Have chariot – will travel

Anyone who has read my posts may have realized I like the quirky, but not dangerous, side of adventure. Having barely settled back home with a good book it is time to pull out my notebook & pencil, power up my iPad, erase all traces of wedding plans from my whiteboard and start some research for an adventure that is definitely outside my comfort zone. Time to call a friend with more experience than my usual travel companions. (Pandas tend to appreciate the softer side of travel)

With my daughter seriously considering a move to Toronto to further her studies and two of her sisters already in Ontario it is extremely likely I join her, or take up temporary residence with each of the three on a rotating basis. Or permanently live in my golden chariot. This is where my lumberjack friend enters. A rugged individual with attitude and lots of hugs he should be able to help me figure out how to get from Point A to Point B (approx 4500km depending on where B will be) on a very thin budget. Driving.

I swear he is smirking.

I really do not intend to ride across the country on a dogsled although it might be handy if I end up being caught in a snowstorm. My chariot is a 2002 Hyundai Elantra 4 door hatchback. I also intend to turn the car into a camper. Probably the most challenging adventure I will undertake. I think the first venture will be a weekend somewhere on the island before the end of September – Tofino perhaps. Keeping this short for now, looking for any words of wisdom besides suggestions to stop now.

What do I have so far? Chariot, nerves of steel (questionable), sleeping bags, various backpacking camp items, tiny BBQ (hey, its only a list so far), navigator. My daughter does not drive – yet.

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The Great Locomotive Chase: Part 3

Despite having to fly home next week, rather than take the train, I have certainly found enough varieties of rail rides to keep me happy. I even found a show on Knowledge Network about the narrow gauge India Hill Railway – very interesting. However, sitting on a train is far more fun. With that in mind my daughter asked us if we would like to go on the Great Train Robbery that starts next door to the massive St. Jacob’s Market.

Once again two buses, altogether about an hour, this time stopping before the village of St. Jacob’s. The parking lot is huge, on both sides of the market, not many horse and carriages as I though there would be. The Mennonites who do not have booths at the market most likely avoid the place or do their market shopping closer to the 7:00am opening when everything is fresh. (I really have no idea how many still use horse and buggy. We did see some in St. Jacob’s the previous day and one on the main road near the market) We arrived at 10:00, everyone else was in need of breakfast and I certainly did not say no to more coffee. Breakfast was served on real plates! Cutlery was plastic. We then spent 3 1/2 hours checking out all on offer indoors and outdoors but could easily have spent much longer. Of course there were beautiful quilts and all sorts of cured sausages in addition to delicious looking baked goods and bread. I finally gave in and had a pretzel. My only wish was for really good mustard rather than the packaged stuff.

Knowing we would have to carry everything we tried to take care with purchases. We returned with raspberries – somewhat squished by the time we put them in the fridge, lots and lots of cherries – my D discovered after 10 years of marriage her husband does not like cherries! Peaches, a large all beef summer sausage that will go home with us if we can resist opening it, spicy apple jam and strawberry jam, alpaca wool and new, heavy duty water bottles. We dallied over beans, tomatoes, strawberries, more baked goods, flowers and so much more. Our bags were very heavy. We were there long enough I needed lunch so I grabbed a baked vegetable samosa. They even served naked samosas as a GF choice.

Just some of our purchases! Everything would not fit on the table

Well sated, and burdened down with our purchases we headed for the train. The Waterloo Central Railway offers all sorts of fun throughout the year with their themed trips. I counter 19 on their website – if I visit in December I might do the Polar Express. The Mennonite Excursion to Elmira includes a farm wagon ride and a chance for a visit to a farm for lunch and a chat. I realize this is marketing to tourists but why not? If it helps to keep everything running without too much damage to culture and environment I am in favour. Back to our trip. Despite arriving early, as requested, I did not have a chance to take any photos of the engine or cars, the platform was too narrow and busy. I am quite sure we were not being pulled by the steam locomotive used for some of their trips. Slated as a one hour trip we felt lucky to have an hour & 20 minutes of rocking and rolling. I happen to enjoy the swing of trains although the cars used seem to sway far more than modern ones. Even the words often used for train travel have a dance rhythm.

The whole Robbery is hammed up by conductor and sheriff with jokey comments to fit into conversation with passengers. We kept hearing about the valuable valuables that were being carried to Elmira – then brought through each car as proof. We later discovered that one of the young men playing a role was on his first day – he did an excellent job. Also while out of character he mentioned he has a degree in Theology. Before these sidetracked bits of information we were kept entertained by fields of corn gently swaying, cows grazing, horses neighing (I assume) and stopping traffic at various crossings. We passed by decommissioned cars and engines, one had the 1867-1967 logo on it from Canada’s centennial – I had hoped to get a photo on our return, no luck. I have fond memories of those white symbols flashing by and stopped at the grain elevator in Prince Rupert.

Gold? What gold?

