Scooter racing

Scooter racing
After parking for the night, we'll still have time for a little racing

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Flea Land and Fire Ants

We made it to Kentucky in time for torrential rains.  That’s the beauty of an RV…. You just sit there and push a few buttons and voila… instant set-up.  No need to get wet, unless something vital falls off your unit... like a jack spring.

The KOA we stayed at was a bit of a dump and our neighbours had a very yappy dog.  Given the volume of guns per capita (I estimate at least 9 per person, and that includes babies), I just can’t understand why someone hasn’t thought of shooting it.  But, they all seem to be pretty laid back here in ‘ol Kentuck….
It turns out that the trek to the Lost River Cave and underground boat tour would have involved rappelling down steep inclines worthy of a Sherpa guide.  Nui may be many things, but a billy goat she ain’t.  Also Prybar and Mamalou had already done a cave tour, so we cancelled that plan.  The Corvette factory tour would have been fun but we forgot to factor in that no one works on Sundays, so scratch that too.  But this was the weekend for a corvette anniversary event and there were lots of the little spiffy sport cars around, driven mostly by middle aged, balding men accompanied by women with big hair.

In the end, we decided to try geocaching (without much luck) and did some shopping at Camping World and Ganders which sells, amongst other things, guns and stuff that goes with guns and clothes that you can wear when you’re carrying a gun, including a full coverage suit made out of grass.  I’d be a little nervous wearing a grass suit in an area full of men drinking a lot of beer.  But I digress….
Parked right next to us were a couple of very impressive jets.  We have no idea why they were parked there, but they were cool so we took pictures.
Then off we went to Flea Land, which is a great flea market full of both new and used stuff and, of course, gun accessories.  We didn't buy much but it was fun just watching people trying to figure out what we were saying because our Canadian accent is so horrendous. We gave up trying to understand anyone after we left Michigan.

Then back to the RV where Prybar acted as natural bait to a colony of fire ants who seem particularly drawn to his white skin.  This took his mind off the fact that he developed a world-class head cold and can hardly get off the couch.  

Friday, 29 August 2014

A Spring In Our Step

Finally!  The Beast was brought in for repairs today and we took ourselves off to the RV Hall of Fame and then to Linton’s Enchanted Gardens.  The Hall of Fame is phenomenal and the tour was great.  We tried to get to Thor industries to watch an RV actually being made, but the tour wasn’t on until 3 pm.

After paying for the Beast’s facelift (all new springs and a camera that works, not to mention a generator that finally actually generates power to key appliances), we decided to start the trip South.  Tonight we’re at the Indianapolis KOA and tomorrow we head for Kentucky.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Gosh, Just Gushing on Goshen

We had a bit of time to kill while the Beast sat neglected at MasterTech, with its springs still sprung and its monitors still dark.  Naturally, the only cure for this sort of thing was to eat something fattening.  So off we went to Goshen, Indiana and the South Side Soda Shoppe to sample at least one of their 50 pies.

It’s a great little place, in the middle of nowhere and the staff are very friendly.  They can’t seem to remember orders (Prybar is always the last to be served because they always forget to produce his order – in this case, a mug of chili).  We had our pie, which was very nice but not up to the standards that our father set over the years.  Still, dad didn’t have an old trolley car sitting next to the kitchen, so the SSSS is one up.

After a very tiring day, we again withdrew to the Beast for the night, listening to thousands of trains backing up.  It turns out that is what the noise really is.... A bunch of trains in a rail yard just up the road.



Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Why I'm Putting a Curse on RV Repair People

We made it to Elkhart last night, driving through an impressive thunderstorm, and wheeled into MasterTech Rv just as it was closing. I had an appointment for Wednesday to have the engine air conditioning repaired. However, this was superceded by the broken jack and burned out back-up camera.

Naturally, they can’t just replace one spring, they have to do both. And, not surprisingly, they highly recommended that all four jacks be done. What the heck…. I know the others are just waiting to pop so I said go ahead. And while they’re at it, I told them to install a new camera.

Last night we slept on the grounds of the Rv repair shop, right next to what is either a thousand trains backing up all at once, every minute of the night – or a foundry that really really really needs to oil its machinery.

