Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chicago Art Institute

This stunning Tiffany lamp was one of many wonders of our afternoon here. We mainly stayed in the impressionist painting galleries (Van Gogh and Monet!) today but we will be back.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Stained Glass in Chicago

Navy Pier is quite a place offering a Children's Museum, ferris wheel, Shakespeare theater, boat tours of the Chicago River, a carousel, food choices,  and much more.  One free exhibit we thoroughly enjoyed was the stained glass.  This is a collection of windows from homes, churches and other buildings in Chicago.  During the late 1800's and early 1900's there were over 200 stained glass manufacturers in Chicago.  Tiffany's explorations with glass production inspired more talent.  There are still many buildings with amazing glass but this exhibit explained techniques along with highlighting different artists and styles.  Tiffany's dome in the public library is amazing...our picture hardly represents its majesty. 

THE BEAN's fun reflection

THE BEAN, Chicago

Saw THE BEAN Today

This is an amazing sculpture in Chicago which reflects all around it.  People watching is fun, too, as everyone (including us) experiments with different ways of touching and posing for pictures.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Watching the World Series at a Boston sports bar in Chicago


Wild ride on Chicago River!

Just finished a slow, informative boat tour on the Chicago River with fun tourguide Jake.  Tour ended with a jaunt in the speedboat at a very fast pace into the freezing wind on Lake Michigan...we laughed really hard.  :o. Lynnae
Pretty cold!
Chicago from the river

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chicago at last!

Along Lake Michigan between Lucas's softball playoff games on this beautiful Sunday.

Lucas' halloween costume:  "chicken cord on blue (the shirt was actually blue)"

Friday, October 25, 2013

Plans Change

So our original plan was after leaving Nova Scotia we would drive to Quebec City, spend a few days there, then drive across Eastern Canada to re-enter the US in Detroit, then on to Chicago.  But when we left Judique, the forecast was getting ugly--frozen mix for several days, lows in the 20's and highs in the upper 30's across  Canada.  It didn't sound like what we wanted to be in.  So we called an audible on Tuesday and took a left turn onto I95 and re-entered the US in Maine and have been driving consistent 300+ mile days and have now (Friday) reached the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio and will get to Chicago tomorrow.
The Desert of Maine
We spent a night in Freeport, Maine at the Desert of Maine, then Wednesday night we got a KOA campground in New York near the Pennsylvania border.  Thursday night we were at Parker Dam State Park in Western PA (near the "highest point on Interstate 80 East of the Mississippi").  We woke this morning in a snow shower and were a bit concerned about driving through it, but the weather settled down and we had a beautiful drive through the mountains of PA and the flat plains of Ohio to land at another Harvest Host winery.

Trying to stay warm in Pennsylvania
Driving through the snow in western PA
Majestic Oak Winery is a real find!  Who knew there were wineries in Ohio?  This one has only been open 4 months and we are their second Harvest Host ( guests.  As luck would have it, tonight they are having a shindig with a food truck {"she has a full gourmet kitchen on that truck") a DJ coming at 8 and lots of wine to taste.  They are hoping to get the high school football crowd after the games (if you know anything about the midwest, they are BIG on high school football).  So instead of having leftover mashed potatoes, pasta in a doggie bag from last week and other odds and ends, we get shrimp quesidillas and Indian tacos (from a full blood Lakota, no less).

At Majestic Oak Winery in Ohio
Tomorrow it is a three-hour drive to Chicago and we get to spend two weeks hanging out with our son, Lucas, staying in his apartment in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and seeing Chicago.  We have a date with Keith Urban in Peoria on November 11th and from there it will be all South and West to stay ahead of winter.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ceilidh in Judique

Today is the last day of the Celtic Colours festival and Judique is having a Ceilidh, which is a Gaelic name for a small concert.  We are sitting drinking a Nova Scotia beer and tea while listening to a really great fiddler, Ian MacDonald and watching some locals square dance, Cape Breton style.