Of course the pinnacle of the hour was sighting kerchief garbed bandits riding in the distance, parallel to the train before galloping alongside us – and they were definitely moving swiftly. The train came to a standstill, the train robbers, all female by the way, boarded and quickly divided their booty of goodies to passengers. The conductor and sheriff were in hot pursuit. My companions quickly hid their portion of gold and my SIL seemed to be in cahoots with the bandits. Basically a fun way to while away 1 1/2 hours before heading back to Kitchener. My daughter who lives there and I had just enough energy left to walk to the Cherry Park Festival that was winding down its last hour – we shared a cup of cherry cheesecake ice-cream then called it day.

seeking witnesses and the stolen gold. Middle photo- caught!

If becoming a professor does not pan out she might make a good train robber.

The Great Locomotive Chase: Part One

How could I not use this title for my most recent trip? Unfortunately, the closest I managed to an epic trip was the two hour passenger ride from Toronto to Kingston return then an even shorter trip from TO to Kitchener. Our plans to take the train all the way to Vancouver fell through when we could not find a discounted fare – all the economy Plus fares, and plain old economy, were fully booked all the way into late August – and there did not appear to be any discounted berths. We did toy with the idea of stitching together stops to make a whole but that seemed too expensive. However, we did book a fun day on the weekend to visit the massive Farmers Market and a Great Train Robbery trip near St. Jacob’s.

Of course the most important reason for going east was for my eldest daughter’s wedding – it was a fantastic success! Having already written a short blog and including some of my photos (blog & photos not stellar quality) I am only including one here. I am in the burgundy two piece with silver shoes. Beside my SIL. I wanted a photo that showed off the lovely scalloped lace on the train of my daughter’s dress. Why mention the shoes – look at how I am angled. They were relatively comfortable but the wedges made me feel as though perilously lose to the edge of a cliff. I guess no one noticed, or thought I always stooped that much. So I am perpetually frozen in place looking like I am ten years older.

Impressive medals!

To relax and give my daughter, ‘new’ SIL and grandson some downtime my sister, another daughter, and I went to the nearby Holiday Country Manor B&B for two nights. We were exceedingly grateful they had the business sense to install AC several of their rooms just days prior to our arrival. Although they had previously informed guests they only had fans the sweltering heat would have most likely found guests either expiring or leaving in droves. (Not that there were droves) Just the wedding guests equalled five rooms booked. My group basically stayed in our rooms for most of the day after Canada Day and barely noticed the pop popping of fireworks around 10:00pm on Canada Day. We only ventured out long enough to have breakfast – buffet of basic fare, all tasty, good coffee and pleasant company. The B&B is not in the city so a vehicle is necessary.

The new owners. I believe only having purchased it three years ago, are slowly working on the much needed TLC of this 1840’s Georgian style design that has been used as a lodge, although it appears not consistently, since 1912. Even our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald is said to have practised law out of its dining room. The tin ceilings, thick lime walls and imagined discoveries yet to be made from under or behind modernization, made this a pleasant respite.

Although I am not a fan of fish, fake or otherwise, on walls these green guys hearten back to when the Manor was a fishing lodge

All of a sudden it was Monday and time to leave Kingston. The plan was to show my sister a little bit of TO; CN Tower was at the top of her must see list, and I added the CBC building because we are staunch CBC listeners. We ended up lugging our, thank goodness, wheeled carry-on bags and smaller bags with us as there is nowhere to store luggage at Union Station. I suppose that sadly makes sense in this day and age. The heat was searingly hot so the prospect of getting inside an AC building was enticing. Except we discovered we would have about an hour long wait just to get through security at the Tower – before buying tickets. POI – ordering tickets ahead of time generally means going through a faster security line. Next time. We decided against waiting and headed to CBC where we checked out the lobby and little museum on the lower level before seeking lunch.

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Of course Grump (seriously, that was an autocorrect) Trump was in the news.

We walked about three blocks, getting left behind by my daughter she did not realize we had stopped for more photos – my sister this time. Using her phone to search for eateries my D found Canteen in the Entertainment District (she also found a Starbucks to stop at after lunch; she barely escaped a horde of students (minimum 20+ and more pouring in as we headed away) that followed her in – supposedly in search of water although it seemed they were leaving with various caffeinated drinks) Back to Canteen, I would certainly return given the opportunity. My sister chose short rib Mac & cheese – people in ON eat some strange combinations, it is not a westcoast dish. It was declared delicious. We were so hungry by this time that I neglected to take photos. My D had the Squash Pad Thai and I chose calamari tacos. Really, something for everyone, including GF/DF/V & Vegan! Impressive.

After dropping my sister off to catch the UP to the airport we bought tickets for the train, Via rather than GO, to Kitchener-Waterloo. I just love the acronyms and expect to take GO on the back as it is significantly cheaper. By the time we arrived we were very tired little teddy bears.

