Yesterday was an overwhealming day.
Living in the South so far away from extended family, my little family: Rich, Bekah, Laura and I have bonded really tight. Mom and Dad and the cousins were our extended family for a long time.
I spent years missing Massachusetts, missing those Sunday dinners at Meme's house: cousins, aunts, uncles, football, basketball, baseball, good food, play clothes, and laughter. I couldnt wait until we moved home to Massachusetts. Life doesnt always cooperate with our desires, and Georgia became my home. Our roots in Georgia are now deep, my friends and the community where we have 'rooted' ourselves have become my extended family to a large degree.
Yesterday, spending the afternoon with my aunts, uncles, second cousins, cousins, and my own nuclear family I realized how much time has passed. It was a bittersweet afternoon that had moments that made me warm and comforted, like those afternoons at Meme's house,mingled with moments where I realized that time and distance has set me outside that fragile bubble of comfortable belonging. I found myself mourning that childhood feeling of belonging along with my Mom yesterday. I also found myself celebrating the amazing people my cousins have become. As children we were all just a mass of possibilities. Now, seeing these incredible men and women as adults, with children of their own, I see possibilities that have been realized. Beautiful families with beautiful children and personal success. Instead of that child-like state of being extensions of our parents we have all come into our own as people and it was beautiful and inspiring to see. I was so glad that my own children, on that cusp of adulthood, could have an afternoon glimpse of wonderful role models.
The service was tough, like pulling the scab off of a wound I have been bathing and bandaging and coaxing to heal for months. My feelings are raw again - on the surface. It was a necessary thing though, that celebration of my Mom. It was necessary for all of those people who didnt get to share in her funeral in March, and necessary for me to see and hear the impact my Mom and
Dad have had on so many lives. To me...they were mom and dad. I only got glimpses of the amazing christian role models they had become in so many communities. My mother was love. She was the embodiment of love and I couldnt help but feel her love mirrored back to me through the stories and sharings of so many people who approached me to tell me what she had meant to them in their lives. In each and every person there who had felt her love, and loved her in return, Mom was there yesterday, and she filled the room with love.
Thank you to everyone who shared with me yesterday. You made the day special, and helped me to feel close to my Mother who I miss so desperately.
I know, right...this is a vacation blog, not supposed to be sad....but this was one of the planned events on my vacation. A hard one, but necessary nonetheless. Off to Boston today with my family after saying goodbye to my Dad and nephew Forest.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
He used to be Grumpy, lately has been Sleepy, but tonight Sneezy has moved into the hotel room with Happy
Benedryl ...... Benedryl....Benedryl....... I am sure Rich has been chanting that silently with each of the nearly 100 or more sneezes he has sneezed today. He is allergic to Maine, that must be it. No sooner did we re-enter the US than he started to sneeze and hasnt stopped. He even sneezed his seafood salad sub right out his nose and sprayed it all over the table at dinner. He tried to cover his nose with a napkin, the backspray covered his glasses. We both had to laugh, but.... Poor guy.
We did not see a Moose. Maine and Canada tease the motorists with signs.....'Danger Moose Crossing for the next 17 m'. They lie. I looked for hundreds and hundreds of miles for a moose. None to be seen. Last night while we were at dinner a lady at another table was talking about twilight being the best time for moose sightings. We raced from the restaurant and drove up into the hills to try to see a moose. I dont think there are Moose...(or is it Meese) anywhere but the zoo. By this evening Rich would read a moose sighting sign to me, I would snort and return to reading my book.
Speaking of books....if you have not read 'The Life of Pi" it is a must read. It was so compelling and thought provoking!
We found the Cache Across America Maine Cache today, and another cache at the Delorme headquarters. We went in and Rich purchased some mappish kinds of things...and a Delorme cap.
I do not understand the fascination with maps. I know that sometimes it is good to know and plan where you are going, but I love just venturing forth without a plan or direction and exploring and experiencing life. I plan when I must. I plan when I should, but Lord I love those moments where I am not pinned into a direction or a plan. That to me, is Freedom.
We are at a hotel in Concorn Mass tonight. The original plan was to visit Orchard House tomorrow morning before heading to Rich's sister's house for the night. Rich's Dad is still in the hospital, so we are heading there first thing and skipping the rest of the vacation itinerary. Mom's memorial service is on Saturday morning. I do not want to sing, but have been practicing.
I am looking forward to hugging my Dad and my Daughters. As they get older and dont live at home those moments with them become so very special to me.
Ok...time to shut this down for the night......
Song of the Day: 'Better Together' by Jack Johnson
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Today our sole event was to visit Cape Enrage, fabled to be the best view in Canada, and watch the tide come in. We did both and cuddled, and napped, and read, and blogged, and cached and did nothing but just relax. It has been a great day. I have enjoyed this vacation, but it has been so high paced that it has been nice to just slow down and rest and enjoy for a day. This bed and breakfast is a perfect place to do it. The room is cozy the temperature is perfect and everything is quiet.