So today we got up at the crack of dawn (that’s Dawn, not Don), pried open our eyelids and headed off to Shipshewana by 10 a.m.  It turns out the Amish get up really early too – the place opens at 8. My brain is so addled from fatigue that, at one point, I even contemplated buying a puppy until I remembered that puppies are just very small dogs - and I'm a cat person. Anyhow, we spent several hours and lots of money, wandering up and down the rows of stalls, happy in the knowledge that the Beast was being repaired.

Nope – not so. We got back to find it sitting in the exact same spot as when we left it. But we were promised that we were going to be looked after first thing tomorrow morning. Uh huh… and apparently I can buy a bridge in Brooklyn for only $24.95!

We’re going out tonight to buy a voodoo doll and some pins. I have plans.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Puttin' Around in Michigan

We left on Monday, heading for Port Huron Michigan. Naturally, the back-up camera chose to stop working again – and no amount of new fuses is going to get it going. Poor Prybar also had to crawl under the Beast to manually push the jack (with the broken spring) up so we could travel. But, we managed to get under way and travelled the back roads to Sarnia with hardly a hiccup. We even managed to cross the border with no hassles. The twinkie in Seattle should take lessons. We arrived at the KOA in Port Huron Michigan, ordered pizza and firewood and went for a stroll, where we found an amazing mini-putt course and water bumper boats. One of us (I won’t name names but she sells Avon), didn’t want to get wet. So, we putted around for 18 holes. Although I lost miserably, I did manage to get the only hole in one of the game. Yay for me! I understand it’s tradition that I buy a round of beer for everyone but, lucky for me, they don’t drink.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Heidi Ho

Off I went to Orillia to meet up with Prybar and MamaLou, my co-travellers on the tour to Texas.  I dropped the Beast off at Heidi’s Campground, which turned out to be really nice.  My sisters camped next door to us in their RV, named Tony.  Naturally, it rained on Friday night so we played the effing game, but the weather cleared in time for us to pick up the Vancouver crew on Saturday.

On Sunday our brother from Sudbury also joined us and we had a very informal celebration of our sister’s 50th birthday.  We mcgyvered a cake out of 4 packs of goldfish pretzels wrapped in white tissue which was held together with blue electrical tape.  Prybar even cleverly made a bow out of the blue tape – very creative.  A nice lunch and an even nicer visit and then we started packing for the Texas tour.  It’s amazing how much crap accumulates when you’ve been camping for 3 months.  Oh well.

Of course, I couldn’t go 100 miles without something going wrong with the Beast and, sure enough, it did.  A loud bang and voila…. A spring from one of the rear hydraulic jacks just blew apart.  Naturally, no one could fix it.  Sigh….

Friday, 22 August 2014

Juneuary to Augtober

Ok – the summer sucked.  There is no way to sugar-coat it.  We had 5 days of sunshine in August, which was marginally better than July.  I had to go to Vancouver for a reminder of what summer felt like.  How weird is that!?

On the plus side, I enjoyed quite a lot of friend-time and had lots of visitors.  And we played a lot of that “effing game”.

If next year is like this, you’d better hide your goats…. And your virgins.  I’ve got the sacrificial altar all planned.

August 22nd was my final day at Grundy.  I got up early, packed the last bits into the Beast and put on my bathing suit for one last swim across the lake.  The gods had other plans.  It started to rain, then to rain harder and then they really let loose the torrents.  They also lowered the temps by 10 degrees.  After waiting for 2 hours, I gave up and drove away.  Goodbye Grundy!  See you next year. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

There's Another Hole in the World

We learned late last night that our cousin Brian (known as Bonhomme to everyone) passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at home.  He was Road Rage Rita’s eldest child and he was one of my brother Gil’s (Prince Porketta) closest friends.  Bonhomme and Gil did everything together – most of it legal, some of it dangerous and all of it fun.  The two of them, and their friend Danny, were the Porketta Bingo kings!  I mean, how else do you spend an afternoon in Sudbury, right?

Bonhomme lived life on his own terms.  He long ago gave up the rat race and chose instead to live life as a bohemian – enjoying each day but never really planning for tomorrow.  Don’t get me wrong – he was a hard worker - but he never bought into the whole “white picket fence” dream.  He loved his family, adored his daughter and doted on his grandchildren.  His favorite expression was “party on, eh!”.  And he did just that!

