Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weeding by Margaret Ullrich, part 1

I love planning a garden.
I love planting a garden.
I love watering a garden.
I love harvesting a garden.
I hate weeding a garden.

A week ago I weeded my garden.
Well, I had to.
The weeds were almost as tall as the zucchini plants.
Not good.

There aren't too many things that remind me of my Pop.
He often worked two jobs during my childhood.
Weeding always reminds me of Pop.

One of the first things Pop did after we moved to College Point was plant a garden.
Tomatoes, zucchini, beets, carrots and green beans.
Lots of green beans.

Pop's garden wasn't just a hobby.
Gardening was a passion with Pop.
He'd been born on Grandpa's farm.
So was I.
After my parents married, they set up housekeeping in a barn on the farm. 
It was temporary.
Pop had filled out his papers to move to America.
His brothers were there and they'd told him it was great.

So we came to America.
We lived in Corona, with one of his brothers, his wife and two children.
Pop worked, along with another brother, in a third brother's deli.
After two years, the brothers fought.
We moved to College Point. 

Pop loved being in his garden.
As soon as he came home from work, he'd change his clothes and water the garden.
Sometimes he let me hold the hose.

A weed didn't last long in Pop's garden.
Pop hated weeds.
"Damn weeds.  They steal from my plants.
They steal water, they steal food.  My poor plants."

He taught me how to recognize and pull weeds.
He taught me they were awful.
So, when I weed, I think of Pop.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

White Rock, British Columbia, by Margaret Ullrich, part 24, Transplanting

Things have settled down in our neighborhood.
The boy's body was found.
He hadn't been mugged.
Apparently he'd gotten into a disagreement with friends.
Then he decided to run into the pond and go under the surface.

But Winnipeg has reclaimed the title Murder Capital of Canada.
The Winnipeg Free Press even has a map of where the murders happened.
Click on the icons and you can read all about the cases.
Mostly they're clustered in the West End.
Big surprise there.


It's been hot and dry.
We're supposed to get rain tonight.
Our grape vine has tiny green balls.
Our tomato plants have small green balls.
Our zucchini plants have tiny green sticks.
About average for this time of year.

I'm sorry to report there's no sign of our robins.
Mama and babies have left the nest.
We haven't seen them for a couple of days.
No sign of any trouble.
We still have plenty of sparrows and finches.
We're hoping the robins will come back.


About our first few days in the Vancouver area...
On July 16, 1972, late at night, we paid for two nights at the Blue Haven Trailer Park.
It wasn't that great a place.
We just wanted to know we had a place to stay while we got our bearings.


We had crossed the continent.
New York to Vancouver.
We had actually done it.

In hindsight we would have done it differently.
Paced ourselves better.
Driven a few hours each morning, then driven to a campsite in the afternoon.
We'd have time to set up, have a nice meal, walk around.
Maybe even spend a night here and there.

Well, it was a learning experience.
We didn't know a truck could force us off the highway the first day.
We didn't know we'd get two flat tires.
We didn't know the Rockies, the Cascades, the Selkirks and the Coast Mountain Range were so hard to cross.
We didn't know summer is THE tourist season in Canada.
We didn't know to make reservations during the tourist season.
Well that would've implied we would have paced ourselves.
Also that we would've known what we were doing.

But, after our journey, we did know that we could face problems.
No big make up scene like the ending in The Long, Long Trailer.
No major blowup which would have lead to the big make up scene.
We just got through the trip a day at a time, a problem at a time.


Vancouver was a disappointment.
We didn't know what to expect, so our imaginations had run away with us.
At one point during our trip we had discussed whether it would be nicer to have a mountain or lake in our back yard.
We thought we'd be getting a place like Loretta Lynn had in Coal Miner's Daughter.
Like in the scene where she and Doo were designing their new home.
The scene where she explained they should place the bedroom so the sun wouldn't be hitting them in the eyes first thing in the morning.

Vancouver was a city, no doubt about it.
And, if we'd wanted a city, well, we'd just left New York, a honking big one.
What was the point of the trip if we were going to be stuck in another city?
With these thoughts in mind, we went to bed.
Our first night in Vancouver.

After a good night's sleep we felt better.
We washed up and had breakfast.
Vancouver was a city.
Well, we could handle that.
It couldn't be any worse that being at Hell's Gate with a boiling radiator.


Blue Haven wasn't one of the nicest campgrounds we'd seen.
But we were glad we could leave our trailer there for the day.
And we were really glad when we had to park.
Vancouver is hilly.
Instead of parallel parking, one drove into a space by the curb.
As one would do in a shopping mall parking lot.
After parking in the space, either the driver or the passenger would open the door, then fall out of the car.
Well, every city has its little quirks.