Temporarily crowned with the new engagement ring (a big secret until photos – no wonder my SIL is so good at his job – I only heard about it after the ‘reveal’ photos. Seems everyone there was in tears) and wedding band plus one flower from the bouquet.

Wedding Wednesday: the aftermath

I had intended to write something the last Wednesday leading up to the big day; seems the final countdown means all sorts of last minute running around and the day ran away from me! It was not until the next day someone in the family mentioned they had not seen a post. (Nice to note some of them read my posts) However, now that the momentous day has come and gone I am free to include photos!

Big however here, I only took the first two of the following photos although they were taken on my phone. Why did I not take many? The mother of the bride should not be hiding behind a camera or iPhone. There were so many people with phones I knew I would not have to worry. I am waiting for some to be sent to me as I write – which tells the tale I started this before Wednesday. Just in case I am overwhelmed with exhaustion. Ensconced in my room, with AC and a fan going full blast I hope I can capture some of the magic of the day and chaos leading up to it.

My eldest, the bride, and two of her sisters

I had only managed two paragraphs before I started to doze off. Perhaps becoming a wedding coordinator is not in my future. Although I am quite sure I could teach the person in charge of the venue a few things about appropriate attitude when working with a bride. Fortunately nearly everything went smoothly. The worse incident was with a special glass pumpkin my daughter bought with their names and the date of the wedding engraved on plaques, As she said, “Seems wheels and boats don’t mix.” Funny considering we were on a paddle wheel.

My daughter, her soon to be husband (photos done before ceremony) and me

The bride was beautiful. The groom was handsome. The ladies and men were perfect. The venue was as ready as it would ever be. Guests arrived, listened to the piper (yes, there was a Piper), had a photo taken at a ship’s wheel and boarded. To add some humour water came running, taplike, from the roof above us just as the bride and her father were to walk down the aisle, right in the middle.

A wonderful gift of Scottish piping from the mother of the groom

The set up was lovely, once my daughter and a friend of her sister, stepped in to assist. We had fishbowls, minus the fish, (my grandson suggested goldfish crackers) with orchids and fairy lights flanking small, white bouquets in mason jars (these are actually great as decorative vases and found in nearly any cupboard). I never did understand if it was a fishbowl or a mason jar that was broken during the set up. The blue table runners and chair sashes were carefully laid and tied. Try ironing 100 sashes and 20 table runners, the. Keep the, from becoming creased before the big day!

just a bit of chaos before everything was boxed for the ride to the venue

We partied like there was no tomorrow. Anyone with slippers was happy to have remembered them – that includes me. The bride and groom serenaded the guests for the last song/dance. She lost her voice. Four days later she is still hoarse! Perhaps it was just as well the bridal table did not have any wine served to them during toasts – many drinks were being bought for them. That is said in jest, fortunately the bride snagged a bottle from the parents table – I had one short glass of red wine that I promptly gave to my youngest at the table across from me after the first toast. The rest of the toasts I had to use my water glass. Oops.

It is difficult to convey in words how wonderful everything was and even photographs will only provide a glimpse of how to do a wedding right. With lots of family, love, laughter and dancing to the hours. I hope everyone enjoys the photos I have been able to gather.

Wasn’t that a party?!

Wedding Wednesday: final fittings, purchases, final touches

This is it, only one more Wednesday left before the big day! I fly out of a Victoria with my roommate daughter tomorrow, arrive in Kingston from TO via Via Rail and go immediately to two wedding meetings. We will check out the dorms at Queen’s University where many members of the family will be staying – including the bride & groom. I think the main plan is to figure out who gets which room. Then we will dash off to meet with the wedding coordinator for the boat.

She was supposed to call me today, suggested tomorrow afternoon. So I sent her nine items to go over and have answers for our Friday meeting. I explained the bride will not be available before then. The dress has been picked up but can go back if I notice any problems. I hope not. I am taking a spool of white thread and another of blue for any emergency repairs. Blue is the colour the women are wearing and I already know I have to sew a belt onto one dress.

My youngest daughter bought s pair of shoes the other day for her dress despite swearing up and down she is broke and threatening she will not attend. I will not go into her reasoning. Suffice to say if she shows up, great. If not, her loss. Her sister’s and I are finished with the antics. All I want is to have her out of my apartment when I get home. Oh, and to leave it in decent shape. I believe my feeling sick has nothing to do with the wedding.

We are all packed. My usually carried on bag will be checked in because I am not letting all those orchids, glass stones and fairly lights out of my sight! The bag is s bit heavy but not over the allowable carry on. We must leave home at 2:30 to take three buses to get to the airport to arrive before 5:00. So just getting to the airport is half the time our flight will be! Except we also have a three hour layover in Calgary. Perhaps I will actually sleep by Friday night.

The bride told me today that her step-mother started a list for the BBQ the following day – Canada Day. I kind of like the idea of stepping back. Hard to believe that 89 years ago my grandparents were also married on June 30th and had a picnic on July 1st for family and friends!