Thursday, August 17, 2017

Canada Is Cool!!

And by that I mean that the people are cool, the scenery is cool, and the towns are cool. In other words, I certainly do like what I am experiencing!

Today we started the day by changing to Central Standard Time. That’s great, except that everyone showed up for breakfast at the same time. Since you aren’t assigned a breakfast time on the train, if the dining room gets full, they have to start a wait list and you sit and wait in the “snack room”. I arrived just as they started a new wait list. I sat down and waited, and soon Gladys (not her real name – I forgot what it is) came in and sat down. When she heard about the wait list, she was NOT happy. And when she couldn’t find a pen to write her name down, she got even more NOT happy. And when the train dude who creates the wait list came in, and she wanted him to write her name down, and he said sure, just a minute, she got TOTALLY NOT happy and said never mind and walked out. Poor Gladys!

Anyhow, after she left another lady came in and sat down to eat a muffin from the nearby tray (hence, the snack room). We chatted a bit. She’s from Canada (I don’t remember where – all these Canada places run together in my head). Anyhow, she said there was so much food on the train, she just wanted a muffin. We kept talking until the train dude came and told me my name was up – time for breaky!!

This morning I ended up sitting with three more Canadians – a couple who are on the rain with their two older teenagers, and another woman who is changing her life (something about moving apartments, cities, jobs). We had a lively discussion about many things and then departed for our morning plans.

Today the train stops in Winnipeg for a few hours. The train person said that there would be a bus tour (for $$) if we wanted to take that, but when the train got there, we would need to scurry down the steps to sign up. So I decided that’s what I would do in order to see as much of Winnipeg as possible.

Our train got in a little late (when we’re on the railway, if a freight train is coming through, we have to get on a side rail and let it pass – they have priority) so by the time I scurried down the stairs, the tour lady was in a rush to get us all on the list. I didn’t have any Canadian money, but they took my American money because they were in a rush. There was only one bus, so several people probably didn’t get the tour – guess they will know to scurry next time!

I got on the bus, and the Canadian lady from the snack room got on and sat with me. Then the tour lady got on and started talking a mile a minute. She said that she was going to have to give us a speeded up tour because we got in late and we had to be back in 90 minutes. And so off we went.

We drove around the train station area and she told us a lot about that area – I would tell you but that would take a lot of remembering. I wish that I had had more time to walk around that part because there are all kinds of shops and things, but I had to make a choice and chose Speedy Tour instead.

Once we left that area, she took us around town and showed us a bunch of residential houses, some of which celebrities like Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez rented when they were filming movies here. Apparently a lot of movies and tv shows are filmed here. Once we left this area, she took us to the Legislative House, where we got off the bus and went inside, and she told us a bunch of stuff about how this was designed like a temple – there’s a whole book about it. It was also really interesting, and I looked up the book, but strangely, Nashville Public Library doesn’t stock it. Puzzling…

Anyhow, we scurried back on the bus and headed for a quick look-see at downtown and scurried past the hockey stadium. Then we went across a fancy bridge and ended up at the burial spot of some dude (forgot his name) who was somebody important (forgot that too – she was giving out a lot of info in a short amount of time and my brain can only hold such much – like, where is the bus?). Anyhow, where dude is buried there is also the remains of a burned out church (forgot the story about why the church is burned out). The exterior walls are still standing, but when the people (whoever was in charge) found out that the insurance was not enough to cover the cost of rebuilding the church as it was, they opted to build a smaller church inside the walls of the burned out church. It’s sort of cool. The new church is cool, also. Instead of total stained glass windows, they have partial stained glass windows that depict the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. It was really very nice. We stayed there for a quick minute, got back on the bus, and headed back to the train and boarded. And then waited two more hours for several freight trains to pass before we could leave.

