A Ride through Presqu’ile Provincial Park in Brighton, Ontario


Because our riding friends had visited family who work in the medical field, it was agreed that we shouldn’t risk exposure until they’d done a quarantine period, so we did a few short rides around our community on our own during the warm days. By the time their quarantine period was done, the weather had turned quite nasty – rainy and cold most days.

This week we were suffering from Cabin Fever! When we heard the weather forecast for Friday – sunny and hot! – we made plans to take our bikes to Brighton and tour Presqu’ile Provincial Park. Unfortunately our friends had already made other plans for the day, so we struck out on our own after an early lunch. It turned out to be a beautiful day!

By 1:00 pm we had our bikes unloaded at a little parking lot and were ready to ride. As often happens, we were questioned about our bikes by a man sitting in his car and he gave us some tips about what we should look for in the park.

As close as we have lived to Presqu’ile Park, the only time we’d ever been there was for a retirement party for a friend who had worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources, several years ago, so it was an entirely new adventure.

Presqu’ile Park is located at the southern side of Brighton, Ontario, along the shores of Lake Ontario. It is a popular place to camp, whether in an RV or a tent. Paved roads wind through it, connecting the many camping areas. We explored all of them and a few unpaved trails as well.

This rocky beach is a place where many people have built some amazing rock sculptures.

Many leaves now lay on the ground, but the colours were still brilliant with the sun reflecting off them.

We discovered a history we had no idea about before this tour.

There is a story posted near the lighthouse about the dangers of the lake in the fall and the number of ships that ended up wrecked near the shores.

The shipwrecks

The long-gone  dance pavilion and hotel: At the end of a side road leading to a spot called “Day Use Area” there is an inlet and a marshy area.

It’s a pretty spot looking over the lake, but we were surprised to find a billboard that described a hotel and dance pavilion once being in the area.

I wasn’t able to get a picture that could be seen close enough to read clearly here, so I’ve transcribed it:

“In the end of the 1800s pioneer society was changing. Increased  prosperity let to a growing interest in summer resorts and leisure activities and Presqu’ile was seen as an ideal location to pursue these activities. During the summer, tents started springing up on small lots along the bay shore between Salt Point and the lighthouse. As families returned year after year the tents were replaced by small wooden cabins.

In 1891, ferries and other boats began bringing vacationer to the point from Rochester and other cities along Lake Ontario.  In 1905 ,Peter Covell of Brighton opened a summer hotel and dance pavilion that was located at the base of the large dock you can see down the shoreline I front of you.  In 1913, Grant Quick opened a larger dance pavilion, the Presqu’le Pleasure Palace, across the road from the hotel.  This dance hall proved very popular and a year later Covell sold the hotel to Quick.

Over the years additions and upgrades were added to the hotel, with electricity reaching the peninsula in 1923. In 1937, a landing strip for small aircraft was opened on the field close to here to ferry paying guests to the  hotel. In 1939, the old wooden dock in front of the hotel was replaced by the current concrete dock.

Dances were held at the pavilion six nights a week from mid-June to mid-September. Men paid $1.00 per evening or $10 for an annual pass. Music was supplied by a six to eight member live-in band, many of them well-known in the era. In addition, annual regattas with swimming and boat races were highly anticipated by the cottagers.  On Sunday nights, large crowds gathered at the pavilion for a singsong.  At the last singsong of the year, Grant Quick had the audience stand, join hands and sing “Auld Lang Syne”.

After much research we determined that the location would have been behind the brush seen on the right had side of this picture.

It was nearly four o’clock when we had our bikes back on the carrier and ready to head home, feeling invigorated, and carrying a bit of new knowledge.

For more information about camping, walking or biking in the park visit the website.

Sadly, it looks like our biking season is coming to an end, but the purchase of these iGo e-bikes from Green Street Bike Shop in Peterborough was the best decision we’ve made in a long time. We read that the City of Peterborough has offered to pay for snow tires for a number of bikers who want to try riding the trails in the winter, but having spent the last seven winters in Arizona, we just can’t see ourselves adjusting that well to the cold weather!

