Canadian Authors Past and Present
Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017. To commemorate the occasion my publisher, Books We Love, Ltd (BWL) brought out the
Canadian Historical Brides Series during 2017 and 2018. There are twelve books, one about each province, one about the Yukon, and one combining
the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Each book was written by a BWL Canadian author or co-authored by a Canadian and an international BWL
Each province and territory of Canada has spawned many well-known authors and my series of posts this year will be about them-one or two from
the past and one or two from the present, the present-day ones being the authors of the Brides book for the corresponding province or territory. The
posts are in the order that the books were published.

William Robertson Davies was born August 28, 1913 in Thamesville, Ontario (ON). He grew up surrounded by books and he participated in
theatrical productions, developing a lifelong love of drama. He attended Upper Canada College then studied at Queen’s University at Kingston, ON.
He moved to Oxford, England where he received a Bachelor Degree in Literature from Balliol College in 1938. His thesis, Shakespeare’s Boy Actors,
was published in 1939 and he began acting in London.
    William married Brenda Mathews, an Australian who was working as a stage manager. They moved to Canada in 1940 and he began a career as
literary editor at Saturday Night magazine. Their first child was born in December 1940. Two years later he accepted the position of editor of the
Peterborough Examiner in Peterborough, ON. During this time he wrote humorous essays under the name Samuel Marchbanks and wrote and
produced many stage plays.
    In 1947, several of his essays were published in The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, and The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks came out in 1949.
Davies used his early upbringing to provide themes for his novels and his first novel Tempest Tost was published in 1951. His second, Leaven of
Malice, came out in 1954. In 1955 he became publisher of the Peterborough Examiner and his third novel, A Mixture of Frailties was published in
    Besides novel and play writing, and being a newspaper publisher, Davies taught literature at Trinity College at the University of Toronto from
1960 until 1981. He left his post as publisher of the Peterborough Examiner in 1962 and became a Master of Massey College, the University of
Toronto’s new graduate college, in 1963. Along with his father William Rupert Davies and his brother Arthur Davies, William bought the Kingston
Whig-Standard newspaper, CHEX-AM and CKWS-AM radio stations, and CHEX-TV and CKWS-TV television stations. His third book of essays,
Samuel Marchbanks’ Almanack was published in 1967.
    William Robertson Davies wrote a total of eighteen fiction and non-fiction books, plus fifteen plays. He won many awards for his writing
including the Governor-General’s Literary Award and the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. He was named a Companion of the Order of Canada.
    William Robertson Davies died on December 2, 1995, in Orangeville ON.

Josiah Henson was born on June 15, 1789, into slavery in Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland. When his family was separated by each being
sold to different plantations, his mother pleaded with her new owner, Isaac Riley, to buy her youngest son so she would have him with her. Riley
agreed and Josiah came to work for him. Josiah was twenty-two years-of-age when he married. He also became a Methodist Minister and was made
the supervisor of his master's farm.
    In 1825, Mr. Riley fell on hard times and was sued by a brother-in-law. Henson guided eighteen of Riley’s slaves to Riley’s brother’s plantation
in Kentucky. When he returned and asked to buy his freedom from Riley for $450.00 (350.00 cash and $100.00 IOU), Riley added an extra zero to
the IOU. Cheated of his money, Henson returned to Kentucky. In 1830, he learned that he might be sold again so he, his wife, and their four children
escaped to Kent County, in Upper Canada (now Ontario), which had been a refuge for slaves since 1793. That was the year Lieutenant-Governor
John Graves Simcoe passed: An Act to prevent the further introduction of Slaves, and limit the Term of Contracts for Servitude within this
Province. While the legislation did not immediately end slavery, it did prevent the importation of slaves and so any United States slave who entered
the province was automatically free.
    Josiah Henson worked on farms in Upper Canada before moving with friends to Colchester to set up a Black settlement on rented land. He
eventually was able to buy 200 acres in Dawn Township and made the community self-sufficient. The settlement reached a population of 500 at its
height, earning money by exporting black walnut lumber to the United States and Britain. Henson purchased an adjoining 200 acres for his family to
live on.
    Henson served in the Canadian Army as a military officer. He led a black militia unit in the Canadian Rebellion of 1837-38. When slavery was
abolished in the United States many residents of the Dawn Settlement returned to their original home. Josiah Henson and his wife had eight more
children in Upper Canada and he remarried a widow from Boston when his first wife died. He continued to live in Dawn for the rest of his life and
many of his descendants still live in the area.
    Henson wrote his autobiography The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as narrated by Himself. It was
published in 1849 and many believe he inspired the main character in Harriet Beecher Stowes’ Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). Henson then expanded his
memoir and published it as Truth Stranger Than Fiction. Father Henson’s Story of His Own Life which came out in 1858. Since people were still
interested in his life, in 1876 his story was updated and published as Uncle Tom’s Story of His Life: An autobiography of the Rev. Josiah Henson.
    Josiah Henson died on May 5, 1883 at the age of ninety-four.

Book 2 of the Canadian Historical Brides Series:  His Brother's Bride (Ontario) - Nancy Bell - March 2017
Nancy M Bell calls herself a proud Albertan and Canadian. She lives near Balzac, Alberta, with her husband and various critters. Her fiction novels
include three historical romances, three young adult, and twelve romances. Laurels Quest (2014) is the first of three young adult novels in The
Cornwall Adventure Series. Another young adult series, Arabella’s Secret, has two novels.
    Nancy has also written numerous articles, short stories, and poems. Her first book of poetry Through This Door was published in 2010 and she
has read her poetry at the annual Poetry at Stephan’s House, at the Stephansson House Provincial Historic Site in Markerville, Alberta. (Stephan G.
Stephansson was born in Iceland. He and his family moved to Canada and settled in the Markerville area in 1889. He is considered to be Iceland’s
greatest poet since the Middle Ages. His popular, Andvokur, or “Wakeful Nights,” is a 6-volume set of poetry. His historic house has been restored
to its 1927 look and the annual poetry reading began in 2003.)
    Nancy is a presenter at various writers’ conferences and has won many awards. She is a member of The Writers Union of Canada and the Writers
Guild of Alberta. When she isn’t writing she works with, as well as, fosters rescued animals.

Canadian Authors Past and Present
Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017. To commemorate the occasion my publisher, Books We Love, Ltd (BWL) brought out the
Canadian Historical Brides Series during 2017 and 2018. There are twelve books, one about each province, one about the Yukon, and one combining
the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Each book was written by a BWL Canadian author or co-authored by a Canadian and an international BWL
Each province and territory of Canada has spawned many well-known authors and my series of posts this year will be about them-one or two from
the past and one or two from the present, the present-day ones being the authors of the Brides book for the corresponding province or territory. The
posts are in the order that the books were published.


Henrietta Louise Muir was born in Montreal on December 18, 1849, into a middle class family. When she was twenty-six-years old she and her
sister founded a Working Girls’ Association to provide meals, reading rooms, and study class for young women. It became one of the first Young
Women’s Christian Associations (YWCA) in Canada. Henrietta and her sister also published a periodical titled The Working Women of Canada. It
highlighted the terrible working conditions of women in Montreal. The two young women financed these two projects from money they earned as
   Henrietta married Dr. Oliver C. Edwards in 1876 and in 1883 they and their three children moved to Indian Head, Northwest Territories, now the
province of Saskatchewan. She continued to advocate for women’s rights and when Dr. Edwards became ill in 1890, they moved to Ottawa, Ontario.
There, Henrietta took up the cause of female prisoners. In 1893, she worked with the wife of the Governor General of Canada, Lady Aberdeen, to
establish the National Council of Women of Canada. They also founded the Victoria Order of Nurses (VON) in 1897.
   Dr. Edwards was posted as the medical officer to the Blood Tribe in 1904 and they moved to Fort Macleod, Northwest Territories, now Alberta.
She wrote Legal Status of Canadian Women (1908) about the legal problems she was trying to overcome for women. Near the end of the First World
War, 1914-1918, when supplies and moral were low, the Government of Canada selected Henrietta Muir Edwards, as the only woman to be on an
advisory committee on how to bring in stricter conservation measures. This was the first time that a woman had been appointed to review public
policy with the government.
   Henrietta joined four other women’s rights activists, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, and Emily Murphy, to lobby the Alberta
government for dower and matrimonial property rights for women. They became known as The Famous Five. Henrietta wrote and had her second
book published, Legal Status of Women in Alberta in 1921.
   The Famous Five joined together again to fight the Persons Case in the late 1920s. Until then, women did not have the same rights as men to hold
positions of political power. The case, officially known as Edwards v. A. G. of Canada, fought for the right of women to be appointed to the Senate.
In 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women were not considered ‘persons’ according to the British North America Act and therefore
could not be appointed to the Senate. The women took their appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, England. The council
reversed the Court’s decision in 1929 and this opened the Senate to women, enabling them to work in both the House of Commons and the Upper
   Henrietta died on November 10, 1931 and was buried in Mount Pleasant Municipal Cemetery, Edmonton. For some reason the memorial erected
in her honour lists her death as Nov 9.

William Patrick "W. P." Kinsella was born on May 25, 1935, in Edmonton, Alberta. His first ten years were spent on a homestead west of the city
where he was homeschooled. His family moved into Edmonton when he was ten and he started school in the fifth grade. His first story won a
YMCA contest when he was fourteen. After high school he worked at various jobs in Edmonton, then moved to Victoria in 1967 where he drove taxi
and ran a pizza restaurant. Three years later he enrolled in writing courses at the University of Victoria and received his Bachelor of Arts in Creative
Writing in 1974. He moved to Iowa and earned his Master of Fine Arts in English from the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa in
   Kinsella’s two favourite subjects for his stories were Indigenous peoples and baseball. While in Iowa, Dance Me Outside, a collection of stories as
told by a young Cree boy, was published in 1977. It describes life on a native reserve in Alberta. W.P. returned to Alberta and taught English at the
University of Calgary until his writing career took off. In the mid-1980’s, he moved to White Rock, B.C.
   Kinsella won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship award and the Books in Canada First Novel Award for his most famous baseball novel,
Shoeless Joe (1982). It was also made into a movie titled, Field of Dreams in 1989 starring Kevin Costner. Another collection of Indigenous short
stories, The Fencepost Chronicles, (1986) earned W.P. the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour in 1987.
   Box Socials (1991) combines baseball and life in rural Alberta in the 1940s. That same year Kinsella received an honorary Doctor of Literature
degree from the University of Victoria. In 1993, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Kinsella's eight books of short stories about life on
reserves were the basis for the 1994 movie Dance Me Outside and the CBC television series The Rez, which aired on CBC Television from 1996 to
   In 1997, W.P. Kinsella was struck by a car and suffered a head injury. He lost his ability to concentrate as well as his sense of taste and smell.
Unable to write his own stories he did keep in the writing community by writing book reviews. He was awarded the Order of British Columbia in
2005 and was presented with the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
   In March 2010, Kinsella’s unpublished manuscript, Butterfly Winter, won Winnipeg publisher, Enfield and Wizenty’, Colophon award. They
published the novel in September, 2011, fourteen years after his accident.
   Kinsella spent the last years of his life in Yale, a small village along the Fraser River northeast of Vancouver. He had suffered from diabetes since
the 1980s and in failing health he opted for the assisted dying provisions of Bill C-14. He passed away on Friday 16, 2016 at 12:05pm.

Book 1 of the Canadian Historical Brides Series: Brides of Banff Springs (Alberta) - Victoria Chatham - January 2017
Victoria (Vicki) Chatham was born in Bristol, England and now lives near Calgary, Alberta. She grew up in an area rife with the elegance of Regency
architecture. This, along with the novels of Georgette Heyer, engendered in her an abiding interest in the period with its style and manners and is one
where she feels most at home.
   Vicki mostly writes historical novels but now and again will tinker with contemporary romance. Her stories are laced with a little mystery to keep
her characters on their toes and, of course, in the end love has to conquer all. Cold Gold (2012), On Borrowed Time (2014) and Shell Shocked (2014)
are the three books in her Buxton Chronicles series set in the early 1900s. She switched time eras for her next book Loving That Cowboy (2015)
which is a contemporary novel that takes place in Calgary during the Calgary Stampede.
   Apart from her writing, Victoria is an avid reader of anything that catches her interest, but especially Regency romance. She also teaches
introductory creative writing. Her love of horses gets her away from her computer to volunteer at Spruce Meadows, a world class equestrian centre
near Calgary. She goes to movies often and visits her family in England when she can.
   She is a long time member of Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter, CaRWA, the Calgary Association of Romance Writers of

Cape Breton Island
I started my writing career as a travel writer, researching and writing seven travel books about the attractions, sites, and
history along the backroads of Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon, and Alaska. While working on them I realized what a
beautiful country I live in. Since then I have switched to writing fiction but I still love to travel. 2017 was Canada’s 150th
birthday and to celebrate it my husband and I travelled in a motorhome from our home on Vancouver Island on the Pacific
Ocean to Newfoundland on the Atlantic Ocean. The round trip took us nine weeks and we were only able to see about half of
the sites and attractions along the roads.
    I have decided to write about the scenery, attractions, and history of my country. This post is about Cape Breton Island.
    The Canso Causeway connects Cape Breton Island to the mainland of Nova Scotia. The rock-filled causeway is 1385
metres (4345 ft) long and has a depth of 65 metres (213 ft) which makes it the deepest causeway in the world.
    The Fortress of Louisbourg is situated on the east shore of the Cape Breton Island and well worth the visit.
    In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht was signed and France ceded its claims to present day Newfoundland, the Hudson’s Bay
territories in Rupert Land, and Acadia (Nova Scotia) to the English. France kept what is now Prince Edward Island, the small
islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon as well as Cape Breton Island. The settlement of Louisbourg was founded on the east
side of Cape Breton Island in 1713, and between 1719 and 1745 the French built a fortified town. With its several thousand
inhabitants it grew into a thriving and busy seaport in North America and was a key trading and military centre for the French
in the New World. It was the base for the profitable cod fishery of the Grand Banks since salted and dried fish was an
important food in Europe. The value of the settlement’s dried cod exports in 1737 was eight times higher than the value of the
fur trade during the same period.

    In 1745, war was declared between France and Britain and the English launched an attack on Louisbourg. While the
harbour was well defended, the low hills around the fortress provided cover for the attackers. The residents of the fortress
held on for forty-six days before being captured. However, three years later the town was given back to the French by the
Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.
    A second attack occurred in 1758. There was no strong French navy to defend the town against the 16,000 troops and
150 ships and after seven weeks it was again taken by the English. They occupied it until 1768. Eventually, they decided that
it should never return to being a fortified French base and they destroyed the fortress.

    Although the site was officially commemorated more than a dozen times with monuments, plaques, and cairns, it remained
mainly forgotten and neglected until the 1930s when a museum was built and some of the streets and ruins excavated. In
1961, reconstruction began on one quarter of the fortress aided by the Government of Canada. First the area was excavated
with the ruins of more buildings and walls being found as well as millions of artifacts. Since then streets, buildings, and
gardens have been recreated so it looks as it did in the 1740s.
    The Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest reconstruction project in North America.
    I took a tour bus from the parking lot to the fortress. I visited with the guard at the entrance and began my tour. I walked
up and down the streets of the fortress and toured through the buildings seeing the household furniture and goods of the
period. There was an ice house where ice was placed during the winter and used during the summer to keep food cold so it
wouldn’t spoil. I watched the fife and drum escort the cannon firers up the hill to the cannon and watched it being fired. I
listened to the soldiers talk about their daily lives. I checked out the gardens and watched women doing embroidery.
Throughout the site were interpreters in period clothing able to answer all questions about the fortress and its history. There is
a long list of activities to do such as firing a musket or cannon, sampling some rum, learning a dance, or being a prisoner of
the day.

    For those who want something to eat there are restaurants serving 1700s fare and a bakery from which you can buy a
loaf of bread.
    From Louisbourg we drove the Cabot Trail, a 300 km (186 mile) scenic highway that took us through lovely villages,
beside the ocean, up into the hills, and through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The trail was named after John Cabot,
an Italian explorer who landed in what is now Canada in 1497, and was completed in 1932.

    Alexander Graham Bell had a summer residence Baddeck. Now there is the 10 hectare (25 acre) Alexander Graham Bell
National Historic Site which includes the Alexander Graham Bell museum.

    In Dingwall we visited the Tartans and Treasures Shop to find the Donaldson tartan. They had the MacDonald tartans in
skirts, ties, vests, and on mugs and glasses but not the Donaldson tartan. I read a write-up there about Henry Donaldson who
was one of the garrison at Edinburgh Castle 1339 to 1340 so the name has been around for centuries.

    Though not on the trail we stopped at Glenora Distillery in Glenville which is North America’s first single malt whiskey
distillery. The whiskey made there smells and tastes like scotch but cannot be called scotch. That name is reserved for
whiskey made in Scotland.
    There is a restaurant and bar that offers half ounce samples of the whiskey and I had my first, and last, taste. Even
though my heritage is Scot, scotch is not my drink.

The Vikings in North America

I started my writing career as a travel writer, researching and writing seven travel books about the attractions, sites, and
history along the backroads of Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon, and Alaska. While working on them I realized what a
beautiful country I live in. Since then I have switched to writing fiction but I still love to travel. 2017 was Canada’s 150th
birthday and to celebrate it my husband and I travelled in a motorhome from our home on Vancouver Island on the Pacific
Ocean to Newfoundland on the Atlantic Ocean. The round trip took us nine weeks and we were only able to see about half of
the sites and attractions along the roads.
    I have decided to write about the scenery, attractions, and history of my country. This post is about the Vikings who had
a settlement in the present province of Newfoundland more than one thousand years ago.
    After a seven hour ferry ride from Cape Breton we landed at Port aux Basque, Newfoundland, and headed north along
Highway 1 to Corner Brook where we spent the night. In the morning we carried onto Deer Lake where we turned on
Highway 430. We drove through Gros Morne National Park and along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We were pleasantly
surprised at the number of picturesque small fishing villages we passed through on our way north. Eventually we turned onto
a smaller highway and reached the national historic site of L’Anse aux Meadows on the tip of the Western Peninsula of
Newfoundland overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
    It has been long thought that the first European to step on the soil of North America was Christopher Columbus.
Excavations done at this site in the 1960’s recovered artifacts like jewellery, a stone oil lamp, a bone knitting needle, and tools
that were compared to ones used at Viking settlements in Greenland and Iceland around the year 1000 and have been carbon
dated to between the years 990 and 1050.
    From the parking lot I walked to the interpretive centre where I looked at the displays of what the settlement would have
looked like during its occupation. There are replicas of the longships that the Vikings sailed in, artifacts unearthed during the
excavations, write-ups about the Vikings, tools that were found, and maps showing the route the Vikings used to get to
Newfoundland or Vinland, as they are thought to have named it. The Scandinavians of the medieval period were known as
Norse and they were farmers and traders. When they began raiding other countries they became known as Vikings, the Norse
word for raiders.
    There has been a lot of interest in the Vikings recently with televisions shows and documentaries about them and their
raiding which began in the 790s and lasted until around 1050. With their longboats and advanced sailing and navigational skills
the Viking men and women travelled from Scandinavia south through Europe to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia and west to
North America.
    I left the centre and followed a long, wooden boardwalk through grass and small bushes to the actual site. There I found a
post fence around a yard with large mounds covered in grass. When the Vikings landed here there were forests from which
they were able to get material for their boat building and house building. The remains of eight buildings were found in the
1960s and they are believed to have been made of a wooden frame and covered with sod.
    Remains of buildings that have been identified are a long house, an iron smithy, a carpentry shop, and smaller buildings
that may have been for lower-status crewmembers or even slaves or for storage. There are three replicas of those sod
buildings with their thick walls on the site. One is a long house which is equipped with clothes, beds and bedding, household
utensils, tools, a fire pit and has a couple dressed in period clothing cooking a meal. The Vikings hunted caribou, bear, and
smaller animals plus whale, walrus, and birds for food as well as fished.
    I wandered through the rooms divided by hand carved wooden plank walls. Light came from the fire and holes in the
ceiling which are partially covered with upside down wooden boxes to keep the rain out.
    One of the other buildings is the smithy complete with anvil, forge, bellows and various tools. I wandered the rest of the
site and saw the outlines of other buildings that have not been reconstructed. It is estimated that between 30 and 160 people
lived there over the years.
    The Vikings arrived in Newfoundland from Iceland via Greenland. According to historical records the site was inhabited
by the brothers and sister of Leif Ericson plus a series of explorers. It is believed the settlement was there for seven or eight
years before being abandoned. This is the only confirmed Viking site in North America and is the farthest west that Europeans
sailed before Columbus.
    After viewing the buildings I followed a trail along the rocky shoreline and then turned inland to walk on a boardwalk over
a bog back to the parking lot.
    One of the best things is that not only does the interpretive centre have the history of the Vikings, but there is also
extensive displays showing the history of the aboriginal people who inhabited the area over thousands of years before any
European arrived.

