Ontario-you never know how lucky you are, water and more…

Sometimes we take for granted where we live and what it has to offer, but once you’ve moved away and then come back so many things become apparent that you might not have even thought of. After 8 years in Baja and the SW, basically high desert where we were the water in Ontario is an amazing sight.

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Land of lakes-Ontario

One-fifth of the world’s water can be found in Ontario in over 250,000 lakes, as well as at least a fifth of the worlds mosquitos as well I think;) a big change from the small arroyos and trickling streams of the Baja mountains. There, if I wanted to see nature, I put out a bowl of water and it appeared, here, it sings from the treetops and leaps out of the water at bugs!

 

We’ve been contemplating finding a piece of land on the water, a place for Mike to unload his telescope for a few months a year, build a small observatory perhaps to house it from the elements but it is becoming clear those spaces that are dark enough might be a bit too far from what we have come to enjoy, Perth. This small town we took for granted so many years ago continues to amaze us. To be able to walk into a grocery store in a town of 6,000 and find just about anything you ever wanted to eat from Indian chapatis to Mexican corn tortillas and everything between is glorious, the amazing choice that is offered here in this small town never cease to astound us. It’s not just the food either but a wonderful diversity that makes us smile on an every day basis.

Life at the lake here has been a small piece of paradise:) especially being so close to Perth, so we may eventually have to compromise on the dark skies, in favour of the ease of every day living! Tough choices, we are so very very spoiled here in Canada:) So, Perthites, enjoy this amazing small town, OK to whine about the weather, that is what we do as Canadians anyway but keep in mind just exactly what you have at your doorstep everyday…those choices, that water, those trees full of birds….life:)

Saludos amigos, enjoying life by the water:)

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Cottage life

Living in a small space-a few random thoughts today

It’s not for everyone, this small space living. You really have to like who you are living with to begin with;) I am amazed at how many times someone has said, “Oh, I’d kill my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend if we had to live in such a small space”…yikes! Glad Mike likes me, most of the time anyway;)

 

My guess is after working together, farming together, mucking thousands of stalls together, yelling at machinery together, we pretty much have it figured out:) When I lived on a sailboat for most of my young life I learned to find a quiet spot in my head, could have been a book, or just time spent sitting rolled up in a downed sail listening to birds or the wind, creating my own stories in my head that got me by. I’m not sure as an adult now if much has changed really.

We each find our quiet time in our own way. Sometimes, yes, a lot of the time we spend WAY too much time staring at our computer screens. Sign of out times?2016-08-05 065Asign

We do need to get out and stretch our legs, a lot. Groot as well, he needs his time outside to blow off kitten steam;) He would go stir crazy locked up, like today, as it is raining…he is staring at me with a melancholic look. Just sitting watching him explore is a smile a secound. Our lives so are so short, and our time limited here. Something we don’t often think about in our day-to-day living. I like to just sit and watch sometimes, the birds at the feeders, wondering at their behaviour, watching them feed their young this last week they have started to bring the little ones out. Little balls of fluff shaped somewhat like a Hairy Woodpecker but rounder:) They wear the same feathers every day…wonderful, no need to worry about what colour shirt we should put on;)

The rest of society around us seems to be flying by, not really noticing what is around them. Always in a hurry. If I could tell anyone anything it would be to slow down, and start to notice, at first anything…All those things we consider crucial to our everyday living and habits can be changed, if we want to. We worry and stress over the smallest things that in the bigger picture really do not matter by the time our lives are done. Whole industries are based on many of these things, our appearance, our clothes, the products we apply to ourselves, the food we eat, what we drive…marketing controls so much of the world around us and dictates what to buy, we really need to take a hard look at that and question why we need things, so many many things. Are they the path to happiness, as so many seem to think they are? It will all end up here perhaps one day, will your kids really want it? 🙂 So what is the answer? I’m sure it is different for everyone:)

 

Downsizing when we left Canada for Baja felt grand! It was freeing, as if the act of giving things away or selling them was like losing a chunk of responsiblity. When we packed up in Baja eight years later, only taking the items in our lives we felt could not be replaced, heirlooms, photos, books, oh so many wonderful books it was as if we’d become even lighter. Looking at our life possessions in an 8′ x 20′ shipping container…priceless, that feeling of freedom.

Do we miss things, yes, sometimes we do but then it get’s those creative juices flowing, how do you make do without it, what chica nada (jury rig in Baja talk) can you come up with to get by for the time being.

…and yes, we have a fridge and a stove with an oven, also a shower and a toilet. Inquiring minds have asked me about all of these. We have a comfortable bed and even reclining chairs, a fairly large TV, although we did take the one out of the bedroom, never wanted one there:) We are not glued to the glass teat as so many seem to be. We wander through life mostly free of what the marketers want us to believe;) The never-ending stream of what many watch everyday has a horrible impact on them, we see it, as TV’s blare in cafes, bars, stores, seems everywhere you go someone has one on…turn them off, my best words of wisdom for the day…turn off the marketing as best you can. Make your choices carefully every day, put some thought into it, do you really need this, or that. In our throw away world do we really need to contribute anything more to the trash piles and pollution out there?Day 1 our earth

It’s about choice really. Maybe that is what living in this small space is all about and those choices, they are precious, we can make them, someone is not making them for us, that I guess is what freedom is really all about. We have something here that in so many parts of the world is just a dream.

Think about it.

Saludos amigos #unplug #nature6-4-reflections in water

 

Things in the forest…not the ones that go bump in the night;)

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The forest is rustling, the leaves are out and the newly shaded areas are producing different kinds of life, why, mushrooms! It has been a very wet Spring so far and lot’s of plants are enjoying it to the fullest. These yellow morel mushrooms have popped up near the trailer here at the lake and elsewhere in the forest different varieties are pushing through the layers of fallen leaves.

The fiddleheads are all unfurled and new wildflowers are taking over the shaded areas  after the daffodils have faded. Wild Columbines-Aquilegia canadensis-so similar to the one we had in Baja- are beginning to flower and the lilacs and apples are glorious. Sweet scents waft on the breeze, pink and white honeysuckle, but so far, so few bees. Maybe what we are used to in Baja is quite different from here. Perhaps with so much to choose from the bees can be picky, there, when it bloomed, what ever it was it was covered in bees and hummingbirds.

