Sunday, August 28, 2011

Florida Bound...Days 11-16...Tuesday, August 23-Sunday, August 28, 2011...Ups and Downs...Moving Day..."Crunch" Time

Wow...another really busy week. The best news was "Irene's" little detour away from Florida and up the East Coast through the Carolinas. Even with the "miss", we still got some heavy rains and winds on Thursday.
A few "ups and downs" (mainly "ups") this week. Ace and I took Mom in to Allegro on Wednesday, and she signed the final papers to live there. We're still short a few pieces of information, but nothing critical...and...hopefully, we'll have everything "buttoned up" tomorrow (Monday).
On Thursday, Ace and I took Mom over to Wells Fargo to meet with her financial adviser. Things were going well until he started asking for copies of Trusts, Wills, etc. In the almost two weeks that I've been down here, I haven't been able to locate any of that stuff...and trying to find "anything" in Mom's house is a major challenge.
But...on Friday, I was able to get in to the safety deposit box that Mom has down here, and I hit the "Mother Lode" of documents...essentially, everything that I was looking for. So...that's now taken care of.
Saturday was a big day...moving day. I got Mark, our lawn guy to move Mom's furniture out of the house and into Allegro. Things got delayed early but, by 3:00PM or so, Mark and his sons had moved two dressers, a bed (with box spring and mattress), two couches, four end tables, a coffee table...and a LOT of boxes. After the move, Ace and I worked for a few hours cleaning stuff off and putting things away. We didn't eat dinner until almost 8:00PM (late for down here), but some great fish at Lola's Seafood was a nice reward for a long, tough day.
This morning (Sunday) was "crunch" time...but not the way you think. I was up at around 8:30AM this morning, and I headed out around 9:00 to the closest gas station for coffee. As I pulled out of Mom's driveway, I heard a loud "crunch". For a minute, I thought that I had hit a mailbox or something. When I backed up, I saw that I had run over a "land crab". So...nature continues her onslaught...dragonflys, roaches, ants, box elder bugs, centipedes, millipedes, flys...and now crabs. Looking out over the neighborhood, I could see dozens of them moving in the grass...skittering across the a tiny invading army. You can eat them, but it takes a week of lettuce feeding to render them edible...and I have neither the time nor the desire.
I'm almost finished with my work down here. The biggest remaining task is getting Mom's dachshund, Schatzie, approved for residency by the management at Allegro. And, for this, I've got my "secret weapon", Alison. She's meeting me tomorrow at 2:00PM, and we're putting Schatzie through a rigorous workout...the theory being that a tired dog is a docile dog. At 3:00, we head over to Allegro...keep your fingers crossed.
Once Schatzie is approved, I can get off of this "bug planet" and head home on Tuesday...I can be sleeping in my own bed Wednesday night.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Florida Bound...Days 5-10...Wednesday, August 17-Monday, August 22, 2011...Busy, Busy...and "There's Something in the Bushes"

