Late July 2008

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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An Encore Night Out On The Town

- On my way back to the RV July 10, after having gone downtown to take some sunset, twilight, and night photos around the Alexandra Bridge, I noticed the Bank Street Bridge (officially called the Bank Street Canal Bridge since it crosses the Rideau Canal) was nicely lit up, so I made a mental note to go back one evening and take some photos of it. However, until yesterday it always seemed like too much bother and the best I could force myself to do was drive up there with Sandra one evening to check out the parking situation around the bridge.
    Then last evening I was overcome by a burst of wild ambition and exuberant motivation, grabbed the camera and tripod, drove to the bridge with Sandra staying at home since my enthusiasm hadn't rubbed off on her, found an excellent parking spot nearby, and had enough time to walk around and check out the angles and views before the light faded too much.
    Unfortunately, once the bridge lights came on, I was very disappointed to see that about a third of the them that illuminate the underside of the bridge were burned out and need replacing, something I hadn't noticed when I drove by the other night. Burned out lights such as these always ruin a shot as far as I'm concerned, so all I could do to lessen their impact was to move farther away and make the bridge simply a secondary element in a more overall view of the canal than I had originally envisioned and ended up with the photo above. Not what I had wanted, but probably worth the effort to take. As always, click on it for a larger view.

Now Socially Secured

- Wow! What a day we had yesterday. It was the day for my appointment with the US Social Security office in Ogdensburg, NY and the normally easy hour-long drive turned out to be anything but easy as we encountered one cell of torrential rain after another for most of the drive to and from. This was the kind intense rain that even windshield wipers can't keep up with and you're driving down the road hardly able to see 10 feet ahead of you. White-knuckle time.
    We left Ottawa with plenty of time since neither of us likes to be late for appointments and I also wanted time to stop at the border to register my latest camera with Canadian Customs, which I did, and as things turned out, it's a good thing we did have lots of time because for the first time, our GPS unit (affectionately known as Miss Pinky) failed miserably to get us to our destination, sending us instead a mile further east. Not even close. In her defense, Google Maps also shows the same error. We had gotten verbal directions when I had talked with the lady at Social Security, but still couldn't find the place until we stopped at a FedEx office that was in the area and got specific directions. If FedEx doesn't know where something is located within their delivery zone, it doesn't exist.
    Anyway, once we located the Social Security building we had almost two hours to kill, so we just drove around Ogdensburg, a place we have seldom spent a lot of time in because there's not much there worth spending time on, even though it's the only US port along the Saint Lawrence Seaway and has the closest US Wal-Mart to us. Ogdensburg is an okay little city, but lacking any charm, although this time we did discover they have a nice park and marina on the waterfront along the Saint Lawrence. Due to its relatively close proximity to Ottawa, quite a few Ottawa-based businesses maintain offices in Ogdensburg for their US facilities. Probably the most interesting thing we saw there this time though was a lot of Amish driving along in their horse and buggies. The photo above was taken in the Ogdensburg Wal-Mart parking lot where designated parking is provided for them. I thought the scene showed an interesting contrast in technologies.
    At the appointed time, 1:30pm, we were at the Social Security office, met with a very nice lady who got me signed up. It is so much better to do this sort of thing in person, rather than over the phone and through the mail.
    By 2:00pm, or so, we were heading back for Canada and again torrential rain hit us just as we started to cross the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge (aka the St. Lawrence Bridge and the Seaway Skyway) and it made the crossing, which some people find nerve-wracking even in good weather, even more intense, although driving over these bridges doesn't bother me personally. It was raining so hard though that when we entered the bridge we couldn't see even the nearest support tower and set on high speed, the wipers were unable to keep the windshield clear.
    However, we made it safely across and once past the border checkpoint, Sandra called Aunt Ruth in Brockville (her 86th birthday being today) and made arrangements for us to drop by while we were so close, only 15 minutes away.
    On arrival at her place, we found her son Bob (one of Sandra's first cousins, obviously) was also visiting, so we got to catch up with events in his life as well as Aunt Ruth's and as always, it was an enjoyable visit. The photo above right showing me, Aunt Ruth, and Sandra was taken by Bob with Sandra's camera.
     Then it was time to head back to Ottawa and the drive from Brockville was anything but enjoyable. If I had thought we had encountered heavy rains earlier, they were mere showers compared to the deluge that dumped on us as we were leaving Brockville. I've driven through some heavy rain in my life, but I can't remember one that heavy. Traffic on the 401 freeway slowed to 25 mph (40 kph) with everyone's 4-way flashers going and with many people opting to pull onto the shoulder and wait it out. I was tempted to do so myself several times, but even though I could only see blobs of light through the water flooding the windshield, I was able to judge if we were getting closer or not to the vehicles ahead of us or if they hit their brakes, so we crept along with the slow flow of traffic. Fortunately, storm cells this intense don't last long, although we drove through several of them close together with only brief respites between them when we could actually see where we were going. About halfway back to Ottawa the rain slowed to something more normal and by the time we got home, it had slowed to a mere drizzle. It was a successful trip, but not a fun one.
    For Sandra's account of the day and with a lot of fine photos, click here.

