Home is Where we Hook-up

April 30, 2007

Afternoon Tea

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 9:42 am

Today’s post is by Special Guest writer Pat Williams (or as we call her…Mom).

Keith and Paula picked me up at the Victoria Airport on Thursday, in the rain. Relaxed all day on Friday, watching the rain. Saturday’s plan was to explore the World Famous Butchart Gardens, hoping not to do so in the rain. Luck was on our side, the weather cooperated fully with sunshine, and mild temperatures. We oooohhhh’d and awwwww’d throughout the entire garden, in pure amazement at what nature (with the help of man’s hands) can produce in near perfection.

 

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For lunch we experienced Hi Tea. The picture is only the tip of the iceberg, the tea room with windows looking out on the private garden and glass ceiling providing perfect lighting for all the orchids. We enjoyed the sandwiches and pastries to the last crumb. Missing was the Victorian dress code. It was so relaxing.

**I have replied in the comments about the menu for this High Tea – what a wonderful day

 

 

 

 

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April 21, 2007

Birding Paradise

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 10:00 am

Keith and I are both somewhat amateur birders. The smaller the bird gets, the harder it is for me to identify, and around here there are hundreds of the smaller breeds. I holler out every name I can think of, and Keith will reply “I think that’s just a chickadee”. On the day we arrived, we walked to the beach (mostly by accident, we were just exploring the park) The sun was shining, in opposition to what the weather reports said, and the birds were out celebrating. Even the big guys, the one’s I can easily identify from miles away, the Bald Eagles. We counted 5 within minutes, a few were immature being taught to hunt.

That night we fell asleep to the “who-who-hoohoohoo,wh-wh-wHo-whooooo” and in the morning I asked “did you hear the owl?” We both laughed in agreement that while it was neat to hear at first, it would have been better if he’d have shut up at some point during the night. Everynight we fall asleep to the sounds of the park owl.

Last night we were sitting outside after an evening exploration of some of the nearby trails. A dog barked in the distance and Keith asked “what kinda dog is that? Sounds like it has the hiccups.” We listened for a few more barks, and then – though it was early, we heard “who-who-hoohoohoo, wh-wh-wHo-whoooo” I said I thought he was far away, Keith disagreed, so we set off in search of our friend the owl. We didn’t get far, as Keith was seriously distracted by this barking dog. The next thing I knew, he was backtracking and then, strangely enough, he began to look high up into the trees, muttering “what IS that???” I looked off into the distance at some of the other trailers, searching for a dog to point out to him, and clear up the whole mystery. But, the barking stopped. A Raven descended from the Pine Tree, gliding down the lane way, circling to another Pine opposite where we stood, and “BarK”, it barked. It BARKED! My mouth hung agape, I just couldn’t believe it. Surely the raven knew we were listening and watching, and he didn’t care for the attention, so off he flew.

The owl on the other hand, was not yet aware that we were after a sighting, and he kept up the inevitably locating “whooing” until we pinpointed his position. What a nice looking bird he is! I tried to be casual, you know like shuffling my feet, hands behind my back, a little whistle going on, proving my intentions were “Nothing???” But, I couldn’t pull it off, he scrunched his head down as he looked me square in the eye – pushed off the branch and glided over our heads, through the forest and off to the other side of the park.

April 19, 2007

Remembering

Filed under: Travel in the U.S. — Heligypsy @ 7:03 pm

Some of you know when I left Bishop to travel with Keith, I was under serious obligation that I’d better “keep in touch”. I saw the challenge in this immediately, as I already had several people on my email list and usually only 30 minutes internet time per day at whatever local library or cafe I happened to be using that day.

I knew just the sort of letter I would write, it would be akin to those letters some people send out at Christmas to catch all the distant friends and relatives up on the goings on. The greatest example I had were the letters from a friend of my parents, Carrie Martini – or as we called her Momma Carrie. She didn’t wait for Christmas to send her mass letters, they came a couple times a year, and I couldn’t wait to eat them up, word for word. She and her husband, Allen, lived in San Luis Obispo in a multi-level home with their 3 kids, some cats, a couple dogs, a half dozen or more daycare kids they babysat, and a foreign exchange student from time to time. To visit the Martini’s was like going to Disneyland without waiting in lines. They had a life sized playhouse in the backyard and a jacuzzi, and movies (the size of records) that we could watch almost anytime.

Momma Carrie was the perfect story teller and the best listener I ever met. Her ability to listen so well probably accounted for her great letters. She wrote about her own children’s antics, or the trials of a foreigner coping with schooling in America, or a chicken pox scare in the daycare. Whatever the stories, and the characters in their lives, their home and family, we came to know each one through her letters. So, when it came time for my own mass letter writing campaign, I set myself to imitate the style I had known and loved as a child, the letters from Momma Carrie.

