Book One – 78mph

Hampton Inn, Eau Clair, WI – On Friday morning, after a great sleep, I walked down the hall to the breakfast room and one of the staff was putting fresh fruit on the counter.  I looked around and was surprised that there were no omelettes this morning.  Just as that thought went through my head, a woman named Barb came out of the kitchen and asked, “Would you like an omelette? I can make them for you – how many do you want?”

I said “Two please. Make one for my friend Ruth as well.”

She said it would take about twenty minutes as they were all-in “western omelettes”. With their robust coffee and yogurt we had such a good breakfast – but I’ve told you before how much I love the Hampton Inns.

Mall of America

Mall of America logo

We took our sweet time getting to the Mall of America just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota and spent a couple of hours in our favourite shops, including Chico’s, Calvin Klein, and, of course, Nordstrom too. The Mall of America is owned by the same people who own the West Edmonton Mall, the Ghermezian family. The family moved to Canada from Iran in the 1960’s and is one of Canada’s biggest immigrant success stories, converting their rug business into the real estate and construction empire it now is. The West Edmonton Mall, in Edmonton, Alberta, is the largest shopping center in Canada. In the USA, the mall, which is now 33 years old, was the largest in the USA when it opened: now it’s the second-largest, behind the massive King of Prussia Mall outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Chico's - at the Mall of America

Chico’s – my favourite store

The sales are on and Ruth took advantage but of course, the one thing I just had to add to my wardrobe, at Nordstrom, was not. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a shopping fail becomes a shopping win. I may have paid full price but when sales come around on this super skirt that I found, it would certainly not be a seasonal left-over!

Ruth has a friend in Minneapolis that we

would spend the night with, and it took us a while to find her address.  The problem was she was on 38th North, not 38th South and as you can imagine, that makes a pretty big difference.  Elaine is having problems with her balance and had never been referred to a vestibular physiotherapist for her condition.  We we searched out the web until we found a list of people for her to call on Monday to get an appointment with a physiotherapist. I’ll keep you updated on what happens.

This morning, we left Minneapolis around 7:00 a.m. to head out for Winnipeg.  A stop at McDonald’s for their good strong coffee and an Egg McMuffin got us on Highway #94 towards Fargo, North Dakota.  We had a short stop for lunch at a small cafe in Grand Forks, then we rolled into Winnipeg around 4:00 p.m.  We had luck with the weather: we drove through one shower around Fargo and then we had a thunderstorm in Winnipeg around supper time but we were already off the road and safe at the Webster’s by then.

The back yard right on the Red River

The back yard right on the Red River

Lynn and Sharon Webster

Lynn and Sharon Webster

We’re spending the next couple of nights with Sharon and Lynn Webster. It is such a treat to spend time with them.  They’re such good people – and they’re spoiling us with good food too!   We had a delicious dinner of steak, new potatoes, fresh peas and a salad.  As you may know, strawberries are my favourite fruit and we had Sharon’s famous Strawberry Pie for dessert.  How lucky for us!

The Websters have a beautiful home on the Red River, just a stone’s throw from the water!

Yum! Strawberry Pie!

Sharon’s Strawberry Pie

Tomorrow we are off to at the Grand Pines Golf Course, which borders on the Belair Provincial Forest – one of Manitoba’s 14 provincial provinces.   The course is close to the Webster’s cottage on the east side of Lake Winnipeg and only an hour away from their home here.  I can’t wait to get my clubs out to play, and tell you about the course and, maybe, about our game.

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imageThe road trip is officially on.  Goodbyes were made in Woodstock and Suzy the GPS gal got us with a bit of left turns here and right turns there to get to the the 401 to London, Ontario.  It was busy with the usual semitrailer traffic and cars, but before we knew it, we had passed London and were on the 402 in the direction of Sarnia, Ontario.


Now we do know the Americans like to do things up big – and BIG is exactly what I’d call the new bridge to Port Huron that is not quite completed yet. It was a fifteen-minute wait to get through the border control and into to the USA; then a 20-mile stretch of construction greeted us on our arrival in Michigan.  The two lanes of eastbound #69 are being replaced, so we had the westbound lanes carrying two way traffic.  It was very slow: the speed limit was 55 mph.

Now Flint, Michigan has a #475 by-pass and that was a pleasant surprise because we got on it and before we knew it we were northbound on #75.  We stopped near Saginaw to have our picnic lunch and talk to a seagull.  The Mackinac Bridge was being repaired and I could not recognize it as I had not seen it since 1965 when it had just opened. My oldest daughter was five when we first went over it: there had been a boating accident and a mother and her two children were lost. As we drove over the bridge, she remembers trying to look for those children in the choppy waters below.

Ruth and I am very excited about our road trip adventure.  We take turns driving every hour or two, and we’ve found that this old Oldsmobile has a favourite speed she likes to be driven at, and for this old girl, 78 mph just isn’t her speed. She likes to cruise at exactly 69 mph – not 68 or anything over 70 – so we are certainly not getting any attention from the Highway Patrol!  Neither of us are scared to be out driving on the highways and byways, but we are careful to know our surroundings – especially when we are stopped for gas or the occasional Coke. Coke you say? The caffeine keeps us alert!

I am so impressed with Highway #2 from St. Ignase to Escanaba across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is a beautiful, wide highway with a surface as smooth as a baby’s bum.  With the water close by on the left for 146 miles it was a pleasure to drive next to.  Trees lined the right-hand side the entire way.  Although it’s only two lanes wide, there were 12 passing lane sections and they always seemed to be there when we needed them.

Bench on the beach at Escanaba, MI.

Escanaba, Michigan

We checked into the hotel and went to find dinner, which was found it was in the name of Stonehouse.  An impressive building, outside and in.  A 30′ long glass display case with lights is a showcase for cars, cars and more cars.  This is in the bar area, but there is only one TV so it is not what you call a sports bar.  The dining area is large with white tablecloths and is nicely separated from the bar.  We were lucky to get the last spot in the big parking lot so we were pretty sure the food would be good.  It was more than good and a exceptionally good selection was on the menu.  We opted for a fresh fish medley and New Zealand lamb chops with double-baked potatoes and salad.  So yummy you would not believe.

Model cars at the bar in the Stonehouse Restaurant

Model cars at the bar in the Stonehouse Restaurant

Lori, the waitress at Stonehouse gave us the names of three golf courses to try out tomorrow. The Sweetgrass Golf Club has an Island Green and looks exciting on their website, so it just may be the one we choose to play tomorrow.

Swedish Pantry

Swedish Pantry

After dinner we drove downtown and found the downtown area has maintained its sea side attractions.  There are many little stores and boutiques and I took a picture of one that really popped out: the Swedish Pantry with it’s blue and yellow colours just like the Swedish flag. The Swedish Pantry looks to have most everything in it and baked goods too and advertises itself as having “The Best Food in Town”!

The park overlooking the bay is beautifully kept and has lots of benches, which I’ve posted pictures of at the top of this post.

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