Horseshoes and Dinosaurs

I do not think that I’m a sound sleeper but either I am or Honour and Jamie are the quietest roomies I’ve ever had. Horseshoe CanyonMy cat makes more noise walking up the carpeted hallway than Jamie and Honour make getting up and out in the morning. The morning report on Duff and Fergus was good (I will spare you the detailed descriptions of input/output but be assured WE are monitoring these events.) We all took a relaxed approach to getting out, had a very solid breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We decided that we would take in some sightseeing on the way to Regina. As you can see, we have now begun to PLAN this trip. Up to now, our plan was “Go East”. We figured we’d fill in the details later. After Golden we figured we needed to fill in some details sooner. horseshow canyon 2We have begun booking hotels in advance and deciding where we might stop and refresh & refuel. We would be going close to Drumheller, where the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. To get to Drumheller from Calgary, you go past Horseshoe Canyon.

Horseshoe Canyon is a region of the badlands along Highway 9. It gets its name from its Horseshoe shape. (I don’t want to be disrespectful, but have you noticed the lack of creativity in the naming of geography? “Delta”. “Horseshoe Canyon” “Grand Canyon” “Rockies” ) One of the descriptions mentioned that there were hoodoos in the canyon. I LOVED the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon from the first moment I saw a picture of them. The canyon is RIGHT THERE off the road. We pulled in and I got out to go to the overlook and take pictures. Honour stayed in the car, running the a/c for the cats. 4 way stop in nowhere There was no shade and although it was only mid-morning it was HOT. I was taking pics with my camera when my phone rang. Really? Who is calling me? I pull out my phone and it’s my sister! I say “hello???” And I hear “Is there a reason you are heading north instead of east??? That’s NOT the way to Regina!” I start laughing. She and my husband have been tracking me since I left the house on Monday. She knew we were heading to Regina but there I was – NORTH of Rt 1 (Transcanada Highway). I think this is extremely funny and incredibly sweet. *smile* I assured her that we were indeed where we meant to be. silos While I was enjoying that chat my husband appeared at their door so I got to chat with him as well.

We got back in the car and headed to Drumheller. There are dinosaurs everywhere. Every store and corner gets in on the act. It reminded me of the painted cows many years ago that appeared all over Chicago – CowParade We made our way to the museum only to find a completely full parking lot. We headed down to the overflow lot – a big empty dirt/stone lot in the full blazing sun. We began to rig up shade in the car for the cats and dog. We got all the way done doing so and looked at each other, looked at the car, looked at the sun and thought – there is no way this can end happily. welcome to drumhellerThen we argued about which one of would go to the museum and who would stay with the cats. “After you, Alphonse.” “No, no Gaston, after YOU”. We took down the make-shift curtains, got back in the car and headed to town, looking for someplace to eat. We got side-tracked by a visitor center where there is a VERY large dinosaur. We decided not to climb up into its mouth but did take pictures. There was a lovely green square with fountains and tables and food trucks, but dogs were not permitted. I considered trying to cram Jamie into my bag but Jamie told me that she was not really that interested in that field anyway. badlandsWe walked back to the car and headed to the main street. Honour had a wonderful erudite (not) conversation with a young woman one of the stores, trying to find a leash for Jamie (whose leash is somewhere in the car) and then trying to find a place to eat. Should Honour ever decide to post a blog she can tell you the conversation, but let it suffice to say that it was not especially helpful. We decided to head out of town and as we did so we found a Subway. Honour was driving. We had to cross a major intersection to get to the Subway, and just in front of the entrance was the merging traffic making right turns to go the direction we were going. badlands 2Honour, being Canadian and polite, stopped to allow the merging car to go first (even though she had the right of way. In NJ, where we are never that polite, there would have been no question as to who was going to take over that spot. 🙂 ). The merging car happened to be a police car. THEY knew the rules of the road. 🙂 As Honour stopped, trying to figure out how to cut in front of the car and enter the parking lot, the office was gesturing furiously out the window for her to GO! So go she did and pulled into the lot. The police car pulled in as well but we went separate directions. badlands 3Honour went first to get food while I stayed in the car running the a/c. Of course you KNOW who was right behind her in line. 🙂 The police officers.

After lunch we headed out of town and got back on Highway 1, heading east, which we thought would be reassuring to my sister. 🙂 We do stop a lot for water, for gas, for Jamie to walk about. I’d like to say that the trip to Regina was beautiful and interesting but that would not be completely truthful. I love mountains. I love water. The prairie was interesting for about 10 minutes. After that, not so much. There is a lot of nothing out there. green dinosaurLots and lots of grass and horizon. It was out there on the endless nothing that I appreciated WHY we filled the tank when it was only half empty. It is a very very long way between rest stops. I think one of the ‘highlights’ of the trip through the prairie (which I keep calling ‘plains’ to Honour’s great frustration) was the 4 way Stop. Yes, in the middle of nothing, where there was another road intersecting the Transcanada highway, we had a 4 way stop. I’m from NJ and there is absolutely nothing I can say in this blog about a 4 way stop in the middle of nowhere where there is no one and nothing. 🙂 I did, however, like moo’ing at all the cows. bench dinosaur This is a family tradition, begun by my sister. If it has 4 legs and is in a field along the road, you moo. There are some mighty odd looking cows out there but hey – 4 legs – we moo. 🙂

There were several storm cells south and east of us, but we were very lucky and skirted about the edges of the bad weather. We had a little rain, but not much. We could see the dark clouds and rain in the distance and were quite happy to not have to drive through all that darkness. We glimpsed rainbows several times in the distance, as well as wind turbines. I find the turbines graceful and elegant. I noticed that many of the streams running through the fields had a lot of white around the banks; other streams had none. big dinosaurI can’t figure out what it might be but I’m hoping someone reading this might be able to tell me. We spent a lot of time walking about in Drumheller and didn’t see any real dinosaurs. But we’d apparently spent enough time there that we did not get to Regina and Calli until 9pm.

