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“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” -Henry David Thoreau

Full Circle

When my journey began—October 14, 2012—I had a plan all laid out: drive to Mission BC (with Wilson), stay there for 5 months, during that time start a correspondence writing course at Humber College and then in the Spring return to Ontario (or maybe stay in BC long-term.)

The only unknown was whether or not I would move out West. Ha, yeah right!

Here’s what really happened:

Waterloo, ON to Mission, BC (4970 Km aka 3087 miles)—this phase progressed pretty much as planned and Wilson and I blogged about it as we went along. But looking back, 6 months later, I can’t help but say, “What the heck was I thinking!” Yes, it was awesome to visit family and to see the country, but the winter weather in October, driving through the Rocky Mountains on bald tires and assorted “Bob’s Motels” added a dimension to the trip that bears NOT repeating. Ontario to Mission

Once I arrived in Mission, I really liked it but realized that I didn’t want to stay beyond the end of March. No place like home (in Ontario) and all that. So I settled in for the winter, my only unknown, resolved. Ha, yeah right!

By mid-January circumstances decided I would be leaving Mission BC, actually Canada, a whole lot sooner than planned. The next phase of my journey involved driving down the West Coast as far as Los Angeles and then across to Las Vegas (2500 Km/1600 miles)—I know sounds pretty exciting. And at times it was. I saw places I’d never seen before and it was a tad warmer than where I had come from. Blogged about this phase too. Route 66 Wilson does Vegas

But alas, staying in Las Vegas for the duration of the winter wasn’t meant to be and I departed from there after a week and a half and headed east. My journey of new discoveries continued. West to East

My new plan, firmly in place—drive to Brunswick, Georgia (3900 Km/2423 miles) and stay with my most favourite family at Camp Runyan until May and then complete the route and drive up the East Coast, returning home for spring and summer in Ontario. Ha, yeah right!
I did stay in Georgia for a little more than a month: Ah Shucks and embraced learning the fine art of being a redneck and talking like a Southerner. To improve my redneck skills I only drank (boxed) wine from a mason-jar, ate Grits and shooed roosters off the screened-in porch with an air of authority. And did you know: You can talk all you want about someone and as long as you interject with “bless her (or his) heart” at appropriate intervals, your gossiping can be described as concern. If you step it up and say “bless her (or his) little heart” you become the champion of sympathy.

And I learned some stuff about the South that puts the rest of North America to shame. Southern-hospitality is real. As a Canadian, I have always been proud of how “my people” (that’s for you Tiffany—big forehead, strong chin, and all that) are perceived as friendly. But we’ve got nothing on the true Southerners!

In my true form, staying put wasn’t meant to be. I headed on down to Lakeland, Florida (visit with Wilson.) And we checked out Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral—that was my tourist phase. I went back to Georgia for a bit and then back to Lakeland. And again, plans changed. It was time to go home. Earlier than anticipated, but time (3500 Km/2150 miles.)

So to sum up: from mid October, 2012 until April, 2013 the drive was 15,000 Km/9320 miles (“ten-four good buddy”) by way of: Waterloo ON to Blind River ON, Nipigon ON, Kenora ON, Moosomin SK, Medicine Hat AB, Edmonton AB, Field BC, Kelowna BC, Mission BC, Eugene OR, Sacramento CA, Santa Monica CA, Las Vegas NV, Grand Canyon, Albuquerque NM, Oklahoma City OK, Memphis TN, Atlanta GA, Savannah GA, Brunswick GA, Lakeland FL, Brunswick GA, Lakeland FL, Brunswick GA, Charlotte NC, Pittsburgh PA, Waterloo (Home.)

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And Georgia Bell (aka my car) didn’t konk-out once… until we got home. She’s okay now just needed a new starter. What a trooper!

Nothing happened as planned. LUCKY ME!

Ah Shucks


Oysters: either you love them or hate them. I happen to be in the “love them” category.

Steamed, roasted or raw on the half-shell, a dash of Tabasco, a scoop of horseradish and slurp them down (I distinctly heard a few eehuwww-yuck’s there.)

But I’ve never had the pleasure of partaking in the process of extracting oysters from their shells.

Fortunately, hanging out at Camp Runyan rectified that when I attended my first ever Oyster Roast.

When friends arrived, the screened porch–although the mosquitoes weren’t around thanks to the dip in the jet-stream keeping the temperature low–was a great place to be.

Some of the kids couldn’t resist playing air-hockey inside.

While others preferred the great outdoors, including George (as long as he had his doggy-coat on.)

Daughters and dads chatted by the fire pit where the “Camp-fire Peach Cobbler” bubbled its way to sweet goodness.