Nature is amazing. The owner of the B&B has a bunch of hummingbird feeders outside the window of the breakfast room. I just sat at breakfast watching the tiny birds..so tiny...their wings moving so fast your could hardly see them. Dozens of them. What a treat.
I had corn chowder for lunch and Rich had seafood chowder again. He says we might have to come back here just for the chowder. Lobster is the name of dinner and I am going to have it soon - getting hungry.
We did a trip recap today...and both of us agree that Prince Edward Island and Alma have been our two favorite stops on our trip. We plan to return to Prince Edward Island, and would return to the Bay of Fundy as well, but would like to do so on the Nova Scotia side.
off to Lobster!
So we are here in Alma, New Brunswick, home of the highest tides in the world, right on the Bay of Fundy. We are staying at a delightful Bed and Breakfast and the window of our room overlooks the bay. It was almost low tide when we arrived so we unpacked the car and went to find some dinner. We detoured to take some pictures of the harbor. Alma is a fishing village, and the boats at the dock are on dry land at low tide. We took pictures of that and will take pictures of the same boats at high tide tomorrow. We found this cute diner that had the most amazing seafood chowder ever. We each had a cup of chowder, and split a seafood platter. The shrimp and scallops were broiled , the haddock and clams were fried. The clams were absolutely amazing. Instead of being fried in your standard clam batter, they were coated with the same kind of batter you would use to make clam cakes and they were fried to perfection. I gobbled up the scallops and after a few of those delicious clams I was done. So good. I am loving having seafood every night! I am sure I would grow tired of it eventually, but not before I am done here. I plan to have Lobster again tonight! After dinner we took a walk on the ocean floor. I mean that....the tide goes out so far here that you actually walk about a mile out onto the ocean floor. We walked as far out as we could go, through the muck and the mire....to the actual edge of the ocean at low tide. The cliffs were gorgeous, everything I have seen on this trip has been wonderful. We walked and walked and just enjoyed the views. On the way back to shore Rich suggested we each find a small stone to give as a gift to each other. We walked a mile, each in our own world...picking up and discarding stones to find the perfect one for each other. Being me....I couldnt choose only one. Being me...I had a pocket of stones - all themed and another pocket with a single stone that followed directions. When we reached the shore we shared our stones. Rich gave me a shiny black stone...it was flat on the bottom with a sturdy foundation he said..because for him I am a foundation for him, and it had lots of facets to it, mottles, and hills and valleys on it, noplace you looked on this stone was the same. He said that is because I have so many facets to my personality (he didnt call me sybil, but it might have been what he meant). It was thoughtful and made me tear up a little. I shared my first pocket. I had collected him stone M&M's. He has been munching on peanut butter M&M's whenever we could find them this whole trip. I found a stone of each color, small, candy shaped. I found orange, yellow, purple, blue, green, and brown. They were cute, but not very meaningful. The stone in the other pocket was the one with meaning. I had a stone so smooth and round, like an egg. The color rather nondescript. Its outside rather lacklustre and predictable. Soft and comfortable and smooth. I then dipped it into the water at the shore and showed it to Rich....all of a sudden the stone had depth and character, colors appeared and lines and all sorts of things you saw only when you looked beneath the surface. I told him that was like him, that if you get to know him he has such depth and knowledge and feeling that nobody ever sees who only knows him 'on the surface'. It was a wonderful exercise and a great way to both occupy us on the long walk back from the shore, and to tell one another how we felt. Clever Rich.
We set out to find a few caches at this point, but no luck. We hiked up a hill into the woods...up a steep hill slipping and sliding in the loam. My mind was screaming...danger will robinson, danger.....but we went up anyway....and found nada. We rewarded ourselves with ice cream. (I know, I have been BAD) Then we found a laundromat and did a load of laundry. I packed mostly shorts, it is summer after all. All of my pants were dirty but it is decidedly pants weather! I washed my pants and some underduds for Rich, and we returned to the B&B. I took a bath, I was filthy from the walk through the muck and mire on the beach then the loam of the wooded hill. Then Rich and I went downstairs and played a lengthy game of scrabble. I won, just sayun. By this time it was midnight, and high tide was for 1 am, so we went out and walked to the pier to see how high the water had risen. It was amazing, truly. The boats that had been beached on dry land, were now floating and the fishermen were out on the pier loading up to head out. They have to fish carefully with the tides!
We went to bed then. I slept wonderfully but woke up this morning feeling kind of puny. I didnt eat much breakfast and just wanted to climb back into bed which is where I am right now.
We are going to go out soon to Cape Enrage, we have heard it is beautiful. We just need to be sure we are back before high tide!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Today was about four things for me... 1. Celebrating the birthday of my husband and making sure he had a good time and that his 'love tank' was full (5 languages of love reference, sorry to those who dont know what or where their 'love tank' is) 2. Visiting Green Gables, the place from my imagination, 3. Lobster, and 4. Missing my Mom.
