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Friday, March 23, 2018

And Here I Am Again...With Headaches

Between all common maladies of coughing, fever, sinus problems and other every-day illnesses, headaches are the most debilitating for me. It's like I feel nailed to the couch, a never ending tiredness pushing me into the pillows. I sleep 9hrs at night and another 5 on the couch. And that is exactly what I have been doing yesterday and a good part of today. Tylenols are like candy and don't show any effect, which was the reason why I sent Bea to the pharmacy this morning to get more appropriate remedies. And she brought some capsules filled with a yellowish content, Ibuprofen being one of the ingredients. To my huge surprise, the stuff got me pain free within the hour. 3 hours later I took another one and I am feeling like new. 
Since it is only 3 more days until I have to endure a 12hr. flight to Germany, encompassing 2 plane changes, I was getting seriously worried that I had caught the flu. After all, there would have been plenty opportunity, as I had been traveling more than 2000 miles back home from Manitoba, staying in motels and eating in restaurants. Besides, that is precisely the reason why we preferred and enjoyed the RV-lifestyle. Sleeping in your own bed and eating your own food has the potential to keep you out of trouble.  
As I am still killing hours on the couch, I have company from Dixie, who is looking after dad, making sure he is still alive. You just can't beat the loyalty of a dog. I am sure they feel when something is not right or normal. Dixie has now reached a size of a small calf. At 7.5 months she still has more growth coming. We are more than curious to see what weight she eventually will end up with.

Yesterday we had what I hope will be the last snow day for our area. It was coming down so vision was kind of limited to the next house, but luckily temps were slightly above freezing, so we didn't get much accumulated snow on the ground and the next few days will be well above freezing, so whatever we have of snow still around, should be gone quickly. And it's about time that winter is moving on and out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Spring Has Not Sprung

It's quite obvious that we have been betrayed. The other day I was walking through a Walmart store overhearing a joyfully shouted conversation between two employees. When one said to the other "It's the first day of spring today and look how lovely it's outside", I couldn't but break into their conversation telling the fellow not to be too loud and enthusiastic about it, for the next Nor'Easter was already on the way to hit the area. 
But the guy was right about being nice outside. The sun was warming and the temps were well above the freezing mark. There WAS spring in the air, even though the huge heaps of snow around the parking lot told the tale of winter not being so very far way. And we had another day of milder temps today, but by tonight new snow is gonna cover the old snow once again and winds will be howling around the house corners.  

No, - calling it spring is more than being optimistic,

Over the past years we have seen a gradual change of the winter season. While it would "normally" start to snow from beginning of December, intensifying into the New Year with lots of snow in the first two months of the year, it has been unusually "nice" this year. But it looks like winter is reigning more and more in March and some times even into April, (God forbid) with a rather cold spring season to follow. 
The latter would spell disaster for Bea's ambitious plans to produce the yearly amount of tomato plants. She has a number of "orders" from neighbours. 

Between the cold spells I have been dealing with the Mercedes and its registration. Had to fork over 15% sales tax to the government plus the yearly registration fee. But I still anticipate this province to go bankrupt as the government seems to be populated by incompetent people whose only knowledge is how to celebrate themselves. 

But lets not go there...really. We know it's not gonna change.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Where Is My Desire To Travel Long Distances?

For most of my life the desire for traveling has been a major force for me, and the meaning of being home and enjoying home has never meant much to me. And once in a while I am still dwelling on ideas and plans for trips far away, but my desire to hit the road for long trips has been greatly diminished.
Of course, I am asking myself what has changed and why? Friends and family have always regarded me as "unsettled". At a young age I moved from Germany to Norway. I moved within Norway, and finally the biggest dream of my life became reality when moving to Canada. Then we moved a couple of times within Canada.

So why did I start to truly enjoy being home and hesitate to go on a long trip?

The answer may be in layers. First of all, we have found a place to live in, I truly enjoy.

This small community with its island life seems to be what has filled me with great satisfaction. We are running a little business here, and where ever we pull up either here on the island, or across the border, people know who we are and what we are doing. We have grown an identity, we are part of a local society. We have come to stay. But I have also grown older and maybe even a bit wiser. I have come to appreciate these previously unknown to me values.
Our previous travels through the U.S. have shown us great landscapes, and we have met many nice people, some becoming friends for life. The value of these experiences remains undiminished, at the same time it seems like the glass of my curiosity has been filled. Yet, I will not exclude the thought of never returning to winter travels, but that might still be in the future.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The End

After precisely 7 days away from home I am back. The last leg of this trip was largely uneventful. After stopping at the hotel in Sturbridge, I got out around 9am and was amazed that I got the car out of the snow without major problems. Btw. the Days Inn in Sturbridge, MA is a no no to stay at. The room was smelly, dated and dirty. They also do price-gouging. While they offer an online booking for $50/night they were asking unreasonable $179 under this last storm. It doesn't help arguing with staff, they have instructions not to give in.
The place is in the hands of east-indian staff and they have racked up a barage of really bad reviews on TripAdvisor. If this would be my business I would be ashamed of it every day.

