Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Early Days – Thinking Back


When reading Al’s posting of September 20 reminiscing long-gone days of Rv’ing I came to think of our own experiences, our own “Wows” and “Oh Craps”. And there sure has been a lot of both.
The very first trip south led us from Alberta across the Rockies and into BC IMG_2114from
where we went straight south along the Pacific coast. At one point we made a terrible mistake. Coming from Kamloops we followed Highway 5 over the Coquihalla Pass instead of driving the old TC 1 which would have gotten us around Cache Creek on a much less steep trail. Well, our Ford F350 must have thought it be a good time to get a new transmission. When we stopped aside of the road a stream of oil was pouring out from underneath. Oh Craps!
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4 days and 5000 Dollars later we were heading into Vancouver. Had the trailer parked and were standing in line of a red light. I had my foot on the brakes
IMG_2218when Bea talked about something which I couldn’t remember three seconds later. The reason being that my foot had let up from the brake pedal letting the truck slam into the little Jetta in front of me where it left a real huge ugly dent in the trunk.
Three girls were staring at us through the rear window, then the driver, the girls mother, came out.   “Oh Craps”.
Coming down the coast of Oregon I had a hard time to let my eyes stay on the road. The views were just….”Wow”.


After leaving L.A. behind us we were heading out into the desert. Been down Moreno Valley? “Wow… look at the wind turbines”.

Salton Sea02  The Salton Sea….”Wow..again”.
Imperial Valley….the Imperial San Dunes wow and wow!
Southern Texas at the Gulf of Mexico…WOW!

6 months later, we were on our trip home and holed up at Kaycee,WY. Next day, as a routine I walked around the rig before getting back up on the road.
It was then that I saw the flat tire on our 37ft. 5th.wheel. “Oh Craps” again.
Our jack wasn’t capable of lifting that thing in the air, so I invented something which I’m still proud of to this day. I unhooked the trailer and ran the front legs up, so the front of the trailer would come waaay down to the ground. Having that tag axle the rear wheels would almost come of the ground. Then I placed the jack under the rear axle and it lifted the wheels just a bit higher. That way I could get the flat tire off. “Wow”.

It was during the fall of the same year that we were heading south on Alberta Hwy36 towards the Dinosaur Prov.Park to spend a nice weekend with friends.
A sudden bang from the rear and the rig made an attempt to escape into the oncoming lane. Getting it back where it belonged we stopped along a narrow shoulder. Inspecting the rig I found it down on both rims on the passenger side.
Some parts of the skirting had taken off, a support arm of the awning were swinging freely from the top. “Oh Crap”.
I got on the phone and Bea was heading back in the ditch gathering various parts of the trailer which had been strewn around.

Much later, and during the aftermath of this, we found out that the manufacturer, Pilgrim International, (long gone now) had put faulty (el cheapo) tires on their rigs and that tires had exploded all over the U.S. in some cases with serious consequences.

If I should name every “Oh Craps” and every “WOW” I’d be “running out of ink” pretty soon.


With a Monkey in his Pants

New Dehli – With a monkey hidden in his pants he tried to get past Customs at the New Dehli Airport.  But, according to the “Hindustan Times”, he was caught by airport security. The traveler had arrived from Bangkok and was on his way to his home country Dubai when he and 2 fellow travelers were arrested. A second monkey of the same species, a “Loris” was found in an airport garbage container. Lori monkeys get to be 8 inches tall and weigh a little less than 1/2 pound.

Comment: I wonder what made airport security aware of the hidden-away passenger?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Being an Entrepreneur

This morning, I received an email from SOHOBLOG, where I am subscribed to a newsletter. It is a blog about entrepreneurship, a tool helping people to successfully run a business. And today’s email contained this story, which I decided to share with you.

Personally I grew up in a family where entrepreneurship was the backbone of the family economy. And it has been like that since around 1892 when my G.Grandfather started a little business making horse saddles and reins. I must admit that the bug of being my own employer did not grip me before later in life, but it sure has stayed with me ever since. And it has always been about small business, which I consider to be the most important ingredient to society.

