A Great Groovy Gathering!

It happened again this month.

A cheerful crowd settles in for another evening of great music at the Winnipeg Folk Fest.

In fact, it happened again for the 46th year in a row: The totally amazing Winnipeg Folk Festival!

Betty & I had heard good things about the Winnipeg Folk Festival (WFF) before moving from Calgary in 1987. We had always intended to go, but never quite got around to it for the first 25 years, despite living a few doors down from the festival’s artistic director.  Block parties at his home were always a treat – with a wide range of musical instruments and styles coming out to join the fun, food and frolic.

One of seven well attended daytime stages at the WFF.

So about six years ago we finally got around to it, and immediately wondered how we could have missed so many great years of this groovy experience. We were hooked and mesmerized right away by the amazing idyllic world created in Bird’s Hill Park for four days each year.

Here are just a few observations:

Our angel granddaughter checks out an artistic pair of wings at the WFF.

The Vibe:  The festival attracts a huge crowd, from the very old in wheelchairs and walkers, to very young newborns cradled in their parent’s arms. Every race, colour, creed, and sexual orientation is represented, with the common sense of respect, love, peace and harmony everywhere. WOW! Somehow, once attendees enter the park, they immediately become mellow. There is no fighting, yelling, swearing, or other form of bitterness. Somehow people get along with each other for a few days. Yeah!

John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful entertains a mainly older crowd at a daytime stage.

The Organization:  After 46 years, the festival organizers have learned a few things about what works, and what doesn’t, in creating this special vibe. About 2,800 volunteers each year – many of whom have faithfully volunteered for 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years – attend to every possible detail, from parking to check-in to stage set-up and take down, to people conducting guest surveys, to garbage removal and so much more.

A younger crowd chased bubbles around the park, while dancing barefoot under sunny skies.

Garbage: Back in the day when Woodstock birthed rock festivals everywhere, garbage was a prominent by-product, both during and after the event. (BTW, the above-pictured John Sebastian actually played at the original Woodstock!) But despite many thousands of attendees at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, you’d be hard-pressed to find any litter on the ground. Volunteers attend to recycling bins around the park, and any leftovers from the many food kiosks are dutifully directed to the correct recycling bins. Water spigots dot the park, with participants encouraged to bring and use refillable bottles for free clean water.

The physical structure:  Seven daytime stages provide a wide range of musical options, with folks congregating in front of the main stage for evening

Betty & her friend, Laurie, relax at our day tent on the edge of the main stage site.

entertainment. Often much of the anxiety and frustration at concerts without assigned seating occurs when you settle in, only to have someone stand or sit in a tall chair in front of you, blocking your view of the performances. The WFF has developed a number of respected traditions to address this issue. A tarp walk is organized each day, allowing those who want to sit on tarps front and centre to select their spot in a planned process. Those itching to dance to the music are encouraged to do so on one side, where they can move to the groove without disturbing others. The wheelchair section is on the opposite side, with seating areas for those in short chairs, and other areas for

On another day, granddaughters Georgia & Isabella joined us at our day tent in the welcome shade of the bordering trees.

those in tall chairs. Day tents and hammocks border the woods that surround the venue, and a large children’s area is well occupied by family groups, with bathrooms and room to run at the back of the site. It seems there are people constantly on the move between stage areas, but it all occurs fluidly and respectfully, with no bumping, pushing and shoving along the way. Wow, what a beautiful experience!

Toubab Krewe of North Carolina bring some West African Fusion to the stage as Lousiana’s Rebirth Brass Band looks on.

The Music:  Of course, the main event is the music.  While past headliners have included Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Cockburn, and the Barenaked Ladies – to name but a few, some of the best music comes from what are called “workshops” during the day. The organizers apparently pick disparate groups of musicians and

The Rebirth Brass Band adds some funk to a session entitled “Southern Fried Vibes”.

put them on the stage at the same time to entertain and challenge each other. Ideally the session ends in a jam, with a group from Los Angeles making sweet music with another from Nunavut, and another from the Netherlands.  Usually these musicians have never before met, but they end up united in a shared evocative & magical musical experience.

Alabama’s Steel City Jug Slammers round out the group of 16 musicians who ended up making beautiful music together.

Obviously volumes could be written about this event and its music, but I would like to end with an observation from this year:

I arrived at a daytime stage just as one group was finishing. In short order the volunteer sound staff removed their equipment and set up for the next performance, which included three groups totalling 16 musicians playing 16 different kinds of musical instruments. Each group also had vocals, so the sound crew needed to mike everything and everyone so that the voices and instruments could be heard without interference at the correct volume. What an amazingly professional job they did in a very brief turn-around period, with the audience and all musicians able to enjoy the experience without annoying feedback or other sound distortions. This was repeated over and over again at every stage and on the main stage, with many musicians noting how well they were treated at this special event.

The 46th Winnipeg Folk Festival is now over, but Betty & I are already planning our schedule for 2020, so that the 47th is another we hope not to miss.

