Scooter racing

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

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Whaddaya Mean, It's September!?

Where did August go?  Or for that matter, July?  If we’re going to get a heat wave, the weather gods had better get a move on!  I bought 2 cords of wood in June and I’ve still got a half a bag left!  Normally, a bag of wood lasts me 3 weeks.

We’ve had an action packed month, though.  Loads of visitors (as per previous post).  Plus we went to visit our brother Denis and sister-in-law Lynne at the private campground they’re in.  If I could get a private campsite like they have, I’d give it some serious thought.  This place is beautiful!  We spent a glorious day on their boat.  Woodchuck and Deadeye tried fishing but all they caught was grass.  On the plus side, Agnew Lake now has several feet of new sandy beaches thanks to them.  The worm population is kind of glad we left, though.
The hairy dude in the pic is Denis
Woodchuck is cleaning the lake and drowning worms

And RRR (Road Rage Rita), my travelling companion and communications engineer, turned 88 in August.  And she still has more energy than I have!

We kicked off September with Woodchuck’s birthday.  A nice breakfast complete with surly server followed by a tour of the French River Trading Post, which included, of course, the purchase of fudge, a visit to the French River Information Centre, which has been on our to-do list for many years, and then an afternoon playing dominoes in the sun.  That’s right…..sun! 

My sisters are packing up to leave on Tuesday and I'm going to tough it out for another week.  Mostly that's so I can get the kayak dry - every time it comes close, we get rained on!

Still don't have the new Beast.  It turns out that it's very hard to purchase a vehicle in another province when you don't intend to bring it home at any time.  I've done the mountains 3 times....that's 3 times too many.  Ah well, it'll all work out!

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Summer of Mud

It’s pretty bad that you have to wait for WINTER in order to have some hope of a hot, sunny day.  On the other hand, if you’re a big fan of mud, Grundy Lake is the place for you.  It felt like we were sitting on a giant pottery wheel – clay and mud everywhere.  Some puddles have never dried up.  We were getting a tan, somehow, until we figured out that it was just rust.

How wet was it?  For the first time in our memory, they cancelled 155 reservations because the lots were underwater, in early July.  Some people had up to eight skids on their lots, just so they could walk around.

We had a few days of sunshine and sort of warmer weather, but mostly we’d get a couple of days of sunshine followed by several days of rain and/or cold.  Normally, I would swim every day and there was a stretch where I swam 5 days in a row.  However, in August I’ve been down to one or two swims a week.  My svelte, swimmer’s body is taking a beating.

But a bad day at Grundy is still better than a good day anywhere else.  We’ve had quite a few visitors this year including our brother Denis and a bunch of “greats”, that is a great-niece and two great-nephews, along with their parents who are just as great but not great, if you know what I mean.  They’re just plain old nieces and nephews but it was great (get it?) to see Ryan and Megan and Addison and Kris and Isabelle and Luke and Nikki and Isaac and David.  Little Addison was just about to turn one and kept us on our toes all day.  It was hard to get a photo of her:  it redefined the need for a zoom lens.  We did get a great shot of Addy kissing Tessa’s tail though.  We’re not sure Tessa was impressed.  The boys were hilarious and full of energy:  I can see why parents look more tired than their kids sometimes.

A highlight was when our cousin Carmen and her partner Ted came out and brought our Uncle Pete.  Stupidly, we forgot to take a picture.  It sure was nice to see them and we had a great afternoon visit.  Also on a sunny day.

