Sunday, September 18, 2005

San Diego Trip

On August 14th Michael, Dad and I drove to Buffalo and spent the night at the Quality Suites opposite the Buffalo International Airport. I had booked through where you can book a night at a hotel and then fly out of an airport, leaving your car at the hotel for up to 2 weeks for the cost of the 1 night. In our case, the night was US$84. It was really nice not having to rush to the airport. Buffalo Airport is a LOT easier to fly out of, compared to Toronto Airport.
Dad on the plane from Chicago
(Click on photos to enlarge)

We flew via Chicago, arriving in San Diego at 7:30 pm and were met there by Virginia. Our trip to San Diego was to celebrate Virginia’s 85th and Dad’s 86th birthdays on August 20th.

Virginia meeting us at San Diego Airport

Virginia had booked us all in to the Sheraton Hotel on Harbor Island Drive for 2 nights. My sister, Patricia and her family were coming through from LAX later on. When we got to the hotel, the valet was helping us and there was a scruffy looking fellow standing at the back door of the car. He had a wheelchair and he was waiting to help Dad into it. This man had his baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, had a 24 hour stubble, rumpled clothes and looked VERY suspicious. I took a closer look at this strange man and realized that it was my brother, who works on contract in Muscat, Oman and he looked so disheveled because he had just flown 28 hours from the other side of the world! I asked Virginia if that was Pete and she nodded with a very big grin on her face. He had been on the same plane as us from Chicago to San Diego and we never saw him!! What a lovely surprise.

Dad crying in disbelief after seeing Pete

Pete helped load Dad into the wheelchair and then took him for a ride around the lobby of the hotel until Virginia could be there when he revealed himself to Dad. Needless to say, Dad was completely bowled over when Pete bent down and asked Dad if he could do any more for him. Dad says that if he didn’t have a pacemaker, he would have dropped dead of a heart attack!

Ginny and Dad wait in our room for the Barbers to arrive

We all went up to the room and hung around for the arrival of Patricia, Simon and the children. When they arrived Pete hid behind the drapes and surprised them when they came into the room that he was sharing with Dad. It was great!

Tuesday we went to a local restaurant, Hob Nob Hill, for a fantastic breakfast. Dad had blueberry pancakes.

Breakfast at Hob Nob Hill

Dad's pancakes

We then went down to the Old Town and took a 2 hour trolley ride around San Diego. Later we had dinner at a restaurant in Old Town, called El Fandango. I had the best fish tacos I had ever tasted.

The gang before boarding the trolley.

Patricia and Pete

Nell and Stephen

The next morning we watched a flotilla of tall ships sail majestically into the harbour and then we all set off for Ocean Hills Country Club, where Virginia lives.

Sitting on a bench watching all the ships go by.



Dad posing as a rapperDad and Ginny

One of the tall ships coming in to harbour

The rest of the week was spent preparing for the big birthday party on Saturday 20th. There were about 60 guests coming for an “Open House” type event. There was lots of shopping and preparation to do. Carolyn Chiriboga had done a lot of organizing and had ordered the cakes for Virginia and Dad. Carolyn is the daughter of Bob Pope, who was Virginia’s friend and companion until he passed away suddenly earlier this year. He had a heart attack while holding the winning hand at his weekly poker game!!
The weather in Oceanside is always gorgeous, so it was no surprise when the 20th dawned bright and sunny. The party went off without a hitch, speeches being made by both Pete and Carolyn. Virginia looked like a shining star in her red, white and blue top.

The Cheney Gang before the party

The birthday boy and girl enjoyed opening their gifts and all the cards.

The great food was enjoyed by all.


Virginia's Cake
Dad and Virginia during the speeches
Amal Pope and baby
Michael enjoys a beer at the party

Nell and Pete at Denny's the day after

Pete's "American" breakfast

Thursday, August 11, 2005

California Update

Well, it's been some time since I was on the blog. Just to update what is happening in the White household.

On Sunday we are driving to Buffalo to spend the night there and then we will be flying to San Diego. We will be staying with Virginia In Oceanside until late on August 29th, when we fly home again on the red-eye (11 pm to Cleveland, Ohio) and then a short hop to Buffalo where we will pick up the car and head home. I am due back at work the night of August 29th, the same day we land in Buffalo, so it is going to be a fast ride home.