Believing in Ghosts
As far as I know, I have never seen a ghost. However, I did live in a haunted house, although without my knowledge. When
my husband and I and my brother and sister-in-law first moved to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island we bought a house that had
been converted into a duplex. My sister-in-law told me that she was continually seeing a man coming and going from their
side. I saw no one on our side.
I returned to Alberta to visit family and friends and was describing where our place was to a friend. She began asking
questions about it and said that a friend of hers had lived in that house years earlier. She also asked me if I had seen the ghost
who occasionally wandered through the house there. I said no, but my sister-in-law had.
She said that a man had died in that house and her friend had seen his ghost often while living there.
I’m not sure if the reason I did not encountered that ghost nor any others in my life is because I don’t believe in them or
because I’ve been lucky. However, if a ghost is reading this, this is not an invitation to come to me and prove you are real.

I'd Like to Thank ...
One thing that most authors are intimately aware of is how many people make it possible for stories to come alive.  While
writing is a solitary process, those that provide support for the authors are crucial.  Let's see who each author has supporting
them ...

My family and friends have been very supportive of me during my writing career. When my first two non-fiction books were
published, my parents would look for them in bookstores. If they found them with only their spines showing they rearranged
the books on the shelves so that the covers of mine were facing out so they could be seen easier. My husband is constantly
telling people that I am a writer and where they can find my books. My parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren have
come to book launches, sat with me during a book signing, and passed on advertising information about my new books
through social media and other means.
When they were younger my grandchildren helped out at some of my launches: acting as doormen by opening doors for
customers at bookstores, singing, or playing a saxophone or flute during the interlude before my reading.
I have some friends who buy and read all my books and continually tell me how much they like them.
Thank you to my family and friends for your continued encouragement.

The Story Arc  
I have never worked with a solid outline or arc for my novels, whether they are mystery, historical or young adult. And this is
mainly because I find that my characters seldom end up the way I first pictured them and the plot never takes the route I
thought it would. I do start the story with a character in his/her everyday life so the reader can get to know them then I put in
the trigger that is out of the control of my main character or starts the mystery. This puts the main character on his/her quest
for a solution.
I do have scenes pictured where characters are going to have a certain conversation or be at a certain place but unexpected
conversations or character twists surface as I am writing the story. Some of these are surprises or mishaps or problems that
get in the way of my character’s quest. I strive not to make these predictable nor so far out that they don’t make sense to the
story. They should leave the reader with the thought that (s)he should have figured that would happen. I find that it is no fun
to read a book where you can foresee where the story line is headed and what is going to happen before it does.
For the climax my character goes through the action of resolving the problem or solving the mystery. This has to be fast
paced and sometimes at a risk to the character. By this time the reader should be rooting for the main character and wanting
him/her to succeed without injury. Hopefully, too, this is where the surprise comes in, where the reader goes. “Wow, I didn’t
see that coming." or "I never thought it would be that person.” I have even been surprised or saddened or happy by the
ending of my novels and have said that.
I believe that if my emotions are rocked by the ending, so, too, should be those of the readers.

                                                 Gold and My Family
In the late 1930s my father, Oliver Donaldson, and his brothers, Gib and Albert, made their living by panning for gold on two
gold claims on the Salmon River, now called the Salmo River, south of Nelson, British Columbia. In 1980, Dad, my Mom, my
husband Mike, our five children, and I went on a holiday to the Salmo River and the site of the former claims. We found the
bottom two rows of logs, all that was left of one of the cabins they had lived in and the second cabin, which was still
standing, on the other side of the river.
   Under Dad’s direction we all panned the river. The children were quite excited at finding gold to take home. We toured the
area seeing the route Dad and his brothers had taken into town to sell their gold and to buy some staples and where they had
hunted for deer and picked apples to live on. After the trip, Mike and I had vowed that someday we would return.
   In the spring of 1992, Mike, and I found ourselves preparing for a death and a wedding in our family. At the beginning of
that year, Mike’s oldest sister Sallian had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and one of our sons and his fiancé
had set a wedding date. For almost five months we visited Sallian, first at home and then in the hospital. I cannot describe the
anger, sorrow, and frustration I felt as I watched what the disease was doing to her. She lost weight and the ability to look
after herself. During her final month she was hardly more than a skeleton.
   For those same five months I experienced a mother’s delight and happiness as I helped with the marriage plans. I made the
cake, watched my son pick out his tuxedo, found my dress, arranged for my hairdo, and planned a mixed shower of friends
and family.
   Balancing my life while dealing with the opposing emotions was truly hard.
   Sallian died on May 25 at age 54. On June 27 over 300 people attended the wedding and partied well into the night.
   Like most people it took the death of someone close to me to make me realize how important really living is. I knew Mike
and I had to do something adventurous with our lives, something out of the ordinary.
   That summer of 1992 we decided to leave life as we knew it in Spruce Grove, Alberta, and get a gold claim in southern
British Columbia, preferably in the Nelson area. We sold our house and quit our jobs. For our new home we bought a used
twenty-four foot holiday trailer. I phoned the Minerals Branch of the B.C. government. They sent us a map showing the
separate gold claim regions of southern B.C. We picked out three regions, Salmo being one, and I called back requesting more
detailed maps of the staked claims in those areas.
 On September 1, we began our journey west. Mike was pulling the holiday trailer with our half-ton truck, which had our all-
terrain vehicle in the back. I was in our smaller four-wheel drive pulling a utility trailer with our prospecting equipment and
other paraphernalia we thought we might need.
   It took two days of slow travel to reach the Selkirk Motel and Campsite on the side of the highway at Erie, about three
kilometres west of the town of Salmo. We set up camp, hooking up to the water and power. We had until freeze-up to find a
   Next morning we were up early and off to the Gold Commissioner’s Office in Nelson where Mike bought a Gold Miner’s
Certificate and received two red metal tags, and a topographical map, and was given his recording form. We were hopeful as
we headed back to the campsite.
   According to the maps the Salmo River was all staked so over the next two weeks we checked rivers and creeks in the
area with little success. But the Salmo River kept calling us and we returned to Dad’s former claim and the remains of his old
cabin. Just past it we stood on the bluff looking down on the river as we had done twelve years earlier with my parents and
our children. The memories came flooding back: the walk to the river with each child carrying a pie plate to use as a gold pan,
finding gold only to discover that we had nothing to put it in, one daughter coming up with the idea of sticking it to bandages,
camping near the river.
   But we didn’t have time to linger. We were working against the weather. Mike went over our maps of the Salmo River
again and this time noticed that there is a small portion on the curve of the river near the old cabin that was open. Because the
claims on either side formed rectangles it was missed by both of them. We found the posts of those claims then hurried to
Nelson to confirm that the piece was available. It was.
   It was possible to lay one claim over part of another but the first one had priority for that section enclosed in it. There
wasn’t time to stake it that night so we had to wait until morning. We rose early, went out to the river and put one of Mike’s
red tag on the post of the claim to the east of ours. Mike took a compass and orange flagging and we began to mark off the
distance, tying the flagging to trees as we went. At the end of five hundred yards Mike cut a tree, leaving a stump about three
feet high. He squared off the top and I nailed up our final tag with the information scratched by knife point onto it. The claim
was five hundred yards by five hundred yards and was called the Donaldson.
   We hurried back to Nelson and handed in the recording form. We were ecstatic. Not only had we located an area on the
same river as my father, but we actually had part of his old claim. We went to the river and found a clearing for us to set up
camp the next spring. Mike took his gold pan and headed down to the water’s edge.
   I followed and sat on a large rock. As I watched the water flow sedately by, a deep sense of relaxation settled over me, the
first I had felt since the beginning of the year. It helped me begin to deal with the fact that I had witnessed Death at work.
   Sallian was the first one in either of our immediate families to die. I had seen the tragedy of death strike my friends but
didn’t understand how devastating it could be until it happened to me.
   We spent the winter in our trailer in Vancouver visiting with my sister, my aunt, and some cousins.
   Near the end of March we drove out of Vancouver eager to get back to our claim. We pulled our trailer in and set up a
campsite was in the middle of tall pine, birch, spruce, and cedar. We could just barely see the mountain tops to the south. The
mountains to the north were higher and made a lovely backdrop to the trees. In the morning I walked through the bush to the
river. I sat on a large triangle-shaped rock and watched the water drift by. A partridge drummed in the distance. Birds sang in
the trees. I took a deep breath of the cool, fresh air. It was a good place to be.
   It rained just about every day for the next couple of weeks. We sat under the trailer awning and listened to the drops hitting
the canvas. Sometimes the awning sagged with the weight of the water and we had to empty it. Sometimes we let it
overflow, creating a waterfall.
   Rain or shine it became my morning ritual to go to the river before breakfast. I loved to sit on my rock and stare at the
water. Because of the rains and the snowmelt in the mountains the river level was rising each day. Soon I was watching logs
and other debris rush past in the torrent. The water dipped over some boulders, and created a backwash when it hit others.
The force of the water was mesmerizing.
   One rare sunny day we went for a walk down the road past our camp. I carried my camera. A short distance from camp
we saw spring water seeping out of a hole under a large rock in the embankment beside the road. Mike reached in the hole to
feel how big it was and found a bottle of wine. It had been opened at one time and then put in there to keep cool. Mike set it
   We followed the long, hilly road as it wound its way through trees and past cow pastures. On our way back we
encountered a herd of deer. They did some scrambling to get into the bush while I did some scrambling to take pictures.
They were faster than me. We reached the spring and Mike decided to set up a water system. He went for a pail and a hose.
When he returned he put one end of the green hose into the hole and soon water began to trickle out of the other end. He let it
run for a while to clean the hose then filled the pail. Mike carried the pail back to camp. We had fresh water for our camp.
   There was always activity around us. We heard rustling and cracking in the bush and it wasn’t unusual for a deer to trot
through the clearing at any time of the day. Birds sang, a woodpecker occasionally tapped on a tree, partridge thumped, and
trees scratched and rubbed against each another in the wind. All day and night there was the thundering of the boulders as the
whirling river water rolled and bumped them against each other.
    As the days warmed the air became filled with the scents of pine and cedar, sweet wild flowers, and the intertwined
fragrances of the bush. Colours sprang up, from pink roses, white dogwood and hazelnuts, and purple and yellow flowers, to
the bright green of the ferns. Butterflies flitted throughout the clearing and there was the buzz of flies and mosquitoes and the
drone of bees. The few rainy days were humid and the clouds never stayed long. Sometimes the moon at night lit up the
clearing and we sat by the camp fire in the soft light.
   With the rains and spring run-off over, the river level began dropping. I sat on my favourite rock and watched the slower,
shallower water flow by. The roar was gone. In the peace and tranquillity I was able to think about death. As best I could, I
acknowledged that many of the people I loved would probably die before me, though I found it harder to actually accept the
   Mike and I spent time digging dirt from around rocks in the water and working it in the pan. We found enough small flakes
to keep us trying.
   But soon our adventure was over and by summer’s end we were back in the real world. We never did find much gold but
then, for me, it really wasn’t about the gold.
   Since then I have written two novels about gold and people’s quest for it.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday Books We Love Ltd is publishing twelve historical novels, one for each of the ten
provinces, one for the Yukon Territory, and one combining the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. We Canadian authors
were asked to pick one of the provinces or territories to write about or to do the research on for a non-Canadian author. I
chose the Yukon because I have been there twice and love the beauty and history of the territory. The following is a quick
summary of the Yukon’s beginning.

The Yukon
The name Yukon is derived from the Loucheux first nations word Yukunah which means `big river'. The land was mainly
occupied by the Tagish and Tlingit native people for centuries before the non-native explorers arrived in the 1820s. In the
1840s fur traders set up a few Hudson's Bay Company posts along the Yukon River. When the United States purchased
Alaska from Russia in 1867, there wasn’t a clear border between Alaska and the Northwest Territories, as the land was
known then. In 1887-88 William Ogilvie, a Canadian surveyor, surveyed the area making the 141st meridian the western
boundary with Alaska and the 60th parallel the southern border with British Columbia. Hence the phrase North of 60.
Prospectors went north looking for gold in the 1880s and there was a gold strike along the Fortymile River, which drains into
the Yukon River, in 1886. There were other smaller strikes until 1896 when gold was discovered on Rabbit Creek later
renamed Bonanza Creek. A town named Dawson sprang up on the Yukon River at the mouth of the Klondike River. When
word of the gold discovery reached the outside world in the summer of 1897, thousands of men, women and children hurried
to Dawson during the winter of 1897-1898 hoping to find their fortune.
Because of the rush Dawson grew quickly to be the largest city north of San Francisco and it became known as the `Paris of
the North'. It had hotels, dance halls, daily newspapers and saloons for its 30,000 inhabitants. Fresh eggs were brought by
raft on the Yukon River; whiskey came in by the boatload before freeze-up; gambling made rich men out of some and
paupers out of others; dance hall girls charged $5 dollars in gold for each minute they danced with a miner; the janitors made
up to $50 dollars a night when they panned out the sawdust from the barroom floors. Due to the influx of people, the region
officially entered into the confederation of Canada and was designated as the Yukon Territory on June 13, 1898. Dawson
became the capital. Eventually the word `territory' was dropped and it was called The Yukon.
A Territorial Administration Building was constructed in 1901 for the territorial seat of government and Dawson was the
centre for the government administration until 1953 when the capital was moved to Whitehorse.
The Klondike gold rush ended in 1899 when word of a gold discovery in Nome, Alaska, reached the prospectors and they
headed further north. However, over the next few decades gold companies were formed and continued to mine the creeks,
this time using dredges to dig up the creek bottom. They left behind huge piles of gravel called tailings. The dredging lasted
until 1960 when gold prices declined making the operation uneconomical. Today, mining is done with big trucks, huge
sluices, and back hoes.
The north is known as the Land of the Midnight Sun after the words in Robert W. Service’s poem The Cremation of Sam
              There are strange things done in the midnight sun
                By the men who moil for gold.
The Arctic Circle is the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude of the Earth. It is an imaginary line that marks the
southern edge of the Arctic at 66 degrees 30' north latitude in the Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada, and in Alaska,
Scandinavia and Russia. The land north of the Arctic Circle gets 24 hours of sunlight on the longest day of the year, June
21st. The further north of the circle you go the more days of total sunlight in the summer you will get. This is because the
North Pole is tilted towards the sun and gets direct sunlight from March 20 to September 22 as the earth rotates. Conversely,
on the shortest day, December 21st, the land north of the Arctic Circle gets 24 hours of darkness because the North Pole is
tilted away from the sun.
The Yukon is a great place to view the aurora borealis or northern lights. These are bright dancing lights that are really
collisions between the gaseous particles of the Earth’s atmosphere and the electrically charged particles from the sun that
enter the earth’s atmosphere. The most common colours are pink and pale green produced by oxygen molecules about sixty
miles above the earth.  Silver, blue, green, yellow and violet also appear in the display. Red auroras are rare and produced at
high altitudes of about 200 miles. The lights are best seen in the winter and the further north you are the better they appear.
The Yukon has the smallest desert in the world, the Carcross Desert, near the town of Carcross. It is an area that was once
covered by a glacial lake. As the glaciers melted the level of the lake lowered until just the sandy bottom was left. Winds off
Lake Bennett keep the sand moving and prevent most plants and trees from taking root on this.
During the late Wisconsin ice age (10,000 to 70,000 years ago) an arid section of the northern hemisphere was not glaciated
because of the lack of moisture to support the expansion of the glaciers. The area, called Beringia after the Bering Strait
which is near the centre of the region, encompassed parts of present-day eastern Siberia, Alaska, The Yukon, and ended at
the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories. The growth of continental glaciers sucked up moisture which led to the sea
level dropping by up to 106 metres (350 feet). As a result, a land bridge was formed between northwest North America and
northeast Asia.
It is believed that parts of western Beringia (eastern Siberia today) were occupied by man 35,000 years ago. The forming of
the Bering Land Bridge allowed the first humans to travel from Asia to North America. There is evidence that the history of
man in North America goes back 25,000 years ago.
Some of the animals that survived for thousands of years in this arid land surrounded by glaciers were the North American
horse and camel, the steppe bison, the giant beaver that weighed up to 181 kilograms (400 pounds), the Mastodon, the woolly
mammoth, the giant short-faced bear, the scimitar cat, the American lion, and the giant ground sloth. All of these are extinct.
The territory of The Yukon was founded on gold mining, but there has been coal and silver mining in the territory also. It is
now a favourite destination for tourists.

Author’s Note
I belong to Angels Abreast, a breast cancer survivor dragon boat race team in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Every four
years the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission IBCPC) holds an international festival somewhere in the world. In
the spring of 2013, my team received a notice that the IBCPC had chosen Sarasota, Florida, USA, to hold the next festival in
October 2014.
We decided to attend and while the other members were going to fly down, tour around some of the sites and head home I
wanted to see more of the country and meet some of the people. My husband, Mike, and I drove from our small acreage at
Port Alberni, British Columbia, on the Pacific Ocean, to Sarasota, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the people I would meet nor the beautiful places I would see nor the adventures I
would have on our ten week, 18,758km (11656 mile) journey. On the thirteenth day of every month in 2016 I will post a part
of my trip that describes some of the excellent scenery, shows the generosity and friendliness of the people, and explains
some of the history of the country. The people of the USA have much to be proud of.

Road Tripping USA Part Twelve
After visiting my cousin, Betty, in Mayer for two days, our next destination was the Grand Canyon National Park, a UNESCO
World Heritage Site. We stopped in the parking lot of the South Rim. Mike was able to make the short walk to the first of
many viewpoints. I’d seen pictures and heard stories of how beautiful the canyon was but I wasn’t prepared for the absolute
grandeur of the multi-coloured layers, the river far below, the rock formations. It was amazing to stand on the rim of the
canyon and try to visualize the five million years it had taken the Colorado River to form it.
We took our time, walking from viewpoint to viewpoint taking pictures and just staring. The canyon is 277 miles (446km)
long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide in places and can reach a depth of more than a mile. It is one of the seven natural wonders
of the world. Grand Canyon National Park was formed in 1919.
We drove the Desert View Highway and stopped at other viewpoints for a different view of the canyon and to take more
pictures. At the Tusayan Ruin I walked around the small site. It is estimated that about twenty people lived in this pueblo or
village. Nothing has been done to reconstruct it only to stabilize what remains of the walls, which are now only about two
layers of rock high. I looked at the living quarters, the storage rooms, and the kiva. I took the short hike down to a clearing
where they may have had a garden. They also used a lot of the trees and bush for medicinal purposes and for food.
It is believed that the Peublo Indians built this site around 1185 and occupied it for about twenty years. Again, I was standing
in a place constructed thousands of years ago. How thrilling. From the ruins I looked into the distance and saw Humphries
Peak. At 12,633ft (3851m) it is the highest point in Arizona.
Further along the highway we reached the Watchtower. Construction on this tall, circular tower on the rim of the Grand
Canyon began in 1930. In order to give it an ancient look the weathered stones picked for it were left in their natural state.
Inside is a visitor's center, a gift shop, and different Hopi drawings simulating what the early natives would have drawn, on
the walls. I looked up the open shaft to the third floor ceiling, then climbed the circular staircase which ran along the outer
walls. On each floor there are Hopi paintings. At the top are wide windows with an excellent view over the Grand Canyon and
the Colorado River. Before descending I looked down the centre shaft to the bottom level.
After the Watchtower we left the Grand Canyon National Park. As we neared Cameron we drove through miles and miles of
the Painted Desert. The layers of the hillsides are made of siltstone, mudstone, and shale. These contain iron and manganese
compounds that provide the pigments for the various colours. The layers are easily eroded and so the hills are a variety of
reds, tans, pinks, blues, and grays.
When we rose the next morning it was still overcast and raining. We continued our drive through the Painted Desert. The
blacks, reds, plums, siennas, and grayish teal were all beautiful.
We reached Marble Canyon, which is the beginning of the Grand Canyon and crossed the Colorado River Bridge. Beside it,
also over the river, is the Navajo bridge, which was built in 1929. The old one is narrow and now used as a walkway.
We were on the Vermilion Cliffs Highway and following the Vermilion Cliffs which lived up to their names. They are high and
vermilion coloured and run for miles along the highway. We reached the Cliff Dwellings alongside the road. I walked over to
look in what remained of the homes created under the large rocks
Sign: Cliff Dwellings-People Who Live In Rock Houses. Erosion of sandstone formations leave a variety of crevices, caves
and overhangs. Over time travellers and residents found creative ways to use these natural features as temporary or
permanent shelter. Around 1927 Blanche Russell's car broke down as she travelled through this area. Forced to camp over
night she decided she liked the scenery so well that she bought property and stayed. The stone buildings under these balanced
rock were built shortly after that in the 1930s. Before 1930 a road trip up the east side of Kaibab Mountain was very steep.
The early cars had a gravity feed gas pump. When climbing the mountain the vehicles could not get gas to the engine but they
solved the problem by backing up the steepest parts.

