Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Open Road

When you travel through four states with a combined population of just a bit over 4 million people, I suppose empty roads are to be expected. We've combined both country roads and the interstate and in some states they were equally as empty. When last I posted, we were in Montana and I said time would tell what I thought. Well friends, we thought it was magnificent.
Heading west we began in quite empty lands, followed by driving the winding roads through the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Clarification--Bruce drove!
The scenery was varied, gorgeous, gorgeous. As you can tell we were using the back roads and what a blessing it was.
Our mission was to get to Wyoming and spend the night in Gillette, a small town that has hotels. One thing out here that is a bit of a challenge is the lack of both towns and hotels so planning is well, quite the challenge.
The wide open spaces are so good for the soul. Just before we arrived in Gillette, while getting gas and using the facilities, I picked up a tourist brochure with Devils Tower on the cover, a place I'd read about and then promptly forgot. Honey, we must go there on our way to South Dakota!!!
And so we did. There is so much to say about that incredible land formation but in this post, a single photo will have to do. Once we are home I will blog about each state, but for now, I am merely just trying to stay in touch.
And let everyone know that we are doing fantastic! Soon after leaving here, we crossed the South Dakota line. Surprise!! Empty roads and beautiful scenery!
Before leaving Vancouver, I got it into my head that I really wanted to see Mt. Rushmore. Well, now we have and I can report it was very much worth the effort.
Up until then, the weather was great, mostly clear skies and temperatures in the middle 70's. Leaving Mt. Rushmore it absolutely poured! Since leaving Orlando we'd not seen a huge rainstorm, but now we have. The good news is that a rainbow followed!
Every one of these states are huge so getting across one state in a day is pretty much an impossibility if you don't want to ride in a car the whole day. The following day we headed to the Badlands. Again, so much to say with so little time to say it. Our first stop was Wall Drugs, advertised every mile or so along the highway.
Walls Drugs was a hoot, and quite the contrast to the strange world we were soon to see along a 20 mile loop off the interstate. Mostly what I can say is that pictures do not do it justice.
Sioux Falls, SD last night, Iowa today! Because we'd spent all of yesterday on the Interstate, I convinced B to take the back roads. More beauty. Lots and lots of corn fields that were beautiful. So much green.
Six or so hours in, we got back on the highway, only to exit once again because I'd seen that we were in The Bridges of Madison County country. Suffice it to say that we went to one of them.
Finally, one of the reasons we went through Iowa was to visit the Olive Garden Bruce built in Coralville. I will tell you more about it later but suffice it to say 9/11 is involved. Sadly, something went awry with my photo but I'm including it because I am so proud of him.
And now it is way too late for a traveling girl so I'm saying goodbye for now.

your friend,

Gail

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Return Journey: Days One Through Four

I remember Ann Goodpasture telling me that on their Canadian Rockies train trip, the fancy one, that there was serious overload of amazing sights, so much so that she became a little blase after a while. Not in this camp. The only problem is deciding what to show because I have very little time to blog. With that in mind, I'll show some highlights and perhaps, once we are home, I will fill in some gaps.

Let's get started, shall we?

It was mighty fun while it lasted, but the Pecks have flown away from Vancouver, albeit in the opposite direction of these birds, taken on our last night.
Our plan had been to leave on Monday, July 23, however, after thinking more about it, we decided to just get moving and leave on Sunday. This, while a good idea for getting the strip started, meant some changes in our route and overnight stays.

But, before we left, we met up with Beth, Zarita and Greg for our final dinner together in Vancouver. It seemed awfully significant that I'd chosen this place because, well frankly, if you've been reading for awhile, you know that the reason, more than anything, for agreeing to this move was because I wanted to live one year with defined seasons. My wish came true.
Time has flown since I plugged in my computer upon arrival at our hotel in Great Falls, Mt, leaving me with no real time to blog. So, without further ado, photographs with short caption. Deal?

Mt. Baker in Washington State dominates the landscape in Abbotsford, BC. One of many, many mountains to come.

Bridal Veil Falls off Highway One in BC. Gorgeous display, not well photographed with the bright sun!

Awesome sight on our way to Merritt, BC, a small town in British Columbia. There are a bunch of them and by that I mean small towns. Seriously small population in BC, a huge land mass.

Our first Best Western experience and it was surprisingly excellent.
Many, many of the photographs taken are through either the windshield, or the side window. Thus, I'm including this funny shot that I was surprised to find when I downloaded the photos.
The thing is, there are very few places to even pull over, so I took what I could get!

