What a wonderful time we have been having in Canada, and it is all due to the generous hospitality of the Canadian friends we have been visiting. It is natural for Canadians to travel south in the wintertime, due to their horribly cold winters, and many prefer Mexico to the United States. This is where we have met many Canadians in the past and always found them to be friendly, genuine, warm, caring people.
On our very first trip to Mexico, in 1994, we were at a campground in Mazatlan where we met a couple from Quebec, Gaetane & Sylvain, and their children: twin boys age 9, Christophe & David, and daughter Chloe, age 4. Having just sent the last of our 4 kids off to college and feeling very free, if someone had said that we would spend the next 9 months or so traveling with this family, we would have thought, “No Way!” Well, that is just what happened because they are an exceptional family. We traveled with them off and on for 3 months in Mexico, then they drove to Costa Rica while we went back to California to deal with vacant rentals. As soon as we could, we drove down to Costa Rica to be with them and we spent the next 6 months there and traveling back with them to the USA. Since then, we have visited them when they lived in Edmonton for a year, and also the last time we came to the Maritimes, in 1998. This trip, seeing them again was of course, a priority. But we were having no responses from them to our e-mails, and when we called last weekend, were told that we had reached the wrong number. So, we drove up to the Quebec City area, parked our rig in the WalMart in Levis, and drove over to their house. Hooray, they were home and they warmly welcomed us. Turns out that our e-mails must have been automatically being dumped in the “spam” folder and it was their daughter who didn’t understand our English on the phone, who had said “Wrong number”.
After spending the first evening catching up on each other’s news, yesterday they picked us up and we took the ferry across to Quebec City, and then drove for an hour to the new chalet they are building on the St Lawrence River. Here is a picture of it and the inside is just beautiful too.
And they have fabulous views over the St. Lawrence River. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we had a delightful time with them as they toured us around the area. When we returned to their home, a marvelous dinner of raclette had been prepared by the now 24 year old Christophe, and 18 year old Chloe. They have a raclette pan, which is like a large hot plate grill that can sit on the table and it has little individual scoops which slide underneath. You can put various meats and veggies on the top grill, and things like bread or potatoes with raclette cheese on top in the scoops, which melt when you leave them under the hot grill for a while. With some good red wine, it makes for a very social experience as you cook your own dinner and chat. You can see from the pictures that we had such things as pork tenderloin, chicken pieces, shrimp, sliced potatoes, slices of sausages, Lebanese cucumbers, tiny carrots, sliced French bread, etc. along with several tasty sauces.
Gaetane, Sylvain & Elaine with Raclette Grill
After dinner the kids demonstrated their new Wii game, and Elaine decided she wants to get one. Humm, I wonder whether we have enough room in our RV for that??!! They also showed us a video of their chalet in Costa Rica, where we hope to visit them next March.
Here is a picture of Gaetane & Sylvain with Christophe & David:
Chloe is studying to be a graphic artist and here is a picture of her with one of her drawings:
The weekend before we were in Quebec City for our visit with the Drolet-Tremblay family above, we were in North Augusta, Ontario having a visit with Rob & Lynn Archer. This is a delightful couple we met last year on our trip to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia. Their lovely home has lots of yard and here is a picture of these cuties out in the back:
They treated us royally, fixing great meals for us and allowing us generous use of their infrastructure. Part of the time their one year old granddaughter was there, and she was such a great baby we can see why they are so happy to take care of her at any time. Here is a picture of Elaine holding her. Her name is Joselyn.
On Sunday they took us to the nearby largest town, Brockville, for some sightseeing and a nice walk through the greenbelt and along the marina on the river. This is called the Thousand Islands area, with New York right across the river, and we could see some of the islands. There are so many large and stately homes in these towns, we can hardly believe it when we drive through. When we got home, it was pouring down rain but Lynn picked rhubarb from their garden and made us a fresh pie. Probably the best one we have ever tasted!
Hospitality is not just limited to Canadians; we have had wonderful socializing with friends all along the way. Just before crossing the border into Canada at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, we drove 150 miles south to meet up with Elaine Lewter, who lives in Lansing. She had to drive 150 miles north to meet us too. She is an old friend of Elaine’s and in fact, the two of them moved to California together when they were 20. We had a great lunch with her and caught up on all the news about her twin sons, age 24, and her husband, George. Here is a picture of the two old friends:
And on our way back to our RV, we stopped in St. Ignace, the small town on the north side of the Mackinac Bridge, to visit with Doug & Willie, 2 RV friends whom we met in Quartzsite several years ago and haven’t seen for a very long time. We just happened to be in the same area, for once. We had a nice walk along the charming marine there and then they took us out to dinner at a local café. Of course, we also made the acquaintance of their 2 new kitties, and saw their oldest cat too. It is clear that the cats are the top “dogs” in this RV!!! Here is a picture of Doug and Willie on the waterfront:
Now we are proceeding on our way to catch the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. Our reservation is for June 30. So we are stopping along the way for some hikes and local experiences. More on that in the next blog entry. Happily, summer has finally started to happen up here and the last few days have been sunny and warm and quite conducive to these kinds of activities. The roads have been pretty good, especially in New Brunswick. In Quebec, we had some difficulty with road signs because they are only in French, something which greatly annoys us since other provinces have them in both languages. The roads were also worse there too. But Quebec City is a beautiful city and well worth the trouble to get there, even if you don’t have friends nearby, as we do. Some cruise ships are starting to come there now, and we can see that this would be a perfect place for them to stop for a day. Everywhere we go we see Tim Horton’s, which we thought was like McDonald’s but we hear that they mostly have coffee and doughnuts. They were all absolutely packed in Ontario, not very busy in Quebec, and look somewhat busy here in New Brunswick. We have been trying to take advantage of other differences between Canada and the USA, such a buying pate’ because it is so much better and cheaper here. And soon we are going to start buying lobster for dinner, when we get to some areas where they are plentiful and less costly.