Little house in the desert

We said our farewells to Carol and Pete and the gang of critters, and headed over to our final house-sit in Medicine Hat. We made a quick stop in Calgary at Donna & Sam’s — just long enough to help celebrate Phil (Jr.)’s birthday, before making the short hop to “The Hat.”

We were warmly greeted by our homeowners, Gail & Pat, and we spent a lovely evening together, swapping stories and getting to know the house and animals. Although they have four critters in total, they had decided to take the two small dogs with them to California. This left their two sweet kitties in our charge: Allie and Sasha.

Every cat has its own unique personality, and these two are no different. Sasha is easy going and immediately accepting of everyone — especially if you give her treats. But Allie needed a little more convincing. At first, she greeted us strangers with growls and little hisses. She made it clear that she didn’t know us, so didn’t trust us. Happily, this only lasted until about day three. After that, it was all purrs and cuddles.

In the end, Allie became completely connected. She wanted to be close to one of us most of the time. She would sleep beside me through the day in the office, or curl up on Ann’s lap. Allie would constantly do the leg rub thing, seemingly just to say hi. And she was so engaged visually. She’d lock eyes, and purr, and reach out with her paws. She was soooo sweet.

Meanwhile, Sasha just continued to be her purry, cutie self.

Our house here in Medicine Hat was located on the edge of town. It wasn’t quite rural, but it was in a pretty small subdivision. Even better, the house was located not far from an oxbow in the South Saskatchewan River. There were plenty of walking trails right outside the door, and a short 10-minute walk got us down to the river’s edge.

Medicine Hat’s climate and geology is fascinating, and very beautiful — in a dry, dusky sort of way. It’s actually a semi-desert, with dry prairie grasses, badlands and hoodoos (or nearly so). One big surprise for me was to discover all the cacti that grew along the bank of the river. I haven’t seen cactus growing in the wild since our motorcycle trip through the deserts of the American south. But here I was, nearly tripping over some, here in Canada.

Our time in Medicine Hat was very relaxing, and easy. The house was the most luxurious we’d had this winter season. Kitties are always easy. There was an excellent swimming pool nearby, so Ann could continue her dolphin evolution. She also kept up with her online exercise class, much to the amusement of the cats.

I spent time drying more food for our coming sailing season, and walking the river paths nearby our house. On one of my walks I watched a bald eagle swoop down to the river, grab a large fish, and then fly right past me on the river’s bank.

I managed to get my camera out for the last part.

During our time, Ann was able to reconnect with a dear old friend from Pincher Creek days. Tammy lives in a smaller town outside of Medicine Hat, so when she came into the big city, the two got together.

Our time in Medicine Hat went all too quickly. Happily though, we’re planning to be back next fall, so we’ll get to reconnect with our lovely homeowners, as well as those two sweet kitties.

Feeling like Dr. Dolittle

After saying our goodbyes to our Smithers folks, we made our way down to Cochrane, AB. But first we had to make a quick Calgary stop to see little Olivia! … and also those other not-as-cute family folks like Donna, Sam, Monique & Phil (Jr.) πŸ˜ƒ. After that, it was off to the next farm.

Our Cochrane friends have a small farm that houses a rather large collection of different critters. Inside are three cats, one dog (two, but one travels with the owners) and two parrots. Outside there are two miniature donkeys, a large Tennessee Walker horse, and a new miniature horse. It’s quite the collection.

This is our third time sitting for Carol and Pete, and it felt a bit like coming home. Sadly, they’ve lost two cats, and now one horse, since we first began sitting for them. But on the fun side, they now have a very cute, and rather mischievous, little miniature horse. His name, Snoop, suites him well, because he’s often getting into trouble.

Tucker and Snoop make a real odd-couple pair.

Another new development is the free-range birds. The parrots have always been rather … annoying. They easily get bored, and then start to squawk and Squawk! and SQUAWK!! But Carol discovered that if they are given more freedom, they are far happier — and so are we. So the birds now get to roam where they please.

With so many different animals, the demands on our time are pretty constant. There’s constant cuddling , and holding , and carrying , and sleeping with . Oh, and of course there is poop management… that was mostly my job:

During our stay the weather went from warmish and dry, to:

Very Cold!

Then icy

Then snowy.

The snowblower was also a new addition to this farm life, and a darn good one. The weather turned pretty snowy for Alberta, with dump after dump after dump… Normally we’d get a chinook in between the snow falls which would blow and melt it all away, but not this time. The snows just kept coming, so I made good use of the blower.

At least the cold, crisp skies, and snowy fields delivered some stunning morning images:

One of the joys of being at this place, is it puts us close to the family in Calgary. Sisters, brothers, nephews, nieces, and now a grandniece! It also allows us to give a little back by hosting, instead of always being hosted. And so we did… First playing host to Donna & Sam, then Peggy and Phil paid a visit. And then the big event: nearly the whole motley crew showed up for dinner and zoo time.

Unfortunately Monique and Olivia took sick so didn’t make it out for the dinner. But they came out a week later, along with Niq’s friend, Abaigeal, her daughter Astoria, and baby Hugo.

Although we were at the mini-zoo for over a month, the time went fast. Ann kept busy cleaning, and swimming, and video exercising , and cuddling (with the critters, not me, of course) . I passed the time ukeing and drying food , and of course, pooper-scooping . In general, we just enjoyed the comfortable space, and spending time with the critters.

As always, our time here ended all too soon. But it looks like we’ll be coming back next winter, so it is goodbye, but not forever. For now, we move onto our final house sit of the season, over in Medicine Hat, AB. This is actually a house house-sit, with only two very cute cats to look after.

Allie & Sasha

It’s a farmers life for us

Life on the farm, or more accurately, the ranch, moved on. We celebrated the new year by keeping an extra close eye on the calves, most especially our rolled-over victim, L5. Happily, his recovery was swift, and within a few days he was as fit as the rest.

By now we’d settled into a regular routine, with two or three calf walks on the ‘off’ days, punctuated by the major effort of feeding every third day. Jasper the dog was a constant companion, and always up for a “cow walk,” but soon Shamus the cat decided he wanted to be part of the daily action too, and started coming with us on our morning walks.

Shamus would even come out on the snowy days… although he didn’t really like it.

Our days revolved around cow walks, water checks, basic house maintenance, the occasional snow ploughing, and then the big feeding day every three sleeps. This was actually the fun day, because we got to use the tractor. As always, we took turns, and each got the same amount of time behind the wheel.

Although the calves all look the same, they each have their own personalities. It’s a bit dangerous letting yourself get to know them, because, well… πŸ₯©. But we really did start to make connections with a few, especially the “M” group. M7, M3, M2, and most especially M9 would often come over to us and start to sniff and lick, which is apparently what cows do with those in the same group, or family. It was all rather touching, if a bit disgusting because cows are snotty, poopy, slobbery creatures.

