Sunday, August 27, 2017

(Backup) On to Cape Breton!

First, just realized I forgot to mention the campground in Amherst--Lochlomond, site C-3.  This is a lovely campground, right on the water and the site, as they all appeared to be, was quite level.  Good place!

Friday we drove to Antigonish, and stayed in a delightful small campground in Linwood, just past Antigonish, Linwood Harbour Campground, site 10.  Another wonderful campground, with level sites, sort of terraced down a gentle slope toward the water.  Beautiful views, only a relatively few sites, but that made it easy to do laundry with no crowds.  We enjoyed sitting outside looking at the water.  Met a nice couple who had lived on San Juan Island  Washington for years, then full timed for years, recently bought a house in Arizona, so they downsized to a 27 foot Class C to enjoy periodic trips.  

Saturday morning we were only a little over a hundred miles to the ferry, so we drove to the North Sydney/Cabot Trail KOA, site 9&10.  They have these wonderful pull through sites that are really two sites into one.  Anyway, it overlooks Baddeck Bay--just beautiful!  We unhooked and drove the Cabot Trail to Cheticamp, where we had visited before.  The Cabot Trail is a spectacular drive and we really enjoyed it, even though it was overcast with some rain at first, but then it cleared.  We saw lovely little churches, great vistas over the water.  We stopped at this little yarn and gift shop at Margaret Forks where we had been on our previous trip.  It was here that we found this incredible 14 piece Nativity, all hand knitted by a woman who's now in her 90's!  Amazingly beautiful work (I posted a picture of it on facebook during Advent as part of our daily Nativity scenes), and she uses jelly jar tops as stands in the bottom of the figures.  Anyway, Trisha found some wool yarn that she will use for hooking, and we had a lovely visit with the woman who runs the shop.  She recognized us right away when we came in and told us about her recent trip to NYC with her daughter to attend a relative's wedding.  While going through her things for the trip, she was looking for a small clutch bag to take and when she pulled it out she found my Santa picture card that I had given her in 2014--what a coincidence!  We drove on into Cheticamp to a rug hooking shop we had visited previously and had a delightful time reconnecting with the owner.  At first we didn't recognize the shop, as its name had changed--she used to call it Proud to be Hookers, but she told us that some people had found this offensive, so she changed the signage to feature her name, Lola, on the sign, but still kept the proud to be hookers in smaller letters.  She said her name sounds like a hooker's name anyway, so now it reads Proud to be Lola's Hookers--too funny!  We were reminiscing about going to a local pub, The Doryman, where we heard an amazing Celtic Cape Breton fiddler named Mark Beaudreaux.  She told us that, sadly, he had passed away this past year, before his 30th birthday.  Sadder still, it seems that his drug use played a big part in his heart failure--drugs are so damn insidious!  Anyway, we mentioned that there was a young woman who accompanied him on the keyboard who was the most high energy performer we had seen.  She laughed and said that it was Heidi, her cousin, and she remarked "Yeah, she's high energy, her hands are everywhere, so we have to keep her away from our men!"  She fell all over herself laughing and told us not to tell her cousin she had said this, so if any of you see Heidi, mum's the word!  Came back to the campground for supper and then drove into Baddeck for a ceilidh--very different, but enjoyable.  Typically at ceilidhs the fiddler is accompanied by a piano, but this night there was a fiddler and a guitar player.  The guitar player was the jokester and it was a lot of fun.  Now we're off to the ferry this afternoon for the long crossing to Newfoundland!

Love the vibrant colors in the houses!

Trisha just loves to see clothes hanging on the line!

