12/14/2006 – 12/31/2006
December 14, 2006
Two songs come to mind as I head out on this holiday trip with Lesley, driving as far northeast as we can go, and then a few miles more to Maces Bay, New Brunswick, Canada. Since it is the Christmas season and a time for travel, the first song I thought of is, “Over the River and Through the Woods,” as we will be crossing many rivers, including the Red River, Arkansas River, Mississippi River, and Potomac River, and through many wooded areas, not to mention over and around some pretty hefty mountains. Maybe I should quote Savage Garden’s “Truly, Madly, Deeply” verse, “I want to stand with you on the mountain or add the song, “She’ll b comin’ round the mountain.” Occasionally singing the second song, “Happy Wanderer,” will perhaps keep me in a civil frame of mind while we are on the 2300-mile length of roads that take us there—not counting getting lost mileage and mileage returning. I’ve changed the first line of the song from, “I love to go a-wandering.” to “I am a happy wanderer.”
But even before I get on the road to Lesley’s house in Frisco, I remember that she and I don’t necessarily listen to the same generation of music. (I think she’s about 44 now.) My rule has always been that the driver gets to pick the music, but not necessarily the volume. As it turns out, my nice big car will spend the holidays in Lesley’s garage. She will be doing most of the driving and isn’t comfortable steering my land cruiser. So, we will be in her Honda Civic because she thinks it will be safer for her to handle on snow and ice—assuming we will encounter one or the other or both during our trip. I’m hosed. This puts me listening to her music, or her listening to me sing “Over the River” and “Happy Wanderer.” I have no problem singing, or with my singing volume—just carrying a tune in a bucket is difficult...most times. I’m assuming I won’t be singing too often about being a happy wanderer after so many miles! As far as her music is concerned, if you’ve ever traveled anywhere with me, you’ve heard me say, “I have earplugs!” My secondary plan is to slip some of my CDs into Lesley’s stack!
Problem number two, before backing out of my garage, is that Lesley suggested I bring only one suitcase...because her car is so small! Again, anyone who has traveled with me (Lesley included) knows I take everything but the kitchen sink. Two large suitcases plus carry on are a necessity when traveling by air. I’ve now developed a “car plan.” One suitcase, my regular carry on, and about fifteen small to medium shopping bags impersonating Christmas gifts, drinks, cookies, candy and other snacks, for the trip to Lesley’s mom’s home, which will fit into the nooks and crannies of the car. And my friend, Linda (of Linda and Rudy), wonders where all her lost weight went! I’m sure I’ll find it.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Prior to leaving home, I talked with my brother, Bruce, in Colorado. He asked if I had heard that my brother who lives in Houston, John's, father-in-law had died Monday night or Tuesday morning. John had talked with Bruce a couple of times since then and not mentioned it, but Bruce had heard about it on the radio! John has a daily financial talk show that is broadcast in Houston on Biz Radio 1320 AM and in Dallas on Biz Radio 1360 AM. Bruce listens every morning from 10:00 to 11:00 (our time) from Colorado on the Internet. Anyway, when someone on the show said John's father-in-law had died, it was the first Bruce knew anything, and I might not have known yet, had I not called him. The funeral was scheduled on Saturday. His father-in-law had been ill for a couple of years.
It’s not just a simple drive from Mansfield
to Frisco today before all my “secret items” are transferred to the nooks and
crannies of the Honda Civic so we can be on the road early Saturday morning.
Oops! There’s problem number three. Lesley is a
get-up-at-4:00-in-the-morning person while I’m currently a
try-to-go-to-sleep-by-10-AM, as sleep deprivation takes over my life. But
there’s hope! Lesley is driving. I get to sleep in the car! I
am a happy wanderer!
I digress...back to my driveway. I made an 11:30 AM appointment with my chiropractor in Carrollton on my way to Lesley’s. I need to get all my ducks in a row, or more specifically, my vertebra. This is a doctor visit I like because Dr. Suzy makes it so I can actually move better afterward. Next, I may shop for my sandal alternative for ice and snow—boots! That, I haven’t found yet. With or without any luck I’ll be at Lesley’s around 3 PM after she gets off work. There are perks to going in extremely early. By 5:30, we’ll meet another Linda friend of mine for dinner and to give her a Christmas gift. She lives in Allen, near Frisco. I’ve known this Linda since 1972. That’s a pretty long time for someone I didn’t go to school with.
The doctor told my friend Pam to get bed rest over the holidays, so for this trip she is going to live vicariously through the adventures I write about. She likened our Canada trip to visiting a town similar to Elmo, Alaska, the home of the TV show, “Men In Trees.” I reminded her that I had been in Canada a couple of years ago and hadn’t seen/couldn’t find men in the man to woman ratio displayed on this show—attractive or not. Maybe it was just a fluke because I was there in March rather than December, and all the good-looking ones were elsewhere. If we don’t find any men, I’ll just have to keep the one I conger up in my dreams! In lieu of any men or adventures, I told her I might have to make up stories to keep the telling interesting. So, from this point on, you won’t know which things happened and which didn’t!
