Sunday, November 30, 2014

Birthday Party in Aylmer Ontario

Woke up at 6:00 AM. Wasn't successful so I woke up again at 7:00 AM. Still no dice. My feet hit the floor about 8:00. There was no Email that needed to be dealt with so Sandy and I showered and headed down to the motel office for Raisin Bran, toast and coffee.

After breakfast, we headed over to Kim and Mike's. Everyone was getting ready to leave for Aylmer for the party. We put Jolene's booster seat in the Avalanche so she could travel with us and headed out about 11:30. Heather and Tom had taken Jasper to Kingston for a getaway and would be coming straight back to Aylmer from there.

A little after 12:30, we arrived at Cy's Bowling Lanes and Lounge in Aylmer. Many of my police friends know Cy's because the Ontario Police College is in Aylmer and Cy's is one of the few places in town to get a beer. The back room was already set up for us. Before long, Mike's parents Gail and Peter arrived as did his sister and brothers and their offspring. Tom, Heather and Jasper appeared soon after.

 Cy's Bowling Lanes and Lounge - Aylmer Ontario

Gail and Peter at the head of the table

Mom and Dad look relaxed

The first order of business was, naturally, bowling. The last time I bowled, I injured my knee so I just watched. Some of the children were so small that it took all they had to get the ball to the end of the alley. But there was a lot of laughing and I think everybody had a good time.

Jolene getting ready to roll

Robyn keeping her eye on the ball

Happy smiles

Jolene keeping cousin Jasper entertained

More of the bowlers

After bowling, Cy's kitchen sent out the food.  We had wings, chips and mozzarella sticks. I tried to watch what I ate. Always watch what I eat. Then I eat it, which is probably why I don't seem to be able to lose weight. It's the old seafood diet. See food, eat food!

After the food, the party moved on to cake and gifts. There was a lot of both.

The gift table was full

Waiting for the cake

It was a nice cake
My law enforcement friends will understand this

As it wound down, we took the gifts out to Mike's van. We were the last to leave, following Heather and Tom back to Woodstock so I could get Tom's Operation Red Nose application. I needed to get it to Sudbury so his background check could be finished before he came up to work with me on New Years Eve.

We arrived at their house about 4:20. I was impressed with their new concrete driveway. It makes the house look finished. About 5:30, we headed back to Cambridge in the dark. It was raining lightly, the kind that soaks up the headlights and limits visibility, so I took it easy. At Kim and Mike's I hooked up the trailer we watched a little TV. The girls had gotten Nerf guns but unlike the soft Nerf bullets, these had some substance to them. I wouldn't want to get shot with one.

Afterwards, we hauled the trailer back to the motel for an early getaway in the morning. There was a suitable space next to our building where I parked it. It was almost 9:30, typical On-The-Road bedtime, so I read some more on the Kindle before going to sleep. This is great because we can turn off the TV and all the lights so Sandy can sleep and I can still read as much as I want. When I've had enough, all I need to do is close the cover and roll over.

Today's Route (139 Avalanche miles):

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sudbury Ontario to Cambridge Ontario

Today was another one of those days when I would have liked to be in two places at once. Tonight was the first night for the Action Sudbury/Impact 621/Freedom Riders team to work for Operation Red Nose, plus I was supposed to do the newby orientation again. The team lists had been drawn up and submitted and Tom, a longstanding Red Nose volunteer, would cover my training responsibilities. It would have been nice to be, there but a granddaughter's birthday party comes first. Since it was going to be a double party (Robyn was born in October and Jolene in December but Kim and Mike hold one official party so people can travel and celebrate both), that is twice the reason to head south.

Before we could leave, there were a couple of chores that needed doing. First off, there is a sump along the outside wall inside the garage. It is almost six feet deep and handles drainage from weeping tiles along that wall by means of a submersible pump. For the last few days, the float switch on the pump has been sticking, causing it to continue running after the sump is dry. This is a surefire way to chew up a lot of electricity and, before long, burn out the pump. I thought I had it fixed but the switch failed again so I headed over to Lowes and bought a replacement. And a spare. Climbing down in the sump is a nasty job but I have a system now and had the switch changed in about ten minutes. It looks like the service life of the magnetic switch is about two years.