Over the past couple of years, he endured both a hip replacement and, more recently, a knee replacement.  Although he was in a lot of pain, he never complained.  He was rough around the edges but he had a heart of pure gold.  All you had to do was ask for a bit of help and he was the first one there.

I suspect that somewhere in heaven there must be a Porketta Bingo game going on, and Prince Porketta and Bonhomme are sitting there with a big jug of beer, some sausages and great big smiles, waiting for the rest of us to come have some fun.
Party on, eh, Bonhomme!

Monday, 4 August 2014

What were we thinking!?

If you have lived in Vancouver for a certain time – in general less than half an hour – you know that there are some things you just don’t do on long weekends.  You especially don’t do those things on sunny long weekend Mondays, when the throngs that went to the Fireworks, Seafest and the Gay Pride parade all decide to cram a few last minute touristy things into their agenda.

L to R:  Tepaeru, Janiyah, Jedrick Donna, Mama,
Ngavaine, Tevii, Michelle and Anne 
One of those things is taking a group of 15 people to one of the major attractions in the city….the Capilano Suspension Bridge.   But, undaunted (motto:  who the hell needs daunts), we boarded our trusty vehicles and off we went to North Vancouver where it took 2 hours to find parking for a one-hour tour.  The pitifully inadequate parking lot was full to bursting and the still more pitifully inadequate staff were incapable of giving clear directions to the overflow parking (note:  it’s behind a big green plastic fence, just past Edgemont village).  But, after only an hour or so of standing in line, we made it to the bridge.

 Now, at the best of times, that bridge moves….a LOT.  When you add the weight and displacement of over 1000 people, it moves a WHOLE LOT.  I was getting seasick.  Some of the group took one look and went and sat down.  Others went shopping.  I don’t blame them.  I made it to the end of the bridge and turned right around – I figured it was only going to get harder from then on.  I wasn’t comforted by the sign that tells you that the bridge can hold 1300 people before the cables snap.  Which 1300 people?  How much do they weigh?  What if number 1299 is hefty?  Should we take ice cream away from the crowd before they get to the stairs?  One extra calorie might make the difference between just puking over the rail or free-falling without a parachute.  And if you’re going to limit the number to 1300, shouldn’t there be someone actually counting?  I’m pretty sure we were maxing out at one point.

Anyhow, we all made it out alive and went looking for lunch.  Oddly enough, every restaurant around the place was closed.  We wound up at a cafĂ© at a church just as they were going to close.  The poor server was plucky though and fed our group with whatever food she had left over.

Our next destination was Grouse Mountain, where we learned there was a 3-hour wait for the gondola. 

We just gave up and went home.  Sometimes, you just have to trust your instincts.




Sunday, 3 August 2014

Basset Hounds and Chihuahuas

Day 3 of the reunion started off reasonably well…. for all of perhaps 10 minutes.

I picked up one of the NZ crew and drove him downtown so he could rent an 8-seater SUV (even though there are 9 of them).   After standing in line for a half hour, we got to the counter only to learn that he had his wife’s Visa card and not his own because he lost his several weeks ago and never got around to replacing it.  The car rental people are funny about things like that…. Your visa card has to match the name on the driver’s licence.  There was no option but to rent the vehicle in my name, with my credit card (and hope to heck that they pay the bill at the end of the trip).  So now there are only 2 authorized drivers:  me and a New Zealander who has never driven on the right side of the road….. in Vancouver….. on the BC Day long weekend.

Then my friend advised that he had invited his sister for the week.  This sister has severe emotional problems, she’s a walking time bomb and she NEVER, ever ever shuts up, One wrong word or even a look can send her into hysterics.  Doctors take note – her medication isn’t working!  Triple the dosage already!!! 

So THAT was just what the reunion needed.  On the one hand, you have a group of people with little or no sense of urgency – sort of like old basset hounds resting in the sun.  On the other hand, you have a psychotic sister who is like a chihuahua on crack. 

And so we brought them all together with members of Paul’s dance studio for the official opening ceremonies for the reunion.  Of course, psycho sister began sobbing hysterically when she saw the Polynesians but, other than that, things went well.  She spent most of the evening alternately crying and railing about her terrible childhood.  Fortunately, the rest of the group were able to dilute some of the insanity pouring out of her and we had a good time.

