Bugageddon, Anal Glands, & Tornadoes…What A Day!

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Day 112          September 29, 2014

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma   to  Tucumcari, New Mexico

We were driving west on a pretty boring stretch of I-40 west, when suddenly, BLAMMO!! A swarm of about 50 bugs, ran smack dab into our windshield. It was ugly! A freakin’ bloody massacre! Otherwise, the drive out of Oklahoma City was uneventful. So, at least we had Bugageddon to talk about for a while.

Hello Texas!

Hello Texas!

When we got to Amarillo, Texas, we paid a visit to Swann Animal Clinic. I’d called ahead to make an appointment to have Dax looked at. Seems he was having a little problem with his anal glands. Yes, anal glands. This day was really shaping up nicely, wasn’t it?!

The folks at Swann Animal Clinic couldn’t have been nicer. Ends up Dax had an infection, so it was a good thing that we had him looked at. We got him set up with some antibiotics, thanked everyone, and went on our way. Poor Dax.

We didn’t know if we’d ever in our lifetime, be back in Amarillo, Texas, so we took a little time to go see what downtown Amarillo looked like. Checked that off. 

Old building in downtown Amarillo

Old building in downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Fun, cool angles

Fun, cool angles

Very pointy...

Very pointy…

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Don't mess with Texas!

Don’t mess with Texas!

When we got back on I-40 west, we were in such a deep discussion about donuts, that we almost passed right by Cadillac Ranch. Thank the good lord that we saw it just in time!!

In the distance = Cadillac Ranch

Looking quite tiny, in the distance = Cadillac Ranch

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia….

“Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas, U.S. It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm. It consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of mid twentieth century Cadillacs; the tailfins) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.”

The infamous Cadillac Ranch. Let the spray painting begin!

The infamous Cadillac Ranch. Let the spray painting begin!

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

We had a fantastic time at Cadillac Ranch! A nice young couple there gave us a can of their spray paint so that we could actively participate and leave our mark on the old cars. The interactiveness of it all, really enhanced our experience of the place.

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Love this place!

Love this place!

Endless fun with spray paint

Endless fun with spray paint

Nice couple who shared their spray paint with us

Nice couple who shared their spray paint with us

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Goodbye Cadillac Ranch

Whatever.......

Whatever…….

On the road to Tucumcari

Back on the road to Tucumcari

If your horse needs a vacation, this is the place to go...

If your horse needs a vacation, this is the place….

New Mexico....looking a little blurry at 65 mph

New Mexico….looking a little blurry at 65 mph

Under the threat of tornadoes in the area, we made our way to Tucumcari. We were smack dab on the old Route 66, the Mother Road, surrounded by super cool mid-century modern architecture, signage and landmarks. Cool stuff, so we did a little drive about before stopping at Tucumcari Cactus RV park.

Cool stuff on Route 66 in Tucumcari

Cool stuff on Route 66 in Tucumcari

Cool stuff on Route 66 in Tucumcari

Cool stuff on Route 66 in Tucumcari

It was getting late, and we were too tired and lazy to cook dinner, so we walked over to nearby Del’s for dinner. Being that we were in Tucumcari, well, we didn’t expect a great meal or anything. So we were blown away by the completely delicious food and great service. If you’re ever in Tucumcari, this is THE place at which to dine!

So far, no tornadoes. As we walked back to the RV park, we felt the wind pick up, and felt a little rain falling. Lucky us, it wasn’t until we were safely back in the Space Shuttle, that the sky began to rock ’n roll. Wind, lightening, thunder….all night long. It kept us a little on edge, but, that’s as bad as it got. No tornadoes. It was a totally great day after all.

For Those About To Road Trip, I Salute You!

Summer’s here friends, so get the f*## out of your houses, get in your damn cars, and go on a road trip!!

Yesterday, June 10th, marked the one-year anniversary of the start of our epic four-month long road trip. Yes, the one I’m still blogging about! I set a goal to be finished writing about the trip by time the one-year anniversary rolled around. Didn’t quite reach that goal, but I am super close to being finished.

So, if you’re sick of still having to read about my old trip, get the heck on the road, do your own road trip, and then write about it! Stop being the entertained, and start being the entertainee. Road trips are fun!! You’ll thank me later for gettin’ you out there!!

I Want Beer, And I Want It NOW!!!

Great choice for dinner!

Great choice for dinner!

Day 111            September 28, 2014

Little Rock, Arkansas  to  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

For a minute, I thought we’d time travelled back to the dark ages. We tried to buy a 6-pack of beer to restock our little fridge. But guess what?! The great state of Arkansas doesn’t sell alcohol on Sundays. WTF??? And so, we left Arkansas.

Leaving Arkansas. No beer, no stay.

Leaving Arkansas. No beer, no stay.

There seemed to be an unusually large number of motorcycles also heading west on I-40. I talked to a couple of the bikers at a rest stop, and found out they were all driving home after attending a huge bike rally in Fayetteville, Arkansas. And I’m guessing they were leaving on a Sunday ‘cause they couldn’t buy any freakin’ beer!

All the bikers leaving Arkansas, in search of beer..

All the bikers leaving Arkansas, in search of beer..

Onward to Oklahoma City. There’s a funny story about Oklahoma City. A story that happened many years ago when we were driving across the country to move to California. I’m not gonna tell you the story, as it’s quite long, but it involved Mark getting locked outside our friend’s house in the middle of the night. Just a little story that we laugh about to this day…..well, I laugh about it.

Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City

I knew it’d be depressing, but, we went to see the Oklahoma City National Memorial. You know, the one that honors the victims of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building. It was depressing to see, but it was also very beautiful, and I’m glad we went to see it.

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

The museum @ Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Personal mementos on the fence @ Oklahoma City National Memorial

Personal mementos on the fence @ Oklahoma City National Memorial

IMG_6658

After the somberness of the memorial, we needed a little pick-me-up, so we headed to the Bricktown district for some margaritas and beers. We had the most delicious dinner at Bricktown Brewery…meatloaf, fried okra and black eyed peas…totally gourmet…totally yummy!! And did I mention the awesome stout that went along with it?

Looking for margaritas in Bricktown

Looking for margaritas in Bricktown

Bricktown district

Bricktown district

Great choice for dinner!

Great choice for dinner!

Photo does not do this justice. It tasted freakin' awesomely gourmet!!

Photo does not do this justice. It tasted freakin’ awesomely gourmet!!

We docked for the night at Council Road RV Park.

Leaving the city...

Leaving the city…

It’s Just The Big Dam Bridge….Get Over It!!!

