Last post until after Labor Day weekend

August 26, 2019

Real time.

I can think of nothing better for my last post while physically in Canada than a tribute to the late Richard Williams, head of animation for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” who, sadly, passed away 10 days ago.  While hunting for street art and graffiti in Toronto I found this amazing drawing downtown on Saturday:


RIP Mr. Williams.  Thank you for sharing your talents with the world.


I head back to the United States on Tuesday and have two items on my agenda before reaching my youngest brother’s home in Cleveland, Ohio.  I plan to visit with he and his family for at least a few days before heading home to North Carolina.  There is a tropical system approaching Florida and it’s timing and track is still up in the air so I may delay my arrival in North Carolina until that all gets sorted out.  It will then take me a few days to unpack and get my photos organized for posting.

I have updated the Home Page (the first thing you see) on the blog with a summary of my last 2 weeks which remain unposted (other than tease posts).  I have LOTS of photos so posting will go on for a while once it resumes.

Thank you for your patience!

Sam and the A hole

August 21, 2019

My first full day in Ottawa, at the advice of my Airbnb hosts, I left early and drove downtown to a parking garage they recommended. “Early Bird” parking (in before 930am) was only $18, they said, and I wanted to beat rush hour traffic. Lucky for me parking has been reduced to a mere $10 (woo-hoo!).

The parking deck was very close to a Farmer’s Market type place (indoors and outdoors) where vendors sell all kinds of things – food (fresh fruits and vegetables as well as prepared food), novelty food, crafts & souvenirs, etc. I milled around there taking photos for well over an hour, some of which I will post eventually. I studied the map I picked up at the Visitors Information kiosk in the Market and started to organize my day. First stop, the Parliament Building.

As I started walking that direction I saw the name OTTAWA spelled out in huge letters so of course I took a picture:


Don’t be misled by the wet pavement. It had rained overnight but the sky was already starting to clear and it became a magnificent day.

Shortly after I was done taking my photos a family of 5 came over and the parents told their three teenage kids to get in position so their Dad could take their picture. Daughter 1 chose the big O, their son Sam chose the fourth letter (the first A) and I believe the other daughter selected the W.

Well then Mom starts yelling “Sam, stick your head through the A hole….”. Apparently Dad couldn’t see him in the camera viewfinder.

Sam seemed to be reluctant or uncooperative.

By about the third time she’s emphasizing each word: “Sam! Stick.. your.. head.. through.. the.. A.. hole….” she yells, slowly, like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

She repeated this several times until Sam, not a small individual, finally got his head far enough into the A so that Dad could see him and take the shot.

Poor Sam the trained circus monkey…

But that’s not all – then Dad speaks up and says “Sam, stand between the two T’s and pretend that you’re Hercules holding them up”.

And of course Sam the trained circus monkey dutifully complied.


I’m surprised they didn’t throw him treats when he did what they asked.

And note that daughter 2 now has her head in the A hole!

I briefly considered following these folks around for a while for, if nothing else, the potential entertainment value but didn’t want to be thought of as a stalker so we went our separate ways.

Cue the Stormtrooper music

August 24, 2019

Saturday was my first full day in Toronto.  I had been here for a few days maybe 30 years ago.  I remembered it as a very clean, modern city – very different than Québec, which is very old and French but has considerable charm.

I bought a pass which allows me to use three different public transportation options, bus, street car (modern trolleys, not like San Francisco’s classic street cars) and the subway.  My car hasn’t moved for two days and won’t move again today, my final full day in Canada this trip.  Public transportation, and lots of walking, is a perfect way for me to get around.

Saturday I went to Union Station, the main transportation hub downtown, to stop at the Visitor Center for maps and brochures.  On the way there I saw Robin, of Batman and Robin fame, ascending a set of stairs from the subway.  I thought – OK, just another day in Toronto….  He had lost lots of weight, not that he had much to lose, and had apparently undergone a sex change operation (Batman might be pleased with the result, actually).

Turns out Saturday and Sunday were the last two days of a HUGE, 4-day comics and fantasy exposition in town this weekend at the Convention Center and there ended up being an inordinate number of people dressed as their favorite characters milling about town.

While at Union Station I also saw this display:




Damn – I should have made this one of my “Go ahead, count ’em, I’ll wait…” posts.


Attitude Adjustment

August 26, 2019

Real time.


I saw that sign about 3 blocks from where I am staying in Toronto.  Please permit me to talk about myself for a few moments.

