Musings about life, love and genealogy.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Coconut Quinoa Bars

Earlier this summer, I started a quest to transform myself; lose weight, live healthier and be happier. Using a diet called Ideal Protein I’m happy to report that since June 28, 2014, I'm down 44 lbs and more than 22 total inches. Much to my hubby’s chagrin, I’ve spent more than my allotted $10 per pound lost on new clothes, but he’s got the biggest smile in the room when I walk through the door in my size 4 jeans.

But losing was the easy part. Now, I need to keep it off.

Enter quinoa.

While new to me, I’m late to the quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) bandwagon. It’s an ancient grain, cultivated in Peru, Bolivia, Equador and Colombia for thousands of years. High in protein, fiber, magnesium and iron, quinoa is the rock star of superfoods. So how do I take quinoa from grain to great, and get my hubby to eat it in the process? Disguise it as a snack!

My Coconut Quinoa bars are a crunchy treat packed full of good and healthy ingredients, drizzled in chocolate. They look decadent, but are high in protein, low in carbs, gluten free and super easy to make.

  • 1 c. uncooked quinoa
  • 1 c. uncooked oats (gluten free)
  • 1/2 c. chopped almonds
  • 1/2 c. sun butter (a natural sunflower spread, but if you can't find it, use almond butter instead)
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil (use 2 tbsp. if your coconut oil has liquefied)
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa (optional)
  • 1/4 c. cup of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • Melt together in the microwave for 1 minute

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking pan and a 9×13 dish with non-stick spray.

Mix quinoa and oatmeal together, pour into the baking pan and bake for 8 minutes, stirring once. Meanwhile, add sun butter, honey and coconut oil to a small saucepan and heat over a medium flame until melted. Remove the toasted quinoa and oatmeal from the oven and mix with the cocoa (if using), nuts and coconut in a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine. Press into your prepared 9×13 dish and bake for 18-20 minutes, until edges are just slightly browned.

Allow to cool for 30-45 minutes then break apart and place on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Drizzle with the melted chocolate sauce. Feel free to use a heavy hand! Place the cookie sheet in the fridge until set. Once your family finds them, you may not have any left over, but if you do, store them in the fridge in an airtight container or ziploc bag.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Picture is Worth... Two Cents?

One of the saddest things I do is wander antique stores and find boxes of discarded ancestors, those tintypes, dauerreotypes, cdv and cabinet card photos of the names relatives some genealogist will never know. These men, women and children, unnamed and unknown, languish and wait for some creative crafter to snap them up and use them as art. As a crafter who has done just that, they are a great resource; as a genealogical researcher, I wish more people had A.) identified these relatives, B.) dated the photos and C.) saved them for future generations.

In the 1860’s, when the first practical paper photographs were developed, Matthew Brady, one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, and his counterparts made photography affordable for the masses. The American public and Civil War soldiers flocked to the small Main Street studios to capture their likenesses as keepsakes for loved ones, leaving behind an extremely valuable record of their anonymous, if not invisible, lives.

During the Civil War, a wide variety of revenue taxes were imposed to help pay for the war effort, and in 1864, as the war raged on, Congress passed an act that also taxed photographs, ambrotypes, and daguerreotypes.

From 1 Aug 1864 to 1 Aug 1866, tax stamps were required on all photographs. Photographers were instructed to affix a revenue stamp of the appropriate denomination, determined by how much the purchaser paid for the image, to the back of each photograph, then cancel the stamp with their initials and the date. Tax stamps came in varying denominations but the most common stamps were the 2 cent and 3 cent stamps because most cdv's and tintypes cost between 25 cents and 50 cents.

The boom of the cdv photo made this very profitable for the North, as the new 'multiplying' camera, with nine or more lenses, could produce as many photographs with a single click. Any number of exact copies of the same image could be produced from the original glass plate negative, and photographers advertised discount prices for purchases by the dozen.

However, it was the same duplicity of photographs that made affixing revenue stamps time consuming, and many photographers took short cuts, like canceling the stamp with an “X” instead of their initials and date, or pre-cancelling entire sheets before they were even affixed to the photographs. It is also plausible that some photographers may have stopped using the stamps at all to save money, if they thought they could get away with it.

In 1865, Congress reduced the tax on images costing less than 10 cents to a 1 cent tax. The tax on photographs was repealed in 1865 and tax stamps on photographs were no longer required.