Calli welcomed us and introduced us to the family: daughter, grandson, husband, spaniel puppy (i think it was a spaniel), 2 greyhounds and 1 Irish wolfhound. They were all lovely and welcoming. Calli made us a lovely dinner and we had a great time chatting. Calli is someone who appreciates my Ahuva-ness – she had a Disney tiara for me. It sparkled and had flashing lights. I wore it through dinner. She invited us for breakfast the next morning and we accepted. We know a good thing when we see it.

rain on the horizonThe hotel was only 10 minutes from her house and we got there and parked uneventfully – no hail, no rain. It was a bit of an adventure finding the elevator up as it was around the corner from the stairs. But we were in the bowels of the building and there was no way I was going to walk up at that point. Our room was lovely, upscale and wonderfully comfortable. It was midnight and the 3 of us crawled into beds and fell asleep, happy in the knowledge that we were going to see Calli in the morning.
rainbow and wind turbines

white stuff around the water

sunset through the rain

1001 Kilometers

Well. THAT was a long day. water and mountainThat one day should have about 5 separate posts to cover all that happened. We got on the road around 8am as I mentioned. We made it all the way to Merritt (about 3 -4 hours) where we stopped at the Walmart. My sister, an avid RVer has assured me that the first stop on ANY cross-country trip is at the Walmart for whatever you forgot. We decided we wanted to get shades/filters for the rear windows of the SUV for better protection for the cats (the windows are tinted but it was feeling warm to us and we were concerned for them). We picked up some lunch for Honour and some rice crackers for me (I had breakfast, she didn’t) and gas for the car and a piddle break for the dog.

I should probably do a post just about the wildfires burning all through BC. looking at the Rockies north of RevelstokeI’ve been joking about the haze and not seeing the mountains, but in Merritt it abruptly ceased to be amusing. We stepped out of the car and could not breathe. There was so much smoky particulate matter in the air. We were coughing, our throats scratchy and dry. Haze so thick you couldn’t see the mountains. It smelled. It was akin to sticking your head into the smoke from a campfire. We looked at all the people walking about without masks, having their windows open, dogs hanging out of car windows panting. I have never experienced anything like that – not even the time we went to help a friend collect what was left when his apartment burned. I don’t understand how these people are getting by day to day with this air. Day 1 Mountain 1 BCThe car was coated in light soot. I shudder to think what is happening to everyone’s lungs. We were very happy to get back in the car, shut the windows and keep driving.

After Merritt we made it to Kamloops where nothing really fascinating occurred except we stopped to see if Jamie wanted to accomplish anything. Apparently Kamloops was up to the task. I must agree with her, based on the radio stations. We continued on our way to Revelstoke. It was after Merritt that Honour learned why my husband and son hate to drive with me. “Oh!!! Take a picture of that!! Take that!!! Did you get THAT picture???” If I had a penny for every time Honour said “of for pete’s sake woman!” we could charter our own jet and fly with the cats and dog and car all the way to Bay of Fundy. approaching the RockiesOn the other hand, I DO have photos!! I will at some point even crop them and insert them into this blog. The road to Revelstoke runs along Shuswap Lake – a HUGE beautiful lake with many resorts and lodges for water and mountain sports. Everything was quite beautiful with mountains and lake and, of course, the ubiquitous haze.

We stopped in Revelstoke for gas, stretching and Jamie’s convenience. There was a bridge so of course I took a picture of it. I have learned that A&W is EVERYWHERE in Canada. I had no idea I was in the birthplace of root beer. What a shame that I don’t like it. As for filling the gas tank, Honour thinks (and I agree) that we are best served by stopping for gas when it reaches half a tank. snow shed in BCAfter Revelstoke we began the real climb up into the Rockies. We were already up high in mountains and I asked Honour – is THIS the Rockies and she said no. And I said – how will I know? And she said – They’re going to get bigger. So leaving Revelstoke they did inded begin to get bigger. And I would have been half-way to purchasing my private jet. We realized at one point that we could actually see shadows on the road and that there was sun – and MUCH less haze. We could see many mountains, not just the one in front of us. Rockies 1It was gorgeous. Breathtaking. I can look at mountains all day long. We made it up to Rogers Pass, which my map informs me has an elevation of 1327 meters (4364 feet). The time changed at Rogers Pass – we lost an hour. Probably tossed it in the garbage back in Revelstoke when we cleaned the car.

Honour has been getting weather advisories on her phone and we had been getting advised that the air quality was poor just about everywhere in British Columbia. As I mentioned, I’m not sure we need someone to tell us that. We turned the corner, so to speak, out of Rogers Pass and saw white smoke. More and more white smoke as we drove. As you know, where there is smoke there is fire. Although we did not see the actual flames, we could indeed tell where each separate fire was burning. There were helicopters flying fairly low carrying huge buckets. As we watched (and as Honour took pics while I said – did you get THAT? Do you see the helicopter? Look at that. Look THERE!) one of the buckets was emptied above the fire. Honour did indeed catch that picture. I have been teaching Honour a lot about the electronics in her car and phone and everything else (think seat warmer) but I forgot to teach her the zoom on my phone. wildfires Rogers PassBUT we still do have a really good shot of the fire fighting in action. Again – this may not have been the experience most think of for crossing the Rockies and seeing mountains, but it was quite awe-inspiring. Seeing those many many fires burning away really brought home, along with the air, what “wildfires” means.