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Day 110        September 27, 2014

Little Rock, Arkansas

A successful start to the day can often be measured by how quickly one’s dogs do their business. This was a very successful morning! And good thing, ‘cause we had to get to the start line of the Big Dam Bridge Cycling Tour.

The bikes are ready to roll. Heading out in the early morning for the Big Dam Bridge ride.

The bikes are ready to roll. Heading out in the early morning for the Big Dam Bridge ride.

The official t-shirt

The official t-shirt

While I walked the dogs, Mark tore the Space Shuttle apart to look for our bike helmets. Found ‘em! We were good to go!

Ready to rock 'n roll

Ready to rock ‘n roll

Waiting for the ride to begin

Waiting for the ride to begin

Lots of friendly folks waiting to start the ride

Lots of friendly folks waiting to start the ride

The entire ride was amazingly scenic and fun! And yes, we did actually ride over the Big Dam Bridge. I love that the Arkansasians have a sense of humor, and actually gave that exact name to their beloved bridge!

Mark's mid-ride selfie

Mark’s mid-ride selfie

Quick stop to take in the view

Quick stop to take in the view

Random scenery along the way

Random scenery along the way

The ride ended in the cool little neighborhood of Argentia, with free hot dogs and soda, and a live band. We got a couple beers from a little coffee shop/bar, and sat outside with some nice locals to listen to the band. (don’t judge…it was at least noon by time we started drinking beer)

Post-ride, a great local band playing in the street near the finish line

Post-ride, a great local band playing in the street near the finish line

@ The Joint for post-ride coffee and beer

@ The Joint for post-ride coffee and beer

I got the coffee

I got the coffee

Mark got the beer

Mark got the beer

Eventually, we headed back to the Space Shuttle. It was time to check on the doggies, take a shower, and go out exploring on foot.

Post-ride, back at the Space Shuttle, we were greeted by Trixie and Tiny

Post-ride, back at the Space Shuttle, we were greeted by Trixie and Tiny

We went back to the Clinton Presidential library to walk around and take more photos. And this time, we went inside. Besides the Presidential stuff in there, there was also a nice Dale Chihuly glass exhibit.

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Wedding reception @ the Clinton Presidential Library. Should we crash it?

Wedding reception @ the Clinton Presidential Library. Should we crash it?

Chihuly glass art @ the Clinton Presidential Library.

Chihuly exhibit @ the Clinton Presidential Library.

Chihuly glass art @ the Clinton Presidential Library.

Chihuly exhibit @ the Clinton Presidential Library.

Chihuly glass art @ the Clinton Presidential Library.

Chihuly exhibit @ the Clinton Presidential Library.

@ the Clinton Presidential Library

Mark @ the Clinton Presidential Library

View of the pedestrian bridge, from the Clinton Presidential Library

View of the pedestrian bridge, from the Clinton Presidential Library

Lunch break beer

Lunch break beer @ Boscos

Tired from the day’s activities, we spent the evening back at the RV park. We took a walk along the river, then settled in to cook dinner and do our laundry.

Evening walk along the river

Evening walk along the river

And once again, we met some fellow RV-ers who were amazed that all four of us had been living in the small Space Shuttle for so long!! We were getting close to the four-month point of our trip, and even we were amazed at how well we were all doing!

Is “The South” Making Me Fat?! I’ve Yet To Meet A Food I Didn’t Like!

Just like the sign says, it's "World Famous"

Memphis, Tennessee

Day 109      September 26, 2014

West Memphis, Arkansas   to   Little Rock, Arkansas

As soon as the sun rose, we got out of bed to watch the barges navigate up and down the Mississippi River. It was a classic American scene, and amused us for over an hour. But we couldn’t just sit there all day, ‘cause we were going to Memphis. The real Memphis. Memphis, Tennessee. Not the fake Memphis, West Memphis, Arkansas, where the RV park was.

Sunrise, as seen through the condensation on the Space Shuttle windshield

Sunrise, as seen through the condensation on the Space Shuttle windshield

River barges!

River barges!

Morning on the river

Morning on the river

Sun coming up on the river

And…here comes another barge

Such a great location for an RV park!

Such a great location for an RV park!

Graphic detail of concrete

Graphic detail of concrete

Memphis, well, especially the Beale Street area, was touristy, but fun!  And the people there were so nice. Trixie and Dax were especially popular with the peeps in Memphis, and were lavished with attention everywhere we went.

Beale Street

Beale Street

Beale Street

Beale Street

Photo excursion on Beale Street

Photo excursion on Beale Street

Just like the sign says, it's "World Famous"

Just like the sign says, it’s “World Famous”

Fun streetscape and signage

Fun streetscape and signage

Fun streetscape and signage

Fun streetscape and signage

Colorful buildings and signs

Colorful buildings and signs

Tribute to W.C. Handy

Tribute to W.C. Handy

Just like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but different

Just like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but different

We walked around and took lots of photos, bought a couple more t-shirts, and had lunch at the Majestic Grille. Yet another awesome meal. We were gonna be so spoiled by all the great food we’d been eating.

More fun with neon signs

More fun with neon signs

The colors and architecture of Beale Street

The colors and architecture of Beale Street

Beale Street

Beale Street

Always look up....the ceiling in the Majestic Grille restaurant

Always look up….the ceiling in the Majestic Grille restaurant

Amazing ahi salad!!

Amazing ahi salad!!

Streetscape detail

Streetscape detail

Love these flags!

Love these flags!

Things we did NOT do in Memphis:  We didn’t go to Graceland ‘cause we’ve been there before. And we didn’t go on a tour of the Gibson Guitar factory ‘cause we didn’t have time to stick around town. If I owned a Gibson, we’d have made the time, but, I own a Martin, so we skipped it.

Tempting....the Gibson guitar factory

Tempting….the Gibson guitar factory

Our next stop would be Little Rock, Arkansas, where we checked into the Downtown Riverside RV Park. The place was full, but they gave us a spot in the overflow section. Perfect! You couldn’t beat the location of this place. It really pretty much was “downtown.”

Hello again, Arkansas

Hello again, Arkansas

As soon as we were settled into our spot, we leashed up the dogs and went on a big outing. We walked across the pedestrian bridge, which was right next to the RV park, and which landed us right at the Clinton Library. The library was even more beautiful and cool looking in person!

Pedestrian bridge by our RV park

Pedestrian bridge by our RV park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not just any old pedestrian bridge....the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge!

Not just any old pedestrian bridge….the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge!

Downtown Little Rock in the distance

Downtown Little Rock in the distance

Our first look at the Clinton Presidential Library!