In between cow and house duties I found time to do some food processing and dehydration in preparation for the coming sailing season . And Ann kept busy with her video exercise class, along with plenty of cross-country skiing, which Jasper was always eager to help with.

Our time indoors was mostly spent being entertained by the two critters who lived with us. We’re sure going to miss them both:

The remaining time passed relatively uneventfully. No new (major) problems occurred, and all too soon we were picking up Les & Chris (the homeowners) at the airport and saying our goodbyes. One of the harder parts about this life is the departures, but with each one of those comes a new (or renewed) arrival.

And so it is here where we move from one farm house to another; in this case back to Cochrane, AB. This is the small hobby farm we have sat for before. We only have 10 animals to care for here: three cats, one little dog, two parrots, two donkeys and two horses. Should be easy πŸ˜‰.

Doggies, and kitties and cows, “oh my!”

Our time in Ottawa was relatively short this time. Unfortunately, we were under a bit of time pressure to get out west for our first house sit in Rouleau, SK. And of course we had to stop in on our many friends in northern Ontario. So we came, we drank, and we left. Thanks Kathy/Mom!

Our journey through northern Ontario was a bit different than normal. To see everyone we had to alter our normal travel pattern a bit, staying first in Thessalon , and then making it all the way to Thunder Bay.

Our incredibly generous friends, Paul & Julie, once again opened their hearts and their homes to us. P&J have been letting us stay at their cabin on Lake Superior. It’s a lovely rustic place with a little fridge, a propane stove, a woodstove for heat, and an outhouse for… other necessities.

We spent a few wonderful days with our old sailing friends, enjoying their company, and meeting their new kitty . We heard about their adventures on the Big Lake, and talked about all their new projects, future plans involving their land, and sailing, and generally enjoying retired life.

We also spent a lovely afternoon with friends Ben & Sherilyn, and their two sweet and always-fun girls, Olivia & Molly. We played, and sang a few ukulele songs, and generally caught up on their lives. They are living another form of the freedom-dream at their rural home outside of Kakabeka Falls, ON. It’s a joy to spend time with them, and we remain ever grateful that they continue to house our little storage trailer for us.

From Thunder Bay we had to travel east to go west, backtracking to Rossport (Selim) area so we could spend time with Cathie and Joe, and meet their newest addition: Piper!

While there we lent a hand cutting and moving wood for future winters. But mostly we spent time talking and sharing stories of adventures past, and to come. C&J continue to be inspirations for us. Despite challenges of age and health, they continue to live the lives at their semi-remote cabin overlooking Lake Superior. It’s not the easiest place to live, but it is enlivening. We always love spending time there.

Sadly, we were pushed on after a couple of days. We arrived at our first house-sit of the season in Rouleau, SK., which is more famously known as Dog River, the fictional town of TV show Corner Gas. The show used many of the actual town’s structures, including Oscar & Emma’s home, the town bar, and of course the shop that sells both insurance and liquor. This is not made up; it really does!

We arrived at our new temporary home just after a nasty winter storm swept through. It had knocked out the power, and would remain out for the next 36 hours. Luckily our hosts Christine & Joe were well prepared, and had a generator that kept the heat running, and at least one electrical outlet powered. We were able to stay warm and cook using the air fryer oven. Best of all, we met the small horde of critters who would be our main charge: Five cats, and two tiny and very energetic dog-pups.

The two little morkie dogs were a hoot! Very funny, constantly on the move, and always in need of something. Being puppies, they were not fully house-trained, but we managed fine. And they enjoyed winter when it returned after a couple of days.

Our time in Rouleau was relatively brief, but a lot of fun as we got to know all the animals. All too soon our time came to an end, and we packed up and headed off to Calgary for a month-long stay with Donna & Sam. Along the way we discovered the perfect restaurant smack in the midst of the flattest flat lands of the Prairies. You gotta love it:

Restaurant owner is Nepalese…
but it’s still hilarious!

D&S’s place is our second land-home. In fact, it’s kinda like the two foci of our land travelling ellipse, with Ottawa being one and Calgary being the other. Of course, the incredible BIG NEWS in our Calgary life was … a new pool table! That, and losing a tooth after someone (Donna!) insisted I go to a dentist .

But I’m kidding, of course. The big new thing was meeting the tiny new thing called Olivia; Monique & Phil’s new baby.

And there was one more Really Big Thing that happened while we were in Calgary. A certain someone turned 60!

Yes, little Annnnneeeeeeeee is now into her 7th decade. She clocked over the big day near the end of our stay. Still pretty amazing for an old woman πŸ₯°. And of course, a big birthday deserves a new, big, iPhone.

We spent our final day packing up, and saying goodbye to Olivia, who will be something like twice as old as she is now when we meet her again in February, 2023!

The following day we packed our bags, gave our thanks to our hosts (thanks D&S!), and headed north to our first real ranch-sit. We decided to take the Icefield Parkway up through Jasper and past the Columbia Glacier. The road seemed the most direct, although it is less travelled, and was a bit difficult in places. But we managed, without only one wild animal attack

We arrived safely, and in good time, at our ranch near Telkwa, BC, which is about 1/2 hr away from Smithers. Les and Chris greeted us, along with the dog Jasper , and the cat Shamus . After a wonderful first meal together, and then a good night’s sleep, we then spent the next three days learning how to run a ranch.

There are 47 calves which we have to manage. One of the important tasks is to keep a count. This is easier said than done when they all look the same!

There are also two largish tractors that we had to learn how to operate. Happily, they both operate more or less the same, although one is larger than the other. Both have 16 gears, with front-end loaders and rear three-point hitches. The larger is dedicated to snow ploughing, so has a blade attached at the stern. The slightly smaller one is used for general work, mostly of manoeuvring around the 1-ton bales of hay and silage.

Other than our regular duties of keeping the calves fed (three or four bales every three days), we need to keep up on general maintenance. The fence needs monitoring and repair, the pellet stove in the farm house needs regular cleaning and filling, and the waterers need to be checked to make sure they never run dry. This is a critical part of maintaining the herd, and this was our first ‘crisis’ during the extreme cold snap that gripped the area not long after Les & Chris left for their trip.

Despite being fairly far north, the climate here is generally pretty easy in the winter. Typical overnight lows are in the mid minus teens (-12ΒΊC to -18ΒΊC), and the daytime highs are in the single minus digits (-8ΒΊC to -2ΒΊC). There is snow, but usually not massive amounts. So just our luck that record-breaking cold weather settled on us for days: -35ΒΊC with wind chills well into the -40sΒΊC for days on end. It was even chilly inside.