1. The Birthday. It really stunk that Rich's birthday fell on the Prince Edward Island day. This day of all the days was the one where the things planned were specific to my interests. We did find 3 geocaches, so that made him happy. We went to the drive-in movies and saw The Transformers. The waitresses at the restaurant sang him the birthday song and brought him chocolate cake with a sparkler coming out of the top instead of a candle - how fun is that? He is such a great guy though, he didnt complain that 'his day' was spent doing me things. Instead he just loved being with me while I enjoyed this day full of things I had been looking forward to. He says he likes to see the sparkle in my eye when I am having fun. I didnt know I had a sparkle, but if I do, I am glad I sparkled for him on his birthday. I wont talk about how he lost his credit/debit card on his birthday. Oops...did I say that out loud? (We are off to try to backtrack and find it this morning. Good news is that we know where he used it last!)
2. Green Gables. Well, have to start with the drive leaving the hotel. I love to travel. I love to see new places. I can find something fun or unique or beautiful in almost anyplace I visit. I have seen breathtaking scenery in Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean, Canada and some places in the US. I have never seen anything that took my breath away like Prince Edward Island. I took more pictures yesterday than I have taken in my life. Every turn on the road brought a visual vista more spectacular than the one before it. The colors: greens, reds, blues......all so vivid. Cows grazing in the lushest greenest field with the expanse of the ocean, not diamonds on the water but an ocean cresting again and again with waves. Marshes, and dunes, red clay roads, evergreen trees....and beautiful quaint homes. Every where I looked was like a picture post card. I had to stop and put my feet in the water. So we stopped at a fishing village and I got out of the car and walked on the pier and put my tootsies in the water. Now I was ready for lunch (yeah, lunch..boy did we get going late!) and Green Gables! We stopped at a little diner for lunch. I had a fish sandwich and Rich a hamburger and we shared an order of poutine. We have been seeing poutine on the menu all through canada and wondered what it was. Poutine is a heart attack on a plate, but boy do you go with satisfied taste buds! Poutine is french fries, drenched in gravy that is pure yumminess, then covered in melted cheese. So good, I cant even tell you...SOOOOOOO good. If you get a chance to taste poutine - do it! We headed off for Green Gables after lunch. Bought the combo ticket for the Green Gables Tour and the Lucy Maud Montgomery homestead tour. Saw a sign saying that the next tour was in 10 minutes...so waited, not very patiently I will admit. The little tour guide girl was not particularly knowlegable. In the reading I have done from the Anne books, and the biographical information I have read on Lucy Maud....I easily pointed out (not out loud, just to Rich) several inaccuracies in the information she was sharing. I started to get less patient..shifting my weight, just wanting to get off and see the house and stop listening. I was polite and quiet and remained with the tour. I was with Rich after all, infojunkie extraordinaire...the tour and information assimilation is what he loves best. Green Gables looked just as I imagined, just as Lucy Maid described in the books. I walked through the house noticing the tiniest details...even to the tiniest detail I found items described in the book throughout the house. One of the antique books in the bookcase was titled 'Uncommon Spunk' and I just laughed to myself, that describing Anne completely. I am sure the person who found that book and placed it on that shelf did so for exactly that reason, wondering how many people would notice and make the connection. I would have done something like that - and do quite often in theatre sets. We finished walking through the house, and then came the part I was looking forward to most. The walk through the haunted wood. The house was wonderful, but so concrete, as Anne would say 'it leaves little scope for the imagination' but the Haunted Wood...this was Anne's imagination come alive and I couldnt wait to let my imagination take flight with hers during this 45 minute stroll. It was beautiful. No sooner had we cleared sight of the land and I noticed some buttercups. I havent seen buttercups (that I noticed anyway, you know how that is..life gets busy and you dont notice) in 25 years. I quickly picked one, and held it under my chin asking Rich "Do you see yellow?" He replied "yes" to which I replied "that means I am in love" and kissed him. I then held the buttercup under his chin, saw yellow and told him that he was in love too. He was chuckling by this time, as you can imagine. As we walked...there were wildflowers...purples and oranges, and yellows, queen anne's lace and daisies, and dandilions. I couldnt help myself. I started picking a wildflower bouquet. Not a big one, rather small...one of each of the flowers as we travelled through the woods holding hands and talking about the books, and imagination, and each other. It was delightful. Those woods, that walk with flowers and Rich were the highlight of my trip so far. I cant explain why in words, it was just somehow a tremendously fulfilling experience on many levels. No trip is complete without a visit to the gift shop. Rich actually dragged me in there. I knew I wanted a shirt, but wasnt going to get 'presents' for myself on his birthday so I was walking on past. He bought me the shirt I liked that says "kindred spirits.' He also bought me paper dolls. I remember as a girl, everytime we went somewhere that was what I wanted from the gift shop - paper dolls. I am going to put these away in my Trunk of Memories at home. They will remind me of my trip to Green Gables, but also be a warm reminder of my childhood. We also got a couple of post cards. One of 'the bridge' and Rich found a bridge fact book and I realized how high that bridge really was over the water. Today, I will have to encounter it in the daylight. Scary.