 I fear we will become arm chair travelers this winter. Future blog posts will be re-runs, or Memoirs, until better ways of dealing with COVID are found and we are free to travel once more.

Hope you will come along for the ride.

Riding West Along the Trans Canada Trail out of Hastings


We got in another, shorter, ride on Wednesday, before the wind, rain and colder weather blew in. Our plan had been to drive to Omemee to unload the bikes and then ride to Lindsay for lunch, and back, but the forecast wasn’t looking good for later on in the day. The morning, however, was sunny and warming up nicely by the time we met with two of our riders in Hastings, to take the Trans Canada Trail west out of Hastings for an hour then return to Hastings where we’d meet the other couple for lunch.

There isn’t much to say, other than it’s a beautiful section of the trail. The many pictures that we took tell the story of the vibrant autumn colours we passed through. Enjoy!

The Trail took us mostly alongside Trent River/Trent Severn Waterway, then we veered off to the north to take this tunnel under County Road 2 and went a little further before turning back toward Hastings.

This could be our last ride of the season. But, then again, maybe we’ll get one more shot at warm sunny weather before winter reaches us. 🙂

Again, thanks to Jim and Julie for contributing to the pictures.

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.

Opinion: Toilet Paper vs. Bidets


I recall the day when I first left our new baby with my husband for an hour while I went to an appointment. When I got home, he was finishing up cleaning the bathtub, a distasteful frown on his face.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“I had to give her a bath,” he said. “She made a big mess in her diaper, so I  put her into the tub to shower her off before touching the mess.”

At the time, my reaction was, “Gross!”

In retrospect, it seems the most logical thing to do. It would have been better if the “showering off” could have been done over the toilet, but in the long run it saved a whole mess of toilet paper, or wipes or whatever else he could have found to do the job.

While doing the grocery shopping yesterday, I reluctantly picked up a 12-pack of toilet paper costing $9.00, an on-sale bargain. I was reluctant because I’ve discovered a much more efficient and environmentally friendly alternative.

When we were in a department store in Arizona in March, stocking up on a few groceries for the motorhome, for our mad dash toward home before COVID-19 closed the border, I was struck by the winding line of people waiting to grab some of the precious packages of toilet paper that were supposedly being unloaded from a truck at the loading docks. There were people with walkers and scooters and quite possibly other health issues, mostly seniors, all crowded together and chatting while in line. Getting toilet paper was more important than social distancing to protect themselves from getting the virus! The wearing of masks was not yet advised in the US. I was glad that we still had a good supply of the commodity in the motorhome.

Soon after we got home, while surfing the net since there was nothing else for us to do – we were under quarantine for 14 days – I saw an ad for a portable bidet. I investigated further. I’d already thought about getting a bidet, but it wasn’t up to me to decide to install one in our bathroom, and I’d never really tried one to know how well it would work. This portable one seemed like a good chance to give it a try. I placed the order. By the time the money was exchanged from US to Canadian, and shipping was added it cost me as much as one that would attach to the toilet !Two months later it arrived, just as described in the ad. It had a rechargeable lithium battery pack with a USB plug, and a collapsible wand attached to a six-inch plastic tube that needed to be filled with tap water. I plugged it in and charged it up.

Bidet with wand down

Bidet with Wand at first angle
Bidet with wand straight out

The first time I tried it I wasn’t sure if I liked it. It did leave my bottom quite wet, and it seemed a little awkward to use. But I followed the advice in the instructions and hung a small wash cloth on a bar behind the toilet, to use for drying myself off. After a few tries I got the hang of it, and was amazed at the efficiency.

Since then, I’ve had to purchase only two package of toilet paper, in much smaller quantities than I’d been buying. My husband is still not eager to give the bidet a try, like anyone that I’ve told about it. “Gross” and a cringe is often the response.

Now, for me, the thought of using the alternative makes me cringe and say “gross!” I also feel good knowing that I’ve taken one more small step toward reducing the clear cutting of trees to produce toilet paper and the amount of waste that is flushed into our municipal water processing plants or septic tanks.

While we might think that being environmentally friendly is not worth the inconvenience we feel sometimes, it’s worth giving new ideas a try. You might just find that the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience.