On the fourth day of this extreme cold, the calf waterer froze and stopped working. We sprung into action. Firstly, we had to get water to the critters, so found some temporary troughs and manually filled them — no easy task in -30ΒΊC. We then tried to thaw the waterer, but soon realized we needed more help. Texts went out to Les, and he called in the cavalry: Jesse, one of our wonderful neighbours.

It took us over seven hours of working in the freezing cold. Turns out it wasn’t just a frozen pipe. There was a cascade of failures; first it froze, then the feed hose cracked, then the valve broke. Just when one thing would work, another thing broke, but Jesse soldiered on. We were working with headlamps in the dark, but he finally got it all working. He was simply incredible, and the cows were happy once again.

The deep cold finally let up, but this was followed by three days of fairly heavy snow. Our private driveway stretches a km, and there’s also a fair bit of driveway in front of the house, and then down to the hay barn. All of this has to be kept passable, so we fired up the big tractor and spent something like eight hours moving snow around.

In between all this excitement we also celebrated our own little Christmas, complete with tree (cut from just down the lane), some skiing, lots of Prosecco, and the full turkey meal.

As the year came to a close we faced one more crisis. Coming out in the morning we found one of the cows lying on his side, with legs outstretched and a severely bloated stomach. Rectum/intestinal material was protoruding from the rear. Turns out this was a case of a “roll over,” where the calf couldn’t get up. It kept digesting food, producing gas, but couldn’t expel it, so it just kept building up inside.

Once again the cavalry (or is it calfary) was called in. Jesse was first on the scene, and with my limited assistance we managed to get “L5” (they all have ear tags) rolled over. It tried to stand, but immediately fell. By then John had arrived. He’s the senior cow hand, and he figured out what had happened. He and Jesse found some tubing, and they forced it down the calf’s throat so as to release the gas.

After a few minutes the calf started to deflate. They let it rest a bit, then with their help L5 got to it’s feet. Pretty wobbly at first, but it stayed up. We got them all fed, and it started to eat… tentatively at first, but better all the time. We’ve been checking him/her(?) multiple times every day, and all seems well. But John figures we were within an hour or so of death. Who knew lying down could be so deadly?!?

Despite the challenges, we’re having a blast. It’s hard work at times, but it’s stunning beautiful, and we’re learning so much. We have one more month, so hopefully nothing worse will happen. In the meantime, we’re enjoying the place, and the critters.

Taking cover from Fiona

It’s always a mix of emotions coming back to the dock after a season of sailing. It’s nice to be back and to reconnect with the people we’d started to get to know, but it also meant our time on the boat was nearing an end — at least for this year.

But on the plus side, good beer was once again at hand 😁.

One of the reasons we came back when we did was the deteriorating weather. Hurricane season had started like a lamb, but that lamb had mutated into a nasty demonic ram, sending cyclone after cyclone up our way.

Weathering Danielle at Swan Island

First there was Danielle, which brought us some nasty weather that we sat out at a nearby anchorage (Swan Island). Then came Earl, which hammered the Avalon Peninsula, and brought strong winds and big seas to our area. We weathered that at the dock. But then this gal named Fiona started heading our way … we knew our season was done.

At least all that weather brought some stunning skies:

While waiting out the weather and storms, the three of us (Ann, I and Mark) took a road trip to the nearby town of Twillingate. Along the way, we stopped into visit the Beothuk Interpretation Centre. This museum is located at a historic Beothuk village site that had been previously investigated and researched. It was a fascinating window into the history of the original Newfoundlanders — sadly driven extinct.

After spending a couple of hours at this historic site we headed up to Twillingate to visit this storied town, and to get a view of the open ocean in all its Earl fury.

Of course, the real reason we went on the road trip was to satisfy an Ann-itch for good fish & chips. The fish place near Lewisporte had already closed for the season, but we’d been told “the best” was to be found at: Doyle W. Sansome & Sons Super Lobster Pool.

We were not disappointed.

The fish in the fish&chips was succulent. You could taste the lovely sweet cod. And their “fish cam” let you see what was swimming just below. They even have a wharf right next to the place, so we might be able to sail there next season.

The following days were spent getting Pachina Mia ready to haul out. This is probably the hardest part of the season, because we know we’re working to leave the boat, not get her ready. But it has to be done.

One of the interesting jobs is to climb to the top of our mast to remove the wind instrument, to do a rigging inspection, and to detach the lazy jack lines. Ann usually goes up in the spring because she’s always fit, and I usually go up in the fall because, by the end of the season, I’m somewhat in shape πŸ˜‰.

Haulout happened without any problem, and we continue to get her ready for the coming winter. This meant a lot of unloading, and general shifting of our lives from boat back to car. It also meant more cleaning, with Ann trying to reach the last bits of mould up in unreachable areas deep in our chain locker.

But our main concern through all this, and indeed through our entire sailing season, had been to get a new winter cover for Pachina Mia. Our boat is a fine old lady, but without a good winter cover, she suffers greatly. The previous winter had destroyed our old cover, but we had a new one on order from TopShop in Kingston.

Building a cover for any largish boat is no small task, and it’s doubly hard when done remotely. Under TopShop-Dave’s guidance, we had taken all the necessary measurements. So now we were awaited its arrival, all the while keeping a close eye on the calendar. We had already booked our ferry ride back to Ottawa, so we were under some time pressure. And if that wasn’t enough, something else emerged on the horizon: Fiona!

What started as a serious, but very distant storm, soon became a very real problem for us as it became clear Fiona was headed our way. It felt like 2019 all over again when we first arrived in Lewisporte just ahead of another hurricane, called Dorian.

Putting a winter cover on is difficult in the best of conditions. Any wind or weather makes it hard to impossible, and we were facing a completely new cover. We knew we had to get it on before the winds and rain arrived.

Dave had promised delivery in time, and we’d been tracking it via Day & Ross delivery since it left Kingston. We knew it was nearby, but often the last km of delivery is what takes the longest. We had pretty much given up hope of it arriving before Fiona when we were awakened to a banging on our hull early (for us) in the morning. It arrived!

It arrived… and just in time. Fiona was bearing down on Newfoundland, but as predicted, there was the calm before the storm. It was just enough time to get the cover up, and reasonably well tied down. We battened down the last hatches just as the wind really started blowing.

This new cover seems to be significantly better than our previous one. The material feels tougher, and less permeable. This should mean our boat is drier and better protected. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite fit. All the cutouts were perfect, and the overall sizing worked well, but our forward pulpit extends further out than expected.

The gap was small, so we made it work with a combination of extra lacing and the use of a fender. Ann spent so much time with her head peaking out of the little forward hole, that she became a feature of the yard. People would walk by just to talk to the cute little Ann-gopher peaking out of her nest.

