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!

From Las Cruces to Clovis, We’re Still in New Mexico!


 

This might just be our longest trip home yet!

As I mentioned in my last post, we stopped on Monday night at the Coachlight Inn and RV Park in Las Cruces. There were some “interesting” rvs in that park! Obviously no restrictions on what you had or how long you stayed applied.

The weather was good when we left and got warmer as we drove. In fact, at one point my upper legs inside my black jeans got a little bit burned from the sun streaming through the window. Then it was time to change into shorts and sandals.

The scenery gradually changed to more trees and less desert. It was quite beautiful. One snow-capped mountain peak caught my attention, behind lower mountain ranges, and we seemed to follow it for twenty miles or more. I think it might be Captain Mountain.

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We stopped for a late lunch in Roswell and ended up spending a couple of hours there, taking pictures and touring the UFO Museum. Roswell is the nearest town to the suspected site of the UFO crash in 1947. It was really interesting to read all of the articles and eye-witness accounts on display in the museum, some believable; some questionable. Is it true that, after admitting to the event, the government suddenly had a change of heart and covered it all up ?

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The theme of the whole city is aliens and UFOs, with souvenir shops selling every sort of thing that could be imagine from post cards to green soccer balls painted to look like alien heads.

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This creative interpretation was outside one shop.

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It was a fun few hours, but the delay meant we wouldn’t make it out of New Mexico that night. And today extremely high winds are keeping us put right where we ended up, at Travelers World Good Sam RV Park outside Clovis, New Mexico! The temperature has dropped and we’ve had a bit of rain. Because we don’t dare engage our leveling jacks for fear they won’t retract, the coach is really rocking.

Hoping tomorrow we might make it across Texas, but that’s not even certain. Good thing we allowed ourselves two weeks to get home.

Leaving Mesa Regal


The time has flown by this winter, probably because we were late arriving in Arizona in the fall. The last weeks were filled with a bit of pickleball and a whole lot of eating out with friends before saying goodbyes. I will really miss all those people who have become an integral part of our lives. But I am anxious to get back to my efficient, well equipped kitchen in Ontario.  It’s been over a month since I’ve had a properly working fridge, which meant we ate out too much.

We left Mesa Regal at noon on April 1st, after our motorhome played a trick on us – the leveling Jacks refused to rise up off the ground. It took about an hour before the problem was solved with an electric drill being used to manually lift them to their traveling position. When we finally got the bike loaded into the trailer, said our final goodbyes and started off, we realized that when we’d parked and covered the car in its storage spot, we’d left the GPS in it! Fortunately it was just a few streets away so we swung by, uncovered the car, retrieved the GPS and re-covered the car. We were already tired! Some lunch helped, and then we were on our way.

By 4:00 we were almost at the turn off for Tombstone. We decided to stop there for the night, and spend part of the next day seeing some of the things we missed the last time we visited that old city. We found a spot in the Stampede RV Park, within walking distance of all the attractions. In the morning, after breakfast served in the park’s Coach Stop, we took the trolley tour,

witnessed a comedy version of the notorious gunfights common in the old west

and looked around the Rose Museum, where the world’s largest rose is huge and presently blooming.

A big thanks goes out to Sue in the RV Park office who gave us a great summary of what to find and where.There are still a few more sites to see, but at 1:00 we knew if we were going to get out of Arizona before the day was out, we had to get back on the road.

We made it to Las Cruces, New Mexico before it was too dark, and stayed at the Coachlight Motel & RV Park.

Monastery Tour


Last week our new friends and neighbours invited us to join them for lunch at Zupas, restaurant we’d not been to before, followed by a trip to St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery near Florence. It turned out to be a wonderful day.

Zupas is a perfect place to eat if you prefer freshly made soups, sandwiches and salads from a wide variety of both healthy and flavourful ingredients.