For me, it was all about the oysters steaming in the cooker.

The experts showed me how to shuck ‘em.

The eating them part I had no trouble figuring out on my own :-)

And for those of you who know my track record with using sharp objects… uh-huh!

West to East – Wilson’s Journey

On the road again!

Happy to be reunited Wilson and I headed out from Las Vegas to our first stop, the Grand Canyon.

The view along the way (just past Hoover Dam) was quite spectacular in it’s own right!


Two things we had no idea about:

1) We could make good time travelling on the I40 but we could also enjoy the nostalgic Route 66 along the way!

2) Good thing Wilson was up for the driving because although not as rugged, twisty-turny and icy as the Rocky Mountains had been, the drive to the Grand Canyon involved climbing to 7000 feet–my “mountain phobia” kicked into high gear!

The Grand Canyon
I’ve seen pictures of it. I’ve heard about it. I even considered myself quite knowledgeable about it–after all, at least three times (in reruns, of course) I saw the Brady Bunch two-part episode when the family visited the Grand Canyon…and then I saw it for myself!

Perhaps the light-headed feeling was caused by the elevation, but more likely it was my brain trying to explain to my soul, “There is a perfectly accurate scientific explanation for why you see this.”

My soul replied, “Just as the Hummingbird’s ability to fly can be explained scientifically, all I know is when I see one my heart races and I smile.

When I see this… my spirit soars and I thank God.”

Grand Canyon – Albuquerque – Oklahoma City – Memphis – Atlanta – Savannah – Brunswick, Georgia (aka Camp Runyan)

My car “bless it’s little heart” started every morning and ran smooth all day long with nary an issue, that is until Memphis when the brake-lines decided enough was enough. We coasted into a garage, “61″ Tire Co. where Corbett Pollan took a look while we went across the street to a Donut Shop. Corbett called us back over and gave us the bad news: his shop was ill equipped to do the work but he had called Faulk’s Garage (a few blocks away) and they could take care of us.

With true “southern hospitality” Corbett refused any payment for his time and trouble and even invited us to a dance and to his church (if we wanted to stick around for an extra day or two.)

We made it to Faulk’s and they were waiting for us. I read the paper while Wilson stayed in the car (he’s very protective that way.) Four hours later, we were on the road again.

A late night arrival into Atlanta, an early start the next day and by early afternoon we reached Savannah. I had the greatest pleasure visiting Savannah 1-1/2 years ago, but this was the first time for Wilson. He loved it!

Camp Runyan

I dreamed of returning to Camp Runyan and my Georgia family but didn’t expect it would be possible this year or even the next. Fate decided otherwise.

Wilson is moving on, Florida beckons for him.

I, on the other hand, will be staying for a while.

Wilson does Vegas

To: wilsonroadtrip@gmail.com
Hey Wilson,
I’m on my way to meet you!

Did you have any trouble getting across the border? I sure did!

They detained me for over an hour, said I had to give them proof I was going back to Canada in the spring. I assured them I was: family, friends and all that. They said that wasn’t proof–the nerve! The border guy said I needed to verify that I wasn’t going to over stay the allowed amount of time.

There was no wifi at the border so I used up all my data package showing them CastleMuse and pictures of my grandkids and you at the trailer before you and I left in October. That finally worked and they let me in.

As you know, I’m not real fond of driving in the mountains. Fortunately the roads were dry but I ran into some fog going through Grant’s Pass.

The area I was most nervous about going through was near Mount Shasta! Fortunately, sunny and clear! I would have loved to stop and visit Kathleen, but wasn’t taking any chances it would start snowing while I was there.

I stayed in Sacramento last night and had the best seafood dinner ever! No worries about driving through snow anymore. Amazing how you can drive out of winter in less than a day! I’m getting real close now, email me your address so I can plug it into my GPS.

See you soon,
Genevieve

***

From: wilsonroadtrip@gmail.com
Genevieve,
Whew, glad you made it in!

The rest of this trip just wouldn’t have been the same without you. I’m already in Las Vegas, got here a few days ago.

First place I went was that Pawn Shop, you know the one on TV: Pawn Stars. Quite the line-up outside. They were filming an episode for the show while I was there and I asked Chumley to have his picture taken with me. He looked at me like I had two heads or something and bolted into the back room!

I checked out the Strip. Don’t worry I didn’t gamble away my savings. And it had nothing to do with the fact no casino would let me come inside–I don’t know what their problem was!

I was disappointed that the volcano was closed. Really wanted to see that!

But the highlight of my day was when I was hanging out in front of the Flamingo! I was just minding my own business when this girl came up to me and asked for my autograph,she thought I was Donny Osmond!!!