It has been, to say the least, a busy last few days. If I'm not meeting with someone from Assisted Living, I'm meeting with some Financial Advisor...or Banker.
Generally speaking, I'm up around 7:00 or 8:00AM...out to the kitchen to make coffee...out to the Escape for a cigar and some air conditioning. Most times, when I step outside at 7 or 8, it's already in the 90's...and very humid. I've managed to "sneak" down the thermostat in the house to 78, but there is no relief outside...except inside of the Escape.
While I'm running errands and having meetings during the day, I've had a chance to ask around for some restaurant recommendations...and I've gotten some good ones. My favorite little "taco joint", Los Mexicanos,is still here...and their carnitas tacos are as good as before. I found two great little places for seafood...Lola's and King Neptune...they are little "hole in the wall" spots, but the food is great. Friday night, we went to a great local steakhouse, Peter's, which, while over-priced, turned out some pretty good beef. Saturday, I went to a local seafood market, bought a pound of lump crab meat, and made my "famous" crab cakes...along with my favorite potato salad from Publix and a bottle of Elk Cove Pinot Gris, this was a great meal.
Not much "nightlife" down here, so I'm usually in bed by 10:00PM or so. I slip out earlier for a little cigar and some AC, but it's the bushes that I'm worried about...there's something in there. My Mom has bushes planted in from of the house on either side of the front door. And...whenever, I go outside at night, something starts moving in there...something "big" by the sound of it. I'm told that it's probably some lizard...but I know better. There's a giant spider in there...15 maybe 20 pounds. The Publix store must have gotten a load of bananas from Columbia or Venezuela and the spider was hiding there. Now, thanks to pesticides and runoff from the local "nuke plant", he's grown huge...and he's living outside my Mom's house. I'm not going to be checking in the bushes to be sure, but I'm giving them a wide (very) berth on my way in or out.
We've gotten Mom signed up at he best Assisted Living facilities in the area, Allegro, and she'll be moving in over the next two weeks. She's worried that she might not be able to take her dog, Schatzie, with her...and her fears are well-founded. Schatzie barks a lot and loves to bite had to think of something. One morning, it just hit me...get a dog that's what we did. Alison was able to make tremendous progress in just a few hours...and she'll be going with me and Schatzie to Allegro on Monday for Schatzie's "interview". Thanks to Alison, who will be posing as my Mom's "niece from Minnesota", I'm thinking that Schatzie will pass her interview. that I've finally got things "on track" here, you're probably thinking that it's smooth sailing from here on out...not so fast partner. There's Irene" lurking in the background. That would be the Tropical Storm, Irene, now upgraded to "Hurricane Status" and steadily making her way across the Gulf of Mexico. At this point, it looks like the Carolinas will get the main "hit", but Thursday and Friday we'll be getting high winds and heavy rain...just what I need.
Even though it's not expected to "land" here, Irene is already affecting my schedule. I had planned to start heading for home on Friday but, because of Irene, everybody postponed meetings, appointments, etc. scheduled for Thursday/Friday. That's pushing things into next it looks like I won't be starting for home until Tuesday or Wednesday...which will get me home a day or two before the first UM much for unpacking and relaxing.
Barring any complications down here, I'm planning on staying home in Michigan through the end of November. Then, I'll head back to Florida for December, January, February and March to "wrap things up".
Cleo, Jonesie and Mr. Lucky are going to LOVE it down here!

More news later...assuming that Irene "cooperates".

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Florida Bound...Day 4...Tuesday, August 16, 2011...It's the Heat, Stupid

I'm up at 7:30AM this morning, and I figure that I'll slip outside for a morning cigar and listen to some CNN in the Escape. As soon as I walk outside, I realize that there's a reason why I haven't visited Florida in the summer in over thirty's hot, really hot...oh, and plenty humid too. It's much the same sensation as "waterboarding".
But it's not much better inside either. Mom has the thermostat set to 80 degrees, so there is no relief except for sitting in the Escape with the air conditioning on. So...while the coffee is brewing, I'm in the Escape...nice and cool in there.
I've got a busy day today. At 9:30AM, I'm off to Allegro Assisted Living for a tour and explanation of pricing. At noon, I'm meeting the nurse/social worker, Laura, that my Mom and Ace hired to coordinate Mom's home nursing care and help with getting Mom into Allegro.
By the time that I'm finished with these appointments, it's after 3:00PM...time to head home. I did most of the necessary financial analysis for Mom when I was last here in January/ now it's just a question of confirming and refining that. There are still piles of bills, brokerage statements, bank records...on and go through and organize.
Before I know it, it's after 5:00PM, and we're rushing out to to be there before 5:30 in order to take advantage of the "Early Bird Specials". Tonight, we're at the Palm City Grill...a nice little place with generously-poured cocktails and a diverse menu of pretty good food. I have a good Martini, fried oysters/fries and a glass of Sauvignon's all good.
Back home, I'm preparing a revised "to do list" for tomorrow based on my visit to Allegro and my conversation with's going to another busy day.
It's another uneasy sleep is "sweltering" inside the house, and there is no relief to be had.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Florida Bound...Day 3...Monday, August 15, 2011...Florida