Lesley’s plan is to drive and drive and drive, only stopping for gas, food and potty breaks. That makes for a very long eleven hours a day drive. I had hoped to stop a little more often, maybe doing a little sightseeing. I don’t know if I can accomplish the tourist encounters, but I figure if I make Lesley drink more than her regular ten cups of coffee a day, we might be stopping more often.
I had a good adjustment from my chiropractor. Now if I could find someone who could adjust my attitude! Next, it was lunchtime on my way to Lesley's. Still in search of Linda #1's lost pounds, I stopped at Baskin Robins for a single dip pralines and cream sugar cone, before going around the corner to Einstein Brothers for a toasted plain bagel and plain cream cheese. Yum.
Progressing once again toward Lesley's, I stopped at Sam Moon's to look for a purse. I don't want fancy, just functional. Most of theirs have buckles and decorations, or what I call faux bling, so I came out of there with...hair! They had some reasonably priced clip on hairpieces. I think back in the 70s they called them falls. I’m not sure where I’ll wear it or if I can even “install” it properly. A few doors down, I found some boots at Shoe Pavilion...manmade suede with fuzzy insides. I broke out in a sweat just trying them on. It had better snow in Canada! They also had my tall shoes in silver. I was tempted to buy them, but resisted.
I arrived at Lesley's with plenty of time to move my trunk full of stuff to her little car. Can you believe she only packed one dinky little bag for two whole weeks? I got all my stuff in without blocking the view with piles in the back seat.
After a brief rest, it was time to meet Linda #2 and her husband, Gary, at an Italian restaurant. Coincidentally, we all pulled into the parking lot at the same time and exchanged gifts so we could leave them in the cars. We all enjoyed our food selections and as a nice surprise for Lesley and me, Gary paid for the whole meal. What a nice guy! Although I've known Linda a long time, this was only the second or third time I've seen Gary. It was a great visit that lasted a while. We'll have to do it again soon. Back at Lesley's, I opened my gift from Linda and believe I came out way ahead on that event, too.
Lesley phoned her mom to check on her dad, who's been in the hospital since March, and recently moved to a nursing home. She learned that her father had died while we were at the restaurant. This was something that was anticipated, but not today. We will continue our trip, leaving around 5 AM, but probably without stopping any more than we have to. Lesley is doing okay. She's been encouraging her mom to return home with us for a couple of months. I may be shipping some of my stuff home.
Lesley and I had planned to get up at 4 AM for an early start, but when I awoke at 3:30, she came from her bedroom to let me know she was awake, also. We ate and were on the road by 5 AM...in the dark. It took forever, a couple more hours, for the sun to come up through heavy cloud cover as we drove toward Texarkana.
As we passed through Sulphur Springs, we waved at Mary Ann, but it was dark, so she probably didn’t see us. We were still peppy driving through Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, which was pretty country passing through the mountains and pine trees similar to Huntsville Forest, only stopping for gas, coffee for Lesley, and food.
When traveling, it's always interesting trying to pronounce names of towns, etc. that seem foreign, even within the U.S. There are also those that seem like wishful thinking, like Mt. Vernon and Mt. Pleasant. Neither of which were even on a small hill, much less a mountain. And Mt. Pleasant wasn't particularly pleasant, at least in the dark. Friendship, Hope, and Socialville, Arkansas—the state that wouldn't take Lesley's debit card at the gas stations—were not very friendly or social. In Tennessee, we found Crab Orchard. I didn't know crabs grew in orchards!
Our lunch in Tennessee was at Loretta Lynn's restaurant. I'm not too sure about the food, but the milk shake and pecan pie were great.
Because of heavy cloud cover, it seemed to get dark early, like around 5 PM. That put a crimp in all those plans I had to read, work crossword puzzles, and number crunch on Sudoku. And it was really difficult navigating in the dark, flipping the spiral bound atlas ten pages at a time to see where the roads go.
Today is brother John’s birthday, so as it is our custom, I eventually phoned to wish him a happy one…when I could find cell phone service that would last longer than one hill and valley on the mountain roads.
We ended our day in Knoxville (technically Kodak, Tennessee) at the Ramada Inn around 9 PM, about 850 miles later—a 16-hour day.
We were up again at 3:30 AM (4:30 Eastern time) leaving Knoxville with every intention of arriving in New Brunswick before stopping. Now, if you do the math, 2300 minus 850 to Knoxville, you’ll note we have 1450 miles to go. A short time later we were at last out of Tennessee, crossing into Virginia, chugging up and down the mountains in the places called gaps. Although we went through several mountain ranges, they weren’t all labelled on the road. The map said we were near, over, or around the Cumberland Gap (think Davy Crockett), the Great Smokey Mountains (Dolly Parton), the Appalachian Mountain Range, the Allegheny Mountains, and the Shenandoah River. We learned about all these places in history and geography when it didn’t really mean anything to us at the time. Some of these places may be subsets of the others. I never was very good in history and reading the relief part of maps. I’m better with roads. I’d better be. I’m the navigator! We stopped for gas and short rests every half tank of gas. Our lunchtime stop put us at a Chilli’s or Friday’s-type restaurant/sports bar with four wall-sized (as in HUGE) TV screens, all showing different football games. We ate some really good baby back ribs and thin onion rings there. Unfortunately, we paid cash and didn’t know where to find it on our return trip home.
