Granddaughter Robyn's birthday is October 21st while Jolene's is December 23rd. The Koolen family tradition is to have one common party to allow the families to get together and celebrate both. This year, they picked December 1st as the official party date and the bowling alley in Aylmer as the location. Of course we had to attend.
Saturday, November 30th
The skies were grey and we had early snow as we set out at 8:25 AM for Tom and Heather's in Woodstock.
More snow than usual for the end of November
The trip down was uneventful. We stopped at the new Canadian Tire gas bar in Parry Sound where I picked up a couple of jugs of the purple de-icing windshield washer fluid. This time of year, you go through a lot of this stuff to keep the windshield clear on the highway.
The ski hills at Mount St. Louis were already open, a bonus for the operators after a few lean years. Having worked on snowmobile trails in the past, I am aware of just how vulnerable winter seasonal activities are to the whims of Mother Nature.
South of Barrie, the northbound side of Highway 400 was down to one lane (from three). Good thing it was Saturday and not a weekday rush hour, but the traffic was still backed up for quite a ways.
It's good to be heading south
I opted to go through Toronto because it was Saturday. Traffic on the 401 wasn't bad and it was up to +1 in Halton with no snow. We passed a couple of people yacking on their cell phones as they were driving, contrary to the Highway Traffic Act. I wonder how many of these would pay attention if the law allowed the police to confiscate their phone the same way that they seize radar detectors?
As we approached Waterloo heading for Cambridge, we got a call from Heather and decided to stop in and see Kim, Mike and the kids. Robyn was wide awake but Jolene wasn't feeling so well.
Robyn, smiling as usual
Jolene flaked out with Mom
Don't bother me.......
We left Cambridge and arrived at Heather and Tom's in Woodstock about 3:10 PM. We had supper of pasta, sauce, broccoli and cauliflower and then Sandy, Heather and I went to WalMart to get wrapping paper and cards for tomorrow's party. For the evening, we settled in and watched Red 2, a sequel to the Bruce Willis action flick Red. Soon after, everyone turned in for the night.
Sunday, December 1st
I was up at 8:15. Tom was having trouble with the new washer, the same problem he had with the old washer. The cold water line wasn't feeding the machine, a problem we had suspected was a bad water mixing valve. But this was a new machine and I found that, while we had water at the pipe, no one had checked the hose. Sure enough, turn the water on and the hose would pulse and stop. He went and got a new hose whereupon I learned about Watts Flood-Safe auto shutoff fittings. If the hose exceeds the established flow rate when, for example, the hose breaks, the fitting will shut off the flow. Aha, great idea once you know about it. When filling the line on a new connection, don't open the valve all the way or the valve will shut off. I need to get these at home.
We got a call that Jolene wouldn't be at the party today because she had gotten sicker overnight. Mike would be there with Robyn, however. Heather and Tom went to church while I went over to get Sandy some calamine lotion at Walmart for her itchy legs. The store was a zoo with the pre-Christmas rush. Then, after Tom's brother Wojtek, sister-in-law Agnes and their two kids arrived, we headed out in a convoy of two vehicles to Aylmer.
The GPS told us to turn left in downtown Aylmer and that the bowling alley would be 0.9 kms on the left. In fact, it was 1.1 kms on the right. The device is wonderful but sometimes it is a little fuzzy in close quarters.
Pretty much everyone was already there when we arrived including Robyn who, without her sister there, had all the attention to herself. The kids played, we ate an excellent selection of pizzas, wings, chicken strips and all kinds of mean nasty things I am sure the dietitian is going to warn me about. But it was good. Then Robyn and all her cousins hit the bowling alley before gift opening time.
Lots of food
Robyn and cousins
Three years old
Aunt Nicole helps with the gifts
Then everyone else pitches in
The cousins admiring a gift
After the party, we headed back to Woodstock where we found the snow was melting. We watched movies on Netflix and I resolved once again to connect my PS3 and subscribe. Of course, I have made this resolution several times before and not followed through. Then Sandy went to bed while the rest of us watched Russell Peters Notorious recorded in Australia. Russell is one funny Canadian, probably as irreverent as anyone out there today. Don't watch him if you are a fan of Political Correctness. When the show was over, the rest of us went to bed as well.
Monday, December 3rd
We were up before 7:00 and Tom left for work in Cambridge early. Heather didn't have to go until 7:45, so we were on the road at about that time. There was very little traffic on the 401 until we reached Highway 8 in Cambridge, but we got off soon after and took Highway 24 through Guelph.
There was one stop at the new (and hard to get into) Tim Horton's in Erin for a bathroom break and coffee. In Schomberg, on Highway 9 near the 400, there were four police cruisers stopped going the other way. Either this was a very early RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) check or something was up. I never did find out.
It was -1 and wet coming out of Barrie so I backed the speed down because I prefer to be old rather than bold these days. The idea of finding black ice isn't high on my list of priorities. The temperature dropped to -3 in parry Sound and -4 by the time we got to Sudbury. They were still working on the Highway 69 four lane project north of Parry Sound despite the new snow.
Mount St. Louis ski area
Salting near the freezing point is good
Some day this will be four lanes
Working on new lanes despite the snow
Lots of rock to be moved
We arrived in Sudbury about 1:30 PM and found a lot more snow than when we left on Saturday. After we got unpacked, I fired up the snowblower and cleared our driveway and the neighbor's as well.
I spent the evening with Action Sudbury, other anti impaired driving groups and three police services engaging in the official kickoff the to Festive RIDE program in the city. We stopped a lot of vehicles, with the police checking for drinking drivers and the volunteers handing out various goodies to the safe and sober ones. It was a cool, damp night and (I must be getting older) I was glad to get back inside when it was all over.