We planned to stop the night in Golden, just the other side of Rogers Pass. Did you know that this is Canada’s 150th Birthday? Did you know that in celebration of that birthday Canada has declared all national parks free of fees? Do you know that July/August is the height of the tourist season in BC? Did you know that there is not a single available hotel room in Golden? We know that. Although it might have been nice to know that BEFORE we got to Golden. multiple firesWe decided we’d drive to Banff and get a room there. So we got back on Rt 1 and headed out of town. Heading out of town on Rt 1 entails a descent down a mountain. A very curvy steep descent. Where our lane is on the outside. Did I mention Honour doesn’t like heights much either? It was an interesting ride. I did mention (gently, I hope, although perhaps I am mistaken) that it would be a tad easier on me without the soundtrack of gasps, pants and “the speed limit is 5km (that’s a lie – the km, not her saying it). I suggested that she close her eyes and not watch but she was the proverbial deer in the headlights.

As the sun set gently in the west behind us, we continued through the Rockies with me saying “boy are you lucky it’s too dark to take pictures”. We pulled into Lake Louise. wildfires2Oh my that is absolutely gorgeous!!! You might not know this but that’s a national park too. And there are only 6 hotels in the Lake Louise vicinity. This was not the information we’d hoped for. We sat down to eat some dinner and got out our phones and began searching for hotels. Not just any hotel, you understand, but one that would take pets. Oh – did you FORGET about Jamie and the boys? I found A room in Canmore (about 30 minutes further down the road) but alas, they didn’t want Jamie. We found their attitude offensive and decide the heck with Canmore if that’s how they were going to behave. Looking past Canmore there’s not really much until Calgary. Calgary has an airport. Airports have hotels. We were pretty sure we could find a room for all 3 of us (the boys said they preferred to room in the car) at SOME hotel there. helicopter at Rogers Pass2Indeed we called ahead and book a room in Calgary, another 2 ½ hours eastward.

The drive to Calgary was, thankfully, uneventful. As we neared the city, we had a wonderful lightening show in the sky. I said it must be heat lightening because we had no weather forecast showing up and it was the sky lighting up, not bolts seen in the distance. None of the uncoming cars were wet. Obviously, heat lightening.

INTERLUDE: I have not told you about Duff. we are not happyNeither Fergus nor Duff are really enjoying this adventure. Fergus has made that clear periodically. I do hope my cats don’t know those words. Duff, however, has passed beyond speech and sat frozen in the back of the crate, eyes larger than any eyes have a right to be, growling whenever Honour attempted to go near him. We were both getting a bit concerned about Duff. We decided that maybe we needed to find a doctor in Calgary and let Duff spend some time on the analytic couch. We are also supposed to be meeting up with our friend Calli, who lives somewhere in the prairies of Canada. East of Calgary but we really weren’t sure were exactly. She’d emailed us to ask when we thought we’d be there. As YOU all know, the answer could be tomorrow, next week, never. I sent Calli an email saying “not sure when, need a vet, please call if you can”. We reached Calli as we were approaching Calgary. She had some brilliant ideas on what we might be able to do for Duff. Her suggestions were very helpful but even more importantly – they helped calm us down a bit with regard to worrying.

We got off the phone with Calli just as I was reaching the hotel. And a few sprinkles of rain began. And them more rain. Heavy rain, Loud on the roof rain. We were exhausted, we were worried about the cats, and we’d been on the road for 15 hours. As I pulled the car under the hotel front carport it began to hail. We watched another guest come out and start taking pictures of the hail. I guess it wasn’t heat lightening. But we didn’t care. We were there and the hotel had COVERED parking. I staggered to the room as Honour got the cats as comfortable as they were going to let her get them. For Duff – not very. But it was cool, it was dark, it was quiest and they had food and water and they weren’t moving and we figured things might be a bit better with them when we saw them in the morning.

Jamie, Honour and I did all the necessities and fell asleep. For hours. Uninterrupted, in a bed, quiet hours.
the road goes ever on

We’re Moving!!!!

We are ON OUR WAY!!!! I wish I could take a picture of this moment for you. Duff and FergusWe are cruising on Highway 1, the cats quiet in the way back, Jamie quiet in the back seat, and Honour and I singing along with Adele. We did set out at 7 am but only to go to the store for ice, Starbucks for coffee and bagel. We sat in the parking lot and set up the GPS, the multi-charger and the trip odometers. We did discover that one of the outlets in the car does NOT work. But since the multi-charger has a zillion USB ports, we plugged the GPS in that. We have also learned that duct tape does not stick to the dashboard of Honour’s car. WHY would we have learned this? Since we have to use the USB port for the GPS, the GPS can’t be mounted on the window. I thought I could duct tape it to the dash (what? You DON’T travel with a roll of duct tape????) but to my great dismay and astonishment – duct tape wouldn’t stick. Day 1 Mountain 1 BCI must say this crushing on a personal level as I have ALWAYS put my faith in the power of duct tape.

We have also found that the seat warmers in the car work GREAT. Because the GPS is now sitting on the console, which is also where the seat warmer controls are, Honour discovered that her tush was getting extremely warm and begged me to fix it. I got out the manual and found that indeed, there were seat warmer controls and that Hi warms up more quickly than Lo (I swear – that is exactly what it says in the manual.). I am not very good with universal icons. I really prefer words. Unfortunately for me, this manual is very short on words and very big on universal symbols. mountain passWe had to wait for the next red light so I could show Honour the picture because I thought it looked like an arm rest but could not see the buttons on her arm rest. She looked at the picture and said – that’s the console! So I moved the GPS and indeed, there was the seat warmer button. It was on Hi so we can confirm that not only does it work but Hi does warm up very very quickly. I turned it off.