Somewhere along the highway, probably back in Arkansas, we saw a full-wet, rutted field filled with migrating snow geese, each basking in its own little birdbath. By this time all the roads were looking pretty much the same, as the sun was disappearing, for whatever reason—ducking behind the mountains, cloud cover, someone forgot to pay the light bill—and leaving us in darkness about 3:30 in the afternoon.
It was somewhere along these non-descript roads that we saw the exits for Highway 666 (we decided never to check that one out) and Hungry Mother’s State Park. How do they come up with these names? This was also the land of the burgs, boros, tons, towns, and villes. Don’t they know it’s a town if a lot of people are living there? In Texas, we could have had a Dallasboro and Austinville, but we already know most people live in towns!
After a brief cut through the corner of West Virginia, we were in the land of Smokey the Bear‑the CB kind. Every once in a while there’d be a sign warning of radar speed control for, say the next 5 mile or 7 miles, and if you get caught within that area, the fines are doubled. Now, that’s kind of okay, them warning you and all, except they kept changing the speed limit within that area, making it difficult to remember the highway speed a driver should be at. There were flashing blue police lights everywhere in these areas. Some people just don’t pay attention. I guess their law enforcement representatives weren’t allowed to have red lights on top of the police cars there like we do in Texas.
When driving for long periods of time, it helps to look for things along the way. We played the license plate game, looking for one from every state. I had a list I used to cross them off as they were seen, and included the Canadian Provinces. This was my game and it started out slowly because of dirty windows and Lesley speeding up as we passed prospective vehicles. At least that’s what I blamed my lack of reading skills on. It couldn’t have been my eyesight.
Lesley started her own game of pointing out cows when she saw them as we were going up and down the hills. She was pointing and calling out “mountain cows” when we were obviously on a hill, so I corrected her, calling them “hill cows”. This went on throughout our drive. I also added the term “valley cows” when we found them in a low spot.
Knowing this leg of our journey would end with our destination in Canada and we would actually see people who would recognize us later, I thought it prudent to put on makeup before I met Lesley’s brother for the first time. That adage, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression,” kept rumbling in my head. So, while Lesley drove and I rode, I got all the layers of hiding agents, smoothers and color applied and decided to wait for a gas stop before putting on my mascara. You know how Lesley drives. If she had seen me trying to put that on while we were on the road, she would have found more bumps to go over or she would brake unnecessarily. So, I slipped the tube of mascara into the front of my bra to be sure I’d have it when I went into the restroom. Well, those of you who wear bras know that when an object warms up, you often forget about things stuffed in them, as I did when we stopped. On the road again, I realized the error in my plan and went in search of the mascara tube. I patted everywhere, but couldn’t find it. I wondered if I needed professional help to hunt for it. It was GONE! This has it’s own implications, like there was nothing there to hold it in. And, this isn’t the first time I’ve had things fall out. Embarrassing. Perhaps I need a professional installer. I thought, “Oh well, like makeup is really going to make that much difference, anyway.” I didn’t know it would be a couple of days before I had an opportunity to purchase more mascara.
Thanks to Lesley’s superb driving, we never became “bear bait” and crossed into New York, hoping to improve our travel time, only to find bumpy roads not worthy of speeding. We went through the middle of the state to avoid big city traffic. Driving up the interstate, it seemed every exit was for Highway 7! What’s the deal here? Are they going to offer Highway 7 until you get off there? At Albany we took “Highway” 2 to crossover to loop I-495 around Boston. Well, let me tell you, the first fifty miles of this alleged highway was the equivalent of driving in Boogiemanville…in pitch-black darkness! Did I mention there were hardly any streetlights on the interstates, so this narrow two-lane road lined with tall trees was scary. Of course it was Lesley who was scared, not me! She didn’t let me bring my gun on the trip, but here I’m thinking she might have reconsidered. She said Canada doesn’t like guns. Remind me to write the Michelin map people to tell them to downgrade this road, as it doesn’t belong on a map with the big boys.
We got through Massachusetts and crossed briefly into New Hampshire. New Hampshire and Vermont are confusing on the map because they are shaped similarly except one is upside down. I distinguish them by correlating that Vermont looks most like the letter “V”. But I digress.
So from New Hampshire, we arrived at our last state to cross, Maine, about 233 miles to the border…well after midnight…and another 100 mile to Lesley’s mom’s. Note that mom Sheila thought we’d be in Tuesday or Wednesday, and we just passed midnight Sunday.