A Trip to the Phoenix Zoo


Over the last seven years we’ve visited many, many places of interest within our local area, but there are still a few on our Bucket List. One was the Phoenix Zoo. On Saturday evening, we went. As you will see, it was a different kind of Zoo that we saw that night!

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There was a long line up at the gate when we arrived, just before 5:30 pm. We got into it and all the way to the entrance before we realized that, since we hadn’t purchased our tickets online as most people had, we had to go back to the ticket booth and then to the end of the line! Fortunately, it didn’t take too long, before we were following the crowd through the brightly lit canopy of lights, above a wooden bridge over a stream.

The lit-up giraffe was just a hint of things to come.

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An elephant on top of one of the many Food Stands on the grounds

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A few more on the Ground

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Take a look at more of these lighted, moulded animal sculptures in  this slide show. They are amazing!

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Some of them were animated, like this crocodile.

While most of the live animals were stabled for the night, we did see a few – a huge Porcupine that was hidden in the shadows and on the move too much to capture by camera, a few Reindeer and a few Camels.

And then there were the lights! Lots of lights around trees, and globes, reflecting in the pond, and forming outlines of more animals and bugs! Not as easy to capture, but here’s the best we could do with the equipment we had.

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After nearly two hours of wandering, we were tired and hungry. We made our way back to the Savannah Grill that we’d seen near the entrance. There we enjoyed the delicious Aldo burgers and fries, before walking back to the car. Needless to say, we were asleep early that night.

Christmas Tour to Laughlin, Nevada


It was raining when we woke up at 5:30 on Christmas Eve morning. We were planning to walk the short distance to our pick-up spot for the Worldspan Christmas in Laughlin Tour. We thought it better to leave the car at home, rather than in an empty parking lot for three days, but we could think of no one who would be up that early and willing to give us a ride! Fortunately the rain had stopped by the time we were ready to leave a half hour later.

The bus trip was pretty much uneventful. The rain started again just as we were boarding, and stayed with us all the way. We made a short stop at a fast food restaurant in Wickenburg for breakfast. We wished it could have been at the Cowboy Restaurant we’d visited before, but it wasn’t open anyway. When we got back onto the bus, a movie was cued and ready for our enjoyment – The Christmas Gift. It helped to pass the time, until our next brief rest stop in Kingman. At 11:00 a.m. we arrived at our Hotel – The Edgewater.

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We wouldn’t be given our room keys until 3:00 pm, although our luggage would be taken to our room at some time before that. We were given our Casino playing cards though, but not our promised food vouchers. So what was there for us to do for four hours? Within an hour, Jim and I had lost the meagre allotment that we allowed ourselves ($15.00 between us) on the slot machines. We’d checked our carry-on baggage and coats at the Valet desk, but Jim thought we should go for a walk along the Board Walk that spanned the distance between the Edgewater Hotel and the Colorado Belle. The rain had nearly stopped, but a cold wind still blew. I wrapped my scarf around my arms and dashed out. It was worth it.

On our way back through our lobby we looked into one of the gift shops and ended up buying a new weekender bag to replace the patched one that I’d brought with me. By then the rain had stopped and we retrieved our coats to walk across the street to the Outlet Mall, where we managed to do window shopping without spending much. We were tempted by all the bargains.

Back at our hotel lobby we enjoyed the complimentary hot chocolate and Christmas cookies that were offered, and commiserated with fellow tour passengers about the long wait, and the fact that the Christmas Eve Buffet that we’d been promised had been cancelled. One woman, who was on her own, had been looking forward to it.

At 3:00 we were given our room keys. We picked up our other things from the Valet desk and made our way to the eleventh floor. The elevators smelled of stale smoke and the halls were very cold, but our room was large and comfortable. There was no mini-fridge for the bottles of juice and coffee that I’d taken with us. I was exhausted and laid down, hoping to have a nap, but it was of no use. We’d planned to meet our friends (who had gotten on a different tour and were at a different hotel) for dinner. We walked to the Riverside Hotel and got to compare it with the Edgewater. It was bigger and had more amenities, like a movie theatre, a bowling alley and a ballroom for evening dancing, but our friends weren’t very pleased with their room. Both hotels are some of the older ones on the strip.

