Friday, 26 August 2016

The Last Few Months

We arrived in Canada in early afternoon, and went directly to Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

Blue sky and a lovely large site
It is one of the parks which open before the May long weekend, but we shared it with only 4 or 5 other RV’ers. Weather was sunny but coolish, so we were glad we had the trailer and not tents!

But not too many people here yet...
We enjoyed dinner with our nephew his wife and the two children, 3 and a couple of months. The 3-yr old loves books, so I read 5 or 6 before dinner, including Jillian Jiggs!!

Then we drove straight to Sandbanks Provincial Park.

Not summer yet, so not many leaves, but a private site

Not many people here either...

beautiful purple wildflowers are out and the lake looks inviting

We were looking at homes in the area of Wellington where we had friends at Wellington on the Lake. We had checked the internet for developments to the east of Toronto which also had a place for us to store the trailer. This seemed like the ideal place. Since we now had to be in Ontario for 5 months of the year, for another 5 years, we decided that rather than pay the storage unit fees and RV site fees for those 5 months, we would put that money into a house. We met with a lawyer and with the representative of Sandbank Homes which was developing the Adult Life-style Community, looked at a few homes and plans. 

Over the next couple of weeks, living in Toronto at Rouge Valley Regional Park,

Backing on to the Rouge River


View from the bedroom window


and several weekends at Sandbanks, between doctors and dentist appointments and quick visits with family and to the storage locker, we crunched numbers, and eventually put an offer in on a house-to-be-built! We chose the Reisling model – perfect name for us right!!- So, now we own a plot of dirt, waiting for the shovel to be put in the ground.


The house behind us is in fact the same model as ours- except we will have a fireplace in the centre, with a window on wither side in the centre section. To the right is our bedroom, and to the left is the dining room.
One weekend we went on our first Airstream Rally with the Ontario Chapter of the WBCCI. This was an area of the province which we knew little about. We spent a couple of days getting to know other Ontario Airstreamers


Happy Hour- enjoyed by all!

Catered dinner Saturday night

Rows of Airstreams are beautiful sight

and walking around Paris.


Main Street in Paris



Bridge over the Grand River

View of balconies overlooking the Grand River


Our Airstream had to be taken to have its regular maintenance checkup at Can-Am. We took the opportunity to visit friends from Montreal who had moved to Tillsonburg.


Their new bungalow in Tillsonburg


We spent a delightful couple of days visiting and being driven around the area.


Newly plowed fields


Peter's favourite back road through the countryside

Port Burwell's lighthouse

Submarine at Port Burwell

Unusual wild animals in a farmyard.

A lovely park by the water

Boat Houses on a canal


Port Rowan, the Birdhouse Capital


On one of our trips to Sandbanks, we met up with our friends, had a lovely lunch in Picton at the Bean Counter, and toured the area, ending up at the Devils’ Wishbone winery. It is a unique old barn with several small tasting rooms. They also grow all their own grapes to make excellent VQA wines.

We have spent the last few weeks looking for a place where we could live in the trailer for the summer and fall. After looking at a variety, some good, some really bad, we found a site at Cedardale Seasonal Resort Community near the Murray Canal.


Murray Canal on County Road 64


Cedardale Seasonal Resort from the back gate


Although it is owned by Killam Properties, the managers take personal pride in the whole resort. We have had our granddaughter, fiancé and the 2 children for a wonderful visit. We spent a good part of the afternoon on the beach.

Wellington is a delightful small community. Everyone we have met and spoken to loves it here, and has nothing but positive comments.


The whole town turns out for events in the park
We have now decided the colours of the siding, stone, trim, garage and front doors, and choosing the cupboards for the kitchen and the fireplace for the Great Room. These are exciting times!


We have made it to the Air Show at CFB Trenton


This whole was packed with a snaking line of people waiting to go through security when we arrived


Such fun to watch...
 
and to the Craft Show in Cobourg.

one of 4 huge tents full of exhibitors


Who knew - unless you have been through this- how many small details there are, from the shape of the railing by the stairs, the type of newel post, the design of the spindles, to the grout on the floor in the bathroom, the kitchen and the back splash in the kitchen. All this after the big stuff like tiles, hardwood colour, and board width, cupboards –how high, colour, style and even colour of the inside of the drawers- the fireplace stone, and style. It certainly is fun though. I was glad we had made separate appointments on separate days to choose the kitchen, and then the interior upgrades and even where we wanted electric outlets, then outside colours for the house, and even the eaves and facets.

Well, they are all chosen and paid for! We are now looking at bedroom suites for our room and rugs for the Great Room.

A break from decisions and looking came when we drove up to Ottawa for John’s cousin’s wedding.

We sent them off in true Nautical Fashion. [The flags spell "Just Married"]

We spent a few days at the beautiful Wesley Clover Campground.