Lewisporte only took a glancing blow from Fiona, but this was still enough to produce high, sustained winds that lasted for over two days. Our new cover took quite a beating, but survived quite well. But other parts of the marina didn’t fare quite so well. I saw at least one large power boat have their bimini cover shredded by the wind, and one of the finger docks almost ripped apart.

By early evening we had our cover in place, and fairly well secured. We spent the evening safe inside the club, singing and mostly listening to fellow boater Eric as he shared his guitar and singing talents. As well as being an impressive mariner (in boats small and large), he is an accomplished singer/song-writer.

Our cover did well in the face of these high winds, but being on our boat under the cover was like sticking your head into a set of drums. It was deafening — so much so that I chose to sleep in the clubhouse for the last night on board. Ann, who can sleep through anything loud, and isn’t quite as portable in her sleeping arrangements, stayed on board.

We only saw 30 to perhaps 50 knot winds over in Lewisporte, but on the south-west side of Newfoundland, and over on Cape Breton, the hurricane hit with full force. Ferries had been cancelled for days, but our sailing remained on schedule, so we did our final inspections, tied everything up, and left Shah and Fred and the treasures to watch over Pachina Mia. We expect to be back in the spring, 2023 — unless the world falls apart again.

We hit the road and headed for the ferry over at Port aux Basques. The town itself had been severely damaged by Fiona’s storm surge. Many dozens of homes had been destroyed or simply washed away, and many more were severely damaged. Luckily (for us) the ferry docks were undamaged, so we boarded and said goodbye to Newfoundland once again.

The drive through Cape Breton and even parts of Nova Scotia proper revealed a lot more storm damage. There seemed to be no power at all on the island, so we had to drive for hours before making our first coffee and breakfast stop. By the time we found a place with coffee, Ann was starting to twitch and sweat, but luckily the Farmer’s Daughter came through with liquid caffeine.

The rest of our journey back to Ottawa was uneventful, and so we washed up here at Kathy & Mom’s place once again. We’re here for a few more days before we start our western journey, heading to Saskatchewan for the first of three winter house sits.

Sailors once again!

We knew we could not leave the dock without finalizing plans for our new cover, so we were happy and lucky that Dave at TopShop agreed to do the job. He’s based near Kingston and would normally come and do all the measurements himself. But since that was impossible in our case, he sent us detailed instructions on all the specs he needed.

We assembled our frame and spent a whole day with tape measure and note pad, getting all the numbers. It was surprisingly difficult work, double-checking each measurement, but we got it done and sent the forms off to Dave. He was right on it, and with just a few minor additions he said we were good to go … so we got gone!

Mark, our Ottawa sailing buddy, had already left about a week earlier. He’d been teasing us with pics from the nearby anchorage that he was at. So we headed there to join him. It was so great meeting up again, and this time off the dock.

We spent a couple of nights at this first anchorage, then moved over to another one a bit further out the bay. This was another beautiful, protected anchorage where we got into the groove of doing very little. Books, swimming (Ann), ukulele playing, good food & drink, and plenty of just soaking in the beauty.

After spending the first week in a couple of anchorages in Bay of Exploits, we headed out (briefly) into the full Atlantic, rounding the headland that leads to New Bay, Seal Bay and Badger Bay, where we would spend the next five weeks. At the top of the headland is a place called Fortune Harbour. We anchored here in 2019, so looked forward to returning. It did not disappoint.

We spent a few days basking in the good fortune of Fortune Hrb. But we also did a few small projects like creating a new bug screen for our forward hatch, and of course doing more reading. After a few days we headed back out onto the briny.

Our next stop was a place that had to be visited: Gods Pocket (I prefer the plural, although some insist on calling it “God’s”). The place definitely lives up to its name.

As we headed around into Seal Bay we caught sight of our first whales of the season. Actually, we heard them before we saw them, with one coming up for a big breath close to our boat. The sound of a whale exhaling is unmistakable once you’ve heard it a few times, and these were quite close. We figure they were minke whales, so not as large as humpbacks, but still pretty impressive. Unfortunately, they moved too fast for pics.

Gods Pocket has a very small entrance, with some shoaling off one side. It’s not hard in good visibility, but as it turned out a wall of rain started blanketing us just as we headed close. With no visibility, we had to divert back out into the channel for a few minutes to let the rain let up. Once it did we scooted in to find… heaven.

We lingered in the presence of the gods for a few days, weathering a minor storm which hardly touched us at all in the pocket. After the storm passed the weather turned quite warm again, so we basked in the sunshine for a few days. And of course, Ann went swimming…

After a few days nestled in the arms of the gods we up-anchored and headed off to our next destination: Julie’s Harbour. Both Gods and Julie’s were both highly recommended by our new friends at Lewisporte, so we were keen to see how it measured up. A lovely sail out and around another headland brought us into Badger Bay. Julie’s is right near the end.

While not quite as protected as Gods, Julie’s is another slice of heaven in a land full of heavens. It has a narrow entrance marked by an ancient, rusted out, snowmobile. There is one large cabin/house near the entrance point, along with an old wharf and newer floating docks. But otherwise it’s pretty isolated. We anchored and went ashore for a little exploring.

The following day Ann and I rowed ashore to take a little hike up a creek. There are a couple of freshwater ponds (lakes), and we were both inchin’ for a bath πŸ˜‰. We made it up, and while the shore was covered in sharp rocks, we both managed to wash the grime away. Oh, and Ann went swimming… of course.

After a few days Mark, who had left us a couple of weeks prior, decided to brave the open water to come and join us at Julie’s. He had been anchored not far away, so he did some heavy sailing to reach us. After a full day of sailing, he made it into the bay, and we tied together.

Turns out Julie’s Harbour isn’t quite as remote or as isolated as other places. It’s not far from a couple of towns, so we would receive visitors nearly every day. Mostly they came in smaller zippy boats, although there were a few Newfoundland dories plying the waters. We learned that Julie’s Harbour was once a thriving fishing village. And apparently it is haunted by the ghost of a girl who died while swimming in the pond where Ann and I had gone.

We didn’t see any spooks, but we did visit the old graveyard that is the final resting place for some of the villagers of this forgotten old outport.

On the way back to the boats we stopped by the old rusted snowmobile again, and then collected a bunch of wild mussels for the night’s dinner. Nothing finer than fresh seafood!

The days slipped by. We got into an easy routine of reading and swimming, rowing and eating. The owner of the cabin eventually came by to introduce himself and welcome us to the neighbourhood. He probably wondered if we were permanently mooring there. But the day finally came when we decided to weigh anchor and head off to …

… back to God’s Pocket!