We left Green Gables and headed off to find some caches, with a beach detour on the way. I wanted to go to the beach where there were 'white sands'. I found lots of amazing rocks on the beach. The water was off limits due to tremendous rip tides, but I did put my feet in and got more than I bargained for. Just at that moment there was a bigger wave that hit the shore and I ended up with my jeans wet to my knees. (Have I said they are having unseasonably cold weather? It has been jeans and sweatshirt weather here. No beach day today as the itinerary had planned) Since I was already wet, why not keep wading...so I did picking up beautiful stones from the shore. Rich laughed at my sweatshirt pouch full of rocks. He said "are you keeping those?" I said "yep"...he shook his head. It started to rain, and we went off to find a geocache up the road a piece. A lighthouse we thought. In the meantime I was shimmying out of my wet jeans and into a pair of sweats in the car. We found the cache amidst some of the beautiful red cliffs that we had seen from the distance. No lighthouse, but we found the information needed for the cache nontheless. I love seeing the smile of accomplishment on Rich's face when he finds a cache. I suspect it is similar to him liking to see the sparkle in my eye. We headed back to North Rustico at this point in time to find........duh duh duh duh....... #3 - LOBSTER
Prince Edward Island is famous for Lobster suppers. My taste buds have been tickled for days just waiting for this. We had dinner at Fisherman's Wharf, which from my research, was the home of the Lobster Supper. We had surf and turf...which came with all you can eat salad bar, all you can eat seafood chowder, all you can eat steamed mussels and a 1 lb lobster and a steak. Yum. It was all so good. After eating the salad, and the chowder and the mussels..finally the lobster came. I de-shelled Rich's lobster, then attacked my own with gusto. It was so good. So so so so so so so so good. I was stuffed and the meal came with dessert still to come! I had strawberry shortcake like my Mom used to make - on a biscuit not one of those sweet sponge things you get in the south. I ate the biscuit and left the strawberries - they were too sweet for a diabetic. Rich had lemon meringue pie and then they brought him chocolate cake with his birthday song and a sparkler. Happy two dessert supper for him!
That brings me to 4. Memories of Mom. So much of my childhood my parents and assorted others shook their heads at my imagination, verbosity, eccentricities. After reading the Anne Books I always imagined them saying 'that merrie girl' the way the folks in the book said 'that anne girl' Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was because I had perpetrated another mini disaster. Making breakfast all over the floor with the contents of the refridgerator, or making dinner of meatloaf with whole sausages and eggs scrambled into the middle (it was worse than dog food i assure you) ...from spilling paint that I had used to anchore my fort in the basement, to falling in the water on a bull frog catching hunt. Heads shaking...and 'that merrie girl' was always what I imagined them saying. Particularly Mom. I was a walking talking foreign language to my mother. She never tried to quell my imagination though, just.....much like the practical Marilla from the Anne books...keep my head out of the clouds enough to deal with reality. This place...PEI......my Mother would have loved it here. Every new turn in the road bringing such incredible views of the ocean my mother loved...I would think of her. She was truly with me yesterday. I felt her all day. I felt like I had brought her with me, and she was sharing in this island she would have loved so much. I miss her, still sometimes it is an ache...sometimes a smile where I think of her...sometimes.....I see someone in a restaurant who, for a fleeting moment makes me think "oh, there's mom". I have been aware this whole trip that it culminates with her Memorial Service...It makes me want the trip to linger. I dont know if I am ready to put her to rest. I like her taking vacations with me.
Ok....time to get moving for the day.......
'that merrie girl' hasnt even made coffee yet and I promised I would!
Monday, July 6, 2009
The past few days have been all about %'s. % of time left to drive, % of rain expected, % of the trip budget left to spend, % of fear anticipated as the ginormous bridge to PEI looms in my future. Just call me the percentage girl! Being a percentage girl must be better than being an imaginary number, right?
Anyway......We drove for 13 hours yesterday from Cote de St. Anne Beaupre to Brackley Beach on Prince Edward Island. It was dark, so I havent seen anything yet, and we have internet so havent motivated ourselves much. We have been checking mail and looking at facebook. If I could nudge the Birthday Man into the shower, we might get moving. I do hesitate to nudge him on his birthday, if he wants to surf the net, surf he will! I am attempting patience. This is the location I have been looking forward to the most. I grew up loving Lucy Maud Montgomery's 'Anne' books. I cant even tell you how many times I have read them. Over and over and over and over and over. I think I am a great deal like Anne....a bit of a flibbertygibbet who lives in her imagination...adores the people she adores....reviles those who she perceives as cruel....struggles with petty ignorance....and craves reading and learning and exploring new things. Every day is an adventure full of flowery descriptive language. Yep...she is a lot like me. Anyway....I want to see Cavandish (the real Avonlea) and walk through Green Gables, and the Haunted Wood, and the White Way of Delight...and Lovers Lane. Yes, I want to walk through Anne's world of my imagination. I can be patient though. yes I can. really i can....i can :(
So we finished listening to the book the 5 Languages of Love on the drive yesterday, and had a really interesting discussion about which type each of us is. I use 'quality time, quality communication' as my love language. Rich's love language is 'service'. No surprise really, but lots of good suggestions about how we can learn to speak each other's language of love. No matter what, it inspired lots of good conversation.