We have had our first spat, concerning road names and numbering. I think Honour has decided on this matter she needs to humor me. I have the maps, the trip tik, the phones, and the GPS. She may have the steering wheel but I think I have better cards if she ever wants to get where she’s going. Mountain shrouded in forest fire haze BCI have also learned that Honour has an even bigger bridge phobia than I do. This from a woman who has spent the last few decades in a place named Delta, surrounded by water and bridges. This means that right from the get-go, we deviated from the Trip-Tik and all of the well meaning advice I have been given over the last 3 days. Rather than taking the recommended routes to Highway 1, which ALL involved bridges, we headed east on the local rural back roads. I resorted to the GPS and my phone since I could not find the roads on the map. But credit where credit is due. Honour was correct and we met up with Highway 1 far east of where the Trip-Tik would have met it. So we are, as I type, computer plugged into the wonderful multi-charger, just about to reach Hope, BC.


weeping birch

Okay – we got that out of the way. The movers showed up at 3 pm today. Well, A mover showed up, no truck, just Johnny. Delaney (?) showed up 90 minutes later with the truck. The truck was loaded and they were gone by 7:00 pm. Trust me on this – that is all you want and need to know. IMG_6004There is a lot more detail to those 4 sentences but some stories are best left to the imagination. Go for it – make up your own details. We are leaving tomorrow morning at 7 am. This represents a compromise (see – and you all thought Honour and I could not negotiate and compromise). Honour agreed to wait until 7am to leave and I agreed to get my coffee at McDonald’s. We didn’t even need to pull in trained negotiators to achieve this harmony. Oh ye of little faith! We ARE going to make it to the Bay of Fundy together.

Ah. One more thing. WHY didn’t the movers call? (You never write, you never call….) Well, they DID call. Repeatedly. Unfortunately, they were calling the incorrect number. They were calling the house phone, which had been disconnected. Now NO MORE questions about the movers, alright??

Let’s talk food. When last we left our heroine (um, that would be me, in case you were wondering. IMG_6003This is MY blog, even if it is Honour’s trip. I get to be the heroine therefore.) she was heading in from the porch to have breakfast with the other B&B guests. They were a lovely family from Philadelphia area. *grin* A veritable invasion of east coasters!!!! The 4 of us sat down to an amazing breakfast feast prepared by Clair. First were the strawberry crepes, with the cream melting on the top, and the flower decorations from the plants right outside the window. They were fantastic and I thought that was a great breakfast. Silly me. That was the starter. Next came the eggs, with browned potatoes, plus asparagus wrapped in turkey bacon. (I want to note that Clair was aware of my dietary preferences and there was no dairy mixed with meat on that plate and it was turkey not pork.) Again – the arrangement was gorgeous and the food was delicious. The orange juice was served in the cutest container. I decided at the table that perhaps I should be a food blogger since I’m not a very good travel blogger. I CAN remember the names of food. 🙂

We sat and talked and relaxed around the table. IMG_6005I got up finally to finish my post. The family was going to tour Vancouver. I checked in with Honour who was doing last minute packing (almost all of it was done already) and waiting/hoping for the movers to show. We agreed that friendship was best preserved if I was not waiting with her. (I have a running list of things that I don’t do – pump gas, pack. Please add “wait patiently” to that list.) Clair was able to serve as tour guide for me, however, so we decided to go to Vancouver so I could see the city.

Our first stop was at the bank, because I was getting concerned at my lack of Canadian cash. sculpture in Devonian harbour parkI had run into more places that did not take my preferred credit card (the one that does NOT charge currency translation fees). Live and learn. The cheapest way to change money is to use your ATM card. It was so simple and the ATM was sooooo SMART!!! It asked me if I wanted US or Canadian currency, it showed me the exchange rate, the fee (which was miniscule) and the totals. It was great! These computer things may really catch on. 🙂 I immediately went into the pharmacy to buy a hair clip as I’d left mine home and convertible-living is easier with hair pulled back.

From there we headed into Vancouver proper. Lions Gate bridgeI got a tour of the downtown, the court house, upscale shopping area, and other city sights. We stopped to meet Clair’s friend who owns a lovely jewelry store (and is a lovely, fun person too). My husband had suggested that I see if there were any waterway tours if I was staying over, so I did a search and found we were very near the harbour where there were indeed day boat trips. We made our way to Devonian Harbour Park to get tickets. We’d just missed a tour so we wandered a bit around the harbour until it was time to board. There was a movie crew having a lunch break in the park as well. We heard that there were a few movies being filmed in the city at them moment – Deadpool 2 being one of them.

We boarded the Constitution, a paddleboat with iron rail work. Vancouver skylineWe cruised past Stanley Park, Lions’ Gate Bridge, the cruise ship terminals, the convention center, historic Gastown and other buildings and sights. The tour claimed that we’d see the “breathtaking North Shore Mountains” but there were no mountains. I’ll tell you – all of these Vancouver folk keep trying to tell me that there are mountains here. I think this is a scam they try to pull on all foreigners. You can’t hide mountains and I’m telling you – I have yet to see a mountain here. They can’t fool me – this whole mountain thing is an inside joke. 🙂

What we did see (and this was NOT mentioned in the tour brochure) were seals, bald eagles and cormorants. harbour sealsI took a zillion pictures of course, hoping that one of them might actually show a seal. I’m experiencing a lot of similarities with this trip and our trip to Maine. In Maine we must have taken 3 rolls of film of puffins in the water. When we developed that film we had a lot of photos of water, with some black dots in the water. 🙂 This is one of the best things about taking pics on the phone. You can see immediately if there is actually anything in the photo or not, you don’t have to wait for the film to be developed.