Mark sailing ahead

We had a lovely sail out into the open water, and then down Seal Bay, right back into the pocket. We slid in through the narrow entrance, dropped the hook, and settled into a longish stay so we could pull out the kayaks and do some paddling.

We spent the next 11 days livin’ the life of Reilly 😁, eating, sleeping, reading, swimming, doing a few boat chores, and exploring around in the kayaks. Mark even got in on the paddling. Ann did her happy dance…

One of the joys of boat life are all the daily chores we get to do. Ann discovered the joys of yogurt-making. I kept up the bread and sprout production, and Ann even did her laundry one day.

With the days getting shorter, and the nights getting cooler, the end of our season was coming in sight. We reluctantly put away the kayaks, hauled up anchor and said goodbye to Gods. It’s a place we’ll definitely return to.

We sailed back over to Fortune Harbour for one more night, and then rounded the big headland to get back into the Bay of Exploits. Lewisporte is located at the bottom end, so the end was drawing closer. Joyfully, as we headed back into the home bay, we were treated to the best whale sighting of our season: humpacks!

We were pretty close to home by now, but none of us was racing to get in. We still had a few more days, so decided to try another anchorage that Mark had explored back in 2019. This anchorage has some pretty thin water compared to most Newfoundland harbours. The entrance showed less than 10 feet on our sounder, and it got even shallower as we came in. We grabbed a yacht club mooring and proceed to hang there for the next few days, floating in as little as perhaps 6 feet of water at low-low tide. Our boat draws 6 feet!

Flag getting battered

The wind picked up as we began to feel the effects of the first of two tropical depressions/hurricanes as they brushed by Newfoundland. We weathered the high winds fine though, although the days were definitely getting cooler and the nights even colder.

[Ann: It was here that we had the inReach messenger on continuous checking and waited for news of little Olivia Jean Barndt, born September 7, 12:15 NDT].

With even more weather coming our way, we decided it was time to head into home port and begin the sad, but necessary work of putting Pachina Mia to bed for the winter. We also wanted to have enough time to deal with our new winter cover, which was still in progress, but had not yet been finalized or shipped. So back we went…

The final 20 nm was uneventful. We motored all the way to try and burn up some of our very old diesel. Mark, who had left a couple days prior, was there to grab our lines. Good thing because the captain (me) hit the dock kinda hard, and crew (Ann) had forgot to hang our fenders out. So all in all, a perfect ending to a perfect cruising summer.

Back on the water

We spent a few more relaxing days in the bosom of ‘our’ Ottawa home, then said our goodbyes to Mom and Sis, and then headed off towards Newfoundland. As usual, it was sad to leave, but we’ll always be back. It’s all part of the ebb & flow of this somewhat odd life of ours.

In this case, the tide took us, not directly to Newfoundland, but over a bit further into Nova Scotia to visit our good friend Chet. After calling Mexico home for most of the past many years, he is now transitioning back to becoming a Maritimer. So we had to go see his newly renovated place, and generally reconnect with he and his friend/partner Margie. But mostly we wanted to meet his new cat: Riley. So cute…

After a few wonderful days visiting both Margie and Chet’s new homes, we pointed the bow north towards North Sydney to catch the overnight ferry to The Rock. With plenty of time to kill we did a little touring, and ventured a short distance up the Cabot Trail. We then ate dinner in N. Sydney at the same place we’ve stopped every time before boarding the ferry for the overnight passage.

The passage was uneventful, and we both managed to get a few hours sleep in. We landed and immediately headed out along the TCH — Trans Canada Highway. The weather was kinda stormy and foggy during the drive to Corner Brook, which made the hazards on the road even more scary. And no, I’m not talking about the infamous highway-roaming moose. I’m talking their potholes!

The province’s highways are in a sad state of disrepair. You can’t take your eyes off the road, especially with our little car. There are many holes that would rip our axles right off! Regardless of the weather and roads, we managed to make it to Corner Brook, where we took a short detour down to our old yacht club. It really hasn’t changed from when we left. Most of the boats looked familiar, and the wind was still howling, as it often did.

We carried on and were soon in the Lewisporte area. Wisely, Ann had booked us a BnB for the first few days, and since it was already late in the day, we headed straight for our temporary little home. What a lovely place; a modest sized camp/cottage right on a pond (lake), complete with wood stove, a great kitchen, and a very comfy living room and bedrooms. It was perfect — so perfect that we stayed an extra two nights.

The next day we did venture over to the marina to finally see our Pachina Mia. She was in a bit of a sorry state, with the cover completely destroyed, and nothing but the frame left. Going on board, we found that while there was no major damage, there certainly was a lot of minor stuff. At least our little treasures were still all there; still on guard.

It was a little demoralizing, but not unexpected. The weather that first week didn’t help either. It was cold, and constantly raining/drizzly. But regardless, we started the long process of bringing Pachina back to life. And after a couple of weeks, we managed to get everything sorted enough so we could go in the water.

Life is always so much better when floating. A boat just feels so wrong when sitting on the hard.

By this time our friend from Ottawa and fellow Lewisporte boater, Mark, had arrived. He helped us launch, and assisted us with the thousand other tasks that we’ve been doing. We even managed to help him a bit, but you know those solo sailors — they like to do it all themselves! Happily, we’ve been spending most evenings together, preparing suppers at the clubhouse while both our boats get back to full likeability.

Unhappily, the morning after our launch, our little red car was broken into. We found out the next morning when Brian, the marina manager, came over to me and asked if I’d left our car unlocked. He then took out a wallet that looked disturbingly familiar. The thief had smashed our front side windows, rifled through the glove compartment and found my wallet. I had just decided to start keeping it in the car, thinking I only need it there, and it might be safer than risk it falling into the water while working around the boat. So much for that idea…

Luckily, due to the quick thinking of another fellow boater who was onboard over night, they caught the thief red-handed, and recovered my wallet. The wallet was the only thing taken from our car, even though it was full of expensive items like computers, cameras and the like. Pretty stupid thief!

We didn’t lose anything, but this did create a major headache as the car was basically undrivable. Luckily, Cathie and Joe had gifted us a boom tent years ago which we used to cover the windows so we could keep the rain and dust out. But it took a couple of weeks for the local garage to source and install new windows, although part of that delay was because we went through insurance, which slowed the whole thing down (and we still ended up paying the lion’s share ourselves since our deductible is so high).

Thanks to Mark though, we were only minorly inconvenienced. Mark gave us his spare keys and let us drive his car anytime we needed. Well, to be accurate, he let Ann drive his car. Me… not so much πŸ˜‰. To be fair, I hate driving cars (as you all know).

