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Our Summer in Ontario Ends ’21


August 1, 2021

August started with our road trip to Quebec with a few stops enroute and back.   But first we went to the ball diamond for a bit of baseball with the grandkids and a board game called Pandemic back at their house.

We made it to Kingston in good time and after dropping Doug at the hotel, Fran went for a surprise quick visit with her mom bringing flowers:

We got a last minute invite from Fran’s sister, Cynthia, for dinner so over to their place we went for a few hours enjoying some nice grilled steak.

We left our hotel around 7:30 for a day of visiting and driving.

First stop about 9am, was our overlanding friends, Joe & Stacey who now live on 110 acres near Smith Falls; rebuilding a house; then lunch with an old family friend of Fran’s, Dave, who lost his lovely wife last year.

After a nice walk out in the pleasant sunshine we stopped at an A&W for a diet root beer in a frosted mug.  Then enroute to a  quick stop at Fran’s godson’s house to visit him and his wife and their new sleeping baby, Dallas (forgot to take pics!) we passed by Serena’s alma matter:

We all wore masks and visited out on their patio to stay safe.

We then drove almost to the border with Quebec to finish the day in a hotel in Hawkesbury which is very Quebecois.

We arrived at Christine & Marks’ by mid-morning at their very cute house in Saint Adolphe-Howard in the Laurentians north of Montreal.  We caught up for a while before having lunch and going for a long walk around their neck of the woods.

We had a dinner watching the Olympics in their basement which turned into our bedroom at bedtime.  Since we were here nearly two ago they’ve added a bathroom downstairs and built a shed/bunkhouse in the back and done tons of landscaping.

Wednesday, Christine planned a water falls tour around the Laurentians but every place was charging a ridiculous amount to get in – from $7 to 12 a person! – so we opted not to visit any of them.  One we did stop at just outside the entry was La Chute a Bull where we got a view from the road.

It was a pretty drive despite not checking out the other 3 waterfalls and we enjoyed chatting in the car.  Sadly we saw some trees turning colour already and it’s only the beginning of August!

After stopping in St. Donat for a lunch of chips and hot dogs we returned to their place where we later had a small dinner and watched some more Olympics out on their deck as it was warmer night today.

Thursday morning, Christine managed to get a trapped dragonfly out of a window and it sat outside on the deck for quite a while before flying off.

Then 3 of us walked while Christine went for a run and a quick cooling dip in the lake before going back to their house for lunch.  Their friend, Brad, whom we’ve met several times, joined us for lunch and we all chatted until it was time for us to leave at 3.  We wanted to make a dent in our drive to Kingston where we’re meeting Josh tomorrow morning to visit Fran’s mom.

We made our way to Brockville by dinner time and spent another night in a hotel watching Olympics once again.   This gave us only an hour’s drive on Friday morning to meet Joshua.  Fran went in and got her Mom signed out for an outside walk to the park.  We spent about an hour with her before beginning the long drive back to Tottenham.  As an essential care giver, Fran can visit any time and others (aka general visitors) need a raid COVID test to visit indoors and even then only two visitors at a time so this was easier.)

Doug went in Josh’s car for the first part of the drive until we got to the indigenous lands gas station where we both filled up and Doug got both our jerry cans filled.  Gas in the GTA is around $1.35 a litre and here it’s $1.18 so worth the stop.  Then Fran went with Josh while Doug drove our truck back.  We went home and unpacked before joining Josh with the kids for an hour or so.

Tonight their favourite thing to do was get “locked” in a box and escape.

Saturday, Doug went for his long run and met Fran at Josh’s later in the morning.  The kids and Josh began making a birthday cake for Doug’s birthday next week – it has ice cream in it so needs to be made in stages. Fran went bike riding with them for a while and that afternoon we all watched some Olympics and then “Cool Runnings” with the kids.  It was a rainy, muggy day.

Sunday, we met up at their house and it was muggy once again but not raining.  Fran did a bike ride with Arya, the kids rode on their own while Doug helped Josh with his car tires which began having issues on the drive back on Friday.  He also fixed the free bike Fran got and now all the gears work.