While the presence of a tax stamp narrows the likely date-range for the image, the absence of one is not necessarily proof that the photograph falls outside the 1864-1866 time frame. Stamps often fell off, or were removed by stamp collectors. Sometimes only a discolored stain remains where a stamp used to be, but other times there is no visible evidence. And since the Confederacy did not impose a tax on photographs, pictures taken in those states did not have a stamp.

Moral of the story - the sharpest minds and the most brilliant photographs both fade. Identify the smiling faces and date your pictures. Future generations will thank you for it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

This Onion's the Bomb!

I’m at the end of week three of my diet and I’m happy to report I’m down 14.5 pounds. I’ve definitely eaten more vegetables in the last three weeks than I probably have in the last 3 months, I don’t miss the carbs, and Jason and I are eating healthier overall. I will admit, I did long for a glass of wine while out with co-workers last week, but opted for water with lemon instead.

So, in the category of eating healthier, I’ve found better ways to use spices (I’ll post a homemade chili spice recipe shortly), have tried about 6 different non-dairy coleslaw recipes and am constantly on the lookout for new opportunities for chicken and turkey.

And then this bomb dropped. Well, figuratively anyway.

I found the recipe for Grilled Onion Bombs on Sweet Pennies From Heaven, It seemed simple enough, and since the grill is the cooking device of choice these days, I figured what the heck. If all else failed, there was an emergency turkey burger backup in the fridge. The original recipe called for catsup, bread and more than a cup of cheese, so I made some modifications to work with my diet.



  • 1 large onion
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (the original called for beef)
  • 1/2 clove of garlic finely chopped (or 1 tsp of minced garlic)
  • 2 tblsp. Worcestershire sauce (This was my substitute for catsup)
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2tsp. parsley
  • 1 bag IP garlic & herb chips crushed (Replacing the saltines and bread)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I thought about throwing some Frank’s Red Hot sauce in there because like the commercial says, I do put that s*** on everything, but since Jason doesn’t share my enthusiasm for all things spicy, I decided I’d add it to mine after it came off the grill.

The process is easy and makes 6 nice sized bombs:
1. Mix the meat and all the other ingredients together until well combined
2. Create large meatballs with the mixture
3. Cut onion in half and then in half again
4. Cover each meatball tightly with onion quarters
5. Wrap each onion bomb individually in aluminum foil, leaving a little stem at the top (for gripping)
6. Grill 8 minutes, flip and grill another 8 minutes longer.

Keep a close eye on them to make sure they're not overcooking. Once the meat is cooked through, they're ready to serve.

These little puppies came off the grill piping hot and juicy, the onion soft and fragrant and mmm, mmm good. As planned, I added some hot sauce to mine for extra kick and served them with a great green salad chock full of veggies.

This bomb definitely was not a dud!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

An Ideal Diet?

July 6, 2014

I’ve wrestled with my weight most of my adult life, and the evils of menopause have only made a bad situation worse. For years, I’ve been telling people I’m still losing baby weight. Of course, my baby is 28.

In my early 20’s, struggling with the stress of a less than optimal marriage and a small child, I faded to 105 lbs. which prompted both my mother the nurse and my Italian grandmother, each drawing on their own rationale and wisdom, to declare me anorexic.

Grandma’s cooking and two more kids later, I was a comfortable 130 pounds. A size six and a perfect 7-1/2 shoe. My confidence was high, closet was full, and both Grandma and Mom were off my back. As the years piled on, so did the pounds; my weight fluctuated like the seasons and the fashions I could and couldn’t wear. There were shining moments of victory – a 25 lb. loss for my second wedding and years later, the same 25 for my daughter’s wedding, but like a bad penny, those pounds kept coming back and they started to bring friends. Sure, I could have eaten better and exercised more, but I was enjoying life. (Did I mention an Italian grandmother? Food is like oxygen.) They say the view from rearview mirror is always 20/20; sadly, the view of my backside was bigger.

Trust me, I’ve tried every exercise option, pill and diet out there – Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Billy Blanks Tae Bo, Curves and more (thankfully, I don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of admitting I ordered a Suzanne Sommers Thigh Master or a Richard Simmons ‘Sweating to the Oldies’ video), but I couldn’t seemed to escape the pendulum swing of numbers flashing at me from the bathroom scale. I know there is no magic bullet - losing weight and maintaining that loss is about lifestyle and exercise – but a girl can hope, can’t she?