The days moved on. Getting the boat ready to live on, and then to sail, takes a lot of effort. And the tasks are twice as hard due to all the little damage we suffered from the long Covid hiatus. One of the more dramatic tasks is climbing the mast. Ann usually does this in the Spring because she remains in good shape over winter, while I…, not so much. I do it in the Fall.

So work progresses. But as usual, we’re going slow, and taking a lot of time to relax and enjoy. For example, there’s a fish market and outdoor restaurant nearby known as the big lobster. Mark treated us to dinner there, so while we ordered, the kids had to go play on the lobster. Kids will be kids 🀣:

Life on board is slowly getting back to normal. Most of our systems are working well, or well enough. Ann’s been provisioning, and we’re pretty much ready to go. Our only hold up right now is trying to source a new winter cover for our boat. We really have to do something to limit the leaks. Happily, we’ve found a cover maker. Unfortunately, he’s in Kingston, ON. But he says he can do it if we can get him the necessary measurements. The saga continues…

Regardless, it’s still great being back on board, and floating at the dock. Life is good.

Life in the slow lane

The snows that greeted us at our Ottawa house continued through most of our time there. It felt like a good old Ottawa winter from my childhood memories, except instead of snow forts and snowball fights, it was all about shovelling and de-icing.

Can’t complain (much) though, the house and the area is beautiful, and we had a lovely and relaxing time in the Glebe. And once again we were able to play host to Mom and Sis on the weekends, which was great. And of course we stayed connected to our Alberta family as well.

Our days were spent (when not shovelling), mostly relaxing, and exploring the surrounds. I grew up in the Glebe, so I’m surrounded by memories from the past. All my schools are within walking distance (two elementary, one jr. high, and high school). The church, where I spent so much time singing and avoiding sermons. The Rideau Canal, Landsdowne Park. Even the old house, although it’s been completely renovated, so looks way more impressive than the one I grew up in. But it’s still here.

Everything looks so… familiar — but different. It’s always weird coming back.

I spent most of my days in the office, which had a direct view of the house across the street. I became enthralled with the neighbours walking their new puppy. Too cute!

While our time at the Glebe house was relaxing and easy, events around us were somewhat less so. Russia invaded Ukraine, and Freedum truckers invaded Ottawa. The so-called Trucker Convoy occupied the downtown area of the city through much of our time. We were outside what became known as the “Red Zone,” but not far outside.

Map of the Red Zone, showing all the road blocks

From our place we could hear the occasional horn blast, and the sound of emergency vehicle sirens was pretty common. Pickup trucks flying the black “F🍁CK Trudeau” flag could be seen parading around. One day I was in our local postal outlet and a “trucker” came in. He loudly flaunted the mask requirement, telling everyone why it was dumb, and generally abusing and bullying the staff and customers. Needless to say, this did not endear me to his cause.

This whole event is a black eye on our democracy, and on civility in this country. I know the occupiers are expressing real frustration, but they are being used and bamboozled by purveyors of mis/disinformation. The whole event was sad, and pretty pathetic, but it had a huge negative impact on lots of people in this city. The reverberations are still being felt.

Eventually, the whole thing came to an end, and sadly so did our time in Ottawa. We’ve loved our time here in the Glebe, and our hosts (Micki and Larry) have been great, but it was time to move on. Happily, our next house involved big water, and a kitty!


This final house sit of the season had us over near Grand Bend, ON. The house is located next to Lake Huron, in a rural area outside the town. We’d actually met our new hosts two years earlier, just prior to the coming of the Covid plague. We had originally agreed to house sit for them in 2020, but then the world fell apart, and so did all our plans. But Kerry & Ed kept in touch, and we were finally able to make it all work.

One little twist was that our dates overlapped slightly with the Ottawa house sit, so I (Mike) moved over to Grand Bend a few days ahead of Ann. It was tough leaving Ann to do all the final cleaning and sorting of the Glebe house, while I was stuck entertaining Jake the kitty and revelling in this new, wonderful place — but somehow I persevered. I’m such a trooper πŸ˜‡πŸ˜.

Happily, our separation was only a few short days. Soon Ann arrived via train from Ottawa, and we settled in for our stay at this wonderful home, and with The Master, Sir Jake the cat. Jake is a very vocal cat, who always makes it clear what he wants, which usually involved either food, coming in or out, or getting pets. He was soooo sweet!

This house was built by the owners, and includes both an older and newer part. The original section is a beautiful square-log cabin, while the newer section is equally lovely and comfortable. The house is in a rural area, with a beautiful garden, and lots of wildlife such as fox and turkey, rabbits (galore) and tons of birds — there were multiple feeders that needed refilling every couple of days!

One of the more unique critters resident in the area is the mysterious white squirrel. It’s not an albino, just white. It wasn’t long before the neighbours were asking: “Have you seen the white squirrel yet?” At first I thought they were kidding. Then I assumed what they were seeing was a pale version of a grey squirrel. But then we spotted it on a walk.

During our stay, we spent a fair bit of time walking the area, and exploring the beach and using their bikes. The first time I ventured down onto the shore I couldn’t even see the water due to the height of the ice ridges. But after a few good storms, and some warmer weather, they slowly started to break up, revealing a gravelly, sandy beach as far as the eye could see.

In addition to the beach walks and bike rides there was music. Ed is an accomplished musician so there is a music room in the house, full of great song books, along with Ed’s banjo and mandolin. I’d never played either, but Ed told me to give a whirl, so I did:

Illiterate Librarians IPA

A couple of weeks into our stay we got to play host ourselves; Mom and Kathy came for a visit! Kathy had a week off work, and we had the perfect place for a holiday. Ed & Kerry had already met Mom two years ago when we had first made contact, so were thrilled to hear that my family was coming for a visit. We prepared for the visit in the perfect way, finding the perfect local beer for Kathy:

It was a nice, relaxing week. Kathy & Mom did a lot of exploring of the area, checking out the local wineries, towns and parks. They visited Strathroy, the town Mom grew up in, and said hi to all the dead relatives in a local grave. But mostly we just relaxed and enjoyed good company, good food, and good local beer/wine.

Of course, through it all, the real centre of attention was not us, but Jake the cat. Everyone loves Jakie!

Days rolled by in our little Shangri la. The weather, which had remained unseasonably cool and wet, started to bend to more normal — warmer and drier — conditions. This meant more beach walks, more bike rides, but also more garden work and lawn cutting.

And of course, there was more ukeing (for Mike):

Sadly, our time here came to an end. Part of the joy of this vagabond life is all the new places, people and pets we get to experience. But part of the sorrow is that we’re constantly saying goodbye. But I suspect we’ll be back to this place, and this kittie, sometime in the future.

