Saturday, July 30, 2016


No that's not Ice-capades! It's a big RV Rally organized by the Escapees RV Club. Last year it was in Tucson AZ, this year its in Essex Junction VT. 

Last year's blog post sums it up pretty well, this year I volunteered to teach a painting class in the craft area.
Barbara did a great job of taking pictures during the class, thanks Sweetie!

I took the rest of the pictures which ended up being of bunches of Happy Hours (parties) either at the RV Dealer's area or back at the “Shanty Shakers” spot.

Dinners out at the Elks Lodge or the Grand Buffet across the road from the rally broke the monotony of snacking, drinking, having fun and swapping travel stories!

Some fellow Shanty Shakers Marty and Peggy, told us about another smaller RV Rally in Maine in a couple of weeks and we make reservations for it. It's called “Lobster Fest” so we have high expectations!

It was certainly nice to catch up with our San Diego based RV friends, they all like to travel and have fun too.

We managed to fit in some driving around Stowe and Smugglers Notch, favorite places from previous family vacations. Lots of narrow twisty roads and picturesque Vermont style houses and farms.

We seem to have been at the rally for weeks but now it's time too move on. We're heading further north and east towards Maine and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. I can hardly wait!

Saturday, July 2, 2016


It felt good to be "home" in the US, not that Canada was bad. Canada has a completely different feel to it, with Ontario being influenced by the British culture and Quebec by the French. I think some Americans regard Canada as the "USA-2" but there are distinct differences in outlook and attitude that I personally like and welcome.
But it's still good to be "Home" where you can buy beer in a grocery store and get Shiner Bock too!

Shiner Bock and Wensleydale Cheese.

Vermont has been looming on the horizon all year. We made reservations for the "Escapades" Rally back in May I think and apart from the reservations we have for the winter in Florida, this is the last fixed time and place we have to be this year.

Pedestrian only shopping on Church Street Burlington

I suddenly decompressed when we got settled in a nice campground in Barre VT. Subconsciously I must have been stressing about getting here.  Now I feel better about myself than I have for several weeks, much more mellow.

Vermont has been a family vacation destination many times. When we lived in Maryland we'd trade our timeshare for different resorts around Stowe, Killington, Smugglers Notch and a few others I've forgotten. It's a very pretty state with mountains and lakes everywhere. If you like autumn leaves, this is the place to be in October.

The big lake is Lake Champlain, which the locals claim has a monsters like Loch Ness. Me I'm not convinced. But it is a gorgeous lake it's worth a trip out to the islands of North Hero and Grand Isle which are accessible by bridges.

At the harbor in Burlington

Lake Champlain with upstate NY in the background

In case I'm sounding like an ad for the Vermont Tourist Board just take is as read that I LIKE Vermont.
Being a small state means you can see a lot of it in a short time so we spent a couple of days visiting the capital Montpelier (smallest state capital in the US!), Barre and Burlington.

Hmm what to order?

I had some prep work to do for the painting class I'm teaching at the rally. I invented a disposable easel made from cardboard, bought enough supplies for 12 people, prepared boards  for painting on and typed up a guide for the class. Now the car and rig are full of painting stuff! It'll be good to get back to normal after next tuesday! I'll report on how that went after it's all over.

Prepping 12 hardboard panels for the painting class.

And of course there's the rally coming up  so we have to plan for daily "happy hours" with our home RV club the Shanty Shakers fro San Diego who are apparently going to here in force with perhaps 20 members in attendance.
It's going to be busy!

Look out the party is about to start!


Eventually we had to move on from Port Dover, and I had ambitions to drive the Trans Canada Highway from Sudbury to Ottawa. After some humming and hawing (and figuring how far out of the way that would be) we decided that going to North Bay would seriously reduce the mileage and still let us drive some of the Trans Canada.

A couple of stops in Walmarts to help balance the camping budget got us thinking again, and in Renfrew we decided to just drive directly to Ottawa and the heck with side trips!

We still drove a little of the Trans Canada but apart from saying we drove on it there wasn't much to it.

What was nice was driving thru Algonquin Provincial Park with it's many lakes and huge forests. Pity there aren't any pull offs that will take an RV, we'd have loved to have stopped and took pictures. Worse was the visitor center that required you to buy a day use permit to park! Hardly likely to attract new visitors that way I would have thought?
We stopped outside of the park and took pictures, so there!

The hot news item in the Reed family has been Bob and Cathy's dog Calvin, who escaped from Jim and Cathy's backyard the day before we got to Rdgeway.

. Everyone was worried that the local coyotes would get him. Bob and Cathy went out into the local woods looking for him all the time we were there but there was no signs of him. Unfortunately he is a shy dog and would run away rather than come to a stranger. When Bob and Cathy returned to Simcoe, about 60 miles away, Jim and Cathy would look for him. Heather, Bob and Cathy's daughter, was driving backwards and forwards every time there was a sighting of a small stray dog. 

They found a Facebook page for lost pets in the area and a report came in that somebody had found him. Alas when they got there it turned out to be another small dog that had been missing for a while. 

Finally, after 2 weeks, when everybody was about to give up on him he wandered back into Jim and Cathy's yard via a hole under the fence! The exciting saga of Calvin ended with a trip to the vet followed by one to the groomer and the removal of in excess of 80 ticks!

A clipped and dipped Calvin.

Our trip to Ottawa paled in comparison!

