Scooter racing

Scooter racing
After parking for the night, we'll still have time for a little racing

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Things to do In Vancouver When You're Retired

Ah yes, there's so much to do and so little time.  When I got home in September, I gleefully amassed all the information I could find on Lapidary classes, anthropology classes, Mandarin classes, Spanish classes and also checked out the schedules for water aerobics, film showings, philosophy corners and trips to art galleries.  The list was amazing!  It was astounding!  It was exciting!  Every day was going to be filled with wonder and I was going to come home exhausted but fulfilled.

That was the plan, anyhow.

The truth is that most people who retire apparently do so because they've lost their minds.  I mean, for years we were forced to get up at some ungodly hour to make it to work at some equally ungodly hour.  So, naturally, once a person retires you would assume that they would get rid of the alarm clock and sleep in to a more humane hour.  Consequently, you would think that the people who organize classes would start them later in the day in order to accommodate said retirees' more humane schedule.


It turns out that 99% of retired people get up at the crack of dawn and they're rarin' to go by 7:30 or 8:00 a.m.  So the organizers schedule their classes for times when the freakin' sun isn't even up yet.  Of course, it doesn't pay the organizers to have things start later because those same old people who get up in the middle of the night are the same ones who have to be in bed by 8 pm, before the sun even sets.

 There is no force on this earth that would tempt me to wake up even earlier than I did when I was working, just for the privilege of learning a language or polishing some rocks.

So, I got home in September and I found back episodes of Lucifer and Doctor Who, and I watched TV.  A lot of TV.  Luckily it was only for 6 weeks and then I was back on the road again.

Maybe I'll try again in April.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Not Quite Ready For The Olympics

As I have mentioned previously, it is vitally important that you keep your fluid levels up with an assortment of cold adult beverages, in order to avoid making bad decisions.  A sudden drop in liquid levels can therefore be the only explanation for our decision to buy inflatable kayaks.  It seemed like a good idea at the time:  according to the video, you just had to inflate them, hop on gracefully (and easily) and propel yourself with minimal effort through calm waters and let nature kiss your soul.

The first thing I kissed was the bottom of the lake when I did a faceplant into slimy, swampy water trying to get onto the kayak.   The thing they don’t tell you in the video is that the minute you put the kayaks in water, they move and not in any predictable fashion.  The end result was that I had to adopt the Nui Method of Kayak Embarkation:  rather than sitting gracefully and moving my legs into position, I just kind of fling myself backwards and hope that my butt lands somewhere near the seat.  Getting off the kayak is almost as difficult but by that point I’m usually already wet so it makes no difference.

Another interesting phenomenon we discovered was the Law of Suckage.  When you inflate the kayak, all the air going into the boats obviously creates a hole in the atmosphere, which can only be filled by having high winds blow non-stop for days in order to replace the air you’ve used.  This also explains why we were only able to use the kayaks about 5 times all summer – the high winds whipped up the lakes something fierce.   Plus, being inflatable, the winds make you feel like you’re riding a kite sometimes.  I mean, we were getting lapped by 5 year olds in those little hard kayaks, for pete’s sake.  Still, we looked cool!

We've decided that the Olympic Kayak team doesn’t have to worry about being replaced just yet.  But watch out next summer!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For....

It turns out that it's easy to say you'd like to go back to roughing it, given the reasonable expectation that it will never, ever happen.

I went from camping in a tent, to a 19 foot trailer, to a 28 foot trailer and then to the ultimate in grandeur (ok, ok....grandeur might be a bit of an exaggeration)....a 34 foot RV which is old,rickety and pre-dented.  I've always said, though, that I really missed camping in a tent.  Ummmmm....

Fast forward to the end of April in BC.  My brother - Rusty Lugnuts - and his wife - LouLou Lugnuts - decided rather suddenly that it was time to downsize from a home to a condo.  Now, normally, you would expect that the buyer (the Lugnuts) would go to the seller (Yorkside) and say that they wanted to buy a condo.  At that point, they would look over the models, pick a suite, pay a deposit and exit happily on their way to Dairy Queen for a sundae in celebration.  You would be wrong!