Maine is a pretty non-descript state, at least in the dark. We made good time to Bangor before cutting off I-95 to Highway 9 to our border crossing 95 miles away. The complaint here is they have no gas stations or bathrooms open at 4 AM! We needed the latter much more than the former, almost desperately. It was pitch black along this road, too, with no other cars in sight and it was so tempting to just make a “comfort stop” alongside the road for a few minutes. This road reminded us of “Boogiemanville” but the trees were farther away from the road. Lesley was chicken! We were both very tired and I had been trapped in my bra too long. I admit it was poor planning on my part when selecting my traveling outfit‑shorts and sleeveless top. I’m not a happy wanderer.
We stopped in a dark gas station parking lot to switch drivers before Lesley fell asleep at the wheel, exhausted from her 24-hour drive.
I drove ten minutes and voila! A gas station with the cleanest restroom so far, and free coffee for Lesley. We were in Calais, where we cross into Canada. And Wow! With that ten-minute rest—where Lesley didn’t even close her eyes—and the coffee, she was charged and ready to drive the rest of the way across the border and onto Sheila’s house in Maces Bay outside Saint John, New Brunswick.
New Brunswick Provincial Flag
We had no trouble crossing the border that early in the morning. I’m sure there were others, but we saw only one surly guard who didn’t seem interested in a detailed search of our over packed car, by himself, in the cold. He did ask two or three times if there were only two of us. I think he might have suspected someone was hiding under the pile in the back seat. He let us go, anyway...into New Brunswick, home of the famous lighthouse landmark.
Famous New Brunswick landmark, Head Harbour Lighthouse
How about a little history lesson? You could skip this part if you want.
HISTORY OF LIGHTHOUSE: The Head Harbour Lighthouse has a long history as an aid to navigation in the Bay of Fundy and Passamaquoddy Bay. It is located at the northern extremity of Campobello Island, which is the largest of a number of islands in the area of Passamaquoddy Bay near the Maine-New Brunswick border. To local residents, the light is known as, "East Quoddy Light". Campobello Island is closer to the coast of Maine than it is to New Brunswick. Twelve miles by sea to St. Andrew's, its road link with the Canadian mainland is by way of a bridge to Lubec, Maine and a sixty-mile drive through that state to St. Stephen. The island is probably best known as the site of Franklin D. Roosevelt's summer home; it was here that he summered as a child and here that he was stricken with polio in 1921. The family "cottage" is now at the center of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, established in 1964. During the Napoleonic Wars, when Britain and the United States were engaged in economic warfare, the town of Eastport on the Maine shoreline across from Campobello Island grew rapidly as a smuggling center. On the New Brunswick side, Campobello became a transfer point for trade as well. As the Islanders said, “That's why fogs were made.” Although the illicit trade declined by the 1820s, general trade flourished and traffic grew in the narrows between Campobello Island and the Maine coast. Fishing, shipping and shipbuilding were important activities in Passamaquoddy Bay, but the famous Fundy fogs, the high tides, and the treacherous rocks and shoals around the islands near Campobello Island presented considerable difficulty to this marine community.
The first light in the region was the American West Quoddy Light, established in 1808 on the Maine coast at about the level of the southern point of Campobello Island. The first light in New Brunswick was established in 1791 at St. John Harbour. The second was in 1829 at Head Harbour, where it was felt that "trade would be benefited and possibly vessels and lives saved" if the point were lit. Others followed: Gannet Rock and Point Lepreau in 1831, Machias Seal Island in 1832 and Quaco in 1835. By 1832, the New Brunswick Lighthouse Commissioners were so pleased with the state of affairs they reported, "an increase in lights would rather tend to perplex and embarrass the mariner on his voyage seaward." The volume of coastal trade along the Bay of Fundy and the coast of Maine increased with the 19th century, and the chain of lights in the dangerous Passamaquoddy area was strengthened by a number of other lights.
An upgraded fog alarm was installed at Head Harbour in 1880 in response to repeated requests from mariners, and in 1885 a second light was established on Campobello Island at Mulholland Point near the site of the modern bridge to Maine. Today, the waterways in the region are still busy, and the natural hazards to navigation have not diminished. The Head Harbour light continues, after over 150 years, to provide an essential service to the marine community in the area.
The Head Harbour light station is about two and a half miles from the nearest community, Wilson's Beach. The rocky outcropping on which the station is set becomes an island at high tide and is connected with the main body of the island by more of these rocky quasi- islands. A road from Wilson's Beach runs to a spot within walking distance of the light station. Beyond that point, the station is accessible by foot at low tide. At the time it was built, the station was relatively isolated, and it is unlikely that its establishment played any significant role in the development of nearby communities.