Now here is the story:

Last weekend I was sitting with my wife at one of those strange coffeehouse chains. We didn’t like the coffee, the service, or the atmosphere in general. My wife and I started talking about the magic of small coffee shops; and how—in these harsh economic times—starting a coffee shop business is a real challenge. It was then that I thought I should tell the readers of this blog my own family’s story of small business and entrepreneurship.

During the Second World War, my grandfather fled the German-occupied area of Poland and crossed into what was then the Soviet Union. After the war had ended, he arrived in Tel Aviv. With all his family lost and with not even one penny in his pocket, he started washing dishes and cleaning floors at a well-known but rather small coffee shop in the center of the city. A few years went by. He managed to save some money, and when the coffee shop’s owner wanted to sell his business, my grandfather offered a bid. He had to take out a loan and find a partner, but eventually he managed to purchase the coffee shop.

At this time he was newly married to my grandmother, who also came to Israel from Poland. Boy—did she know how to cook! Both of them decided to expand the coffee shop’s menu, and they started serving home-cooked meals that were quickly known all over the city. Another few years went by. Again my grandfather (and my grandmother) managed to save some money. This time he suggested to his partner (who wasn’t really fit for the coffee-shop business…), that he buy his share. Again he had to take out a loan, but this time his life dream was fully completed. He owned a coffee shop! Not bad for a refugee who only a decade before had lost all he had.

With two little kids (that is, my mother and my uncle), my grandparents expanded their now coffee shop / restaurant business. Now it was a very famous venue in Tel Aviv; during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s it was a home for the local bohemia: actors, singers, painters, journalists, and even politicians found a cozy and familiar place that was practically their office, living room, and kitchen. With my grandfather hosting, my grandmother cooking, and my mother and uncle orchestrating the business while serving coffee, it was a flourishing family business.

Years went by and I was born. As a young boy I enjoyed coming to the coffee shop and helping my family, especially my grandfather. I also liked sitting in the kitchen and watching my grandmother cooking her magical food. My family taught me the virtue of hard work: for every penny I earned for small chores I was given two more—this was the family’s motto: one must learn to earn his money. And more importantly: pursuing your dream requires hard work.

When I was a freshman in college, my grandfather passed away. He was working until his last days. A few years after, my grandmother also passed away. It was than when my mother and uncle decided to retire. Understanding the hard work that owning a business of your own requires, I decided that after graduation I want to be a salaried employee, and so I started working at a large firm. The coffee shop was therefore sold to a group of young investors who opened a fashionable though soulless bar.

After few years in that large firm, I started feeling unease, but couldn’t really tell why. It took me some time but eventually it hit me: just like my grandparents, I too have the soul of an entrepreneur. I decided to quit my comfortable job, completed a PhD degree, and established my own research firm. Today I am working harder than ever, but I am as happy and fulfilled as I have never been. And looking at my two small children I sometimes wonder: which one of them, if any, will catch the entrepreneurship bug?

Monday, September 24, 2012

A phantastic Day and a Call from Vermont

It is sure getting darker a lot earlier now and even though the sun was shining like there should never be a cloud again, there was a sharp touch to the air which clearly indicates the change in the season.
When I was driving through Maine last week I saw the first bright colors among the dark green of spruce trees and some maples were already showing off in  bright red.
This morning I spotted a freighter just heading out of Eastport and taking directions through Head Harbour Passage. When I tell people about what load these freighters are actually taking they are most amazed. They are taking life pregnant cows from the U.S. to Turkey. The poor cows have been sent up to Eastport from various places in the U.S. before they are shipped out.
Island businesses are winding down after a nice summer and tourists are only arriving in small numbers now. Herring Cove Prov. Park’s campground is closing up after the coming weekend. We will be operating the sightseeing until October 8, when the Roosevelt Park is having their last day.

DSC_0151-miWhen the phone rang in the afternoon I heard a familiar voice on the other end. It was PEI-Bob calling from Vermont. He is on his way to see his brother in Nappanee,ON and will reach his destination tomorrow morning. He said he hoped we would meet again down south. And I sure hope that too, even though there is still some uncertainty about it.