The scenery changed to mainly forest. We passed a road to the north rim of Grand Canyon which was closed for the winter.
We climbed steadily to Jacob Lake. At the summit we descended to the Paria Plateau where we could see forever. We arrived
at Freedonia, which was established in 1885. Just on the northern outskirts we entered the state of Utah and were in Kanab.
Zion Canyon is 15 miles (24km) long and up to half a mile deep. The North Fork of the Virgin River cut the canyon through
the red and tan colored Navajo Sandstone. At the Zion National Park it cost us $25.00 to enter the park and then because of
our size we paid an extra $15.00 for a permit to go through the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel. There were many beautiful different
colours and different slants to the layers of the rock walls as we drove. We were on a narrow winding road and drove
through the first tunnel. When we reached the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel a ranger came out to check our permit. The tunnel was
built in 1929. The highest point is 13'1" (4m) while at the curve it is 11'4" high. We waited for the oncoming traffic to clear
and the last driver handed the ranger a flag. He, in turn, gave it to the last vehicle in our convoy.
As instructed, we drove down the middle of the road through the very long tunnel. There were three spaces where an
opening allowed us to see the scenery on the passenger's side. Once out of the tunnel we snaked downhill on steep switch
backs into the canyon. We turned off the main road onto the Zion Canyon scenic drive. There are walking bridges across the
Virgin River to get to trails on the other side. At the end of the drive there is a river hike that follows the river through the
narrowing canyon. It is a two mile round trip but I didn’t have time to do it.
I met a young woman from Australia. She and her boyfriend were touring for two months in a van borrowed from a friend.
“We’re from Vancouver Island and we've been on the road for almost ten weeks,” I said.
“Where on the island are you from?” she asked.
“Port Alberni.”
“Really? I worked at Mount Washington Ski Resort a few years ago and really liked it. I’d like to go back sometime.”
Mount Washington Ski Resort is about a three hour drive from Port Alberni.
It was December 4, Day 68 of our trip. We now had no schedule. Instead of being on a holiday we were on an adventure to
make it home before running into snow. We looked at the map for the fastest, yet warmest route home. Over the next three
days we drove northwest through Nevada, Oregon and Washington. We drove through fog, rain, and snow and reached Port
Angeles on December 6th. On December 7th , we crossed the Juan de Fuca Strait and pulled into our driveway in the early
afternoon. We’d driven 18,758km (11656 miles), travelled through two provinces and nineteen states and been gone ten
What an experience.

Road Tripping USA Part Eleven
We drove into a different time zone and arrived in New Mexico. At Robo Canyon Road we turned to go to the Carlsbad
Caverns. Mike wanted to rest so I bought my ticket at the visitor’s center information desk. It was 1:45pm and I only had
until 2:00pm to begin the hike down into the cavern. Anyone coming after 2:00pm had to take the elevator because of time.
I began the paved switchback trail down to the Natural Entrance. Once inside the cavern I continued downward on the Main
Corridor. There are dim lights giving off just enough light to see but not too bright. I tread my way carefully, sometimes
ducking under huge boulders, sometimes walking through narrow openings in the rocks, sometimes walking on the edge of
drop-offs. I passed the Bat Cave, the Green Lake Overlook, and walked beside Iceberg Rock, a 200,000 ton boulder that fell
from the ceiling thousands of years ago. I went slow relishing my time, sitting on benches to gaze at the beautiful formations.
I was even passed by one group.
I was introduced to caving when we moved to Vancouver Island. I heard of the Horne Lake Caves and the first summer I
made three trips to the caves taking my children and grandchildren when they came to visit. There are different tours and
each summer we would go further into the cave. When I was planning this trip I made sure that the Carlsbad Caves was one
of our stops.
At the bottom of the corridor I was 750ft (229m) underground and at the Big Room. The Big Room is almost 4000ft (1220m)
long, 625ft (191m) across and 255ft (78m) high at its highest point. I began the 1¼ mile (2km) walk around the outside of
the 8.2 acre (3.3ha) room in awe that I was in the Carlsbad Cave considered by some to be the 8th Natural Wonder of the
World. I wandered along the paved path enjoying the different sizes and shapes of the stalactites, stalagmites, the columns,
draperies, and the soda straws all formed over thousands of years by the single drops of water.
Stalagmites form when droplets of water containing calcium carbonate fall from the ceiling and begin to form a mound on the
floor of the cave. Stalactites form on the ceiling when the calcium carbonate is left once the drop of water has fallen. When
they meet they are called columns. Some of these formations are tall and huge and when you consider that it takes about 100
years to grow just one inch, you realize just how many millions of years this cavern has been here with these creations slowly
I didn’t want the day to end but I finally took the elevator up to the visitor’s center, one of the last to do so before closing
time. I bought two travel mugs at the gift shop and went to the camper.

West of Deming we crossed the Continental Divide again, drove through Lordsburg and entered Arizona. We turned onto
Highway 90 towards Tombstone and drove into town looking for the OK Corral. The main street was blocked off so we
found a place to park. At that moment four men in long black coats, cowboy hats, and boots strolled out into the street. Mike
stayed in the camper as he wasn’t sure how fast or how far he could walk and the show looked like it was about to begin.
I walked to where the four men stood in the middle of the road. Tourists took turns having their pictures taken with them. I
bought a ticket to see the performance of the Shootout at the OK Corral. I walked out the back of the building past a buggy
display, the prostitute’s crib, and C.S. Fly’s Photo Studio to the gun fight stage. Actors portrayed the events that led up to the
gun fight and then the shootout itself. Virgil Earp, (the Marshall), and his brothers Wyatt and Morgan, along with Doc
Holliday were up against brothers Ike and Bill Clanton and brothers Frank and Tom McLowery (also spelled McLaury). At the
start of the fight Ike Clanton, who was unarmed, ran off. After thirty shots in thirty seconds the McLowerys and Bill Clanton
were dead, Virgil, Morgan and Doc Holliday were wounded and Wyatt was uninjured. I recorded it for Mike to see on my
With the ticket to the show I could also get a free copy of the edition of The Tombstone Epitaph newspaper that was put out
the day after of the shootout. Besides the testimony of witnesses to the shootout there were advertisements for Pioneer
Baking Soda, the Tombstone Carriage Shop, the Arizona Mail and Stage Line, and a $400 Reward was offered for the
apprehension of the murderer of William C. Drake (late private of Troop G, 4th U.S. Cavalry, Fort Bowie, Arizona.). I also
bought two bottles Sarsparilla.
We drove to the Boot Hill Trading Post. We went through the building to Boot Hill cemetery to look at the graves of Frank
and Tom McLowery and Bill Clanton. I dropped a post card in a box in the gift shop for mom.

We stopped to visit friends, Berny and Barb in Yuma for a couple of days and they took us to a Mexican Flea Market. It was
outdoors and large. We wandered up and down the aisles. I bought some boots and lots of material to make throws and
pillows. Mike found a couple of hats. We listened to a Mexican band playing music. The whole market had a happy
After saying goodbye to Berny and Barb we headed north towards Parker. At Quartzite we stopped to check out a flea
market. All the vendors were inside tents or buildings. Mike saw a vendor selling a variety of tools, rocks, and small
equipment so he stopped there. He was looking for a knife and he and the seller started talking. I was quickly bored so I went
to the clothing store next door.
I tried on a few jackets and shirts before I found two of jackets that I liked. One was pink and one was blue and they fit
nicely. Mike came in and bought them for me. Sandra, the owner, asked us where we were from and Mike told her,
Vancouver Island and ran through the spiel of going to Sarasota for a breast cancer survivor dragon boat festival.
“My sister in Kentucky just had breast cancer surgery and is going through treatments,” she said.
She had a computer on her desk. “Look up the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission web site,” I said.
She saw the pictures of the venue, the races, and the opening and closing ceremonies taken by the drones.
“I’m sending this to my sister,” she said and forwarded the information.
Before we left I gave her a set of my novels and I am happy to say that Sandra and I are now friends on Facebook.

We reached the Pirates Den campground in Parker, Arizona, on the Colorado River. Our friends, Deb and Duane and Rosalie
and Mike, were camped there. Deb and Duane are our son’s in-laws and Rosalie and Mike are Deb’s sister and brother-in-
law. Although our son, Oliver, and daughter-in-law, Sherry, and another couple, Dean and Kate, were staying at an apartment
in Lake Havasu, they were all at the campground when we arrived.
We all were invited to Rosalie and Mike’s motorhome for supper and a visit. I brought out one of the bottles of Satsuma rum
and poured everyone a glass. It was a hit and I should have brought more than two bottles. After the meal the two couples
headed back to Lake Havasu. After we got back to our motorhome, I went down and put my hand in the Colorado River.
Deb and Duane have a pontoon boat and the next morning I went with them and Rosalie and Mike to Lake Havasu. We drove
across the Arizona Bridge, formally the London Bridge, to the island where Oliver and Sherry were staying. Duane launched
the boat and the seven of us (Dean and Kate had other plans) sailed up the narrow canal. We went under the London Bridge
then around the island. It was so bright and sunny and peaceful. We sailed back the way we'd come.
Lake Havasu is a manmade lake formed by Parker Dam. Lake Havasu City was established in 1963 by Robert McCulloch on
the eastern shore of the lake. He purchased the famous London Bridge from London, England, in 1967. He had the bridge,
which had been built in 1831 and spanned the Thames River, dismantled and brought to Lake Havasu City. He built a
reinforced concrete structure and covered it with the exterior granite blocks from the London Bridge.

The next day we went across the lake to a casino on the California side. Oliver had suggested we each play $20.00 for fifteen
minutes and then we would split the winnings. Sherry and Duane won at slots and Oliver won at the blackjack table. The rest
of us lost. When all the money was put together it came to around eighty dollars and we gave the money to Duane and Deb
for gas for their truck and boat.
On the US Thanksgiving we said good bye to everyone and headed to Mesa. Before going to see our friends, who spent the
winters there, we went to a Walmart for some groceries. We were in our seats making a grocery list when a truck pulled up
beside us on the driver's side. A young Hispanic woman and a child got out. They came over to our motorhome. Mike rolled
down his window and we smiled at the woman.
“Are you having a Thanksgiving dinner?” she asked
“What?” Mike said.
“Are you going to have a Thanksgiving dinner today? We have lots of extra turkey at our place.”
We were both taken by surprise. I stumbled as I answered.
“Um, we are from Canada and we were going to some friend’s house here in Mesa,” I said. “But thank you very much for
the invitation.”
We were so impressed that they would invite strangers into their home on Thanksgiving. They must have thought that
because we were in a motorhome we wouldn't be doing a big celebration dinner. I regret not going with them. It would have
been nice to get to know such wonderful people.

Road Tripping USA Part Ten

We drove to Langtry and stopped at the Judge Roy Bean Saloon and Museum. Roy Bean owned a store when he was
appointed as Justice of the Peace of the Pecos County to combat the lawlessness of the area. He moved his court to Langtry
and set up a tent saloon. He later built a wooden saloon which he named the Jersey Lilly after famous English actress, Lillie
Langtry. She was his idol and he composed many letters to her inviting her to his town, which he claimed he named after her.
Judge Roy Bean dispatched his own version of the law and was known as the ‘Law West of the Pecos’. Although he was
also known as the ‘Hanging Judge’ there is conflicting information about that. Some say there is no evidence that he ever
sentenced anyone to hang and others state that he sentenced two men to hang, one of whom escaped. His bar, or the front
verandah, was his courtroom and his customers usually acted as a jury. He had one law book, his own idea of frontier justice,
and a six gun to back his decisions.
Lillie Langtry was born Emilie Le Breton on October 13, 1853, in Jersey, England. She married Edward Langtry in 1874. Her
beauty won her many acclaims and she became a stage actress in 1881. She later formed her own production company. She
toured the UK and went to the United States on tour in 1883. After many such trips, Lilly, as the American's spelled her name,
became an American citizen in 1897. She died in Monaco on February 12, 1929. She did get to Langtry, Texas, in 1904, but it
was a few months after Judge Roy Bean's death.  
The buildings- the billiards hall, the saloon, and the opera hall- are all original and well preserved. We walked into the saloon
and I bellied up to the bar. In the Opera House was a bed and some other furniture.
Beside the museum is the Cactus Garden Interpretive Trail. We wandered the path through the different cacti reading their
names and descriptions of their uses. I learned that the fruit and flowers of the Spanish Dagger are edible and the fiber is used
for string, and that candy is made out of the Eagles Claw. It was a lovely walk through the garden and across a man-made
dry river.
Langtry is just a few houses near the museum and a post office. I bought a post card and mailed it to mom.
We were on the eastern edge of the Chihuahuan Dessert and we drove through this desert over the next week as we went
through southwestern Texas and into New Mexico and Arizona. The desert also goes south into Mexico. It covers 139,769
sq. miles (362,000 sq. km) and is the third largest desert on the Western hemisphere, and second only to the Great Basin in
North America.

At Marathon we headed south and passed a sign stating we had entered the Big Bend National Park. However, the
headquarters were still 28 miles (45km) away and the campground 20 miles (32km) past that on the Rio Grande. We drove
through a tunnel and finally reached the campground after dark.
Big Bend National Park is named for the big curve in the Rio Grande. It covers 800,000 acres (323,760ha) of desert and
mountains, and includes 118 miles (190km) of the Rio Grande. It is the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan desert in the
In the shower/laundry room the next morning, I talked with a woman who said she and her husband had been in the park for
five days and were planning on staying for a couple more. They had been RVers for a year, travelling around the countryside.
She told me about some of the hiking trails in the park. She said to watch for the trinkets that were beside the hiking trails for
people to buy. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about but I figured I would find out.
Mike and I walked to the boat launch and Mike put his foot in the Rio Grande. We drove to the Rio Grande Village nature trail.
Mike wasn’t sure how far he could get but we set out. Just as we crossed the bridge over a pond we met four people who
had just finished the trail.
“Is the trail worth going on?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” one of the men said.
“Is it hard?”
“Going around the bottom of the hill is okay but it is a steep climb to the top.”
The other man wore a jacket with the name Jasper on it. Mike saw it and asked. “Are you from Jasper, Alberta?”
“No. We’re from London, Ontario. We’re Canadians.”
“We’re Canadians from Vancouver Island.”
The man said they came down to Texas every fall to spend the winter with their friends in San Antonio. He asked us what we
were doing. Mike said we had gone to an international breast cancer dragon boat survivor festival in Sarasota.
“Oh,” one of the women said. “One of our friends in London belongs to a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team and she
was at Sarasota.”
I asked the name of the team was but they couldn’t remember.
We started hiking along the trail and we hadn't gone very far when we found some hiking sticks, and scorpions, road
runners, necklaces, ocotillos, roosters, and other items made out of beads and copper wire in a group by the trail. There was
a piece of cardboard beside them with the prices on it and a plea for donations to support their school.
These were the trinkets the woman in the laundromat had been talking about. They were left there by Mexicans who came
across the river.
It was on the honour system to pay and there was a container to leave the money. Mike and I each bought a hiking stick.
Mike's had a bird and a cactus painted on it and mine had a snake. We carried on and found three more wayside trinket sites.
We climbed up to a magnificent overlook where we could see Mexico across the Rio Grande. There were beautiful canyon
rock walls and a town way in the distance. Donkeys grazed just on the other side of the river. Interpretive signs told about the
border and the wild animals in the area.
We descended and then I decided to walk around the hill. On the way I found a sign for a river spur trail. I strolled along it
towards the river. On the way I saw bowl-like depressions in slabs of rock. I had talked with the woman in the store when
we registered the night before and she told me that they had been notched by the natives centuries ago and every time they
came through they used them to grind their grain into flour.
On our way back to our camper, we met two women heading out on the trail. I told them to watch for the hiking sticks and
trinkets. One of them said she thought it was against the law to buy stuff from illegal aliens.
We headed to the Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry. There was a building at the Port of Entry but the crossing was closed. A
man was doing some work on the building so I went and talked to him. He explained that anyone wanting to go to Mexico
could walk down to the river. The Mexicans on the other side would come across in boats to pick them up and take them to
the town we had seen across the river where they could shop or relax.
“Many people just go across to chill and say they have been there,” he said.
There is no guard at the crossing. There are cameras set up and it is monitored in El Paso. Inside the building is a kiosk where
anyone wanting to cross could scan their passport. El Paso checks the passport and can keep track by camera when the
tourists return.
The man told me that for hundreds of years the Mexicans had been crossing the river into the US on a bridge at this crossing
and no one said anything about it. Then the border patrol decided it wasn't right so they demolished the bridge. But, because
they knew the crossings would continue anyway, they gave the Mexicans some green aluminum boats. Those boats are the
ones they pick up tourists in.
On the way to the Boquillas Canyon overlook we saw a sign that said: Purchase or possession of items obtained from
Mexican Nationals is illegal.
We weren’t sure if that meant the items at the trinket sites or if we bought something from them in person.
From the overlook we could see the river below and a tall rock face in the distance on the Mexican side. There are more
trinkets-necklaces, anklets, tea towels, hiking sticks. We looked down on three Mexicans on the other side of the river who
were watching us through binoculars. They had a small fire going and one of those green boats sat on the river bank. Mike
liked a rock with crystals embedded in it and he bought it. He held the money in the air before putting it in the jar then picked
up the rock and showed them. He waved and they waved back.

We had our oil changed in Alpine and then left on the Texas Mountain Trail. The scenery was wide open spaces, grass,
cows, some cacti, some bush, and hills in the distance.
We drove into Valentine. It has a population of 217 people and no services. Mike saw a sign for a library and he stopped. I
still had some of my books so I went in to see if I could donate them to the library. The librarian was very friendly and told
me about the founding of the Kay Johnson Library.
"Kay and her husband owned a ranch near here and she always wanted to do something for Valentine but never got to it
before she passed away. So her daughter, and her husband, from Austin Texas bought this old house, fixed it up, and started
the library in Kay Johnson's name."
She took me on a tour showing me the different rooms.
"Each room has a different type of book: mysteries, romances, children's. There is even one for hard covers. All the books
have been donated and anyone can borrow a book."
"I am a mystery writer," I said. "I have copies of my three novels in the camper. Would you be interested in a set?"
"Oh, yes." she said. "That would be wonderful."
I came back and signed them. I gave them to her, then signed the guest book. The place is not advertised but tourists do stop
in. A couple from Sweden had signed the book a few days before me.
The West Texas Valentine's Day celebrations are held in Valentine on Valentine's Day, hosted by the Big Bend Brewing
Company from Alpine, Texas. A building in the town has been renovated to hold the party. There are usually three bands, lots
of food to eat, and a dance. People come from all over the area to celebrate.
Valentine began as a station on the Southern Pacific Railroad. There are two stories as to how it received its name. One is that
it was founded on Valentine's Day. The other is that it was named after John Valentine, a stockholder in the railroad. The
population grew to 600 but when diesel engines were introduced in 1950 the roundhouse was closed. The crew change point
was moved in 1984 and the population slowly dwindled.