On our walk back to our hotel, we toured through The Aquarius, where we saw the first sign of Christmas lights, and took some pictures of the other nearby hotels that were lit up.

We were in bed early, too tired to keep our eyes open any longer.

Christmas Day was the day we looked forward to. Jim was up early, ready to meet the fellow from Second to None 220 Tours, who would take him to pick up the Polaris Slingshot that he’d reserved. He was so excited that he forgot what day it was until I wished him a Merry Christmas upon his return!

The rain had returned during the night, so we got showered and dressed and found the Breakfast Buffet to fill our bellies, hoping that by the time we got back to our rooms the clouds would be lifted. They weren’t. At 10:30 the sun began to peek through the clouds so we bundled up because we knew it would be cold, and climbed into the Slingshot and headed across the bridge, back into Arizona, with big smiles on our faces.

The sun soon disappeared and rain splashed on our helmet visors. I made use of the cloths that had been left in the glove box just for such purposes. We also made use of the woven blankets that were tucked behind the seats, to help keep us warm.

We arrived in Kingman in time for lunch and warmth. When we left, the sun was shining again and accompanied us the rest of the way up the mountain on a narrow, winding section of Route 66.

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Had to get this shot in KIngman before we left

There were signs of recent flooding, parts of the shoulder crumbled, and at one spot we had to drive slowly through a small patch of running water that was flooding the road. Fortunately, it was only a few inches deep. We were on our way to Oatman, which turned out to be on the other side of the mountain. I was grateful that Jim is a careful, mature driver.

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About half way to Oatman we came across this little museum, and some beautiful vistas.

Soon we were descending into Oatman. I think the photos will tell the story.

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We were back at our hotel in time to chat with family on the phone, and enjoy the complimentary Christmas Day Buffet, before Jim took the Slingshot back to Second to None 220 Tours, where the owner met him and drove him back to the hotel. Needless to say, it was another early night.

Boxing Day was a lazy day. The rain was back. We got bagels and cream cheese and coffee from the lobby donut shop to eat in our room. There were no tables or comfortable chairs anywhere in the lobby. There was nothing else to do, it seemed, but gamble. We stayed in our room until we had to be out at 11:00 a.m., but we were told not to board the bus until 1:00. We claimed our complimentary pieces of pizza from one of the restaurants. Jim did things on his iPad. I’d run out of data on my phone, and my tablet was just about dead, so I put another five dollars into one of the slot machines and played for twenty minutes to pass the time. I left with $4.97.

Other than a different movie, the trip back to Mesa was just the opposite of the one to Laughlin, including the rain.

Would we do that trip again? Probably not. But the Slingshot ride to Oatman made it all worthwhile!

Arizona 2019/20 in the Horizon


Well we’ve been in Mesa for six weeks! I started this post soon after we arrived, and then life got extremely busy. Sorry it’s so late. Hope you enjoy the journey anyway.

The day was cool when we left Hastings on Thursday, October 17th, and the inside of the motorhome was downright cold! Jim jacked up the heater and turned on the blower, but after an hour we realized it wasn’t getting any warmer. Before long we both had our hoodies on, hoods pulled up, and I snatched the leg wrap, that my friend Alice had made me a few years ago, off the couch to tuck around my legs and feet.

It was a cold drive!

It was a cold drive without heat in the motorhome, for a few hours!

The sun came out and warmed us a bit so we kept on trucking until we felt the need to stop for dinner. We were still in Ontario and it was obvious that we wouldn’t even make it to the border to the USA before dark. Jim turned on the propane and tried to start the furnace to warm the place up. It didn’t work either! We left it and went into the Onroute rest stop to eat. When we came out, the furnace still hadn’t come on, so we gave up on that. But, when Jim started the engine, the heat began to blow through the vents, and kept us warm during the days all the rest of our trip! The nights were a different story.

Traffic was slow going through Toronto and further west. We spent our first night at another Onroute rest stop at Dutton, Ontario, too tired and too late to go any further. With temperatures dipping close to the freezing mark our only hope of sleeping was to add to the three layers of covers already on the bed. The extra tightly-woven Mexican blanket that I’d decided at the last minute to bring with us to use on the couch did the job, but we kept our hoodies and socks on!

