began. As often happens, this small community parade was as interesting as many major city ones, and maybe a little more fun.

At 9:30 the crowds of people began to assemble on the shores of the Trent Canal and on the bridge, for the Annual Fireworks Display. Since we moved to Hastings we have agreed that this is the best fireworks display we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen many. It is said that 10,000 people flock in from far and wide just to witness it. We walked the half block over to the park on our side of the canal and parked our chairs amongst the crowds. For some reason, perhaps because of the earlier thunder storm and deluge of rain, there seemed to be a problem getting started. It was an hour later that the first bursts of colour lighted up the sky right over our heads, but it was worth the wait! The money raised by our local firefighting teams to put on this show created another spectacular ending to the Canada Day events.

Get a Free Travel App and Hear About an Amazing Young Performer


There is nothing like listening to some great live music to take your mind off of the political turmoil for a while. Late Thursday morning we drove into downtown Mesa to do just that, at the outdoor noon-hour concert series sponsored by the Mesa Arts Centre. I think I’ve mentioned these wonderful free concerts before. The performer this week was highly promoted by our neighbour Jan, and our expectations were high.  We weren’t disappointed!

After picking up a take-out lunch at our favourite little café, Sweet Cakes, we walked to the Arts Centre to where the stage and seating were set up. It was only 11:30 and the concert didn’t begin until 12:30, but the best seating was already filled! We managed to grab a couple of chairs that weren’t too far away from the stage, but sadly not facing it. While we waited for the show to begin, we enjoyed our very thick turkey-on-(freshly baked) sourdough, side salad and still-warm chocolate chip cookie. Yumm.

At 12:30 the Honky-Tonk Rebel (a.k.a. Mario Carboni) appeared on stage with his keyboard and trumpet. With a bit of introduction, he started to play and he blew our minds.  This young man, who started to play at a very young age, had his fingers speeding across the keys in a blur; and then his rich country voice filled the air. The sound system was perfect; no problem hearing every note from wherever you sat. I wish I could remember all of the songs he performed, but I was mesmerized by those fingers on the keyboard. He has an eclectic play list, everything from honky-tonk country, to truck driving songs, rock and roll and classical. I’ve never heard “The Flight of the Bumblebee” played so perfectly and fast! He did many cover rearrangements and many of his own songs, with a tad humour thrown in once in a while. For a couple of numbers he played his trumpet and keyboard at the same time, without missing a beat. The crowd roared, and at the end of the one-hour performance gave him a standing ovation. The host invited him to do an encore, much to our delight. When the show was over, Mario greeted fans with a smile and a chat while we lined up with our newly purchased CDs in our hands, looking for an autograph. He’ll be on tour across the US and back up to Alaska, where he spends his summers performing, most of this year. Check him out at www.honkytonkrebel.com/    .

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Mario on the left with one of his buddies, Jimmy Phillips

Jimmy Phillips, former drummer with Merle Haggard, Red Simpson and several other “Bakersfield Sound” Country stars, joined Mario on stage for a couple of songs.

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Another Interesting Summer Day in Hastings, Ontario


I’m often amazed at how easy it is to find something interesting to do in this little town that we call home.

On Monday we learned that the Kawartha Voyageur was going to be cruising down the river and through Trent Severn Waterway Lock #18, something we’ve been wanting to witness, but hadn’t before been able to catch it. We weren’t sure of the time so we took our chairs and books to the lock, prepared to wait.

The Kawartha Voyageur is a river boat that provide 5-day cruises along the Trent-Severn Waterway. It navigates across many lakes and along a few rivers and through many locks between Peterborough and Big Chute, and Kingston to Peterborough. On other weeks it follows the locks of the Rideau Canal from Kingston to Ottawa.

While we waited, we accepted free (temporary) tattoos that a Parks Canada representative was offering, and I had my picture taken with Parka, the Parks Canada Mascot.

Then we decided it might be better to move further up the river, to the Gazebo, where we could see this cruise ship master the winds and glide through the canal, then we’d jump back into the car and return to the lock to see it go through.