The tower's wooden, shingle clad exterior is painted white with a distinctive red cross. The 51' octagonal structure is tapered. It was built in 1829 using heavy timber. The original lantern was replaced in 1887 by the current cast iron model. The distinctive day mark in the form of a red cross has been on the tower at least since Confederation. The principal decorative touches are the flared cornice supporting the lantern base and the shaped hoods over the windows that have been placed on all but one of the faces of the tower. The tower is attached by a covered walkway to the dwelling, and it is also accessible from outside by a door on the southwest side. The stone foundation has been covered by cement. While the structure has been re-shingled and painted many times, and the day mark extended to all elevations, photographs show that since 1902, at least, the appearance of the tower has changed very little.
Arriving in Maces Bay about 6:30 Monday morning, we (Lesley) banged on the door, getting her mom, Sheila, out of bed and waking her brother, Peter, who had flown in from Thunder Bay. Unknown to us, the funeral for Lesley’s dad had been scheduled for 6:30 that evening since her brother could only get a flight home around noon on Tuesday, with reservations almost full during the holidays. They weren’t sure if we would make it in time for Lesley to attend, but set it as late as they could in hopes that we would arrive. After talking much too long, we unpacked and napped. Then Lesley, Sheila, and young Peter went to Peter McGhee’s funeral that was available for family and close friends. Peter junior talked about his dad and long-time friend David, who is a pastor, gave an eulogy.
Sheila and Lesley were surprised by the attendance of Lesley’s best friend, Ying, who came from Ontario for the funeral in the middle of moving her home and business during the holidays. It meant a lot to them that she had come all the way to support them. After the funeral, Ying went home with Ruth and David to spend the night.
I believe it’s the good times with your family and friends that should be remembered. Here are some photos of Peter with family and friends during some of the good times that I know about.
January 2001 cruise from Galveston, Texas to Cancun/Cozumel.
December 28, 2001. Kobe Steak is a great place to eat. Brandi, Peter, Sheila, Bonney, and Lesley
February 12, 2002. Kobe again?
Peter and Sheila return to Kobe Steak in Addison, Texas 01-09-2003.
Peter, Lesley, and Sheila at Kobe Steak in Addison, Texas 01-09-2003.
Peter’s 75th birthday, March 7, 2004
Sheila and the birthday boy, Peter.
Brunch with Ruth and David.
Happy times with lifelong friends, 03/07/2004. Emily, Lesley, David, and Peter.
Sheila, Peter, and Lesley present the cake.
David and Peter.
Emily and David
Jack, Ruth, and Peter.
Peter, Lesley, and Sheila with Maces Bay in the background.
February 4, 2005. Bonney, Lesley, Peter, and Sheila eat dinner at Jinbeh in Frisco, Texas.
Peter and Sheila at Jinbeh restaurant, a Kobe clone.
While everyone was at the funeral, I took some photos of the home Peter and Sheila shared since 1978, when they moved to New Brunswick.
Maces Bay road, at low tide in 1978, from a photo on their wall. Sheila and Peter McGhee’s home in Maces Bay around the time they moved there.
The Maces Bay view from Lesley’s parent’s home.
When Lesley, her brother Peter, and Sheila returned home from the funeral, we ate ham sandwiches and shuffled the sleeping arrangements, giving Lesley and me a place to sleep, more of which was greatly needed.
This morning Lesley and Sheila took Peter junior to the airport while I slept late. They had an appointment with the accountant before Peter left, so some paperwork could be signed.
Lesley and Sheila returned home for an hour before we all went to Market Square in Saint John to meet Ruth and David (who were bringing Ying so we could take her back to Maces Bay) for lunch at Grannan's Seafood (and steak) restaurant. While we waited for them to arrive, we wandered the mall, looking in the Museum shop where many tourist souvenirs can be found.
Market Square, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
You might wonder, “What tourists?” Saint John is now a popular cruise ship port.
Although the port at Saint John has been around since June 24, 1604 (St. Jean de Baptiste Day), when French explorer Samuel de Champlain sailed up the Bay of Fundy into the mouth of what was shortly thereafter named the St. John River, it’s been much more recently that it has become a cruise ship port. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Crystal, Princess, Cunard, and P&O cruise lines now have ships arriving there in the summer and autumn.
Saint John Harbour.
Bringing Ying home to Maces Bay prompted another bed shuffle now that Lesley’s brother, Peter had returned home.
We drove into Saint John again for a trip to a bank so Sheila could get financial arrangement in order. Fortunately, everyone at the banks, the accountant, and the lawyer whom Sheila dealt with was very helpful and things went smoothly.
We met Ruth and David for lunch at Irving’s. We were all about 45 minutes late, but the two vehicles arrived from opposite sides of the city at the same time. Ruth and David had stopped to get passport photos taken so they could get their passports renewed. Everyone had coffee except Ying and me. She had tea. I had a vanilla milk shake! There were tasty sandwiches (BLT, Ham and Cheese) and Ying’s combination platter. While we waited on the arrival of the food, Ying, who was authorized, filled out and signed the passport paperwork for Ruth and David.
