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Summer doesn’t officially end for a few days, but fall is quickly showing its muscle.  Shorter days, Canadian Geese flying in formation and finally after one of the driest summers — blessed rain !!  One of my favourite parts of autumn is the cool, crisp breeze that comes in off the ocean.  Wish I could bottle that fragrance up and sell it.

The summer months were jam packed and action filled.  Not as many motorcycle trips as we would have liked but it is hard to beat last year’s 2 1/2 month North American trek. We managed a few mini vacays traveling with friends and family and the bike will NOT go back into storage until the last day of September when the insurance expires for the season.  We live so far away from most of our family so it’s such an event when they come to visit us in Port McNeill.  My brother & cousin rode their Harleys across Canada and we were thrilled they carved out three nights to spend time with us.  Much laughing over a few cold drinks !!  With her new hip and so much more mobile than when I saw her in March, my Mom just flew home to Ontario after being here for 3 weeks.  We chatted.  We shopped.  We ate bad snacks.  And GG (great-grandma) got lots of quality time with Bowen.  My Mom’s cousin Judy and her friend John come up from Washington State for a mini family reunion while GG was here.  Their moms grew up in Saskatchewan and then one went east to Ontario and one went west to Vancouver and then on to Seattle.

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1) Trip to Hornby & Denman Islands with fellow bikers  2) My brother Dan and cousin Brian posing in front of the Whale Interpretive Centre at Telegraph Cove 3) Our daughter Megan, her husband Justin and their adorable son Bowen were all in a wedding party 4) My Mom & Bowen at our regular Friday night Legion dinner

I’ve been dragging my feet for two days now trying to decide which pictures encapsulated our summer.  Then realized I’ve used most of the best ones in previous posts or on Facebook.  So I started thinking in overall themes: people, flowers & north island scenery.

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1 & 2 taken at Shepherd’s Garden near Port McNeill.  3) Alert Bay Ecological Park and 4) The Community Garden at St. John Gualbert Church in Port McNeill

Thanks to Mackay Whale Watching for the unforgettable moments out in the Broughton Archipelago.  Twice in two weeks I was out on the Naiad jumping up and down with glee to see orca & humpback whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea lions.  Over almost 20 years I’m sure Chris and I have taken thousands of whale pictures.  The majority of them are little black dots or splashes of water on the surface.  Although enlarged and cropped this is by far the best shot of an orca in our collection.

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1) Orca spyhopping taken onboard Mackay Whale Watching vessel the Naiad a few weeks ago 2) smoky sunrise the result of forest fires in the Interior of BC 3) after the smoke cleared we went back to our normal morning view 4) one of the beautiful giants at the Alert Bay Ecological Reserve

It’s time to start getting the garden and yard ready for winter.  Chris and I are happy to get back to the gym this morning and start back on a much healthier eating plan after slacking off most of the summer.  So long carbs…hello lean protein and salads 😇 Chips & dip I will miss you *sigh*

Here’s a challenge for you.  Do more of what makes you happy.  What does that look like for you this autumn?  I’ve got a stack of books to read.  Information to add to the family tree on ancestry.ca.  Umpteen crafting projects to finish.  An online photography course to get through.  Happy Autumn 🍂🍁

Hugs from the beach…

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Day two of our most excellent adventures.  This morning our host Ro dropped off our breakfast at the front door before she left for work.  Fresh rhubarb muffins with fruit & yoghurt parfaits to go with our coffee. Wonderful !!  Meeting up with the rest of the badass posse (and I manage to say this with a totally straight face) we headed for the Hornby Island ferry.  It’s great that motorcycles are sent to the head of the line so we’re always first ones off the vessel.

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Our first stop off the ferry was the Cardboard Bakery which had been recommended by two locals.  We could smell baking before we even finished parking.  Food is a very important part of this trip !!  Wandering into the adjoining gift shop the owner recommended I try on a beautiful tie-dyed flowing top.  Love ❤️ it.  How did she know I’d been calling myself a hippy dippy grandma a few days ago?