Our first look at the Clinton Presidential Library!

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Weird red things in the fountain…??? Chihuly’s??

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

So many graphic angles to shoot!

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Mark and Dax, sniffing around the Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

Near the Clinton Presidential Library, beautiful public art

Near the Clinton Presidential Library, beautiful public art

We continued our walk into town, and settled on having dinner at Cache, where we filled up on delicious tuna tacos and topped that off with whiskey bread pudding. The pups weren’t allowed on the outdoor patio, so we had to tie them to the railing next to us and keep our eyes on them to keep ‘em from getting into scuffles with other doggies walking by.

Part of our dinner discussion surrounded one topic. We’d found out that there was a big charity cycling tour the next day, The Big Dam Bridge ride. And even though we were still on deadline to get to Albuquerque, it was just so tempting to stay in Little Rock and do this ride in the morning.

After dinner, we walked all the way down to the convention center, where the cycling tour registration and registration packet pick-up was being held…just to check it out. And, of course, we ended up signing up for the ride! Our timing was just too perfect to pass up the opportunity!

By time we walked all the way back to the Space Shuttle, it was late and dark out. We were tired too, but instead of going to sleep, we spent the next hour scrambling to find where we’d packed our cycling clothes and helmets. Couldn’t find the helmets, and finally gave up looking and just went to bed. We’d have to wait until the morning to continue our search.

Random Advice From A Random Guy At A Gas Station

Brick and wires. Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Brick and wires. Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Day 108     September 25, 2014

Gadsden, Alabama  to  West Memphis, Arkansas

On the road again…this time, to Birmingham, Alabama…partially out of respect for its place in the history of the civil rights movement (which, by the way, could still stand to keep on moving forward), and partially just out of curiosity, since we were driving right by it anyways. Even if we just did a drive through, we were curious to see what Birmingham looked like.

Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Brick and wires. Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Brick and wires. Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Back alley. Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Back alley. Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Photogenic downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Photogenic downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Lots of brick buildings in downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Lots of brick buildings in downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

A random guy we met at the gas station near downtown, recommended that we eat lunch at El Barrio. We did. And we thank “Random Guy at Gas Station” for turning us onto this place. El Barrio was jam packed, and no wonder, due to its fun decor and vibe and its delicious food! I had one of the best quesadillas I’ve ever had. This seemed to be a theme with us as we travelled across the south…the theme of amazing food!

El Barrio

El Barrio

Trying to blend in with the crazy murals at El Barrio

Trying to blend in with the crazy murals at El Barrio

One of our favorites! Coffee oatmeal stout

One of our favorites! Coffee oatmeal stout

The rest of the drive across Alabama was uneventful. The only thing I noticed that was remotely remarkable, was the overabundance of shredded tire tread on the highways. I don’t know what’s going on in that state, but when dead tires outnumber regular roadkill…hmm…things that make you go “hmmm.”

We continued our drive west on Rt 78, briefly crossing into Mississippi before crossing back into Tennessee. And then we drove briefly through Tennessee, across the river, to Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas.

Hello, Mississippi

Hello, Mississippi

Hello, Tennessee

Hello, Tennessee

Crossing the bridge into Arkansas

Crossing the bridge into Arkansas

Hello, Arkansas

Hello, Arkansas

Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park was right on the river, which was uber cool, ‘cause we got to watch the river barges going up and down the river all evening long. Barge-watching proved to be quite a relaxing and hypnotic way to end the day.

Another Day, Another Ticket-Free Parking Violation

More chocolate goodies!

Chocolate heaven in Knoxville, TN!

Day 107         September 24, 2014

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee  to Gadsden, Alabama

On our way out of Pigeon Forge,  we went to see if we could get a peek at Dollywood. I mean, a peek from the outside, without paying to go inside. All we could find was the entry to a parking lot. I guess the likes of cheapskates like us weren’t welcome there, so we left.

Our actual first stop would be in downtown Knoxville, where we lucked into the most perfect parking space. Well, it wasn’t perfectly perfect, as it was in a 30 minute zone, but that had never stopped us before. I’m not condoning breaking the law or anything, but, when you have 27’ of vehicle to park, you often just take what you find, and take your chances. And hey, in almost four months, we’d only gotten busted once, so, whatever. We could afford another $45 parking ticket, so we took our chances.

So, the risk of getting a parking ticket was well worth the goodies that we found in Knoxville. We were parked right by the pedestrian mall, right out front of an amazing coffee and chocolate shop, right down the block from some really cool boutique shops.

First we hit the coffee and chocolate shop, appropriately named, “Coffee & Chocolate. ” Among other chocolatey things, we had a dark chocolate truffle that was to die for! The bacon truffle, uh, not as great, but still pretty darn good!

@ Coffee & Chocolate

@ Coffee & Chocolate

More chocolate goodies!

Deliciousness!

Yep, tried one of these jalapeno ones too!

Yep, tried one of these jalapeno ones too!

After checking out a few of the small artistic boutiques, we took a walk through the pedestrian mall, where we discovered the mid-day farmer’s market. And within the farmer’s market, we discovered the Good Golly Tamale food cart. 

We bought a few tamales to share…the “Classic,” the “Calabacitas,” and the “Vegan Soul.’ OMG! OMG! Best tamales we’ve ever had, and believe me, living in Southern California for so many years, we’ve eaten a lot of tamales. But no tamale I’ve ever devoured, could hold a candle to the tamales from Good Golly Tamale!!

How did tamales this divine end up in Knoxville, Tennessee??!! No offense to Knoxville. Knoxville seemed like a really great city. It’s just not the city, state, or region of the US of A that one would expect to find spectacular tamales!

Now the trifecta of our little downtown visit, was finding the coolest t-shirt shop, “Nothing Too Fancy.” Mark and I both love and adore, and live in, t-shirts, so this place was a bonanza discovery for us. Their t-shirts were all super soft, with awesome graphics by local graphic designers. It took a lot of self-control, but we walked out of there with only two t’s for Mark, and one for me. Seriously, I could have bought about 10 t-shirts, but I knew I didn’t really “need” them. Damn. I’m way too practical.

Having overstayed our 30 minute parking by at least an hour, we got back in the Space Shuttle and went on our way. No parking ticket, by the way. (smiley face emoticon!)

We stopped in Chattanooga to have a quick look around. Sucked in by the billboard advertisements, we purchased tickets to ride the Incline Railway to the top of Lookout Mountain. Glad we did! It was pretty cool riding up (and down) the 72.7% grade in this open-air rail car of sorts.

