JULY 2017 Europe trip

Europe Trip

PRELUDE

We decided some time ago to have a vacation overseas with Alan & MaryAnn with the main intent of Alan visiting Audrey in Wales and getting to see his relatives in Northern England. My idea at first was to visit then take a cruise out of South Hampton to the Baltics including Paris. We decided on a train trip to Europe from England. This was the first trip ever where we were going without having anything pre-booked. I like to have everything pre-booked some times months in advance. The pricing can be less, some cases more but you have an itinerary and confirmations to make sure you get to do and see what you have planned. This trip we all decided to go spontaneously on everything. Mostly based on the fact we were flying standby. MaryAnn took the lead in  the organizing and I have to say she was brilliant. She organized the flights, seats, she booked the night before at hotels for us and in every case it worked out perfectly. It was easy for me to relinquish control as she was amazing. Jackie was exceptional in her directions and mapping at the train stations and hotel walks. Alan & I just to had to drive and look handsome walking behind them. MaryAnn with a suitcase on wheels is like she is in a roller derby darting in and around people. She is less than 5 ft and I am more than 6 ft and she made me walk very fast to keep up to her. Jackie & I thoroughly enjoyed the trip as Alan & MaryAnn are a couple that never are moody, show anger, or get anxious about anything. Very enjoyable vacation partners. Alan did not feel well for a couple of days and went to bed early a couple of nights. ( I believe that is why they went to bed early, nudge nudge wink wink) Our visit included the cities of London, Paris, Geneva and Zurich and when I did a little research on them on our return I discovered we were in 3 of the top 5 MOST expensive cities in the world. Here is the blog on our trip.  I will add more pictures as I download them from my camera. These are only from my phone.

I won’t put the dates but the events are in chronological order. Took a taxi to the airport as everyone was busy and timing didn’t work to get a ride. Entered into our new terminal at YYC and we have a nice airport. They did a wonderful job with this renovation.Alan & MaryAnn show up just a few minutes later.  As we arrived early ( as I always like to do) we decided we may as well have a bite to eat before boarding. There was a Chili’s restaurant in our gate which worked out perfect for us timing and good food.

New fancy trip socks. What I go thru to look good !

MaryAnn had checked us all in and we had assigned seats so all is good.  Air Canada is lot more efficient at loading planes than other lines as again we were boarded in Zones which is the fastest way to do it. Our seats were mid plane and right behind Alan & MaryAnn.  Flying overseas at night is the best way.  A 8 hour flight with a 7 hour time change takes it toll on a person. We had great service on the flight and it was especially nice not to have anyone in the centre seat between Jackie & I.  I cant sleep on plane no matter  what but the middle seat empty helps you put stuff there, you can tilt trying to sleep and stretch out a bit even though as on any flight you do have limited legroom.  Air Canada sure likes to feed you and give you lots of drinks. I watched two action movies John Wick series which were great. The plane was cool enough and dark enough to be quite pleasurable. Only issue was a consistent coughing lady right behind us. I hate that as germs are being spread all throughout the plane. Take a pill or candy so you don’t cough !

Alan & MaryAnn sitting in front of us

Arrived at Heathrow and headed out to find the rental car lots. Discovered it and took the shuttle van to the lot. We booked into Avis. I had found a deal on a car we wanted in May and had booked it already. I discovered for $180 a year I could add insurance when in a rental car all over the world. Not only sufficient coverage for the rental but every asset ( Cherokee, Wrangler, Buick, Marlon boat, Triple E Motorhome and condo all had the liability increased by a 1 million for this sum. I used to use my visa card coverage but there are a lot of exclusions that caught me off guard until I read them.  Alan chose to buy the insurance as a add-on which when added to the add-on driver was more than the original rental pricing. Crooks ! Glad to have two drivers and it helps that Alan is a good driver. My car choice was a Citreon Picasso seven passenger auto. Turned out to be a wonderful car.  We took turns driving alternating the days. I got in and we headed out. I bought a Europe SD card for my Garmin which worked perfect. You couldn’t get around without one of these.

I have to say. Driving on the wrong side of the road requires a lot of concentration.  My fellow car passengers were all excellent in helping with driving. Keep left is good to hear to remind you. I had a tendency to stay to the left side of the road hitting the rumble strips along the highway. UK highways are wonderfully smooth, no frost heaves or lines and kept in perfect shape. Our first major highway the M4 was busy which actually makes it easier to drive. Stopped at a huge truck stop for a lunch break. I thought the Ontario or Montana stops were nice but these were amazing. Numerous restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, etc. Huge and busy. First experience of overseas pricing as a Burger King chicken burger was 8 pounds which is over 10 bucks.

On this trip I took one wrong turn as I didn’t have quick enough reaction time to a round about exit. This one wrong turn made for one fun time. I cant remember laughing so much. Everyone was laughing as had some interesting roads to travel on in the countryside. Forge Road was narrow. If the car was 6 feet wide the road was 6′ 3″ wide. The sides of the road had no shoulder and were solid hedge lined. I tickled the side of this rental car a few times. Driving around a corner and not knowing if a car is coming or not. One bridge was so narrow at a dead stop I had to wiggle the mirrors around the posts to get in.  It was one fun funny ride. At this point we have been awake for over 30 hours so that could have been a factor also. I made it to Brecon having to use only one round-about.

BRECON, Wales

Arrived in Brecon. This is a small wonderful village of about 8000 people. It has two rivers meeting in the town and a canal. It is very old and quaint and just says ” English” I loved the town and after being there for just a short time was quite familiar in the street system. Impossible to get lost. We found the “Castle” called Camden Court which is Audrey and Michaels place.  They have a wonderful condo unit in the complex. This building was built in 1869 and opened as the Congregational Memorial College. Interesting architectural detail with brown stone and bathstone dressings with stone mullions and transoms. The 5 story tower adds to the grand look to the units. 16 tall ceilings look awesome.

A wonderful condo !

 

Had a short greeting time and decided to go for a walk to get the timing correct for sleep with the time change. At this point we have been awake for 36 hours straight. This was the coldest day of the trip and after today we were wishing for it again. Everyone over dressed for it as it was the unknown cold that we would NEVER see again. We all fell for the England is cool, the winds from the ocean are cold, it is humid etc. This is our second visit to England and in spending close to a month in England combined this was the only day that could be called a little cool. A few of us over reacted to the possibility of coolness.

Over dressed or what. Notice how English they all look.

The Brecon Canal system is one of the most popular attractions in the Brecon Beacons National Park. We had wanted to take the canal cruise thru the system which would have been awesome but timing and circumstance didn’t allow it.  The canal system is hidden gem with a navigable section for 35 miles. They had wonderful canal boats with guided tours available to the tourists. The canals were original built as horsedrawn tramroads to bring coal, limestone and iron ore from the hillsides. The fourteen locks on this canal system is internationally recognized.

Isn’t this a wonderful pretty picture. The couple of boats you see actually have people living in them.

Audrey made us a great supper and we headed to bed. Older building are difficult to control the temperature but the first night was the start of 18 nights total of trying to sleep in sauna. Every night on our complete trip we struggled to sleep with the hot nights.

Audrey made us delicious smoothies for breakfast which we all loved and cereal etc if wanted. Today was Alan’s turn to drive. Lucky for me. Sorry for Alan. Having multiple backseat drivers telling you how to drive can be quite difficult to handle. Let me rephrase that. I couldn’t have handled it and was laughing inside to myself each time and at every round-about. Alan handled it exceptionally well. I laughed to myself over and over again as I drove approximately  4 hours and hit 2 round-abouts and Alan hits about 10 of them right away.

Alan and I had the same strategy. Drive nice and relaxed then notice a round-about in the near distance. Sphincter tightens. Enter round-about and then hit the gas and exit as soon as possible. NO one follows the rules in a round-about. In fact they refer to the inside lane as the outside. We only had two horns honk on us with the 100 round-abouts we had to go thru.

Abergavenny

A wonderful market town with about 10,000 people living in it. The castle and cattle market are the two biggest attractions.

Our destination was Abergavenny.  This is a wonderful little market town. Originally the site of a Roman fort it became a medieval walled town in the Welch marshes.

Abergavenny Castle is located strategically just south of the town centre overlooking the River Usk. It was built in about 1067 by the Norman baron Hamelin de Ballon to guard against incursions by the Welsh from the hills to the north and west. When we made our visit to old carpenters were working on some shelving for the place and about to hang a new door. Amazing old time carpenters that were very enjoyable to talk with . I noticed they dadoed every shelve into the end bunks and were using a manual plane to hang the door. We had fun with the banter on carpentry .

We visited a coffee shop called Coffee Pot that was a favorite of Audreys & Michaels. I ask for a BLT. The server comes to my table and asks me if it is ok not to put the lettuce in the toaster. Takes me back a bit but I said to him ” do what you normally do “. Nothing ever is the same as at home eh ! My sandwich was good but not like any bar here in Calgary. This coffee shop has a claim to fame being featured on UTUBE  for the Easter Egg Hot Chocolate.

Our next stop was to visit the Tintern Abbey which was founded by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow, on 9 May 1131. It is situated adjacent to the village of Twintern in Monmouthshire, on the Welsh bank of the River Wye, which forms the border between Monmouthshire in Wales and Gloucestershire in England. It was only the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales. Falling into ruin after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, the remains were celebrated in poetry and often painted by visitors from the 18th century. The site welcomes approximately 70,000 people every year. We arrived about 20 minutes before closing. At $10 per person entrance fee we tried to make a deal as we had very little time to meander around. We declined and walked around the side and were able to take numerous pictures just about as close as being behind the wall.

It would be wonderful if some of these old building could be restored instead of just letting them deteriorate . Enjoyed a short walk and ice cream cone and then headed to the next stop. Getting a little turned around by taking incorrect paths. Directional challenged. Got to see the Newport docks on way which for a river dock yard are impressive.

Caerleon

Is a suburban town, situated on the River Usk. Caerleon is a site of archaeological importance, being the location of a notable Roman legionary fortress, Isca Augusta, and an Iron Age hillfort. The Wales National Roman Legion Museum and Roman Baths Museum are in Caerleon close to the remains of Isca Augusta. The town also has strong literary associations, as Geoffrey of Monmouth makes Caerleon one of the most important cities in Britain in his Historia Regum Britanniæ, and Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote Idylls of the King while staying there.

The remains of Isca Augusta. How many Gladiators died here ?

The Roman Bath building was wonderful. They had a fake representation of some one swimming in the pools. It would have been neat to have the bath house in working order but today it is only a “museum” of past times.

Caerleon Roman Baths

We spent quite a bit of time here visiting the baths and amphitheatre. The age of every thing in England is amazing. It seems odd we are just celebrating our 150 year as a country.

Alan had many round-abouts  to maneuver as I laughed inside. With all of his help we still ended up going around and around in circles. GPS cant fail but it wasn’t in the cards today.

Drove past the Raglan Castle . Unique for it’s square turrets.

The beautiful Raglan Castle

We found our way home where Audrey made us a wonderful Cottage Pie supper along with desserts from the Coffee Pot. Great meal and one of my favorites.

Decided to into town for a walk around. Brecon is beautiful and easy to get around in but does have a few hills. We ended up going to a large food store Morrison’s which is a super store and really doesn’t fit the town but they must feel lucky to have such a store. Free WIFI and coffee shop in it so a great place for Audrey to Facebook Message. Easy hookup and strong signal and only 5 minutes from the condo.

Warm today and the last of the cool days to come our way. We enjoyed the outside night air and the stars were shining brightly.

Another great morning. Walked around Brecon a bit and then loaded up to head to the reservoir and Dam Elan

The dams are undoubtedly the biggest draw to Elan Valley and they offer a wonderful year round backdrop for cyclists, walkers, and photographers. With the exception of Dol-y-Mynach all the dams are also accessible by car.

There are four dams on the river Elan; Craig Gosh, Pen-y-garreg, Garreg Ddu, and Caban Coch. The river Claerwen has the newest, and largest Clearwing dam followed by the unfinished Dol-y-Mynach dam. Love the look of the dams. The first dam we visited cost 6.5 million to build and todays dollars would be 60 billion. The Pen-Y_Garreg Dam is unique as it has an access tunnel  to the central tunnel. We walked and had to watch very closely not to walk in sheep shit as it was everywhere. Got climb a ton of stairs and walk down a wooded path. One other dam we visited allowed you to drive on the top of it over a narrow road. Very neat. We didn’t get to cross this unfortunately.

Headed back to Brecon and decided to go out for supper. Our first stop was Wellington’s. A great looking place, hotel, bar eatery. It has free easy hook up WIFI also for Audrey and she can sit on the centre road benches. I went in to get a table for 6. First time ever I heard this. “Sorry our kitchen is too busy so we cant accept any food order” We were hungry ! Turning away business is something NO company should ever do. The fish & chip place we originally had hoped to visit was closed already. So we headed to “The Bank”. An old bank renovated into a restaurant. Turned out to be a great place to eat. Finding a good cold beer in foreign countries is always a challenge. Meant most nights having one to try and then switching to Pepsi.  I had their fish & chips which was very good.

Another great day. Everyone has been walking at least 10000 steps per day no problem.

Next day the plans were to visit the walk behind waterfall at Brecon National Park. Brecon Beacons is famous for their cascading waterfalls and especially the walk behind wall of water at the Sgwd yr Eira.  Trip advisor has this listed as a must see and a 4 star rating. It is a little drive and walk to get there though.

We decided to tackle the Brecon Hill first and do the waterfalls after. We didn’t know the time frame required for the Brecon Hill walk. Funny as the range is referred to as the mountains but they are far from that.  Now there is NO defined difference between a hill or mountain ( doesn’t matter height or surface) yet I like to think a mountain should be a lot higher and have a rock surface showing.

Our hill is called Penny Y Fan and is the highest peak in south Wales. it is 886 meters above sea level. It is used by the British Army for training purposes. Three soldiers actually died on this hill in 2013 from exhaustion. I saw the hill and thought it should be no problem. Turns out it is not easy. It is a slow climb for about 2 miles that starts to wear on your stamina. legs and back. We were in for an extreme vacation experience. Everyone did awesome with everyone making it to the peak which has wonderful views. Didn’t help it being a warm day. I was disappointed in myself as I tired during the climb. I hate the fact that with a heart defect I cant push my heart to the limit or I will pass out. So I had to slow down to let the heart beat rate lower before carrying on. Coming down is so much easier. LOL. They should have a defibulator on the walk.The climb up, the viewing and the climb down took us 3-4 hours. By the time we got back to the condo none of us felt like going on another walk to get to a waterfall. After all water is water similar to one castle looking just like the other. So we rested and then got ready to go out for supper for our anniversary.