We also received a forwarded email from the Holtville Hot Springs Camp Host wishing us all welcome back to another “enjoyable summer”. Thanks Diania for forwarding that email to us. It just shows that the “Hot Springs Bunch” has grown into some very nice family of campers where everybody is saddened if one of the friends can’t show up. And sadly, every year there are always a few dear faces gone missing. Our long-time host Stan has been called home this summer and we’re all going to miss him and his wife Jeanny.

Our new host will be Steve, and in his email he was also telling about that he still “enjoyed” three-digit temps, but that the bridge across the canal was fixed and the Hot Spring hadn’t ceased running and was without damage after the summer.

So, if that isn’t invitation enough I really don’t know.

Thanks for coming along today as well.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Friend drops by and Bea finds something strange in the garden

He had been busy all summer but a few days ago he finally made it down to Campobello Island. PEI-Bob came visiting for a few days. As steady readers might remember we had our last meeting at Why,AZ in March this year. Bob has this wonderful 31ft. FOUR WINDS Class C which he came across down in Florida one year. Since then Bob is enjoying his retirement freedom with his rig. He says it is not always that he is met with understanding between family and friends. And I think that is just what makes the difference between those who have been bitten by the RV-fever and those who rather  stay in familiar surroundings and just travel for a week or two during the summer.
While Bob and I had seated ourselves around the table waiting for Bea’s delicious supper coming through the door, Bea brought something in that she said was a not-yet-ripe-tomato and she had just found it in her garden.
I will abstain from any comments on this picture, just say that Bea thought it looked like the tomato had a nose. Well then….

Unfortunately, the weather has a tendency to show its ugly face whenever we get visitors. And yes, today it is raining again. Big green blobs are showing on the weather man’s map and I am thinking of the South West. Will we actually get down there this winter?

A work project has popped up, which could require us to stay home. But as of now everything is still up in the air.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Did they get the wrong Man and The works of an I-Phone

Living close to the border lets us take part in the affairs of our southern neighbour. You kinda can’t avoid being taken by the hilarious situation in their political landscape. Laughing or groaning… I never thought that a presidential election campaign could be so entertaining as we are witnessing these days at our neighbour to the south.
Being a president is certainly not a 9-4 job and a guy should have his wits together when trying to get into the Presidential chair. But “Jackass” is blowing his chances as he opens his mouth. Too bad for him!  Reminds me a lot of an earlier candidate.
Good for the country though as he actually uncovered himself. Makes me hope that we can still be good neighbours.
Enough of this political talk.  I know that political discussions should not erupt in a blog which has living and traveling as its main topic. But sometimes I just feel for it….and then it’s too late. The letters are dancing out of the keyboard and appearing in ugly fashion on my screen. I hit the “Publish” button and swoosh…..there it goes for everybody to see.

Well, you might excuse my inappropriate writings and I know you will refrain from sending a comment. Good so. Don’t do it as we might just start a fire we can’t get extinguished.

Out her, in Passamaquoddy land we see a bright day rising and in an hour or so I will have myself converted into the Island guide. A few last tourists are hanging out here, hoping to see a whale and being carted to the viewpoints, learning about the bizarre history of the place.

Had myself a most interesting excursion yesterday. Got a call from a local accommodation place requesting my valued assistance in a case of avoiding getting lost. A motel guest had purchased a large chunk of property, and it turned out to be about 800 and some acres of island wilderness, which he hadn’t really seen up close. So here we met, both “explorers” in heavy boots and ready to fight the island jungle to find Dr. Livingston.

I think I’d spare you for all the details, but let me just say we met a lot of brambles, had to slouch through water holes (I got my feet wet) and got very warm under my shirt. When I told my friend that we might meet a bear, his head started spinning to the left and the right, anxiously looking for the dreaded animals. Once my guest tumbled straight through a spider web most decoratively hung up between two trees, and he almost suffered a heart attack

Yesterdays exploration was also my first chance to see an I-phone up close. And not only that but the guy could use it for making headway to that beaver lake he so desperately wanted to see. A little map showed us the direction and also where we already had been, as a blue line was keeping track of our progress. I’m absolutely sure that we wouldn’t have found home again without that blue line. Good work Apple!