We decided we wanted Mexican food for lunch. We saw a sign for Chuy's Restaurant in Van Horne and stopped there. While
we waited for our food we were told the story of a Monday night in 1987 when John Madden stopped in to watch Monday
night football on their television. During his career Madden was an NFL football player, a super bowl winning coach, and a
football commentator on television. He liked the food of this restaurant so much he mentioned it in articles he wrote for
magazines. On one of his television shows he called it the "All Madden Haul (sic) of Fame". Madden had been coming to
Chuy's for many years and had his own director’s chair with his name on it.
Mike ordered Quesadillas and I had Flautas, which is shredded beef in corn tortillas. The food was delicious but I don't think
we will be back every year.
As we continued north we are in the Guadeloupe Mountains. Guadeloupe Peak is the highest point in Texas at 8749 ft.

Road Tripping USA Part Nine

After leaving New Orleans we passed through La Flourish Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Assumption Parish, Iberia Parish and
entered Vermilion Parish. In Abbeville we stopped at the tourist information where I learned that Parish is the name for
‘county’ in Louisiana. It dates back to the Napoleonic Code when France controlled this area. Louisiana is the only state that
uses the word.
Acadians are descendants of French colonists who settled Acadia, now known as Nova Scotia, Canada. During the Great
Expulsion, 1755 to 1764, the British deported the Acadians to the thirteen colonies. In Louisiana, they became known as
Cajuns taken from les Cadiens. Vermilion Parish has the most Cajun people in the state who trace their origins back to Nova
Scotia. The woman I talked to in the tourist info told me she had gone to Nova Scotia during the summer to trace her family
name there.
She also told me that when Hurricane Katrina went through, it hit New Orleans and much of the eastern part of the state and
missed this area. About a month later Hurricane Rita came and that is when Abbeville was damaged. They were still working
to recover.
The morning was windy and cool. The clouds made it seem darker than it was so I didn’t realize the time. I woke at 8:30. On
our drive we passed through a lot of marshland and saw small fields that looked like they were deliberately flooded. In one
place we saw a man in a small aluminium boat out in the middle of one of those fields.
The day remained dull and overcast. At 12:00 noon it was 40F (9C). We only stopped to have lunch. There were signs telling
us that we were on a Hurricane Evacuation Route. Because of the time change and the time of year, it was getting dark early.
We were stopping at around 4:00-4:30pm. So our days were getting shorter.
We entered Lake Charles from the south and pulled into a Walmart. Mike wanted some authentic Cajun music so he went
shopping. While in the store he asked one woman if there were any good restaurants where we could try Cajun food. She told
him any restaurant in town would do. He asked another woman and she gave him a list of a few places she liked or had heard
were good. Mike came back out with a CD, a bag of groceries, and papers describing some tourist attractions in the area. He
showed me his list of restaurants but I didn’t feel like driving to any of them for supper.
I went through the pamphlets and found some places to visit within a short distance of the city: an alligator refuge, a rum
distillery, which Mike was interested in, and a scenic bridge. I said let's go see them before we left in the morning. I also
found an advertisement for a restaurant called Cajun Kitchen. We had seen signs along the road so we thought after we
looked at those attractions, which were east of Lake Charles we would return to the city and have lunch there.

Mike’s Story
I listened to the CD I had bought but it wasn't what I was looking for so I went back in the store. I talked with a young man
about music. The young woman, Angelle, who I had talked with earlier came over and the two apparently were a couple. As
we chatted I told them about what we were doing and how we were travelling.
Justin, the young man, told his girlfriend that when he got old he wanted to be just like me.
“Why?” I asked, surprised.
“I don't want to be afraid to talk with people when I get older. I want to meet people, I want to do things.”
Justin advised me on a couple of CDs to buy. The young woman asked me if my wife and I had tried one of the restaurants.
I said no. Justin said that he and Angelle would cook us a real Cajun meal if we wanted to go to his apartment the next
evening. He didn't get off work until 9:00pm so it would be late.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” I protested.
“I understand that we are strangers and you might be fearful of us,” Justin said.
“No,” I said. “We have a saying that ‘Strangers are just friends we haven't met yet’.”
I went to the motorhome and asked Joan. She thought it was so nice of them to offer that she hated to turn them down when
they were willing to go through all that effort.
“It’s going to be pretty late,” I told her.
“We’ve met so many nice people on our trip,” she said. “Let's change our plans for tomorrow and do it. We could talk with
them and get to know them.”
I went back in and gave them some money to pay for the ingredients for the meal. They agreed to meet us the next evening at
9:00pm in the parking lot.

It was another cool, overcast day. We went to the Bayou Rum Distillery in Lacassine. This is the largest privately owned rum
distillery in the United States. They use 100% Louisiana unrefined cane sugar and molasses. The tour had already started so
we watched a video about sugar cane harvesting and the making of rum. Cane has to be processed within two days of
picking it. At the distillery it is processed in 18 hours.
We bellied up to the tasting bar and sampled the three different types of rum they produced: gold, silver and Satsuma orange
infused rum which was first bottled in 2014. I bought two bottles of the new Satsuma rum and Mike picked up a bag of
sugar cane sticks. When he looked at them in the camper he saw that they were a product of, and packaged in, Hawaii.
We went to the Gator Chateau on Rue de L’Acadie. This is home to orphaned baby and rescued mature alligators. They are
looked after until they are able to be released back into the wild. When I walked in the woman asked me if I wanted to hold an
alligator and I said yes. She picked one up from the heated glass container and gave it to me. It was warm and soft and
squirmy. I had to hold it tight. She took a picture of me and then returned the alligator to the box. I asked about alligator
feeding and she said that they are hibernating.
We saw a sign for boudin, a Cajun dish, and decided to try it. We turned off the highway and went into a small restaurant
beside a service station. As we entered the restaurant I saw a sign that rice field crawfish were out of season. Those were the
fields under water that we had seen and the man in the aluminium had been checking on his crawfish.
We each ordered boudin, which we found out was made from rice and pork rolled into a ball and deep fried. We enjoyed ours
so much that Mike ordered more. I asked about the alligator balls advertised but I was told that they were out of season.
We drove to the historic Lorrain Bridge on Lorrain Road near Hayes. The original Lorrain Bridge was built in the early 1900s
as a draw bridge over the Bayou Lacassine. It was closed in 1998 for safety reasons. It was rebuilt (not as a drawbridge) and
opened again in 2004. It is 209ft (63.7m) in length.
We drove along the Bayou for a ways just enjoying being in the peaceful scenery and quiet area. A Bayou is the name for a
creek or river that flows so slowly that it doesn’t appear to be moving at all. They are usually found in flat or low-lying areas.
It can also refer to a marshy lake or wetland.
We met Justin and Angelle and followed them to their apartment. They had purchased the ingredients and began preparing the
meal. Angelle cut the vegetables up while Justin did the cooking. Mike had told him that I can’t tolerate spicy food so he
modified the ingredients for me. We’d sample one dish while he made the next and we talked.
Justin told us he wanted to start a restaurant in Dallas, Texas, and we told him to let us know when that happened and we
would come to it. Angelle was raised back in the Bayou and had moved to town to get a job at Walmart. That was where they
met. We told them that I was a writer and Mike was retired but had worked in the oil patch in Alberta for many years. We
had five children and seven grandchildren.
It was a relaxed, enjoyable evening that lasted until about 1:30 in the morning. As we were leaving they gave us a container of
Creole spices and a jar of jam from Texas. I gave them copies of my books.
It was as if we were destined to meet that young couple. When we’d driven into Lake Charles the first evening we asked Lola
for a Walmart. She gave us a few to pick from. We selected one but as we were driving to it we passed a different one. I told
Mike, let’s just stop here. It was the one Justine and Angelle worked at.

In Texas, we passed through Burnet and turn onto a narrow road to the Longhorn State Park. At the Long Horn Caverns I
booked to take the next tour. While waiting I went to the former administration building that was built by the Civilian
Conservation Corp (CCC), which was a public relief program operated by a government agency to find work for
unemployed, unmarried men. The administration building is used for exhibits but was empty when I went through it. I
climbed the steps to look out over the area. Behind the visitor’s center is a trailhead and I strolled the Backbone Ridge Trail,
turned onto the 3 Minute Loop and then returned on the Loop D trail through the bush of the area.
I visited the observation tower that had two sets of circular metal stairs to the top. From there I had a panoramic view of the
Texas landscape.
The tour of the caverns is a 1½ mile (2.4km) round trip. When these caves were discovered, the CCC hired a number of men
to clear all the debris--rocks, mud, dirt--from them so they could be opened to the public. They used that debris to make the
road to the caverns. The grand staircase at the entrance was built by the CCC.
The guide told us some of the cavern’s history. This was a Confederate stronghold during the Civil War. They manufactured
gunpowder here using the bat guano. Sam Bass was an outlaw who hid out here and the entrance is named after him. During
the 1920s, the cave was used as a speakeasy and dancehall by the nearby residents. It was used as a bomb shelter during the
Cold War and supplies that could last for months were stocked here.
A young woman was captured and taken into the cave. Three Texas Rangers repelled down to rescue her. She married one of
the rangers and they lived in Burnet.
There is the Crystal City, which is a room full of calcite crystals, and a waterfall that isn't really a waterfall. It is called that
because of its formation from dripping water. There are small bats, some only about the size of a thumb, in the cave. They
are independent and like to sleep alone. We could see some of them hanging onto the wall.
The cave started as limestone then turned to dolomite the further we went. When we reached the far end we were 135ft
(41m) underground.

Road Tripping USA Part Eight

Before we left New Orleans the next morning I went into the McDonalds to check emails. While I was there Mike saw a man
sitting on the parking lot curb.

Mike’s Story: So there I was sitting in the motorhome all by myself because my wife had left me. The cats got tired of talking
with me. I looked around and saw a guy sitting on a curb. Cats won't talk with me, wife is gone so I hobbled on my cane out
to the guy on the curb. He was sitting with his head down and a cardboard sign propped beside him: Need Help, Thank You.
He looked very depressed. I stood there. He looked up at me.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hello,” I said. I was in bad shape so I had a hard time rolling onto my knees, to my bum, to the ground to sit beside him.
“So tell me your story.”
He came from Tennessee to look for a job because he heard there was a lot of work in Florida. He was a painter and worked
new construction. In order to get here, though, he had to sell everything. Once he arrived he found there was a lot of work
but no one would hire him. First, because he was 60 years of age and they didn't think he could do the work, and secondly
because he didn't have a means of transportation. He didn't own a car. There were places that would hire him if he had a car.
He didn't know what to do. He doesn't have a pension to fall back on.
I could tell he had a lot of pride. He missed his dad and phoned him once in a while. His dad is in his 80s and when he hears
his son, he cries.
I asked him why he wouldn't go home because it didn't make sense after that story and he said he didn't want his family to
see him like he was, his dad, his brother, his sister. I asked him if he thought his dad would love him any more if he was the
president of the US. It sounded that if his dad cried when they talked on the phone it didn't make any difference to him.
“You should go home,” I said.
“Maybe you're right,” he agreed. “Thank you for taking the time to sit down on the curb beside me and talk with me.
“I wish I could help you more but I can't.”
“That’s okay. The time you spent was lots and the talk was lots.”
We talked some more and he said it was cold, he hated the nights sleeping out. I told him yes, I had done it myself when a
“Sleeping out is a bugger,” I said “Where I come from you could freeze your ass off.”
“Where are you from?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Canada's cold.”
“When did you eat last?”
“Three days.”
“That's counting today?” I asked.
“No today is the fourth day.
“How much would it cost to buy a meal?
“I don’t know what to ask you for, you can eat cheap at McDonalds for $5.00.”
“Could you have a good meal if I gave you twenty dollars?”
“With twenty dollars I could eat for four days and I could start on my way home.”
So I gave him twenty bucks and he thanked me. When he said he thought he should go home I said it would be a good idea
because it doesn't matter how much money you have if you don't have family you don't have anything. He agreed.
“Don’t give up,” I said.
“I’m not giving up and I wouldn't give up.” He shook my hand. “God bless you. I'll walk you to your camper so you don’t
fall down.”
It was night when we entered Biloxi, Mississippi. We found a place to camp and the next morning drove to the Boomtown
Casino. Part of it is on a barge where Mullet Lake empties into Biloxi Bay so it is considered a floating casino, a throw back to
when gambling on land was illegal. To get around that law, paddle wheelers with poker games and machines plied the rivers
and lakes. When the law was changed those paddle wheelers disappeared and casinos were built on land.
We actually came out ahead on this floating casino. Mike spent $72.00 and won $100.00 and I spent $20.00 and made $30.00
so we were $38.00 ahead. We went to the buffet in the casino for lunch. It cost us $54.00 but what a meal: catfish, flounder,
all the snow crab we could eat, roast beef, potatoes, shrimp, sushi, pizza, vegetables, salads and much more.
As we drove through Biloxi, the Gulf of Mexico with soft sandy beaches was to our left. There were stately old houses to our
right. We travelled about 30 miles (48km) with beside the beach. Then we crossed a bridge over St. Louis Bay with the gulf
to the left and bay to right. At the end of bridge we were in St Louis and away from the water.

As we neared New Orleans in Louisiana I asked Lola for a tourist information center. I wanted to go to one on the outskirts
of the city so that we could find out where the French Quarter was and go straight there. Lola gave me about ten choices.
Not knowing the city I just randomly picked one and hoped for the best. She took us right downtown.
We didn't know where we were going but followed her directions to the Basin St. Station Tourist Information Center. We
found a parking lot facing St Louis Street near the information center that charged $3.00 for a ten-hour stay or $10.00 for
twenty-four hours. There were a few other vehicles and a motorhome was set up in the far corner. We paid 3.00 thinking we
would only be there long enough to get our information and then be gone.
In the center we discovered we were just a block from the French Quarter. And that we could also book a dinner cruise on
the Mississippi, which we did for 7:00pm that evening. We got a map and headed out on St Louis Street to tour the French
Quarter. The French Quarter is the oldest neighbourhood in New Orleans. Also known as Vieux Carre, it has been designated
as a National Historic Landmark.
As we walked down one of the streets a young lady came across the street towards us. She wore skimpy shorts and nothing
else. She had painted her boobies all different colours. There was money sticking out of the waistband of her shorts and she
had some in her hand. Mike got so excited that he took a picture of her.
“That's going to cost you,” she yelled at him.
“What?” he asked
“It costs you to take my picture.”
“Okay, my wife will pay.”
“What?” I tried to hide my smile.
Mike didn’t even look at me. He was staring at the young girl. “Yup, my wife will pay.”
I gave her some money then took a picture of the two of them together. She didn't charge me.  As we walked away I
thought, what an excellent way of make a living. Just paint your boobs and walk around in skimpy shorts collecting money. I
wondered if maybe I could do the same only I would cover the seniors’ age group. I looked around and saw that there were
quite a few potential customers.
On Bourbon Street we went into a bar and ordered drinks. We had a good visit with the bartender who said he was hoping to
leave New Orleans soon and pursue a different career. We continued our tour stopping in at a shop to buy bead necklaces. I
wanted to take a swamp tour and we went into an agency. The man was willing to book at that time but Mike wanted to wait
until the next day to see how he felt. The man said we could come early in the morning and book.
On our way back to our camper we tried to take a tour of Cemetery #1 which was across St Louis Street from the parking
lot. The gate was locked. I decided to check the next day.
In the motorhome Mike laid down and I read. When he got up we decided we might as well stay the night in the parking lot.
The cruise ended at 10:00pm and we figured we wouldn’t be getting back until around 11:00pm. Before we left at 5:00pm I
went and put in another $3.00 to last us until three in the morning. We had been told that there was a trolley car we could
catch to take us down Canal Street to the harbour but we wanted to walk. Mike took his cane for support.
It was getting dark as we walked down Canal Street. It was brightly lit with lots of people, traffic, and the trolley cars going
by. We arrived early at the ticket booth of the cruise. We took pictures of the cruise ship, named the Creole Queen, and then
went into an outlet mall to wander around. There was a Lindt Lindor chocolate store. Each piece of chocolate was 26 cents
or 150 for $44.00 dollars. Christmas was coming and those are my chocolate of choice during the holiday season. But rather
than buy them and have to carry them with me on the cruise, I decided I would walk back in the morning and get some. Plus,
I have absolutely no will power and I knew that if I took them with me I wouldn't have room for the meal on the cruise.
We lined up to board the ship. We were seated and told to help ourselves to the buffet. I decided to take everything and at
least taste it. I tried the chicken and sausage jambalaya although I didn't take the sausage. The rice with bean sauce and the
Cajun green beans were both very spicy. The corn dish was delicious. I felt safe taking a lot of the garlic potatoes. I was told
the gumbo was flavourful but not spicy and that was true. The corn muffins were sweet. For dessert there was bread
pudding that tasted like a cinnamon bun with raisins. It was so good I had two helpings. There was also roast beef and
Caesar salad but I didn't sample them. I can get them at home. I had water because there was either that, or an alcoholic
drink or coffee and I’m not a coffee drinker.
The meal was served between 7:00pm and 8:00pm and a three-piece band played jazz. At 8:00pm we started our cruise up the
river. It was very dark and we could see the lights of New Orleans as we left. The Creole Queen is an authentic paddle
wheeler. She is powered by a 24 foot (7.3m) diameter paddle wheel and made her maiden voyage in 1983. Mike and I headed
outside but we were going against the wind so it was chilly. We went back inside and listened to the music. When the Creole
Queen turned around we were sailing with the wind and it was quite balmy.
I spent a lot of time out on the deck watching the water churn by and seeing the lights on shore. The river was busy even in
the dark as a number of boats and barges went by. I walked to the back end and watched the paddle wheel work for a while
then leaned on the railing and just enjoyed the fact that I was on the mighty Mississippi River.
Mike talked with one of the band members. The man had been to Nanaimo when he was a member of a different band that
was touring British Columbia.
The riverboat docked at 10:00pm and Mike and I started our walk back. We went slowly and Mike had to use his cane. We
decided to see the French Quarter at night so we walked to Bourbon Street again. Barricades were at the ends of the street
and it was closed to traffic. All the bars and stores were open and people wandered up and down the street talking and
laughing. It had the party atmosphere we’d expected to see.
We turned onto St. Louis Street to continue our way back. It wasn't as well-lit and we were nervous. As we walked we
heard steps behind us. We looked back and saw a guy who appeared to be following us. When we got to a corner we walked
kitty corner to the other side. Once there we turned and stared back at him. He hesitated on his corner then left.
As we continued to walk there was another guy behind us. We looked back a couple of times which must have made him
nervous or uncomfortable because he changed to the other side of the street to walk. We got back safely just before 11:00. I
went across the lot to put in three more dollars which would take us to 9:00am in the morning. There was lots more that we
wanted to do like take the swamp tour, go buy my chocolates, and see the river in daylight. The only other vehicle in the lot
was the motorhome. At last, a quiet night.

At about 2:00am a tap, tap, tap woke me up. It wasn’t a knock so I didn't know what it was. Mike came up and I asked him
what it was and he said there is a sheriff outside. He got dressed and went out to talk with him. Our girls were on high alert at
the tap on the door and when Mike went outside they headed to the windows and tried to look outside. My window was open
so I could hear what the sheriff had to say.
Apparently there had been a break in of a motorhome somewhere in the area and he was wondering if it was us.
“No, we’re fine,” Mike said.
“Why are you camping here?”
“We were told we could by someone at the information center.”
“This is a bad area and you shouldn’t really be camping here. Criminals will look at your license plate and see that you are
from Canada. They know that you won’t be carrying a gun, so you will be an easy target. Last year we had 300 murders in
this area and people disappear without a trace.”
He wondered if we had any protection because we could carry a gun in Louisiana as long as it was not hidden. At one point
someone walked by on the street and the sheriff pointed to him and said that was one of the people he was warning us about.
Once he had delivered his message he and Mike chatted for an hour about fishing, hunting, places for us to eat, and more. He
said he wanted to come to Canada someday so Mike opened the outside door and asked me for my business card. Purple and
Red both went and sat on the step looking at him. After I'd given him my card I went back to bed.
As he was leaving the sheriff advised us that maybe we should find a different place to stay. He said that because of all the
disasters that have happened in Louisiana over the years there are a lot of homeless people who can't get back on their feet.
We took his warning to heart. We put Walmart into Lola, picked one and drove to the west end of the city.
We figured we were pretty lucky. Lola directed us to the visitor centre right beside the French Quarter, the place we wanted
to see, the sheriff came along and possibly saved us a lot of hassle or even worse, and then Lola got us to the Walmart to stay
for the rest of the night.
We have a saying that we live by: The Lord looks after kids and idiots and we’re not kids anymore.

