We had a very long day as we left Montreal (even though we never actually saw it 😉), bypassed Ottawa, skirted around Toronto, and finally arrived to Niagara Falls, Ontario.
We are now on the ‘Social Trail’ as we will be visiting family and friends in places we have been, and lived!
We were very excited to spend the weekend with Joanne’s cousins – Mert (Darlene), Robert, Braden, Reiss and Melissa. We spent Saturday visiting around the pool in their beautiful back yard, and were treated to several feasts throughout the day. Playing in the pool, eating, drinking and catching up was exactly what we needed and we enjoyed ourselves immensely! 😎
Joseph’s college roommate from USC now lives in St. Catherine’s, which is very close to Niagara Falls. Many of you may remember Cesar best as Joseph’s ‘flat mate’! Cesar was in the USA on refugee status from El Salvador since he was a child, and was unable to leave the US for Joseph and Hannah’s wedding, so we made a life sized cardboard cutout of him and he was a ‘groomsman’ at the wedding. Cesar’s ‘other self’ has been wakesurfing, attended several parties, participated in the family Amazing Race, travelled by motorhome across Canada to Michigan, and returned by movers back to California a few years ago!
Anyways, Cesar is now a Permanent Resident of Canada 🇨🇦 🎉 – a loss for the US but a fabulous gain for the aerospace industry in our country. We met up with him and visited the falls then went for a nice lunch with a great view of the falls. We were a shoddy influence on him since the best parking was at the Fallsview Casino, as long as you signed up and gambled a small amount 😳, parking was free. We had such a nice time with him since he is like a second son to us. 🥰
We did not realize that Nikola Tesla had an influence at Niagara Falls, and that the power plants here were based on his inventions.
Here are some photos of Niagara Falls. One side is American, one side is Canadian. Even though they are both spectacular, we know which one we think is absolutely stunning! 😉 🇨🇦
And then we introduced Cesar to the cousins!! He actually knew Reiss from when Reiss was in California working, and had met Braden there also. Robert and Mert are members of the Wayne Gretzky Wine Club, so they treated us to an amazing afternoon of VIP wine tasting and rye-whiskey-ginger imbibing! It was so much fun and again, shoddy influences on Cesar, as he just might sign up for the wine club!
We had so much fun and enjoyed the company, we miss them all already!
Our next stop was Guelph to visit Henry’s Tante Trudy who is Henry’s Dad’s sister. 🥰 She made wonderful lunch for us and we were so pleasantly surprised that Henry’s cousin, Trudy, and her husband Mike, joined us also. Henry has not seen Trudy in about 35 years, so it was great for the cousins to catch up!
We then carried on to our old stomping grounds, Windsor! We lived in Windsor, which borders the Detroit River and Detroit, for 2 years when Joseph and Hannah we’re living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We loved living there and were so happy to be ‘home’!
Windsor and it’s surrounding area has so much history. As a border settlement, it was a site of conflict during the War of 1812, a major entry point into Canada for refugees from slavery via the Underground Railroad, and a major source of liquor during American Prohibition.
Our campsite was one we rode our bikes past so many times, as it is right beside one of our favourite trails, The Chrysler Canada Greenway! It brought back such great memories for us.
It just so happened that friends of ours (from across the hall in our old condo building), Tom and Joanne, were also at the same campsite as us! They have their trailer there for the summer as a fun getaway. It was so special to see them and catch up. They treated us to a wonderful dinner in the beautiful town of Amherstburg.
We wish we could have stayed in Windsor longer and catch up with more friends, but we had to move on.
We crossed the border into Detroit with fond memories and reminisced about the many times we drove this route to visit the kids in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Good times 😎
We carried on, driving through Michigan, a bit of Indiana, and finally in to Illinois. We channeled the Blues Brothers as we pulled in to Joliet, which is just outside Chicago. We’ve stayed at Leisure Lake RV Village a few times now, so it was familiar to stay there again.
We then had a very, very long day driving through Wisconsin and into Minnesota. We settled for a few days in Maple Grove, which is a suburb of Minneapolis.
We spent our first day cycling several of the amazing paths around Maple Grove. We’ve said this before, but this time we really, really mean it . . . these were our most favourite bike paths we’ve been on so far! Miles and miles of paved paths, meandering around several lakes, and even took us to the Mississippi River at Coon Rapids Dam. We even rode by a massive ski resort – well, massive for Minnesota standards we guess!
Catching up with more friends, we drove into Minneapolis to meet up with Pete and Suki, who are good friends with our friends Frank and Liz! We had fun with Suki many times up at Big White and it was so nice to connect again!
We then caught up with our long time friends of over 30 years, Rick and Kim. We first met this fabulous couple when we were all on vacation in Manzanillo, staying at Las Hadas Resort 😎. We hit it off with them from the first meeting at the pool and spent the rest of our holiday together. Joanne spent a fair bit of that trip checking out the inside of toilet bowls, and it was Kim who was convinced that Joanne was pregnant and not experiencing Montezuma’s Revenge! 🤢 She was right!
Kim is an Interior Designer and we met at one of her spectacular show homes in Maple Grove. Very impressive 👍. It was so nice to spend time together laughing and catching up. We also got to meet their youngest daughter Sophie and her husband John, and their friend Erica. Sophie wasn’t born yet when we first visited Minnesota with Joseph, and we didn’t get to see any of the kids last time we visited, so this was extra special.
This family that we love so much, is going through what no family should ever have to go through. Rick and Kim’s 2 year old granddaughter, Olivia, has cancer.
Darrin, Grace (Rick and Kim’s daughter), their new born baby, Will, and of course, adorable little Olivia found out a few weeks ago that Olivia was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, cancerous tumors that have already spread to the bone marrow in her hips, spine, and femurs.
It breaks our hearts to know that this precious little child has many more cycles of chemotherapy ahead of her (she’s already losing her hair from the first round), blood transfusions, radiation and all the complications that go along with her immune system being compromised. She has a challenging 18 months ahead of her.
We didn’t get to see them at all because Olivia’s fever was out of control and she had to be admitted into the hospital again.
We know the family would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers for little Olivia, and you are very welcome to visit the website they’ve created.
No child should ever have to deal with this. Cancer sucks.
Well, we had such a fabulous time with our family and friends, but it’s now time to resume our journey and head back in to parts unknown! The adventure continues! 😎