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Archive for the ‘At Water’s Edge Bed & Breakfast’ Category

Living on the “wet” coast, Remembrance Day in Port McNeill is more often than not drizzly, cold and grey. Seems appropriate somehow.  Most war movies include scenes of tanks and trucks bogged down in mud, soldiers wet and cold in foxholes. It’s the least I can do to stand at the cenotaph for an hour in the rain to honour the brave souls who fought.

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The number of veterans in our Remembrance Day parade gets smaller every year. It makes me teary to see men and women marching wearing medals, badges and insignia they earned at such a high price.  The vets that march in our parade now are ones who served in more recent conflicts like Afghanistan.

Years ago I started asking family members how war touched their lives.  Because he was born with only one arm, my Grandpa Collings couldn’t join the regular forces in England during WWII.  Instead he was active in the Home Guard spending evenings driving through the countryside to enforce blackout conditions.  My father remembers there was a shed on their farm full of dynamite and ammunition in case it because necessary to fight.  Fields on the family farm were pocked with shell craters.  The village school was bombed and completely destroyed.  Everyone knew the importance of diving under the beds during air raids.  That’s my Dad lower left…a little boy living in a country under attack.

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My great-uncle John was in the Royal Tank Corps.  That’s the unit recovering tanks from the battlefields.  When I visited England in the early 80’s he gave me a pin that he reckoned came from an Egyptian soldier’s hat. And I’ve always wondered…was the soldier killed on the battlefield?  My happy ending self wants to believe he simply lost his hat.

Leaving family and friends behind in small village England, my great-aunt Dorothy boarded a ship headed to Detroit Michigan to start a new life with her American GI. One of the thousands of war brides.  Not knowing that some day both her sons and a son-in-law would be drafted into the Vietnam War.  Two saw combat.  One was shot while flying in a helicopter.  All three came home forever changed.

My mother & father-in-law met while serving in the Canadian Air Force just after WWII.  Doug was a pilot, flying fighter aircraft during the Cold War.  A different time, Buddy had to quit when they got married. Stationed all across Canada, France & Germany.  My husband remembers whispered talk of the Cold War, nuclear bombs and Russia.

Another generation now wears a uniform…our nephew Stewart right now as a Corporal in the Canadian military.  A journeyman power engineer on a base in Quebec.  We know what he agreed to when he signed up and my prayer is…well…you know what the prayer is.

I think of myself as anti-war but pro-military.  This proud Canadian wears a poppy, will stand at the Cenotaph on Friday and then go to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 281 afterwards to shake hands with veterans and thank them from the bottom of my heart for their service.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Robert Laurence Binyon

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We woke up in Waterloo, Iowa this morning ready to kick bad weather’s butt and we didn’t have to wait long.  An interesting day where sometimes we chased the storm and other times it chased us.  The air is much cooler so I wore 3 layers and completely covered my face trying to stay warm in the rain.

Having access to only one Harley dealership on Vancouver Island the novelty hasn’t worn off for us to stop almost every time we see the insignia.

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Coincidentally I was taking a picture when Chris handed me the coffee mug.  He has a cup holder up front so we share coffee or cold drinks throughout the day. Today that beautiful black liquid was keeping our insides warm on the coldest day in weeks.

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Hello Minnesota !!  Don’t know much about you except two Port McNeill lads played NHL hockey for Minnesota Wild and you’re famous for cheese.  We stopped at a family restaurant where we carb loaded big time.  You can’t see the plate in front of me with raisin bread French toast.

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We rode through storm after storm and every time we stopped people asked where we’re from and where we’re headed.  We’ve stopped trying to explain we live on Vancouver Island.  It’s easier to say we’re from Vancouver.  Many Americans have heard of it — but if not we say we’re a day’s drive north of Seattle.  That always works!!

