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Thursday, July 15, 2021

People Fleeing Their Homes (With Update)

I am starting to wonder whether my generation will be the key witness to massive changes in our environment. For years the drought has caused wildfires to spring up in the west. Thousands of buildings have been lost, displacing the people living in them. Those who were affected and survived, had to start over again. This year previous records have been broken. The number of fires raging in the west (and even in North Western Ontario) is getting higher with every day.

At the same time, other areas are experiencing devastating flash floods like never been before. 

This morning we woke up to terrible news from Bea's home town, Ahrweiler, Germany. The river AHR runs through town and we have enjoyed nice walks along the river under previous visits in town. Today, the area looks quite different. Gone are the idyllic views across the peaceful flowing river. Catastrophic flashfloods in the area have caused the river to swell way above its normal bed, causing unprecedent damages in the many small towns of the Ahr Valley. Roads are gone, bridges threaten to crumble, the power grid has been shut down, fire brigades are trying to rescue people from their house roofs and upper stories, but some villages and towns are still isolated. Rescue workers can't get to the people as roads are gone. The German army has deployed tanks to go on rescue missions. France, Italy and the UK have offered to help with money and equipment. The death toll currently stands at 46 with many more not being accounted for. Damages are already estimated to be in the billions.




Bea still has family in Ahrweiler, and her cousins have fled the town. Their homes might be a bad sight upon their return. We are also thinking of the cemetary where Bea's mother was just buried a few weeks ago. It's not far from the river and we know it has been flooded. Over hundred seniors had to be evacuated from the nursing home where Bea's mother spent her last years.

The terrible truth of this is that our lives are so fragile that everything we love and use every day can be destroyed within hours of a downpour.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/15/europe/germany-deaths-severe-flooding-intl/index.html

We feel sorry for all those affected by this catastrophe.

UPDATE: The devastation in South-West Germany is much worse than anticipated at first. Bea's family is in distress and Bea has opened a Go-Fund-Me page for people to donate. If you only donate 10 Dollars, it will help her family members in their recovery. Thank you for your consideration.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/urgent-crisis-relief-for-my-family?utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer

 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Hot Days, Canada Day And Thunderstorms

 Summer can be a bummer. And this time not because it's too cold, but rather the opposite. 

Canada experiences early summer days way above the normal temperature range. And it has very sad consequences as almost 500 people have died because of heat stress. Yesterday, the small village of Lytton, B.C. burnt down. In the days prior to the fire, the town broke every heat record with temps topping out at almost 50C (122F). From the moment the mayor noticed some smoke at the south side of town until the entire town was burning, it took only 30 minutes. 260 people lost everything they owned and about 1000 have been evacuated from surrounding areas.  B,C, has been plagued with wildfires over many years, yet it is shocking to hear about a disaster like the one from Lytton, BC.

But Canada also is in the midst of another disaster. Hundreds of unmarked graves of indigenous children have been found at the sites of former "residential schools" where those kids had to endure catastrophic conditions of malnourishment and inhuman treatment.  Many were outright murdered. And this has been going on from the 40s throughout the 60s. Ever since the first graves were discovered, Canadian flags across the country have been set at half staff. 

Inconveniently, Canada Day was coming up on July 1. To mark the country's compassion with those children's families, the celebrations of Canada Day have been canceled over the entire country. While Canada Day parades were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, this time it is the national mourning after an unfathomable national tragedy.

Back to the hot days of summer, even the east coast has been seeing the mercury creep to almost unprecedent high levels.

Naturally, we also got thunderstorms. Ever since we moved to the island we had not experienced a storm like the one we had yesterday. 

The sky turned just black and then thunder started rolling, first in the distance, but coming closer and closer. When the rain hit, I took a short video through the window.

And then it was Canada Day. A few neighbours came together for a chat and to remember Canada Day. It was a nice thing to do and it was the right thing to do. The pandemic has taken an emotional toll on all of us and with the recent tragedies at home and in Florida, it was good to have a couple of hours of enjoyment.

  

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Finale And Potato Salad Blues

The pictures in this posting are still from White Head Island.





              Symbol of the island economy: Lobster traps.

We got home at 7pm and got busy unpacking the trailer. Strangely, unpacking the trailer goes much faster than packing it.

We had taken the ferry departing GM at 3:30pm arriving at 5pm at Blacks Harbour.

Border crossings went uneventful again and we were all happy to be home again, and may I especially mention Dixie. She must have had strange thoughts about the whole trip. Dixie is quite different than our Molly was. Generally, Dixie is more suspicious towards all new things. It takes quite some getting used to for her to thrive in new surroundings. 

Of course you want to know what the heck happened to the potato salad which, foolishly, was forgotten in the house fridge.

