Working The Bugs Out

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Working The Bugs Out

by Paul Gerardi


Yes, it’s true, we are definitely working out the bugs with our new WordPress website.

Please know that Gerardi Gems is still in development. Our site is functioning well, but it still has a few snags here and there. We are currently adding content to our pages and are adding our products. Still a couple of things to do with our shopping cart, though.

You are welcome to navigate around the site, but it’ll be just a little while longer before you can actually purchase our products.

If you should have any comments on how the site is looking, feel free to use the comment box at the bottom of the page. You can also send us a message using our Contact Gerardi Gems form in the footer of any page you navigate to.

Thanks for visiting Gerardi Gems. We look forward to bringing you new and wonderful creations soon!

On The Road Again 2006

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On The Road Again 2006

by Sharon Gerardi


The Road Continues…Again – February 2006

This blog post chronicles our family’s 2006 travels across North America in an RV named Lucia, and our towable shuttle pod Volkswagen Transporter named Gerty. At the end of our 2005 post, we were in LaCanada, CA to spend the holidays with our family the Borgen’s.

2-10-2006 I know, I know, it’s been a while since my last BLOG. In my defense, just like in your ‘reality’, there is just not enough time in the day. If I have learned anything on this past year, it has been that, even though we don’t have “real” jobs, we are still very busy.

Since I wrote last, we have traveled the coast of Washington through the Olympic Peninsula, we really enjoyed our revisit to Sol Duc Hot Springs with our Cousins Denise and Karen and my friend Jocelyn from Victoria, who came and joined us as well. We then traveled down the coast of Oregon, and started with Astoria. It’s a great town with lots of Victorian homes from the early 1900’s, and special people. We were introduced to the mushrooms that grow wild during the rainy months in the Northwest. Chanterelles were our favorite. Robyn was actually fortunate to go picking with her friend Casey and her family. We got to visit Portland, which is now our favorite city…just a little ahead of Boston. Eugene was a great experience; we did the famous Eugene Market and got to spend the weekend at an Eco Village. It was a great experience for Robyn, helping build eco friendly yurts and gardens. While in Eugene we met up with our friend from Alaska, Susan Muma. Really weird how she was there the same time as we were.

We headed back to the Oregon Coast and spent more time than we planned in a town called North Bend/Coos Bay. We are still not sure what the draw was, but it felt very comfortable and again the people made it great!. It rained, and rained and rained while we were there.

Northern California was incredible! The redwoods are inspiring and unbelievable. You can feel the wisdom of the trees when you’re amongst them. We stayed in a small town called Arcata, that we all really liked. The arts community was really big there.

We then went to Mendocino and loved it there. We were fortunate enough to stay with Joyce and her husband Richard in their wonderful home, while we were visiting and being involved with their church. Joyce has a rescue for cats/kitties and through her great work was able to find homes for 52 precious animals this year! Robyn was so hoping to play with a few while we visited, but they had all been adopted ……. Except one! Joyce told Robyn there was only one kitty left and it was a feral cat that was afraid of everything and stayed hidden all the time. She said it doesn’t seem right, kind of in a constant daze. This instilled pity and a challenge for Robyn. After spending 3 days with ‘Shadow’ (the kitties name) Robyn was able to get her for the first time to purr, clean herself and be comfortable in others presence to even play. This enabled Joyce to see that Shadow was adoptable and saw her in a different light. Robyn of course was emotionally attached to Shadow, but knew that if someone wanted to adopt her, that was as it should be. We gave it a time frame of December for her to be adopted and if not she would be Robyn’s. Joyce was taking her to the Vet to be check out and in doing so they discovered she has an enlarged heart. Now it was a risk getting her spayed, but very important not to pass on this genetic weakness. WELL, she survived the surgery and thanks to a lot of folks helping out, she was flown to us in Orlando. Robyn was so surprised and now she is part of our traveling family and has adjusted very well. She likes to stay in small spaces, hence the RV is perfect for her. Akbar has finally accepted her and they even sleep together. By the way Tess is doing great, she is the most gentle, sweet rat we’ve had…and,, she and Shadow are developing a friendship. Shadow is allowed by her cage and Tess doesn’t bite her.

After growing very fond of Mendocino and the incredible new friends we made, we had to move along. We then headed to catch up with our Montana friends Laura and Brian, they are fellow artisans that told us about a show in Senora, California over the Thanksgiving weekend. It was a great show, they have kids that dress up as elves, old time carolers and Christmas trees…a lot of fun was had by all. Good music as well. Robyn had a job working with a stained glass booth and got all kinds of goodies….she worked really hard too.

We then headed to wine country and stayed at the Russian River area. It was great weather and we were very lucky to enjoy the river. Two weeks after we left the area they had horrible flooding in the same area we were.

OTRA to San Francisco to visit the city and rendezvous with my friend Chris from Winter Park. She and her husband Bob were out there visiting with family. Chris was a great tour guide, we got to see the best parts of SF in a short period of time. We also got to see the new Harry Potter movie on IMAX, that was incredible.

We then traveled down the coast to Monterey and visted the Aquarium, which was one of the best Aquarium’s we have ever seen. We toured Pebble Beach and played tourists. From there we traveled East to the Sierra Nevada area, down to Lake Isabella. We stayed there for a little while for Paul to rebuild Gertie’s VW engine. Thank goodness my sisters best friend lived there and we had great time with Suzie and her family. It is a really beautiful area. We headed down to LaCanada, CA to spend the holidays with our family the Borgen’s. We had a tremendous time with them. Robyn learned the basics of chess from Rick who is a Master chess player. We made candy and sushi and had so much fun with the girls…young ladies now! Roxy, Karen and I never ran out of stuff to do together. Never enough time when I’m with this group. Paul had to rebuild the engine….again (apparently they don’t make the parts that good anymore) We all shared the flu and then we headed out to Arizona.

Arriving in Arizona was incredible. I didn’t think I would like the desert, but I was very surprised and how beautiful it is. We did a lot of hiking around Sedona (can’t even begin to tell you how magical Sedona is). Up in Flagstaff we got some snow and Paul and I taught some classes, which was very broadening for us. Down to Tucson to and the International Gem and Mineral Show. WOW, this was so overwhelming. I was able to reconnect with some friends and got to purchase some great stones for my jewelry. Robyn had a great time in the desert as well, she learned about cactus and how they bite. Coyotes and mountain lions were all around as well. Interesting feeling hearing the coyotes howling now to far from the RV. Funny the cat didn’t want to go for a walk there?) J Off we went to New Mexico to visit our dear friends in Albuquerque and celebrate Robyn’s big ’13th’ birthday. On the way we stopped in Faywood Hotsprings and we were pleasantly surprised by this wonderful hotsprings. They had no sulphur smell to them and they were fabulous. And to top off the experience we met 3 other couples that were of like mind and we had the most stimulating, uplifting conversations. We had a great ceremony for Robyn’s coming of age and made some life long friends. Albuquerque was a wonderful as we hoped. Robyn got everything she wanted for her birthday and few more surprises. She wanted to make her own birthday cake and she and Betsy had so much fun putting together a chocolate, chocolate, strawberry cake. It was so good, but kept us up half the night J We headed south to Carlsbad Caverns and were totally amazed at this place, it is a must see. We had to visit Roswell, being it is on the way. We stopped in the museum and it was a hoot. Very campy and interesting. Off to Texas. We visited some new friends in Austin and ran into Susan Muma from Alaska in downtown Austin….what are the chances of that! It was quite a reunion and a surprise. Time to head to Florida! The drive through the southern states was very eye opening. The hurricane damage was still very visible. We were going to stop in New Orleans to check it out, but it was the same weekend as Mardi Gra and we didn’t want to get in that mess. We spent some time in northern Florida and visited Tom & Julie in Floral City. They have a great place that has Emus, Zebra and donkeys…oh my.

Home again, home again, likity split we are back in Orlando catching up with everyone.



On The Road Again 2005

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On The Road Again 2005

by Sharon Gerardi


The Road Continues – March 2005

This blog post chronicles our family’s 2005 adventures in an RV named Lucia. After we returned from Newfoundland, we traded up our RV so that we had a “slide” that gave us more room, especially in our hallway. These adventures were originally posted on Sharon’s Creative Art….And away we go….

Hello Everyone!

Well, we have had a wonderful, beautiful trip so far. Paul has done a lot of work on the RV (Lucia) turning it into a homier atmosphere (i.e. spice rack, book shelves, bedside shelf for my evening tea. J

We are presently in Great Falls, Montana getting ready to cross the Canadian Border heading up to Alaska.

Now then, down to business! We left Orlando in a whirl wind on March 29th. After selling the home, shoving everything in storage, and Paul cutting a CD, we were frazzled. Paul’s new CD Naked truth is awesome (if I say so myself). It’s got a political feel to it and some Bob Dylan type tunes. It also has 2 tunes about Newfoundland. If you haven’t got one yet….. we ship anywhere

3–05 We headed up to Summerville, SC to do the Flowertown Festival.

We met Brian and Laura from Montana at the show. They are fellow artisans and we really hit it off with them. (Check out their website ) After the show we all went camping at Francis Marion National Forest in Buck Hall. It was very relaxing and recharging.

A dear friend of mine was killed by a hit and run on Colonial Drive. His name was Michael Rood, and he will be missed by many, especially his mother Diane and his 3-year-old daughter Ruby. May peace and healing come quickly to you in your time of loss.

A new addition this trip is Akbar (aka ‘Mister Hollywood’), Paul’s black 11 year-old Egyptian cat. He is adjusting very well, and really enjoying the diverse animals we have come across so far (cats, dogs, rabbits, deer, horses, elk, buffalo) Miss Sow (Robyn’s pet rat) is as wonderful as ever. Her tumor hasn’t got the best of her yet. We hope to have her around a long time.

While in Charleston our VW microbus ‘Gertie’ received a cracked head. Thank goodness Paul had prepared for such a thing and already had an engine built and just needed to be shipped, which we did.

4-11-05 After visiting the Charleston area we headed up to Kings Mountain near Charlotte, NC. Ginger, Joe and their sweet dog ‘Gracie’ visited us from Raleigh met us there. We had a nice, but brief visit. It was a great camp ground, we all had a great hike all around it. I can’t get over how wonderful it is to have wisteria growing wild all over the place. Not only is it a beautiful purple, but it smells fabulous.

All along the way we were still settling into our new RV. It’s name is ‘Lucia’. “OH LUCIA I’M HOME”….. We really love our new home, it’s a big upgrade from ‘Freda’.

4-15 Headed into Atlanta. We dropped Robyn off with her Dad and Paul and I went onto Tim’ and Sue’s place. Great to catch up with them and enjoy their wonderful home in the spring. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know their cat ‘Jazz’, and eating Tim’s great cooking. Tim, you look great! Good luck with all your biking fun, I’m really proud of what you have accomplished with your health changes. You look Maavelous!

4-18 Starting our trek to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We traveled through nice rolling hills in Tennessee, then straight through Arkansas to Oklahoma. We stayed overnight in Oklahoma and not to offend anyone…. Oklahoma is the pits, it has to be the smelliest, dirtiest and worst road (I-40) ever. I could not wait to get out of that state, it was (if you can believe it) nice to see Texas. We stayed in a little place just outside of Amarillo. It was cool getting use to the dry air, the people in Texas were great. We are averaging about 6 hours driving a day, sometimes more, sometimes less.

4-21 We drove to Santa Rosa, New Mexico and stayed at the State Park there. It was a beautiful, dry, quiet place. We hiked down to the Blue Hole (a.k.a Santa Rosa Lake), which is one of the deepest Lakes in North America. It was actually very muddy looking when we saw it, being it was just coming down from the Mesa’s. It’s nice being in cool/dry weather. I still don’t miss the hot humidity…yet!

4-22 We arrived in Albuquerque at Alan and Betsy’s place. They immediately took us to a Mexican restaurant to have sangria and incredible Mexican food. We settled in their front yard and really enjoyed their home. Robyn had a great time playing in the backyard with all her Pokemon and watching all the great old shows and movies they had. We had some good down time while waiting for the VW engine to be delivered.

4-28 We traveled on to my friend Stella’s place (sister of different mother’s) also living in Albuquerque. She has a very enchanted place, I do believe fairies live there. She had grass in her yard….which is somewhat rare in New Mexico. She also has a beautiful garden with cute little things everywhere. She and Robyn had a great time together looking and exploring all the items around her house. To our delight she also is a massage therapist…J Thanks for the work on my Achilles! and Paul’s back after he rebuilt and installed the VW engine.

I wanted Stella and Allan & Betsy to meet, knowing they would hit it off. Of course as the universe would have it, they already knew each other. They just didn’t know ‘That’s the Stella, you’ve been talking about’ or ‘That’s the Allan & Betsy you’ve been talking about’. We had a great laugh over it and we all went up to Sandia Peak, which has the longest tramway in North America. It was great! When we started at the bottom it was 75o, when we got to the top it was 36o…and SNOWING. I can’t remember the last time I giggled so much. Robyn of course played in the snow till she almost turned blue.

Thank you Stella, Alan & Betsy for truly showing us that Albuquerque is enchanted.

5-6 OTRA to Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe. Stocked up on all the essentials and headed up to Taos. We stopped at the Pueblo by accident….we took a wrong turn and it ended there. But, to our advantage, Robyn was able to make friends with a new colt, that would only go to her. We then headed out to the Rio Grande Gorge. It was really a neat place that we were able to walk out on the bridge to be right on top of it. Incredible view with the mountains in the background with snow on them. We continued on our travels and ended up taking a scenic route, (totally by accident). It was really eerie passing houses that were buried in the ground with solar panels and fully self contained … off the Grid. You could easily get lost out there and no one would know……anyway, it got muchbetter on down the road a bit. Lots of snow capped mountains with green prairies, we hugged the San Juan Mountains. We had to listen to John Denver since we were headed to Colorado. When we got to Colorado we stayed overnight in a place called Alamosa that look onto a hughe mountain called Blanca Peak (14,345 elevation), we had the best steak dinner in a place called ‘True Grits’, it had a John Wayne theme.

We got into Denver just in time for Gertie’s tow bar to break, just 2 block from my friends Byron and Eric. We had a great stay and a wonderful Salmon dinner with them catching up. We made lots of phone calls and got the tow bar fixed and OTRA….The only problem was there was snow up ahead (that made this Florida girl a little nervous), we kept up with the weather and headed to ‘Sierras Trading Post’, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to find some deals on outdoor wear (I finally got a warm pair of slippers). They said we could stay the night in the parking lot, so we settled in. At about 7 pm it started to snow….yippie! We must of looked crazy to the security guard working that night……us out there in our PJ’s making snow balls. The next morning we had over 2 inches of snow! It didn’t take long to melt and we were OTRA. Next stop Kaycee, Wy were we stayed at a place that was a farm. The owners had kids so Robyn was in her glory, playing with horses, cows, pigs and a donkey (looked just like the one in Shrek). Great Spot!