With the flowers the insects have arrived as well. The first dragonflies and damselflies are flitting about, establishing their territories. I had one land on me, parts of its wings still unfurling from its cocoon state, resting, waiting to take flight…que maravilla!

The flying bugs that are up our noses and in our ears, removing copious amounts of blood through our skin are beginning to die back as we welcome the crawling ones. Hordes of tent caterpillars are emerging and consuming small trees in a go…the Blue Jays are doing their best but there are hundreds of them, no wonder it is such a productive time to nest! I have seen the bright red Summer Tananger in the tops of the trees calling to a lady love and the Ruby Throated hummingbirds are starting to use the feeder. Such a wonderful thing this thing they call Spring!

and it has become turtle rescue time! Stopping with Joanne on the sides of the roads on our way to see the horses and carrying small painted and snapping (OK, I push them with my shoes..no carrying!) turtles out of the way of passing cars. Back at the trailer Groot discovered a tiny, inch and a half long Painted Turtle slowly heading towards the lake, I followed him down to the water, making sure he made it! What a precious thing life is!

The fields have gone from looking mown to wild stands of grasses. The deer are skirting the edges, always ready to dive into the bush and disappear. The resident red fox makes her nightly visits to the compost pile, Mike does leave her juicy tidbits every now and then. I’m sure she has cubs somewhere to feed. 2017-05-27 389ASSo far no racoon sightings but a beautiful family of Canada geese came to graze on the lawn, 11 chicks, then they swam off to the island in front. Probably why there are still 11 chicks left. Most of the families I’ve seen are down to three or four by this size, smart parents these:)

The red and black squirrels chastise Groot regularly from the heights of the trees, the Chipmunks have come very close to being Groot food on several occasions but have managed to out climb him when we’ve been too slow to grab the leash. They sit in the back window of the trailer driving him nuts:) I’m sure it is on purpose;)

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Tree frog with his lovely camouflage

The sounds of Spring, chirps, squeaks, songbirds, the whippoorwill in the far distance and Loons crying throughout the night. It is glorious to have a window open and to have all that invade our little space. Just a hardship we are going to have to endure;)

Saludos amigos. Until next time…keep your eyes open and soak Spring in, while our times might be troubled and idiots may rule the airways, Mother Nature always has an answer:)2017-05-28 279BS

Hello Sunshine! Time for some solar observing!

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The Royal Astronomical Society of Ottawa does a ton of free public outreach work. Mike is a member and has always loved the interactions with his fellow astronomers as well as the public. It’s time well spent, perhaps to spark the imagination of the next Carl Sagan, or to start someone down as lifelong past of curiosity and love of our universe and all its amazing features, our Cosmos, as a wonderful gentleman remarked, that is what we’re looking at:)

 

A total of 6 volunteers came out with their telescopes big and small to show the public a view of our sun. Mike Mogdaham from the RASC had a tent sent up with free giveaways, how to buy your first telescopes, planespheres to give you an idea of what you are looking at in the night sky and solar sunglasses. Glad he had the tent set up, we nearly did not drive the hour to Kanata due to the high clouds but Mike made some arrangement with the weather gods it seems and a beautiful blue sky prevailed. The Festival we were at was the 2017 Kanata-Carlton Cultural Festival. It was a wonderful mix of dance, song, poetry and community outreach. How wonderful it is to be in Canada…the security guards stopped by for a few views as well, no guns, just a patrol…how sweet is that!

 

The different scopes provided different views of the sun depending on their filters, Mike’s is Hydrogen-Alpha, so you can see solar prominences, others were white light filters that enabled you to see sunspot activity.

 

With the background music (some good, some not so good right Eric;) and the different dancers and costumes about it was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon! There was a lot of talking and explaining going on, as well as inviting folks out to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Ottawa chapter’s free meetings, and their free public Star Parties they hold regularly to offer views of the night sky and to help beginners learn how to use their telescopes.

 

Time well spent in good company on a wonderful Saturday afternoon, we look forward to many more this summer! It is a wonderful group in Ottawa and hopefully a few sparks were started so a career or two in the sciences might be followed and some curiosity stirred up for some young, and older at this wonderful event-Until next time! Saludos amigos and stay tuned!

 

Stop and smell the roses…or daffodils. A word about my photography

Sometimes it is not all about the journey, but the stops and the moments of quiet you spend simply observing the world around you. That is what photography is for me. A blogger mentioned I should write something about my photography so here goes, I’m an amateur at all of this so be nice;)

I started with a kit camera from CostCo-a Rebel T4i which I enjoyed immensely after the old Canon 10D my husband bought for astronomy, I had inherited that when he moved onto video. The Rebel was wonderful, light, fairly easy to use, until a professional photographer loaned me one of his bodies, and lens for the afternoon. He had warned me I could never go back, he was soooo right! The clarity was beyond anything I had produced before and yes, it really got me hooked as I was pursuing the hummingbirds that migrated past the ranch in Baja.

So I started a search. I was also interested in pursuing some astro photography, mostly Milky Way and star trails so eventually I bought a Canon 6D body, and slowly saved for the lenses! a 24-105mm followed after the Canon IS100-400 zoom. Wow…the difference in good glass was astounding, the clarity. I was hooked. I’ve hung onto the Rebel for a back up, don’t have to go into withdrawal if something happens to the 6D which has been to the repair shop in San Diego already for a failed shutter. I do love my 6D but in retrospect if I’d known I would be drifting into bird photography I would have looked for a more frames per second body, but hey, still saving for that 2nd body and yes, more lens! Always seems there is something else to fix or pay off before they come around but that is life! I did have a spectacular present of a Manfrotto monopod and a 2nd tripod this week from Jennifer, who looks after our horses. They were her Dad’s and she gifted them to me (thanks so much!)

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Star trails-Bulb setting, tripod, remote and dark skies needed! This is a two hour exposure

So that is what I shoot with. I have a set of filters, the UV ones stay on the front of my lenses and I use a Neutral Density (ND8) for shooting long exposures of water and hopefully clouds! I also use a Canon plug in remote for the long exposures well. I so wanted to do these, spent hours studying online to see how to do it and lot’s of practice to get that focus and F-stop right on as well as exposure!

And that is all of the stuff in my camera bag, other than a spare battery and charger.