We disembarked from the boat and were discussing what to do next (a cold drink sounded great as we’d been out in the sun and we were a bit dehydrated). bald eagleMy phone pinged and it was Honour, letting me know that Johnny had arrived (see first paragraph). We decided to head back home. It took an hour to get back as we yet again sat in traffic in the city and approaching the tunnel. I’m starting to feel like an old hand at getting about – I think I’ve gone through that tunnel every day I’ve been here.

Honour and I decided that I’d wait for her at the B&B, and we’d go to dinner once the movers left. cormorantsWe make such wonderful plans. It’s really a shame others don’t buy in to our schedules. 🙂 I sat in the side garden with Clair and friends for awhile, having something cold to drink. It was lovely there, looking at the plants and enjoying the discussion. We’d never had lunch so Clair brought out a nosh for us. Thank goodness, because when I saw the food I realized how hungry I was and, as it turned out, Honour and I did not head out to dinner until shortly after 8.

Honour has spent the week saying goodbye to favorite spots. pirate pakOne of these is a restaurant called the White Spot. This was a childhood favorite of hers so we headed there for her final BC meal. We were in luck!!!! It was Pirate Pak Day. This is the one day of the year when GROWNUPS (anyone over 10 years of age) can get their food in a pirate boat. Correction – not “can get”. Will get. Somehow despite Honour pointing this out to me AND my reading the little sign, none of it registered (because I have totally lost track of the days and I didn’t realize that today WAS August 9). When our meals came they were indeed in a pirate boat. 🙂 I have truly experienced all that British Columbia has to offer and it is with a light heart and full memories that I will set out tomorrow for Alberta!
pirate boat

Passing the Time

sunriseLet me say first that I do NOT know WHEN we are leaving. This is apparently highly confidential, top-secret, “we have to kill you if we tell you” information that the moving company does not care to share. No, I don’t understand why not and I’m not pursuing it. Yes, they ARE a national moving company with franchises across the country. Trust me – when I know I will tell you.

We DIDN’T leave yesterday (obviously). Honour spent the day packing and running errands and in general, I think, running about like a crazy person trying to do everything that needed doing. I, always eager and willing to do my part, stayed out of her way. *grin* And who says I’m not helpful and thoughtful???? Clair and I went shopping and running about town. Ah, a note about my “running about”. One of my friends was soooo concerned about me being in the great vast wilds of Canada. She wanted to microchip me so that I could be found. Instead I got a cool app called Life360 on my phone. My sister and niece put it on their phones and we all had fun playing with it and seeing where we were going and where we were. My husband has a flip phone. That means, for those of you who don’t know what a flip phone might be, that he cannot put apps on his phone. I know – it’s a bit like a rotary landline kind of phone. *grin* I thought that maybe he’d like to be able to see where I was so I gave him my login information for the website version of the app. He was like oh yeah whatever. I spoke with him yesterday and he was having such fun tracking me all over the Vancouver area. *grin* Who knows, maybe this will help convince him that a smart phone might be a good idea.

Clair and I went shopping and I found a present for Honour and me – an army knife. scary bridge It was at a store that sells used items so it was VERY inexpensive. It was Tuesday, which apparently is discount day in Canada, and that meant an additional 30% off the price. I have to leave my wonderful Swiss army knife home when I fly so the TSA doesn’t confiscate it. I miss it terribly because there are so many times I need a blade for opening something, or a little scissors, or the tweezers. This knife is nowhere near as good as that but it does have the blades so we will have it handy if needed.

While we were driving about we had to cross water a few times – sometimes over, sometimes under. logs along the riverIf you look at a map of Delta, BC, you can see why it’s named Delta. Or as my friend said – a highly original name. Not. Some of you know the stories of me and my nightmare bridge. The original nightmare bridge is the Delaware Memorial bridge connecting NJ with Delaware. Clair and I were tootling along in her adorable red convertible (with the top down of course) when I looked ahead and saw this bridge LOOMING in the distance, rising up like the Dark Tower of Sauron. I asked “Are we going over THAT?” and of course the answer was yes. I did what any sensible person would do – started taking pictures so that I could blog it. 🙂 I have to say that although it looked nightmare-ish from a distance, it was the effect of the tower, and the actual rise and fall of the road was not that bad. But it did trigger the “nightmare bridge” quiver.

I’m a terrible travel blogger because I never remember to get the names of places and things (like that bridge). open bridgeWe had a lunch and then headed home the scenic way – along the Fraser River – hence another picture of the logs stored along the river banks. 🙂 As we cruised along, I saw another bridge – the kind of bridge that interests my husband (as opposed to the kind that makes my stomach turn over). We once used up 2 or 3 rolls of film in Maine taking pictures of the underside and sides and bridgekeeper’s booth of some bridge that was the last one of its kind in the country (see – I really stink at travel blogs. I’ll try to ask him what kind of bridge it was.) So this railroad bridge is for my husband. 🙂

Life being what it is, we ran into a huge traffic jam. Remember all that water that needs to be crossed? bridge for jimThere was an accident in the tunnel that we had to take. Traffic was crawling on the approach (I felt right at home 🙂 In a red convertible, stuck in traffic, but with the sun and fresh air on and around me feeling great). I missed another perfect opportunity as we passed a vineyard with a great sign: Sips happen – Come in and Wine. That sign would have been a great picture. And I don’t remember the name of that place either. 😦 Something meadows maybe?

