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!

Exploring and Camping in Canada’s National Parks, Part I


Jasper National Park

We said goodbye to Edmonton just before noon on September 13, and entered the Whistlers campsite in Jasper National Park at 5:45 pm. Once we got out of the city suburbs the landscape began to change to hills and forests and then mountain vistas. I managed to capture some of the splendor with the camera, finding some clear spots between the splattered bugs and drops of rain on the windshield.

Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park

Jasper (16) Jasper (21)At the entrance to the National Parks we had to purchase a Park Permit at $8.25 per person, per day. Not bad for all that we saw! We purchased for two days to start.

We roamed around downtown Jasper, checked email and had a late lunch at Denny’s before we went to the campsite.

Jasper, Alberta

Some of downtown Jasper, Alberta

Jasper (29) Jasper (31) Jasper (32)It rained off and on most of the day, but had stopped when arrived at Whistlers, and we got a walk in before it started again. We’d hoped to get a glimpse of some more elk. We’d seen a family at one of the campsite areas on our way in. Jim tried to get a picture through the window, but we had to keep moving as we were blocking the road. Again the only wildlife that we saw was birds and squirrels.

Glimpse of Elk

Our only Glimpse of Elk

The next morning we moved on, returning to Jasper for a little more touring before checking into Wapiti Campground a little further down the road, where we left the trailer and drove the motor home to Maligne Canyon to spend a few hours walking the trails and snapping pictures. It was a good workout, not recommended for people with walking difficulties.

Maligne Gorge

Maligne Gorge, a beautiful hike

Jasper.Maligne Gorge (14) Jasper.Maligne Gorge (47) Jasper.Maligne Gorge (48) Jasper.Maligne Gorge (60)Next Stop, Columbia Ice Fields

We took the Glacier Parkway toward Banff the next day. The temperature had dropped and the off-and-on rain sometimes became wet snow.

By the time we reached the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, Jasper National Park early in the afternoon, the wind was blowing large snowflakes around. I dug out our toques and gloves, the only winter wear I’d packed, and we climbed the hill from the parking lot to the Centre. We booked a tour of the Glacier and had just enough time to grab something to eat in the motor home before we had to line up. We’d climbed more stairs to the cafeteria/dining room, but didn’t think we could get through that line in time. We had to climb back up the hill to the Centre to catch the tour. We sure got our exercise that day! While I waited in the tour line, Jim bought an extension for our National Park Pass and found out that we could camp in the parking lot for the night.

The tour took us by bus up a mountain road to the edge of the glacier, where we transferred to an Ice Explorer, a massive vehicle especially designed for glacial travel. We bumped over the packed snow and held our breath as we did steep climbs up and down until we reached the parking spot where we were able to disembark for photo shoots in front of the base of the glacier. There were many tour groups there, and some were so fascinated with the snow that they had to sit in it and make snow balls. The sun came out just in time for us to see the mountain peaks. Another awe inspiring experience to add to our memories.

Glacier Icefields

Glacier Icefields as seen from our campsite

Jim standing on the glacier

Jim standing on the glacier

Glacier Pkwy (110)

Our transportation

Icefields

The dark line in the middle is where the tour stops

Glacier Pkwy (87) When we got back to the Centre the crowds had dispersed. We had some dinner at the cafeteria before walking back down to the motor home and snuggling under mounds of blankets to get warmed up. After a good night’s sleep we were on our way again.

Up, Up and Away…to Lake Havasu


After nearly two months in one place, a road trip was calling us. We pulled up stakes on a Thursday morning – well it was actually afternoon by the time we’d gotten everything disconnected and packed away for the jaunt – and started west toward Lake Havasu City, bypassing Quartzsite on the way. Our plan was to spend a couple of days taking in the Balloon Festival in Lake Havasu before returning to check out the draw of RVs in Quartzsite.

It was getting dark by the time we arrived in Lake Havasu and found the Good Sam parking area where we’d booked a spot for two nights. The price was right at only $20 per night. Although it was dry camping (no electricity, water or sewer, also known as boon docking) it was close to the lake and the site of the Balloon Festival, to which frequent shuttle buses were supplied. We had dinner in the motor home, read the information provided by the Good Sam Club, and then turned in early so we could be up at dawn for the first balloon launch.

The next morning we were on the shuttle bus by 6:30 am, after a quick breakfast and no coffee. We watched while numerous balloons were inflated and readied for launch. Multi-membered crews pulled ropes and organized the various stages while trying to keep spectators from getting in the way. It was an amazing thing to watch.

Laying it out

Laying one out

Crew at work

Crew at work, pulling it up

At 7:20 am the Opening Day of the Balloon Festival began with a Flag Ceremony and the first balloon was launched,rapidly followed by many others.

