Monday, September 1, 2014

Montreal and Home

There is a strong connection between Montreal and Canada's east coast. It is our nearest "big" city and, back in the day, the place to go for shopping, big city holidays, etc. Or maybe that was just our family. Mom grew up in Montreal, my sister Ruth lived in Montreal for 40+ years, we went to university in Montreal and it was always our first night stop when driving between London, Ontario and Nova Scotia. So once we arrived in Montreal we were home - the rest of the drive was simply a trip over familiar roads.

The purpose of our stop in Montreal was to visit with Ruth's family so we planned a family bbq party at the Adventure Bus. Not many pictures I am afraid. I was too busy visiting. But here are a couple:

My niece Rachel and her partner, Michael
Rachel is a lecturer ar LSU in Baton Rouge LA. You may remember that we dropped in on her in Baton Rouge at the beginning of this trip. She took a leave of absence to be with her mom while she was ill and was to head back to Baton Rouge at the end of the month. (Which she did).
From right: nephew Jon's future mother-in-law and super chef, Rivka. Barry, Rivka's husband, brother-in-law, Bill and Arch
We timed our visit to coincide with Rachel's 40th birthday and the next night Bill hosted a dinner party at the local yacht club to celebrate:
My sister Mary and her husband, John (across the table), Barry Bill, Rachel,.
Beside Rachel is her brother Jon and Rivka across from him.
Our nephew, Jon, is engaged to marry Rivka's daughter, Amanda, next May in Nova Scotia. It will be a happy celebration we are all looking forward to. Rivka is generously allowing the aunts to participate in the wedding planning. Additionally, she voluntarily served as the family chef during Ruth's illness, preparing delicious meals and treats we all looked forward to. What a sweetheart she is!!

At this end of the table, Arch, Linda beside him and Al.
They  returned to Montreal from the cottage to attend the dinner and host Mary and John overnight
Jon and Rachel. Rivka made Rachel's "cake" - is is a raw food, vegan key lime pie!!
She is a genius cook.
Jon and Amanda are both working on Phd's at universities in North Carolina. Amanda at Duke and Jon at UNC. We will see them next on our way south in November. I don't think we will see Rachel until next May.
Boats in the marina at the yacht club - Bill's boat is out there somewhere
The next morning we were up and off to our next overnight, the Walmart in Edmundston, New Brunswick.

There is much to see and do in Quebec - if you are visiting for the first time plan to spend two or three days in Montreal (the KOA south has a bus service into the city), at least 2 days in Quebec City (stay across the St Lawrence River in Levis and take the ferry back and forth to visit.). And be sure to drive around the Gaspe Peninsula - a terrific drive that doesn't receive enough attention. The province also has a terrific trail system for hikers and cyclists.

We have done all this before so we were headed straight to Moncton, NB to have some repairs done on the Adventure Bus.

We left Edmundston on a hazy morning for to drive down the beautiful St John River Valley:

The weather cleared quickly as we drove along New Brunswick's seemingly endless section of the Trans Canada Highway.
Beautiful, isn't it? New Brunswick is very hilly (some would say mountiany, so, if you are in a large RV drive through with empty water tanks if possible.) 
Our next planned stop was Woodstock, New Brunswick which is just 10 kms from the USA border crossing and the Walmart at Houlton, ME. The plan was to unhook the car, drive across the border and pick up several cases of wine at the Walmart (we are allowed to import and pay taxes on 40 litres of wine per person for personal consumption.) Then we were going to spend the night at the Woodstock Walmart.
Not a bad spot to Wally-dock
Unfortunately, we weren't able to get as much wine as we wanted (Houlton is not exactly a major metropolis) and when we got back to the Adventure Bus it was very hot out - about 30C - much too hot to spend the night without electricity (i.e. air conditioning). So we decided to drive on to Mactaquac Provincial Park near Fredericton. Not our best idea. We should have realized that something was amiss when we saw a man selling a generator at the side of the road on the way into the park. Then we saw this:

And this:
And then this:

Oh! Oh! This is really not looking good
As it turned out this was storm damage from post tropical storm (aka hurricane) Arthur which blew through the week before. We had no idea the damage was so extensive and it turned out there was a whole area which still had no electrical service and had not yet seen a repair crew. They were not happy campers.

It was getting late (about 5 pm) and we had no idea where to go next so I called our friends Elaine and Rick of  E & R's Travels. They live in Riverview - 170kms away- and were our next stop after Fredericton. I was hoping they could suggest a campground close to where we were where we could spend the night. No such luck. Elaine suggested that we drive straight through to their place instead. We were frustrated, tired and the idea of doing this broke all our rules for RV driving, but after some discussion off we went. We knew that a late evening visit with them and a great RV hook up site on their property would be just the cure for a difficult day.