Road Tripping USA Part Seven     
When we left the Florida Keys we drove to Del Ray and began looking for a campsite. Our GPS, named Lola, showed us that
there were two south of us, but we didn’t want to go back. We went to two Walmart stores but neither one of them allowed
campers. There was a KOA 30 miles away. Mike wanted to try for it but I convinced him to look for a parking lot. We found
one in a strip mall with a few stores. Once settled we went and did some shopping.
The stores closed and the parking lot was quiet. It was the night of the fall time change. As I put our clocks back an hour I
pictured the extra hour of peaceful sleep I would have.
It was a cool night so we closed our windows before going to bed. I was having a wonderful sleep when suddenly there was
a loud knocking on our door. It jerked me awake. There was another louder knock, knock, and someone yelled. “Franky,
Franky, wake up.”
Mike and I looked at each other but neither of us said anything.
“Franky, Franky, open up. I got forty dollars.”
We remained quiet hoping the person would go away. But he kept it up. “Franky, Franky open up. It’s me. I got forty bucks.”
He was not to be discouraged and kept banging on our door. “Hey, Franky, Debbie come on. Let me in. Open up. It's me.
Come on, let me in.”
Finally Mike opened the door. “We’re not Franky and Debbie. We are from Canada.”
"Oh, sorry, sorry,” he apologized. “Franky and Debbie have a camper just like this. I thought it was Franky. Sorry. Sorry."
Mike told me that he was sure the person was a woman and when he told her we weren't Franky and Debbie she began
crying and left.
We discussed Franky and Debbie possibly being drug dealers and if we were in a motorhome just like theirs maybe it would
be best if we left. So we dressed and decided to look for a place to see the sun rise over the ocean. At Lake Worth Beach we
pulled into a parking lot.
Mike and I walked to the beach and on the morning of his 68th birthday we stood, hand in hand, with our feet in the Atlantic
Ocean and watched the sun rise over the water.
We wandered up and down the beach and though it was only 6:30am there were a lot of people walking in the sand, doing tai
chi on the beach, surfing, and wading in the water. It was a very popular spot early in the morning. There was a long fishing
pier and it cost me $1.00 to walk out on it. It was crowded with fishers.
We wanted to eat breakfast overlooking the beach so we watched for a restaurant as we drove. But there were either houses
or beach on the ocean side of the road. And there were bushes to block most of the ocean views. At Juniper Beach we found
a parking spot along the road where the bushes were shorter.
Mike had his birthday breakfast of cold cereal while watching the waves break on the sandy beach of the Atlantic Ocean.
After enjoying the view for a while we continued down the road to the Blowing Rocks Preserve. I took the Sea Grape Path to
the Main Dune Crossover viewpoint and watched as the waves hit a short wall of rock along the beach and shot into the air.
This is part of the largest outcropping of Anastasia limestone on the Atlantic coast of the United States. It would be best to
visit during high tide or winter storms when the spray can reach 50ft (15m) high.
From there I walked about a quarter of a mile on the Dune Trail to the northern end of the beach. In the summer loggerhead,
green, and leatherback sea turtles come ashore here to lay their eggs. From March to October visitors are supposed to leave
the sand alone so that the eggs will hatch.
We were travelling north on Highway 95 when Mike saw a sign for a Waffle house. He decided he wanted some for lunch.
When we walked in we could choose between a table or stools at the counter. I pointed to the stools.
“No, you can’t sit there,” the woman wiping the counter said.
“We can’t?” I looked at her and she seemed serious even though the other waitresses were snickering.
She shook her head. “Nope.”
“It’s not even reserved for Canadians?” I asked.
“Well, okay,” she said. “Come and sit down.”
I looked at the menu she placed in front of us. Mike was going to have his waffles but I wanted to try something different.
“What are grits?” I asked.
“It’s boiled cornmeal.”
Sounded good to me and I ordered some.
“Do you want cheese or sugar with them?”
I didn’t have a clue. “What do you like?” I asked her.
“I prefer cheese.”
So I had grits and cheese for my lunch. We enjoyed our food and conversation.
After we ate we headed to Orlando and registered at Wekiwa Springs State Park to await our friends from Germany, who
coincidently had planned a trip to Florida at the same time as we.
Ducki and Sabine pulled in with their rented motorhome and parked in the site beside us. We sat and visited at the picnic table
by our camper. We had a few drinks and then supper in our camper.
The next day we walked on the Wet to Dry Trail then took the trail around Sand Lake. We went to the springs and Mike and I
swam in the cool water while Ducki and Sabine sat on the hillside and watched. The water is crystal clear and that is because
millions of gallons of cool water flow through the springs into Wekiwa Springs Run each day. This joins Rock Springs Run
to become the Wekiva River.
The Seminole Indians of the area used to be called Creeks. In the Creek language Wekiwa means ‘springs of water’ and
Wekiva means ‘flowing water’.
We had supper at Ducki and Sabine’s campsite and visited well into the night.
After breakfast we said goodbye to Ducki and Sabine. It had been fourteen years since we’d seen them last in Banff, Alberta,
and we vowed not to let that much time go by before seeing them again.
As we drove, I programmed the town of St Therea’s into Lola. She asked us if I wanted Allenbelle Road. Not knowing better,
I agreed.
Along the highway we stopped at a roadside table where a man had set up rows and rows of honey and syrup. We bought
some cane syrup and some Tupelo Honey, which we’d never heard of.
“The honey is made from the Tupelo gum trees that grow along the Apalachicola and Chipola rivers,” he explained to us.
“The bees are placed on platforms above the river’s edge and they fly through the Tupelo-blossom-laden swamps to gather
their nectar for honey.”
I tried some and it does have a very unique flavor.
When we reached the small town of Sopchoppy, Lola told us to turn onto Allenbelle Road. We realized her directions were
wrong but I said let’s see what she wanted to show us. It turned out to be a cul-de-sac behind some trees off the highway.
We drove past the four or five houses and then were back at the highway again. We considered it another adventure courtesy
of our GPS.
As we waited for traffic to clear a black man came over.
“Do you have seventy-five cents for me to buy a coffee?” he asked.
“We sure we do,” Mike said and reached into his pocket for his change purse.
“Well, it would be nice if you had a dollar or two so I could get some breakfast.”
“Okay.” Mike pulled the bills out.
“It would be great if you have five dollars. I could really get something good to eat for five dollars.”
Mike gave him a five dollar bill.
“I’ll pay you back if you are from the area.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Mike said. “We’re from Canada.”
“Oh, Canada,” he said. He looked at our motorhome. “Did you drive all the way from Canada in this?”
He told us that his father had been stationed in North Dakota years ago so he’d lived near the Canadian border for a while.
“Are there any black people in Canada?” he asked.
“Yes, there are a lot,” I said.
He thanked us and walked away.
As we drove east we caught glimpses of the Gulf of Mexico to our left. The houses along there were on stilts because of
insurance. Depending on the area, a house has to be so many feet above sea level. If the area is at sea level the bottom floor
might have to be 12ft (3.6m) above the ground. If the area is eight feet above sea level then the bottom of the house has to be
4 feet above ground.
We wanted to have a picnic on the beach so we headed to Carabelle to find a park that showed up on our map. Along the way
we saw some empty waterfront lots for sale on the Gulf of Mexico. Some had driveways so we pulled into one and parked.
We had our lunch overlooking the blue waters of the gulf. Afterwards, we strolled along the beach and I walked out on one
of the docks. Then it was a lovely drive along the shoreline into Carabelle.
Carabelle lays claim to having the world's smallest police station, which is actually a phone booth and a bus stop bench beside
the highway. Prior to March 10, 1963, the police phone was in a call box bolted to a building. However, tourists passing
through would make long distance phone calls on it. The box was moved but still the unauthorized calls persisted. When the
telephone company decided to replace its old phone booth with a new one, the old booth was taken to house the call box. It
was moved to its present location and while it protected the policemen from the rain, tourists still made their phone calls.
Finally, the dial was removed.
When we left Carabelle we passed the park that we had been looking for. There were picnic tables with shelters, a nice
beach, and lots of people but we had had a dock and the place to ourselves. It doesn’t get any better than that.
As drove we were sometimes beside the water and sometimes in the trees. We went through East Point and crossed the 4
mile (6.4 km) long bridge to St Georges Island. St Georges Island, which is a barrier island, is 28 miles (45kms) long and 1
mile (1.6km) wide at its widest part.
We found a public access to the ocean and walked down to the beach to put our feet in the water of the Gulf of Mexico. I
found it cooler than the Atlantic Ocean. I went to the Cape St George Lighthouse.
The lighthouse was built in 1833 but partially destroyed in a hurricane in 2005. It was moved to its present site and rebuilt. It
has a 92 step circular stairway to the top floor then an iron ladder to the light. I had a 360 degree view of the gulf and the
town below.
A man had a fruit stand near where we parked. We bought a large avocado, a pineapple, a red onion, and some tomatoes and
tangerines. All were Florida grown and very fresh.
The old bridge that used to connect the island to the mainland is now used as a fishing pier. Mike sat under the bridge and
fished. He had no luck.
We continued along the coast to Panama City and stayed at a Walmart downtown. Across from it is a building that is upside
down. Even the palm trees in front of it are upside down. I asked the greeter at the Walmart what it was
“Well,” he said. “A few years ago a hurricane come through and picked that building up and turned it upside down.”
“Yeah, right,” I said.
“Hey, I did tell that to one woman and she believed me.”
“So what is it, really?”
“It’s actually part of an Amusement Park.”

Road Tripping USA Part Six
After the dragon boat festival in Sarasota, Florida, Mike picked me up at the hotel and as we drove south he suddenly said.
"Gee, I want to go shopping at that place. You don't have to listen to kids crying or fighting while you are shopping."
"Sounds good,” I said. I looked out the window but we were already past it. “What was it?" I was picturing a grocery store
or clothing store.
“It's a Jack and Jill adult only superstore."
“It would be a quiet place to shop,” I said. At home, we usually shop at The All Canadian Superstore for our groceries. I
thought that, like some restaurants, grocery stores were now becoming for adults only.
Then after smirking a bit Mike explained it was an Adult Only Superstore—kinky stuff. And no, we didn’t go shopping.
We drove to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Mike wasn’t feeling well so I went alone. It was a lovely walk along the 2.25
mile (3.6km) boardwalk. I strolled above the wet prairie and into the pond cypress trees. The boardwalk zigzagged through
the trees to the lettuce lakes which are covered in greenery that looks like leaf lettuce. Then I entered the world’s largest old
growth bald cypress forest. Some of the trees, which are related to the redwood, tower 130ft (40m) overhead and are 25ft
(7.6m) in circumference. Although this sanctuary is home to alligators, I didn't see any. I did however, see a mama raccoon
and three babies.
We drove to Naples and stopped at the Walmart to do some shopping. It was hot so we tried to find some trees for shade in
the side area of the parking lot. I was on the overhead bed reading when I heard a noise that I thought was a knock.
“Did you hear anything?” I asked Mike
He went to the door and yelled. “What can I do for you?”
There was no answer.
He pulled aside the blind then pointed to me. I looked out my open window and saw a woman standing just below me by the
passenger's door. She was nicely dressed and had a container of juice or water.
“Can I help you?” I asked through the open window.
She looked around.
“Up here.”
She still couldn't find me.
“Up, up. Look up.”
She finally did and saw me. "Do you have any cigarettes?" she asked.
“I’ve never smoked and my husband quit years ago.”
“Thank you.” She walked away.
Mike thought she was a hooker trying to drum up business. I said her clothes didn't suit that type of job. She was dressed
more for working in a store. He figured she probably went to every truck and asked for a cigarette.
It was 82F (27.7C) at 10:30am as we headed out of Naples. I still couldn’t associate the temperatures with the fact that it
was the end of October. If we were at home on Vancouver Island, it would be overcast, raining, maybe plus 5*C (41F).
We were on the Tamiami Trail. The construction of this highway was begun in 1923 by a private citizen who put up his own
money. In 1926, the state took over to complete it. It opened in 1928 and connects Tampa and Miami.
We stopped at the Marsh Walk Trail. The walk itself is 1.1 miles (1.8km) but it was so hot that I only went about ¼ mile to
the observation tower and looked out over the marsh. I saw fish swimming in the pond below the tower and birds flying
around. Beautiful.
We drove to the Everglades National Park. I went into the office to find information about taking the Ten Thousand Island
boat tour. While I waited my turn to book a spot I wandered around the gift shop. I saw a number of women wearing the t-
shirt that all team members had been given at the dragon boat festival.
“I have one of those,” I said to one of the women.
“Oh, what team were you on?” she asked.
“Angels Abreast from Nanaimo. What about you?”
“Breast Friends from Edmonton.”
“Wow,” I gasped. “I belonged to that team from 2002 to 2004.”
“I’ve only been on it for three years,” the woman said.
“Did you take the islands tour?”
“Yes, we just came back. We’re on a bus tour through southern Florida before heading home.”
They left then a different woman came in. “I heard that someone in here once belonged to Breast Friends,” she said, loudly.
“I did.”
“Oh,” she said, looking at me. “I was told that we may know each other.”
“I left in 2004,” I said.
She shook her head. “I didn’t join until 2006.”
We hugged and she left to get back on the bus. I booked to go on the next tour and went to the motorhome to wait.
“This is where the Florida peninsula breaks apart into thousands and thousands of tiny pieces,” the captain said after the
cruise boat had pulled away from the dock. “These clusters of mangroves form islands in this shallow estuary that is
constantly fed by a flow of fresh rainfall into the Florida Bay. The number of islands depends on the tide.
“The red mangroves of Florida are trees that can grow in saline or brackish water. They reproduce by growing cigar-shaped
baby plants that drop into the water and float until they find land to cling to and root. These mangroves thrive because they
can remove fresh water from the saltwater. Their tangled roots are above ground so they can breathe.”
As we slowly wove our way through the islands, I saw pelicans in the water and eagles in trees. We went past a manatee
zone but I didn't see any manatees. The captain took us to the farthest island, and we looked out at the Gulf of Mexico. On
our way back dolphins came and circled around the boat. We spent a lot of time watching them playing and feeding.
We went into Everglades City for the night and the next morning headed back to the Everglades National Park where we took
a boat ride inland through the Mangrove Trees. Captain Josh took us along nameless waterways into the dense swampy part
of the everglades. On some channels the branches met overhead blocking out the sun. We saw two alligators and had to duck
webs made by huge spiders. We watched for manatees but none came around the boat. In spite of that we had a really good
Back on the Tamiami Trail we turned east and entered Big Cypress National Preserve. This 720,000 acre preserve protects
the fresh waters of the Big Cypress Swamp, the waters of which are essential to the neighbouring Everglades.
We stopped in at the Ochopee post office, the smallest post office in the US. We bought some stamps and mailed a post card
to my mother. The post mistress said that they are busy all the time and send letters to many parts of the world.
Along the road we saw a sign for the HP Williams roadside park and pulled in. There was a short boardwalk alongside a
canal. We saw alligators, turtles, fish, and a cormorant. The cormorant sat on the edge of the land then slid headfirst into the
water. We could see it swimming under the surface looking for fish. When it caught one, it rose to the surface and
swallowed it.
Further down the Tamaimi Trail we stopped at the Kirby Shorter roadside park. I walked on the boardwalk that is a mile
round trip. I started out through a prairie-like area that was dry land with tall grass. The further I went, the wetter it got and
then I was in a swamp with tall Cyprus trees. The transition from the prairie to the swamp was amazing.
As we drove we did see road signs for the Florida panther but never saw one of the illusive cats. When we passed the Oasis
Visitors Center we looked in the canal beside the road and saw lots of alligators laying side by side on the banks. We stopped
and took pictures of them.
Alligators are the world’s largest reptiles and date back millions of years to the dinosaur era. They grow a foot a year for the
first four years and then slowly after that. It may take a female 10 to 15 years to reach maturity at seven feet (2.1m) long and
a male 8-12 years. They can live between 35 and 60 years. Alligators only eat 15 to 20 times a year.
We headed towards the Florida Keys. Key is from the Spanish word Cayo meaning small island. The Keys are an archipelago
of about 1700 islands which are exposed portions of an ancient coral reef. They are connected to the US mainland by
Highway 1.
We began at Key Largo, made famous by the movie Key Largo staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and the song Key
Largo recorded in 1981 by Bertie Higgins. We drove over many channels and through many towns on our way to Key West.
There were souvenir shops, marinas, museums, and bakeries along the highway. There were many places where we saw the
Gulf of Mexico on one side and Atlantic Ocean on the other. We finally quit counting the number of Keys that we drove
through. The scenery changed from trees to ocean views to houses to state parks. The most impressive part of the drive
were the bridges. Long Key Bridge over Long Key Channel lives up to it name. It is almost 2.5 miles (4km) long.
As we drove over the Seven Mile Bridge, built between 1978 and 1982, we saw the old original bridge beside it. That was
known as the Knights Key-Pigeon Key-Moser Channel-Pacet Channel Bridge. It was constructed between 1909 and 1912 as
part of the Florida East Coast Railway which ran to Key West. In the 1930s, highway bridges were being constructed to
connect the Keys but in 1935 a hurricane hit killing more than 200 of the workers. It also badly damaged the railroad tracks
and they were never rebuilt. The bridge became part of the highway system. Now it is falling apart and there are trees
growing on it, but part of it has been fixed up and is used for people to walk on.
At the Bahai Honda State Park we pulled in to book a spot for the night but there weren't any sites left. We were told to go to
the Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge. We crossed the Spanish Harbour Bridge and were in Big Pine Key. I went in to book a place
at the lodge. It was $64.00 for the night. I decided I wanted to camp on the Gulf of Mexico so I paid the extra $6.00 to be on
the water.
We still had lots of time so we continued our journey south. We saw small islands of mangroves in the water, and on land I
saw lizards in the grass. We arrived in Key West and Highway 1 became Truman Avenue. The further south we went on it
the narrower the street became until it was down to one lane. We saw a lot of the old section of the city. We reached Fort
Zachary at the southern end of the key and work our way through narrow streets almost too small for the motorhome.
At the corner of Angela and Whitehead we turned onto Whitehead and drove past the Ernest Hemmingway Home. It is now a
museum and open to visitors. However, the streets were so narrow that we couldn't find a place to park our motorhome.
We turned onto Truman Avenue again and headed back to our campsite.