The highlight of the day was when the kids worked on splitting the rocks Doug got for them back in Utah to find trilobites.

We suggested doing this with them before but they always said no; today the really got into it.

Before dinner we played some more games after they played alone for at least an hour (when we got in a few more Olympic clips) and we went home for dinner.  We like to give the kids some alone time with their dad and also prefer to eat our own meals rather than what they like usually.

The week began quite muggy and hot.  Monday, Fran’s sister in Kingston reached out asking Fran to take their mom to an appointment she can’t get her to.  So Fran will make a solo trip to Kingston next week.

Tuesday night, Josh joined us to go see a movie – first time in over 19 months!  We saw Stillwater with Matt Damon.  The theatre had protocols in place and there were maybe 18 people at most in the theatre with us all well-spaced out.  It was a pleasant change from sitting at home and the movie was very good.

Wednesday it was stinking hot again with a high humidex making it feel like above 40C!  The rain forecast seems to be dwindling this week which is nice.  Fran went shopping in the morning and in the afternoon while at Josh’s, as usual, we took advantage of the dry day and washed the truck and its bed out having access to a good hose and sprayer.

Friday Doug did his marathon walk in the high heat and humidity but he got it done!  The humidity broke late that afternoon and the AC went off in the trailer.  Yeah!

Josh texted us that only Cyrus was coming around this weekend and he had no clue about Arya’s decision not to come.  We hope things will calm down by next weekend.  He did hear from her over the weekend directly and through her mother but still no explanation put forth.

So both Saturday and Sunday we played a lot of games with Cyrus including board games, baseball, soccer, foosball.  The weather was clear and sunny and quite comfortable.  Saturday afternoon Cyrus wanted a campfire so we went to our place  where he helped Grampa build it (very chaotic build!) and then after lighting it he got bored and he and Fran played badminton.

On Sunday Josh made a nice “breakfast for lunch” meal for Doug’s birthday and Cyrus helped ice the cake.

the icing bag exploded!

Monday was still quite pleasant and after spending most of the day at Josh’s online etc. we returned to our trailer and Fran packed a bag for her trip to Kingston on Tuesday; not sure if she’ll stay one or two nights at this point.  Josh will be working from home tomorrow and Doug will go over at some point and that night they will hit a movie for the evening to see Free Guy – something Fran did not want to see.

Tuesday after dropping off Doug at Josh’s place, she took Josh to work (Doug will drive Josh’s car over to pick him up for the movie after work) and she got to Kingston in good time – only hit about five minutes of bad traffic on the 401.  The weather was wet and SO muggy.

She arrived at the nursing home after some lunch and she and her mom took the access bus to the hospital for the hearing test.  After the appointment Fran decided to push her mom’s wheelchair back instead of returning by bus so get some air as it had stopped raining and it was really only about 5 blocks.

Then after getting stuck in traffic getting out of downtown Kingston past the military base, she arrived at her sister’s for dinner and the night.  Back in the GTA, Doug and Josh went to a pool hall where they were all alone most of the hour they spent there and then saw their movie.  They declared it hilarious!

After a short morning visit after her sister woke up, Fran returned to the nursing home to visit her mom one last time this summer.  They spent the visit looking at photos of our trip to Iceland.  Fran began the drive home stopping at the indigenous lands for gas once again and hitting the grocery store in Bolton before arriving back home around 4:30.

It was muggy here in Tottenham too and we had to turn the AC back on.  Next few days look like a mixed bag of weather.

Friday morning Joshua advised us that finally told them what’s been bothering her about coming to Daddy’s house; she thinks we are there too much, disrupting their routine and she finds it overwhelming so she’s coming this weekend but they’ve agreed we only come for a couple of hours each day.  We only have three weekends left but if that makes her comfortable, we’ll do just that.

It began to heat up again today so we’re going back to AC tonight.