Inflation Begun at sunrise

Inflation Began at Sunrise

Nearly there

Nearly there

Flag Ceremony

Flag Ceremony

Up, up and away

Up, up and away

Balloons filling sky

Balloons filled the sky

For $200 each we could have taken a ride in one; for $20 we could go up a few hundred feet in a tethered balloon. The former would have been fun, but was too expensive; the later didn’t hold much interest. We waited to see the massive Wells Fargo Balloon leave the ground, but learned that it would only be tethered, so we finally wandered to the mile-long circle of vendors in search of more breakfast.

Wells Fargo Balloon

Tethered Wells Fargo Balloon

After filling our bellies with a shared jumbo breakfast burrito, and re-energized with coffee, we toured around Vendor Circle where we were impressed with the variety and quality of products for sale. We snapped pictures of vintage cars on display.

1962 Studebaker Avanti

1962 Studebaker Avanti

Vintage Car

Who knows what this one is?

At 1:00 pm we were getting weary so waited in line for a shuttle bus back to the campsite, only to be told that the school buses being used were tied up transporting school children until 3:00, so we went back through the gates, found a table under the tent and enjoyed Teriyaki bowls while listening to the musician performing on the outdoor stage. Then we roamed some more, discovering more balloons in the sky and more treasures in the Vendor Circle. We drank several bottles of water. The temperature had climbed up over 80˚F. The weather turned a little too breezy for a few hours, so the balloons gradually returned to the ground. At 4:00 pm we finally caught a shuttle bus back to the RV to rest and unload the extra clothing and purchases that we’d been carrying around all day. But we had to go back again at 6:00 to catch the “Night Glow” or “Field of Fire”. As the sun set, we stood beneath a ceiling of colourful balloons lit up by the gas flames that inflated them. What an awesome experience! Exhausted, we fell into bed very early again that night.

Night Glow Balloons

Night Glow Balloons

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The next morning we were up early enough to have coffee and donuts with our fellow Good Sam members at the campsite, and we took more pictures of the launched balloons from the roof of the RV before setting out on the road again.

Balloons from RV roof

Witches, Butterflies and even a Pink Elephant

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We made a stop at London Bridge, in downtown Lake Havasu City, before finding a place to fill up the propane tank. We would be boon docking again in Quartzsite, so we had to make sure we had plenty to run the furnace (it still gets cold at night), water heater and stove.

London Bridge

London Bridge

Then we were on the road once more.

Our First Christmas in Our Home-away-from home


Our Tree

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here in Mesa Arizona, at Mesa Regal RV Resort, for two weeks already. As the saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  There is so much to see and do here.

One evening we were out on the bike, looking for a coffee shop I think (or perhaps ice cream), when we noticed, not for the first time, three lit up camels in a yard along Main Street.

Three CamelsThis time we decided to investigate. We were awed by what we found! The camels were on the grounds of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Temple, and the camels were only a small incentive to draw people in to see the thousands of other lights, listen to a choir performance, and view the many Christmas Nativities. Several of these were life-size, on the temple grounds; others were miniature nativities from around the world, displayed in a room inside the Visitors Centre. We tried to take pictures with what cameras we happened to have with us – a point-and-shoot and an iPhone, while holding onto our motorcycle helmets. Needless to say, we didn’t get the pictures that we’d hoped for, but here are a few of the best.

Star of Bethlehem

Nativity 1

Miniature Nativities

Nativity 2

Mesa Regal is very much in the Christmas spirit, with street decorating contests, street parties with Santa Clause, a Christmas dinner, and school choirs entertaining.

Lighted Bicycle

Street Lights

We’ve had our picture taken with Santa a few times.

With Santa 1 With Santa 2

Santa 3

On Wednesday we took advantage of a Gift Certificate given to us as a Christmas gift from Jim’s daughter and family. We signed up for a four hour jeep tour with Apache Trail Tours, and had a great time bouncing over rough, twisty trails and holding our breath, while at times looking straight down the side of a cliff, as we were transported from and elevation of 1100 feet to 9000 feet, up the Superstition Mountains. The view of Canyon Lake, and the changing rock formations and vegetation, and the history told to us by our driver/guide made it a very worthwhile adventure.

Canyon Lake

Looking down to Canyon Lake

One of many sharp curves on the edge of the mountain

One of many sharp curves on the edge of the mountain

With our GuideWe hope to go back another day to the old west village from where the tour began to do some more exploring, but by the time the tour was done we had just enough time left to get to the Christmas dinner, for which we’d purchased tickets.

Petersons Mercantile

The Western Village

Despite all of the decorations and parties, we’re still having trouble believing that Christmas is just a few days away. We’ll spend Christmas Eve with some of our new friends at a house party. Christmas Day we hope to connect with our families back home through the internet. We miss them all.

WISHING EVERYONE A MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND SAFE TRAVELS.

See you in the New Year.

A New Rving and Motorcycle Adventure Begins


When I started this blog three years ago, we had just purchased our first full-size motor home and were out for our first RVing adventure. We’ve covered a lot of territory since then, and the old beast has served us well.

