Monday, June 29, 2015

Will Keep Trying

I must have been asleep for much of my schooling as I remember nothing about even the simplest of grammar rules.

I purchased a book about writing on the weekend that has 50 techniques to become a better writer and includes exercises with each section. I was pretty excited to read the first section which discusses identifying the subject and verb in a sentence and positioning them for best effect. Simple right? The first exercise was to go through some articles in a newspaper and identify subjects and verbs. I had no idea what I was doing and had to get Carm to help. I was hopeless so went online to study up. Two of the sites had quizzes - the results were dismal. I guess I have to practice more.

I will keep trying! (subject = I, verb = will try?) What is “keep”? Maybe "will keep" is the verb? Or is it "will keep trying"?

I try. I will try. I have tried. I’m hopeless. I was hopeless. Hopefully, I won’t always be hopeless.

The other day I was laughing in my my head about karaoke and how silly it is (not that I wouldn’t have a go if I could sing a little bit), and then thought to myself that I was being mean, and that my writing was a karaoke of literature. I’m not a great writer but I can pretend with my internet karaoke machine blog.

"The past is always tense, the future perfect.”  ~Zadie Smith

Saturday, June 27, 2015

WYL #101 Haying Time

The sky rumbled ominously as I stood in the middle of our recently cut hay field. Clouds heavy with unfallen rain lay to the north and south of me leaving just a sliver of blue sky centred overhead. I raised my arms to the sky, closing my eyes in prayer, pleading Mother Earth to spare us. A herd of 11 horses dotted the pasture on the other side of the fence and without the dried grasses it would be a rough winter.

A flash of lightening sent me running for the safety of the house. I stood and watched out of the living room window. Watch for what I wondered. It was up to Nature now, chance and the vagaries of the winds. "It is what it is" and either way we'll find a solution.

There were no contingency plans or disaster recovery scenarios that could save the hay from rain. It pained me that I couldn't take a backup, that there were no certainties, so different from my day job where planning was a key activity. We not only had backups, we tested them.

The hay lay there, waiting for whatever might come. I turned my back to the window and turned on my computer.

Miracles still happen - heavy thunderstorms skirted to the north and the south of us, leaving a narrow strip of less than a mile dry.
Two days later the hay was baled and tossed into wagons that were drawn up to the barn. It was time for Carm and I to get to work and as always, it was the hottest, muggiest day of the summer. Bale after bale was brought down from the wagons and stacked in the barn. 500 bales @ 40lbs each meant that we each had carried 20,000 pounds of hay. Our muscles ached and we were soaked in sweat from the work. Good, hard, honest work. The satisfaction of having a barn full of clean, fresh hay can't be measured.

Some years we had help. Boys from a nearby group home helped two years, Deirdre and Kirsten helped another. Help was good, but usually it was just the two of us, working as a team, to get the job done.

We always wore heavy jeans and denim shirts to protect against the sharp cut ends of the hay. One year it was too hot so I wore shorts instead. By the time we were finished my arms and legs were running with blood - I didn't do that again! As the years passed it started to get too hard and we'd dread the call at work that baling was underway. Carm was sick one haying season so we hired a custom baler to make huge 500 pound bales that they stacked outside with a tractor. We covered the stack with huge tarps, tied at the bottom. Even though the large bales were harder to work with during the winter, we never went back to the smalls.

My favourite photo of Carm was taken after an afternoon of stacking hay. He's sweaty and tired looking with a smile on his face. To my eyes it is the vision of true love.

Now, we sit on the deck sipping cold drinks and let someone else have all the worry.

my favorite photo of Carm

one of the wagons arriving at the barn

Deirdre throwing bales from the wagon

Kirsten in the haystack

the group home boys after a long afternoon - and an overflow of hay!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

WYL #100 Aunty Rena's Farm

A dust plume followed the car like a diaphanous silver parachute as we traveled the countryside. I was in the back seat, silently urging my Dad to drive faster, straining my eyes to see the first tell tale signs that we were getting close. Everything looked the same, except for the few trees huddled against farm houses, golden grasses stretched as far as the eye could see. 