I checked the oil in the truck, topped up one tire with a slow leak and hooked up the trailer. The trailer ramp padlocks were frozen so I attacked them with a blow dryer. That did the trick in short order. I dropped the ramp, loaded the old (OK, it is 2012 vintage so I guess I should say "older") snow blower and tied it down. We were almost ready to go. Then I hooked up the GPS and found that the car mount wasn't getting any power. Murphy was in high gear today. No big deal, I knew my way.

We were on our way south at 10:28 AM. It was -2C under grey skies and the roads were slippery due to lightly falling snow, but the forecast in Cambridge was for 10C so I expected that conditions would improve somewhere down the road. I am not a big fan of towing on slick surfaces, but I put the truck in 4WD Auto and third gear and let it roll along while avoiding making any sudden moves.

Traffic was light as we moved along carefully. We were listening to the Red Neck Comedy Channel on XM and I made note of two things that resonated. The first was a comedian named Henrickson who was talking about erectile dysfunction. He described it as trying to stuff a marshmallow into a piggy bank. The second item was a few words of wisdom from the late Brother Dave: "Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get." Sounds close to my own philosophy.

I gave the GPS another try around Still River and, wonder of wonders, it worked. This car mount has been a little flaky since North Carolina in August and, now that one of the button has fallen off the actual GPS, I will need to consider replacing it with a refurbished Zumo 550 (if they are still available) or perhaps an upgraded unit of some kind. Another winter project.

We stopped for McNuggets in Parry Sound and Sandy got a smoothie to wash hers down. South of Waubaushene, the temperature moved above freezing but the winds got stronger. On the plus side, the roads were clear. There were skiers on the hill at Mt. St. Louis but the snow looked pretty thin. Still, this was an early start for them so they must have been smiling. South of Barrie, we noted that the southbound service centre that had been closed at Highway 89 was not being rebuilt at that location. Instead, an On Route facility was being constructed on open ground a few miles north. This looks like a good spot and stopping won't run afoul of the interchange traffic.

It was off again at the King Service Centre for fuel. I scoped out the trailer parking in the back and determined you can't really get there from the pumps. No problem because we weren't stopping but it was still confusing. North of Toronto, I decided to splurge and take the 407 Toll Road. This is outrageously expensive but, with the trailer, it is the easiest route. When we turned west, the tail wind pushed the fuel mileage from 10 MP(US)G to 14. There was no snow down here.

Strange clouds and no snow near Toronto

Near Milton, we saw some confused Canada geese flying north. I wasn't sure what this meant. The rest of the trip was uneventful. Upon arriving in Cambridge, I noted that the gas price at the Shell on Franklin was $1.089 per liter, compared to the $1.136 we had paid in Sudbury. Still, both prices were a welcome relief from the $1.35 range we had grown accustomed to. I know this international price war is going to hurt our economy but, in the short term, it was sure helping my wallet.

We arrived at Kim and Mike's at 4:25 PM. I unloaded the snowblower and fired it up, giving Mike a crash course on the basics of its operation. Then I backed the trailer into their driveway and unhooked it. We visited for a while and then decided to go to Lone Star for supper. Sandy and I stopped by the Super 8 to register and get our keys on the way. While we were there, Kim called to say that Lone Star was too busy and we should meet them at the Thai Coconut Island on Hespeler Road instead. I have never had Thai food before so this would be a new experience.

We were the only customers at the Thai Island. I had Pad Thai with beef and found it quite tasty. The had several types of Koi in a tank, which kept the girls amused while we waited for our food. Our server took a photo so, for once, I got to be in one of my pictures.