Once we finally did leave Winnipeg, the train driver (whatever they are called) put the pedal to the metal as we sped past the countryside. This part of Canada is known as the “prairies.” The land is flat and full of vegetation. As we were coming into Winnipeg, we passed a corn field that was larger and longer than any I had ever seen (this coming from a former farm girl whose family had a garden with a couple rows of corn). Apparently these are huge farms here that grow fast amounts of corn and soybeans, and probably other things I don’t know what they are.

Anyhow, today, as I mentioned yesterday, I have the last dining rotation. Which means lunch was to be a 2:30pm. I went to the snack room for some sustenance to get me through. Eventually our dining rotation was called, and I headed to lunch. Today I sat with Monica from yesterday (I remember her name because of Friends) and some older dude (in his late 60s) who was wearing a sports coat (side note – there are people on this train who dress very nicely and there are people who don’t – let’s wonder which group I fall into). Gladys was actually sitting across from me at another table, but we didn’t speak – maybe we were both hoping that the other one didn’t see the other. Anyhow, Monica is very quiet and Coat Dude was a little quiet until I kept trying to initiate conversation. I think he finally gave up and started speaking some. He was the one who gave me some information about the prairies. We did see some fields of vegetation that he couldn’t identify. He asked one of the dining servers, who also didn’t know.

Today’s lunch was a bison burger, which was delicious, and some kind of berry ice cream for dessert, which was heavenly. After we were done, we all departed and went our separate ways. I went back to my roomette, pulled down the bed and took a glorious nap. I also texted and talked with various family and friends and read a bit. Unfortunately, I got bored with my present book, so I skimmed the rest of it and called it quits on that one. I just have to answer the dilemma of – was that considered a “read” book or not? I then went to the next book, which may or may not meet the same fate.

For the rest of the day, I looked outside and marveled at how beautiful Canada is. We stopped at one point and were able to get out and walk around and get some fresh air. The sun was setting and it was simply lovely. Soon it was time to get ready for bed, and since I'm really getting pretty good at pulling down and putting up the bed, I think I'm ready for tonight!!

And here are today's photos ...

My bed - and sometimes viewing spot.

Train Station in Winnipeg

Going up the steps in the Legislative House - very fancy!

The burned out church - when you go through this part,
the new church is built right behind it.

Good bye Winnipeg!

This farm girl can't resist a photo of a tractor harvesting hay!!

The prairies - I don't know what's growing here ...

And this dairy farm girl can't resist a photo of cows!!

Or of a farm and hale bales!

And so we ride off into the sunset!!
Blessings today include: meeting new friend Peggy and going on the tour with her: tour and tour guide; lunch with Monica and suit dude; evening train stop

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Riding The Rails

Well, let’s start with last night’s sleep. For me, it was lovely. It was very bumpy and loud. At several points I thought perhaps we had run over something just by the bumps and loud sounds. But apparently we hadn’t, as we kept going. I felt several times that I was going to get tossed out of bed, but since there is only about maybe two inches between the side of the bed and the door, I felt pretty safe. I went to sleep, woke up a couple of times, and went back to sleep. The rocking was similar to a bumpy cruise or turbulent air flight, so it wasn’t too awful for me. When I went to breakfast this morning, one of the wait staff said that another worker told her that it was bumpier than usual.

Anyhoo, back to last night. I was so tired by the time I got settled in my room (settled meaning me and my stuff was in the room and the porter type dude had finished saying whatever he needed to); I just wanted to lie in the bed. Here’s how my “arrangement” went: my backpack suitcase went between the toilet and the chair. When the bed is put down, the bed goes over said suitcase and said toilet. My lovely Disney tote bag was placed up in the storage thingy above said toilet. I managed to locate my contact lens supplies and take care of my eyes and pretty much was ready to call it a night. No, I was not going to shower. Nor was I going to change clothes. My daytime clothes had morphed into my nighttime clothes.

