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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Journey's End...A New Life Begun.

Thank you to all of you who have followed us this far.  We're both tired from the long drive from Boston to Summerside.  Our border experience was much more pleasant coming home, the border guard was quite friendly and welcomed us warmly back to Canada. 

It took us nearly 10 hours to get here, but we managed to see the house before the sun set and found our hotel before the lights came on.  Our little house (dare I call it little at 2400 square feet?) has it's guts ripped out (no heat or hot water) as we are converting over to geothermal heating, but we're hoping that it will be up and running shortly.

I have some photos and video to upload, but I'm not quite sure what I've done with the camera...I'll update this soon.  I'd like to say that as soon as we crossed Confederation Bridge the sun come out heralding a blissful new life, but the sun actually started coming as we crossed New Brunswick.  (Life just isn't always movie perfect.)

More to come...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Change of the Seasons, Beantown and Sleeping Sushi Chefs

We've come through some stunning countryside with the rather cliche autumn colours.  It really is quite different than the west coast.
The pictures don't really due the range of colours justice, but there was less brilliant red than I thought there might be.  En route we came across a few signs that read "Quaker Run Area" that the only place that Quakers are allowed to run amok?  So much for "land of the free"!

We arrived in Boston without incident and checked in to our hotel.  We arrived just around dinner time and went to the only restaurant in the area (we're staying outside of town near the parking).  Refreshed and ready to discover a new town, we headed out the next morning and took the "T" (subway) into town.  It's a really beautiful old girl...with brick building with black iron work.

You know that the government is suffering from an extreme form of moral decay when you see signs like this:

Blatant Law Infraction or Economic Bailout decide.

(In all truthfullness, I think General Hooker is a person of some importance, but didn't wander up to the statue to find out.)

We had a phenominal meal at  Monica's Ristoranti in little Italy.  We stayed about 2 and a half hours (maybe three?) and headed back to the hotel in the dark, the weather finally catching up with us casting a light mist over the city.

Today, our final day in Boston, we found Chinatown.  (Why is Chinatown always so disreputable looking???  It's the same in every city we've been in.)  We had a Korean lunch ( Chinatown) where we spent approximately 45 minutes.  Having used the restroom (NEVER "washroom" here in the States) I had a clear view behind the sushi bar ( a Korean Chinatown) and there was the sushi chef, head resting on the bar-like cutting boards most sushi bars utilize, fast asleep.  He had been there the whole time and I seated facing the sushi bar throughout the whole meal!
We checked out a small cemetary...I know it's ghoulish, but I find them fascinating, the older the better.  This one must have been established around the Victorian era as it was rampant with skulls with wings etc, here are some samples:

Stay tuned for the "BIG PUSH" - we're driving all day tomorrow to get to PEI as our furniture is arriving early (8:am on the 29th) Sutton for us, at least for right now...we'll update you when we can.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The origin of "Holy Toledo!" another mystery solved.

It was a road day today, we travelled 817.8 kms over miserable roads, through Chicago rush hour and endless constuction zones.  We've paid over $35 in tolls and have more to come as we head in to Boston.  It was a five state day; we drove through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

Bug kill: 75 -  I think the word is out about us being notorious serial bug killers and they're all in hiding.

While we loved Chicago (how could you not in such glorious weather?) and plan to go back, we will NEVER, EVER go back to the horrible in between.  Here are certain indesputable truths about Toledo and the outlying environs:
1)  The drivers are horrible; they tail gate, they don't signal, they cut you off and they drive side by side on the highway, so you can't get by.  To little miss Ohio Plate number EBR 2196 in your  cheap red Chevy Cobalt with the tacky spoiler (guilty of all of the previously listed violations) you are a complete LUNATIC and should have your drivers' license revoked permanently.  Feel free, Followers, to post that/email it to who ever may or may not care...perhaps somehow miraculously it might get back to her.
2)  They're mostly fat...and I mean pretty seriously huge guts...not necessarily fat everywhere, but it looks like everyone (men and women alike) are 10 months pregnant...all heart attacks waiting to happen (they put cheese on EVERYTHING here...I'm horrified to say it, but there is such a thing as too much cheese!
3) The motor way gas stations are too can't just go and fill your tank and charge it to your credit card, you need a US zip code or have to pay in round numbers - heaven forbid you should over estimate your gas requirements, they don't give cash back
4) (and most importantly) you have to pay tolls to drive on ridiculously bumpy about adding insult to injury.