But right now, hope – high hopes actually- is what I have. I ran into a colleague at work one day, someone I don’t see all the time, but immediately recognized that something was very different about her, even in the dim lighting of the stairwell (another exercise option – stairs instead of the elevator). She was glowing and I commented that she looked great. “I hope so,” she giggled. “I’ve lost 37 pounds.”

What?!?!?! And then she told me she did it in 6 weeks. Without exercise. What?!?!?!?

I begged her for her secret. Ideal Protein, she told me, and sent me the information. Jason and I were leaving on vacation the next day, so it wasn’t the best time to start a diet, but we got back home on Thursday and I made the phone call on Friday.

The program focuses on cutting out carbs (and wine, sadly) while increasing your veggies and protein intake. Sure, you’ve got to buy their food to support the process, but seeing someone I knew as a live success story, I was willing to try it. In my first full week, I’m down 8 lbs. I’ve got more energy, my skin looks wonderful (all the water you need to drink) and I’m more than excited about the results. All the food I’ve tried, with the exception of the herb and cheese omelet – powdered eggs are powdered eggs, even if you try to doctor them with your own veggies – has been palatable, and dare I say in some instances, actually good. I’m not starving, I don’t feel deprived, and I may even get back on the treadclimber to help expedite the process.

And as a reward for good behavior, at the end of each week, I add $10 into a jar for every pound I’ve lost. How else am I going to be able to afford that new size 6 wardrobe at the end of the summer?

Stay tuned for progress reports.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

June 25, 2014

Mother Nature giveth, and then she unceremoniously rips things right out of your hands.

Tuesday was a gift. Despite prediction after prediction of a day fraught with thunderstorms, we had a beautiful, sunny day exploring Niagara Falls. I guess you can say we were lucky; other than the walking day in PEI, our days have been crisp, but rain-free.

And then there was Wednesday.

From the moment we left Niagara Falls, it was a race against the rain and we were losing. Badly. What started out as a mist shortly turned into a rain we couldn’t ignore, forcing us to find somewhere semi-dry and covered to climb into our rain gear. That’s never easy on a rural route and definitely one of the drawbacks to vacationing on a Harley. You’re vulnerable to the elements, often with no place to hide. Scenic Route 20, a terrific ride that traverses the farmlands of upstate New York, lost some of its luster as I watched the landscape roll past through a rainy haze and water-speckled glasses.

Shortly before noon there was a break in clouds, and while the sky was never actually blue, the rain did stop. With nearly 60 minutes of rain-free riding, and what looked like clearing on the horizon, we found ourselves lulled into a false sense of dryness. With my trusty Canon slung around my neck again, I happily snapped pictures of the vivid green scenery glistening with the remnants of earlier showers.

Our happiness was short-lived. In Morrisville, the skies above us exploded. I quickly shoved my camera inside my jacket, pushed my ungloved hands into my pockets and hunkered down behind Jason, as though that was going to do much of anything against a pounding, sideways downpour. A breech in the Velcro that secures my jacket sent a river of rain down my shirt, soaking me from neck to navel. It was a bit like the soaking we got on the Maid of the Mist, without the beauty of Horseshoe Falls.

We rode for more than 30 miles in this punishing rain until the skies cleared over Richfield Springs. It was the first dry stretch of road we'd seen all day - no rain and more surprising, no visible signs that it had been there.

We were rain free, if not necessarily dry until we reached the outskirts of Albany. The sinister-looking cloud that had been loitering off to the north for miles suddenly unleashed its fury over our heads giving Mother Nature one last hurrah – a final rinse and repeat cycle – just 10 miles shy of the hotel. When we finally arrived we looked more like victims of a shipwreck than cheerful vacationers traveling on a motorcycle.

A cup of coffee and a towel drying later, we peeled off the wet layers and regrouped, making the 3 minute walk (yes, in the rain) to the bar & grill across the street. The food was good, the drinks were better, but we soon learned it was karaoke night. While karaoke has its entertainment value, I’m still not sure what was more painful – the pounding rain or the pounding in my ears after a heartbreakingly awful rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Falling for Niagara

June 24, 2014

Niagara Falls State Park is America’s oldest national park and at its centerpiece is one of the iconic wonders of the world – Niagara Falls. The majesty and mystery of the three thundering waterfalls – the Horseshoe, Bridal Veil and American Falls – have enticed millions to experience this environmental phenomenon more than 13,000 years in the making.