My favorite part of the evening was when psycho sis introduced herself to the head of the Cook Islands contingent and told him she wanted to talk to him about the social problems on the island.  She has a theory that importing Mexicans to pick fruit will help revitalize the economy.  Pass the meds, please….and hurry!

Tomorrow should be interesting…. They have decided to go see the Capilano suspension bridge and Grouse Mountain on the hottest day of the year, and on the Monday of a long weekend.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Where the heck is everyone?

Holy crap it's hot!!! I wish we could get this weather in Ontario..... where at least we could be near a lake!

Day 2 of the family reunion dawned with me taking 3 of the NZ group from their hotel over to the 2400 Court motel, where most of the rest of the group is staying.

We had arranged to meet with the others at about 11:30 and then planned to show them around town.  Naturally, when we arrived, we found out that they were all gone.  The Aussie was supposed to have checked out of her room by noon but hadn't.  Meanwhile, the desk clerk assigned that same room to the newly arrived NZ crew.  This would have meant 3 large adults and one small child sharing a double bed in a non-air-conditioned room in the middle of a heat wave.  What really amazed me is that the Polynesians were all okay with that!

Luckily, a second room was found and the motel agreed to hold the other room until the missing Aussie was found.

We waited for over 3 hours for them to return and finally gave up and went home.  We learned that they finally showed up around 6 pm.  They had taken a bus into town, got lost, wound up in Stanley Park, hopped onto another bus, wound up in Chinatown and eventually made their way home. 

Sigh.....  did I mention that I need valium?

Friday, 1 August 2014

Hey Buddy....Got Some Tranquilizers?

I’ve always thought of myself as fairly laid back.  Oh sure, I get riled at rude people who play their music too loud on the beach.  Strangely enough, these are usually the same people who have dogs that bark non-stop.  Maybe it’s a genetic thing.  But most of the time, I just let people do what they want to do – mostly because I don’t give a darn.

So there I was thinking that I was just a sort of big old hippie, when the Polynesians blew into town for the Tavai family reunion.  They arrived on the August long weekend – the weekend when the Gay Pride parade was on, the finals for the fireworks competition and Seafest.   Now, they have had 4 years – FOUR YEARS – to plan for this vacation to Canada.

So here was my first lesson in what laid back really means.  The first to arrive flew in from Australia without telling a soul she was coming, other than the group that was flying in from New Zealand at the exact same time.  She sat at the airport from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and then STARTED GETTING WORRIED that no one was going to pick her up!!!  At that point, she facebooked someone who found out where the group was supposed to stay and managed, by some miracle, to get a room at the same motel.  This had to be the last room available in Vancouver this weekend.

We went to the airport to pick up the NZ group, who were surprised that the Aussie traveller wasn’t there waiting.  That’s when one of the NZ group disappeared, wandering around the airport and having the Aussie paged for an hour before we finally found someone on facebook who told us she’d gone to the motel on her own.  Several people then had to scatter around the airport to find the missing Kiwi.

Then off we went to the car rental counter because we were told that the family had rented a 15-seater van for the week.  Well, that was the second lesson on “laid back-edness”.  It seems that they INTENDED to rent a vehicle but actually hadn’t.  They were pretty surprised that it was going to cost $1500 for 3 days for the van so they decided to wait and trusted that we would get them to wherever they had to go.

It was about at this point that I realized that I really am not all that laid back.  My brain was frantically scrambling to figure out how we were going to get 12 people into 2 sub-compact cars. 

We ended up cramming as many as we could into my small car, grabbed a taxi for the others and off we went. We managed to get the group to the 2 different motels they had booked and finally met with the Aussie traveller who was surprised that we were surprised that she was here at all.

At the motel, we also learned that, because they had booked at the last possible second, the rooms were small, had only 1 bed and no kitchenette and, of course, no air conditioning.  Did I mention that Vancouver is in the middle of a heat wave?  And that there are going to be 3 or 4 to a room....with one double bed?

 But everyone got tucked in and tomorrow we’re relocating some of the NZ group to the motel that the others are already booked into.

 Meanwhile, I’m thinking of taking some valium.