An Ode To 888 Douglas Avenue

33 odd years stockpiles a plethora of  many wonderful memories.  Some before my time, but special none the less.

With the sale of our home  at 888, we are eagerly anticipating the next chapter of our lives in our forever-together home.  But first, lets reminice……

888 was purchased by Mikey and Sandra (previous administration) as their first home purchase.  Mikey tells me that the budget was strict, as the numbers were  tight, like with most young and first time homeowners.  We can all relate to this scenario – especially the youth of today who need double incomes and sometimes multiple jobs to make ends meet.

The new buyers of 888 are a young British couple who are looking forward to starting their family here…which brings me to my first memory 16 odd years ago….Family…..

Mum, AKA Gwennie, “The Queen Mother”,  Nannie Wilks…one amazing woman.  And Ellie, Gwennie’s best friend and partner in crime, another facinating lady.  Which brings me to my first meeting of my then potential mother-in-law.  BUT!  First let’s step back just a couple of days before that meeting….

In the months prior, I met the MOST wonderful man in the entire world.  No seiously.  I’m sorry folks, but he’s all mine.   Our first “date”, which wasn’t really a date, Mikey spoke fondly about his mother and the love he had for her.   I was hooked from the start.  I always told my children:-

“marry a person who treats their mother with respect and love, as that’s how they will treat you”.  

In the coming months, Mikey prepared for his mother and Ellie’s annual visit.  The flag is flying to indicate the queen in residence!  They have arrived!  They are all settled in the back yard with their favorite drinks; the weather is warm, gardens in full bloom, the pool inviting.  Mikey tells them he’s coming to see me that night – the new lady in his life. They are delighted and looking forward to meeting me the next day.  As we had shared a bottle of wine that night, Mikey stays over (on the couch!) with the thought that Gwennie and Ellie will be fast asleep by the time he sneaks in at 6am to get ready for work. Fast forward to the next morning.  BIG MISTAKE.  He finds the two English beauties sitting at the diningroom table, in their nighties, with the telephone book open in search of the number for the police to report a missing person!

The call would have gone something like this….

“911 what is your emergency?”.  (Gwennie) “I’d like to report a missing person.  My son, Michael.  He’s 5’10, medium build and very handsome.  I should tell you that he’s met a new lady friend, went over there last night and hasn’t returned.  Oh yes, he’s 51 years old”

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After Mike sheepishly told me the tale of the ladies sleepless night, I felt a wee bit of pressure entering the backyard for my meeting with my future mother in law and her most protective best friend.  I needn’t worry, the visit was wonderful and thus the beginning of a wonderful relationship.

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And so, we became family……in 2004, Mike and I made it official.  We married in our backyard with our family and close friends witnessing our love and committment to one another.  It was a very casual wedding…the invitation requested that you come in your shorts, bathingsuits or whatever you felt the most comfortable.  My Fred Dad (I have two), Justice of the Peace was the officiant (how special is that?!).

0017a Gwennie, Ellie, Elise (Ellie’s daughter), Oliver(nephew)…AND Mike’s father, Les, all flew across the pond and attended.  What made our wedding so very special is that, for most of Les’ life he was plauged with agrophobia – the fear of the outdoors…so let’s delve into this story a bit more…

When we were in England that previous year, we announced our plans to marry.  Les had suffered minor strokes that year however, aquiring a form of dimensia diminished the Agrophobia!  YES!!  So, I asked Les if he would like to come to our wedding.  He was delighted.  I whipped him downstairs to the photography shop and we got his passport pics, ordered his birth certificate and booked his ticket!  When Mike saw his father being wheeled through the arrivals lounge at Pearson, the tears in my soon to be husband’s eyes told the story of a fairytale come true.  In all the years Mike was in Canada, never did he even remotely envision his father being able to visit, let alone attend his wedding..

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Our Godson and two Grandsons provided me with a special delivery of trinkets attached to flowers..each was a christmas ornament with pictures of our new family…they have gracefully adorn our Christmas tree every year since.