My passion has grown from birds and animals, to landscapes as well. I’m not the best with people, but I think I would like to practice some more. I would love to do some courses someday, hands on stuff I think would best suit me, I learn by watching the best, books and videos are tougher for me! There is so much wonderful information online and my best advice is to get out and practice, practice, practice! For every satisfying hummingbird shot I have there are 1000 in the trash that didn’t make it;)

Do I use Photoshop? yes I do. Photoshop 2 , you can download it for free. Now there is where I would like to take a course! Holy crap it had a steep learning curve and I have not even begun to touch upon it’s abilities! I also like some plugin’s from Topaz, Clarity and Denoise, especially for the night time shots! Picassa is handy as well for cropping and lot’s of little things-signing the photo…etc.

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Picassa, great for cropping-signing

Some of the most learning and stretching my imagination have come from the various theme photography groups on Facebook. I joined my first one in 2012, 4 RETO DE FOTOS, a marvelous Mexican group, it started me down the road of exploration and learning! It forced me to think about different themes, angles, street photography, objects, things I may not have looked at or thought about photographing. There are hundreds of online photo groups you can join to pursue this and learn from others, some of my favourites, Reto of course, Simply My WorldBirding-Arizona and the SW, Only Mother NaturePhoto Objects, and Rainbow. Whether it be objects, birds, colour themes or portraits there is really something for everyone! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, sometimes in a private message, I’ve found photographers to be sharing encouraging people for the most part and I am thankful when someone assists me in something I am trying to do!

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Repoussoir theme…yup-had to google that;)

So…look up, take shots, look down, take shots, just get out there and do it! Google stuff, learn all the angles, play with the light (probably the most important thing there is in photography). There is so much to see! Join a group and stick with it! it really is so rewarding! Just keep on doing it and you’ll see results in your practice in no time at all!

but be forewarned…it can consume you;) My husband has excellent braking skills probably due to my “STOP STOP STOP!!!” yells at the sight of something I MUST photograph as we are driving about the world at large;) and also back to the start, sit, be quiet, wait for nature to come to you…it never ceases to amaze me who can show up sometimes:) or just flyby:)

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Saludos amigos, keep the shutters busy and shoot what you see:) especially those daffodils;)2017-05-13 089BS

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little bit of everything…Rideau Antiques

There are places in your hometown that you drive by all the time, and never go in, so I have found over the last week after posting some pictures of Rideau Antiques on my facebook page and seeing the comments there, so, let’s go folks, this could be a nightmare if you have issues with hoarders;)

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From what I understand this started as a hobby for Cliff back in 1962 and has blossomed since then employing both family and friends over the years. Those of you that know me understand perhaps both my horror and fascination with this stuff. My mother was a hoarder, but unlike her, Cliff can sell his treasures, not something most hoarders can do so I will continue to call him a collector:)

As you drive into Rideau Antiques you will see that everything is laid out in a neat and orderly manner, albeit perhaps piled on top of each other, the items are mostly visible. If you don’t see what you are looking for, heavens sakes ask…Cliff knows where everything is, and pretty much what he has. Outside you may start with the glass jar aisle, or perhaps the roasting pot stock. We were looking for T-fence posts so meandered over to the farm equipment/machinery area.

Behind the house is also an array of doors and windows as well as the bicycles and yes, tricycles:) This is photo prop heaven, what about the Mickey/Minny tricycle! Come on child photographers…how cool is that!

…and the doors and windows, some of my favorites, just for the peeling paint! There are hundreds of windows stacked up in long rows and old wood door after old wood door. Check inside the house for old glass door knobs and skeleton keys!

I’m wondering how the fire department feels about it, they did shut down my mother’s house on more than one occasion in San Diego, and patrolled it regularly here in Perth requesting her to make paths through her treasures and check the smoke detectors…0_0

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Roasting pots to the left! Come into the house!

In the front of the house you will find a long row of jars and bottles, as well as everything and anything you might need for your fireplace. Need a new grate or a new to you mailbox perhaps? Pots perhaps for your plants or a nice wrought iron plant stand?

You could pick up that outboard motor you’ve always wanted, or maybe a new to you saw? and that is just a small sampling of the outdoor treasures. There is barn across the road full as well, and one on down the road a bit…so much to see! Shall we go inside?

No backpacks or camera bags in these narrow aisles, at least there were no “you break it you’ve bought it” signs! Each room has an assortment of items. Lamps in one room, china plates in another, cups and saucers in another. There are also comics and magazines, dolls and toys…oh my…there is a bit of truly everything one could ever imagine! I love the old windows and the wonderful curtains in each. This is a clean and tidy house I might add, no dust to blow off of items, no sneezing at mold here! Want to go upstairs?

I’m sure everything on the bottom floor is holding the top floor up. They don’t build houses like this anymore! It is an adventure. Mike refrained from going upstairs, he was having bad flashbacks I think of what my Mother did to his family home:)

I was looking for old wooden duck decoys and had walked right under them without knowing they were there. Cliff fetched his ladder and got several down for me, we started to chat. Mike had found two older wooden paddles for the canoe at the cottage and I asked him if we could bargain, as that is what we did in Mexico;) He smiled, and said as I’d asked nicely, of course! That’s when we discovered the Mexico connection.

Over the years he has had different Mexican families working for him and every winter they go to Taxco, Mexico. He explained they also worked across the road at a large farm as well. It IS feeling more like home. Cliff is a very articulate soft-spoken man who has taught languages all over the world. What a treasure he is, in his house of treasures!

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Doll or a fur coat?

Go see, and enjoy. Take your time and meander throughout the house and the outside aisles, you may find that treasure you were looking for!

Saludos amigos, hasta pronto and stay tuned for more Perth episodes!

Back home

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Otty Lake reflections

There is a wonderful feeling coming back to somewhere you once called home. All the familiar faces, stores and back country roads. The small town feel is a lovely one after the anonymity of large cities and the vast expanses of places you know you would visit, but never live.

That is the luxury living full time on the road gives you, to visit, but if you really don’t find any spot to your liking to move on.

But here, well, are so many of your friends-both the two and four footed variety. Dusty and Maya had made the trek back here last December, to their forever home, with grass and pasture, a stall and a blanket on cold nights and their old barn friends as well.