My stomach churned with excitement as I finally caught sight of the familiar pattern of trees that sheltered Aunty Rena's farm house - I wanted to jump out of the car and run the rest of the way, but held tight, my hand on the door handle readying myself to fly out the door. It seemed to take forever for the car to roll to a complete stop, but when it did I burst out of the car, shyness suddenly overtaking me as I greeted my Aunty Rena.  She pulled me into a loving hug, her soft arms smelling of fresh milk and butter.

We spoke for a moment and then I left to reacquaint myself with the farm.  I walked over to the fence where the two dairy cows were - Jerseys I think - and took a deep breath. Hints of dried hay and aged manure were carried on the dusty breeze, a familiar smell that hugged me as tightly as my aunt had. Beside me the stock tank sparkled in the sun. My hand dipped into the cool water and looking down I could see the huge fish that lived there. With ceremonial aplomb I took a small battered tin cup from its nail and pumped cool water into it, and taking a deep drink felt my spirit refreshed.

Stepping back from the stock tank I closed my eyes to soak in every detail of that hot summer day: the smells, the feel of the warm sun and dusty wind on my skin, the sound of wild birds and livestock. My heart swelled and tears pricked at my eyes. This was the home of my spirit, and even though I was only 13, I knew these memories would move me forever.

The weathered barn stood at the other end of the paddock, its sheathing aged to a tarnished sterling silver. Next to the barn was a high fenced corral, a little calf bawling for milk its sole occupant. I turned to my Aunt Rena who told me that it was an orphan and had to be bottle fed. Slipping between the strands of barbed wire I carefully walked over to the dairy cows - unlike most of the cows here, these two were tame. Their huge brown eyes looked me over then they dropped their heads back to the pile of hay. Their coats were shiny and sleek and felt like silk under my small hand.

I turned my attention toward the high corral where two brown eyes peered out between the slats. The dusty rose in puffs as I made my way towards those staring eyes. As I got close, the Hereford calf moved back from the gate, unsure of my intentions. I turned back to my Aunt to see if it was okay and then clambered up the high sides and down into the calf's domain. Crouching down on my heels I waited for it to approach. Curiosity quickly overcame uncertainty and I felt the cold, wet nose on my arm. Slowly I lifted my other hand and put it on his withers where I knew from experience was a good place to scratch. He was won over.

As the morning wore on I wandered through the rest of the farmyard, carefully sliding my hand underneath roosting chickens to check for eggs, scratching the pigs and cuddling the purring kittens. I could not think of a better place to be.

The clang of the lunch bell called me back to the farmhouse. A big bowl of soapy water was set by the door for everyone to wash up with. Next to that stood a pail filled with fresh well water for drinking, a scoop hanging on a nail above it. The table sat in the middle of the kitchen, and as usual Aunty Rena had loaded it with food until the wood groaned. She was known far and wide and across the decades for her cooking and everyone at the table would agree - you couldn't find a finer lunch anywhere. Stuffed and a bit sleepy, I helped with washing the dishes in the big tub that had been filled with water heated on the stove.

After lunch I headed out to look for the horses. They were pastured in several hundred acres of wild prairie on the other side of the fence from the Jerseys. This was perhaps my most favorite place in the whole world. Wild flowers tangled with the tall grasses, birds darted here and there, a meadowlark sang her pretty song. The vastness of the prairie made my knees weak, I had to lie down for a moment with my face to the sun feeling the energy of the earth move up through my limbs. I felt at one with this place.

I never found the horses, and eventually headed back to the house, hoping to be in time for milking. Cousin George brought the two Jersey cows into the barn, gently wiped their udders then settling on the low wooden stool started milking. With a steady rhythm the milk pinged against the side of the metal milk pail. I had a turn and with clumsy hands coaxed out a dribble of milk. I looked forward to drinking a glass of the rich, warm liquid.