The park was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, best known for New York City’s Central Park and includes a network of footpaths through wooded areas and along the banks of the Niagara River. Some of the most amazing views of the falls are available from the observation deck and Terrapin Point. But there are also opportunities to get up close and personal (and really wet). So we did.

The Maid of the Mist has been operating since 1846 when enterprising merchants decided that a steamboat would make a great profit ferrying people, luggage and cargo across the Falls. When the suspension bridge was erected in 1848, the Maid of the Mist was rebranded as a tourist adventure, and has operated as such ever since. You can soak up the scenery - literally - as you journey into the center of the Horseshoe Falls.

Want to get even closer? The Cave of the Winds starts with an elevator ride 175 feet down into the Niagara Gorge. Donned in special sandals and rain ponchos, we climbed up a series of narrow wooden stairs and platforms and were able to see and feel the torrents of the Bridal Veil Falls rushing past us. We watched more than a few brave souls climb all the way to the Hurricane Deck and get absolutely saturated in the process!

Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, I thought I'd save a few and let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Click here to see them!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


June 23, 2014

We barreled across the farmlands of upstate New York on Monday, through Jefferson County, Oswego County and countless small map-dot towns on our way to Niagara Falls.

It was an early start, but a perfect day for riding - blue skies, puffy white clouds, temperatures in the low sixties. Three states, 322 miles and one great lunch later, we arrived in Watertown, NY.Barns punctuate the landscape of rural America. They are one of the most recognizable structures in the country; stereotypically painted red in sharp contrast to the white farmhouse and vividly green grass and fields.

American barns are huge utilitarian structures, often bigger than the farmhouse itself. While the style of the farmhouse changed from the mid 17th to the mid 19th century, the barn design remained constant, a dignified structure built with the pre-requisites of strength and convenience. Weather also played a part in the planning of a barn, as Eric Sloane points out in American Barns and Covered Bridges (Dover Publications, 2003). Sunshine, wind, moisture and water drainage were carefully deliberated to ensure the proper storage of grains and timbers and the protection, health and safety of the animals who would call the barn home.

But why are they red?

Early American barns were unpainted, constructed of hand-hewn, seasoned wood. Farmers discovered that the right wood in the right environment didn’t need any paint, but by the end of the 18th century, with so many barns falling into disrepair, farmers needed another way to help preserve and maintain these essential structures. They began to coat the barns with a mixture of linseed oil, milk and lime. The concoction dried quickly and lasted a long time, but didn’t protect the wood from mold. Rust, it turns out, does. By adding ferrous oxide to their paint mixture, farmers preserved their barns and produced the familiar red hue we know today.

By the 19th century, paints were mass-produced, and more barns were painted. Since red was the cheapest color to produce, it continued to be the most prevalent. White barns started to pop up on dairy farms, while black and brown barns were visible throughout the tobacco growing regions of Kentucky and North Carolina, since the dark colors helped heat and cure the crop.

The big red barn still dominates the Midwest and Northeast, and no matter the shape or size, dairy white, brilliant red or weathered gray from years of use, the barn will forever remain a true symbol of Americana.

Click here to see the pictures!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

New York, New York

June 21, 2014

As planned, today began with breakfast at the Littleton Diner. Buckwheat pancakes and sausage for me; eggs, rye toast and corned beef hash for Jason. It definitely lived up to the hype.

It was an early start, but a perfect day for riding - blue skies, puffy white clouds, temperatures in the low sixties. Three states, 322 miles and one great lunch later, we arrived in Watertown, NY.

With such great scenery unfolding all around us as we traveled through New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, it was easy to keep the camera poised and clicking. The pictures from today's ride - from the White Mountains, past manicured farmlands, through small towns with waving American flags, and across the Adirondack Mountains - tell the story much better than I can.

Click here to see the pictures!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Ride Through the White Mountains

June 21, 2014

The skies were blue, the temperature peaked at more than 60 degrees (finally) and we readied ourselves for a sprint through the White Mountains to Littleton, New Hampshire.

Scores of bikers rumble across the White Mountains, and why not. The road is amazing, the panoramic scenery spectacular and for the fearless, there's no helmet law.