So Saturday they invited us over for a couple of hours after lunch.  After catching up, Arya wanted to show Grammie her sewing machine and they made a pillow together while the “boys” went to play soccer.  We played some cards altogether afterwards and went home.

We met our new neighbours, Lee and Doris (she’s from Guatemala).  They are here for a month coming mostly on weekends. We enjoyed a beer with them for about an hour before heading inside to the AC!

Sunday we went over to Josh’s for lunch  and then came to our place by bike (3 of us) where Arya and Grammie sewed a few things with Fran’s machine while the “boys” went to play Frisbee golf which Cyrus just loves.

Arya made her brother a pillow with the dinosaur fabric Fran brought and then she made herself a bracelet with the Unicorn fabric

They left the bikes at our place and drove him in Josh’s car – claimed they were too hot to cycle!

It continues to be hot and muggy; temps in the low 30’sC with 90+% humidity but very little precipitation and mostly sunny.

We made planned to meet some old friends for lunch in the “big city” on Monday but they had to cancel due to car brake issues.  They think maybe on Tuesday.

Tuesday as we’d not heard from our friends, Doug did his biweekly marathon walk in all the glory of the humidity.  These extended humidex temperatures are breaking records this week.  It’s high time for a big thunder storm to break it all down.

Wednesday we did a few more chores in preparation for departing on Sept 7th.  Doug cleaned both sides of the awning while Fran finished cleaning the truck interior.  Later we spent the afternoon in the AC at Josh’s house.  The part for our microwave arrived today and Doug installed it the next morning before Fran headed south to meet with our friend, Sam, from our overlanding days.  The face plate on the MW had cracked in two places and we could hear it rattle when the AC was on high.  The part was way cheaper in Canada so we ordered it.  It wasn’t pressing but a small thing that would probably eventually get worse.

Fran enjoyed her visit with Sam at a Tim Hortons and returned home to pick up Doug and we spent the rest of that afternoon at Josh’s.  The weather is still hot, into the mid 30’sC , low 90’sF with thick humidity and looks like it’s going to hang around through the weekend.

On the weekend we spent each afternoon with Josh and the kids; Saturday was mostly at our “place” and the kids opened their last Christmas gifts:

Cyrus’s was a kit to make super bouncy balls:

Arya’s was a kit to make small lanterns with LED lights:

Later Fran and the kids cycled their bikes home via the ice cream shop where we met Doug and Josh with the vehicles.

Before even leaving the campground, Arya used her arm to point out the exit sign and then proceeded to fall off her bike; she scraped her elbow and it bled a tiny bit and although she seemed quite surprised she’d fallen, didn’t get upset until she saw Daddy’s car drive up to find out what happened.  But she was very brave and with some whimpering made it to the ice cream shop where they both sat exhausted and wilted waiting for their cones.

Sunday we mostly stayed indoors due to the extreme heat and we “revived” the Bozo the Clown punching bag we’d bought the kids when they were 18 months old; it had a leak and was not being used.

We did watch their “swim up” ceremony from Beavers to Cubs in the backyard ending with sparklers:

this was taken after their final meeting. can you tell they didn’t want their photo taken!?

before Cyrus took us to the park to play baseball but that lasted about 15 minutes and we were all too hot!

It rained both weekend nights and was quite heavy Sunday night but it seemed to break a lot of the humidity.

Monday we took a drive up to Elmvale; Fran’s paternal grandparents lived up there in the 60’s when she was a kid and through  her cousin (who lived with their grandparents as a child) found the approximate location of their farm.  We’re not sure we found the right place as SO much as changed but it was nice day for a drive and we stopped on our way back in Barrie to gas up at Costco and get groceries.  The house used to be on the left side of the driveway.  It was apparently torn down in the late 70’s and now there’s a house on the right and the addition to the barn on the left is new as is the tree house.

Last night the humidity broke Tuesday was very pleasant – mid 20’sC – mid 70’sF with comfortable nighttime temps that don’t require AC.  We spent a couple of hours that morning washing the outside of the trailer and clearing out what had been “stored” underneath in preparation for our departure next week including removing and cleaning the wheel covers.  Just a few more things to do and we’re ready.

