Monday, August 30, 2010

Suspicious characters detained at the border...

In a post titled "O Canada", I groused a little bit about a Canadian Customs official, but also pointed out that our country had much to complain about (LOTS more).

And of course they eventually provided me with fodder for a bitch session here on the blog. We got to the border around four-ish yesterday (Sunday). On the way BACK into the U.S. of A., you must stop for the U.S. Customs to examine your documents. Which we of course did. They said that they were doing random checks, had us move our vehicle to a certain point, turn off the ignition, and go into their headquarters. Where we surrendered our documents (again) and answered some of the same questions the Canadian guy had asked when we ENTERED Canada. L had to produce his Canadian fishing license (we had the legal limit of 4 fish - 8 fillets - with a strip of skin attached to show the species of the fish). Then L explained that he had his own business, I again replied that I was retired, and the U.S. Customs gal asked "From where?" I just don't get it. I think - for the next time travelling between between here and our neighbors to the north - I'll invent some stupid employer and even dumber position at that fictitious employer. Or maybe I'll tell 'em I am a professional blogger and that I am using this experience to give me material to blog about. Any suggestions for that employer or position?

We had to fill out a page on anything we'd bought in Canada - a pair of $29 (Canadian money) leather gloves and I had the receipt. They asked questions about my passport, which had only been renewed a couple of weeks prior to our trip. And "Where were you born?" - for me, and the passport declares my birthplace as California. So my reply was "San Diego". I must be of GREAT interest to them - all these questions FOR ME, including where my residence was. Geeezzzz... They wanted to know what OUR relationship was. I suppose I could have given them some raunchy reply, but I'll bet that they do NOT have sense of humor. Plus they dug through the entire car, which I could tell by the placement of items from where they HAD been, to where they were sitting upon our return. We were completely legal - no weapons, no tobacco, only 3 cans of beer (purchased in the U.S.), etc.

Yup, we were definitely suspicious. As were the others we saw in the same building: a husband-and-wife with 3 young kids, a handful of young folks returning from a church function (the one gal had a head covering similar to an Amish or Mennonite hat), a few young guys who had also been there fishing, and (as we were finally being released) two couples, travelling together, ages approximately 50's or 60's. Yes, we all looked like drug smugglers, or weapons smugglers, or illegal transporters of tobacco, or.... Sigh. So much time wasted for NOTHING. And after a 20-minute delay, we were on our now-not-so-merry-way. They sure know how to ruin a good mood. I feel very violated when this happens (I remember when they used to hand search all luggage at the airports). Hope they enjoyed rummaging through my dirty clothes bag.

When we returned to our vehicle, they had the hood up on the car behind us. I'm not sure just what one might try to hide there, but I'll have to keep that in mind and see if I could put a small suitcase wedged in there sometime. Just to make 'em happy and hoping that it contains contraband...

Well, just posting this makes me seethe. I have a couple of photos that I might post on one more blog. Happy trails, y'all. And IN SPITE of U.S. Customs, I still enjoyed Canada and we experienced mostly great weather. I might even try another visit. So I have to think about my pre-retirement employer...

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Another day on Roderick Lake, a day to do some SERIOUS fishing, y'all. And so we headed out this morning -- not ALL that early BTW. Probably got on the water about 10:15 or a bit later. We took the time to sleep in, then cooked up some bacon and eggs and I figured out the coffeemaker and brewed up some caffeine, too.

It was much cooler this morning than Friday had been, and very cloudy, too. So we both donned jackets (and I put a fleece zip-up under mine), and L popped on a baseball cap, as well. We actually did NOT fish on this lake (Roderick) but on another that his friend P does NOT "share" with most people. Obviously, P liked L enough to share the locale of this one with him, years ago. And that one is a goldmine, for walleyes. I kid you not: we were not on the lake for even THREE minutes, and L landed his first one. The second one followed by about ten minutes. Eventually, after about 2 1/2 hours, we called it quits. Plenty to eat for dinner, plus some to bring back across the border (regulations allow us 4 walleyes per license, per day) - so we can bring back a day's limit with us. It rained lightly, and neither of us had any rain-repelling gear (I did not have any, and he had forgotten his at his home in Duluth). But we kept on, keepin' on. It was fun - I hadn't done any of that since I was a kid, and my main memories from then, were of extreme boredom while being forcefully kept in a boat and told to be silent. Ugh.