Coming into Cheticamp

Same church up close when we got into town

Beautiful flowers in town, on the way to the ceilidh

Saturday, August 26, 2017

(Backup) Amherst, Nova Scotia

Thursday we drove to Amherst, Nova Scotia--a stop Trisha had been looking forward to for some time, ever since she got into rug hooking.  Although she first became intrigued with rug hooking on our first trip to Nova Scotia in 2014 when we visited many museums and shops, she didn't really get into doing it until this past winter in Sarasota.  Our friend, Janine, started a rug hooking class at the RV park there, and also got Trisha, our friend, Sherry, and our new friend, Donna, to go with her to a rug hooking group and Trisha was able to meet many more women who were avid hookers (it always tickles me to say this-LOL!).  Anyway, several of these women were from Canada and talked about Deanne Fitzpatrick, a world renowned rug hooking artist and designer, who lives in Amherst.  Trisha ordered one of her patterns and hooked a beautiful rug that now hangs on one wall in the RV.  So, to say she was anticipating a visit to Deanne's studio with great excitement is sorta like a kid on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa to arrive!  So as soon as we got the RV hooked up at the campsite, we jumped into the car and drove into town, and here it is!!  Took this first picture before we went in, and you can tell by the look on Trisha's face how excited she was!  Check out the yarn strung across the top, and the geraniums in the hanging baskets!

And here is a big frame right on the sidewalk in front of the studio, with chairs where people can give it a try--really cool!

And here's Trisha with Deanne herself!  Her store is huge, with several rooms of patterns, yarns and wools, with a dyeing room.  Deanne sits in this fairly small, windowless room where she creates her amazing designs.  She does patterns, makes kits as well as hooking her own finished products on this frame.  She was so amazingly friendly and encouraging.  She likes to encourage people to take her patterns as a starting point, and then to customize it in their own way.  She has written several books and we saw some cards that had photos of her artistry, accompanied by truly beautiful poetry.  She is amazingly talented.  We found several Christmas themed patterns--I know this comes as a surprise that we were looking for this theme--and one that we really liked was of a village with two Santas, one at each end of the village.  I was watching one of Deanne's staff take the pattern, which was drawn onto a thin mesh netting, tulle, I think; she laid that onto the linen or burlap backing piece and used a Sharpie to trace over the tulle, so the markings came through right onto the linen or burlap, very interesting technique.  We commented that it would be even better if the pattern had one Santa and the other figure be Mrs. Claus--well she said "Just go into Deanne's room and ask her, and she'll be happy to do that."  So Trisha asked Deanne, and just like that, she had drawn a Mrs. Claus into the picture--so wonderful!  Trisha can't wait to hook that one.  

And in Deanne's little workroom, she has this Ethiopian proverb hanging--so that endeared her to us even more.  Not just for the sentiment that she chose to hang on her wall, but that it comes from Ethiopia, the country our son Jeremy has now adopted as his home!  

This is the Deanne design that Trisha hooked and hangs on the dinette wall in the RV--Such vibrant colors!

And here's the pattern Deanne customized for us--Santa's happy now that Mrs. Claus is in the picture,. HO!HO!HO!

Sophie has been such a good traveler--so we found a special treat for her--peanut flavored frozen yogurt, just for pups!  She was so happy!

We stayed in her studio a couple of hours, just taking it all in, talking with Deanne and her staff.  Trisha was just floating off the ground with excitement! We came away with an interesting book Deanne wrote, plus enough patterns to keep Trisha busy for quite a while!  People come from all over the world to visit this place, so it was really special to visit!  It was also funny in that the staff person who checked us out was so excited when we walked in--she said she had seen Santa outside and she's a self professed "Christmas freak," so I had fun talking with her about that.  I asked her if she would like a picture with Santa and she squealed with delight--"I was hoping but was afraid to ask."  I told her that, like Trisha says, anyone who keeps a long white beard and always wears red shirts and a red cap that says Santa On Vacation is more than happy to do this!

One of the things we loved most about Nova Scotia when we were here before was the music, lots of foot stomping fiddle and keyboard music, some singing and dancing.  Derived from the Scottish/Irish tradition, a "ceilidh," pronounced "kaylee," sometimes called a kitchen party, where folks used to gather in the kitchen to sing and dance and play on cold winter nights, is now any session with lots of this music and dancing performances, in pubs, concert halls, etc.  So we asked Deanne if there were any ceilidhs in town--alas, we learned that this is more in the Acadian tradition on Cape Bretton Island, but she told us of a local pub down the street that has open mike night every Thursday.  So we went that evening and had a lovely time.  Along with typical pub grub, they also had a wonderful hot vegan hummus wrap!  The place is small, and the tables are jammed up close, so we were seated by a table of three women, close enough to be part of the same group.  One woman does Mrs. Claus, so that was a natural conversation starter.  Of course, those of you who know Trisha and her lovely smile and welcoming countenance, will not be surprised to learn that before the evening was over, the woman sitting closest to her was pouring out her life's story, telling her of some of her trials and tribulations.  It never ceases to amaze me how often this happens with Trisha.  I joke that she has a flashing neon sign on her forehead that says Come tell me all your troubles!  But of course she did her usual compassionate and wonderful job of offering on the spot pastoral care, and by the end of the evening we were all hugging and happy!  Plus we got to hear some wonderful locals singing and playing guitar--some better than others, but all having a great time.  We loved it!