If they only had sewer hookups…. However, as it is all bedrock around here, this is not a possibility. I have been dealing with a pinched sciatic nerve for the past couple of months, so unfortunately I didn’t get much sightseeing. John fared a bit better as he rode his bike into the city.

Back to Cedardale!

Just out for a walk on a county road! She was in the middle of the road until we stopped and edged her to the side.


The pinched sciatic nerve that I have been dealing with for the past couple of months had become worse, so now I am at physio three times per week while I wait for an appointment with a specialist in September. This is only a delay in our travels around The County [Prince Edward County]. We haven’t been able to tour many wineries or go back to Montreal as I am not walking too well, nor can I tolerate a long car ride! However, this too will improve!

Meanwhile we are enjoying short drives around the county and still waiting for the first shovel to be put into the ground.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Zion to Santa Fe to Ontario

We left Zion on a beautiful day,

This little critter watched carefully while we dumped
on the way out of Watchman Campground

heading up


One last look down the canyon,
and through the tunnel for the last time. 



and a last look at the unusual sandstone.
But we stopped to visit several more places before we began the non-stop portion of our journey. We drove south on Hwy 89  on a wide open plateau,

Across a plateau

then back into colourful Zion-like mountains



Colours of Zion

often with the sand-dune markings in the sandstone. The road across the bottom of Utah was straight with mountains to our left and sandy desert to our right. 


desert to the right, mountains to the left


The road takes a huge U-turn around boulders and cliffs.

Through a huge rock cut

and boulders.


As we came out of the U, spread out before us was a huge plain, with Monument Valley-like formations rising from the floor of the valley.

Formations rising from the valley floor
It was an incredible sight.


Similar to Monument Valley...


Just before Page, we turned off at a Visitor Centre.


Outside display at Visitor Center

At the foot of Grand Staircase Escalante



This was a lucky stop. The ranger, Merle Graffam, on duty is in his words, ’an amateur paleontologist’.




In fact he was extremely knowledgeable about the dinosaurs. He had discovered one vertibrae when he was out for a walk on a nearby mesa in 1999. This turned out to be an almost complete dinosaur skeleton 15 feet long and over one ton with 15 inch claws, of a new type, one of a group of feathered animals called Therizinosaurs. Subsequently-10 years later in 2009- it was named after him, Nothronychus graffami. Since the late 1990’s there have been over 4000 dinosaurs found within 35 miles of this Centre, including four new species. At the present time there are 3 teams of paleontologists working on digs on the plateau above the Centre.

The Grande Staircase Escalante plateau 


Merle kept us captivated for over an hour with his knowledge and expertise. Interesting facts we learned include: it has now been proven that Cretaceous carnivorous dinosaurs had feathers; the shark has not changed from over 200 million years ago; and we were reminded that chickens are dinosaurs.

From here, we went to Antelope Canyon. This is Navajo land, and to see the canyon, you have to go with a Navajo guide. Five of us and 2 dogs in our group were taken in a truck, along a wide wash,

Driving along the wash


to the mouth of the canyon. There are 5 different tour companies which have tours to the Canyon, so there were quite a few trucks there. 


Trucks carrying clients to Antelope Canyon


The entrance, rather ordinary...

Our guide had us wait until most of them had come out. This gave us time to linger in each of the chambers to take pictures.

but wait...


the views

were anything BUT ordinary.

Around each bend, unbelievable colours, sculptured sides

entrance to the second chamber


stunning views, looking up

and ahead...

and a shot along a wall...

Incredible colours

He was most helpful showing us the best camera settings, and the best angles to take incredible pictures. It was an expensive trip, but well worth the money for the experience of awe-inspiring sights, each one surpassing the last.

The end of the Canyon


Looking back into the canyon...

Incredible sights as we retraced our steps,

 back the way we had come...

After spending the night at Walmart in Page, AZ, we drove on a plain at 5,500 ft, through a rock cut at 6,000+ ft,

Through a massive rock cut

where around the corner we got an incredible view of a huge plain in a valley. 

As we came around the rocks,


the valley spread out below,

with mountains and cliffs off in the distance.


The road wound down the mountain.

The road wound down the mountain.



We took the road off towards Tuba


Towards Tuba, some interesting formations
for a few miles, to view the dinosaur tracks.


Driving into the Dinosaur tracks site...


This is also Navajo land, so we had a very interesting guide, Nick. He was very knowledgeable about where the tracks were and what they were showing,


Nick used water to fill in the tracks


Two different dinosaurs were crossing paths

Nick showing us the outline of a whole small dinosaur

A very large track


but we had half an hour of a disjointed stream of comments mixed in with interesting information. 

