Saturday, September 16, 2023

We Battened Down The Hatches

Hurricane Lee had been announced for a couple of days, and finally he is here, though he abandoned the hurricane status and lessened into a tropical storm. When Lee entered the cold waters of the Bay of Fundy he lost a lot of his power. While average windspeeds were still predicted to be around 60km/h (40mph) it diminished to (now) 51km/h.

But we were prepared!

Loose porch furniture had been stowed away into the basement, doors of our sheds were secured, our greenhouse plastic had been secured with 1x2 wood strips. In case of a power outage our generator is ready on the porch, even a lot of our tomatoes had been harvested from our greenhouse and finally Bea has been cooking "storm soup". 

What? You don't know "storm soup"?  One makes storm soup when a power outage threatens. A soup is easy to be warmed up on a camping stove or, in our case, in our trailer. So it is an easy way to get dinner going, and with all of our home-grown vegetables from the garden, it is a delight, when the weather has unleashed its powers.

And tomorrow, we still get a summer day with lots of sunshine.

But vegetables haven't been the only thing going on here. Bea restarted her Monarch Butterfly raising program. Monarchs are threatened by extinction and Bea is making sure at least some are getting a good start in life. Collecting eggs and caterpillars from Milkweed plants in nature she has been successful in raising them to full-grown butterflies.

From the days without rain: Some reflections of a by-gone summer:

Yet, we know that summer is running out. Another month from now, we will have just 3 weeks left until the hitch-itch is all over us. California is calling again!

Depending on weather conditions we choose our best travel route. With winter approaching we will go south along the east coast, but if we'll have an extended fall season we might go the shortest route through Indianapolis. 

The truth of the matter is that this summer was nothing to write home about. Rain and dense fog have been re-occurring weather patterns, keeping me on my toes with lawn mowing. 

The season started in May with cruise ships visiting at Eastport, Maine. One of the most beautiful, and biggest, ships was the "Zaandam" of the Holland-America Line.

More ships will be visiting in October.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

To Be Frustrated

I could have chosen a different headline like  "When things go sideways" or "Better luck next time", but somehow it is my overall frustration which dominates these days.

Now, I hope you are curious enough to read on.

It all started with us having the worst summer in more than a decade. I really can't put it any other way. Every morning I have problems seeing the house of my neighbour - due to the thickest most dense fog I have ever seen. And when i let Dixie out, I recoil from millions of tiny water droplets hitting me in the face. The fog is so dense that it can't even hold all the water. Or, alternatively, we are having a real solid rain, letting our garden rain barrels run over in no time. And this has been going on through the entire month of June and there is no end in sight this month either. 

As a result of this, our tour business is suffering from a slow exitus. We are down to a fraction of what it was back in 2019. To make matters worse, the media has been falling over themselves with headlines about "Canada Burns" and the "Smoke from the Canadian Fires make people suffer". That may be as it is, but we haven't had any smoke problems here and the grey air out there is not smoke but FOG!

But of course our grass (we hesitate to call it lawn) is growing like a jungle, and just about as quick. So when I was riding our mower, a pebble flew out from underneath hitting a tinted side window  of our van shattering it into 2 million pieces. The effort of getting a new glass turned out to be a nightmarish odyssey. An auto glass firm managed to order a too small window but noticed it first after I had driven 80 miles to town and spent an hour waiting in their shop. 

They needed 2 more weeks to get another (aftermarket) window which has the wrong curvature and looks terrible, besides of that it is not water tight. Their excuses could fill a book! And it is still not fixed 6 weeks after that stone broke the window.

Next on the agenda of my frustration was my 2month old phone, a motorola G play. From one second to the next my data connection went haywire. A little funny star was winking at me from the top signaling the problem. Again I had to do the 80mile run along the border to see the office of US-Cellular. This time I denied them to replace the phone with the same model as we actually had done that just 2 months earlier. No Sireee, this time I wanted an upgrade to a different model. $100 later I had a new phone. And at this time, I seriously speculate whether old cell phones have any collectors value. I have a sizable (and growing) collection of them and maybe I should sell them in an antique market to the highest bidder. Just saying!

But we are not done yet. The other day I backed my 32 year old Mercedes out of the garage when I discovered that passenger side front tire was looking like a pancake under pressure. What in the......???

After checking the cause of the problem, my local mechanic called to inform me that the tire was sick with dry-rot, and that I better check the other three. 

Well, folks, 4 new tires have now been ordered. ($$$$)

Seriously, can somebody please get me some good news?

I have to go to the beach....

Sunday, July 2, 2023


Yes, it's been a long time since my last posting, call it writer's block or what ever you want.

Anyhow, we just celebrated CANADA DAY, and after devouring "The Cake", helped by a bunch of neighbours, I was strolling along a foggy beach, Dixie right in front of me.

CANADA DAY! Every Canadian knows what it stands for: FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY are the key values. And in many countries they are contested values. 

If we, as "the people" want to keep our freedom and democracy in our country, we must "stand on guard for thee", as the lyrics of "O Canada" state so nicely. We must watch out for those powers which could threaten our freedom and our democracy, and we must be prepared to  take a fight for it.

When I was very young I was a pacifist. I could not understand why a country has to spend billions on defense, especially when there were so many shortcomings to solve other, seemingly more serious problems.

My date of birth is only 7 years after the end of WWII, and with that in mind, I should have known better, but I think it was the knowledge that my father had been a WWII soldier in the SS, which made me a pacifist. Grandpa had been in the trenches of Flanders and the horror of his stories scared the 17-yr. old boy I was.