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After a quick breakfast the next morning, we were on the road by 7:40 and crossing the bridge from Windsor, Ontario into Detroit, Michigan an hour and a half later. The Border Security Agent was more thorough than any we’ve ever had before (or maybe more suspicious?) He came aboard and began asking questions about what we had for food in our fridge. Before I could reply Jim said something like “Ketchup, mustard…not much at all.

“I’m going to ask you if you are aware of the rules about what you can and cannot bring across the border,” the Agent said.

We both answered “yes” but he proceeded to inform us that we could not have any fresh fruit, vegetables or meats with us. “Do you have any meat or fresh fruit or vegetables in your fridge?” He then asked.

“No,” we replied.

“Are you sure?” he said. “You know there is a $500 fine (or $5,000 depending on how each of us heard) for not declaring it. You know I’m going to look.”

“Go ahead,” Jim said as I shrugged my shoulders. We knew we had nothing to worry about.

After Jim showed him how to open the baby lock that we now have on the fridge to keep the door closed when travelling, he opened it and took a quick look. Nothing to see but the condiments and a few bottles of coolers that we’d told him about. He relaxed a bit then and tried to make small talk. As he headed to the door he turned at said, “How much money do you have with you?” We told him.

“Where did you get it?”

“The bank at home.”

“Do you have a receipt?”

“Not with us. We didn’t know that was required.”

“Have a good holiday.” Then he opened the gate for us.

That was a new experience for us.

We drove through the day, stopping only for lunch and gas, until we pulled into a KOA in Indianapolis for the night. We were plugged into electric and sewer, making things a little more comfortable. After dinner and hot showers we crawled under the covers to read, but it wasn’t long before we were asleep.

The next day we took it easier. We didn’t leave the camp ground until 10:00. Although we drove for an hour and a half before stopping for lunch in Casey, Illinois, because of the time zone we’d passed through, it was only 10:30.

Casey is a fun small town to visit because it’s the home of  “The Largest…”. Here are a few pictures that I took on a previous trip.

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We contacted our friends from Mesa Regal, Nancy and Dave, to see if we could hook up for a visit. It happened that they were at their granddaughter’s soccer game, just off I-44 where we would be once we got through St. Louis. We made plans to meet for coffee. But, as usual, we managed to miss a turn while going through St. Louis, Missouri and had to back track and follow detour signs before we got heading in the right direction on I-44. Can you believe that we had two maps, a GPS and two cell phones to guide us and we still missed the turn! Nancy and Dave were waiting for us at the restaurant when we arrived. We spent a nice hour catching up with them. Last year they sold their home in Mesa Regal so we won’t be seeing them here anymore.

It was nearly 5:00 pm when we left them. We drove for another hour before stopping for the night in a Walmart parking lot in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. The store closed at night and the parking lot was taken over for a couple of hours by a group of noisy teenagers in loud cars, at least that’s what I assumed. I couldn’t see them from my window. Jim slept through it all, but not me!

We were up early the next morning, but our departure was delayed while we waited for heavy fog to lift.

That evening we parked ourselves in another parking lot, this time in Oklahoma City beside the River Walk – one of our favourite places. I’ve written about this beautiful spot a few times, and posted several pictures. But this time it was dusk by the time we had enjoyed dinner on one of the restaurant patios and were strolling along the River Walk.

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It looked different in that light. There was nothing else to do but to take a few more pictures.

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As we were getting back to the motorhome the sky started to rumble and lightening began to flash. We watched and took pictures until the rain chased us inside.

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The Sky is darkening

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Lightening Flashes Lighting Up the Sky, behind the street lamp

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A Flash of Lightening

We heard a crowd screaming and rushing back to the Party Bus that we’d seen parked not too far from us. After they left and the storm passed, a motorcycle or two circled around a few times before leaving.

On Monday, we drove and drove: through the rest of Oklahoma and across Texas, where we made a brief stop along I-40 to see the Cadillac Ranch to see the line of old Cadillacs buried nose first into the sand, and painted with spray paint by every tourist who stops by.

