A song blaring on the alarm clock radio broke my silence of sleep about 60 seconds before the four earth movers and three graters cranked up their engines for another day of land preparation for the new home development on the other side of my back fence.
Rudy Escobar generously stopped by my house near 9 AM on his way to work at the American Airlines Flight Academy to give me a ride to American Airlines terminal C at the airport where I met Lesley for our next adventure...a trip to Maces Bay, New Brunswick, Canada, near Saint John. No, not Saint John's, Newfoundland. Lesley's father, Peter, would be celebrating his 75th birthday, and I was invited to tag along.
The lowest fares took us on a journey from DFW airport, departing at 11AM, to Newark, New Jersey. As you know, when your ticket says lunch is included, you're in trouble if you are depending on the 'bistro meal' for nourishment. Experienced travelers that we are, Lesley and I stopped for an early lunch (10 AM) of nachos at the Chili's Too in the terminal before we boarded the airplane. My biggest mistake here was not carrying a couple of cans of Dr. Pepper with me. But I decided I could survive a few days without it.
A lot of the flight was bumpy, like driving over a road full of potholes. I was tired and decided to nap. I dreamed of him, my head against his shoulder, my head rising and falling, rocking me to sleep with his every breath, secure with his arm around me. I assume Lesley slept, too.
The weather was bleak and the industrial setting around the Newark airport left an unfavorable first impression with no reason to come back...except for the fact that our return flight was also booked through there.
We changed to Air Canada for the next leg of our journey from Newark to Toronto, Canada. We were saved by the posting that no meals were served on this flight. Now, you might think going to New Brunswick, which is northeast of New Jersey, wouldn't have you fly west for almost 2 hours, but the airlines, in their infinite wisdom know that customs is in Toronto (and Montreal)! Now, you'd think we would have gone straight from Dallas to Toronto, right? But that's where the phrase, 'lowest fares' comes into play, as in fill up the other empty planes first!
We made it through an uneventful customs check and caught our final connection, the last evening flight to Saint John. No meals were served here with the purchase of our tickets, although two items at $10 Canadian were offered for purchase separately. Yeah, right! Even the free crunchy sesame sticks were barely tolerable. This was a much smaller plane in some turbulent weather that made us feel more like the kernels inside a popcorn bag as they're being irradiated by the microwave. With the three flights, layovers, and time zone changes, we arrived at 11:30PM to find the four smiling faces of Lesley's mom, Sheila, dad, Peter, and their long time friends, Ruth and David.
The six of us stopped at an all night restaurant for dinner a while after midnight before our 45-minute drive to Maces Bay. We arrived at the home where Lesley grew up after she and her parents moved to Canada from Scotland.
Shortly after Christmas, I had sent a jigsaw puzzle that was made from a photo of Lesley and I during one of our cruises. Sheila had started laying out the border before they picked us up at the airport. So while we visited, we all worked on it...until 4 in the morning.
When I woke up late the next morning, I saw a fantastic view of Maces Bay right across the street from their home. It had been covered in darkness when we arrived the night before.
Peter, Lesley, and Sheila were all dressed up like it was really cold outside. I think it's just a state of mind in Canada. I really don't see why those people don't die of heat stroke.
We drove into Saint John for a visit to the bank and stopped for a sandwich before a tour of the Market downtown. Lesley made me wear my big coat, claiming it would be cold. I almost suffocated.
We drove around the city to see 'the sights', as Sheila joked, when we drove by the old garbage dump, the new one, the zoo that was closed, and the ferry that was closed. At the ferry landing we found a cute restaurant (I think that's what this is.) and some ice fishing houses that looked like they had not yet been removed from the ice that was starting to melt.
They all bundled up like they thought it was cold, but I thought it was tolerable for short periods of time.
By evening, we were ready for an Italian dinner at Vivaldi's. It had just started snowing again as we pulled up to the restaurant. Peter and I had lasagna while Lesley and Sheila had something Alfredo. I also ate the best dessert I have tasted in many years. It was made of pecans and filo. Since I consider myself a dessert expert, that's saying a lot.
Our drive back was slow because of the snow, but the roads were clear and it was safe with Lesley at the wheel. We had worn Sheila out driving us around all day long. Once safely at home, we watch a Bing Crosby movie that I had not seen before...one of the old black and white early ones. I think it was “The King of Jazz” and enjoyed it a lot.
That night I had another really nice dream...about him. You know how it is after you've watched a fun, romantic movie.