We continued on to Winslow Arizona to Homolovi State Park

A beautiful pull-through site in the desert

for a couple of days. The first day we drove to the Homolovi II Pueblo ruins,

An explanation



The ruins


There are pottery shards throughout the ruins


A Kiva

The highest mountains


The importance of the mesas

The mesas

then the spent the rest of the day driving through the Petrified Forest and up to the Painted Desert. After an interesting tour of the Petrified Forest Visitors Centre,

The Museum and Visitor Center


How old are these rocks...



How the the trees petrified...

we walked the Long Log Trail out behind.

Petrified logs on the trail


petrified log up close

on the trail

 Stephen Mather laid the foundation for the National Park Services
The “logs” strewn across the land are incredible colours.

Wonderful range of colours


The path also goes through a section of badlands, where nothing grows.

badlands

As we drove through the “Forest”, we stopped at Viewpoints

Log bridge


How?
and overlooks, sometimes looking into canyons,


looking into a canyon

with a petrified log perched on a buttte

or in the crevices.

Another canyon overlook


Newspaper Rock

sometimes driving on high mesas

looking at the "Teepees".
or on high grassy plains. Sometimes logs are strewn beside the road in the grass,


Logs strewn across the landscape

sometimes on the sides and floors of the canyon. John walked to the floor of the blue mesa canyon, while I walked the rim.





Blue Mesa

View down the canyon at Blue Mesa


We couldn’t get on to I-40, so we had to drive to the Painted Desert. The colours here in the cliffs and canyons are incredible.


We turned a corner and this sight met us...

The Inn, now a museum


 We stopped at the lookouts and at the Inn which is an historical museum, but unfortunately was closed.



Painted Desert

Why the colours?

These are more of the Chinles formation- deep canyons in the desert, with deep reddish brown cliffs.

While we were driving through the Park, we got 2 separate stone chips in the windshield- 3 years of travel, even up in the Yukon chip-seal roads without a mark. We were not happy campers. This meant, before we could leave, we had to get these fixed. Luckily, Winslow had a chip-repair man. But instead of just checking out the town quickly, we were delayed. When the chips were repaired, we parked and walked into the historic downtown, to the Eagles’ corner:

It looks like a building, but it is only a facade now!




Well, I'm a-standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford
Slowin' down to take a look at me


And had a latte at a coffee shop in an old bank across the street.

Excellent Lattes!


Then we were on our way again, up to Chinle




Plains with some cliffs

to see Canyon de Chelly [pronounced -de Chay]. This is a National Monument, but run by the Navajo. The sites were various sizes, not too many large enough to accommodate easily our 28ft Airstream. Sites were fairly level, but, by this point in the year, should have been cleared of fall leaves and the prickles which were hiding in them.

One of the stray "Campground dogs"


The site we chose, a nice setting, level and quiet, but not cleared

The first afternoon, after visiting the Visitors Centre,



A Hogan

Summer shelter
we drove along the south rim of the canyon, stopping off at a number of viewpoints to look at the fabulous canyon.

The road around the rim of the canyon, often on Navajo land,
then on National Monument land as we neared the rim of the canyon


Beautiful colours and desert varnish, fertile farmland in the canyon

The path across the slickrock was often marked with smaller rocks

Beautiful colour and sculpted rock, with farmland at the bottom

A farm at the bottom of the canyon






The next morning, we drove the north side of the canyon. We followed a path out along the slickrock to the edge of the canyon to see amazing views.


Slickrock but not slippery
At one point we looked down on the Antelope House Pueblo ruins.



Place of  Running Antelope - Antelope House
Building began in AD 700 and continued off and on for 600 years




Antelope Petroglyph


Once again we were in awe of the colours and sculpted sides of the canyon.



Another viewpoint, The Mummy Cave Ruin, had three sections of a village.



Mummy Cave
The east and west caves comprise living and ceremonial rooms.  

The East cave

The middle tower on the ledge was added later by the people who migrated from Mesa Verde in the 1280’s. 

A branch off this road led to Massacre Cave, the site where, in 1805, 115 Navajo took shelter on a ledge from a Spanish military expedition. The Spanish spotted them and killed all the people on the ledge.

Massacre Cave by the ledge


Looking down on the ledge with the cave behind the bushes on the left

How far they fell...

After lunch, John took the hike to the White House at the bottom of the canyon. This long winding walk down is the only place you can enter the canyon without an expensive Navajo guide. It starts with a walk through a tunnel 




and, often on a narrow ledge,

Not too bad here...


but, this is why I stayed back.


to a path along the canyon floor,

Through a tunnel at the bottom,


to the Canyon floor, and

The White House with

Petroglyphs behind it.

A different perspective on the walls of the canyon
then an arduous climb back 600ft. up. But being able to get close to the White House ruins and being able to see the petroglyphs up close was well worth it.