Well, it still was delicious. We warmed the BBQed sausages and got a great meal out of it.

When the clock turned 10:30pm I almost fell off of the couch. I barely made it onto my pillow before I slept. Old age is creeping up on me, it seems.

Monday, June 14, 2021

What? It is Supposed To Rain?

 When you are on vacation you want to have nice weather. Rain will ruin your days. For our trip to GM we have been very, very lucky. It wasn't hot (which I don't like) but it was sunny every day. 

However, studying the weather forecast we realized that rain was in the making for Tuesday. It would make for a miserable drive home and packing up would be no fun in the rain. Likewise arriving in rainy weather would be no good as all our gear would have to be moved back into the house.

So, we made a change of plan. This morning I called the ferry company and rescheduled our departure from June 15 to June 14. We still had most of the day in the campground and it was another sunny day.

But we didn't drive anywhere on GM. Bea took a walk with Dixie into the adjacent bird sanctuary, while I prepared the trailer for departure. And before leaving, I took Dixie on another walk down the boardwalk towards "Red Point". GM has again been an incredible experience for us. Will we go again? After 2 visits there we might opt for another place next time, but if we ever should have visitors,we'd be more than happy to show off this great Fundy Isle to them.

When we have breakfast outside we some times have a guest: Dixie always shows more interest for our food than for hers.



Oh Man, Look At That Hole

 Anyone who has traveled in North America has seen, or at least heard of a place called "Hole In The Wall". Obviously there are numerous places by that name. I have seen some of them but hadn't visited the one nearest to us - on Grand Manan. Here it is:

What it probably has in common with other holes in the wall, is that it poses a challenge to access it. The trail is darn steep and for older folks not easy to negotiate. But hey, we made it, even with Dixie ahead of us on the leash.

The other place we had on our bucket list for today was the "Swallow Tail Light House". It adorns the north end of GM and can only be reached over long concrete stairway, a nature trail and a long wooden bridge and walkway. It is unique in it's special location on top of a rocky outcropping. The tower is barduned down so it does not fly away in ferocious storms.






The lighthouse is one of the first things you see when approaching the island on the ferry. The tower started its service in 1860.

The last thing we visited today was the , in opposite end of GM. We had been here before in September 2020, but it's a place you would want to see again and again. 



The ruggedness of the south end can only be experienced when being there. Pictures won't tell the story of the 300ft steep cliffs ending in small secluded beaches or directly into the cold blue waters of the Bay of Fundy. All kind of seabirds are enjoying the remoteness of the area for nesting and finding their food. A true paradise of the roughest nature one can imagine.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

A Place To Forget The World

When visiting Grand Manan in September last year we "forgot" to take the ferry ride over to White Head Island. This time we were determined to correct this mistake.

So this morning we were at the ferry landing at Ingalls Head and we were lucky enough to arrive the second the ferry was ready to leave. In fact, they had the gate up already but seeing us, they lowered it again and we rolled aboard. Nice folks!


Arriving at White Head we were bound to drive every available mile on this island which has a population of 162. There are no stores, no cafes and no gas station.

Ferry running from Ingalls Head to White Head Island

The name White Head explains itself when one sees the white rocks sticking out everywhere.

First we were off to the south side. The paved road ends at a Jeep/ATV trail, and we parked the van there to continue on foot. At the outer point a lighthouse is sending its signals across the open ocean. It's called Long Point Light House Being light house enthusiasts, we had to see it up close. 

The trail is partially somewhat difficult to walk as it is filled with round stones and really rough. But we made it all the way to the tower. There was no information as to when it was built, and obviously it had been renovated with white metal panels.

The next cove over was even more beautiful as it features a huge sandy beach.
We didn't venture all the way out on it as Dixie was getting pretty thirsty. 


Being back at the van, we had our lunch sandwiches and coffee. Dixie was happy to be back on her comfy bed in the van. She is definitely not a long-trail hiking dog.

The beauty of this place led me to think that this island would be the best place to forget anything about the nastiness of world happenings. Yes, if you were looking for peace this would be the place to live.

After our lunch break we ventured on to see more of White Head. Thr oad side is dotted with neat small fisher family homes. And you would love the wild flowers along the roads. Lupines were everywhere!


Being the small island it is you can explore most of it in a half day, that is unless you do a lot of serious hiking. For us we lined up at the White Head Harbour shortly before 1pm and had the most beautiful ride back to Grand Manan. The entire day there was not a cloud around, yet it was not a hot day, which fits us just fine.

If you ever come into the vicinity, you should take the trip to White Head. The ferry ride is free and it is an experience you will never forget. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Oh What A Beautiful Morning.....

 When in our trailer, I sleep like a baby, and after yesterday's excitement I probably needed a good night's sleep more than usual.

