And All the Rest

    Old Hobbies Are New Again

    Chapter Four


    When our kids were very young, we made three cross country trips; first when we moved from Issaquah to Washington DC. Second when we moved back to Gig Harbor, and third when we went out to Michigan to visit our friends.  Additionally when we lived in Washington DC we traveled up and down the Eastern Seaboard from Main to South Carolina.

    During these years of extensive car travel I learned to cross-stitch.  I have never been able to read in the car (remember my car-sick issue?) but for some reason I can work cross stitch.  I think it is because I can take a stitch or two and look up, and continue.  Unlike reading.  Anyway, it works and I enjoyed doing it.

    I made many cross stitch works of art in those years, most notably two beautiful Christmas stockings, that to this day, are used each year for each of my boys.image

    But as time went on, and fewer car trips were part of it, I put the cross stitch away.  Life was busy and complicated and my quilting became my crafty hobby of choice.  Two cross stitch projects sat idle, waiting for me to pick them up.  One of them has been waiting seventeen years.  The other about seven.

    When I retired one of the things on my list I really wanted to do was begin stitching again.  So two days before we left on this road trip I dug out one of the projects and put it in the car.

    It’s difficult to pick up something like this and start again.  Knowing where to start first of all and getting the rhythm.  Most astonishing to me though is how aware I am that my eyesight has deteriorated so much since I stitched seven years ago.

    But over the past two weeks I have worked away during the hours and hours in the car and feel I have the rhythm back and I am thourghly enjoying watching this piece emerge.  It’s a difficult pattern, I had forgotten.  But it makes the hours fly by and it feels good to accomplish it again.

    I’m only about half done with this piece, I have no plans for this piece right now either. It’s unlikely I will finish it before we get home.

    But it makes the time go…listening to audible, stitching away and 3100 miles behind me.

    Travel Around the World

    The Crossing

    Chapter Four - Day 12 - 2500 Miles

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    As we drive the expanse that is Canada we are listening to John Steinbeck’s masterpiece “The Grapes of Wrath”.  I’ve read the book and seen the movie, but listening to the book on Audible is mesmerizing.  And so apropos.  I chose this book because in a couple of weeks we will be traveling on the great Route 66.  But as we listen to it now in Canada we find subtle similarities, and acknowledging our journey and fab fifty life is in part thanks to people like the Joad’s who paved the way.

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    The crossing of the great country of Canada is different than I imagined.  Having driven three times across the United States I was expecting it to be the same.  But it is not.  Canada seems so much larger – the distances between our chosen destinations seeming endless.  Hundreds of miles between towns or cities.  And sometimes between gas stations or services.  Sparsely populated in a way that makes the thought ring truer than ever before – “out in the middle of imagenowhere”.  Like the Joad’s on Route 66.

    We left Winnipeg Beach on Friday morning at 7am and fell into bed that night at 9pm with 600 miles done.  Pulling Betty on the Trans-Canada Highway we go a maximum speed of 60mph.  There is minimal traffic, mostly just truckers traversing the country just like us.  A truck stop service station appears about every 100 miles.  Just gas and fast food – little more.  We knew our drive from Winnipeg on Friday was going to be a long one.  We wanted to cover as many miles as we could.  We imagethought it would be easier to drive until we couldn’t drive no more and then get a hotel.

    It was a good idea, but it didn’t work out exactly as we imagined.  There were plenty of hotels as we passed through the city of Thunder Bay on the border of Manitoba and Ontario.  But it was still early and we kept going.  Then there was nothing.  For miles and miles and miles.  Nothing but truckers.  Nothing but signs warning to watch out for moose.  Nothing more.

    Finally not wanting to drive too much after dark we pulled off in the town of Nipigon.  Three old style motels stared at us in varying states of decay on the side of the highway – no doubt built in the era of the Joad Family.  We chose the one that looked the least offensive and checked in.  In hindsight, we shouldimage have just pulled into a truck stop and slept in Betty – the motel offered little comfort.  It actually was more of a hassle – as we needed to pull clothes and toiletries out of Betty to have in the motel room.  In Betty we have a system.  A comfortable routine.  The Joad’s had a routine too.  Pull out the tarp and the mattresses and fry up some pork.  Same thing each night – maybe not fancy but in the routine they found comfort.