After lunch, we all escorted Ying to the airport so she could go home to her husband and two genius sons to finish preparations for the holidays and to complete her moving tasks. To fill in waiting time for her flight, we took photos.
Ying and Lesley. Ruth, Lesley, David, Ying, and Sheila.
Ruth, Lesley, David, Bonney, and Sheila. Ruth, Lesley, Bonney, David, and Sheila.
Ruth, leaving the airport. David, leaving the airport.
We went home and chilled. Lesley’s mom loves to watch birds from her kitchen window. Sitting at the kitchen table, looking out onto the bay, we saw three bald eagles, currently residing at Maces Bay, a family perhaps, soaring by. They were fairly close, and in their magnificence, there’s no doubt why they are the national bird of the United States.
Another trip into Saint John completed business at another bank and at the McGhee’s lawyer’s office that was near a restaurant called Cora's Breakfast & Lunch, where we had a bad lunch at an otherwise decent restaurant. Lesley and Sheila’s coffee was cold; Sheila’s cheese and spinach was baked in a crepe rather than wrapped in it. Even worse, it had bubble gum bacon, not crispy, melted in the cheese in the middle. My bacon, tomato, and cream cheese crepe was okay, but they forgot to give Lesley anything to eat! We blamed it on an incredibly bad waitress. I won’t be going back there soon!
Friday was a sunny, but cold day. Lesley made omelettes for breakfast, but I ate Raisin Bran because I don’t eat eggs.
After the funeral, Peter McGhee had been cremated. His ashes were put in two containers so part could be scattered in Maces Bay and the rest could be taken to his birthplace in Scotland to be spread there.
This was the day Sheila, Lesley, and I went to other side of Maces Bay near a place where Sheila and Peter would go for a picnic and to sit and look at the water.
The timing for the Scotland event is yet unknown, so we teased that what we scattered in Maces Bay might catch the Gulf Stream and get there first.
We passed this covered wooden bridge on the way to the picnic spot. There are 64 Covered Bridges still standing in New Brunswick. Most of these bridges are still being used daily as part of the highway system. But this bridge, Little Lepreau River No. 1, is closed to traffic. It was moved to a nearby picnic spot when a business with tall, heavy trucks started using the road that it covered. The bridge is located near Pt. Lepreau off Route 790 west on Little Lepreau Road.
Name: Mill Pond.
Span: 104'6", Length: 108'10"
Year Built: 1910.
After saying goodbye to Peter, we went into the town of Saint John, about 24 miles away to run copies of paperwork to be mailed from the McAlister Mall. I bought a couple of things there and then it was lunchtime. Across the road we had lunch at Boston Pizza, looked for buttons at Michaels, and waited until the movie, “Pursuit Of Happyness” started. I’m not sure if plot and climax is the same thing. We enjoyed the movie, but thought the climax was missing.
This is a cold, grey, rainy day. That means icy roads in part of the area. We were supposed to go to Ruth and David’s for a waffle brunch, but their roads were too slippery on the inclines on the other side of St. John, so our meal with them was postponed. Lesley cooked our breakfast again, making waffles. I fried the bacon and we all pigged out.
Later that afternoon, it was safe for us to go to Saint John’s mini mall so we could get groceries for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Lesley cooked steak and baked potatoes. Sheila was so tired that she was served dinner in bed. After dinner, Lesley and I worked a jigsaw puzzle that I brought with me. That took most of the night.
The morning of Christmas Eve we at last made it to Ruth and David’s for waffles, and to wash clothes. The Maces Bay house has water pumped from a well, so if clothes are washing, or someone is showering, there are drastic temperature changes in the water and pressure. So, Ruth was nice enough to offer the use of her appliances while we visited. I did about four loads of clothes.
Ruth and David at their home for brunch. Lesley, Sheila, and Ruth.
Ruth, David, and Bonney.
A couple of years ago, Lesley and I went on a cruise that started in New Zealand. I had a puzzle made from the photo below to give her mom at Christmas that year. She pulled it out for us to work on since we had finished the one I brought.
Christmas morning was bright and sunny. The three of us sat around most of the day in our PJs after we opened some pretty nice gifts. I volunteered to cook Christmas dinner. I don’t think Lesley or Sheila are big fans of cooking and since they had been doing all the cooking without any help from me up to this point, I thought it was my turn. While the turkey and stuffing were baking and preparations had been set up for the mashed potatoes and corn on the cob, the three of us worked on a fantastic dragon puzzle that was one of Lesley’s Christmas gifts. It turned out to be much more challenging that we thought, so Christmas dinner was served on a tablecloth that was placed over the incomplete puzzle.
Lesley and her mom insisted on being the cleanup crew, so I had a chance to reluctantly get showered and dressed after we learned that Ruth and David would be dropping by later. They had been invited to join us for the meal, but they had other plans with their kids. They visited about an hour before taking their leave, sans many of the desserts and goodies we tried to foist on them.