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Reading the pizza menu we debated whether we should hang around for lunch but thought we’d better go see a bit more of the island.  Seeing a crowd at this funky looking building with the grass roof we asked someone what was going on.  Farmer’s Market we were told — happens twice a week all summer.

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Have to tell you it was the funkiest most eclectic market we’ve ever seen.  Wandering through the forest we chatted with quilters, glass blowers, listened to two young girls singing and playing the ukulele.  Buskers & entrepreneurs of all ages.  Selling everything from quilts to popcorn.

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With limited room for purchases all I came away with was two bars of soap.  Another few minutes down the road we found another market full of gift shops and cafes.  Chris holds our shared beer beside my amazing lunch at Forage Cafe.  A burger made with local beef, fresh greens & veggie salad and a side of organic veggie chips.  Mmm mmm.

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Next was our mission to find the sandy beaches we’d heard so much about.  We think this may be Whaling Station Bay.  We didn’t waste any time shedding shoes and socks to dip our feet.

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And Chris here’s our new summer home on the point.  Right after we win the lottery 😉 Real estate prices are crazy here.  Renting a house on the beach here can run up to $3000 a week.

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Beach #2 was Tribune Bay.  Rougher water but still warmer than swimming at our beach.    Chris and Rob gamely waded in and the rest of us cheered them on from shore.  Whoops I forgot my bathing suit back at the cottage.

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This picture of Jackie & Rob sums up the trip.  A good time was had by all.  We’re talking about possibilities for our next adventure.  Who knows where but we’ve decided it should be sooner rather than later.  Hopefully this summer we can all carve out a few more days and ride.

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In case you’re wondering about Chuck Norris — Google memes for Chuck and you’ll see some of the silly sayings that had us laughing uproariously today.  “Chuck was bitten by a snake — and it died two days later.”  That’s just how tough Chuck is.

Tomorrow we pack up to head home.  Not in any rush I suspect it will take us most of the day.  We’ll drag out the time away as long as possible.

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Hugs from the road…

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Six friends on four motorcycles exploring two islands in two days.  Okay that’s way too long for a song title but perfectly describes today’s adventure.  Meeting up at the gas station this morning at 8:00 all six of us were looking forward to our mini vacay.  Moments down the highway I realized that perhaps I was a bit too hasty leaving the leather chaps behind.  It may be the middle of July but North Island mornings are still cool.  Nope, correction.  Make that cold.  Thankfully I was wearing my plug-in jacket which kept my core warm.

Heading south on Highway 19 we fell into an easy rhythm.  Rob & Jackie were lead bike, followed by Debbie, then her husband Ken and we brought up the rear.  In absolutely no hurry we stopped at the Cable House Cafe in Sayward for coffee and toast.  Ask for the Brazil nut butter !!  Next stop was Campbell River for groceries and fuel.  And finally after years of driving right past, today we took the time to stop for a meal at the Highwayman in Union Bay.  A bike friendly pub with cool motorcycle decor inside and out.  A mug of Sleeman’s beer went perfectly with fresh fish & endless fries.

Next up the Buckley Bay ferry terminal on our way to Denman Island.  No point wandering away from the bikes — it’s only a ten minute ferry ride.  Thanks very much to the BC Ferries employee who suggested we add all the fares together on an Experience Card.  We saved a whopping 40%.   Off the ferry we followed the winding road to Blue Owl Cottage where the other two couples are staying.  And then on to our accommodations at “The Cottage” just around the corner.  For the next two nights we’re laying our happy heads in a very comfortable two bedroom cottage that’s completely outfitted with everything we need.

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Meeting back up with the group we hit the road again to explore the island.  It didn’t take very long.  Denman is just over 19 square miles with a very rural feel.  There are many acreages and farms.  Some with incredible ocean views.   Population approximately 1,000 Denman has a small village centre with General Store, Hardware, Book & Gift Shop and Community Centre.