    We slept well though, despite the shabby room and were on the road again at 8:30am.  The night before we had passed into the Eastern timezone – our inability to know what time it is following us across the miles.

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    Fog was our companion on this morning as we continued our eastward quest.  But within the first hour the fog burned off and a very bright sunny morning greeted us – the sun in the East shining right in our eyes.  As we drove the Joad’s were traveling through the Mojave Dessert, hungry and poor as they prayed their old jalopy would carry them through.  Meanwhile the Lund’s stopped for lunch at a truck stop A&W – the only option we could find.

    And then we descended down along Lake Superior.  Beautiful and blue and gigantic.  For a girl from

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    Washington it is difficult to look at an expanse of water like that and accept it’s not salt water.  So big and vast.  We entered Lake Superior Provincial Park and admired the endless miles of pine trees and rust colored deciduous trees on the rolling hills around us.  The road pulled us away from the great lake and wound it’s way through hundreds of smaller lakes and ponds on either side of the road.  The Joad’s arrived in California’s lush green valley’s with no where to go, and pulled into one of many “Hooverville’s” for vagrants.   The Lund’s pulled into the Agawa Bay Campground right on the shores of Lake Superior and counted their blessings to find such an exquisitely beautiful place to spend the next couple of days.

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    We snagged one of the few spots with electrical hook-ups and got Betty all set up and then we took a four mile hike on the coastal trail.  I spent time on this hike practicing some new i-phone photo techniques I have been learning.  There is no wi-fi and we don’t know when we might find it again, and we took the time to enjoy being out of touch.  Meanwhile Ma Joad fretted how she would manage to keep the “fambly” together with no way of communicating if they got separated.

    We took our chairs down to the shore to watch the sunset.  We had watched the sunrise as we drove this morning, and then we sat together and watched it set over Lake Superior.  I turned to my husband and smiled, “What are we doing here?” it’s like a dream.

    For the Joad’s it was more of a nightmare.

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    California did not live up to their dreams and expectations.  Life just was hard – no matter where they were.

    Day two at Agawa Bay dawned bright and gorgeous and I went for a five mile run.  We then packed up a picnic and headed out to do some hiking.  What a perfect day to walk – solitary trails through woods and lakes.  Stunning beauty.  We definitely feel this is our favorite spot yet.  It feels like real camping (bonfire too) and being right on the lake is special.  Lake Superior – not just any lake.  One of the Great ones.  An icon of America.  Here we are.image

    I’ll post this blog when we find wi-fi again, most likely on Monday, Day 12, when we reach Sault St. Marie.  In the meantime we relax here in Ontario Canada – a long way from home.  A long way from the trials of the Joad Family.  But thankful for them and those who persevered.

    And All the Rest

    I Am Insignificant

    Chapter Four - In the Moment


    As we traipse across Canada this week I stare out the window and let my mind be still. It’s beautiful country, varied and often empty. Golden and green against a azure sky.

    Its easy to feel small in a place like this. Insignificant.

    I don’t mind the feeling. Or the quiet. In fact, when we do find wi-fi and I reconnect I feel assaulted by noise. Information. Hate. Sadness.

    I don’t miss that. I don’t care about Brad and Angelina. I can’t stand to read another ignorant post about Presidential candidates.  I’m tired of theimage rhetoric and hysteria and forgotten original message over not standing for the National Anthem.  And my heart just can’t take another senseless murder.

    Think me a coward – go ahead. I don’t care. I am at peace here.

    There was a time in my life when I was more vocal, thinking if I was loud enough I might be heard. Make a difference.image

    But that was a different me. Long ago. Today I am here. Present. Insignificant.

    Just being. In the moment. That’s all we have.

    Satisfied. Present.

    Travel Around the World

    I left my heart in Manitoba.

    Chapter Four

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    I wasn’t expecting it. In fact I had no expectations whatsoever. I knew nothing about Manitoba and had barely ever given it a thought. Until today.

    I’ve fallen hard. So pristine and natural. So beautiful and quiet. My kinda place.

    And I’ve only been here a day – and I’m only seeing a fraction of this giant province. But I like what I see. Sure it helps that the weather is amazing. Cold nights but sunny and 75 degrees during the day.