Cheers!

Tarps, flip flops, and dragonflies: Betty captures some key Folk Fest ingredients. (Tarps mark your spot,  flip flops connote summer, and dragonflies keep the site clear of mosquitos, so chemicals are not necessary.)

Some Thoughts on the Development of Truth and Use of Knowledge in the 21st Century

For some reason, my Time Machine has not been backing up my MacBook for the past couple of weeks. As I watch and wait for a back-up to complete, I am contemplating the questions of truth and fake news. They may or may not be pertinent to a travel blog, but here are my basic thoughts:

Back in the day before the written word, there was an oral tradition whereby information was passed on by tribal elders to subsequent generations. This was their truth, whether or not they were told the world was flat, or the tribe next door was evil and they were good.

For many centuries, recording and passing on the written word was a laborious task. Only a few had access to parchments, and most people remained illiterate.  Then the Gutenberg printing press was invented, and the written word was more easily copied and shared.

But over time, the gatekeepers of this information were publishers and editors who became a wealthy elite, deciding which information was valuable, true, and worthy of reproduction. Many more people could write, but few would be published. Their stories mattered, or maybe they didn’t. Only the wealthy publishers would decide.

Similarly, many could afford a guitar or other musical instrument, but only the elite record company executives would choose whose music was valuable and worthy of reproduction on vinyl record albums, and then played on radio stations. Were the musicians talented or not? Only the wealthy record executives would control broad public access.

In the 20thcentury, cameras became more available, and an increasing number of people were able to purchase them to record their activities. They then either developed the film in a dark room, or sent it away for processing. But only the elite were able to determine what was valuable and worthy of reproduction in television programs. The television executives were the gatekeepers of what stories could be shared in an increasingly popular medium.

Then came the digital revolution!

In the 21stcentury, there is a significantly higher level of literacy, with many people around the world knowing how to read and write at least one language. Computers like this one allow almost anyone to share their thoughts (for better or worse, lol). Self-published books are now a thing. Musicians are able to record and publicly share their own songs, and private videographers are able to produce reasonably high-quality videos and movies. It seems almost everyone has a smartphone, able to capture and share images instantaneously around the world. There are still gatekeepers at Google, YouTube, and Facebook, among others (with some arguing that more gatekeeping should occur to reduce the nefarious spread of racism and hate speech), but it has become much easier for individuals to share their perspectives with their friends, and anyone on Earth with an Internet connection.

And that is the current rub:

When predominantly white, privileged elite decided what was true, and what knowledge was worthy of sharing, the world was almost forced to accept their perspective. I think back to school projects and the textbooks and Encyclopedia Britannica referenced. If those texts stated the information as facts, then it must be true! In most cases, encyclopedias provided the last word on truth, without question.

There are now countless examples of how perspective matters. When I was growing up, I learned that Louis Riel was executed as a traitor to Canada. Now that we live in Manitoba, I have learned that he was a respected Metis leader and father of our province, with statues and celebrations of “Riel Day” accepted and honoured by all who love Manitoba.

I remember taking for granted that residential schools were the best options for aboriginal children, facilitating their assimilation into Canadian society. How could they survive and thrive if they didn’t know the correct language and customs?  Of course, our dominant language and customs were the only correct and permissible, so all others needed to be repressed or forgotten. We now consider that a cultural genocide.

In Betty & my travels across Canada and the United States, we have come to see and appreciate the different perspectives of communities, provinces, and states visited. One of my biggest concerns is that certain elites are still attempting to control the message received by various publics through narrowly-focussed television broadcasts, radio, newspaper, and on-line content that limits informed dialogue and enhances polarization among societal groups.

The digital revolution has facilitated a democratization of accessible information that was heretofore impossible. It has given voice to the voiceless, and brought alternate musical and visual cultural expressions to the forefront.

But this explosion in diversity has also created a great deal of confusion.

If what we took for granted as truth growing up is either no longer true, or just our perspective – what is truth, and what is fake news? How do we sift through the many huge mountains of accessible information that have come to light as a result of the digital revolution? I won’t get into Wikileaks or American election results here. These issues are way too big to easily resolve.

In the overall scheme of things, we are still at the dawn of this digital revolution. It is premature to know what the outcomes will be. But our best hope might be to not immediately dismiss other opinions outright, but to use current technology to dig deeper in order to separate fact from fiction.

My Time Machine back-up is now complete, so I’ll end with a perspective heard from the pulpit this past Sunday:  13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other…  22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”   NIV Bible translation of Galatians 5: 13 – 15, 22,23.

Peace & Cheers!

Catching Up

A spring sunset at our campsite in Town & Country Park, Winnipeg, prior to the return of leaves on the trees.

Life has been busy for Betty & me since our return to Winnipeg last month. Because our blog chronicles our travels on the road, there have been no updates recently. We have been able to reconnect with our family and many of our friends, but are still getting questions about our “down time”. Here’s a very brief update:

A birthday celebration with Valerie (& Jersey on her lap), Adam, Lisa, Allon, & Betty, in Kevin & Valerie’s back yard.