In the meantime, we packed our little red car, and once more headed back to Ottawa to hang with Mom & Sis & Hammi for a couple of weeks. Ann even got Mom doing her online workouts. Very cute…

We have our ferry booked for Newfoundland, so unless the world collapses again, we’ll finally get to see our boat. It will be over 2 1/2 years since we’ve been sailors. We know our boat will need extra work to get her back up to snuff. We just hope it isn’t too bad. Either way, the time is getting closer 😬😳😁.

Addendum: A few days into our Ottawa stay a vicious storm blew through the city. I managed to get a view of the radar just before it struck. And when it did, it was like being hit by a brick wall of wind and rain. Everything went black, and of course we lost power.

This video was taken after the worst had blew through:

Later, the weather dudes/dudets said the winds hit 190 km, which is over 100 knots! This makes it the equivalent of a Category III hurricane, or an EF2 on the tornado scale. This derecho, as it was called, was the result of extremely powerful downdrafts.

The aftermath was pretty devastating. The side image shows the outage map for Ottawa. Nearly half the city was affected. And These photos where taken in the parking lot of Kathy’s condo, and on the nearby walking trail:

The storm hit Saturday at 3:50 pm, and it took until Wednesday at 12-midnight for workers to restore power to our place. So we lived without electricity for nearly five days. Luckily the weather was benign (not too cold, not too hot), so we managed quite well. We pulled out our flashlights and battery packs to keep all our doodads charged, and we were able to get minimal Internet access via cell service. But it sure makes you appreciate electricity.

We spent a lot of time reading and chatting and playing poker. The tequila bottle, which had been bought for Mom’s birthday, somehow drained away. All in all, it was pretty good. But again… it makes you appreciate the wonders of electricity.

Winter wows and woes

It was wonderful being back in the Forest City; a place we had lived back in the early/mid-1990s while Ann was taking her Masters, and I was building my freelance business. Many things had changed, but so much remained the same. It was a bit like stepping back in time. So much was the same, although a lot had changed.

Of course Sub the cuddly big kittie made our time in London a complete joy. When he wasn’t snuggled up to one of us, or looking out the window at the snow and squirrels, he could be found lingering near his food dish . Unfortunately, we (most Ann) taught him a new bad habit: TV watching.

Turns out, Sub likes watching TV, and most especially other kitties. He got hooked on watching TinyKitties, just like my Mom and Sis.

Our London apartment was in a lovely old building, located not far from an area we knew quite well from our time there in the 1990s. It was interesting just to walk around and see what was the same, and what had changed. We were also close to the Thames River, making it a great place to go for a stroll.

Too soon though, we had to say goodbye to Sub, and head back to Ottawa for a short stint before connecting with our homeowners in Iroquois. This little town is about an hour south of Ottawa. Our temporary home was actually outside the town, in a semi-rural area with a clear view of the St. Lawrence River.

We had visited the house, and met the homeowners and the kitties, the previous summer before heading out west. We had booked our house sit with them back then, knowing full well that Covid-19 remained a big unknown for travel. Luck for all of us, our homeowners left for their visit it Cuba before Omicron really got going. This meant we got to spend December, all the way through Christmas, at this gorgeous place. And best of all, with their amazingly cute kitties: Ville & Nash, or rather NashVille — their daughter lives and works in Nashville.

Before departing on their trip the owners, Brenda and Dave, and their daughter Rebekka, invited us down to spend the evening with them. This gave us a chance to go over the special needs of the house, along with being re-introduced to the kitty siblings. We had a wonderful dinner with them, and then saw them off the next morning.

Although Nash seemed to recover quickly from the mayhem of our arrival and their departure, little Ville took a bit longer to warm up to us. But it wasn’t too long before they were both treating us to cuddles, and scowly looks, when dinner wasn’t served promptly πŸ˜‰.

One of the great things about this house-sit was its proximity to Ottawa, and the fact that it extended over Christmas. With that, and the full blessings of our homeowners, who are the absolute sweetest people you could ever meet, we invited Mom and Kathy down to spend the holiday season with us. It was wonderful to be able to play host, instead of always being hosted. And I think they enjoyed being away for the holidays.

Our days were spent reading, lounging, playing lots of pool and snooker, watching the ships go by, and of course hangin’ with the kitties.

Come the big day, we found that Santa had tracked us down, and left a few goodies underneath the tree. After opening all the presents, we cooked the full turkey meal, and sat around the lovely dining room table to enjoy good food in good company. We even managed to connect with Donna and Sam in Calgary, and raised a remote glass together.

Sadly, our time on the St. Lawrence came to an end, and we had to say goodbye to the kitties, and to Dave & Brenda and their lovely home. These truly are the sweetest people you’d ever meet. They were so kind to us, and we dearly hope we can come back for another house-sit sometime in the future. Happily, it appears that Mom & Sis are going to do just that in early summer. So maybe we’ll get to see a few new Nash & Ville pics.

So, we packed our bags and our little red car, and once again headed back up to Ottawa. We had a short stay at Kathy’s place, before moving into our longer-term house sit back in the Glebe in Ottawa. This is the same wonderful old home we looked after last winter . It’s in the neighbourhood where I grew up, with my childhood home a few blocks away (renovated since I lived there) , my two elementary schools nearby, my junior high school about five blocks away, and my high school within sight of this house . The church where I spent so much time singing and playing kill-ball is around the corner, and of course the Rideau Canal is a few short blocks away .

It’s already been a snowy and cold winter here in Ottawa. Kinda like how I remember them being back when I was a kid. But with our previous year’s experience under my belt, I’m being smarter about how to shovel, and where to put all the snow. This house is lovely, but they sure didn’t think about snow clearing when they designed the driveway ☹️.

Unlike last year, Covid restrictions are not barring us from seeing Mom & Kathy, so they’ve been coming over every weekend. Once again, it’s great to be able to extend a little of our hospitality, instead of the more normal reverse pattern.

For little Connor’s birthday — can you believe he’s eight!! — we pulled out the uke’s and sang him his birthday song:

So now we settle in for the winter here. Already a month has flown by, but we have two more to go. Happily, our long-delayed house-sit over in Grand Bend, ON appears to be on again, so we expect to end our spring over on the shores of Lake Huron.

But for now we get to enjoy two more months in Ottawa, with each of us doing what we do best. Me, drinking: , and Ann exercising:

Addendum: While in London we learned that our boat cover had been completely destroyed by a Newfoundland winter storm, and this despite the valiant efforts of friends who have helped us in absentia along the way. We’ve since had another Lewisporte friend go on board and secure things as best as possible. All we can do now is hope old Pachina Mia can weather the winter and spring furies until we’re able to reach her.