Looks easy until you start climbing

We decided on a restaurant  called the Castle.  It is an upscale hotel restaurant and looks fantastic. Our experience with eateries in Brecon wasn’t the best as one was closed, one wouldn’t serve us and one was missing items from their menu. Here wasn’t any different. They didn’t have a few dishes ( 5 items missing)which is odd for any place to say but the items were items some of our group wanted. The food we did get was great. It was cooked perfectly, presented nicely and was delicious . We were so very lucky as Michael and Audrey bought us our supper for our anniversary. Lucky us.

The Castle  over looking the river.

On our walk back Maryann discovered a very easy short cut to back home. Only took us about 10 minutes to walk home.

Welsh humour. Was posted on a Bridal Suite entrance by a rich angry Welshman.

I forgot to mention one hilarious thing. One our trip Alan needed to move the car. He rushes over to it and jumps in. Shocked he couldn’t find the steering wheel. He jumped in to the wrong side of the car. LOL

Packed up and left Brecon in the morning.  Filled up with gas at Morrisons a service station with no washrooms and only a one way entrance. Drove over to the food store Morrisons , used the WIFI while the girls were picking up some water etc for our road trip. I people watched while they were in the store and you sure can tell you are in the UK. Never mind the odd person with bad teeth, but wearing sweaters in 28 degrees, driving the smallest of cars and just the facial identifiers scream English. I do have to say though everyone is friendly enough. When walking they don’t look at you in your eyes but will respond to a hello. If they start talking it can lead to a long talk.

My turn driving. Again my luck in missing the round-abouts was amazing. We were headed for Bath.

BATH

A wonderful city of 100,000 people. Easy to drive in. Our first stop was to sit at an eatery right on main street and enjoy in the hot sun and cool beer with light lunch. I love Bath. It has a nice feeling about it and is busy with tourists. The normal narrow streets but easy enough to maneuver around town. Jackie and MaryAnn visited the Marks & Spencer store and bought a few items. I people watched. This town is leading the fashion trends. The women and men here all look awesome and unique. Most of the tourists were younger. A lot of jean Daisy Dukes with high waists and no bras. Checked out the Abbey and Roman Baths again. Getting a little tired of history. LOL   Stayed in town for a long time. Great city and a must to see as it is cutting edge and interesting how the old and modern are mixed together.

On the road again and off to the Stonehenge. It is impossible not go here as it is most likely the most iconic symbol of the UK. It wasn’t a long drive perhaps a couple of hours with some great scenery, castles and landscapes to see on the way.

Stonehenge  

The GPS is the only way one can drive in unknown territory. It worked extremely well and was well used. I had preloaded most of the locations in so it was just a matter of picking a favorite.We arrive at the gate for Stonehenge and discover we missed the time by only minutes. The guard was very nice and made us a suggestion that was amazing. He gave us directions to get close to the Stonehenge without having to pay and or wait until the morning to see it. It was about 5 miles away with a hidden entrance. In fact we had a very good laugh as we passed the actual Stonehenge 5 times before getting in to where we were supposed to be. This was worth the drive. Stonehenge is amazing. It is unbelievable. It is hard to understand the reasoning and how it was done. It is supposed to exude an energy field. Just like not finding my Vortex in Sedona none of us felt this energy. Nice people helping us at this iconic tourist attraction though.

Stonehenge.  Love this place and we got to see it free.

Our hotel here was the Holiday Inn Express. While the four of us were talking and joking with the check in girl she says to Maryann who just checked in ” I like you guys. I am going to upgrade you all” Nice !  She gave us a very upgraded suite that was perfect. Free Stonehenge and now a free upgrade on rooms. Love Stonehenge !

Holiday Inn Stonehenge

Had a buffet breakfast which was good next door , loaded up and headed out as we had a 5 hour drive or more depending on traffic to get to Middlesborough.  Alan started to drive and we hit I would say at least 10 more round-abouts. Half way to Middlesborough I took over. Two round-abouts to get to the hotel. Wonderful highways again and a great truck stop for lunch. Our car was amazing on diesel.Hitting Middlesborough it is a big city. the freeway took us very close and with minimal round-abouts we made it to our hotel.  Another Holiday Inn and wonderful rate. In fact half price of the Stonehenge hotel and a nice hotel. Good location. Got unpacked and contacted Malcolm & Jean to see about getting together.

Loaded the GPS and headed to pick M & J up which only a few minutes away. We decided to head out to Whitby as it was hot and a wonderful night. We walked around Whitby, saw the whale jawbone, walked up the 199 steps to the Abbey and Dracula’s castle, ocean views and city views especially with the sunset.

The 199 steps up to the Dracula cementary

In Whitby you have to have fresh Fish & Chips. Their fish & chips are like no other. Fresh caught each day. Malcolm & Jean got me.  Jean sneaked up and paid the bill. On our last visit as they were doing all of the driving and entertaining of us I felt the least I could do was pay for the meals out. This time though they got me. Much appreciated ! Sneaky !

Malcolm & Jean in Whitby wre they caught me off guard

Walked a bit more around town, watched the bridge open for a tall mast ship and people watched plus had an ice cream cone. Wonderful day. Left late so I had a drive in the darkness which I don’t prefer but it was ok as the traffic was lighter and Malcolm is an excellent navigator. Drove for half the distance back before discovering what I thought was auto headlights didn’t come on. Here is a picture of Alan hanging on heading into a round about.

Alan in the back seat in fear as we head into a round about. FAKE MUSCLES

Dropped M & J off at their house and headed back to our hotel arriving after 11pm. Party central near our hotel with the night clubs near us. Another sleep sweating as the hotels are just not used to the 30 degree plus weather. They say they never get this weather. Other than the first day in Wales 30 degrees and more was our temperature.

Had our buffet breakfast in our hotel in Middlesborough.  Drove over to Malcom and Jeans for a a nice visit.We picked them up and drove over to Grangetown to show Alan where his Grandparents used to live. The house they lived in is no longer there but lots of houses just like theirs are still used and look great. It is funny for me to listen to them talk about their hardships when I see the houses they were living in. They are like Mansions to what my grandparents had to live in. Home made log cabins with cow shit as chinking. Two far apart worlds one living in beautiful homes but having to deal with food shortage and bombing the other having to build their own home by hand, no money, extreme hardship but no bombs or shortage of food as they grew their own.

It is always nice to see where your parents grew up to see what your beginnings where.

After this trip we went over to see Alan & Carol to visit with them. They are both doing well but in the 7 years since we had seen them aging is taking it’s toll as they are both struggling with  cognitive decline. They are both very nice people and I love Alan’s humour.  We had a very nice visit , checked out their renovation their kids are doing for them and decided to go into Redcar for lunch.

Jackie, Alan, Jean, Malcom,Carol and Alan

Redcar is a wonderful place. The ocean beach is miles long and sandy.

Redcar beach and turbines

As usual we were told they never see this many people at the beach and never get this warm. We were hitting over 30 again. About a 1/2 mile out in the ocean they have 27 large wind turbines spinning away. Great idea to create power. We decided to have lunch at Alan & Carols favorite restaurant. This time Alan & MaryAnn picked up the tab for all of us. Much appreciated !

Just when we were leaving the eatery Janet a cousin of Jackie & Alan runs into us on the street. ( I think she was looking for her Mom & Dad as we forgot to tell anyone we were taking them)  Great visit and she invited us all to her home for a Fathers Day BBQ the next day. Lucky us.  Walked the beach board walk a bit and then dropped off Alan & Carol and headed back to ready for a golf game.  Malcolm had arranged for us a power cart ( the course only has two) and some clubs to use. The course was only  a short distance away from us and we arrived in plenty of time. Wilton Golf Course in Redcar. Reviews have it a 4.4 star rating. It is a lovely course and is very deceptive in its looks. We discovered two things quickly. Everything runs to the ocean. It is built on a side hill and hit the middle of the fairway you end up in the trees on the right. That doesn’t fend well for me as right is always my direction challenge. So both Alan & I spent a shots hitting out of bush. But the most amazing thing is the greens. They are hard and fast but the trickiest greens I have played on. I have played some amazing courses, TPC Sawgrass, TPC Scottdale, Priddis, Silvertip, Grey Wolf etc and no course comes close to these deceptive greens. By the end of the round I would putt and pray. I would have bet a 1 million bucks the green sloped to the left and after hitting the ball it moved 4 ft to the right. Mind blowing as my eyes couldn’t see it. Malcom explained as the course was built on a hillside the entire slope plays tricks with your eyes similar to the famous magnetic hill. Didn’t play well but still broke 90 which I was happy with considering everything. Great fun outing.

We went back to Malcom’s and Jean’s and we had wonderful visit with them along with their family which are Jackie and Alan’s cousins. We had Malcom, Jean, David, Michelle, Dillon, Elizabeth, John and Imogen. Love the name Imogen and had to look it up. It is from a Shakespearian play. The ladies had gone out during the day and bought a few things for supper. We had a wonderful meal and gathering. I even had cold Coors Light that Jackie found in a food store. Awesome. Best beer ever  and a wonderful time and BBQ. Look at the lovely English garden.

Great time visiting and enjoying the warmth and wonderful food along with cold “normal” beer.

We kept hearing that Alan looks like his Uncles ?

Conclusion- he has the same name as one. He is the same height as one.

Another wonderful day in England and I am sure Alan & Jackie enjoyed their time with their cousins and Aunts & Uncles. We headed back to our hotel in the dark with only a couple of sphincter tightening’s.

Today we were so lucky that Malcom and Jean suggested a English Picnic in the country. Jean is an amazing picnicker. She had sausage, and sandwiches galore along with a load of other stuff. Awesome picnic. Their place  of choice was Studley Park. Wonderful Lake and home of the Fountain Abbey. We walked quite a ways over numerous bridges and watched the deer in the wilderness.  A very enjoyable outing.

A wonderful lake and park for families to gather

One of numerous bridges on our walking path. Another 30 degree plus day.

Our next place to stop is Janet’s house. Malcom & Jean hadn’t been there before so the GPS worked perfect. I have never seen so many corners to turn in a community to get to an address. Without a GPS we still would be searching.

Janet has a wonderful home that looks old but is completely modernized. I loved the look of the old detail with modern cabinets etc. Huge back yard and front yards. Nice home. We had a fantastic BBQ and a lot of relatives of Jackie’s & Alan’s were there. 7 years since we saw them last makes a huge difference. All very nice people. It was a great Father’s Day BBQ for each family that was there. Nice for Alan & Jackie to see their relatives.

A fantastic Father Day get together BBQ

Alan & Carol enjoying Fathers Day and the BBQ. It was a hot one for everyone

At Janet’s BBQ we had  Alan & Carol ( Uncle & Aunt) Malcolm & Jean ( Uncle & Aunt) Keith, Neil, Janet ( cousins) and second cousins and spouses  Andy, Denise, Alyse, Lydia, Matthew, James, Adam and William.

It was amazing how much they knew about NHL and NFL. Sports fanatics. Wonderful BBQ food, fantastic deserts, cold Coor’s lite and a great family gathering.

Up next morning and headed back to London with a stop at York. Everyone told us to take the park & ride into York.

YORK

York is a historic walled city at the meeting of the rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The municipality is the traditional county town of Yorkshire to which it gets its name. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events in England throughout much of its two millennia of existence. The city offers a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural and sporting activities making it a popular tourist destination for millions.The city was founded by the Romans as Eboracum in 71 AD. It became the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and later of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jórvík. In the Middle Ages, York grew as a major wool trading centre and became the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England, a role it has retained .In the 19th century, York became a hub of the railway network and a confectionery manufacturing centre. In recent decades, the economy of York has moved from being dominated by its confectionery and railway-related industries to one that provides services. The University of York and health services have become major employers, whilst tourism has become an important element of the local economy. York’s population is just over 200,000 but with it being the tourist season swells close to 500,000 people. It was a busy city and a pretty city.

We were told by everyone to use the park & ride in the outskirts of town as it would be too busy. Me being stubborn decided to drive into town. I headed right into town centre and was only a block off the old town and Shambles. Got very lucky and found a parking spot at the main train station and only had a couple of blocks walk to everything. York is nice. I love the streets, the busy walking paths, the York Minster which is a huge church and the shamble area. Alan bought us all ice cream cones which as I have said before the heat just keeps following us. Over 30 degrees again.  We walked the wall, saw the church and walked down the Shambles. Had a great time.

The wall around old town York

Spent a few hours here than hit the road to London.  The highways are wonderful as they are smooth wide lanes and courteous drivers. After a bit it was time for diesel and food. We stopped at this huge truck stop which was amazing. Numerous restaurants, shops, gas stations, shops etc all together on both side of the freeway and a over pass connecting the two. We ate in the food court on the overpass and the trucks and cars were flying past only feet below  us. Neat idea and fun to watch. I really had to hold back not mooning the cars as it would be the prefect location for this.

 

Highway only feet right below us.

Again I was lucky on this 4-5 hour drive hitting very few traffic circles. Getting into London the traffic starting getting heavy. Heavy traffic is actually easier to drive in as the speeds are lower and everyone is in the same boat when they need to change lanes. The GPS worked perfect for us. Arrived at the airport and punched in closest gas station to fill the tank on the rental. Avis didn’t tell us a gas station was only a couple blocks from the entrance as they wanted us to pay for the gas option which was 70 pounds. GPS found a station but just before the GPS one Alan sees another closer. We decided to use the GPS just to be safe to get back to the airport. I washed the side of the rental with the windshield brush and luckily the scratches from tickling the bushes on the sides of the narrow road disappeared enough not to be noticed. Headed back thru a few circles and rush hour traffic and found the rental car spot. Billing issue from Avis. I put rental car companies as one of the most “crooked” type of business with their late charges, add-ons, exclusions, gas charges, etc. It is a mentality they all have that isn’t customer service friendly. We had a billing issue which took a bit to correct but finally got it all done except still not happy with the total billed amount.

Took the shuttle bus back to the airport and found an Express train to that runs into town where we would have to transfer to a regular train then walk to our hotel. Bought the tickets with the guy stating to hurry the train leaves in 6 minutes. We rush to the platform and wait. And wait . And wait. Finally a 1/2hr late an announcement comes that the train has a mechanical issue. We decide we are not waiting and head back to get a refund. We received it. Headed outside and had a little confusion finding the taxi que but finally did. Loaded up into a big black Mercedes and headed to our hotel. The Express tickets were $110 bucks and then we would still need to transfer and walk in 34 degrees with suitcases. The cab ride right to our hotel was $160 bucks. No one should take the train knowing that cabs are less expensive and delivery right to your location. This whole trip things like this just kept falling into our lap.