We drove over so many bridges yesterday. I couldnt even count. As a result, I didnt do my usual car dozing. Too nervous...so nervous all day, especially knowing the day would end with that massive bridge to PEI.
We stopped for dinner and shared a fisherman's platter. Clams - whole clams - YUM! Everything else was fine, but I had been wanting some clams. In the south they consider clam strips to be clams...I consider that to be battered and fried rubber bands. All of the flavor is in the belly . I dont understand why anybody would want to eat just the 'strip'! I bought a piece of carrot cake, and planned to eat it about an hour prior to the PEI Bridge..hoping it would make me pass out and put me out of the inevitable misery looming in my future. I ate it, in plenty of time for it to have put me to sleep - no such luck. I was too nervous and too worked up to sleep.
So.....the bridge. OMG.......8 miles over ocean. Unlike the bridge over Lake Ponchetrain, which is a long bridge but low to the water, this bridge was high up..so so high up all the way. The whole 8 miles (13 kl) over the Northumberland Strait. It was raining, and the wind was howling and the car was shaking and I was just begging Rich to slow down. I think I did pretty well. I didnt cry, I didnt scream, I didnt hyperventilate. I am sure I was white as a ghost, but after a day of bridge sentitization I think I did pretty well. Rich's opinion on that might differ.
We checked into our hotel and discovered that we have a mini apartment for the price of a hotel room! I wish we were staying a week! We have a living room with a television and vcr dvd combo (they check out movies), a bathroom, a kitchenette, and a separate bedroom. It is very nice. It is also very hot. There is an air conditioner, but I have never been near one that worked quite so poorly. We jumped right into bed last night, but neither of us fell asleep easily because It took so long for the room to cool down.
Up this morning, had breakfast....fruit and granola and peanut butter wheat toast for me....lucky charms and wheat toast for the Birthday Man. Whenever he finishes surfing and showers we will head off. It will be soon I can only hope!
a Prince Edward Island Lobster Supper Seafood Extravaganza is on the menu tonight!!!!!
Then maybe the drive in theatre. We are staying right next to the drive in..how fun is that????? Smiles, remembering the last time I went to the drive in.
So....moving out of the % zone...today, very little chance of showers and the likelihood of a good time is high!
Information about 'the bridge' http://www.confederationbridge.com/en/
Sunday, July 5, 2009
We have had a very busy couple of days!
On Friday we drove all day...in the rain...and the fog....on roads no person should have to navigate. I think all of Canada is under road construction. We drove through Montreal ...and at first blush I was glad it wasnt one of the cities we had decided to stop. I slept a lot, read a lot. Unfortunately I also got sick a lot. Car sick :( I dont know why, I dont ussually get car sick. I read "The Friday Night Knitting Club" it was so sweet and poignant and I loved it. We had dinner at an A&W Rootbeer in Quebec and marvelled at how in Ontario the signs are in French and English (since both are the National Languages) and as soon as we crossed into Quebec the signs were in French only. So....I tried to order my dinner in French at the A & W and realized rather quickly that I dont really speak french anymore, and they talk so fast that I cant even understand them...so I stood there looking like a dumbstruck fool....and tried a combination of pointing and sign language to communicate what I wanted.
We arrived at our Bed and Breakfast in Cote de St. Anne Beaupre very late - 10:30 in the evening and didnt even check to see if there was internet, we fell into bed exhausted and looked at each other..and tossed and turned and turned and tossed. The bed was sincerely the most uncomfortable bed I have had to sleep in - ever. Morning came slow, always does when you toss and turn and it seemed like no sooner had I fallen into a good sleep than Rich woke me up because it was about to be past time for the breakfast service. Breakfast was good. A cheese omlette, lots of fresh fruit and whole wheat toast...and much needed coffee! After breakfast I turned on my computer to blog and realized that there was no internet! (gasp gasp gasp) It was at this point Rich got a call from his sister that his father was in the hospital. We worried, and planned how to return to Massachusetts immediately if we didnt hear good news shortly. We called my Dad and he offered to visit Dad -in-law in the hospital which made me feel better.
We headed out for our day. When we had arrived it was dark and I didnt realize how absolutely beautiful it was. A feast for the eyes. We were right there on the St. Lawrence.....with Ile De Orleans across the river from us...so lush and green. It was beautiful. First stop was the big catholic cathedral in Cote De St. Anne Beaupre. I have visited lots of cathedrals and churches - I love looking at the architecture and stained glass and expanses of marble. I have never seen one this amazing. The walls and the arched ceilings were all done in mosaic, not just patterns, but actual pictures in mosaic. It was a feast for the eyes. I just stood there, it seemed like for a long time, looking around in wonder. I had to move closer to one of the walls to see how the mosaic was done. I cant imagine the amount of time that was spent on primitive scaffolding painstakingly placing tile after tile to create the pictures covering the ceiling archways.