No pictures today, crew...I thought I had some of Cleveland, but I can't find them...tomorrow we're hitting good ole bean town.  We're staying three nights, so we can do a bit of laundry, check out the city and get the feeling back in our backsides.  (Maybe a quick trip to the spa...dream on Danica, dream on.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 7 - Chicago and no driving!

We decided to stay two nights outside of Chicago so we could spend the day in the city.  We've been incredibly fortunate with weather, except for that short stint of rain outside of Calgary.  It was around 29 degrees, but true to the moniker "Windy City", there was a breeze that made the day completely bearable.

Slice of Chicago

Ubiquitous Sears Tower

Lake Michigan

Just like the Musical!

We're off to Jamestown, NY tomorrow and then Boston.  We're 2/3's of the way home according to Ron.  Hopefully there's no more traffic stops, "Deliverance" moments or border shake downs!

Random thoughts and experiences.

I had the overwhelming thought that border guards should really have to take some tourism training.  Would it kill them to at least welcome you to the country (or home, as the case may be)?  I understand they have a job and that they are the first line of defense to keep their respective countries secure, but really, is it too much to ask for them to be a bit welcoming once you pass inspection?

Secondly, have you ever walked in to a room where you felt completely out of place?  We stopped to pick up coffee from a roadside diner in Alberta, about an hour outside of Okotoks and when we walked through the door every head turned and the whole place stared at us.  I had to resist saying "Take me to your leader."  It's like they never saw someone they didn't is that possible?

Why do Wisconsians (?) put cheese on everything?  I tried to get around it by ordering the house garden side salad, but alas...grated cheddar cheese.  (I have no issue with cheese on salad, per se, but on EVERY salad?)

Why aren't long lunches legislated as required at least once a week?  Ron and I spent two hours at lunch in Chicago and it's just a really relaxing exercise.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Montana to Illinois - Road Warriors

Days 4, 5 and 6 have screamed by, both in scenic views and time. (We travelled a whopping 2,267.9 kms in three days - we're up to 4,293.9 all in so far)

Day Four found us heading from Billings, SD to Hill City, SD (667.2 kms)

Bug kill: 90,053 and one tumble weed.  It travelled with us in the grill of the car (unbeknownst to us, of course) for some time and didn't fall off until a rest stop near Gillette, SD, where we stopped for lunch.

Black Hills
Sadly, the Black Hills are also infested with Mountain Pine Beetles...the little buggers are everywhere.  At least they aren't present in this photo.  We arrived in Hill City, South Dakota (its near both Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.)  We were lucky with weather so's a shot from our hotel room window:

Probably one of our most anticipated days thus far: we were about to see the world's largest sculptures...very fitting considering Ron's art. 

Distance travelled: 953.8 kms

Bug Kill: Lost track had to stop to clean the windows off twice

We went to see the Crazy Horse Memorial first.  (Note to any of you planning a similar journey, we would recommend going to Mount Rushmore first.)  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

63 Years of Work

The Final Result
 The project isn't funded by the government and has been ongoing due to public and private donations.  For more information see  The whole thing is mind blowing...particularly as it's still in process.  Crazy Horse's head is 87.5 feet high (that's 26.67 metres, to us "new math" kids). 

Here's a shots of Mount Rushmore with a bit more perspecitve of what sort of environment it was carved from:
We then drove on to the Badlands...very suitably named:
Heading towards Sioux Falls, SD, we almost ran out of gas, but found a station at a little town called Emery, SD - the fuel warning light was on for a good 20 miles.  Once the tank was full and we cleaned bugs of the window shield, yet again, we pushed on until 9:30 pm to reach Albert Lea, Minnesota.