We rolled into Littleton, New Hampshire mid-afternoon. Located just north of Franconia Notch, Littleton is loaded with charm and its Main Street was named one of America’s best main streets by the Huffington Post in January 2014. We meandered down this slice of Americana, past the Littleton Diner, an old-school mainstay since 1928, eclectic shops and boutiques (I got a great new pair of earrings from Art to Go), and we resisted the urge to peruse the world's longest candy counter in Chutters. The Thayer Hotel is a Littleton landmark, as is the Jax Jr. Theatre, which premiered "The Great Lie" starring Bette Davis' in 1941 (Bette came to Littleton to promote the film) and is still in operation today.

We thought Bailiwicks would be a great place to grab a drink and bite to eat, but sadly, for the second time on our vacation, our first choice was a bad choice - no service - and we walked out. Taking the path to the River District, we headed down to the Schilling Beer Company, where the patio was packed with people in Harley gear. That was all the recommendation we needed.

Schilling offers more beer than food, craft brews coupled with ciders, wines and guest beers. It's got a casual, rustic appeal and a German and European influence clearly noted in its beers and fare. Its location in a converted 18th century grist mill overlooking the Ammonoosuc River only adds to its charm. And a short food menu is not necessarily a bad thing. It means they can do fewer things with a lot more style.

And they do.

We started with the hummus, a light creamy blend spiced with a hint of chipolte, served with chunks of freshly baked artisan bread for dipping. The real decision was between the bratwurst and sauerkraut or one of their Neopolitan style wood-fired pizzas. Jason went with the special - a 12""Steak Bomb" pizza, topped with steak, feta cheese, bacon and red peppers. I went with a more traditional version - with crushed tomato, mozzarella, sausage and red onion. The aroma was phenomenal, but the taste was even better. Hands down, this was the best pizza we've had in a long, long time. And lucky me, I have leftovers for a midnight snack.

Tomorrow we shoot across Vermont on our way to Waterville, New York, and on Monday morning, we're off to Niagara Falls. But before we do, we're having breakfast at the Littleton Diner. We hear the buckwheat pancakes are fabulous, and the homemade corned beef hash is the perfect compliment to your eggs.

Click here to see more pictures!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Red, White and Blue Skies

June 20, 2014

We left New Brunswick under the bluest skies we’d seen on any morning of the ride. It was going home day – back to the United States – Eastern Standard Time zone, dollar bills not coins and road signs in English, not English and French. It was also the genealogy leg of the trip. We were headed to Buckfield, Maine, the birthplace of two of Jason’s Brock ancestors, via Lincoln, Maine, the final resting place of another.

Most of the morning was spent riding through rural – no strike that – wilderness Maine. The homes, if you can call some of the ramshackle buildings that, were few and far between. Lincoln was the first city, and I use that term only because they had more than one traffic light and a few retail stores, we went through since we crossed the border at Vanceboro, Maine. At a construction slowdown I saw a cemetery on my right with a center hill and lots of appropriately aged headstones. I leaned into Jason and said, “There it is,” but he shook his head negatively citing the GPS. We pulled into Tom Horton's for a coffee (we had sun and blue skies, but the temperature never reached 60), an egg sandwich and a regrouping. The North Lincoln Cemetery, where Find-a-Grave indicated David Brock, Jason’s 3x great-grandfather was interred, was at the intersection of Military and Town Farm Roads and in the opposite direction of where we were. Coffee break complete, we headed off to find it.

The North Lincoln Cemetery is easy to miss if you’re not specifically looking for it. The yard is down a side street without any large or visible signage on the main road to mark it. It was a small yard with an abundance of white limestone headstones, so finding David, we thought, would be a snap. We were wrong. Both Jason and I walked and rewalked, maneuvering between every row of stones, but no Brocks were to be found. The cemetery was well manicured and well maintained, so it wasn’t likely that the stone had been damaged (others had clearly been repaired) or removed. It was simply missing.

“Let’s try the other cemetery,” I suggested, disappointed that we’d rerouted through Lincoln for naught. We headed back to the center of town.

A small sign was posted at the side entrance to the second cemetery – Lincoln Cemetery, so Jason drove in, following the grassy road to the front and center section of the cemetery where the oldest stones seemed to be located. I looked to the left and the right as we slowly motored through, wondering how I was going to find 4 headstones in such a large burial yard, if they were even there, considering this was not the cemetery they were supposed to be interred in.