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We pulled into a casino late this afternoon looking for a room but all they had left was one suite for almost $400.  Nope !!  Really they just saved me from myself because I sure like playing slot machines.  So we’re back to one of our default hotels Holiday Inn Express which happens to be in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  They’re a going concern today with a wedding here in the hotel and a big race tonight at the Badlands Motor Speedway just down the road.  Tomorrow we’re aiming for Kadoka, South Dakota.

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Love & hugs from the road…

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How apt that thunderstorms were forecast this morning as we made our way to Williamstown, Kentucky to visit Ark Encounter, a life-size Noah’s Ark.  Locals tell us it’s the most rain they’ve had in ages and we kept rain gear on all day.

Only open for 2 months we were impressed how organized the whole property is from the acres of parking to the efficient people mover buses that leave every few moments.  I heard a little boy say “wow” when the Ark came into view.

For the loggers in our lives the Ark was made with 3.1 million board feet of timber and is the biggest timber frame structure in the world.  At 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high it’s HUGE !!

A staff member told us it cost $100 million to build and can hold up to 10,000 guests at a time.

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The attraction has many detractors because of the fundamentalist creationist belief but for Chris and I it was an amazing experience.  It’s a story in a book that I respect and whether historically accurate or not it’s a story shared by many cultures.

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There are displays explaining how Noah & his family may have fed and cared for the animals.  And I had song stuck in my head all day I learned at bible summer camp “the animals, they came, they came in by twosies, twosies, elephants and kangaroosies, roosies, children of the Lord.”  And while we’re walking along we noticed the soundtrack with animal noises and music befitting any Cecil B. Demille biblical movie.

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We spent a few hours walking through all three levels and probably if we’d been wearing runners instead of our bike boots would have stayed longer.  Emzara’s Restaurant (named for Noah’s wife) was also a marvel with seating for 1500 people.  With most students back at school we were told the past few days had been a bit slower than the up to 4000 guests a day earlier in the summer.

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Leaving the Ark we headed into Williamstown to find somewhere to sit down with our iPads and figure out where to spend the night.  Driving down the Main Street I saw “wifi” out of the corner of my eye and we turned in at Elmer’s General Store. Part general store/old fashioned ice-cream parlour/cafe/music lesson & instrument repair shop and live music venue it is a gem !!!!

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Over a hot cup of coffee we chatted with Megan, one of the store owners, who is a professional performer and when we lamented we hadn’t yet heard any Kentucky bluegrass she and Elmer got up on stage and started playing for us.  Goosebumps galore as they played a few of their own originals as well as Dolly Parton’s song “Jolene” and from Grease “You’re the One That I Want.”  We walked away with a signed copy of Megan’s CD and awe that a simple cup of coffee morphed into a bluegrass concert.

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We are overnighting in Harrison, Ohio and we keep asking each other “which state are we in again?”  Tomorrow we’ll be crossing into Illinois.

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Love & hugs from the road…

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We’ve had a couple of adventurous days here on Geezer Tour 2016.  Yesterday morning we said goodbye to friends in Hartsville, South Carolina.  Many thanks Miss Gwen & Mr. Ron for the two day vacation within a vacation at your beautiful lakefront home.  Yayyyyy for air-conditioning and floating in your pool for hours with cold drinks, laughing and carrying on.  And Gwen, those frozen bottles of water and snacks you packed for us were a godsend.

Not even an hour down the road from Hartsville we developed a wobbly front tire. Good thing we were on a secondary road with very little traffic and Chris quickly pulled over to investigate.  The front wheel bearings failed so it was time to make some phone calls.  For the first time we used our Harley Owner Group membership card and calling the 800 number Chris talked to a very helpful lady named Martha in Miami who after ensuring we weren’t injured, or in need police assistance promised a tow truck.  We got out our lawn chairs, found a patch of shade and waited.