LONDON

London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times. At its centre stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, site of British monarch coronations. Across the Thames River, the London Eye observation wheel provides panoramic views of the South Bank cultural complex, and the entire city. It’s diverse population is at 9 million people. A large city. I was impressed with their ring road system fro such an old city.

I love London. I love the buildings, the people, the fashion, the energy and oldness. It is a wonderful city. MaryAnn’s pick of a hotel again was wonderful. Perfect access to buses, train’s right next to the London Eye and river walk system. Perfect

Talk about a nice welcoming to your room. Having your name on the tv screen as you enter is a nice touch.

Welcome to your room

The EYE from our room window. Funny thing as we were checking into our hotel the Fire Alarms go off and everyone is running out of the hotel. With all of the scares lately people act quickly now. We had to wait about 10 minutes to get back to the counter again. Makes check in interesting.

Could not have found a better location. Sight from our room window

After getting settled in we decided to go for a supper and then to walk around. As we were right on the river walk we had numerous restaurants to choose from. The first one we tried we were not happy with. How a server can totally ignore 4 potential clients is beyond me. We waited for a bit but with the obvious snub ( lazy server wanting to start cleaning up the patio) we walked and check out another couple settling on a very nice restaurant. Do not go to LUCIUNIA ITALINO as they do not care if they help you or not.  The Troia was unique as they had those water pipes that they gave people at the tables to smoke. We didn’t indulge but it does look neat. Our meal here was wonderful and with wonderful service. We had a great meal and some fun sitting watching people.

First night in London

We then surveyed the area, checked out the timing of the buses, the EYE , the river cruise etc and walked along the river. Wonderful exciting area with the kids, loads of younger people and tons of tourists. We saw performers singing , bubbles and checked out the night lights before heading to bed.

The EYE at night

Beautiful river walk

London is a city where you just feel safe. Loads of people, loads of different ethnic groups but everything is clean, organized and you feel safe. You can see where terrorism has changed the city as every major walk bridge has huge protective pads to protect against a vehicle running over people. Odd seeing Bobbies  with machine guns but that is todays world.

Our plans for today were to hop and ride the city, go on the eye and cruise the river. We got everything done and it was a blast.

Double Decker bus

No better way than to ride the bus around town and see the major sites. It was HOT again reaching 35 degrees. BUT THEY NEVER GET THIS WARM. I think the British way is to say we get colder weather to keep people away. It was hot.

We saw the normal tourist things which was nice. I love the fact Alan & MaryAnn aren’t historian types as we aren’t and it made for a much more fun time seeing things then spending hours looking at old buildings, statues or museums.  We saw the London Eye, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Big Ben , Westminster Abbey, Traflagar Square, Piccadilly Circus and on and on. It was a fun ride with some great views and sights.

London Bridge

Funny story the Brits like about this bridge. This London Bridge is newer. The original London Bridge is in Lake Havasu Nevada. It was torn down and restored block by numbered block to it’s original form. It was originally built in the 1830 and moved to the States in 1967. The Brits laugh as they believe the daft bloke thought the was buying Tower Bridge ( which is by far the better looking majestic bridge)  Interesting that a folk song “London bridges falling down ” is the reason the sale happened.

Often called London Bridge in error

Lucky, we passed Harrods and didn’t have to go in.

Dont need to anyone waht this is the entrance for

After just about a full day of checking out the tourist spots of London it was time for our Eye ride. I will say it was nice, interesting but lacked any thrill. Too bad as it could have been a great ride. We were very lucky though as the cars had a/c. They also are good in that they don’t pack people into each car which gives you a lot of room to move about and see London.

 

It takes about 30 minutes to make a full revolution and the sights are amazing. They say you can see about 25 miles. We were smart and instead of being frugal bought the express ticket. The que lines to get on this thing I bet are 1 to 2 hours long by the length on them. With our express tickets we immediately were able to board. Worth every penny.  This ride is good for anybody as it is gentle, stable, no movement and no one should have any fear in the ride. I liked it.

Our next trip today was our boat cruise down the river Thames. Very dirty water. It was a nice cruiser ship we were on with a/c and a bar at the one end. Nice to have a float with a guide giving information and to have the luxury of a cold drink while being cool in the 35 degree weather. You get see some neat buildings like the Parliamentary Building , see the tower and London bridge and see the building landscape in London. It is one busy city with the amount of cranes.

We got caught a bit on our boat trip as we expected it to be longer and return. It was only about 1/2 hour ride and no return. The ride and trip were great but just not long enough. We made our way home by jumping on the hop off and on bus hoping to stop close to our location. We were on the opposite side of the river and crossing over at bridge near the hotel by walking was our only option. Remember it is 35 degrees.

We had a wonderful supper at a river walk café. We had to put our name down on a wait list and sit in the shade and wait for it to be called. Alan was very creative and listed us as “The Queen”. You would have thought that would have had some pull. Funny thing the host had to call each name on the list and we encouraged him to yell louder so everyone could hear. We wanted him to get to our name and yell ” The Queen” but we got unlucky as a girl took over and came over to ask our name rather than shout out the name from her list. Darn, but it was fun.

Packed up , ate our breakfast at the hotel and jumped into a cab to get to the train station. We decided to train it through the Chunnel to Paris which is only a 2 1/2 hour ride. Jackie & Mary Ann again were awesome in finding our correct train and timing of such. The passenger trains are wonderful. We had seats facing each other which was great.

On the train to Paris

The ride is  very smooth and quiet. Great high speed train our travelling at just under 300 kms per hour. Scenic country side and neat small villages we past through. We saw loads of grape fields so I guess they must like wine. They had a dinner car to get food and drinks and plenty of washrooms. The train wasn’t full which also was nice.

It was hitting 37 degrees in Paris. Our hotel was only supposed to be 600 meters away from the train station but combine 37 degrees, not knowing the direction, feeling like your in a third world country and ghetto and cobble streets it seemed like a mile.

PARIS

Paris, France’s capital, is a major European city and a global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. Its 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine. Beyond such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the 12th-century, Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, the city is known for its cafe culture and designer boutiques along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. It’s population is 2.2 million.

Eiffel Tower. Looks even better at night.

I hated Paris. Have no desire to ever go back. Change that. I will NEVER go back. Each of us has a perception and preconceived notions of places. Paris didn’t even come close to any of that. The people are rude, the city presents itself as extremely hectic, the drivers are extremely aggressive, huge amount of graffiti, you don’t feel safe walking the streets even in the daytime, service industry  does not go out of their way to help, there is an attitude that is prevalent and present just about everywhere we went. I didn’t like it.  It is very expensive. If they didn’t have some iconic tourist attractions I am sure this city would decline.
We decided to go to the train station for supper as it had a restaurant that actually had an a/c that worked semi ok. Funny thing when we were done and just waiting for the bill  we saw a mouse run around the outside wall inside of the restaurant .On our first night  we arrived and we grabbed a cab and headed to the Eiffel tower district. Amazing amount of tourists to the tower. We checked into the boat tour and did we get lucky. We had two minutes to spare for the last trip of the night. It was just dusk when we started and ended up night while on the Seine River.
I enjoyed this boat trip. It was long and we were able to see just about all of the Paris tourist attractions from it. A music festival was going on this night and I would say there had to be at least 500,000 people lining the shores of the river listening to music and drinking wine. Seeing all of the lighted building, having a little cooler air from the 37 degrees and the amount of people was amazing. This was a trip well worth it. The Tower lite up at night looked awesome.
  After the tour and checking out the area it was time to grab a cab back to our hotel. Turned out to a little difficult with the quantity of people. We found the cab area and waited. This wasn’t working so we decided to head down the block a bit. A cab came up and right in front of us a lady and her kids push right in. The cabbie said no to them as he wanted to go the end of the queue line. Carma. A few minutes later another cab comes by and we wave him in. Lucky for us he stops and is open for riders. As we were about to get in the back this Frenchman opens the front door to talk to the cabbie. He says it is his cab. Jackie half way in the car says ” excuse me we flagged him down” and continued in. The rest of us get in the back while the whole time this guy is wagging his tongue saying ”  travelling abroad and being rude isn’t a good thing”  Alan had to get into the front seat while this guy was yapping. The accent alone makes me cringe as I can only think of Inspector Clouseau.
After another hectic drive back to our hotel we had to sleep in a modern hotel that felt like it had NO a/c. So far on this trip we have not had one good nights sleep due to our rooms being so hot it was impossible to sleep. Perhaps that is why the French are always in bad moods.
Being hot and not too late we decided to check out the outdoor patio bar we see across the street. Security at the door tell us we are entering Paradise. I guess everyone has a different idea of paradise.It turned out to be a night club for kids. The average age was 18 years old. The music was techo just blasting. Neat lighting and packed. I went to the bar to get beer. $11.00 for a bottle of Corona.  We lasted there for a bit but the music noise and heat was too much so we headed back to our hotel.

Paradise Night Club

Asked the front desk for a cab in the morning to head to the Louvre. French service at it best the guy say I cant get you a cab it will be an hour. We walk across the street to the train station to grab one.  Hectic drive again.  The Louvre is one busy place. Line up miles long outside in the 36 degree heat. As we were fairly early in the morning it took us about 1/2hr to get in. Inside the food court area was cool which was appreciated. Jackie had to go the washroom and her line was another 1/2 hour to get in. I have a million pictures of this thing. I got caught up in the moment Let me say right now. I am shallow. I do not like museums, I don’t like history and artifacts and I don’t like to like to look at pictures for more than 2 minutes holding my chin up and studying them. Here are a few pictures of the many I could have inputted.

I prefer my Caesars with celery but for some reason Jackie really liked this guy and he may not be Caeser

The amount of tourists was amazing.

The roof was incredible and comparable to the Vatican

MY FAVORITE STATUE. FOUR BOYS ON A COLD DAY CHECKING IT OUT AND COMPLAINING

I am shocked the way men were treated like objects years ago.

I do know after visiting the Louvre I feel pretty good about myself. LOL

Aisle and aisle of paintings including a line up a mile long to get a picture of the Mona Lisa.

We spent a lot of time here, in fact most of the day as it is a million square feet of floor and only one exit. I am glad I saw it as it is special even though as I said I am not an art connoisseur. See how I threw in a French word. LOL  Great day.

 

There were rows and rows and aisle ways filled with naked men and a lot of tourists.

We spent most of the day here and it was all good. Interesting and neat to see the history. Too much of anything is boring whether it is old buildings, museums, history or anything it is too much after a while. I believe we all were glad to see this iconic piece of history along with the attractions of Paris.

While we were complaining about the 37 degrees in Paris our caretaker in Mesa texted to let us know everything is ok but the temperature is 49 degrees. It was so hot they cancelled all flights in Phoenix as the planes couldn’t handle it. Lucky us.

We walked a bit to get away from the crowds as we believed it would be easier to find a cab and stopped for lunch. Café Blanc Italian and I would give it a great review as it was the only place in Paris that valued us as a customer.

Welcoming restaurant

We had street side seats. No a/c and it was HOT but the canopy provided a little shade and we had a little breeze. Slight. We ordered beer and had their cheese plate with bread. The bread was fabulous and kept coming. The cheeses were awesome with some of us liking different ones. I found one of the Brie very strong in taste. A great supper. Better if I could get a cold Coor’s but finding any really likeable beer has been a issue. I try a different light beer everywhere we go but most of them are good not excellent and not near cold enough. I don’t think they have heard of frosted mugs. LOL  As I said this place was awesome called Café Blanc and I will give them a great review as they are not the norm in Paris Love this place.

Getting back to the hotel proved to be a challenge. Cabs all seemed to be full or not around so it took us awhile standing in the heat to get one. We set a heat record since 1945. The hot temperatures just keep following us.

Breakfast doesn’t exist in Europe . They think a Croissant and an Expresso in breakfast. Even McDonalds doesn’t have the same menu as us and breakfast has one item on it. Amazing difference. They say when travelling you are supposed to embrace the country traditions you are in and not compare it to where you came from. That is hard to do when you are staving and wanted a simple coffee or Egg & Sausage McMuffin. Jumping ahead Jackie and I actually gained a few pounds even with the amount of walking we did only due to the poor poor eating we had to live with. Three days back and having breakfast with a good meat & potatoe supper back to my normal weight.

Another hectic cab ride after another Paris issue. The front desk wouldn’t get a cab for us and said over an hour. We could see cabs right across the street at the train station so we headed over. This time though it was queue line of about 20 people so we had a little wait. Finally our turn and Mercedes pulls up. He refuses to take all four of us with luggage ( fast forward in Geneva all 4 of us and our luggage fit into a Prius ) So Jackie & I grab another and we use two cabs to get to our main train station. Good Paris customer service again. Our driver was a manic or just mad. We had cars honking at us, we had a motorcycle precariously give us the finger while off balance going around us and we made some interesting maneuvers around trucks and cars. We started after Alan’s and MaryAnn’s cab and were at the station 5 minutes before them.

Beautiful train station

Beautiful train station but very few amenities. We had a poor breakfast again between a café and Starbucks. I asked for a coffee and said large. I get a double expresso. I drank it and was jumpy all day. I discovered after the fact coffee doesn’t exist in their world but order the single expresso and a cup of hot water and you make your own coffee. Even though still on the strong side it is supposed to be good. Another rude attitude from a server. They are not welcoming at all. I am shocked by the lack of security at the train stations. It is unbelievable considering the world today. No bag check, no person check just load up and leave. Not good and by no means safe !

Figured out our train and heading to Geneva. Glad to leave Paris. Not quite the same train as our Chunnel ride but still very nice and we had the cabin relatively to ourselves.

This was the same look when he was my navigator in England.  How does he do it ?

Nice countryside scenery. In the brochure the high speed train ride stated beautiful mountain views etc. Not quite true as Paris to Geneva is farmland and few hills with all of the mountains being beyond Geneva. An enjoyable ride.

Beautiful scenery

Paris to Geneva is about a 4 hour trip. Never ever seemed like this as the ride is wonderful, food and drink and company on the train makes time go by quickly. We had a few stops with people getting off and on each time. I like trains.