Jason parked the bike and put the kickstand down. I jumped off and rested my helmet on the mirror, turned right and gasped. “What?” Jason asked, concerned. “There is NO WAY this happened!” I cried. In front of me, in the cemetery I choose, right where Jason parked, were the headstones of David Brock, his sister Betsey Brock Buck and her husband, Cyrus, and their mother, Susannah Brock.

Sometime after John Brock III, Jason’s 4x great grandfather died in 1822, his wife Susannah Crandall Brock removed to Lincoln. According to the 1850 census she was residing there with her daughter Betsey, David’s twin, her husband, Cyrus and their family. I hoped to find some Crandall headstones, since Susannah was born in Lincoln, but to no avail. More research is still needed on her branch of the tree. David and his family removed to Lincoln by 1840, according to census records, and they were in Bangor by 1855. I’m not certain when he returned to Lincoln, but his headstone states that he died there.

We headed to Buckfield, the small Maine town where John Brock III, his brother William and sister Martha once lived. David Brock was born there, as was his son, Alvan D. Brock, Jason’s 2x great grandfather. I have a copy of John’s will, (which included two sons I didn’t know he had) but no record of exactly when he died or where he is buried.

Buckfield Village Cemetery (also known as Damon Cemetery) is a large cemetery, but knowing that we were looking for mid-1850’s deaths, we headed toward the older gravestones. We (okay - Jason) found John Brock and his wife, Tamar Farar Brock. John was the son of John III and brother to David. We also found the headstones of several other Farrar family members and the stones of William, John III’s brother and his wife, Sarah Brock.

John Brock III and Susannah’s sons, with the exception of Leonard, who predeceased his father, left Buckfield as they matured and married. Only David remained. He married Judith Farrar, who died shortly after giving birth to their son, John in 1828. In January 1830, he married Livonia Coburn. After David died, Livonia moved to Lovell, ME to live with her daughter, Julia. She lived in Abington for a number of years and died of pneumonia in Medford, Massachusetts in 1888. I’ve not been able to locate where she is buried.

It was a fascinating day, but always so much more to discover.

Click here to see more pictures!

The Road to Fredericton

It was our last morning on Prince Edward Island and breakfast at Hillhurst Inn did not disappoint. In fact, Jason thought it was the best of the three. The yogurt parfait made a return, and clearly the mini muffins are a staple, but the feature today was delicious French toast (hhhmmm,,, maybe Canadian Toast?) topped with gently warmed, thinly sliced apples.

The breakfast was sunny, but the skies over PEI were dismal and bleak. Thick clouds blanketed the sky like a layer of cotton batting and haze painted the horizon a murky shade of gray. When we crossed the Confederation Bridge into New Brunswick, there was a discernable difference between the highway and the horizon as ribbons of blue began to weave themselves through the clouds. The skies cleared for good over Murray. Coincidence? I don’t think so. (Thanks, Bunny.) The sun played a bit of peek-a-boo along the way, but it was still nice to have it, even if it was in a supporting rather than starring role.

This leg of the ride was one of the best of the trip, with great roads and warm breezes. Route 105 North ran parallel to the Jemseg and St. John Rivers, visible through clearings – field, farm or family home. Riding alongside the rivers, watching the tiny whitecaps rippling with the wind, it’s easy to understand the draw people have to water, serenity when it’s still and the awe its power inspires when it rages.

We arrived in Fredericton, the capital city of New Brunswick, around 3:00, and with plenty of daylight left, we headed off to find food and somewhere to explore.

Fredericton is a great town with an amazing walkable downtown area filled with great shops, a variety of restaurants and lots of history. Its history really begins in 1783 with the arrival of Loyalists who fought on the side of the crown during the American Revolution and received a separate colonial status for the newly named New Brunswick colony for their efforts. Colonel Thomas Carleton was the colony’s first governor and in 1785 renamed the settlement “Fredericktown” in honor of King George III’s son. Because of its positioning on the St. John River, Fredericton was also Carleton's choice for provincial capital.

Because of Fredericton's proximity to the American border and its importance as provincial capital, military personnel were stationed there until the The Royal Canadian Regiment was raised on December 21, 1883. The Guard House, Barracks, and Old Officers' Quarters, which now serves as a Museum, are still standing in the downtown area known as the Garrison Historic District.

We did a bit of walking and a bit of eating at the Lunar Rouge Pub, but after 6 days on the road, it’s laundry night. Yep, laundry. That’s the secret to traveling for two weeks on a Harley.