We decided to get some advice.
We went to a tourist bureau and explained that we wanted someplace quiet.
He asked if we'd mind being away from Vancouver.
Nope, no problem at all with that.
He was surprised.
Most tourists wanted to be "close to the sights".
We explained, no begged, for something nice and quiet.
Maybe in a park?
We were planning to stay for a few weeks.

He pulled out a few brochures.
One was for the trailer park right across the Lions Gate Bridge.
North Vancouver was quieter in those days.
Paul said no.

There was another trailer park.
Quiet, right by the water, in White Rock.
There were people who stayed for the season there.
Snow birds, he called them.
He pulled out a map and showed us the way to White Rock.

Okay... Hiawatha Trailer Park wasn't in the town of White Rock.
We drove up and down, back and forward, on every street on every hill in town.
There weren't that many streets, but we were wondering if we were the victims of some kind of joke.
And we weren't in the mood for a joke.

We went to our old favorite, A & W, for lunch.
It was becoming an old friend.
We really were getting to know our Papa, Mama and Teen burgers.
Yes, the girl who brought our order knew where Hiawatha was.
No, it wasn't a joke.

We drove to Hiawatha.
It was perfect.
We found a spot up on the hill with the Snowbirds.
We checked out the showers.
We checked out the campground's septic tank.
Hiawatha had it all.

We paid for our first week.
We were told the park was open until Thanksgiving.
Perfect.
We'd be there until the end of November.


Who knew Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving the second Tuesday in October?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vancouver, British Columbia, by Margaret Ullrich, part 23, Transplanting

A teenaged boy drowned in our neighborhood.
The police recovered his body almost a day after the boy had raced into the pond.
He was running from two people trying to help after he had been assaulted.
The Albina Park retention pond is full of seaweed, so he probably got tangled.

The area around the pond is popular with walkers.
After our walk, we chatted with neighbors while the diver searched for the boy.
We were surprised to see over a dozen policemen at the pond.
The body wouldn't fight them.

The pond is between two elementary schools.
I wonder if parents are going to want it fenced.


Back to gardening...
I finally pulled out the yellow daisies that had settled in my yard.
As they had been free, no loss.
The flowers' color was fine.
They matched the zucchini flowers growing right next to them.
The problem was the daisies were covered with red bugs.
Really, they were so infested, the stems looked red.
They weren't red lily beetles; they totally ignored my lilies.

I tried a few bug killers.  
The zucchini by the daisies wasn't doing as well as the zucchini by the garage.
We can eat zucchini.
We can't eat daisies.
Out the daisies went, packed in a garbage bag, with the trash today.


About our trip across Canada...
We should have rested in Hope on July 16, 1972.
It was certainly nicer than Kamloops.
The scenery, with mountains on three sides, was gorgeous.

We were just so tired of driving.
Finishing the drive to Vancouver seemed like a good idea at the time.

We drove across the Fraser Valley flatlands.
The walled-in Fraser River was in the Fraser Canyon.
Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we were on the yellow brick road.
Vancouver, like Oz, was straight ahead.

We passed Abbotsford and Surrey with their farms and orchards.
We drove to Vancouver on the King George Highway.

Then we got picky.
Our original choice, Cariboo Park, wasn't good enough.
We were by the Pacific and wanted to camp by the coast.

Somehow we ended up in Stanley Park.
We  were on a road with a typical Sunday evening, after dinner, crowd of people.
We had to keep driving past the totem poles. 
There wasn't any place to park.
Paul tried and, within seconds, a tow truck appeared.
We found ourselves heading towards the Lions Gate Bridge.


I don't know what it was about the bridge that made Paul snap.
I didn't think the other side could've been any worse than where we were.
I mean, okay, it looked like we were going back into the mountains.
Paul didn't care.
Clutching the steering wheel, he said very softly, 
"Can't you see I'm in a panic."
Oh...  Okay, then...
Somehow Paul swung a U turn and we were back in the park.

We saw an elderly man walking his dog.
Slowing to a crawl, Paul asked how we could get out of the park.
The man gave us directions and we ended up back on the docks. 

We had lost all track of time.
We were three time zones away from Ma.
She was expecting our usual 'on the road' call home.

We stopped at a gas station.
I apologized for calling so late and told her my usual lie: 
The campground was great.  We were settled for the night.
I got off the phone.
Where were we going to park for the night?

Paul called the scenic campground on the coast.
It was full.
We retraced our route to Cariboo Park.
It was full.
We went to the next campground.
It was full.

