Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Showers and fog and wind, Oh My!

I guess we're not in Kansas anymore, or Florida either. The constant dreariness of the fog, wind, and rain is starting to get to me. On the TV, we get two channels in French, which is not acceptable. The good books that I brought to read have already been read because I never thought I'd get that much time to read. Helen hid all the sharp objects a couple of days ago and today she took away my belt and shoe laces. UGH.

All that talk about the north coast of Gaspe being French and the south coast being English is just that, all talk. If you check out the specs on Carleton, you will find that 3800+ people speak only French. 80 speak only English and 30 are bilingual. That's not a good score for us English speaking folks. In the local stores, they actually speak less English than they do on the north coast, but I have to admit that the people are a lot nicer and really try to understand what I'm saying.

When we arrived in Carleton today it was relatively calm and a lot brighter that we've seen in days, but we could see that the clouds hid the tops of the hills or mountains to the north. Later on, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and the fog and rain moved in. Oh, joy!!! I really feel bad about complaining too much. We have a motorhome and we have heat. There are lots of people in these campgrounds in tents. Families in tents. Couples in tents. The other night Helen went to the laundry and found a number of tenters in there getting warm and dry.

The coolant tank that I ordered last week is not at the dealer's yet. The guy I talked with checked the order and found that although he placed the order with the parts depot in Toronto on the 26th, they didn't ship it until the 29th. It normally takes two days to make the trip, but tomorrow is Canada Day and everything shuts down. I may see it Thursday.

In the meantime, the weather we're having is supposed to continue for at least another week. Again, I complain, but the merchants in the area who depend on the three months of tourism are hurting badly. The campgrounds are only about 10 to 15 % filled. When we go into a restaurant there are so many empty tables, and this is the peak of their season. If you heard my thoughts about the bleakness of the Sonoran Dessert, forget it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Still at Perce, Part Trois

Today dawned with the best visibility we've had in days. We can easily see Perce Rock as well as the village off to the left. It was going to be the day we took the boat over to Bonaventure Island to hike around and see the gannet rookery. Alas, it was not to be. The boats are not running today due to the weather. Northeast winds to 40 knots, gusting to 60. All the boats have been removed from the area and we found that they have been moved to a sheltered port a few miles down the coast.

From Perce

Helen and I chose to walk around the town, particularly the waterfront, meet some people and get some pics.

From Perce

Here was are at the end of the wharf with Perce Rock behind us. As we sat there, the waves were booming against the wharf sounding almost like thunder. We stopped at a dive shop and chatted with the guys running the operation. They claim to dive in 7 mm wet suits and are plenty warm enough. Odd, I think, as that's about what I need when the water temperature drops below 80 in Florida. One fellow was specially friendly and we swapped our stories of meetings with wildlife. He told of diving off Bonaventure Island with his girlfriend when along came a seal. Without thinking, he put his hand in the seal's mouth, as he does playing with his girlfriend's dog. The seal closed his mouth without cutting him or drawing blood, then quickly opened his mouth and let him go. Next, the seal stayed with them wanting to play. Amazing!

I told him about the time Helen and I were diving along the Gulf Stream and a 20 foot great white approached to get Helen. I swam over and kicked him two or three times in the gut and chased him away. Just a regular day diving in Florida.

From Perce

This is a picture sitting in one of the Gannet chairs along the boardwalk. They have the ones painted like two gannets and others painted like seal heads.

We have learned a lot about the relationship between the Quebecois and people from other areas. There is a great deal of strife in Quebec due to the contention between those who want Quebec to break with Canada and those who want to stay a part of Canada. What we hear is that 30% of the people want to secede, 30% wants to stay, and 40% doesn't care enough to vote on it. There seems to be a special area of hostility on the Quebec-Ontario border. In Quebec, they refuse to recognize anything but French and across the border the people in Ontario will not recognize anything but English. One of our dive friends told us how they treat him when he goes to Ontario, they keep asking him over and over to explain himself, even when he's positive they understand his meaning. Helen and I found his English to be easily understood.