Hmmm…. sunshine and heat:  although they all came on separate days, amazingly they all picked times when the weather was excellent.  I’m sensing a theme here:  maybe the idea is to have a flow of visitors so the weather gods will look kindly upon us.  Easier than sacrificing a virgin or a goat, which was plan A.  We’ll talk.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Requiem For The Beast

Several issues arose this year, during my travels with the Beast.  The passenger window is so fogged up that I can barely see the mirror:  cost to fix it is $1000.  There are 3 other windows that are also fogged – and also would cost $1000 each to fix.  Then we discovered that the seal around the dining table window was leaking – I should say that Woodchuck discovered this when her butt got all wet during a game of dominoes.  On the plus side, her butt soakage dried up the cushion. Then there was the  Kankakee Spark Plug Incident of ’17.  And finally, many parks are getting kinda snooty when it comes to what they will let into their little oases, and units have to be no more than 10 years old.  The Beast is going to be 19 and it’s showing its age – particularly since 2 panels got crunched when I hit a tree.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve put a lot of money into repairs and replacing worn out things.  After awhile, it started to add up.  And with a 19 year old vehicle, it was going to add up pretty fast.

The end result is that I decided to retire Beast 1 and move onto Beast 2.  I’m going to miss the old guy – loads of room,  a table big enough to play dominoes on, reliable (except for spark plugs), and just altogether a “me” kind of RV.   But it was time to move on and so now, meet Beast #2.  I’ll be taking possession just before we leave for Yuma.  I love the layout and all those snooty parks will be happy that its not an old, bagged-out unit.  At least, until I hit a tree.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Easter Eggs and Blown Spark Plugs

We headed north from Memphis, stopping overnight in Benton and then heading for Kankakee.  Mostly we wanted to go to Kankakee because the name Kankakee is really cool.  Kankakee…..Kankakee.  See what I mean?

About 20 miles outside of Kankakee, the Beast decided it had other plans.  I had just finished telling Lulu that the old boy was doing pretty well, when a familiar banging/rattling noise issued from the engine.  Yup….blew another spark plug.  Fortunately, I had remembered to renew Coachnet so, a couple of hours later a tow truck appeared and took us to the town of Watseka for service.  Watseka is tiny – you can’t even find it with Mapquest - but it has a huge Ford dealership and the people couldn’t have been nicer!  We boondocked overnight in the parking lot and the next day repairs got started on the Beast while we went out and took in the sights.  It took about 20 minutes (the sightseeing, not the repairs).  We found a little second-hand shop where I bought really cool birdhouse lights and we found a Chinese food buffet which was really good.  We had a bit of a scare when they told us that the previous repairs to the spark plugs might require extensive work, but in the end everything worked out and we were on our way to Kankakee.

Since we were only staying one night, we did what we do best.  Food.  Specifically, Easter Egg cookies.  We decorated them all up and admired them for about 30 seconds before eating them.  Are we the wild and crazy ones or what?!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Walkin' 'Round With Your Lip Poke Out

Memphisians….that is, Memphisites….that is the people of Memphis are bilingual.  Both languages are English but one is an English that the majority of non-Memphians can understand and the other, isn’t.  We learned this one day, during a tour of the city, when a number of non-tourists sat on the bus and proceeded to relate a story about someone that had been or was in the process of doing something upsetting or was having something (or perhaps had had something) upsetting done to them or to someone they knew.  We couldn’t understand much of what they were saying except for the last part:  it seems the person in question was “walkin’ ‘round with his lip poke out”.

Now I don’t know about you, but I thought that that was perhaps the best description of someone in the throes of upset that I have ever heard!

So we were back in Memphis and had a great time.  Lulu and I took an interesting tour of the city which showed us Graceland, the pyramid that is the Bass Pro Shop, Beale Street and a ton of other sights.

Once JJ and Deadeye arrived, we started to wander around a bit more.  The highlight for us was the Pink Palace.  It’s a great place, full of history, costumes and fossils and, arguably, the slowest cafeteria staff in the world.  How slow are they, you ask?  A slug would lap them.  We arrived one hour before an iMax show we wanted to see and we were still waiting for sandwiches long after the movie started.  And they weren’t even fancy sandwiches!  Our lips were poked out at that point, but the rest of the day made up for it.
This was made from hair!
We also made it to the Crystal Shrine Grotto which is located in a beautiful cemetery.  The outside of the grotto looks like an elf’s house but the inside is covered is semi-precious stones and features religious scenes.  It’s impressive as heck.