It took it’s toll on Dusty, lot’s of acting out and stallion like behavior, breaking through fences, rounding up the mares and just being, well, a dick. No one likes a fence breaker, trust me. Over the many years we ran our equestrian center we had our share of them. They were not popular. Jennifer is smart and knows her horses well, she coached me for many many years, helping to start Maya and transition Dusty from the hunters to dressage so she knows them very well. Maya and Dusty now have their turn out, with the donkeys and ponies, and Celeste, Boots and Phoenix enjoy their’s until we get an electric fence in place to separate the two groups. All is ordered and on it’s way so next week will be a fencing one! ah, never thought we’d be doing this but it is what it is and we need to keep them all safe! These are geriatric horses, the youngest is Maya at 17 and they range up to Boots at 29…quite the group I might add!

Dusty has been settling slowly Jennifer has noticed. Perhaps with us being back and a few trail rides under his belt he has started to realize there will be no more moving about or stuffing him full of carrots either he thinks we are getting ready to eat him or this is at last his home!;)

It’s not just a horse barn either, there are the delightful felines as well as the lovely Welsh ponies and the glorious donkeys. there is always a friendly face or muzzle here to greet you! Did I mention Jennifer, and Joanne, hacking with friends! Priceless!

And scenery, not only beautiful white ponies trotting about but waterfalls, creeks and fields. The spring fed creek has been roaring with all the rain, Plum Hollow Creek it is called Jennifer thought, just a small wonderful bit of water that runs through her farm. It slows to a trickle in the late summer. The previous owner, Charlie, had dug out one end for a swimming hole, what a paradise in summer for kids that would have been!

When we arrived there was not a leaf in sight, day by day that is changing. The trees are blooming, the forest floor has gone from bare to carpeted with wild flowers and the rain, well, I guess that is part of Spring here but we’ve been told it truly has been overly gray and soggy, even for the locals! Our hack last week was in a forest with just a few clumps of small wildflowers showing their heads, yesterday, the forest floor was carpeted with these amazing yellow blooms, what a sunny warm day and more rain can do!

In the maple forests the trees are just starting to bloom. I thought they were leaves at first but upon close inspection discovered it was trees covered in blooms! Achooooo!!

So we will sit and wait for the sun, and perhaps word we have found some house sitters to cover part of the summer at the ranch for us, otherwise our only experience will be gray and rainy days with a few hours of sunshine between and we’ll be headed back to Baja by the beginning of June. At times ownership of property seems like an albatross around our necks, so much invested there, it really is time to move on. Fingers crossed a buyer will soon come. At least we are high and dry here at the lake…in town today and well, the only RV Park in Perth is submerged, by the Tay River…I think one might need a submarine, not an RV here. I understand why they do not open until mid May, well, perhaps June this year!

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Did I just see a picnic table float downstream?;)

In the meantime, we have such a wonderful group of friends and if we only have another month to cherish them and our amazing four footed kids, bring it on! Life unfurls before us now as it does and we will go with the flow, always easier than fighting it….when the water recedes we’ll see what is there!

Stay tuned amigos for a trip through a house and yard with everything, really everything…Saludos!

Escaping DRV and Indiana

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Amish Federal Express? 😉 When it has to be there overnight:)

Coming into the DRV factory we were like small children at Christmas time, full of hope…after talking to the other people and rigs lined up to go into the Service area the nest day our illusions were slowly being shattered. They came for the trailer at 6 am. pulled it inside and by 7 you were talking to “your” tech. Ed, the service manager made a brief appearance after 7:30 repetitively telling us we could not be in the work area…was not looking good. 8 days later-leaving Howe, Indiana and the DRV factory was a relief, and also an annoyance. They need instruction on customer service, but honestly, I really don’t think they care, everything was rushed, they were short handed so I do not blame the techs at all, they were simply doing their best but had to throw things back together for lack of time, which is a sad way to run a company but there you have it. We spent a few rainy days here at the lake pulling and straightening trim, filling holes, adding more nails where new pieces were falling off, really seeing the rushed job that was done with the slides was irritating to say the least, but hey, they work, go in and out as they were meant to be, so load off of our minds at a price. The extended warranty we purchased through Camping World did come through and covered a bit more than a third of the cost, better than nothing and by the end of the 36 month warranty end I am sure we will have more than gotten our monies worth from that..Thank you Good Sam, don’t think we will make you any money;) Camping World never did return my email about the rotten floor on the bedroom slide…Thanks guys…Insurance said they would not cover as it looked to be”previous damage”. So much for insurance.

Howe wasn’t horrible, just not a place we would choose to stay, with the 10 commandments in a nearby village square we were waiting to be struck by lightning;) We made a day trip out to Shipshewanna looking for a loaf of good bread, not the puthery crap but real bread, sourdough or with all these Amish descent Germans and Dutch, perhaps a rye. Seems not, everyone here has been assimilated by wonder bread, did find some nice cheese at the Guggisberg Deutsch Kase Haus Cheese Factory, fun to see the Amish wagons lined up, must have a barn for the horses as well. It was raining off and on the day we drove over so not the best for photos but an interesting look at another way of life. Shipshewanna has done it’s best to market the Amish in the only way they can, small but effective businesses that keep a traditional look, if not exactly a traditional way.

The Holiday Inn Express where we were staying right next to the DRV factory was quite nice but noisy from the freeway being a skip and a jump away. The staff were fantastic (should send the DRV service manager here) and it was a tolerable week there. This is a no alcohol sales on Sunday state we found out so popped up to Sturgis, Michigan three miles to the North a few times and discovered TACOS! Yes, real tacos, fresh corn tortillas, carne asada, salsa verde, heaven, sigh, did I mention the chicharrónes? Fresh out of the olla? It was really interesting chatting with the owners of Carnicería Michoacan as we ate our tacos, about Sturgis, and the large Mexican population, in Spanish, we got that, OMG, you guys REALLY speak Spanish and a wonderful hour long conversation ensued about the area and Mexico and bueno…todo:) We made several trips back, laundromat right next door, what more could we ask for? The rest of the food we consumed in the area was sub-average, resorted to deli roast chickens and microwavable burritos..ugh…almost inedible take out pizza, when the buffet breakfast at the Holiday Inn is the highlight of your food day you know you are in trouble. Couldn’t wait to get back to our own kitchen:)