Originally we had planned to stay in Kelowna, the city in the wine growing region of BC. Everyone told us we had to see it, however, we only passed through. The city borders the huge Lake Kelowna.
A recurring theme will be either mountains or water, in this case a beautiful lake adjacent to the highway outside of Kelowna.
I was very impressed with the above lake, and in this instance, B was even able to pull over. Well, although pretty, shortly thereafter, I was squealing with delight when this appeared on my side of the car. Nowhere to pull over, and I mean nowhere, so this will have to suffice.
Honestly, it was stunning and there was even another one! Our destination was Revelstoke, BC, a ski town on the banks of the Columbia River. But first we pulled over at this crazy roadside farmstand/attraction.
As well as the spot where they put in the last spike for the Canadian Pacific Railroad.
The river was fast moving and well, lovely with the vehicle and railroad bridge crossing it as you entered town.
I will tell you that there is a serious shortage of signage on Canada One. The ones we saw were tiny, thus it was easy to miss places, however, we did manage to stop for a few moments here. More water, eh?


Finally we were on our way to Banff and oh the sights we saw!
Fortunately the road construction had us at a stop, allowing me to actually compose this one, through the window, of course.

Have you ever seen what is called a Natural Bridge? I'd not before seeing it in the Yoho National Park. The water color was a very pale shade of sage.
The rock is so interesting, I wish I had time for a close up. Alas, I don't because the fellow who took our money for the park entrance ($14), insisted we see a few things. We were glad for the tips. Emerald Lake was, well, pretty much there are no words for this kind of scenery.
Every bit as beautiful as we'd been told. The red canoes, brilliant! The falls he told us about are the third highest in Canada, reached by an insane road. BTW, although he is unaccustomed to this kind of driving, Mr. Peck was brilliant himself!
A switchback on the way down. I would have had a heart attack long before we'd reached this point. And I'm not kidding. Sweaty palms. that sort of things.
Back in the car, we continued on toward Lake Louise, a Banff must, or so we'd been told. Well friends, you see it through the trees and just know it's going to be something else.
The sun was shining crazy bright, and definitely in the wrong position for my photos, but the important thing is we saw it in person. Here is the best I could do.
What would a Camera Crazy post be without a shot of a bird. This one hung around B's feet without fear, before flying into the nearby tree.
By now, we'd been traveling for quite a long time and were glad that the town of Banff was not too much further down the highway. By now we were in Banff National Park where the mountains are no less striking than the ones in Yoho. Different, but awesome nonetheless.
Originally we'd planned on staying two nights in Banff, however, because we had already seen some pretty fantastic things, we decided to press on this morning. Had we not been on such a huge trip, no doubt there is much, much more to see in Banff National Park. As we left on our way to Calgary, the Three Sisters Mountains were some of the last we saw.
And just like that, we were out of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. What we saw of Alberta was, although not mountainous, lovely in a different way.
Beautiful fields of canola alongside the highway as seen from 80 miles an hour!
Woo hoo...
a super easy border crossing and we are back in the USA!

Not much to tell you so far about Montana, as what we've seen so far has been not all that interesting. Give me a day or two to get over the mountain experience and I'll be loving everything I see once again.

Heading into Montana today. What day is it anyway?

your friend,

Gail

p.s. No time for editing as I need to dry my hair before bedtime.



Friday, July 20, 2018

Saying our Goodbyes

When Zarita called the other morning, after dropping off my library books, I'd intended to go to Dress Sew for one last time to not only see if there was anything more I wanted, but to say goodbye to some of the ladies who were nice to me. I am fully aware that may sound a little corny, but I can remember the first time I visited and was not only overwhelmed (a good thing) with my choices, but also being shocked at how rude much of the staff was. Or, at least that way my initial impression. Following that first visit I came home and looked the place up, finding many similar reviews online about the staff.
Over time, and after many, many, visits there, the staff thawed, I knew what I was doing, and things went swimmingly. I shall very much miss that store. As I was paying for my final purchase, the cashier, formerly super rude, asked me if I were on Facebook, writing down her name and asking me to connect. :)

Walking home along Seymour, I decided to take a few photos of the places we've frequented the most. For posterity. Here is the tiny liquor store where we bought copious amounts of wine from Wendy. We would be much poorer had we not found this place and the box wine they sell!
One day I asked Wendy about the guy who sits outside, day after day, with his hat on the ground for donations. Apparently when he gets enough change he immediately spends it in the store.