We spent two nights with Elaine and Rick. The plan had been to get our range oven repaired or replaced at the RV dealership where they both work but, as it turned out the part we needed was obsolete and a new range was $900+ so we decided to let it go for now and seek other solutions. Instead we enjoyed a great visit with Elaine and Rick, (thanks guys) a brief visit with my nephew David and his family who live just a few blocks down the road and then on to Truro for a two day stop at Arch's sisters and then home to St. Margaret's Bay.
The view from our window, Wayside RV Campground, Glen Margaret, NS
And thus we ended a 16,000 km trip around North America from Halifax to the South Padre Island, to San Diego, to Vancouver, and then across Canada on the Trans Canada Highway. Not one breakdown, no crises situations (unless you count the "Car in the Imperial Sand Dunes" episode), just a great time seeing lots of interesting sights and things and meeting lots of great people. The old Adventure Bus did us good as we say in Nova Scotia.

Whats next? Well, summer and fall in Nova Scotia (more blog posts to come) then winter in Florida. After that, who knows.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Canada Day in Ottawa

Before I get to our day in Ottawa I want to tell you about a quick stop we made on our way from London to the Thousand Islands (I forgot to include it in my last post).

When we first started to think about the RV lifestyle one of the blogs I found (and continue to follow) was that of Mike and Dee White: GoneRVing. Eventually we became Facebook friends. (I love facebook, such a great way to keep up with friends in far flung places). When we were in Mission Texas this winter Dee noticed that they were close by and suggested we get together for coffee. She also told us about Ruth and Ken, fellow RVers and bloggers, who were staying at the same resort as we were. So one afternoon we all got together at our site for coffee and conversation:
Me, Ruth,  Mike, Arch and Ken. Jackson (the retriever - Ruth and Ken's dog) and Timmie (Dee and Mike's dog ).
Dee took this picture.
Dee and Mike are full-timers who spend the summer at Musselman's Lake, north of Toronto and Ruth and Ken live nearby. (They are not ready to give up the "sticks" house yet).

So on our way to the Thousands Islands we made a detour to spend a night at the RV park where Mike and Dee are. Mike, Dee, Timmie, Ruth and Ken came to our RV for supper. Jackson stayed home - we missed him.
It was great to catch up with them in person.

Then on we went to The Thousand Islands and Ottawa"

It was a short drive from our campground in Gananogue to  the municipal campground in Ottawa and we arrived before lunch. And this is where our only mishap of the whole trip happened. The road to the campground was very rough and must have loosened something under the front end of our car. Which hooked into the dolly when he went to remove the car and tore the facia off. Arch made a temporary repair with duct tape (duct tape seems to fix everything) but we have a big bill in front of us I'm afraid.
Eventually, Arch added a few screws underneath and removed the duct tap. So far ( almost 2 months later) it is holding.
Our campground in Ottawa was not far from where some of our college classmates were living so they dropped in for drinks later in the afternoon:
Darlene Graham, Sue (Ward) Bryson, Don Graham, Don Bryson and Arch
We attended university with Darlene, Sue and Don G (Don was in our class) - Don B joined the group when Sue chose to marry him. It is hard to believe that we will be returning to Montreal this October to celebrate the 50th Reunion of our class. Another lovely visit.

Our entire trip across Canada was timed so we could be in Ottawa on Canada Day so we were up bright and early July 1st to take the bus from a stop near our campground to downtown. Recommended - traffic downtown was a zoo.

We visited Ottawa many times in the past and have been to all the major museums and attractions at one time or another but, The War Museum was recently moved to a new, much larger, building with a much improved exhibit space so we decided to spend the morning there.

The museum is Canada's national museum of military history and covers all facets of Canada's military past, from the first recorded instances of death by armed violence in Canadian history several hundred years ago to the country's most recent involvement in conflicts. I especially like that it did not glorify war and emphasized the human experience of war and the manner in which war has affected, and been affected by, Canadians' participation. Go if you are in Ottawa.