We looked around for quite a while, and left to head for Montmercy Falls. We followed the signs and found it without a bit of trouble. In fact, we had seen the falls on our way in the night before. They were lighted. We headed in, and discovered that the Visa machine was out of order...and we had no money in canadian. The young man in the booth was kind enough to direct us to 'desjardins' and I was thinking....why is he sending us to the gardens????? DesJardin is the bank, and the ATM was friendly enough to dispense Rich as much $Canadiene as he liked. We then went into the park.
I know I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that I am terrified of bridges. My mother was terrified of bridges and I think it rubbed off. It is a completely irrational fear, but I cant help it. I had dreamed the night before about crossing a bridge...a footbridge...and it shaking like someone was trying to shake me off, then something stilled it and I crossed to safety. I decided, when I saw the footbridge crossing the top of the falls that It was an omen that I should try to overcome this fear, make Rich happy and my Mother proud and cross. So I did. The falls are 30M higher than the falls at Niagara and beautiful, but I have to admit that on the way across I didnt look anywhere but at my feet with a deathgrip on the handrail. I made it though, and after walking a bit, crossing a second footbridge over a gorge and back....on the reverge trip over the falls I looked and it was breathtaking. I was pumping adrenaline and so excited to have conquered my fear, for at least a moment. There is a very good french restaurant overlooking the falls called Manoir Montmercy and we had lunch there. I had a lamb burger with salad and home made chips. Rich had the bison burger and then he had cheesecake! We called Dad, and the news about my father in law was good...fever was down, and they felt like they had it handled. Deep sigh of relief. Rich called his mom and sister just to confirm, and we both felt better and were less worried. We found a cache, the first in Quebec, and headed into Quebec City.
Quebec City was beautiful. A city of dichotemy..the old mingled with the new, neither overshadowing the other but a seemingly perfect complement. We went to the Parliament Building and had a tour, it was interesting and the architecture was beautiful. We then headed off to find the Chateau Fountainbleu, which I had seen in pictures. We found it, found some street parking, and walked up some rather steep hills to old town Quebec. Old Town was like nothing I have ever seen. Well, that isnt true..there are a few buildings in Boston that reminded me of Old Town, but Boston didnt keep the integrity of their past. Old Town Quebec had retained all of the buildings, in beautiful condition from the 1700's. It was like walking into the past. So beautiful. It was also here that Rich decided that without Rosetta Stone instruction he was not taking me to France. I didnt understand enough. He decided this when I did not know what a Funiculaire was. He explained that it was an incline railway, and didnt I know what a Funicular was? Of course I didnt..and I assure you that the word Funniculaire was not in any french book I have studied. I do need the Rosetta Stone though...it was embarassing how I struggled to understand these people!
We left Quebec City and headed back towards Cote de St. Anne Beaupre. I had tagged a patisserie I wanted to visit and a Frommagerie. (pastry and cheese) that were a bit out of the way on back roads. We found the patisserie without a difficulty. I bought a Napoleon (my favorite sweet treat of all time) and Rich got a negrillon and a citrine. (brownie and lemon tart) and we got croissants for a mid morning snack today. We then tried to find a french bistro for dinner...we drove and drove without luck. We just pulled into a pizza buffet, ate hastily, went to the IGA for ice and baquettes and fruit, and back to the Bed and Breakfast.
I took a bath, Ate my Nepoleon, and climbed into bed to watch the Capital 4 fireworks. I was asleep withint 15 minutes and the sugar sent me into the deep blessed sleep that caused me not to wake up at every toss and turn.
We got up this morning, and headed off for Prince Edward Island. The scenery has been amazing - easily as beautiful as anything we saw on our trip to Alaska last summer. We have found two caches..and right now I am at the first rest area in New Brunswick at a free internet computer trying to catch up on my blogging. We are back to english signs and such.
Now...time for me to get back in the car.
Friday, July 3, 2009
The past two days we have woken up and looked at the weather channel predict thundershowers all day long. We have prepared with raincoats, but gone out to enjoy our day anyway. On Wednesday, it only rained for the thirty minutes we were inside the power station tour. Yesterday, it rained prior to our arrival at the zoo, and as we left but the entire 5 hours we were there - not a drop. It was overcast - perfect for a zoo day where the walk through the park is easily 5 miles. We werent hot, but nicely cool. My legs are sore this morning from the half mile steep hill down and then back up from the Canada section of the zoo. I degress......eh? That brings me to 'eh'. I knew Canadians said 'eh', but OMG at the end of everything they say almost! As a drama teacher I would be charging 25 cents for each use to try to train it out of the vocabulary as a lazy term like 'umm' or 'like'. I started off thinking it was darling, but after a day of listening I realized it was just a meaningless thing to stick at the end of a sentence to turn every statement into a pseudo question.