The spaces in between

After saying our goodbyes to Carol & Pete and the menagerie of critters we moved our mobile home back to Sam & Donna’s place in Calgary. Our next house sit wasn’t until mid-November, so there was no rush. But we did have a few things to accomplish, including getting the little motorcycles ready for long-term storage. Donna also had Ann doing more admin tasks (stuff Donna hates and Ann loves).

We also got to watch the results of the latest federal election where absolutely nothing changed. Good one Trudeau πŸ™„. We had to vote by mail again on this one, and it was touch-and-go whether Ann, or rather K. Ann, or is it Kathi Ann, or is it just Kathi…? was going to get to vote. She finally did get a mail-in ballot after much ado.

The days passed quickly, and the warmth of Summer slipped into the chill of Fall. The colours of the west aren’t as varied as Autumn in Ottawa, but they are just as stunning and vibrant. And there’s something about the dry crunch of leaves that lets you know you’re not in damp Ontario (so says Ann). So we enjoyed our time, with walks and swims and the occasional flaming BBQ!

As a way to move three vehicles with only two drivers, I decided to head to the cabin by myself. Naturally, I picked one of the windiest days to do the drive. Good thing I didn’t check the forecast before I left — I’d have never tried it 😧. Happily, I made it and got to spend a few days on my own at Beauvais.

Ann drove down after a few days to pick me up, and then we both headed up to Calgary to help celebrate Donna’s big B-day (89…? I forget πŸ˜‰). Nique and Phil also came over, and they brought the lovely bottle of champagne that Mom & Kathy had given them for their wedding. We all got to taste it, and raise a toast to the old gal.

And since it was Donna’s special day, almost everyone (including me) let her play with our hair. Don’t ask… it’s a Donna thing.

After the big celebration, Ann and I headed back down to the cabin, this time with the car and her bike. We had the pleasure of hanging out at the cabin once again, before heading over to the Crook farm where Kevin and Barb had once again agreed to store our little bike. It’s always sad to leave them, but we know they’re safe in the barn.

The fun thing is we got to spend the day at the farm, doing a few chores before putting the motorcycles into storage. We picked some potatoes, hung out with some horses, and laughed at Jasper the donkey.

We even got to spend some time with Edna. She’s 95 now, and doing amazingly well. She still lives in her own farm house (with K&B’s assistance), and has hardly changed a bit over the years. Must be that healthy country living.

Assuming the world gets back to something like normal, and we can get back to our boat, we may not see them for years now. Sad, but we know Kevin & Barb, and Jasper & Tiny, and the barn owls, will take good care of them.

After thanking Kevin and Barb, we headed back to the cabin for a few more days of bliss. Donna & Sam came down bearing Thanksgiving meals (thanks!), and Donna and Ann spent time sorting through some old photos.

We soon headed back up to Calgary for our final few days. Eventually we packed our little car, said our goodbyes, and pointed the bow east. The journey was easy and uneventful. We’ve done the drive so many times now that we can do it with eyes shut, which is definitely the way to do it through some of the Prairies πŸ˜‰.

At Ann’s urging (insistence 😀) we did take a detour off the main highway so we could make another pilgrimage to Rouleau, SK — aka Dog River, the fictional setting of Corner Gas. After that we stuck to the secondary highway through to Winnipeg, which took us to a few new and nice places to stop. We had a lovely lunch stop at this little park in Deleau, MB, and had fun in the ancient playground (didn’t they make these things illegal?):

After a few long days we made it to Thunder Bay, and into the welcoming hands of Paul & Julie. Our wonderful friends of old once again opened their hearts, and their camp, to us wondering vagabonds. Their camp is located south of Thunder Bay. It is right on the shore of Lake Superior, not far from our last land house. It feels very much like home being there.

We spent nearly two weeks at the cabin, and got to spend a fair bit of time with J&P. They are as busy as ever — maybe even more so since Julie just retired (whoa who!!). We helped out where we could, doing some chores around the camp, assisting with some gardening and basement renos, and helping get the boat covered for the winter.

Our other great friends in the area live up past Kakabeka Falls: Ben & Sherilyn, and their oh-so-cute-and-amazing girls, Olivia & Molly. It’s always such a treat to spend time with these sweet people. So, we took an afternoon and just hung out. It was a great time. We even pulled out the ukuleles when we saw that Sherilyn had one, and had an impromptu jam session.

We spent a few more days in Thunder Bay with J&P. Had a few more wonderful meals together, talked about past adventures and future plans, and enjoyed a few more peaceful nights in their cabin by the Big Lake. But eventually the time came to pull up stakes and resume our journey east.

Our next stop wasn’t far down the road. We were heading for our great friends who live in the suburbs of the metropolis of RossportπŸ˜‰; Selim to be exact. It’s such a joy to spend time with Cathie and Joe. They have such a wonderful life and lifestyle, and they are always so welcoming. Since the start of the pandemic we’ve been keeping our visits here brief and “physically distant,” but with everyone well vaccinated, we were so pleased to accept their offer to stay a few days.

As usual, the days were spent in good conversation, fun stories, great food and drink, with a smattering of small chores thrown in just so we could feel useful. We moved some wood, did a little Apple technical support, but mostly just relaxed in the company of such fine people. Thanks to you both!

After a few wonderful days we said our goodbyes and loaded Little Red so we could continue our slow journey to Ottawa. The drive along Superior’s eastern shore is always stunning, and sometimes adventurous. This time it was only the former.

Ann had managed to pick up a minor cold in Thunder Bay. She was pretty much done with it, but we wanted to make 100% sure before arriving in Ottawa. So we lingered two nights in Sault Ste. Marie, and then another two nights in North Bay, before finally pulling into Kathy & Mom’s place.

The condo was a bit more cramped than usual, thanks to an unwelcome infestation of cockroaches in the building. They’re not much in their condo, but the whole building needed to be fumigated and treated. This meant Kathy and Mom had to pull everything out of all the cupboards and drawers, and keep them out while the chemicals did their thing. They still found room for us, and we still had a great, relaxing time hanging out and doing a few minor tasks (mainly throwing stuff away).

One exciting thing we did while in Ottawa was go to the pub! This was the first time we’d been there since the world fell apart. It was wonderful. Things really hadn’t changed that much, except for some added plexiglass between booths, and the need to show vaccine status. But the food was still good, the atmosphere the same, and the beer was yummy. We even got a few personal greetings from staff who remembered us. It all felt a bit like the show Cheers!

We spent a little over a week in Ottawa before heading off to London to begin our first of four house-sits for this season. The home is an apartment in 100+ year old building. Apparently it was the residence for doctors at the old St. Josephs’s Hospital here in London. Our main task is to keep the master kitty named Sub company and happy. He’s pretty easy.