Skinned Alive

- Well, for a brief moment yesterday that's what it felt like anyway, although it was actually just the skin of my right temple the dermatologist scraped clean of a whatever it was that had been growing there. I can't remember what he called it, but it was like a white wart and spreading. At least it wasn't cancerous for a change, although he did apply the liquid nitrogen treatment to the area, which stings like the dickens. Fortunately, all my skin cancers haven't been malignant, but as I'm getting older I'm getting more and more of these weird skin problems.
    Seeing the dermatologist was the last of our major medical appointments of the summer and it might have been the big event since my last report, however it wasn't. The big event took place Tuesday evening at the Bella Vista Restaurant where I had one of their gluten-free pizzas! Margie and John came by around 6pm and drove us all over to the restaurant for dinner out, a fairly rare thing for Sandra and me, and this was the first commercially prepared pizza I've had since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance) 6 years ago. I wouldn't say the pizza was better than those my most wonderful wife has fixed for me, but different.
    Sandra recently had discovered the Bella Vista offers not only gluten-free pizza, but also a couple of gluten-free pasta dishes, with plans to add more. It's nice to see a restaurant catering to Celiacs and I suspect it's probably because someone associated with the restaurant was diagnosed with the disease, but that's pure speculation on my part.
    We discovered the Bella Vista two or three years ago when we had gone out for breakfast at the Cora's Restaurant that's in the same strip mall, but found the line of people waiting to get seated at Cora's too long, so we walked down and gave the Bella Vista a try and their breakfast agreed with my temperamental digestive system, as their food has every time we've eaten there since, so I highly recommend the place. It's decor is a bit dated, but the food and service have always been excellent.
    While at dinner, John told us about a little 800-1000 watt generator he'd seen at Canadian Tire for a very reasonable price. Sandra and I have long considered getting a generator, but they've always been too big, too heavy, too noisy, and too expensive to tempt us since neither of us has much interest in camping out in the wild and it would take a 3.5 kilowatt generator to run everything, such as the air conditioner. However, there have been times, like last winter in Tucson when the power went out for hours and the night was turning cold, when it would have been useful to have even a small generator like the one John had seen just to run the furnace if nothing else.
    So, on the way back to the RV after dinner we stopped at the nearest Canadian Tire store and eventually found a staff member who knew where that particular generator was located and we bought one. Small enough, light enough, and cheap enough that it doesn't matter if we ever need it or not, but comforting to know it's there if we ever do.
    Also of note since my last report is that my sales of photos have now recouped the cost of the camera I bought with them two months ago. I've had single orders that alone would have more than paid for the camera and have also gone two months without an order at all, so it's nice to see the balance in that account back to where it had been regardless of how long it took.
    Otherwise, nothing terribly interesting to report, just the usual errands to run and walks in the forests and parks around here. The photo above of the cooperative little bunny was taken yesterday morning during a visit to the Ornamental Gardens, and later today we head down to Ogdensburg, New York to get me signed up to receive US Social Security payments.
    For Sandra's account of the last few days and with a lot of fine photos, click here.

Reign of Rain Returns

- And will continue to reign for the foreseeable future until something reins it in. As I write this on Saturday morning, there are a few patches of blue sky in what is an otherwise overcast sky, much like the sky in the photo here. We had a bit of sunny weather last week, but not much compared to normal and a couple days ago another cloudy and rainy weather pattern developed and is supposed to be with us until the middle of next week. Never seen such a cloudy rainy summer. Oh well, at least it hasn't been insufferably hot, just abnormally humid for up here.
    The only thing of note that I've done since my last report is during our errand run on Wednesday we found Victoria Island. I had seen this island in the Ottawa River from the Alexandra Bridge the other evening when I had gone downtown for a twilight photo session and had first thought it was Bate Island before I realized a few seconds later that it was too close to be that one. So I tucked the sighting away in memory as something to look into on our next outing and even managed to remember it when the time came.
    Finding the island was easy, however getting onto it proved to be a bit more difficult. The first bridge we tried (the Portage Bridge) gave a good view of the island but provided no vehicular access to it. The next one (the Chaudière Bridge) did however, but the access point would have been easy to miss if we hadn't been specifically looking for it.
    When in due course we finally arrived at the end of the island with its outstanding view of Parliament Hill, as seen here, we also found a lot of aboriginal people (First Nation, American Indians, or whatever they are currently called) encamped there, as well as a rather large stockade, the top of which is shown in the photo above.
    Our first impression was the island was a reservation, although we had seen no signs to that effect, and further research shows it is one of the parks maintained by the National Capital Commission and the stockade is actually home to Ottawa's Aboriginal Experiences attraction, which offers the opportunity to experience the culture, teachings, and history of Canada's First People from their own perspective.
    Unfortunately, time didn't permit us to do more than take a few photos from outside the stockade (an entry fee is required to get in), but from what we could see it looked quite interesting, to me anyway, Sandra being less enthusiastic. It is of particular interest to me that they permit photos to be taken there and this is a rare thing in our experience with First Nation people. So I'm keen to go back when I can spend some quality time there, if the weather ever cooperates.


For Older News

To read details of our previous stops and camps, visit the News Archives.

Updated Saturday, August 16, 2008

Copyright © 2008 by Gordon L Wolford .
All rights reserved.


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Just want to say 'Hi?'

Didya Know?

Three out of four
American households
own a grill and they use
it on average of five
times per month.

The word steak comes
from an old Saxon
word, steik, meaning
meat on a stick.

A Spot O' Humor

A successful diet is
the triumph of mind
over platter.

Why don't they make
mouse-flavored cat food?

Parting Thot

If more of us valued food
and cheer and song
above hoarded gold, it
would be a merrier world.

– J.R.R. Tolkien

Cast of Characters

For those reading this page who might
not be familiar with the people in
my life, these are who I often refer to
without noting who they are
(in alphabetical order)...

Becky - Nick's wife
Betty - Sandra's older sister
Caden - Grandson
Carol - my younger sister
Danica - Margie's daughter
Eric - Son-in-law
Faith - Granddaughter
Garth - Betty's husband
Grace - Granddaughter
Ian - my son
John - Margie's husband
Lillian - Granddaughter
Luke - Grandson
Margie - Sandra's younger sister
Michelle - my daughter
Nick - Margie's son
Rick - Carol's husband
Sandra - my most wonderful wife
Tracy - Daughter-in-law