Day Twenty-Six: Home Again!

After almost a month on the road, we arrived back home today. We covered five provinces and about 7500 km (4660 miles) in 26 days, over dirt, mud, gravel, rock, treacherous potholes and occasionally paved roads, up steep mountains and into deep valleys, around tight turns and across flat plateaus. Our trusty Mini handled it all (and so did my fearless driver!)

This morning dawned cold but sunny and as we left L’Orignal, we decided to check out the Gingerbread Capital of Ontario. Vankleek Hill has over 250 homes with Victorian era decorative gingerbread woodwork on porches, gables, windows and rooflines (and you thought I meant the edible kind of gingerbread, didn’t you?)

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The town also has a series of murals including this one depicting real residents and the history of the community.

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Further down the road, south of Alexandria, we stopped to visit the St. Raphael ruins.

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It was one of the earliest Roman Catholic churches in  Upper Canada. Built in 1821, it was gutted by fire in 1970.

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Walking through the ruins, I felt like I was in Scotland or Ireland, exploring the ruins of an ancient church or castle. The remains have been stabilized and it is now a National Historic site, yet the stonework is just as stunning as when it was first built.

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It comes as no surprise that the church was built as the centre of a community of settlers from the Scottish Highlands. Many of them and their descendents now lie in the old cemetery beside the ruins.

And now we’re home, laundry done, feet up, enjoying a cosy fire in the woodstove, dreaming about the next adventure…😊

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Day Twenty-five: L’Orignal, Ontario

We crossed the bridge from Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Quebec to Hawkesbury, Ontario mid-afternoon and decided to call it a day. We found a lovely B and B in nearby L’Orignal on the Ottawa River.

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It feels strange to be back in Ontario after almost a month on the road. However, since 89% of the people in Hawkesbury are francophone, it still feels like we’re away from home. It is considered to be the third most bilingual town in Ontario.

We started the day in a downpour so gave up plans to explore the view of old Quebec City from the waterfront of Lévis. Instead we took the Pierre Laporte bridge across the St. Lawrence and began our journey west to Trois Rivières.

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The skies did clear en route and the vast flat fields began to remind me of southern Ontario.

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We wandered around the busy port area of Trois Rivières.

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On the side of buildings in the core as well as along the river promenade I saw a number of silver plaques.

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Each one was engraved with a love poem, in its original language as well as in French, and gave the name of the poet and country of origin.

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I checked it out online and discovered that every September, Trois Rivières hosts the International Poetry Festival with 40,000 participants, events all across the city, readings by poets from around the world and even a “poetry line” (like a clothesline) where you can hang up your poetry for others to read.

We came across this 100-year old covered bridge not far from Berthierville, the birthplace of racing legend, Gilles Villeneuve.

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As we drove through Saint-Lin-Laurentides, we saw a small picturesque brick house that turned out to be the birthplace of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s first francophone Prime Minister.

It continues to surprise me what you can learn along the backroads of your own country.

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The Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Excerpt from The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
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Into The Woods…photo by Julie Wise

Define Joy, If You Can

What does joy mean to you?

Is it a feeling? How do you know when you’re experiencing it?

For me, joy is often a quiet inner knowing; a feeling that bubbles up from deep within and expands until it bursts out all around me. The whole world seems brighter and lighter in that moment and I feel like I’m being carried on the wind.

Sometimes I experience joy in certain places, or with specific people. Other times, it comes upon me unexpectedly. I find it’s elusive, hard to define, yet unmistakable when it arrives.

What brings you joy?

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Flying across the water, wind in the sails … that’s joy!

Joy is…

One my my many joys is driving my Mini. I smile every time I see it. It makes me feel happy inside. Plus it’s so much fun to drive (especially on roundabouts)!

Another joy is having matching black and white accessories 😉

Mirror covers and car by Mini Canada; capris and clutch by escherly design. Such joy!

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Mini me!

A Star Is Born

I discovered this beauty a few days ago. At first I thought it was a morning glory flower because I noticed it first thing in the morning.

Last evening, however, I saw a second one, unfurling slowly. Within an hour, it was completely open, and remained so all night. This morning it is gently closing.

It’s called a moonflower because it blooms during the night (and probably also because it’s white). However, for me it’s really a star flower. The star design at the centre reminds me that I am a star at my core (as are you), and it’s important to let that star quality shine for everyone to see!

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A star is born! ~ photo by Julie Wise

It Takes Two

It may take two to tango, but apparently in the world of the red-necked grebe, it also takes two to sit on a nest.

This pair of grebes has been building and rebuilding their nest for several months. Although they do leave the nest periodically, they both seem to take their parenting responsibilities very seriously. To the point where they sit on the nest together.

I guess it’s true that it takes a community to raise a child, even in the bird kingdom.

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Somewhere under there lies an egg. ~ Photo by Julie Wise

Still Learnin’

Last week, as we were out enjoying a lovely sail, the wind began to shift and pick up. We took one sail down and the wind got stronger, so we decided it was time to head back to the marina.

As my partner reached down and over to pull the cord to start the motor, a rogue wind caught the main sail and sent the boat onto its edge. I was at the helm and the tiller flew out of my hand. I had the sudden image of my partner going headfirst into the water with me not far behind.

In my panic, I said some unprintable things very loudly, while he calmly reached over and let out the main sail. The boat righted itself with ease.

Under normal circumstances, I know to do that. But in the midst of momentary chaos, apparently my mind takes a leave of absence.

Guess I’m still learning! Aren’t we all?

And isn’t that the joy of living? So much still to learn 🙂

Sailing, sailing...

Sailing, sailing…

 

Focus

I was watching a great blue heron one day. It stood motionless at the edge of a small lake, yet every cell of its being was intently focused on what was happening in the water by its legs.

Suddenly it lunged forward and plucked a fish from the water with its long beak. Hunger satisfied!

Photo by Julie Wise

Photo by Julie Wise

Focus is the ability to ignore distractions and to tune in to what you want.

Focus matters.