We’ve settled into our campsite at Town & Country, watching the glorious sunsets and appreciating the return of warm weather, green grass and leafy trees in Manitoba. We’ve flowered out around our site, and added cucumber and tomato plants, with the first crop of tomatoes due any day now.

Georgia, Luke and Andrew, at Adam & Allon’s birthday party.

Last month my brother, Allon, was able to visit from the Yukon, and we celebrated his and son-in-law Adam’s birthdays at Kevin and Valerie’s home.

 

 

Spence, Graham, Carol & Betty share a laugh at our campsite.

Neighbours of Betty’s brother, Jack, from southern Ontario stopped by on their way through Manitoba. We had also enjoyed a visit with them in Yuma, Arizona the winter before last.

Our friends, Peter & Janet from Manitoulin Island, featured in a post from June 2018, stopped in for a dinner together and a far too brief visit on their way through to their son’s in the west.

Valerie, Andrew, Lisa & Adam enjoy a family gathering at our campsite.

A great Mothers’ Day celebration was held at our campsite last month, followed by a wonderful Fathers’ Day family gathering here this month.

Betty has expanded her sewing centre into our add-a-room, and is trying her hand at quilting, with great success so far!

Betty quilts in her expanded sewing centre while Charlie relaxes nearby.

I have completed a series of golf lessons, and am looking forward to getting out on the links with our dear son, Andrew, in the not distant future. The new clubs purchased in Florida this winter are performing well so far.

I also completed a “travel photography” class, and have signed up for a series of “digital camera 101” lessons. Crossed fingers for better pics to come!

Our free “loaner”, a new Mercedes while the Smart was in for service.

The Smart car went in for service last week, and we were forced to drive a new Mercedes Benz in its absence. Tough job, but someone had to do it… The CruiseMaster goes in for an oil change next week, on our way to

Carol & Spence, Bet & Graham, and our next coach neighbours, Henny & Brian. Brian installed all our LED lights this week. Yeah!

the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Provincial Park. With the able assistance of our wonderful neighbour, Brian at Town & Country, we have now completed the transition to all LED lights in our motorhome. Bet’s bike got a major tune-up since our return, and we’re looking forward to many more rides together soon.

We’re booked for our first major Family Motor Coach Association conference in Minot, North Dakota in August, and have begun more detailed plans for our fall and winter trip to Arizona, as we continue our goal of visiting 48 states and 10 provinces during our overlandish odyssey.

Our palm tree lights the end of another great day at Town & Country in Winnipeg.

Cheers to all for now!

Luke, Valerie, Andrew, Lisa, Adam, Betty & Kevin relax at our campsite.
Bet made a Friends quilted wall hanging.
And fish…
And placemats…
And more placemats…
And floor mats. And more.  Her creativity knows no bounds!
A pic I took in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, during my travel photography class, demonstrating the effect of the “golden hour” approaching sunset.
A pic I took on the way home from my photography class, showing the full moon rising over the Red River.
A final pic, taken during my photography class in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The appropriate message on the street reads “Happiness is the path”. Cheers!

 

Lovebug Lament

Our front cap had love bug acne!

A few years ago, Betty & I drove through a swarm of lovebugs on Mustang Island, near Corpus Christi, Texas. A copious crowd of copulating creatures covered the front of our coach, splattering our windshield and making it difficult to see where we were going.  As soon as it was safe to do so, I pulled over and squeegeed the front of our motorhome.  Under other circumstances, the bugs would be gone then, or at the next pressure-washing truck wash. However, these acidic double-headed flies ate through the Diamond Shield coating on the front of our rig, leaving pock marks that were impossible to remove. Yuck!

Another view of the nasty lovebug residue.

On return to Winnipeg I stopped by an autobody shop with experience painting motorhomes, and received a quote of $2,000. to remove the rascally creatures’ residue. While I like to keep the old Boy looking reasonably good, I could think of many other things that 2 grand could go for. So until now we’ve been living with our front face’s acne.

This month I picked up 4 bottles of touch-up paint, to replace the last batch that had succumbed to a cold spell, and set out to cover all the nicks and scratches acquired over the past couple of years of almost constant travel. I gave our home a good wash & wax, and stood back to admire it.  Well, what about that front cap?

Peeling the plastic. So far so good!

I went on-line and watched a number of YouTube videos on removing Diamond Shield coatings. None suggested it was an easy job. And of course the most promising product – Ugly Shield Remover – does not appear to be available in Canada. The recommended approach was to remove very small sections at a time, in order to avoid peeling off paint underneath. I didn’t follow the recommendations…

Off comes the pock marked Diamond Shield, with the original undamaged paint under the tenacious glue.