So.... yesterday morning we got a late start. Rich let me sleep in, which was nice. He was entering receipts and keeping up with expenditures. Then we had breakfast..I had yogurt and granola, he had cheerios and a zucchini muffin. No coffee....this hotel has the audacity to charge fifty cents for a crappy styrofoam cup of coffee. I refuse to pay it. No coffee until we are out and about for the day. Needless to say, makes for a cranky Merrie in the morning.
We finally got moving from the hotel room at 11am, and I suggested we shop at a shoe store. Rich needs new shoes. We got gas and coffee at Tim Horton's (like our Dunkin Donuts, one every block) and went to the outlet mall to look at shoes. Found perfect ones, but stubborn man that he is....he wouldnt buy them and I wasnt in the mood to convince so we left and headed off for Toronto.
It was a long drive and the roads were awful. I will never complain again about a US highway, honestly. It took us twice as long because it seemed like we were in traffic. You know, like the kind of traffic returning from the Cape the day after July 4th. We finally got to the zoo at 1, and picnicked in the car. I handed Rich his fruit first, he reluctantly ate it (he isnt a fruit fan but I am a fan of coercing him to eat right) then his carrot sticks, then his peanut butter and jelly (sugar free jelly) sandwich, then several voortman sugar free peanut butter wafer cookies. We passed the voortman factory between Niagara and Toronto, didnt know I had bought Canadian cookies in america!
We went into the zoo and I felt like a kid again. My grandmother took me to the zoo all the time...all the time. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve the smell of my Meme's perfume (tabu) mingled with the wonderful scent of Fanny the Elephant. We went to feed Fanny so often that I felt like she was a family Rich doesnt like zoos so I havent been to one since the last time my Meme visited Georgia when Laura was about two and we went to the Atlanta Zoo. I was almost trembling with excitement as we entered the zoo. The Zoo was broken into Geographical regions and our first stop was Australia and I wasnt disappointed. There was the most amazingly cute tree marsupial, his little hands wrapped around the trunk of the tree and he was sound asleep. I could have watched her sleep for a long time, but Rich eventually dragged me off and I wasnt disappointed. The kangaroos!!!!!!!!! I have never seen a zoo with kangaroos...and they were there, with their Joeys..hopping around. Oh it was so fun to watch them! Tigers, and emu, then on to the Eurasia section with oryx and camels, and a snow leopard with her two almost newborn cubs (to name a few it was an hour and a half loop through this section of the zoo), then..... oh then...we were headed to the reason for the trip. Moose sighting. We detoured to enjoy Beaver Tails (a delicious piece of fried dough the shape of a Beaver Tail. Mine was cinnamon sugar (i know i know, i shouldnt have) and Rich had one with chocolate all over the top) There was a brazen goose who tried to take a nibble of Rich's Beaver Tail as he lifted it to his mouth. It was so funny to watch him fight the goose for it!
Our treat finished, we were headed for the Canada section of the zoo. I was thinking...this must be the best section of this zoo....national pride and such..... we got close and saw signs..and suddenly I bagan to feel like Dorothy in the haunted wood. "Washrooms in this section not working, use the facilities up here", then "Steep hill not recommended for those in strollers or wheelchairs or who have a heart condition", then "It will take you an hour to complete this loop". I looked at Rich...and look determinedly down the hill - Moose are at the bottom. We began our descent. Down we went...down down down past chinatown down. We saw a racoon as we descended, and several cougar. These cages no doubt placed as teasers to keep the foolhardy engaged in the descent. At the bottom there were several sleeping Grizzly.....some Elk....and then....in the distance........a Moose. Just one, but there it was the Moose. I was so excited...for a moment...then my brow furrowed as the reality fully hit me. I had come down that hill to see this Moose and now I had to go back up. I looked at Rich, panic in my eyes...he patted a picnic bench and we sat......and like Jim and Sally in the Cat and the Hat book...we sat and we sat and we sat and we sat, but I didnt wish I had something to do. No - I wished the opposite that I could just live and sleep at the bottom of this hill. I did not want to go back up. So....we sat some more. The bathroom can be a powerful motivator however, maybe that is why the washrooms down in the bowels of the Canada section dont work. You have to go back up to find a washroom. So we ascended, I grumbled, panted, grumbled, cursed the Moose, cursed the Canadians in general and kept climbing climbing climbing climbing climbing climbing......................until I reached the first working washroom. Victory was mine..the Demon Hill had been vanquished at last!