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We ended the day in Santa Rosa RV Park in New Mexico. The BBQ Rib special that was offered at the restaurant was very welcome. We were in higher elevations again and the temperatures were dropping.

Anxious to get to the warmth of Mesa, we made no more touristy stops. Well, maybe a little in Winslow, Arizona the next afternoon. We took a few pictures, bought a T-shirt, and slept in the RV in the Tourist Information parking lot.

Winslow guitar

We were up at 5:45 feeling too chilled to even make our own coffee.

“Can we just find a place to get a good hot breakfast before we carry on?” I asked Jim. “Sure.”

But there was nothing open in Winslow at that hour of the day, and Jim had planned to get off the busy highway and take Hwy 87. We thought surely there would be a truck stop somewhere along the route. We’d never travelled that road before; we didn’t know that it went through Coconino Forest, and then Tonto Forest. Before long we saw signs warning of low visibility ahead due to a forest fire.

Fortunately we didn’t see much of the smoke and we soon drove past it.

It was 8:30 before we came to an inhabited community and a hot breakfast and coffee at the Early Bird Café. Don’t know when I’ve enjoyed breakfast out more.

At the little hardware store next door,  I spotted a selection of colourfully painted metal flowers for sale at a price much less than I’d paid for my smaller one in Mesa a couple of years earlier. I couldn’t resist. It now graces our little “garden” in front of the motor home.

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Shortly after noon, on Wednesday, October 23rd, we arrived in Mesa, Arizona. The earliest we’d ever arrived. The sun was hot!

More about our first couple of weeks in the next post. I promise it won’t take so long to get posted.

Highlights of Our Ontario Summer


Wow, I can’t believe it’s been six months since I’ve written anything about my travels. I guess that’s because, after our weekend in Midland at the Ukulele Festival, we didn’t do any more travelling until October.

Our summer was spent mostly playing pickleball and ukulele, with a few short trips to catch up with family and friends within relatively short distances from our home town.

The highlight of the summer for me was a visit from my daughter, Sarah, her husband and my two grandchildren in August. We did take them to the local Dinosaur Park and Reptile Zoo,

One of many animated dinosaurs at the park

One of many animated dinosaurs at the park

Dinosaur Park, Peterborough

Crocodile at Reptile Zoo, Peterborough, Ontario

Crocodile at Reptile Zoo, Peterborough, Ontario

Tortoise at the Reptile Zoo

Tortoise at the Reptile Zoo

One of several snakes at the Reptile Zoo, Peterborough, Ontario

One of several snakes at the Reptile Zoo, Peterborough, Ontario

Snakes

 

…and to a gravel pit to fish. My grandson loves to fish and the pit was a perfect spot.

Good catch of large mouthed bass

Good catch of large mouthed bass

I also spent a few days with them at Sarah’s grandfather’s old log cabin, that included some baseball games, and fiddle music, that warmed my heart.

Barns at the Farm

Barns at the Farm

Granddaughter Entertaining her Great-Grandfather.

Granddaughter Entertaining her Great-Grandfather.

Then, before we knew it, it was September and time to start planning our trip south. When my niece told me that they were having a belated 80th birthday party for my sister in Vancouver on Thanksgiving Weekend (Canadian) October 12th, we considered doing the cross Canada trip on our way to Arizona, as we did four years ago. We started making plans to leave on October 1st. Then we got the news of early snow storms in our Midwestern provinces, and snow in the mountains of British Columbia where we would have to travel to get to Vancouver. Some further research told us that after October first we would need to either have snow tires on the RV (we don’t) or at least have tire chains onboard in case they were needed (we didn’t). The final straw was when Jim calculated the cost for gas to travel that extra 2200 kilometers across Canada before turning south to Arizona. I researched flights and found we could both fly, return, to Vancouver and back for half of what it would cost us just for gas to drive. I booked our seats and the tension in my shoulders eased considerably. Doing the trip in September was quite different than it would have been trying to do it in October.

We carried on with life as usual for another two weeks, gradually taking belongings to the motorhome and getting it ready for our trip south.

