rv newbies

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 7.24.56 AMWe know lots of folks who travel by RV, quite happily long-hauling a house on their journey. The Hubs and I have struggled to envision ourselves in this scenario. We’re not well suited. I look for pull-through parking spots and have difficulty backing our car out of the driveway. (Don’t judge. It’s a long driveway.) He maneuvers heavy farm equipment without a second thought but is easily irritated by typical traffic in a regular sized vehicle. (Meanwhile, I’m on high alert: brake-lights!) The mere thought of taking to the highway behind the wheel of a rig sized for intergalactic travel induces stress.
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hens turns two

Last week grandboy Henry turned two years old. He had a full week of celebration to show for it!

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On Monday, Hens and his mama and daddy took a trip to Parc Safari in Quebec. It is quite something. I remember taking our chids here many years ago but it’s almost an entirely different species now! They had a grand time surrounded by exotic wild animals on the psuedo-African plains. (Yes, in the cold Northern Hemisphere. It’s a marvel.)

Henry enjoyed the water park more than anything. But I loved hearing about the up close and personal camel experience. Better yet, while Daddy was intent on capturing the perfect shot, he received a sloppy, wet smackeroo from another camel on the backside of his head. Stealth attack!

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Early on Wednesday morning, I called Henry via FaceTime to wish him a happy birthday. He listened politely to the birthday song for all of about a minute before telling his mama, “Shut door.” Then CLICK, he disconnected me! Well, huh. I can hardly compete with the Micky Mouse Clubhouse.

His mama took the day off to enjoy his birthday. She said, “Henry, you can do anything you want today. Beach? Playground? Anything!” Henry said, “Feed cows with Pops!” … and she was unceremoniously ditched, too! Pops had the honor of Henry’s company on his big day.

I took a few small gifts down to Henry after his nap to help fill some time as he was waiting for his daddy to finish work. I was eager for him to unwrap.

GiGi: “Henry! Don’t you want to open your presents?”
Henry: “Hmm. No, GiGi. Play diggers! Play diggers!”

That is classic Henry. However, his eyes lit up when he saw the appliquéd dump truck on his new pillow sham, preparing for the transition to his big boy bed. He thought it was Mighty Machines. Oh, how little boys love their equipment. ;=) IMG_0193

Henry received a tricycle for his birthday and is quite proud of his newfound skill pedaling. He cannot wait to show his older friend, Andrew, what he can do. (Andrew is a mature 5 years old, after all.) It was all Hens could talk about as he pedaled around.

Their driveway has a slight incline, which made for the perfect training ground. Hens-Self could hardly keep up! “Who’s birthday is it today? Who is two years old?” I asked. He giggled all the way to an abrupt stop on top of my strategically placed foot. Only then, breaking his intense concentration, did he look up and answer my question. “Hens!”

After dinner with Daddy and Pops, we went out for ice-cream. Henry couldn’t decide between his vanilla-chocolate twist with sprinkles or mama’s vanilla with cherry dip or daddy’s plain vanilla. And really, why should he have to? Ha! But just how much ice cream can one two year old eat?

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On Saturday, it was Henry’s mama’s birthday. I picked them up for breakfast shortly after 8. We headed to a little diner on the outskirts of town that gets great reviews, especially for their pies. Henry picked up on this tidbit in our conversation and became very excited about this prospect.

His Mama: Henry, What do you want for breakfast?
Henry: Pie!

He quickly earned the title “Cutest Yankees Fan, Ever” from a sweet elderly lady at the adjacent table — although he was far too consumed with savoring his chocolate milk to take note. He enjoyed some of his mama’s breakfast sandwich and some of GiGi’s french toast. But boy, oh boy, did he relish that fresh raspberry pie! Because, why not? It’s mama’s birthday!

I think there must be an as-yet undiscovered pie gene and it runs at least four generations deep in my father’s family. Come to think of it, there might be an ice-cream gene, too!

On Sunday, we gathered for Henry’s birthday party. Pizza and presents. Cake and balloons and Mickey Mouse party hats. Aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. It was raining outside … and inside, the barely controlled chaos you might expect with four busy wee ones at play.

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Oh my mercy! Even with just the immediate family, we are bursting at the seams. Pops better build that barn soon! How far we’ve come in two-and-a-half years of grandparenting. This picture says it all: Life is good.

Sadie (16 mos), Henry (2), Oliver (2 yr 5 mos), Rose (11 mos)

~ René Morley

montréal

To be frank, one of the best things about living in the North Country is Canada.

Some of her nicest cities are within a relatively short drive across a friendly border; toll bridge, customs and immigration typically navigated within twenty minutes. Like the North Country, Canada tends to be green and clean and feels safe. Traffic, at least en route, is low volume. The people are friendly and culture is rich. Southern Canada is a particularly beautiful mix of farmlands, woodlands, lakes, and rivers. Even so, we’ve departed one of the least populated areas of the U.S. and entered the most populated swath of Canada, within 100 miles of her southern and our northern border. When it comes right down to it, convenience is just one factor driving our discretionary dollars northward.

As a historic francophone city, Montreal is an especially attractive destination. The moment you leave Ontario behind for Quebec, you know it. Signposts immediately switch to French, most people are speaking French, and there is no apology for it. In fact, there is some apology expected if you are not. Even though my high school French is woefully inadequate, I can get by. I actually enjoy the challenge.

But this trip started out a bit rough. I made our hotel arrangements for the Jazz Festival. I printed out point-by-point directions from GoogleMaps. I thought I had it covered. Someone else assumed we would be using the GPS. This someone would also be he who is (A) insufficiently experienced with unimaginable crappiness of our GPS because he is (B) unwilling to enter data and make use of device, being (C) somewhat tech averse. Regardless, he expects to be fully equipped when he (D) has a co-pilot. This is not a completely unreasonable expectation. Still, a rather animated conversation ensued, suggesting the GPS might soon be airborn!

Yet all of this tension turned out to be completely unnecessary because GoogleMaps directions were decent and someone also (E) has a great sense of direction. He has made this trip a time or two — often for the Montreal Expos, back in the day and, more recently, the Canadiens, les Habitants. That someone is, of course, also (F) a sports nut. And, for once, I was thankful for that, too.

Once we got to the hotel, all was well. From there it was just a hop, skip and jump to Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, the venue where James Taylor would play that evening. We met up with two of our chids for a fantabulous afternoon and evening in the Old City, chock full of fun cafés, fine art and architecture, including the beautiful basilica of Notre Dame. The jazz festival spilled out to fill the narrow, cobbled streets with music throughout our stay.

On the far south side of the Old City is the Old Port. The next morning we took a quick ferry ride to Ile Ste-Hélène. Then it was a long, circuitous walk to La Ronde, a somewhat dated theme park, by way of the Biosphere (’67 Expo) — not to be confused with the Biodome (originally a velodrome, for the ’76 Olympics). It was an entirely enjoyable day together, until the sun and the roller coasters got the best of us. Next time — as the purportedly “strong willed” one — I may insist upon the Complexe Aquatique (also ’76 Olympics) as our island destination. ;=)

The return trip was nicely extended by a brief stop, Port de Plaisance, Sainte-Marie, and offered expansive views of the St. Lawrence River bridge architecture and city skyline before pulling back into the Old Port. We concluded our stay with a pitcher of refreshing sangria and light Italian fare at Bella Vita on the plaza, back in the Old City. Sunburned, exhausted, and discretionary dollars depleted? Mais, oui. Ready to leave? Non!

Montréal était délicieux!

~René Morley