Checking with the locals, we find that there is really nothing of note to see on the rest of the south coast of Gaspesie until we get to Carleton. Therefore, tomorrow we will drive the 118 miles to Carleton, stopping off in New Richmond on the way to pick up the coolant tank for the motorhome.

This last picture is of the break in the end of Perce Rock.

From Perce

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Still at Perce

Yup, we're still at Perce and we're still all fogged up. This is our view of the Rock from our motorhome.

From June 28

Now this is what we are supposed to see. This picture was taken from a post card.

From June 28

For almost all of the last two days, visibility has been about 200 feet. At 6:45 this evening I went out of the motorhome and was startled, STARTLED to actually see the Rock off in the distance.

From June 28

It just makes it all worthwhile!

Trying to Catch up, but..........

There is a lot to add to the blog, but we have been beset by computer problems and very poor wifi connections. Today is an EXTREMELY foggy day here in Perce, Quebec and I thought I'd work on the blogs to bring the pictures and text up to date. However, the connection is so poor that I can't post pictures in a reasonable time. As I said, we're here at Perce, Quebec, home of Perce Rock, a massive limestone formation attached to the land at low tide. We are told that it is directly in front of our motorhome at a distance of half a mile or so. With visability at under 200 feet, we can't tell one way or another. I will return with more pictures when the wifi Gods allow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Here comes the Sun!

What a change in weather! As we drove east from Matane, the fog burned off and the skies cleared. The drive to Ste-Anne-des-Monts was only 50 miles or so, but we found a delightful change. Settled in a campground, we took the dogs for a ride into the local mountains to try to find a nice stream for them to romp in. Away from the coast the temperature continued to climb until we were smiling in the low 80s. Unfortunately, when we found the stream there were signs posted "no dogs allowed". So it was back to the campground and the dogs had a dip in the ocean followed by a bath.

There is a small silver fish called the capelin that reproduces at the edge of the water. They are about 6 inches long and occur in great numbers. After they spawn, they die and the waterline is littered with the dead fish. Who would have thought that they would be a tasty treat for a Labrador Retriever? Coco and Jodie sprinted for the water in a mad rush, got wet, and started on the fish before I could get them away. Oh boy, wet dog with fish breath, what more could we want?

Yesterday Helen and I had a banner day, first visiting a windmill farm where 134 Danish wind generators produce 400 megawatts of electricity. We also saw the worlds tallest vertical axis wind mill, a research unit that has not operated in years. I was astounded to see the same instruments that are found on the massive breakers at the nuclear plant inCrystal River. Next it was off to Explor-a-mer, a small aquarium that centered around the bottom life of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Lots of ucky sea cucumbers and like animals, but also a lot of delicious looking lobsters.

Yesterday was the start of the annual Quebec Festival and I think we should have gone. Although we're some distance from the party, it was very loud with the constant drumbeat as from the natives of the jungle. I told Helen not to worry, the Quebecois don't eat the Anglos until the drums stop. The music and noise was going to well after midnight!

On the plus side, we find the folks here much friendlier than the Quebecois further west. If I understand correctly, it will get even better as we head around the peninsula where English actually becomes dominant. Voila.......oops........ I mean whoopie!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Once upon a midnight dreary

and a morning dreary, a noontime dreary, and an afternoon dreary. Alas folks, Helen and I have brought the wrath of the weather Gods with us to Gaspesie. Another day with no sun, constant fog and mist and maximum temperature of 56 degrees. Here at the campground we see no one. There are people from Texas in the very little camper next door and they hide in the warmth of their trailer. Other than the Texans and us, every other camper is from Quebec. This are is apparently like Cape Cod to the Bostonians, a weekend getaway. They drove out here for this?????

Tomorrow we'll head further east, to Sainte Anne des Monts. This will put us at the gateway to a Quebec Provincial Park that is very mountainous and has a multitude of wildlife. They claim to have the only Caribou south of the St. Lawrence Seaway and that may be true. I know that Newfoundland has Caribou but I'm pretty sure that we had to cross the seaway a few years ago to get there.