Beginning with an inconspicuous edge, I started to pull the plastic coating, and was pleased to see how well it came off, leaving glue, but an otherwise unblemished surface, behind. I kept pulling and within 2 hours had the whole pitted Diamond Shield coating removed from the front hood – all paint still intact. Yeah!

I etched the glue with a plastic scraper, in hopes that the adhesive remover would bite better. It didn’t…

Ok. I celebrated a little too soon… While the plastic coating was relatively easy to remove, the glue underneath was another story! I used everything in my limited arsenal, with success coming only after about four days of labour. Even though I had my iTunes playlists attempting to keep me in the groove, I found the job to be extremely boring, and had to quit each day after hours of scrubbing. I used Goo Gone, WD 40, Dawn detergent, plastic scrapers, and Norwex cloths, which appeared to work best. (shout out to our daughter Valerie who sells the cloths.)  One on-line posting suggested gasoline would do the job, and I almost resorted to that at times. (Burn baby burn. Lol) In frustration, I also fantasized about finding which of our kids has my belt sander, and taking that to the obstinate covering. (Betty held me back from that extreme inclination.)

Those are water spots on the finished front – not bugs. I couldn’t wait for the rain to stop before adding this pic.

Well, it’s done now. Or at least one central contaminated section. There’s no chance that I’ll commit the time to removing the rest of the coating, but I can at least stand back and admire the fresh, unadulterated paint on our front hood. BTW, we’re also never going back to Corpus Christi during lovebug season again! lol

Happy Canada Day & Cheers!

My successful restoration is behind the Canadian flag. Happy Canada Day 2019!

Evaluating Our Winter In Florida

The wide, flat beach (at low tide) at Daytona Beach, Florida continues to be a popular spot to drive, park, and play. Fine grain sand beaches border the state on both Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Now that Betty & I are back in Friendly Manitoba for the summer, how do we assess our recent visit to Florida? First, it can be said that so many northern snowbirds winter in Florida that a story about our tour of the state does not constitute news for anyone outside of our immediate friends and family. In reality, as we age and our memories fade, this review is as much for reminding ourselves about our winter adventure, as informing others.  Of course, this kind of assessment is purely subjective, but hope you can still enjoy the read.

The Weather

Bet catches some rays at Siesta Key near Sarasota, Florida

One of the main reasons snowbirds winter in Florida is to escape the potentially brutal cold of a northern winter, and to enjoy the mild and sometimes tropical temperatures in the south. These days regional weather can be quite unpredictable, but there is no doubt we picked the right state to visit this year! (Fingers crossed that Arizona has a warm winter next year, as that is our anticipated destination.) January, February, and March were all warm months in Florida, with many days and weeks moving into the stinkin’ hot range, where the beaches beckoned and margaritas kept us cool and lubricated. Flip flop weather indeed!

The Campgrounds

The popular, hard-to-book campground at Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys.

From trying unsuccessfully to book sites in the Florida Keys state parks eleven months in advance, we knew certain popular spots would be inaccessible. Betty & I prefer to stay in national and state parks, but as it turned out, nearly all southern Florida state parks were fully booked for the winter. During our travels we were able to pick up a day or two at some nice parks, but often there was nothing more available.

Our campsite (#4) in Tiger Bay State forest, on the outskirts of Daytona Beach, was one of only six in the Bennett Field Campground. Each site is approx. an acre in size!

We had not previously stayed in Florida State Forests, and found them to be a great, cost-effective alternative, especially since we are now better equipped for boondocking. Some state forest campgrounds came with electricity and/or water and a dump station, but you couldn’t always count on services being available. Some of our best extended stays in Florida were at beautiful unserviced state forest campgrounds.

Our Pine Island Boondockers Welcome camp spot was nestled in the palms at a palm tree farm.

 

Growing in popularity for us and others are Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Host locations. All of our experiences with both organizations were positive, with some clearly rating as trip highlights.

 

Betty watched the river go by at Larry’s wonderful boondockers property near LaBelle, Florida.

Betty & I generally steer away from private campgrounds, but the Ocala North RV Park in Reddick, Florida is one we would consider again, especially if they could find the correct Scottish spelling of the town’s name. lol.  Some of the county campgrounds were very pleasant, including Markham Park and T.Y. Park in the Fort Lauderdale area, and Manatee Hammock Park further up the coast at Titusville.

Traversing The State

The view of the Atlantic Ocean from our site (#2) at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area.

Unlike Manitoba, Florida has invested in providing wide, smooth roads for travellers. Despite a few rough construction/congestion patches on I95 through the Gold Coast area, most roads were well-marked and a pleasure to drive. In planning our adventure, we estimated that we would drive 7,916 miles on this portion of our overlandish odyssey. Our odometer told us we actually travelled 8,026 miles, so we weren’t far off.

Our free Harvest Host campsite: Far Reach Ranch north of Orlando.

Many snowbirds find one preferred site, and book it for the winter. Because this was an exploratory trip, we chose to visit most of the state, working our way across and down the gulf coast to Key West, and then up the Atlantic side to Amelia Island.