Travelled: 646.7 kms

Bug Kill: 65,970

The day started out with me having a spazz (I wanted to say a bit of a spazz, but Ron would call me out on that one) over trying to find our way out of Albert Lea.  We had arrived at night in a round about route and I had no idea how to get out of town.  Ron kept his cool and we finally managed to get on the road.  (Note: WISCONSIN highways SUCK.  The roads are bumpy and poorly maintained, I think I lost a filling somewhere between Eyota and Watoka...yes, those are real names.)  We do, however like Wisconsin Highway Patrol.  Some of you may know that Ron has a teensy love of going fast.  We were stopped on the freeway going slightly over speed (80 mph - give or take - we admit nothing) in a 65 mph speed zone.  (in Ron's defense the same road in Montana was 75 mph and 70 mph in South Dakota).  Ron got off with a warning only...must be that baby face, thank you Officer, who ever you are.  Having arrived in Des Plaines, Illinois, we went out in search of dinner.  We found this little vignette ironic, let us know what you think!
First and second stop in a parents' day...
That's it for now, we're staying around tomorrow to check out Chicago and then back on the road we go.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Alive and well and somewhere in Minnesota

Thought I'd just drop a quick note to those of you who check this blog to let you know that we're still plodding across the USA.  It's been a couple of long days, so I'll update more later, as we have a two night stop over in Chicago, which should give me time to update everyone.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 2 & 3 - RV Convoys Family Time and Wind Farms

It was a long day yesterday, our first full day of travel.  We left Revelstoke and cruised through the Rockies.  Its hard to explain the majesty of those mountains.  Every curve in the road offered amazing views of cragy, snow covered precipices, milky green mountain rivers and pine covered forests.  The leaves are starting to turn, so the views were interspersed with bright yellow and rusty reds of deciduous trees.

I just don't have the words to describe the emotional impact of this amazing place.  Its hard to think that we're leaving it behind.  We passed an RV convoy at Kicking Horse pass, about 12 camper van rentals all travelling in a tidy row.  I feel badly for any wild life that they may have spotted, as the poor moose or bear may have felt like Brittany Spears at the hair dresser.

Ron and I visited both my sister and his brother in outlying areas of Calgary.  Ron's family kindly offered to put us up for the night, so we stayed there and then headed out in the morning.   (The bug kill count was down noticably, around 10,640.)  We travelled 545.8 kms by the end of the day.

We cruised down from Airdrie towards the US, wiper blades swishing rythmically across the wind shield.  The rain stopped as we approached the border and having safely crossed (the border guard tried to shake us down for alcohol, but we weren't going to cop to anything) the clouds parted and the sun began to shine.  As the weather cleared we came across an amazing wind farm:

We stopped in Great Falls, Montana for lunch (Appleby's...I know, not our usual style, but we were hungry and had been driving for several hours.  It's a pretty little town with traditional tree lined streets and the Missouri River (or so the sign said) running through.

We finally arrived in Billings at 6:30 pm and checked in to a Best Western and found a nice little Tapas restaurant called Walkers.  After a lovely dinner and a bit of a wander around the downtown area.  It was markedly dead, not like Vancouver at all, but not many towns have people living in the downtown seemed a little sad actually.  Tomorrow we're off to South Dakota and the various gigantic rock sculptures carved in to the mountains.  After that...who knows?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day one on the road (Holy beer cans Batman!)

For any of you that watch Jay Leno's "Headlines" segment on Mondays, you have to imagine him saying "Police Blotter" for the following sub titles!

567.1 kms  (7.5 hours of travel including stops)

- Garburator failed to operate on our move out inspection, stay tuned to find out whether it was our fault or just wear and tear.  (Can you guess...considering we didn't know it wasn't working?)
- Barely avoided a wind shield mishap (just outside of Kamloops, of course!) involving a half crushed Budweiser beer can flying from the back of a pick up truck (again...we're talking Kamloops here, people, they love their trucks!) which hit our wind screen, but didn't damage the window.