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Taking our steaks & deli salads over to Blue Owl for a group barbecue we shared a few stories and lots of laughs.  We heard some embarrassing moments, talked about politics south of the border, our kids and grandkids and how much we all love living in a small town.

Tomorrow we’ll get on another ferry to head over to Hornby Island.  They call themselves the Jewel of the Salish Sea and their slogan is “so good, we hid it behind two islands.”  Hearing about their beautiful sandy beaches we’ve got our bathing suits and towels packed up and ready to go.

Now it’s time to call it a day.  All that fresh air has us yawning.

Hugs from the road…

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New Year’s Eve without the headache?  Quite simple actually.  Stay home, drink tea and tune into CNN to see how long it takes Kathy Griffin to have Anderson Cooper giggling with embarrassment.  Less than one minute by the way.  Being three hours ahead of New York we didn’t have to force ourselves to stay up to midnight. Yup — that’s how we rolled this New Year’s Eve.

Year in review shows were a blur of conflicts & terrorism, celebrity deaths and scientific breakthroughs.  For me 2016 was made up of more highs than lows with lots of in betweens.  Cycle of life stuff.  One of the most amazing moments of my life was being part of Team Megan in the delivery room the day our grandson was born.  Our daughter was so brave and a marvel to behold from the first contractions to the moment we met the most beautiful baby in the world Bowen Michael.  I’ve gone almost cross-eyed staring at those pinchable chubby cheeks and soulful blue eyes.

Ticking off one of the biggest items from our bucket list Chris and I hopped on the Harley for the “big trip.”  See the many posts below 🙂 The whole year was broken into chunks of: planning for the trip, being on the trip and post trip.  Thankfully I blogged as we went because I couldn’t hazard a guess as to how many state lines we crossed or remember all the places we visited.  We have so many memorable moments like the impromptu bluegrass festival At Elmer’s General Store, the chef who came out to meet us when she heard we were going to blog about her homemade flapjack syrup or sharing a beer in a hotel parking lot with another motorcyclist after a torrential storm forced us off the road.

In my own “gone but not forgotten” tribute — 2016 was a sad year.  My Uncle Don Lane and then his daughter, my cousin Jennifer Lane Robinson both passed away. And who would have imagined at my age and a grandmother myself that I would be sharing the news that my 96-year-old Nana was gone.  Joan Mary Collings was the matriarch of five generations.  Celebrating her birthday in July we gathered for brunch and she reminded us of the importance of family.  Yes she lived a very long life and no it wasn’t a surprise when she died, but I felt out of sorts for a few days.  Mopey that my Nana was gone.  My last grandparent — the end of an era.  And then I smile when I think of how our daughter described her as “a real sassy molassy.”  A proper British Nana whose stern and no-nonsense manner put me on my best behaviour as a child but when I did some growing up I adored her independence and sense of humour.  She and I went for dinner occasionally when we both lived in the same city.  We would share our funny dating stories and she once tried to give my phone number to a good-looking waiter.  We were pen pals and I treasure all the letters that were signed “with fondest love Nana.”

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My last visit and hug with Nana in August

Resolutions for 2017? I’m thinking along the lines of eating healthier & trying to be more physically active.  My husband totally surprised me at Christmas with a gym bag full of work out gear, running shoes and sessions with a personal trainer.  The “transformation” starts on the 16th and I’ll let you know how that all works out.

Yesterday I got an email from myself that I’d totally forgotten about.  Futureme.org is a website where you write yourself a letter and they send it to you a year later.  Here’s the last paragraph and I still feel this way.  Happy New Year !!!

You have enough !!!! More than you ever dreamed of actually. Be grateful for the house on the beach, a girl cave for crafting, a pantry full of food, a car to get you where you want to go. And married to your bff for more than 30 years. A beautiful daughter happily married and now a wee one. JUST BE GRATEFUL. Pray more, be silly more, get outside and breathe fresh air more, get to the gym more and one more reminder WRITE MORE.

