Monthly Archives: June 2013

2013 Trip Six, The Northwest, June 30

Well, we made it to Canmore, Alberta. Granma Bep had breakfast ready for us and gave us some Saskatoon summer berry tarts for the road.

Chris and Granma Bep

Chris and Granma Bep

Sunday we finally left behind the flat plains and started climbing to rolling hills and semi-arid plains at a higher elevation. Irrigation and oil wells were the most frequent vistas. The Rockies are not a major vista until past Calgary.

This portion of the Trans Canada highway goes through the northern section of Calgary. The highway does not go through the downtown like many of our interstates. When it reached Calgary, there was a mix of cloverleaf type interchanges and just plain roadways. For those of you in the Twin Cities, think of University Avenue with 3 lanes in each direction and you get an accurate picture.

Calgary has a population of almost 1,000,000. We will visit it more beginning next Sunday. Again, the development has a strict line and you go from farmland to dense development. I bet Metro Council would love to be able to do that.

We are staying in a basement unit of a home in Canmore. It appears that the flooding was just a block away and a ridge behind the house blocked it from floodwaters. There is still a boil water advisory in effect and it is likely to continue throughout our time here. We did bring a case of bottled water with us.

View from front of Canmore residence.

View from front of Canmore residence.


We have driven past some of the washed out roads but will take pictures when we are walking and not with traffic behind us.

We picked up some groceries, unpacked, and I went for a walk in the neighborhood. Tomorrow is Canada Day, a national holiday and we plan to watch the local parade and festivities in the park.

Living room area

Living room area

Sorry it is a slow and unexciting report. Hopefully we can make it more exciting real soon.

Ed and Chris June 30 10:30 pm and it is light out.

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2013,Trip Six, The Northwest, June 29

flat tire on the trans Canada highway

flat tire on the trans Canada highway

June 29
Even when you have a plan, unexpected things happen. Like a flat tire on the trans Canada Highway just east of Grenfel, Saskatchewan. Somehow the tire got a gash about 2 inches long on the side of the tire facing away from the road. It went flat quickly but we were able to get to the side of the road safely.

The shoulder was just barely able to accommodate the width of the Saturn. So after calling AAA, we slowly backed up to a safer spot down the road. A local mechanic was able to reach us, take off the tire, put on the donut tire, and inflate it within about an hour.

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We then drove at a slower speed to Regina, Saskatchewan. It took us about 90 minutes. The Internet says that Canadian Tire was open until 7 PM. We got there at 5:30 PM. We arrived just before a young gentleman wearing a yellow shirt. The sign on the door, however, said that the store closed at 6 PM.

The store clerk looked at the time, listened to me and agreed they could take care of our problem before they closed. He then informed the other gentleman that they could not satisfy his request that day. The gentleman in the yellow shirt indicated his dissatisfaction in no uncertain terms. A store manager was required to talk to the other man and tried to work out a compromise. I’m not sure of the final resolution but he left. I think, frankly, that he was trying to game the system and have his tire repaired under warranty that was no longer valid.

We paid for the two tires. Of course, the credit cards were rejected because the anti-fraud unit at the credit card company didn’t understand why a purchase was being made in Canada. Oops. I had forgotten my own checklist and did not call the credit card company before we left to tell them our itinerary. Luckily our cash card worked and we got out of the store with no major loss to our pride.

We made it to Swift Current Saskatchewan at 8:30 PM. We will remember Saskatchewan in our trips. Or, as the T-shirts say, Saskatchewan. Hard to spell. Easy to draw. (It is in the shape of a rectangle.)

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The first part of the day was easy. Flatland. Flat land. Flatland. The crops are looking green. There are some fields still with standing water in portions of them. Major highlights included a massive power plant complex. There was a small saline lake, smaller than mono Lake in California.

At the very end of the day, we were starting to see some slightly rolling Hills. In general, the towns are extremely small except for major complexes like Regina and Winnipeg. Those towns are very populous. They must have dramatic development controls because you go immediately from farm fields to dense housing developments. Very little suburban sprawl.

We are staying at grandma Bep’s B and B. Grandma is a 73 year old woman who has been working since age 12 and widowed for the last eight years. Her family is from Holland and she is following in her father’s footsteps as a master baker. She at one point owned five businesses in downtown swift current. She now bakes for several locations as well as selling at the farmers market. She bakes over 1000 pies per month in addition to other goodies. All are baked from scratch.