We spent 4 hours there and could have spent another 4 but it is a huge place and we did a lot of walking while there and were exhausted. So we had lunch in the museum's cafeteria - excellent by the way - and took the bus back to the Adventure Bus. For a rest and a change of clothes then back downtown for the celebrations on Parliament Hill:

People were arriving from all points:
And The Hill was crowded:
We found a grassy spot and settled in to watch the stage show and the people. The show on stage had entertainers representing all types of Canadian musicians. It was fantastic. But, of greater interest to me was the makeup of the audience. It is said that Canada is the most ethnically diverse country in the world and I believe it. Here are some photos of faces in the crowd:

It is so great that so many people with such diverse origins have chosen to call Canada home.

As the stage show ended the sun set over the parliament buildings:

And the fireworks began:
The workers in this office building across the street gathered in the windows to watch.
Not sure why they were working on Canada Day night.

And then, as the fireworks ended, it started to rain and 350,000 people made a mad dash for home. And that is when we discovered to only disadvantage to taking the bus.
Canadian politeness went out the window as everyone pushed and shoved to get on the right bus
There was no organization to this. Buses for all destinations stopped in the same spot and you never knew which was going to open their doors where so people were running back and forth trying to get on the right one. Chaos. But we did get on the right bus and made it back to the campground unscathed.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cottage Life in the Thousand Islands

As many of you know, my youngest sister, Ruth, died of pancreatic cancer in late March. Two of the greatest supporters of my sister, Mary, and I during this difficult time in our lives were Ruth and Bill's friends Al and Linda. They opened their home in Montreal to us, fed us, updated us when we were unable to be there, etc. We will never be able to adequately thank them.

One happy result of this terrible time is that we now had two new friends to visit on our trip home. And they just happened to have a cottage in Ontario's Thousand Islands. Where we were planning a long (10 days) rest stop before heading home to Nova Scotia.

The cool thing about the Thousand Islands is that many of them are small and many cottagers own their own, private island:
one cottage per small island is the norm
As do Al and Linda. Boats are the major means of transportation in this area (some islands are so close to shore you could swim to them but a boat does seem more sensible) So cottage owners must pick their land locked guests up at the marina:
Here comes our ride

What a beautiful setting
you "park" in the boathouse rather than a garage
A cozy and relaxing spot to spend "down time"
Visitors with their own boats  arrive at this dock and deck

Al and Linda actually have two islands with this bridge between them
Al's sister, Helen, and her husband, Ron also own one of the Thousand Islands and have a lovely cottage on it. As it turned out Arch and I graduated from the same college in Montreal as Helen and Ron. All be it a few years later, so our paths did not cross. One afternoon Al and Linda took us over to meet them:
From left, Arch, Ron, Helen, Linda and Al
 I love this picture, what a bunch of healthy looking oldsters.

Al also took us on a private boat tour of the Islands. There are lots of boats that do tours and I recommend you take one - it is the only way to really get a feel for the area.
Lots of people on the tour on this beautiful day
The International Bridge spanning the islands and the St Lawrence River
Another day Al and Linda took us to the Kingston Public Market. Ontario's oldest and longest running market:
A great market - go if you are in the area on a market day (Tues, Thurs. and Sat - April to November)
After the market off we went to another foodie experience - Wendy's Country Market. It is a little out of the way:
But the trip was worth it:
located in a historic school, it was rustic, to say the least but the food was very real and local.
To quote Wendy's website
"I am a proud 6th generation farmer from Lyndhurst, Ontario. I have always held a strong interest in agriculture and a number of years ago, after talking with some local producers, I felt the need to help connect consumers and restaurants with a healthier food system. Thus, our journey into the local food delivery business began and my husband Rick and I started Wendy’s Mobile Market and Wendy’s Country Market.

We now proudly sell an ever expanding list of our own vegetables along with an abundance of produce grown by my parents on their farm,Corn Acre Farms, and food from over 70 local producers. We have developed a business that makes it convenient for consumers to have all things local in one stop shopping as well as giving the producers we work with another avenue to market their products. Since we are open all year round area producers are able to expand their growing season because they are no longer limited to seasonal farmers markets.

With Wendy’s Mobile Market we deliver to individuals, restaurants, B & B’s, independent local food grocers and deli’s covering an area from Napanee to Kemptville. On the other hand, Wendy’s Country Market, which is located in a 19th Century heritage school house on my parents’ farm, provides consumers with the full country experience complete with animals, pick your own herbs, a seasonal greenhouse and children’s play area."

The greenhouse and pick your own herbs
Eat in (in the garden) or take home
Unique Menu
Even if you miss the Public Market in Kingston be sure to go to Wendys. Directions are on their website.

We dined at Linda and Al's several times while we were there and one night they joined us at the Adventure Bus for dinner:

Thanks Linda and Al for your great hospitality.