Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fun in the Sun, Part 1 (Quebec to Florida, April - May 2016)


It was cool and overcast when we headed down our driveway Monday April 18th. We were off to Florida for a few weeks to shake the winter blahs and rejuvenate our bodies before resuming work on the house. Accompanying us was Ben our new puppy. We would find out for the first time how well he would travel. As it turned out he was a good companion and well behaved, sleeping all night wherever we stopped and seeming to enjoy the swaying of the truck and camper. We had planned on driving only 7 or 8 hours each day, winding our way south towards Lyn and Don's home in Brooksville. We began our trip crossing into Maine, taking SR27 south to Massachusetts. We drove down the I-95 towards Boston but to avoid going through the city we followed the I-495 to the I-90 and I-84 west, stopping in Sturbridge for the night where we stayed at a Thousand Trails campground next to a small lake under a canopy of pine trees. We were up early for breakfast and on the road, looking for warmer weather, passing through Hartford, Connecticut, Scranton, Pennsylvania to White Haven. Here, situated along the scenic Lehigh River, nestled at the doorstep of Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountain, we stayed the night at the Lehigh Gorge campground.

Sturbridge, Massachusetts

Lehigh Gorge Campground, Pennsylvania
Having successfully bypassed NY City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington our third day found us on the I-81 driving south before cutting over to the SR340 to Waynesboro, Virginia where our trusty travel guide indicated a nearby campground. Waynesboro is located in the Shenandoah Valley, near many important historical markers of the Civil War and close to the Shenandoah National Park. Driving through this beautiful area we had seen a lot of smoke covering the mountains to the east of us and it thickened as we got further south. After driving through the smoky haze for half an hour it thankfully cleared, the beautiful rolling Blue Ridge mountains now in view. By now it was noticeably warmer and blossoms and new leaves on the trees gave us heart when we stopped at the thoughtfully named Waynesboro North 340 Campground.

Me and Ben, Waynesboro North 340 Campground

pee break, somewhere in North Carolina
We took the SR 29 out of Virginia to Danville and entered North Carolina, just north of Greensboro. We picked up the I-85 to Charlotte crossing over to South Carolina to stop for the night. We found a nice KOA in Fort Mill, just outside Charlotte that was relaxing and very clean. The next morning we got on the I-77 directly south to the capital Columbia. Traffic was less hectic here as we caught the I-26 towards Charleston. As it thickened up though we decided to follow the SR 21 through typical back country South Carolina, churches dominating the landscape on the quiet rural roads. Catching the I-95 again just north of Savannah we were soon feeling the heat of Georgia. Deciding to stop early for the first time since we left and Brooksville still 5 hours away, we found an RV Resort in Brunswick, Georgia. We relaxed in the cold pool, the only ones brave enough, and walked around the large pond nearby. The next morning we crossed the St. Mary's river and entered Florida, taking the I-10 west to the SR 301, a two lane highway that cuts diagonally southwest across the state and saves 50 miles of driving. As we do every time we come to Florida we stopped just outside Starke at a roadside stand that was selling boiled peanuts. We found a quiet but very beautiful lake, Lochloosa, to pull up next to and eat them, chatting with some of the boaters under some big oaks. We stayed on this road till we met up with the I-75 in Ocala, driving another hour to the Brooksville exit. It had been a year since the last time we pulled into Lyn and Don's driveway....gws

Charlotte/Fort Mill KOA, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Coastal RV Campground, Brunswick, Georgia

stopping for boiled peanuts outside Starke, Florida

Lake Lochloosa, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Our Retirement Home Part Forty-Three (Kitchen Countertop)

Our granite countertops arrived this week and we are extremely pleased with them. We chose a local company, Grani-Bois Concept from Lac Megantic, who gave us an extremely competitive price and excellent service. Marie picked out their San Sebastien, a flecked black, brown, grey and white granite with traces of quartz that provides a subtle and subdued effect that goes well with the dark wood of the cabinets and the kitchen floor tiles. It is mined in Saint-Sebastien de Frontenac, just up the road, only 30 minutes away! Our next step is to finish the plumbing of the sinks, dishwasher and fridge and hook up the propane for the stove and oven. We have already chosen the backsplash mosaic, Silverstone by Mono Serra but as of yet haven't decided on the grout colour. We will be looking at a few choices when we head to Montreal this weekend to see the grandkids. A drive down to Florida later in the month is still planned but with the imminent arrival of the warm weather it will be hard to pack up and leave the peace and quiet of our little spot on the mountain for the madhouse of Interstate 95!  gws
dropping in the Jenn-Air stove
levelling the longest piece for the sink

you have to put on ProSeal!

backsplash choice

putting in the taps

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bellavance Sugar Shack

This year Marie and I visited the Bellavance sugar camp in Sainte-Cecile-de-Whitton, near Lac Megantic, an early spring thaw bringing out the maple sap and a rush to the local sugar shacks. Maple seems to be the dominant tree in our neck of the woods and part of  the reason why Quebec produces 70% of the world's supply. And of course it's a cultural thing here in La Belle Province and a Canadian tradition. So we gathered early with a hundred or so hungry diners eager to partake in this very French Canadian feast. It had been raining when we first arrived and the parking lot in the woods was a sea of mud as we made our way to the main lodge, stopping first to pet the old Percheron horse, still used to haul buckets from the sugarbush. This sap is boiled down in a sugarhouse next to the main lodge, a common site on the roads around our place this time of year, billows of steam coming out of the chimneys to give away what is going on inside. We followed the crowd inside the lodge, the walls covered with pictures of bygone times in sepia and various old tools - a sickle, a scythe, a two man whipsaw - where we were invited to take a wooden paddle and sample "tire sur la neige"- maple syrup taffy made by boiling down the clear amber sap and dribbling it onto fresh snow. We scooped up more than we probably should of but still had room for what was to come!

boiling fresh maple syrup

Right at noon the dining room doors opened and we filed in, sitting down on long wooden tables covered in either red or green and white checked oilskin cloths, munching on celery sticks, radishes, sour pickles, rings of fried pork, home made ketchup and fresh salad while we waited for the main course to be served. About fifteen minutes later after everybody had settled in a large trolley was rolled in, laden with delicious sights that we were soon piling onto our plates - omelets, boiled and fried potatoes, baked beans, fried eggs, meat pies, ham and fresh rolls and butter.

pork rinds (Oreilles de Christ)

From this...

un peu de tout! (a little of everything) this!
I don't know how but we managed to save room for desert - maple syrup crepes, "grand-peres dans le sirop", a pudding cake soaked in maple syrup, and of course the popular maple syrup pie! Pots of hot tea and coffee were passed around as we patted our bellies and sighed contentedly...gws

grand-peres dans le syrup