 

GENEVA

Geneva is a city in Switzerland that lies at the southern tip of expansive Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). Surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains, the city has views of dramatic Mont Blanc. Headquarters of Europe’s United Nations and the Red Cross, it’s a global hub for diplomacy and banking. French influence is widespread, from the language to gastronomy and bohemian districts like Carouge. It has a population of only 200,000 and is the fourth most expensive city in the world.
Forget how expensive it is. It is beautiful, clean, multicultural, alive and  beachside. I LOVE Geneva. My favorite city on this trip.
The natural beauty is awesome. The hills are alive is a perfect expression.

Lac Lemon

We get out of the train station at Geneva and get into the taxi queue. Right away a cab came and we ask him to take us to our hotel. He laughs. Says ” grab a water and walk 100 meters and you will be there” Our hotel which was a wonderful looking place and turned out wonderful as it was just kiddie corner of the station. A 3 minute walk. The guy  could have taken us for a ride and we wouldn’t have known any difference. The Warwick Hotel is the first where the a/c lowers the temperature a bit even though not close to being cool. At 36 degrees again they just cant keep up and we sweated all night again.
Unpacked and decided to go for a walk. Only a few blocks off the lake with a wonderful board walk and atmosphere. A shooting fountain that is amazing and all kinds of retail and eateries along the way. Stopped for supper at The Casanova.
Exceptional food and service. Like night and day to Paris. This guy bent over backwards and the food was amazing. Walked a bit more than headed back. Alan wasn’t feeling well so they stayed in while Jackie and I visited the town. We went down one street  where everyone was from different countries yet we felt very safe. They all were joking and friendly not like the streets we experienced in Paris. We walked the entire boardwalk, sat and enjoyed the fountain and then went back to have desert at the Casanova.

Our favorite restaurant

Again the waiter was amazing as was the desert. I felt bad for him with two American customers. The lady orders spaghetti and gets it with white sauce. She wants to send it back, Now we don’t know French either but anyone should be able to tell the difference between the tomato and white sauce option on the menu. The waiter was all over this accommodating her to the extreme which isn’t right either.  The meal service industry is difficult with low margins and fussy people that believe they can send anything back. This hurts the restaurant bigtime and is rarely needed.  To please everyone is just about impossible.  I gave this place a Trip Advisor 5 star rating based on quality , caring and service.
We saw a million watches on display as Swiss are famous for. Jackie was bugging me to buy one. I can take another trip for price of one of these. I am a way past the keeping up with the Joneses or trying to impress anyone. I am about spending money to enhance my life experiences now.
Next morning we had breakfast on the street. For a $25 we got a small omelette, salad and a piece of dry bread. Things are pricey here. We walked to the tourist centre and bought our excursions to the Old Town, International Square, boat tour and mountain tour.  Very nice people in Geneva. Helpful and friendly. Now I understand where the term act like a Parisian came from. Not friendly at all.
We did a bit of looking around with Jackie picking up a dress. A great shopping area. Need a watch or knife you are in business.
We had an incredible tour of Geneva. In a a/c couch we visited the International Square which is amazing that one city in such a small country has every important head office there. We visited the United Nations building.  Neat as they have a huge 3 legged chair and a water spout park. The chair represents the thousands of kids and adults that have had their legs blown off by mines. The water park sprouts represent the unknown walking area that is mine loaded and you never know when you step on one. In this case you just get wet. We saw the buildings of the World Telecommunications Office,  World Intellectual Property Office, World Communications Union office, The International Red Cross Office, Ghanaian Statue , International Labour Union Office ( 8000 windows in this building) World Health Organization , the World Council Church Office ( represents 80 million Christians except for the Catholics) and many more International and World organizations. Amazing really but I think it has to do with the banking and security net that Switzerland has. This country has never been invaded, never over thrown and runs as a independent country with no connections. Their banking rules allow autonomy for everyone which made it a haven for anyone trying to hide money including the Germans in the Second World War. There are 132 different banks in Geneva. Leaving the International Centre  our guide leaves two people behind. I was surprized as I could have run back the short distance to get them. BUT it is SWITZERLAND and they are the clock centre of the world and they must run on time. So we left. LOL
Our old town walking tour wasn’t what we expected though. They had a music festival ( just like the hot weather music festivals kept following us)  so our mini train for the tour wasn’t couldn’t run. We walked in the 35 degree weather again.

Very nice tour except for the heat. During one speech our guide was given we were all crowded around trying to hear her. Jackie and I were on a sloped walk path only 3 feet wide.  Lo and behold an old lady carrying a foldup chair not from our group wants to exit. A large lady on a mission as she bullies herself thru swinging and pushing her chair in front of her. She gets to us and I try to move over on the slanted path as much as possible. A overweight women with a chair takes up a lot of room. She runs into me ( which is fine) but due to the slant I have to take a step backwards to maintain my balance. Wouldn’t you know it. I step on another ladies foot right behind me. It had to hurt a bit so I apologize. Another over weight angry old woman isn’t satisfied  with that. She angrily attacks me when I said I am sorry I was pushed back. She says ” Yeh right, look at the size of you and a lady pushes you back”  I don’t anger quickly or often but I was about to say something to this 4ft tall and 5 ft wide women when I realized I had my Canada baseball hat on and didn’t want anyone to think we are a rude people. Bitch ! Karma is a wonderful thing though. Our guide had said all of the water fountains are potable water which is awesome to fill up your bottle. 5 minutes later I see her going to the fountain. Instead of filling up her water bottle from the spout she placed her bottle into the bowl of the fountain and filled it. People have washed their hands in this, birds shit in it. I laughed to myself !

Our boat cruise was unguided but took us around the Lac Lemon, near the fountain and beaches and properties overlooking the beautiful lake.

We decided to have supper at the Post Café. I ordered a Clubhouse sandwich. The sandwich come as a egg salad. I hate egg salad. It is amazing the differences in countries with their terminology. We walked the board walk late into the night watching a party, piano players and admiring the water front. Alan wasn’t feeling again today so Jackie and I strolled the area, had an ice cream and enjoyed the sights. Most interesting to me anyways was a 65 year old guy with his 25 yr old Russian wife. She was dressed to the nines and they walked the entire boardwalk holding hands enjoying themselves. I hope they both are having a good time.

As I said before European breakfast suck. Croissants and expresso is their main stay. Even McDonalds in Geneva didn’t have a breakfast menu. Sat outside again and had our sort of breakfast. Expensive and non filling. I specifically asked for a Americano Coffee but received an expresso again.

Headed to the train station to Zurich. The brochure points out mountain views and streams etc. The brochure is a little over zealous in the promotion as the mountains aren’t really seen until you are in Zurich and past even better. Still a fun wonderful train ride again. Tickets again with us facing each other were wonderful. So many time on this trip with free upgrades, timing etc we have lucky and each time with the train tickets the seats worked out perfectly. Lucky us.

Pretty fancy road built into the hillside

We had quite a few stops on the way in some interesting towns. It was rather odd the way the language changed. Geneva is French and Zurich is German. The German language is hard to listen to compared to French. The Swiss  architecture is so different from the English and Wales buildings we have seen. I like the French Swiss looks. Especially the traditional “cookie’ houses with the flower boxes and shutters.

ZURICH

Zürich or Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zürich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zürich. The municipality has approximately 400,028 inhabitants, the urban agglomeration 1.315 million, and the Zürich metropolitan area 1.83 million. Zürich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zürich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.

Got into Zurich and took a cab to our hotel. Another great hotel choice.  The hotel buffet was over $ 35 a person .We decided to have a quicker supper and chose to eat at McDonalds. Complete different menu from what we are used to but I had the Big Mac meal. In Canadian dollars about $15 . Nice to have something familiar though. We went for a walk and rode the train. During our walk we run into a Ramadan celebration. Amongst the Muslims there was a  huge amount of Hari Krishna’s. First time in years I have seen these guys. I would say there had to be at least 20 of them. Nice haircuts and clothes. Jackie received a brochure from them that I read. Interesting concept as they want no worldly possessions. Yet I saw one with Nike shoes. Maybe hasn’t fully committed yet.

Had supper at another beautiful outdoor patio. The normal $ 11 dollar beer, $30 dollar salad etc. Hot again with it being 33 degrees and any cold beer tastes good. The standard $9 bottle of water on the table instead of tap water. Fun to sit and eat and watch the Hari’s and the end of Ramadan party participates.

Another great walking day in the heat.  Went to the train station and booked our Zurich tours. We have a tram ride up the mountain, a walking tour up the mountain and a boat cruise to enjoy. This is a 9 hour tour which turned out to be fantastic.  Heat keeps following us hitting over 32 degrees again.

Lock bridge . We didn’t have any padlocks with us. I tried to convince Alan that a LOCK of hair would work the same but that didn’t work either.

Back at our hotel we jump into the elevator.  Alan pushes the button and wait. The door opens and a gentleman is there but no room left in the elevator for him. the door closes. We wait the door opens. Same guy again. Then we kill ourselves laughing as you have to insert your room card into the elevator to make it move. We get to our rooms. Another hotel with not enough a/c to cool the room sufficiently. I am sure it is about saving a buck but makes for restless nights.

Best breakfast in weeks at the hotel buffet. No bacon ( Europe has back bacon but no normal bacon) .
The girls did a wonderful job finding us the right train again. We get to the centre of town and find the location of our coach pickup. Stopped at Starbucks and had a Frap and washroom break and then loaded up.Even though again the coach had a/c we were hot with the sun beating through the windows. A small kid crying on a bus isn’t fun but luckily for us the Grandad stepped in to help and quieted the kid. Sometimes a kid should be left at home.

We all load into a tram and head up the mountain. There should be less people per tram as it is so crowded you cant take pictures or move around. Fun trip as every time we went over a tower the front group yelled.

Near the middle of the mountain we are loaded into a COG Train that has been operating since 1871 and travels up the mountain at a 45 degree angle. Quite amazing. At the top of the hill is a spa, hotel, cafes etc which are wonderful. On our way up you could see small cabins that were used to make cheese.

45 degrees up and down the mountain

Our guide states it never hits 30 degrees here and we are so lucky to hit 32 degrees and have clear skies to see the sights.

There has to be a time when old people with canes, walkers, or just abnormal slow people shouldn’t be allowed to go on tours that say climbing is part of the activities. We had a man with a cane and a lady that couldn’t walk that continuously were holding us up or we were for them. Read the brochure and don’t come. Take a different tour. While it is admiral they are active it is selfish to hold up everyone, needing help to get anywhere and tying up the entire tour. Luckily about half way they decided to stay and wait for us to come back.

Going back to the clog train isn’t it amazing this train has been running longer than Canada has been a country.

From the peak which is a little climb we could see the mountains of Germany, France, Italy and Austria. Wonderful and a lot of snow capped ones left. The Matterhorn was only slightly visible hidden between two ranges.

The peak was loaded with tourists. Everyone camera happy as the sights were spectacular. We had lunch at the top of the mountain in a nice café.  Good food with the normal expensive pricing. You would think being 1000’s of feet in the air it would be cool but no such luck. It was HOT again. ( closer to the sun maybe)

The peak

The ride down the clog train at the 45 degrees was excellent and it took right to our location to load on to a luxury boat cruise. This cruise was fantastic.  We travelled a long way on the lake and the homes and towns we saw on the shore were amazing.

Keeping cooler on the shade side of the boat looking at the wonderful shoreline as below

Funny thing happened. MaryAnn was taken a selfie with her and Alan when this guy next to them gets upset they are taking his picture. He didn’t realize the camera was taking a back picture not a front one. Sensitive people eh ! Perhaps he was suppose do be at work or was married and was with someone else. To get upset like that is amazing.

When we loaded the boat we were told we were second class so had to stay on the main floor. Funny. Absolutely beautiful scenery as we floated around the lake ending up in Luzerne. Another unique city. Loved the historical bridge that was partially burnt down. Amazing town again.

Last meal in Zurich on our trip. Notice the $11 bottle of water we had to buy at each meal.

We stopped and had supper right beside the canal. Scorching hot again so a drink and meal is a lot better than walking another 5 miles. Best meal we had had for a long time. Jackie chose the pork chop which I wish I would have. Again the $12 bottle of water.  I had unfiltered brewhouse beer this time which was good. Great place.

After supper we had to walk a bit and meet at the Starbucks to catch our bus home. Turns out the bus was caught in a traffic backup and didn’t arrive until at least 1 hour late. The guide bought us all a free drink from Starbucks. Things happen. Just made the day a little longer but it was such a wonderful day and a little delay couldn’t spoil it. Awesome.

Got back to Zurich and again Jackie found the train for us to get back close to our hotel. She was very good with directions on this trip. Map directions not mine though. LOL

Checked out, got a cab to the airport to head home. At the airport another horrible European breakfast. I asked for a normal coffee and received another Expresso. Croissants and Expresso don’t cut it for breakfast.

Went through security and checked in easily.

Our first meal on Air Canada which I had the chicken was better than 99% of the meals I had in Europe. Surprised and Air Canada just keeps feeding you and giving you drinks. Their service was incredible. Plus, even though we had normal everyday seats at 6′ 3″ I had plenty of leg room. Coming home did not seem longer than going. It was a great flight.

One suggestion to Air Canada would be to update their movie list. There were some OLD movies on that list but I still managed to watch 3 movies that I enjoyed even though my ears were getting sore.

Landing in Toronto

the first thing we did was hit Tim Hortons. Now Alan used the express line as he only needed coffees. I took the regular line for baked cooks and hot foods. Ever have that one women that takes forever staring at the menu,  changes her mind numerous times, and custom orders everything. Alan took 5 minutes I took 15 minutes or more. The poor clerk gets antsy the line behind gets impatient and the lady keeps stalling. Is this Gluten free ?  Are there nuts in this ? Can I have this toasted one side only and very very light butter as I am lactaid  intolerant . Please.  Finally got my stuff and head back to the seating area where Alan has already finished his coffee. Now the clerks weren’t the fastest but making everything an issue takes up time.

Great flight with excellent service again on Air Canada. We had the nicest stewardess ever with a smile on her face at all times.

Victoria, Corey and Jackson picked us up at the airport which is always nice. At this time we have been awake for 22 hours. Jackson wanted us to come to his last Tee Ball game of the year so how can we refuse. We ate supper in the bleachers and watched an exciting game of Tee ball. I don’t know about anyone else but I cant see the excitement in Tee ball or baseball for that matter. I find it a little boring yet these guys seemed to have fun with it. I would think a game like soccer where you at least get to move would be more exciting.

I enjoy watching kids sports. They forget and start skipping in the field, or doing a handstand etc to keep themselves occupied and it sure entertains us.