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Our daughter sang, while our son played the guitar…

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My sister was my Maid of Honour

0015We became family that day…The happiest day of my life

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Our favorite day of the year, the first Sunday in December is our Gingerbread House building party.  Mike and I celebrated our 15th year of hand making gingerbread houses for our family and special friends to decorate.

WE CALL OUR HOUSE THE “BREAD AND FISHES” HOUSE.  NO MATTER HOW MANY FRIENDS AND FAMILY GRACE OUR DOOR, THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM AND PLENTY OF FOOD

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Then there’s Blue Sants…a tradition born long before our children…

There is no one that is too old to sit on the knee of Blue Santa…

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T’was the night before Christmas….Blue Santa 2015 (26 of 128)

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ahhh…and who could possibly forget our Secret Santa Hedge?

It all began about 7 Christmas’ ago.  We returned from a trip South in the early days of December and low and behold, our hedge at the front of our home was garnished in the most beautiful decorations.  Someone had gone to great lengths decorating our hedge.  But who?  First person to come to mind is our little Disney Princess, Tina.

Gingerbread! (70 of 117) But no; she swore on our friendship it wasn’t her.  But who?  Neighbours?  They all pleaded not guilty.  But who?  The mailman, family?  But who?  We will never know.  So every year, we put the decorations back on the hedge and EVERY year, more magically appear!  Whomever you are Secret Santa, you have made our Christmases that much more special.  We have left a bag with the special decorations for the new owners of 888 who have promised to carry on the tradition.

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I love my birdies..as 888 backs onto a ravine, we have many, many visitors in our backyard

Friend, Amigo, Pengyou, Vriend, Sadiq, Ami, Freund, Vinur, Cara, Amico, Filos…

…over my 61 years, I have been blessed with many Friends.

And many of these friends are asking me where the heck my blog has gone.  Hmmm…See, I was thinking (always dangerous) that maybe I was inundating people with them, so decided to cut back.  However, what I’m hearing is that many of my dear friends like to read em!  So, I’ve got some catching up to do!

Here at Cape San Blas(t) our pack keeps growing!

from left to right (Mikey, Ken, Ruth, Susan, (Trevor is missing) Kim (Claudio is missing), Jann, Nancy, Christine, Phil, Michele, (Leslie is missing), Catharine (Pete is missing) and Megang1

Most of our new friends are snowbirds, however, some are also owners here – but ALL of them are dog people.   Many of our closest friendships have been through our dogs.  Most of you know that is how Mikey and I met…and he didn’t have a dog!

Here is Jan and her lovely family…. Jan is a fellow photographer and an owner here.  Jan blesses us with her wildlife photography, beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

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Here’s Carol and Andy…another very talented photographer and owner!

16129197_10158238754525454_910684649_o… we also have Catharine who wears many hats as a photographer and Professional Dog Trainer.

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and her hubby, Peter – who is a vet and with this pack, very handy!  feb-2-28ok, now your getting why I don’t need to take my camera out every day?

Suz & Trev…our dear friends…Love you both LOOONG time

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And then there’s Ken (who introduced Mikey and I) and Ruth..again dear long time friends

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Christine & Phil whom we met here last year!  Love you both LARGE

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Nancy Jean, we met last year and have visited back and forth from Michigan and Pickering this past year.. beautiful inside and out.16252024_10158255327495454_5423493161732891761_o

Jannie, our little leprechaun “shenanagator” we met last year and again visited back and forth to Michigan.. so thoughtful and giving16463191_10158319184150454_2523451866368014731_o

Kim and Claudio..we met them  here last year, but really got to know them this year.. Love you both

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Our fun Wisconsin friends that brought us some of their amazing CHEESE!

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Leslie..where did you go!?  I didn’t get to say good-bye to you.  So wonderful to have met you and I hope we can keep in touch!