Our next stop was Sante Fe. What a beautiful city!  We stayed at an RV Park on the outskirts of town, Santa Fe Skies.
The back patio in the daytime,


and at night. We saw many building with similar 'bags' which lit up at night.


This was a well-kept, well run park. Our site was level, graveled and long with a hill at the end, but we could put the truck in front of the Airstream.

The hill made hitching up a bit of a challenge, but manageable
The city centre is a collection of distinctive and charming mud-coloured buildings in the mountains of northern New Mexico.


One side of the central Plaza


A typical street

One of the Museums
Nearly half of the city of 68,000 is employed in the arts industry. Established in 1610, it is the second oldest city in the US [after St Augustine in Florida]. It is laid out with a central plaza,

The central Plaza


the social hub of the city, fronted by the Palace of Governors.

Native American vendors in front of the Governors Palace,
chosen by lottery each day


There are stringent building codes that define and maintain the Old Santa Fe style, from the 8” thickness of the walls to the shade of the stucco finish, of brown, tan or local earth tones.


A hidden courtyard,


Even the parking garage, 

and the stores 


This makes for a stunning downtown area like no other city in the US. It is a city of art,

Outside the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Art



Sculptures on the street

"King of Jacks"


galleries,

A Private Gallery of Native Art


New Mexico Museum of Art

Worrell Gallery

restaurants and unique shopping. We walked around the central plaza, with the Native American artisans from some of New Mexico’s 22 pueblos and tribes displaying their jewellery and pottery in front of the Palace of the Governors, and various musical groups playing throughout the park. In the centre is the Soldiers’ Monument dedicated to those who died in battles [both with Indians and in the Civil War].

Musicians playing in front of the Soldiers' monument 
On one corner is the New Mexico Museum of Art. A block away is La Fonda, once a Harvey House, offering respite to travellers since 1607. 


La Fonda, where gunfight once took place in the lobby,
We walked past the Cathedral,

The Cathedral



to Loretto Chapel, with its unique hanging staircase.


Loretto Chapel, with The Inn


The story, just inside the door

The Staircase

The front of the Chapel

Entrance to The Inn, connected to The Chapel


The Inn
 Then we walked on up the Santa Fe Trail to the oldest church


Sam Miguel Church, the oldest church in the USA

and the oldest house,


Plaque on the Oldest House

The Oldest House


sketch hung inside


Inside of the house


before to making our way to the State Government buildings.


State Government built in the shape of the sun symbol


Then we drove to Canyon Road, the art lovers’ mecca. This is the street of Artistes and Galleries.


A whole yard full of wind whirlies


The ultimate flower garden

a unique water fountain

or add these to you patio- a but hard, but unique

the front yard of a home...


Magnificent horses of Siri Hollander


On our last day we decided to go to the Museum Hill to see the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture,

Steps from the Parking lot to Milner Plaza


A magnificent sculpture dominated the massive Plaza

sculpture in courtyard

outdoor section of the Museum

The theme of this section is Native Women sculpting Women

one of our favourites

three of the beautiful sculptures

outside the restaurant where we had lunch


before heading downtown to view the Georgia O’Keefe Gallery and to a last dinner at The Shed.


Lunchtime at The Shed's patio We had a couple of outstanding meals here.

The next day we began the long 3,200 km trek back to Ontario through New Mexico
Flat, straight I-25


not much change on SR-56 after Springer

until we turned north to go to Clayton Lake State Park, NM

to the border the first  night,



Path beside the lake

The path across the dam


Dinosaur tracks, but no Nick to interpret them

View of the Campsite from the dinosaur tracks


Oklahoma,

more green fields, and grain elevators in every small town
 as we scooted across Oklahoma


Kansas

Kansas- Dorothy and Toto!
Railway Bridge

Story behind the bridge...

Kansas Scenery- green, with some trees

A beautiful site in Meare Lake State Park

However, delayed by 15 hours of rain, thunder and lightning.
Only the coots were happy! 

Rather odd washrooms- no roof

Kansas fields after the rain


Missouri,

Kansas City

Missouri River

More trees, less flat
Lots of billboards and road-kill!


Graham Cave State Park
Illinois, 
Green fields, and lots of water from the rain

Farming in Illinois


Indiana,

Cagles Mill Lake State Park- no one there but us
- not even the Host in over 200 sites


Indiana-the worst roads we have traveled on in 3 years!

Ohio, Pennsylvania

A short hop through Pennsylvania


Sighting of Lake Erie- almost back...

and New York.


A lot of vineyards in New York


Other than a rain delay in Kansas, and a short detour to tour the Airstream Plant in Jackson Center, Ohio,



we drove straight through to Ontario. 


Into Canada...