5-13 Arrived at Brian and Laura’s in Townsend, Montana. They have 5 acres nestled between two mountain ranges, really awesome site. The sun is staying up more these days, being so close to the northern hemisphere. Brain has filled us in on the best routes to take to Alaska, since he’s done the trip many times. We had a great time celebrating Paul’s birthday, we had Buffalo burgers and chocolate cake… is good. We had some great c onversations and bonding time with our wonderful Montana friends. We wish your Dad a quick recovery Laura, he is in our thoughts and prayers.

We did a lot of work on Lucia getting her ready for the trip to AK.

5-21 OTRA up through Helena then through an incredible Canyon like I have never seen…ever view was like a screen saver. Alas, no camera to get a good shot. We arrived in Great Falls and met with Judy from the Unity Church of Greater Falls. We hit it off right away and felt very comfortable. We stayed overnight at her place and did some drumming and singing. We really enjoyed her home and the beauty of the Missouri River all the next day. Thanks again Judy…..for everything!

Well that’s all for now folks, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to send the next BLOG. It will take us approximately 3 weeks to get to Alaska. PLEASE, email me I would love to hear from you.


The trip up here was….was…well words just can’t describe it, make sure you check out our photos. It was MAGNIFICANT to say the least. I’m glad I was reminded before we got on the Alaska Canadian Highway (ALCAN) that “It’s the journey not the destination”.

5-22 We left Townsend, MT with a heavy heart. We really enjoyed Laura & Brain’s Place and enjoyed the beauty and majesty of Montana. Thanks again Laura for the eye shades they really help me sleep. We traveled through Helena, MT on route 15 towards Great Falls. We passed through a canyon that took my breathe away….every turn was a screen saver shot! A magical place. We made it to Great Falls, MT and settled into the Unity Church for our work/play day there. Judy (Board member) met us there and greeted us with a warm welcome. It was the first time we were given a key to the church to set up…’s nice to be trusted. We all had a great time at this church, it was quality people not quantity. The night after the service we were invited to spend the night at Judy’s on the Missouri River…right were Louis & Clarke’s trail was (there is a marker in her back yard). It was a great evening, we got a good drumming session in and a great dinner.

5-23 Crossed over the Border to the Alberta plains. Very plain 😉 lots of rolling hills, antelope, cows, etc. We arrived in Calgary and Paul ventured into town to check out the local scene. Robyn and I visited the Calgary zoo; our favorite part was the Canadian area where we got to see all the incredible animals we hope to see on the trip ahead. Moose, elk, buffalo, mountain sheep, mountain goats, wolf, grizzly, black bear, and coyote. The weather was great as well, lows’ in the mid 30’s to 40’s highs between 60 – 70.

5-26 The next day we drove into the Badlands of Alberta. We ran into incredible winds (45mph gusts) we crawled into the valley of Drumheller and called it a night. The next day we visited the ‘worlds largest dinosaur” We hiked the inside stairs and had a great view of the badlands, looking out his mouth. We then went onto the Royal Tyrell Museum. What an excellent museum, it covered the major discoveries in this area for dinosaur remains; everything about it was well done. After the museum, someone recommended that we take the ferry across the river on the way up north. Next time we will need to let them know the big rig we have. We ended up taking some
incredible steep grades straight down to the river. Once at the river we barely fit onto a ferry that didn’t go more than 600 feet to the other side. What fun that was (of course I was the lucky one driving) bottoming out…..then the fun part…..climbing UP the hill! It was our last excitement in the Badlands before heading north to catch the ALCAN Highway.

5-27 We made it to Grande Prairie, Alberta and stayed over night in a parking lot. We went to see the “Madagascar” movie (pretty cute), and wandered around the shopping area. We are still getting use to virtually 24 hours of daylight. The sun is now going down around midnight, with twilight in between and the sun rising around 4 in the morning. It’s great for driving, we take our time in the morning and drive until around 8 pm and it’s still light out.

5-28 We had a ‘Tremendous’ drive today. After we stocked up with groceries and got our picture taken at the ALCAN 0 mile marker we left Dawson Creek. Paul almost hit an Elk that ran into the road (close call) then about an hour later, there was a Moose on the side of the road that we stopped to find out why (plus not wanting to hit it). It crossed the road right in front of us and trailing behind it was a little baby moose just getting use to having legs. It was awesome! I was unable to get a great photo, I got one, it’s just not great. I had to take it through the windshield. Along the next several hours we saw, more Elk, beaver and a black bear. We were in the Canadian Rockies and all there splendor. All these animals were within 40 feet of our vehicle, some we could take photos but others we couldn’t stop. We drove up to Summit Lake and it was so beautiful, lots of snow on the mountains. We stayed at the provincial park and met up with Marilyn the camp ranger. She was great to talk with and connect with. She put the whole | Grizzly, Black bear terror into perspective for us. She said you have a greater chance of getting mugged at a 7-11 at midnight or better yet, getting attacked by an alligator or shark.. I know it sounds weird but it helped us getting over the whole fear of being eaten by a bear while going to the bathroom.

5-29 We took off for Muncho Lake for brunch, WOW we are really feeling the magic of this trip now! This glacier lake was the most pretty blue I’ve ever seen, it was actually turquoise. We parked right on the lake bank and enjoyed the view with a full English breakfast with the good chinaJ. We have to treat ourselves to this every once in awhile J. We then headed to Liard Hot Springs, OH MY GOSH! We decided to stay a few days and enjoy this spot. Actually hot springs coming right out of the ground at 136 degrees, then at the other end of the water way was a ice melt spring coming into water. They had benches in the water to sit on and you could go to whatever level of heat you could stand. It was heaven, and it was open 24/7. Karen and Denise you have to go there .…it’s a must!

5-30 We met some great people at the springs and ran into people we had met before on the road up. Robyn met some friends as well and played in the water till she looked like a raisin. It’s always good when she can play all day and night. We met Martin and Ruta at one of our morning soaks and they invited us up to their place in Fairbanks….I think we will go.

6-1 Headed north up the ALCAN to Mukluk Annie’s. They advertised free camping and if you buy dinner at their salmon bake you get a free house boat ride on lake Teslin. We had to check it out, it sounded too good to be true. Well, it was better than good. We had a great meal, reasonably priced and a guided boat ride and the best part excellent free showers. Life is good!

6-2 Off we go again toward Whitehorse in the Yukon. The Yukon Territory is a different world, the only police we saw was a cardboard cut out of a police car at one of the small towns along the road. People here just take care of themselves. When we got into Whitehorse, it was a big city compared to what we had seen. We visited the Alpine Bakery (the best bread and the best scone I have ever had!), picked up a couple of loaves…wish we could of gotten more. Robyn and I visited the local used book store and got her some more books to read. She is reading the Nancy Drew series and (thank god) loving it! Whitehorse was an interesting town, it was rough around the edges with a college town flavor. It was great weather to drive in, and roads aren’t bad if your not in a hurry. We made it to Kulane Wilderness Lake and had a great evening camping and playing games. Robyn is having such fun seeing all the different terrain and animals.

6-3 We crossed the boarder into ALASKA!…hassle free I might add. Seems like when you are towing a VW micro bus they profile you. Maybe the borders have the word out that we are O.K. and won’t give us a hard time anymore. We stopped in Delta Junction at a place called Rika’s Roadhouse. Apparently it’s a tourist trap, but we got there after hours and had the whole place to ourselves….fun. It was a roadhouse run by a women named Rika. She was extremely efficient in the Alaska wilderness, so much so that the Department of Agriculture studied her garden. Apparently she was able to grow incredible vegetables in harsh conditions. She catered to the gold miners and had a good little thing going. I hiked all around the place by myself at around 11pm and played with the animals in the petting zoo and looked into all the windows of the historical buildings. It was a great evening alone for me. The next morning we had breakfast in the restaurant and it was incredibly good. The best sourdough bread and pancakes…… ummmm! I’m getting hungry just writing about it. We made it to Fairbanks to see Martin and Ruta. They have a great summer cabin that they made themselves; it has an outhouse with a view (what a treat). I loved all the wood work they did and there water system since they have no running water. I was impressed. We had a great visit with them and their dogs and enjoyed their cooking. We also made it to one of their meetings with fellow peace advocates and I really learned a lot…plus the food was good J

6-7 We made it into Denali and have been lucky to make it in before the crowds. We are camping in the interior of the Preserve, which was only for tent campers before, but they have had a wolf problem (ravaging tents) that only hard side camping is allowed. Lucky us get to camp here in Teklanika. We got a site right next to the creek/river which was great listening to when we slept at night/day. Robyn enjoyed it as well, being able to play in the streams.

As soon as we got there we boarded the bus to Fish Creek, which is a 5 hour round trip bus ride through Denali. It was a dusty ride on the dirt road, but the scenery was awesome. I wasn’t sure about the busing situation, but I’m a firm believer now! Denali has got it together and as one ranger told us….”We have to control the people, NOT the animals” I couldn’t imagine a swarm of cars and RV’s on these roads, it would take away from the whole experience. The weather is so unpredictable, one minute your hot, then a wind comes up and lowers the temp about 15 degrees. On down the road a bit we got to see Mt. Denali (aka Mt. McKinley) in all her glory. The bus driver was so excited for us, he said, “I only get 4 to 7 good days a season like this…it don’t get any better than this”. It was humbling, Robyn, Paul and I got dropped off on the side of the road and just sat there mesmerized. We saw a grizzly on the side of the road and then a few more up the road. Then we saw some mountain sheep. The only problem was, we got spoiled on the ALCAN. We were able to see them up close on the ALCAN, here we have to settle for the sheep being up the mountain. Then again, the grizzlies were up close and personal.

6-8 Today we spent around the campsite, and enjoyed the downtime. We have to boon-dock (go without any power/water/sewer) so conserving is a must on what we have. Once your in this campground you can’t leave. It’s almost 2 hours to any civilization or small convenience store.

6-9 We went out on the bus again today and headed for Cathedral Mtn. We got off the bus and two hikers pointed out 3 grizzlies (mom and 2 large cubs). We watch them for a awhile then hiked down the other side of the mountain. It was an incredible hike, Robyn got to play in the snow as we hiked up the tundra. We crossed a stream and had to take off our boots, boy that water was painfully cold. We got to the top and stopped for lunch with an amazing view of the mountain range. We then spotted the buses stopping down around the road, which usually means they spotted animals. We then realized the grizzlies were back eating and we needed to figure out how to get down or around. It was kind of exciting sitting on top of this mountain waiting for the grizzlies to move on, so we could get down. After about an hour we got a signal from some other hikers it was all clear. What an experience! Especially after those same hikers informed us of a grizzly attack on a hiker just sitting on a boulder. He dragged her off and mauled her. They think the grizzly just had a moose kill and she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I would of liked to of heard that story after I was back in the bus…..but it added to our excitement. Once we got back to the road I went and took a picture of the warning sign about not to get off the road because i was a high content of wildlife area. The grizzlies had all but chewed the sign apart. While we were hiking we saw two other signs with the same warnings all chewed up and mauled laying by the waters edge. I guess the bears don’t want us to be warned!

6-10 Robyn met a friend and joined his family on the long bus into Wonder Lake (11 hour trip) and said it was great. She got to see fox, and wolf in addition to the other animals we already saw. Paul and I stayed in camp to make art/craft products (mobiles). We had a productive day and really enjoyed working outside…until the mosquitoes chased us inside. They ARE BIG! but slow, they swarm when the sun goes in and when there’s no wind. It was warm today, high around 72. We had a nice rain through the night.

6-11 Woke up a little chilly this a.m. (52). Amazingly the creek had become a raging river. I guess between the rain and heat yesterday a lot of the snow had melted. Robyn was lucky with the weather, she wouldn’t of been able to spend all those hours playing in the creeks if it was this high. We headed | back out and really drove slow to soak it all up. We headed out to Cantwell Campground were the owners are from Melbourne, FL and come up and work the camp in the summer. It was the most wonderful shower I have had in a long time. We did laundry, etc.

6-12 Got really cold last night (39) and I had to get up and put the heat on. WOW! I just saw a Wolf as I’m typing this BLOG, go through the campground. I so wanted to see one before I left Denali..thank you! We are heading to Anchorage to re-supply and check out the local scene for shows. We also want to catch ‘Star Wars’ and celebrate our one year anniversary….Then we head for Marta and John’s place in Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula.

Until next time, peace and love…..Sharon, Paul & Robyn


Well to say the least Alaska was the ultimate! I’ve decided to simplify my life by not doing a day to day Blog and just summerizing our experiences. We had so many wonderful experiences in Alaska it’s hard to begin. We saw whales, seals, eagles, elk, moose, bear (black & brown…aka Grizzly), sheep, buffalo and I’m sure I’m forgetting alot. The mountains and terrain are described in the best of poetry and verse. We met the most incredible people and had some great experiences in the various art/craft shows we did en route. Paul, Robyn and I are richer individuals due to our adventures in Alaska. The photos say alot!

8-8 We left Alaska and headed down the ALCAN south, through beautiful BC. We were very surprised at the diverse terrain of this incredible province. You had mountians, rivers, deserts and all the animals along with them. Our trip down was not as eventful as the one up, probably due to the fact that most animals were further up the mountains or in the forests by then.

8-20 We arrived back into Washington State and back to the another reality…..OTRA…..we arrived in Seattle to attend cousin Greg & Kimberly’s wedding. It was great seeing family again and catching up.

We are presently in Oregon doing various markets to sell our wares. We really enjoyed Astoria and the coast of Oregon. We will be heading south from Eugene after Halloween

We miss everyone and send you peace, Sharon, Paul & Robyn

That’s it for 2005 ! For the “rest of the story” check out the blog for 2006…


On The Road Again 2004

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On The Road Again 2004

by Sharon Gerardi


The Road Begins – June 2004

Hello All. This blog post chronicles our family’s 2004 adventures in an RV named Freda. We left from Orlando Florida and went north to Newfoundland Canada where we have relatives. These adventures were originally posted on Sharon’s Creative Art. Just can’t let go of these memories yet !

Below is the text from our 2004 Trip…….

WOW! Its hard to believe it’s only been 2 weeks since we left. We are still on a ‘learning to RV’ phase. We haven’t been able to get our have to wait for now. We had some done from my instamatic and put to CD (the marvels of modern technology… you gotta love it…. except when your not in cell range J). If you have called me and I haven’t got back to you yet, it’s because of a lot of reasons (i.e; out of cell range, I’m driving or …I forgot!) As soon as we get the internet access figured out I will do my best to email more. So Let it Begin!


We have a 29′ Class C RV (pictures coming soon) her name is ‘Freda’ and we are towing ‘Gertie’ (Paul’s VW ’70 Microbus/Camper) we are getting use to towing, but it’s not a joy ride. It’s great having Gertie as a shuttle pod, gives us a lot of freedom.

Our first night we stayed in Savannah,GA at Skidaway Island it was a nice State Park. We got to appreciate the term ‘Pull through’. It rained and was very hot ,Thank God for Air-conditioning (TGFA).