Pictures from St. Andrews by the Sea

We'll see if these come through.
Sophie at the campground in Wytheville; she loved watching kids riding their bikes around the campground!

Pretty church on the way to St. Andrews By the Sea

One of many murals on buildings in St. Andrews By the Sea--love the stories they tell! The next pic is of the yarn shop Trisha loved from our visit here in 2014--cute how they have this display out front.  Next one is the dock where we boarded the white watching sailboat back then--at low tide, so you can tell how much the tides vary.  Next one is a quintesential seaside home.

At this small hotel in town, they had about 6 of these gorgeous hanging baskets along the big front porch!

Friday, August 25, 2017

On the road again, to Newfoundland

Well, folks, we’re back on the road again, on our big adventure to explore Newfoundland and Labrador!  When we first visited the Atlantic Maritimes in 2014 we made it to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, but not to Newfoundland/Labrador, so we’ve been looking forward to this trip for some time.  Originally we had planned to leave sometime early August, but we needed to do some maintenance around the house, the main thing being having the outside painted.  Well, unlike last summer when it was dry, dry, dry, August in Cherry Log has been wet, wet, wet!  That meant the painters kept getting delayed, to make sure the house was dry enough to paint, so we weren’t able to leave quite as early as planned.  The good news is that the painters finished, doing a great job, and all the other household maintenance items got handled by the end of last week.  Since it’s a 15 hour ferry ride from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland, we figured the earlier in the fall we could make that crossing the better.  So we took off on Saturday, August 19, figuring that if we didn’t get outta Dodge then, we would be stuck in the eclipse traffic—and, man were we glad we did!  All the way up the country on Saturday and Sunday the southbound traffic on I-75 and I-81 was insane!  Bumper to bumper in many places.  Anyway, we knew we wanted to make as much time as we could, so we drove farther than we typically do in the RV, just to get on up the road.  But you know what?  As much as we enjoy seeing lots of new places and revisiting places we’ve been, just riding up the road in the RV—in case any dear reader has forgtten its name, we christened it HAPPYX2—with my sweet Trisha in the seat beside me is just the best way to spend a day!  She’s the navigator, the one who searches out potential campgrounds as we roll along, makes sure I take the correct turns, and just smiles her smile—what could be better??!!  We laugh so much about the memories of when we first decided to live the RV life, so many people told us it would be tough spending this much time just with each other—one friend even made Trisha a bet that we wouldn’t make it 2 months on the road!—but we’ve said many times how much this has seemed like one long second honeymoon to us.  On our first trip—7 months in 2013—we met an older couple in a campground in Pensacola Beach, FL who had a big RV, and a small tent set up outside.  We first thought they must have grandkids traveling with them who would be sleeping in the tent, but when we asked the woman about it her response was hilarious:  Oh no, honey, that’s for when I just can’t stand to be inside with my husband any longer so I come out and sleep in the tent!  So we joke about this all the time, and so far, neither of us has felt any need to buy a tent—HO!HO!HO!
We made it to Wytheville, VA on Saturday night and stayed in a lovely campground, nestled in a clearing among the trees.  It was about 10 miles off the interstate—good news and bad news.  The good news is that it was much more secluded than a place right next to the highway; the not so good news—it was a bit more challenging to get in and out of.  The small road leading to it was narrow, with lots of curves and tight turns.  The main issue was that once arriving at the campground, the turn off into the drive was a sharp left hand turn, with an immediate steep drop.  Not too much of a problem for a car, but with the length of an RV plus a tow car, a bit tighter.  We made it into the place okay, but coming out the next morning meant we had to make this sharp right hand turn, climbing up and onto the road.  Well, it was such a steep climb, and with the sharp turn, even though I was going as slow as I could, all of a sudden the refrigerator door came open and stuff tumbled out onto the floor—fortunately none of the containers opened, and we were especially grateful that the big one holding the delicious vegan chili Trisha had made survived, or it would have been a red mess all over the carpet!!  Anyway, while we were at the campground we met two young girls who lived with their Mom at the campground—a number of permanent residents there—who loved playing with Sophie.  Of course Sophie loved the attention as well!  A couple pulled into the site next to us who had traveled from northern Virginia on their way to Knoxville to view the eclipse.  They were recent retirees and we enjoyed talking the joys of RVing with them.  There were also quite a few Mennonite families in the campground as well—reminded us of the big Amish and Mennonite population in Sarasota. Deer Trail Campground, Wytheville, VA.  Gonna try to remember from now on to identify the campgrounds where we stay, as several times folks have asked us where to stay on the road, so I’ll try to do better this time.