Shadows lengthened and I knew we'd soon be heading back into the city. I wondered when we'd come again, but since we lived hundreds of miles away I knew it would be a long time. As it turns out, changes happened and we moved even farther away. It was a few decades later that I next returned, and by this time Aunty Rena had long passed away. I didn't get much chance to explore, the barn was still the same silver colour, while the house had darkened as though shadowed by grief at Aunty Rena's absence. With my childhood innocence gone, the place seemed shabby and worn, but as I felt the dusty winds against me, carrying with it the smell of hay and old manure I remembered. It was the land and the wind and the sun that made this place special.  The dust swirled around my feet and I smiled.

I think that when you are born in a certain type of landscape you become a part of it and when you leave it, an empty space is left in your heart. You may love the deep forest, or the Northern bush, some need a wide seascape, while others need a rocky mountain. I need the open space that makes room for the sky. Only there can my soul be at peace.

When the time comes, and it will, I would like to become the dust in the breeze in the home of my spirit.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I guess it's time

"Well, I guess it's time to do the next dog". I looked over to where Bella was hiding and to my shock and surprise she crawled out from under the desk and walked right to the grooming table putting her front feet on it so I could lift her up. The poodles dislike haircut day and cringe when they see the table go up. But they are good dogs, going along with the dreaded process with no complaints.

I had to shave Spike's ears cause I was negligent with brushing - he had long flowing ears that were so beautiful. Now he looks like a kid with a bowl cut. Bella didn't have to endure quite the indignities, but I did chop the hair on her head a wee bit short (bring on the bowl again). But they are done and bathed for another month or so.

I thought that despite the hack job I still deserved a treat so we drove into the village to the wonderful bakery. I had a chocolate dip donut that was de bomb, and Carm had a maple boston - from the smile on his face I'd say it was good too. And just because - for scientific reasons of course - we brought home a mille feuilles so we could compare it with the one we had from the master baker on Preston St. Science you know!

Yesterday I felt a spark of creativity so I dragged out a story that I was working on last summer, but I'll have to say: my brain isn't all there yet. I can't seem to get the creative part of my brain restarted after its long hiatus.

The peonies, with their Rubenesque blossoms, are just about finished. The spent flowers look like ball gowns past their prime, perhaps the dancers fell in the pool, soaking the now limp crinolines. I still bury my face in the flowers every time I pass by and will continue to do so until the last browned petal falls to the earth.

We've started calling her Clarice. The young doe has been hanging around our property for several days now - we suspect that a fawn is hidden somewhere nearby. I have mixed feelings about our guest: I love seeing wildlife and nature, but worry about ticks.

“Some of the worst mistakes in my life were haircuts” ~Jim Morrison

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Up up in the air

Carm and I split up today - he went to spend time with his mom while I spent time with my father. Mom made us a scrumptious breakfast of Eggs Benedict to sustain us for the main event of the day - a concert at the Aviation Museum.

We got there with a bit of time for Dad, who volunteers at the museum, to give me the Cole's notes tour of the highlights. It wasn't long before a few more people joined the tour with exclamations of what a great tour it was. Dad has always been an aviator at heart and was in the Air Force for awhile. He also had his own plane when I was little. It was fun to see him in his element and have him point out some of the planes that he had flown in, not to mention the contraption that spun its occupants around until they passed out. It was a fairly archaic machine with dangerous gears right where his hand would have sat. I wondered if anyone had lost fingers to its gnashing teeth.

Before the tour had completed it was time to climb the steps to our seats in the auditorium. The band was a string orchestra with a piano thrown in for good measure. The hour flew by.

It reminded me of the first concert that I went to with Mom & Dad - James Last and his Orchestra. He was a Big Band leader who was big in the 70s. Dad had all his albums, and I had one too. We were enjoying the concert immensely when some women came onto the stage and started removing their clothes! I was dumbfounded but found it mildly interesting that they could make the tassels twirl. I could feel my parents squirm in their seat. It wasn't the strippers per se that caused my embarrassment, but the fact that I was seeing them with my parents. Coincidently, he passed away a week ago.