Well...OK...maybe I should not have had that last 24 oz. Red Stripe that my new buddy, Donny, bought for me right as I was about to head back to the hotel. Anyway, I've slept in once again and, by the time that I shower/dress/check out, it's almost 10:00AM.
When slide into the driver's seat of the Escape and program the Garmin, I see that my arrival time at Mom's is's another all-day LONG drive.
There's good barbecue to be had along the 120 mile or so stretch of Georgia on I-95 between South Carolina and Florida. Normally, I stop at a place called the "Georgia Pig" (it's good, not great), but this trip I'm opting for someplace new. A place called "Allens" got good reviews on the Internet, so I'm stopping in Brunswick, GA to give it a try. It turns out to be pretty good...service is friendly and the pulled pork sandwich is first-rate. The sides are lacking...and...there's no dessert today but, all in all, worth another stop on another trip.
Right after the border with Florida, I'm do a very "touristy" thing and stop at "Citrus World" for some orange juice...$1.50 for a big cup of icy fresh-squeezed OJ...mighty good.
At 6:30PM, I'm pulling in to Mom's driveway and, of course, she and Ace want to immediately head out for dinner. we go to "Park Avenue Barbecue", the sub-standard local spot in Stuart for barbecue. It is OK...maybe a bit less than OK.
Back at Mom's, I'm putting together a detailed "game plan"...confirm income (sources and amounts), identify all checking/savings accounts, find all stock certificats and other evidence of stock ownership, calls to the nurse/social worker and to the assisted living place, Allegro and to the local attorney. And, while we're at it...get a Florida driver's license, transfer all local bills (electric, phone, property taxes, etc.) to my name as well as Mom's and has groceries, make sure that my Mom takes her medicines.
It's going to be a busy (very) two weeks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Florida Bound...Day 2...Sunday, August 14, 2011...Heading for Charleston

OK...perhaps a little TOO much red wine last night. I'm supposed to be on the road by 7:00AM this morning, but Gretchen is waking me up at 7:30AM. Some much needed orange juice and coffee before finally getting on the road at a little past 9:00AM.
I've made this drive countless times, but it never gets any shorter...two hours to the Ohio border, two or three hours through West hour through Virginia...250 miles through North Carolina and another 250 or so through South Carolina to Charleston.
It's almost 8:00PM by the time I roll into the Days Inn right in the middle of Charleston's Historic District. A quick shower and a change of clothes...and I'm out on the town. I found a nice little Oyster bar, "Pearlz" on my last visit here, so that's where I head. My bartender, Kevin, knows both his food and his wine and, soon, I'm enjoying a dozen Gulf Oysters on the half-shell with a nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc...then on to the Fried Oysters with Remoulade Sauce and...finally...Tuna Tartare with a glass of Pinot Noir. Oh...did I mention the "cinnamon Toast" ice cream for dessert?
By now, it's after 1:00PM (on a Sunday), and most of my favorite "watering holes" are closed. Still, there are a few friendly taverns open along Market Street on the way back to my hotel. One spot has 24 oz. Red Stripes for $4.00...who could resist such a bargain. A Red Stripe or two later, and I've struck up a conversation with a new friend, "Donny". More beer, lots of conversation...then, whoa, it's almost 1:00AM.
Back to the hotel and bed...long drive tomorrow.

Florida Bound...Day 1...Saturday, August 13, 2011...A Fun Day/Night with Gretchen and Roger

So...over two months on the road camping, and I got a whole five days at home. Five days of unloading, unpacking, cleaning, laundry, etc.
And now...I'm on the way to Florida...with a little stop first in Portage Lake. I'm out the door with a wave to the cats at around 11:00AM. I'm heading about 200 miles south and east to Portage Lake where Roger and Gretchen have their motor home parked for the summer.
At 3:30PM, I'm there and, at 3:31, I'm enjoying a cold Heineken as the reward for the drive. Jasmyn arrives...then my friends, Dan and Sheila...and some old friends that I haven't seen in almost ten years, "Buzz" and Laura. It's a great time with thick grilled steaks, much red wine and great company...just what I need as I embark on my mission to Florida. Around 11:00PM, because it's dark out and we've had lots of wine, we decide that it's the perfect time for a boat ride. So...soon, we're gliding across Portage Lake in the moonlight aboard Roger and Gretchen's pontoon boat. On the other side of the lake, we moor outside a friendly tavern and enjoy several glasses of red wine before heading back to camp.
A great day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure...Days 59/60...Saturday/Sunday, August 6/7, 2011...Heading Home...and Irony