June 20th – Up early to go to Savannah Unity Church, for Paul and I to do the service. Paul and I spoke about our love and appreciation for our Dads (past and present) and some cute stories (Dad I’ll have to tell you them sometime). I cried and then had a menopausal moment and totally forgot what I was saying, so much fun in front of a room full of people. I saved it by asking if any women in the church are going through peri-menopause and said that they would understand and it got a great laugh and saved my talk.

We went into Savannah that afternoon and realized Florida is NOT the most humid place on the planet, good golly it was hot and muggy. We found a nice cool Wal-Mart and used some gift certificates to get some household and organizing stuff. NEVER thought I’d use Wal-Mart so much.

June 21st – ON THE ROAD AGAIN (OTRA) Off to Charleston, SC, pretty good drive. We stayed at Lake Aire Campground, surprisingly nice. We joined a club called the “Happy Camper” and get selected campgrounds at 50% off. It’s great! Hot again, TGFA.

June 22nd – We drove into Charleston and check into a few stores, not a lot of New Age Stores, very conservative. We enjoyed the day looking at the great architecture and walked a lot more than we wanted looking for a place to plug-in the Laptop. No success!

June 23rd – OTRA – to Cedar Island, NC cool drive there (except through Myrtle Beach). We drove into the night and arrived at the Ferry. We stopped in the ‘front row’ turn on the generator just in time for a great summer storm. It was really cool how we drove these incredible winding roads with this full load in tow and avoided this tremendous storm then just upon arriving it came. Buckets of water and high winds, it rocked us to sleep.

June 24th – We woke up checked into the Ferry, made breakfast and loaded the boat. It was a great 2 hour ferry ride into Ocrakoke. We then headed up the Outer Banks to Avon. It was overcast, which made it nice for driving. We again stayed at a great campsite, Sands of Time (I think it sounds like a soap opera). We finally are able to rest a few days and we need it. We went to the beach and being a National Seashore we liked how it was vast with nothing on it. They allowed vehicles on the beach, but it needed to be 4 wheel drive (ruled out Gertie) and it was not very crowded. People fished mostly, we ofcourse wanted to get into the water. It was cooler than Florida water around 78 degrees (I loved it…..until….) Robyn yells “I see a Shark fin” Paul and I look at each other and don’t want to believe her, but she was adamant. Being she does know her animals, we got out. I didn’t see them, so I went down to our neighbor and asked them if there were sharks in the water. He said he just saw some! Oh well, kind of makes since now that NO ONE was in the water. It was beautiful none the less and we enjoyed it.

June 25th – Went to the beach again and Paul and Robyn decided to lay at the shore line with the waves crashing into them. They had a great time and it was fun to watch.,…until… they started to get stung by something …. inside there bathing suits! Yikes! They both stripped to their towels and we headed back to Freda. After their shower the stinging stopped (thank goodness). We then went to see “Harry Potter III”, the best so far, said Robyn. It was very good and Harry is growing up.

June 26th – We traveled up to Nags Head to do some selling and see the sights. We went to the Wright Brothers Museum an climbed the monument. It was a great little place with an awesome view. We then went to the biggest sand dunes I’ve ever seen. We climbed them and got to view the sound and the ocean and Robyn got to roll down them and get all full of sand. She is making friends at every turn. She sees a kid her age and she just runs up and says “do you want to play?” and away they go.

June 27th – I worked all day making products that I sold in Nags Head, then we went to the beach and I collect shells that had been polished by nature. Robyn dug a hole deeper than her when standing and waited for high tide to flow in. We really enjoyed the Outer Banks, would like to spend more time there in the future.

June 28th – OTRA – Off to Norfolk, VA. We stopped at Gary, Tina and Will Brown’s home. They were wonderful to let us invade their space and turn their world upside down for a few days. They lived in a great house that overlooks a brackish river. The tide comes in and goes out and drains the water completely…. like a little Bay of Fundy. They allowed us the feeling of being ‘home’ and fed us great too! The best She Crab soup EVER! Gary was a big help getting some of our computer glitches fixed, and Tina helped take care of Robyn, which allowed me a lot of freedom. Robyn and Will (with the help of friend Daniel) got along great! They were all into the same stuff (Bionicles, Pokeman duling). They built a fort and Robyn got to go in a canoe to go crabbing. She caught some! She also got her fill of electronic games and sugar to last a few weeks. Thanks Gary and Tina..and Will!

June 30th – Visited the Virginia Beach area to the Edgar Cayce compound. The treatment center was great. All the modalities of healing that I support…..awesome place, with a great meditation room to boot. I also made some great sales to their Heritage Store and others in the area….it was a good day.

July 2nd – OTRA – Off to Lynchburg, VA. We arrived at the Thousand Trails campground. HOT AND HUMID, not at all what I was hoping for, TGFA…. Had some great She Crab Soup (care package from The Brown’s) and turned the air way down and slept. I’m finally able to sleep in…yippie!

July 4th- This is not what I’m use to. I guess the people are just different then us in Virginia ??? Can’t explain it, just hard to talk with some folks. Oh well, I’m now looking for a place we can go to be able to keep our windows open at night and not have to live in the air-conditioning all day and night. We want to build a fire, but what’s the point if it’s hot and humid out? I never would of thought that it is MORE humid than in Florida. BUT, it is summer isn’t it. I’m sure when I get further North it will cool down, and again THANK GOD FOR AIR-CONDITIONING (TGFA).

July 5th – Had a great day! The campground emptied out and we had a great BBQ and a small fire, AND if you can believe it we read books all day. We love the fact that there are lots of lightening bugs. We are also camping in front (or behind, depending on how you look at it) of a bull pasture. We had such a good time messing with those bulls….actually I had the great time. You see I love to mooooo at them and they actually react. Thank god for the fence in between us! There was also wild turkeys, goats and other farm animals.

July 6th – OK THIS IS IT we get to upload all this stuff to my website. Pictures will come eventually. We ventured into Lynchburg (city proper) and found a cyber café to use our Laptop. We also did a lot of shopping at WAL-MART……of course. (still trying to get organized).

OTRA DU – What a drastic change from the previous weeks. Temperatures cooled off, people warmed up. Also, I would like to make a disclaimer that I caint be held accountable for misspellings or grammor issues you may have. I’m typing mostly on the road and time is a factor (believe it or not) so those that know me, know I have a gift with the English language anyway….enugh said.

July 7th – We worked all day at the campsite to fill our Virginia Beach order and get ready for shipping. It’s a great office atmosphere I dare say. Still hot & humid though, but I’m sure as soon as I head up the mountains we will get a little cooler……please…..please.

Robyn had a great day, went fishing and caught a paint turtle named ‘Lavender’. We discussed the catch & release philosophy which she actually understood this time. My little girl is growing up J. We are actually settling into this campground now that all the people left, NOT that there was anything wrong with them…. It’s been raining off and on but it’s not an issue since we are high stepping it in an RV as opposed to a tent. We truly do feel very luxurious for camping.

July 8th – Still not able to connect with our cell phone, but we did find the public library full of very helpful people and free internet access….at least for me. Paul I guess has to have the Internet connected to our laptop to work with Outlook?? We are in a very small town, it actually only has one light.

July 9th – We ventured out to Thomas Jefferson’s summer home of Poplar Forest. Learned a lot of history and we got to talk with some archeologists digging for anything relating to Jefferson’s past. They are in the restoring phase of his place and it was really neat to see how they rebuild something to meet the standards of that period. We got back to camp and built another small fire. We roasted wienies and had smores, just like you’re supposed to. Robyn is getting really good at building a fire and chopping wood.

July 10th – Went back to ‘RUBS’ the internet biker bar in Lynchburg, VA. It’s a cross between Hooters meets Sloppy Joes and slams into an upscale Bennigans (and a little Parliament House thrown in). To put it mildly it aint’ like a biker bar I had ever been too. I guess it’s a Virginian’s version of a Biker Bar.

July 12th – I was able to get out and have a really good bike ride today. A lot of rolling hills and NO traffic, a great work out. Thought of you Phil 😉 Well I think we have organized ‘Freda’ finally. Paul built me a shelf next to our bed so I can have my chamomile tea while reading before I go to sleep, oh the simple little pleasures. We spent the rest of the day preparing to leave tomorrow.

July 13th – OTRA….we set off to the Virginia Blue Ridge…What a great drive on the Blue Ridge. IT WAS ACTUALLY COOL, about mid 70’s. We pulled off and found the most incredible waterfalls, we hiked all the way up and Robyn looked for Newt’s and Salamanders under the rocks. We really enjoyed those falls; it brought us to the reality of our traveling. Being able to see sites like that.

Further on the Blue Ridge we stopped for a picnic lunch. We asked a group of Amish that had just pilled out of a van to take our photo and they looked at me very peculiar??? Duhhhh, they don’t do that, so the driver was a Mennonite so he was able to photograph us. We had a great talk with him discovering the differences of the Amish. What a wonderful afternoon traveling the Blue Ridge, it put a lot of things in perspective for me.

Tonight we slept at a truck stop in Breezewood, PA. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised as to how easy and comfortable it was (provided you have your generator running with the air on to drown out the truck noise).

July 14th – The other upside of sleeping over at a truck stop is the wonderful breakfast right outside your door. We headed up north to Allegany, NY via Penn Turnpike. It really irritates me to pay for a toll road and they have it all tore up doing construction (pet peeve). We drove through upstate PA on Hwy 219, great trip, it has cooled off and raining off and on. Lots of winding roads through small towns & villages with lots of charm.

We arrived at the home of Mike and Barbara Rehler, my good friend Brian Rehler’s parents. They have a great place on the side of a mountain, specially equipped with a pond, enchanted forest, barn and fresh garden. Robyn was not there more than an hour and she had already collected 42 slugs and a snake. We were able to use their shower and it was a wonderful treat to have a full size shower with out having to look out for bugs or to make sure your shower curtain is closed all the way. Mike practically forced us to have a cocktail (you know were kidding Mike), and we graciously accepted. We slept with our window open for the first time this trip and the temperature was great (59) .

July 15th – Got an early start to Niagara Falls, before taking Robyn to the airport. We decided to go to the Canadian side and really glad we did. It was very quaint! It was raining a light mist on top of Niagara’s already natural mist, so we got wet. It was an awesome site, but Robyn got bored. She said she would rather be at the Blue Ridge waterfalls looking for Newts. I think she got bored because she wasn’t’ able to touch or feel the falls, you can only look. So Paul and I decided to come back when she is gone and ride the Maid of the Mist and check it out at night.

We got Robyn to the airport had our teary good bye, and then Paul and I decided to treat ourselves to a night in a hotel with a bottle of champagne. We never did have our honeymoon night, and it’s very close in the RV…if you know what I mean…..enough said. We stayed in a neat little town called Hamburg, NY…..and we didn’t watch any TV……J

July 16th- We ventured into the Village of Hamburg and had a GREAT day! We met Wendy of “Let’s do Wine” she teaches people how to make wine and beer and also supplies the stuff to do it with. I wish her luck in taking the leap of leaving the day job… I highly recommended to her. We also experienced a wonderful eating experience at “Common Grounds ” it is a commune community that makes wonderful breads and fresh organic foods. The house/restaurant was made from whole pieces of wood, as in a branch was kept intact as a beam and a stump is a bench, etc. Wonderful craftsmanship. I had an interesting conversation with the elder (I invited him to join us for lunch), and declined joining up with them that night. They were very pleasant and carry old religious beliefs.

We headed back to Allegany and had a wonderful dinner at the Rehler’s. Barbara is a wonderful cook and hostess.

July 17th – Today was cleaning day! We cleaned out Freda from top to bottom, did laundry, etc. We decided it would be nice to have Freda clean for few days before Robyn got back. Ms. Sow (Robyn’s pet Rat), is being spoiled rotten. She really is a great pet on the road or otherwise.

July 18th – Up very early to Chautauqua, NY. Still very overcast and cool, we are loving the temperatures and the rain reminds us of Seattle. Chautauqua is a very interesting place; it originated in the early 1800’s by a Methodists Priest and an Ohio businessman. Together they wanted to establish a place to teach people to teach Sunday school. Since in those days Sunday school was the only school, they also taught the basics (reading, writing, arithmetic). So with this history brings us to today. It’s a blend of most major religions and intellect. The service Paul played for was for Unity and the talk was on ‘The DaVinci Code’, the facts about Mary Magdalene. If you haven’t read the book yet by Dan Brown, do so. It’s an excellent read and it stirs a passion with anyone you talk to. I’ve never known a book to be so mind opening to soooo many people. I enjoyed the town, with no cars allowed, but it seemed to be very conservative. We saw very few people of color and it felt very clickish. We met a guy named Woody Star who was of great wit and his own special kind of charm. You could tell he has lived there awhile and really new a lot about the place. Next time Woody we will stay longer to get the full tour 😉

We rushed home (home is where Freda is parked) to have a great meal prepared by the hosts with the mosts, Barbara and Mike. We had a great time talking with them and other family members about politics and religion. There was a great mix of opinions which got more interesting as the evening wore on. It’s great to have good stimulating conversations with opposing views with out to much judging going on for all sides. It’s interesting and educational to discuss our present world situation with such well informed views.

July 19th – Today we worked on miscellaneous stuff for shipping and mailing. Updating some emails, etc. I was so proud I got my sister Ann and good friend Sally’s birthday cards done very early.

July 20th – We said good-bye to John, Joni and Ryan who head up to Buffalo before going back to St. Croix. We really enjoyed Ryan and his parents (nice to have a liberal among us J). We went into Ellicotville, NY to sell and have lunch. Found a great little herb shop that had NSP products and talked with the owner about Enviroshield. We also spoke to a guy at the ‘City Garage’, which is a really neat little shop that had sport shoes and clothing and he wanted to buy Gertie. We said we would get back to him in a few years! Ellicotville is a ski resort in the Winter. We had a great lunch at ‘Dina’s’ on the patio. I like the fact that most of these towns have out door café’s that serve great food. I guess when you have harsh winters you like to be outside as much as possible the few months of summer you have.

We found out about a farm near Ellicotville called ‘Native Offerings’ that grew organic produce and beef. We drove a few miles out and OH MY GOD! What a gorgeous drive. Rolling hills and farm land with horses and just gorgeous. We found the farm and the owner Deb with a adorable 9 month old stuck on her hip, and a great black cat that was very friendly. She had two other children that just amazed me, ages 7 and 4. They would go out and pick green stuff (herbs or greens) and just eat them right out of ground….cool. What a great place to raise kids. Anyway, we had a great visit with them, we picked our own produce and got some great clean meat. They also gifted us with some venison jerky, which was great! It was a wonderful visit and I got allfilled up with my baby fix and cat fix. We got back to the Rehlers and had another great visit with them and Margie ( a delightful 88 year old…..going on 60). More wonderful talks and spiced rum J. We had great wonderful cuddling weather for sleeping.