On October 12th we flew out of Toronto and arrived in Vancouver by lunch time, where my daughter, Ann, picked us up and took  us to her place to stay (another cost saving). I especially enjoyed that weekend, having the chance to catch up with both my daughters and spend quality time with my sister and all her family and friends. Sunday was a family-only Thanksgiving dinner at Ann’s. I got to meet two of my great grandchildren for the first time. What a joy!

Monday we did a tour of Granville Island with Ann, enjoyed a dinner of Thanksgiving leftovers, and then got our things together for our morning flight home.

At 1:00 pm on Thursday we were all packed up ready to go again. After a stop for lunch at one of our favourite Hastings restaurants – Banjo’s Grill – we were on our way.

Always Experiencing Something New – Through the Smoke in Kelowna and Kaslo BC


Other than having my carry-on bag inspected because I’d inadvertently packed one tube of facial cleanser that was a little over the size limit, my flight to Kelowna was very pleasant. The plane was newer, but had more leg room than usual. It wasn’t full, so the friendly woman in the outside seat and I shared the empty space between us. And we arrived twenty minutes early!

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Somewhere over the Prairies?

It was hot, dry and smoky when my friend, Judy, picked me up at Kelowna Airport, but that didn’t stop us from chatting all the way to her home in Vernon, as long-time friends tend to do. I stayed with Judy and her husband until the next leg of my trip by bus began the next afternoon.

During a trip to the Vernon Library, we came across this lovely little park and caught the last beautiful song from a young woman performing with her friend or husband, who accompanied her on guitar. We were sorry we arrived too late to catch more and to get a better picture, maybe even a video clip.

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Music in the Park

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Next to the Vernon Court House

While Judy and I waited at the station for my bus the next morning, a police officer came in looking for someone named Ernie. He approached an elderly man who was sitting behind me and asked if he could speak to him. We heard the officer say that someone was worried about him. The man was tall and frail-looking. He carried with him only a small shaving kit and a brown manila envelope. Neither the pockets of his plaid cargo shorts, nor those on his shirt showed any sign of a wallet. They took their conversation outside and then eventually left together.

“I hope he can get a refund,” said a man sitting two seats over from me. “He bought a ticket to Swift Current (a destination hundreds of miles away). I thought that to be doubtful, but it reminded me of the man who was reluctantly about to celebrate his 100th birthday at an Old Age Home, in the book The-100-Year- Old- Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. I recommend it for a fun read.

Soon, I was riding the Greyhound Bus to Nelson, where my daughter Sarah picked me up, while observing the clouds of smoke and areas of blackened forest that had succumbed to the fires last year. We arrived in Kaslo just in time to say good night to my two grandchildren.

Like last year, large portions of the days in Kaslo were spent at the beach. The cool breeze off the lake made the temperature bearable, but the other shore of the lake was obscured by the smoke, even that far away from the nearest wildfire.

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Smoke across Kootenay Lake

The next morning I was introduced to a sweet dog named Leté. Sarah had gotten a call telling her that one of her friends, who had recently been acting very strangely and who Sarah suspected was having some sort of mental breakdown, had been admitted to hospital. The neighbour who was calling was looking after the woman’s dog, but because of some physical restrictions she was unable to take her for long walks. She asked if Sarah could do that. So she and I and my granddaughter, Skylet walked down the hill and took Leté out. She enjoyed running along the beach.

Long story short, Leté ended up living with us for the next two weeks until her owner returned home. We all grew very much attached to her.

On Saturday morning I went to the diverse Kaslo Outdoor Market, where Sarah did quite well selling her popular pottery.

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My Daughter the Potter

Other vendors

By mid-afternoon, when we returned all of Sarah’s market equipment and unsold pottery back to her studio, the temperature was very hot. We drove back down to spend the rest of the day at the beach with the rest of the family. I was hot enough to actually venture into the lake for the first time, but it was cold. I got only to my waist!

Sunday there was a celebration at the lower bridge along the River Trail. It was there that I pulled out my camera for the first time, only to discover that I’d apparently left the memory card at home in my computer! Thank goodness for my smart phone, which provided pictures for the rest of my visit, but I hadn’t taken it with me to the trail either!