Today, more than 50 years later, I know that the world has to be prepared to act against evil imperialistic dictators, like Putin. As a country of the west we simply cannot allow that a peace-loving nation like Ukraine be overrun by Russian hordes. We are living on the same globe and if we want to preserve and expand freedom and democracy we have to pay the price. That goes for our neighbours as well. Since WWII we have enjoyed a relative peaceful time of almost 80 years. But if the Allied wouldn't have stopped the Nazis....where would we be today?

Of course, threats are not only coming from the outside. There is plenty of evidence that our way of life can disappear quickly, by electing the wrong people to lead our government and to serve and protect the population. Every day we can read about people who try to erode our values of equality and democracy. Here in Canada, we might not see these threats so much, as we have mostly control over them. But by looking across the border to the U.S., we realize the situation is quite different there. And maybe Germany itself is the best example, as they once allowed a dictator to rise from within.

When I think of Canada I think of a free country. And freedom can only exist if every citizen also carries his/her share of responsibility. 

When it is time for an election we don't stay home, but we give our vote to a person we trust. Through the people we choose to represent us, we make sure that our politics are not governed by "Big Money" but by people whose mission it is to make life better for those who are in need of it.  We reject demagogue rhetoric, we don't fall for cheap talking points, designed to rein in votes for would-be dictators and power-hungry individuals.

Naturally, the world will never be perfect, but at least we can and should do our very best.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Wow, It's Cold Outside, Baby!

Today, we have been on the road for 9 hours. From Freehold we went to I-287, following it to Newburgh,NY. Via Danbury,Waterbury and Hartford,CT we made it through MA and finally NH. Since it was a bit too early in the day to camp out at the NH Liquor Store at I-95 we went into Maine and finally stopped at the Kennebunk Service Plaza. When we got out, we were shocked to feel the cold. Gone were the blooming trees, any sign of green and the general feel of spring time. Instead we got a strong blustery cold wind from North-West. It was time to break out Long-Johns and winter clothes.

From 29C and beach life at Norfolk, VA to freezing cold blustery Maine in a few days

Every year we have the same negative experience when returning from the south. Spring time is still far off, and generally behind the calendar.

Good thing we stocked up on propane and water 2 days ago. We also found a dump station today and got rid of some dead weight. So tonight we run the propane and stay toasty warm.

Tomorrow it's another 6hrs on the road and we'll be home. The house will be cold, but we will start a wood fire in the stove. We'll also turn on the power and the water pump. 

I must mention that we also have a lovable neighbour who's gonna wait with a delicious welcome-back supper for us.

And it is Easter!  HAPPY EASTER to everyone!

Thursday, April 6, 2023

We Got Up Real E a r l y!!

 As announced yesterday, we heard the stakkato sound of the wake-up ring from Bea's cellphone. I realized the night would be over. It was 3:30am. Thanks to us moving the trailer to a quiet corner of the parking area, we had slept not too bad.

After a quick coffee, we hit the nightly road towards Lewes/Cape Henlopen. As usual, Bea was the co-pilot and she guided me down the right road and around the right turn-offs. After arriving in Lewes we still had an hour to spare, which we used for having breakfast. The departure area was still closed, but they have terminal parking. One can also stay overnight there.

When the gates opened up, we went over and got in line. 

This was the image she could see via webcam in Germany

We had called a German friend, telling her that she could go online and see us on the webcam, which she did. Stuff like that would have been unthinkable only 15 years ago.

First in Line
The yet-empty Lewes harbour

The ferry ride to Cape May, NJ takes 90 minutes, and it all went down in the most beautiful weather. While Bea took a nap in the van, I went upstairs and had a couple of nice chats with other passengers.

New Jersey countryside

Coming off the ferry at Cape May, we had only 130 miles to cover to a Walmart in Freehold, NJ. With that much time at our hands, we pulled into a mall parking lot and now it was my turn to take a nap. 90 minutes later we left and reached Freehold, NJ.

Tomorrow we plan to circum-drive NYC and hope to reach a few miles beyond Portsmouth, NH.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Leaving The South

 It is only an hour and a few minutes or 74 miles from Columbia to Florence. And Florence marks the end of the I-20. We finally found ourselves back on the trusty old I-95 and heading in northerly direction towards more homely fields.

The I-95 is obviously under major construction and widening, and I'd say it is needed for sure.

At Emporia, North Carolina we left the I-95 again and continued in North-easterly direction on HWY 58 towards Norfolk, VA.

Now, Norfolk, Suffolk and Virginia Beach are three very chaotic cities. Chaotic in traffic. Two major inroads were just clogged solidly. My mastermind of a street finder, Bea, though found another alternative road to avoid all the traffic jam. She finds good help in using Mr. Google's maps which also gives traffic updates.

So we made it onto the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge-Tunnel.

This route is always quite the highlight on our journey home. The construction is truly outstanding in the U.S. Currently work is underway to widen the tunnel through-ways.

Arriving at Cape Charles on the other side, we pulled in at the Welcome Center.

A huge parking lot allows for 48hrs parking allows for 48hrs parking. Very unfortunately, the truckers have long since kidnapped the area, and are making a peaceful overnight stay for an RVer almost impossible. It is 66F outside but some let their noisy engines run, nevertheless. After we had set up camp they came left and right and even though lots of space was available elsewhere they joined us wall to wall. Are they doing this on purpose?

Well, we packed up and moved to a more peaceful edge of the parking lot.

The nice side of the Welcome Center is the adjoining wildlife refuge trail, which is worth exploring.

We hadn't booked our ferry from Lewes to Cape May yet, and when I tried doing that I got a bad surprise. The only 2 departures left were at 8:45 and 7:45pm. We booked at 8:45am, which means that we have to get up darn early tomorrow.