Love Me xoxoxo

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Three days ago we woke up to thick fog — one of the last days of our amazing adventure.  We quickly packed up and hit the road before rush hour traffic got too busy.  Chris is comfortable with lower mainland highway driving so he easily navigated us from Hope, BC through Abbotsford, Surrey and finally Vancouver.

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We weren’t sure how busy ferry traffic would be — what an unexpected surprise to learn that we would be leaving in 30 minutes.  Not even enough time to leave the bike and go find a coffee.  No matter because riding a motorcycle means we’re always first on the boat. And first in line at the cafeteria, enjoying a full hot breakfast before the ferry even left the dock.

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Right after I said to Chris we always run into someone we know on the ferry I felt a tap on my shoulder.  Our friend Jennie Hopkins-Black was traveling home after 3 days in Vancouver.  We’ve known Jennie for years.  She ran our b&b for us a few times allowing us to get away in the summer.  This whole trip has been so special reconnecting with family and friends and meeting so many new people.

That’s Chris talking to a young fellow in the vehicle beside us with a brand new baby in his arms and a toddler in the car.  Sleep deprived but happy they’ve decided their family is complete.

Smelling the ocean air and and seeing Vancouver Island come into view was a great welcome back.  My excitement level went up just a tad 😀

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Thanks to my brother Dan and his family for the Chapters gift card they gave me for my birthday.  We stopped off in Nanaimo so I could add to my fall reading material.  That’s my bandito in front of the bike getting geared up for the next part of the trip.

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We stopped off at Crown Isle Golf Course in Courtenay to meet up with my Dad and Step-Mom for coffee and a catch up chat. My Dad’s big news was his first ever golf “hole in one.”  Congratulations Dad — you’re part of a very exclusive club !!

Finally on to Campbell River for the last night of our big trip.  Dinner & and overnighter with dear friends Jim & Laurie.  Chris and Jim were rookie RCMP members in Alberta in the late 70’s and they have always kept in touch.  Jim & Laurie are Megan’s godparents and a big part of our family.  Once again the guys made me laugh until I cry with their hilarious stories.  Jim could hardly tell the one story he was laughing so hard.
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Spending the night in Campbell River meant we had a very short ride Tuesday.  It poured rain so 2 1/2 hours was long enough.

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The trip is now officially over.  We’ve slept two nights in our own bed, opened up a stack of mail, unpacked the bike and are settling back into life back at home.

We were gone 74 days, traveled 19,052 kilometers right across Canada, down to the southern US and then west across the states back to BC.  What a ride !!

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Home sweet home. This was the view from our window last night.  It may have been raining but the rainbows were spectacular !!

The bike is insured until the end of December so I think we’ll get a bit more riding in this fall.  And we’re talking about a few short trips for next summer.  For now I’ll keep busy writing, crafting and spending time with our adorable grandson.

Thanks for coming along on the journey with us dear readers.  Stay tuned for the next chapter.

Life is good !!!

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Love & hugs from Port McNeill…

 

 

 

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Another glorious day weather wise !!  We sure have run the gamut from near freezing temperatures in the mornings when we first left BC to 40 degrees Celsius in South Carolina.  Thankfully we didn’t have to deal with snow or hail although we did have to get off the road a few times when thunderstorms were imminent.

Today was a lovely trip down memory lane.  We’ve traveled these roads before and never get tired of the scenery.  Our breakfast stop was the Omega Restaurant in Grand Forks.  When we told our server we both wanted a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream she suggested we try the stuffed French toast. Just imagine 2 huge pieces of French toast with a layer of marscapone cheese in the middle mixed with strawberry compote & topped with whipped cream and slivered almonds.  Two empty plates again !!  I saw a sign posted on the wall that said “borscht & home made bread to go.”  Honey, I think maybe we need a vacation home in Grand Forks.