We didn’t stay in Memphis long…. But we sure had a good time!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

A Tad Windy, But The People Are Really Friendly

After Louisiana, we headed north to Mississippi.  Now, the accent in Texas is fairly easy to understand.  The accent in Louisiana is completely different (almost French) but still easy to understand.  Just go a few minutes north of there, though, and you would swear you were on another planet.  The accent in Mississippi….well, let’s just say that we spent a lot of time asking them to repeat themselves.  And they had trouble understanding us!  You could tell by the way they would stare at our mouths, trying to make out the words.
We arrived in Vicksburg and fell in love with that city all over again.  There is so much to see and do in that area:  the murals, the antebellum homes (complete with cannonballs), the incredible civil war memorial park, the crawfish boil, the Mississippi Fever sauce,  the tornado warnings.  But the thing that stood out the most was just how friendly the people are.  It has to be the friendliest town in North America.  At first, you’re a bit nervous – like in those movies when all the friendly people turn out to be a cult that is trying to lure you into demonic sacrifices – but after awhile you just go with the flow and really start to enjoy it.

Lulu Started Xmas Shopping!
Lulu Lugnuts and I were sitting at a café, just taking a breather, when a rough-looking guy pulled up in a massive pick up truck.  He rolled down his window and wished us a nice day!  Not two minutes later, another guy came jogging around the corner, slowed down as he went by and also wished us a pleasant afternoon.  Then there were the people at the casino who took time out of their evening to come over and give us a crash course in decapitating crawfish.  The crawfish boil was great but a little too much work for minimal return, in my humble opinion.   And the friendliness lasted throughout our stay:  my two sisters, JJ  (don’t let her near anything covered in icing sugar) and Deadeye (don’t let her near a gun), told me they were pulling out of the RV park and two teenage girls stopped on the sidewalk to wave to them.

We were awed by the civil war memorial park and spent an entire day there, looking at all the monuments.  We were then treated to a fantastic crawfish boil at a local casino.  You pile a huge metal pan full of the mudbugs, tear their heads off and eat the tails.  It’s messy and you only get one biteful of food at a time but it’s great fun.  Last but not least we tried our first (and probably last) mint juleps while sitting under a Lalique chandelier in an antebellum mansion.

Not all was sunshine and and mint juleps in Vicksburg, though.  We got a tornado warning….several of them in fact.  To the point where we wanted to hide our phones because they wouldn’t stop bleating out warnings.  What to do? What to do?  It was pitch dark out, raining heavily, there was well over 6 inches of water on the ground with whitecaps on the waves and almost everyone in the park was heading to the office for shelter.  So we did the only thing possible.  That’s right…. We ordered pizza.  And true to the friendliness of the people of Vicksburg, the pizza delivery guy said “you know there’s a tornado warning, right?”.  Uh huh.  But our thinking was that a) we weren’t going to abandon the cat and she sure as heck was not going to be happy getting all wet, b)  we were all together so if we died, well at least we were all together, c) little boys who lie grow up to be weathermen so you can’t trust their predictions, d) there wasn’t enough pizza for everyone in the shelter and e) it was really good pizza.  So we rode out the storm which touched down about a mile from us and caused some damage.

After drying out, we headed for Memphis on our way home.  But we’ll be back!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Beignets, Boudin and Bayous

We love Louisiana!  You really can’t beat a place that can offer both Beignets and Boudin Balls as an everyday meal and then entertain you with a 10 foot alligator coming up beside your boat in a sex-crazed frenzy.  You just can’t get that in Canada.

We left Texas and drove to Opelousas, Louisiana.  We picked Opelousas because we liked the name; plus, the park where we were staying offered a full-service spa complete with hydro-massage and wellness coaches.  And it did have a spa and possibly even some wellness coaches but we never got to see them because the spa stayed closed the entire time we were there.  The name Opelousas was still cool though!  And there was a “Billy’s Boudin Balls” emporium just up the street.