We were told that there were rules about dress codes at the monastery, so, after checking the website, Jim put on his long pants and long sleeved shirt, the only requirements for men. For us women it was much more stringent. Our legs, feet, arms and head all needed to be covered. No pants allowed unless under a long skirt; no hats, but a head scarf was imperative. I looked into my closet and found a black skirt that hung to mid-calf that I thought might pass if worn over my black jeans. I had a white long-sleeved blouse that I could put over a t-shirt, and a white and black infinity scarf to cover my head. With shoes and socks, I thought I’d be passable. I put the extra layers on at the car, once we’d reached the monastery parking lot. Ruth had worn pants and a long sleeved shirt, but opted to borrow from the skirts and scarves made available. We were greeted at the open court yard by a Sister. She scowled at me and told me my skirt was too short. She thrust a long, brown, cotton one at me and I pulled it on over my own. The one she gave Ruth turned out to be only an inch or two longer on her than mine was on me. Oh well. As she told us about the rules for touring, she kept looking me over and abruptly said, “Put your blouses outside your skirt!” We graciously complied and were then allowed to begin our self guided tour with one map in Jim’s hands.

Judy and Ruth dressed for the tour

Judy and Ruth dressed for the tour

Once we began, the whole atmosphere changed. It was a warm, sunny day and the beautiful, quiet gardens offered a sense of peace. We stopped several times just to sit and take it all in. It was hard to believe that we were in the middle of the desert!

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Enjoying the tranquility

Bill and Ruth enjoying the tranquility. Notice the intricate brick work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olive Groves

Olive Groves

 

 

Arizona Monastery (7)

One of three guest lodges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were allowed to look inside all of the chapels and take pictures. The architecture was amazing, as you can see from the pictures.

St. Nicholas Chapel

St. Nicholas Chapel

About an hour later we finished the tour in the gift shop where jams and jellies and olives grown on the grounds were available for purchase along with a variety of other products. When we emerged, tours were over and everyone had gone to Chapel. We left our borrowed clothing on a bench in the courtyard and then made one last stop on the way off the grounds, to take pictures of the chapel on the hill.

St. Elijah Chapel

St. Elijah Chapel

From Kaslo to Vancouver in the Motorhome, With a Few Detours


Our Canadian Tour has nearly come to an end. It’s been a busy time and I’ve fallen behind with blog posts, so before we start a new chapter with the US continuation of the trip, here is a summary of where we’ve been and what we’ve done since leaving Kaslo. Two posts about interesting things in Kaslo will follow. Since media uploads seem to be limited where we are, I will have to add more pictures, or do more detailed posts about some of these places later.

After a week of mostly sunny weather in Kaslo, and a trip with Sarah to Nelson, the weather turned dark and rainy when we left on the Saturday. We arrived in Vernon mid-afternoon and spent two nights with our friends, Judy and Keith. The sun was shining there. One morning Jim helped Keith pick the grapes from his vineyard, ready to be picked up by a commercial wine-maker. And I didn’t take any pictures! On the way home from dinner that night, we saw the eclipse of the harvest moon. I did take some pictures of that, but without a tripod handy, they didn’t turn out very well.

Monday morning we were on our way to Kamloops to meet up with some friends from our ukulele group in Mesa. Debby offered to put together a jam session with others from her Kamloops Ukulele Orchestra, and we had a great time playing for an hour or more. I was reminded again that I need to do more practicing if I want to keep up with that bunch, but it was fun. Thanks for organizing and hosting it, Debby.

Ukulele Jam

Ukulele Jam

Our campsite was along the South Thompson River, where we could watch some dragon boats glide by on their practice night.

South Thompson River

South Thompson River

Fortunately we were within walking distance of downtown Kamloops, since our trailer was parked up against a cliff, making it too difficult to get the bike out. We’d booked for two nights so we spent Tuesday walking across the Red Bridge and around the downtown. It’s a very interesting city to explore, but we were exhausted by the time we’d walked back to the motor home.

Crossing on the Red Bridge

Crossing on the Red Bridge

Before leaving the next day, we met with another friend, Patti, and her husband Wayne for lunch. Patti is another ukulele player from Mesa, but she couldn’t make it to the jam the day before. Thanks for a great lunch! It was fun to catch up.

