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.