Saturday...short and sweet.
Up at 6:00AM...Ed to the airport at 8:30AM for flight home. Now I'm out of the airport and heading for home...a quick stop for gas, coffee and a McDonalds breakfast (healthy!).
The irony...OK, it's been cold and rainy for most of this camping trip. Ed and I figured about ten nice days out of 60. I'm driving home, and the weather is sunny, clear and hot, very hot. And the irony is that the AC in the Escape has stopped's nice outside and sweltering inside the Escape.
By 6:30PM or so, I've covered over 450 miles, and I'm finally pulling into the KOA Campground about 25 miles west of Toronto. Plenty of spots available and, soon, I'm set up for the night. Some CNN on the XM Radio boombox...a little white wine...some nice salami, Canadian cheddar and crackers for dinner...very nice.
Only 250 miles to home tomorrow, but I'm calling it an early night. Tonight, I'm sleeping in the camper for the first time since Day 3 of the trip in's nice.

Sunday...more irony.
When I wake up at 6:00AM, it's pouring rain...more irony, I guess. All of my plans for a hot shower, coffee and breakfast are washed away in the rain. All that I can do is pack up and hit the road. A quick stop for coffee...and drive, drive, drive.
Around 11:00AM, I'm in Sarnia crossing the border at the Bluewater Bridge. Bad's a Sunday and the lines at Customs are long. The officer handling the line that I'm in is taking about 10-15 minutes per vehicle,so it's slow going. When I pull up, he asks me where I've been, cuts short my answer, and waves me on through.
At 1:30PM, I'm pulling into my driveway...trip over...home at last.
One day (today) to's going to be a brutal week.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure...Day 58...Friday, August 5, 2011...A Better Day Than Yesterday

Ok...a restless sleep last night, but eight hours nonetheless.
Coffee on again around 8:00AM...and some crackers for a light breakfast.
Around 10:00AM, I try calling Ace's cell phone's a miracle...he answers! He pretty much confirms what the nurse/social worker told me...also that my brother has returned to California. I assure Ace that I will be "on my way soon"...home Sunday, unpack and repack, then arriving in Florida a week later on Monday. Things are, for the time-being, stabilized...and I can rest somewhat easier.
So...except for tomorrow night camping south of Toronto, this is the last day of my camping trip. One last gourmet meal in Quebec City...some more wine...then it's all over. There will be no driving the Gaspe five-day stay in Montreal for more great restaurants (including the great Montreal smoked meat sandwich at Chez Schwartz)...but it is what it comes first.
Our choice for lunch is an up-scale bistro in an up and coming suburb of Quebec City...L'Utopie in the La Roche section. Ed drives so that I don't have to confront the "scary bridge" again...and...around noon, we're parking near the location of L'Utopie. Only, there's no L''s gone...closed...and there's a new place there...Le Cercle.
It's pretty decent...a nice salad, some soup...and another piece of "boeuf"...this time a cut of flank steak...and, of course, much red wine. to the aquarium for the bus to the city. Ed's got a lot of film to shoot, so I opt to settle in at a friendly tavern for the afternoon. Still more wine...and a stop (and a photo) at an unusually-named clothing store...until Ed returns in two hours or so.
Back at our camp, Ed and I are packing up for home. One last "camping meal"...some more wine...bed. It's going to be an early morning and a long day tomorrow.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure...Day 52...Thursday, August 4, 2011...A Day Goes South, But Rebounds