Tired we head home and sleep

EPILOGUE

Here is a summary of our trip. It was a wonderful fun trip. Alan & MaryAnn are perfect travel companions. We hope they feel the same . LOL  MaryAnn did a remarkable job of booking the hotels for us. We saw some interesting things in every place we went. Europe and the United Kingdom  are old. What is interesting for us is the age of everything. The buildings, the roads, the live style and uniqueness of each district . I will give each city a star rating out of 5 based on what I liked about the city.

Brecon ****  Abergavenny *** Bath *****York **** Stonehenge ****Middlesborough **** Redcar ***** London ***** Paris *   Geneva ***** Luzerne ****Zurich ****

The entire trip we met some wonderful  people . We experienced a huge amount of generosity from numerous people. From Audrey & Michael with our stay and anniversary supper, from Malcolm & Jean with their wonderful backyard supper, golfing, tour guiding and fish & chip supper, from Janet with her excellent Father’s Day BBQ,  from Alan & MaryAnn with their buddy passes, supper in Redcar and everything else that happened on our trip, from our hotel upgrades and train seats. Speaking for Jackie we had a wonderful trip. I loved the quaintness of Brecon, I LOVED Stonehenge ( this is an amazing unexplained piece of history)  I love London ( it is beautiful, vibrant , young people, fashion, culture) I HATE PARIS ( rude, arrogant, snotty, dirty, horrible food, expensive)  I love Switzerland. Of all the things we did my favorites would be the mountain trip, Stonehenge, and the Paris boat cruise but the most fun was driving down Forge Road near Brecon. I will say this trip represented the WORST trip for food I have ever been on perhaps spoiled as cruising is our favorite method of travel.

We were so lucky that Alan & MaryAnn had somewhat similar likings to us. Too many old building, castles, museums are boring. Speaking for us those historians and museum goers have a very different liking to us.

It was a very expensive trip due to the locations  we visited but well worth it. I will remember Switzerland for a long time as it is a wonderful country. I am glad Alan & Jackie had the opportunity to see their relatives and am very pleased with luck of having a back yard BBQ with Malcolm’s family and Alan’s family.

Will I have a desire to go back to Europe. I don’t think so. I am very happy we went but I think I have had my fill of “old” for  awhile. There are many places in Canada I need to see first.

THANKS TO ALAN & MARYANN, AUDREY & MICHAEL, MALCOLM & JEAN, ALAN & CAROL along with JANET & ANDY for making our trip very enjoyable.

 

Here are a few more pictures

 

https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipNw75OybZ3N_xCTOX8CTR19gyJVMs9vUnZpbYGg

 

 

 

 

 

July 1st-3rd  Happy Canada Day

Canada Day !

Coming home sure makes you appreciate what a wonderful country we have. The lack of people and the different cultures our normal food choices. I love Canada.

Time goes by so quickly. We had a wonderful BBQ at Jeff & Wendy’s place. Taylor had a bunch of her friends there which make sit interesting. Young people today are different. They were trying to play beer pong but struggled. The idea is to get our opposition to drink as much as possible but they didn’t quite get that. To throw the ball back and forth and have no one drink isn’t a fun game.

Great meal, fun to listen to the kids and to have a get together.

Jeff & Wendy with us went out to Claresholm to play golf. This weather is amazing. We both had coupons to use. It is a nice course and maybe a little on the easier side but knowing the course does cause issues.  It was a fun day. I didn’t play as well as I would have liked but no complaints.

On our way home we stopped in Nanton at a Italian Restaurant and had a spectular meal. The cook was an older Italian guy about 5 ft 6 and heavy accent. He sure knows how to cook as everyone loved the meal. I was full !!

It is these hidden gems that have the best food. I don’t know if it was homemade or not the Italian sausage but it was fantastic. The salad alone was special .

Another fun outing with friends that was very enjoyable. Live is good. It is times like this that make you think about what happened to Dave Semenko and thank your lucky stars we are so fortunate.

Thought of the Day

Don’t wait or put off something you need to do or it maybe not happen. The only reason I can think of, of waiting to retire is if you wait long enough everyone you owe money to will be dead.

July 4th

What an amazing week of weather coming up.

I golfed with Jeff today which was wonderful in the daytime heat. Didn’t do well again but I had fun so it was a good day.

For some reason since coming back from Arizona I haven’t had one good game. Good game by definition for me is less than 82.  Confusing and frustrating but happening so I need to just work it through.

Today in the 80’s but it was putting that killed me with at least 5 three putts. Darn.

We have a campout on the weekend coming up for Augusts birthday which should be fun.

Thought of the Day

Golf teaches many life lessons .  Focus, commitment, loss, honesty, frustration, joy and patience to name a few.

July 5th

A hot one.  I booked myself in for a few extra days at Park Lake.  Jackie has a contract for July so I will go it alone. I will relax, fish, tinker with a few things and enjoy myself. Getting the boat in and out is the only issue but I will find a way to do it.

Went to the Wholesale Club and I have the motorhome filled with juices and pop for the weekend. I would love an electrically cooler 110v that allows you to put ice in it and drain it Would make the ice last long and keeps everything cool. We will need lots of ice but according to the internet the shack at the Park is closed this year. Darn.

Worked on the motorhome all day cleaning etc. I also attempted to install my roof rack myself. I had a plan but it was just a little too big and heavy. I sweated and pulled and pushed but just couldn’t do it. I hate asking or help to get things done but have to as I am running out of time to load the boat and motor and everything else.

Back is a little sore with my attempts so will need pills in the morning for my men’ league.

Talked to Larry Geddes today and he is doing great. They had a busy June and will take it easier in July while it is busy. VERY NOT in Med Hat.

No matter where I don’t know how anyone can survive without a/c.

Try as I might I couldn’t put my cargo rack on myself. Luckily Corey came and helped I got it bolted back on so I can load my boat. Probably wont ever take it off again. LOL

Just signed a contract relegating themselves to 9 years of mediocracy

Isn’t it funny. The Oilers recent signing on Mc Happy Meal will result in Edmonton having no cap room to build a team. A one man team with a little help from another one DOESNT make for a great team.  The Oilers have the reputation of having made the worst trades in history but they  get the award for paying a way too much for one player ( that isn’t that good) and destroying any chance of building a team that can contend. I cant say it is greed on McDavid’s part but he has to know his paycheck will result in the team not being able to supply any support players due to the cap. Unbelievable. I have noticed a lot of the Edmonton Media agreeing with me.

I am very pleased the way the Flames are building a TEAM with addition of a great defenceman Hamonic and a amazing goalie Smith. Easy to add great players when you have cap room and haven’t put all your eggs in one basket that already has a history of getting broke to easily.  Hockey News predictions for Calgary 2017/18 will be very good.

Thought of the Day

I had a fruit smoothie today and went for a hike.

Translation: I got drunk on wine and rolled down the stairs.

July 6th

My back was quite sore with my attempts to install my rack by myself. Annoying I couldn’t do it but even with two of us it wasn’t easier as the bolts didn’t line up easily.

So woke up with a stiff back. I headed out to Turner Valley for my tee time. I had three of the nicest players today which makes for a fun day. I golfed horrible and the second game this year over 100. I was this spring breaking 80 every 5 games or so. Now I am struggling to break 90. I cant figure it out. I find it annoying, frustrating, maddening, and saddening. I do not enjoy golfing like this. If I cant turn it around in the next 5 games or so I am going to only golf sporadic. I cant golf in a league like this. It is all about the lost balls. 5 games and I will start to save my money for other things.  $#%%$#$#

Loaded up everything else today and hooked up the Jeep. I  believe people let themselves get old by thinking they are to old to do things. I never think that way but after today and realizing I am not as strong as I once was I am mad. Loaded my aluminum boat on the roof with my special designed rack is supposed to be easy. IT is dam heavy loading it myself. Another $$# off.

So I am not going to golf in Lethbridge, I am going to relax, fish, read and think about getting older. I have peaked as a golfer, I can not lift 200 pounds over my head anymore, I don’t have the stamina to work for 8 hours straight on a project, I don’t have the memory I once had ( honors in school solely based on me having an amazing memory, directional challenged sometimes, all adds up to me not  being my best and that is difficult to take. Down right annoying. Starting to get to me . I have been and still am a very optimistic person so hopefully a few days off golf will help. A 20 pound Jackfish should fix everything.

It is HOT outside and working outside all day tires you. I should sleep good tonite and then leave for a fun weekend celebrating August’s birthday.

Who would of thought we would feel an earthquake in Calgary from Montana. According to the news people in Lethbridge and Calgary felt a small amount of shaking from a 5.8 earthquake that hit Montana. Just watch and all of those anti- fracking activists will come out of the closet again. Neat for anyone that did feel  the quake though.

 

Thought of the day

I thought growing older would take longer. !

 

 

Relax, fish, read, and no golfing as I need to examine why I am getting worse instead of better.

I am back.

July 7th – 12th

Unbelievable weather. I am the very last to complain about heat as I love warmth a way more than cold. BUT Jackie and I except for two days in Brecon UK have now experienced close to 4 weeks (one month) of temperatures over 30 degrees. Each day between 30 and the highest 37 degrees. I will say it is too hot. You feel lethargic and not energized spending long hours outside. I don’t ever remember this being the case in years past. I always tell people about Calgary we rarely hit plus 30 and we rarely hit -30.  If weather predictions hold true we may have as much as 15 days in a row over 30.

I had Corey help me install my roof rack on Wednesday night and so I readied everything on Thursday to head out on Friday morning. New idea for me. I will never remove the rack again as it is difficult to get on, takes a minimum of two people even though I worked on trying to do it for at least 4 hours but had to give up as my back couldn’t hold up. I took it off going to Arizona only for wind resistance and better gas mileage. If I take the Jeep again I will remove the freedom tops and leave the hardtop and rack on. Not as much fun but sure a lot easier when I get home.

I hate the fact of getting older as prepping for this trip was tiring and very hard on my back. Even with my roller boat rack I built it still isn’t easy lifting the boat on the roof. My new motor rack works slick though and new boxes have lightened the load substantially. I had everything loaded and ready by Thursday afternoon.

All loaded up for August’s birthday. Motor, seats, accessories and wood

I headed out around 11am and had a perfect drive to Park Lake. This is a hidden gem that even a lot of Lethbridgers don’t know about. It is about 15 minutes out of town and is a provincial run park. The lake is a small reservoir lake for the canal system so it isn’t very deep. It is extremely weedy in the middle but the water is relatively clear as is the beach area. They have a big beach area that is well used. It appears they couldn’t find a lessee for the concession stands as they are closed which is a shame as everyone loves hotdogs fry’s or ice cream at the beach.

I had a couple of stops for gas and water plus wood before arriving then pulled into my site. My site was a bigger one and surrounded by trees which was nice. Huge benefit to have the shade side of the motorhome on the east side so after a really hot day we weren’t sitting in the direct sunlight. Between my canopy with sunscreen and my awning sunscreen (need to buy sides) it was nice in the evenings. Re-word. It was nice but still too warm. Beer, water and Pepsi all were being drunk at high levels.

Tor & Cor arrived and soon after Jess & Pen. Both of the girls have wonderful units to camp in.  Each is uniquely different with features but both fit their current needs. I like the features of Jess’s with the power awning, led light strip, BBQ line hookup and stereo setup. I like Tor’s for the large bathroom, walk in closet with outside access and the little bigger sizing. Both beautiful units. Maybe after seeing what you get for the weight Alan & MaryAnn may break down and buy one as it would be fun to have another couple to camp with.

Margy arrived a little later and we helped her get setup. She did very well backing up into her spot. Heidi and Maisey along with their kids also came out. Wonderful kids as I mentioned before when they visited us in Arizona at Christmas time and this past spring. Sitting around a campfire, laughing and drinking on a warm evening is wonderful. Jackie and I hit the bed around 11:30pm while a few stayed up and witnessed a police take down a few hundred yards away.

The farmer beside the campground decided to spread manure starting at about 9pm and running until at least 1am. A little cooler I guess, but the machinery at night was loud and the smell far from wonderful.

Next morning Birthday Day for August. First Corey was happy as the store was out of Turkey Bacon (which everyone hates, but Tor buys for her family) and Corey had really good bacon to cook and enjoy. Bacon and eggs cannot be beat for a camping meal. Corey loves cooking his breakfast, as I do and I have had some wonderful breakfasts by Fred and Keith. I use canned potatoes for breakfast and with a small amount of bacon fat and seasoning salt are wonderful.  Good start. People started to arrive at the campsite for August’s birthday. Loads of people and I won’t even begin to attempt to name them. I did meet one memorable person. Jess & Pen’s friend Heather is amazing. I believe she owns a gym and is a fitness trainer or participant. She has one amazing body especially her arms. I would love her arms. I lifted weights in my 20’s and had comments before on my arms but today with one broken bicep and losing 35 pounds and being 60 years old and not lifting any weights I am very jealous of Heather’s arms. Today I look like the skinny long armed preteen I was.  Another bad thing about getting older. The other memorable thing about Heather was her kindness and patience. Chad’s oldest boy about 5 years old took a shine to her and relentless followed her, copied her, laid beside her, talked to her and was fixated on her. She handled it extremely well and it was quite cute to watch.

Loved the look of Heather’s arms

Beach time Penny & August

Hot day on the beach.  Wonderful Why does Carter have a towel, It is 34 degrees out.

Baywatch 3 ?

Standing in the shade

 

We spent a lot of the time at the beach. I am sure there is going to be some very sun burned people the next day. We had a huge gathering of adults with kids at the campsite for the gift opening and meal. Penny made two full crockpots of meat for the taco’s plus all of the condiments required.  The idea of Taco in a Bag went over extremely well. Besides being delicious, quite a few people never seeing it done before it also was a lot easier for cleanup etc. Add a birthday cake and ice cream and you have a wonderful party. As usual nowadays the kids get spoiled. He got some wonderful gifts. Love the basketball net and ball. Jackie & I decided on a Radio Flyer trike with a removable steering/push arm.

August loved his new bike

MINI RANT why do companies that have built their reputation and brand name at a certain level stoop to making something less expensive to drive sales. Everyone has heard of Radio Flyer and the all steel wagon with wood side boards all built to the highest standards. This Radio Flyer was 60% PVC and not built to their standards in my mind. So many companies like Jaguar, Mercedes, Cadillac, Bombardier, Lincoln, Triple E, and Weiser to name a few where in an effort to boast sales created an inferior price point product. It dilutes the name and takes away the reason to buy something. IF you are good you can charge the price and people will buy. Maybe not at the volumes but the margin will be better.

Hopefully this trike lasts. It does work slick and August loved it.