Carrie suffered a stroke some time ago, leaving her mostly paralyzed and unable to speak. Unable to speak, but certainly not unable to communicate. Through the years she and Allen devised any number of ways to communicate as they traveled the U.S in their motorhome. Allen’s a Harley Man, so they towed a Harley with a sidecar to go out on excursions. I saw Allen and Carrie this last summer, when they came to visit my parents. The years had not been kind to either Carrie or my dad, he in a hospital bed, and she in a wheelchair – neither able to speak, but OH, the looks and grins, “Hey Kid” Carrie’s look said, “Hey back” from my dad. This was a friendship that carried back way before my time, and it was no secret this was the last time they would visit each other, their eyes said their silent goodbye’s. My dad passed that July.

Allen wrote last night to tell me, with a heavy heart, that after 47 years together, Carrie passed away in her sleep yesterday morning. People frequently touch our lives without ever being aware. I am glad I got the chance to tell her this summer that she was the very reason I began writing my emails to friends and family. My emails have changed to a blog now. I am fortunate to have about 200 people in my email list and the blog is just a better way for people to drop into our lives when they get the time.

Rest in Peace, Carrie Martini, you will not be forgotten.

April 18, 2007

Now we’re heading to…

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 7:22 am

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC

The phone call came in at 11:30 a.m., on Tuesday. It was up to us whether or not we wanted to haul the trailer over to the island or not, or when, but that’s where the company wants Keith to be by the end of the week. Well, this is good news on so many levels. For one, you know, we had serious business to attend to here in Surrey, or rather Keith did – (OH, and before I continue, might I just pass along the CONGRATS to him for passing that mind-numbing final exam!!!!! Ya done GOOD, darlen!) but, really – other than that I got to hang with one of my “virtual” pals that I met in Dallas last October, this place didn’t have much to offer in the way of recreation. The only other thing I have really enjoyed is my cell coverage is still picking up on the local network – that’s how close we are to the US, ha ha. Oh, and we did cross the border yesterday to fuel the truck up – saved about $40 compared to fueling here. Now, if we can just make this tank last another four weeks…ahhh the dreamer in me…

Among the other things I am looking forward to are, well, the ferry trip itself is always a fun adventure! Keith laughed at me last night when I said I thought BC Ferries might now have wi-fi available. He says to me “remember when we used to just play cards on the crossing?” Ohhhh, the good ol days, LOL. Our RV park looks like a heaven to me – called the Living Forest With trails and oceanviews, short walks to the City Center – oh and wi-fi connection, ha ha ha. And, we will finally be on the same piece of dirt as Keith’s sister, Sherryl, whom we haven’t seen in several years. So, yeah, we’re really looking forward to our time on the Island.

How long will we be there, you ask? No, you didn’t, did you, because you know better, and you know the answer is we don’t know

Seriously, though, we guess we will be there until mid-May-ish. After all, Keith’s on the schedule for going to Greece on May 22nd. Now there’s something to plan for!

There will be lots of pictures and stories to come – have a great day 🙂

 

April 15, 2007

Still in Surrey, B.C.

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 11:27 am

Or SLURREY, as it has been called by one local. A place that Keith’s sister warned “stay out of the burbs” when she heard we were coming this way. I don’t know about any of that. We aren’t here for sightseeing, and therefore haven’t ventured too far out to make comments either way. The weather has been very typical for the Northwest – rain, rain more rain. Keith is not letting the rainy weather get to him. As a matter of fact he’s looking on it as not such a bad thing, considering he has been spending all day of everyday since we got here in a classroom. Ya, he’s gone back to school for the last two weeks. He must write exams for Transport Canada, the equivalent of the FAA in the U.S. His final will be on Monday, and we’ll know just a little more of our plans to move on.

My experiences the last week have been of a fairly simple nature, strolls down memory lane from the time we’d spent in Canada when we first met. I’d forgotten all about needing a quarter at the grocery store to put in the handle bar of the cart, which releases it from the locking chain of the cart in front, and so had to settle on a hand basket until Keith showed up (I had no loonies or toonies with which to get change, either, I was just so unprepared!)