On the Incline Railway

On the Incline Railway

The view down, from inside the rail car

The view down, from inside the rail car

Nice views from the top of Lookout Mountain

Nice views from the top of Lookout Mountain

An old fort, turned park.

An old fort, turned park.

The view from the fort/park

The view from the fort/park

The view from the fort/park

The view from the fort/park

The view from the fort/park

The view from the fort/park

Statue in the fort/park

Civil War memoria in the fort/park

Downtown Chattanooga

World of Beer in downtown Chattanooga

Climbing wall on the exterior of this building in downtown Chattanooga

Climbing wall on the exterior of this building in downtown Chattanooga

On our way out of town, we took Rt 59 south, to Gadsden, Alabama, where we spent the night at the River Country Campground. All in all, we’d had another great day…coffee, chocolate, tamales, t-shirts, railway rides…pretty much a perfect day!

From Quiet To Crazy…All In A Day’s Travels

Still not tired of photographing the old cabins.

Great Smoky Mountains

Day 106     September 23, 2014

Townsend  to  Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Just down the road from our campground, was a little enclave of needed stuff…a self-wash RV washing center, and a coffee shop. So after dumping our tanks and doing our laundry at the campground, away we went…to just down the road.

We got Fiona nice and clean and shiny, and then rewarded ourselves with the best ever iced coffee and iced mocha from The Artistic Bean. Seriously, especially the iced mocha…best ever in the world! Nice people there too.

The entire rest of the day was spent exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We did a bit of a whirlwind driving tour, stopping to take in the scenery and take pictures, but knowing that we still had to meet our deadline to make it to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in nine days.

Like the sign says...on the loop road @ Great Smoky Mountains

Like the sign says…on the loop road @ Great Smoky Mountains

Cades Cove Scenic Loop

Cades Cove Scenic Loop

Singing group in the little church on Cades Cove Scenic Loop

Singing group in the little church on Cades Cove Scenic Loop

Church detail

Church detail

On the loop road....

On the loop road….

On the loop road....

On the loop road….

I was hoping to see a cyclist do this trick...

I was hoping to see a cyclist do this trick…

On the loop road....

On the loop road….

On the loop road....

On the loop road….

On the loop road....

On the loop road….

Trees starting to change color. On the loop road....

Trees starting to change color. On the loop road….

On the loop road....

On the loop road….

Cabin detail. On the loop road....

Cabin detail. On the loop road….

Cabin detail. On the loop road....

Cabin detail. On the loop road….

On the loop road....

On the loop road….

On the loop road....

On the loop road….

Mark & Old Cabin. On the loop road....

Mark & old cabin. On the loop road….

Still not tired of photographing the old cabins.

Still not tired of photographing the old cabins.

On the drive up to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Tennessee, we were met with narrow roads, hair-pin turns, and strong winds. It was a bit nerve-wracking in our big tall vehicle, but the beautiful view from the top was worth it.

Driving up to Clingmans Dome

Driving up to Clingmans Dome

I'm in Tennessee....

I’m in Tennessee….

Flip side of the sign...I'm in North Carolina....

Flip side of the sign…I’m in North Carolina….

Great views on the walk up to Clingmans Dome observation tower

Great views on the walk up to Clingmans Dome observation tower

Great views on the walk up to Clingmans Dome observation tower

Great views on the walk up to Clingmans Dome observation tower

Great views on the walk up to Clingmans Dome observation tower

Great views on the walk up to Clingmans Dome observation tower

Great views on the walk up to Clingmans Dome observation tower

Great views on the walk up to Clingmans Dome observation tower

The Dome...Space-Agey architecture

The Dome…Space-Agey architecture

I think this is why they call them the SMOKY mountains...lots of cloudiness...

I think this is why they call them the SMOKY mountains…lots of cloudiness…

Overcast, but pretty

Overcast, but pretty

Walkway to the top of the tower

Walkway to the top of the tower

Love the views!

Love the views and the cool clouds!

Walking back down to the parking area

Walking back down to the parking area

One last view before we go...

One last view before we go…

As it was getting dark, we drove back down the mountain, to the Gatlinburg side. Wowza!! What a difference from the Townsend side. The Townsend side was calm, quiet, and almost rural. This  side was tourist-trappy and Vegas-like…..bright lights, touristy shops, hotels, people everywhere…crazy shit. None of this made any sense, until we found out that Dolly Parton’s Dollywood was nearby. Ah…that would explain everything.

It was dark, and we were tired, so we drove straight through town and checked into the closest campground, the Pigeon Forge KOA.

Free Food At The Mercedes Benz Dealer!!!

@ KOA in Townsend, Tennessee

@ KOA in Townsend, Tennessee

Day 105       September 22, 2014

Wytheville, Virginia  to  Townsend, Tennessee

The morning, once again, went to the dogs. Our campground had a huge fenced in doggie play area. Trixie and Dax had it all to themselves. Oh the joys of chasing a tennis ball! There was a lot of driving to be done today, so after doggie play time, we got on the road.

Heading south on Rt 81

Heading south on Rt 81

Heading south on Rt 81

Hello Tennessee!

The Space Shuttle was due for a scheduled service appointment. I had found a Mercedes Benz dealer in Knoxville, Tennessee that was able to do our service in the afternoon, so Knoxville was our target.

The peeps at the dealership were super nice, and they had a finely stocked customer lounge. While Fiona was getting serviced, I feasted on freebies…mini Peppermint Patties, cookies, coffee, other miscellaneous candies. They also had a fabulous wifi connection, so I was able to get a few blog posts up and running. And, as usual, Trixie and Dax got lots and lots of attention from the employees and from the other customers.

As far as service appointments go, this was a pretty nice one! The only disappointment was that, ‘cause the service was completed so late in the work day, they didn’t have time to give Fiona a bath. Damn!

We docked for the night at the KOA in Townsend, Tennessee, right next to the Great Smoky Mountains. We’d have to wait until the next day to have a look around!

@ KOA in Townsend, Tennessee

@ KOA in Townsend, Tennessee

Nice campsite, right next to the river

Nice campsite, right next to the river

Sticky Green Thingies, A Civil War Battlefield, And A Broken Heart

Breakfast in New Market!

Breakfast in New Market!

Day 104         September 21, 2014

Luray to Wytheville,  Virginia

I wish Jim had warned us, but he hadn’t. And so, we found out on our own, that there’s a lot of grassy sticky stuff in the landscape around his house….grassy sticky stuff that sticks to dogs like glue. And although it didn’t take but about a nanosecond before Trixie and Dax were covered in this crap, it took us a good 20 minutes to get the shit off of them.