Click here to see more pictures.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Rain, Rain Go Away

Another wonderful breakfast was served this morning here at the Hillhurst Inn - a grapefruit half (already sectioned - who doesn't love that?!?!?) followed by a delicious spinach and cheese quiche, and another round of the mini muffins and sweet butter. It's been the only sunshine of the day. The weather forecast called for 100% chance of rain today on PEI, and sadly, they were 100% accurate. The good thing is we switched up our ride plans and enjoyed PEI's coastline yesterday.

We made a valiant, if not vain attempt to enjoy downtown Charlottetown, but the ofttimes soaking rains forced a retreat back to the Hillhurst Inn, but not before we ducked inside Northern Watters Knitwear on Victorian Row. This lovely little boutique features 100% British wool sweaters and accessories all made on site using antique Swiss Knitting looms. It is June, despite the early spring-like temperatures, so I wasn't necessarily thinking about a chunky wool sweater when I peeked at their window display last night, but there was a gorgeous ochre-colored wool cape....

The red one was more my style and color. :)

The rain wasn't giving an inch, so we scurried back to the Hillhurst to dry out. I've made good use of the quiet time (of course, with Jason napping quiet isn't always quiet) to catch up on the blog posts, check my email and caption the hundreds of pictures (well, not all of them) I've taken over the last few days.

"Coasting" Around PEI

Oh Canada!

We woke on Tuesday to the wonderful scents of home-baked goods wafting up the stairs, something you just don’t get at the Hampton Inn (although the late afternoon white chocolate chunk cookies are a definite plus). We headed down to the dining room, where we met the other house guests – a young couple from Quebec en route to Halifax for a wedding, and an older retired couple from Kingston, Ontario and shared “where-are-you-froms” and “have-you-been-here-befores” over a fabulous breakfast that included a yogurt parfait with granola and kiwi, delicate wheat pancakes with a warm blueberry compote, and assorted mini muffins with sweet creamy butter.

Since the weather report promised sunny blue skies and warm breezes, we opted to cruise the coasts of Prince Edward Island and save the walkabout for Wednesday. The areas outside of Charlottetown are decidedly agrarian – potatoes and cows- with fields of deep chocolate brown patched among the emerald green farmlands. The furrowed rows of tiny green shoots draw your eye down to the water, which sparkled like facets of a brilliant diamond.

We visited several lighthouses along the coast, and arrived at the spot where the world begins – at least according to the sign – East Point, the furthest point east on Prince Edward Island. It was one of the most picturesque and spontaneous riding days of the trip.

Seven hours, 4 lighthouses and two hundred and twenty miles later, we were back at Hillhurst and thinking about dinner. There is no shortage of wonderful restaurants and cafes within walking distance, including Victorian Row, an eclectic mix of eateries and boutiques housed in the brick Victorian row houses on Richmond Street. We settled into an outdoor table at the John Brown Richmond Street Grill. The atmosphere was festive (the street is closed to vehicle traffic during the summer), the food superb and the service excellent. Not to mention the music – a medley of hits from the 60, 70’s and 80’s – playing in the background. Jason opted for the Richmond Street club stuffed mightily with grilled chicken garlic spinach aioli and maple peppered bacon. I was tossed between the flatbread and the garlic chicken – which won out (although I did see the flatbread go by. It would not have been a bad choice either), warm diced chicken and Portobello mushrooms tossed in a garlic cream sauce and served over spinach. It was delicious. Turtle cheesecake, a cup of coffee, and we were totally content.

Tonight, we’re thinking about Hunter’s Ale House (we stopped there last night for a nightcap on the way back to the B&B), where we’ve been told the ribs and lobster are awesome, and the band begins at 10:00 pm. I don’t think we’ve been awake that late since we started on this journey, but we’ll give it a shot (and maybe throw back one or two).

Click here to see more pictures.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Funday, Funday...So Good to Me

Oh Canada!

New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy is one of the Marine Wonders of the World. The tide rises as much as 53 vertical feet twice each day. We followed it, unknowing, for miles, until we spied a turnout for a scenic overview and stopped.

Two aquamarine Adirondack chairs sit perched on a hill in the center of the parking lot, providing front row seats to a panoramic view of the Fundy, a long ocean bay that stretches between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast. The Bay of Fundy is the world’s most dynamic tidal coastline, with more than 160 billion tons of seawater flowing in and out of it during each of the Bay's daily tide cycles. In 2007, the New Brunswick side of the upper Bay of Funday was designated as a World Biosphere Reserve. This designation helps celebrate and promote unique landscapes and ecosystems.