One evening walking out from a restaurant, I looked upward as saw a sight as common as seagulls soaring along the shore, it was a bald eagle cruising the main drag so casual and elegant. Each time I spy an eagle it makes me smile, and around here that’s a lot 🙂

Other memories revolve around the price of things When we lived on Gabriola Island in 2001 fuel was selling for .73 cents a liter. At 3.78 liters per gallon, that was about $2.15 a gallon. Do you remember that it was around $1.70 in the U.S. back then? Do you really want me to convert the prices now? Ok, I will, I can’t help myself. Complain all you want about paying $2.79 – Keith and I do. Canadians in BC are paying $1.18 a liter. Remember that’s 3.78 liters per gallon, and after the 14% exchange on our dollar difference this equals, uuuuggghhh, I can hardly type it, $3.98 per gallon. Looks like a border crossing for us to fill up the ole diesel.

On the other hand, a head of romaine or red leaf lettuce FROM CALIFORNIA can be purchased for $1.28. Anyone know how they get lettuce trucked all the way up here from California and on the shelves for a lower price than you can buy the stuff IN California? It’s a mystery.

A mystery, just like what our plans are in the next few days. I suspect I’ll have some news in the next couple days to share. Until then, have a beautiful day and a great week 🙂

April 10, 2007

Borderline gypsies on the border

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 6:53 am

Paula and I are in British Columbia Canada. When we take a stroll near our RV park we like to head down towards the ocean. The avenue we walk along is a quiet typical Canadian street, except for one small detail. The houses are all on the north side of the road facing south. The avenue is Zero Avenue and while it may not be the best sounding address in Canada it is representative of where Canadians like to live. Some facts about Canada:

Canada – it is the second largest country in the world with 10 million square kilometers of land mass that is 7% of the world’s land mass. Its population is approximately 31 million people and growing and is the largest country in land size in the western hemisphere.

90% of Canadians live close to the 6379 km (3955 mile) southern border with the US, the longest open national boundary in the world.

The largest open national border. Zero avenue is the border and kids are out and playing. Across the avenue is Blaine Washington backyards. We see paths from the American backyards to their Canadian friends places. We notice the kids in Washington playing basketball in a lot. The British Columbia kids have street hockey nets in the driveway. Do they take turns dominating each others sport? Kids ,just want to have fun.

Its fun for us. The CanAm couple walking along their border. Zoey runs in one of her favorite places, a ditch with running water, one leg in the USA and two legs in Canada.

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Zero avenue ends at the Peace Arch border crossing. Its a busy place anytime and on this Easter weekend when we visited on foot we were glad to not be in the miles of vehicles waiting to cross.

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Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Peace Arch:

The Peace Arch is a gateway-type monument situated on the Canada-United States border between the communities of Blaine, Washington and Surrey, British Columbia. The Peace Arch, standing 20.5 meters tall, was built by Sam Hill1921, and commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. The monument is built on the exact United StatesCanada boundary, between Interstate 5 and B.C. Highway 99, in the grass median between the northbound and southbound lanes. The Peace Arch has the flags of the U.S. and Canada mounted on its crown, and two inscriptions on both sides of its frieze. The inscription on the U.S. side of the Peace Arch reads “Children of a common mother”, and the words on the Canadian side read “Brethren dwelling together in unity”. Within the arch, each side has an iron gate hinged on either side of the border with an inscription above reading “May these gates never be closed”. This signifies the fact that both countries would have to consent for the border to be closed. Peace Arch ParkPeace Arch Provincial Park on the Canadian side and Peace Arch State Park on the American side of the border. Within the park is a major border crossing which has never closed, symbolising a long history of peace between the two nations. and dedicated in September of a long time ago.

In Canada, the crossing is officially named Douglas, in honour of Sir James Douglas, the first governor of the Colony of British Columbia. Because of the Peace Arch monument, however, the border crossing between Surrey and Blaine is popularly known as the “Peace Arch Border Crossing,” one of the busiest border crossings between Canada and the United States. It is the busiest such crossing west of Detroit.

After taking a few photos and letting Zoey run around in the U.S.A. it was time to head back to Canada.We had crossed the border in the truck and trailer a fews days earlier. The Canada customs had the usual questions as to citizenship, nature of our visit, items carried and so forth. This border crossing was even easier, as seen below:

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Down the avenue and back to the RV Park. There maybe better countries in the world to live in. But we doubt it,

April 8, 2007

Do you use your cellphone while you drive?

Filed under: Travel in the U.S. — Heligypsy @ 10:46 am

I am working a contract with a company called InterCall – they supply technology and support for companies to host conference calls. My role is to patch clients through to their correct conference, these are about 20 second interactions and they go like this:

Me: “Good Morning, may I have your conference number please?”