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and here is a random friend that we met just today…

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So…you get the picture (no pun intended) right?  We got a lotta friends.. and they keep growing. If I’ve missed anyone, it’s cuz I haven’t got a good picture of you..so c’mon over and we’ll fix that.

Now to the point of this blog.  Like family, there are many types of friendships..acquaintences, old, new, casual, besties…When it comes to socializing here at the Cape, due to the size of our pack, many times we can’t do it all together.  But that doesn’t mean that we don’t try!

Merriam Webster defines friends as:

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So blessed to call you all my friends.

I’ll leave you with this:-

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Life IS Good……

Mad Dogs & Englishmen…

Although we do have Englishmen…there are definately no mad dogs here!

img_2707-editThe gang is almost complete..just waiting on Claudio –  who is currently playing at a waterpark..(he tests the rides after he builds em..currently testing one of the largest water features in Orlando).  So, if you can’t be retired, this is the next best thing!

As all of you know, it’s THAT day…Inauguration Day.  Don’t forget to turn your clocks back 300 years tonight.  Hard stop.  That’s all I have to say.

Back to The Cape..  It’s been amazingly warm here for January.  Temperatures above normal since we arrived.  Mostly mid to upper 70’s (24-28C ) and we’ll take it!  We have made even more friends..the pack keeps growing.  So, let me introduce them to you.  From left to right on the picture above…Me, Brody, Mikey, Ryder, Nancy, Trevor, Susan, (Tammi is hiding), Mecca, Kim, Jannie, Magical (Clover is snoozing at home)  Christine and Olive, Leslie is standing, Phil, Ken is standing behind him and Jackson is camera shy, River is hiding behind his human, Catherine, Echo also belongs to Catherine, Nancy and Journey and Ruth is standing behind them.

There will be a test.

This, my friends, is a puddle of puppies…how fun is that?  A little sandbar for them to safely play in.  No rip tides and no SHARKS..speak of which…

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Okay, Okay..all you smartypants that shouted from the hills this was photoshopped..you are right (dah).  However, just one day after the below antics of a truly mad Englishman, a siting of a 5 foot shark not 20 feet from shore was sighted.  We all know that we’re walking “Bait” instead of dogs a dusk, as Phil eloquently put it.  But we know the “Jaws” stars come out at that time.  But the sighting was the EXACT same time the NEXT day at the SAME spot just one day after the below antics:-

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Here’s where the “Mad Dog & Englishmen” come into play….blog-pics-21

“What was that that nibbled on my toe”?

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“I’m outta here…screw the man’s best friend thing”!  Run. Tammi. Run!blog-pics-28

Starring the (un) Mad Dogs and True Englishmen!blog-pics-3

Our beautiful Brody.  Thank you for taking us on vacation to the great Cape San Blas(t)!!

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..and then there’s Wine and in this case, Gin O’clock for the humans…Here is Kim muddling a yummy cucmber, lime, mint and gin drink!blog-pics

Fun at the Aplalachicola Oyster Fest.  BEST ever oysters and chowder…oh ya!

blog-pics-13blog-pics-14There’s Mr. Oysterman who scared the poopies out of most of the kids! “Hey little girl, you wants some candy”?  YIKES!

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Today, I will leave you with this….

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Thank you for an amazing 8 years Mr. President.  You will be missed.

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Life is Good………..

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad….

….lizard?  ME!

About a month ago, I had my very first night terror.  If any of you have experienced one, you will understand where it gets it tag line.  I awoke screaming and jumped on my poor hubby, Mikey telling him about the ‘lizards’ that were on my night table.  After Mikey assured me that I was dreaming, I went to the bathroom and then return to bed.  Turned on the nightlight to show him where the lizards were…..I remember all of this.  Mostly I remember how terrifying it was…which brings me to the beginning of this blog…