Hanging out with Mickey
Betty, Georgia, Valerie, Kevin, Isabella & Graham

 

Meeting our kids and grandkids at Orlando’s Disney World in February was, for sure, a highlight of this memorable journey. We pray that those fond memories remain with them, as they will with us, for a long, long time!

Future Trips?

We certainly hope that this was not our last visit to the sunshine state. If we return, would we replicate the most recent trip? The answer is “no”. Not because there was anything wrong with exploring as

Our campsite at Picayune Strand State Forest, on the outskirts of Naples, Florida

much of the state as possible in the time available. But now that we have done that, we have identified some of our favourite spots, and would like to go back and stay longer at a few preferred locations, instead of almost constantly being on the move.

While we still value spontaneity, we would aim for a better Internet

A wonderful view from our campsite at Curry Hammock State Park in the Florida Keys. The site was only available for one night.

connection in order to book Bahia Honda, Curry Hammock, and John Pennekamp State Parks (and Long Key, if it re-opens) in the Florida Keys. We would also try for a beach side campsite at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area north of Daytona Beach as well. Not as congested, Big Lagoon State Park on Florida’s panhandle – with nearby Gulf coast beaches at Pensacola – was also a favourite.

A nice picnic spot at Curry Hammock State Park.

There is obviously much more that can be said about the people, places and attractions we visited in Florida, but this little vignette is beginning to exceed my preferred blog post length. We now have hard copy and electronic files related to each of our trips, and are accumulating info for upcoming adventures. If future travels are anywhere near as outstanding as this past winter in Florida, we’ll be more than happy! Here’s hoping that your journeys are just as joyful and jubilant!

Cheers!

Another great beach day near Naples, Florida.

Lost In Time & Space

Betty adds Illinois to our map, after a harrowing drive around Chicago in a heavy rain storm.

It has been somewhat disorienting to make the journey from the summer-like winter heat of Florida to the early spring-time weather in Winnipeg. While the rest of the continent was chilling, Betty & I spent January, February and March of this year under the balmy Florida sun. Light clothing, sunscreen and bug repellent were de rigueur. The grass was green and lawnmowers buzzed. Tropical plants and trees lined Florida’s highways and byways. Flowers bloomed profusely wherever we travelled. The ocean and beaches beckoned and we were in flip-flop heaven!

We crossed the border from International Falls, Minnesota, to Fort Frances, Ontario, and spent a pleasant, free night at a roadside park beside the Rainy River in Fort Frances.

Then as we gradually moved up the east coast during April, the leaves began to revert to buds. And by the time we reached Winnipeg as May began, the trees were devoid of their lush foliage! Ice was still present on some lakes in Ontario’s Lake of The Woods, and roadside patches of snow marked the landscape. We felt the chill breezes and watched the old leaves blow across the dormant grass, and sensed that fall was in the air.

Roadside snow was still present when we stopped for lunch at Falcon Lake, Manitoba in early May, 2019.

But apparently it’s not…  While we still need to keep a heater running in our plumbing bay and the campground water is not yet turned on, Betty & I have been assured by family and friends that winter is over and spring is on its way! We are not yet rushing out to buy flowers for our “yard”, but will take their word that better weather lies ahead.

If you are reading this in the northern hemisphere, let us together hope that the cold dark days are behind us, and a warm bright season of flip-flop heaven is soon to come!

Cheers!

Our campsite (#168) at Town & Country in Winnipeg, awaits summer foliage.
Graham adds Wisconsin, the 37th state (+ District of Columbia, which may still become a state) to our sticker map. These, and 6 provinces, have all been visited since December, 2017. It’s time to slow down a little!

The RV Hall of Fame

Betty leads the way to the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.
The RV Hall of Fame floor plan is designed like a road, with RVs of all ages, shapes and sizes along the way.

As full-time RVers, Betty & I encounter motorhomes, 5thwheels, and trailers of all shapes and sizes while traversing the continent. It’s always fun to see new and different features designed to make life on the road more enjoyable.  Some units are larger and can carry more “stuff”.  Some are smaller and more aerodynamic, achieving better fuel economy. There is no one size that fits all. Everyone has preferred features, and nowadays, RVs are manufactured with a broad range of possible accessories from which to choose.

A scale model of an RV assembly plant is on display.

It turns out that approximately 80% of North American RVs are manufactured or assembled in and around Elkhart, Indiana. So it is not untoward that Elkhart is the home of the RV Hall of Fame. And it also makes sense that dedicated RVers make pilgrimage to this site, if they are in the vicinity.

We are seeing more retro versions of this travel trailer on the road these days.

As mentioned in our last post, Betty & I crossed back into the U.S. at Detroit, Michigan and travelled southwest through Elkhart on our way past Chicago, under Lake Michigan, and up the other side to Canada again.  We had stopped in Elkhart on previous trips to tour motorhome assembly plants and purchase hard-to-find parts, but we had never visited the RV Hall of Fame. While this leg of our journey was relatively brief, Betty & I thought we’d take the time to check out the exhibits there.