We have no TV, well, no acceptible TV as there ae only two French stations, but we have a number of great books. Helen is working on "Angels and Demons" from which a current movie has been made. I re-read it last week and it's still a good book.

That's about all for now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Better Day in Gaspe!

We were on the road early on our way to the Gaspersie area of the Gaspe peninsula and we had a better day than before. We had no more mechanical problems for one thing, but for another we started to run into nicer people. Closer to the center of Quebec very little English is spoken and the people make no effort to communicate with the tourist. A young cashier at Wal-Mart took particular pleasure in speaking extremely fast, knowing I couldn't follow what she was saying. A few moments later I got some cash out of the ATM and approached the service desk to get change. This was an older woman who tried her best to understand what I wanted and she succeeded. She didn't speak any English, but I got my point across and got the change I wanted. When I was done, I said "Merci!" and she was delighted that I at least made that small gesture. People in the information stations are not much better. If you are going to be in central Quebec, you will need to speak French.

Further from Quebec City it wasn't as much of a problem. The people in the information booths speak English very well and are extremely courteous and helpful. The only problem I had after that was when I tried to sign into a campground. The owner was running an errand and the assistant spoke only French. However, she was not snooty or condescending. We got the vital information out of the way, name, address, and license plate number. I was ready to move to a campsite when the owner returned. She was able to finalize everything, but most of the work had already been done. It must have been funny to have the assistant and me trying to make the other understand what we meant.

After we got the camper settled, we took the dogs for a ride. To the east is the Metane River, a good sized river noted for it's salmon. Driving beside the river for many miles, we finally found a suitable spot for the dogs to go for a swim. The thing about my Labs is that water is everything!!! Pond water, lake water, river water, or pool water, it makes no difference. Calm water, heavy surf, strong currents, it also does not matter. There was a strong current that would take them downriver quite fast. It wasn't a problem as they would simply swim to shore and run back upstream. As I write this now, one is fast asleep under the table and the other asleep behing Helen's chair. It will be a quiet night tonight.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Beautiful Day to Travel, But.....

Today was a most beautiful day to travel. The sun was bright and the sky so blue. The temperature was comfortable for us Florida Folks, mid 80s. Then there was the scenery!!!! There is a lot of beautiful country in Northern Maine and Eastern Quebec. We actually had to enter through Edmundston, New Brunswick and the girl at Canada Customs was a dear. No hard questions about what we were bringing across the border. When she asked if we were bringing anything that we wouldn't bring back, I replied "only money". She chuckled and said that's the way it's supposed to be.

When we got to the campground in Saint-Antonin, Quebec, I noticed antifreeze on the hood of the Jeep. The radiator expansion tank is deteriorating and was starting to leak. I was contemplating my options and decided to try a repair. My Garmin GPS got me to the nearest Canadian Tire where I picked up fiberglass cloth, epoxy, and a few sundry items to attempt the repair. The repair went very well and I hope it will do the trick.

Unable to get a cell phone signal at the campground, we headed for the big city, big by local standards. We were able to get a signal, but could use the phone only to make emergency calls. This is the default setting for phones in the U. S., so I was not pleased. Before I changed carriers, I asked if the phone would work in Canada and I was ASSURED that it would, but the calls would cost twice as much. That was OK with me, as long as we had a phone. Now I'm not sure what to do. I'm thinking of getting a "throw away phone" with a little air time to get us through the vacation.

OK, so we've been for a ride and we return to the motorhome. Great! Except that there is no AC electricity and the batteries have run so low the refer is getting ready to shut down. The refer automatically goes to propane with a loss of AC power, but it still need an ample voltage of DC to run the controls. Paul the mechanic is called to action again. Now I recall that this morning the batteries were abnormally low though we were plugged in all night. I didn't think too much about it at the time, but then it made sense. Something was wrong with the inverter.