The roads home were clear of snow, however the "victims" of last night were still in the ditches, some being under towing that morning.

Getting into Maine I felt like I was the only driver all along. It was still snowing like crazy when I got to Bangor, ME. But it did not stick to the road. Even coastal Rte. 1 was OK to drive.

Arriving home I was greeted by a happy Bea and a ditto happy Dixie. Having not seen Dixie for a week it seemed to me she had grown substantially again. Such a happy puppy she is. 

Love being home again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I Unstuck Myself But It Looks Like I Might Be Stuck Again.

When morning ran up I had a look out the window. There was my Mercedes encrusted in snow. It looked like it would stay there for ever. Watching the weather news I hung out for another hour, before I went to the reception for a coffee. 
Back in my room I started researching weather forecasts for the next part of my route. Apart from a few snow showers here and there it didn't look so bad. I could probably reach the state line to New York, which would cut down my travel time tomorrow. So I packed up, sent a message to Bea and was gone. 

The highway was indeed clear and partially even dry. Some times it looked like the sun would peek out. At Port Jervis I just continued driving into New York State. Traffic was light, probably because many had been scared enough to stay at home. After New York I passed into Connecticut and even here the roads were just fine. But coming into Massachusetts snow started coming down and getting worse by the minute. The I-84 was showing signs of accumulating snow and that was the point where I really didn't want to be part of this anymore. Checking out accommodations by the road side, I found a Days Inn at Sturbridge,MA.  Another 22 kms to go but not too far. 
The turn-off led to a lower level road which was entirely covered in snow. Don't they own snow plows in these parts? But it was getting worse. This particular Days Inn is in a hidden-away location and one has to negotiate a narrow up-grade to the building, which is behind a truck stop. Left and right I saw cars parked in more than a foot of snow, and obviously nobody was prepared for more guests parking their vehicles, as the few empty spaces were covered in snow. Great service really!
I finally discovered a spot where somebody had tried to get into but hadn't succeeded. I gave it a little extra gas and swooped the Mercedes right into place embedded in a foot of snow. Whether I would be able to get out again, I don't know. But i saw a man with a snow shovel! Maybe he's around tomorrow.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Stranded in Danville, PA

Starting the day at 6am from Illinois, I was making progress along I-80. Weather was a mix of snow showers in Ohio, clouds and then sun in Pennsylvania. But how long was Adam in Paradise? I was nearing Bloomsburg when visibility disappeared in slush and a wintry mix. But it should it paid off that I always drive the same route. I was known around here as weather has had a way with us to deteriorate whenever we get into these parts. So I knew about accommodations in Danville, PA and decided enough was enough and turned into the little town. They have a Red Roof motel there and we'd be staying there before. In fact, I have been staying 3 times in Danville and always because of bad weather. Weather forecasters are now predicting a major, major snow storm along the coast and it won't be peanuts this time. So I am pretty much prepared to start living here until the weather monster is over. Talked to Bea and she has already taken precautions with shopping for food and supplies.

But let me tell you about what really shocked me today. I was heading down a long slope when suddenly I heard a clunk and something appeared for a fraction of second beside the hood. Simultaneously a small yellow light began to glow on my dash. Oh God..what happened?

To find out, I stopped on the shoulder, and went to the front of the car. There I looked at agaping hole where once a nice yellow turn light has been living. A lonely wire with a plug-in was hanging out of the hole. turn light was GONE!
I walked a ways back along the road but could not find the thing, and it was probably broken too after the sudden departure from the car.

Since I have plenty time now, I ordered a new turn light over Ebay right away. Looks really shitty - a fine Mercedes with only one front turn light.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Way Too Much Excitement For One Day

To say that this day was exciting is a sure-fire understatement. When I woke up it was just snowing slightly. The roads would be wet and I would drive in the spray of other vehicles, using windshield wipers all the time. Unfortunately one of the wipers was damaged on the upper end so the cleaning effect was limited to the lower part of the windshield. I had purchased a new blade the previous day, but had been unable to remove the old one. This is MERCEDES, remember? And it just doesn't make things easier that the hood needs to stand open in order to get to the wipers. So today I tried it again. I coaxed and pressed and pushed and pulled, without moving it one millimeter. So I decided to stop some place to buy me a tool. The first few miles down the wet road were tedious as I had to look through the lower part of the windshield where the wiper still had an effect. Suddenly I saw the signs of a home depot looming left of the road. I pulled off and over the overpass. Would they have open this early on a Sunday?

I was in luck there!

