Monthly Archives: March 2021

Inner Journey – Omaha

So we were on our journey to Arnprior. The distance from Ottawa is only about 60 km but we took the long route to get there – over 13,000 km! We had bought a house in Arnprior and had almost a year to sell our Ottawa home and move. We started by getting rid of stuff and doing a deep clean. Then we put the family home up for sale in November 2010. It was not the best time of year and we had few nibbles. We were selling it ourselves using Grapevine. The people we had at the few showings did not like this or did not like that. We were getting discouraged. So we decided to take off March 1 in our treker on a long trip leaving our son Kyle in charge of showings.

Here is the extended routing we took on our long Journey to Arnprior Ha! It was as much about an inner journey as an outer one. In transitioning from big city to small town, we planned to visit friends in Nebraska, California and Arkansas. It was to be our signature treker trip. We timed it to meet up with friends from Calgary who were wintering in Oceanside, CA. Our other friends enroute all lived in the U.S..

We ate down our food inventory at home and stuffed the rest into the small fridge and cupboards we had on board the treker. The first day we made it to London, ON and stayed in a motel. Next day when we crossed the U.S. Canada border the the customs and immigration officer asked us “You’re not moving down here are are you?” I replied “Absolutely not sir, we are just visiting some friends.” “OK on your way.” he replied. The second night we made it just across the Illinois-Iowa border and had some great fried chicken in our motel room. The drive had been uneventful but there had been a lot of traffic south of Chicago. I made a mistake and entered a pre-paid toll highway without paying. Ooops. We were using a GPS and it told me to keep left so I did lol. We would have to pay a small fine later.

That was the only trouble we had. Marie and I were enjoying the scenery and anticipating warmer weather ahead. I always enjoy driving the treker and never felt tired or sleepy. Marie was the most patient passenger. Then again, we would only drive 500 to 600 km each day stopping no later than 5 PM. We were in no particular rush and always had our own food and accommodation for emergencies. Life is truly great on the road in a treker!

We made it safely to Omaha, NE on the third day. We had met Don and Jean on our retirement cruise to Spain in 2010 while on a shore excursion. We really hit it off as they were super polite and pleasant. They had no tell tale accent so we were sure they were fellow Canadians. But no, they were from Omaha, NE, a great mid-west U.S. city of 500,000 residents.

So what is famous about Omaha you are wondering? Warren Buffet lives there, one of the most successful investors in the world worth some $85 billion. Maybe you have heard of Mutual of Omaha and the Union Pacific Railway Corp. which are headquartered there. You’ve heard of the beautiful Missouri River which flows through town. But the truly nicest thing about Omaha is the people. They are extremely friendly, relaxed and hospitable – just like Canadians lol.

We found Don and Jean’s house not too far from downtown. We would play it by ear. Stop for coffee and a chat and then move on. But no, they insisted that we stay with them – for 2 nights. They gave us a lovely guest bedroom. After settling in they invited us to go on a long walk through some beautiful park land. The next day they gave us a tour around town including stopping for lunch in the world famous old market area. That night they invited their kids and families over for dinner and we had a great time. I recall their son was a policeman and told us some interesting stories. We got a sense of what it is like to live in Omaha in the Cornhusker state and cheer for the U of NE Cornhuskers.

The next morning we were anxious to get away. We thanked Don and Jean for their warm hospitality and promised to host them in Arnprior once we were settled in. Wow it was getting warmer and we were feeling really pampered. We were off to Colorado on the next stage of our journey to Arnprior.

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Thy path leads to Arnprior – Fall 2010

When we hiked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in the spring of 2010, we learned that we did not like big cities – they were confusing, noisy, less friendly etc.. By contrast, whenever we returned to the country side we felt relief, peace, calmness. Dave having lived his most of his life in cities was somewhat surprised at this “discovery”. Marie not so much, having come from small town Newfoundland. The other key factor was Marie’s journey in the Upper Room House of Prayer in Nepean. Starting in 2006, she had studied spiritual direction under Sr. Rosemary O’Toole, CSJ. Rossemary told her about the contemplative Masses being held at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior with Fr. Jack Lau, OMI. She started attending them. Dave demurred as he was involved with parish KofC work. But after retiring and the Camino, he started tagging along too. But before we get to that a few more Trekker stories on the road.

Laughing it up near Cayuga Lake

Returning home for a couple of weeks after the shakedown trip, we left for a couple more Trekker trips to Finger Lakes, NY and Montreal, QC. We drove down the west side of Cayuga Lake and stayed in a lovely grassy RV park. The leaves were just starting to turn and the weather was still quite warm. The Finger Lakes as you may know are brimming with campgrounds, wineries, hiking trails and scenic vistas.

Map by Michael J, CC BY-SA 3.0,

There were also a number of great gorges to hike near where we were. One was Taughannockfalls State Park and another in the Watkins Glen State Park, which is one of the best rated parks in America. Both are near the lovely town of Ithaca with the well known Cornell University which we toured as well.

Our next trip took us to the Montreal area. We paid a short visit to St. Joseph’s Oratory, the largest shrine to St. Joseph in the world which had been started by St. Andre Bessette in 1904. Then on to the Mount Royal Cemetery to visit Dave’s maternal grandparents’ resting place. Montreal is always a great place to visit with so much panache even though it is a large city!

We spent a couple of restful nights at the Oka National Park campground which soon became one of our favourite camping destinations. It is on the shore of Lac des Deux Montagnes where the Ottawa River flows into the St. Lawrence. They have nice campsites and a great beach. Across the road is the famous Oka Calvary Trail where the Sulpicians built seven chapels to mark some of the Stations of the Cross. We enjoyed the hike up the hill and the view looking south from the top. Visiting the Trappist Monks store was fun too.