I've been on this route before, and both times it was caused by me opening the inverter feed breaker by mistake. After trying other things I checked the breaker, though it's in a place where it couldn't be touched by accident. The breaker felt funny. Instead of the healthy snap as the breaker changed position, it felt like a spring had broken. I found a spare breaker and moved the inverter feed to that one and now we are OK. At least OK for now.

No pictures today, but we'll be along the coast tomorrow so we should have some.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Presque Isle, Maine

We made it further up in Maine today, but we chose not to enter Canada late in the day. By the time we'd get through customs and get information on Gaspe campsites it would be too late to continue. As it was, I slept late again, and it felt so good that I cannot complain about a late start. We made very good time on the Mains roads because they are FAR superior to what one sees in Masachusetts. We blame the cold and snow in MA, but they have more of it in Maine, and still the roads are in great repair.

On the way up we stopped at a scenic overlook to see Mt. Kahtahdin. That you will see in the bottom picture. When we pulled into the campground I spied two moose running across the field in back. I hadn't even stopped the RV. I grabbed the camera and was able to snap one quick picture before they were gone. I told the people who own the campground and they though I was seeing things. The picture is proof. A few moments later I saw a huge red fox scamper across the same field. This time the owners agreed. There are several fox in the area and two extra-large males are fighting over a female.

We had beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures all day. I guess you could call it a perfect day. Tomorrow should see us make it to Canada, Province of Quebec.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Day with Judi

Today Helen and I went to see an old high school classmate, Judi Spellman, nee Smollett. We really didn't know Judi in high school, but chatted with her just prior to the QHS Class of '61 reunion in 2001. Then we met at the reunion. Sometime later Judi came to Florida to see another classmate and spent a day in Inverness. She's the kind of person that you feel is an old friend even if you only know her a few minutes. She recently moved into a new apartment across from St. John's Church and it is a major change from her old place. It's light and roomy with a view of the city and even of the ocean sometimes, on the right day and with the right conditions. Judi makes it a point to remind most of us that she is younger than most of us in the Class of '61, but that doesn't mean that she is 39 while the rest of us are 65. Judi is 65 also, it just took her an extra month or two to get here. We had a couple of hours of delightful conversation and company. You can always count on that with Miz Spellman.
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gen and Larry Constas

Gen and Larry are friends from Quincy, Massachusetts. Gen was one of my customers a million years ago when we lived up north. They now reside at 100 Southern Artery in Quincy Point, but until a month ago, Gen lived her whole life within a quarter mile of her childhood home. West Quincy born and bred. I never though she would move. Interesting is the fact that Gen's house shared a backyard with the house my Dad grew up in, and that was just across the street from the house my mother grew up in. I have no earthly idea how Larry the Greek muscled his way into the Italian conclave of West Quincy. They have been married for many, many years, and unlike couples of today, they have onlt been married to each other.

Like a number of our other friends, Gen and Larry display a great sense of humor and seem to enjoy their journey through life. Not letting moss grow under them, they'll be off to Alaska in August on a trip that combines a cruise with a lot of land travel. Helen and I are envious as we've been bitten with the Alaska bug.

After a delicious dinner at Maria's, we returned to their home for more interesting conversation. When we finally parted, we got something of a promise that they would visit us this winter.
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Thursday Helen and I met several cousins and Aunt "Annie" for lunch at Joe's American Bar and Grille" in Hanover. It was a very nice meeting that I'm sure we all enjoyed. At the left of the picture is cousin Jean, who is so tanned because she spent the winter in Naples, Florida. Next to Jean is Me, hiding a good portion of my girth. Next is the baby of the group, Diane, as pleasant a person as you would want to meet. Seated in front is Carol, looking very good after a hellish year of health problems. In the rear is Aunt Estelle, or Annie as she is now known to me.