We didn’t get much reading done. Shortly after 2:00 p.m. we first heard the horn, and then we saw the vessel appear from around a bend.

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Back at the Lock, we watched as it entered, and then waited for the water to be lowered so it could exit the other end. While the passengers waited, they were entertained by Parka.

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Jim got a hug too

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By the time the Kawartha Voyageur was through the Lock and on its way, three private yachts were waiting their turn to go through from the other direction, so we stayed a little longer to chat with the owners and watch them go through. The two larger ones are doing America’s Great Loop, an adventure that can take a year or more to complete. The boat from Fort Meyer’s Florida had already been traveling for six months; the other, from Texas, had only begun a few weeks ago.

Loop Boats

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We’d like to add that adventure to our bucket list, but considering the cost, it would be unrealistic.

Maybe the Kawartha Voyageur cruise might be a possibility someday though.

 

Fireworks, Parades, Cars and Motorcycles – Canada Day Weekend in Trent Hills


Our community of Trent Hills is made up of the three towns of Hastings, Campbellford and Trent River, and their adjoining areas. When it comes to celebrating summer, especially on Canada Day, the events are grand, and well-coordinated to enable visitors to sample all there is. We did just that.

Celebrations started early in Hastings. On Thursday the long awaited stainless steel fish was unveiled at Pisces Park, a small patch of green space next to the marina. This six-foot high piece of art, sculpted by Bill Lishman, is to be the first of several fish that will form an icon to represent the fact that in 2012 Hastings won the distinction of being named the Ultimate Fishing Town of Canada in the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town Challenge.

On Canada Day the weather was a little uncooperative at times, so we didn’t go to the morning celebration in Campbellford, but the skies almost cleared up in time for the parade in Hastings at 4:00 p.m. I’m ashamed to admit that I went without my camera, but here are a few photos from last year:

A thunderstorm after that cooled the air considerably and when we walked to the park with our lawn chairs at 8:30 to wait for the Fireworks, Hastings’ big contribution to the celebration, we were dressed in layers. As the sun went down, the wind turned quite chilly, sending Jim home to get some more layers! But, it was worth it.

On Saturday the sun was shining again and the temperatures perfect for a ride on the motorcycle to Campbellford for another annual event, Chrome on the Canal. We found a place to park our bike, and then began the mile or more stroll along the Trent Canal banks to exclaim over the interesting variety of bikes and cars. They ranged from antique to classic, to the latest models. Some were “chopped” (modified); some were restored to original; some were just as they’d been found abandoned in a field or garage.

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Original Powered Bicycles?

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1948 Indian

IMG_14502015 Indian

IMG_1453A lot of work went into building this one!

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Amazing pin-striping

IMG_1482A few, like this one,were For Sale

On our way back from Campbellford, we turned north off County Road 35 onto Smith Road, a lovely tree lined stretch of curves, and then east onto Concession Road 11 that climbs high over the eskers. This is another recommended route for bikers.

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A Happy Canada Day!

Something Different


This week I did something that I don’t often do – I treated myself to a trip to a Spa.

Nourish Your Sole is different from most Spas, and certainly not the kind of place that malls provide, where you can run in and get a manicure and pedicure in twenty minutes if you don’t care much about the germs that lurk in the foot soaks or in the utensils that are used for multi people.

At Nourish your Sole, in Cobourg, Ontario, I was greeted with a smile, an offer of something to drink, and the pleasant vibes of my favourite old time music hits. I was invited to choose my nail colour, one for each service I was having done; in my case a manicure and a pedicure. I was also invited to choose the essential oils that I wanted for the massage. I chose a lavender and eucalyptus combination.

Next I was seated comfortably at a manicure table, where my nails were filed and trimmed, and my hands were gently massaged right up to my elbows, by Brittany. I was so relaxed that when that was done I almost forgot about the polish! The polish is in small bottles that are used for you and you alone.