We are staying on the property of our neighbors in Plymouth, which is beautifully situated right on the coast facing Prince Edward Island.  We walked some of the coastal trail yesterday, which goes for dozens of miles along an old railroad bed.

Sunset from our trailer
along the Coastal Trail near Judique

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cabot Trail

Cape Breton Highlands NP covers most of the Northern tip of the island.  It is basically a rocky plateau about 1000 feet above sea level, crisscrossed with deep river valleys and covered with a mix of evergreens and maple/birch forest.  Right now the fall color is at is peak and the hills are in flame with yellow, orange and red foliage, especially in the valleys.  We walked among 350-year-old maples in some of the only forests on the island that have never been logged.

The Cabot Trail is a 180-mile loop road, much of which follows the coast and winds in and out of coves with vistas of the shoreline and back into the highlands.  Small fishing towns dot the coast and farms are cut out of the forest in the valleys and hills.  It is a spectacular drive and we spent 3 days leaving our trailer behind in Cheticamp and staying at B&Bs along the way.  We explored a rocky cove with a waterfall cascading down one side of it, hiked around a lake smothered in yellow and red trees, walked a trail out to the headlands that ended in a wooded stairway down to a platform hanging over the ocean and saw dozens of pilot whales swimming just off the coast.

Cabot Trail

One night we stayed with the Gordon and LaVerne in the house that was going to be torn down before Gordon had it moved a mile to his property.  Here he spent 15 years renovating it with boards he cut from his own trees and all his own labor.  Gordon is 82 and is currently working on adding a roof to the from porch.  Gordon’s family homesteaded on this land in the 1860s and he and his wife were the nicest people you could meet, inviting us into their living room to chat in the evening and sitting with us while we had blueberry and elderberry pancakes for breakfast.  We talked with them about Gordon’s plans to put solar panels on his house and discussed new oil drilling off Newfoundland and fracking in New Brunswick.  As we left Gordon scuttled off and brought back a bag of beautiful potatoes he grew in his garden.  Our hearts were full when we left that house.
LaVerne and Gordon

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013



We spent the first several days of our visit to Cape Breton in Cheticamp, one of two French Acadian districts on the island.  Cheticamp is the gateway to Cape Breton Highlands National Park and has been a fishing town since its founding in the late 1700s.  Until the middle of the 20th century, Cheticamp was only accessible by ship and its inhabitants had a difficult way of life.  They grew or made almost everything they needed.  The only employment was the fish company that paid them in company store credits to buy stoves, utensils, musical instruments and such.  The Acadian culture is very communal and is filled with simple amusements, mostly around music.  We visited a small museum about “La-Careme”, which is basically a mid-Lent party dating back to the 5th century where people dress up in elaborate costumes and go door-to-door trying to fool their neighbors about their identity.  Cheticamp seems to be the only place La-Careme is still celebrated.

Cheticamp is also a center of rug hooking, which started as a necessity to help make their homes comfortable, but grew into an art form much sought-after by wealthy city dwellers.  Some of the most elaborate rugs contain 500 colors of yarn (each hand dyed separately) and over 1,500,000 individual stitches.  Cheticam Museum

It was fun meeting several people with our last name—very common here and throughout Acadian Canada and Louisiana.  The vast majority of people named LeBlanc are descended from one Daniel LeBlanc, who landed in Nova Scotia about the time the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth.  Like most French Canadians he had a huge family of 15 or so children and subsequent generations of that kind of breeding resulted in a virtual army of LeBlancs (my father was one of 10 children and my mother one of 18). Like most of my generation, we stopped well short of those numbers, so the danger of LeBlancs overpopulating the globe is diminishing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The MacDonald sisters get it on!

Our first Celtic Colours Festival event was an informal show during lunch at the Harbour restaurant in Cheticamp.  Cassie and Maggie MacDonald couldn't have been much older than 18, but they played like pros.  They got the crowd going!