Yorkside told people that they would open pre-sales on May 7th but, before that date, anyone interested in buying had to line up outside the sales office for pre-buying pre-sale pre-sales.  You got it - anyone interested in even potentially buying a suite had to line up 24/7 outside the sales office, get a number (the Lugnuts got #30) and wait for 10 days for the real pre-sales to open up.

Now anyone with half a brain - or at least a bit of common sense - could see the stupidity of this plan.  Or maybe the brilliance - after all, it generated a lot of publicity and even TV and newspaper articles.  To be fair, the TV and newspaper articles intimated that it was a ridiculous way to sell condos, but still....  On top of that, the developers chose to feed all of us dinner AND give us $100 in gift certificates every single night - all while saying that they couldn't understand why so many people would line up for pre-sale pre-sales.

And so it happened that I wound up outside the pre-sales office, prepared to camp out for the cause.  The first night I brought my air mattress and 2 thin afghans..... I'd forgotten that 99% of my blankets were in the RV, in Ontario.  Lucky for me, the temps were reasonably mild and it wasn't raining, for a change.  So, for the first time in my life, I slept outside with a bunch of strangers, a bunch of dogs, and several porta-potties on a busy street in Langley.  The next night, we got a tent which, at that point, looked like the height of luxury.

Although it was a stupid way to sell condos, the truth is that it was a lot of fun.  And, you know what, I still miss camping in a tent.   But, just in case, I'll keep the RV handy.

The best part is that the Lugnut family got the suite they wanted and will be moving in to their new condo in about a year!  Yay!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

WTF!??? Snow in Mid-April

Last year, we got back to Orillia on April 7th, only to have snow and freezing rain hit us the next day.  It had been so cold that Jackie's water pipes were still frozen.  So this year, we decided to delay our return by a week and guess what?! fricken' snowed in Indiana and there's a winter advisory for Flint Michigan, our next stop.  I always swore I would never see snow again after I retired.  So much for that prediction.   I managed to avoid having to drive in it (so far) but we did hit fairly heavy rain today between Indianapolis and Angola.  On the plus side, it did clear a few bugs off the windshield.

All I can say is that the idea of sacrificing a virgin to the weather gods is looking like a pretty reasonable alternative right now.

Next year, I'm not coming back until June.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

I May Have to Rethink Some Eating Adventures

I've written about eating tripe (urk!) and boudin (yum!) and crawfish (jury's out), but I didn't tell you about some of our other culinary excursions.

In Yuma, one of the grocery stores featured yogurts with flavours such as Pineapple Kiwi Spinach and Blueberry Cucumber.  Naturally, I bought everything they had including Dark Cherry Beet, Lemon Zucchini and Spiced Apricot Butternut Squash.

 Let me just say, for the record, that ALL of these are a very bad idea.  I tried the first two and just about gagged.  I couldn't even face the other ones.  I opened them up, took one sniff and tossed them into the trash.  I know you're supposed to eat vegetables and all, but, quite frankly, I'd rather risk scurvy than dip into these again.  They even made tripe look good.

So, not to be outdone, my two sisters prepared a little taste testing event last night featuring pop (aka soda) they picked up in Tennessee or possibly Mars.

The first one (Sample A) smelled like old shoes and didn't taste a whole lot better.  The second one (Sample B) tasted like something you would pour on pancakes, only sweeter and wetter.  Sample C seemed okay at first, once you got past the gag reflex.  However, it definitely had an afterburn that was reminiscent of that feeling you get when you kind of puke but don't quite get there.  The final one (Sample D) was bright green and smelled like a combination of mouthwash and old dusty books.  That same old book taste lingered for quite awhile.  ALL of the samples were thrown out the Beast's window in very short order.  Want to know what we were drinking?

Sample A:  Ranch Dressing soda
Sample B:  Maple Bacon pop
Sample C:  Buffalo Wing pop
Sample D:  Cucumber soda

Kind of makes me crave a big glass of milk and a bologna sandwich.

Anyhow, we said goodbye to the girls last night.  They are off to Michigan for some final RV repairs.  We are off to Flint, Michigan and then home to Sudbury.  Sudbury....where it snowed 30 cm in the past two days.  yay

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Vicksburg....drop everything and go there

For the first time, we have turned north.  Our path took us to the town of Vicksburg, which was a huge civil war battle site and is now home to half a dozen casinos and one huge riverboat.  What a gorgeous town!  Everywhere you look there's a mansion or a statue or a mural or a cannon or ironwork decorations or cobblestone streets.  We spent 3 days there and I plan to spend a whole lot more time in the Fall.