Team effort from Chris and our tow truck driver Dan had the bike and trailer loaded and off we went to the Harley dealer in Charlotte, North Carolina.  We’ve had such interesting chats with total strangers.  We found out Dan makes more money with his tow truck & auto body shop than he did as a policeman.  What a shame because he obviously really enjoyed police work but it didn’t pay enough to support his wife and daughter.

image.jpegThe service department at Harley were absolute rock stars taking the bike right into the shop, promising us we’d be on the road quickly.  We had time to walk across the parking lot to IHOP for a huge plate of strawberry banana pancakes.  By 2:30 we were on the road again and headed north.

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A trip to Boone had been recommended by friends and I’m sorry we weren’t able to stop and visit.  What a beautiful little town and it was bustling with university students returning to school.  Who knew we’d be passing through Daniel Boone country.

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We started seeing kudzu in North Carolina and Tennessee.  An invasive species that someone brought over from Asia, it completely covers everything in its path – buildings, power poles and grows right to the road when left unchecked.

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We finally crossed the Tennessee border just before dark !!

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What a wonderful welcome we had waiting for us. We stayed with a dear friend I’ve know for more than 40 years.  Donna and I met in senior public school back in Welland, Ontario.  We met her husband Tony and children Anthony, Peter & Laurenne.  Bless their hearts they held dinner for us.  It was very European eating a full pasta & roast beef dinner at 10pm.  Donna remembered that Black Forest cake is my favourite and everyone sang happy belated birthday while I blew out the candles (apparently I’m only 51-years-old lol).  One by one everyone else went to bed until Donna and I were left dangling our legs in the pool playing the “remember the time” and “whatever happened to so and so” game until the wee hours.

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I’m a morning person not a night owl so I had a bit of a tired hangover this morning.  Nothing a breakfast of champions couldn’t fix — a chocolate, cream cheese strudel and ice-water.  Our bodies will go into absolute shock when we get home and start eating salads and fruit again 😉

We’ve been cut off by vehicles before but today was the first time we had a house turn right in front of us.  We also passed a federal penitentiary this afternoon with inmates working in the fields picking watermelon.  Made me think of the lyrics “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

The cement angels caught my eye when we stopped for a water break.  And while I was taking the picture a van pulled over to make sure we were okay.  Just one of the many times strangers have checked on us when we’re pulled over.

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The weather channel on the radio started reporting thunderstorms headed our way and after being pelted with rain for about 10 minutes we pulled off the highway for a coffee and put on our raincoats.  The last hour of the trip was very uncomfortable and we were happy to pull into Georgetown, Kentucky for the night.  The wet clothes have been washed and dried in the hotel laundry room and Papa John Pizza delivered our dinner right to the door.

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To recap — we’ve been traveling for almost 2 months, gone 13,267 kilometers, fueled the bike 78 times, passed through 9 provinces & 12 states, stayed in dozens of hotel rooms and with family & friends.  Tomorrow we’re going to have a look at a re-creation of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky and after that we’re westward bound and home again to Vancouver Island.

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Love & hugs from the road…

 

 

 

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Fog was a pleasant surprise this morning giving us almost an hour of not so tropical heat.  By the time we stopped for breakfast it was…wait for it…HOT.  First we stopped to investigate the start of a bike rally hosted by Bikers for Kids.  A veteran who served in Iraq and deals with PTSD started the group to help others. All funds from today’s event goes to Special Olympics.  We couldn’t participate in the rally but we bought a few t-shirts to help the cause.

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We enjoyed a huge artery slammer breakfast at The Waffle House where everything is slathered in butter and white is your only bread choice.  And it was the first time I’ve seen someone packing heat.  Plain as day — nothing concealed about it.  A man with a Glock 9mm on his hip with a spare mag.  I want to make a cheeky remark but can’t.  This man was eating breakfast in a restaurant and he was armed.

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Some of the things that make me unhappy traveling on the motorcycle are drivers texting or talking on their cell phones, vehicles that feel the need to pass us and then promptly cut right in front of us.  And how about this driver who thought it was a good idea to travel on a busy road pulling a gigantic load of hay.  Obviously it’s far too small a truck to be pulling such a load.