I got into bed. Mind you, with the bed down and my pocket door closed, I have just barely enough space to wedge my chubby lower torso between them without getting stuck. This will be an important thing to know in a few minutes. In fact, when I put my bed down, I was standing in the doorway. Keep that in mind. And since the bed sits on top of the toilet, it’s a little higher than your average bed. And once your bed is down, you can close your door and latch it.

Anyhow, I lay in my bed, looking out the window, waiting for sleep to arrive. You know when you’re so tired that you can’t go to sleep? That’s kinda where I was. The train started moving and bumping and making loud noises, so I decided to read a bit. Finally I got sleepy and went to sleep.

About an hour later (I know this because I looked at my watch and was extremely disappointed to see that it was 11:30pm) I woke up. My legs were a bit achy and I was questioning whether I needed to go to the bathroom. However, this was going to cause an international incident, because (a) my meds were probably in my backpack suitcase that was under the bed, and (b) the toilet was also under the bed. Yes, there is a community toilet down the hall, but I wasn’t exactly sure where it was at that point, and I really didn’t feel like searching it out. Besides, the jury was still out as to whether I really needed to pee or not.

Anyhoo, I did want some Tylenol. So I decided to attempt to put the bed up. But I had closed and locked my door and really didn’t want to open it back up and attract interest to me and my 24-hour old clothes. So I attempted to open it myself. And yes, I did this by wedging my lower torso between the bed and the door. I undid the latch that keeps the bed down and attempted to hoist the bed up. No movement. I continued to try a couple more times, but no movement. So I decided my achy legs and my possible wetting of the bed could wait. And so I did. For about 15 minutes. At which time I decided neither of those situations could wait, so I re-wedged and unlatched the bed and tried again. This time, miraculously the bed (and I say miraculously because I know God had a hand in it), the bed went up. I used the toilet (and for those of you who have cruised, those cruise terlets have nothing on these choo-choo terlets) and then I went in search of some pain meds. Of course, did I remember or exactly know which or where these pills were? Nope, so I rummaged and searched until I found a bottle. Could have been vitamins. Could have been gummy bears. Didn’t care. Just took two, pulled the bed back down, and called it a night. I woke up a couple more times, but went back to sleep without further incident.

Upon waking this morning, I decided to get some breakfast. I was assigned lunch and dinner times, but breakfast is “go between 6:30 and 8:30.” Not exactly knowing where the dining car was, I headed in that direction. It’s several cars from mine, and first you go through the dome car. When I entered the dome car, there was some juice and pastries sitting around. At first I thought perhaps it was a “continental breakfast” but I decided not, and pressed on to the next car which was the dining car. I ended up sitting with a couple and a retired dude, all from Australia (different parts). We had a chatty breakfast (I had an omelet) and then we parted ways.

The train hummed along until lunch, and I went at my assigned time. This time I sat with three other ladies, all travelling along. One was a Brit, one was a Canadian, and one was a Chicagoan who was a very loud talker and sounded like Gladys Kravits from Bewitched. So far, the food has been very good – I had an omelet for breakfast and a quinoa salad for lunch, and they were delish. We ate and parted ways, and the train kept going until we stopped for about an hour at a little spot known as Hornepayne. Everyone got off the train. People who are not in the sleeper class (and some who are) headed to the grocery store to get food and sundries. Everyone walked around a bit, breathed in fresh air, and took photos of the train.

We all boarded our train and we took off. Eventually dinnertime arrived, and I had dinner with my lady lunch pals. I had cod and rice, which was absolutely delicious. Gladys was still loud and it was becoming obvious that she kinda had a negativity about her. We continued to try to converse, and mercifully soon dinner was over and we could part ways. We did find out that everyone changes dinner times each night. Tonight we got dining time #2, and tomorrow night we will have dinner time #3 – the last dinner time – at 9:15pm. Needless to say, Gladys was not happy about that!

It was time for bed, so I pulled down my bed and crawled on. I watched the word go past for a bit, read a bit, and was soon fast asleep. Good night!!