    It also helps that we are here at Lake Winnipeg in the off season.  The small town here reminds me of Rehoboth or Cape Cod on a much smaller scale.  In the early part of the 1900’s it was a resort town – somewhat like that resort in the movie Dirty Dancing.  Today it’s a summer retreat for camping and water sports.  But it’s pretty quiet in late September. Most of the houses shuttered for the winter and many of the shops only open on the weekend

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    I ran four miles this morning – smiling all the while. We just ate a picnic in the sun and now are enjoying a beer while a write this. The only sound I hear is the wind in the trees and the lightly lapping water at the lakes edge.

    Better get up and love me some more Manitoba before we leave in the morning.  I think we’ll spend the afternoon hiking.



    Travel Around the World

    Rolling Down the Road – Week One

    Chapter Four


    Thursday marks the end of week one of Chapter Four of the Grand Adventure.  Our week living in 11 foot pink Betty has been “interesting”.  A few challenges have presented themselves, but nothing we can’t handle. After all, that’s why it’s called an adventure right?

    As of Wednesday evening we have traveled 1560 miles since leaving Gig Harbor last Thursday.  Tonight finds us all cozy in my favorite campground so far, Lake Winnipeg Beach, about an hour north of Winnipeg Manitoba.

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    Our first “campground” in Issaquah was convenient to see old friends and to attend the Bonnie Raitt concert, but boy was it noisy!  Right next to Interstate 90 and we seriously had to yell to hear each other over the din of traffic.  Our third night we pulled into an RV park after dark in Creston British Columbia.  It was small but we only needed to sleep.  We didn’t set up the canopy or do much else before falling into bed after a long day of driving.  Shortly after falling asleep a loud and close thunderstorm descended upon us.  Poor Betty has never seen the likes of this before.  The noise of the rain pummeling the metal roof was tremendous.  The following morning imagepacking up to leave again with everything soaking wet was depressing

    But quickly the weather changed to bright autumn sun.  The weather was so great and with plenty of time to spare we decided to spend two nights in Medicine Hat.  We did some laundry and then took a nice long walk in a beautiful riverfront park where the crisp sunny fall air coupled with the brilliant blue sky and the cotton wood and ginkgo trees dressed in gold and orange made us feel we were walking in a painting.  Stunning.

    Factoid – the name Medicine Hat comes from a Blackfoot Indian word that described a hat worn by the Indian Medicine Man.  Medicine Hat is a major natural gas region.  The city’s nickname is “Gas City”.  Not sure that’s the best tourism marketing name…if you get my drift.

    Betty had a minor short-circuit while we were in

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    Medicine Hat.  This meant we spent the first very cold night (in the 30’s) without our heater.  But my amazing husband was able to pinpoint the problem (just a loose wire) and had us back in business in time for coffee in the morning. We had our heater on night two, but some clouds had come in and it wasn’t nearly as cold on night two.

    WiFi is sporadic, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  I finished one book and have started another.  We played two games of Scrabble one night and I actually won the first one.  First time in 34 years of marriage I beat my husband at scrabble.  That probably would never have happened if I had wi-fi to keep me staring at my phone!

    On Tuesday morning we headed East again and

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    shortly crossed the border into Saskatchewan.  Check this one off the list.  My first time in Saskatchewan.  I’ve been to five Canadian provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.  On this trip I will add Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.  The list of must see’s is getting shorter.

    Apparently if you live in Saskatchewan there is a law you must drive a truck.  A big truck.  Of course I’m not serious but everybody drives great big trucks.  The look of astonishment on great big burly Canadian men driving their great big burly trucks as we float by with pink Betty is definitely amusing. It cracks me up every time.

    We arrived at a beautiful riverside park in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan early enough in the day that we were once again able to enjoy the beautiful fall weather.  The trees are well ahead in their fall colors compared to back home and our timing seems to be just about perfect to see the peak of color in this area.I ’m keeping my fingers crossed this will be true as we make our way east to Quebec and then down into New York.

    We decided to go out to dinner instead of cooking in Moose Jaw, mostly because we were in search of wi-fi.  We ended up eating a mediocre meal – very

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    sloooooowllllly – so we could spend two hours on wi-fi catching up with family, friends and doing a few weekly chores online.