July 21st – We did some shopping today and got prepared to leave tomorrow. We also made a salmon dinner for Mike and Barbara and Margie. We got some great fresh Basil at Native Offerings and we made some great pesto, very difficult with our space deprived kitchen, but together Paul and I pulled it off and it was wonderful….if I do say so myself. We had a wonderful dinner on the porch with temperatures in the low 70’s. THEN we broke out the B&B (thanks again Bill & Anne) and had a great time with Mike about philosophy, theology and everything else in between. 😉 A wonderful time was had by all. Even Barbara had a sherry and relaxed with us, dare I say napped. Thank you both for a great time and memorable conversations.

July 22nd – OTRA – got on the road around 2pm heading for Evangola State Park on Lake Erie. We had a great drive on route 62 through Amish country. Upon arriving the temperatures were very cool in low 60’s (yippie) we walked down to the lake and I was amazed at how GREAT the lake was. Being from Florida it look just like the ocean, waves and all. The campground was on cliffs that surround the lake, erosion over the years I imagine. We watch the sunset and chilled….literally.

July 23rd – We drove into Lily Dale near Cassadaga. Those of you from central Florida know of Cassadaga and it’s spiritualism. What’s so neat is Lily Dale is a whole gated community on a lake that is where spiritualism started. We had a great day roaming the streets and talking to the locals. Much more approachable here than in Florida. We ventured back home and stopped in the town of Fredonia at a little wine shop, (we are having trouble finding wine at a good price) and found a great deal on some wines…..finally. Back home we had a cozy evening. I’m missing Robyn but feel really good about this trip she is on. I’m also really enjoying Paul and our alone time….if you know what I mean 😉

July 24th – What a beautiful day, cool and dry. We decided to stay an extra day here since it’s a wonderful camp site. Very spacious and private. We set up shop and made a large order for a store in Niagra Falls. As we were working people would stop by and check out what we were doing…..and bought product. What a great life working in the woods….I could get use to this. We worked into the evening and after we raced down to the beach to gather driftwood for future artworks while the sun set. We had a great fire that night (low in the 50’s) and Paul did some wonderful singing.

July 25th – What a wonderfully cool morning, it feels like it ‘s in the 40’s but I’m told it’s in the mid 50’s (my Florida thin blood). Paul went off to sing at Chautauqua Institute (he was asked back) and I’m breaking down camp and doing my first solo trip up to Lockport, NY, which is next to Niagara Falls. OTRA I can’t believe how easy it is to drive ‘Freda’ now. I checked in around 1:30, backed in and hooked up….. all by myself. I sat down at the picnic table with a cup of tea and hooked up the laptop and did some inputting. Paul arrived home around 4:30 and we headed to Niagara Falls. Great drive in from Lockport on an old road, route 104, which had great views and no traffic. We got to Niagara and rode the ‘Maid of the Mist’… very wet, but a lot of fun and great view of the falls. We then went to a great restaurant ‘Red Coach Inn’, we had wonderful food and saw the fireworks. After dinner we went to see Niagara lit up at night. WOW great spectacular sight. We enjoyed the Canadian side of the falls better though. Much cleaner and the people were more friendly. It also was less touristy feeling, than the American side. Long ride home, it was only 45 minutes but, they don’t light up the small roads in these parts….the up side is it was cold out….J

July 26th – up early and drove to East Aurora to check out town for sales….yuck…not at all for me. We headed to the Buffalo airport to pick up Robyn. Her flight actually came in early. She was sunburned and happy to be home. She had a great trip with her Dad and family. We stopped at a U-Pick place for blueberries and got a bunch of big fat blueberries. Back to campground, were Robyn immediately made friends and rescued a baby swallow. Paul made a nice dinner and fire. It’s so nice to have Paul cook; he’s really good at it. Then Susan from ‘The Point’ Niagara Falls new age store came by to pick up her order. She brought her 11-year-old son for Robyn to play with and do smores with while we did business. Susan is a wonderful person and we talk about our life stories and did some bonding. It was great to do business this way J .

July 27th – woke with rain. We broke down camp and headed to Parrish, NY for the night. Cold and damp outside and nice and warm inside Freda. We had dinner at the Café (a mound of mash potatoes and biscuits covered with chicken and gravy) OH MY GOD what comfort food… the pound. We had a quiet evening and read.

July 28th – OTRA Set off for Amsterdam, NY to visit our new favorite store ‘Camping World’. We restocked on our dream list and set off for Glen Falls, NY to camp. Neat campground, but it had rained for the past week (of course until we arrived) so it was muddy. Robyn, again, made new friends right away and the group were collecting frogs and having a ball in the creek. It rained that night just in time for a good sleep. The temperatures are still moderate high in the low 80’s, lows in the mid 60’s.

July 29th – We drove into Speculator, NY to visit with Jen Braunius and her lovely 2-year-old Madeline. What a great place she and her husband Kevin have. Overlooks the lake and just QUAINT, quaint, quaint. We had a great dinner overlooking the lake and being entertained by Mady. We love the fact that everyone wants to feed us, it’s keeping us within our budget quite nicely. We headed back to Glen Falls before dark, we don’t want to be caught on these roads after dark. Us Floridian are use to flat roads… At camp Robyn’s new friend Emily slept over and they had a great time playing with all her beanie babies.

July 30th – OTRA We set off for Saranac, NY to visit Paul’s Brother Joe and his Wife Marilou. What a fabulous house they have with their newly added ‘Garagemahal’. They just recently added a 3 car garage that looks awesome and huge. They live on 40 acres at the foot hills of the Adirondack Mountains and it is soooo quiet….I just love it. Their house frame is made of over 100 year old reclaimed wooden beams from old barns and various buildings. We slept in the loft which takes up the whole upstairs of the A-frame. I love all the wood inside. Robyn is catching up on her TV viewing and lounging about. Mac their yellow lab is a good dog to hand out with tooooo! Love that dog! We are being spoiled by the Gerardi’s and Joes awesome cooking. It’s a little on the warm side, upper 80’s so we took a dip in the pool.

July 31st – We had a great breakfast by Joe and being that it was raining we decided to clean and wash Freda. BOY she got dirty this first leg of the trip…so did Gertie. They are both glowing now! It was fun working in the rain. We got a lot done, we totally took over the washer and drier. So by the end of the day all was clean. This evening Paul and Joe taught Robyn and I to play Pinochle. It’s amazing how good Robyn is at cards. It’s a fun game the three of us can now play on the road. What out Dad she has moved up from UNO (which she still loves to play).

August 1st – Woke to a wonderfully sunny day (it had been raining). Young Joe (23), Paul’s nephew , did some tremendous work on Freda. It needed to be welded after we bottomed out a few days back coming out of a gas station. He is quite talented in the automotive department and welding. We all headed out to Burlington, Vermont, by taking the ferry across Lake Champlain. It was a great drive to and from. There we caught some great end of summer sales at some high end shops (Ann you would be so proud). We of course had to visit the original Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop…..who new ice cream could be so good. THIS JUST IN……. Robyn had a big event happen in her life…..she shaved her legs for the first time….We had ANOTHER great meal and caught up on the current events on the news. The political arena is sure heating up isn’t it???? Had a great evening having girl talk with Marilou. It made me realize how much I miss my friends and girl time back home…

I miss you guys… know who you are!

August 2nd – AGAIN woke to being waited on for our meals by Joe. He is an excellent cook…Mrs. Gerardi did something right with these boys J. Anyway, Joe and Marilou then took us to Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, NY and we took the gondola up to the top of the mountain. GREAT view and cool ride up and down. Then off to Lake Placid to experience the town that had two winter Olympics (’32 & ’80), nice little town. Reminded me of the German Alps very Scandinavian in architecture. Picturesque flower boxes, with awesome mountains in the background. This area is gorgeous with all the evergreens, and maples sprinkled with birch trees. I would love to be hear in the fall, you can actually see the leaves changing already because of the cooler and wetter summer they have had this year. Another good night with the Gerardi’s.

OTRA …THRICE What an interesting month August has become so far….eh… (I’m getting my Canadian accent primed). Hopefully all my loved ones in Florida have power now and can read their emails. Lets hope and pray the worst of the Hurricane season is behind us.

August 3rd – OTRA – Left Joe and Mary-Lou’s in rainy weather. Crossed the border to Vermont, WOW we knew within a few miles that it’s different here. LOVED IT! Very mountainous and green, lots of cute little towns. We really enjoyed out drive into Vermont. We arrived in Lyndon, VT and took a wrong turn, ended up on a small uphill road. We had to find a place to turn around (knowing we were on the wrong road) and came upon a place to do just that. It wasn’t’ until after we turned around that we realize the tow bar had come off and we were towing Gertie on safety chains!!! Very scary to go through. Thank goodness we weren’t to far from Steve & Cindy Nichols house. Steve quickly made me ‘THE BEST’ martini I’ve had in quite a long time (I could kick myself for not watching him make it)..To say the least it took my stress right away. What and incredible view from their porch watching the fog roll in over a mountainous valley. Robyn got to spend some time with their children Ben and Alyssa watching TV (her favorite thing to unwind). I fell in love with their new dog Buddy. A 5 month old, golden retriever exactly like the one I want when I grow up. Love that dog! They also had two other dogs that we really enjoyed as well, it was great seeing them being able to run in wide open land playing. We had a good chuckle when Steve said they had to put the air-conditioning on because the humidity was too high! We told him he’s been out of Florida tooooo long if he thought this was humid, but then again, I guess it’s all relative.

August 4th – Had a good morning doing nothing but sitting on the porch looking at the mountains sipping coffee and talk with Paul. We got caught up on some emails and just kicked around the property. Cindy with Alyssa took us raspberry picking by the college….but they weren’t ready to be picked yet. We went into a town called St. Johnsbury and got groceries to make sushi. Back at the ranch…Cindy made the most wonderful sushi and miso soup. Of course it wasn’t comp e letwithout sake (right Cheryl).

August 5th – Woke to a great view of the sun coming up over the mountains (well that’s not exactly true) I woke after it had come up (6:30am) but it was still an awesome view with fog in the valley, but clear above. I decided to do my stretching exercises, (Sherlene you’d be so proud) on the wonderful porch. Paul, Robyn and I went hiking into the woods, per Ben’s instructions and discovered a few ripe raspberries along the way…ummm. We continued the hike and I discovered a breech in the neighbor’s fence and had to investigate. OH MY! We had the best view of a gorgeous hilly (mountainy by Florida’s standards) green pasture. It had a view to die for. I took a bunch of pictures. We all laid around in the grass and tried to make a whistle using a blade of grass, Paul was very successful. Robyn and I finally got a peep, I think it has to do with big hands with fat fingers……really. We figured we had better leave this Eden before we were run off or charged by a bull or emu (I’m not lying). Starting down the mountain we came upon an abundant raspberry crop. We ate till we were full then went back and got containers to fill. What a tremendous day in Vermont.

August 6th – We all slept in today, must be the weather. We went to the radio station and visited with Cindy and Steve. We then went to their new-soon-to-be-open restaurant ‘The Chop House’ to help them start the painting. It was fun painting with this wonderful warm yellow/golden/mustard color…….almost Zen like. We look forward to seeing the completed pictures and hearing of their success as restaurateurs. If their cooking for us is any indication you have to visit their restaurant if you’re in the area. Tell them we sent you!

August 7th – OTRA – We had a leisure morning and left Vermont with calmness and a rested spirit. We have to say that Vermont has a uniqueness all it’s own….which makes it even more special…….Then BAM! We crossed the Massachusetts border and immediately felt the differences in the states. They drive like CRAZY here! They also give the worst directions (so far New Yorker’s gave the most accurate and thorough). We finally found our way to Lakeside Resort ….NOT. It wouldn’t have been so bad, if it had been on a lake…or near a clean lake……or had people running the place with an attitude of remotely liking their jobs. Can you tell I was in a mooood L. We have come to find out that camping in Mass is apparently in such demand in the summer that people are desperate and settle for any camping experience. So far, Mass is not on my high list. The one shining spot of our day was we found a Costco (first one since Virginia), and we were able to stock up on some goodies. 2nd shining spot we have good cell reception J

August 10th – Nice day! We rode our bikes around the area and discovered Mass has a whole other language when it comes to street signs. Out of pure curiosity I had to find out what the signs ‘THICKLY SETTLED’ meant every 30 feet or so in areas. As it turns out it means there is more than one houses per acre…….sooooooo that means the speed limit is 30mph! I again being purely curious asked “why don’t they just post 30 mph?” That’s not how we do it here!…. Don’t even get me started on the Rotary’s! We have been trying to figure them out for a few weeks and are slowly beginning to realize their value…we’ll report on this at a later date.

August 11th – Another great weather day! We spent all day working on inventory and really enjoyed it. We went to the ‘Clam Box’ restaurant and had a wonderful fried food dinner. Just what my hips need L. Of course we had to follow it with ice cream. Everyone does ice cream up north..

August 13th – We went into Springfield to the Gem show to see my friend Barry and to pick up some products for my work. Springfield is not much fun to drive in or out for that matter….just in case you were wondering! While in the gem show we heard of the hurricane Charley updates and the anxiety and worry began. We decided to stop at an Olive Garden on the way back to Brookfield, MA…aka Lakeside resort..not. Something familiar to us that was comforting. By this time I had talked to most of my family and friends to see how they are handling it all. We were very scared/worried and feeling guilty in a weird way for not being there. It’s not that we wanted to be going through it, we just missed everyone more than ever and kind of knew what they were going through. Robyn had a really tough time tonight, she got a glimpse of a TV (something we hadn’t had in a week) and saw where the storm was headed. We said a lot of prayers together and separately ALL night.

August 14th – To say the least we didn’t sleep very well, it was as if we felt all the anxiety and stress of everyone we knew…it was like we were actually there, but not! THANK GOD everyone is all right. It was a relief to make calls and here everyone’s voice and that they and their home had done well. We packed up and OTRA to Rhode Island. We went to Warwick and stayed in a field behind the church Paul was playing at. It was very peaceful and NOT Massachusetts ( I need to clarify…..NOT Northwestern Mass, I now know there is a difference) anyway it was great to be resting…..except believe it or not the ruminants of Hurricane Charley passed over tonight, dumping way to much rain. I’m not complaining, it sure beats whatall our loved ones went through the night before.

August 15th – We had an early start to be set up for the church service at 9:30. I was able to show my artwork and Paul played the service. I was able to share with a few of the ladies about herbs and alternatives to western medicines. Robyn was a big help! What a great group of people. We really enjoyed the rest of the day. Robyn and I wrestled in the field and Paul and I were able to have great relaxing evening before we all settled in, to watch a movie.

August 16th – OTRA – We are heading to Cape Cod….YES it’s in Massachusetts, but everyone says we will really like it. We arrived at Cape Cod Camp-resort in West Falmouth and we were very surprised with all the high pine trees around. We assumed it would be like the Outer Banks or the Keys with very short vegetation. Anyway, so far so good. Robyn was able to make new friends right away and off she goes….with Ms. Sow in tow. We ventured into Falmouth to find some healthy food and see if we could check our emails (not to beL). We did laundry and headed back to site.