One of the first exhibits visited was this 1913 Model T, with all-wood travel trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

Either an extra large toaster, or an early Airstream. lol
A 1964 Coachmen motorhome.
Betty examines a 1957 Teardrop trailer, which has returned to popularity.
A 1954 Holliday Rambler came well-equipped for its time.
This 1939 trailer was designed for aviator Charles Lindbergh.
This is a 1969 Pace Arrow by Fleetwood.
The Pace Arrow dash has evolved a little over the past 50 years.
One of my favourite vehicles was this 1931 housecar used by celebrity Mae West.
Mae West’s housecar had a back porch, just like some new toy haulers!
Betty checks out the 19′ 1967 Winnebago. (BTW, while I told one RV repair shop that we were from Winnipeg, our bill listed our address as Winnebago, QC. lol)
A 1974 GMC motorhome. The 1973 -78 models were well ahead of their time in styling and features.
Hundreds of toy RVs are on display at the RV Hall of Fame.
More miniature RVs on display at the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you catch the wanderlust, it is worthwhile to research all available options before choosing a mode of transportation. There are lots of RV choices out there, but whichever you opt for, enjoy some time exploring our great continent and its wonderful inhabitants.

Cheers!

Betty says “Indiana wants me. Lord I can go back there!”

Crossing The Border (Yikes!)

Almost all travellers who have crossed international borders have stories to tell.  As Forest Gump might put it: “Crossing the border is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get!”  Well, yesterday Betty & I got an unusual surprise, which I hope never to repeat…

My preface to that story is that a motorhome is not a car, and it is not a commercial truck. That may seem obvious, but as a driver I am regularly challenged to make a split-second decision as to whether I want to act like a car, or act like a truck, while driving our continent’s highways and byways.

Permit me to provide a few examples: When approaching a highway rest area, a sign will direct car traffic in one direction, and truck traffic to a different parking area. If we were to follow the cars, our motorhome would not fit the parking spaces. So we go with the trucks unless, as mentioned in an earlier post, we are on the Ohio Turnpike and can go to dedicated RV parking. Yippee!

A very special Ohio Turnpike RV parking space, complete with electrical hook-up..

When we fill up with gas, we prefer to go to Flying J truck stops that have dedicated RV pumps, because we are too big to manoeuvre around many car pumps, and do not use the diesel at the truck pumps.

Resting at a Flying J truck stop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on our way to Florida in December, 2018.

Yesterday we entered a toll road where the “cash only” lane was too narrow for us, and the “EZ Pass” lane was listed for oversized vehicles. We only had cash, but chose the oversized lane behind some 18 wheelers.  When I pushed the elevated ticket button, the ticket came out of a car slot which was 4’ lower. Despite calling for “go-go-gadget arms” there was no way to reach that ticket, so Betty had to get out, retrieve it, and return to her seat before the barrier went back down again.

A little car follows our motorhome wherever it goes.

Well, there are many more examples I could provide, but I’m sure you’re waiting with baited breath to hear about our border crossing adventure. In context, you must understand that the road through Windsor, Ontario leading over the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit, Michigan, is under construction. In fact, the bridge itself is on life-support, and we believe our gps was constantly trying to get us to go hundreds of miles north to the Blue Water Bridge between Sarnia and Port Huron in order to save our lives. In retrospect, maybe she (Samantha is our gps) knew something we didn’t!

Trucks were instructed to use the outside lanes prior to the bridge, but then switch to the inside lanes at bridge approach. We shifted from the curb lane, through the truck traffic, to the car lanes, only to find those lanes merged again with the trucks a few hundred feet (metres?) up the bridge approach. Most of the bridge was single lane, with trucks and cars combined. Beyond the crest – as we approached U.S. Customs – commercial truck traffic was diverted to the far right, with car traffic to the majority of kiosks on the left. Car traffic was fairly light at that point, with cars lined up at 3-4 of the check-points. But one of the OPEN check-points toward the right had no cars waiting, so that’s where we went. BIG MISTAKE!

If you enlarge this pic, you can see a small “auto only” sign under some of the large, lighted OPEN signs at U.S. Customs in Detroit, Michigan. It is easy enough to read while stopped, but not so much when you’re coming off a bridge and  negotiating merging traffic in a motorhome..

As I began to pull up to the first set of bollards I was able to read a small sign (under the huge lighted green OPEN sign) that read “auto only”. Well, at that point I was too close to the bollards to turn, and cannot back up with the Smart 4 wheels down on behind. The border officer left his post to frantically tell me to move my vehicle away from his lane, but that was easier said than done. I began to disconnect the car and Betty & Charlie came out to go in the car, as is our practice when we disconnect. But the flustered border officer insisted they go back in the motorhome, until he realized that I wasn’t going to be able to drive the car and the motorhome at the same time!