So, from a relative rookie start-up, I did okay. I really was babysitting one of his baited lines when I got a "hit". Wow! He told me how to set the hook, and since it was raining, the handle on the rod was slippery. I had enough to do, just to try to hold onto the slippery devil, but then had to try to reel it in and land it in the boat, to boot. And I was gettin' that bad boy close to the boat, when he broke the line and took off with my bright yellow jig. Damn. All that for nuttin'.

Obviously, this li'l guy was NOT a "keeper", so we returned him to swim with his other li'l buddies. Isn't fishing (in the rain) glamorous? My straggly, rain-soaked hair and saturated jacket tell the tale without words! And the rain was washing the oils from my face, stinging my eyes.

We continued fishing, and I actually landed a few. Towards the end of our fishing day, L got one of the biggest ones we'd caught -- and, tah-dah! it had MY jig in its jaw! So I was revenged! Plus L got the jig back. We ran out of bait (crawlers), and ended up fishing with artificial worms, which strangely DID work.

So... It was a goo-oo-ood day, folks - and one last photo of the happiest fisherman at this camp.

Friday, August 27, 2010

O Canada...

This day finds me in the province of Ontario, specifically in a fishing "camp" on a lake named Roderick. L's friend P owns this camp and also the float planes (yes, plural) that bring folks like us to this site. L and I will have free lodging, as he will be looking at some generator glitches that this site has sometimes. P converted to solar power last year, but cloudy days sometimes makes the use of one or both generators for backup electrical power.

First, some comments on Canada -- and these are NOT criticisms, because God knows, those of us who live in the U.S. of A. have plenty to criticize in our OWN country. These are just observations.

Crossing the border was uneventful, altho' I did get the feeling that the Canadian border agent just plain ol' had "nose trouble". How else do you account for the following dialogue? We were asked what we did for employment. L replied that he had his own company, manufacturing cleaners. And I in turn replied that I was retired. He wanted to know from where. What bearing does that have on my crossing the border?! He already had our passports and drivers licenses, BTW. And we had already responded to questions about alcohol, tobacco, pets - in a truthful manner. Natch.

The liquor stores here are government (national, that is) run. So I believe that
means that the prices are set without input by local citizenry. And the hours? Well, you don't have time to reinforce your alcohol input on a late-night whim. At least not in Red Lake, the place where we spent last night. The blinkin' LCBO (not sure what those letters stand for) closed at 6 PM! We arrived at the door at, like, 1 or 2 minutes AFTER that hour. Frizzle-frazzle! I had one bottle of wine that was supposed to last me until at least Sunday?! And I do enjoy a glass or two with the evening meal or in the early evening. So we'd brought a bottle across the border with us, anticipating purchasing another one to pack into the fish camp. L is a beer drinker, and the fish camp apparently stocks that (I am sure we will pay for any he will consume), and he had 6 cans that he'd brought with him.

As usual... off on a tangent, I am. Returning to the subject (which was...) of finding a bottle of wine to purchase. We ate at a local restaurant called Howey's (the bay on Red Lake where this eatery is situated is called Howey's Bay) and L asked the waitress if any other place was open later than 6 PM for liquor sales. And she very nicely told us about a place called Village Variety, about a couple of miles away (she said the distance in kilometers, which is what our metric-using neighbors-to-the-north use for distances) in the Balmertown area. So after dinner we drove there and purchased a second bottle. L made the comment - after we had exited this little store - that he knew just WHAT the focus was (for sales) in that little "variety" store, and liquor was definitely IT. Case in point: the 2-liter bottles of Coke and other non-alcoholic beverages were HEAVY with dust. But not so, with the wine and other alcohol bottles.

L said that Balmertown has a gold mine on the outskirts of town. Said it was one of the richest (as far as production goes) gold mines in the world and is owned by Goldcorp. So the town has a good-sized population of men who work in this industry and probably entertain themselves after work with a drink or several. Thus, the variety store fills a need, I guess. And it sure did for ME!