I generally think I have a fairly calm, go-with-the-flow demeanor, BUT, as we have learned from recent events, I am prone to fits of rage, usually short lived in intensity but the results of which linger and sometimes fester.  Road rage probably brings out the worst in me but Québec is starting to get on my nerves too.  I often tell people that some days it’s a good thing I don’t have a gun.

My friend and frequent blog commenter Shawn is my confidant and occasional JohnBoy whisperer who can temper my anger and speak calming truths.  She has talked me off the ledge more than once, believe me.

My friend and former co-worker Shari has indicated, politely but to the point, that I have become particularly SASSY, Mister (her words, and very apropos) during this trip.  My mother, may she rest in peace but who is undoubtedly keeping her eye on me and is becoming increasingly concerned about my ultimate destination, would be buying Ivory soap by the pallet at Costco.  I can be alarmingly potty-mouthed.  I sometimes surprise even myself.

I am grateful every day for the amazing beauty I have seen and charming people I have met on my journeys.  I used a phrase as a post title during my first trip to the Northwest US two years ago “The Best Day Ever” and since then have determined that pretty much every day is the best day ever.  Tomorrow is fixin’ to be the best day ever.

All that said, I’ll try to keep things in perspective going forward.

Classic cars in Canada

August 25, 2019

Real time.

I have been incredibly impressed as I have driven around Eastern Canada with the number of classic cars from the 60’s and 70’s I have seen in everyday use. Some appear to have been just well maintained and original but some may have been restored. Regardless, I always feel like I’ve found treasure when I see one “in the wild”. Sure, car shows are fun but that’s like going to a zoo. It’s more challenging to just stumble upon “free range” Mustangs and Barracudas.

Long ago I decided not to stop and photograph them (they are often on private property) but merely enjoy my fleeting glimpse. I see them very randomly in the US but have seen an inordinate number over the past 7 weeks. I only started photographing them about 2 weeks ago when I decided to make this post (and have seen more than just these).

The first was parked at a Tim Hortons where I had stopped to use their wifi and washroom. I saw it when I arrived but didn’t prepare to take the pictures until I had done my business and was ready to leave. As I was getting in position the owners walked up and fortunately, unlike the mime with the goofy little car in New Brunswick, were more than willing to let me take my pictures. They were just out for a drive, and have used this vehicle to travel the entire length Route 66 in the US in the past.



We had a brief conversation about Route 66, which I have considered driving myself (and have done small portions of already). I asked their opinion of it, as my experience had been that the luster has worn off somewhat and it is sometimes reduced to being just a service road parallel to a modern interstate highway. They said they thoroughly enjoyed it and that the trick is to get a book, which I will order on Amazon when I get home, showing the nooks and crannies which still breath life, and have maps to find the more obscure parts (it is not very well marked and I have gotten lost more than once trying to follow it).

This car was parked along the street in Québec City one day as I was making my early morning walk to the pastry shop:



We used to joyride in a car like this when I was in high school. My friend Mike Harvey would “borrow” it when his mother was sleeping. He would always put gas in it when we were done with our little drive so she wouldn’t know, but I’m sure she did (and he probably used her money!).

This one was parking in a private (for residents but publicly accessible) parking area near the Château Frontenac hotel in Québec City.



I friend of mine from high school had a similar car, not quite as souped-up, several years after we graduated and when he was gainfully employed.

And finally, just a few days ago after my boat ride through the Thousand Islands, I came upon this beauty outside a car repair shop as I was driving towards Toronto.



I’m still kicking myself for not taking pictures of another gorgeous Thunderbird I saw on my way to Ottawa. It was like the one the CIA agents were driving in Goldfinger when they were tailing James Bond.

I was fascinated by cars when I was a kid. I was born in suburban Chicago and lived the first 12 years of my life there. Since I was about 8 by Dad would take me down to McCormick Place in the Loop (downtown Chicago) to the annual car show each spring. I would gather brochures and make little scrapbooks, which have sadly been discarded (as was my large Matchbox car collection which some of my cousins and I would play with out in the dirt and grass under a large tree at my grandparent’s house in West Virginia, then methodically clean with Q-tips).

Back in the early 60’s new models had “reveal dates,” usually in September, and were transported to dealers under car covers. I had a little Brownie camera which took black & white photos and I would sit near a busy street in Evanston (the first suburb north of Chicago, where we lived) waiting to capture new models when they drove by.

I am particularly fond of cars from the 60’s and 70’s and, when I can’t get back to sleep in the middle of the night, sometimes scan Tumblr accounts and other websites for pictures of cars I liked or remember seeing and save them to an ever-growing folder on my laptop. Seeing these cars out and about in everyday use brings back lots of memories.

Show me the money


August 22, 2019

Canadians are such trendsetters!!

