Wednesday, 22 November 2017

November 2017 Off on Another Adventure

Ice-grey clouds added to the melancholy mood that is November 11.  We headed towards the border at Port Huron with excitement dulled by somber hearts as we listened to the Remembrance Day Services on the radio and reflected on our Dad’s roles in WWII.  A Canadian Vet who had served in Afghanistan and lost both legs, poignantly said that Armistice Day is the one day in the year that he allows himself to wallow in sadness for his own loss and his comrades.

P1160917

P1160918

Goodbye Bayfield.

P1160919

P1160923

IMG_0919

P1160939

Hello USA.

P1160941

P1160926

We were soon out of the snow and into sunny farmland.  After six hours on the road, we parked at a Cracker-barrel Restaurant  in Gas City Illinois where we had dinner and a quiet night’s rest.  In the morning, we headed further south passing Indianapolis and taking in the sites along the highway.  Most states have great Rest Areas with short trails and picnic areas so Dixie always enjoys those stops.

P1160966

P1160978

P1160988

P1160997

P1170003

Is the size of the cross directly proportional to the number of prayers answered?

P1170012

P1170013

P1170014

We camped at the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park for two nights.  Late fall conditions left pathways filled with crunchy golden leaves, a few grand Maples and Oaks hanging on to the last of their rust and scarlet foliage and the sandy beaches scattered with broken twigs and branches.  Everywhere we hiked or biked, we saw deer, many, many deer.  The park air was constantly fragrant with the pleasant, musky scent of burning pumpkin, that unique odour that candles produce inside a Jack O’Lantern.

P1170143

P1170041

P1170090

P1170098

P1170040

P1170123

P1170126

P1170079

P1170141

Flocks of Wild Turkeys were all over the park as well.  With Thanksgiving only a couple of weeks away, I urged the ‘Toms’ to lie low but they ignored my warnings.  There was a controlled pheasant hunt in the park and we saw a number of eager men decked out in camouflage heading to the fields.  Sadly, we witnessed a few trophy deer strapped onto truck bumpers.  To our dismay, campers adjacent to us strung up a deer to prepare for the freezer.  Luckily the view was blocked by their trailer so we did not have to build a wall, as Trump may have suggested.

P1170024

P1170139

P1170144

P1170030

P1170034

We took advantage of the many bike paths and saw numerous Hawks, Crows, Turkey, Deer, Vultures and a Bald Eagle.  At the Rend Lake waterfront there was evidence of beaver-action, deer and raccoon tracks and severe erosion.  Many of the grey rocks were studded with interesting black formations in unique patterns. 

P1170121

P1170117

P1170116

P1170112

P1170048

P1170051

P1170053

P1170055

P1170056

Holstein rock?

P1170058

P1170062

P1170066

P1170073

P1170146

Dixie says goodbye to the park.


Sunday, 19 November 2017

What Better Reason to Travel than to Welcome your First Grandchild into the World? Australia January 2017

Booking our trip to Australia was tricky to get the timing right but we lucked out to be there to see ‘Dani and Al’ pregnant and then visit newborn Finn a few hours after his birth.  We flew to Tamworth from Sydney where Dot, Al’s Mom lives.  Dot hosted our stay as well as drove us down to Scone to see the expectant couple and their new home.  The baby was overdue by a week and with the excruciating hot spell in Australia, they were more than anxious to give birth.

P1080125

P1080129

P1080133

P1080136

P1080141

The drive back to Tamworth was very scenic in the afternoon sun.  We stopped for a ‘walk about’ in a park commemorating British prisoners from long ago, transported to Australian  prison camps.

P1080144

P1080145

P1080153

P1080155

P1080158

P1080157

P1080160

P1080167

P1080169

The following day, February 6, we got ‘The Call’ Dani is in labour!  A few  hours later, we were on our way to Scone Hospital to meet Finn, James McEachern. 

P1080176

P1080179

P1080307

P1080186

P1080191

P1080196

P1080237

P1080240

P1080249

P1080260

P1080285

In the middle of the night, the unexpected occurred as Finn became jaundiced and his Mom and Dad had to drive him a couple of hours away to a hospital with a larger neonatal unit.  Finn spent a number of hours in an incubator and was on a strict feeding regimen.

Dot and Chris and I took a day trip to Uralla where we enjoyed the gorgeous countryside and quaint old town. 

P1080347

P1080330

P1080337

P1080339

Gotta love the Aussie sense of humour in social messages.