L is currently perusing (hey, I know a coupla BIG words!) manuals on the generators while I am keying up this blog. It is SO peaceful, quiet, beautiful here. P does not live here - he resides in Red Lake - but has graciously allowed us to stay at "his" cabin. We brought some food with us - bread, milk, bacon, eggs and some sliced deli meats for quick sandwiches. And L hopes to have some luck fishing, maybe get a walleye or trout or two for at least one meal. There are others here, too - a group of six young guys headed here before us, in a larger plane - DeHaviland Otter - as they had a LOT of gear PLUS a lot of groceries. Hey, they're young and probably burn more calories than we old fogies do. And who knows how much beer was included in that cargo? L tells me that the Otter burns 45 gallons of jet fuel an hour. Our little float plane was a Cessna 180 - burns aviation gas.

The flight into this site was great -- albeit noisy. And somewhat bumpy, considering that we were flying into a stiff wind at times. I want to have the camera ready for the flight back. A novel experience that I really enjoyed!

The weekend before this one was L's 50-year high school reunion. Fun times, nice folks. That was on Saturday. On Sunday, there was a small gathering of some of MY classmates, as one gal was in town visiting from Arizona. We contributed one or two side dish-y type things, and brought something to throw on the barbecue, as well. The weather was beautiful for those days, and this one is promising similar weather. When August rolls around in northern MN, it can get suddenly QUITE cool/cold. I am enjoying each warm day, trust me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Yep, I did it...

About two weeks ago, we were traipsing around a golf course where L's son was competing in a tournament. Nice course, obviously helped a lot to be a private country club where the dues would help to keep the course in top shape. Money DOES help...

Anyway, we were there for 3 days, as he competed Friday thru Sunday. After the round ended on Sunday, we packed up and went back to the car. And I, of course, discovered that I had forgotten my hot-pink (fuschia?) hoodie. I am NOT crazy about that term - hoodie -- but it beats the descriptive phrase, zip-front fleece cover-up with a hood. But I digress, as they say. In fact, I had left it in the little basket of the golf cart we were using, and said cart was now in use by someone else. A second tourney was going on, and this was a two-guy playoff. We were told that they were probably at the 3rd hole, and actually they were at the 4th hole, along with my hoodie in the back of a cart. So L halted our cart at #4 behind the spectators, I ran over to the other cart and grabbed my cover-up and dashed back. Twisted my right foot and ankle but no harm done. Or so I thought. In the week-and-a-half following, I had some pain and swelling and redness, along with a warmth that seemed to indicate infection.

In true Cleopatra-queen-of-denial fashion, I kept thinking it would get better. And I finally succumbed to seeing my doc on Thursday. Xrays confirmed that I had broken the second metatarsal bone of the foot. The good news is that NO CAST is required - it is a non-displaced fracture. Since L's high school class reunion is coming up this weekend, that is great. The doc required me to get crutches, with admonitions to STAY OFF that foot as much as possible. Yeah, right -- but I have propped up my leg/foot as frequently as I can, since being told to elevate it. And it aches less and the swelling is not as significant or frequent as it had been.

This is the second break that I have sustained in 3 years, the other one being my little finger in a stumbling fall I took in September of '07. That tumble also earned me seven handsome blue-sutured stitches in my chin, too. Before that time, my only bone breaks were the result of two sternotomies (where your breastbone is sawed thru, vertically), performed during my two open-heart surgeries. The last one was 18 years ago. Without going into gory detail, I had a defective mitral valve as an indirect result of a bout of rheumatic fever at age 9. First surgery was at age 38 - Feb. 1987; and the second at age 43 - June 1992 - when the valve was replaced with a mechanical one. I have some old photos that I will try to locate and share with y'all someday. I know -- the squeamish among you can hardly wait! But if/when I post the photos, they will be tasteful (say what?!). No nudity...

So I lead a dull life...

Friday, August 6, 2010

More sunset pix

A few days ago, we had had a bunch of rain. And that probably helped set the scene for these rather pretty sunset pix. I am only showing a few, and again I wish I had a better camera. Oh, well.

These are displayed in the order taken (some other not-so-good pix I just did not show!). I have been told that the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer, is that the good one just does not share his/her crummy pix with others.

And the grand finale - the wonderful cloud formations made this a spectacular sunset to snap. I went inside TWICE, but as the colors deepened, I just had to return for a few more pix. Sigh...