On our first day, we headed for New Orleans.  Our first stop was Café du Monde, home of Beignets (donuts but soooooo much better!).  Biting into an icing-sugar coated beignet….well, it’s like angels dancing on your tongue.  Lots of angels because, at Café du Monde, each person gets 3 beignets per order.  For those of us who are diabetic, it’s a bit of a concern.  That’s why I blew some of the icing sugar off…. one does have to make concessions.  When it gets windy, all that icing sugar just floats in the breeze like a super-sweet blizzard.

From the Café, we walked towards Bourbon Street and checked out all that downtown N’Awlins has to offer.  What a great city!  From “huge ass beers” to an icon to a voodoo priestess to a store full of really weird and wonderful Mardi Gras masks, this place has something for everyone.  It’s definitely on my list of places to see again!

For dinner, we stopped at Billy’s and loaded up on Boudin Balls and craquelin!  I would move to Louisiana just for the boudin, which is a sausage mixed with bread stuffing and deep fried into giant balls.  Next to beignets, they’re heaven on earth. (Note to self:  maybe don’t tell my doctor about this)

The next day we headed for Champagne’s Swamp Tours.  We’ve done these tours before and it’s different each time.  This time, we got a really cute bayou guide which was somewhat distracting.  However, it didn’t take long before we began to pay attention to the scenery.  Because it was spring, the gators were feeling frisky and mating season had begun.  Our guide got pretty excited when a huge gator just appeared out of nowhere right beside our boat.  He looked kinda grumpy too (the gator, not the guide)…like we’d interrupted something.  Our guide decided to just move away…  All in all, another successful day!

That night, there was a tornado warning for our area.  It got really dark and quite windy but we were so full from the beignets and boudin that I doubt a Force 5 could have moved us.

As for the wellness coaches....well, they have their work cut out for them!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

First Mondays, Big Cats and Little Cats

You can buy just about anything in Canton

Too bad it wasn't open!
Our next stop was the village of Wills Point, near Dallas.  Other than a really nice main street, there wasn’t a lot that was remarkable about the place UNLESS you figure it was 3 miles from Canton, Texas, home of First Mondays.  What are First Mondays, you ask?  Well, the town of Canton is basically closed for 3.5 weeks a month.  Oh sure, there are a couple of restaurants open and a couple of places that sell giant colourful Mexican pots (still haven’t figured out what they’re used for).  But the town is mostly warehouses and parking lots.  Until, that is, the first Monday of the month.  Then the entire town becomes a giant flea market!  All the businesses and restaurants open up, all the parking lots are full and you can’t get into an RV park unless you reserve months in advance!  They even have shuttle buses!  There’s a small group of very old, very colourful buildings called “The Mountain” which is quaint and which would be a real tourist draw if they only opened up more than 1 weekend a month.  It’s a very bizarre thing.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for the actual First Monday because the park we were in was fully booked and we had to go.  We’re definitely going back though!

While we were there, we took a side trip to Tyler Texas to go visit the Big Cat Animal Rescue.  Wow!  We walked around for a couple of hours, gaping in awe at the tigers and lions and cougars and assorted cat critters.  These are all animals who have been rescued from private homes, circuses, etc.  One of the workers was telling us about their idiosyncracies.  There was one cat who hated ATVs and would start howling whenever one appeared so they had to park away from his enclosure and walk in.  Lol!