August 17th – Today we took it easy and got everything ready for tomorrow’s upscale flea market in Wellfleet. We have heard a lot of good things about this place and look forward to doing well.

August 18th – Up very early and on the road by 5:30. We arrived at the Wellfleet Drive-In…what a hoot….and set up our stuff. It was great! We met some great people and we look forward to spending a lot of time here over the next two weeks to supplement our income. After we broke down (it’s still a full running drive-in…nice one too) our tent we went to visit Gutsy Bender’s Pizza place. Gutsy is a friend of a friend that thought we should meet. He was right we hit it off great. He has a great place and apparently great music through out the week. We look forward to visiting again soon. We then went to the beach around the corner and WOW what a great beach. It has awesome dune like cliffs (we later found out was beach erosion…BIG TIME) that surround the National Seashore. As we were leaving people were coming to start fires for a night on the beach watching the sunset….so cool….again, I look forward to spending more time in this area. Those that said I would like this part of Mass was right.


August 19th – Lazy day. We spent the day working on photos and website at Starbucks in Falmouth, it’s hard to believe it takes all day to catch up and upload my BLOG.. Very humid, we got some PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels for dinner, they were GREAT! Very rich. They are special because their grown them on ropes as opposed to growing in the mud, so they have no grit or dirt with them yummmmm.

August 20th – We all woke very tired and weary, a good day for pancakes. We finally got to crack open a jug of the wonderful maple syrup we bought from the mail-man in Vermont. Very pleasant guy, he is about 40ish and has 6 kids (I didn’t know people still did that!) anyway he and his family make and sale Vermont maple syrup. We had a leisure day…except Robyn who has made some great girl friends. The played all day and night together….some serious bonding going on here. They are called Rebecca and Becca (too cute). Paul and I played music around the campfire and believe it or not I’m singing with him…actually harmonizing….its’ twue, its’ twue. The girls all came in from their night of hide and seek with all the kids and joined in the music circle. We all had a really good time. We are still burning the birch logs his brother gave us and we are savoring each piece. When you put birch on a fire it burns the layers of paper bark one layer at a time and it wonderful to watch. We wished we had him put more in Gertie before we left his house.

August 21st – We went back to Wellfleet in Cape Cod and did the flea market again. It isn’t going to work for me. I think I do better at Arts/Craft Shows. We set up next to our new buddies, Natalie, Tad and their son Griffin. They are from Vermont (Ofcourse!) and they sell incredible jewelry.

August 22nd – Paul ventured into Somerville, MA, just outside of Boston, to do a Unity gig. It was a great day for him. He was able to have a profitable day and go into Boston and enjoy the city as well. Robyn of course was up first thing this morning to go see her friends. I was lucky enough to enjoy a wonderfully cool day making phone calls to a few friends and family in Florida. Really glad everyone is recouping after Hurricane Charley. We had family game night and played Pinochle (Robyn is getting really good).

August 23rd – OTRA, packed up and Robyn had some tearful goodbyes with Becca #1 & #2. We headed into Nickerson State Park, OH MY GOD! This park has redeemed Massachusetts camping. This state park has eight natural spring ponds (they would be considered lakes by Florida standards), crystal clear water and no buildings around them soooooo beautiful. They also have over 25 miles of paved bike paths and off road paths through out the park (Phil you have to visit this place). Apparently they had glaciers here eons ago and the spring ponds remain all around the cape. The weather is also cleared up and we have lows in the 50’s and highs in the low 70’s no I’m not rubbing it in, just sharing my good fortune! We had a great bike ride and went swimming in one of the ponds, check out our photos!

August 24th – Robyn of course met this great family that just loved her! The Dad is a physics professor at Harvard and we shared a pot of coffee and I picked his brain. Physics fascinate me! We really had a great talk and discussed theories.

We decided to travel up/down the Cape we stopped into a pet store to see if we could find a leash for Ms. Sow (we have been looking for over 6 months for one) and don’t you know they had one. It’s great being able to have her on a leash, we can go to more places now. We went to Province Town aka P-town. It is a unique experience in it’s own right. Robyn got to see her first transvestite and lots of colorful images. We all had great conversations afterwardsJ. We walked down to the pier and ….believe it or not…..there was a guy there playing a keyboard in his 70’s. I mentioned it to Paul and DON’T YOU KNOW he new him from Guinevere’s open mike (which we just found out is now closed and a progressive movie theatre is there). His name is Vol and he lives in Maitland in the winter. Small world! On the way home we tried to find dunes for Robyn to climb on, but to no avail. As it turns out your not allowed climbing on any dunes. The beach erosion is very ramped here a surprising 20 feet a year!!!! In fact there is an Island called Billingsgate that doesn’t even exist anymore, it’s even on my map. Apparently a whole town went under with its erosion over 80 years.

August 25th – UP bright and early to my first Cape Cod Arts/Crafts show. It was in a town call W. Dennis. I learned a lot about the cape arts/crafts circuit from the various crafters. Tourism is very slow this year so the numbers of people are down. I’m not complaining I did O.K…..better than the flea market. LOL. We finally went to a Lobster restaurant (Arnolds) and got to pay tourist prices for lobster…yikes! But the food was good and it was a fun place, they also had the best onion rings ever! We also met some really cool people from Boston talking about political issues we all agreed on….fun. (Laura, sorry no lobster coming your way, it’s actually cheaper back in Florida. The cheapest we found for fresh lobster was a market for $7.99 a pound)

Back at the campsite I decided to bike to the showers….well….the light bulb went out and I went down. It’s amazing how much harder the asphalt is when your my age. Anyway, I survived and didn’t do any damage other than bad road burns and a couple of rough achy days.

August 26th – Rough going because of my bike fall, but it was a good sales day. After the show we went to the W. Dennis beach and I got in the water to soak my wounds. The water felt great (68o) lots of seaweed to get through on the shore, but once past it the water was great….cool but great…..I was very cold when I got out of the water though. It was fun watching Robyn walk Ms. Sow on a leash on the beach, better yet it was great watching the peoples reactions to her. It was surprising that a lot of people really warmed up the her, I guess we are the ambassadors for pet rats everywhere…

August 27th – We had a day off today so we packed up Freda from Nickerson S.P. and parked her in grocery parking lot, then we headed to Nauset Beach to hook up with Steve and Margaret and family that we met at Arnolds restaurant. AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME. This beach rocks….literally! Of course the photos don’t do it any justice. The water was incredibly cold (59o), but after the first few minutes and you get your breath back it was quite refreshing (the numbing was kind of a neat sensation as well….LOL) I do like cold water and I’m getting my fill now! We combed the beach for Wampum, which are deep purple shell pieces from Cohogs (clams), that have been polished by the sea. I hope to incorporate them into some of my mobiles I’ve been making. Ms. Sow again was a hit on the beach! The beach is surrounded by sea grass on high dunes that has a beautiful effect when the wind hits them. We didn’t want to leave.

We went back to pick up Freda from the parking lot and headed to Harwich were we got a great deal! We couldn’t get a campsite for the weekend that wasn’t less than $40 a nite and werent’ sure what we were going to do. Well….the people promoting the craft show need someone to stay overnight at the show to do security and they waived our entry fee ($150), sooo we got paid with free camping……life is good……

August 28th – Had a good day at the show, meeting all kinds of interesting people. One in particular was Bill aka ‘The Chieftan’ 89 year old body builderJ who knew a lot about music in the old days. He was living at 52nd street in the 50’s when all the great jazz came out of NY. He shared some great storied of his experiences. After the show I had a leisurely evening in the gazebo, reading last weeks Boston Globe newspaper while Robyn washed the RV to earn money to buy herself …… well all the weird stuff she buys herself. WE were just settling into the evening when a pick-up truck pulled up and said he was setting up for his daughters concert to begin in 20 minutes. WHAT??? So much for the nice quiet night doing security. Anyway, we called the appropriate people and let them hash it out. After about an hour of the police ended up having to pull the plug. Then we had about 30 angry teens yelling about our stupid tents, etc. Lets just say we didn’t get a lot of sleep tonight.

August 29th – Really good day! Paul was able to play his music in the Gazebo and everyone loved him, and he made good CD sales! I also did well in the show and it was a lot of fun. We packed up and headed back to the Wellfleet Drive-In to do their arts/craft show. We have been really fortunate being able to camp for free at the craft fairs, saving us a lot in camping fees. We went back to Arnolds for more onion rings and good food. Ran into some really cool skunks. Apparently they are the rotent de jour in the cape. We smelled them around all the time, but, thank goodness we never had and encounter with the smeller on bad terms.

August 30th – Set-up for the craft show and got a warning about tropical depression ‘Gaston’, heading through tonight. Had a good day but it was very humid and hot, reminded me of home J. After the show we tied everything down and I wanted to get in some cold water. We headed to Gutzy’s Pizza Joint and got some chaudaw (chowder for those not hip in the cape slang, tee, hee), and picked up our mail. Thanks again Gutzy for allowing us to have it forwarded. We then headed to Newcomb beach listening to sergeant Peppers CD and singing at the top of our lungs, it’s really great that Robyn is majorly into the Beatles, it makes for happy singing. We parked and started walking down the beach, you could see in the distance the fog rolling in and the sun going down at the same time, incredible site. And don’t you know right out in front were a family of seals. Well, this was sooo coool, I got in the water …..cooooolllldddd and walked out up to my waist, and started talking with the seals as the fog rolled over. Unbelievable. Then a seal apparently came over and brushed my thigh, scared me to I swam rather fast back closer to shore and the family followed in (always keeping about 50-75 feet away). It was so incredible watching them watch me, a really good experience. Then it got cold really fast dropped about 15 degrees once the fog rolled in, so I headed in and got some warm clothes on. We headed back to ride out ‘Gaston’ heading our way.

August 31st – Rain and storm came in about 4:30 am, we were protected really well by the tall trees. We stayed in until the rain stopped about 8:30 then went to the coffee shop at the Drive-In with all the other crafters to find out what the storm was going to do. We watched TV and checked the computer weather and it was going to clear in about 3 hours. We ended up having a pretty good day and the sun came out and dried everything up. I met a local young woman named ‘Becca’ who’s family farm clams ( yeah baby!) She invited us down to the bay at low tide (full moon has lower tides) to watch them in action. We got their about a half hour before sunset, and OH MY what a beautiful site. We hiked through the mud all the while the sun is setting with incredible colors. We had a fabulous education on the farming of clams, we helped them out a bit and learned about them. It was her mom and dad that have been doing farming for 2nd generation. They also told us of their travels to Newfoundland. Then the perk of the whole experience was getting 7 dozen cherrystone clams to take home and cook, which we did and it was a Marvelous feast! I’ve never had such fresh clams before.

September 1st – We slept great! Woke to great weather, cool and crisp. We said our good-byes and headed up to Wompatuck State Park just outside of Boston. We set up camp then headed into Cambridge to go to Trader Joes. Those that aren’t familiar with Trader Joes, it an incredible gourmet health food store at really great prices. Anyway, we stocked up on all the basics (excellent wine for only $2.99) and then went into Cambridge proper to get a bite to eat. We had lots of ethnic places to choose from and decided on a Lebanese restaurant. It was great! We walked back through town and heard some awesome drumming. I found out the direction of the drumming and came upon a dance studio and tonight was African dance. We went up and watched and listened to this incredible drumming and dancing. It was extremely invigorating. I wished we had our drums with us L. We headed back to camp for the night.

September 2nd – Today we head into Boston. We drove to Quincy Adams to catch the subway aka the T. As we are standing in line feeling quite stupid about the whole, red line, green line stuff, I decided to ask someone for direction. Met a really nice lady who was very helpful. Her name was Trish and once we all started talking we discovered her husband was David Roth. David is a veteran touring folk musician who has been singing fulltime for 18 years. We ended up riding all the way into Boston with them. David and Paul had a great talk as did I with Trish and her family. We got into Boston on a wonderful weather day. We stopped off at Boston Commons and had a snack (and potty break). Why is it they don’t have bathrooms in the subways????? I think I’ll need to bug John Kerry about that….ehhhh? We took Robyn to the Museum of Science and told her she had 3 hours……well……5 hours later we had to pull ourselves away. It was a tremendous museum. It has natural history (Robyn’s favorite) and anything else you could imagine. We saw actual chicken eggs hatching, listened to a lecture on spiders, and more hands on exhibits than I can count. Highly recommend it! We then headed into Harvard Square for dinner at Bertucci’s Pizzeria. OH MY GOODNESS! What incredible food atmosphere and prices. We soooo pigged out, I guess we miss city food. After dinner we walked around Harvard Square and Paul checked out Club Passim a famous folk venue. Then we headed home in the mist of a Red Sox game letting out (lots of people). Interesting people watching on the subway, surprisingly a lot of high school kids. Back to camp.

September 3rd – OTRA not! We got all ready for our trip to Maine and while at the dump station I saw a tear in the tire. I made some calls and got into a tire place only 6 miles from camp (lucky… blessed). We got the tire fixed while doing a little grocery shopping in the same plaza, then decided to just leave in the morning since it was around 3 pm the Friday before Labor day. We went back to camp and set up for a 4 am wake up.

September 4th – OTRA Got on the road at 5 am and headed to Boston. Once in Boston I got detoured to go right through the center of town. THANK GOD it was 6 am, what a sight seeing the reaction of some of the colorful people watching us go through town towing Gertie. I drove on through Mass, through New Hampshire into Maine. We arrived in Woolwich at the Monsweag Flea Market. We met Norma and Leo who own and run the market. We pulled Freda in and set up our wares. Norma and Leo are delightful giving people and that’ how we felt about everyone we met there. It’s a real family feeling…..felt good. It was much hotter than expected and we were very tired. We also had to worry again about what would happen in Florida with Hurricane Frances (talk about irony…that’s my moms name and exact spelling). We were able to camp right there in front of our booth, which made it quite comfortable. After the show I made some more product and Paul made dinner. BED!

September 5th – Slept great, but the market here starts at 6 am. Paul had to get up early anyway to head to his church gig in Windham, near Portland. It was a cold morning, around 48o, but warmed up to about 65 later in the day, great weather. My neighbor was Lois and we became fast friends, since she has a home in Titusville, not a mile from myh Dad’s place. We got to share our worries over Hurricane Frances. Robyn had a great time today visiting with all the people and showing off Ms. Sow. Nice people up here in Maine. We had a good day for sales. We got directions to the Reid State Park to check out the Maine coast and then to Mama D’s for lobster. We made it to Reid and it was closing so we only had a little bit o time, but it was pretty. Then the real adventure began, trying to get to Mama D’s ……well……they said it was just up the road a bit and follow the signs…….well….we say the signs and they kept getting smaller and smaller…..then we had to get onto a gravel road…..then we had to follow a horse (literally) down the road …… then over a few hills and then we came upon this little shack next to the water with some picnic tables around……welcome to Mama D’s. First thing I asked was directions out, since it would be dark when we left. We ordered the lobster and corn and drinks then sat at a table. It was great we watched them steam them right there, Mama D is our age with a few daughters working for her. Glad we experienced it. Back to the market to sleep.