Apparently the museum is one of the top 10 Aviation museums in the world, and I can believe it. I highly recommend a visit, and when you do, ask for Olaf :-)

The photo of me is in front of a length of one of the CanadArms. A new section of the museum just opened with stuff from space, including a suit and toilet.

All in all it was a most excellent day, at least for me and I hope it was for Mom and Dad too.

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away." ~Dinah Craik

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Saturday we did something that we haven't done even once in the 28 years that we've been together - we went into the city to Preston/Corsa Italia for Italian Week. We left home at 1:30, thinking that we'd have a quick visit with Carm's sister and then be in time to enjoy the festivities in the afternoon.

Carm knows his way around that area of town so finding parking was no problemo. We could see some activity down the road so we headed in that direction to see what the excitement was about.  A section of the road was cordoned off and there were Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and dragsters roaring up and down the road, revving through their gears and squealing their tires as they fishtailed around the curves.  The dragsters had giant tires that laid rubber onto the road when they are accelerating - I imagined that the folks at Goodyear were seeing $ as all those tires were worn down. I was a little partial to the Lamborghinis, but don't know where we'd put the dogs.

Once we'd gotten our fill of screeching metal we headed to Preston street where Nothing Was Going On. There were no food stands offering delectable tastes of Italian food, no bands playing, just the odd hotdog vendor and some foot traffic. We kept on walking, hoping to find something interesting when... bump... there was Carm's cousin Aldo and his wife Michelle walking in the opposite direction. They knew the drill, letting us know that things don't start until 5 or 6 pm... and did we want to join them at Dow's lake for some nachos? Our afternoon was set with some congenial company in warm sunshine. Sweet!

Sweet indeed! After enjoying our nachos on the patio we hiked back along Preston St. until we found a gelato shop filled with pastries. Icy, smooth sweetness soothed our jabber weary throats, and as if that wasn't enough we shared some pastries. Yowsers!

Friday night was another surprise get together. Just before 9pm our neighbors called to say they were having a bonfire and a bunch of the neighbors would be there. It didn't take any convincing to get us into long pants. As we sat there through just over 2 hours I watched the moon, with Jupiter and Venus in tow, make its way across the sky, finally sinking below the horizon.

"Nobody will understand the craziness of your family better than your cousins" ~Unknown

Friday, June 19, 2015

BBQ so good

Years ago, when I used to work downtown, Ribfest was a much anticipated lunchtime event. Once a year for 4 days Sparks Street (a pedestrian mall) would fill with smoke from the half dozen or more rib wagons. Lines would snake down the street, and ties would be taken off as hungry office workers flooded the area. People would perch on every available surface to nosh on giant slabs of ribs right off the grill, dripping spicy bbq sauce over shirts destined for a boardroom meeting.

For the last four years of retirement we've thought back to those delicious days with slightly rumbling tummies. "We should" was always followed by inactivity and not actually getting in the car and driving. This year we burst through the inertia and drove downtown to treat ourselves. Mmmmmmm.... ribs..... oh yea. The street was no less smokey and the ribs were no less drippy, and we were no less happy!

It was a good reward after an afternoon spent bucking up a tree that Carm felled the day before. It was right on the edge of the lawn/wild area so we tossed the leafy branches into a big pile just over the divide - more habitat for bunnies and birds. Carm used the chainsaw to cut the branches away from the main trunk which we cut up into lengths for firewood. I hate the chainsaw - so scary and dangerous - but when the need arises, it saves a lot of work.

While we were relaxing on the front steps we heard a faint fluttering in the bush beside us. It was a beautiful little female goldfinch flitting about her nest. She's picked a busy spot to raise a family.

"BBQ so good it would make a vegetarian eat meat again." ~unknown

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Photos from our opportunity

Here are a few photos of our predicament last Friday courtesy of Brenda. They don't show us at our most stuck point but do give an idea of where we were.