Betty was allowed to leave the motorhome, but the dog had to stay with me for some reason. She quickly grabbed her passport and drove through the checkpoint after I backed up and moved to the only line – on the far left – that had a small RV sign below the auto lane sign. Of course, because the Smart was the first car through after that lane re-opened, Betty was way ahead of me.  I had six cars slowly making their way through Customs in front of me, so called her to see where we could meet up on the other side. To my surprise, her phone rang on the dash beside me. Oops!

When I finally reached the Customs officer, he asked me all the routine questions. But where do I go with the answers? “Are you and the dog travelling alone?” No. “Where is your wife?” I don’t know…  It just went from bad to worse, with him arguing that I should have backed the motorhome up with the car on the back, even though I did that once in Austin, Texas, resulting in serious damage to the Smart’s steering column. By the end of our conversation, he was leaned back in his chair, telling me all the spots in Wyoming and Utah we needed to visit. I was just anxious to get out of there are get back on the road again.

Well, to make a potentially longer story short, I found Betty and the Smart on the side of the road, beyond the toll booth, and we were able to hook up (literally. Lol) and continue our trip to Elkhart, Indiana.  Just another day in the adventurous life of the Ramblin’ Reddochs.

Cheers!

Graham adds Michigan to our sticker map, with a not- soon-forgotten entry! Michigan seems like a dream to him now…

Brotherly Love

Betty is flanked by her two  older brothers, Bill & Jack.

What kind of chemistry is involved in creating a family, and how does that formula change over time? I guess there is no single recipe, but this week I had opportunity to observe a couple of examples of fine family dynamics.

During formative years, sibling rivalry can have a significant impact on relationships. There can be a perception that one son or daughter gets all the attention, while another is neglected. One is the favourite son, while another is the black sheep of the family. The perception that “mother loved you best” can extend for decades, but usually begins to fade with maturity and the death of our parents.

Jack & Bill share a laugh with their younger sister.

Our youngest daughter, Lisa, has a PhD in psychology and specializes in understanding relationships, so I’m sure she is better equipped to analyse sibling relationships than her dear old dad. Suffice to say, from my simple observations, it was heartwarming to see the love, joy and affection shown this week between Betty and her two brothers, Bill and Jack.

Betty & I had worked our way up the U.S. eastern seaboard, and decided to hold up in southern Ontario until we were fairly sure that the snow was gone from Winnipeg. We were unable to spend more time in the U.S. for fear

Rick, Penny, Graham, Betty & Jack enjoy Ontario springtime sun.

of exceeding the “180 day rule”, but we also wanted to have a little time with Betty’s big brothers. Brother Jack, and his wife Christine live in Amherstburg, Ontario – outside the normal snow belt.  Her other brother Bill, and his dear wife Heather, were able to make the 5 hour drive down from their home northwest of Toronto, so there was ample opportunity to both reminisce and build new memories. As it turned out, we also reconnected with old friends, Rick & Penny, who stopped by at the beginning of their RV trip to the west.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that historic

Jack, Betty & Christine join Graham at the nearby Colio Estate Winery.

Amherstburg has a number of fine restaurants, and sits nicely on the Lake Erie North Shore wine route. Wherever we went in this extreme southern corner of Ontario, we had a great time sharing our lives with family and friends. As we left, there were hugs and kisses all round (and a few tears), and it was wonderful to experience this brotherly love.

Betty is excited to find the Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.

Just a quick further example: Betty & I spent Easter Sunday in that Ohio Turnpike Service Plaza while our 9 family members – pictured on the first page of www.reddoch.ca– shared a traditional turkey dinner together. Through FaceTime we sat at the table with them, and observed another great example of brotherly (and sisterly) love. Here’s praying that our grandkids, and all in the next generation, find the loving formula that keeps our families together!

Cheers!

Bill, Jack, Heather, Christine, Betty & Graham share a meal at the Beach House restaurant in Kingsville, Ontario.
These are the original oak barrels at the Pelee Island Winery. They are about 7′ in diameter.
This is one of those barrels, after brother Bill finished the contents, while Heather looks on!
These tanks at Pelee Island Winery hold wines in process.
These oak barrels are used for aging wines at Pelee Island Winery.
A few special bottles make it into this wine cellar at Pelee Island Winery.
Betty makes a classic two-fisted manoeuvre at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.
Back at the motorhome, Graham prepared his famous prosciutto- wrapped asparagus for another shared meal, with a bottle of beaujolais on the side.
Christine hams it up at Colio Estate Winery, where, as a frequent flyer, she is on a first name basis with staff. lol
Christine, Jack, Betty and Graham experience yet another downtown Amherstburg restaurant.
Our last night was spent at this Historic Amherstburg Boondockers Welcome home, with much appreciation for the Medlers’ hospitality!.
A final pic of sister and brotherly love. Cheers!

Where Words Fail, Music Speaks

The message on the back of my Ryman Auditorium sweatshirt, celebrating 125 years of music.