September 6th – Today we woke to the sound of a rooster! As it turns out someone dropped a rooster off at the market ???? a mystery to everyone. Started out the morning about 7:30 and had a great day, very busy. Robyn ended up catching the rooster with another lady named Kindra and they fast became friends. Kindra lived up the road and has 2 llamas, 3 injured ducks, an Akita dog and now a rooster. Robyn was in heaven over there. We picked her up on the way out to Lois and Howard Kiss’s place to see her garden and take a decent shower. WOW! What a great place, they did such a great job on the pond and all the gardens, just beautiful. We took a wonderful shower and they had to rush off to play poker with their buddies. We wished we had more time, but, we know we will see them back in Florida this winter since they are so close to my Dad.

We went to ‘Taste of Maine’ restaurant and had a wonderful meal with a great waiter named Danny. Danny just had a baby boy 4 weeks ago and was sleep deprived. We had a good talk with him and hope he keeps in touch. It was such a contrast from last nights dinner we had to laugh. Back to maket to sleep

September 7th – OTRA, we said our goodbyes to Norma and Leo at the Monsweag Flea Market, thanks for everything Norma J and we hope to see you again too! As we were heading out of town we remembered to call. l Robyn’s 2nd cousin on her dad’s side…..Peter. Well we got ahold of him and he was excited we were coming to see him. Before we got to his place in Lewiston though we needed to dump and fill with propane. We ended up getting lost and headed into Freeport…..well don’t you know L.L. Bean is there,,,,,eh ya……and we had to check it out. We got some really good deals on a few items and did all our dumping business as well. Life is good. We finally got to Peters and then he took us up to his dad’s camp in Litchfield on the lake. It was quite a chore getting Freda up some of those gravel hills and backed up and parked…..but, we did it. We had a great visit with Wootsie and Liz, and also visited with Pters sister Brfendan and her family. We had a geat cook out and then went to see Brenda and Steve’s new house….to die for. My dream house…..log ca bin…..big h ouse…….big kitchen…..porch…..pool……pickle barrel hot tub….need I say more??? We had a good visit with them and their boys. Back to bed

September 8th – OTRA, heading to Eastport to camp and regroup (ie, laundry, paperwork, cleaning) We also need to rest, we’ve been going non stop for a few weeks. We stopped in Belfast and found a great Healthfood Co-op. Its always nice to get familiar products to eat, especially healthy stuff. Belfast is a great little town, the people are a mix between really cool and really stuffy …….reminded me of Asheville, NC. We headed to Eastport, ME. It was a tough ride throught the long and winding roads…that leads me to your door….again, so much Beatles music Robyn listens tooooooo. Arrived at Eastport later than we wanted and decided to treat ourselves to a few fresh lobsters. The wind from Hurricane Frances was starting to pick up at this point and we started to get a taste of her fury.

September 9th – Woke to rain and wind……nothing compared to what our Florida and South friends and family have experienced. Today we I decided to bake and fell homey since we couldn’t go out and do much. Plus, it kept us warm and dry. We also did laundry and played some pool. The winds and rain got pretty intense, I didn’t sleep very well……..

September 10th – OTRA…Very windy and thank God, not wet…..tough drive to the border…….and don’t you know they decided to search us at the border. Later after our delightful custom officer Anna Bell Juneau gave us the compliment of telling us we fit the “Granola” profile. Thank you Anna for your professionalism, understanding and warm welcome to your great country of Canada. Yeah, we finally made it to Canada……. on the road to my favorite cousin De Jour….David Dawe and lovely (got so much in common) wife Bernice. Robyn really got along extremely well with her 2nd cousin David. Nice to be here! David made turkey soup and I had a bath (I miss my baths) I was in heaven. Very, very tired….off to bed.

My thoughts are with you all in Florida, praying that Ivan loses steam. I’ll be back with you soon! Hugs…..

September 11th – Slept great, woke up to say good morning to David (he worked the night shift at the Airport), and then I had a glorious breakfast by myself in Freda. Then if you can believe it I went back to bed to read a book Bernice let me read before I pass it on to Aunt Rita, called ‘The Devine Ryans’ funny, funny book about a 9 year old boy growing up in Newfoundland. I stayed in bed with the sun (hadn’t seen in few days) beaming downon me through the window, until Paul woke up and came out to see me around noon. I felt so decadent reading like that, I certainly hope to do a lot of it while I’m in Nfld.

I got some laundry to dry on the line (a lot of stuff got wet from the storm) and worked on some email stuff. We then had a great visit and dinner with the family. Robyn is still down stairs with ‘Little” David (6’ 3″) and his friend Thane playing monopoly, chess, scrabble. Of course Ms. Sow was entertaining them as well.

Thanks again Paul for getting the website BLOG updated 🙂


We are well on our way to Newfoundland (Nfld)….yippee! I’ve been waiting to get back to this beautiful land for 27 years. I have mixed emotions on this visit being that it’s mom’s final visit ‘home’. I look forward to whatever comes our way.

September 12th – We filled up our water jugs down by the real natural spring and headed to the Newfoundland Ferry. We arrived in North Sydney, Nova Scotia much sooner than expected (4:00pm). The TCH (Trans Canadian Highway)is an excellent road. We had lots of time before the boat left at 6:00 tomorrow morning. We purchased our tickets for the ferry ride, then went to a Indian Beach right next to the dock. As it turns out….of course…they were setting up for the final concert at the park and a thank-you dinner for all the musicians that played all summer. We were welcomed in like family and they fed us and we were able to listen to music and walk the beach and collect some colored beach glass. It’s the first time I’ve done that, fun finding all those beautiful colors in the sand mixed with some cool polished stones. We then slept until around 11:30pm, woke and got in our place in line at the ferry docking. We were awoken once again to move to another spot, then back to sleep until they started boarding around 5:30am. By the time we got on the boat and out to sea, we were very tired. They only had about 200 people on board and 100 employees. To say the least, we had the full run of the ship. We immediately staked our territory and settled in for the 16+ hour ride across the ocean. We slept for a while, then took a walk out on the upper deck. Don’t you know – we got the pleasure of seeing a family of dolphins swimming beside the ship. It was a great gift to see them playing in the surf for several miles.

I’ve been very emotional this day and couldn’t figure out why, Paul gently reminded me that I was burying my mother. I guess I didn’t think it would effect me so, why I don’t know?

On the ship they played first rate movies all day, I was able to cry my heart out to a few of them and occasionally go out to the deck and see the vast ocean all around me. The weather was the best, about 73o, sunny and the ocean was sooo smooth…thank god. Kept hoping to see a whale, but to no avail. Later in the day we were able to see the coast of Nfld as we circled the base of the province to get to Argentina. It’s a beautiful coast line, reminds me of the west coast of the US. We arrived in Argentina around 10:30pm and we were dead tired. We decided to drive off the ship and just find a place to park and sleep, as opposed to driving an hour on dark roads.

September 14th – We slept great! We got an early start at 6:30 since we had to get to Aunt Rita’s by 8:00 because there is an international race going through the streets of her town around 8:30. I had no idea what kind of race it was until we got there and discovered it was ‘Targa Newfoundland’ a classic car race from St. John’s to various outlying towns. The roads are very twisty, turney…hows that for racing terms…. so that’s why they choose the location.

So we arrived at Rita’s to tea and toast and then off to bed, we have a lot of catching up to do on our sleep. We almost feel like we have jet lag, I guess if you take into consideration that we crossed 2 time zones and the altitude is much higher, we have a good excuse. Rita took off to her nursing school alumni 50 year reunion, so we had the whole house to ourselves for 3 whole days. We really enjoyed the down time and being in a home. Simple little pleasures we take for granted in the ‘real’ world. The weather was very windy, and very cold. It was about 43o with wind gust of 35 mph. To say the least it was good to be a nice warm home to rest in. Rita left us a wonderful pot of fresh chicken soup that we devoured….even Robyn!

September 15th – We woke still feeling very tired and decided to do absolutely nothing today….it was hard for me, but I managed. We did explore some though, the weather was too nice not to. It was sunny, about 70o and a wonderful | breeze. We took a hike across the lane to the bay and picked fresh blueberries, ahhh, nothing like it. We ended up eating them then going down to the water and exploring. Robyn wanted to climb up a rocky cliff she had been admiring, so she took us along and we had a great view from up there. On the way back we found an incredibly abundant patch of blueberries and in about half and hour all three of us had filled a quart each. We headed back to Rita’s and ate some more berries, I wonder if we will ever get tired of them? NOT We also explored Rita’s garden, it’s fabulous, we picked out some carrots, beets, cucumbers and bib lettuce. Had a great salad. Nothing tastes better than right from the garden.

We had an easy evening and played clue, I still love that game.

September 16th – Still tired, had a late breakfast and then did laundry, cleaning Freda, etc. Rita came home today and we had a good visit.

September 17th – Up bright and early with Rita and we took a fast walk around the bay. Rita is 73 years young and had to slow down for me! She is incredible! We went into St. John’s (the oldest city in the North American Continent), just FYI, Newfoundland is the oldest Colony! We found some incredibly inexpensive stores and got some great deals on sweaters…..we need them, I think? We visited Signal Hill, which is where Marconi sent the first transatlantic telegraphic message to Ireland, from Cabot Tower. It also has a tremendous view of the port and lighthouse to St. John’s. It is one of the safest harborsin the world because of the narrow passage that the ships have to go through. You wouldn’t think a ship could get through it, but it’s deceiving. We then went to the Geo Center. A wonderful museum, that taught of the geological values that Nfld has, a really great place. They also had real time pictures from Mars via the rover. Robyn really enjoyed the Titanic exhibit they had; since she has been a real fanatic about the Titanic it, was a bonus for her. The Titanic sunk 350 miles off the coast of Nfld.

Rita and Robyn went back to Holyrood and Paul and I stayed in town to experience the pubs and music. At first we felt lost withoutRobyn with us, but that faded fast as we got into town. St. John’s is an incredible town, lots of colorful buildings and water all around. We went to Water Street (the oldest street in the North American continent) and ran into a young couple we met on the Ferry coming over (small world). We began talking to some of the locals trying to find out the best place to go, since there were so many choices. We decided to have our first pint at ‘The Spur’. We decided to have a Guinness on tap and we listened to a girl w/guitar sing accompanied by a harmonica player. It was a nice way to start the tone of our evening. We had a great talk with the bartender Bill who said he loved being a Newfoundlander and thought the place was ‘magical’. It seemed to me soon enough he had a hit of that magic earlier. The owner of the pub came by named Bob and we had a good talk with him. After the pint it was clear we needed food so he called ahead to ‘The Bagel Café’ to get us a seat. The café was a quaint little place with a fireplace in the middle. Ginny was our waitress with enough energy/hyper-ness to put the energizer bunny to shame. I decided I had to try Cod tongue….I just had to. Wish I hadn’t…….it’s hard to explain the texture or taste, but it was cross between a fried oyster and soggy fried liver. Thank God it came with a platter of other things.

After dinner we headed to the ‘Hava Java’ a coffee house and I had the best cappuccino I’ve ever had, creamy froth to the bottom of the cup. Again, had some great talk with some folks and then headed to George Street that is the equivalent of Pleasure Island in Disney World. In fact as we were walking down the cobble stone street with the colorfully painted pubs and nightclubs on either side, I think Disney copied it. We didn’t stay, but just observed, since we really were not into the party scene. We wanted to just listen to some good local music. We went back to ‘The Spur’ and listened to Dave Panting and excellent musician that played a mean guitar. We really enjoyed listening to him. Being the old folks we are, by 11:30 we were to tired to go on. We only had the pint and a brew but it really gets to you here. The beer is stronger and the air is cleaner I guess? The drive back to Holyrood was very stressful, it’s about 45 minute drive, but the fog was rolling in and believe it or not you have to be very cautious with the Moose. Apparently here people are killed frequently during this timeof year by hitting Moose with their cars. Being that the mooses are so high, the car hits their legs and 1200 pounds come slamming in the windshield. So after hearing these stories we/I was a little nervous. Glad to be back to Rita’s.

September 18th – Had a great sleep! Rita and Paul played music together, Rita has taken up the Fiddle/Violin and they had a good time together. Paul played some of his tunes and got tears in both their eyes. We went to Conception Bay and played in the rocks, I picked up the most interesting rock which I will be bringing home. We then had an very steep climb up George Cove Mountain. At the top the view was awesome! We of course picked and ate blueberries along the way. Robyn really enjoyed the climbing on the rocks, but kept giving Rita a fit by not staying on the trails. A good bit of exercise had by all.

Back to Rita’s she made us ‘blood pudding’ a traditional beef dish that was pan fried and delicious, everyone liked it. We had a good evening of Uno, Rita has never played and seemed to enjoy it.

September 19th – Could of stayed in bed all day, very tired today. Change of weather I guess. It’s been very warm and humid here and today it has already rained. Rita and I took one of her power walks and Paul and Robyn went back to climb the cliff. For lunch/supperRita made another traditional meal called a Jig’s dinner (my mom called it a Scoff) It’s made with cabbage, turnips, carrots, potatoes and riblets (salted pork ribs). She also made a stuffed chicken and ginger bread. What a feast! A wonderful rainy day, lots of good food. Paul wrote an incredible tune about the
Newfoundland Ferry and I got chills when I heard it. Rita helped him polish the verses with accuracies. Rita and Paul also played music together, Rita is playing the Fiddle these days. Life is good! Rita went into St. John’s to pick up David and Gary.

September 20th – Very rainy and cold with high wind gusts, the tail end Hurricane Frances coming all the way up here. We didn’tdo a lot today, just watched some T.V. and found out that Hurricane Jeanne is going up the Atlantic away from Florida…yippee. Visited with David (always good to see him) and got reacquainted with Gary. The guys played music together and sipped some Rye.

September 21st – Had another power walk with Rita and David, still very windy and misting. I went out on my own and walked the ridge around the Bay, eating plump blueberries along the way. The sound of the wind and movement of the clouds are hard to describe imagine……a quiet energy. I did a lot of reflecting on my mom and the last time we visited. This evening Gary steamed up some Mussels that Robyn and I ate up. Newfoundland mussels are even better than PEI….if you can imagine.

September 22nd – Woke to more rain…..they keep telling us they’ve had a very warm and dry summer. I guess we brought all the rain with us? We had breakfast and Rita made the best tea biscuits with Raisins, hot out of the oven. We visited with Gary and David awhile then got Freda ready for the road. OTRA, to Clarenville to pick up Mom’s cemetery plaque. It looks great it reads FRANCES E. DWYER-GOSSETT, 1932 -2003, FREE SPIRIT, HOME AT LAST, BELOVED MOTHER. After picking up the plaque we headed for dinner, then Wal-mart to get some gloves and long john’s, which they haven’t put out yet for the season. It is very cold right now and winds have picked up. We got back on TCH to Terra Nova, hopefully before dark. We made it there around 8:30, which is very scary driving at night. Its so dark and the threat of Moose compounds it. We got to camp and John the Ranger was extremely helpful getting us in to a good site. We made a great pizza and watched the 1st Lord of the Rings Movie (we borrowed the Trilogy from David).