We'd already backed out quite a bit. We were far enough forward that the big tree was right by the door. A 37' trailer is just not agile enough to get around a tight curve with no leaway on either side...  Right in front of the truck is the licence plate eating obstacle - thankfully the plate went back on with just a few new screws. Carm had to jig back and forth several times to get us out of the jam. Then came the loooong backup through curves with trees and obstacles on each side.

Whew! That was close. I was hanging onto the post which the trailer was just clearing. Mike came along and pulled it out which gave us the extra 6 inches that we needed.

Relived, but still a little freaked out!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bury my nose at peo-nee

Hidden under the dark green foliage, protected from the rain were some peonies, seductresses of the nose. By dusk on Saturday we had finished the laundry and unloaded most of the trailer so I stole a moment to walk the path in the garden. I was surprised to find blossoms that were fresh and lush; with gratitude I buried my nose and inhaled the delicate perfume. Heavenly. 

The garden (and the grass) have grown like crazy since we left 2 1/2 weeks ago. Walking down the garden path I felt like Alice in Wonderland, shrunk down to 1/2 size. Things that were little sprigs now vie for space with established plants that also went bezerk. The weather must have been the right combination of hot and wet.

The grass also grew to epic proportions keeping Carm busy on Saturday and Sunday - 2.5 hours each day and he was 100% done and 100% tired! That lawn would have been great pasture for the lawn ornaments/horses I used to have. We had little electric fences all over the place to keep them out of the flower beds and off the decks, but gosh, they kept the lawn nice and short, fertilizing as they went!

Sunday evening we spent some time with my Mom and Dad - it was Mom's birthday so the Canada side of the family got together (minus a few grandchildren).

We were almost home when we saw a parking lot of cars and trucks flanking our little bridge. We thought it might be an accident, but were surprised to hear (and see) that something had happened to turn our creek from brown to bright green/blue! There must have been a chemical spill somewhere - I hope it doesn't end up in our well...

(thanks to Holly for the photo)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Opportunities abound

Everyday travelling in an RV is an adventure, but sometimes those adventures turn into opportunities. Opportunities to keep your cool, to be patient, to remember more things to double check. When the RV is 36 1/2 feet long the opportunities sometimes come in the form of a pig stuck between two trees. Sadly the pig is rarely greased... but she does squeal when brakes grab and hitches are strained.

Let me back up a little. We were nicely hitched and pulled out from our site. We'd said our goodbyes then started down the narrow camp road to the exit. Things were going well until we drove a few curves and came up close and personal to a very large tree, and a solid something hidden by a clump of vegetation. There was no going forward - that solid something was in the way of making a wide enough turn to miss the giant oak tree on the other side of the camper. Backwards... down a very narrow curvy road with trees, stumps and signposts on each side. Oh oh.

Mike, from a camper along the way, came over to help, so with him at the front and me in the back, Carm slowly backed us out of the jam and all the way back to where we had come from. There were a few points that required many, many inch ahead, turn the truck wheel, inch back, inch ahead... well, you get the picture.

Sometimes things happen that let you know what kind of stuff you are made of and this was one of them. Despite having an audience (which always raises the stress levels), Carm kept his wits about him, followed the instructions from his eyes front and rear, and got us out of a very tight spot. Oink Oink!

Lessons learned: check and double check route if there is any question since our trailer is big and doesn't fit everywhere; driving a big rv is not for the faint of heart... Whoever was looking out for us gave us a break for a while - there wasn't much traffic, nor many transport trucks on the drive home. Just to make sure we don't become complacent, the last hour was spent driving in rain... but we are home, where the grass tickles the shins and the peonies look like wet tissue flowers, droopy and spent.

a kind of small homecoming

Exiting the 401 onto the road that leads to Brighton was a little bit like coming home, a small homecoming into familiar territory after our adventure. We have stayed in this area every year, except the one we went out west, since we got a camper. The beautiful Lake Ontario stretching out before us, unbroken by a distant shoreline, raises the spirits a bit like being in the prairies does. The town is friendly and clean. The grocery stores are good. Every year we've been here we've looked at real-estate listings and gone to open houses. There is something about this town that beckons us. For now though we'll be happy that we are coming back in August for 28 nights.