Not a birthday present but we bought two shirts in Switzerland for the kids. They loved them as they had a pirate on the front of them and a patch you could lift to see an ugly eye.

Pirates of Switzerland shirts the kids loved

The party carried on and everyone enjoyed themselves. Hot weather, beach, water, cake and drinks are part of the good life.

Lot’s of gifts to open

Most of the guests had kids along so they headed out relatively early. We had about 10 of us around the campfire when it got dark. Cold drinks, laughter, food and company make for a wonderful camping experience.

Grandma Margy with cousins from Arizona

Headed to bed around midnight. Again, the farmer was out spreading shit making it smell wonderful. About 1 am he stops and I open the windows and close down the a/c as it is a little noisy. The night air is just starting to cool down. It heats up again by 6am.

Another HOT wonderful day. We all had our breakfasts and were enjoying the morning. The girls start their packing up duties.  Jackie makes sandwiches for everyone to have a light lunch at the beach. Again, the heat was TOO HOT. For a Sunday and it being incredible the beach wasn’t packed. The kids played and played in the sun and water. We hit the shade.  While at the beach an event happened that made me think. Most of us have negative feelings towards the Muslims for their treatment of women. Today a bunch (10 or so) Mennonite teenagers showed up to have some fun at the beach. The guys all had swimsuits but the girls had to swim in long cotton dresses. I never thought of this before perhaps as the Mennonites and Hutterites remain low key. The Hutterites are even a little stricter as they have to wear a head piece. Yet we say nothing about them. Odd

Jackson wanted to stay with us while his Mom & Dad headed home. He is such a fun kid to have around. If I keep him away from the park I can survive in the heat. Jackie, I and Jackson searched out rocks and wood to make spears and tomahawks. Gorilla Tape is wonderful. They turned out great. Jackson then wanted feathers on them as the picture we showed of them on line had them. Jackie and Jackson searched the campground (I thought no way) but they come back in 5 minutes with loads of feathers. Making these and just talking to Jackson is a blast. He is so funny and we have a great time teasing him and him making us laugh. Fun.

Hotdogs for supper and then the best ice cream ever!!

Then Jackie & Jackson head back to Calgary.

I cleaned up everything and put things where I like them. It was still incredible hot outside so I cooled down with a few drinks and relaxed. Laughed as a new camper tried and tried to back into spot. Some people just struggle with this. Turns out over the evening I didn’t care for the gentleman. He continuously yelled at his kids. They are camping and are supposed to be having fun not being yelled at. Kids love camping and yes, they will push the limits but perhaps the limits are set to strict. What does it matter if the kid is getting filthy dirty or playing with a stick that he broke off. Let them have a little fun and they will I believe in the long run be better kids.

I went for a long walk all around the campground and am surprised how few of the spots are taken for such a beautiful spot.  Most of the campers were families with kids which is the perfect camping spot for them.

Another hot evening. I can’t imagine camping without a/c now. Having said that our last four units we had since 1994 have had roof air. And it has been used a lot. I do like the fantastic fans which work great up to a point and we use them if it is only warm.

Pulled out all of my fishing gear and tied on new leaders, spooled a reel with new line and tidied up the fishing box. I need more Rapala type hooks and different sizing of spoons.  Re-organized everything in my fishing bin, charged up my fish finder battery and read the 2017 fishing regulations. Around 11 pm I went inside and cleaned up a bit plus had a shower which was great after sweating so much. I can have a full shower and wash my hair in less than 3 minutes and use very limited water. Felt wonderful.

I had a very good sleep as it was cooler, I turned off the a/c as it is a little noisy and enjoyed the faint smell of manure again. Not as fresh tonight. LOL

Got up and the wind was blowing. I had to do a few quick changes outside. I removed my awning sunshade. Anyone that is familiar with these loves them. They are 90% protection from the sun and heat and yet you can see thru them easily. They keep a sunny patio a lot lot cooler. I do need to look at getting a side though as the front works great but as the sun moves during the day you may need side protection. Love it though but if it gets windy I need to take it down.

I had my wonderful campers breakfast. We normally don’t have bacon very often at home except for the odd time to make BLT’s but as I said before while camping it is a mandatory item. Bacon, eggs, hash browns with peppers and onions are wonderful along with a cold glass of milk. Coffee is a camping staple and for some reason even tastes better while camping but I like a cold drink. I do like coffee though before. Awesome meal.

Very windy

The wind was getting stronger so I had to remove, move, tie down and put away a few things. I went for a walk to the lake and the whitecaps were showing. No one on the lake or beach. It was still very warm. Then a guy on a wind sail board comes flying across the lake at an amazing speed. I guess they can go as fast as the wind speed is so he must have hit at least 30 mph.

RANT

Omar Khadr. How embarrassing as a nation to have this pretty boy Trudeau in charge and be the laughing stock of the world. We give 10.5 million to a convicted terrorist killer and let him go free. Omar threw a grenade at an American soldier and killed him and blinded one other.He was convicted and send to jail which is the correct thing to do. Not a factor but his Dad was known as a terrorist. It is unbelievable to me this happened and that there are a lot of Canadians that do support this. Luckily there are more (I hope) that DON’T. I don’t care even if you voted for Justin this is wrong and should change your mind about our pretty boy.  Justin and his minions are most likely shocked there is such an outcry over this. A few things wrong. He is a convicted terrorist, his parents are known terrorist, we are at war with them as we speak, he KILLED a man, we give him freedom and 10.5 million of tax payers money. How can anything about that be right?  Our wonderful NDP leader won’t commit to answer on support as she knows the public opinion would be against her Trudeau support. We know NDP for sure is out our next election but hopefully some of this dirt will stick to Trudeau and the easterners and young people will come to their senses.

I say “Take back the money right away” BUT THAT’S JUST ME

The wind continued for a few hours. I worked on updating all of my budget sheets as I was away for the most part of June and seemed busy in May. Got them all done and the RED was showing again. Withdrawing money and spending money the interest rates we currently get can’t keep up. But I must say Jackie and I are having a great time doing a lot of things. I don’t ever remember taking a two-week vacation to somewhere exotic and not costing at least 10K. This time away for about three weeks I wasn’t surprised again. It is amazing how money flies but this case was a little bit of an exception as we were in some very expensive places. Finished all of the sheets and went to the  lake again to check on it. Wind was starting to die down. I checked my weather app and they have a severe weather for Lethbridge to hit about 4pm. Must be the quiet before the storm. Severe usually means high winds which means no lake time. The clouds were building so I decided to NOT take a chance and be out in a storm. If the storm doesn’t happen I may be upset a little. LOL One check on the weather uses 28mb of data. I would love to research this on how it works. At this rate 100mb of data (a std simple plan) is used up in 4 internet sessions. Not quite a fair deal for us.

Due to the winds and the storm brewing I decided to cast from the shoreline. No luck. Hooks keep getting caught up in weeds and rocks so more work than bargained for but fun never less.

It is wonderful temperature today and perfect to fish. It is now 4pm and still no storm but cooler and more clouds but that is all so far.  If this place was like Crawling Valley with a marina I would unload but loading and unloading isn’t the easiest by yourself. Enjoying the day anyways. Got a few things done or fixed I wanted (bins moved and organized, cleaned the griddle thoroughly, cleaned the BBQ and threw away my BBQ brush) I had one of those stone type. Useless and makes more of a mess than any good. Tightened my roof rack as I discovered a couple of bolts had backed off a bit. I had “disenabled” my wind sensor on my awning when the wind was blowing and it didn’t retract in which I thought was odd but good. Mine is set for 15mph but I would like it to be 25mph before pulling itself in.

They misjudged the speed of the storm but I can see it coming. I will forgive them as it can’t be the easiest thing to track. Right now, ½hr later than their predicted rain/storm start the clouds are getting black and dark. More coming from the north than the west.

I practiced my Baja Lite hawk skills until the battery went dead. Getting better and love the 360’s in the gravel. Neat little machine but not the easiest to maneuver.  I can’t allow Jackson to beat me so need to be on top of my game. I have discovered a couple of tricks that will help me hopefully. I should have ordered extra battery packs for Jacksons and mine as they only last about 10 minutes or so. But it is 10 mins of extreme fun. Had a rock stuck in one axle and I thought I broke it but after taking it apart I discovered the jam. Good as new.

Hawk Trail Lite 50 kph

Shame to run out of Diet Pepsi but how can you complain when you have COLD Bud lite as a substitute. Sky is getting darker and the air cooler which is wonderful!

Remember I said you can’t beat a camper’s breakfast?  You can. I had a T bone steak with sweet corn on the cob, garlic bread along with a full garden salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radish, mushrooms, onion, celery) with French dressing. DONE! MIKE DROP!

BEST meal ever

The rain started and came down. It was still warm and with the rain it was lovely. I sat outside listening to the rain and eating supper in the coolness and I thought, awesome.  First time in almost 30 days were the temperature was below 30 degrees instead of the 32 to 37 degrees we have been getting.

Talked to Fred and have a fishing get together just before our Willard family gathering. This will work out great as I will pick up Mom on the way to Open Creek Dam in Edmonton on Friday morning. Darlene or Alfred will drive her back. Looking forward to seeing Fred’s new spot and doing some fishing.

I learned a new phrase today. Getting the dog on. I thought it was a spelling mistake or something else and had to ask Fred what does he mean by getting the dog on. Funny how you just never hear of certain expressions. (means to do nothing you don’t want to) Must have come from the fact dogs just lie around a lot and do nothing. I think I could excel at this. LOL

Feels so nice to feel the coolness. Love the sound of rain. Only one thunder noise. Enviro Canada doesn’t want to ever be accused of not warning us as this was a thunderstorm alert. LOL Wrecked my fishing with their misinformation!!!

The rain continued for a long time. After sitting outside enjoying the coolness I went in and washed up the dishes and cleaned up. Did this for a while and finished off the fishing regulation pamphlet.  I then put on a movie which turned out to be very good. I had seen it before but so long ago I didn’t really remember it too well and didn’t remember the entire plot twists. Wonderful sounding surround system. A system that doesn’t bother the neighbors. LOL

Had a cool wonderful sleep with the rain hitting the roof. I like that sound. All rain should be at night. The wind wasn’t too strong so wasn’t a factor and the awning didn’t close which keeps everything drier.

Up this morning and overcast and cool. Checked the weather and says rain starts at 11 am. For two hours of fishing I didnt feel like launching the boat. Plus, the fact the wind today is relatively strong. No whitecaps but would push you around when trying to fish or tie a line. It did have gusts that hit higher speeds up to 25kmph and the fact rain is coming could mean higher winds speeds. So, I will cast from shore and have lots of little things to keep me busy. The temperature today is perfect though. Again, I am counting on Enviro Canada being semi correct. If the rain doesn’t start until say 3pm that will be perturbing but the winds are still a bit of an issue.

MEMORIES

I received a bonus from Sterling Dist. and usually I rebuilt my engine to get more speed with this each year. This year I didn’t need to so I had a couple thousand with no purpose. I just about invested in a pyramid scheme as I had quite a few friends top it and collect large sums of money but it collapsed just as I was ready. I thought a fishing/speed boat would be fun so I started my search. I found one in Morinville I liked and at the right price. Alfred and I head out to get it. We pick it up and there was a small lake very near Morinville we thought we would give it a test run. Alfred backs it in with me in the boat and we launch. I was to paddle it to the docks to get everything ready. Paddle I did as the water was gushing in the boat. The plug was out and I couldn’t find it and the boat was filling fast. Ended up I made it to the dock but the water had covered the battery and shorted it out and I had a ½ full boat of water. We managed to pull it out and trailer it. Found the plug hidden under the seat. So much for a test run. This little 14ft runabout made for hours of fun for us in the future with the fishing and water skiing adventures we

I watched as a young couple on vacation from Manitoba as they were moving out of the campsite in a tent trailer. Hilarious the conversation between the husband and wife trying to back up the mini-van. Mini-van I guess enough said. I would say 5 attempts and 15 minutes to back up to the hitch. Angry words, and hand motions with nether of them understanding one another. It was hilarious. Funny thing with a tent trailer you can be 12 inches off and move the trailer. LOL Quite entertaining though. I kept thinking “how many times backing up to hook up a tent trailer does someone from Manitoba need”

I cast and cast with different hooks from shore but didn’t catch anything, trying for about 2 hours until my back got too sore to do it anymore.. I am sure when it is windy the fish don’t bite as easily as the food is all around them carried by the current. Winds were quite strong so the boat wasn’t an option. Does anyone else believe the winds are more prevalent than ever. I can’t remember so much wind in past years. I have said that numerous times as wind now plays a big part in my life. If it too windy it : Plays havoc with golf, makes driving motorhome white knuckles, keeps me  off the lake in my boat and can rip the awning off on the RV.

Packed all up and left early in the morning. Stopped at Tim’s in Claresholm. Just as I walk in 20 young Hutterite girls lined up in front of me. Lucky 15 of them lined up for the washroom. LOL They all came out of a extended window van with only one guy with them.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUGUST

The cutest guy ever. Happy Birthday #2

Got home and unpacked.

On Tuesday Jackie took Jackson & Tor over to Peter’s place for a Stampede breakfast. This event is always a fun time with balloons and excellent food.

 They do an excellent job every year for the seniors.

July 13th

Another HOT day ahead of us.  I have the Regal Stampede BBQ to go to today.

Happy Anniversary

Penny & Jessica

Jess & Pen’s  4th Anniversary  today.

They say time flies and it is so true. It just seems like yesterday we were at this wedding. Lots of changes in 4 years. New beautiful house, new cars, new trailer and one beautiful baby boy named August ( born in July) that just celebrated his 2nd birthday.

 

Have a wonderful day Jessica & Penny and enjoy !

All ready to hit the Stampede trail.

 

Hot it was. Mr Gary White cooking again in the hot hot heat over a BBQ. As usual Regal Building had a wonderful huge turnout. Even with the down turn the crowds came. As usual, they had smokies, wieners, burgers, potato salad, and beans along with cold drinks and ice cream. I always enjoy these events meeting some old friends and seeing others, From Regal, Roger, Bonnie, Gary, Letty-lynn, Susan, Barry, Matt, Aaron and even Leo. Leo is now 90 years old. He used to come to my office and we would talk for an hour on things. Wonderful PR guy and still today as bright as always.

Darned Roger moved. Roger is growing out his hair to donate it for cancer wigs, He needs 8 inches of hair.

I met Arnie there which was a pleasure to see.  Great guy ! Denis Stevens former Weiser rep and Robert from Alexandria Molding were also there.