So. why was I hired by that fellow? Well, you wouldn’t guess it: He was simply afraid of being out there alone.

Don’t get lost and thanks for coming by.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cold and Clear

We woke to a clear blue sky and a blistering NORTH-WEST wind. Gone is all the humidity of the last days and with it the fog.
We are having an early fall day. Leaves are rushing along the ground. The fresh green of an island summer is slowly giving way to more yellowish and brownish colours. Beaches are deserted, people are looking for warmer places. two more weeks and the island restaurants are closing. The Roosevelt Park is closing on October 8. Boats are coming out of the water to spend the winter high and dry.
But not everybody is preparing for hunkering down. Island fishermen are actually busy getting their boats ready for winter fishing, starting at the end of October. A very cold period of work is waiting for them. They will meet fierce winds of the North Atlantic. They will have to hammer ice build-up off the equipment. Their hands will be cold and red. But it is the way Campobello Island has survived the centuries since the very first settlement in 1770. Traditions are upheld and fishermen honour them.

   Young Eagle feeding on a dead seal

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       The “Friar"                                                            Roosevelt Park, float dock
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     View from Friars Head                                          Old dam on Lobster Pond

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      View from Liberty Point to“Ragged Point”                  The Island Guide in action

DRUNK got stuck with his arm in Toilet.
Dresden, Germany: A rescue team had to free a drunk man who had gotten himself into a delicate situation.
According to the police he was stuck with his arm in the toilet bowl. The 55-year old man had been put into one nights arrest to get sobered up. When jail personal was unable to free him they called for re-enforcements from the fire department. It remained unclear why the man had put his arm into the toilet bowl.

Comment: My guess, he had swallowed something valuable which he anticipated had re-emerged the natural way, but gotten “around the bend”.

Stay clear of trouble!

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why not an Airplane?

This mornings email made me smile. Somebody out west has sent me an email asking whether I would be interested in trading our motorhome against a Cessna 172.
When I was much, much younger I dreamed about flying such a plane up in Alaska or northern Canada. Of course, it was just a pipe dream. And if I had done a pilots license… who knows maybe we would be flying to California. At least it would be much faster to get there. However, as it stands now I would need to hire our own pilot. Somehow I have a hunch that that might get quite expensive. So what did I write back to the guy?  “Thanks for the offer, maybe another time”.
But strangely there was another email this morning. Another guy suggesting a trade offered a 3ac lot in the Sunshine State of Florida.
Now, what’s wrong about that? Nothing, except that Florida is definitely not our favorite State. Can you spell SNAKES, ALLIGATORS, HUMIDITY and OVERCROWDED? Geez… Ain’t there anybody with a sack of hard cold cash out there?
Woman finds FROG in her salad.
London – She had eaten half of her salad, when a British woman found a living frog in her salad bag of cut salad. Due to its green-brown color the animal was perfectly camouflaged. It had the size of my palm, says the terrified 50-year old woman from the County of Hampshire. The frog had spent the night in the bag in her fridge. The woman says she was disgusted and would never be able to eat a salad again.
The grocery market where the salad was purchased has apologized upon the incident and says it would investigate how the frog could have ended up in the bag of salad.
Comment: Maybe the frog was meant to supply the dish with frog legs.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Did You Get Points Today?

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Best Buy Reward Zone

Why is everybody wanting to give me “POINTS”. Points which I can or cannot redeem for something I absolutely don’t need? Did YOU get points today?  I’m talking about points which I can earn by participating in or purchasing something which doesn’t interest me.
What am I gonna do with the 100 or so points I am gonna earn if I am signing up for “The Deal of the Day” at Worst Buy? They even created a “REWARDZONE”. Sounds like: Watch out CONSTRUCTION ZONE! REDUCE~SPEED SPEND MONEY GO SHOPPING.

What can I get for 100 points? Nothing!  The clou is that I start buying overprized merchandise and earn more points. They call this Reward Points. Good gracious..why would they reward me if I have bought something from them? Why not put the price where it should be in the first place instead of creating a lot of administrational BS, which finally ends up costing the company a lot of money. What you say? They have made the money on what they sold?  Yeah…I guess so.

