Oct 22, 2009

Notes from Half Way

It is hard to believe we are only about half way to our destination. This is our seventh winter trip with an RV but this trip the miles seemed to go slowly. It could have been the weather -- we were dragging a cold front all the way to Texas. Each night we stopped we had our furnace and an electric heater going and still we had to dress in layers. This trailer is well built, I think, but with single pane glass and the many venting windows, it's not quite winter rated.
When we stopped in Little Rock, the park was adjacent to a bicycle path along the Arkansas River. Susan had been biking almost every day up in Ontario, so we unhooked our 2-wheelers and went out. It was a beautiful path and we managed to put on about 10 miles, but it was still quite cool, and we were both wearing jackets, and me a toque. We were quite a sight as we met and were passed by serious bikers in their spandex and aerodynamic helmets. We must go back there in a warmer shorts and t-thirt season.
We made our first two day stop in Austin, and took an afternoon to check out some shops, including a good 2nd hand bookstore that gives good value on trade ins. Susan is a high volume consumer of books and we are carrying 3 boxes with us, trading and resupplying where she can.
In the evening we went out again to join the small crowd to watch the bats come out. The Congress Bridge in downtown Austin, is home to a huge bat colony. Every evening at sundown, millions of these tiny bats swarm out to do their evening hunting. They are a popular tourist attraction and very ecologically correct as they eat tons of insects.
We are now at our regular rest stop in San Benito in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The area had many (about 50) rv parks and is the ultimate destination for many snowbirds. This is our 5th time through here, and while it is familiar, and a mecca for shopping, it is not our cup of tea. Comparing it to Ontario, and many of the other parts of the US we have traveled through, the “Valley” seems quite shabby. It does not seem very prosperous, even though there are miles of irrigated farmland all around. And if you take out the big box stores and malls, it appears very dilapidated, even slummy. I think the winter Texans around here mostly are here to enjoy each others company and live a low impact retirement.
Most people here have a very limited experience of Mexico, having only made day trips to one of the service towns across the border. Or they hear the news about the narco violence that unfortunately happens in a few bigger Mexican border cities. I have been following some discussion forums that address this subject, and there seems to be a broad consensus that the simplest solution would be decriminalization. Gone would be the huge profit motives on the criminal side, and much of the huge expense of the (losing) drug war. Many wise people, including conservatives agree that the costs of the “war” is too high, education and rehabilitation more effective, and the moral high ground of prohibition is a losing cause.
'Nuff for now. In a day or two we cross over and down.

Oct 13, 2009

A special Thanksgiving.

The highlight of our summer was the birth of our first grandchild.
Amelia Margaret Joy Armstrong arrived August 29.
Susan and I were delighted to be at the hospital to welcome her. The delivery went smoothly and quick, mother ReBecca and father Michael did well too. So for this month we have been in and out of Toronto visiting the little darling. She is doing what most newborns do, feeding and sleeping and fussing on her own schedule. And now, at 6 weeks, is smiling and gurgling. Yesterday we were all together along with our daughter Juliet and her husband Bill, for Thanksgiving dinner. It was just wonderful but sad too, as it will be spring before we see them all again.
Oh yes, here are the requisite baby pictures.

Oct 12, 2009

The frost is on the pumpkins.

Sorry, I have let ‘Palapa Life’ fall into a coma, dormant, hibernating, I guess. Summer has slipped by and finally I'm back.
This morning, there is frost, and we are anxious to return to our home on the beach.
Today’s forecast high for Guelph is 7C (44F) with lows this week under freezing with snow flurries expected in a few days. Checking the weather for the Mayan Riviera, this week it will be around 32C (90F) with lows around 25C (77F). Perfect! My apologies to my nordic and Saskatchewan forefathers. I never liked the cold -- never will.

We have been in Guelph, Ontario, enjoying these last five months, this thing called Summer of 2009, which was, hmnn... elusive.
This was our third summer in southern Ontario and while we are becoming fond of the place, the people, and the things to do, mother nature gave us the cold shoulder for much of it. There was a lot of rain, drizzles and overcast. We are parked at Guelph Lake Conservation Park which is large and green and tranquil. It has great hiking and biking trails and for Susan it is great swimming, except this year it was late getting warm enough, and this fall it got frigid weeks ago.
My tennis was often bothered by the wet, with many cancellations and postponements. However, I got a lot of play, social and competitive, and was able to contribute to our club’s winning in league play.

At last we are into final days.