And now for today's photos ...

Some of the woods and water that we pass - so beautiful!

A place we passed - didn't stop.

We stopped and could get out - this is looking way down at the front of the train.

And this is looking way down at the back of the train.

This is my "car" - Bliss Manor.
My roomette is the window to the left of the window with the shade.

This is the "town" where we stopped. It had a grocery store. And a sundries store.

And a emergency department.

This is what you get for meals on the train. Very nice and delicious!!

And these are the engines that pull our train!!
Blessings today include: delicious omelet breakfast with the Australians; yummy lunch and dinner with my lady diners; watching Canada go past my window; stopping at Hornepayne and seeing the sights; getting photos of the train; texting with family and friends (thanks to Steve’s re-doing of our cell phone plan)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Let's Get This Par-Tay Started!!

It’s time to get the 60th Adventure started! And it started pretty early today. I got up at 3:30am in order to get a shower and to the airport for my 6:00 flight. Steve has a flight an hour later, but by leaving at 4:20ish, he still had time to drop me off, return home, shower, and get back for his trip.

The first step in this trip is to fly to Toronto. I decided to take the first flight, since I have to board the train tonight, and who knows what could happen with airplanes. Of course the first plane is Air Canada (no complaints there – I’ve flown them before) and is a “commuter jet.” Which means a little plane. Which is not exactly on my “favorite planes” list, should I ever have such a list. The only planes lower than little planes are “propeller planes”, one of which I could have taken and would have been a larger plane, but the propellers negated that choice. And the bottom of my planes list? That would be a small propeller plane. Including float planes. Would I ever fly in one? Certainly – if I had to. Like in the movie Independence Day (the first one) where the President and Jeff Goldblum and assorted others had to jump in Air Force One before the aliens blew up the White House. Yes, I would jump in a little plane with propellers before I was obliterated by aliens. But I digress …

I got to the airport with the backpack and my loud, garish Disney bag, which was chosen because the backpack was stuffed and I would still be allowed another smaller carryon and I still had stuff I needed to take (laptop, which Maribeth said I should leave at home, at which point she got fired from being my packing consultant) and various other things. By the way, when I said my backpack was stuffed, apparently it was with bricks, judging by the weight that I was carrying on my back. Trekking around Toronto should be interesting …

Anyhow, I got to the airport, which was not busy at that time of the morning, and headed to my gate. It was at a different part of the airport than my usual Southwest gates, so it was interesting. When I got to my gate, there were a few people waiting around. I chatted with a dude headed to Seattle and then to the Philippines. He was very nice.

Eventually they called for us to board. They said, “Usually we ask you to line up in groups, but since there are only six of you flying today, just come on.” Yup, you read that right – six people on the plane. The plane holds a total of maybe 48, but that is still a small number. I’m just glad they didn’t try to stick us on a smaller plane!

Once we were all boarded, it was time to stow the luggage. Apparently on this small plane, your big carry-on goes under the seat, which mine did once I kicked and shoved it under. Your smaller carry-on is supposed to go in the overhead compartment. But since we had plenty of space, we passengers were allowed just put them anywhere. In fact, some of the passengers just put them on the seat next to them and seat-belted them in. Oh, and did I mention that when the plane that is capable of holding only 48 people and is only carrying 6 people, then the plane seems hugely bigger?

The flight was smooth and safe and very nice, even without Wi-Fi. I read some of a book I brought (I brought seven), and soon we were landing in Toronto! Once landed, we had to wait for a gate to open because we had left/landed early. Once we finally pulled up to our gate, I found this information amusing, since it seems we pulled up to the “garage” section. In other words, we pulled up to the outskirts of the airport and had to use the airplane pulldown steps to get off. Lovely – me and my wonky knees and my 700 pound backpack full of bricks and my ridiculous Disney tote bag. I managed to get off the plane and begin the 800 mile trek to Customs. Eventually I arrived, did the Customs machine things, and was admitted to Canada!