Take the Credit companies. They give out points in the east and the west. If I use their card I earn points. Trouble is I’m never ever gonna use those points. I must have thousands and thousands of points – at different companies and accumulated over 10 years. I’m just imagining how many points 33 million Canadians have which they never use? Must be in the Billions, that number.

Have you ever checked what price that handy little drill has if you buy it with “points”? How many “points” do I need to fly to Europe? How many dollars do I have to spend before I have earned enough points to buy that airline ticket?

I have an ugly hunch that very few people EVER earn enough to receive ANYTHING of value for them.

When I grew up Mother had a little booklet from the local little grocery store. Every time she went shopping there they gave her a few stamps, which she would glue into that booklet. When the booklet was full, she took it along and “redeemed” it for a rebate of what she would have bought anyway. Now that  makes a lot more sense to me than what’s going on these days. She wasn’t coaxed into buying something she didn’t have any use for, but got a fair loyalty rebate on what she bought there every day anyway.
And it did not cause a hell of an administrative baluba  at the grocery store either.

Thanks for ranting along!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Early Fall or Late Summer?

Either way it was a beautiful day and Bea and I took the Convertible and went into the Roosevelt Park Natural Area. Now, one would think that since we accessing that area almost every day we would be bored. Not so!
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DSC_0005-miAfter first doing a beach walk, we went through the forest back to the car. But the afternoon wasn’t over yet. We decided to drive down to Liberty Point. And even though I have heard the “WOW” from every passenger in the van, we said it ourselves, when getting around the last bend. Actually, I have never taken a picture from the road, and I have to do it one of these days. It’s just too gorgeous for not doing it.

Sitting in the car for a while I suggested a hike to Sunsweep point. It is only 1km or 0.6mi. The trail has many ups and downs, but is not very strenuous to do. The views from the elevated trail are breathtaking and the only danger is letting your eyes wander off the path, thus stepping besides the wonderful plank walk the Roosevelt Park has put out for everyone’s convenience.
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Molly had a great time along the trail and after about 20 minutes we reached the Sunsweep Sculpture, erected by David Barr. DSC_0023-miThis sculpture and it’s counterpart on the shores of the Pacific Ocean at Point Roberts, WA, symbolize the sweep of the sun across the continent. And actually every bridge has a centerpiece and so has the Sunsweep sculpture. A wedge-shaped piece is resting at the Lake of the Woods in Minnesota.
The sculpture is made of polished black Canadian granite.
DSC_0030-miBeing out at the Sunsweep Sculpture, or Ragged Point as it is also called, I always have a feeling being extremely happy. It must be the surrounding open waters of the Bay of Fundy or maybe simply the enormous abundance of wildflowers. We are standing knee-deep in Asters, way up over the ocean and are looking down on ragged rocks. The tide is out and a large area along the beach, overgrown with seaweeds, show over to the north. A fresh breeze from the south and a freighter coming up between Grand Manan is turning farther to the east. Maybe he’s heading towards Halifax. Walking back to the car I’m in a dream-like state of mind.

What a great hike.

The coast of Campobello in its indescribable beauty – it is mesmerizing

Thanks for hiking along!
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Soaring Eagles and more

While I was out and about with island visitors, Bea went on a photo trek to find the eagles, which we really have a lot of this year. However, that alone doesn’t mean that you just can snap off nice pics of them. You gotto have the right position, the right equipment, the right light and still a lot of luck. And even if you’ve got all that you still need a computer and a picture editing software to make them presentable.

Here’s what she got:

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This morning we woke up to a very crystal clear air, and a deep blue sea adorned with white caps.

DSC_0351-miDSC_0397-mi It was the first morning that I had to grab my jacket before going the doggy walk with Molly. After all the warm days it felt almost frosty outside. But Molly has a thick fur and felt right at home. We have often thought that she is definitely more a winter dog than one for the summer. And as she gets older (this Xmas she’s 10yrs) she seems to mind too high temps like never before.

With the nearing fall season, sunsets are also getting more dramatic. And like most people we LOVE to take pics of it. 
Thanks for looking!