It is always funny how well the cats settle into hotel rooms, they explore, the old guy finds a soft pillow and makes himself comfortable, the youngster runs about the room at top speed as if he has found a racetrack and then must climb into every space, every open door, nooks, crannies, the bathtub…so exciting;) Groot discovered he could pull himself around the entire bed on his back, literally running upside down using the bed skirt as his racetrack…over and over…fascinating! By the end of the stay he was looking sadly out the window at the rain and wishing he was at a state park of some sorts….just like us. The novelty wears off quickly;)

On the plus side, the towns were quaint and there are beautiful old buildings in Sturgis and South to La Grange. We made a trip to Albion, to pick up replacement caps/o-rings for the oil bath bearings right from the factory! That was an adventure but hey, we replaced all the caps and oil and have some for extras now as well. We’re glad we stayed the weekend after they pulled the rig out late Friday afternoon, we were locked out, managed to catch Ed before he left to open our door, he then left, and the slides wouldn’t open. Here we are, checked out of the hotel and thinking we would sleep on the couch until Monday morning. Ed was no longer answering his phone…big surprise. What if we had driven away that Friday, expecting everything to be working? I think people do this. Luckily, our tech, Lloyd, had given me his number. He makes the most amazing propane heated water tanks for livestock www.horsingaroundagain.com and is a farrier as well. I called, after a 12 hour day he was kind enough to drive back and help us. It was just a fuse, it needed a bigger one and we were good as gold. Thanks Ed for getting back to us…NOT! Hope DRV can hang onto these gems that work for them…

With most issues resolved we finally left Tuesday morning Canada bound. We had hoped to head North through Michigan and then traverse Ontario but nothing was opened for RV’s. Not until May 15th in most cases…we were too early. Discovered Pinery Point Provincial Park just across the border in Sarnia  was open year round so we made the dash back to Canada:) Happily. The crossing was uneventful until we came to the bridge and massive truck traffic, couldn’t see a few hundred feet in front of us, a very kind truck driver motioned us over, and made a space to the lane we should have been in for RV’s and cars. Canadian politeness…so very nice to be back we both thought out loud.

We pulled into Pinery Provincial Park after closing but found our reserved spot and let out a sigh of relief! So quiet, so nice, no one even close to us! We walked out to the edge of Lake Huron the next day and explored some of the trails to the other campgrounds.

The forest around us was full of sound. Groot and Beezil had their CTV ( Cat TV) back. Such happy cats to be out of the city and away from civilization! Got the bird feeders up and the crowds arrived! Just to sit and breathe in the air was a delight. We forget how affected we are by noise sometimes. Having the freeway 90 just outside our door for 10 days had been misery! This was paradise!

We drove to the neighboring town of Grand Bend, most everything was still closed for the season in this lake tourist town but the grocery store was delightful! So familiar, all the variety and BREAD! Rye (no carraway!) and french (real french..no puthery excuse for French) Brie and Camembert, Quebec blue and cheddar cheese, older than 6 months! Nan and pita, ethnic diversity mixed with everything else! Wonderful! We do miss this in the US which seems to assimilate all that go there, Canada tends to keep the ethnicity of it’s immigrants and do we ever get to enjoy that wonderful food! Montreal smoked meat and brisket, real Black Forest hams…we were drooling by the time we left with several grocery bags filled to the brim! Our glee came to an end at the LCBO  (Liquor Control Board of Ontario)…sticker shock…C’est la vie, always a trade off!

We had reservations until the Easter Friday at Pinery, then we had a one night stop planned in Cobourg at a hotel as every RV park was closed, before the jump to Perth. We were hoping it was dry enough to back the trailer into Sheila and Regan’s cottage on Otty Lake. It had been paradise last summer and they agreed to let us stay in this wonderful spot again. But we are taller, and longer than the Sunset Trail. I was somewhat worried about the size logistics but Mike did his amazing job of backing down the 400 plus feet very narrow dirt lane way with a few inches to spare here and there from the trees, he rocks.

Now we are settled in, we have tiled the floor where the washing machine hose leaked and the carpet had been, looks amazing with the trim now! No more horrible smelly carpet. We did try to buy all the tiles from DRV to replace them, but they wanted $15.81 a tile…for a $4.25 tile still made. Ed just shrugged when I asked if we could get a better price if we bought three cases, he said,”No, we’ll sell them or use them elsewhere” and walked away…highway robbery at it’s finest DRV, you continue to shine. But I will not let them ruin any more of my days…Spring is coming, the trees are about to leaf out, Spring is arriving by leaps and bounds. Tomorrow we are off for another visit to our big kids, Dusty and Maya, but that, is another chapter!

Stay tuned, and see you soon! Saludos amigos!

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It’s a bird, a plane…oops, a falling leaf;)

Eastward bound-Texas to Indiana-Part 2-On the way to the DRV factory

On a DRV page on Facebook I’d asked about places to stop along the I 40 and a gentleman had suggested Palo Duro State Park, 30 miles South of Amarillo. Reviewers warned about horrible downgrades and narrow roads but after Baja, not much fazes you driving!…and that view from above!

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Palo Duro State Park

Who would have thought this could appear after hundreds of miles of flat grassy plains. The history here isn’t pretty so we won’t go into that but the views are spectacular and canyon is brimming with life. The small creek that runs through the canyon is no Colorado but it does provide a haven for wildlife.

We arrived on a Saturday and I was glad I had made reservations beforehand, the line up was long to get in and the drive down to the canyon floor, although steep was very do-able, just needed to respect those coming and going on the sharp turns. Our reservation was for the Hackberry loop in a wonderful pull through with a view of the red and yellow cliffs. it was hot, 95°, I was not expecting that so we were happy for the 30 amp service and water as well.

The only downside, no cell signal at the bottom of the canyon, but a drive up to the rim and that view was a worthwhile trip once a day to check the email and see to our next stopping spot. We counted on staying a few days and the temperatures were looking to moderate so the next few days we rested! The cats loved the heat. Groot could look out the windows at the birds and stalk the pocket gophers out in the grassy areas…kitty heaven;)

The first morning we awoke to cackling and gobbling well before sunrise and Groot was staring out the window very wide eyed…birds! HUGE birds;) a flock of wild turkeys was making the rounds in the campground and had settled behind the trailer where they had tipped my bird feeder just enough to scarf some seed out…talk about a happy cat:) The best Kitty TV ever!