Josh worked from home today as he often does on Tuesdays and we took him out for lunch at one of the few restaurants in Tottenham: Timo – an Italian place that makes proper Italian style thin crust pizza; it was yummy.

Fall has been in the air lately:

So lately we’ve been contemplating what’s next when we get to the US?  We have medical appointments for annual physicals in South Dakota since we are now covered by the ACA (Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare) and then we are meeting our kids in Vegas in mid-October for five days before Joshua’s work related tradeshow – then what?  A few weeks ago we were seriously contemplating taking two months and visiting a few middle eastern countries like Egypt, Jordan and Israel but with COVID numbers on the rise in the two latter countries and talk of a third shot being needed we’ve decided to stay put somewhere cheap so we think we are going to go back to Vegas for at least three months and from there we can fly up here again for Christmas.  Third shots are supposed to be available in the US starting September 20th for those with medical conditions and those of us over 60 but it must have been 8 months since your second shot – that means December for us.  So…..if that gets done, we will reconsider travel overseas in the new year and to be honest, we are also slowly beginning to look for vehicle with which to overland Europe so that could be in the mix too – although we’d rather not travel there over winter.

On Monday we booked Serena’s flight to Vegas to join us in October and on Tuesday we booked our flights back here for Christmas.  Josh will be flying on his employer’s dime and hopefully Kurt will be able to join us but as he just started a new job last month, and his days off change, he’s not sure when he can be in Vegas.

Wednesday was another pleasant day – sunny again with no humidity.  Doug did his last marathon walk in Canada.  Fran took all our sheets, towels, etc. over to Josh’s and got all our laundry caught up; going up and down the stairs helped her get most of that day’s steps.

Thursday, felt like fall was definitely on the way – cooler and breezy but still sunny.  An old college friend of Doug’s drove up for the city for a visit including lunch.  It was a pleasant visit sitting outside by a campfire.  That evening we spent with Josh at his place watching a movie and air popper popcorn.

The final long weekend of  the summer – Labour Day.  We spent half of Friday at Josh’s online of course, and then had a beer at our neighbour Kim’s for happy hour.

Saturday was quite pleasant, warm and mostly sunny.  We spent a few hours with the kids both indoors and out.  We took their hockey net and three sticks down to the cul de sac and played some street hockey (which is way more fun than baseball!).

Sunday it was partly sunny and warm.  Josh and the kids came to our campsite with their rubber dinghy and we went down to the campground’s lake:

We’d been asking them ALL summer if they wanted to go in the lake and always got a no.  Well they regretted that as they had a blast.  First it was trying to paddle the dinghy (Daddy had it on a rope so they couldn’t get that far as none of us wanted to go in!) and then they swam around for quite a while wearing life jackets.



We returned to our trailer when Arya began shivering way too much.  They rinsed off using our outdoor shower and after getting dressed we made a campfire and roasted the last of the marshmallows.  They left around 4 exhausted and Josh said they went to bed early that night.

Monday, Labour Day, we went over to Josh’s for lunch (Cyrus’ menu of chicken drumsticks – aka “meat on the bone”), air cooked French fries and salad before watching a movie about Seeing Eye dogs (Arya’s request).

Then we took a drive up to Alliston to enjoy dessert at Dairy Queen with Grampa doing his “crazy driving” of swerving, sudden braking and wide whip lash causing turns – the kids were in stiches!

We dropped them all off at home, picked up our final load of clean laundry and returned to the campsite for the final time to hook up to the truck and leave.  We said goodbye to our neighbours, Kim & Pete as well as Lee (whose wife had already left as they too were leaving today).  We wanted to get a jump on our drive tomorrow so we dumped the tanks and made our way about an hour westward to the small town of Erin which has a municipal parking lot that allows overnight parking (thanks again, iOverlander!).  There we had a quiet final night in Canada.