We made it through the tunnel eventually and back home where Clair needed to prepare for arriving guests. We met up on the front porch this time for spritzers and sat there chatting and laughing until Phil (guest) arrived. He joined us for for a spritzer and we compared notes on travel, work and life. He confirmed that not only do Jersey Girls Not Pump Gas but Oregon gals do not either. That is the other state where attendants must pump the gas. He headed off to do his thing, I verified that Honour was alive and well (but not interested in dinner) and Clair and I headed out for Greek food. There was a nice little restaurant about 3 blocks away where we sat outside on the patio. We had a pleasant upbeat waitress and we wined and dined and then headed on back home.

I think I’m adjusted this morning to the correct time zone as I was sound asleep by 10:15 and woke at about 5:30. I got up, washed, brushed my teeth and got dressed (that last list was all for my sister, who will get the joke. Oh okay – I’ll share. Our mother always used to enumerate those tasks as things that ‘had to be done’ whereas to us they were/are things that just get done without mention). I took my phone and laptop out to the front porch to blog. (See the sunrise picture up above). As I wrote the latest guests, who arrived well after I was asleep, came out onto the porch to say good morning. But that’s a post for another day.

clockvine flowers
Clockvine flowers on the front porch (they’re also called Black-eyed Susan Vine)

Dogs and Flowers

I LOVED going through the immigration at Vancouver. I don’t know if all international airports are like this now, but this was the first time I’d traveled internationally since Italy 3 years ago. First, it was a lot like being at a big amusement park or a huge business conference. Uniformed personnel everywhere calling out directions and gesturing to the correct pathway. 🙂 When I was in Vegas in March for a conference the hotel staff would create a path to guide us to the correct dining area. The airport was much like that. 🙂 Although you fill out the customs declaration form on the plane, no one looks at it. You go to a kiosk and you answer all the same questions again. Of course the kiosk experience begins by placing your passport on the reader. And of course it didn’t work for me. *blush* I had the passport the wrong way on the reader. Sigh. Hard to believe I work with computers day in and day out, isn’t it? It was extremely fast, simple (once I had the passport the right way) and pleasant. The kiosk also takes your picture and gives you another piece of paper.

River House Pub
River House Pub
The plane had landed 40 minutes EARLY (yay!) so I texted Honour to make sure that she knew that. She said that she and her friend Evelyn were there and waiting. I went through a checkpoint where a real human took my original declaration form, then moved to another checkpoint to leave the area where another person took the kiosk paper, and then I was out into the open.

I confess that I was looking for Honour the Avatar.

I’d never seen a photo of Honour prime (or is the avatar prime??). I walked through the passageway looking at all the people wondering if I’d recognize her. I saw one woman with white hair but nothing else really seemed to fit and she wasn’t looking at me. I was nearing the end of the roped corridor when I heard someone yell my name. I looked up and this total stranger was waving and calling me name. She (illegally) came under the rope to greet me. It was Honour. That wasn’t Honour. Who WAS this woman with Honour’s voice and mannerisms????? It was Honour. She introduced me to Evelyn and I began work on reconciling reality with my mental images. 🙂 This person was soooooo Honour. OMG. Chestnut – if you are reading this you would have known her instantly too. closeup lacey hydrangeaIf I simply listened to her I was completely at home. I changed some dollars to loonies (but not enough as it is turning out. None of the places so far will take the CC that does NOT charge a currency translation fee. Bummer.) and we headed off on a tour of the Vancouver area.

She has named her SUV Molly, and I agree that it is a proper name for the vehicle, which is very very comfortable. As I mentioned earlier, there was haze everywhere, which put a bit of a damper on long scenic views but did not interfere with things nearby. We headed for lunch along a river (oh dear, I have no idea where we were). It was a lovely marina/restaurant called River House. We sat outside looking at the boats on the water and chatting. It was lovely and a wonderful refresher after the early morning wake-up call and plane ride. I did pass on the smoked salmon (and that’s kind of an in joke for my sister – still not really ready to face bagel/lox/cream cheese) but had a yummy salmon burger. Orange flowersWe headed back to Honour’s house to drop off Evelyn who lives across the street and for me to download podcasts for our trip (needed wifi). While I was there I met Jamie – the afore-mentioned adorable dog. She was so excited I could not get any really wonderful pics of her so these photos do not do her justice, but she was bouncing up and down and wagging her tail and was just thrilled that I had come to worship at her dogginess.

One of the best parts of traveling is getting to see other people’s gardens. I am not overly fond of hydrangea – I do have some in my yard but not in front. Honour has a variety I’ve never seen before – I think she said it was Lacey Hydrangea. I love it. I’ll have to see if I can find that back home. lacey hydrangea Also these lovely orange flowers as well – another name I didn’t recognize.

From there we went to Clair’s B&B where I am staying until we leave (there’s really not much in Honour’s house but boxes and stuff to be boxed). Clair’s is LOVELY. garden 3I need to get a pic for the front of the house but in the meantime you can check out her website. It is even lovelier than it looks there. I am in the Amber room and love it. The bed is very comfortable and the whole room is lovely. It’s true that there is no shower but there is a fantastic deep tub with feet!!! i used the hand-held shower to wash my hair today with no trouble (thereby doing a little bit to dispel my whole princess-mystique). Honour took off to do more packing. I invited Clair to join me for a wine spritzer on the porch (we’d stopped so I could pick up the ingredients). She agreed but suggested that first she finish the pruning she was doing and then we’d go to the back garden. I took a quick shower to refresh, tossed on a pareo and we headout out to the back. It is GORGEOUS!!! There is a waterfall with a lovely sound, stunningly beautiful flowers and comfortable seating. And of course, a dog. 🙂 SorchaSorcha (not sure I’ve got the correct spelling there). Sorcha is a cairn terrier. Like Jamie, Sorcha ‘knew’ I was there to love and adore and cuddle her.