It was a lazy sort of day. After I took the dogs out for a very short outing I was back in bed. Eventually I summoned the will to get up and get the day on its way. Two leisurely cups of coffee preceded a trip to the showers, the rv part store, and groceries. Back at the park we took the dogs for a bit of a walk, then I relaxed in the shade, the dogs on their anchors and Grace in her outside cage. We were all pretty chill.

Grace always attracts a certain amount of attention and today was no exception. A bunch of women and girls stood on the road pointing so of course I jumped out of my chair and invited them over. They ooo'd and aahh's over her scarlet tail and graceful grey plumage. Grace loves the attention but doesn't talk for visitors.

While I was relaxing, Carm was helping Bill with his satellite... karma ;-)   For supper we combined efforts with Bill and Brenda for a communal meal and campfire.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

nothing but blue skies

The distant rumble of thunder hurried our preparations for departure - it was coming from the north and we were heading south. It chased us down the road, eventually overtaking us, pounding us with rain while it decorated the sky with lightning. We drove in and out of the rain as we made our way south.

We were still on a scenic route with lovely farms on each side, rolling fields and old rosy yellow brick homes made the scene pastoral. The black ribbon of pavement is rimmed with stone the same colour as the homes.

Mother Nature wasn't finished with us yet. We travelled through a line of storm that threw hail and heavy rain at us. We were driving though a small town when suddenly a gosh awful sound (think nails on chalkboard) stopped us in our tracks. The drivers side windshield had flown off onto the road. The rain was coming down in sheets as I jumped out of the truck to retrieve it. A few cars drove over it, but thankfully didn't roll their tires on our mandatory accessory. When I got back in the truck I checked the radar (thanks to mom for Intellicast) - we were right on the edge of it. A short 5 minute wait then Carm went outside to fix it - I went into the truck and got a dry t-shirt and a warm sweater. Whew. Note to self: carry a spare wiper... we were lucky, but might not be next time.

When we hit Toronto we rolled our windows down, wondering if there was something wrong with the truck - we could smell something bad... it was Toronto! Having come from the fresh air of Lake Huron our noses were not ready for the assault of the haze. But the rain had stopped by then and the sun started showing its pretty face so we were happy.

Toronto threw construction and traffic slowdowns at us, screwing our schedule by at least an hour. Stop and go, stop and go, all while breathing in the smog. I thought of the Dr. Who episode where they were trapped in a traffic jam that had lasted for decades.

With Toronto in our rear view mirror we sped up towards Brighton. Turning off the 401 onto familiar side roads was a treat. At the park gate I went inside to check in - there was a note from friends Bill and Brenda about an available site right next to them, and before I could run out to check with Carm, there they were - friendly faces after a long day. We followed them to our site and did a quick set up before joining them for drinks and supper out. Poor dogs went from the back seat of the truck to the bedroom with only a quick break to stretch their legs for a moment. We were the lucky ones and got to catch up with friends we hadn't seen since last summer.

I will be happy to lay my head upon my pillow tonight...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

It's Electrifying

We had one last day here and wondered what to do. The Bruc nuclear power generating facility is just 25 minutes away so we decided that was our target. We hoped that it was better than the visitor centre at Darlington and it was. The display has interactive components and lots to see and read - we weren't disappointed that we had made the longish drive.

We weren't sad to be inside as it was a cool day with periods of overcast and/or foggy. A thick fog blanketed some areas that we passed through. I was happy I had worn a sweater.

After our tour we drove around the area a bit more, stopping for a bite of lunch at a restaurant just on the fringe of Port Elgin. It was a charming little place with a full parking lot - I always take that to be a good sign.

Once we got back I snapped leashes on the dogs and dragged Carm on another long walk, a subset of the walk I did this morning,  10 year old Bella is still out front, hurrying us along - she hasn't slowed down a step. There aren't many campers this week so the walk was peaceful. It was time to map out our route for tomorrow - an over 5 hour journey to our next destination. With the 'fireplace' on and Kabira snuggled up to it in her outfit we played around with the mapping software until we were happy with the result. Tomorrow I will keep the map turned on as the route has some jigs and jogs.