Road Tripping USA Part Five

We entered Florida, the Sunshine State and passed a number of roadside shops offering pecans, jams, and boiled peanuts. We
stopped at one and bought a bag each of pecans, chocolate coated pecans, and white chocolate coated pecans. We also
purchased a bag of chocolate covered cherries, a container of pecan brittle, and a jar of mayhaw jelly. Mayhaw is a wild
berry that grows along the rivers in the area. We sampled the boiled peanuts. You can eat them with the shell or you can
remove the shell and eat the nut.
We crossed the Historic Suwannee River made famous by Stephen Foster’s song Old Folks at Home written in 1851. It
became Florida’s state song in 1935.
At 4:00pm the temperature was 83F (28C).
I was to meet my dragon boat team at the Hampton Inn Sarasota Bee Ridge on Wednesday, October 22. On October 21 Mike
and I went to Myakka State Park and booked a site for him for five nights. In the morning we decided to do the Canopy Walk
before I went to the hotel. It was humid and hot even at 8:00am.
We walked down the road to a bridge over the river and took pictures of a small alligator swimming in the water. We
continued to where the Canopy Walk trail headed into the bush. It was only slightly cooler in the trees. After a short distance
we got to the first of two towers. There was a sign there warning us that the suspended walkway would sway when we
crossed it and the taller tower would shake if someone was climbing below. Also, the tall tower would rattle if it was windy.
But we were assured it was all natural and safe.
We climbed the tower to the walkway which is suspended 25ft (7.6m) above the ground. We walked along its narrow 85ft
(30m) length through the tall trees. At one point we had to duck to miss a huge branch growing over the walkway. At the end
we climbed the taller tower until we were 76.1ft (23m) in the air. What an excellent view we had of the oak and palm tree
tops and the wetlands. This is one of just a few canopy walks in the world.
In the afternoon, Mike drove me to the Hampton Inn. The rest of the team wouldn’t be showing up until evening. I unpacked
and watched television, something I hadn’t done since leaving home. I hadn’t missed much. The two ladies I was sharing the
room with arrived and after hugs and greetings they unpacked. We headed down to the lobby to meet with other team
members and we went for supper.
Thursday was a free day so we split into groups, some wanted to go shopping, some wanted to relax because of the time
change, and some wanted to sightsee. I was part of the shopping group. One woman had gotten directions to a shopping
center and we boarded a bus. It was a long trip and we had to transfer once. At one point we were the only people on the bus
other than the driver. A young man got on and stopped when he saw all us women. We told him it was safe and we had quite
a conversation with him, telling him who we were and why we were in town. He took a picture of us when he got off the
We visited the mall and returned in time to attend the welcoming party that the hotel staff put on for us and the three other
teams who were staying at the hotel. We had a fun time meeting the other women and sampling food and beer from local
businesses. We’d made reservations at a nearby restaurant for a team supper so we headed there afterwards. Once we’d
eaten, most of the team came back to our room for shooters and a party.
Friday morning we were bussed to Nathan Benderson Park for our first look at the venue where the festival would take place
and for our forty-five minute practice on the lake. The opening ceremonies were held that evening and thousands of chairs
had been set up on a grassy area facing a stage. The youngest member of all the teams from each country carried that
country’s flag across the stage and set it in a holder. No name or age was given for these women but some of them seemed
to be in their twenties or early thirties. Speeches were given and then there was a wine and cheese reception for the teams.
School buses had been rented to provide transportation for the teams to the site on Saturday and Sunday. Our pick up time
was at 6:30am. The hotel management usually supplied breakfast for its guests starting at 6:00am but they changed the time
to 5:00am to accommodate our early schedule. And a good selection it was: bacon, eggs, sausages, toast, hash browns, hot
and cold cereal, muffins, fruit, juice, tea, and coffee.
We were in Florida but at 6:30 in the morning it was dark and the temperature was cool. At the site we carried our team
banner and decorations to our tent and set them up, then watched the sun rise.
Nathan Benderson Park was large. It had to be to accommodate the one hundred teams with up to twenty-six members plus
supporters. This totaled about three thousand women and men in pink. There were two long rows of huge tents on the grass
and the teams shared the space. Each team was given a table and enough chairs for the members. We put our table at one end
of the tent and set the chairs in two rows with a narrow walkway between. From the other end of our space we had a view
of the lake and the races. Between us and the water was a paved walkway and a beach.
The races began at 8:30am and ran every ten minutes. There were eight teams per race. Our first race was at 8:50. We found
a place on the grass to do our warm up then headed to the first Staging Area to line up with the other seven teams of our
race. There were twenty-four dragon boats on the water. Eight were racing, eight were being loaded and heading to the race
start, and eight were waiting to unload from the previous race. As each set of boats was loaded the teams for the next race
moved from the first Staging Area to the second Staging Area and those from the Second Staging area went down to the
water to await their boats. It ran like clockwork.
When our race was finished we were free to explore the site until an hour before assembling for our next one. I went and
checked out the many tents that offered clothes, paddling equipment, food, and souvenirs for sale. One place sold t-shirts that
listed the one hundred teams and all their members. I found my name on it and bought it.
It was exciting to wander the crowd of women, meeting friends from other festivals and making new ones at this festival.
Mike and I planned on travelling across Canada so I stopped in at the tables of teams from each province to get a contact
number. I wanted to try and make a practice with at least one team in each province as we drove through it.
We women at the race are a very small representation of the millions of women around the world who have had, are dealing
with, or who have died from breast cancer. We are called survivors, but really that is a description that changes minute by
minute. I have paddled with many women who had their cancer return, sometimes in the breast, sometimes it has
metastasized to their brain, their lungs, or another part of their body. One woman I knew had breast cancer cells wrapped
around the bones of her lower jaw.
In one area there was a pink fire truck and a pink police car. The retired firefighters from various towns and cities drive their
truck to festivals across the country to raise awareness of breast cancer. Their motto is Pink Heals and the truck was
covered in names of people who had signed it. I added my name to it.
Some of the teams have come up with some very inventive names: Chemo Savvy from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada;
Chestmates from Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Missabittatitti from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; Hope Chest, Buffalo, New
York, USA; and Rowbust from London Ontario, Canada.
After our last race of the day we headed to the drop off and pick up area to catch a bus back to the hotel. The owner of the
school buses was directing them and we visited with him while we waited our turn.
“Did you know that there are alligators in the lake?” he asked.
“No,” we said, as we looked at each other in shock.
“There are and if you fall in you will be eaten,” he said. “Alligators only eat every four months and we hold a festival on the
lake about every four months. That way we don’t have to feed them.”
Back at the hotel, we got ready for the Parade of Nations and a street party. Every team was supposed wear theme costume.
Ours was Super Survivor. We wore pink capes, white t-shirts with a super hero on it, pink decorated masks, and black
pants. We each carried a small Canadian flag. We were bussed to the Lakewood Ranch Main Street. There were speeches
and then the one hundred teams paraded through the streets. Afterwards, a band played while we shopped in the stores and
ate in the restaurants or from the street vendors. I gave my flag to a young boy of about eight, my cape to a young girl of
about eleven and my mask to a child of about five.
On Sunday afternoon, the Flower Ceremony was held after the last race. The sixteen boats from the previous two races
remained on the water and were joined by the eight boats from the last one. They formed a floating flotilla of twenty-four
boats and stayed in formation by the ladies holding the side of the boat beside them. Each of the women in the boats, as well
as all the survivors on shore, had been given a pink carnation. Spectators could purchase the carnations and the money was
donated to Breast Cancer research.
Speeches were made then while the song, The River, was played we all waved our flowers. At the end of the song we threw
them into the water. These flowers represented the women who have died from the disease or who are fighting it.
The Flower Ceremony, also called the Carnation Ceremony, is held at every festival where there are breast cancer teams. It
always is a very moving sight.
At the closing ceremonies the oldest member of all the teams from each country retrieved that country’s flag from the holder
and carried it back across the stage. Bette, an 85-year-old member from our team, represented Canada.
Each day there were three drones hovering over the venue recording the sights. In the evening we could bring up the website
on the Internet and see all that had taken place during the day.

Road Tripping USA Part Four
We crossed a long cable suspension bridge over the very wide Mississippi River and were in Mississippi, Birthplace of
America’s Music. We passed through Greenville and reached Leland which was established in 1886. It is the heart of Blues
Country and has the US 61 Blues Museum. Jim Henson, who created Kermit the Frog, was born in Greenville but raised in
We drove past fields of cotton and huge cotton bales and reached Greenwood, which bills itself as the cotton capital of the
We needed some money so we stopped at a bank in Louisville. I walked in and was told the ATM was a drive through on the
outside. I went out and around to the side. I decided to ask for more than I normally took out. As usual, I followed all the
instructions and when I was asked if I wanted a receipt and I pressed yes. The next question was if I wanted to pay the extra
charge for getting the money. Again I pressed yes. The words, ‘Thank you, your transaction is compete’ showed up on the
screen. I waited but no money came out. I pushed buttons, nothing. I checked the flap for the money, none. I looked for the
receipt. There wasn’t one.
I went back into the bank and told a woman in an office what had happened.
“That’s weird,” she said. “There must be something wrong. Maybe you should call your bank and find out if the transaction
went through.”
I grimaced. “I’m from Canada and I didn’t bring my cell phone.”
She pushed the phone on her desk towards me. I dialed the number on the back of my bank card and was immediately put
through to a person. I explained everything. He checked my account and said that the transaction hadn't gone through.
“The cash you wanted plus the exchange rate put the amount you asked for over the withdrawal limit you had set,” he added.
Problem solved.
When I was leaving I thanked the woman for her help and gave her a hug. She told me to wait a minute and left. She came
back holding two mugs with the name of the bank on them. A souvenir of our meeting. I went to the ATM and this time got
our money.
We passed many fields of cotton and entered Alabama, which got its name from an Indian tribe that once lived in the area.
We were enjoying our drive down the back highways through the smaller towns and the tall trees. We saw some big old
houses and entered historic Eutaw which was established in the 1830s. There are over 25 antebellum (before war) structures
in town that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We saw a sign for Kirkwood Manor. The hours were 9am-4pm. We parked but when I knocked on the door no one
answered and the door was locked. We tried to look in the windows but curtains blocked the view. We took pictures of the
house and yard and went to the tourist information center which was in the old law courts.
I walked inside and was in a large room with tall shelves holding rows of dusty old law books. I walked over to them and
looked at the dates: 1883 and 1884.
A woman entered the room. “May I help you?”
“Yes. I wanted to tour the Kirkland Manor but no one was there.”
“The person who looks after the manor is at a fair and will be there all day.”
“Are there any other mansions that are open to visitors?” I asked.
“I’ll see if I have a booklet on them.”
She left the room and I went over to the books again. At one time I had thought I would like to be a lawyer and I was itching
to look through these old books. I was just reaching for one when the woman returned.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can’t find any booklets on the historic houses in town.”
“That’s okay,” I said. I pointed to the book shelf. “Those books are sure dusty.”
“That’s because no one is allowed to touch them.”
The woman gave me directions to some of the old mansions and we drove around the town just to see the outside of some of
them. When we left town we were on the Martin Luther King Memorial Highway.
At 10:00am it was already 87F (30.5C) and humid. Just as we arrived in Greensboro we saw a sign for the Magnolia Grove. I
like magnolia trees and we have one in our front yard. I wanted to see the grove. We found a place to park and I walked
through the huge magnolia trees to the mansion.
“This house was built around 1840 as a town house,” the guide told me. “The original owner wasn't a fancy type of guy so
this wasn’t a very fancy home compared to others. He had a bigger house on his 4000 acre plantation twelve miles outside of
The town home had antique furniture such as a red velvet couch, a piano, and a commode in one of the bedrooms. The front
verandah had six columns holding the roof.
I asked her about the magnolia trees.
“The southern magnolias is a large evergreen tree that keeps its leaves all year round,” she said. “Their blooms are all white
and fragrant.”
“I have a magnolia tree at home and it loses its leaves every fall. Its blossoms are a pinkish/white.”
“The tree you have is a Japanese magnolia. It is the offspring of two Chinese parents and one of the most widely planted
magnolias because of its hardiness.”
As I was leaving she said we were lucky to be passing through the area today because the weather had just changed. It was a
lot cooler than it had been.
We had been looking for a place to sample a restaurant meal and in Eufaula we saw a sign for Cajun food. We pulled onto a
side street and parked in a lot. As we walk along the sidewalk we saw the sign for Barb's Country Kitchen. We decided we
should wait for Cajun food until we reached Louisiana so we entered the restaurant.
It was a long, narrow room with a counter, kitchen, and buffet to the left and tables on the right. We figured it was a popular
place because most of the tables were full. We paid for our meal and found a place to sit. I took my plate and went up to the
first section of food. There weren't any signs to tell me what each dish was, so I asked the cook who was replenishing one
of the pans. He pointed and said. “Catfish, jambalaya, three different types of chicken, baked beans, meatloaf, and corn
I tried a little of each and went back to the table. The cat fish and chicken were delicious. I can’t eat spicy food because it
burns my mouth and I’d heard that jambalaya was spicy. I took a small forkful. It was spicy but I found out if I didn't eat the
sausage pieces I could handle it.
When I’d finished my plate, I went to the next section that looked like it was mainly vegetables. This time I took some of
each then went to the counter and ask the woman behind it what each dish was. Collard greens, lima beans with ham, corn,
and rutabaga.
When I sat down the waitress came over.
“Where are you from?” she asked me
“Canada,” I answered.
She turned to the people behind the counter and announced in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, “They’re from
I recognized peach cobbler as the dessert and didn’t have to ask.
As we drove through the town we saw large pink ribbons, the sign for breast cancer, stuck in the grass of the medians and
beside the sidewalks. I wasn't able to find out why the ribbons were on the lawns. I did learn, however, that a Eufaula high
school student restored an antique tractor for her American Degree. In order to make it stand out she painted it pink. Along
the way she learned how much breast cancer impacted families around the country. She now hopes her pink tractor's new
life will inspire those battling the disease to look forward to their renewed life post cancer.
We stopped at the Shorter Mansion Museum, a huge two-storey masonry home built in 1884. The mansion was passed down
in the Shorter Family until 1965, when it was bought by the newly founded Eufaula Heritage Association. Inside, we followed
a winding staircase that led to the centre of the upstairs. Around the staircase were the bedrooms. Each room had a door
leading to the next one. There was period clothing and furniture to give the visitor an idea of how the people lived back in the
Compared to the Magnolia Grove town home’s front verandah with its six columns, the Shorter mansion has a wrap-around
verandah with 18 columns holding up its roof.
I talked with a man at the mansion and asked him how to pronounce the name of the town. He told me that at one time the
town had a large mattress factory and he gave me this saying: You falla sleep on our mattresses. Eu-faul-a.
We crossed the Chattahoochee River into Georgia and at the town of Cuthbert we drove around a large traffic circle. There
was a fall fair going on in the center. We parked and walked by an antique car display on our way to the fair. There were
tables of jewellery, hats, knives, clothing, and food. I ordered a chocolate sundae while Mike had a root beer float. We came
to one table where a 17–year-old young man and his mother were selling hand crafted knives. He explained that when he was
fourteen he began working for a farrier looking after horses. A couple of years later the farrier gave the young man his old
propane operated forge.
He started fashioning railroad spikes into knives. On his table there was a tomahawk head that he had forged from a piece of
one inch axle. We wanted to buy our neighbours something as a thank you for looking after our place. They belong to a Black
Powder club and everything they wear or use has to be handmade. We thought the tomahawk head might be appropriate. The
price was $60.00.
“I don’t know why he puts a price on anything,” his mother said. “He’s willing to barter.”
“What’s your lowest price?” Mike asked, as he looked at the piece.
The young man thought it over. “I guess I could go down to $40.00.”
“How long did it take you to make it? I asked.
“It took me a day to forge it and then a week to polish it.”
“I’m an artist,” I said. “And I know that we never get back the price of our time on anything we make for sale. It’s worth
more than $40.00. We’ll give you $50.00.”
The mother, the young man, and Mike all stared at me in surprise.
“You don’t understand bartering, do you?” Mike said to me.
We bought the tomahawk head for fifty dollars.
Ever since we started this trip everyone we met was very friendly and helpful. They answered all our questions, however
stupid they may be. A lot of them hadn't heard about dragon boating or its relationship to breast cancer. But it didn't matter
who we talked to there was someone they knew, whether a family member or a friend, who had had some form of cancer.
The grandmother of the young man had lymphoma. The doctors had managed it for a long time with medication then
suddenly it doubled in size and she was on massive therapy.
At another booth, the mother of the young woman there was an eleven year breast cancer survivor. When the people we
talked with found out that we are going to Florida for an international breast cancer survivor dragon boat festival they always
told us to have a safe trip.

Author’s Note

I belong to Angels Abreast, a breast cancer survivor dragon boat race team in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Every four
years the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission IBCPC) holds an international festival somewhere in the world. In
the spring of 2013, my team received a notice that the IBCPC had chosen Sarasota, Florida, USA, to hold the next festival in
October 2014.
We decided to attend and while the other members were going to fly down, tour around some of the sites and head home I
wanted to see more of the country and meet some of the people. My husband, Mike, and I drove from our small acreage at
Port Alberni, British Columbia, on the Pacific Ocean, to Sarasota, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the people I would meet nor the beautiful places I would see nor the adventures I
would have on our ten week, 18,758km (11656 mile) journey. On the thirteenth day of every month in 2016 I will post a part
of my trip that describes some of the excellent scenery, shows the generosity and friendliness of the people, and explains
some of the history of the country. The people of the USA have much to be proud of.

Road Tripping USA Part Three

We have been to the Great Salt Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and the Salt Plains in the Northwest Territories,
Canada, so we thought we would look for the crystals that form in the Salt Plains of Oklahoma. The end of the season for
digging for crystal was October 15 and it was October 13. We were just under the wire.
We crossed the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River four times on our way to the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge near the
Salt Plains State Park. The refuge is home to over 300 species of birds and about thirty species of mammals. The plains were
formed millions of years ago by repeated flooding of seawater. When the source of the seawater was cut off, the water
evaporated and thick layers of salt were left. The water of the Great Salt Plains Lake is about half as salty as the water of the
Ground water continues to flow through the salt plains and when it rises to the surface and evaporates it leaves a thin crust of
salt. It is a combination of this saline solution and the gypsum in the area that forms the selenite crystal. Selenite is a
crystallized form of gypsum and the crystals are usually found just below the crusty surface. The iron oxide in the soil gives
these crystals their brownish colour.
We drove our motorhome to the edge of the salt flats and parked beside a wooden observation tower. There was a sign that
told us to dig for crystals only in designated areas.
The guide at the Alabaster Caves I had visited earlier that day (last month’s installment) had told me that on a sunny day the
lake reflects the sun so much that I would have to wear sunglasses and sun screen. Luckily for us it was a cloudy day.
Unluckily for us, it was a very windy day. The guide had also said that we really didn’t need a shovel. We could just use the
holes dug by other people.
“Most people find crystals and some of them are fairly big,” she told me.
The crystals from the Salt Plains are called hour glass crystals. This is the only place in the world where they can be found
and it is illegal to sell them. There are various sections that are open to the public on a rotating basis. This gives time for more
crystals to form.
We looked out over the large area of hard salt. There were pilings with ropes between them that looked like they marked the
edges of a driveway or walkway. It went a long way out into the salt flat. We knew we had to drive on the marked roadway
because in some of the unmarked areas there is only a shallow crust over quicksand.
We weren’t sure if we should try it. We were the only ones out there. If we went off the track we could get stuck or worse
yet, end up in quicksand. It was such a cold, blustery day that we doubted anyone else would come out so we would have to
walk to a farm for help and there weren’t many around.
There were a couple of restrictions. We could only harvest ten pounds (4.5kg) of crystal plus one large cluster in one day. I
wasn’t worried about breaking that rule. The second one was that we were not to disturb or destroy nests, eggs, or birds. It
was fall so there weren’t any nests or eggs and any birds in the area were smart enough to hide under shelter on this day.
We decided to walk. Since we didn’t have shovels I rummaged through our drawers and cupboards. I came up with one
metal and one plastic plate to use as a scoops, a large soup ladle, a soup spoon, and a metal measuring cup. We walked out
onto the salt with my paraphernalia. The wind was strong and it pelted us with salt, whipped at our clothes and our hair, and
blew us sideways. We had a hard time moving. There was no way we could walk to the end of the driveway where the
crystals were. I tried digging in some places beside the posts. The salt was too hard to make much of a hole. We picked up a
few small rocks, or maybe they were miniature crystals, and headed to our motorhome.
We had just put everything away when a man in a four wheel drive pick-up truck drove past us and out onto the flats. We
watched him go to the end and back. As he pulled up beside us he stopped and rolled down his window.
“Did you go out?” he asked.
“No,” Mike said. “We weren’t sure if the salt would support our motorhome.”
“It’s fairly firm. I went to check on it because my daughter is bringing a class of high school students tomorrow in a school
bus. You probably wouldn’t have any problems with your motorhome.”
But our time had passed and we were leaving.
When we arrived at Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, there was a sign on the lawn stating the fort was being renovated and we could
visit for free. We walked into the bakery and looked at the huge stone and brick oven. The magazine building held boxes of
ammunition. In the Commissary a video was shown giving some information about the history of the fort and then a man
dressed in a union uniform gave a talk about the civil war.
Fort Gibson was founded in 1824 and a town was established nearby soon after. The fort was abandoned in 1857 but
reoccupied during the civil war. The army again abandoned the fort in 1890 and the town relocated to higher ground in 1900.
The town is one of the oldest non-native settlements in Oklahoma. It was the first community in the state to have telephone
service, a drama theater, a steamboat landing, and a school for the blind.
When we were there, the stockade and barracks were closed to visitors because of the renovations to the log buildings. As
much of the original material as possible was being used. We drove to them and from the road did see some of the log
buildings with their huge brick fireplaces.
We crossed into Arkansas and reached Board Camp where we saw a sign for Board Camp Campground and Crystal Mine.
With the poor luck we’d had at the salt plains, we stopped in and talked with the owner, Cheryl. She gave us the choice of
going into the field and digging our own or buying some already dug. We weren’t interested in digging so we looked at the
large rock-encrusted raw crystals in the yard. Then we went into the store and browsed the crystals that they had cleaned up
(removed the rock from around them), the crystal jewellery, and pails of raw crystals still in rock.
“I’m open to any type of bartering,” Cheryl said. “Nothing has a fixed price.”
“Joan is a mystery writer,” Mike said. “Would you be interested in some books?”
“Sure, I like reading.”
I went to the motorhome and brought back my set of mystery novels. I traded them and $20.00 for a 2.5 gallon pail of rock
and crystals.
“Where are you from and where are you going?” Cheryl asked.
“We’re from Vancouver Island and we’re on our way to an international breast cancer dragon boat festival in Sarasota,” I
told her.
When she asked for an explanation I told her the story of how dragon boating was a great exercise for women after breast
cancer surgery.
“I had a friend who died from cancer not long ago,” Cheryl said. “She fought hard but didn’t make it.”
By the time we left we were new friends and the next time I went on the Internet I friended her on Facebook.
We stopped at a Flea Market and bought two folding shovels then continued to the Crater of Diamonds State Park.  After
dumping the crystals from the pail into a box, we grabbed our shovels and gloves, and headed out to find a huge diamond.
We paid our entrance fee, received some papers on what to watch for, and walked out of the building to survey the field.
Someone turned the soil over every couple of weeks with a breaking plow so the land had long furrows with dips between.
We were told to look for anything shiny. We walked to one of the furrows and began digging. I quickly found two shinies
and showed them to Mike. He told me one was mica and the other quartz and he broke both of them. So I quit showing him
my shinies.
There was constant movement in the field. People carried pails, shovels, rakes, and hoes, and pulled wagons on their way to
find a lucky spot. Others walked up and down the rows scanning the ground.
We spent about two hours digging and searching before calling it a day. Mike stopped to talk with a woman who had found a
diamond the day before. She showed him the gem and the certificate she had received. She said she had just been walking
and watching the ground. Anyone who finds a diamond can take it to the shop where the staff will grade it for carats and give
out a certificate.
I spoke with a couple who said a woman had found a diamond that morning but somehow on her way to the building to get it
looked at, she had lost it. She retraced her steps but never did find it.
A man named John Huddleston owned this property in the early 1900s and found the first diamond in 1906. He eventually
sold the land and, as it changed hands over the years, there were unsuccessful attempts to make it into a commercial mine. In
1972, the State bought the site and developed it into a 911 acre state park along the Little Missouri River. Thirty-seven of
those acres make up the Crater of Diamonds.
It is believed these diamonds were formed millions of years ago and were spewed out to fall to the earth during a volcanic
eruption. There are about 700 diamonds found each year and over 28,000 have been found since 1972. It is the only such site
open to the public in North America and is thought to be the eighth largest diamond reserve in the world.