Clair and I (and Sorcha) sat out chatting and relaxing for quite a bit, until Honour came to get me for dinner.She joined us for a bit of a chat as well until I finally found the energy to go change back to my jeans so we could head out. Honour is making the rounds of all her goodbyes, and last night’s dinner was her farewell stop at one of her favorite Japanese restaurants. I’d put in a plug for it but I have forgotten the name. It was, however, delicious (salmon teriyaki). Honour dropped me off at Clair’s to head home for either more packing or collapse. garden 4Clair and her husband were sitting in the side garden and invited me to join them for a glass of prosecco. I did, and we chatted and it was lovely and peaceful. Clair and I have been having lots of fun chatting, so it was agreed that I’d head out shopping with her on Tuesday while Honour did the myriad of chores, packing, whatever that she still needed to do. I stink at packing (as my sister can attest) and I’d warned Honour very early on that I’d be useless at it. This is probably one of the reasons why we’ve never moved. 🙂 There is no way I can pack up a house.

Clair serves wonderful breakfasts, Claire garden 1but as it turns out I was the only guest last night. I said to her to skip breakfast – there is no reason she needed to get up and make a big special thing for me. I don’t need that much and as long as I got coffee I’m good. She demurred but then agreed. We agreed to meet in the morning for a light breakfast together – coffee and some scrambled eggs. 🙂 My fav. So Clair and I BOTH got a relaxing morning. She got to sleep-in for the first time since April, and I am in a lovely B&B with my eggs made to order and sipping great coffee.

The sun is shining, I’ve heard from Honour that she is (mostly) under control, and Clair and I are going shopping. 🙂

Clair garden 2
Rose of Sharon

On a Jet Plane

I’m on my way!!! It’s been uneventful and smooth – just the way I like it. I even had time for one last cuddle with my little kitty. We’re going to miss each other.

I like this whole first class, pre-tsa business. Although I did have to go to the counter for my boarding pass (apparently international travel requires that) it was fast and painless. Going to Canada doesn’t feel like going international. It’s akin to going to your sister’s house for dinner and calling it dining out. I don’t mean that disparagingly. I mean that in a warm positive way. It’s going someplace that WILL be away but not ‘foreign’. Until I get to the French-speaking areas of course. That will be foreign. Other than c’est la vie all the French I know comes from pop music (Voulez vous and all that). I managed to doze for a bit before and after take-off, but decided to wake up for breakfast. I’m now sipping my coffee, staring down at the Great Lakes and talking to you.
Great Lakes
It’s very bumpy. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a flight with this much turbulence. It’s not very bad but I’m not sure all on the plane would I agree. Shortly after I awoke and became aware of others around me, I saw the young man across the aisle standing and wiping down everything in sight. He is traveling with a small child next to him, and a woman behind him with a small child next to her. First class is nice – big wide seats, you can pretty much be oblivious to your fellow travelers. But you DO share the air. And as I gazed curiously at him, I realized WHY he was wiping everything. And why the woman was pointing to the floor in front of her. It was a passing odor, and it’s all gone but oh my – I’m so glad that was NOT my responsibility!!!!

Somewhere Over Montana
Somewhere Over Montana
It reminds me of our first flight with our son. I had not yet learned the patience and zen-like calm I now exhibit (and if you think I’m NOT zen-like be glad you didn’t know me when *grin*). We were flying to St. Croix, I don’t think we had bought a seat for Ben. What I remember is that he stood on Jim’s lap SCREAMING through takeoff and a good portion of the flight after that. I wanted to make him be quiet, stop the noise, stop the agony. I know everyone on the plance could hear him. Really. I saw another woman from the flight at our resort while I was chatting with a friend. I asked the plane-woman for verification about Ben’s volume and while she looked sheepish she had to agree. He was LOUD. But unhappy toddlers have no consideration for fellow passengers and it didn’t stop until he cried himself to sleep. And as an infant and young toddler Ben also had a very upsy-daisie stomach. That and the flying did teach me that it has nothing to do with parenting and everything to do with being a child. I can’t say that I enjoy the screaming/crying/puking but I can empathize and sympathize with parents now. I’ve read too many articles on the internet with people complaining about ‘misbehaving’ children and how their parents should “do something”.
Crop Circles
Crop Circles??

BIG mountain
BIG mountain
mountains in BC
I hope the pictures of the lakes come out. I was so tired this morning that I forgot I wanted to stay awake to take a picture of NYC as I left. Now that I’m awake I’m doing my usual 8 million photos of views from the plane. I LOVE looking at the farmlands and rivers and MOUNTAINS!!! I LOVE the snow covered mountains. It took me a moment so I only got one good shot but it was way cool to see all the logs being moved downriver and stored along the banks. Not something you see much in the Delaware, Raritan or Hudson rivers.
Logs being moved:stored in the river

VancouverI didn’t see any fires burning, but you can see from the photos as we were coming into Vancouver that there is smoke haze everywhere. Honour and Evelyn met me at the airport and took me for a tour, and were completely frustrated and disappointed when they took me to Cherry Beach (? Help, Honour – I don’t remember the name of that beach) where the beach, river, mountains and huge ocean going ships all meet, and we couldn’t see the mountains on the other side of the river. We headed out from there to lunch, but that’s a story for another post. I’m here, safe and sound.

Wildfires, Cameras and Random Thoughts

Where to start?

British Columbia is afire. Normally this would be of mild interest to me. Yes, I DO have many friends in Canada, but not many in BC (or at least not in the part of BC that is burning). I see that the smoke from the fires has gotten so bad that it is now in Seattle, WA area. I have a niece- & nephew-in-law in that area as well as grandniece and grandnephews. I believe I have a nephew in that general vicinity as well (not really sure WHERE Michael is *grin*). And of course, Tess. (/me waves hi! to Tess). But that is of little interest to you, I’m sure, as my job here is to entertain and amuse you, not merely list the genealogies as if we were in Genesis 5:3.