So, when we got to the condo in Florida, I went through and opened all the drapes and windows to let in the amazing warm air.  I fought with the curtains in the spare room and finally won the battle..I thought.  That was until a big bad LIZARD jumped out of the curtains and onto the sliding door screen.  I started screaming like a fool, calling Mikey who was watching Trevor fish in the backyard….They obviously were not either hearing me or decided not to respond and I stood there, staring at this creature and trying to figure out what to do.  If I left the room and the lizard wasn’t there when I returned, there wasn’t any way that I would have stayed in the condo for fear he would appear at any moment…So, I had a conversation with Mr. Lizard.  “Now, little buddy…I’m going to slowly close the sliding glass door and please, PLEASE don’t jump on me while doing this, or I will seriously have a heart attack.  Don’t worry, I will go and get help and set you free…just don’t jump on me..OKAY?”  I ran downstairs, still shaking and Mikey and Trevor – hero’s that they are, came upstairs and set that critter free….end of story….I hope.  I do still scan the wall and ceilings when going into any room.

On to happier moments…..The Garsides first beach walk!

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How happy is this boy???

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As well as Jackson’s humans!  Ken & Ruthfirst-beach-walk-and-dinner-8

…this!

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HIM!  He who introduced me to my wonderful life….first-beach-walk-and-dinner-13

16 years ago, Ken introduced me to my amazing husband.  Here’s how it unfolded..

…Dog walking…..And Mikey didn’t have a dog.

You see, we had a tight knit group of close friends.  We all met dog walking.  Ken & sometimes Ruthie (Maggie) Dave (Neuman), Thom (Shadow), Steve (Duncan), Suz & Trev (Gemma & Tali) Donna (Zoey) and I (Dakota) met every night after work  and every weekend at either Greenwood or Claremont Conseration parks to walk our dogs.  Oh, those were the days.  We had so much fun together.  Singing Christmas Carols in the pitch black dark while walking through Greenwood.  Listening to Ken curse out poor Maggie, as she always took off just before we were finished our walkies. Watching the stars.  Listening to the rushing brooks. Watching the puppies play in all their glory.  Taking pictures.  We are all STILL close friends, although now all our sweet pups are running up there together in what we hope is just as much freedom and fun.  OK..I digress…

One day, Ken said to me “Robz, there is this really, really nice guy at work.  I’d like to introduce you.  You would be perfect together”.  I was a little gun shy, so put Kenny off for a few weeks.  When I received a phone call…from KEN!  Now, Ken is a man of few words (unless he’s trying to recall Maggie) so getting a call from him must not be good.  I brace myself.  “Robz, I’m telling you…you need to meet my friend, Mike, from work.  He’s such a wonderful man and I can see the two of you would hit it off”.  After twenty minutes of Ken convincing me that he wouldn’t be on the market long, I agreed to meet him. But not on a date.  On a dog walk. That way, I could check him out without any stress.  He came, we met and the rest is history.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Ken Garside.  I love my life.

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Friends…first-beach-walk-and-dinner-17

first-beach-walk-and-dinner-19Who always know when to draw a line in the sand…and never step over it.

first-beach-walk-and-dinner-21I’ll leave you with this….

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Life Is Good…..

We Made It…..

…despite the weather.

We slept in a bit on the 2nd days drive, and it’s a good thing we did.  As usual, before leaving the hotel we double, triple check the room to ensure that we haven’t left anything; had a great continental breakast and headed out for LaGrange Georgia, our second of three travel days to Cape San Blas(t).

All was great driving through Kentucky and then into Tennessee when I asked Mikey to hand me my sunglasses, as I was driving.  OK, my family and friends know what’s coming next, as I lose my sunglasses everytime I travel.  I have an expensive taste in glasses, so during every day life, I always make a point of knowing where they are at all times.  Dominican, lost my Gucci’s.  Next Dominican trip, I lost my Maui Jim’s.  Last year at The Cape, I lost my Tiffinie’s (which were prescription glasses and our new found friends, Pat & Rick Smith found them!).  Michigan, I lost my prized polarized Ray Ban’s.  And now, I’ve lost my newest designer glasses who’s name I can’t remember..(some guy that charges a lot of money for his name). But there’s good news!  I call the hotel, Country Inn and Suites, Georgetown Kentucky, and they found them!  I can get them on the way back…in TWO MONTHS!  The other good news is that when I stopped at Costco, they had these amazing polarized sunglasses, which I love…and they were only $25.00!  Maybe that’s the way to go.  Like everything at Costco, if you like ’em..pick up a couple!