So, back at home, we were watching TV and a little cat came to the door.   We learned that there were numerous feral cats in the area.  This poor little thing was starving.  Naturally, I threw her some food.  Also, naturally, she came back the next day.  I gave her more food but, instead of eating all of it, she jumped up and just wanted to cuddle!  On the third night, I got her back to my RV and put the food dish inside.  She just came right in and made herself at home.  Mostly, though, she just wanted to cuddle.  So, we called her Myrtle and tried to entice her into using a make-shift litter box.  That freaked her out and she managed to hold it in for 2 days.  Then, with what can only be described as an indescribable sense of relief, she peed all over me.  Ahhhhhhh!
Myrtle making herself at home

I really thought hard about keeping her but it was just too impractical.  Luckily I found the Kaufman Cat Rescue organization and Lynn came out and picked up Myrtle.  I’m happy to report that she was adopted within a week.  Thank heavens!

On our last day in the Dallas area, we picked up our sister-in-law, Lulu Lugnuts, who just retired and decided to come out and play the RV way.  The next day, we took off for Louisiana.

Friday, 17 March 2017

They’ve Got Some Big Boats Down There

Off we went to the bustling city of Corpus Christie to see the Lexington aircraft carrier, which was a WWII state of the art ship until it got blown up and sunk.  Then it became salvage and they hauled it to CC, fixed it up, installed a nice little restaurant area and let tourists walk all over it.
It didn’t take long for us to discover that seamen, in the 1940s, were all skinny little things who could climb like goats.  The stairs (aka ladders) were scary.  The bunks were the size of shelves.   Even the Brig was skinny.  And why did they even need a brig on a boat that size?  If someone misbehaved, you just had to make him go up and down stairs a few times to burn off the testosterone.  And if it was really bad, you just throw him overboard.  Boating accidents....happen all the time.

  But it was all very neat and grey and very well laid out.  What amazed us most was how short the flight deck was!  They must have to rev those babies up a lot to get them airborne because otherwise they’d be swimming.  Some of those planes were huge!  And all the wings folded up!  I don't know about you, but I'd be wary of a plane like that.  Just my luck the wings would decide to auto-fold when I was 30,000 feet up.  

I didn’t even want to imagine landing one of them on a moving boat in high seas.  Maybe that’s why seamen were so skinny – the adrenaline levels alone would have done it.

It was a great day.  Corpus Christie is a beautiful place, right on the Gulf Coast.  It’s too bad we can’t stay there because the salt air will rust the RVs faster than a billy goat sailor can climb a ladder.  It’s a nice place to visit, though!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'......Sorta

We left Mission on Thursday, March 16th at 9:05, 9:30, 9:43 10:11, 10:34 and 10:56 a.m.

Sometime during the winter months, one of my house batteries ran dry and blew its top.  We filled it with water and one of the guys (Thanks, Dave!) came over one day and made sure everything was topped up and ready to roll.  Sure enough, on the day of the big move, everything worked beautifully:  the slides came in, the jacks came up, the engine purred like a deranged cat and off I went....for 12 whole feet.   Just as I was about to venture forth, I noticed that none of my lighter receptacles were working and therefore I had no GPS and, even worse, no audiobooks to listen to on the iPod.

The guys in the RV park were incredibly helpful.  They swarmed over the Beast, inspecting all of the fuses (and believe me, in an RV there are a lot)  We eventually found one dead fuse and one tripped circuit breaker.  Jim (our neighbor across the street) volunteered to run to the store and buy me the required fuses.  Although it was replaced, still nothing worked.  Fortunately, Jim had also bought a lighter receptacle which he wired into my CB radio and which (tada!) gave me GPS access.

So off we went, with me following Jackie and Carm just in case the GPS didn't keep working for the whole trip.  They think I drive slow!  I think they drive like maniacs.  We always seem to manage to get to the same spot at the same time.  Go figure.

Anyhow, halfway through the drive, the lighter receptacles started working.  Unfortunately, the fridge started beeping and telling me that it had not switched over to the propane setting. And it still wouldn't - even after I bashed all the rust out of the pipes.  That's when I had my "aha" moment.  I needed new batteries.  It was a very slow "aha" moment because it took until I got to Wills Point to try to find new batteries, but still.....