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.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Time with Old Friends

Our first stop in Southwestern Ontario was at the Greens in Grand Bend. Their neighbour was kind enough to let us stay in their driveway for the night. The Green's was on too much of a slope.
Emily, Adam, Arch, Julia and Kendra
Kendra purchased The Little Red Roaster from me when we "retired" and moved to Nova Scotia. She was the manager of our first store and owner of our store in the Covent Garden Market. She married Adam a year before we left. Now they are a family of four. Wow! Time flies. So much to catch up on.

It was a wonderful visit. Not only did we catch up on their news and activities but we learned enough about soccer to enjoy the upcoming World Cup games. Beacuse it was "soccer night in Grand Bend" and Emily and Julia both play.
Emily suiting up
Soccer is a great game for kids. The equipment requirements are minimal, so parents aren't out a lot of money if they decide soccer is not for them (Last year Emily and Julia were both into dance) and the kids get great exercise.

Then home for dessert and coffee
And off to bed. Such lovely young girls.

The next day we headed to the KOA in London for a week. Lots of friends to visit and some repairs to be done on the car - the air conditioner wasn't working. Not a good thing in Southwestern Ontario.

One of the highlights of our visit was dinner with some classmates from our university days:
Sely, Arch, Kathy, Gill and Dave
Gill is the odd man (woman) out here - the others all attended university together and are friends of 50 years +. She joined the clan when she married Bob - seen below- and has blended in well with this motley crew.
Bob, Gill's husband, Sely and Arch.
The last time we saw Dave and Kathy was at The Glades in Feb 2013 and we hadn't seen the others for several years so it was a wonderful visit.
The question here is "how many people does it take to open a bottle of wine?"
Gill served a wonderful cold supper on this warm night:
Poached salmon surrounded by green beans, hard boiled eggs, asparagus, olives and of course, potatoes. "After all" said Gill, "I'm Irish" accompanied by a lovely dressing

This was our second "one-platter" meal. See the photo from our visit to the Greens, above. It must be a new trend. And such a great idea.

Another day we played golf with buddies Dave and Dorothy
Both are excellent golfers and gave Arch a run for his money. I just tag along.
Dorothy is a Party Lite representative and a very good one at that. While we were there she was enjoying the use of the Party Lite car which is awarded each month to a different representative, based on sales.
We also made quick visits to several other London friends (I keep forgetting to take pictures), and between that and visiting old haunts and getting car repairs done the time went quickly.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Heading to Familiar Territory - Sault Ste Marie to Tobermory, Ontario

The plan was to drive from Sault Ste. Marie, around the top of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, stopping around Bracebridge for the night.

When we were preparing to leave the Sault Ste. Marie KOA a group was gathering for breakfast in the kitchen pavilion:
Caravan from Quebec
They all met up here the night before and were Alaska bound. Arch was very envious as he is anxious to go to Alaska.

We saw a lot of cyclists as we crossed Canada. It would be quite a trip. It took us 14 driving days to come from Abbotsford, BC to Sault Ste Marie. I cannot imagine how long it would take on a bike.
Heading across Canada - It is a long way to Newfoundland
This was our seventh day on the road without a break and we were getting awfully tired of driving. So, at Espanola we turned the Adventure Bus south to Manitoulin Island and the ferry to Tobermory. The original plan was to drive to Sudbury, then go south. I calculated the cost of the ferry on the internet and thought it would cost about $350. Expensive as the extra gas to drive around would only be $100. But, enough was enough and we saw this as an investment in our sanity. So the ferry it was.

We saw a lot of moose driving through Northern Ontario, especially on the drive from Atikokan to Thunder Bay. (If you do this drive be aware of the warning signs and be alert!) But the warning signs driving between Espanola and the bridge to Manitoulin Island were interesting:
First we saw this sign
Then this warned that a moose was likely on the road. How the heck does the sign know that?
The road was lined with motion detectors. Of course!
But we did not see a moose on this leg of the journey. Maybe they don't like all the fuss about their presence.

The bridge onto the island is a very narrow one-lane affair:
Once again very few campgrounds were ready for visitors and the one we stayed at was wet and mosquito-infested. But the sunset view from the Adventure Bus was beautiful:
The next day we were up bright and early and off to catch the ferry at South Baymouth. When we purchased our ticket we were happy to find that it was "only" going to cost $250. What a bargain! Ha!
Here comes the ferry
The ferry was quite comfortable. Arch settled in on the upper deck and I found a corner in the lounge to read. Animals must stay in your vehicle and we were a bit concerned about Princess as we were parked right at the front of the vehicle area beside the engines. But she is a great traveler and a trooper and was resting happily on the bed when we returned to the Adventure Bus.

We arrived in Tobermory just in time for a quick lunch before headed out to explore the area. Tobermory is the home to two National Parks. Fathom Five National Marine Park, Canada's first National Marine Conservation Area.

To qoute the Parks Canada website"

"The park preserves a rich cultural legacy that includes 22 shipwrecks and several historic lightstations. Fathom Five's freshwater ecosystem contains some of the most pristine waters of the Great Lakes. The rugged islands of the park are a reminder of the impressive lakebed topography found beneath the waves."

 We knew the boat trip to this area was expensive and we blew all our play money on the ferry so we set out to explore a bit of the Bruce Peninsula National Park.

Again, from the Parks Canada website:

"Located in the heart of a World Biosphere Reserve, the 'Bruce' is place of global significance. Thousands of visitors come each year to experience the massive, rugged cliffs of the park, inhabited by thousand year old cedar trees, overhanging the crystal clear waters of Georgian Bay. The park is comprised of an incredible array of habitats from rare limestone barrens to dense forests and clean lakes."

When visiting a National Park we always start at the interpretative centre. We were disappointed to learn that, due to budget cuts, the park was closed Monday and Tuesday. And it was Monday. However, when we arrived a park employee was just letting a group of school children out the door and, since it would take her an hour or so to close, she lets us in for a quick look-around. You could spend hours there.

Access to the tower for a over all view of the area was open:

It was quite a climb but the view was worth it.

We spent some time exploring the hiking trails.

Then back to the Adventure Bus to prepare for another day of travel. Tomorrow we are off to Southwestern Ontario and the driving marathon comes to an end. It was a long way from Calgary to Tobermory!!

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