The three of us all went to bed stuffed more than the turkey had been.
The weather was bad again—grey, rainy and cold—so we stayed home to work on the dragon, play with gifts, and just be silly. It took forever, but we did finish putting the dragon together.
This 1000-piece dragon puzzle is too large for a normal size table. It was fun putting it together, but very challenging.
Note the detail within the wings and body of the dragon.
Sheila was caught off guard in a happy moment.
This really cold day before our return included the last of the bank runs. With all these trips into Saint John, we must have added an extra 200 miles to our total drive time. While we were in Saint John, we went back by Market Square so I could take some photos of the tourist attractions in the park outside.
This bronze moose stands in a park area outside Market Square. He didn’t appear to have a name, so I nicknamed him (?) “Moose-a-lini”.
Lesley, Bonney, and the moose shiver together. The moose is the one in center back!
These totem poles are axe carvings that took the artist a couple of days to complete.
(Left) This pole is supposed to be a clock. Beats me how you can tell time with it.
(Right) Outside Market Square are places to dine and drink outside...but not in the winter.
Sheila and Lesley think it was really cold here on this day. This time, they were right.
We had planned to have lunch at the Hilton Saint John restaurant, close to the lighthouse in the background. It was closed! So we found Vito Italian food that was excellent.
Our lunch restaurant was close to this old building that used to be the New Brunswick library, where Sheila had worked, but is now an art gallery.
At home, Lesley and I started an Eagle puzzle that I was given for Christmas. It was much more difficult than we expected. It looked so simple compared to the dragon but the lack of colors and contrast made it very tricky. It was finished about three-fourths of the way (from the bottom) before I had to re-box it.
A great symbol of Canada is the moose. One of these days I will actually see a live one on my visit, but not this time.
New Brunswick has two official languages: English and French. I feel some of my French has improved just reading the signs and packaging there.
Sheila decided to drive home with us. Lesley decided to leave some of her things there and have them mailed to her later. We were packed and ready to go around five in the morning. I think we could have put more of Lesley’s things in the car. I had thought we’d have more room on the return just because most of the gifts would be left there. I wasn’t counting on having so many to bring home.
It was below zero (C) and Lesley’s car had a thick coat of dewy ice that made it difficult to open the doors. When she turned the key to warm up the car, the engine did not turn over. She tried multiple times and almost gave up before a slight spark brought the engine to life. We were anxious to get moving before any possible bad weather had a chance to move in. We’d heard gory stories about all the snow in Oregon and Colorado. As we left the driveway, there were a few snow flurries—finally a reason to wear my boots! When I say flurries, I mean, I counted at least 20 snowflakes.
It took about an hour to get to the border. It might have been shorter than that because the speed limit ranged between 80 and 100 kilometres/hour and Lesley was looking at the wrong speedometer, wondering why 80 seemed so fast and why she couldn’t get up to 100 on our 2-lane road. She eventually figured out she was going 80 miles/hour and slowed down. It’s a good thing the roads were dry and not icy. Our border crossing was just as uneventful returning to the U.S. early on a cold morning as it was going north. I think they don’t care much either way when one person is a Canadian citizen and another in the same vehicle is American.
As we traveled Highway 9 again, we discovered Maine is much prettier in the daylight than in pitch dark. We also discovered that the dark, early morning bathroom-less and gas-less road actually was lined with very prestigious homes. It’s probably a good thing we didn’t make the side-of-the-road stop we considered on our drive north. There could have been an overpopulation of security cameras.
We stopped in Lewiston, Maine, south of Bangor, for breakfast at Burger King. I don’t typically eat breakfasts or hamburgers at fast food places, so many of my morning meals consisted of hash browns. Here, I also had a vanilla milkshake. You’d be surprised at how many northern restaurants have “broken” milk shake machines in the winter!
Our original plan was to make it to Frederick, Maryland (Ijamsville) in time for me to spend the night with my friend, Lois. Unfortunately it was very late by the time we arrived in Newark, Delaware, so we stopped at the Days Inn there. After talking with Lois, we set it up so I could come by early in the morning for a short visit. Lois has a Bouvier des Flandres dog (more like a miniature pony) and Sheila is allergic to dogs, so while Lesley and Sheila had coffee and ate breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, I got to talk with Lois and her family. It was a nice, but quick visit and the first time I’d seen Lois’ home. Her son Alex and husband Dave were there, too. Alex has really grown since the last time I’d seen him. Lesley and Sheila picked me up about an hour later, bringing donut holes for me!
It didn’t take long for us to get hungry again, so we found another Pizza Hut, this time in Daleville, Virginia. We had been to one sometime the day before, I think. All of our pizzas on this trip were great, but three or four times in 10 days is going a little overboard.
