Catching Up

Now I have some time to blog, and forgot my trusty little flash drive at home with all my pics on it, so you'll be subjected to ramblings rather than photos. The time last week in Canada was completely wonderful, exactly what we needed, and way too short. Glad we're leaving again *tomorrow* for another 9 days! Feeling quite spoiled actually.

Driving up we stopped at a hotel for the night, making it all of 4 hours out of the city I think. Pulling together stuff for the lake, everything I needed to cook and camp for 3 days, and birthday things for Becky took everything I had and then some. It's not like I can just make a pile of camping gear in the middle of the basement, pray the cat doensn't pee on it, and leave it there for a few weeks while I collect it all and think about what we might need. Most of the camping stuff was carefully wedged into the 'crawl space' in our tenant's room, which is a high cupboard above the closet that has to be climbed into to properly deal with. Michael obliged and hauled things down for me, pulling sleeping bags out of the cat carrier, etc ... and trying to avoid avalanches. It worked, and we ended up with a large pile of canvas, nylon, and battered cardboard boxes under our bed. Packing the kitchen stuff was the hardest ... no special camping pots or anything that neatly fit down inside each other and fold up ... regular heavy-duty saucepan and skillet, bowls, etc ... all stuffed into a big crate.

Believe it or not, it all fit rather comfortably into the trunk of the bright red Hyundai Accent we rented. I was a bit dismayed at that, not wanting to be SO bright red and conspicuous ... mbv's license expired and his paperwork didn't come in time to get it renewed ... so any zealous cops would be only too happy to slap on fines up the wazoo if we actually (gasp) were speeding or something. Not to worry, 1300 miles and no tickets :).

It was SO nice to be out of the city, and just the 3 of us. Unbelievably nice. We arrived at the cottage in Perth (well almost) saturday afternoon, and were given directions to go straight to someone's house in Lombardy where all the Hayhoes & their company had been invited for dinner. I didn't catch the name the first time we talked, but later got an inkling that perhaps this wasn't going to be a small rustic cottage on another lake and burgers on the grill ... the name Rochon was mentioned. Knowing the name from vague meeting connections over the years, I always connected it with "knows how to make money". Our sketchy directions, and refusal to "Call from something-town and I'll give you better ones" led us to *almost* the right spot but not quite. We ended up trying to go 1.4 miles down Joes Lake Road instead of past it. Long out of cell range, we took the only piece of the road that seemed to go further than about 1/4 mile, and after bumping, squelching, and scraping our way down a track that just did NOT seem like it could be used (or had been used) by anything other than the occasional 4 wheel drive truck. Douglas woke up from a nap while back in the forest track, and wanted to know if we were lost, was this where Douglas lived, and was this where the huge people who laughed all the time lived? Grin. Somehow, this just did not seem like a Rochon road ... and so we stopped at a cottage, borrowed a phone and called, and arrived 5 minutes later.

John and Donna's place was just a wee change from a 4-wheeler track ... more like 1300 acres of manicured lawns, manmade and stocked lakes, groomed 4-wheeler trails (and the 4-wheelers to play on them with), scattered cabins in the woods, 2 large homes, one being the 'while we're in canada' one (they live in texas) and the other a hunting lodge with 5 bedrooms, etc. where we were served dinner made by Francoise, their private chef who used to cook for the king of Belgium. Truly a fairyland experience ... but the nicest thing about it all was despite 4 small kids running rampant (douglas and martha's boys), raggy shorts and travel stains, they made us all feel perfectly at home. Nothing was 'too fancy to touch' or locked behind glass or out of reach. It was all open, lived in, beautiful, and comfortable. The epitome of "perfect hosts" I think, and I was quite welcome to pad around barefoot, help myself to wine in the kitchen, roll down the hill after dinner to get dizzy, and squish around barefoot on the bearskin rug with Douglas (made from a bear the host had shot that had been stealing his corn). Another world to us, but the people living in it just as accessible, friendly, and loving as anyone else. The food was amazing, presented buffet style mostly, but enough food to have served it in at least 6 courses. Pheasant, pork medallions, pork ribs, chicken fingers, salmon, beef roast ... and that was just the meats! We had to tear ourselves away at 11:30, after a last roaring 4-wheeler ride where Dan/Chris' boys took Martha's kids as passengers, and I clamped Douglas between my knees (feet up on the fender) and roared from one house to the other in the dark. Lovely.

This is getting long I see :) Work hasn't come in yet.

Sunday we slept in a bit, then went to Sunday school and saw lots of old friends that I hadn't seen in about 15 years, and heard Uncle Danny preach. So like his dad (Grandpa Albert) that it pretty much gave me the chills. His heart comes out in the same ways Grandpa's did, and it's warm and real. Amazing too to see how they interact with their kids ... they've had some rough years recently, but to see them all (almost ... Nate's in Taiwan) together, comfortable, teasing, loving, and supporting each other was more than inspiring.

Brief-but-better-than-none visits in with Eric/Mary/Levi (grinning wetsuit boy posted tuesday), Mike Moore, and Debbie/AnnaRose in the next couple days, along with tubing, fishing, seadoo-ing (oh so addictive!) and eating and relaxing. Brandon/Charlie loved tubing, and were real troopers in hanging on. Martha/I tried it, and Danny successfully shook us off and battered us up, my shoulders are *still* sore 10 days later! Whether that proves the roughness of the ride or the poor tone of my shoulders, I'm not too sure. Brandon tried to get up on skis (7 and determined!) and did the splits and a face plant and didn't let go for long enough that he took in quite a bit of lake water and was a bit traumatized by it all.

Leaving Tuesday, we stopped and saw Norm/Carole Wood and Sallye/Amy/Jenny ... so nice to drop in after not seeing them for years and find them all a bit older but just the same as I remember from the River Forest days as a teenager in Chicago. We also stopped by Miller's Antiques ... quite the 'organized' rabbit warren house/yard/barn of a place, open to the weather and full of fascinating piles of rusty things, toys, tools, games, etc ... and teapots. We were bought a small red fat-and-happy antique teapot, stamped with Hayhoe Tea on the bottom, a gift from Dan/Chris.

It rained all evening, through the night, and all the next day. Our decision to camp that night on a spit of land out into Lake Superior was not the brightest idea in retrospect, but it was still very enjoyable. Michael might qualify as not SO enjoyable that with having to bungee-cord the tent to the car to keep it from blowing over, and then "spending most of the night with my leg pushing out the *other* wall of the tent to keep it from imploding". It finally dried out on Wednesday night at Taughannock Falls State Park, and we were able to dry out the tent and bedding, have a campfire, and rest well with only a brief episode where the air mattress decided to spring a leak and had to be blown up in the middle of the night.

Becky's 40th, on Thursday in Williamsport, was true to form ... surrounded by daytime soap-opera-quality intrigue and drama, we all had a good time, got very little sleep, and came home with headaches and Becky declaring it the "Best Birthday Ever!" which was really the point, now wasn't it? Clarence (her boyfriend) took Douglas and Ashriel (Mark/Wendy's son, they came up for the evening) for a ride in the double trailer he has for his bike ... he uses it to haul groceries and laundry, and was very pleased to have 2 kids in it.

Home just in time to unload all 43 miscellaneous bags, packages, dirty clothes, balled up towels, etc. and return the car! I do love road trips.

Thus endeth the long travelogue, sans pictures (I'll add them, I promise) of the first Vedder Road Trip of the Summer. Part Deux starts tomorrow ...