Sunday we made it into Pennsylvania, spending the night near Hershey.  Beautiful day for driving, lots of sunshine and clear skies.  Found a KOA less than a mile off the interstate, which, after the previous night’s adventure, was a welcome relief!  Very easy on and off, and a Pilot gas station just 10 miles up the road!  Jonestown/Hershey KOA.
Monday we drove to West Boylston, Mass, where we parked in a Walmart lot and got to visit with our good friend, Gary Childs, whom we met at Sun_N-Fun in Sarasota.  We’ve become very good friends with Gary and his wife, Linda, over the last 4 years.  We jokingly refer to Gary as the Mayor of our section of Sun-N-Fun, and he’s known throughout the park as the man to call if you need any kind of help.  He’s a retired big rig truck driver, so many times when someone is having trouble getting a rig parked, I’ve seen him just hop in and drive the rig into their place for them.  And he’ll give you the shirt off his back in a heartbeat.  Linda was on a trip to Paris with one of her retired teacher colleagues, so we didn’t get to see her, but it was wonderful to see Gary.  And, of course Sophie loved playing with her good friend, Chino, their dog!  We took Gary out to dinner and he chose his favorite neighborhood grill and bar, and it was just the neatest place—virtually everyone there knew him by name and were so friendly.  The classic neighborhood pub—made you think of the themesong from Cheers—where everybody knows your name!  He gets a kick out of hearing our accents when we talk, and we love hearing them!  When Trisha was talking to him on the phone getting directions, at first she was not sure where he was talking about when he said we needed to be sure to make it through Hahtford before rush hour—we forget about the Mass folks replacing r with h!  Anyway, he mapped out our route for us to get to him, and for us to get from there on into Maine the next day.
We drove to Eddington, ME on Tuesday, and we stayed at Cold River Campground and which was lovely!  Great family campground, lots of seasonal and permanent residents.  Some RVers don’t like to stay at places where there are a lot of seasonal or permanent sites, and, admittedly, in some campgrounds some of these sites do seem to get left unmaintained.  But we love it, to see how folks have done things to make their site homey, like building decks, landscaping, lights, etc.  We love to see creative ideas folks have used—one sign read “Welcome to our campfire—where marshmallows and friends get toasted!”  Anyway, a couple pulled into the site next to us in a very small Class C motorhome from Washington state—quite a ways from home, but they were having a wonderful trip.  They appeared to be a fair bit older than we are, and, of course that always excites us, to see folks still RVing into their older years—remember folks, despite what our kids may say, we’re not old—HO!HO!HO!  And the campground was full of kids; the first little boy who saw Santa just stopped in his tracks and stared.  So I pulled out my Santa’s List book and “found” his name on the Good Boy List and signed a picture for him.  Well, soon there were a whole bunch of kids riding their bikes all around our RV, until one of them worked up the nerve to knock on the door and ask Mrs. Claus if Santa could come out to play—so much fun!
Wednesday we made it into Canada—to St. Andrews By the Sea, New Brunswick, a lovely little town right on the water.  We had stayed here in 2014, and took a sailboat whale watching cruise, where we got to see lots of whales, including a mama and her baby frolicking in the sea—one time Mom just dove down and swam under the boat and surfaced right on the other side—quite a thrill.  The campground where we stayed before—Kiwanis Campground, which is right smack dab on the water, in the middle of downtown—was full, but we found a good place at Island View Campground, about 5 miles out of town.  Again, this is a nice family campground, very friendly folks, with a number of permanent residents.  One word of caution to any RVers who might stay there—stay away from Site 9—this was the first pull through site they gave us, but it was on an incline and we couldn’t get the RV level.  But they were very accommodating to let us move and site 51 is a perfectly level site.  There was a lovely family across from us and we enjoyed visiting with them.  We drove into town and walked around the dock area, where we had boarded the sailboat before.  We had also found a wonderful little yarn shop right on the water, but by the time we got into town, it was closed.  Trisha had found some great yarn there before and had hoped to visit with the owner again, but we had fun just walking around this quaint little town.
Using a new app for this blog now, and can’t figure out how to include pictures, so I’ll try to post this and put up pictures later.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Aspen Mountain Hike