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From the manicure table I was ushered to a soft leather arm chair, with cushions to arrange at my back. Brittany left, but soon returned with a large round wash basin that was lined with a recyclable plastic bag and filled with warm sudsy water. I put my feet in and felt the tension evaporate as they soaked for maybe ten minutes. I really have no idea how long it was, but it was luxurious. When Brittany returned, the same treatment was given to my feet as my hands: nails filed and trimmed, massage all the way up to my knees. After the excess lotion was wiped away, the colour was applied. When it was hardened Brittany helped me get my sandals back on without smudging, and gave me a little gift bag containing my two bottles of polish and the emery board that she’d used on my nails. They never reuse them.

Although I’d misread the pamphlet when I booked my appointment so I had expected to be done in half the time, at half the cost, I felt too good to care. I decided to treat myself again next month!

One Last Adventure in Arizona – Biosphere2


With our days here dwindling quickly, we went on one last adventure before starting the task of sorting and packing to get ready for our trip back to Ontario. Saturday morning we packed a lunch, and struck out in the car, top down, towards Oracle and Biosphere 2.

An hour later, we stopped for a stretch at a little park that displayed a memorial to Tom Mix, a famous movie cowboy who died in a car accident at the spot in 1940, too long ago for me to know anything about him, but his interesting story was posted.

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It was lunch time when we arrived at Biosphere 2, so we sat outside on one of the stone benches and enjoyed our lunch while soaking up the sunny atmosphere. Then we went inside to wait for the tour to begin.

Biosphere 2 contains 5 biomes, including a 900,000-gallon salt water ocean, a rain forest, a desert, agricultural areas and a human habitat, all within the 7,200,000-cubic-foot sealed glass and space-frame structure.

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A Little History

Biosphere 2 was a Space Biospheres Venture project that began in 1984 with the purchase of the property near Oracle Arizona that had previously been the site of a conference centre for Motorola, and then the University of Arizona. Two years later an iconic facility was constructed with $150 million in funding from Texas oil magnate Edward Bass. It was designed as an airtight replica of Earth’s environment (Biosphere 1).

Some of the early designers and managers were interested in space travel and the possibility of colonizing the Moon or Mars.  With the hope of learning what problems would arise from living in a closed system, in 1991 a colony of eight people were sealed inside Biosphere 2 for two years. Six months later another crew of seven entered Biosphere 2, but after a number of physical and social problems developed these experiments were suspended in 1994.

In the years following, the facility was managed by Decisions Investment Corporation and Columbia University until 2007 when CDO Ranching and Development bought it. The University of Arizona assumed management, and was then gifted the facility in 2011. It has been a state-of-the art research laboratory for students of science ever since, with tourism providing some extra funding.

After a five-minute video that highlighted some of the things we would see, our tour began. I can’t remember the tour guide’s name because he was not a memorable soul and brought no life to the tour. It seemed like he didn’t have enough to tell us and was always checking his watch and then saying, “So I’ll give you a minute or two to stand here and look around” as if he was killing time. That was disappointing.

We saw banana and eucalyptus trees in the rainforest, and a little experiment in progress that some school children had set up. It was a several-tiered vegetable garden that was being nourished with the run-off water from a Koi fish pond at the top level. We walked through the mangrove marsh and the desert.

There are two “lungs”, white domes that are variable air-volume control devices. Our guide took us through a tunnel, into the South Lung and explained a little bit about how it works.

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Inside the “lung”

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I think with a more enthusiastic guide, the hour and a half long tour would have been very interesting, but as it was, we were glad when it was over.

Then we were allowed to do self-guided tours of the Ocean from below, through a windowed tunnel, but some sections were under repair or construction, so there really wasn’t much to see. We decided to skip the self-guided tour of the Upper Habitat, where the crews had lived in 1991 to 1994, since we’d been given views of it in the video, and we were ready to continue on to Globe for dinner.

Although the history of the Biosphere 2 is interesting, I felt that today it would be far more enticing to spend some time there as a science student or researcher, living in one of the adobe apartments and making use of the facility for experiments and further knowledge. Summer programs are offered to young students as well.

To learn more about Biosphere2 check out these websites:

http://www.desertusa.com/desert-arizona/bios2.html#ixzz44HTcoxGj

http://biosphere2.org/