I think, if I am at all understanding the transCanada highway (as in I am getting the sense that the Transcanada “highway” is not A highway but a bunch of roads strung together designated as A highway) and understanding our route (also a slowly dawning enlightenment) that we will be driving near the fires in Kamloop. I’m sure that Honour is going to make some comment about oh phew, stop worrying it’s no big deal. But I’m from NJ. We don’t pump our own gas (omg – am I going to have to pump gas on this trip?????), we don’t usually have fires burning semi-out of control for days. Weeks. I can’t imagine anything more terrifying and devastating than watching your home burn. But from a selfish point-of-view – I do wonder what the road will be like (open or closed? driving through smoke? no hotel vacancies?). I’m used to hurricanes (Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and many more) but fire will be new for me. I suspect it is an experience I would prefer not to experience at close range. (Oh wait, did I ever tell you about the time my fiance and I slept through the fire in his house???)

today's wildfires

/me shudders and shakes off the where-there’s-smoke-there’s-fire-issue. I bought a new camera today. *grin* What did I tell you about me and vacations? I have a little Casio Exilim from many, many years ago. I love it. But I waited too long to try to get a battery for it. I can only find it on the internet and I can’t get it here before I leave AND I can’t have it shipped to Honour to be waiting for me. (So what IS it with trying to ship things from the US to Canada? This is becoming a real nuisance.) Sure, I could use my phone, and I might. But I like having a camera as well. I bought myself a little Nikon (“I’ve got a Nikon camera, I’d love to take a photograph“). The battery is charging and it appears to be an upgrade of my Casio but very similar. That makes me happy. 🙂

Random thoughts…. I am amazed at how many people feel compelled to tell me what a mistake I am making (and this from people who haven’t even gotten around to suspecting that Honour might be an axe murderer). They say: it’s a mistake to go with someone I’ve never met F2F; they think traveling with animals is the worst thing to do; they could never sit in a car that long; etc. I think you get the idea. Hey – I may even have harboured (please note Canadian spelling) such thoughts myself from moment to moment. But WHY do you feel compelled to express this to me? I’m going. It’s a bit late to change my mind. Do you think this is enjoyable to hear? I do shrug it off. But I think comments like this fall into the category of “Do you ever listen to what comes out of your mouth before you are about to say it?” I had a mere acquaintance start in today. As I was trapped in the chair getting my hair done, I couldn’t really get up and leave. And there were others commenting mindlessly today too. Enough! Honour and I are big girls now. We get it. I fully expect that there will be days when tensions and tempers rise. (Of course, I am perfect so none of that will be because of me or on my part.)

This is The Great Transcontinental Escapade. Or, if you prefer, Ahuva and Honour Do Canada (I wonder if she has the proper shoes?). Come along and share the adventure! Fewer than 48 hours to takeoff!

Vanity is Costly

The moment you say “I’m worth it” you can be sure the level of your bank account will begin sinking, swirling around and down like the blue water in the … well, you know where you find blue water. My father used to tell me that “a boat is a hole in the ocean into which you throw money”. For me – vacations/travel are a boat. If I’m going, I want my creature comforts and I don’t want to deny myself anything. 🙂 For those of you who know me as Ahuva this attitude will come as no surprise. There might be some reading this who know me by my – oh heck. If Ahuva is my alter-ego, what is that other ego??? Anyway, in all my aspects I have decided that yep, I’m WORTH it.

Honour and I will be traveling for at least a week, if not longer. I will have days before and after The Great Transcontinental Escapade (hereafter known as TGTE). There are a lot of creature comforts that I would use in a week. It takes effort to maintain my Ahuva-ness. Unfortunately, the TSA gets very crabby when you try to take an entire suitcase of lotions and potions onboard the aircraft. I’m only taking a carry-on bag because I’m traveling light. *grin* I’m sure my definition of light is not Honour’s definition of light. Jus’ sayin’. By the way – did I mention that I’m flying first class? I’m worth it, you know. 🙂

I solved my lotions and potions issue by shipping a box of shampoo, conditioners, gel, creams etc. to Honour earlier this week. Do you realize how much it costs to ship from the US to Canada???? I was taken aback. Not only did I have to open the box so we could remove the spray bottle, but I had to list every single item in the box. I confess – it was a little embarrassing how many hair products I had in the box. *red face* My box has to go through customs and so everything in it has to be listed on the outside. Soooooo glad I won’t have to see the custom officer’s face as the box is inspected. The tab was roughly $100 to ship approximately $20 worth of product. *grin* On the other hand, I don’t have to carry them (“they’re heavy” she whined) and I don’t have to deal with the TSA. I quite like this solution.

I like this approach so much that I’m utilizing it again today. I went to the AAA yesterday and got maps and a trip tik and the books about hotels and other road information. I picked up 6 maps to cover Canada and Maine and the complementary books and the trip tik – all free. Today I go back to FedEx to ship them rather than carry them on board with me. 🙂 My father -A”h – would be appalled at this approach. (When the toll on the Henry Hudson bridge went from 10 cents to a quarter, he insisted that we go the long way around and take the Moshulu Parkway, which was FREE, rather than pay that outrageous additional fifteen cents.) But hey – I’m WORTH it. And I’m tucking in a few more lotions and potions with the maps.

Don’t tell Honour, but I shipped a trunk of shoes as well. You never know which shoes you might want to be wearing as you travel across country in an SUV with 2 cats, a dog, and an avatar. A woman likes to have choices, you know? And I’m worth it.

money down the drain