Her B and B is like staying at aunt Charlotte or grandma Kondzior’s house with the addition that we hear the roosters and ducks as we wake up in the morning.

Oh, we did call the credit card company and provide them with information so we should not have any future issues. And to answer another question arising from yesterday’s post, we did take the Canadian money with us. It was in my suitcase, just not in my wallet.

On to Canmore and Banff.

Ed and Chris. June 30. 8 am

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2013, trip six, The Northwest, June 28

Friday, June 28.

Well, as you know, Friday was a travel day as will be Saturday. Thus, not a lot to report. In Minnesota, blue lakes, green fields, gently rolling hills. In North Dakota, green fields and flat land everywhere.

North Dakota fields

North Dakota fields


As people had advised, we gassed up in North Dakota before entering Manitoba. Gas in Manitoba is about $5.25 per gallon. Grand Forks, our gas tank was not very empty so we gassed up in Grafton North Dakota. We knew Grafton was about 10 miles off the interstate but it was a little adventure for us. We had a ice cream to break up the day and returned to the interstate via the back roads including gravel roads that were in better shape than those we had used in New Mexico.

There was about a 10 minute backlog to go through the border station but nothing outlandish. The initial roads that we traveled on in Manitoba were in pretty poor shape. We will see if that was an anomaly or if all of their money here is spent on healthcare and not on roads.

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Our first night is with an evergreen couple in Winnipeg. A nice couple that has done a lot of evergreen travel. We swapped travel stories while snacking on cheese and crackers. Chris had a glass of wine which of course put her to sleep immediately once her head hit the pillow.

We are still getting back into our travel mode. I forgot to put Canadian money in my wallet. We had not put one of the directions in the lodging packet. Minor type of things that will work their way out as we continue on the road.

Ed and Chris, June 29. 8 a.m.

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2013, Trip Six, The Northwest, Maps

map focus on western portion

map focus on western portion

Attached should be maps of the planned route. This is the best I could come up with.

Full route

Full route

Not sure I will have time to modify the map before we leave early on the 28th. The maps above were prepared on the 26th and assumed we would be going to Banff via Golden on the west side of the Rockies due to the flooding in that area. The Trans Canada highway has re-opened after the floods which started on June 20th so we will get to Banff via Calgary and Canmore. Stops D and E will be eliminated and we will go from C to a point a little west of F (Calgary).

The swing up into Vancouver Island north of Victoria and then back into Washington State is dictated by two events. Attending the Calgary Stampede in early July and also making it to the Vancouver Celebration of Lights at the end of July-early August.
We are assuming the Stampede will still be held.

Ed June 27th 11 pm

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2013 Interlude, Late June 2013

Pizza party

Pizza party

Well we are between trips five and six. This Friday we head for the Canadian Rockies, British Columbia and Washington state. I will post a map of our planned travels before we leave, in response to several requests.
Pizza  party

Pizza
party

As of tonight (6-25), we are still unsure if we will be going to Canmore or Golden for the week starting Sunday June 30. The floods in the Calgary-Banff area have left major roads still closed and we are not yet getting a clear answer as to whem they may be open. We will probably make our decision tomorrow night. (6-26) DONE! We go to Calgary and then Canmore. Roads are open. Golden will have to wait for when we return home via Whistler.

This interlude has been 10 days, longer than our previous ones. Along with the doctor appointments, car repairs, dentist and hair appointments, we have been taking advantage of the opportunity to spend some time with the Sarahs. They are managing our condo while we stay at Kathy’s.

The Sarahs have taken up ice hockey despite having no experience whatsoever. Their attitude has been great and they have remained enthusiastic despite, shall we say, not being the stars on the ice.

I attended one practice. Part of the time was spent skating backwards. I did not take pictures. They will thank me in later years. Chris went to a practice a week later and took some video but it did not come out well so you will have to remain clueless to their abilities until the scrimmage in late July when hopefully someone else will have a camera and take photos for posterity.

Last Thursday we had a small birthday get together for Sarah. A local pizza place close to Kathy’s provided the pizza and salad. It was more of an opportunity for people to get together than a fancy party and we enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with several family members.

We went out Friday night with Bernie and Tony to Little Oven on the east side of St. Paul. We ate there last Tuesday with Kathy and enjoyed the food, low prices, and large quantities that provided left overs for the next days.