Trixie, with all that sticky shit on her. Not a happy camper. Wouldn't stand still for a photo.

Trixie, with all that sticky shit on her. Not a happy camper. Wouldn’t stand still for a photo.

Once the doggies were cleaned up, we all drove to New Market to have breakfast at the Southern Kitchen.

Breakfast in New Market!

Breakfast in New Market!

Southern Kitchen, just like the sign says

Southern Kitchen, just like the sign says

Classic breakfast joint

Classic breakfast joint

And then we visited the New Market Civil War Battlefield. I grew up in Virginia, so I kind of hit overload on Civil War battlefields a long time ago. But, I’d never been to this one before, and it was scenic and had an interesting story behind it. Plus, the dogs were allowed on the battlefield, so they had a nice walk too…without a bunch of sticky green grassy shit attacking them!

@ New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

@ New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

View of the valley from New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

View of the valley from New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

@ New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

@ New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

@ New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

@ New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

@ New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

@ New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

Once we said goodbye to Jim, he headed back home, and we headed down to Harrisonburg, home of James Madison University. I’d graduated from JMU, and hadn’t been back there in 30 years. I knew the campus had changed a lot over the years, but it was still pretty shocking to see the growth of the campus and of the town.

H-Burg!

H-Burg!

One of the newer buildings @ JMU

One of the newer buildings @ JMU

My old dorm

My old dorm

The Quad. Where is everyone? Back in my day, this place would be packed with kids playing frisbee and playing guitars!

The Quad. Where is everyone? Back in my day, this place would be packed with kids playing frisbee, playing guitar, and blasting music from the dorm windows!

In all honesty, the “growth without soul” broke my heart a little bit. So, I went shopping to lift myself back up…shopping at the JMU bookstore for a new JMU sweatshirt.

With me rockin’ my new sweatshirt, we drove through the old part of downtown Harrisonburg. That part of town had changed as well, but not so much as to lose its character, and that was great to see.

I think this is where the old HoJo's used to be. ??

I think this is where the old HoJo’s used to be. ??

Downtown Harrisonburg

Downtown Harrisonburg

L&S Diner!! Still going after all these years!!

L&S Diner!! Still going after all these years!!

When we left town and headed south on Rt 81, I wondered if I’d ever be back….maybe in another 30 years!

Goodbye, Harrisonburg...

Goodbye, Harrisonburg…

Beautiful sunset as we head south on Rt 81

Beautiful sunset as we head south on Rt 81

We drove until it got dark, and then spent the night at the Wytheville KOA , where we virtually had the place to ourselves.

Carry Me Back To Old Virginia!

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Day 103          September 20, 2014

Hagerstown, MD  to  Luray, VA

For a brief handful of miles, we were in West Virginia

For a brief handful of miles, we were in West Virginia

Today we arrived in my old home state of Virginia. When Rt 81 met up with Rt 66, we detoured to take a ride on Skyline Drive. It was quite nostalgic for me, as I’d driven this scenic road so many times before.

Follow the signs to Skyline Drive...

Follow the signs to Skyline Drive…

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Time for a selfie....Skyline Drive

Time for a selfie….Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Yep.....

Yep…..

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

By late afternoon we pulled into the driveway at our friend Jim’s house in Luray. The three of us went out to dinner, and then returned to his house. The night became magical, as we sat around the fire pit on the front porch, and gazed at the zillions of stars in the dark sky.

Little town on the way to Jim's house

Little town on the way to Jim’s house

Mark and Jim in front of the Space Shuttle in front of Jim's house

Mark and Jim in front of the Space Shuttle in front of Jim’s house

Out to dinner...cheers!

Out to dinner…cheers!

And finally, we retired to the Space Shuttle. We were parked in Jim’s driveway, which was nowhere near being a flat surface. We’d be sleeping at quite an angle, about 10% or so, but it didn’t seem like it’d be too much of a problem since our heads would be higher than our feet. The biggest issue was that we were so sloped, that it took some control to stand up and walk around. It was, however,  manageable, as long as you kept your grippy sneakers on. But when I removed my shoes and was trying to navigate in my slippery socks…bwaaahhhh…a whole other story! So, as quickly as possible, we climbed into bed, and just stayed put until the morning.

On The Road…In Need Of A Food Intervention

It's cold in the morning, so Gumby's rockin' his winter scarf

It’s cold in the morning, so Gumby’s rockin’ his winter scarf

Day 102     September 19, 2014

Somewhere in rural New York  to Hagerstown, Maryland

It was only 35 degrees (fahrenheit) when we  woke up. So, when it warmed up to 60 degrees in the afternoon, we were ecstatic. We hadn’t seen temps this warm in quite a while, which, if you recall, is one reason we’d left Canada and were beelining it due south.

As on most long driving days, we munched on our fair share of junk food. Mark, having no respect for my eating dysfunctions, had smuggled on board a box of hot & spicy Cheese-Its. First I lectured him about bringing such junk on board, and then I dove right into the box of orange disgust.

On one of our finer gas & food stops today, we made a rare and desperate visit to a McDonald’s. I ordered a little fish sandwich. Mark ordered a double quarter pounder with cheese. We got it all “to go” and went back to the Space Shuttle to eat. When Mark opened up his double quarter pounder box, there was no lettuce, no tomatoes, no onions, no condiments of any kind on it…and no top bun. Too lazy to go back inside to return it, he just sat there, and pathetically ate his open-faced, double-pattie, cheese thingy.

We continued our way down Rt 81, and when we reached Harrisburg, PA, we stopped to visit my cousin Michael.

Hello, Pennsylvania!

Hello, Pennsylvania!

Mark, my cousin Michael, and me

Mark, my cousin Michael, and me

By the end of the day, we’d made it all the way to the Jellystone Campground in Hagerstown, MD. It was such a nice shock to be welcomed by the 70 degree temperatures at 8:00 pm. Finally, we were back in summer time!

Back In The US…Back In The US…Back In The US of A

Inside the Canadian National Gallery

Inside the Canadian National Gallery

Day 101        September 18, 2014

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada   to  Somewhere in New York, USA

First thing in the morning, we drove into the city and got a couple of tickets to tour the Canadian Parliament. The tickets are free, but they are limited in number. So, you snooze, you lose. And we were not gonna be losers today!

Parliament

Parliament

Tall

Tall

The tour was great, even though both chambers were closed to tours on this day. That kind of sucked. But, we did get a general look-a-bout, and we did get to see the library, and that was well worth the 13,000 mile drive. Photography was strictly forbidden in the library, so I don’t have any pics to share, but, you can google it. 