Chuck commented that we somehow survived without technology, but I think it is because we used to have better paper maps. The map in the truck doesn't show all the detail that my Streets and Trips does, plus I can zoom in and out with S&T. I have a GPS dongle connected, but it no longer seems to work. I'll just have to keep track of where we really are! When we have internet I love watching the little blue triangle move across the map - it makes me think of Harry Potter and his magic map.

I wish I had a bird song identifier as there are a few birds whose song I don't recognize - the woods definitely sound different than they do at home.

Anyone recognize this song... reach way back in your memories to the late 70s.

I got chills, they're multiplying
And I'm losing control
'Cause the power, you're supplying
It's electrifying!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Third Great Lake

The shores of Lake Huron beckoned us today and we needed a few groceries. We thought we were in the middle of nowhere, but the people 2 sites over informed us that Port Elgin was on the border of the park and even had a Walmart! It was clear that we had to make the 10 minute drive even though we are generally not Walmartians.

The town surprised us with its size, it went on forever and had everything you'd want in a town. The architecture is lovely in the area - many of the historic houses are built with a pale yellow brick that has aged delightfully. Gables, porches and imposing two stories line the main road through Port Elgin. We had left the camper with the idea of stopping for a quick breakfast and found a little place downtown that specialized in Eggs Benedict which is a special treat for me. It was delicious and well worth the tourist $ price tag.

With bellies full of eggs we got back into the truck to drive to Southampton. No, not the one that I sailed out of years ago with my parents, this one is nestled against Lake Huron. We deeked down a side road so we could see the Saugeen river and stumbled on a picturesque scene with tug boats on trestles, a lighthouse in the bay, and sailboats gently rocking in the smooth harbour.

Time for some shopping back in the main town - who doesn't go to a dollar store when on vacation? We got the goods, then headed back to camp, taking a winding road that hugged the shoreline. Beautiful houses were tucked in the woods on either side of the road. I wondered if they had as much poison ivy as the park...

The dogs were raring to go after watching golf for 4 hours, and Carm hadn't dipped his toes in the lake yet so we took the same path I took yesterday, down to the dog area along the shore. We all stood in the water, surprised that they water wasn't colder, and then walked back to camp, just in time for it to cloud over again with a few light showers.

Carm got out the compass, thinking that we might be able to get satellite signal - he was pretty excited until he realized he was holding the compass upside down... so unless we get a MUCH taller tripod we'll be watching old episodes of Babylon 5 again tonight. Not the worst thing in the world.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Bazillion little towns

We stuck to the secondary highways today for our 4 1/4 hour drive as there weren't any 4-laners that would get us to our destination. The roads were in good condition and there wasn't much traffic, except in the bazillion little towns and hamlets that we went through. I was the navigator but put my electronic map down for a while thinking we had lots of time. We were on the only stretch of super highway and were looking for an exit to highway 81. We whizzed right by it as I stupidly thought it was too soon and how weird to have two roads with the same number...

As luck would have it I fired up Google maps on my tablet and it showed us where we really were! Just in the nick of time too. Alternate route #2 now became our chosen path. We stuck on the same highway for around 2 hours, keep track of where it turned north, east and west. I didn't put down my map again.

We eventually came to the turn-off for the park, driving into its depths for what seemed like an age. The trees crowded in against the road suffocating this prairie girl. Trees are nice, but give me an open sky any day. We got checked in and drove some more. When we got to the site Carm was pretty happy that it was an easy back-in but then we got look'n and look'n - where oh where was the power pedestal? We were just about to drive back to the office (how could I have reserved a non-electrical?), when Carm spied it nearly 80 ft away through the woods and down the road!

Giving Carm the directions I think I stepped into a patch of poison ivy. This place is covered with the vile plant. It is easy enough for me to avoid, but keeping the dogs out of it while giving them somewhere to 'go' is tricky.