We spent the next morning and part of the afternoon at Ruth and David's where an elaborate brunch was served...waffles with strawberries and freshly whipped cream, bacon, juices, sparkling apple cranberry cider and pink champagne, scrambled eggs, blueberries, fresh baked bread and strawberry ice cream sundaes.
We visited a good while as we talked about the deer we saw on the drive over and the squirrels and birds we observed out the back window darting about in the rain falling upon last night's snow.
Ruth and David gave Lesley and me each a canvas book bag with lighthouses on each side. Inside there were books. Mine were about New Brunswick. It's fun getting presents at other people's celebrations.
Lesley and I helped Ruth with a couple of computer problems. Then we four headed for home. On the way, we stopped a couple of places to pick up essentials for Peter's birthday party Sunday evening.
At home we began working on another puzzle of about 1000 pieces. This time we stopped shortly after midnight.
We spent Sunday at the house except for Lesley and Sheila's trip to purchase potatoes. The house is out in the country and there aren't many stores near. I'm not sure where they went, but half an hour later, they returned without potatoes. It seems the store only had 50 pound bags, too many to use up in a timely fashion. Sheila decided to call Ruth and ask her to pick up some on their way over. Unfortunately, Ruth didn't answer the phone. David is a retired preacher and had been asked to preach this morning. Sheila decided Ruth had gone to church with him and that they might not return home for a message before they came over. So, Lesley and Sheila left again, for another store in the opposite direction and eventually returned with a 5 pound bag of potatoes. They also found some Dr. Pepper for me!
We rushed to complete the large puzzle that was spread on the table that would soon serve the birthday dinner. Everything was done except the background blue that had no variation in color and multiple pieces that would fit in a single spot. We declared it complete and quickly re-boxed it before the table cloth was laid.
Peter had baked a loaf of bread in the bread maker. Sheila cooked the turnips and a cherry pie. I was in charge of peeling, cooking and mashing the coveted potatoes. Ruth and David brought an ice cream cake and two more people for dinner.
Emily and Jack arrived with steak and sausage pie and some peas. Fortunately for me and Sheila, Emily had not put in the sausage.
Digressing just a little, when I left for Canada, I was prepared for the slight Canadian accent I would encounter and the possibility of translating a few words from French. But I had forgotten that Lesley's dad has a strong Scottish accent, her mom uses sweet terms like 'wee folk', and that David still has a bit of his English accent. Ruth was the only true Canadian. Emily and Jack were both from Scotland, too. It was like being in a foreign country! Oops, I was.
So the party began with spirits and stories.
While Lesley sliced, I mashed. Then dinner was served.
After dinner, the ice cream cake was brought out but candles were forgotten, so Sheila pulled out a large, square blue candle for the formalities. We had a few problems getting posed for photos of the birthday boy blowing out the candle.
Still around the table, Emily was expounding on how she hated dishwashers ruling her life and that she loved hand washing dishes. She described how digging in her heels and pressing her hips forward using yoga moves she had practiced would improved one's posture. All the time, Ruth was the one at the sink washing the dishes miming the descriptions. Some of us thought it should be Emily washing the dishes.
Dinner and the party were declared successful and with the hour late, the others headed home.
The next morning we went shopping to select a DVD player for Peter and I picked up a few souvenirs. Lesley and I would hook up the player before we left for home. We took our prizes back to the house and started another jigsaw puzzle that was much easier to complete than the prior one. The DVD player was installed.
Then we drove back to Saint John for dinner at a sea food restaurant that had one of Lesley's favorites, blackened salmon. Once again we passed a sign warning about moose crossing. Since we didn't see any moose, I took a picture of the sign.
Mission accomplished, we returned home once again and watched an old John Wayne movie that took place in Ireland...it was an early one called “The Quiet Man.” Another good one.
Then it was time to start packing for our departure in the morning.
We were out of the house by 9 AM, arrived at the airport early, checked our bags, and grabbed some breakfast. Ruth and David arrived to send us off, this time through Montreal before our connection in Newark.
Newark had not improved since our last visit five days earlier but had a long enough stopover that we could have a bite before our last leg to Dallas. We finally had time to read a little. Lesley had finished one book and had started another. I read a lot slower than Lesley, so I just managed to finish my book that was half way through before our trip.
When we arrived at DFW and were waiting for our bags, I wanted to be sure my frequent flyer miles were logged for this flight. I went to the ticket counter that was about to close at 9 PM and who should I find, but another high school classmate, Kathryn ERCK Kidwell! Lesley had waited at baggage claim and had carted my suitcase to where Kathryn and I were catching up. Then we left, Lesley in search of her parked car, and me to arrange for the big blue Super Shuttle to take me home to Mansfield. All in all a very nice trip.