Monday morning was spent helping Shelley out--she had to go to Atlanta for the balance of the week for work, so she had rented a car to drive to the Denver Airport, needing to leave around noon to make the 4 hour drive to catch her flight.  But, given her ankle sprain from the day before, she really wanted to get a doctor to look at it.  Well, unimaginable though it may sound to our Atlanta friends, she was able to call the orthopedist's office here when they opened at 9, and was able to get in to see the doctor an hour later.  I drove her to his office and she was in and out within an hour after arrival--sounds like some fantasy, huh?  About the same time frame when Trisha went to the same office a week or so ago for her knees.  Anyway, they did X-rays, found no broken bones, but a pretty decent high ankle sprain.  Put her in a boot with the inflatable bag for pressure.  So I drove her to the local airport to pick up her rental car and she was on the road as per her original schedule.

That afternoon Trisha and I rode bikes out to Difficult Campground, along the East of Aspen Trail, and had a good time.

I had decided to give the Aspen Mountain Summit a try on Tuesday morning, but it rained all night, and was raining when I first woke up, so I was about to scratch my plans.  But after an hour or so, the sun came out so I went ahead.  First you go up the Ute Trail to Ute Rock, about a mile with 1200 feet of elevation gain--pretty steep climb!  I made myself go more slowly, since I knew that after Ute Rock I still had another 2000 feet of elevation gain to reach the top in 2 1/2 more miles.  Also knew I needed to go more slowly due to the all night rain, since there were some wet roots, making the footing a bit more of a challenge.  But it all went well and I had some spectacular views along the way.  After the Ute Rock, there's a pretty steep climb up into the ski run area and then the trail follows a lot of the paths of some different lift lines.  It turned into a beautiful day and the vistas along the hike and at the top were  just stunningly beautiful.  I made it to the top okay, but had to wait about 15 minutes or so until the gondola started running before I could get a ride down into town.    Another great hike!!

This shot was taken after I had passed Ute Rock and was up a ways

 Some gorgeous wildflowers along the way!
 This is an area called Bingo Glades for expert skiers--they only open it after there's been enough snow to sufficiently cover all the rocks, but it is incredibly steep.  Of course Ken and his son, Jack, have skied it a number of times, but tell me that in ski season they have all sorts of signs to warn people that this is considered an off trail area, and that only expert level skiers should go down--don't think I'd even try!!
 Looking down into the valley
 And then up to one of the peaks I have to make it over in order to get to the summit
 Emergency phone for ski season
 Made it through the Glades, in a bit of a meadow--the relatively flat section only lasted a little while!
 Looking down into town
 Over on the far ridge you can see some of the ski runs and I'm beginning to see the gondola lines
 Some shots of the gondola lines

 Signs for a black and a double black run
 Looking down into the valley at the sign
 Just never get enough of these incredible colors!!

 A part of the trail runs along a service road up to the top

 Lots of yellow flowers on the way up
 And here I am at Sundeck, the top of the mountain!!
 Looking beyond, toward Aspen Highlands Ski Area, across the valley

 Just glorious views!!

 Some other hikers coming up as I was about to board the gondola
 Heading down on the gondola

 Just crested a ridge and the town comes into view