Bugs Killed:

We stopped in Revelstoke at the Regent Inn, had a lovely dinner and re-organized our bags which were a mismash of things due to the rush of moving.

First glances from on the road:

Our lives reduced to card board

We both can't believe it, but the time has passed and it's finally time to get out of Dodge.  It's sad to see all our wordly possessions packaged up neatly (or seemingly so) in to symetric paper product containers.  (No more crying from the storage room, all boxes fulfilled their  raison d'etre.)

Here's the evidence:

This is only a small selection, as there's only so much space to take pictures of boxes stacked to the ceiling.  Well, all these, their little friends and the furniture on which they were stacked, placed around or related to by room or function, have been duly packed in a large orange transport truck and are wending their way across Canada.  (Be safe and well little boxes, expecially any of you carrying something fragile!)

Here's some last looks at friends and family from Vancouver, those of you we've said good-bye to (with heavy hearts and high hopes).  Sorry there aren't more, but I'm waiting on copies from others!  Our heats are always with all of you, never doubt it.  Thanks for all your wishes and more importantly, for your friendship and love!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And it's the mower by a nose (or a wheel?)

Well, despite a neck and neck race to the finish, it looks like Ron will get his ride on mower, a last minute email vote came through, breaking the tie.  I really thought the goats had it, they led through most of the survey with the mower catching up and passing every once in a while. (And who could say "no" to fresh goat cheese?)

Let's be honest, though, are we really going to deny a man - who's worked 36 plus years for the same company - the joy of a big boy toy, survey or no?  I admit, the survey was a sham...but then, throwing in the goat option, pretty well shot Ron in the mower (so to speak), so it all evens out in the end.  If anyone out there knows a thing or two about said mowers, we could use some insight, as we've never even owned a regular mower.  We had a broken down push mower in Cumberland, but we mainly used the weed whacker.  Yes, we both know how to USE a lawn mower, we aren't complete neophytes!  If you have an opinion (regarding lawn mower options) let us know.

Not what Ron is hoping for.
Happy Ron.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Let them eat cake!

Marie Antoinette may have been misquoted or misunderstood, but she had the right idea.  We've taken our first foray in to cake making.  It was for one of my friends at work, Saira, who's expecting her first baby.  I made a white Genoise cake (but it turned out a little dry) with butter cream icing and sky blue fondant.  (Okay, I didn't make the fondant, but the rest was from scratch.)  Here's what it looked like:

The fondant wasn't too hard to work with, but it still takes practice, but not bad for a first try, if I do say so myself.  I cut out and painted the stork with his "bundle of joy" and the clouds from gum paste and stuck 'em on with glucose.  Sorry, new orders can't be delivered until after October ;0).  Who knows, maybe we can make cakes.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

With every joy comes sorrow.

Yesterday came, anticipated like a new baby, and at the end, as Ron hung up his work suit for the final time, we said good-bye, not only to his 36 year career with the Bay, but also, sadly, to my brother, Paul.

Some of you may know that Paul went missing two months ago and yesterday came the news that his remains had been found.  His wife Gayle, one of the bravest women I can think of, had to wait 8 weeks to be able to go to the spot where she believed him to be, as Nevada law enforcement was unwilling to do what should have been done right away.  It was she that found him and it was her grim task to deal with all that must be done when a life has gone.  He had walked out to the desert, a place he cherished, in search of clarity and I can only hope he found it.  I'm trying to find peace in the fact that what he did, he did intentionally and that it had meaning to him.

Paul and Gayle
Desert Sunrise

So Ron's retirement went out quietly, under the clouds of family loss.  We will but pause our journey in this moment.  Life marches on and those who have lost know, that only by living can we honour those who have passed out of this world and on to whatever lies beyond it.

Hug your loved ones, if they're near, tell them you love them, if they are far and find joy while you can.  Follow your heart, as Ron and I are doing, because life is just too short to do anything less.