The building was full and outside in the heat under canopies full with people. They also had a mini car show with some wonderful cars. A 1955 Pontiac 2 dr Hardtop, a Beaumont convertible and a woody wagon to name a few. Nice additional add-on.

I enjoy the Regal Building Materials Annual BBQ and look forward to it each year.

Jackson came for a sleep over tonight as Cor & Tor were going to the Brooks & Dunn concert. He keeps me busy. Supper time came and we decided to go out for supper and then to a movie. We ended up at Wendy’s for supper and decided on The Minion movie. The movie was great but I didn’t understand what they were saying. It was like a whole other language .

As usual Jackson was extremely well behaved and we had  a lot of fun. I need more energy . LOL

 

Thought of the Day

Retirees who seem to have no trouble going from working to not working do not identify themselves mostly by what they did for a living. Even if they did call themselves accountants or managers or teachers, they no doubt also relied on other self-definitions.  I define myself as a retired fisherman, practising golfer and a life enjoyment strategist

July 14th

Another wonderful day. Jackson slept through the whole night perfectly. We kept him up to about 10pm and he went to sleep very easily. He didn’t wake up until about 7:30am. Smoothies for breakfast. Jackson sure is bundle of energy. We played guns, ran down the hallways, played Lego, hide & seek, and the play park down the street. A quick stop at Mac’s for a slurpee and we were set. Played me out again LOL

We decided to go for an evening golf game at Turner Valley. It was a beautiful night hovering around 30 degrees. Jackie played quite well and had some great holes. I wasn’t unhappy but not satisfied as I had a few 3 ft putts missed and a couple of shots getting out of the trees.After golf we sat on the deck in the sun and enjoyed a great meal and couple of cold beers. Had a great conversation with another member of the club. Had a great night.

Wonderful night golfing and enjoying the deck.

Thought of the Day

I hate golf. I hate golf. I hate golf. Nice Shot! I love golf

July 15th

Guess what another 30 degree plus day. Unbelievable. I can not imagine NOT having a/c. Today’s plan was to work at Audrey’s to get as much done as possible. I worked for about 7 hours, caulking, helping painting and removing bifolds for paint and sanding. Jackie will have put in at least  10 hours and still not finished. It just takes forever doing the little stuff. And working without air conditioning. Very hot in Audrey’s place. I would go without eating if I had to, to be cool. The moldings and doors are looking good. White on white wouldn’t necessarily be my choice but each to his own. We will finish off the painting tomorrow, hopefully.

Came home rested and relaxed in a cool environment.

At The Regal BBQ I was talking to Arnie and Robert from Alexandria  Molding about a sales course they both took.

Here is my take on sales courses :

  1. First I will state I was in a sales capacity or sales management position for  37 years.
  2. I have taken and been involved in numerous sales courses over the years.

Here is my take that may throw a few people. While any education and employee improvement program is a very good thing, on a whole most sales courses are a waste of money for companies. There are born to be sales people, there are trained sales people and the two are not even in the same hemisphere. I would bet if everyone that has taken a course thinks back the course came about right after a management change, new ownership or structure change. Most of these courses are introduced as a way of new management trying to prove their self worth and to attempt to show they trying to change things. Most of these courses cause more stress, anxiety and duress to employees than the worth. Some would say if they only learn one thing we have accomplished something.   Funny thing the individuals that signed up for the courses never ever think they may have been sold a bill of goods. LOL  Take a look at the worth of companies like Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins and you will see they have done a great job in promoting a  perceived need. Course training also gives a company the out if a dismissed employee says he never had any job training. I would take a “sales person” like Tom Daniels, Lorne Schreiner, Lloyd Meyers, Eddie Y any day over a graduate of a sales program that believes they have the sales answers. Every course has their ” catch”. Some sell the course on INTEGRITY SELLING, others on CONSULATIVE SELLING, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE  SELLING, BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS, STAFF MOTIVATION AND THE LIST GOES ON.  Courses I have taken and know their worth. All catch words to guess what ? Sell their program to a company.

Just a thought to throw out:

Take an idiot and motivate him. What do you have? A “motivated idiot.”

There is nothing worse than a really bad salesperson with a lot of motivation. Have you ever heard the phrase: “Nothing will make a bad product fail quicker than good advertising”?

In fact, most sales training programs aren’t designed to work. And if you need proof, try using a fancy closing technique with one of your kids or try “information gathering” with your spouse!

If you can’t get away with those so-called “skills” with the people you love the most, why on earth would you use them with your customers?

Yet that’s precisely what most “trained” salespeople do.

They employ manipulative strategies and “techniques” on their customers that they wouldn’t dare use on their families and friends.

I always laughed at the “close” part of these courses. Yes you have to ASK for the order but most of the closing techniques given DO NOT WORK. Sandwich, repeat , repeat, porcupine etc

Another key word ALWAYS used in sales courses is OBJECTIONS. A poor salesperson is an objection waiting to happen. Learning how to “handle” these objections is like learning how to bail out a rowboat after the boat has sunk.

Knowing how to correctly sell eliminates all objections because your client, customer, have absolutely nothing whatsoever to object.

In general, you can categorize sales training in three ways: sales methodology or procedure training, sales skill development, and product training. I am all for product training and skill development but the methodology part is the questionable one.  A robot and set of questions do not represent reality. Role playing is probably the most useless thing invented. It is so far removed from a real life meeting that it isn’t a question if it is effective, it a question why should I waste good time on a useless exercise. Over the years I have noticed women love the role playing training tool much more than men.

My personal feeling on what makes a great salesperson like the few I mentioned above and the mantra I always followed is first and most importantly you have to be excellent at forming relationships. You have to be 100% honest and sell with integrity. You have to follow up on any promise or commitment you make. You have to have patience. ( sometimes to get the business you need to wait for an opening from the competitor)  You have to know your customer and the competitor and be creatively aggressive in getting the business. I loved the challenge and especially loved the WIN of getting a big sale. Sales is a fun game.

I give the Sales Training companies full credit of doing a good job in making companies believe they have value. I would love to see real sales stats before the courses and after with the exact same customers to see any difference.

Most of these courses are designed for cold calls, first calls and one time sales situations not the sales environment where you are visiting the same customer every week, or once a month. The other thing that always bugged me is the designers of these courses didn’t have a clue about our customer. Our customers are ” normal” everyday building supply owners or buyers that if someone started asking “sales questions to find a need”  they would throw you out of their office. It is the reps job to know what the needs of the buyer are before even meeting with him.

So to sum it up. Sales courses are good for : certain individuals that need to feel the company is supplying training, good as team building as everyone will talk about the course, the good and bad together, good for the company to protect themselves for dismissed employees charging them with lack of training in a cause of dismissal charge, great for the profits of the creator of the plan, protects the sales manager and is a job protection strategy and lastly every course can teach one little thing that may stick that may be useful in the future. Creating better sales people not a chance.

Example in a 1976 sales course I took I still remember the acronym ECHO  Every Call Has Objective

Worth two days off the road when I could be selling and the thousands it cost the company ? LOL

Thought of the Day

I got expelled out of elementary on pajama day. Not my fault I sleep naked !

July 16th

The first day under 30 degrees and it is a welcomed change. Got up watched the news and had breakfast them headed to Audrey’s to continue working at getting this done. Just taking a long time. Another 6 hour day painting and working.

First time since 1975 I have bought a lockset other than a Weiser lock. I needed a good lock at a great price for Audrey’s place. After researching I ended up choosing a lock company from Canadian Tire. I choose a brand called Ez Set. The blister pack was exceptional as it could be opened and closed easily and made the lock very visible. The price was 50% less than the exact look alike product from Weiser. The install was fantastic and very similar to Weiser product. The instructions for the reverse handing and install were excellent. I was very impressed and happy with my decision. I would recommend Ez Set locks to anyone. Life time Warranty on everything. Impressive.

Funny as I wrote this I looked up Ez Set locks. Guess what, they were bought by Spectrum Brands  the very same company that owns Weiser and Kwikset. Small world. I do know if I was still in the wholesale business I would inventory these locks as a price point lock that I know every home builder would be happy with.

After working at Audrey’s for another 6 hours plus we went over to have a BBQ with Tor, Cor, Jack, Jess, August and their neighbors Dave & Michelle and son Andre. A great meal and fun time.

smoky moon

On the way home this is what we saw. The moon is huge and the sky very smoky from the fires in BC. Looks awesome

Thought of the Day

I hate it when I go to hug someone real sexy and my face smashes into the mirror.

July 17th

Nice day not hitting 30 degrees. The hottest it got was 26 degrees on my Jeep gauge which is nice. I installed my door slide from Amazon today. Yes Amazon !! I tried Woody’s RV and Camper’s World when we were in Phoenix with no stock and poor service from their counter staff to order one. I found this one on Amazon that didn’t have the full sizing details but reading the reviews sounded like it would work. Fit like a glove and was a true replacement.  My two Larry Lite knock offs came also so I am a happy camper. Filled up the gas and propane readying it for our Willard Campout this weekend.

I decided not to bring my boat. Mostly due to two reasons. Three young boys with short attention spans make it too busy and catching 8-12 inch trout isn’t much fun compared to a Pike. I also thought as it was a gathering it makes more sense to stay on shore and visit instead of on the lake for hours. And it is a little easier. LOL

Washed the Jeep and vacuumed it out. It was pretty dirty as it is a Jeep and I load a lot of different stuff into that isn’t always the cleanest. That’s why I bought a Jeep.

Came home and Jackie received a call from Alan. As I thought his job at Audrey’s place took him a lot longer than he expected and he still has another hour left even after working a good 5 hours or so.

Nothing on the agenda tonight except for relaxing. Back is a little sore so it will do it good.

Thought of the Day

The little things in life are always the best but not recognized as important until they become the big things.

July 18th

Summer is flying. Bought groceries and filled the motorhome with water. I figure with chlorine added to city water  5 days in the tank should be no problem. It is dark, and will have movement while driving but is exposed to air a bit. I may sanitize it when we get home.

I will get Jackie to bring up the buns for the weekend.

It looks like Jackie has no contract for August which is good and bad. I like it as it will allow us to travel a lot but the money sure would have been nice.

Watching the news tonight Larry the Great was featured. Larry is a winning snail in the annual snail race. Great news item for CTV.

People forget that the name Larry is a very strongly recognized name with a lot of history of winning. Here are a few of the famous Larry’s that is you are not familiar with you should look up.

  1. Larry Willard- you all should know this guy.
  2. Larry the Cable Guy
  3. Larry the Lobster
  4. Larry the Great ( snail race winner)
  5. Larry Bird ( best NBA player ever)
  6. Larry Davis ( comic genius)
  7. Larry King ( talk show host extraordinaire)
  8. Larry Holmes ( best underrated boxer)
  9. Larry Hagman ( award winning actor)
  10. Larry the Cucumber
  11. Larry the Croc
  12. Larry Fine ( 3 Stoogies)
  13. Lounge Lizard Larry

And the list can go on but I think you all get the jest of it.  Love the name Larry !

Thought of the Day

July 19th-23rd

 

Willard Campout.

Will post on Monday July 24th.

Fishing at Lake Wabamun and golfing at Pineridge Golf Club then camping out at the Open Creek Dam Campground near Rimbey.

What a fabulous five days. Don’t know why but I do feel a little tired and nice to sleep in my own bed tonight.

The weather continues to amaze me. We have so many plus 30 days this year it has to be a record. Three out of five days over 30 degrees with today reaching 34 degrees on the thermometer .

Loaded up the motorhome with food, beer and necessities and headed out about 6:30 am. I had to stop at Tim’s at Crossfield  for breakfast and filled up with gas and then carried on. I had very light traffic which was nice.  I had made plans to leave my motorhome in Red Deer with Mel and then drive up to Wabumun to see Fred and pick the motorhome up Friday noon to take out to our family campout. Good plan. When I arrived at Mel’s I started to unhitch and he came around the backend and made me jump. He saw me go by his work place and jumped on the quad and met me there. Great as I had a perfect parking place and was able to plug in to use electricity for the fridge.

Speaking about fridge. It was 32 when I fired it up so set it on 5. Second day things were freezing so went to 4. As the temperature change between the 30 degree days time and the 10 degree night time is so great the poor fridge couldn’t regulate itself. I had to go to 3 which was 41 degrees but things didn’t freeze at night. Might have to buy a small fridge battery fan to circulate the air.

Wonderful place. I wish we had a similar place near Calgary

As per Fred’s direction I headed up Hwy 20. Very nice highway with no traffic and it wiggles it’s way all the way to Seba Beach.  Fred’s place is awesome. Pineridge Rv & Golf Resort. If anyone would build a 4 season complex like this near Calgary I know it would sell out quickly with me being first in line. It is the first 12 hole Albert golf course which is very nice and unique. But it the wonderfully treed lots for RV and Park Models that I love. AND it is four season. Fred has a premium end lot that when done will be awesome with it’ size and location. Each lot is titled and you have your choice of a RV or ParkModel. This resort already has some wonderful ideas with fantastic washroom, laundry and showers facilities. An amazing restaurant right on the property.  They also have guest suites for rent for visitors and if friends come out they can rent any unsold lot for now. It is run as an association which will require a board to run the place. The current bylaws in place are very good to keep a consistent look about the complex and determining décor, building sizing etc. I love the place !! Fred & Terry are a little anxious as they want to have a close on their condo before spending money at Pineridge but I am sure it wont take long to sell their unit.

Fingers crossed we get something like this soon. We have 3 season but we have to have 4 season before moving. But I will jump on one if they come available as they create a unique lifestyle like no other housing community.

Phase 3 just opening. It is going to be a fantastic place with pickle ball, tennis etc

After touring the facility and area with Fred we decided to have a golf game. This is after a few drinks plus getting more for the course. The course is in wonderful shape and a nice layout. I love the elevated Par 3 176 yard elevated tee hole. Great hole.  We had a lot of fun. We decided to tour a bit more than go back to Fred’s place for a few more drinks then to hit the restaurant for supper my treat for Fred’s generosity. A perfect supper. First class supper on the wonderful patio. The best Caeser’s in a long time. ( note add celery)  Sitting on the hot patio the drinks tasted great. We then headed back to Fred’s place  sit around and cure the world of it’s problems. Somewhere during this time I started to hiccup. I hiccupped for two days straight. At night the fifth wheel moved when I had a hiccup. Don’t know the cause but it hurt, was weird and hurt even a bit. Hard to sleep.