How could such a great day, with so much promise, go so far south so fast?
Well...let's go back to the beginning. I'm up relatively late (8:00AM) after a great night of sleep. The sky is cloudy, but no rain, and the weather report via my cell phone indicates clearing skies and a sunny day.
Ed's been up for awhile, so I figure the sooner that I get coffee going, the better. I roasted a few batches of beans last night, so we've got a fresh supply...and...with our electrical hookup, I can use the coffee maker...quick and easy. In a few minutes, Ed and I are sipping coffee and planning the day. For me, the number one priority is lunch, and I've identified a potential target restaurant called "Panache" guidebook indicates that Panache specializes in "up-scale Quebec/Canadian cuisine"...perfect. Ed's main goal today is to get some movie camera footage of the city. When he was last here in the 70's, he bought a series of prints depicting various landmarks, and now he wants to film them.
By now, the sun is starting to come out, and I'm feeling like this is going to be a great day. My phone is in the Escape charging, so I decide to go get it and check messages, emails, etc...big mistake, because my phone is the Maguffin" that sets this promising day on a decidedly downward spiral.
Wow...I've got a bunch of voice mail messages...better check those first. The first several are from Spike, and her tone can only be described as "frantic. My mom's boyfriend, Ace, has left a bunch of messages on my home answering machine, and his tone is desperate. My mom's physical and mental condition has deteriorated considerably in the last several weeks. She's trying to get into an assisted living place, but they insist on her taking a "cognitive abilities test" before they will let her sign a contract...and she has "flunked" the test. I'm going to have to sign on her behalf. So...I call Ace...number is "disconnected". I call my mom...number is disconnected. Now I'm really worked up.
Then there's a message from a nurse/social worker who has been working with my mom and Ace to coordinate home care and the transition to the assisted living place. She has left a number, so I call that. This lady is very helpful...yes,my mom is in bad soon can I get to Florida to sign the necessary "papers".
Now comes the "bombshell" brother, Jim, is there. This is the guy who has not communicated with me or my mom in, probably, fifteen years...for my mom, not even a birthday card. He's been looking for realtors to sell the house that my mom lives in...interesting since my name is on the deed. He's been trying to line up someone to come in and auction off the contents of the house...interesting since that property belongs to my mom.
Emotionally and, as a practical mater, this is (for me) the equivalent of getting a root canal on your birthday.
So...I spend the next couple of hours talking to the people who's advice I most value. My friend, Mark, agrees to keep trying Ace's number and let me know if he reaches him. Mark also helps me identify issues and prioritize them so that I can come up with a "plan". My cousin, Bill, offers to go over and see what's going on, but we agree that this will only create more problems. My friend, Roger, offers to help in any way possible.
By now, it's close to noon, and there's not much more that I can do at this point. So...Ed and I head over to the Aquarium and get our bus into the city. Panache turns out to be an "upscale" spot, and Ed and I are...well...we've been camping and we look like we've been camping. Still, the staff is friendly, even though they place us outside on the patio discretely out of sight of the other diners. The meal is outstanding...Ed and I get the "Duck Rillettes" appetizer...a pile of shredded duck atop some field greens in a light vinaigrette and surrounded by thin slices of duck salami and some tempura-battered vegetables. We wash this down with a couple of glasses of French Viognier...perfect. For the main course, Ed and I both order the "Boeuf" this case, a "shoulder tenderloin" grilled and served with a red wine reduction sauce and sauteed baby vegetables and boiled new's a fantastic dish, all the better with a few glasses of Coteaux de Languedoc...a French blend consisting of mainly Syrah...perfect again.
Our thirst for wine still unslaked, Ed and I get a cheese plate...and more red wine. Dessert is a "plat du peche", or "peach plate"...a tiny piece of peach tart, sliced fresh peaches and a scoop of peach ice cream...a sublime ending to a great meal.
Ed needs movie shots and I need lunch, we walk "uptown" out of the walls of the old city to an area next to the Plains of Abraham. This is the site of the famous battle between Generals Wolfe and Montcalm in which the British scaled some huge cliffs during the night, surprised the French on the plains of Abraham, and inflicted a defeat that ended France's dominance in North America.
Along our journey uptown, we stop at a few cafes for...what else?...more wine. Several hours later, Ed's got his movie shots and I've got my cigars...time to head back to camp.
All day, I've been thinking...what needs to done for mom, and how to do it. By the time we get back to camp, I have a tentative "plan"...get Ed to the airport on Saturday, then head south for home. I can make it to south of Toronto on Saturday, camp, and be home Sunday afternoon. Then, I can take a couple of days to unpack, do laundry, repack...and...head for Florida.
We're still full from lunch, so dinner is a small plate of leftover pasta...and some more red wine.
Ed and I talk late into the night...then it's time for sleep. It's an uneasy sleep for me...but at least I have a plan.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure...Day 51...Wednesday, August 3, 2011...Quebec City! rained last night and this morning is foggy/cloudy, but it's not raining. We've got electricity here, so I can grind beans and make coffee.
We've talked to a number of people, and now we have our "plan" to get into the city. We drive to the Aquarium...unfortunately, this involves crossing the big and scary bridge again...then get a bus from the Aquarium to the city...simple, fast and only $3.00 (cdn).
Around 10:30AM, we're on our way, and everything goes according to plan. At 11:30, we're sitting down for lunch at L'Echaude...a nice little Bistro that got great reviews in all of the guidebooks. It does not disappoint...I get two perfectly sauteed scallops in a reduction of shellfish stock and cream infused with saffron...that's just the appetizer. Ed gets a smoked lamb salad...also an appetizer. Then we both get the classic steak frites, followed by some cheese...all washed down with large quantities of white and red wine...sublime.
My last visit to Quebec City was in the 80's and Ed's was earlier than spend a few hours walking through the lower and old cities...with frequent stops for wine. It's pleasant to listen to the sound of French being spoken...women are fashionably dressed...the cafes are filled to's very nice (particularly after several weeks in the "wilderness).
Then it's back to the bus...over to the Aquarium...and back to the campground. After that lunch, dinner tonight is some good salami, Canadian cheddar and some Ritz crackers.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure...Day 50...Tuesday, August 2, 2011...Down the St. Lawrence to Quebec