Barbara's OTHER cousin (there are lots of them) lives in Ottawa. Alan and Mary have traveled extensively and we found kindred souls immediately. Mary is originally from Jamaica and I love to hear her speaking with her melodious island accent.

Alan and Mary Barbara's cousins from Ottawa.

Alan and I share an engineering background but in vastly different fields. He has recently retired after a career in mining and geology. I find his stories about surveying for gold and minerals out in the wilds of Canada just fascinating. Plus he likes aircraft! It wasn't long before we ditched the girls and spent a day at the Canadian Air and Space Museum.

Alan with the Lancaster Bomber

We spent several days visiting some of the local attractions. Ottawa is the capital of Canada and has a House of Parliament on the Ottawa River very similar to the British one on the Thames in London. There was lots of construction and renovation going on in the city as 2017 will be the 250th anniversary of the foundation of Canada.

Canadian Houses or Parliament

Cumberland Open Air Museum relocated Chapel

We also got to ride the local tour bus, visit an open air museum with a nice collection of buildings gathered from the local area. See the Canadian War Museum and Rideau Hall which is the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, complete with guards wearing the red jackets and bear skin hats normally associated with Buckingham Palace and Queen Elizabeth in UK. We Tried a couple of craft brew pubs (of course)! 

The guard at Rideau Hall

Several dinners and lunches out in the company of Alan and Mary were every enjoyable too. My personal favorite was Chateau Montebello, an all log built hotel/resort across the river in Quebec, which combined old world atmosphere with excellent French cuisine.

Chateau Montebello

Very like the Lodge in Yellowstone National Park

And all good things come to an end.

The view from Lagos where we had dinner with Alan and Mary

We had one final dinner out with Alan and Mary at Lagos on a pretty lake in Ottawa then hit the road for Montreal. We had a campground in mind but then found Casino Montreal on the Isle Notre Dame, where the Canadian Grand Prix is held. Best yet it would be FREE! A phone call revealed we would be welcome to overnight in the parking lot close to the casino.

Very grand Montreal Casino on Isle Notre Dame.

Well we followed the signs for the parking then we ended up stuck because the entrance to the marked parking had a height limit of 2 meters and we were 3.8! A lot of traffic blocking and backing up of an RV on a tight twisty approach road was had. We then found that there was a sign for parking for vehicles over 2 meters but it was only on the opposite side of a small roundabout from the entrance to the general parking!

Finally parked for the night

We got in and found we were next to the race track and the old Olympic rowing basin, Very cool. We had dinner in the casino and got lost trying to get out to a walkway around the top of it. We knew we'd gone wrong when we entered a dinning room to the sound of an alarm, to be told that this was employee dining only and we had to go back!

From right to left. Grass behind the parking lot, Grand Prix circuit, Olympic rowing basin!

Things started to go further wrong when next morning I asked one of the security guys patrolling the parking lot how we could get onto the race track. He told us, then also told us we couldn't stay another night as Friday they didn't allow RV's in that lot. We'd have to go to lot P-10 just down the road 

Well P-10 turned out to be in a real seedy looking area down by the docks and it was also full to overflowing with cars for some local event. We could have gone to the original place we'd selected but being hot and aggravated we decided to drive to 100 miles to Burlington Vermont back in the good old USA.

And that's where we are. For Now!

The Reed family

Our big reason for coming to Ontario Canada was to attend a family reunion near Niagara Falls. Barbara's Mum Hilda was from a widely spread family the Reeds from Yorkshire England. Seems like everywhere you go there's a Reed!

Years ago we lived in the area in a town named St Catherines on the Welland Canal, part of the St Lawrence Seaway that connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. That's when I first met Barbara's Canadian relatives and immediately fell in love with them.

A "Laker" in dry dock at Port Weller where I worked 42 years ago.

Over the years they have traveled to the UK and the US for various family events, and representatives of the family from as far afield as Australia came to Sally's wedding in Maryland.

Jim and Catherine hosted a fine crowd, ranging from 92 year old Peggy down to a slew of little ones who never seemed to stop running, swimming, eating or laughing the whole weekend long.


Victoria likes ice cream

Alan and Mary came from Ottawa but the long distance award went to Leslie-Ann and her daughters who came from Korea! This is a well traveled family.

We camped near by at Knights Hide Away conveniently within a couple of miles (3 km in Canada) of Jim and Catherines place. We took side trips to Fort Erie which was the scene of fighting and much death in the war of 1812

Rebuilt in the 30's Fort Erie was destroyed in the war of 1812

We went to Niagara Falls but we've been many times before and $22 to park wasn't in our plans, so we kept driving and revisited St Catherines and even found the apartments we lived in all those years ago.

Lancelot Towers

Jim's a military history buff like me and we went and saw a local "Spitfire" which turned out to be a plastic replica (But a very convincing one).

Jim and the Spitfire

After many, dinners out, cook outs, afternoons in the sun sipping drinks and catching up on the news we moved on. But only 60 miles to Port Dover Ontario near Simcoe where Bob and Cathy Reed live.

Shore Acres in Port Dover ON
Lake Erie in the background

We were here for Canada Day, (which for our US friend's education is July 1st). Just like July 4th in the US they have fireworks, parades, parties and flags everywhere. We are lucky this year as Friday is Canada Day and of course Monday is Independence Day so we'll have Canadian flags out on one and US flags on the other.

Of course there will be lots more dinners out, cook outs and sitting in the sun sipping cold drinks here as well.