Dinner at Cheeky Monkey

Dinner at Cheeky Monkey

We were finally able to coordinate schedules to take Sarah out for a proper birthday dinner on Sunday. Cheeky Monkey on Selby was the location, their patio dining area was open. Not an easy feat given the rainy weather here.

Ed and Chris June 26

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2013 Trip Five, Boston, Deb and Rebecca, June 17

June 17th

Two days before the birthday of Deb, Sarah, and Garfield the cat.

Deb headed out to work early for an important work meeting. Rebecca went to work. Chris and Ed drove 30 miles to Quincy, MA to visit the Adams National Historical Park. This is the home of John Adams and John Quincy Adams and of later Adams’ generations.

Quincy is also the hometown of the Howard Johnson restaurants/hotels and the original Dunkin Donut store.

We found the visitor center in downtown Quincy despite two directional signs being blocked by tree leaves and no signage about the free parking for the center that was located in the neighboring parking garage. Once there, the staff was quite helpful and we were just in time for the next two hour tour.

John Adams birthplace

John Adams birthplace

A shuttle bus takes you from the visitor center to the two sites. The first is at the birthplaces, two homes next to each other. The homes are on the original sites and are estimated to contain 60% original structure and 40% replacement material.

John Adams was on his way to becoming a wealthy man through his legal practice when he gave it all up to devote his career to public service from pre-revolution to President. It was here that he drafted the Massachusetts Constitution. He spent many of his years away from Abigail traveling as diplomat for the fledging U.S. plus his time in Philadelphia.

Peace Fields, the latter home of 4 generations of Adams

Peace Fields, the latter home of 4 generations of Adams

The second home site is about two miles away. After John Adams was defeated for a second term, he and Abigail moved to this larger home named Peace Field, which was expanded by later generations. The two presidents never ended up wealthy men but one of John Quincy’s sons married into wealth and the second home is more elaborate.

The two Adams’ were the only two of the first 12 U.S. Presidents to not own slaves. John Quincy also served only one term but was sent back to D.C. as a U.S. Congressman for 17 years. He suffered a stroke on the floor of Congress and died two days later.

Like most families, the Adams’ had their share of heartbreak through the generations but also had an unusually high number of educated and influential descendants. The sites commemorate their impact on U.S. history.

Double rainbow

Double rainbow


Birthday dinner early

Birthday dinner early


We returned to Deb and Rebecca’s place before the later afternoon thunderstorm pelted the area. There was a bright side. We went out for Deb’s birthday and there was a nice rainbow outside the window of the restaurant. Chris spotted it and pointed it out to us. Soon everyone in the restaurant seemed to be at a window and taking out their cameras for a shot. A pleasant way to end the trip. Tomorrow we fly home.

Ed and Chris June 17th 10 pm

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2013 Trip Five, Boston, Deb and Rebecca, June 16

June 16th Fathers Day

We spent Mother’s Day at 10,000 feet (Ancient Bristlecone pine forest in CA) and Father’s Day at maybe 100 feet elevation in Boston and Connecticut.

MA capitol building  in Boston

MA capitol building in Boston

The four of us attended Mass at the Paulist Center in downtown Boston across from the Boston Commons. This is where Deb and Rebecca normally go. Afterwards Chris and Ed were treated to a combined Mothers Day/Fathers Day brunch at Scollay Square about a block away.

Brunch at Scollay Square

Brunch at Scollay Square


After a brief interlude back in Newton, we drove to the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut (relatively close to Norwich, CT.) We were meeting Pete and Florence Sheils, Rebecca’s parents. Pete and Flo were able to obtain four tickets to the Connecticut Sun WNBA basketball game which Deb, Rebecca, Chris and Ed watched. The Sun lost the game but we came away with some “wobblehead” cut-outs of Blaze, the mascot of the Sun basketball team.
Connecticut Sun vs. Seattle Storm

Connecticut Sun vs. Seattle Storm

Pete and Flo spent some time exploring the casino and found their luck to be positive today. We met them for dinner after the game. Since Deb, Chris and Ed had not been to the casino before, we signed up for the “Players Club” and obtained a free pass to the casino buffet. Flo did well enough at the casino to pay for the other three dinners. A fruitful meal plan for all of us.