Just down the street you come to Nesters, on the corner of Seymour and Nelson.
Their tagline is, "where the locals shop!" While it is no Publix, I eventually became accustomed to the tiny space and even quit bitching when I had to pay $3.50 for a can of refried beans. That said, I won't mind a minute being back in a huge grocery store once again!

A little update from Spring as I walked past the park with what Matt identified as apple trees from my photographs of them in bloom.
Over on Richards Street is the place I've been taking Bruce's shirts for laundering. She had me at "My Favorite Drycleaner."
Although a language barrier prevented me from too much conversation with the proprietress, she was always pleasant and they did just fine.

Because I have so little packing to do, yesterday morning, under gray and chilly skies, I made what, I'm supposing, was my last trip to Stanley Park. Walking through the streets of the West End, I made some photographic observations.
Mostly the West End is made up of apartment buildings that don't much look like the ones at home, some being crazy old,
while others sporting very interesting balconies, look to have been built in the 60's-70's,
Almost all residential, apparently there were some small stores in the neighborhood and I bet they looked like the only remaining one I've seen.
Canadians love their Mounties!
Recently I read an article in the Guardian about the influence of Instagram on design. I remember Jon boy first setting me up on Instagram, probably seven or eight years ago, telling me it was an app that let you take a photo and instantly upload it. In other words, stuff you came across that seemed worth sharing right away. Boy has that changed! Do you think that when Facebook bought it they expected it to become so popular? By design? In any case, there are Instagram influencers and a good deal of the spontaneity is a thing of the past. At first, when I watched this girl wheel a gold bicycle, with a baguette in the woven basket, my first thought was that it is rare to see someone planning a picnic in the flower gardens. Then it hit me as I watched her move the bicycle to strategic locations and take photographs. Call me a skeptic, but that's what I think was happening.
If I've learned one thing from all my trips to the gardens it is that contrast amongst the plant colors really makes a garden sing.
I said goodbye to the fellow who tends the roses, pictured here doing what he loves, and that is explaining all about how to care for roses. By the looks of things, he knows what he's talking about.
I wasn't home for too long when it was time to say goodbye to my friends, Dale and Jackie, who had invited me for tea in the garden. As I was walking there, it occurred to me that a wide shot of exactly where this garden is might be useful.
Years and years of work have turned this neglected spot to a little oasis in the city. I was floored, upon arriving, and saw the effort they'd gone to, setting a lovely table with heirloom pieces from their pasts.
Real silver, art-deco cups and saucers from Dale, a tablecloth that Jackie received as a wedding present, as well as some plates that once belonged to her Mother. Plus, they'd dressed up a bit, and I was wearing jeans!
They also began their friendship as strangers. Jackie had begun the work and Dale happened along and asked if she'd like some help? Day after day they work, with their reward being all the appreciative neighbors. In the few months that I've known them I've learned a lot and I continued to do so throughout the afternoon. That is until several hours later, we had a VERY unexpected interruption. Jackie exclaimed, there are baby skunks in the garden, not very far from where we were seated!
Naturally I jumped up, trying to photograph them, staying far enough away to keep from getting sprayed. Sadly, my efforts were not great because the four of them kept running in and out of the low plants.
Have you ever seen a skunk before? I hadn't, that's for sure. They were kind of cute. Jackie is worried that they are separated from their Mother leaving them vulnerable. Parting ways, they promised to keep me up to date on all of the garden news, including any future skunk sightings!

I needed to get home in order to get ready for yet another goodbye; this time it was Pina and Giovanni who picked us up at 6:30. Again we went to Granville Island, this time to The Sandbar.
We have so loved getting to know this wonderful couple.
We only hope that one day they will come to Orlando so we can show them a good time in our home town.

Waiting for the guys to bring the car around, I was delighted to see this in-progress colorful mural.
This is Bruce's last day in the office, a bittersweet occasion, that we marked at lunch with the gang. Actually, B called me in the middle of the morning and said my presence was requested. From the first day that we walked into the office, until this meet up, every single one of them have been so kind to me. Frankly, it is because they are so in love with Bruce and I just reap the rewards!
With my camera strap in the corner of the photo, you'd think this was my first gig. :(

Although we are physically leaving Vancouver, Bruce is not entirely leaving this group just yet as he has some small jobs beginning in the Fall. I am finishing this post around 5:45PM and I've not heard from him, so I suspect there are some sad goodbyes still in progress. 😢

Won't be long now...

your friend,

Gail

You Just Never Know