Road Tripping USA Part Two by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

Author’s Note

I belong to Angels Abreast, a breast cancer survivor dragon boat race team in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Every four
years the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission IBCPC) holds an international festival somewhere in the world. In
the spring of 2013, my team received a notice that the IBCPC had chosen Sarasota, Florida, USA, to hold the next festival in
October 2014.
We decided to attend and while the other members were going to fly down, tour around some of the sites and head home I
wanted to see more of the country and meet some of the people. My husband, Mike, and I drove from our small acreage at
Port Alberni, British Columbia, on the Pacific Ocean, to Sarasota, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the people I would meet nor the beautiful places I would see nor the adventures I
would have on our ten week, 18,758km (11656 mile) journey. On the thirteenth day of every month in 2016 I will post a part
of my trip that describes some of the excellent scenery, shows the generosity and friendliness of the people, and explains
some of the history of the country. The people of the USA have much to be proud of.

After leaving Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument, Colorado, we went to Mesa Verda (Spanish for ‘green
table’) National Park. We stopped in at the information center, picked up booklets and maps of the area, and began our tour.
We drove to the Montezuma, Park Point, and Geologic Overlooks where we had panoramic views of the area. Mike parked at
the museum and I took the Spruce House trail. I lost 100ft (30 m) in elevation as I descended on the paved switchbacks for a
quarter mile. There were interpretive signs along the trail about the flora in the area.
The construction of Spruce Tree House began by the ancient Pueblo people, sometimes called Anasazi, around the year 1200.
It had about 120 rooms and housed 60 to 90 residents. Spruce Tree House was the first site excavated in 1908. It has been
rebuilt using as much of the original material as possible and is considered the best preserved dwelling in Mesa Verda National
The word kiva comes from the Hopi language and refers to a round chamber in or near the village that may have been used
for social and religious purposes. It was like a basement or underground dwelling. There were eight kivas on the original
Spruce Tree House site and one has been rebuilt for the public to visit. I climbed down a ladder into the large, round, empty
room. The only light was from the hole above. It made me shiver to think I was in a place that had been built more than one
thousand years ago.
There are more than 600 cliff dwellings within the park. Most of them were constructed between the 1190s and the 1270s
and were abandoned by about 1300. The houses were built in shallow caves and under rock overhangs. They were made of
hard sandstone blocks held together with adobe mortar. The Anasazi were famous for their pottery and basket weaving.
When I walked back up the trail, I found myself out of breath. It bothered me because I liked to consider myself in good
shape. Then I realized why. I live at sea level and I was about 7000ft (2133m) above sea level where the air is lighter.
We drove to Cliff Palace which, along with Balcony House and Long House, is a ranger guided tour. I took the 250ft (76m)
walk to the overlook and gazed down at the cliff dwelling. There is a sign that states the site was found by two men in 1888
and there is a picture of it in 1891 showing the rubble and the deterioration. Over the years it has been partially restored.
After a couple more lookouts we headed downhill to the highway through some lovely scenery. We could see into the gorge
and had beautiful views of a valley below.
A sign welcomed us to New Mexico, Land of Enchantment. The scenery was beautiful sandstone rock cliffs on right and a
valley on the left. As we neared Aztec there were a lot of farms and some residences.
In Aztec we stopped at the visitor’s centre and got information about the area. I was given directions to the Aztec ruins and
also how to go to the Aztec Arches. As I was leaving the woman gave me a warning.
“It’s very dry here and you have to make sure you keep hydrated by drinking lots of water. You don’t sweat but you lose a
lot of moisture from your body.”
Mike parked at the ruins but his back was sore and he wanted to relax so I went alone. When I paid at the gift shop/museum
I was given the option of borrowing a booklet that would explain the ruins or buying one. I bought one as a souvenir. The day
was overcast with some sunshine as I started out and I could see heavy black clouds in the distance.
The ancestors of the American Indian, also called ‘ancestral Puebloan people’ lived here from the late 1000s to the late 1200s.
The Aztec Ruins National Monument was established in 1923 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the Aztec
people never lived there. The term Aztec was given to many ancient sites by the early Spanish explorers.
Some of the site has been restored, some of it has remained in its ruin condition. I used the booklet as a guide to view the
Kiva, the inner rooms, and the doorways set in the corners of some rooms. Going from room to room, I had to duck to get
through the doorways. In those rooms 900 year old timbers still support the ceiling or roof.
There are a number of Aztec Arches and we found a few close to town. The roads were sandy and wet and the black clouds
were still in the distance. However, the sun shone overhead. We took the Potter Canyon tour and saw the Outcrop, a hole
between two outcrops of sandstone. I hiked to the Pillar, where a hole has been formed in the middle of a tall sandstone rock.
Plus, we wandered between high sandstone walls and climbed into sandstone canyons. These arches are hundreds of
thousands years old and have been formed by the erosion of the sandstone.
We passed through Dulce and at the far end of town the Jacarilla Apache native band of Dulce, New Mexico, was putting on
a little market alongside the road. There were open-sided tents with food, jewellery, and jelly for sale. We pulled over and
walked through the site. Many of the vendors were selling fry bread which we had never tried. We went to one of the tents
and placed an order. We talked with the mother and son while she deep fried the dough. They explained how the food was
As we ate the fry bread Mike told them about our trip and why we were headed to Sarasota. The son had heard of dragon
boating and knew what we were talking about. We also bought a small loaf of their regular bread and some apple pie. Their
pieces of pie however were not like the triangle shaped ones I am used to. It looked like they made them in square pans then
cut them into squares.
We walked to another tent and Mike bought a tamale. We carried our goodies to the camper where Mike ate the tamale and I
tried the pie. I wanted to see some more so we went to a table where there were jars of jelly. I was wearing a black baseball
cap with a pink ribbon, the sign of breast cancer, on it.
“I like your hat,” the woman at the table said.
“Thank you,” I said.
“I’m a five year survivor,” she said.
“I’m thirteen years.” I then explained that I belonged to a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team and I was headed to an
international festival in Florida. She had never heard of dragon boating so I gave her a quick overview of the hundreds of
breast cancer survivor teams and the thousands of regular teams that there are around the world and what attending a festival
is like. I mentioned that she could form a team.
"I don't think there are enough women here to start a team," she said.
I wrote down her email address and said I would sent her info on it next time I was on the Internet.
I bought a jar of her homemade chokecherry jelly which was very good.
Just before the town of Questa we turned to go to the Rio Grande Gorge and reached the Rio Grande Del Norte National
Monument. Seventy-four miles of the Rio Grande are within this monument. At the Sheep Crossing overlook there was a sign
stating: Vertical Cliffs Along Rim. Keep a Safe Distance.
The Rio Grande Gorge Chiflo Trail is 7538ft (2298m) above sea level. There is a 0.4 mile trail down to the river with an
elevation change of 320ft (97m). The trail difficulty was easy. The canyon walls have gray, sandy and red rock throughout it.
In places, this gorge can be up to 800ft (244m) deep.
We met a couple of men from Texas who had come to fish for brown trout. They started down the trail but one guy’s knees
began to bother him so they came back up. They decided to head to a different spot where the climb wasn’t so steep. I went
down the sometimes rock, sometimes dirt trail. As I walked I watched for snakes which make this area their home. I didn’t
go all the way but reached a place where I had a great view of the river and was able to take pictures of the river and the

In Oklahoma, we were on our way to the Alabaster Caves. We drove through the tall banks of reddish rock along the
Cimarron River then climbed out of the river valley and into grasslands and farmland. When we turned onto Highway 508 we
were on the Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma.
I was the only customer for their first tour. The temperature of the caves is about 50F (10C). I wore a light jacket and the
guide was in shirt sleeves.
“The caves are the largest alabaster or gypsum caverns in the world that offers tours to the public,” the guide told me as we
entered them. “They are about three times as long as the three-quarters of a mile that you will be shown.”
The floor was slippery because of the humidity. There were lights in the cavern but only in sections. As we left one part the
guide pushed a button to turn on the lights ahead and shut off the ones behind us.     
We chatted as we walked. She asked me what I did because I had told her I had taken three months off work.
“I work twenty hours a week in a group home looking after mentally and physically challenged people,” I said. “But I really
envy you your job. I would enjoy a job like this.”
“Well, I’m hiring part time,” she said.
“Would you hire a Canadian?”
“Why not?
So I could have stayed if I wanted.
In one spot of the cave there is algae growing so it has turned the rock turquois/green. It is very pretty. She showed me
where names and dates have been carved in the rock. One was from 1920, another from 1922.
Five of the twenty-four different species of bats in Oklahoma live in the caves. I could hear some of them flying as we went
further and a few flew around as we walked. They didn’t bother us, didn’t even seem to mind that we were in their space.
One of the bats species, the Mexican Free-Tailed Bat calls Mexico home during the winter and comes to the caves in the
spring to bear their young.
The guide told me the story about a school group that was on a trip through the caves many years ago. Four boys snuck off
from the group and started exploring on their own. They crawled up and into one area where they claimed they found a
saddle, a knife and a skeleton. However, in the decades since no one has found that part of the cave to confirm their story.
There is one section of the cave that is called The Dagger Cave because it is shaped like a dagger. At one time during the Cold
War the Alabaster Caverns was considered a place to hide in case of attack. The local residents kept barrels of water and
some food stored in it.

Author’s Note
I belong to Angels Abreast, a breast cancer survivor dragon boat race team in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Every four
years the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission IBCPC) holds an international festival somewhere in the world. In
the spring of 2013, my team received a notice that the IBCPC had chosen Sarasota, Florida, USA, to hold the next festival in
October 2014.
We decided to attend and while the other members were going to fly down, tour around some of the sites and head home I
wanted to see more of the country and meet some of the people. My husband, Mike, and I drove from our small acreage at
Port Alberni, British Columbia, on the Pacific Ocean, to Sarasota, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the people I would meet nor the beautiful places I would see nor the adventures I
would have on our ten week, 18,758km (11656 mile) journey. On the thirteenth day of every month in 2016 I will post a part
of my trip that describes some of the excellent scenery, shows the generosity and friendliness of the people, and explains
some of the history of the country. The people of the USA have much to be proud of.

Road Tripping USA Part One
After weeks of planning and preparing, we left our home on September 23, 2014, and over the next few days we drove
through southern British Columbia into Alberta, where we crossed the border into Montana. The countryside was flat as we
headed east to North Dakota and then south into South Dakota on Highway 85.
South of Redig we came to the junction with old Highway 85 that went west 7.8 miles (12.5km) to the Geographical Center
of the Nation. This spot was picked by U.S. National Geodetic Survey when Alaska and Hawaii were added in 1959. Before
that the centre of the nation was near the town of Lebanon, Kansas. The road is gravelled and the centre is on private
property and not accessible.
As we headed to Deadwood we entered the Black Hills National Forest which got their name because the trees are so thick
that from a distance they look black. They are a small mountain range with the highest summit being 7244 ft. (2208 m). The
area has been called the last great El Dorado on the American continent.
The Black Hills were originally granted to the Lakota Indians in 1868. In 1874, Colonel George Armstrong Custer discovered
gold near the present day town of Custer and that triggered the Black Hills Gold Rush. Deadwood, named for the dead trees
that were found in the town’s gulch, was quickly established and soon boasted a population of 5000. Lawlessness prevailed
and some claim the town was founded on gold, gambling, and guns.
We drove through the beautiful ponderosa pine trees and the red rock hillsides into the historic town. We stopped at the
tourist information center in the Days of ’76 Museum, then went downstairs to see the rows of carriages, stagecoaches, and
wagons. I sat in a stagecoach and we saw black and white hearses and a Brewery’s wagon. From there we found a casino
and spent an hour at the machines, leaving with less money than when we entered.
One of the most famous people to live in Deadwood was gambler, and sometimes lawman, Wild Bill Hickok. He was playing
poker in Nuttal & Mann's saloon in town on August 2, 1876 when another gambler, Jack McCall, shot him in the back of the
head. The hand that he held, aces and eights, is now known as the Dead Man's Hand.
At Mount Rushmore National Monument our first sight of the monument was from the entrance and many people stopped
just inside the doors to stare at the faces in the distance. We followed a very wide marble walkway to the Borglum Court. We
went under an arch and were on the Avenue of Flags, where a flag from each state and territory flies. At the end of the
walkway is the Grand View Terrace, a very wide lookout where we had a great view of the monument.
Mike went back to the motorhome while I took the Presidential Walk. The walk is slightly more than half a mile and the first
part is a flat path. I went past an Indian Village which was closed then reached a cave made by two huge boulders leaning
against each other. I entered the cave and looked up through a crack between the boulders to see Washington’s face. George
Washington was the first president of the United States and served from 1789 to 1797.
I strolled on the wooden walkway to the viewpoints where I took pictures of each face and saw them from different angles.
Thomas Jefferson, beside Washington, was the third president of the United States. His term was from 1801 to 1809.
Roosevelt, next to Jefferson, was wearing his glasses. He served as the twenty-sixth president from 1901 to 1909. He was
vice-president to President William McKinley and when McKinley was assassinated Roosevelt became president.
Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president, is the fourth face on the sculpture. He was president during the civil war and was
assassinated in 1865, nine days after Robert E. Lee, the Confederate commanding officer, surrendered.
The presidential faces on Mount Rushmore were carved by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, with the help of over 400 workers,
between 1927 and 1941. The monument is 60ft (18m) high and represents the first 130 years of the country's history. Three
million people visit each year.
As we left the parking lot we looked out over a lovely valley where we could see, as Mike put it, ‘into next week’. We drove
through Hill City and eventually came to a set of traffic lights on the highway. We turned onto Avenue of the Chiefs to get to
the Crazy Horse Monument.
Crazy Horse, literally meaning ‘His Horse Is Crazy’, was a war leader for the Oglala Lakota. He fought against the white man’
s encroachments into native land and led a war party at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. He eventually surrendered to U.
S. troops but four months later he was killed by a military guard.
I watched a 20 minute Dynamite and Dreams film about the monument and Korczak Ziolkowski, the self-taught sculptor who
was approached by Lakota chief Henry Standing Bear to sculpt Crazy Horse, ‘one of the red man’s great heroes’, in the Black
Hills. The film showed some of the early work he had done alone and had an interview with him before he passed away in
1982. There was also an interview of his wife who died in 2014. They had 10 children and some of them are still working on
the project, which is being funded solely by money raised from the tourists who visit.
The first blast took place on the Crazy Horse monument on June 3, 1948. Since then the head and face have been completed
and work is now being done on the hand and arm. When finished, the rider and horse will be 641ft (195m) long and 563ft
(172m) high, and the largest mountain carving in the world. It is so much bigger than Mount Rushmore that the presidential
faces would actually fit in the head of Crazy Horse. I wandered through the large log building that holds a gift shop, the
Indian Museum of North America, the Native American Cultural Center, an information center, and displays. There is a 1/34th
scale model that shows what the monument will look like when completed.
“We need to get the front brakes done as soon as possible,” Mike said as we crossed the border into Colorado. We’d bought
the used motorhome for the trip and had been assured the brakes were fine.
We stopped at a KOA campsite in Limon. Mike asked the woman behind the counter where we could get our brakes done.
She gave us a map of the town and showed us where NAPA was. It opened at 8:00am in the morning and she circled their
phone number. Mike was surprised because in Canada NAPA only sells auto parts. In the United States they also do vehicle
In the morning Mike phoned the NAPA dealer to see if we could make an appointment to have our brakes installed. He was
told that it was first come, first served. We looked at the map and saw it wasn’t very far from the KOA to the NAPA so I
decided to stay and shower. I would walk over once finished.
I got into the shower and turned handle. Nothing happened. The first thought that entered my mind was that I needed to pay
for it so rather than check further I quickly dressed hoping to catch Mike. He was gone. I went to the office.
“Morning,” the woman said.
“Hi,” I said. “I have a tale of woe to tell you.”
“Go right ahead.”
“My husband has left to get the brakes on our motorhome changed at NAPA and I hadn’t got any…”
“Don’t worry,” she cut in. “I’ll give you a ride over.”
On the way we chatted. She told me she had been in Limon about ten years. She liked the town and enjoyed owning the
KOA. Many of the people who camped there were regular customers who stopped in on their way south for the winter and
on their way home in the spring.
Mike was sitting in the motorhome in the NAPA dealer’s yard. He dug out his change purse and gave me all his quarters. I
jumped back in the car and held up my handful of change.
“I don’t know how much it costs for the shower but I’ve got all the quarters my husband had. I hope they are enough.”
“It doesn’t cost extra to shower,” she said.
“But I turned the handle and no water came out.”
“Just pull on the handle to start the water.”
Talk about feeling dumb.
Back at the KOA the woman offered me another ride when I was finished. After my shower and ride back I asked her to wait
a bit. I am a writer and had brought some of my mystery novels with me. I gave her a set as a thank you for her kindness.
The man who changed our brakes was very friendly. He and Mike chatted the whole time. Apparently he had spent time in
the Navy and had been to Nanaimo, B.C. so he knew where we were from. We left Limon about noon, happy to have our
brakes done.
We passed through Canon City and soon entered the Royal Gorge National Park. It was a narrow, winding climb to the
parking area for the Gorge Bridge. We walked out on the wooden decking of the highest bridge in the United States. I have a
fear of heights but I looked over the side at the Arkansas River, and the railway tracks running beside it, 1053ft (321m)
below. Mike went to the motorhome while I walked to the far end and back.
American explorers first saw the Arkansas River canyon in 1806. The railway was built in the late 1800s and the suspension
bridge was constructed in 1929. The bridge is 18ft (5.50m) wide and 1260ft (384m) length and has 1292 planks.
After seeing the Arkansas River Mike, and I headed to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument. We stopped on
the south rim where the interpretive center is located. I went in and looked through the center then we began our drive along
the rim. There are eleven viewpoints, some of them close to the road, some a bit of a walk like the Devil’s Overlook where I
walked 600 yards from the parking area. There is one that is wheelchair accessible. We stopped at other viewpoints to look
down at the river at the bottom of the canyon and to take pictures.
It took over two million years of water and climate erosion for the canyon to become what we saw. Although the Indians,
two Spanish expeditions, and fur trappers all knew about it, the first record of it was made in 1853 by Captain John
Gunnison, leader of a survey expedition. It was named the Black Canyon because little sunlight penetrates the high, sheer
walls. Some places only get 33 minutes of direct sunlight a day. In 1999, 14 miles (22km) of the 48 mile (77km) canyon
were made into a national park. During its run through the park, the Gunnison River drops an average of 95ft (29m) per mile
and in one two mile stretch it drops 249ft (76m). The canyon is only 40ft (12m) wide at its narrowest.