From Kamloops we turned back south towards Hope. On the way, we stopped at Coquihalla Provincial Park to view the old Othello (railway) Tunnels, a stop recommended by Patti. They are amazing and well worth the stop. Also amazing was the fact that we met a woman, along the trail, who’s sister lives in the little Ontario town of Hastings, where we live!

Othello Tunnels

Othello Tunnels

IMG_1083 IMG_1090We spent the night in Hope, and were in Vancouver at Capilano River RV Park by noon the next day. It’s conveniently located just under the Lions Gate Bridge in West Vancouver, close to Park Royal Shopping Plaza, but the lots are very close together, with barely enough room to use the slides. The day was sunny and warm, but because we had domestic chores to catch up with, we got out only long enough to walk across the little bridge to the plaza for lunch.

On Friday we wanted to go to White Rock to another ukulele jam, also recommended by Patti, so off we went on the bike, ukuleles strapped into the back pack. Since we hadn’t yet put the GPS onto the bike we were going by Jim’s memory of a map. Three hours later, after getting lost while trying to visit Granville Island first, and then ending up on Hwy. 99A rather than 99, we finally arrived with ten minutes to spare! This group was much larger and zipped through tunes from their own song books. I had trouble keeping up, and even Jim got lost at times. But again, we had fun and learned a few things. We each purchased one of the two books which we will be able to use in Mesa.

None of the family we planned to visit was in Vancouver that week, so we spent Saturday just doing some shopping and staying in out of the rain. Early Sunday morning we loaded up the bike and caught the Tawassan Ferry to Victoria. After a cool start, the sun came out and warmed things up. Victoria is a marvelous place to visit. We took the Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour and had lunch at the award-winning Barb’s Fish and Chips outdoor eatery on Fisherman’s Warf. If we couldn’t go to Arizona, this would be a nice place to spend the winters – not as warm, but seldom snow or freezing temperatures. It’s very expensive though.

IMG_1120On the ferry to Victoria

On the ferry to Victoria

Tiny Floating Homes at the Warf

Tiny Floating Homes at the Wharf

IMG_1168Fishermen"s Warf, Victoria

Fishermen”s Wharf, Victoria

The sun was beginning to sink behind the hills when we finally got back onto the bike and rode to Nanaimo, where would stay for the night and catch the morning ferry to Denman Island, and then Hornby Island. By the time we got to Nanaimo I was shivering so much I couldn’t stop. We warmed up with bowls of hot chili and mugs of tea/coffee at Tim Horton’s, across the street from the Howard Johnson Hotel, where we stayed. We were impressed with the cleanliness and quality of the hotel, and especially liked the front desk clerk, Billy, a bubbly blond woman who was interested in the fact that we were on a motorcycle because she’d just recently bought herself a bike.

We just missed the 10:00 am ferry from Buckley Bay to Denman Island. We enjoyed lunch in the sunshine on the deck of the Subway Restaurant at the terminal, and waited for the next one.

Waiting for Ferries

While Waiting for Ferries

While we waited for the ferry on Denman Island that would take us to Hornby Island, we watched a seal dive for fish.

Seal fishing off wharf on Denman Island

Seal fishing off wharf on Denman Island

Watching the Ferry ramp descend

Watching the Ferry ramp descend

The next five days we spent just relaxing with my sister Pauline, her husband Jim, and the “woofer” (young travelers who work for room and board), Stephan, and three Retrievers. My niece and her family were away on a trip, so it was quieter than usual. Heavy rain on most days after we arrived deterred us from taking our usual walks on the beach, but we did enjoy coffee on the deck of the general store at The Cove one morning, and walked among the boats moored in the harbor. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a home cooked chicken dinner on Saturday night, and then Sunday morning we were dashing for ferries again, this time back to our motor home in Vancouver.

Toll Bridge, Surrey BC

The new Toll Bridge on Hwy 1 at Surrey, heading into Vancouver.

This is where we are as I write this blog post. We’ve shared as much time as possible the last few days with my daughter Ann and great-grandson, Lucas, and cheered for the Blue Jays. But during the day Ann has to work while the sun shines (she’s a landscaper) and Lucas goes to school.

