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Published: August 9th 2019
Our winter trip to the South ended as our RV pulled out of our driveway, when my left hip was smashed, leading to surgery and months of recovery. So we had our first NH late winter in a decade; it was mostly very pretty, which is easy for me to say because I couldn't go outside for weeks.
But we haven't given up on our RV. We spent a few pleasant days in Vermont before proceeding to Ottawa, one of our favorite places. There we enjoyed the lovely parks and canal area, with new friends from our river boat trip last fall. And we celebrated my birthday with high tea. From Ottawa, we headed west in Canada to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, then west through Wisconsin to Duluth. It was several days of long drives, but at least we will spend two nights in Duluth. John is eager to get to Winnipeg. (?!)
I won't fixate on the hip injury, other than to say that I appreciate the kindness of John, surgeons, friends and family, therapists, etc. I am walking, with a heel lift in my right shoe because that leg is forever shorter, and the main problem is building strength and stamina.
We enjoyed quiet days by a lake in Vermont, including a nice evening boat ride on the lake. John noted some minor glitches in the RV operation, and phoned ahead to Ottawa, hoping to get them taken care of, and was very impressed by the charm of Julie, who answered his call. On a road in Canada, we grazed an orange and white traffic cone. It loosened a cover on a compartment, and John used duct tape as a temporary fix. Soon, many drivers were hailing us to point out the flapping door. We continued to what we thought was the address of our service location, but it turned out to be a sales location with a very full lot. The salesmen gave us a map to lead us to the service location, which was on the west side of Ottawa. Thus, our first episode of detaching the tow car to manage our exit. We met rush hour traffic in the outer reaches of Ottawa, but finally arrived at the location. The young man who came out to help us informed us that they could not work on anything inside the RV, but he did find a screw to fasten the flapping door. John mentioned that he had hoped to meet Julie, to see if she was as young and lovely as she had sounded, or an old hag. The young man said Julie worked at the east branch. And she is his wife!
Our friends from the river cruise picked us up at our campground just west of Ottawa and drove us to a big lake south of the city center, where we had a nice walk. Then we drove closer to the city center and enjoyed a fine meal on an outdoor patio abutting the canal. Beautiful sunny weather, good food and company. The next day, they picked us up again and we went to the city center and walked in the market and in parks, appreciating Ottawa's history, until time for high tea at Chateau Lauriol. That was fun. I did goof on my tea choice, because despite its charming name, the tea turned out to taste like Hawaiian Punch. We definitely didn't need dinner that night.
The next few days are a bit of a blur for me, as we mainly drove. The scenery was mostly woods, though there were occasional fields and lots of lakes. In the fields were hundreds of round bales of harvested hay, though I had noticed surprisingly few grazing cows during the whole trip, even in Vermont. We saw many gun ranges along the way, and had lots of chances to buy worms and crawlers; hunting and fishing are major activities in this area. We have had a couple of strong, short storms, but mainly the weather has been sunny and a little too close to hot.
In Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, we spent time watching boats go through the Locks. It takes a long time to get through a lock... We had lunch near the locks, and it included flat French fries. The UP (residents call themselves Yoopers) is a mining area, chiefly iron. We had a sunny, breezy walk around the very attractive (and hilly!) city of Marquette, Michigan. John enjoyed visiting a mining history museum, and later in the town of Ironwood, we admired a huge mural commemorating miners, and those lost in mining catastrophes. We bought pasties (that's a short a sound) and they were delicious. Pasties are bread crusts enclosing a mix of food; e.g. ours contained onions, potatoes, carrots, two kinds of meat, and other enhancements. Miners would carry pasties into the mines for their lunch. We stayed at a couple of okay campgrounds, and once in a county park for $15; it had water, electricity, and showers, all the things we need. And a night in a Walmart parking lot, where there were many other RV's.
In Canada, we had stopped at several Tim Horton's for coffee. But then we started exploring for more charming local coffee shops. We found two which were very pleasant. Although the days were sunny, we could easily imagine people drawn to the shops during the long winters up here. Snow totals are around 200 inches per year, with 300" the record. There are extensive snowmobile trails throughout the area.
The campground we are in now turns out to be one where we stayed a few years ago. It's perfectly nice, and we are about to head into the city of Duluth, for which John has a considerable fondness.
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