Civilization is good.
Ed and I pull out of Baie Comeau and, wow, what a difference...paved roads, people, stores,'s all coming back now. The road to Quebec City is excellent...mostly two lanes through little towns near the water. At one point, the Garmin takes us inland over rolling hills and more towns...beautiful. Two hours into the drive, we discover that we have another ferry to take...this one across Baie St.'s fast, fun and, best of all, free.Fifteen miles or so north of Quebec, we get on a real freeway...with four lanes and!
Our campground is on the south bank of the St. Lawrence, so I get to drive over a particularly tall and scary bridge...nice. At the KOA, we find that things are pretty booked because there is a week-long festival in Quebec City celebrating history and culture from the 1700 and 1800's. But Ed and I are able to use our great skills at speaking French to charm the campground manager, and she gets us a nice spot for four whole days.
For dinner, it's more fried bologna...this time with some spicy Indonesian's "fusion cuisine" for campers. Sparkling wine is the obvious choice here, so Ed and I celebrate our return to civilization with a cold bottle of Domaine Chandon Blanc de tastes really, really good.
And...tomorrow, we'll be in the "old city" eating authentic Bistro food...I can hardly sleep!

Ed's Sidebar, Days 47-50:

Sunday, a day of rest and laundry. I have one eye swollen shut. We are nearly out of ammo to fight the black flies. Come morning we will withdraw along Trail 389 toward Baie Comeau and safety. Once out of reach of black flies, we will declare victory over the Labrador Highway and all its allies.

We hear coyotes almost every night. Their howls sound the same across the lake or from the ridge as any other coyote from Colorado to Arizona. The Atlantic coyote, though, has interbred with wolves. In this regard, the horse-drawn carriage has met the gasoline engine.

We drove a gravel road again through mountains of fox and porcupine in late afternoon. One fox stared at me, a squirrel in its teeth as we passed. --One summer I held a sausage in its bun while Larry's dog meandered through my yard.

There is no dark like the dark of a moonless Labrador, where the loon answers the coyote's call at exactly twilight.

Six weeks in the woods.
I do not care if I see
Hansel and Gretel.

I left nothing of myself in Quebec City on my last visit about 35 years ago. Now I see the skyline of Chateau Frontenac again. Je me souviens!

Fried baloney and spicy noodles 'en terrain du camp ce soir'--simple French fare, trapper's fare is our lot. Beaver pelts our unlikely reward.

For purposes of this study we have removed the English language. Also the black flies. We have added only two mosquitoes and less temperature to avoid the misconception of summer. Other controls remain the same, the wind, the clouds, the gathering rain, the cold nights. Our subject rummages the camper maze again. Mittens were not added. He finds an oven glove, tries it on.

You won't find hominy in Goose Bay, Labrador. Don't ask for Tabasco sauce in Labrador City. You can't roller skate in a caribou herd. Not that we saw any caribou.