I found a combination tool looking almost like a leatherman, just a lot cheaper. Armed with this murderous instrument I started breaking apart the plastic of the blade where it is clamped into the U of the wiper arm. I got my hands bloody and it took unbelievable 20 minutes to get the damn thing off. Plastic shards were all over the place. The mounting of the new blade just took 2 seconds though.

But my troubles had only just begun. Around 11am I stopped for gas. And that's where I lost my Credit Card, before getting back in the car. Only, of course, I didn't know it yet. The epiphany came to me 130 miles farther down the road when stopping again, this time in Wisconsin. I always keep my gas receipts, and I found the phone # of the gas station back in Eau Claire,MN. Oh yes, they had the card on the counter. Some customer had brought it in. But sending it to my address wasn't anything they could do, at least not without the managers approval, who was not on the job on Sundays.
So I called Bea and got the phone # for lost cards. I got it canceled, but the guy on the other end told me that the last use of the card had been declined. So, obviously some smart guy thought he could make a few bucks with it. The abuse of lost CCs has diminished after the cards got a chip implanted which calls for a PIN-code, when used.

The CC was my only one and now I was afraid that I would run into problems getting a room at a motel. But the next Super  8 graciously accepted my debit card. 

I am stopped at a place called OTTAWA, Illinois, and I am recounting my sins of the day. Today I also had my first visit at a restaurant. Have you ever ordered a burger "Well done" and biting into raw meat? That's what happened there. Who was to blame? The server, who admitted to have called it in wrong. 
Back at the motel I got a coffee and another one of the Boston Cream sweet tooth pastries. 


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Calling From Minnesota

Back on the common trail I ended the day at a Super 8 in St.Cloud, Minnesota.

Being a guest with Ross and Darlene is quite an adventure. Friday afternoon we went shopping with Darlene's vehicle. It is not any common car she owns and I was allowed to drive it. It's a black monster of a Hummer pickup. After what I heard is Ross required to stay clear of it. Apparently, he has been trying to sell it a couple of times but that idea was not very well received by his wife.

A truck for adult people.

A special treat was meeting their two super cute and nice Yorkies, Thelma & Louise.

And Ross, himself is a wonderful entertainer as he both sings and plays the guitar.

My hosts, Ross and Darlene did not forget to prepare a trucker-style breakfast before I left them. Also, Darlene had put together a big bag of sandwiches, Chips, Muffins and even easter-eggs and a bottle of apple juice, all for "on-the-road" supplies.

Ross had warned me against taking the Winnipeg perimeter Rd on the east-side, as construction areas would make traffic go slow there, so I followed his advice and took the better, though longer, west side around the city. Eventually, I got to Hwy 75 south heading to the Emerson border station. Having no license plates on the car, made me somewhat anxious as to what the procedure would be this time. But I shouldn't have worried, for after me handing over my passport, the officer asked whether I had the VIN# on some paper with me. Of course I had it on the bill of sale and the insurance papers. After checking it, he asked where I would exit the US and how many days it would take me to get there, and then I was free to go. Easy-Peasy border crossing!

Heading south through North Dakota I have done many times, but today I was on I-29, following it to Fargo. From there I took I-94 east and only a few miles later, I was in Minnesota. The sun came out and it was a great drive. The Mercedes drives just like a brand-new car. People in passing vehicles were craning their neck to get a glimpse of my car, and stopping at gas stations, I drew the curiosity of quite a guy. I stopped at a Walmart to take a break, bought bananas and donuts (Boston Cream is my all-time favorite) and joined the light traffic eastwards again.

I pulled off the road before dark and I am so stuffed from Darlene's "road supply" that I skipped a visit to a restaurant.

Tired And Knocked Out

It was past 8pm and pitchdark when the turboprop finally started to taxi into start position. After spending most of the day at Fredericton airport, I was enroute to Toronto with a following connection to Winnipeg. But would I get to Toronto in time to catch the next flight?
I did with a few minutes to spare. This was a much bigger airplane with 3 seats on each side of the aisle. I had booked a seat at the aisle and was surprised that the other 2 seats remained empty. So I could stretch my legs and had the luxury of lots of room.

We arrived Winnipeg International Airport just a few minutes shy of midnight.

I found Ross, the owner of the Mercedes, waiting at the bottom of the stairs holding a name sign. Ross lives 45 minutes north of Winnipeg and we were soon heading out of the city on Hwy 8. I was extremely tired and feeling drained, but Ross was eager to show me into his garage where he had his Mercedes, a large 560SEL, entirely in original condition.

But it was time to get to sleep, I felt like my eyes were burning out.

Next morning Ross and I went for breakfast to a nearby local diner. Eggs and bacon are doing wonders on a tired man,

and soon we were ready to start the day with various errands. First stop was a local garage where the car was put on a hoist. It was sure amazing to see that a 30-year old vehicle could be so entirely free of rust. Everything seemed to be in perfect condition. There was no reason not to buy this car, so next stop was the bank and then we got to an office of Manitoba Autopac, where I got a temporary registration and insurance sticker.

