Gotta Smile!

Gotta Smile!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Six Weeks of Mooching

My last post was on September 2nd -- almost 6 weeks ago!  We had just arrived in St Louis, Missouri.  Since then, we have been mooching off our kids -- mainly our daughter and her family.  We were in St Louis for five weeks!  Half way through our stay we drove to Minnesota for a week with Steve and his family.  We tried to partially earn our keep by doing minor repairs, babysitting, cooking, grocery shopping and anything else that would help out. 

It’s hard to believe that we have been away from Gotta Smile for almost 4 months.  When we left Granada on June 15th, we weren’t sure we could find enough to keep us busy for the whole summer.  It has actually turned out to be great.  We did stay with family longer than we had planned, when we got to the point where we just couldn’t live out of suitcases any longer.  That rambling trip with no itinerary and no schedule was wonderful, but we've been spoiled by traveling on our boat and carrying almost  everything we own with packing and unpacking.     

We are more than ready to get on our way.  Not that we haven’t had a good summer, but it is becoming chilly, the leaves are falling and I see winter quickly closing in on us.  On October 11th, Saturday, we flew to Florida for ten days before heading to Grenada on the 22nd.      
A chilly day in Minnesota doesn't stop Addison and Niko
from fishing and catching a few frogs.

My little nature girl jumps into the water to catch her
frog -- will he turn into a Prince?

Erin and Addison celebrate
bacon at the Minnesota State

Niko doesn't look sleepy...
Steve finishes a 10 mile trail run.

Teaching Christopher and Jacqueline to mainline aerosol whipping
cream.  Grandmas must make sure family traditions are learned by
the younger generations.  

The newest member of the swim team,
Scoping out future job opportunities.
Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa, Ontario

August 28 - September 2, 2014

I don't know what happened -- we made one wrong turn and here we are back in Canada!  No, not really....we were in Vermont and looked at the map.  Montreal was only 100 miles away.  Then, Ottawa was another 100 miles from Montreal.  Sitting in the Ottawa hotel room planning our next location, we hit the wall...  "Let's call Jennifer and see if we can go to St Louis NOW!" Just that quickly we decided that we couldn't live out of suitcases and eat all of our meals in restaurants any longer.  It has been a great trip.  We've seen so many beautiful places and met incredible people, but now we need to unpack, cook some meals and stay put for a few weeks (maybe a month).  So, instead of going to Toronto and Niagra Falls we took off for Detroit.  As soon as we entered the USA, I called my brother to see if they were busy.  They were having a barbecue with friends.  There was plenty of food, a competitive penuchle game and a good bed waiting for us.  Next stop St Louis, Missouri.       


We had expected a cool reception in Montreal.  We speak only three words of French and had been warned that the residents were not very tolerant of English speaking visitors.  I'm here to set the record right -- everyone we met was extremely friendly, helpful, welcoming and they immediately spoke English.  What a beautiful city!  Historic buildings blend with remnants of the 1979 Olympics and contemporary architecture.  It is a city that encourages bikes and walking with wide trails.  We were there over Labor Day week-end (which they also celebrate).  The town center was enjoying warm sunny weather, street fairs and the restaurants' sidewalk tables were overflowing. 
Towering steeples marked every town
and led us to another beautiful church.
The St Lawrence Seaway connects the Atlantic
Ocean with the Great Lakes. 

 Olympic Park Tower stands at a 45 degree angel.
It is the tallest inclined tower in the world -- 541 feet.
Cables attach to the roof of the main stadium.
It was built for the 1976 Summer Olympics.

The Biosphere now houses and environmental
museum.  It was the symbol of Expo 67.  The
structure was used in the original 
television show, 
Battlestar Galactica. 

This beauty is abandoned.  A sign offers it for
$1 million (Canadian).  Seems like a bargain!

Habitat 67
158 residences made of 354 prefabricated boxes of reinforced
concrete.  The design allows each home to have privacy,
a view and a balcony.  They are on the St Lawrence River
across from downtown Montreal.  Still stunning today.

This little pastry/deli in Longueuil needs special
mention because we ate two breakfasts and one
dinner here during our short visit.  


Ottawa is the capital of Canada.  We spent an afternoon in the Byword Market area.  Besides being a bustling market, it is adjacent to many of the government buildings.  The city was on overload (Labor Day week-end and students returning to college).  Every hotel room was taken for a radius of 100 miles beyond the city center.  Our room was a suite with a board room connected to it.  Luckily we made a reservation the night before and I guess the online message wasn't kidding when they said "1 room remaining".

First stop -- lunch at a sidewalk cafe.


Food, crafts, clothing, souvenirs....

These now restored shops served the lumberjacks 
and mill workers of the 19th century.  Today they 
are exclusive stores for the wealthy.    

US Embassy

Detroit, Michigan

Time to go through customs again.  This time we are crossing the Ambassador Bridge and entering Detroit.

Good-bye Canada

One stop on the trip from Detroit to St Louis.  Our route took us right through the town of Auburn, Indiana.  Brian could not resist a visit to the Auburn Cord Dusenburg Museum.  These are the cars of the super rich and famous back in the 1920's.  Each one was distinctively designed.  Even if you aren't a car enthusiast, this collection is worth a stop and look.    