Friday the Thirteenth

The Number Thirteen

The fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia taken from the Greek words tris, for the number '3', kai meaning 'and',
deka for the number '10' and phobos which means 'fear'.
The number 13 has been much maligned over the centuries and maybe with good reason. In the Christian religion there were
13 guests at the Last Supper. Some believe that Judas was the thirteenth one to sit down, although it is not mentioned in the
Bible. He betrayed Jesus and later took his own life. This led to the belief that if there are thirteen people at a table, one of
them will die within a year.
There used to be 13 steps up to the gallows.
At one time a coven had 13 witches.
In Tarot, the number 13 card is the death card.
Some superstitions around the number 13:
In Ireland the first two digits on vehicle licence plates represents the year of registration such as 10 for 2010. In 2012, the
Society of the Irish Motor Industry thought that for many people the prospect of having '13' on their licence plates might
discourage them from buying new cars. The government introduced a system where vehicles bought in 2013 would have
'131' on their plates instead of '13'.
Very few buildings have 13th floor, the elevator going from twelve to fourteen. Strange, because we all know thirteen comes
after twelve no matter what name you give it. Is there a thirteenth floor that the elevator passes?
Most hotels don't have a room 13.
If you book a table for thirteen people at the Savoy Hotel in London, England, it will be set for fourteen and a sculpture of a
black cat called Kasper will occupy the fourteenth chair.
Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a professional 14th guest.
In Formula 1 car racing, there is no car with the number 13.
It is believed that if you have 13 letters in your name you would have Devil's luck. Charles Manson and Theodore (Ted)
Bundy are just a few.

Here are some examples in history where the number 13 has led to misadventures.
Phillip II was king of Macedonia from 359BC to 336BC. He led many wars and eventually ruled over much of Greece. During
a procession through a Greek town, Philip II placed his statue beside those of twelve Greek gods making his the thirteenth
statue. In 336 he was the leader of the invading army against the Persian Empire. In October of that year his daughter was
getting married in the Macedonian capital of Aegae. He was entering the town's theater when he was assassinated by his body
In Canada, the Seven Years War took place between Britain and France from 1756 and 1763. On September 12, 1759, British
troops climbed a steep footpath from the St Lawrence River up to the unfortified Plains of Abraham, named after its original
owner, Abraham Martin, who was a ship’s pilot in 1645. The plains were west of Quebec City and the path was guarded by
three French militiamen.
“Who goes there?” one asked.
“We are a group of French relief soldiers,” an Englishmen answered in French.
“Pass on by,” the militiaman said.
And they stood back to let the British troops walk in pairs past them. By morning of September 13th four thousand British
troops and their field artillery were assembled on the plains waiting for the French. The French mustered a combination of
four thousand regular French militiamen and civilians and faced the British troops. The British had the advantage because their
troops were all trained.
The battle lasted about thirty minutes with the British winning.
Apollo 13, which was launched from NASA on April 11, 1970 at 13:13 Central time, was halfway to the moon when an
explosion disrupted some of its instruments on April 13. It did manage to make it back to earth.
The Space Shuttle Columbia exploded on the 113th flight of the Space shuttle.
Princess Diana's accident occurred at the 13th pillar of the Pont de l'Alma tunnel.

In pagan Rome Fridays were execution days. This was later called Hangman's Day in Britain because that was the day that
public hangings took place.
In some marine circles many sailors did not want to set sail on a Friday.
In Biblical times the Great Flood, the destruction of the Temple of Solomon, and God tongue-tying the builders of the Tower
of Babel supposedly happened on a Friday.

Friday the Thirteenth
The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia from the Greek word for Friday, or friggatriskaidkaphobia
named after the Norse goddess, Frigg, from whom the English got the name Friday.
Friday the 13th is the most widespread superstition in western countries. About eight percent of the people believe that Friday
13th is unlucky. Again this could goes back to the Bible where Eve ate the apple from the serpent on Friday 13th and Jesus
died on the cross on Friday 13th.
On Friday Oct 13th, 1307, Philip IV of France ordered the arrests and assassinations of the Knights Templar.
In modern times Friday the 13th is called 'Black Friday'. One of the earliest examples of the name was used to refer to the
collapse of the United States gold market on Friday, Sept 24, 1869.

Some Friday the 13th superstitions are:
Seeing a black cat on Friday 13th is a bad omen.
If you leave your house by one door you should make sure you enter by that same door to avoid misfortune.
Some people won't go to work on that day and others will not dine out.
Many refuse to purchase a house, fly, or even act on a hot stock tip.
A study in Britain showed that while many people stayed home on Friday 13th, of those who did go out, more people were
hospitalized from accidents on that day than on the previous Friday.

In the 1800s, in order to dispel the fears of superstitious sailors who would not sail on a Friday 13th, the British Navy
commissioned a ship which was baptized the H.M.S. Friday. The crew members were picked on a Friday and it was
launched on Friday 13th. Unfortunately, it was never seen or heard from again. Some call this a myth while others say that
the navy wiped out all record of the voyage.

The Flip Side:
In some cultures Friday is considered a lucky day for sowing seeds and planting potatoes.
The Jewish Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday.
In the United States the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year. It has been given the term Black
Friday because that is when retailers begin to see a profit.
Most workers like Friday because it is the last work day of the week and signals the beginning of the weekend.
Thirteen is a prime number, which means it cannot be divided by any number other than itself. Hence, it symbolizes qualities
of incorruptible nature and purity.
In ancient Greece, Zeus was considered  the thirteenth and most powerful god. He was associated with totality, completion,
and attainment.
In Hindu mythology, Maha Shivratri was celebrated on the thirteenth night of the Magha month, which is a very sacred and
holy night for all Shiva followers.
The Thai New Year (Songkran Day)  begins on April 13th. It is a time to wash away all the bad omens by splashing water on
friends and relatives.
This one can be taken either way: our children become teenagers on their 13th birthday.
My name, Joan Donaldson, has 13 letters in it but, unlike Theodore Bundy, I haven't killed anyone except in my mystery

I am so happy to say that some of my children and grandchildren will be joining me in hiking the Chilkoot Trail-the trail the
Klondikers took to get to the Klondike gold field at Dawson City in the Yukon. My husband and I hiked the trail in 1997, on
the hundredth anniversary of the gold rush. We were in the Yukon and Alaska so I could research the state and territory for
my travel book Backroads of Alaska and the Yukon.
Many of the first men and women who went to the Klondike in the first year starved and froze because they hadn't brought
along enough supplies. To combat that, the Northwest Mounted Police decreed that the prospectors had to have 907 kg (2000
lbs) of  provisions in order to cross the border from Alaska into British Columbia and then onto the Yukon. The NWMP set
up a scale to weigh each person's supplies before letting them climb the Chilkoot Pass.
My husband and I each carried about 16kg. (35 lbs) on our five day hike up to and over the pass.
The following is what I wrote in the book about my hike. I imagine there have been many changes in the twenty years since
and I am looking forward to making a comparison of the differences between my two hikes. And there have been a few
changes with me. I am twenty years older and twenty pounds heavier. I'm looking forward to making a comparison of my
abilities and endurance between the two hikes.

Hiking The Chilkoot
The Chilkoot Trail was called the `poor‑man's route'. It ran from Dyea to Bennett Lake following an old native path. Because
of the isolation and cold winters the NWMP decreed that each man had to have at least 907 kilograms (2000 pounds) of
supplies before they would allow him to enter the Yukon and continue on his journey.
The men had to haul those supplies up and over the summit. Some were able to hire natives to help but many had to do it
themselves. They would carry as much as they could up the `Golden Stairs' (steps cut into the solid snow of the pass), then
slide back down to their cache and begin again. Most made 40 trips to do so. Once a miner got onto the steps he didn't dare
get off until the top. If fatigue forced him to step out he seldom managed to make it back on.
By the spring of 1898, three trams had been built to help haul the loads up the Chilkoot. Also in the spring the people who had
made it over the pass during the winter and had camped at Bennett Lake made boats from the trees around the lake. Over
7100 crafts set sail down Bennett Lake beginning the 900 kilometres (560 miles) journey to Dawson City. Records show that
about 30,000 people travelled from Bennett Lake to Dawson City in 1898. By the time they got there the best claims had been
staked by the prospectors who already lived in the area.
The trail closed in 1900 when the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway was completed.
The 53 kilometre (33 mile) long Chilkoot Trail is called the `Longest Museum in the World'. There are 10 campsites along it
so when you book your time you will have to decide how many kilometres you wish to hike each day.
Most of the people who started for the Klondike were Cheechakos, a native word for `greenhorn'. It was after a person had
spent a winter in the north that he or she became known as a Sourdough.
The trail starts out with the Taiya River to your left. You will be continually climbing and descending beside it until you reach
Sheep Camp. And until Sheep camp you are walking through a rainforest with tall trees creating a nice, cool shade on hot
days. You will climb over tree roots, stumps and rock and in places there is a drop so make sure your pack is secure and
doesn't wobble. You cross a number of bridges, made of metal, split logs, planks or boardwalks. If you are here in June or
early July there is two places where you will want to put on your sandals. One is to cross some water over the path and the
other is through a mud bog.
For about 1.6 kilometre (1 mile) you will be going through private land. There are signs up so watch for them. On the private
land you will come to the remains of an old vehicle and a building. The trail is as wide as a single lane road for a short
Soon after leaving the private land you reach Finnegan's Point, the first campground on the trail. It is 8 kilometres (5 miles)
from the beginning. There is a shelter where you can dry out your clothes if it is raining and cook your meals. Once you have
washed your dishes drain the water down the screened in pipe for gray water and scrap any food particles off the screen to
be put in your garbage. Make sure you hoist your food and garbage up on the bear pole to keep it from attracting bears into
the camp. Never keep any food with you in your tent.
This point was named after Pat Finnegan and his two sons who set up a ferry service here in 1897. Later they built a road
through the damp, boggy areas and charged a toll. This worked only in the summer because the prospectors pulled their
goods on sleds on the frozen ice in the winter. This point was also used as a cache where the stampeders left their first
bundles of supplies while they went back to Dyea for the rest.
There is a spot on the Taiya River here for you to relax, take off your boots and soak your feet if you wish.
4.8 kilometres (3 miles) from Finnegan's Point you come to Canyon City campsite. The shelter here is log and it has a
verandah with a table for you to eat outside on a pleasant day.
To reach the actual site of Canyon City, continue down the trail 0.8 kilometre (0.5 mile) past the camp until you reach a sign
with the distances to places: Canyon City Shelter 0.5 mile; Dyea 8 miles: Sheep Camp Shelter 5 miles; Chilkoot Pass 8.5 miles.
Follow the path to the left, cross over the wooden bridge and then the suspension bridge and you will reach a sign that states:
Canyon City Historical Site. You are now walking where Canyon City stood over 100 years ago. You will pass an old, rusted,
cook stove and come to a huge, rusted boiler. This 50 horsepower steam boiler was used to operate an aerial tramway
between here and the Chilkoot Pass. It cost 16.5 cents per kilogram (7.5 cents per pound) to send goods over this tram and
not everyone could afford it.
Stamped on the boiler is: Union Iron Works SF 1886.
Pleasant Camp is 4.5 kilometres (2.7 miles) from Canyon City. The climb out of the canyon between the two camps was
thought to be the worst part of the trail by some stampeders.
A little ways past the camp you cross a suspension bridge over a series of cascades. And in 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) you
reach Sheep Camp beside the Taiya River. At this camp, the last stop before the Chilkoot Pass, a ranger gives a talk about the
conditions of the pass at 7:00pm Alaska time. Other words of advice are to leave by at least 7am, drink 2 litres of water on
the trail and expect to take 10 hours to reach Happy Camp.
When you leave Sheep Camp the ground is level for the first ways and you come across a building that looks almost like a
train station. After you begin climbing there is an old log building with glass windows, little patio and cooking utensils hanging
on the wall. You are climbing mainly on a path but sometimes over boulders and you start to come out of the trees and into
alpine meadows.
When crossing the boulders watch for the piles of rocks on them that mark the trail. If you keep your head down and don't
watch you could get off the trail and become lost.
Up until mid-July and beginning in September, you could be walking on snow the higher you go. It is a 6.8 kilometre (4.2
mile) climb to the Scales. This is where the prospectors who had hired professional native packers had to reweigh their
goods. The packers wanted more money, up to $2.20 per kilogram (1 dollar per pound) to carry the supplies up and over the
pass. Consequently, many items were left behind and some still can be seen today.
From the Scales you can see the Chilkoot Pass down the valley and you cross alpine tundra to reach the base. On the other
side of the Chilkoot is Peterson Pass, a longer but easier alternative to the Chilkoot which was used by some Klondikers.
Those who travelled the trail in the winter climbed the 'Golden Stairs' cut in the ice and snow up the side of the pass. Those
who came in the summer, when the snow was melted, had to traverse over the huge boulders and loose rock left from a
slide. This is what you will be climbing on.
The climb is steep and you must lean forward. If you straightened up the weight of your pack could pull you over
backwards. Some people go slowly working their way from solid rock to solid rock, while others hike up it like they would
Watch for mountain goat either across the valley or beside the slide and for the Rufous hummingbird flitting about. It is
attracted to red clothing. If you are not afraid of heights, stop and look down to see how far you have come.
Near the top you reach a plateau, then you climb a bit more to the top. On the plateau look up to your right and you will see a
cairn marking the border between Alaska and BC.
When you reach the summit you have climbed 823 metres (2700 feet) from Sheep Camp. At the summit is a shelter and
outhouse. Stay only long enough to warm up and eat because it is still a 6.4 kilometre (4 mile) hike to Happy Camp and
storms can come up suddenly at the top.
As you hike down the Canadian side of the summit you have the most magnificent view of Crater Lake, alpine tundra and
mountains. The wind blows almost constantly here and there are a lot of streams to cross. Some have rocks to hop on while
at others you just have to look for the shallowest spot. Again, depending on the time of year you could be walking on snow in
Watch for the short colorful flowers-- purple, white, red, yellow, pink--and the grasses of the alpine tundra. Don't walk on
the tundra; it is not easy for the flowers and grass to grow here. At Stone Crib there is a pile of rocks that anchored the
cables for an aerial tramway on this side of the summit. Here also is a large saw blade from a sawmill that someone decided
he didn't need any more.
If it was cloudy on the Alaska side of the summit look back as you are walking and you will see the gray cloud hanging over
the summit as if it was stuck there. It doesn't get any closer but sometimes mist rolls this way from the summit.
Happy Camp is on a river between Crater Lake and Long Lake. The food cache here is inside a section of the shelter. For a
short distance after Happy Camp you will be walking on loose gravel. When you reach a sign pointing for Deep Lake turn in
that direction. You will climb and soon be up above Long Lake. There were ferries on Crater, Long and Deep lakes for those
who could afford the price.
You hike up and down hills then suddenly you'll come over a rise and see a lovely lake, a bridge over a river, trees, and a
camp in the centre of the mountains. You cross that bridge and reach Deep Lake Camp. A wagon road ran from here to
Lindeman City and you can see some old sleigh runners.
When you leave Deep Lake Camp as you walk beside the lakeshore watch for a metal boat frame. After you leave the
lakeshore you follow along Deep Lake Gorge.
The further you go the more trees there are. It is very beautiful and peaceful in here as you walk through the tall pine trees
and reach Lake Lindeman Camp (4.8 kilometres (3 miles) from Deep Lake Camp. There are two campgrounds‑one close to
the lake and one further away. You might want to take the one further away because the wind coming off the lake can be
strong and cool.
The Klondikers set up a tent city here and some built boats during the winter for sailing across Lake Lindeman. At the other
end they portaged around the rapids between Lindeman and Bennett lakes. Others carried their supplies along Lindeman Lake
and built their boats at Bennett Lake.
Do not disturb the historic sites at Lindeman and plan to visit the tent museum near the river. As you are leaving Lindeman
Camp, there is a small, roof-covered panel with a drawer. Inside the drawer is a book for you to record your name, the date,
the number in your party, the number of tents and where you are going from here. This is so the wardens can keep track of
who has passed through in case of an emergency.
Watch for the Rufous hummingbird along this part of the trail. If you are wearing red, one might come and hover over you
then dart off to sit in a tree. Keep your camera handy.
If you like the haunting call of the loon plan to stay at Bear Loon Camp 5.1 kilometres (3 mile) from Lindeman Lake Camp.
Shortly after Bear Loon is the cut‑off to the tracks of the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway. Many hikers only go this far
along the trail and hike along the tracks to Log Cabin. Although this is a popular way of getting off the trail, the railroad warns
that you should not walk on or beside their tracks. If you do decide to walk to Log Cabin find out the schedule of the train.
And even if there is no train scheduled, watch for speeders carrying the maintenance crews.
Bennett Lake campground is 6.4 kilometres (4 miles) from Bare Loon. This was where the two long, tired columns of
Klondikers met and spent the winter. And an instant tent town was established. In the spring the stampeders built boats for
the sail across the lake and down the Yukon. Bennett grew after the railway reached it from Skagway in 1899 and it had
warehouses, shipping offices and steamer docks.
The St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was built in 1898 by volunteer workers and it is the only gold rush building still
standing in Bennett. There is also a train station here.
SIDEBAR  907 Kilograms (2000 Pounds)
There was a list of items, deemed necessary by the NWMP, that the Klondiker needed before being allowed into Canada to
continue his journey to the gold rush. Depending on what you read the lists vary as does the amount of each food item. The
following is an inventory without the weights.
Clothing: flannel over shirts, pants, sweater, stockings, wool socks, underwear, overalls, mitts, leather gloves, coats, vest,
mackinaw, moccasins, rubber boots, high land boots and stiff brim cowboy hat.
Sleeping accommodations: sleeping bag, wool blankets, waterproof blanket, rubber sheet and tent.
Food: beans or split peas, flour, bacon, rolled oats, butter, rice, sugar, cornmeal, condensed milk, coffee, tea, salt, pepper,
baking powder, baking soda, yeast cakes, mustard, vinegar, beef extract, ground ginger, hard tack, Jamaica ginger, citric acid
and evaporated peaches, apricots, apples, onions and potatoes.
Cooking Utensils: coffee pot, pie plate (for eating off, not for baking), cutlery including large spoon, fry pan, cup, saucepan,
pail and sheet iron stove.
Toiletries: wash basin, soap, towels, toothbrush, medicine chest, handkerchiefs, mirror and comb.
Panning Equipment: pick and extra handle, shovel and gold pan.
Building Equipment: axe and extra handle, axe stone, nails, pitch, chisel, tape measure, rope, single block, rivets, saws, plane,
files and hatchet.
Miscellaneous: canvas sacks, matches, buttons, needles, thread, pack straps, knife, compass, candles, candlewick, dunnage
bag and mosquito netting.