September 23rd – This morning was much warmer than last night. I got up before the others and had a peaceful walk down to the most incredible waterway and trail(Coastal Trail)f. The sun was out (the first time in over 6 days) and I really enjoyed the solitude. Again, we have the whole park to ourselves and it is so quiet. You can hear everything! I was able to hear water falls way before I got there and all the sounds of the birds. I saw some droppings and assumed they were Moose….oh to see a Moose. I spoke with a Ranger on the trail and asked about the droppings and he gave me a lesson in Moose droppings. Very informative….not real sure when I’ll ever use this information again though J. I went back to camp and got Paul and Robyn up and told them how wonderful this park is. I convinced them to take a hike with me to the Marine Interpretation Center about 9 km (5.4 miles)and pack our lunch. As we started our hike the sun went behind clouds that had moved in, and the wind picked up…it got cold fast. We went back to add more layers and get gloves and ear covers. Away we went! It was incredible, a wonderful trail with views of Newman Sound with every step. Lots of creeks and we came upon a great waterfall that we climbed the rocks and enjoyed its energy, there is something about a waterfall that just revs you up. The last mile was up a mountain with switchbacks amongst all this moss. There were orchids and mushrooms everywhere. I noticed the fog/mist was coming in from the water and I speed up our walk to get to the center before we got wet. As it was it was only a light mist. We just made it to the center before it closed. It ended up taking us 2.5 hours to hike there. I knew there was no way we were making it back. Robyn was really tired and the fog had come in. I talked with the Park Attendant, Colleen, to find if we could hop a ride with someone back to camp, and she offered to take us back. So nice! Back at camp we took a fabulous hot shower (they actually heat there bathrooms), then had dinner. We watched the 2nd Lord of the Rings movie.

September 24th – Woke to the sun shining through the window. I woke with a mission….to see a Moose! Got on my walking shoes and headed down the long flight of stairs to the ‘Coastal Trail’. It’s a georgeous day not a cloud in the sky. I didn’t get to see any Moose….lots of Moose droppings but no Moose. I’m learning quite a bit about Moose dung, how old, how big,etc. I missed them by about an hour or two. I had a great conversation with one of the local squirrels. It seemed to be telling me a lot about something, I guess I listen well. Back to break camp and head to the Marine Interpretation Center. There we saw a great video about Terra Nova National Park and learned about their ecological systems and wildlife. They also had a marine petting area. Robyn was able to touch starfish, urchins, crabs, etc.

OTRA, heading to Norris Arm, taking my mother home. We arrived in Norris Arm and I had no idea where Uncle Jim built his cabin, so we unhooked Freda and headed down the road. It’s changed quit a bit, the gravel road is paved and the railroad tracks have been dug up and replaced with a trail. When I got to a place that looked familiar I saw some older men on a porch and decided to stop and ask is they knew where Jim Dwyer’s place was……and don’t you know it was Uncle Jim and Uncle Phil. So good to see them again and Aunt Yvonne as wonderful as ever. We got Freda all backedin and set-up. Robyn has some young cousins to play with…life is good. Rita and the boys got in just as we finished setting up and then a few people stopped over with their guitars and cases of beer. Yvonne made a great stew with moose meat and I was surprised how good the flavor was. No gamy taste at all, very flavorful like good beef.

I was informed I had to write my mom’s eulogy for tomorrows service, which threw me off a bit, but once I got into it I felt better. I guess it’s the whole end of the road feeling about mom’s service that got me very emotional. All this time wanting to bring her home to rest and now that she’s here and we are here… know what I mean L. Lots of good music filled the house. I guess it was like a wake for her.

September 25th – Nice sunny day, as it should be. The service was nice and simple, the priest was Father Joy and did a great job on such short notice. Aunt Rita and Gary and Paul played beautiful music to help complete the service. It was Aunt Rita’s first time playing in public, let alone a church service with her son. She did a great job.. We kept getting confused on when to stand and knell and sit. David kept me in line J We remembered all the words to the catholic services, but forgot all the motions. It was kind of funny actually. After the service we went to the gravesite and put mom’s ashes in the grave above Grandpa Dwyer’s gravesite, and laid a yellow rose upon the headstone. Again, Rita played the fiddle and David played the Guitar to ‘Danny Boy’, nice touch to a great day. Then a few of us went to the Valley Lounge for some good homemade food….Thanks again Brain! Rita and the boys left after back to St. John’s. Paul and I went back to the gravesite to finish putting the ash’s box deep enough down. We then headed to Eels Brook Falls and the water was raging so strong because of all the rain. I had a good reflection time there and let myself relax after all the stuff. It’s a beautiful day here about 70o light and sunny. Uncle Jim’s son Brian took Paul, Yvonne and I out in his boat, a 60 year old, trap skiff, 2.5 hp one cylinder Atlantic, make and break, wooden fisherman’s boat (my Uncle is quoting this to me as I type). All I know it’s a wonderful boat with a wonderful sound going down the bay. We spread mom’s ashes in the water and placed another single yellow rose on the water. A beautiful site and another great ending for mom’sessence. Yvonne made another great meal of Moose steak (can’t believe how much I’m enjoying this meat).

September 26th – I woke wanting to find out how Florida was faring with Hurricane Jeanne. I had a good long talk with my sister Laura and it made me home sick. It was good to talk to her after all of the stuff I went through yesterday, and here she is going through a Hurricane passing over her house. A good lazy day after, good food and lounging about. After yesterday it was needed by all. I also got to talk with Cheryl and I had to have a good cry after missing her so.

September 27th – Another good sleep. I got up and had a good walk this morning, very cold, they said we had frost last night. We went into the town of Grandfalls-Windsor for some shopping, the smallest Wal-Mart I’ve ever been in, but I’m impressed that they even have one. The grocery store called “Dominion” was a big place, great prices and not as expensive as it is in Florida……very surprising. I was under the impression that the food was very expensive and they didn’t have any fresh vegetables….FAR from the truth.

We had to take Robyn’s glasses in to the jeweler to get soldered. It’s amazing how beautiful it is here and peacefully quiet. The leaves are just starting to change color. I’ve never experienced seeing the leaves actually change, only visited them while they were already changed. This is a great experience for us (even though Paul has already seen it when he was younger). Yvonne is spoiling us with cooking such wonderful traditional Newfoundland dishes. Tonight we had fresh boiled salmon. My Dad called to tell me how he weathered the storm and all the interesting things he has to go through with the storm. I hope you feel better soon Dad! We watch the last ‘Lord of the Rings’ video, GREAT movie! By the way thanks Phil……do you remember telling me that Frodo died. It helped a lot at the end….LOL.

September 29th – Today turned into a very interesting day! We started out to go to the library in Gertie, we rolled down the hill from Jim’s house and Paul exclaims “We have no brakes” WELL, not comforting words, especially if you knew all the circumstances of the hill we were on. Rolling into traffic, etc. Anyway, it all worked out O.K. Paul, ordered the part from Florida and we are blessed again with safety. Robyn and I walked to the library…J and they had the internet…yippie. Robyn enjoyed reading some books and discovered one of her favorite writers, R.L. Stine, had a series of books called 99 Fear Street. She was unaware of this series, since it was from the early 90’s. Good find for her. I met Leona Rowsell, and we had a good talk about alternative remedies. She told me I needed to move up here and educate the people with all my knowledge. High compliment!

I finally got to cook tonight, and I made a dish with some tuna I had in the freezer since we left Florida (time to unload on the relatives). It actually turned out good. My Uncle Jim and Uncle Phil have a Dwyer sense of humor that borders on witty sarcasm (that must be where we get this from?) any way, they had a ball with my dinner…need I say more.

September 30th – Another below freezing night! We went to the library and played on the Internet. Robyn got some more books to read. During the day it got up warm again to 68o. My favorite 3rd cousin Bucky Rhine came by to say hello. He remembered me after 27 years and they call him slow….I don’t think so. We had a great chat, he’s the most loveable guy.

I’m really enjoying seeing the colors change on the leaves every day. Paul and I have been walking after dinner watching the sun set, we got some great shots of the sun setting over the Arm (as my mom called it). Boy, the temperatures drop fast in the evening.

October 1st – Great Day! Got a lot done around the house and RV. I did some cleaning and laundry. Getting a lot of condensation from the windows causing some mold. Paul did some work on Gertie and fixed some other miscellaneous stuff on Freda. Robyn and I took a hike up to Ferry Brook Mountain, this time getting to the area on top to take somephotos. We had a lot of fun, carrying on like two little kids… was natural for her J She had her two cousins Becky and Kelsey over for a sleepover…she is in heaven. Interesting have three girls and two adults in Freda. Not much room for much else. The girls had a great time.

October 2nd – A beautiful day in Norris Arm. We haven’t’ received the part from Florida yet so I called to find out how they shipped it. Well, they didn’t, apparently it was going to cost $115.00 to ship a $10 part. O.K. but don’t’ you think you could of called us to tell us ???? Oh well we will try another way to get the part.

Paul and I took a hike up to Ferry Brook Mountain today, since he heard how great it was from Robyn and I yesterday. We had a great time up on top of the world, we found a hunting stand and envisioned staying there in the winter. It’s so peaceful on top of a mountain overlook the whole town and bay. The birds fly just overhead and dragonflies loomed about. When we got back down the mountain, we headed over to Marina’s to get some canned Moose she offered to give us. She said she has 7 cases and she’s the only one that eats it. We are tickled to take a few bottles off her hands. I told her I had to give her something in return and I brought her a wind chime that she loved. Around here it seems they are use to giving…..but not receiving.

Yvonne, again……made us a wonderful salmon dinner, we shared some champagne with them at dinner, which they thoroughly enjoyed. We had a good night talking Canadian politics.

October 3rd – Today we got organized and ready for the road trip tomorrow. We have so enjoyed our stay here, it’s hard to leave. Paul worked all day on Gertie, tuning, greasing and draining the brakes. As it turns out the brakes are o.k. if the fluid stays high, so we have some brakes. I worked on some goodies to leave Yvonne, and got things cleaned up.

October 4th – Warmed up a bit today… I so love the cold weather. We got all road ready for the trip to Deer Lake, hopefully to find the wheel cylinder for Gertie. It was very hard to say goodbye to Yvonne and Jim. We have an attachment that goes deeper than just being family, maybe it has to do with Mom’s burial? Maybe its because I feel so much like family when I’m with them. I will miss them and Norris Arm beyond words.

OTRA – We had a great drive to Deer Lake on a beautiful fall day. The leaves are changing faster now and everything is crisp. We stopped for lunch along the road a beautiful spot next to a finger of the exploits river. We arrived outside of Deer Lake, at a Salvage place that did not have the auto part we need, they sent us into town. Along the way back to town we stopped and got some homegrown plums and pears from a local family (Yum) In town they did not have the part either and could not get it. So we decided to go ahead and just have it sent from the states to cousin David’s in Nova Scotia. A lot more reasonable for shipping that way. Gary, the owner of the parts place, drove us to a place to dump our waste and we had a good chat with him. It’s great how people here reach out and make themselves vulnerable to strangers. He gave us his home #, in case we needed anything overnight. We ended up camping at Deer Lake right in town. It was beautiful, with the sun going down with a sandy beach. We met two women that had come to see the sun set and ended up sharing some wine, beef stick, and good cheer. We built a fire and had a good time. The winds kicked up and the temperature dropped so we moved inside for warmth. Elaine and Josilyn were traveling pretty much the same path as us and I hope we get to run into them again.

October 5th – Woke to relatively warmer weather than last night. We had oatmeal and headed to the ‘Insectarium’, a wonderful place with all kinds of bug and butterflies under glass. They have an atrium with a butterfly garden that was very tropical and reminded me of home. We refueled with gas, propane, food and headed OTRA! I was anxious about the drive into Gros Morne National Park, since I heard about the first leg of it had treacherous mountains to climb. They weren’t kidding, but OH MY GOD, what a beautiful drive. Now I know why Gros Morne has been designated by the UN as a world destination. It’s a cloudy day, but I could see beyond that and see how incredible this is going to bee when the sun comes out. We made it into Cow Head, a small fishing village that hugs the coast like a scarf around a giants neck (I’m feeling poetic today). We pulled up in Eileen Hynes house and even though we are 3rd cousins and I only met her for 2 hours 30 years ago…..we were welcomed with a hug and a warm cup of tea. We parked Freda in her front yard, plugged in and we were home again. It was a balmy night that seemed out of caricature for the area. We made home made pizza and shared it with Eileen and her granddaughter Pamela. Eileen in turn gave us a hand made quilt and some hand knit dish towels. Who knew a half a pizza could yield such a return? We watched an Abbot and Costello movie and called it a night. A storm came in the middle of the nightand wind and rain tossed us around a bit.

October 6th – Wow what a temperature change. It’s about 30-40 degrees colder than last night when we went to bed. We put the heat on ASAP and warmed up the place. By the afternoon the sun came out and brightened up the skies. Eileen’s husband and sons are in the woods with a group of men from Vermont. They are guides for in Gros Morne National Park. In the summer they do Salmon fishing expeditions and early fall they do Moose Hunting. We are told there are Moose all over the place here, so hopefully we will be able to see one soon. I stayed in bed till mid-afternoon with a good book and tea. . I cant’ remember the last time I allowed myself to do that… was maaaaarvelous. The book is “The Potter’s House” by Rosie Thomas, really good read B’ye.

Did I mention about baked apple jam? It’s a fruit that only grows here in Newfoundland and it’s hard to come by. We have been eating it up (when we can get it) at all the relatives houses….Yummy…..Paul and I took a walk on the beach and was given the beauty of a rainbow over the grassy dunes. There seems to be a magic about this place. It created a calmness in my soul.

Eileen gave us some fish cakes she made that were wonderful. We drove up to the marsh to see if we could catch a glimpse of a Moose…..NOT! Everyone we come across tell us “We just saw two up the road, or we just past a few” Maybe we are just not supposed to see them?

October 7th – Very windy today, gust of about 70mph. We went to the Library and got on the internet, it is sucha good feeling to be able to keep in touch via email. I met Nora Shears who managed the Library and felt a great connection with her. We had some great discussions on various topics of interest. Robyn was able to check out a few books and did a lot of reading while we were there. I made a hearty chicken stew with homemade dumplings (just like mom use to make?) I had Yvonne’s recipe to guide me and they turned out wonderful…..if I say so myself. Have you noticed this trip is almost sounding like the Galloping Gourmet on tour? (those that remember himJ). I can say we are enjoying the different cuisines. They eat very hearty up here and you crave it. I’m sure it has to do with the climate, my waist has certainly put on a layer of winter fat…..I’ll have to say I’ve enjoyed putting it on. I’ll just have to figure out how to take it off during the holidays……yeah right!