Just outside of Charlotte, South Carolina we got stuck in traffic that lasted for many miles.  Very difficult for the bike and for us to be stop/start for so long without shade.  What a relief to take the exit onto a secondary road.   And on days like today we are very careful to stay hydrated and apply sunscreen often.

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For the next two nights we’re in Hartsville, SC where our friends Gwen & Ron live on Lake Robinson.  The hottest lake I’ve ever felt — seriously it’s hotter than a hot tub.  Far more refreshing is the pool in the backyard where we took our cold drinks and floated for hours.  We enjoyed a home cooked meal with fresh corn & bbq steak and just like we always do we picked up where we left off last time we saw each other.

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Tomorrow we’ll do a little sightseeing and I’m pretty sure we’ll be back in the pool.  It was another wonderful day riding down the road to see what’s around the next corner.

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Love & hugs from the road…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We woke up to thunder and lightning this morning but didn’t have to wait long for skies to brighten enough for us to don rain gear and hit the road.  Thankfully by our first stop for a leg stretch it had stopped raining.  And the temperature was infinitesimally less hot — cooler just isn’t the correct word in this climate.

Signs have been very entertaining on this trip and I mean no disrespect to the Nutter Brothers who were the first settlers in the area — the name struck my funny bone.

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We crossed into Virginia this afternoon and stopped at the Welcome Centre.  A great resource with maps, free wifi, vending machines, clean bathrooms and informative staff.  And I enjoyed the free peanuts !!

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We traveled through two tunnels today and I noticed that people don’t drive with their lights on here like they do at home.  Multiple signs asking motorists to turn lights on before entering the tunnels were largely ignored.

image.jpegWhytheville, Virginia was originally a strategic stop on our way to South Carolina. Driving down the Main Street we came across the intriguing looking Bolling Wilson Hotel.  Lucky for us they had a room available and it’s one of the nicest rooms we’ve had on our trip.  Population approximately 8200 and everyone is so polite asking “how are y’all doing today?”  We just love the accent here.  And for my cousin Brian the picture of Skeeters is for you.  They’ve been making hotdogs since 1935.

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After spending some time in our air-conditioned room we went up to “The Perch” the hotel’s rooftop open air bar and enjoyed the view along with a cold beverage.

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Making our way downstairs to “The Graze on Main” restaurant we sat on the front porch of the hotel.  I had an orange infused Virginian beer which went perfectly with bacon wrapped meatloaf and garlic mashers.  We had a lovely chat with a local couple and then we met Bill, the owner of the hotel.  All in all a very memorable day thanks to the kind folks of the Virginias.   The incredible scenery is surpassed only by your hospitality.

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Tomorrow we make our way into South Carolina to spend a few days with dear friends that used to live on Vancouver Island.  I predict storytelling and much laughter.

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Love & hugs from the road…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The motorcycle turned into the driveway at my mother’s apartment building in Welland, Ontario on July 27th and it’s been a whirlwind of family reunions, shopping, sightseeing and so much laughter.  We had a few days catching up with my Mom before our daughter Megan and our two-month-old grandson Bowen flew out from Vancouver Island to join us.

GG (Great-Grandma) and Great Auntie Betty both met Bowen for the first time and fell instantly in love — as we all have. It’s amazing how one little boy can be so entertaining.  Better than TV we watched Bowen constantly waving his arms and legs and sharing his adorable, impish grin.

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Our first family party was in St. Catharines with Chris’s side of the family.  The lower left picture is Chris with our niece Jenna.  We joked how amazing it was to see her two years in a row after attending her wedding last May.  Next up Great Aunties Robynne and Rilla visiting with their great-nephew giving us another one of his interesting facial expressions 😀

A very sweet moment was our great-niece Sloane presenting a gift to the baby. Sloane is 3-years-old and just adorable.  So bright and smiley and a reminder to us how literal little people can be.  Sloane’s momma Shannon looks like she’s having quite a serious conversation with Bowen.  We found out Shannon is going back to school to get a Master’s Degree to become a vintner.  Seems fitting that our nephew Jamie is an award winning brewmaster and his sister will be a wine scientist !!!  Thanks to you all for carving out a night to spend time with us.