    Factoid – The city’s name Moose Jaw has two possible origins.  The first is from the Plains Cree Indian word that means warm place by the river, indicative of the protection Moose Jaw valley has from the Coteau range.  The other theory on the name comes from the map surveyors who called the area Moose Jaw Bone Creek with the Moose Jaw river apparently looking like the jaw of a moose.

    Only one night in Saskatchewan and we were on the road again, to Winnipeg Manitoba (check off another one) arriving late in the day.  We spent about ten hours driving, but we don’t mind doing this when we know we can have two days of rest.  We arrived at the most beautiful campground we have seen yet, Winnipeg Beach Provincial Park. It’s a huge campground right on this gorgeous lake.  But there is only about half a dozen people here.  Our spot is perfectly situated between the lake and the lady’s room!  Score!  We made Peanut Thai Noodles for dinner and ate outside as the sunset.image

    Factoid – the word Winnipeg is also Cree and means muddy waters.  From what I can see, the lake is not.

    It’s easy to cook in Betty, as long as you plan ahead.  There is no oven, so stove top items only.  That’s no problem.  During the past week we have had Taco Salad, Cowboy Potatoes, Bean and Cheese Quesadilla, Eggs and Bacon, Spinach Salad and Peanut Thai Noodles.  No one is going hungry on this trip.

    The weather looks good here in Winnipeg, so we are going to take two days here and enjoy ourselves.  We will head to Ontario on Friday.

    So that is week one done – Betty is happy to be on the road – and so are we.

    The adventure continues…

    And All the Rest

    A Visit to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

    Day 2 Chapter 4

    A large Chum Salmon jumps onto the fish ladder

    We didn’t venture very far to our first stop on Betty’s Big Adventure, only 73 miles to the East King County Washington town of Issaquah.  We used to live in Issaquah, 25 years ago, and we still have friends here.  But we rarely get here to visit.

    The town has changed tremendously in 25 years – the traffic is crazy.  It’s no longer the sweet little town I remember.  But that said, there are some really wonderful things here, and if you live anywhere near I highly recommend you come to visit the Issaquah SalmonIMG_4784 Hatchery.

    From September and well into November the Issaquah Creek hosts the return of the salmon to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.  The hatchery is the only Washington State Hatchery within a city limits, so is unique in its easy access for the public.  The Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is a non-profit organization that works with the State DFWL to create an amazing interpretive, educational and artistic experience for visitors, young and old, to the hatchery.  We had so much fun visiting today – it really is remarkable.

    Issaquah has fully embraced the salmon as part of the community culture and throughout the town you will find businesses using salmon logos, schools decorated with kid salmon art, salmon sculptures and even businesses with salmon in IMG_4815their name.

    The main event of the year is the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival, held the first weekend of October every year (October 1-2, 2016).  The event draws tens of thousands of people with music, food, arts & crafts, a parade and most importantly, THE SALMON.

    This is the 46th annual festival this year, and it is, in my opinion, the best festival in the State of Washington.

    Check it out – Fabulous!

    Issaquah Salmon Days Festival


    Travel Around the World

    And away We Go! Chapter Four Begins!

    Betty is on the move!

    Betty today with her "sweeter" pink paint

    It’s been a whirlwind week as we have tried to decompress, see family, meet up with friends, unpack, do laundry, re-pack and pay bills. Sheesh. Somehow we will get it all done in the next 24 hours, before we depart on our six-week cross-country road trip in our cute little pink vintage trailer “Betty”.

    “Betty” might be feeling a little neglected this summer. It’s the third summer we have owned the little pink princess, but we have only used her once. But that is all about to change as we set out on a big tour.

    Ever since we purchased “Betty” I have wanted to drive her the length of Route 66. It’s about to IMG_4638happen. As part of the last hoorah with “Betty” before we sell her, we have planned a road trip that will cover nearly 10,000 miles and take us from Seattle to Quebec, New York to Arkansas, Oklahoma to Santa Monica and back to Seattle.

    She is polished and ready, packed and prepared and we hit the road Thursday. And of course we hope you will follow along with us.

    “Betty” is on the move! Chapter four begins. Fabulous!