Handy guide...
To convert Celsius to Farenheit, multiply by two and add thirty. To convert hectares to calories, reduce heat and simmer a million years. Note there will be fewer calories per gallon in Quebec than in Tampa. This should not dissuade the serious chef.

They should post a warning about the genetically-altered mosquitoes here. I took a swat at one in the shower and it only laughed. At what, I do not know.

Ed's Sidebar, Day 51:

A mosquito is in my wine, its oil slick slowly spreading. 'Interesant,' I say, trying out my latest Francaise. The mosquito does not reply. Nine at night and I still see frost on my breath in August. A mosquito does not care.

Ed's Sidebar, Day 52:

Dear reader, he puts down, home to Tampa tomorrow and it has been, how shall I say, an interesting, which is not to say particularly, he puts down, enjoyable, though anything can be enjoyed once the shock of it is embraced, seven weeks in the wilderness. Plus Quebec City, the Paris of North America. A contrast like that is good. Contrast is a space-fossil headline, the black fly in a sock, a maple leaf found between the pages of a book years later. C'est finis, good bye for now.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure...Day 49...Monday, August 1, 2011...Out of Labrador

Ed and I are both up early breaking camp. We've got a 360 mile drive today from Labrador City to the Quebec town of Baie Comeau on the St. Lawrence.
Before 8:00AM, we're pulling out of the campground and heading to Fermont for coffee and fuel.
t is difficult to believe that there could be a worse stretch of highway than that which we have already driven...but the road out of Fermont is terrible...more gravel road with potholes, but a narrower road...and lots of sharp curves...excellent.'s slow going all many stops crossing back over the same railroad tracks all the way down from Northern Quebec. After a hundred miles or so, we get fifty miles of broken pavement...then more gravel...then bad pavement again. But the last fifty miles or so is decent pavement, so it's pretty smooth going.
Around 6:00PM, we finally reach Baie Comeau...a town that is much bigger than we expected.
Our campground is out on a point high above the St. Lawrence...a nice spot. Cocktails are our reward for the tough drive...and we make up yet another batch of pasta for dinner.
We have returned to civilization...and...tomorrow Quebec City beckons with big-city dining and much history. It could not come sooner for us.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure...Day 48...Monday, August 1, 2011...A Day of Laundry, Fishing and Rest in Labrador City

I'm up early and so is someone that looks a little like Ed...he's Ed's size and has the same look, but his face is swollen up like Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. is Ed...he's been attacked by black flies, and the bites are so bad that his eyes are swollen almost shut. This necessitates a search of the camper for benadryl...Ed's in luck as we are able to locate the necessary medicine quickly. It works and, in an hour or two, the swelling is significantly reduce.
There are no laundromats in Labrador City...and Ed and I need to do laundry. So...after a few cups of French press coffee (no electricity = no coffee maker), we head into Quebec to the town of Fermont to do our laundry at the local hotel. There's a restaurant, so we have a light breakfast while our clothes are washed. It's a two-hour project, and we're back at camp around noon.
I head off to go fishing in the river next to the campground. The campground manager has given me a container of worms which he claims will guarantee successful trout fishing. He's wrong...I fish for over three hours without even a nibble. So...after three days of fishing in Labrador, I have caught a grand total of seven trout, none bigger than a few ounces.
Back at camp, Ed and I are loading on the insect repellant because the black flies are out in abundance. It's a sunny day, and the flies are enjoying the weather.
Dinner is pretty simple...fried bologna (excellent), some nice Canadian cheddar, and some crackers...all this matches up well with a bottle o Kim Crawford Pinot Gris from Australia...the perfect bologna wine!
It is, of course, cold once Ed and I are bundled up as night falls...Ed reading some poetry and me digging deeper into the last volume of the Teddy Roosevelt biography...Bailey's Irish Cream is our companion until bedtime.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure...Day 47...Sunday, July 31, 2011...A Tour of the Hydro Project and On to Labrador City