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A few days later in St. Catharines 5 generations of family gathered to celebrate my Nana Collings 96th birthday.  You’d have thought we were at an awards ceremony with paparazzi taking thousands of pictures.  Nana held Bowen (who is the youngest) in the picture with her great and great-great-grandchildren.  The next picture is Nana surrounded by her own children: sitting beside her my father Bill, and in the back row is Liz, Jill, Ben, Dave & Josie.  My Uncle Owen from BC wasn’t able to make it.

And a very special moment was our own 5 generation picture with my Nana, my Dad,  Megan, Bowen and I.  It was wonderful to see my Dad’s cousin Janice from Detroit who made the long drive for lunch and headed back again right after.  My Uncle Dave joked that I’m not as young as I think I am — it was 50 years ago that I was the flower girl at his wedding.  I met cousin’s spouses and children for the first time and reconnected with cousins I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager.  The guest of honour looked lovely in lilac and reminded us all to appreciate every day we’re given.  And thanks Nana for paying for brunch for the whole lot of us.  I’m sure I won’t have bacon & chocolate covered fruit on my plate together at the same time anytime soon.

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Taking some time to sightsee we spent an afternoon in Niagara Falls.  Like a mini Vegas — Clifton Hill is very crowded on a hot day in August and hard for an easily distracted person like me to have to watch where I’m going with so much going on.  So excited to be on an adventure our great niece Sloane told us Niagara Falls is her favourite place.  That’s perfect because she lives there lol.

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The hot and humid weather has been challenging even with air-conditioned cars, homes and stores.  We happily took my cousin Stuart up on the offer to swim in his pool.  Bowen wasn’t crazy about being woken up with his feet in cool water but I suspect he’s a water baby just like his Mom.  When I saw that slide I couldn’t resist and no I’m not sharing those pictures with you !!  My heart was just pounding when I hit the water but what a rush !!  Stuart & Mandy we are thankful for those few moments of respite from the heat.  image.jpeg

The next adventure was a road trip to Haliburton where my brother Dan, sister-in-law Sue and our niece Vivian live on a beautiful treed 40 acre property with a river running through.  We sure appreciated having a camper/trailer in the driveway providing separate sleeping quarters for Megan & Bowen, Chris & I.  And oh happy day it was air-conditioned which we really appreciated the first night.

Saturday August 6th we all headed to Lake of Bays for the Kennedy family reunion.  This year’s theme was Wild, Wild West and I was on Calamity Jane’s Posse.  What a thrill to be on the winning team and have my name on this year’s trophy.  I won the Spelling beans competition by being the first one to open a can of baked beans, pour them out onto a tray and spell the word “chow” with my bare hands.  The festivities came to a close with my brother playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes while the sun set.

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Sunday night we celebrated two August birthdays — mine & our niece Vivian’s.  We had a wonderful dinner in Norland, then headed back to Haliburton for cake & champagne.  What an amazing few weeks it was to be surrounded by relatives.

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There are so many people to thank: Chris’s family for hosting a wonderful bbq & get together, Auntie B for our own room & use of the Betty Boop mobile.  You’re an awesome roomie and I’m so glad you’re on Facebook.  Thanks to my Mom for giving up her bedroom for all of us and making space for so many extra bodies, loaning us your cool car and making sure we had loonies multiple loads of laundry.  Thanks to my honey for renting a van so we could travel comfortably up north.  And my apologies to friends and family we weren’t able to visit because we plumb ran out of time.  Tomorrow we get back on the bike and head south into New York State heading for friends in South Carolina.

Love & hugs from the road…

 

 

 

 

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