When the sun hit, it was a magnificent scene. I had no idea of the amazing colours and iridescence these feathers had. They strutted and preened, puffing up for the ladies, there was one obvious head honcho male the younger ones followed around. A pair of Golden Fronted Woodpeckers also inhabited the wood here. I followed them, OK, stalked them from tree to tree but damn, branches, the photographers nightmare, these guys were not co-operating! I finally resorted to bribery and perched one of my sister in law’s organic blood oranges on a branch to lure them in;)

We walked up to the general store/restaurant at the first campground area early one morning before it heated up as they had a bird blind I wanted to sit in for awhile. Tried, the wind was wafting from the restaurant and a horrible smell of old oil was permeating the area, had to leave after 10 minutes was beginning to feel ill, poor birds, didn’t fancy eating anything there after that smell either:(

There was plenty of bird life in the trees around the trailer. A pair of Cardinals were wooing each other, Mockingbirds stopped by, as well as a beautiful Brown Thrasher, a first for me, and Black Crested Titmice, I guess that would be the plural of titmouse:)

Our last day there the temperatures dropped to the 70’s and we went off for a hike. At the end of the road to the canyon we noticed an interesting looking cave so we hiked up to explore. A bit of a scramble but a nice view over the canyon below. Along the creek small bushes were blooming and one amazing yellow flowered bush in the campground area we could smell from 100 feet away!

I was sad to leave and would make a point of coming back here again if we were driving by. A big thanks to the gentleman on the facebook DRV forum for suggesting this place. It is amazing how much information can be passed about. I’ve asked so many questions on this amazing group of DRV owners and had so much positive response and helpful suggestions on how to fix, jury rig and repair things. We took all the hubcaps off the trailer here, after finding an oil leak on one of the rims. After posting pictures we had all kinds of suggestions on how to deal with the leaking oil wheel bearing. A wealth of information and kind people here, right down to sending me the part number we need to replace the cap on the leaking one! Something new to learn every day! Thank you DRV Suites Owners group! It is a lot of work maintaining a page and I know how much owners appreciate it!

 

Eastward again, the cooler temperatures looked like they might start to turn downright cold! We spent a night in Oklahoma City after wandering around a small state park that made no sense at all. Arcadia Lake…it was nonsensical the system they had to see if there were any open spots and the camp hosts lay hidden in their trailers, not a soul to be seen. After parking in one spot and wandering back to entrance with the help of another camper, who admitted to having been completely confused as well when he arrived, then being driven back to where we were stopped by a slightly wackadoodle older gentleman who talked non stop and was really not making any sense at all…0_0…and motioned to the other side of the campground saying we should try there. We barely made our way in and out of due to the tiny roads and dips, sorry jacks, a bit of a scrape there, we ended up leaving and listening to the roar of the interstate at a roadside RV-Park on the East side of town. It certainly makes you appreciate those camp hosts that do their job well, and parks that see to it, and follow up. Maybe I should just give up on these County parks…sigh, you do occasionally find a gem there.

We left early leaving the 40 behind for the I 44-Oklahoma is a long long state, we were aiming for Carthage, MO and a small RV park just off the highway. I hate travelling on those grey days. It makes for the blah’s and it is not the most scenic drive. I’m not a fan of the interstates except for speed. Endless chain hotels and eateries. Assimilation…we have become the Borg on these roadways haven’t we;)

Ballards RV Park fit the bill. A Good Sam Park, just off the highway but over the ridge so very little traffic noise, beautiful old trees and grass next to an old graveyard. Pulled in, no one home, so we followed the easy to understand (YES!) instructions and found a spot for ourselves.  I checked into the office later and spoke to a lovely older lady, the owner now, husband died a few years back she said and was thinking of retiring herself. She had a wonderful assortment of handmade wind chimes out on the porch and I had a visit with her two cats. Now, I’m not a big gun fan and I still get somewhat uncomfortable at the sight of large handgun sitting, on the table, out in the open…I guess I need to get used to this…America.

Groot loved it, lot’s of places to walk here, a small pond and laundry! Yup, every week we need the laundry stop:)

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A nice place to sit below the trees

We spent two nights and headed out into Missouri, towards Meramec State Park. I’d made reservations this time so knew we had a spot, no more wandering around Regional County Parks for now;) Now, I should have kept reading about not listening to your GPS as it took us, not to the park after leaving the interstate but to a small subdivision on the river North of the park through a series of back roads where one might have heard banjos playing in the distance, OK, just my imagination but this was a nightmare. Our first clue should have been a camper that was heading out, but that was normal this time of day to check out, but no, they like us had followed their GPS into this area.

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The wrong way…

The two lane narrow road turned eventually into a small dirt road before we found a place to get headed back towards the park. After bushwhacking a bit on a road that looked like it belonged in a field we got turned back into the right direction but not before suffering some scratches down the side of the trailer and a bad jolt to our nerves…time to buy a buffer and some cut polish by the looks of it! I was heartbroken to see all those scratches, fingers crossed I can get most of them out! With a sigh of relief we found the park entrance this time. The lady at the front desk just shrugged her shoulders and said, yeah, that happens a lot…0_0…how about a sign folks that says park entrance two miles ahead…straight! Would be nice, she didn’t seem to care. It turned into another one of those regional type parks…poor directions, and a slack jawed camp host didn’t do much to raise our spirits but we did find our spot and managed to get backed into it, sat down, time for a tequila after looking at all the scratches on our beautiful Myrtle! We were happy to be stopped. It looked like we were in for some bad weather, we got the slide out as far as we dared, just enough to squeeze by and get to the bed and open the bathroom door and we settled in for the weekend.