The mansion tours just about did RRR in:  she had said, just the day before, that she should be walking more.  Be careful what you ask for!!!  And, for some odd reason, people in the 1800s really liked stairs..... a lot!  It must have been so they could make grand entrances in their hoop skirts.

RRR was not thrilled with the mansions - she felt they needed a good cleaning.  The first one was a "town house" and was actually quite small (and a bit dingy) although it did feature a hand-crafted carpet done in petit-point (check out the photo).

 The second one - Cedar Grove - was gorgeous.  It also featured a canonball from the civil war, which was lodged in the wall.

The colours were amazing - one room was done all in Wedgwood Blue, another was dusty rose, another was forest green.  There was even a pink Lalicque chandelier and a piano that was valued at $1.5 million.  Even more impressive was a huge safe that sat in the formal dining room:  it looks just like a buffet table, but was actually a 3000 pound safe that the owner used to hide his valuables when the Union army commandeered the house as a hospital.  No one ever guessed that the side table hid all of his money.  I was so busy kicking it (they said we could), that I forgot to take a photo.

One interesting thing I learned about was the paintings which you see everywhere:  they are usually of little kids in very uncomfortable looking clothes that no parent in his/her right mind would ever dress them in.  It turns out that, because of the bad winters, painters would paint a selection of bodies in various costumes and with various backgrounds.  Then, in good weather, they would travel to wealthy homes and people would pick out their favorite outfit and the background and the painter would just paint in their faces and hands.  This led to some weird combos:  in this case, there is a painting of a little girl but the face and hands are those of a much older woman.  It's kinda creepy.

 Also creepy was the doll museum..... it's kind of unnerving to have all these little eyes staring at you everywhere you turn.  My favorite was the X-files Barbie and Ken.  I had to have that picture.

And just across the street was the Coca-Cola museum where I spotted a Jabba the Hutt lunchbox.  What little kid wouldn't like to bring that to school!?

All in all, Vicksburg is a memorable place.  I really need to spend some time there to indulge my interests in the civil war era.  The place just drips with history!!!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Aiyeeee......dat's good eatin'

Getting ready for Mardi Gras
We headed for Louisiana a day early in order to beat what the weatherman said were severe thunderstorms.  I guess it's true what they say:  little boys who lie grow up to be weathermen.  Except for one short bout of rain (we weren't even home), there was nothing.

 Anyhow, made it back to Lafayette and immediately started looking for Billy's Balls.  This is the Boudin capital of Louisiana and everyone sells them, along with cracklins (fried pig skin) and crawfish (mudbugs).  Boudin are pork sausages but Billy makes them even better by stuffing them into balls and deep frying them.  RRR really didn't like them but I think they're worth a trip to Louisiana whenever you can get there.

We also took a tour of the oldest rice mill and saw how rice was produced.  Very interesting and lots of fun rice products to look at.

We toured Vermilionville, which was the original Acadian settlement.  This place was amazing.  They had people in period costume, artisans sculpting wood, people in the smithy and a woman who showed up how to clean, card and then spin cotton into thread.  It was a really interesting afternoon.

The best, though, was Champagne's Swamp Tour.  We spent 2 hours on the boat and saw some amazing sites: birds, bugs, turtles, little alligators and some huge 'gators.  This is my second time on the tour and I'd go again - it is so beautiful!


Last stop was Avery Island, where they produce Tabasco Sauce.  Also a very interesting tour, lots to see and the Jungle Gardens are amazing.  We got 3 little tiny bottles of Tabasco sauce when we registered:  for me, that's a lifetime supply.

Of course, I couldn't leave Louisiana without trying crawfish.  At Avery Island, I had a big dish of crawfish etouffee (that means stuffed or choked - which would be nearly impossible, given the size of the mudbug).  Anyhow, it turns out that they are delicious..... much better than tripe (thank gawd).  It's sort of like shrimp, but with a swampier taste.  Another reason to come back to Louisiana.