On our own one day, we found our way downtown to Canada Place, and Gas Town, both busy and interesting places during the summer, but much quieter this time of year.

Canada Place

Canada Place

Where Cruise Ships dock. Sadly, none there that day.

Where Cruise Ships dock. Sadly, none there that day.

Canada Place Vancouver

Gas Town, Vancouver

One of the many interesting old buildings in Gastown, Vancouver

Stream Clock in Gastown

Stream Clock in Gastown, a popular attraction

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The time spent with family has been precious, but today it’s time for us to start making our way to Arizona.

A Visit with Dorothy in Kansas, The Old Town Museum, and The Indy 500


We’ve been home for over a week now and I’ve taken no time to write! Time to catch up!

As when we headed south, it was our plan to spend more time exploring on our way back home too, but somehow that doesn’t last too long. I don’t know if it’s the poor weather that we encounter, or just the anxiety of getting home. This year our “summer” home is all new to us, since we moved into it just two weeks before we left for Arizona. There is still a lot of unpacking and organizing to do. We did make a couple of stops though.

The wind blew us into Liberty, Kansas and we had to take a look at Dorothy’s House.

Dorothy's House

Dorothy’s House

The storm shelter

The storm (root) cellar

Dorothy and Toto

Dorothy and Toto

After we looked at things outside, we tried to get into the Museum. We were greeted by a live Dorothy, who informed us that the Museum was just closing. We told them that we’ d come all the way from Ontario, so we were allowed a quick look around the main floor and the gift shop, while Dorothy filled us in on some of the history of this Dorothy Memorial.

Not far down the highway, at a truck stop near Greensburg, Kansas we camped in the “RV Park” that a sign advertised as newly opened. It had hookups, but construction debris and other garbage still littered the area. We went into the restaurant for dinner and were entertained by the conversation that flowed around the small room between the truckers.

We were the only ones there!

We were the only ones there!

By noon the next day we were in Wichita, where we spent some time touring Old Town Museum. blog4Old Town, Wichita, Kansas

blog9 Old TownOld TownWe lunched on Brats and Sarsaparilla in Fritz Snitzlers Saloon.

Fritz Snitzlers Saloon

Fritz Snitzlers Saloon

barber chair

Barber chair

Interesting story about whistles and time.

Interesting story about whistles and time.

Funeral Parlour

Funeral Parlour

Couch in the office of the local newspaper.

Couch in the office of the local newspaper.

Then we watched the Kansas Twisters Motorcycle Drill Team practice in the parking lot next to where we were parked.

Drill Team

Precision DrillFor more action, check out this video, courtesy of Jim Victor. https://youtu.be/3xwjI5FKhv4

By the time we left it was time to find a place to stay for the night. We looked up an RV Park listed in El Dorado, a half-hour drive off the highway. On the way we stopped for dinner at an Italian Restaurant. Despite its tired look, the food was good and the owners friendly. The RV Park, however, had to be the worst spot we’d ever seen. I was surprised that it was endorsed by Good Sam. There were very few sites that could accommodate large rigs, as they’d advertised, and all but one spot was filled. There was no one in the office to even tell us that, so we had to drive down the two rows in search of something. It was near the end of the final row that we spotted the empty site, which was barely big enough for us to turn around in, and turn around we had to because there was no exit! Twenty minutes later we were back at the Walmart parking lot for the night, listening to the rain and being rocked by the wind.

Easter Sunday we stopped into visit friends from Mesa Regal who were now home in St. Louis, Missouri. Dave and Nancy were gracious hosts, treating us to a wonderful late meal of their Easter dinner left-overs. That night we found what would be our last good KOA campground of the trip, at Granite City. The further north you get this early in the season, the scarcer they become. Most don’t open until Memorial Day.