Next I had to figure out how/where to catch the train to Union Station, where I shall be boarding my train tonight. Luckily I had done a bit of research (yesterday of course) and printed out directions on how to find this train – another 800 mile walk with the aforementioned burdensome backpack and garish tote bag. Thank goodness for signage! I found the kiosk to purchase the ticket, helped by some young lady who felt pity for this old lady weirdo, and was soon on the train to Union Station!

Once I arrived at Union Station, I realized the probability of going anywhere with this backpack was zero. I went to the ViaRail desk and asked if there was a place where I could store my stuff until my train left tonight and she said yes – just go to baggage around the corner! Thank you God for such wonderful blessings! And so I stored the brick-bag and obnoxious totebag and headed out to greet Toronto.

By this time I was starving, so I ate at the first place I could find. Keep in mind, this is right in between the breakfast and lunch dining times, so I ended up at a food court and ate noodles and bourbon chicken. Whatevs – I was starving! I had texted my peeps to ask what I should do and received several options. Molly suggested a hop on-hop off tour, and when I left the food court and went outside, there was a bus right there, so the decision was made!

The bus tour was great, but I was so sleepy by that point I kinda took a few power naps during the loop, so I took it again to see what I might have missed. By the end of the second loop, my phone battery was getting super low, so I went in search of a charging cord and brick – because all mine were in my checked luggage back at Union Station, and I did not wish to trek back there yet.

Eventually I found a place, got the needed supplies, had a Starbucks break to charge the phone, and went back outside. There was a Toronto Blue Jays game tonight, so the fans were really starting to come in for the game. I decided to go up the CN Tower, mainly so I could say I did it. I paid extra so I could see it earlier than wait the 2-hour wait. I was hungry again, so I had a burger in the bottom of the tower. The burger was yummy, and soon it was time to take the one-minute ride up the glass elevator to the top. It was fine – high and you can see stuff. And so I did it – and now I’ve said I did. There apparently is some cray-cray thing you can do where they harness you up and you can “walk the edge.” Nope – I certainly don’t need/want the bragging rights to that!

Anyhoo, once I was done, I took another Starbucks break to recharge my phone again. I was really tired and decided to go back to Union Station and wait out the few hours left until it was time to board the train. I retrieved my bags and asked an employee where I could charge my phone and went to that location until it was closer until boarding time.

I went to stand in line to board the train and a lady came through asking for “sleeper car” people. I’m one of those, and she took us to the “sleeper people lounge” where I could have been the entire time. There are free drinks and nice couches there!! Oh well, I got my dining assignment time and soon it was time to board the train. I found my car and my “roomette” (after having to aggravate the people in the hallway trying to hoist their stuff into their sleeping berths – berths are like bunk beds in the hallway) and met the train dude who is supposed to help if I have difficulties. He showed us where stuff is and how to fold down the bed. And soon we were off, and soon I was off to sleepy-time. It’s been a long, glorious day!!

And here are some photos from today!!

This lady decided to take a nap - why not? She had the whole row!
Later I helped her with her customs card - and saw my first green card!

Another passenger's backpack belted in for safety!

My bags shoved and kicked and wedged under the seat in front.
So what's your description of my Mickey tote?
Hello Toronto!  Now what ...

The Big Red Bus - my guide to Toronto!

Union Station - as long as I get back here by tonight, I'm good!!

A Doggie Fountain!!

The CN Tower from the bottom ...

And from the top!!

Made it back to Union Station - time to wait for Train #1!!

And there she is!! Let the adventure begin!!
Blessings today include: safe, smooth, uncrowded flight to Toronto; finding my way to the train to Union Station; finding out that baggage claim at the train station would hold my bags; red bus tour (thanks to Molly); clean Toronto bathrooms; nice ViaRail lady; getting on the train and into bed

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Time To Get Realz, Y'all!!