While I was in Ottawa for a few days I walked around downtown and one of the things I learned was that back in May of 2019, Canada announced that it would start producing currency (can’t call it paper money any more as it is made of a polymer compound which feels like plastic) with a vertical rather than the typical horizontal orientation.  Here are photos I took at a bank museum in Ottawa of the new 10 dollar bill (front and back) now being produced:



And Canada has never been shy about putting a woman on their currency.


The best $29 (USD) I ever spent

August 24, 2019

Real time.  (And the reason I say that in out of sequence posts is when I eventually post photos taken in the recent or distant past I try to show the actual date they were taken, not the posting date)

Friday was a travel day as I left Ottawa, Ontario and traveled several hours southwest to Toronto, the last Canadian stop of this trip (boo-hoo).

Along the way I made a stop which I will remember as one of the top highlights of this trip (and there have been many highlights).  I stopped in Gananoque (pronounced gannon-AQUA) and went on a 2 1/2 hour boat tour of an area called the Thousand Islands.  This is an area in the St. Lawrence River which has, as the name indicates, an abundance of islands, some large and some small, and is actually a Canadian National Park.  I will elaborate more on this in future posts but this is just a “tease post” to ensure that you will stay tuned to see more later.


Gananoque is in the upper right corner of the photo above and after the ride was over I got back on Highway 401 and drove west of Kingston, then dropped south to Route 33 which ran along the water for quite a ways.  I used yet another small ferry and continued on Route 33 back up to Route 401 in Trenton where I proceeded on to Toronto.  It was a beautiful drive and after I passed the little town of Picton I was in “wine country”.

This is a ship almost identical to the one I was riding on as we sailed from Gananoque:


Ours was a tad bigger, with an extra level, but I didn’t get a photo of it.  Just imagine that the spiral staircase on the left actually starts at the deck above it and goes up to one more enclosed level.  I sat on a bench seat right next to that staircase and could stand or sit and take photos left or right as the targets dictated.  The staircase, and the people periodically going up and down it were, surprisingly, never much of a hindrance.


That’s my backpack tucked under the spiral staircase.

My digital camera has a viewing screen which tilts so I may hold the camera high over my head yet tilt the screen downward and see exactly what the photo will be.  That is how I took many of these shots.  Without that feature this trip, and these photos, wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable.

One of the neatest things we saw during the ride was Boldt Castle, on a private island on the New York side of the St. Lawrence River.  Gananoque isn’t far from New York State (as the seagull flies) and most of the tour boats actually operate from the NY side, as you will see in a moment.  But first, a tease of Boldt Castle, construction of which began in 1900:


Below is “just” the Power House, a structure set out in the river with generators which provided power to the island back in the day:


And nearby on another island is the Boldt Yacht House, thank you very much:


I took so many photos during the first hour and a half of the ride that I actually filled the memory card in my camera (double boo-hoo) so I had to rely on my smartphone for photos of the last hour.

We had a little excitement during the trip, too.  Shortly after the digital stopped working I nudged the woman standing next to me, pointed, and said “I think one of us needs to change course pretty soon,” not referring to her and I but to our boat and the boat which was getting ready to cross right in front of us.  Our boat was traveling lower left to upper right in the photo:


This all happened very quickly.  The photo above was taken at 1:04:07 pm.

The photo below was taken at 1:04:20, just 13 seconds later.  And this is not a zoom shot or trick, it was now that close.


And just 7 seconds after THAT, at 1:04:27


I’m quite sure that this violates maritime safety rules and I suspect the captain of that ship, based in New York State, is in big trouble.   As far as I could tell our boat never adjusted it’s course or speed.




August 15 + 17, 2019

This story starts back on August 15 when, after spending the night in Rivière-du-Loup, QC which is on the Gaspé Peninsula on the south side of the St. Lawrence River, I took a ferry across the River.  My destination was Québec City but it was only a short distance away.  It was a beautiful day and I wanted to traverse some scenic roads to see more of the province before arriving in the city.



The book my friends Eric and Shawn had given me, which was the basis for the earlier routes I had been driving since arriving in Canada, no longer applied as it only covered the Maritime provinces.  Québec province is not a Maritime province.  Na-na na-na boo-boo, Québec.  You reach the Bay of St. Lawrence with a significant land area and don’t even rate as a Maritime province!  I am now a free spirit and may choose my scenic routes at will using map indicated recommendations and word of mouth from the locals.

When discussing my route with my Airbnb hosts up in Quirpon, NL they suggested that after I cross the river I backtrack northeast on the north side of it to see some neat little towns and enjoy the views.  So first thing the morning after I arrived I drove to the ferry dock in Rivière-du-Loup to board the ferry, bound for Saint-Siméon on the other side.