In many of our blog posts, we have used musical references to highlight the vibe of our visit. Whether or not the songs resonate with all generations, they

Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, on the Lake Erie waterfront.

connect Betty & me to memorable experiences throughout our lifetimes. This week we drove down a kind of musical memory lane, stopping in Cleveland, Ohio for a tour through the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It was fun to re-live moments – particularly from our youth – that spoke to us through moving, evocative songs in ways far greater than simple words could deliver.

Betty & I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, as we literally drove through the Appalachian Mountains.

After leaving Washington, D.C., we drove through Maryland and Pennsylvania, catching a section of the Appalachian Mountain range on our way to Ohio. On our first night at an Ohio Turnpike rest area – known as a Service Plaza – we were surprised to see how large and extensive the services were there. While we didn’t make use of it that night, we noted a dedicated RV parking area with 50 & 30 amp hook-ups, a dump station, and drinking water available.

We found convenient RV parking at the First Energy Football Stadium next to the R & R Hall of Fame.

On arriving in Cleveland, we parked in the 1,000 stall lot of a football stadium next to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. We had checked in advance, confirming that we could stay the night there if we wanted, for $36. As it turned out, we were the only vehicles in the lot (except for the security SUV and attendant’s car). We were able to leave the Smart attached to our motorhome during our visit, and decided to move on to our next destination after we got our music fix.

A trilogy of Jimmy Hendrix guitars, at least 3 that weren’t battered and burnt….

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame contains a wide variety of musical memorabilia from a broad range of artists. We couldn’t help but think of our two talented musical sons as we examined the many instruments on exhibit – from  pianos and organs to acoustic and electrical guitars and drums. Costumes worn on stage were prominently displayed, as

Clothing worn by Hendrix on stage.

were hand written song lyrics, record contracts, and personal items, such as Jim Morrison’s Boy Scout uniform! (lol). Pictures and recordings were present at each display, and a variety of theatres showed videos and movies of artists like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and many more. This post only captures a few of the inductees from the years since the Hall of Fame was established in 1983.

Betty & I could have spent much longer seeing and hearing from the artists that influenced us in our formative years. I was reminded of the differences between access to media in the 50s, 60s and 70s, compared to current, immediate

John, Paul, George & Ringo had a bit of influence. My uncle in Liverpool sold insurance to Paul McCartney’s uncle, so we were almost related. lol.

information about artists that is available on the www now. Back in the day, we had to watch Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand to see who was hot or up-and-coming. Then we would have to find a record store that carried the 45 rpm single or 33 1/3 l.p. that had the songs we wanted to hear. A.M. radio stations had very narrow prescribed

The Who, before CSI made them famous. lol.

play lists, and if you weren’t into “bubble gum” music you had to wait until underground F.M. stations hit the air. For me, it was WABX in Detroit that introduced us to the artists whose songs were too long or radical for commercial A.M. radio. The disc jockey would put on an l.p.. You would listen to the whole side, and a minute after the needle would

One of Pete Townsend’s guitars. Sense the windmill.

start to click at the end of the record, he would come back on and hazily say “Far out, man. Let’s listen to another one!” lol.  There was no social media to promote Woodstock and other similar outdoor mega concerts that followed, just a lot of underground word of mouth. It was a different era, but obviously someone who wasn’t too stoned captured it and made the footage available to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Far out man!

Some Rolling Stones memorabilia. I think Mick can still fit in most of that stuff!

At the end of our visit, we moved on to another Ohio Turnpike Service Plaza were we stayed the night with 50 amp electrical service, dump station and water – all for $20.

Graham & Betty back in the day. “The day” being September 9, 1972. Graham finally got a haircut in January, 1973. lol

There are many times in our lives that we just can’t seem to find the right words. On those occasions it’s great to be able to crank up the tunes and let the music speak!

Cheers!

Ziggy Stardust makes an appearance.
ZZ Top ends the alphabet & continues the music. Check out the hairy set of drums!
The Boss played with Bono of U2, Mick Jagger & others at a Hall of Fame Induction concert in Madison Square Garden.
John Lennon left his granny glasses behind.
Under the C – Betty!
Beside Lake Erie.  Our motorhome is parked on the other side of that tanker on the left. The sky had cleared by the time we left Cleveland.
Our home-on-wheels sits alone in the stadium parking lot.
Betty adds Pennsylvania to our sticker map.
Joined soon after by Ohio.
The Blue Heron Service Plaza on the Ohio Turnpike was our Easter Sunday resting place, giving us a chance to FaceTime with our family back in Winnipeg, where they were all enjoying a great Easter turkey dinner without us!.
The pull-through sites included electrical service for $20., with room to extend slide-outs – usually not available in a rest area.
Our day in Ohio came to an end at this well-appointed rest area. As Jim Morrison of the Doors put it: “This is the end, beautiful friend, the end. This is the end, my only friend, the end…”

Cheers!