We hiked another trail along the Cheticamp river with beautiful fall colours and lots of solitude.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hiking and more music

On Saturday, our first full day at Cape Breton, we hiked part of the Acadian trail.  Beautiful vistas of shoreline and fall color (or as they say here "colour").  We are still very internet disabled, between the outrageous cost of Verizon data while roaming in Canada and the almost complete lack of coverage out in the national park where we are camped. I am learning to live without internet access and the withdrawal pains are frightening.  We will try to update the blog whenever we have wifi access as best we can, but expect some cool music snippets and photos of some beautiful sights as we tour Cape Breton this week.

We feel the cold breath of winter over our shoulders and know our time in Canada is short.  We will likely be here in Nova Scotia another week or so, then on to Quebec City.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

FINALLY we arrive at Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Well, our trip from home to our first real destination on Cape Breton Island took a little longer than planned.  We were driving from the Magnetic Hill Winery near Moncton on Thursday hoping to reach Cape Breton that day when a warning message from our truck forced us to find a Chevy dealer which was luckily only about 30 miles ahead of us in Truro, NS.  It turned out we needed a part that had to be brought in from Montreal, so we settled in to a small, but very nice, campground near Truro to wait for the part to come in.  Miraculously it came in the next morning by 10 and we were back on the road by 1 and likely to hit Cape Breton before dark.

All-in-all it took us six days of driving to go the nearly 900 miles to get here.  Now we can stay put for a little while and explore the nearby Acadian town of Cheticamp, the national park and the Cabot Trail drive around the island, which we will do over three days next week. Our campsite is beautifully surrounded by yellow, red and green hills.

Last night we saw our first live music at dinner, which was really fun.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Scenes from Nova Scotia

The drive across much of the length of Nova Scotia was beautiful, with the fall color and even a few relatives.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Spending the night in the vineyard

Camping at the Magnetic Mountain Winery in New Brunswuck--beautiful!  Our hosts travel to Ft. Myers FL every winter... a looooong trip.

We are members of Harvest Hosts (, which is a very cool organization.  They have signed up over 450 wineries and farms who are willing to host RVers for free!  All they ask is that you purchase something from the winery or farm store.  'Course, this could be dangerous because there is so much good stuff to buy!  We stayed at Magnetic Mountain and ended up buying some of their awesome wine made with fresh local blueberries, some New Brunswick maple syrup and a cranberry wine.  We spent way more than the price of an rv park site, but this is way more fun.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Camden, Maine and downeast

After a grueling rainy drive from Kennebunk to Camden and visiting a yoga buddy of Lynnae's and a nice dinner at "Fresh" in town, we settled in Camden Hills State Park for our first "real" camping night. The morning broke clear and cold and we hiked up to the top of Mount Battie for some spectacular views.

Try downloading the panoramic picture to your computer for the full effect!

We had to make a few stops along the way to today, including shopping at the Belfast Natural Food Co-op.  I thought I had fallen asleep and woken up in Santa Cruz in 1969 ... except for the prices.  For a store whose main customers seemed to be back-to-the-land'ers and hippies, I couldn't believe how expensive it was--Whole Foods on steroids!  Well, understandable I guess because all the produce and meat seemed to come from local Maine farms (where they probably play classical music for the animals when they get slaughtered). They did a good tuna salad sandwich, though!

We had a beautiful drive along Highway 1 in "downeast" Maine and finally settled for the night about 15 miles from the Canadian border, but we've lost US cell coverage and have to watch our data usage. Tomorrow we'll cross the border and continue into New Brunswick.

Monday, October 7, 2013

First Night in Maine

Leaving The Pinehills was bittersweet.  Thanks to the Green Company's Oktoberfest, we were able to give and get personal best wishes for a future well lived.  Once we settled into driving mode we remembered that we did not completely empty the freezer...hope Jane can use some blue ice.  First stop in Kennebunk, ME, proved to be easily reached before dark.  Hosts Sundie and Gary Gentry graciously let us park in their driveway and served us delicious fish burritos for dinner.  Tucker took his nose to as many squirrel tracks as his leash would allow.  Great way to begin unwinding from a very busy summer.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


After long and sad goodbyes to great friends, we are on.the road north to Kennebunk, Maine tonight and the road stretching ahead as far as we can see.