26 October 2018

A Canadian Sojourn

Alan took us by train to Canada to visit Pat and Dan his Camino sister and brother! We were thrilled to be going as Pat is one of those rare humans that understands us Bears!

This journey involved a very early start from Milford Station to first get to New York Grand Central Station, then across the city by taxi to Pennsylvania Station for an AMTRAK train that left at 08:15 hrs.

So early in the morning Grand Central, perhaps the finest railway station in the world, was not so crowded as it always is later in the day! 

Our New York taxi driver was not very chatty but got us to Pennsylvania Station without a hassle.

It was a grey autumn day all the way along the Hudson River, so the fine views we had when we made the journey three years ago were not to be had. Now we were also told that we must change trains in Albany! We had not had to do this before, but it was all done so that a dome viewing carriage could be included on the train! We were not amused at this because the new train was full up and we were lucky to find a seat at all, let alone a window one.  Consequently and especially as he could not take his luggage Alan did not even attempt to go look at the “dome car”!

Then at the border with Canada, the Customs and immigration officials took forever so we were almost two hours late getting into Montreal! Seeing Pat and Dan waiting for us when we finally did arrive was like shot in the arm!  

We had some catching up to do which was done first in a restaurant before we embarked on the long journey to Brockville! Dan is a great driver and had a nice selection of pop music for oldies and soon Alan was asleep for much of the way! 

This is the picture from three years ago when we were last here, looking a lot fresher as it was earlier in the day then and not late at night as this year!

On arrival the weather in Brockville was also grey, but it did not stay that way for long and we had some nice autumn days! 

Squirrels were out doing what they always do at this time of the year! 

Shopping is what humans do, it’s their version of hunter gathering. Pat needed stuff not just for the Thanksgiving Lunch she was hosting, but also stuff to decorate the Church with. Our BBF being a bit of a shopaholic enjoyed this and then went along and helped a bit at decorating the church!

The sun came out now and gave us some great autumn days.

The view from the house! Alan helped Dan put their canoe away for the winter as it was now getting too cold to go paddling in the wilderness!

But first he showed us how he gets the canoe up on his back for a portage! The idea of humping this canoe over long distances was enough to make Alan go weak at the knees so he chose to sit in the sun for a bit to recover his equilibrium! 

Oh! By the way! If ever you are in North America do NOT use the verb “hump,” meaning to carry a heavy object with difficulty there, for it means something rude!!! Pat and Dan are nevertheless determined to make Alan a proper Canadian by having him hump a canoe on a portage in the wilderness!

For now Alan amused himself by going to yet another Native American event. He took part in a Canadian First Nation workshop learning about Indian Folklore, singing and story telling which involved making "Talking Sticks" and "Talking Feathers"! He made two talking feathers and as he's a sailor they had to have shells on them too!

We sometimes think that our BBF should not be let out alone, but even with Pat as company he could not be stopped from buying another Bear! These two are now called Dan, the big guy, and Pat the little guy he's hugging and they send out hugs to all!

Pat and Dan took us one cold night to Upper Canada Village to a Pumpkin Inferno! What the hell is that one might ask? Well judge for yourselves by the following pictures. It was all about carving and lighting up pumpkins and was a fun event for all the family and well worth going to.

It is hard to believe from this small selection of photos that they are all made from carved and lit pumpkins. it was a fine display and inspires one to have a go!

On the day of Pat's Canadian Thanksgiving Party we were up early to shop in the lovely and friendly market in Brockville. Flower decorations were bought as well as more vegetables and Alan even bought some presents!

In the afternoon Alan made a Torta de Santiago and Dan helped by licking the bowl clean!

This year the gathering was not as big as we experienced three years ago, but nevertheless we could have fed the whole of Barrett's Privateers!

With good food and good company what more could a human wish for? Alan was inspired to copy the whole idea when he gets back to Germany so took special note of many of the recipes!

On the Thanksgiving Sunday the humans went to communion in the St John's United Church and Heather, the pastor greeted Alan with a big hug as she remembered him from three years ago!

Pat is very much a gadget person like our human. She even has a nifty gadget for cleanly chopping off the top of the boiled egg!

With Glenn and Gwenn, long time friends of Pat and Dan who visited on their way back to Toronto, we went for a walk round Brockville and went through Canada's first railway tunnel. They even have the sound of the train going through the tunnel!

On another fine autumn day our hosts took us on a hike and picnic along part of the Rideau Canal. They had canoed along its whole length to Ottawa in the summer.

At Jones Falls is one of the dams and many lock systems built along the canal long ago by a British Royal Engineer!

This being Canada, a very large country, one thinks nothing of driving some 80 kilometres to find Canada's best ice cream parlour, for a well needed ice!

Oddly enough this was also on the canal and so we had another look at one of those portages Dan had done.

On another fine day the weather was conducive to reading on the back deck!

Pat and Dan had introduced Alan to Louise Penny and her detective stories! He was immediately hooked and read two during our stay!

On a grey day our host now took us to Ottawa and we visited the lovely Canadian History Museum where Alan was particularly enamoured by the First Nation exhibits.

We'd like to see how Dan humps this heavy canoe over a portage in the wilderness!

Go all the way to Canada to learn about European Middle Ages!!

We had lunch of barbecued spare ribs and chicken with beans and cornbread in a Fatboys restaurant.

The door handles were petrol pump nozzles

and the taps in the loo were motorcycle handlebars, of all things!

We visited the Mint one of the best in the world and were fortunate enough to meet and speak to the man that developed the hologram on the Canadian coins!!

We then just had to see where Pat and Dan finally arrived in their canoe and would you believe it, fell into the canal!!!

Right under the bridge from where this photo was taken is the place!

On another fine day Alan took us for a walk around Brockville, a small town of only 22000 souls.

He found a nice quaint cafe which served the best Cappuccino he has had in North America and a pecan torte to die for.

Some people seem to go over the top to decorate their gardens and homes for Halloween, this is the best or is it the worst example?

The next Sunday when we attended Church we discovered a goat which looked a bit more like a donkey 

and a camel decorating the church! These were props and scenery for the fundraising production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat.

In the evening the humans went to a fundraising Ham Dinner and CR5 Bluegrass Concert which was an enjoyable and popular event, and a first for Alan as he had never been to a Bluegrass concert before.

On our last evening Alan was privileged to attend a rehearsal of the Choirs production of Joseph and was sad that he was going to miss the main event. They have some fine singers performing the piece and the Pharaoh as Elvis Presley was particularly good.

On the drive back to Montreal we were treated to some fine Autumn colours along the highway.

The humans took one last selfie and then it was a quick tearful hug saying goodbye and we were on the train back to New York.

This time the train was not full so Alan had a window seat and we sat in the aisle.

Alan did go to the dome car this time, but the weather was a bit grey so the views were not that spectacular and it was dark by the time we got to Albany and the views across the Hudson were consequently lost on us!

In Albany they disconnected the dome car and attached a new Engine. This took too much time and so we were very late getting into New York's Pennsylvania Station. Consequently it was a made dash across to Grand Central Station to make the last train to Milford, but make it we did. 

Sandy was waiting in the dark of the night at 01:30 hrs to greet us and take us home. After a much needed stiff G+T we fell into bed around 02:30 hrs vowing to choose another way of getting to and from Canada next time.