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Our Myrtle and the slides from hell;)

These slides, both the bedroom side and vanity side in the very front had become our Achilles heal. The big hydraulic slides have worked like a charm but the other two, which we read could be an issue with the 2012’s have given us grief from the start. Schwintec we hate you;) at least when I am huffing and puffing helping to get that slide in! It took calls to 6 different mobile RV repair guys in San Diego, as well as the normal RV service centers (well, we may have an opening in a month or so..0_0..) to find one who would even come out and look at them. He fiddled with the vanity slide, actually made it worse, shrugged his shoulders and left, didn’t even want to touch the big bedroom slide. We’ve poured over the manuals, tried to adjust them, hook and unhook the motors to no avail..thus our current voyage to the DRV Factory in Howe, Indiana. When we left San Diego it took three of us helping the motors to push the big bedroom slide in, thank you strangers for stopping to help! Since then we have only been opening it a foot to 15″ to squeeze by as help is not often about! I think I may be getting as a result of that, or my abs are working harder;)

We were a bit worried with the incoming cold front and rain that we would have some leaks but no, it was fine, a bit cooler than usual with the slides not sealing but no water inside, pretty amazing! It was a gloomy few days with just one afternoon of sunshine that we got out and hiked about. Groot had the run of the grassy areas and had his first drinking fountain experiment;) he was sprayed:) and his first wildflower lawn shoot! I think he’s a natural, we won’t let it go to his head;)

We took a hike up to a small cave, the larger one the park is known for was still closed for the season, but the small one gave you an idea of the limestone formations. The forest floor was covered in Spring flowers and the tree trunks were covered in moss and bracket fungus. The smell of decay and old leaves was actually quite wonderful. The variation of flowers was wonderful. I’ll have to start to look them all up, other than a berry bush it was all new to me.

The river was a dirty brown from the rain and run off. The cloudy drizzling days let me break out the tripod and ND8 filter and do some long exposures of the water flowing by. A few snapping turtles lazed on the stumps and old fallen trunks and an occasional fish jumped. We caught sight of several deer grazing on the campground lawn one afternoon. We had a few heavy showers and were pleased nothing was leaking in through the halfway open slide.

The gloom was starting to weigh on us as we calculated how many more days we had until our appointment at the DRV factory in Howe. Mike contacted the service manager, Ed and he said it would be fine to show up Saturday for our Monday morning appointment. Made our day! They have 8 full hook-up sights at the repair facility. So we decided to continue our push Eastwards. We decided one more stop near Terre Haute, Indiana and then the final jump to Howe would not be too far. There wasn’t much to choose from but we read some reviews for a RV Park near Cloverdale that had full hook ups and laundry, yup, that time again, so we decided to stop for a few nights.

To the North of the RV park is a small town called Greencastle. I needed to make some copies so we struggled to find a place, no print centers or UPS or Fedex stores anywhere to be seen, but a trip to the local Public Library netted me a copy machine I could use with my USB stick and a friendly staff.  It was a cool looking old town full of interesting old houses in both good and bad repair and a large grocery store, and even a local Hamburger/Ice Cream joint. Treated Mike to a Birthday lunch there, not four star but the root beer float was delicious! Some of the oddities in the grocery store deli counter left me scratching my head…Candied apple salad?

While we were doing our grocery shopping the young lady at the deli mentioned we were under a Tornado watch…0_0…time to head back to trailer we thought! The skies were certainly dark and threatening to the SW. Back at the RV park, which was an über Christian one we saw as we pulled in….(hope he didn’t catch our alien fish on the trailer on the way by…0_0) I decided to take a hike about. The owner was chatting with our neighbor and mentioned there was an old graveyard if I followed the corn field up the hill, dating back to the 1800’s. Sounded interesting, “except” he said” you do have your sidearm?”…OK, so for a secound I thought he was joking…”is it hunting season” I asked? as if that would be a smart idea to walk about in the bush if it were…NOT…no, he was dead serious, started to talk to me about the coyotes, soon they’d be dragging off the neighbors kids and somehow the topic the got onto Armageddon and the coming of a giant godlike asteroid…I was backing up as quickly as I could and heading for that walk, I’ll take the killer coyotes any day!

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Wicked weather this way comes…

The walk up through the cornfields was lovely, startled some deer in the bush and a few ducks on a small pond. At the top of the hill an old cast iron fence surrounded part of the graveyards. Harrah’s it said. Some very old and unreadable graves, some new stones had replaced the old unreadable ones, someone tends this lonely hilltop view.

We made it through the night, Mike had one more birthday and swore he saw a funnel cloud forming to the West of us out of the trailer window, I think I have to agree with him, there was some nasty swirling stuff going on! Time for a glass of wine and bed, kittens tucked under the covers;) Tornado prepared-each grab a cat and go!

We survived, were not stuck down by any evil weather Gods and lived to see another day. I begged Mike to take me to a small park South of the I 44 I’d read about, largest waterfalls in Indiana, how could I not go! Our last day there we took a drive in the drizzle and explored Cataract Falls and the last covered bridge in Owen County. Mike sat in the truck;) it was 42° and windy, not nice, but this river was roaring and the falls were beautiful and hardly a sole to be seen. I broke out the tripod and ND8 filter to play with some long exposures, loved it! The roar of the water was amazing.

Reasons to wander about on rainy days:) The bridge was fun, used to store the park picnic tables, but why not. It still looked closed for the season but I’m glad we stopped by for a visit. The lower falls were empty save for a lone fisherman trying his luck.

Those little bits of Americana you are glad to see. It’s funny the feelings it stirs. On one hand, I sometimes feel so very out of touch with the Midwest. I’m not religious, in any way, we come from a long line of agnostics-generations of them. The beauty is everywhere you look, regardless of what you believe in, or who and what you worship.

The trip to Howe was shorter, we got off the interstate and found a few smaller roads that wound North. So glad we did, beautiful little towns and wonderful old buildings, neat farms and Amish carts parked outside. I could spend a week here easily! The DRV factory is to the South of the Interstate and their brand new service facility across the road from it. 8 neat and level spots are available to incoming coaches with full hookups and there was a bevy of beauties parked there. It filled up as the day wore on and we had the chance to chat with some lovely people who filled us in on how it would go, always great advice. A guard came up and introduced himself, saying he would be there until 8, then told us who was taking over, a lot of coin parked here:)

We were up at 5 this morning to get over to the service center by 6, get the slides in, well, most of the way for the worst sticky one, jacks up. Our service tech came over and told us we were his:) Very friendly and to the point. They moved Myrtle into the bay and we went over what needed to be done, wonderful! Sad to leave the coach, our home, but so looking forward to everything working as it should. In your hands now Ed! We’ll be by to take a peek with her slides out later!

So, that is all for now, stay tuned, amazing Mexican tacos in Sturgis, MI??? YES it’s so, the best we’ve had North of the border, stay tuned for all the details and pictures of a pequeño pedaso de Mexico while we await for Myrtle! Hotel bound:(

Saludos amigos!