Inside Parliament

Inside Parliament

Fancy architecture

Fancy architecture

Tour guide, showing us a picture of what the inside of the chambers look like, since we couldn't actually go inside either one.

Tour guide, showing us a picture of what the inside of the chambers look like, since we couldn’t actually go inside either one.

Following the half tour of Parliament, we walked around the city to see all of the cool public sculpture, and then took a lunch break.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at the National Gallery of Canada. The art exhibits were interesting…the building itself was even more interesting…the gigantic spider sculpture out front was the most interesting of all.

Canadian National Gallery

Canadian National Gallery

Walking underneath the gigantic spider

Walking underneath the gigantic spider sculpture

Ceiling inside the Canadian National Gallery

Ceiling inside the Canadian National Gallery

Inside the Canadian National Gallery

Inside the Canadian National Gallery

Before it got too late, we got back on the road. Soon we’d be back in the USA.

At 5:25 pm, we crossed the border from Ontario, into New York via the Thousand Islands Bridge. The border crossing went smoothly. Border patrol (one woman in a little booth) did confiscate the red peppers that were in our fridge. That border patrol agent must have needed them for a dinner salad or something. If she needed them that badly, she could have them. We surrendered them without a fight.

Hello, New York!

Hello, New York!

As we entered the USA for the first time in about six weeks, we reminisced about our time in Canada. And we realized that Gumby and Pokey hadn’t been outside much for photos the whole time we were there. I guess it was just too cold out for them.

It was just getting dark when we found some obscure RV park in some obscure rural town in New York. Once again, safe for the night. Back in the good ‘ole US of A.

Same Political Crap, Different Country

Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal, Ottawa

Day 100        September 17, 2014

Montreal, Quebec  to  Ottawa, Ontario

Canada

When we saw the awful rush hour traffic heading into Montreal in the morning, we made the last-minute decision to not go back into the city. Instead, we pointed the Space Shuttle west, and drove to Ottawa.

We hadn’t heard much of anything about Ottawa, but we figured since it is the capital of all of Canada, we were obligated to stop there. Passing it by would be like driving by Washington DC and not stopping.

Ottawa turned out to be a fantastic city! The only disappointment was finding out that the Royal Canadian Mint had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Junior Mints! WTF? Completely misleading.

Ottawa

Ottawa

The US Embassy building

The cool and hip US Embassy building

The US Embassy building

The US Embassy building

Locks on the Rideau Canal. Downtown Ottawa

Locks on the Rideau Canal. Downtown Ottawa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal

The back of some fancy hotel

The back of a fancy hotel. Looks almost like Parliament!

The Canadian Parliament buildings were pretty cool, as was the fact that we walked right into a political rally on the front steps. The Ukrainian President was speaking at the rally, and from what we could figure out, he was asking the Canadians for weapons and money. So, what’s new? Same old political bull shit so matter where you go!

Some action on the front steps of Parliament!

Parliament!

Political rally in front of Parliament

Political rally in front of Parliament

The flag of Ukraine

The flag of Ukraine

Parliament

Parliament

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parliament

Parliament

Parliament

Strolling by Parliament

IMG_6179

Parliament. This old stuff is quite pretty!

Due to the political rally on the front steps, the Parliament building was closed for tours. That’d have to wait until the next day.

At the recommendation of a local Ottawanonian, we completed our day with dinner at The Black-Thorn Cafe. Delicious beers and food!

Libations @ The Black-Thorn Cafe

Libations @ The Black-Thorn Cafe

The Black-Thorn Cafe

The Black-Thorn Cafe

It had started raining, so after dinner we took just a short stroll around the neighborhood, and then drove off to find a campground for the night.

Moshe Safdie, Surfing & Legos…One Degree Of Separation!

Habitat 67

Habitat 67

Day 99     September 16, 2014

Montreal

Quebec, Canada

Just as we suspected might happen, we hit morning traffic going into Montreal. It was slow going, but we did get there. Of course, the central downtown district was crawling with traffic, so we couldn’t park there. So screw that. 

Morning traffic into Montreal

Morning traffic into Montreal

Nowhere to park the Space Shuttle...

Old meets new in downtown Montreal

We got out of the downtown mess and made our way over to Habitat 67. I remember seeing it on a family vacation to Canada when I was only about 9 years old.. a long time ago, in a land far far away. It was time to see it again!

This is from Wikipedia…

Habitat 67, or simply Habitat, is a model community and housing complex in Montreal, Canada, designed by Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. It was originally conceived as his master’s thesis in architecture at McGill University and then built as a pavilion for Expo 67, the World’s Fair held from April to October 1967.

According to an article on dezeen.com, Safdie planned the arrangement of the project by using 2:1 Lego bricks to build models.

“We bought out all the Legos in Montreal at the time, because we built many, many alternatives.”

I wonder if he still owns all those Legos. I hear they can be hard to find and can be quite expensive. He could be sitting on a gold mine of Legos!

Habitat was pretty spectacular! And despite all of the signs surrounding it, telling us that this was private property and to keep out, we didn’t. This is just how it is when you are with an architect. Look around…until you get kicked out. And we did look around…and we did get kicked out…but not before having a good look at the place!

Habitat 67

Habitat 67

Habitat 67

Habitat 67

Habitat 67

Habitat 67

Habitat 67

Habitat 67

We're in!!

We’re in!!

Trespassing @ Habitat 67

Trespassing @ Habitat 67

Cool view from inside one the courtyards

Cool view from inside one the courtyards

Habitat 67

Habitat 67

One last shot before being kicked out of Habitat 67

One last shot before being kicked out

One of the little known cool things about Habitat, is that it’s located right next to a surf break. Uh-huh!! There’s a surf break on the river right behind it! When the fast-moving water hits underwater boulders…voila…it forms a stationary wave that can reach up to six feet in height.

Surfing on the river!!

Surfing on the river!!

The wave wasn’t that big when we were there, but the rapid speed of the water, and the fact that the surfers had to enter the wave by being swept backwards, downriver into it, made the whole scenario look rather frightening! And if a surfer missed the wave, which most of them did that day, they’d get swept downriver, get out, walk up the embankment, walk back to the entry point, and try again. Not for the weak or faint of heart.

When we’d seen enough of the surfers and enough of the architecture, we ate lunch in the Space Shuttle, and then went to visit the nearby Biosphere. Like Habitat 67, Biosphere had also been built for the 1967 World’s Fair.