That evening the males of the house went fishing and my grandson, Callum, came home very excited about the Rainbow Trout he’d caught – big enough to feed us dinner the next night. That boy loves to fish!

The rest of the week went quickly with several trips to the beach and a trip to the Riding Stables to watch Skylet taking her horseback riding lesson.

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Skylet on her Horse

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Annual Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival

During my second weekend in Kaslo the population of the small town, about the size of my home town of Hastings (pop. 1200), swelled to probably triple that as people came from all around the Kootenays and beyond for the Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival.

Sarah and I spent Friday at the Market again. There was a different crowd and some different vendors, and it was another successful day. Ten-year-old Callum took his un-tuned violin to the main street and, despite not having practised in several months, managed to earn $25 for himself to spend at the Festival. I was wishing I’d taken my ukulele!

Saturday and Sunday Sarah and I joined the others for some great concerts and a variety of food at Kaslo Bay Park.

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The top Headliner of the event was Buffy Sainte-Marie. She was amazing! Unfortunately the heavy bass prevented me from witnessing her from close to the stage, as it did unpleasant things to my heart rhythm.

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The day closed with the sun reflecting off the mountain tip.

By 9:00 Sunday night we were all exhausted. For me, Monday was a bit of a lazy day, doing my laundry and helping with a few household chores while Sarah prepared her Studio for the kids Clay Camp she was putting on for the next four days. I had agreed to be her assistant for that. I had to rest up!

Tuesday and Wednesday there were both morning and afternoon classes, two different groups doing two half-days each. The kids were young and excited and needed some guidance, which, after listening carefully to Sarah’s instructions, I was able to provide. I enjoyed it.

The pre-teen/teen class was on Thursday and Friday mornings. I listened and observed and made a pinch pot on Thursday morning, but my assistance wasn’t really needed, other than to help clean up at the end of the day. I took the whole family out to the little (and unusually crowded) Front Street Pizzeria for dinner, thanks to a donation from Jim. The food was great, but because of the extra tourists in town and some restaurants chose to close early, the wait time very long.

On Friday I opted to do some laundry, both mine and family, and get organized for my departure the next morning. We drove to Duncan Lake in the afternoon. Despite there being so much smoke that we could see only half-way across the lake, and at some point we noticed ash falling onto our clothes, it was a fun family time on another beach, and the water was warm enough for me to get in and swim!

Smoke across Duncan Lake

Smoke across Duncan Lake

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When Sarah took me to catch my bus in Nelson the next day, we discovered that the shut-down of the Greyhound service was already in progress. The terminal was no longer open on the weekends. I had to stand outside under whatever shade I could find to wait for my bus. Next time I go, there will be no Greyhound bus at all.

I spent Sunday and Monday with Judy. Sunday we drove to Salmon Arm to visit my cousin George, after the smoke cleared a little. The sun never made it through the haze that day. Shortly after noon on Tuesday, after another bag search that didn’t pass inspection this time (more on that later) I was flying high above the smoky clouds, looking forward to home and a break from the smoke.

The Development of the Kaslo River Trail


The Kaslo River was often subjected to severe flooding during the 1800s. In 1895-96, during the rebuilding of the town after one such flood, the first hydro-electric system was included in the construction. It was privately operated by George Alexander. Kaslo Creek (River) was rerouted southwards into the current channel. In 1914 the City of Kaslo purchased Kaslo Power and Light for $27,000. It was upgraded in 1931 to be fully automatic. Another flood occurred in 1948 and in 1962 the power utility was abandoned, putting Kaslo onto the BC Hydro grid.

Hiking trails began to develop along this abandoned land, but they were treacherous. In 2005 the many townspeople who like to use these trails formed the Kaslo Trailblazers Society and began the Kaslo River Trail Project.

Many volunteer hours over the past ten years have resulted in two beautiful, safe hiking trails along both sides of the river, joined by red-stained wooden bridges at each end, both built by the volunteers. Where parts of the trail have become flooded in recent years, new higher links have been created and reinforced with wooden steps. Rope railings to assist with the climb, and wooden or steel benches, dedicated to donors, make the hike more friendly to people of various physical fitness. Animal-proof garbage cans have also been added to help keep the area clean.

And the scenery is fantastic!