By the time we arrived in Indiana the next day the dreary weather and heavy clouds were weighing me down, but one stop on our schedule was the Indy 500 Speedway, so we took a camping site for the night at the State Fair Grounds in Indianapolis. It was not an easy place to find as only one gate was open and the GPS didn’t know that. It was even harder to find out way back out the next morning because the exit signs all led to closed gates, until we eventually found ourselves back where we’d entered. It was after noon when we finally drove into the parking lot at the Indy 500 Speedway. I have to admit that by that time I was feeling a tad hungry and grumpy. We paid the $8.00 each to walk through the very small museum. It would have cost another $30.00 each to have the tour behind the scenes of the track, so we passed on that.

Indy 500 Museum

Indy 500 Museum

Former Championship Cars on display

Former Championship Cars on display

1969 winnerWe did hand over $8.00 each to take the twenty minute mini-bus tour around the track.

blog6 blog5Indy 500 TrackThat night we were at a private campground at Enon, Ohio, next to the freeway and a train track where freight trains frequently rumbled past, and airplanes heading into Columbus flew above us. I didn’t expect to get much sleep, but I guess I was tired enough to tune them all out. Our last night on the road, after driving through Pennsylvania, we ended up where we’d started our trek across the US, at a Walmart in Ferdonia, NY.

San Antonio, Texas


When we left New Orleans we headed in the direction of San Antonio, Texas. Traveling along Hwy 90 was the worst road we’ve ever been on. It is made of concrete slabs and they have all heaved just enough to cause the RV to thump over the uneven seams with each set of axles. Dishes rattled, doors and drawers that we thought were secured banged open and closed. My body began to ache and my head began to pound. At one point we turned off it to take the much smoother service road that ran alongside it, until that took a turn north before meeting up with 90 several miles later. It was 4:45 pm when we crossed the border into Texas and were back on I-10.

Jim takes a break under the Texas Star

Jim takes a break under the Texas Star

At 6:30 we stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel near Houston and called it a day. Most Cracker Barrel Restaurants have parking spots at the back just for RVs and as long as there is space, they are welcome to stay for the night. Of course it’s good for business because we always return for breakfast.

By 2:00 pm the next day we were entrenched in the San Antonio KOA. We unloaded the bike and rode downtown. After finding a spot in a nearby parking lot, we walked to The Alamo and did the tour with headsets that told us the history. It’s an interesting story.

Alamo Alamo5And the gardens around it are beautiful.

Alamo Gardens

Alamo Gardens

Alamo GardensThe sun was hot, so the cooler air that enveloped us after we descended  the stairs to the River Walk was a welcome relief. We strolled on the walkway beside the river banks, and checked out the many restaurants before settling on an outdoor café that featured polish sausages, sauerkraut (or potato salad) and fresh baked pretzels.

Yummy Sausage, pretzel and German Potato Salad

Yummy Sausage, pretzel and German Potato Salad

While we ate we were entertained by two fellows dressed in German-style knickers, vests and hats. One played an accordion, the other a lap drum kit; both sang and told jokes. They quit about the time we were finished eating.

Enertainers

Sign on bucket: “All Donations Benefit the Home for One-armed Accordion Players”

We climbed back up the stairs to the hot pavement, returned to the bike and attempted to find our way back to the campground. We needed a little help from a traffic cop who allowed us to make a U-turn after he told us we were going in the wrong direction. Following his directions we found a much easier route back than the one we’d taken to get there, one that we would use again the next day.

After breakfast we returned to the same parking lot and made our way back to the River Walk. This time we took the hour long boat cruise through all the branches of the river while our captain told us of the history of the building of the River Walk, its main purpose being to prevent flooding. Over time the building of a multitude of restaurants, a shopping plaza, convention centre and two towering hotels has turned it into a major tourist attraction. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the atmosphere, listening to the music being played on the terrace of the plaza, and ending our visit with a fine dinner at The County Line BBQ, after waiting in line for twenty minutes. We were disappointed to see that not all of the lights along the walk had been turned on, but it was a lovely evening just the same.

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk Tour Boat

Five & Dime

A good place to purchase t-shirts and other souvenirs

River Walk

The birds found a good place to eat, but we couldn’t get a seat here.

The next morning we were on our way again.