I had a severe headache for much of this drive and kept expecting to run into rain. With the lack of rain, I decided maybe traffic exhaust fumes were the cause. I was not able to get much relief from medicine, so I spent much of the drive napping. At some point while I was sleeping, Sheila had leaned forward in the front seat, as if to pick up something from the floor, the seatbelt going with her so she could stretch her back. It was apparently so comfortable that she fell asleep that way for about thirty minutes!
Our goal was to reach Knoxville (Kodiak), Tennessee, where we did not choose the Ramada again, but spent the night at the Best Western Dumplin Valley Inn. So far, Lesley has done all the driving, so I offered to drive to get snacks, since we were too exhausted to go to a restaurant for dinner. Trying to match my former ten minutes of driving, we rode from one side of the hotel to the other where there was a convenience store and a Wendy’s. After circling a couple of times, I think I might have accumulated about six minutes behind the wheel. Our hotel rooms had microwaves, so we brought back popcorn, picked up some extra cash and coffee from the store, and a new “vanilla” Frosty from Wendy’s for me...as if we didn’t have enough stacks still remaining from our ride.
Another five o’clock start had us driving in the dark...again. After sunrise, we reverted to our game playing of looking for license plates and pointing out birds for Lesley’s mom, and other animals along the way. We saw quite a few hawks and spotted the snow geese we had seen on the way north. Well, maybe it wasn’t the same ones, just their relatives. One time, Lesley piped up pointing, “There’s a...” then realized it was nothing and said, “’...not-a-bird’.” We laughed at her mistake. I asked what her ‘not-a-bird’ looked like. She said it was square. After a while, I pointed in the other direction and said, “There’s another not-a-bird!” We laughed. You’ve got to do something to stay awake!
I still had my severe headaches up to a certain point, when I commented that my headache was gone. It was such a noticeable, drastic relief.
We stopped for lunch at a Bonanza steak house in Forrest City, Arkansas, hoping for a tasty, hearty meal. We were highly disappointed. Lesley had some kind of steak that was supposed to be a filet, I think. I ordered chicken fried steak, took one bite, and spit it out. I guess Sheila was the smart one. She had ordered shrimp that was semi-edible.
After lunch we ran into the heavy rainstorms that had tormented the DFW area the day before, but the winds that we had heard about did not come with them. I called Rudy from my cell phone to get a weather report, telling him where on the road that we were. He apparently looked on a weather map on his computer and said we were in the middle of a cell and had one more to go through. By this time we were already hungry and hoping to find more gas, but weren’t successful until we passed Texarkana—where it continued to rain—always trying to get to the opposite side of a city before stopping.
We found civilization and stopped in Mt. Pleasant for gas and dinner at Two SeĖoritas restaurant. While waiting on our food, it dawned on me that we were nearly home and I didn’t have any stories to write for Pam about finding men. Normally, I tend to not look at strangers faces, but I decided if I was going to find an attractive man, I’d better start looking in this restaurant. I scanned the room for anyone who looked mildly okay and found a gentleman with a moustache seated by the windows, across from a woman. He looked a little bit old, and when I tried to put an age with him, I discovered the number was close to my own age! Oh well, it’s not like he was available anyway. Then a waitress crossed by our table, leading four people toward a nearby one. The first person caught my eye as having a pleasant face, but the blond hair was in a pompadour hairstyle. I don’t think I’d want to be seen on a date with them. After they were seated, and the person was facing me, I finally figured out it was a woman who looked about 40. No wonder I’m alone. Dinner was very good and we’ve reconsidered previous statements about Mt. Pleasant not being pleasant.
As we drove back through Sulphur Springs, we waved at Mary Ann again. At the point where Highway 380 meets I-30, Lesley was extremely tired. I insisted on driving and finished our journey about 30 miles later. We arrived at Lesley’s somewhere between 7:00 and 10:00 PM. It seemed like midnight and we were so tired, it didn’t really matter. We went to bed early...really early for me.
I headed for home from Lesley’s around 11:30 in the morning, in time to spend New Year’s Eve alone. I was unpleasantly surprised at finding my old 20” computer monitor had died. Well, it still powered on and if I clicked around on the dark screen, I could hear applications opening up. Also, my speaking clock told me what time it was. I decided it was time to upgrade to the Apple 22” flat panel monitor for my Mac and got it ordered in the afternoon. It should be here Thursday or Friday.
The license plate game ended when I arrived home. North Dakota barely got checked off when I saw it in Las Colinas.
√ New Hampshire
√ New Jersey
X New Mexico
√ New York
√ North Carolina
√ North Dakota
√ Rhode Island
√ South Carolina
X South Dakota
√ Washington DC
√ West Virginia
X British Columbia
√ New Brunswick
X Newfoundland & Labrador
√ Nova Scotia
X Prince Edward Island
In addition, I’ve added to my list of states visited, mostly marking off several New England states. I tried my best to misdirect Lesley to Vermont and North Carolina since we were within about 10 miles of each, but she would only go out of her way when she got lost. I have several states to go and have possibly been through some of these, but I’m not counting Utah and New Mexico just because I stood at Four Corners.