I got a couple of night shots too. Doesn’t it look like those lights are coming out of that car? Like a big birthday cake or something.

So you’ll be in Vegas when? I’ve already scheduled for us to leave on Sunday. We’re going to the Grand Canyon first, I know you’ve always wanted to see that. And then–are you ready for this–we are driving across the country to visit our favourite family in Georgia! That’s right, Camp Runyan here we come! Woohoo!
Love Ya,
Wilson

Ps Could you ask those following our trip to sign up for updates by clicking on the + Follow on the bottom right corner of the castlemuse.com screen. Sending email notifications is proving difficult when working with Wifi at Starbucks–just how many low-fat lattes can I drink.

Wilson found Route 66

Hey Genevieve!

Wilson here.

I made it to Southern California.

Wish you were here!

I found a room to rent near Venice Beach. Cheap and cheerful, and all that. I spend most of my time at the beach. Not so busy this time of year, but lot’s to see and do.

The Santa Monica Pier’s pretty awesome.

I didn’t know it until I saw for myself, this is the end of the line for Route 66. How cool is that!

I almost signed up for Trapeze School, but changed my mind–you know, my fear of heights! And the flipping would probably make me throw-up!

I considered going on a tour. But the whole “crime scene” thing freaked me out!

I asked a girl, passing by, to take my picture with a seagull (I know how much you love the seagulls.) Didn’t turn out so good. I heard a splash from below, and looked just in time to see a seal playing in the water. That moment is when she snapped the pic!

I then asked the bird to hold still until I got my camera back from her and took a good shot for you. And he did!

Strolling back to my room this afternoon, I walked right past the HOTEL CALIFORNIA!!! Not quite as awesome as the song, but hey, never know what will inspire greatness.

So that’s what I’m doing.

I’m thinking of heading over to Las Vegas for a while.

Is there any chance you could join me?

Miss Ya,
Wilson

***

Hey Wilson,
I’m so glad you’re having a good time. You didn’t mention how the car is, so I’m assuming it’s in as good a shape as when you drove away in it?

Talk about a weird twist of fate. Turns out, I am good to go! I’m checking into taking the bus or maybe I’ll find a share a ride on Kijiji. I’ll let you know when I get the details worked out.

Your Bestest Friend,
Genevieve

I Give Up

The beginning of a new year, traditionally, the time to act on personal goals not yet realized. I used to make New Year Resolutions, but gave those up when the still-to-be-eaten Christmas treats mocked me, teased and enticed me to participate in the sugar-high offered when I was only four hours into my resolve to not eat sweets. Or the year I went jogging at seven a.m. on New Year’s Day and almost broke my neck slipping and sliding on an icy sidewalk. My reward: sore legs, frozen fingers and toes, and a runny nose—not the look I was going for.

So, rather than set myself up to fail, I just don’t bother. Sounds rather defeatist of me! What I meant to say is, “I’m open to personal improvements all year round, not just the beginning of any given year.” But, it is that specific time of year, and as the keeper of this Blog, I’m compelled to share something surrounding the premise of a New Year Resolution. My inspiration came from going to see a movie: Les Miserables 2012.

I love Les Miz; the book by Victor Hugo—read it twice, the Broadway Musical—saw it three times, the filmed version of the 25th Anniversary Concert—I’ve enjoyed that version a few times on TV, the original (not a musical) movie—I recall, over the years, having seen that two or three times, as well.

With great anticipation, I counted down the days until I would experience the goose-bump chills. The prologue beginning and building, taking me along on the journey set during the French Revolution. I’ll feel Fantine’s anguish, doing anything she must to care for her daughter, Cosette. I’ll giggle at the antics of the Inn Keeper and his wife. Fight for freedom with the rebels. I’ll admire Jean Valjean’s strength of will and heart, and will boo Inspector Javert—while feeling a tad sorry for him too. I’ll be thrilled when Cosette finds true love, then cry when Fantine takes Jean Valjean to heaven. And at the end of the production, when I have no popcorn left to munch on, when my coca-cola is watered down by the melted ice, and the licorice allsorts are gone, I won’t mind as I’m carried away by the big finale, lifting my spirit, recapping the glorious journey.

Alas, it didn’t play-out quite that way. At least, for me, it didn’t! Blending a Broadway musical with a Hollywood—big budget, big stars, and more space to set the scenes than any stage can offer—production, was a mishmash of styles. The experience, the being carried away on a journey of despair, hope, and love was lost to me. Ann Hathaway was impressive as Fantine, but, I couldn’t help but envision her character in The Princess Diaries. Expecting (her grandmother) Julia Andrews to sweep down from the mountain, as Maria, singing The Hills are Alive with the sound of music. Russell Crowe: You made a great Gladiator, but breaking into song ain’t your strong suit, ‘nuff said. Hugh Jackman was okay as Jean Valjean. I haven’t seen enough of his movies to have visions of other characters dancing in my head. As for the sets, costumes, (most) song renditions, flow from one scene to the next, absolutely didn’t work for me.