On to Africa....and the most delightful episode of our zoo trip. The Apes. We sat on a bench next to a fellow in a wheelchair. The two young apes were playing, wrestling with each other right in front of the window and the fellow in the wheelchair started telling us all about the apes. He knew which one was which, when they were born and from which Mother ape. How they got along, who was the matriarch and the age of Charles the Silverback. I felt like we were hearing about them from someone who loved them, watched them every day and felt like part of their family - it made me feel like part of their family as well. I could have sat there for an entire day peaceful as could be watching those Apes. I think I did sit and watch them for about an hour when I noticed that Rich was gone. I turned to my new friend and said....oops...I think I need to find my spouse. I thanked him and reluctantly left him and my ape friends to go back out into the zoo. I caught back up with Rich at the other side of the Ape enclosure...he was watching Charles, the Silverback eating leeks and cauliflower. I smiled to see that he found them as fascinating as I did and off we went in search of Heffalumps and Woozles. We found Mandrills first...with a baby swinging from the ropes...such fun to watch but Rich tapped on the glass and beckoned with a finger and out I went to see the Elephants. They were cute, they were elephants, but they were not Fanny. I realized that I only had eyes for the one Elephant from my childhood - dear old Fanny. We went on - orangatangs! We saw one that reminded us of Laura - he had a blankie he just wouldnt let go of!
Then...we were done with the zoo. We had been there for 5 hours and I loved it, every minute of it...even the heart pumping hill trek. (My legs arent loving that this morning though)
Off we headed to find a geocache, it was close and an easy find. Then to Toronto...we were looking for a restaurant I had bookmarked. I had the address and the Nuvi took us right to it, but the restaurant wasnt there :( So...we picked another location I had an address for in downtown Toronto and headed into the city. It was a view of the city we never would have had. We werent seeing it like tourists, we drove through little portugual, chinatown, and other ethnic neighborhoods as we headed into the city. We saw the St. Lawrence market, and the theatre district,the CN Tower (tallest int he world), the Rogers Arena (largest retractable dome arena in the world), we drove on Yonge St (the longest street in the world) and the harbour and riverfront....and headed out of the city to find some dinner. Those Torontonians sure like to find their way into the Guiness Book of World Records. Lots of tallest, biggest, longests.
We pulled into a restaurant at 9:30. It looked like a dive, I didnt care. I was hungry. It had been a long time since that Beaver Tail. I ordered a New York Strip Steak, salad and taters. Rich ordered a big mouth burger. His was ok. My steak was the best cooked, best seasoned steak I have ever had. That meal could not have been more perfect! Score!
We got back on the road and arrived back at our hotel in Niagara at 11 PM and went straight to bed.
We head off this morning for Quebec - long travel day.
I will regale you with more of our trip tonight..same bat time, same bat channel.......
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
So.....today was Canada Day in Canada. Coincidence that, huh? Them celebrating their country IN their country. Seriously maple leafs everywhere, patriotim and national pride abounding. Made me think about our country which has little national pride anymore. So sad really.
Rich dragged me out of bed at 9am. I was just enjoying that bed so much I didnt want to get up, but once up I was off and running. Fed us both some zuccini muffins and juice, we showered and were off to the races...or racing towards Niagara Falls. When we finally came to a conclusion about where to park the day began with a trip to Starbucks and me enjoying an espresso truffle chocolate coffee...yum-o. Then we headed to the Maid of the Mist and put on our trashbag ponchos for the adventure.
The Falls are awe inspiring, but to be right there at the bottom of them.....the sound, the shaking of the earth from all of that water, the spray, the chill........beyond awe inspiring. It puts things into perspective. All of that Majesty and Wonder..that magnificence....nature wild and untamed... how could the petty difficulties matter in a cosmos of such wonder. I just let every little negative nelly thought go.....and enjoyed the rest of the day feeling my place in the universe..small and meek. (who believes I was meek...raise your hand.........anyone? anyone? dang it..I thought maybe I had somebody fooled)
We went to the Journey behind the falls...another one of those moments where you know your place in the universe...small...so very small. Standing behind the falls, watching all of those gallons of water falling in front of me...such power. Awe inspiring, truly. The Niagara's Fury movie thing...not awe inspiring..most disappointing. Save your money.
We then took the bus to the Sir Adam Beck II Power Generating Station and took a tour of this really awesome hydroelectric power plant. Reminded me that as a country we are stupid not to do more with alternative energy sources. That power plant powers most of Ontario with no waste, no pollution, using just a clean renewable resource - water.
Had a delicious pizza for dinner from a fabulous pizzaria I found on the food network site called Antica Pizzaria. Wood burn oven pizza. We had one with sausage, hot banana peppers and chili peppers. It was spicey and delicious. We then went and found a park bench...I leaned against Rich and read some more of Kafka on the Shore while he people watched and we both waited for the fireworks. Fireworks were a bit of a letdown. I mean..Canada in Canada at Niagara Falls who has fireworks nightly....I sort of thought these fireworks would rise to a level of a nearly religous experience. Nope....just the kind of fireworks I would see at home in Columbus.
Tomorrow we are going to Toronto to see some sights, find some caches and go to the ZOO!
Caches found today: 2
Cache Total: 8
Song of the Day: God Bless the USA by Lea Greenwood. I will feel patriotic even if I am alone doing it!