In the morning after breakfast we head out to the lake. Wabumun is a big lake with clean water. Nice looking water. We head to the east end of the lake to launch. They had a first clas launch dock. The weather today was one below 30 but beautiful. No winds. We head out to the south east side across the lake. We started in a bay and had to pass under a train bridge to get out to open water. Not knowing the lake it was weird with no signage at all but we managed. We thought we go for the big pike at first. After a couple of hours  with only a couple small pike and one walleye we decided to see what kind of walleye was in the lake. Fred put on his favorite hook. This hook is sick as he started pulling walleye after walleye.

The standard sized Walleye in Wabumun

Larry sized Walleye in Wabumun. Hat and fish at one time. Good catch. I didn’t get the spine up for the picture as I was worried he was out of the water too long as we were trying to save my hat at the same time.

The sizing was smaller than we would have liked but still fun. We had a great day on the lake catching a lot of fish. Now I will give the greater quantity title to Fred but I had the largest fish. Much larger !  Fred the Walleye champ I pulled in the most Pike. With the catch of the biggest fish came a funny situation. I was just bringing it in  the boat when a gust took my hat and flew it into the water. The wind had started coming up about  a 1/2 hr before. We had this fish we wanted a picture of but wanted to get him back into the water asap plus I need to get to my hat as it was my Toby Keith ( 100 % paper) Cowboy hat I bought in the states years and years ago. We accomplished both things with a little effort and comedy.

We decided to get off the lake a few minutes later as it was getting rougher and we could sense a storm brewing. Everyone knows the boat launch becomes a very hectic and chaotic place to be as everyone wants their boat out as soon as the can.

“Memories”

Years ago when I had my runabout ski boat Jackie & I met some friends out at Sylvan Lake. This exact scenario happened. A storm was coming up quickly and the waves were getting big. Not only the chaos of trying to get your spot to load but the loading during a storm is difficult. We had Jackie’s 1969 Beaumont ( beautiful car that I searched to find for her before marriage) . As it was so rough I waded out into the water to pull the boat close to shore and then was going to jump into the car and back in when it became my turn with Jackie holding on the boat.. On the way to shore I stepped on a broken bottle and cut myself bad. I hopped to shore with blood pouring down my leg. I held it up and it was bleeding profusely. Jackie tried to back up to load the boat but she had never done this  before and as it was so busy didn’t turn out well. As I was turning white from losing so much blood she started to panic and started to cry. Luckily some nice guy saw our situation and helped us out. Jackie drove to the nearest medic centre where I hopped in. In those days commando with short jean shorts were cool. The nurse cleaning me up for stitching kept looking at my junk up my shorts. She was about the same age. I actually caught her eyes staring.  She did stitch it well.The foot just wouldn’t heal though.At the hospital for stitch removal I complained about the pain and the doctor after sort of dissing me as a baby agreed to take an x ray of the foot. Turns out they sewed in a huge piece of glass and when I tried to walk it was jabbing into the heel bone. Local and open the cut AGAIN to dig for the glass and to re stitch it. It was a horrible feeling knowing the foot was being cut open and spread searching for the glass.I had to use crutches for a while. Always remember to wear underwear !!

Back at the campsite about an hour later it started to pour. We tried to cover up everything the best we could, It came down unbelievably.  Hard and including small hail. It pours so much and fast we almost lost Fred’s awning to the weight. It is a 18ft awning so huge and it collected water so fast it took us by surprise. A lot of stuff got wet and we had to eat inside. Still with hiccups. !!

A wonderful steak supper. Changed a few lights bulbs to LED and headed to bed. It rained all night and with the winds a tree even snapped right behind us. Hiccupped all night again.lol

Jackie says Google say alcohol induced LOL

After another wonderful breakfast thanks to Fred I headed down to Red Deer to pick up the motorhome and to make my way to Open Creek Dam near Rimbey.

Open Creek Dam

Open Creek Dam is stocked with 6 thousand trout most years.  People fished but I never saw one caught. Even the cleaning station had no fish in it. With the amount of fishing and a 5 per person limit the trout never will get big. Graham and Garrett fished for quite a while with a few bites but no takers.

First let me say Open Creek Dam is exceptional. Wonderful treed private sites and perfect  group sites. Our group site was right next to the lake and could fit about 6 to 8 units even though timing to get them all in is important. I arrived first so I had to do some figuring how everyone could fit including to make sure I stayed away from the party noise and main fire as we have had previous outings where we got no sleep. I pulled in and walked to see if people could back in or turn around. It all worked out great with only one unit having to back the entire way in. Corey did a fantastic job backing down the road and parallel parking his trailer.

Everyone in there place

We had just about everyone there except Cassie’s and Jess’s families. Corey, Victoria, Jackson, Mom, Darlene, Kari, Jim, Mary, Alfred, Garrett, Mariz, Graham,  Jesse, Gauge, Raeann with having 5 RV’s and a large tent.

Our own private beach

The site being right a the lake was perfect as the kids were able to swim, kayak, float and board right there. We had an extra table delivered and we had tons of wood that Alfred brought. Our get together pot luck meal was awesome. We had hamburgers, potato salad( My Mom’s Mom’s recipe so you know how old the recipe and a family favorite)coleslaw, beans, etc. Great meal and fun to have a potluck all together. Great time sitting around the fire and talking. The kids all had a great time with the playgrounds, swimming, biking, walking , boating and playing around.

Camp conversation

Mom trying out her archery skills. Dangerous for a 85 year old. LOL I mean for us .

We had the BEST weather the entire weekend. I was surprised everyone packed up so fast on Sunday to leave but I guess people are busy. Jackie & I stopped at Sylvan Lake for a picnic before heading home.

Thought of the Day

THE PERFECT WEEK FILLED WITH FISHING,GOLF,FAMILY, CAMPING and FREINDS. Live is good.

July 24th

Ever have one of the projects were you wished it would be done. I went to Audrey’s place and spent another 4 hours painting with Jackie spending another 3 hours and we still are far from being done.  I hate painting at any time . This has taken a way way too long with I would guess at least 8-12 hours more of painting. The walls were in very rough shape that required a lot of filler and sanding.  Looking forward to looking at it and being happy with it when done even if it is white and more white. LOL

Thought of the Day

I think I may get up at 6am tomorrow and drive around really slow just to make everyone late for work.

July 25-28th

My auto save didn’t function like it was supposed to so here is a very short version of the last couple of days.

Pulled the motorhome out and washed it. Lots of mud from the Open Creek Dam road. Took $25 only this time so not bad with no one pushing me to get done. I was able to soak, shutoff the wash, foam brush and shut off etc so it worked out perfect.

Next thing on the agenda was the generator. When Jackie & I stopped in Sylvan Lake on the way home the generator stopped abruptly under load and I couldn’t get it restarted. So with any engine there is a sequence to go thru. First electrical, second spark, third fuel. It inevitably it is usually one of these things.

Fuses and breakers in this motorhome are unbelievable. I have so many it is scary. I checked the manual and checked every breaker and fuse related to the generator and they all looked good. The generator wouldn’t turn over at the lake .I then used the override start and the engine turned over. I then checked for spark and the plug was clean and had a nice a spark. I removed the hose going to the carburetor and turned over the engine and discovered no fuel. Perhaps a broken fuel pump. I then remember that the generator has a safety system in place to keep the motorhome from running out of gas and will shutoff when the main tank hits 1/4 full. I checked the gauge and we were just over the 1/4 mark. I thought I better make sure and drove to fill it up. Got back and it still wouldn’t start. Double checking the manual I found the system to prime the engine ( pushing the stop button down for a few seconds) . I primed it and away it went. It is amazing how such a little thing can cause issues. But saved a few hundred bucks taking it in to be looked at.

Washed the Jeep as it was filthy also.

Back to Audrey’s place for more painting, sanding, installing. Spent most of the day there fixing things up for two days. Jackie finished the walls and trim. I re- installed the door locks, added the spring stops and installed a wire rack in the laundry room. I filled and sanded the walls in the bathroom and tried to counter sink the screws in the cupboard board in the ceiling. I removed the screens for window washing and installed the ceiling fan blades. Jackie has to go back to clean up everything and dust as the sanding does get messy and I have the one Décor switch to change over and then done !!

Golfed in my Men’s league and the most fun golfing in along time. Not that I golfed well , semi ok but my team mates where awesome. My team won the bulk of the money. We also had 6 birdies so that meant 6 shots on the course. We had three shots of Southern Comfort and three shots of Cinnamon Hot. Warms the cockles of the heart. We had a lot of fun with one of my guys shooting a 75 which won him low net and third low gross. Randy had a great game. It is always fun to have a group of guys to play with. Most weeks are the same but this week was just a little more fun than normal ( perhaps due to 6 shots)

Jeff & I went out to Turner on Friday. Isn’t the weather amazing. We golfed by ourselves again and it was the first time in along time where I golfed good. I ended up with a 84 but had at least 5 birdie putts from less than 15 -20 feet that I missed. Finally a decent game.

Jeff & Wendy joined us at Boston Pizza for supper on the patio. You got to love someone making Caesar’s for you. Back to the Graces house to look at a privacy wall idea in between their homes and another wonderful day and week done.

Thought of the Day

Life is brief intermission between birth and death. Enjoy it every day !

August 29th.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR JACKSON

Not Jackson’s real birthday date but Party time. Victoria and Corey rented a portable huge water slide this time.

Best water slide party EVER !

This thing was amazing. It had one climbing wall and two slides with a huge pool about a foot deep. The kids aged 2 years to 11 years had an absolute blast as did the adults watching them and helping them when needed. Both August and Shannon’s daughter the same age figured out the climbing wall. It was so funny watching them fail and fall down into the pool.

Guest half sitting in the sun and the balance in the shade .

Two 3 ft Subs worked out well and lots of carrot cake with ice cream. The adults had fun sitting in the shade or sun if preferred watching and talking. Another wonderful summer day. Jackson had a lot of kids there which made it fun. It was Army themed so most people wore some cameo. I had a hat, shirt and shorts so was decked right out. Kristen our niece even made it down from Edmonton for the event which was nice as we don’t get to see her much anymore.

Jackie had to visit three different places to get a cake that Jackson wanted and she came through.

Jackson the big 6 birthday

Some wonderful presents !. I think Jackson loved our practical present of WOLF sheets for his bed. He seemed very happy with them. He also received among other things a long board and a NHL table hockey game which is awesome. We have come a long ways in these games from when ours had thin little tin men.

Present opening

We had pizza supper and little more visit time and called it a day. Great day. Wonderful day and I am very proud to say Jackson is one amazing grandkid !!

July 30th

I had two small things left to do at Audrey’s and I was done. Jackie spent the whole day there cleaning and organizing and I have to say the place looks awesome. Not a fan of white on white but it looks very pristine , clean and calm. I am sure Audrey will like it.

  1. New Doors and jamb sets ( albeit Masonite Product)
  2. New baseboards and casing
  3. New Lever locksets ( EZ set locks are wonderful locks)
  4. New chrome bifold knobs
  5. New Décor, switches and plates in White
  6. New hallway light fixtures
  7. New paint in hallway
  8. New shelf in laundry for storage and hanging clothes
  9. Decorated laundry room to hide breakers and transformer
  10. Bathroom walls repaired
  11. Bathroom light fixture repaired
  12. Kitchen/dining room header repaired
  13. Ceiling fan in hallway painted white
  14. Verticals in living room repaired
  15. Front door repaired and painted white.

The place looks great. Was a lot more work than originally thought and took a lot longer than thought.

NEW LOOK

BEFORE RENOVATION

Big difference and I love the new look !

Went over to help Jeff today dig 4 post holes with a  two man auger. Simple 1 hour job turns into a nightmare. The location where they wanted the holes is adjacent to where a huge old tree used to be. The first hole was a ridiculous. We had multiple 4 inch wide roots in the hole.  I have drilled a lot of holes and have never had a perfect time. Beyond me why they cant put a reverse gear in any auger.The hole location this time wasn’t conducive to hole drilling. Started at 11pm and worked until 4 pm for 4 holes. Each hole should only be 10 minutes. We were very lucky Corey came to help lift up the auger.  A four foot auger when people are only mid 5 ft something tall makes its difficult to lift the machine out of the holes. But with strong young arms of Corey and Jeff on one end and myself on the other end we made it work. Got them all done with a lot of hassle and work. Jeff just needs to use a clam digger or manual hole digger and go another 6 inches or more if possible to get the loose dirt out of the holes. Hitting roots on every hole doesn’t help to keep them all lined up so we will be struggling a bit to get them in line. One hole may require a smaller sonotube as it isn’t round and it will have a larger footprint near the surface than the bottom which can cause frost heave. Tomorrow we will set the posts in cement and do the privacy wall on Tuesday.  Other than lining them up, it is now the easy part. I hope. LOL

Just some of the roots we were hitting. 4″ some bigger

Thought of the Day

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything was as easy as gaining weight or spending money ?

July 31st

Time flies is amazing. End of July already. It has been a very busy spring/ summer season for us but we have had a lot of fun. Projects never seem to end.

I had my Blood donation today. New location right downtown. Good for the office people but no one else. Their old location was older and had poor parking but this location I don’t think addresses any of the issue for me. It is more difficult to get to as it is right downtown, and my Jeep doesn’t fit into the underground parking. So when I arrived having a difficult time to find it as it is a huge yuppie marketplace I wasn’t excited about the new change. When they asked me to book in for a future appointment I said no. Nice building though. Getting it appears my fellow donators are of the same mind set. It was empty with three donors. Normally in the old location it was packed all day long. Hopefully they find a solution to that as we all need blood. I went thru the process and it is a nice facility with a lot of positives but just not for me. I will see in 3 months what I decide.

Went over to Jeff’s place and helped him place, plumb and level his posts with concrete. We will build it tomorrow.

I loaded up everything in the Jeep ( hard fit with table saw, cutoff saw, drill pack, compressor, air guns, hoses, tools levels etc. Tight fit.

Plan to just relax tonight and build up my energy for tomorrow.

Funny thing though operating the augor I build up a water blister. It popped. Now it hurts as the fresh skin is exposed. Pretty sad four hours of working causes a callus.

Feeling a little tired with the work and lack of blood.

Today is the 30th Anniversary of Black Friday the tornado that hit Edmonton in 1987. I remember it well as it was a Friday and I was in a pub in the west of Edmonton and when I walked out it was unbelievable  as the sky was green and dark. Jackie worked not to far from the area of the all of the chaos. It was 27 people that lost their live that day. We had new shingles, house siding re-stained and troughs put on due to the storm and we were in St Albert.

Thought of the Day

I already want to take a nap tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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