The drive through the rest of Kentucky and into Tennessee was beautiful and sunny…Then on to Atlanta, Georgia.  All I can say is..Atlanta, we are no longer friends.  We’re breaking up and I never want to see you again.  Highway closures, accidents, detours and even more accidents.  Nope, no more second chances for you.  We’re done.  I’m going to take up with Nashville and i65 from now on.

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Next morning, we both awake early and decide to forego a Cracker Barrel breakfast (really?) to get on the road to our destination..Cape San Blas(t)!

The morning sunrise is beautiful…mist and all.

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Better still, the temperature is warming up!

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And we are (almost) there!  We arrive at the Piggly Wiggly…..

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….and bump into Trevor & Suz and friends we met here last year who are from Ottawa, Claudio and Kim.  So it goes like this…I run into pick up a few things and Mikey stays outside with Brody.  He’s sitting on the bench in front of the store when Trevor sits down beside him…they have a good yuk  and then  run into Kim & Claudio, friends we met at the Cape last year who are from Ottawa.   I come out of Piggly’s and see the gang….Trev tells me Suz still in Piggly’s.  So I go back in and spot her at the fish counter.  I sneak up behind her and give her a hug…she sees it’s me and immediately starts to cry and hug me and tell me how much she has missed me…we’re hugging and Suz crying when I say..”Suz..it’s only been a week since I’ve seen you”…as the nice lady behind the fish counter looks on in disbelief..Canadian’s eh?

WE ARRIVE to our home away from home.  It’s like we’ve never left!  We dump out stuff, change into our shorts and head for the beach with the Lewin’s……and so it begins…..

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Suz doing her happy dance!

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Brody is beyond excited to be back on the beach!first-beach-walk-and-dinner-2

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Lovin life!first-beach-walk-and-dinner-13

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The three Amigo’sfirst-beach-walk-and-dinner-16

Two newbies! Their first year at The Cape…betcha it won’t be their last!

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Then two pups become three as Kim, Claudio and Mecca join us on the beachfirst-beach-walk-and-dinner-19

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Strollin…first-beach-walk-and-dinner-25

Strollin

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At last!….Ruth and Ken arrive and meet for dinner at our place with the Lewin’s…Suz yummy, yummy Chili and some shrimp boil..

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First of many, many wonderful meals together…just missing two more of our buddies, Janny & Nancy…They’ll be here soon!

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What an amazing beginning to creating some wonderful memories!

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I’ll leave you with this…

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Life Is Good…..

Cape San Blas(t)…we’re on our way!

And so it begins…….We’re off to an early and good start…But first, let’s back up here for a moment….

New Years Eve…we’re in bed by 6:30, (that’s PM for all you party animals) watched a bit of the tube willing ourselves to be tired enough to get to sleep early in anticipation of our 3:am alarm. So, we turned off our phones (all of you who so graciously text those expoloding and loud “HAPPY NEW YEAR” fireworks, thank you…we got them this morning. I did hold back in responding..at 3am…), closed our eyes and viola…we fell asleep around 9:00PM. For those that know me, that’s my regular time..ynuk, ynuk.