Well...I wake up "lightning strike" camping next to the church.
It is, of course, raining this morning as all these days of travel, we have only had a tiny handful of sunny days and even fewer dry nights.
Ed and I pack up around 7:30AM and head over to the local "hotel" for coffee and breakfast...good, but pricey like everything else here.
At 9:00AM, we are picked up by a representative of "Nalcor", the local power company that owns and operates the hydro project. Donning safety glasses and hard hats, we head below ground over 90 stories (yes...9-0). We get to see the big generators, escape tunnels...and view a short movie detailing the history of the project. It's fun and only take an hour and a half or so.
And then...we're on the gravel "highway" again for the 150 mile or so drive to Labrador City. The road is about the same as we are averaging between 40 and 50 mph. Once in town, we stop for pizza (terrible) and ice. Then we're off about ten miles out of town to the local campground. It's packed and very electric, and it's a ten or fifteen minute walk to the bathroom. We're camped on the beach of a large lake...pretty view, sandy campsite.
After setting up camp, we relax with a few cocktails before dinner...pasta again, a hearty meal. With no electricity, no WiFi and no cell phone service, our "entertainment options are pretty limited. We do listen to my iPod on the rechargeable boombox for awhile before heading off to bed around 10:00PM.
We're staying here an extra day, so we can sleep in tomorrow.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure...Day 46...Saturday, July 30, 2011...Church Camping in Churchill Falls

We scraped up another load of beans from the camper cabinet, so we've got coffee again this morning. It's only a 150 mile or so drive today, so we're not in any particular hurry.
One nice thing about today's drive is that about 60 miles will be on new pavement...part of a larger project to pave the highway all the way from Happy Valley/Goose Bay to Churchill Falls. About ten miles outside of town, we spot a bear on the side of the road and stop for a few photos. Thanks to my "Dolittlian" communication skills, I am able to establish an immediate rapport by using the phrase..."Yo, bear dude".
Construction slows our travel today...not to mention the poor road conditions once we run out of pavement. Still, we arrive late afternoon in the town of Churchill Falls. This is the sight of one of the world's largest hydroelectric projects, and it's very much a "company town". There are no RV Parks here, but a guy at the gas station advises us that we can park either at the skating rink or the church...we opt for the church. And, then, there we are...pitching our tent and setting up camp in the parking lot of the local church. It's rainy, cold...and the black flies ar out in force. There is one bar in town, but it doesn't open until 6:00PM. So...we head over to the town's only hotel and restaurant for a light lunch.
Back at "camp", we're all bundled up and huddled in the Escape to get out of the rain. 6:00PM never took so long.
Over at Malone's, we're finally having a couple of cold beers and some decent chicken wings and fries. It's a friendly group of people, but the crowd is pretty sparse for a Saturday. It's a warm and dry place, so we linger for several hours.
When we leave, the rain has stopped, so the walk back to "camp" isn't so bad. Still, it's mighty cold...nothing to do but sleep.

Ed's Sidebar, Day 44, 45, 46:

The original idea for Alfred Hitchcock's movie, The Birds, came from watching black flies hurl themselves against a camper window in Labrador.

What if trout had a social life unknown to us? There would be Bob, hanging out with his buddies at the local rapids having the trout version of pizza and a beer. When--Bob disappears with a hook in his mouth. Later, Mona trout wonders, 'Whatever happened to...what's his name?' Oh well, maybe there's something with shinier spots to be found.

You have to watch out for bears in Churchill Falls. They hang out at the town dump, beyond which is some great fishing, they say. At night the bears come in from the dump to wander the town. They caught a bear just last week, and one the week before. This scares the campers of course. We are the only campers in town. We set up in the church parking lot, though, so we should be safe, praise the Lord.

When we left Cochran's Pub, two drunks in the parking lot were smoking cigarettes and doing the black flies jitterbug. When it comes to fun in Churchill Falls, you pay to play. These guys should know that.

The Community Church in Churchill Falls is locked tonight on account of black flies or religious strife, no one is sure. One thing is sure, no one ever met a black fly who feared the Lord.

I dreamed black flies tried to eat my brain in Labrador City. They disrupted my command and control first, scrambled the communication of my eyes and ears. They sent suicide scouts into my mouth and lungs to deceive me, to disguise their true point of attack. Thus distracted, I was helpless when the sky filled with the black helicopters of their assault. I had gone insane in this frigid war zone. When I woke, I loved the smell of bug spray.

(to be continued maybe...else, good bye to sidebars for this trip)