Dinner at Seasons buffet at Mohegan Sun casino

Dinner at Seasons buffet at Mohegan Sun casino

We aren’t able to see Pete and Flo all that often so it was a great opportunity to get together and chat. Flo had just returned from an intense, multi-day conference in Madison, WI so this was a chance for her to unwind before returning to work Monday.

Ed and Chris June 17

P.S. The cribbage games Saturday night were split 1-1.

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2013 Trip Five, Boston, Deb and Rebecca, June 15

Happy guest blogger day! Welcome to Boston everyone! (You are welcome anytime!) 🙂

Today was a random day. Rebecca and I (Deb) went to our regular Pilates class in the morning while Dad went for a walk and Mom slept in. She seemed excited for this rare opportunity. Then we had leftover grilled hot dogs and various mayonnaise-y side salads for lunch before heading out for a few hours of errands and shopping. (Happy birthday gift Sarah!)

Charles river by Deb and Rebecca's house

Charles river by Deb and Rebecca’s house


La Casa de Pedro

La Casa de Pedro

We dropped Mom and Dad off at our house and Dad read and
Mom took a nap while Rebecca and I went to see our friend Phuong and her new baby in the hospital. Then we all headed out for dinner and enjoyed some delicious South American food, margaritas and daiquiris. And a water for Dad.

Now, I gotta go. It’s time for Dad to lose at cribbage.

Deb June 15 10 pm

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2013 Trip Five, Boston, Deb and Rebecca, June 14

June 14

The rain lifted by mid morning and the day was much improved from yesterday. Rebecca had to work but the three of us headed to the New England Aquarium in downtown Boston. The school kids were out but were actually well behaved.

at the aquarium

at the aquarium


Chris' New England friend

Chris’ New England friend


Deb had not been to the aquarium before. If you know my daughters though, you know we had to stop for a bite to eat before getting too far into the aquarium. As we entered, aquarium staff were out showing off the fur seals. Later on, we caught them demonstrating the harbor seals and their antics.

Skate ray

Skate ray


Ed and Deb

Ed and Deb

In between we caught the IMAX film “Into the Deep” with its underworld photography of deep sea fish and their interdependence. Cleaning stations, the balance between predator and prey, and the impact of a changing environment of various fish populations were highlighted.

The aquarium was not fully opened as it is finishing up a major renovation with the final touches just about finished. Despite this, we found it enjoyable, humorous, and educational. Well worth our time.

I got to drive with Deb as navigator. 10 years in Boston have pretty well allowed her to navigate despite the tendency here to rarely put street name signs on all corners. You can go blocks without knowing what street you are on or what the name of the cross street is.

Deb safely at the grill

Deb safely at the grill


Deb and Rebecca

Deb and Rebecca


After the aquarium we headed to Best Buy to do a little shopping. Actually we stopped at Panera for a mid afternoon snack and then on to Best Buy.

Dinner was a summer special. Burnt hot dogs, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, wine and cake.

Ed and Chris 10 pm June 14

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2013 Trip Five, Boston, Deb and Rebecca, June 13

June 13

Boston. No Bears but Deb had brownies for us. (Notice the use of consonance, 3 words all beginning with ‘b’. Something we all learned back in school, right?)

Okay, I admit it. I got lost again. Boston does that to me. No matter how prepared something always goes wrong. Got 2/3 of the way to Deb and Rebeccas and made a right turn which should have been a left. Well we got to use the map feature of the iPhone to straighten that out. Made a learning experience out of it. Who knew us old fogies would learn to use new technology?

Airline flight was fine. We used our free coupons we got on trip one to Florida when we got bounced from the flight home from Orlando. No chance at the MSP airport to pick up another set. Our flight was overbooked but Delta had enough no-shows that they did not offer vouchers to fly later. Maybe on the way home we will luck out.

Logan airport Dunkin Donuts

Logan airport Dunkin Donuts

Once at Logan airport, we made our usual stop at Dunkin Donuts. Then we had the brownies to hold us over until Deb and Rebecca made it home from work.

We wrapped up the night with stories from our trip and current events in their lives. I got to relay stories of Sarah and Sarah playing hockey.

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Our rainless streak has ended. It is raining consistently here with the forecast for more. It seems easier to handle when we are not planning to be out hiking in the woods all day.

Ed and Chris June 13 10 pm

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