Thor Pinnacle, 1992

The “old beast” now in need of new owners

But it’s now twenty-one years old. Since our plan for this year is a long drive to Arizona to escape the winter weather, dreams of something newer and a little larger danced in our heads.

I mentioned in a previous post that we’d almost bought a brand new “C” Class when we were at the Good Sam Rally in Syracuse this spring, but the reality is that unless we sell our larger-than-we-really need home (and that’s not going to happen any time soon) a brand new motor home will remain a dream. So I’ve been searching online for something that would meet at least most of our wishes at a price we could afford. Last week, I found it! Although Jim was hesitant at first, once he had a look at it (it was local so we didn’t have to travel far for the inspection) he agreed that it would make our next adventure considerably more pleasant, and the price was manageable. We bought a 2006 Damon Daybreak. It’s two feet longer than our old Thor Pinnacle, and it has one large slide, giving us the extra storage space that I longed for, and a little more counter space.

DamonDaybreak

The “new” beast

We picked it up yesterday from the garage where the safety inspection and e-test were done. A new windshield that the previous owner had already ordered was in at a nearby auto glass shop, so we stopped in there before coming home. Unfortunately, because it was pouring rain and they had no space to get it inside, we had to leave it. Today is sunny so I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be done today. I’m excited!

In the meantime, we emptied the cupboards and drawers of the Pinnacle and listed it for sale. We couldn’t believe how much stuff there was in it! We filled the trunk and backseat of the car three times! Now it’s all sitting in the sun-room, waiting to be methodically organized into the Daybreak. Is it ALL going in or can I cull some of it? I hope so.

RV Contents

Really?

RV Contents

Whoa! Where did it all come from?

Of course we’ll be taking the motorcycle along when we go and we might even have room for the bicycles. We might need them to get around the massive RV resort that we booked into.

Watkins Glen, NY


Yesterday we rode the eleven miles back to Watkins Glen to the State Park Gorge and spent two hours climbing up the 832 steps to the top.  It’s definitely not a place you’d want to be without a camera. Between the two of us we took over 200 pictures. For now I can post only a sample.

Steps up the Gorge

Just some of the steps

One Water Fall

One Water Fall.The hole was made for a Mill sluice-way

Many Water Falls

Many Water Falls

Water Falls

Water Falls

Water Falls

More Stairs

More Stairs

Tunnel

One of many tunnels

Although my knees began to protest on the way back down, it took only half an hour because we were able to avoid most of the steps and we didn’t stop as often. We met two couples from Kitchener who we discovered were also at the RV Rally. Small world!

That was our third and final night at the Ferenbaugh Campsite. It was a good spot. I’d recommend it to any campers or RVers who want to spend some time in the area. Later I’ll do a review of all the campsites we’ve visited on this trip.

Moving On


We spent a few hours Sunday afternoon negotiating and crunching numbers to see if we could make that purchase on our Wish List happen (we couldn’t thanks to the sales tax we’d have to pay taking it across the border), and we completely forgot about the Vogues concert at 4:00 pm! Oh well, it was raining anyway.

The clouds rolled away in the evening so we took a walk around our camping area to see how many RVs were still there and how many would need to be pulled out of the mud. There were even some that had For Sale signs on them.  They must have made successful negotiations on new ones. The Rally ended that night with another fireworks display.

Fireworks

Fireworks

The departure on Monday morning went smoothly. Unlike we had expected, the RVs started drifting out in stages so there wasn’t any congestion when we got away at about ten o’clock. The sun was hot by then. By noon we were once again established, this time at  Ferenbaugh Campsites, five miles north of Corning, NY. Hungry and in need of groceries, we struck out on the bike, heading towards Corning we thought, but we’d turned in the wrong direction so had lunch, did banking and bought groceries in Watkins Glen instead. We’d planned to visit the State Park there another day and had not gone prepared with cameras, so we returned to camp to enjoy nice leisurely showers before carrying the dirty laundry down the hill to the Laundromat. Not an exciting day, but after a week of dry-camping (i.e. without electric, water or sewer hook-up) it was pure luxury! We even had unlimited internet. (Well, I thought we did until I tried to post this blog with more pictures. Had to switch to Verizon and limit pictures.)

Today (Tuesday) we turned in the right direction and got ourselves to Corning and the Corning Glass Museum, which has replaced the Steuben Factory. We were there from 11:00 am until 3:30 pm, learning all kinds of interesting facts about glass components, fibre optics, the development of fibre glass insulation, and watched a Glass Blowing Demonstration, a Flame Working Demo and a Glass Breaking Demo, and took lots of pictures. We resisted buying anything in the Gift Shop although the glass flowers were very appealing – too tall and fragile for an RVing life though.

Glass Flowers

Glass Flowers

We took the free shuttle bus downtown to explore this heritage town (some interesting architecture here) before grabbing dinner for two at Holmes Plate 54. Once again we returned home with enough food for another day.