 

Eastward bound-Arizona and New Mexico Part 1-On the way to the DRV factory

Headed East, always seems strange to me, perhaps after spending most of my childhood westward bound with a fair bit of South and Northern paths East is always strange, like I’m going backwards. Having to go back to Indiana to the DRV factory to fix the slides certainly feels like a backwards step, not part of our plan at all but it is what it is..n’est-ce pas? We are certainly tired of the insecurity of not knowing if we will even be able to open them, or if we’ll be sleeping on the couch and peeing in a pail;) Time to get this done-Indiana here we come….

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Back to the big open spaces, goodbye California-Hello Desert bloom!

We know this road so well, can count the many trips to and fro and the changes over time. These big skies and the short stretch of sand dunes are a marvel. It always amazes me how fast the panoramas change.

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I 8 passes through the Algondones dunes, a narrow but long strip of wilderness

We barreled our way East on I 8, after leaving California you lose the speed restrictions:) from there we headed North at Gila Bend and then Eastward towards Phoenix. I’d hoped to stay at White Tank Mountains Regional Park on the NW side of the city, but they were full so we tried another spot further North, Cave Creek Regional Park. You have to love good Camp Hosts that come out to give you a hand, some places lack a bit in the instruction area but the host was helpful and pleasant but let us know there was only an opening for one night…waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh! I’d hoped to spend the next day exploring wildflowers but it looked like an over nighter only and then moving on.

It was a lovely setting so we enjoyed the sunset and I was up before sunrise, not my norm;) to catch as many flowers and birds as I could before heading East to New Mexico.

The park was ablaze in wildflowers of all types, as the light faded we walked in the arroyo with Groot and found an amazing saguaro asleep in a field of Chamomile:) The yellows are bursting and the hillsides are covered in them! The sun was fading but I knew where I would be walking back to in the morning:)

Hard to leave but we decided to head as far East as we could, not knowing where we would stop. It had been a long time since we had taken the I 17 North to Flagstaff, Mount Humphrey’s snow covered top loomed in the distance as we hit the I 40 and started East again. After Winslow and Holbrook, the reds in the mountains start to rise from the flatter plains. Past the tourist teepees and gas stations and and all the old billboards offering real Navajo jewelry and Mexican blankets, made in China;)

I’d found a small regional park, just South of the I40 after Gallup and we decided to call it a night there, sounded nice and quiet, lake, no one answered the phones but they did say it was open, what could not be good about that….well, they closed their gate at 5pm…locked tight…not a camp host in sight. Between the traveling and time change we had not set our clocks forward so we missed the gate by about 10 minutes…grrrrrr….we headed back to the Highway in a decidedly fouler mood and set up camp at a Mom and Pop’s stop in Grants, at least it was not sandwiched between the Highway and the train tracks! The Blue Spruce RV park within throwing distance of the Interstate. Very nice older couple set us up in spot 5, 50 amp, wifi. We watched as several RV’s came and went beside us after hours, I’m guessing the 50 amp plug there did not work and they simply moved on…pretty bare bones with a few permanents, it was a place to rest but we were gone fairly early in the morning.

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Leaving Blue Water State Park after finding the gate locked:(

Next came Albuquerque, we didn’t make any wrong turns like Bugs Bunny 😉 and onto Santa Rosa along the I 40. I was determined to find a park! I love them, they are quiet, lots of places to hike and Groot loves them too, enough said;)

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It’s important we stop and smell the flowers:)

I love the high desert views but it slowly gave way to endless miles of grass plains. I can imagine what the first settlers thought, will this never end;) It is bleak this time of year and seemed quite dry as well. Spring had not arrived to these high plains.

We pulled off the Interstate and headed North out of Santa Rosa towards, yup, Santa Rosa Lake State Park. I was getting excited, we pulled in and up to the camping area across a large dam for the reservoir and my heart sank, I’d called but there had been no answer for two days…the campground was closed to update the electrical system…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!…but, the jovial host, pointed down towards the lake and said, if you want, you can dry camp down there! Yipeeeee!!!! Saved!

Peace and quiet-water and reflections-and…what is that we spied as we were driving in but two RV’s with “Cruisin’ Kiwis” written on them. I’m a curious lass, they wandered over and we started chatting, where were they from in New Zealand, Whangerei!

Soliloquy

Soliloquy

Wait a minute! Really? I spent 6 months there in 1976 when I was a kid, we started talking boat names and before you knew it we had probably run into each other. Deborah, the lady I was chatting with lived on a boat in the Tay Basin and her Dad, Trevor, and my Mom sailed to Australia on a beautiful old 12 meter sloop called the Soliloquy. Her owner was running from the IRS in the states, Ken, and probably running out of money in New Zealand decided to sail to Queensland, in cyclone season. Half her crew had jumped ship just before they left so my mother, Randy, offered to navigate and Deborah’s dad, Trevor crewed as well! They ran into two cyclones after leaving on Friday the 13th, Trevor’s black cat was run over the day they left as well, as I learned from Deborah, by Trevor himself;) and she survived and lived to be 21, her name was Lucky, as was the crew of the Soliloquy. One more cyclone hit just after they made landfall in Mooloolaba, Queensland. No one even knew where they were for days! I wanted to share a picture I had of Deborah’s dad Trevor with her but no cell signal where we were so I emailed it to her today:) We live in such a small fantastic world! She said she would email her brother Boyd, to tell him, she said he’d tell her Dad we ran into each other! Boyd had the teenage misfortune of running into my mother once who came up to him and said “Hi, I’m Randy!” anyone who has been down under will understand the young man’s embarrassment;) Deborah says they still tell that story. It was truly a wonderful experience running into them, hopefully our paths will cross again!

Santa Rosa is a wonderful small Route 66 town that the interstates have passed by. The huge gas stations right off the freeways are booming but the main street is quiet. The grocery store was half empty but the old signs and motels and cafes that are open are quite a sight. We spent three days at the Park, trying to figure out a problem with new inverter, yet to be solved but did get a chance to breathe and explore some. Found wifi signal at the top of the outlook tower over the lake so could talk back and forth with my brother about our electrical problems:)

I spent an early morning watching the sunrise on a nearly flat calm lake. It is a still spot, a few birds, but as I said, Spring has not come to these high plains yet, soon. I watched a herd of Mule deer grazing in the canyons below the dam, babies already big, or perhaps they were last years. After the weekend was over we made camp and once more headed East, Texas here we come, but that, it part 2:)

Saludos amigos and see you on down the road a bit!