Carm talked to the neighbors who also have a Titanium, while I took the dogs for a walk. The dog area along the shoreline isn't too far so we trecked to see what Lake Huron is like. It isn't a beach, and it isn't off-leash, but it is a beautiful stretch of rocky shoreline. The dogs and I dipped our toes :-)  That is 3 great lakes this trip! I barely got back to the camper when the rain started. No satellite TV again, but we got one station over the antenna, so we spent the rest of the afternoon watching golf.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Edison Fest

On our way back from getting diesel for the truck we stopped at the Edison Fest in Vienna, a village north of Port Burwell.The main street had a few 'antique' shops with some of their best stuff on the sidewalk. We passed on a lovely set of oak dining chairs, and a slightly cracked crock water jug, instead heading across the street to the lovely park. There were vendors of crafts, second-hand treasures and used library books. There were at least two different churches trying to drum up business,and an organ donor booth for what was left over after ascension.  There was even an Elvis impersonator!

The petting zoo had alpacas, miniature horses, a tiny donkey, sheep, baby goats, a Patagonian Cavy, a little joey in a pouch, a lemur from Madagascar, and an opossum. The owner is living my dream with camels and zebras as well.

We couldn't leave the fest without treating ourselves to some homemade pie! Sitting at a picnic table with other people gives us a chance to talk to the local people. Some of them were born and raised in the area - I wonder what that would be like? Knowing your neighbors your whole life sounds appealing, yet experiencing other places, people and ideas seems like a good idea as well. Would your views be as closed as the experiences you'd had?

The area around Port Burwell is scattered with wind turbines. Sixty-six turbines according to the difficult to find Wind Power interpretive centre. The old building on the site is locked up and instead there are several plaques with information.

The dogs stayed back at the camp watching the golf that is recorded on the PVR. They were asleep when we got back ;-)

It smells lovely here. The sun is warming up the pine and spruce and that scent is mingled with the white blossoms on the trees over there. There is a bit of wood smoke in the air for another layer of fragrance. It is pretty quiet - I think a lot of people are at the beach (they must be hardy Canadians if they are as it is a bit cold).

Tomorrow we head north to Lake Huron - the weather forecast looks good and I think we have our 4 hour milk run figured out. Another adventure, and this time I'll not sing 'on the road again' until we are almost underway. Dogs don't to seem to have a good enough grasp of our language to figure out near future, far future and past... (cut stupid pun).

Friday, June 5, 2015

65 Toes in Lake Erie

Grace missed dipping her 8 toes into Lake Erie, but the rest of us enjoyed the sand and surf. I had already taken the dogs out for 2 long walks so they weren't as crazy as yesterday but they seemed to enjoy themselves anyway. After we got them cleaned up enough to go into the truck we came back to camp so I could charge my camera battery. We had a tourist attraction planned and I wanted to make sure I could get a few photos.

I'll bet you wouldn't guess in 100 years what we went to see this afternoon... a submarine! We were the only people on the what was supposed to be 1 hour tour, which turned into 1 hr 30 min. The guide was knowledgable and had many good stories to share. It wasn't as cramped as I imagined it would be, but I sure couldn't imagine sharing the space with 70 stinky people (45 second shower every 3 weeks!). The bunks were stacked so tightly that they could only sleep on their back or stomach - no side sleepers allowed. Weeks and months were spent submerged with no glimpse of daylight except by the person looking through the periscope. It isn't the life for me.

Of course we had to have a bite of lunch first. The taco stand was hopping today but we managed to get our order for tacos and pogos before they ran out of food. I wonder what I'll have for lunch tomorrow?

Our site is shaded by high canopy trees but we were still able to sit outside and enjoy what was left of the afternoon - cue the lawnmower... There is a huge cottonwood tree in the middle of the site, an oak, some pines and spruces, and something others that I don't recognize around the edges. There are little bugs flying around that look like mosquitos - thankfully they aren't very hungry.