3:am…up and at ‘em and out the door by 4:10am..now for coffee (you knew there was going to be a story, didn’t you?). We pull into our favourite Timmies and..it’s closed. After all, it is New Years Day and who would be out on the road at 4:am looking for coffee?  Glad you asked..let me tell you. DRUNKS and Snowbirds. As panic sets in, we reluctantly opt for McDonald’s…hence the drunks…lots of them. REALLY drunk. Some passed out and drooling on the tables, some making out with one another forgetting they are in a public place and others failing at making their lips move with sound coming out to place their order. So, back in the car and head to the drive through.  Now, there is a milk carton blocking the way into the drive through lane. As there are cars ahead of us, we simply drive around it (OK, we need a coffee already!) when this little snot nosed, pimple faced employee who looked no more than 40 comes up to our car and starts to shout at us. HELLooooo…you really shouldn’t mess with me at 4:30am when I haven’t had my coffee. So after I politely told him to have a Happy New Year, I proceeded to, as my dear Mother-In-Law (Bless her soul) used to say…”Tell Him His Fortune”. After all, doesn’t he know that I’m (almost) a senior? Where is the respect? I’m not drunk; I just want a coffee!  I ended the diatribe with a civil “Smarten Up”…(not really the choice of words that first came to mind, but after all I am a grown up-sometimes) .  However, they just refused to serve us. Thinking back, it was most likley for the best..as my snot nosed kid sits in that tiny room where they take your money  would most likely have done something nasty to our java. We we’re at the end of a 4 car line up waiting and waiting to order (the very bright OPEN 24 hours sign was blinding) and it just wasn’t going to happen. So, I got out of the truck at which point the kid ran back to his little room with head headphones), moved the milk carton and Mikey backed up. It was decided at that point that we would wait until Cambridge OnRoute and hope to heck the Timmies was open…and it was…..AHHHHHH, all is right with the world. Onward and upward!

The weather is perfect!  The sunrise, beautiful….

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Unfortunately, it looked like Snots the dog from Christmas Vacation was traveling with us.

Crossed the border without incident at 8:15am. Nice border guy drilled us about, amongst other things, Brody’s food. What are the ingredients? Really? Um..it’s Pacifica made by Acana in Canada. Not good enough..”Lady, I don’t care who makes it or where it’s made, I need to know what the ingredients are”!  Okay… “SALMON!  You know those big fishies that swim upstream?  I believe what’s in the bag comes from Vancouver. But they also are found in Pickering….swimming upstream.  Some don’t make it. They die and my dog rolls in them on our hikes”.  At which point, I did see one side of his mouth start to curl into what I hoped was a smile. He really wasn’t being hard to get along with, I think he just thought I was a few cards short of a deck… or a smart @ss.  wink, wink.

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On to the great United States of America! ( I’m holding back all Trump jokes out of respect for my American friends.) The sun is shining. There are no big trucks hogging the lanes. The construction didn’t even bother us in Ohio.  All those out partying the night before are still sleeping…

Did I tell you we have the BEST traveling fur baby?  Well, let me then.  All except his potty rituals…They just don’t happen.  There is that.  First of all, he thinks his harness/seat belt is a punishment.  His sad little droopy eye tugs at my heart.  AND HE WON’T PEE…nope, we stop every two hours and this boy refuses to pee or anything else.  Last year, we were freaked about this..this year, we try and then give in.  When we finally arrive at Country Inn and Suites, he obviously remembers and empties the very large tank….for about 60 seconds.

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We arrived at   Country Inn and Suites around 2:30 in the afternoon.  They are pet friendly and we luck out and get the same room as last year!  Brody is happy.  He remembers.  And so, we are happy… Until I spilled the RED WINE…

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….all over the carpet and night stand.  After about 1/2 an hour, I was able to get the wine out of the carpet and enjoy a glass…or two!

Brody, guarding our room

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Ater Mikey’s quick snooze (I had mine in the car) we headed out to one of our favorite restaurants in the U.S.  Cracker Barrel…Oh my…BEST fried chicken in Kentucky…hmmmm….Kentucky Fried Chicken..no you don’t hold a candle stick to the Crackle Barrel…SO much food we have leftovers for lunch and maybe dinner tomorrow!

Who remembers these???  What was your best?  We got down to 2…

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It’s been a long day…so I’ll leave you with this…

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Life Is Good….