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.
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.
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.
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.