Last Tuesday morning this is how the client responded, oh, and it bares mentioning that it was a woman,

Client: **already frazzled “Hi, Hello, I’m a trucker – coming into some heavy traffic, I don’t know the code, but the call is for XYZ Company”

I shook my head, asked her to spell her first and last name – and before I connected her I closed with “Please, Drive Safe”

Keith asked me jokingly after I’d hung up, “Did it say ‘Drive Safe’ in your scripting?” Well, no it didn’t, but I could NOT help myself but to add it – and I’m praying for everyone on the road with her. I am certain she is neither going to get full benefit of the information presented on the call, nor be able to concentrate on her driving in traffic – wielding a truck regulated to haul loads up to 50,000 lbs.

We left Medford the next morning with a 500+ mile drive up the I-5 ahead of us. I watched every semi like a hawk. I’d eye each one in the cab as we passed by and the first one I caught swerving across the lines, oh ya – it was a woman and she was on the phone!!! I didn’t keep count, but was really amazed at the cell phone use by truckers, headsets or not – does that seem unsafe to anyone else? Have I turned into a old fuddy duddy, or is this a serious safety issue?

As we came into the thickening traffic of Seattle, I began counting how many drivers of regular vehicles were on their cell phones. No joke, 3 out of 4 drivers were on the phone, and dare I say – relatively unaware of the their own maneuvers or those around them. Certainly my senses were heightened, what with driving in a 50 ft long rig, weighing around 17,000 lbs at 5:04 p.m. on a Wednesday of Easter Weekend – but the drivers who slid in between us and the car in front of us just because their car would FIT, probably never really gave the move much thought, as they were too busy talking on the phone. It’s not a smart move, but it happens all the time. Jeeeeez, God forbid we loose our trailer brakes! If I lived full-time in a city (won’t happen, but let’s just say…) and my commute twice daily was in busy freeway traffic I’m sure I would fall into the comfort zone and talk away. Doesn’t make it safe.

So, I wanna know – how many of us are using our cellphones while we drive? I do, on a headset. Lemme know where you stand, I’m very curious. I promise not to judge – unless you are a trucker, cuz I really don’t think truckers should be chatting away while driving

Though Keith has a firm position of kudos and congratulations being unnecessary in regards to work that must be done – I had to compliment him for his fine driving hauling this:

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In this nightmare:

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April 7, 2007

Happy Easter

Filed under: Travel in the U.S. — Heligypsy @ 9:50 am

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I can’t remember how many times my birthday has fallen on Easter Sunday, a few to be certain, but it doesn’t happen often – every ten years??? And it might seem strange to some of you that I would even bother bringing it up (it’s not birthday wishes I’m after here – I promise). It’s just that an Easter birthday has always made me feel so dang special – Sunrise Service and flowers galore, brightly colored eggs and chocolate bunnies – what a day to celebrate! We hope you all have a fantastic weekend – time to celebrate the spring 🙂

April 3, 2007

Where’ve we been?

Filed under: Travel in the U.S. — Heligypsy @ 9:45 am

I’m not going to bother being hard on myself for not being a better blogger. I’m just going to get back at it, pick up where I left off – all that good stuff.

At one point I was going to share with all of you our fun trip to Mesquite, NV for a Valentine’s Day getaway. I’d gotten a deal for two free nights stay at the CasaBlanca Resort, about an hour away from Vegas. For some reason I thought I was going to get a jump start on my tan, this turned out not to be the case. Look closely, you’ll see the rain droplets.

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We ate and gambled our way through our two day getaway – and though it turned out to be anything but “free” we had some laughs – that’s what we’re about 🙂 Returning home in the afternoon of Valentine’s Day, we got ready for an evening out at the MGM Grand to see the Cirque Du Soleil show – KA. Outstanding production. There were two “conditions” I put out for our stay in Las Vegas this year.

  • One – I want to see a Cirque Show
  • Two – get me outta here before May.

Keith upheld his end of the bargin on both of those things. The next thing I intended to write about was the trip we took two weeks later – a 10-day trip to Orlando, FL. Business meeting pleasure, it’s hard to beat! Keith attended the annual helicopter convention, and then we hit the water & theme parks. Our webshots album has some fun photos of DisneyWorld and Epcot. I finally got to work on my tan, whooooray! Lucky dog Zoester got to stay with Grandma while we were away, and I could completely enjoy myself without worry. There will be more dog-sitting in mom’s future, I’m glad it worked out so well for that week.

So, where are we now?

Camping in an RV park along the Rogue River in Medford, OR. We’ve been here for a week, and are now paying for space on a day to day basis until we find out where we are off to next and when and for how long. There is lots of speculation and talk, most of it involving our heading to Greece in May – I’m excited but I won’t pack anything until I have plane tickets. Next week will be interesting, I will do better to keep you all posted.

Hope everyone is having a great April so far, keep in touch 🙂

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