We had a couple of hours of pleasant conversation and recollections of days gone by. We all had a very good time and I'mj sure we'll do this again.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Back and Forth to Cape Cod

Here is our camping spot in Wompatuck State Park. It's a very nice location, clean and quiet, and a great place to take the dogs. Yesterday, Helen and I drove down the Cape to pick up her Aunt Marie and take her up to Braintree to see Charlie Harrington. For those who don't know the history, Aunt Marie and her late husband, Bill, had Helen stay with them one summer when she worked on the Cape. They have been a continued source of inspiration to those of us who consider it a treat to spend time on Cape Cod, particularly in the old days when it was much less populated. Charlie's late wife, Ellen, was my mother-in-laws cousin and they were always close.

Helen and I would spend a lot of time on the Cape courtesy of these people and we regard them very highly. The Harringtons had a cottage right on a lake in Dennis and even had an "authentic" Finnish Sauna. Charlie's Irish, but when you marry a Finn...... Charlie is now 95, but his spirit has not declined a bit.

We had a very nice visit, and all too soon it was time to return Marie to the Cape.
Charlie was moist eyed as we parted. Helen and I will try to do this again as we pass by on our way south.

I've contacted some of my cousins and we're going to meet at some restaurant Thursday afternoon. I'll have more to say later.
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Saturday, June 6, 2009

"Camping" at Rick and Linda's

This is our style of camping in Massachusetts for a few days. I was very concerned about my entrance and exit from Ricks because this RV is so much longer than those we've had in the past. I made it in OK, but I nearly took out their tree to the right of the driveway. I spent a few days, with Rick's help, removing the generator and getting ready to do some preventative maintenance. Once on the ground, everything looked perfect, so we just put it all back.

Yesterday, we moved to Wompatuck State Park, a very nice recreation area in Hingham, Massachusetts. Hingham is a very upscale community and I'm a bit surprised that such a nice place exists here in such a restrictive community. Of course, the state park predates Hingham's rise in status so that might make a difference. Not too far from here is the dog park we took the Labs to a couple of years ago. That was also in Hingham and also on VERY PRIME property, a peninsula into Boston Harbor.
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Monday, June 1, 2009


When we were planning this trip north, we wanted to stop at this outdoor persons utopia. It has to have everything and anything the hiker, hunter, fisherman, camper, or wildlife observer might want. The place is huge! Way down behind the mountain you can see at the far end of the store is a full size Piper floeat plane hanging from the ceiling. A better view of the plane is in picture four.

Around the mountain are numerous stuffed animals from snakes and prarie dogs to moose, grizzly bears and there's even an elephant. All are in lifelik surroundings and it's awesome. Hunting is not my cup of tea, but the array is impressive anyway. There is a stream with live trout and an aquarium. I didn't check out the guns, but the fishing tackle assortment has got to be at least twice as big as anything I've ever seen. Helen got as great deal on some shirts. I wanted to get some stuff, but there was SO MUCH that I got confused and bought nothing. I figure that I'll be fly fishing in Canada, and the last time the guide insisted that I use his equipment and gear.

Cabela's allows RVers to camp in their lot. A lot of place allow that, but Cabela's brings it to a new level. They have drinking water. They have a dump station. They have covered dog kennels so your dogs can stay outside while you shop. They even have a horse corral and exercise area! All of this is a free perk!

I have to admit that although I didn't buy anything this time, Helen and I are frequent buyers from their catalog. They have items that you can't find anywhere else.

Now I'm out and about getting a few parts for the motorhome. It was cold this morning and I wasn't about to climb under the RV to start work on the generator. I'm camped in my brother's driveway in Pembroke, Massachusetts and I'll be here until I get the work done. Helen is at her girlfriend's house in Quincy. At least she'll be occupied while I keep myself and my brother busy.

More later,


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Sad Day at the Pool

What a system I have for the pool. In the Spring, I get the water at the correct chemical point, pH, chlorine, dissolved minerals and such. Then, I finally gets to a good temperature, above 85 degrees, and I shut it down, cover it up, and go away. Duh!
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