4th of July

Happy 4th of July to my sister Jeanne, her family, and all of our neighbours to the south of us in the USA.

I used to visit the USA quite regularly, years ago. We lived so close to the American border that it was never a big deal to spend a couple of days in Minot, North Dakota just for the heck of it. After my sister Jeanne and her husband Paul moved to Gillette, Wyoming I made a number of trips down to visit them – at first with my parents and then with my own family.

Wyoming was always a great place to visit. I remember an abundance of steakhouses, country bars and friendly neighbours. There was always a visit to the Black Hills – Flintstone Village, Devil’s Tower, Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Every curve in the road was another tourist attraction and another fascinating little gift shop. I still have pretty little vases and stone bracelets to remind me of those days.

Jeanne and Paul moved to Chadron, Nebraska when Paul left the oil rigs to run an apiary. We were down there a couple of times. As always, it was good times and friendly people. Unfortunately, a few years after the move, Paul died in a tragic accident. Jeanne stayed on, running the apiary with an American friend of theirs. They eventually married and still make their home in Nebraska. Jeanne’s son is raising his family in Wyoming and her daughter is in Washington State with her family.

It is so sad how times have changed between Canada and the USA over the years – with border control, tariffs, and of course now with Covid 19 closing borders. I would love to travel back down through the States. There are so many places that I would love to visit and of course it is always an easy drive to better weather during our frigid winters!

I just want to say, I really appreciate the photos and stories that our American neighbours post on WordPress – it is an inside look at a country that I would love to see more of.

From this side of the border, have a great USA Independence Day!

Travel and Grandchildren

Genie At The Wheel

Two of the greatest pleasures of retirement are the freedom to travel and the time to spend with grandchildren. This summer, we were fortunate enough to combine the two. We packed ourselves and our teenage granddaughter into our new Jeep and set off on a trip to see my sister and her husband, and my son and his family, who live en route. Genie would travel with us as far as my son’s and spend some time with her cousins while we went on to our ultimate destination. We would pick her up on our return trip.

Since Genie had recently gotten her learner’s licence, Grandpa thought this could be a good opportunity for her to gain some on road experience. I had some reservations. We briefly discussed the matter but with Genie already buckled in behind the wheel and Grandpa firmly wrapped around her little finger, there was no turning back.

Saskatchewan does not have the most challenging roads on the planet. Genie was easily able to pull onto the highway, get up to speed and engage the cruise control. It soon became obvious that she has her mother’s confidence behind the wheel and the natural ability to keep it between the navigational lines. By the time she had a few miles under her belt and proven she could competently pass the slower vehicles on the road, we were all starting to relax. The time and miles passed.

Soon we were pulling into Saskatoon. There are two major cities in Saskatchewan, both with a population of about two hundred thousand people. We live in Regina and Saskatoon is the other. Genie had taken driver’s training in Regina. She had driven around the city with her driver trainer and on a number of occasions with her father. Since she had done so well on the highway, we were not worried about her driving through Saskatoon. We should have been. The first stretch was uneventful enough, Genie did fine inspite of the somewhat heavy traffic and the volume of vehicles merging into our lane. We were still at highway speed as we were taking the city bypass. Then, we took our exit and entered the actual maze of city streets. The speed limit dropped to fifty kilometers per hour. Genie did not. She was on a mission to get out of the city. She blew past our exit, so Grandpa had to guide her back through the traffic. He was doing a great job of keeping calm. Even when she inadvertently turned into a Costco parking lot, still going well over the fifty kilometer speed limit, Grandpa kept calm. Fortunately, all was well and she safely brought the Jeep to a stop. Once Genie and Grandpa had a chance to regroup and make a new plan, we were back on the road. Genie had the speed under control, she exited the parking lot, followed Grandpa’s instructions to turn left and drove straight ahead – oblivious to the red light in front of us. Grandpa convinced her to stop before she made it into the roadway. He was no longer quite as calm. I was on my last nerve but we reached our exit and soon we were out of Saskatoon.

An hour of open highway to North Battleford and we were ready to stop for lunch. We had the better part of an hour to relax and enjoy each other’s company before heading out. When we did, we came to a consensus that it was time for Grandpa to take the wheel – with Genie at his side, acting as chief navigator. Normally this would not have been an issue. Unfortunately our normal route out of town was under construction so we had to follow a somewhat confusing detour. After circling the construction site two or three times Genie successfully navigated Grandpa out to the highway.

The rest of the trip was enjoyable and uneventful as far as driving went. On our trip back it was obvious that Genie was too tired out from her visit with her cousins to drive so Grandpa drove the distance. We look forward to more opportunities to travel and spend time with all nine of our grandchildren once we are fully retired. Are we likely to put them all behind the wheel on our travels? That remains to be seen. However, this was certainly a special trip and one that we will always remember.