P1080351

P1080357

P1080367

P1080372

P1080386

P1080382

P1080378

P1080383

P1080403

P1080397

P1080390

P1080417

P1080420

P1080429

Modern drover.

P1080433

P1080435

Thunderbolt’s Hideout Rock  (famous bushranger & criminal)

P1080440

P1080468

P1080453

P1080467

P1080481

Sunset from Dot’s Queensland room.

Chris and I drove down and stayed in a hotel to be close to the hospital even though we had very restricted visiting hours.  We walked around the town of Morpeth in the record breaking 47 degree temperature.  A couple of hours in a movie theatre cooled us down and filled up some of our day while we awaited our next visit with our grandbaby.  Finn’s condition improved rapidly and he was able to go home after two day.  Although the ordeal was stressful, Dani and Al learned many parenting tips from the excellent midwives there.

P1080509

P1080514

P1080534

P1080546

P1080567

IMG_0194

P1080556

P1080578

P1080595

P1080632

P1080635

P1080639

P1080649

The shop with a teapot shaped like any creature or object known to mankind.

P1080651

P1080652

P1080659

P1080668

P1080670

Finn goes home!

P1080696

P1080704

P1080718

P1080724

P1080729

P1080777

P1080789

P1080802

P1080799

P1080800

We moved in to a motel in Scone so that we could visit Finn but let Dani, Al, Finn and dogs Salty and Pretzel get settled as a new family.  Everyone we talked to mentioned the insane heat and highest recorded temperatures in over three hundred years.  We spent hours in the pool that was a few degrees cooler than the air.  Forest fires are always a hazard in Australia but such high winds and temperatures made conditions worse.  We watched as smoke rose above the nearby mountains and filled the air with acrid yellow clouds that sullied the sunlight.  We watched birds ‘pant’ for their survival.  We had never experienced heat like that anywhere before.

P1080810

P1080808

P1080818

P1080832

P1080825

P1080819

P1080840

P1080855

P1080858

We took a fabulous drive in our rental car out into the countryside past equestrian ranches and up towards the mountains.

P1080872

P1080874

P1080878

P1080887

P1080889

P1080902

P1080913

P1080926

P1080937

P1080946

With Finn more settled at home, Chris and I moved in to the spare room and immersed ourselves in the adventures of new parents and new baby.  We cheered the event and our new titles: Grammy and Grandy, with Champagne and a gorgeous cheese and fruit board.  We strolled the town and parks of Scone and we all took Finn on his first public outing to a local cafe.   Since Chris’s visit was almost over, Al took him for a trip up into the countryside and got up close to a few Roos as well. 

  P1080960

P1080970

P1080994

P1080984

P1080995

P1090016

P1090017

P1090020

P1090025

P1090027

Dot, travelled down from Tamworth to meet her new grandson. in Scone.  Liz and Curt in Boston gave Dot her first grandchild, Genevieve a year and on half ago.  Nanna meets Finn.  Can you see the love?

P1080997

P1090004

P1090005

P1090046

P1090039

Grandy says goodbye and flies home to our four-legged baby Dixie.

P1090223

The house is filled with gorgeous flowers and cards of congratulations.   The public health nurse visited to measure and weigh Finn and confirm that he was healthy and happy.  Check and check. 

P1090228

P1090233

P1090243

P1090256

P1090258

P1090259

P1090273

P1090278

Al had been off work on Paternity Leave for three weeks and a country daytrip to Barrington Tops seemed an appropriate way to celebrate and introduce Finn to hiking and picnics.  The temperatures at the higher elevations were cool and a refreshing relief to the heat in the valley.  As you can see from the images, we had a wonderful day and Finn enjoyed every minute of it too.

P1090318

P1090329

P1090331

P1090346

Cute Mom and joey Wallaby.

P1090351

P1090358

P1090389

P1090394

P1090396

P1090403

P1090406

P1090418

P1090393

P1090430

P1090443

Feral goats live in the hills.

P1090453

Exhausted Finn after his big day.

P1090476

Finn joins Dani and friends for High Tea.

P1090232

Dot and Malcolm visit.

P1090531

P1090535

P1090584

Dani, Salty, Pretzel and I hike up Scone Mountain, an amazing view over the town and countryside just a twenty minute walk from home.

P1090602

P1090606

P1090608

P1090612

P1090513

IMG_1557

I say a teary goodbye to this beautiful family.

IMG_1612

photo by Liz McEachern Hall

IMG_0452

IMG_0458

I sobbed my way into Sydney airport to head for Canada.

IMG_0448