I woke up when first daylight appeared, but fell asleep another time. Next time I opened my eyes I could see sunlight, and when I peeked through the window there was a blue sky and bright sun. 

Exactly what I needed.

While the little coffeemaker was gurgling on the counter, I took Dixie out for her morning trip.

Fresh smell of coffee was filling the rig and I plunked down with a good hot morning coffee.

Today we would just be lazy, not driving anywhere, but taking walks along the beautiful beach her at the Anchorage Prov. Park. A few more rigs would probably come for the weekend, but still not busy, which suits me fine.

A park worker appeared after breakfast with a little transport ATV. She stopped right ahead from us at the storage for firewood and started loading up heaps of it. I went over to her asking about the office hour. She surprised me with a big smile and a cheery hello, saying she was so happy to see folks from Campobello come over. Hm....it appeared one of our friends from Campobello, also a park worker, had called her announcing our stay on GM. Before I knew it, she did something nobody has done for 15 months.....she shook hands with me. Quite a welcome really!

Yes, the office was open for business and I paid my dues.

Then I took Dixie for a beach walk. She was so happy to run around and she promptly found a plastic bottle which she could bury in the sand. Plastic bottles shall not be laying around....not if Dixie is in charge!

                                 

After lunch we hung around the trailer until all three of us went for another hike. It was almost 5kms we hiked along the beach. Dixie slept for hours after the hike. 

           Endless empty beach on Grand Manan


                      Taking pictures of each other

Friday, June 11, 2021

Adventure Time!

 Being cooped up for a long time we decided to go on an adventure again. One of the Fundy islands is Grand Manan. Compared to Campobello, "grand" says it all, as it is much bigger. GM, as everybody here calls it, is 35kms long and has still around 2000 islanders call it home. In order to get there we had to cross the border to Maine, drive along coastal route US1, cross borders again into Canada and mfollow Trans-Canada Highway (TC1) to the turn-off to Blacks Harbour, from where Coastal Transport is operating 2 ferries connecting GM with the rest of the country.

In order to have some ready-made food for the journey, I had prepared a delicious potato salad and BBQ'ed sausages to go with it. Bea had made nice meat patties and we sure were looking forward to it.

After carrying tons of stuff from the house to the trailer we finally were ready at 8am.

20kms down the road, well into Maine, the van begun making strange noises. Strong vibrations seem to come from underneath and a rumble emanating made us stop. A walk around the rig didn't show any signs of wrong. But the problem continued down the road. 

After we noticed a strong small of burned material, another stop was made by a lake. This time I touched all wheels. The last one was the right rear and I quickly got my hand off of it. It was extremely hot. So here I had the reason for the rumbling and vibration. A seized up brake caliper was causing it. In order to cool it down I got some water in a pot and splashed it over the wheel. It was sizzling hot and steam came off it. I had to do this several times to cool it down.

At low speed and with no or very little braking we made across the Saint Stephen border and to a GM-dealership. Fortunately they were able to fix it within a couple of hours. But while we were still waiting in the trailer, we thought of having lunch. "let's have a sausage and some potato salad I suggested and went to the fridge.

Looking for the potato salad I did not see it anywhere. What the heck? 

Now it dawned on me that I had forgotten the potato salad, the sausages and the meat patties, and even bread and milk in the fridge at home! What a stupid thing to happen!

So when the van got out of the shop I quickly drove to the food store to buy replacements for forgotten food items.

After our lunch we could finally continue our trip towards the ferry. Of course, we got there too late to catch the 1:30pm ferry, so we had to wait 3 hours for the next departure. But see, that is the beauty of RVing. You got the comforts at home right there with you. Relaxing in the rig and taking Dixie for walks made the time go by. The ferry terminal was filling up quickly 1hour before departure time. 

The trip across to GM was the best one could wish for. 

     Waiting for the ferry at Blacks Harbour

The "Misses" on board


We went to the outside deck and enjoyed a calm and sunny ride. To the east we were passing along "The Wolves", a group of uninhabited islands, and to the east we saw over to distant Campobello Island. 

It was around 7pm when we landed on GM. As we had stayed here before, last September, we had no problem finding the Provincial Campground. The office was already closed, but we followed instructions placed on the door and found a great site. We were reasonably tired after the excitement of the day and retired for a good nights sleep.

When I woke up this morning, sun was already out and after some coffee and breakfast, I took Dixie along for a very nice walk on the beach. A fresh breeze cleared my head, while Dixie had found a plastic bottle and was burying it in the sand. Dixie has a great memory. From the moment we arrived yesterday, she took the lead on the trail. She knew exactly where we had landed. 

The campground is not busy yet. A few permanents and maybe a few bird watchers is all we can see.

We are booked for 5 nights and are happy to have some change of surroundings.