Another hidden treasure, something we would not have planned to visit, was Cape Enrage. After leaving the Bay of Fundy overlook, we continued on remarkable Route 114, following its gentle sweeps through lush green hillsides and towering pines, punctuated by the occasional house, farm or barn. The next scenic overview sign – people with binoculars – beckoned us to Cape Enrage, so we made a right and continued...for 6 kilometers (just under 4 miles). As we climbed higher and higher, twisting and turning up the summit, my expectations grew, but I wasn't prepared for the breathtaking views from towering cliffs we found at the top.

Cape Enrage is at the southern tip of Barn Marsh Island, half way along the coastline between the villages of Riverside-Albert and Alma. It sits across the river from Nova Scotia and juts halfway out into the Bay of Fundy. Cape Enrage was named for the turbulent waters that pass over the reef and continue southward at low tide; the rough seas can be seen for much farther on windy days as the current and wind are in opposition. During the shipping heyday, it was prone to shipwrecks and one of the most hazardous areas for mariners in the upper Bay of Fundy. In 1838, 33 local residents and sea captains signed a petition for a lighthouse on Cape Enrage. The original structure was built in 1840; the lighthouse that stands today in 1870.

You are free to explore the area, so we climbed the wide planked stairs to the lighthouse and then climbed down a steep metal staircase onto the beach area. At low tide, the "beach" is covered with rocks, shard of shale and fossils contained in the layers of sedimentary rock approximately 320 million years old. Like Route 114, as we gingerly maneuvered across the rocks, we were awed at how every angle provided a different, more stunning view of this natural wonder.

Click here to see more pictures.

Click here to read more about Cape Enrage.

The Road to Prince Edward Island

I had intended to detail our ride to PEI when we got back to our B&B last night, but the lethal combination of total exhaustion (thanks to fighting crosswinds for most of the day), Jason's snoring and food coma (dinner was awesome), the only thing I could do was sleep.

Monday morning was beyond blustery; the wind was fierce and the skies menacing. The only saving grace was the weather forecast - no rain and blue skies, literally, on the horizon. The road out of St. John was fraught with frost heaves. Between that, the pot holes and patches of repaving, I felt like I was on the back of a bucking bronco, not an Iron Horse. And the GPS had somehow conspired against us as well. On more than one occasion, it beckoned us to take a dirt road, and on a few others, it actually lulled us into a false sense of security by teasing us with pavement that without warning disintegrated into gravel and dirt.

It was time for coffee and recalculation.

We pulled into Tim Horton's, the Dunkin' Donuts of Canada to warm up (despite long sleeves, a hooded sweatshirt and jacket, the wind was taking its toll) and take a look at the route. It took some backtracking and a little more reliance on Jason's internal compass, but we got back to Sussex and continued on to Prince Edward Island.

Routes 114 and 951 were picturesque, not unlike some of the routes we’ve ooh’d and ahh’d over in the US – the Blue Ridge Parkway for one, where every curve brought another spectacular site. We finally caught up to that elusive sun in Alma, where the skies were a beautiful and welcoming shade of blue. But, try as we did, we couldn't outpace the wind.

It was after 5 when we rolled into Charlottetown and settled into our B&B - The Hillhurst Inn- home for the next two days. I gushed over the architecture and spectacular Victorian interior, including the reception hall in quartered oak with an oak-paneled ceiling. Although it has been renovated since it was built, specifically for the purposes of operating as a B&B, the house (which boasts 8 bedrooms) has retained many of its original features. The home was built in 1897 by George Longworth. The Longworth family were successful shipbuilders and merchants in Charlottetown.

We wandered downtown towards Charlottetown's historic area, (a nice walk, since the wind was finally reined in) rich in a bounty of restaurants, shopping and history. Dinner was the objective, and we enjoyed PEI mussels (of course) and terrific seafood fare at the Old Dublin Pub.

PS. If you're waiting for my further musings on St. John, you'll have to wait until our next visit. Torrential rain and wind pummeled the area shortly after we got to the hotel - and never let up. Instead of exploring, we ordered take-out and watched a "Shutter Island" with Leonardo DiCaprio. Strange movie.