As we rode across the St. Lawrence River I got caught up on some paperwork organization and entered some data into various spreadsheets on my laptop.  Towards the end of the ride I put my things away and went outside.  The photo above is of a buoy we passed.  The “wake” generated by it is caused not by it’s movement but by the force of the river flowing past it.  Turns out it was significant to our ships crew as it marked the point at which we turned to approach the dock in Saint-Siméon.


When I was safely back on terra firma I drove northeast along a road which parallels the river. Shortly after starting my drive I discovered that I had to ride yet another ferry across the confluence where a fjord meets the St. Lawrence near the town of Tadoussac in order to continue my drive further northeast.


I will have lots more photos to share from this leg of my trip when I get caught up on posting, but for now I am just setting up my story.  When I got to the northeast shore in Tadoussac I stopped at the first Visitor Information Center I came to.  I knew how far northeast I planned to drive before reversing direction and heading for Québec City and assumed I’d be making stops various places for photos.  I went in the Center to ask approximately how long it took to drive from where I was to the City so I could monitor the time and not put myself “on the clock” to scramble and get there before dark.  The gentleman at the Center didn’t speak a word of English and I effectively don’t speak a word of French.  I can say basic words but don’t even humor them with that as it will get their hopes up for the inevitable disappointment that I am merely a “poser”.  So now we have a dilemma.

Well this guy whips out his cell phone, pushes a few buttons on it and thrusts it towards me indicating that I should speak into it. He had an app which would convert English speech to French text so he could understand what I was asking.  He answered my question by changing the settings and speaking French which his phone converted to written English.  Magic.  I thanked him and was on my way.  The experience prompted me to ask my friend back in Durham, who had helped me solve the “accents” issue, about similar apps which might be useful for me to have on my phone.  My friend is from Italy and although he speaks English very well I sometimes puzzle him during our conversations with words he doesn’t understand.  Sometimes he’ll repeat the word as a question and I will try to clarify the meaning but sometimes I see him type a word into HIS phone for an interpretation.  Enter Reverso.  My friend recommended several apps, WordReference, Reverso and a basic English/French dictionary among them.  His preference is WordReference but I am simple and have come to like Reverso, which not only shows the word options in the target language but will even pronounce them and show their use in various contexts.  This is how I can now magically write words in French.

That was all setup – now here’s the meat of the story.  The four days I was in Québec City the first thing I did each morning was walk 20 blocks (round trip) to a small French bakery for pastries.  I immediately took some back to where I was staying as a reward for when I got back from walking around the city each day.  I did eat a few during my walk to, uh, test them for freshness…  The second day, as I was walking home from the bakery I noticed a small restaurant which had outside tables made of large mirror-like surfaces in elaborate frames laid flat on a base.


A pretty clever idea.  Hanging above the tables were rows of bras:


Also a clever idea.  I got so tickled thinking about how I was going to present this on the blog that I walked right past my turn and went two more blocks before I even noticed.  I decided to say that the bras were there to protect patrons from bird poop.  I was going to write “poopé” just to be cute but then remembered that I had Reverso.  I looked up the word poop to get the French versions but also received a warning about Possibly Inappropriate Content.  Terrific.  The fourth or fifth thing I looked up on the damn app (I had made some test runs just to see how it worked) and I’m already pegged as a vulgar American.

As I was walking in to the city I decided to go all-in and really push the envelope.  After logging on to wifi at a Tim Hortons (no need for timbits now, I have fresh French pastries!) I entered the word “dildo”.  Another Possibly Inappropriate Content warning and some very, VERY amusing examples of how the word can be used in various situations.  Terrific.  Now I’m pegged as a vulgar American deviant and my personal information probably now appears on some watchlist with Homeland Security and I won’t be allowed to return to the United States on Tuesday.

No pickleball for you, JohnBoy…  Maybe they’ll teach you how to play it in a Canadian prison.

I can hear it now, Tuesday morning at the border crossing:  So Mr. Danhart, did you have any dildoes to declare????

A GPS 4.0 update

August 22, 2019

Real time

This isn’t about an update as in it becoming GPS 4.1 but just a report on how well we are co-existing. I am pleased to report that so far things are going swimmingly (an odd word to express what it expresses but apparently with Old English roots). Yes, there have been a few hiccups but the good far outweighs the bad.

It is rather amusing to hear her pronounce street names here in Canada. The names are almost always French words and if you think my French is bad (trust me, it is) you should hear her struggle with it. Of course I chose “English” when doing the initial setup but most street names are comprised of a string of several French words and what she says doesn’t sound anywhere near what they look like, bless her little microchips.