Coconut Thai Palace - Cambridge Ontario

When we finished supper, we headed back to the house and I had the pleasure of reading Dr. Seuss to the kids. The Cat In The Hat Came Back, to be precise. I love the rhythm that the good doctor used in his stories. About 10:00 PM, Sandy and I headed back to the Super 8. I had reserved a suite which turned out to be two rooms where the wall between them had been knocked down. It was an odd setup and I wasn't too impressed with the accommodations. Still, it was a bed. I read a book on my Kindle until I ran out of steam and finally went to sleep.

Today's Route (281 Avalanche miles):

Friday, November 28, 2014

Busy November

November has been busy so far despite the fact that we haven't gone anywhere yet. Halloween brought our first serious snow storm. Then it melted. Then we got another dump. And it melted. And again and still again it melted. Three days ago, we got our fourth fall of heavy, wet snow. I went out and bought a new snowblower, a Cub Cadet 26" three-stage HD model. The 13 HP engine handles both heavy, wet snow and the Northern Life newspaper with ease.

Wet snow three days ago

On the 20th and again yesterday, I volunteered a couple of hours to represent the OPP Veterans Association ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at the doors of Costco. Our chapter covers two days for this worthwhile purpose. My Deist views don't square with the religious bent of the Sally Ann but I respect the work they do and consider this time well spent.

 The bells, the bells......

On the 22nd, the local Snowmobile Trail Officer Patrol unit volunteered once again to assist with security and crowd control for the Sudbury Santa Claus Parade. As an alumnus/retiree, I am usually pressed into service for this event. I spent the duration of the parade keeping kids off the streets at the corner of Elgin and Durham Streets along with two volunteers from our Citizens On Patrol program. At least, nobody was sitting on the curbs thanks to wet snowfall number three.

After the parade, the team adjourned to The Doghouse for wings and beer (Diet Coke in my case).

The Freedom Riders also had a float in the parade. It was a very good float if I do say so myself.

Special Constable Chuck heading for his assigned spot

Getting located

Kids building a snowman by the Inukshuk

This morning, Action Sudbury - Citizens Against Impaired Driving kicked off its Annual Red Ribbon Campaign at the Travelodge to promote safe and sober driving through the holiday season. We had to set up early today since the hall had been in use last night.I learned that when you borrow a projector from Normie, make sure that all the cords are in the case before you pick it up. Luckily, the hotel IT folks loaned us what we needed to get by.

Action Sudbury Chair Ron and member Norm

These kids just sat there

This was why

Moment of silence

Amazing Grace

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas

Outgoing Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuck

Sudbury Deputy Police Chief Al Lekun

OPP Inspector Mark Andrews

Ron, Brenda Stankiewicz and Rolly Mousseau preparing to announce the winner of the Rolly Mousseau Award

 Rollie Mousseau Award winner Norm McIntosh of the Evolutionary Band

Ron and Norm - two leaders in the fight against impaired driving

The kickoff went well. After it was done, Ron and I delivered the displays back to the Action Sudbury storage locker in the Sudbury Trail Plan offices in Garson. Norm L. and Dave D. delivered Red Ribbon Coin Boxes to the Post Offices through the City of Greater Sudbury. The City is so large that the shortest route I can find for this task is 120 miles. I will be picking them up in the New Year when Ron is in South Carolina and Norm is in Arizona.

One additional task got added to my plate this month. As I have for the last two years, I coordinated a team effort to support Operation Red Nose here. This program fields teams of volunteers throughout the city to get people and their vehicles home from their social engagements if they feel they shouldn't be driving. My efforts coordinate participation by volunteers from Action Sudbury, The Impact 6/21 Foundation and the Freedom Riders for two specific nights, the first being tomorrow. The new task is thanks to Lesli Green, founder and president of Operation Red Nose Sudbury, who lost her trainer and approached me about taking on the role. I sat with her and we worked out a syllabus to orientate new volunteers. I gave my first training session last night and will do another this evening.

Tomorrow, Sandy and I will head for Cambridge for the nominal joint birthday party for granddaughters Jolene and Robyn on Sunday. I will be towing our trailer with our old snowblower for son-in-law Mike, who bought it from me when I acquired the new cadet.