October 8th – Today the weather started out calm, we decided to try and catch the boat tour at Western Brook. Nora stopped by before we left and took Robyn to see her cat. We unfortunately took the wrong turn off and by then the winds had picked up to 40-50 mph and temperature dropped to about 39o with the wind chill. We decided to head back to the warm Library instead and have another good chat with Nora, she was the warmest part of the Library experience.

Eileen’s sister Mary had husband Bill were visiting and I had a great political conversation with Bill. It’s great comparing politics and such with a different perspective, his was very fun. It seems most people in Canada really enjoyed Bill Clinton, they say he was very entertaining 🙂

Robyn stayed in Eileen’s and entertained her 4 year old grandson and watch a bunch of TV. Paul and I went out searching for Moose. . . . . We didn’t see any. I’m always able to see tracks and dung, but that’s it. I’ve actually gotten good at looking at the Moose dung and seeing how old it is……Not sure if that’s a good thing or not. It does make me feel rather like a pioneer…LOL

October 9th – We woke today and decided to head south. Considering this is the furthest north we’ve ever been… guess we are heading home. We took one last walk to the grassy dunes and said good-bye to Cow Head. I really enjoyed this place and know I will return again. Before we left Eileen had a delivery from the fish-guy with two big bags of squid. I’ve been trying to get squid since I arrived in Nfld, but to no avail. Unfortunately, the fish-guy didn’t have any extra, so of course Eileen gave us some to finally have stuffed squid….like mom use to make (hey siblings remember that?)

OTRA through Gros Morne to hike and see as much of it as we can before we head to the ferry. Our first stop was Western Brook, we hiked about 1.5miles through large bogs then into this incredible Gorge mouth. It was a great hike and the most cleanest water I’ve seen in many, many years. Again, I was able to see lots of Moose poop, and tracks …..but no Moose (can you tell I’m getting frustrated now!)

I met a couple that gave us all kinds of information about camping for the night (since most of the camp grounds and park is closed for the season) THEN, they spotted a Moose across the water…they had binoculars… (duh, that would of helped) So lo and behold I finally got to see my Moose….way off in the distance. It’s not that I’m not thankful, I just want to see it with my naked eye up close. We headed out to Grassy Point, the couple we met led the way and then suddenly they pulled over and WOW a large 30 point Bull Moose not 150 feet away. It was an awesome site, still want to see it up close and personal, but I’m happy none the less. We got to Grassy Point camp ground and got a great site, with wonderful trees to shield us from the wind. Right at our site you can walk a few feet and view the ocean, we are on a cliff. Its cold and dreary, but still a beautiful site.

October 10th – We woke fairly early and Paul and I enjoyed a cup of tea while looking at the ocean. The trees provided an incredible barrier from the high winds. We left from Grassy Point and headed to Lomond. The drive is spectacular to say the least. We decided to pull into Rocky Harbor to see if we could get some gas for Gertie. I had the urge to continue to see what Norris Point was about. I’m so glad I listen to my gut instincts.

Norris Point would have to be the most beautiful place I have seen. My heart ached when I saw it. Norris Point is nestled in a valley surrounded by water and then surrounded by the largest mountains called the Table Mountains. Add the fact that the leaves of Autumn are peaking and POW…. you have perfection. I didn’t want to leave. We went up the road to the photographers lookout and took some shots. The sun is trying to peak out. We then went up to the light house and got a great view, we had to hold on for dear life since the wind gusts were about 50mph.

We headed up the road to Lomond, at the turn-off we had to go on a gravel road for about one mile…..we thought we’d never get there. We pulled up and could not believe how beautiful it was. There was NO ONE there, but us, so we had the whole place to ourselves. We went to see the caretaker who said they close tomorrow, so park wherever you like. He also said he sees Moose in the morning……could this be my lucky break of Moosedom….stay tuned. Of course we took him literally on choosing a good site, and decided to park right on the water by the boat dock. It wasn’t actually a camp site…. it was perfect. You could not have asked for a better place to spend the last night in Gros Morne National Park. Of course our photos wont do it any justice, but it will give you a glimpse.

The day was calm and warm (65o), Robyn got to play in the brook running into the bay waters, while I prepared the stuffed squid for dinner. Paul and Robyn prepared a fire pit on the beach. It started to spit rain off and on, but that didn’t stop us. We had a great fire and a wonderful feed of squid. Surprisingly both Paul and Robyn really liked it. We had the traditional smores and called it a night. I woke through out the night to keep checking for Moose or other creatures. Non to be seen! October 11th – Paul woke first and spotted them…..YES! MOOSE, right outside our Freda. There was a Cow, large calf and Bull. I was in heaven, I grabbed the camera and went out to creep up the hill to get a closer look. They were magnificent, they are so large and actually sweet looking. As I approached them by the shelter, the Bull was chasing the calf in anger. I think the calf was getting to close and pestering to the Cow. None the less I was a little scared when the Bull spotted me and I crept down the hill back to Freda. I didn’t realize till after that I was barefoot and in danger, apparently it’s mating season and the Bulls attack anything close to his mate. A women who studies Moose in Quebec just got killed getting to close…..It was a great thrill and honor to have been so close to these magnificent animals.

I sat on the picnic table, sipping tea and watching the sun come over the mountain…….briefly. It only shone for a few minutes and then all of a sudden….from a calm crystal morning, the wind swirled and spun and picked up to about 40 mph and caused a chop on the water. We decided it was time to go.

We headed to Corner Brook to touch base with our cousin Barry (Yvonne and Jim Dwyer’s son). When we got to Corner Brook we pulled into a great mall with all the places we needed to go, Staples, Wal-mart, Dominion… they were all closed…..we forgot it was Canada’s Thanksgiving. Since the weather was so bad we decided to head out to the ferry in Port Aux Basques.

As we were driving the weather started getting windier. We stopped for gas in St. George’s and the Manager told us the winds had picked up and it was doubtful we would make it to Port Aux Basques. He said to check in with the Irving gas station in Doyle’s, they would be able to tell you the conditions. By the time we arrived in Doyles, the Irving’s said we weren’t going anywhere. Apparently between Doyle’s and Port Aux Basques there are wind shears off the Table Mountains that are reaching in access of 90mph. So no trucks or Motor homes should even attempt to cross. Plus the ferry was also canceled and has a 3 ship back up at the docks. They called the Doyle’s campground to see if he was still open. As it turns out he was supposed to be closed, but when he heard the weather conditions he decided to stay open until the winds past.

We got to Doyle’s RV campground and discovered a great campground. There was about 6 of us stranded by the winds. We parked in a great spot surrounded by trees to block the winds and buckled down for the night. The winds picked up around 3am with rain. We were rockin an rollin till about 8am.

October 12th – I didn’t get much sleep, but to my surprise the sun came out about 10am and made me feel a lot better. We checked into the office about the ferry and it still isn’t’ able to leave the port. So we are here another night. About this time I remembered I was supposed to call Barry when we were in Corner Brook. So I called to let him know we missed him. To my surprise he said he wanted to come visit. I tried to discourage him since I was so tired and I felt guilty having him drive 2 hours to get here. He wouldn’t’ hear of it. So knowing he was coming got us motivated to clean Freda, laundry, shower, etc. I must say it felt to get all that stuff done.

Barry, his wife Lora and their great dog Brook arrived and we had a wonderful visit. It’s amazing to discover how much of a Newfoundlander I am after visiting with my cousins and they keep telling me! We had a feed of Moose (I’m an expert now you know) and mashed potatoes and turnips. Accompanied by a mixture of wines.

October 13th – Good morning Newfoundland. It’s mom’s birthday and I guess wed weren’t supposed to leave the island until it was over….so we didn’t. We headed up the road to the Wildlife museum and saw some great displays of taxidermy at it’s best. I’ll have to say I like the real thing better, but it’s not likely your going to get this close to these wild animals. We found out the ferries are running again, so we packed up and headed out to Port Aux Basques. Even though the winds died down it was very scary driving through the ‘tablelands’ as they call them, still very gusty. We got our ticket to leave the next morning and went into town to the library for one more email check. It’s started to rain so we decided to do get some groceries. We camped right next to the ferry in a very cozy location. Robyn started a jigsaw puzzle and Paul and I went to bed early, still tired from the last two nights.

October 14th – It was a calm night and not a lot of noise so we got a great nights sleep. We boarded the ferry around 10am and settled into our spot….in front of the movie screen. We watched: Ella Enchanted, Master and Commander and Mona Lisa Smile. This was a much shorter trip back (6 hours). It was a good ride, not as smooth as going over, but better than expected since the storms were brewing. We ate dinner at Rollie’s right on the water next to the Port. The food was really good and it was a comfortable atmosphere. We then went to Indian Beach and parked Freda for the night. We finished the jigsaw puzzle and went to sleep.

October 15th – It was such a quiet night, surprisingly being right next to the Port. I immediately got dressed to go walk the beach looking for beach glass, Paul joined me. We can’t believe how much beach erosion there was. Apparently, Tropical storm Nichole came through and really blew in hard. The sea surge was well over 25 feet from the last time we were there. It was great for beach glass though!….lucky me.

We had breakfast and headed on down the road. We decided to camp in the town of Maitland (how ironic, this is the name of the town we live in Florida) just outside of where David and Bernice live. It’s a quaint town and the leaves were peaking. It’s rainy and windy, but relatively warm (70o), so we just rented some movies and cuddled. October 16th – We drove into David and Bernice’s and got all hooked up. The rain finally cleared up and a cold front pulled in. Paul got the brake part for Gertie and went at putting in on…..they sent the wrong part….can you believe it! Oh well, we will just have to wait till we get home to get it straightened out. In the meantime Gertie has brakes as long as there is fluid. I had a nice visit with Bernice and gave her a few herbs to help her get over her sinus infection. David is working A LOT because of a fatal airplane crash at Halifax airport on Friday. He is the duty manager and is in the thick of the investigation. Won’t be able to see much of him before we leave 🙁 I was hoping to spend some quality time with the him this time round, but not to be.

October 17 – Cold and rainy….. again! We spent the day getting the Weblog ready with all the photos to upload onto the Web.

We are getting all our stuff together and trying to get rid of all the stuff we can’t take over the border like….MOOSE, and other things of risk to national security like vegetables, rice and tree bark???

We have a few canned moose jars to eat tonight, and it’s great to share something that is hard to come by and considered a treat…. with our cousins. We leave tomorrow morning to head back to the states. I’m very melancholy today and sad to be leaving Canada….OH CANADA….Bye for now!

In retrospect, as I actually proofed my writing this time (hopefully cutting down on all the typo’s… just for you Laura..LOL), I have to say it was the most incredible month I’ve ever had. How truly blessed I am to have had this experience and how thankful I am to everyone who made it such a great and magical time. And a special thanks to all my friends and family for their support and good wishes, especially when they were going through such a horrific time with the Hurricanes.

Namaste’ (meaning my spirit bows to your spirit) I’m looking forward to getting home 🙂

October 18th – Heading out to good old U.S. of A. We made it to Woodstock, New Brunswick, and it was a beautiful drive here. The leaves are peaking and it’s very hilly around a lot of water. Upon arriving at the Campground we were given a gift of a full rainbow….INCREDIBLE! I have never seen a rainbow’s start and end before. Of course, it was right on Freda (please check out the photos “the road home”). It was a cool crisp night and we had a fire at the waters edge, it got very, very cold. As soon as the fire got low we got even colder and called it a night. The stars were so close and clear.

October 19th – We woke to frost on Freda and no water, uh oh? Luckily only our water filter froze and we were back in business when we took the filter off. It got down to 24o, which sounds really cold, but, it was a beautiful morning. The fog was lifting off the water and the frost was so cool to look at with the sun hitting it. Robyn had a great morning playing with her Pokemon in the water.

We headed out to cross the border into Maine. We had no problem crossing into the U.S. I guess they didn’t think our “granola profile” was a risk to national security. We drove down to Freeport, ME and parked in the L.L. Bean parking lot for the night. We discovered a great little wine shop called appropriately, Freeport Cheese and Wine. We had a great talk with the owner and they ended up buying some StemArt. We went back to Freda and played pinochle.

October 20th & October 23rd – OTRA, headed for Boston area, hopefully to find a campground. Most campgrounds are closed now. We ended up in Bolton, MA about an hour outside of Boston. Of course, as soon as we park, Robyn has already made friends with our neighbors. There is Hunter, Max and Julienne; with them is Dad Kent and Mom Erika, and wonderful, lovable Sundance their yellow lab. We knew right away were going to love being next to this family. It was a cold and rainy day so we decided to head into Boston to do some shopping at one of our favorite stores, Trader Joes. When we got home we had a nice visit with Erika and Kent and realized we have a lot in common. Robyn played with Hunter and Julienne all day, and they as well have lots in common. And then there Sundance, what a great dog., sigh, a very grounding dog. We finally got to spend time with Max. Max has a very busy schedule training to be the next world champion figure skater, and at 11 he really has his head on straight. It also helps to have parents that support him. Speaking of support, if anyone would like to contribute to his skating fund, email me and I’ll put you in touch with them.

October 24th – Off to the Unity Church of God in Somerville (right outside of Boston) to set-up for my art show and Paul’s concert. A good group of people, it was a successful show. We had the luxury of walking into town.and experiencing a true coffee shop in Boston…on a Sunday morning, very cool.

After the show we packed up and headed out. It was very sad to leave our new best friends though. We all felt the same. We drove south to Connecticut and stayed over night at a truck stop.

October 25th – We made good time and arrived in Waynesboro, Virginia and actually stayed the night in a hotel. I wanted to take a bath, but the water was so full of chlorine, it was not fun scratching through a bath. It was nice watching TV in bed though and lounging about for the evening.

October 26th – We played tourist and went to Monticello, where Thomas Jefferson lived. It was a great fall day, with crisp air and Monticello is an incredible place, actually Thomas Jefferson was an incredible man. I never realized how enlightened he was.

OTRA to Ginger and Joe’s house in Raleigh, NC. It’s so good to see them again; they have a wonderful house and a great dog-called Gracie. We had a lot of fun with Gracie, she is still a puppy and loved to play. Robyn enjoyed this a lot. Ginger made us a great meal and we caught up on the last couple of years. It didn’t take long J. I got to finally get a REAL bath. They have a old fashion claw foot tub. Tooooo cool. It was the best bath I’ve had the whole trip. Thanks guys. Of course Paul and Robyn also enjoyed it as well.

October 27th & 28th – We headed home with a stay over in Savannah, GA. It was interesting to see the terrain change the further south we got and the more in hurricane areas we arrived into. A lot of trees mangled and ripped out of their roots and signs tore up… Robyn got to see her first ‘Lunar’ eclipse, she said it tood too long 🙂

We arrived home to see that our condo looks great and no damage to our plant or trees. Thank you Paige for taking such good care of our place. We also were greeted by alot of happy cats. We’ve been blessed.

October 29th – SURPRISE! We decided to visit a few friends at their Halloween party and surprise them. They had incredible decorations and libations. Matt, Lori, Pete, Sheri and Joe – great to see all of you again and spend a little time catching up.

We are home safe and sound, thanks again to everyone who contributed to this successful trip.

To be continued….