Okay, first of all, I’m leaving town tomorrow for about three weeks. One would think I would be packed by now. But by now, hasn’t one figured out that just is not going to happen? 

The plan is to pack in this backpack/suitcase thingy. It’s supposed to be a backpack if you want it, or you can stuff the straps in a handy pouch in the back and use it as a regular suitcase. Since I may have to be trekking around Toronto with luggage tomorrow, I thought a backpack would be the smart choice. 

The problem that has arisen is that the backpack is not interested in holding all the things that I feel the need to pack. Since one of my destinations is Alaska, I will need some warmer things. But since the second destination after that is California, I shall not need those warmer things. Hence I am packing all sort of things, most of which fill up this backpack very quickly. 

Luckily, Maribeth and Lynnette were over, and Maribeth made me out a packing list. Let’s just say it’s “bare bones.” I am thankful that there are laundry facilities on the Wonder, since my two pair of undies, two shirts, and a pair of pants may need some cleaning after a few days (okay, so the list allowed a few more clothes than that, but not many). Once I had fulfilled this list, my other stuff fit a little better into my backpack. And then I had to put away all "packed but culled" stuff. Anyhow, it looks like packing may be complete by tonight, which is my goal. Tomorrow I have an early flight, so I certainly want it done by then. 

Meanwhile, in other news, Steve has to spend a part of his day taking care of his car. While he was in Columbus last weekend visiting GDizzle, a rotted light pole fell on his 6-month-old car. It happened during the night, so they didn’t see or hear it. Steve just noticed something amiss the next morning when he came out to his car to get something.

Since the pole was rotted, the light company will pay for damages. It’s just the hassle of taking the car in to get an estimate, and dealing with the light company and insurance companies. One has to wonder why this happened to Steve’s new car, when there are several old junkers that would have been glad to give up the ghost for such a cause. But then again, one has to be thankful that nobody was hurt in this situation. Since I will be out of town, Steve can drive my baby Prius, but somehow I don’t think that brings him a lot of joy. But then again, neither does a busted up Highlander …

Oh well, I guess that’s a Monday for you! 
Blessings today include: getting stuff packed in backpack and totebag; getting house in some order so I can leave town; Everley and Lindley time and lunch with Moo

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Calling "Uncle"

Okay, so the time has come and the piper is going to have to be paid. Reality has sunk in and I have to own up to the obvious – I am not going to catch up on all the missing posts in this blog.

I know – I had really planned to get this baby all caught up and neatly tucked away before I started a new chapter (yes, I am going to continue to blog). But the final kicker was when I couldn’t find where I had stored all those photos.

See, on a previous cruise, I had gone through all a slew of photos and labeled and dated them for catch-up blogs, A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was going to be the day for a massive catchup – but I couldn’t find the photos anywhere. I thought I had saved them on my laptop – nope. I thought maybe I had saved them on my home computer or extra drive – nope. Now I think I might have saved them on a zip drive, which is now AWOL (which I am sure will turn up in September). At any rate, there were no photos; therefore, there would be no catchup for those. And when I looked at the massive number of blogposts I am missing, the task was just too daunting to attempt. Especially since the days until the cessation of this blog were quickly diminishing.

And so there you have it. After 10 years of this blog (yes, it’s been that long – I started this incarnation of this blog when I turned 50), I am finishing it up with some big holes. And while I am disappointed that I didn’t complete all those missing days, I am content to let it go.

Because after all, it’s about my life. And there are some holes in my life that won’t get filled in. But it’s a good life and a good blog, and so on it goes. Here’s to holes and life and blogs – may we all keep going, no matter what!
Blessings today include: picking up the Ls at the airport; Steve’s safe trip home in his busted car; seeing Lindley’s new room; seeing Everley’s new hole where a tooth used to be; August birthday brunch with Sharon, KB, and Moo; pre-cruise pedis