This Rolls Royce is very similar to the 1949 Bentley
that we owned in the 1970's.  What a time we had with
 that car!  Right hand drive...  We lived in Los Angeles

Great headlights, radiator and hood!
They don't make them like that anymore.

We saw this sell at a Barrett Jackson auction.

The museum is in the original Auburn showroom.
Look at those art deco details!  
Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Friday, August 29, 2014

New Hampshire and Vermont

August 26 - 27, 2014

Now that we have visited Vermont, we have been in every state except Oregon and Alaska.  We are covering a lot of miles, but I can guarantee that we won't be in those last two states on this trip!

The views have changed from the ocean coast to mountain ranges:  the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the Green Mountains in Vermont.  The land is lush  with pine trees surrounding the rivers and lakes.  

New Hampshire
Lumber and paper mills are local industries.

We have traveled so much it is hard to remember
where we have been.  Signs like this don't help. 

Time for the 8 mile drive to the top of Mt Washington.
The road was originally opened in 1861.  As we sat
there preparing for the drive, it was 83 degrees.
When we got to the summit, it was 64 with winds
of 45 mph. Our sunny day had turned cloudy,
because we were standing in the clouds!   

Driving up a steep road with no guard
rail, wasn't enough -- then we had
to hike up these steps.

Long views.
60% of the time the summit is in the clouds.

Elevation 6288 feet.
The highest wind ever recorded was here in 1936.
231 mph.

Above the tree line.

In the crooked wood zone.


There was no discussion about this stop.....
Brian said "We are going to Ben & Jerry's factory." 

The graveyard for flavors that are no
longer produced.  

Driving across Lake Champlain.....
Bridges connect the islands.

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada

August 21 - 27, 2014

When we headed north from Florida, we thought we would only go as far as Maine.  Of course, our plans never go the way we think they will.  So, here we are in Canada enjoying the beautiful provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  We love Canada!  Now we are even thinking that Gotta Smile is going to have to see it too. 

We drove along the coast.  The scenery was beautiful:  lots of small fishing villages loaded with galleries, restaurants and historical buildings.  Instead of sandy beaches and palm trees these shorelines are huge slabs of rock and evergreens.  

New Brunswick
St John
The historical city market with a roof that is built to
resemble an inverted ship to honor the city's
ship building past. 

Inside the market.

Great reuse of historical buildings.

True to our travels on land or water--  if there is a
Costco, we'll find it!

The Bay of Fundy is a 170 mile long ocean bay that stretches between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  The tides can reach 53 feet, which is higher than any other place in the world.  It takes 6 hours and 13 minutes for the tides to go from high to low and for 160 billion tons of seawater to flow in and out of the bay twice a day.  More water moves through the bay in one cycle than the combined water of all the world's freshwater rivers. 

But, that's not all that is fabulous about this body of water --- the tidal movement creates a reversing rapids!  As the tide recedes, the rapids rush to the south.  Then, as the tide rises the rapids surge to the north.      
The water is receding.  Four kayakers took turns
sitting in the sweet spot where they barely paddled.

Water moving south with low tide.

We were having a hard time finding the reversing falls.  While Brian checked the map, I leaned out the window and asked a young man to give us directions.  He said he wasn't sure how to get there, but his co-worker would know.  The co-worker said, "follow me", jumped in his truck and led us about five miles to an excellent viewing place.  Nice nice people......  

Slack tide -- no tidal movement.  The water is still.

The tide begins to rise and the rapids are now
flowing north.

Our opportunity to become one with art.

Eight sculptors from around the world
carve New Brunswick granite.
Companies and cities sponsor
an artist for $15,000.  They receive
the completed piece.  

Driving the coast to Nova Scotia

Camp Enrage
Instead of hunting for shells, rock hounds search
for fossils on these beaches. 

A different kind of beach

Hopewell Cape -- The Flower Pot Rocks
At low tide visitors walk on the ocean floor.  

After the tide comes in, 50 feet of water 
surround the rocks.  They look like
low islands. 

Driving to Nova Scotia through Moncton,
we stopped to watch an air show.
Covered bridges still stand on back roads.

Walking the Halifax Harbour

Nova Scotia

A pilot boat
When large ships are preparing to enter a harbor,
a 'pilot' is taken to the ship.  The pilot maneuvers
the ship through the harbor to the dock. 

Not one, but two Krogens in one day!!!
48 foot -- Alizann and 42 foot -- My Dream

This was too cute -- I had to take a picture.

Eating a classic Canadian dish, poutine.
French fries with light brown gravy, cheese curds,
shredded beef, hollandaise sauce and roasted tomatoes.
It was yummy!

Every house and business is loaded with personality:
architectural details and bright colors.


The docks

I put salt - lots of salt - on everything.
We didn't eat here, but it was tempting.

Lobster dinner at the Shore Club.  This local favorite 
is a must visit -- First lobster dinners served in 1936.  

Seated close to other diners made it easy to chat
with the neighboring tables.  

Driving to Peggy's Cove
Instead of mooring balls, docks are anchored in the
bay and boats tie to them.  This one even has a
storage shed on it.  

The memorial to the passengers and crew of
Swissair Flight 111.

Peggy's Cove
A tribute to fishermen
An authentic fishing village.
One of the most photographed scenes
in Canada...the lighthouse on the rocks.

Granite slabs that were chiseled and scraped
by glaciers.

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!