Entering destinations is counter-intuitive and is something I hope I can change going forward but I dare not try to make any adjustments until I am at least 100 kilometers, oops, I mean miles, in to New York State early next week. If she starts speaking French now I’m screwed.

One thing she did which really blew me away…. I was in the parking lot of the venue I went to after aborting my visit to Parc National de Jacques-Cartier (which ISN’T a National Park) when I was near Québec City and she actually told me I was going the wrong way. In the PARKING LOT. And of course she was right!


Some dickhead had parked his or her vehicle right on the white line and after I had skillfully squeezed in to the narrow space which resulted (backwards, thank you very much, hold your applause, please)….


… I realized I could barely open my doors and was afraid they’d ding my car on the way out – especially if they were upset that I had parked that close. I took some photos, of their full license plate and BEFORE pictures of my car where their doors would hit, but as I was walking towards the venue entrance I realized there were lots of open spots further back in the lot. I knew I’d get ulcers worrying about it while visiting the venue and be looking at all the patrons there suspiciously (was it YOU sir, or perhaps YOU madam?) and wouldn’t enjoy my visit. Further, I knew I would be upset with myself if my fears were later realized since I now had control in de-escalating a potential confrontation so I decided to simply move my car. I took the “arrow” photo after I had moved my car to another spot and had been admonished by my new little friend. I still find it pretty étonnant (amazing) that she knew.

I can’t wait to hear her tackle the Parkway I live near in Durham, which is actually a derivation of an English family name, not just a random American English word. None of her predecessors could do it and I’ll report how well she does when I get home. I also want to see if she knows exactly which street I live on. Again, all the others have been wrong. My apartment is relatively new and so are the street names.

And not to worry, I will explain my sudden ability to write, if not speak, in tongues in a subsequent post, probably sooner rather than later. And I’ll have you know that in my unquenchable thirst for knowledge I learned “dickhead” from a mere child many years ago. Another story for another time, perhaps.

I have good news and bad news…

August 21, 2019

Real time

Nothing serious at all so don’t panic.



I am in Ottawa, Ontario and have just returned to my Airbnb after having spent several hours downtown.  I took 696 pictures just with the digital camera today (many of them duplicates, but still…).  I haven’t even transferred the pictures from my smartphone to my laptop so I don’t even know how many of those there will be.  It is still charging as I almost drained the battery again today taking photos.  The day I drained it in Québec I was afraid I had lost a whole day’s worth of photos but was fortunately able to recover them.  So the good news is I have lots of pictures to share – eventually.

The photo above is of the Parliament building.  EVERYONE knows that Ottawa is the national capital of Canada….

I know I’m a week behind in posting and I have LOTS of photos to share, including several days in Québec City and several travel days when I saw lots of things, including a few surprises.  And I spent some time online the afternoon of my aborted visit to the Jacques-Cartier “National” Park looking up actual road signs to add to the ones I have seen myself and will have a few more posts worth of those to hopefully amuse you with.  I took more actual ones just today.

My point is – please be patient with me.  At the rate I’m going I may not finishing posting pictures until well after I am back home in North Carolina.  I am Ottawa one more full day and Friday is a travel day to Toronto.  I am there 3 full days and then a travel day back to the US, after which I will visit my youngest brother, sister-in-law and niece in Ohio for a few days and I know I won’t do any posting while I’m there.  I’m sure they plan to work me to death playing pickleball while I’m there which may lend itself to some amusing JohnBoy stories.  Then one travel day home, hopefully the Thursday or Friday leading in to Labor Day weekend.

I will try to sneak a few posts in here and there but don’t want to promise anything.  I am going to take a nap shortly (rain is on the way and I am exhausted) and then plan to visit this evening with my Airbnb hosts.  We had an enjoyable conversation after I arrived last night and I think we’ll have lots to talk about.  The same may be true with my Airbnb hostess in Toronto who sounds very interesting.  Spending time visiting with my hosts adds to my travel experience and is time well spent.  I have done more of it this trip than in the past.

I’m going to try and keep things mainly in the order they occurred but may interject quickies to try and hold your interest.

Thank you all for your continuing interest and hang in there, please!

UPDATE – My smartphone picture count for the day is 238 bringing the total pictures for the day up to 934, a new record.  I believe the old record was around 770, combined, when I was based in Durango, Colorado two years ago (Durango, Silverton, Ouray area).  Again, many are duplicates – the beauty of digital camera – take lots of photos and eliminate the bad ones.