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Things I love and stop me if I’m repeating myself.  Actually I know I am and will do it anyway.  Clouds and old abandoned buildings both fascinate me.  Things I don’t love are aggressive drivers and vehicles with untethered items in the back — both of which we saw today and just too many times on this trip.

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Chris was looking forward to Highway 3 today.  It ranks way up high on the list of twisty roads in BC.  Being a Sunday and such nice weather we saw hundreds of bikers on the road.

We passed through Osoyoos, Keremeos & Princeton.  Vineyards, fruit orchards and so many stores selling fresh everything.  Sadly we just don’t have enough room in the trailer for cases of peaches or fresh corn.

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Doesn’t matter how many km we travel, how tired we are or how bad my helmet head is, we are enjoying this incredible journey.  A little sad that it’s coming to an end but we’ll have all the memories to keep us busy over the winter while we plan the next adventure.

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One of my favourite pictures from today.  Big sky, mountains and water.

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Tonight we’re in Hope BC in a nice little motel we’ve stayed before.  The bonus is the Greek restaurant right next door.  I see chicken souvlaki in my future !!

Tomorrow we’ll be getting on the ferry back to Vancouver Island.  Two and a half months away and only one more night before we’re home again.

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Love & hugs from Hope, BC

 

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A kool and krisp morning in Kalispell !!  It’s a given now that all our cold weather gear is required for the first few hours of riding.

I’m not sure exactly where we were when we started smelling smoke and the sky got hazy. There is fire activity right now in Montana, Idaho & Washington. And the word is there is a campfire ban back in Port McNeill.

Our breakfast stop this morning was Libby, Montana, “City of Eagles.”  The extra wide main road is framed by beautiful hanging baskets and one shop caught my eye with a poster about one of the presidential candidates.image.jpeg

When Chris asked the gas station attendant for a recommendation for breakfast there was no hesitation — Libby Cafe !!

From the young lady who seated us we found out Libby once relied on logging and mining but that’s all gone now.  Tourism is playing a bigger role in the economy.  A senior in high school this lively teen will have her welding ticket by the time she graduates and has a job waiting for her in Alaska.

When we placed our order – eggs Benny for Chris, Denver omelet for me – our server asked if we’d ever had a huckleberry flapjack?  When we replied no we haven’t she said we should at least try one since the cafe is well known for them.  She brought us one to try and it was DELICIOUS !!  A huckleberry flapjack with butter & homemade huckleberry syrup on top was a most amazing appetizer !! Chit chatting back and forth we learned our server lived in Oregon working a high pressure job and is happy to live on two acres just outside Libby raising chickens & turkeys and soon some goats.

It was great to meet the chef and thank her for making our breakfast.  One of the favourite parts of this trip is connecting with people.  Finding out what keeps them busy and why they choose to call a certain place home.

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With very full bellies we headed north.

It happened so fast I missed the welcome sign but we spent about an hour in Idaho heading to the border crossing.  One more state to mark on the map of where we’ve been this summer.

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This was the second time we crossed the border back into Canada on this trip.  The Porthill, Idaho crossing is tiny with no wait time.  And in the “it’s a small world” department the border agent knew exactly where Port McNeill is because he worked there years ago.  We answered a few questions and badda bing badda boom we were back in British Columbia.
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It may have just been my imagination but once we crossed the border back into BC the temperature got cooler !!  The skies darkened and we actually got a few spits of rain. Tonight we’re tucked into our very comfortable motel room in Trail, BC.  The last time change puts us back into the Pacific Time Zone.  Somehow I’ll try to stay awake until at least 9pm 😀

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Tomorrow will be a long day because we want to get all the way to Hope which is north east of Vancouver.  The plan is to be home on Tuesday.  Today a friend texted me we’ll be suffering from traveller’s hangover and will have to get used to making our beds and making our own meals.

We’ll miss the spontaneity of life on the road — we’re already talking about next year’s trip.

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Love & hugs from Trail…

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