Lunch in the Space Shuttle

Lunch in the Space Shuttle

Biosphere is now an interactive environmental museum, and, unlike Habitat 67, it is open to the public…just not on Tuesdays!!! Crap!! We could walk around and take photos, but we couldn’t go inside.

Biosphere

Biosphere

Biosphere

Biosphere

Biosphere

Biosphere

Biosphere

Biosphere

Biosphere

Biosphere

We thought we’d try one more time to find parking in downtown Montreal. And once more, we were shut out. So we drove over to the old historic part of Montreal, where we totally lucked into finding two adjacent parking spaces on the street.

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

New stuff, in Old Montreal

New stuff, in Old Montreal

After further exploration, and dinner, we left the city.

Industrial scenes

Shooting while stuck in traffic on the way out of Old Montreal

Industrial scenes

Industrial scenes

Industrial scenes

Industrial scenes

We’d planned to return to the city in the morning to look around some more and to go back to Biosphere, so we found the nearest RV park and called it a night.

Cities….It’s a Love-Hate Relationship!

Coolest ever public sculpture!!

Huge head. Coolest ever public sculpture!!

Day 98       Sept 15, 2014

Quebec City   to  Somewhere outside of Montreal

Quebec, Canada

Since we’d discovered a great spot, just a couple blocks outside of Old Quebec City, to park the Space Shuttle, instead of taking the ferry over to the city again, we opted to check out of the RV park, and drive across the river. This way we could go on another walk-a-bout, and periodically check in on the pups. It’d be a little easier to manuever about, take photos, and eat lunch inside, without our little K9 buddies.

The bridge into the city

The bridge into the city

We explored. We ate. And we ate some more. It was a perfect day!

Cool graveyard, that also doubled as an urban dog park

Cool graveyard, that also doubled as an urban dog park

Entrance to the walled city of Old Quebec

Entrance to the walled city of Old Quebec

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Lots of hills = good exercise for us walkers

Lots of hills = good exercise for us walkers

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Coolest ever public sculpture!!

Coolest ever public sculpture!!

Mark, rockin' his Modern Times Sweatshirt inside the big old cathedral

Mark, rockin’ his Modern Times sweatshirt inside the big old cathedral in the middle of the city

Our pick for lunch

Our pick for lunch

We wined and dined

We wined and dined

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Flowers…Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Colorful...so the dogs can find it

Colorful…so the dogs can find it

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Around 4:00pm, we left Quebec City and began our drive to Montreal. We would have made it to Montreal, had it not been for the horrific rush hour traffic we hit leaving Quebec City. This was one of the very few times, since leaving San Diego back in June, that we’d seen any kind of “traffic.” It sucked! Cities suck!!

We got to about 30 miles from Montreal, and had to stop for the night. If we timed it right, we could probably hit rush hour traffic going into Montreal in the morning…if we were lucky!!

The Day That Went To The Dogs!

Old Quebec City

Mark and Dax hike up a steep, narrow street in Old Quebec City

Day 97    September 14, 2014

Quebec City, Quebec

Canada

Lucky for us, French Canadians love dogs, and dogs are allowed on the passenger ferries that cross the river into Quebec City. So Dax and Trixie would be hangin’ with us in the big city today!

Taking the ferry to Old Quebec City

Taking the ferry to Old Quebec City

Mark and I, and Dax and Trixie spent all day wandering around Old Quebec. There was one downside to having the pups with us. It was really cold outside, and although we’d have loved to been able to sit inside and eat lunch in a nice warm bistro, we couldn’t. The French Canadians don’t love dogs that much. So we ate lunch outside in the cold. That’s what coffee’s for…to warm up. So we drank a lot of coffee.

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Interesting architecture in Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

A lot of tourists in Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

After lunch, Dax and Trixie met a very nice Irish Wolfhound, who was touring the city with her people. Her name was Harriet. She was spectacular! The biggest Irish Wolfhound I’d ever seen!

I started thinking that maybe Harriet the Irish Wolfhound, was my mom, Harriet Cohen, reincarnated. My mom wasn’t particularly fond of dogs, so this would kind of make sense that she’d have to come back as a regal and beautiful dog…ya know, to gain a love and appreciation for dogs! At least, I think that’s how it works.

When we were thoroughly worn out from the cold and from so much walking around, we took the ferry back to the other side of the river. Dax was being Mr. Congeniality on the ferry. He was smiling at everyone, getting lots of pets, and giving lots of kisses. He was pretty much the center of attention on that ferry ride! Trixie ignored everyone, as usual, and just searched for scraps of food on the ground.

Later that evening, we drove back into the city to have dinner. We easily were able to park the Space Shuttle just a couple blocks outside of Old Quebec. And we were able to go out to dinner, without the dogs, to enjoy a little French Canadian cuisine. Or, as we dubbed it, Cuinadian!

I tried to order in French. I have no idea what actually came out of my mouth when I spoke. But the waitress appreciated my attempt, had a good laugh with us about it, and brought me what I ordered!  Cie la Vie!

I got what I ordered!

I got what I ordered!

The Dangers Of Speaking French! Who Knew?!

Longest covered bridge in the world!

Longest covered bridge in the world!

Day 96     September 13, 2014

Somewhere in New Brunswick  to  Quebec City, Quebec

Canada

When I woke up this morning, and looked out at the lovely river view that we had from our camp site, all I could see was the massive amount of steam rising off of the water. I don’t imagine the water was warm at all, but that’s just how freakin’ cold the air temperature was!

I don’t know why, but I was still shocked to find out that the air temperature in the campground shower/bathrooms, was equally as frigid cold. Brrrrr!!! Mark and I decided that we’d go see Quebec City and Montreal, and then head the hell south. It was so cold that, for the first time ever, when we hit the road, we both turned on our seat heaters!

We took a detour to Hartland to drive across the world’s longest covered bridge.

Longest covered bridge in the world!

Longest covered bridge in the world!

And another view of her....

And another view of her….

And it spans this pretty river....

And it spans this pretty river….

 

And on the inside....

And on the inside….

And across we go!

And across we went, just to say we did.

And we stopped in Perth-Andover, where we had an amazing lunch at the Waterfront Bistro. Gourmet smoked salmon and asparagus panini. Delicious!

Chillaxin' on the deck, waiting for lunch.

Chillaxin’ on the deck, waiting for lunch.

This would be our last stop in New Brunswick, which was a significant landmark. After this, we’d be crossing into Quebec Province, which is French speaking. I am not French speaking. Mark is barely broken-French speaking.

Our first stop in officially French speaking territory, was just over the borderline in Quebec, at Tim Horton’s. Using his not so stellar French, Mark tried to order one doughnut. We got six huge doughnuts. We proudly walked out of Timmy’s with a bag full of six doughnuts, and planned our strategy for survival.