We then pushed on to the south shore to visit Kahnawake. This is the Jesuit mission that took in St Kateri Teckawitha to live from 1675 to 1680 after she had been persecuted by her fellow Mohawks in Caughnawauga, N.Y.. There was nothing much open and no one around yet we felt honoured to see where she had lived and died in Canada.

After we returned home again it was time to winterize the Trekker by draining the water lines and adding some antifreeze to the water tank to be safe. Now back to our retirement living aspirations.

In late summer we started looking around as we were ready to “downsize” from our 4 bedroom home in the suburban Barrhaven area of Ottawa, after 22 wonderful years there. Our kids were now gone, we were both retired and the house was simply too big for us and our 2 cats. We became interested in moving to a small town not too far away but only if the backyard view was private and the lot was small. So we checked out Kemptville, Almonte, Morrisburg and Carleton Place. None of these towns clicked with us – too commercial, isolated and/or busy. We were looking for a “camino” like life style where we could walk most everywhere in town and only have to drive for groceries or when we left town. We knew what we wanted and weren’t going to move until we found it.

Our family home in the city

One weekend we were on our way to Mass at Galilee and noticed the sign for the Riverview Estates housing development on the Madawaska River. We did not have much time so we took the brochures and headed for Galilee. The next day we were brousing the information and discovered that there were two lots that backed onto the river still available. We looked at each other and decided that we should go back there and take a second look, quick! Well we did and the rest is history. The two lots in question had been sold but the people had backed out and we happened to drop in just as they became available again. We selected one and signed for a new bungalow in Arnprior on the Madawaska River. To be continued.

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Treker Shakedown Trip

More on this John Fogerty concert later in this post.

Right after Fiddlefest we left in our Road Treker on a trip to see if everything worked as it should. We had not had a fun start. Before we bought the 11 year old Roadtrek it was safety inspected. When it was up on the hoist we could see the underside was badly rusted. Apparently the owner had parked the vehicle on grass for an extended period of time which is not good for the under carriage. It passed the safety test OK so we went ahead and purchased it. On the way home, I smelled smoke!! By the time I arrived, smoke was coming out of the right front wheel well. Some neighbors came over to see our “new” camper with smoke coming out of the wheel. How embarrassing! We had to get it towed back to the service station to get the seized break caliper fixed.

Our planned shakedown trip would take us to Algonquin Park, Midland, Orillia, Wasaga Beach, Picton and home again to Ottawa – 1000km over 5 days. It was the first of many such trips to enjoy nature, visit friends, catch a beach and take in some music. We were excited to finally be off.

Algonquin Provincial Park is certainly one on Ontario’s nature gems. We drove the Highway 60 corridor east to west and stayed at the Two Rivers Campsite for one night. We arrived late in the afternoon but had time for a short hike. Everything worked on the Treker as it should. The next day we were up and exploring before moving on. Here are a few pics.

We dro

We drove on to Midland to see the Shrine of the Canadian Martyrs. This national shrine commemorates the memory of six Jesuit Martyrs and two laypersons from the mission of Saint-Marie among the Hurons. It consists of a beautiful church and gardens adorned with statues, flowers and historical information. We were amazed at the beauty of the church inside – all wooden lined with canoes and other native artifacts. This video below followed by a few pics show you what we saw there. It was truly beautiful and very moving. It was soon time to push on to Wasaga Beach for the night.

We found a private RV park and leveled the vehicle, plugged in to their 110V power, filled our water tank and hooked up to the cable TV connection. All this takes about 10 minutes. In the morning as we left we dumped our grey and black water holding tanks into their underground tank. We were getting the hang of things and loving the free roaming lifestyle. No problems with any equipment that we remember. We looked around the wind blown beach on a cool autumn day. We almost got stuck in a sand drift in a parking lot lol – sand drifts can be dangerous lol.

We dove back to Midland to visit another national treasure Saint-Marie among the Hurons mission, now a restored historical park and museum. The first European settlement in Canada from 1639-49 was right here. We toured the facility and marveled at the beauty of the wood palisades, buildings and houses all built so long ago and lovingly restored. It is a great place to visit and we could have spent several more days in this area. But it was now time to head south for Casino Rama near Orillia.

We are not gamblers at all but like the lively atmosphere in and around casinos. The Chippewas of Rama First Nation own and operate Casino Rama. We were allowed to park in the corner of the parking lot. There were 3 or 4 other RVs there too. There were no services so we operated on 12 volt battery power. We also have a propane gas heater and stove so there are no real inconveniences for a short stay like this. We learned later that this kind of camping without services is called “boon docking”.

Casino Rama

We entered the large casino and learned that John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival) was scheduled to play that night. Wow let’s go! Unfortunately they were sold out but they said to come back just before the concert started and they might have something. And they did. We got 2 seats in the very back row and enjoyed a great concert from one of the best. There are benefits camping at a casino like complimentary coffee, popcorn, washrooms and sometimes an indoor pool and showers. We spent a great evening there and left in the morning with our coffee cups full lol.

Our last stop was near Picton, ON to visit friends George and Sheila. Marie and Sheila had worked together in Ottawa many years back and we had kept in touch. George and Sheila were between houses and renting a lovely property on the Bay of Quinte. It happened to be Sheila’s birthday and they were gracious to let us plug in overnight. One advantage of bringing your own accommodation is you don’t feel like you are burdening friends as much when you drop in for an overnight visit lol. We had a great visit reminiscing about the good old days and promising to come back again to beautiful Prince Edward County.

The next morning we headed for home. All in all a very smooth shakedown trip in preparation for bigger trips to come. See you on the road again soon.

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