Driving a 560SEL is a special experience. The engine produces more than 300hp moving the 4000 pounds of the car down the highway and doing it with ease.

Ross and his wife Darlene are 2 extraordinary friendly people who are constantly thinking what else of good they can do for you.

After enjoying their boundless hospitality, It is time to start on the trail back home today.
Next posting from the road.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Waiting Out The Storm - In An Airport

The trip to Manitoba had been booked for weeks. But why would I go to Manitoba? Over the past 15 years I have been in Manitoba only once - for 2 days. And nothing would have tempted me to go back except that I discovered a 30-year old car, a well-kept Mercedes. We had previously sold our red convertible and I guess the garage needs to be filled again. 

So I booked a flight to Winnipeg for today. It's also my dad's birthday. At 93 he his doing alright in a nursing home. We always teased him with March 8th also being the International Women's Day.

Knowing about snow moving into the area, Bea drove me to Frederiction yesterday. I had booked a stay in a motel which turned out to be in the middle of nowhere. The fact that it was "in nowhere's land" had been camouflaged by the name "Airport Inn". I guess it's just that anybody would assume that the thing is not somewhere along a lonely highway, far from modern amenities. But this is not New York or Toronto. It is a rural area that at some time acquired town or city status. 

Anyway, there I was waking up this morning to a light snowfall. Checking my emails, I saw one from WestJet, my airline. It showed my itinerary and then another one. The first one had been canceled, the second one running 7 hours later, needed my acceptance. But first I called WestJet. The agent told me the reason for the cancellation was WEATHER. A snow storm in Toronto she said and it'll be coming here to New Brunswick as well. Really too bad that I had to wait until 7pm for departure. 

What to do?  

I accepted the new departure and called Bea who was safely home with Dixie. She informed me about a blizzard going on at the coast and was fearing a power outage. Before she got home yesterday, she had picked up a new bigger crate for our fast-growing Dixie. (see difference in pictures below)

Since the motel is far from any eating place, I ordered a taxi for 11am to get me to the airport 2 miles away. Supposedly, they had a restaurant on-site. It's called Freddy's Bistro. Let me hurry and say it's not worth the ride, but they do have coffee and some sandwiches. 

The airport seemed entirely deserted. Only 2 more people hanging out there this morning. The windows were white of drifting snow. Shadows of snowplows passing along the airport building.

I started by checking in - no wait lines there haha...

Next stop was at Freddy's to get some breakfast. They brought it to my table and I wolfed it down. Breakfast at 11:30am is way behind my usual time. 

I found a receptacle to plug in my aging laptop, whose battery capacity is zero.
The hours went after one after one.
Another coffee and a cookie, and then another coffee and a muffin, those came free as the keeper of Freddy's had abandoned the place and couldn't be found despite me hollering around. They make enough money there to compensate. Trust me on that one.

The TV on the wall was alternating the news of the day in English and French. I sent out messages about my predicament but the reactions were sparse. Winnipeg got on the horizon for a midnight arrival. 

And then WestJet sent me another email. This time the delay was only 30 minutes. If they keep this promise it will not affect the connecting flight to Winnipeg. I have a neighbour here at the lounge. He has been keeping me company and has to wait even longer than me. We talked a bit before each of us dived back into the depths of our laptops.

Halfway through the afternoon a guy from Toronto sent me a message saying that weather in Toronto had never been better than today. That makes me wonder what WestJet is up to? You gotta know that flights have been arriving and leaving here all morning -  in drifting snow conditions though a security guy told me that the control guy on the runway had not seen the planes coming in before they actually hit the tarmac. So visibility wasn't at a prime, I assume.

Once in a while prospective passengers are joining here in the lounge. It's 5:30 now. 2 more hours to go.  Time to pack up.

See ya later.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Little "Breezy" On Campobello

It is a well-known fact that storms are more common during spring and fall than during summer months, at least I think around our northern neck of the woods. Leaving February behind we got it a bit "breezy" around the island. Additional excitement is promised by the full moon which always causes the tides to rise and fall to the extremes. Yesterday's high tide was at 7.88m (26ft) and with the wind pushing waters up against the shore, the waves reached the top of the beach and washed into the outlet of Lake Glensevern.
 Leading a conversation was difficult as we almost had to shout to each other, the crashing waves causing such a continuous thunder.
The big nature show as we love it so much out here, had entered the grand stage, and it is far from being over yet. The "fresh breeze" (lol) as one could read in the German "" service is continuing throughout the day today. And I realize that we got off this storm the easy way, if we compare with f.e.x. Massachusetts, where the Boston harbour area is under water and many had to be evacuated. Over a million people have lost power along the eastern seaboard.