The grin on my face during the opening credits quickly faded to a flat line of disappointment. I gave it a chance, really I did but, by half way through I gave up. I dozed off a few times; hopeful, when I woke the closing credits would be rolling. The only positive I could find in the whole experience—Cheap Tuesday—admission was less.

So what does this have to do with a New Year’s Resolution? In my usual Rose Coloured View of life, I needed to find something in the experience to overcome my disappointment. I recalled previous versions of Les Miserables and, in my mind, compared the differences. Why did the Broadway version lift my spirit while the 2012 movie version made me cringe? It wasn’t just the music: both, the book and the non-musical movie were feasts to be enjoyed, neither left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I pondered. I questioned… and was able to let go when I realized… trying to combine styles to appeal to all tastes is more likely to lead to confusion and frustration for the viewer.

How does this—profound, okay maybe not—revelation contribute to my personal development?

I am writing a manuscript for a novel, and with the assistance of my mentor, while I’m a student of the Humber College Creative Writing Program, I’m excited about developing a rewarding work of fiction. But, I’m incorporating too many styles as I build the story. It’s as if I’m trying to combine a pup-tent with a skyscraper and split level bungalow, resulting in a haphazard structure, expecting the unlike building blocks to support each other.

My New Year’s Resolution is to write the story—Arthur’s Heart—using like building materials and to give up trying to include a multitude of styles in an attempt to meet all readers tastes, preferences. I want to take you on a journey, introduce you to characters you’ll be glad to know, and to share their story. Not have you doze off half way through, or set the book aside (never to be reopened), when the popcorn runs out.

I believe in Christmas

It’s snowing today, really snowing, not the: no matter how long you run with your tongue sticking out you can’t catch a flake kind of snowing. The roof tops are white, the roads indistinguishable from lawns and sidewalks, tire tracks showing evidence of vehicles coming and going. The evergreens are coated with white fluff, the bare branches holding what they can, evoking memories of past Christmas’ and traditions added by each generation.

I had intended to avoid Christmas this year, pretend it doesn’t exist. The #1 factor missing: being with family. I’ll just skip this one. Take advantage of the solitude and write. Easier said than done. The memories are a part of me, always will be, denying their existence is like denying mine.

So instead of hiding my head in a snowbank—I can’t see you! Or plugging my ears chanting: La, la, la, I can’t hear you, I’m embracing the season. A fruit cake—yes, I like fruitcake—and Christmas cookies on hand, I’m blubbering my way through, watching my favourite Christmas movies: Continue reading

You’re so dirty


What juicy tidbits am I about to share? Will they be as revealing as the published phenomenon “Fifty Shades of Grey” Series—I am almost fifty (years old), and will reference shades of greyness or will you be dazzled by sparkling clean, nothing dull here prose: so elegant, so well written—even when the Punctuator is punctuation challenged—so compelling, so captivating you’ll be satisfied—maybe to the point, you take up smoking again—probably not.

Today’s topic, directly relates to an affair we all, well, at least, most of us partake in, I’m guessing, weekly—sometimes going longer than that when not in the mood, other times, participating more frequently depending on the professed need.

Continue reading

Finding My Way

You know how it is when (you think) you’ve made a good choice for advancing on your “life-path”, but still desire (need) confirmation from an unbiased source?

This fantastic view from my current writing space is great but perhaps a bit to impartial.

I’ve been threatening (I mean promising) for some time now, years actually, that I will be a writer. I’ve taken on big and small projects, and enjoyed a sense of satisfaction when my stories are well received. But that satisfaction is short-lived as that huge Voice-of-Doubt—in my head, aka my ego—screams at me: You’re not a writer, and never will be. You’re a fake, a phony, a fraud. Quit kidding yourself!

I know—pretty crappy voice. Continue reading

Day 11 – Wilson’s Journey

Well, this is it, the cross-country journey has been completed. Wilson and I are in Mission BC, we’ve been here for a full week now. As you can see we needed a little time to recover from the harrowing drive. Wilson’s going to take advantage of this look for Halloween, but after that he’s got other plans. I, however, I am very content with the idea of sticking around for a while.

I had planned on sharing the scary details, the white-knuckled terror associated with driving in the winter conditions (on the tops of mountains.) But soon after arriving I heard of “mother-nature” encounters that we could have been involved with, but were spared—I have no reason to complain. Continue reading