On August 20th, in Oceanside, we are celebrating the birthdays of Dad and Virginia. Dad will be 86 and Virginia will be 85. We are having an open-house at Virginia's from 1 pm to 6 pm and all her local friends will be popping in to celebrate with her. this space for the next exciting episode in about 3 weeks time.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Lake Onaping

We rented a canoe from the Northwoods Lodge on Lake Onaping. On the day we had to return it, we went early and spent a couple of hours canoeing from the lodge. From there we headed north. Lake Onaping is a long narrow lake, about 48Km long, so we just got to see a tiny piece of it. It is a beautiful lake and once you get past the several homes and cottages that are situated on the southern shore, it is quite wild. There are lots of islands of all shapes and sizes and the forest comes right down to the lake shore. We saw an otter fishing in one of the little bays, but did not get a photo....he was just too quick. There was a lot of birdlife around and with the sound of the paddle and the birds in the trees, we were really touching nature. Here are some photos of our trip on Lake Onaping.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tanned and Rested!

We arrived home from Halfway Lake on Saturday evening the 16th July and yesterday was unpacking, sorting and laundry day. It was a most successful trip and left us wanting to go back. The scenery, peace, quiet and stressfree environment is really very good for the soul. Halfway Lake is situated in the Southern Boreal forest. The air is clear and the lakes are pristine and beautiful. We saw stars at night that we never saw in the Northern sky before. It was amazing.
Our trip began on the 5th after we dropped Dad off at the airport for his flight to Maryland to stay with my sister for 3 weeks. Then we headed home, hitched up the trailer and set off, stopping overnight at Parry Sound KOA on the way up. It is one of the nicer KOAs that I have seen. Treed and nice trails. It is right on the Trans Canada Trail, so there were many people with their ATVs there. Then in the morning we set off for Halfway Lake, about an hour north of Sudbury on highway 144.

Our site was site #69 and was situated on the banks of Raven Lake. With the extremely high temperatures that we had for the 10 days that we were there, we really appreciated the breeze that kept our camping area very comfortable. Some people in the lower sites were so hot that they could not spend much time on their sites during the day.

Raven Lake from our camp site

The 10 days up there were wonderful. We had hot, sunny weather for the entire time except for a very short rain shower on Wednesday afternoon. The temperature ranged from 31C (88F) to 37C (97F) for the entire time we were there. The humidex was also very high, usually up in the 40s (about 107F). For some of the time we were there some of the trails were closed because of the risk of forest fires and there were no fires allowed, even on the camp sites.
Northwoods Sportsmen's Lodge

We rented a canoe for 5 days from Northwoods Lodge and spent most of those days canoeing on Halfway Lake or relaxing on beaches and rocks that are found around the lake.
One day while we were picnicing at a rock on the far side of the beach, we were intrigued with the tiny, slender, iridescent blue dragon flies that accumulated on the reeds in the water. Here is a picture of two of them. Halfway Lake has a long sandy beach which is wonderful for swimming and cooling down. On several days it was so hot that we actually put our chairs right into the water and propped the beach umbrella up and sat there reading, relaxing and keeping cool.
Michael keeps cool under his "Tilley" hat

We did a couple of the hikes while the fire ban was off. The first one was to a view site overlooking Raven Lake. That was about 6 kms up, down, over rocks and through forested areas. There were plenty of bugs, but with the help of Deep Wood "Off" we managed to keep them at bay. At the top of the one rise we found a large clear, rocky area where there were absolutely millions of blueberries growing. Of course we gorged ourselves, but not having anything to carry them back with us, were unable to take any back to the camp site.
Daryl gorging on blue berries.

Small scrubby blue berry bushes laden with fruit. YUM!

The view from the viewing deck on the trail. Our trailer is the white one in the middle of the picture. Raven Lake is in the foreground.

The second hike that we went on was the "Osprey Heights" trail which is about 7 kms long and goes to a view site over Antrim Lake. Again it is up and down over two or three ridges. It was quite tough, but we took it slow and did the whole circle. The views over Antrim Lake were stunning. Here are some photos from that hike.

One evening we took a ride to the garbage dump at Cartier and watched the black bears as they came out of the forest. One even investigated our car by climbing up on the back bumper to check for juicy morsels. I was quite nervous.
Papa bear ambling across the road.

Mama Bear got very curious and gave our car a close up sniff!

Oh! Oh! I think she sees me!

One morning we were eating breakfast in our dining shelter and Michael remarked that he felt as if he was in a Disney movie. There were squirrels and chipmunks running around, birds in the trees and then a rabbit jumped out of the undergrowth and tried to join us in the shelter. All we needed was for Bambi to emerge from the trees and the picture would have been complete!
Mr Chippy helps himself to peanuts.

On our last day we decided that we had had enough sun, so we took a drive up to Timmins. We crossed into the Arctic Watershed and into the James Bay tourist region. This was a real thrill for me as I felt as if we were almost at the North Pole!