It was time to bring out the big guns….the iPhone language translator app. Mark would speak French into the phone, and, in theory, the proper English words would be spoken back to us. Then, speaking as precisely as I could, I would try to mimic the French words into the phone, and then listen to the English translation spoken back to me.

Here’s a little chart of what I thought I said in French, and what the iPhone thought I said:

What I thought I said in French…………………..The IPhone’s English translation

I’m sorry, I don’t speak French…………………..I saved Jana Ronson

I’m sorry, can you say that again…..……….……I’m sorry, and you could diet

I’m sorry, repeat please…………………………..I’m sorry, pizza please

And then there was a translation that had something to do with telling someone they need pants. I decided that it’d probably be too dangerous for me to attempt speaking French.

At the end of our fun little day full of adventures, we checked into Motel et Camping Etchemin, just across the river form Quebec City. This was a combination motel and RV park. Lucky for us, the receptionist spoke perfect English. And so, we DID end up with a nice RV site behind the hotel, and NOT with a deluxe hotel suite!

You Call It Summer, I Call It Winter!

Local cuisine. It's cold out, but not so cold that we can't drink a beer!

Local cuisine.

Day 95     September 12, 2014    part 2

Antigonish, Nova Scotia  to Somewhere in New Brunswick

Canada

There was still a lot of driving to be done today, so back on the road we went. We crossed most of New Brunswick on the highway, which meant that we didn’t see much, except for trees. New Brunswick has a lot of trees.

As evening approached, we found a really nice campground for the night. The place  was closing for the winter in three days, and it was pretty much empty except for a handful of New Brunswickians squeezing in their last few days of camping for 2014.

We had a site with a nice sunset view overlooking the river below. The view didn’t quite make up for the fact that it was butt-cold outside! We bundled up by layering on almost all of the clothes we had with us. Thank goodness we’d bought wool hats when we were in Newfoundland.

Once bundled up, we leashed up the pups to go on one last evening doggie walk. And that’s when we met a group of four New Brunswickians, out for an evening stroll around the campground. They looked at us, and we looked at them, and we all burst out laughing.

What was wrong with the picture was, that we were bundled up in lots of clothing, including hats, scarves, and gloves, and we were still cold. And they were out strolling around in shorts and t-shirts, and were perfectly comfortable.

When the New Brunswickians saw our California license plate, well, they said, “That explains it!” And when they found out we’d been living in the Space Shuttle for three months, one of them exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! You should be given some kind of award!” Haha!! Mark and I both laughed, and then agreed with her!

We bid these nice people good night, and went about our evening walk, in the frigid cold of the Canadian summer!

Local cuisine. It's cold out, but not so cold that we can't drink a beer!

It’s cold out, but not so cold that we can’t drink a beer!

In Dax We Trust! When Dogs Are Smarter Than People!

Sittin' on the dock of the bay, waitin' for the tide to come this way...

Sittin’ on the dock of the bay, waitin’ for the tide to come this way…

Day 95        September 12, 2014        part 1

Antigonish, Nova Scotia  to Somewhere in New Brunswick

Canada

In a reversal of our previous decision to skip it, we decided after all, to go to the Shubenacadie River, in Truro, to see the “reversing falls.” With extraordinary 40+ foot tides in the Bay of Fundy, when the tides change, the direction of the flow of the water on the Shubenacadie also changes. The term “falls” is completely misleading, but the phenomenon is still cool to witness.

Our timing was perfect (dumb luck), and we arrived at the interpretive center 20 minutes before the tide change. We were instructed to drive ten minutes up the road to Maitlin, and to watch from the pier.

Pastoral beauty on the river's edge in Maitlin

Pastoral beauty on the river’s edge in Maitlin

Mark and I and the doggies, and ten other tourists, gathered on the Maitlin pier, waiting for the tidal change  It was a friendly bunch and we had a good time talking with everyone. Dax and Trixie were extremely popular with this group as well. I guess everyone else was missing their doggies back home.

Sittin' on the dock of the bay, waitin' for the tide to come this way...

Sittin’ on the dock of the bay, waitin’ for the tide to come this way…

Yes, the riverbed IS really this red!

Yes, the riverbed IS really this red!

Coastline in Maitlin

Coastline in Maitlin

High tide was scheduled for 12:55. I know these things aren’t exact, but there we all were, just waiting for the big moment to happen. We weren’t even really sure what was gonna happen, just that we wanted to see it, whatever it was.

Surely something special was gonna happen, ‘cause otherwise all of these crazy kayakers wouldn’t be trying to drag their kayaks through the filthy red mud to get to the tiny bit of water that was currently in the river. That in itself was a hilarious sight to see!

Crazy kayaker trying to get out into the middle of the river without actually touching any of the red messy mud.

Crazy kayaker trying to get out into the middle of the river without actually touching any of the red messy mud.

Misery loves company.

Misery loves company.

This guy's gonna do it standing up!

This guy’s gonna do it standing up!

Once in a while, we’d have a false alarm. Someone would think they heard something or saw the water rising. But no, nothing was happening.

It’d been twenty minutes since the tide was supposed to change, when suddenly, Dax stands up, faces down river, and starts barking like crazy. Well damn! Wouldn’t ya know it, as we all looked up to see what he was barking at, we could see the water heading towards us, up the river in the reverse direction!

And that is how we discovered Dax’s hidden talent! Apparently, he has an uncanny ability to predict tidal changes! The crowd on the peer hooted, hollered, laughed, and applauded Dax! For just those few moments in time, he was a Superhero!!

The reversing falls was pretty fun to see. Suddenly, the almost completely dry river bed turned into a very wet river flowing in the opposite direction, and the water level was rising so fast you could see it. And the kayakers then had little rapids to run!

We hustled back to the interpretive center, where there was a platform viewing area high above the river’s edge. This was an even more dramatic view where we were able to watch the river rise 40’ in 15 minutes. That’s a lot of agua!!

Finally, some water in the middle of the river

Finally, some water in the middle of the river

Low water

Low water

Same view. Higher water.

Same view. Higher water.

Still some dry spots in the middle

Still some dry spots in the middle

No more dry spots in the middle

No more dry spots in the middle

Tourists in motorized rafts ride the rapids!

Tourists in motorized rafts ride the rapids!

So much water rushing in!

So much water rushing in!

So yes, it was worth the detour to Truro. We got to witness the power of nature that day. But even better, we got to discover the Superhero that is Dax!