The fellow at the desk offered to make a few calls.
Finally he found a space.
As we left he said it was too bad we had arrived so late.
The trailer park right across the Lions Gate Bridge was quite nice but also full.

We picked up some burgers at A & W.
We drove to Blue Haven Trailer Park.
It was a dump without any facilities.
We paid for two nights.
We were just happy to know we had a spot.
As they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Without dragging our trailer, we were going to explore Vancouver.
And find a decent trailer park.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Rocky Mountains / Hope, British Columbia, by Margaret Ullrich, part 22, Transplanting

It rained all day yesterday.
Then it rained all night.
I'm not complaining.
The ground had been so dry it was getting cracks.

Usually when we've camped in the woods, it felt damp.
There was a cool heaviness in the air.
If we were living in New York or Vancouver, we probably wouldn't notice it as much.
But here in Winnipeg we get a dry heat.
So we really notice moisture, whether it's a cool damp or a hot humid.
When it's like this it reminds us of Riding Mountain, our escape from the prairies.


In the almost thirty years since Tyndall Park was developed, there's been 
a change in the local birds.
The first few years there were barn swallows and an occasional owl.
Then all we saw were finches and sparrows.
Now our trees can shelter doves, robins, woodpeckers and blue jays.
We also get crows and grackles.
Of course our ponds always had ducks, gulls and geese.

Speaking of birds, the robins in our grapevine survived the rain.
Mama really picked a good location.


Forty years ago was the last day of our trip.
It was also one of the hottest days of our trip.
The heat added to our engine's stress.
That and the bargain we got back in Niagara Falls.
We saved a few bucks substituting pump lube for antifreeze.
That bargain was about to bite us.


What made the heat worse was we were driving from Kamloops to Vancouver.
We were leaving the Rockies and going through the Selkirks and the Cascades.
The Selkirks and the Cascades make the Rockies look flat.
As any railfan knows, the Selkirks were THE problem for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The CPR had gotten first pick for the route through the mountains.
The grades had to be easier for the trains.
The worse areas were left for the TransCanada Highway. 
Where we were driving. 

We were driving through peaks and valleys in the TransCanada.
Up and down the Fraser Canyon.
Some of the roads were extremely narrow.
Like what Lucy and Ricky faced on the mountain in The Long Long Trailer.

We drove by dozens of places where we could buy jade trinkets.
What we wanted was was a wormhole that could get us through that area.
Because Jackass Mountain is so steep, it is also called the hill of despair.
Jackass was so named because a jackass had died there.
We wondered if two more jackasses were going to join him that day.


We went through the 3/4 mile China Bar Tunnel.
It's the longest highway tunnel on the TransCanada in the Fraser Canyon.


When we were driving along the Fraser River there was a sign:
No human dare travel - 1 mile to Hell's Gate.
Somebody in their tourism department really needs to work on his bedside manner.
The trains and the TransCanada cross at that point.
According to the AAA Guide book, it was one of the engineeer's biggest challenge, 
as it's not easy to cross that valley.
No kidding.

The Hell's Gate Bridge was very narrow.
The gorge looked very deep.
We were very scared. 

After Hell's Gate we stopped for a bite.

After we climbed one particularly high peak we stopped.
There were lookout points for folks to stop, enjoy the view and say a prayer.
We did both, and Paul lifted the hood to see if the engine had melted.
He could hear to the water in the radiator bubbling.
It could have been worse.
In New York he had bought a special cap for the radiator.
It allowed some of the steam to escape.
If it hadn't I think the radiator would've exploded.

Going downhill was just as bad as going uphill.
Paul found it hard to control the car and trailer.
The trailer was pushing us down faster than he wanted to go.
Paul slowed down.
Everyone behind us was crawling, too.


Finally we were driving in the Fraser valley, heading into Hope.
The town of Hope was the slightly flat eye of the mountain storm. 
It was in an area that separated the Cascades from the Coast Mountain Range.
There were mountains everywhere we looked.
If you saw Silvester Stallone's movie First Blood, you saw the area.


We were ninety miles east of Vancouver.
We'd just been through an awful piece of travelling.
We could've stopped, rested and finished the journey the next day.

Well, at a certain point in the middle of a miserable job, you just want it to be over.
We were two, maybe three, hours from putting an end to our driving hell.
Two or three hours from being able to STOP DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY.
The thought of finishing the journey gave us a burst of energy.
On to Vancouver.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Rocky Mountains / Kamloops, British Columbia, by Margaret Ullrich, part 21, Transplanting

Today started with a hazy morning.
Paul and I went for a walk.
It began raining when we were a block from home.
When we passed under a street light, something white landed in front of us.
Three crows were perched on the street light's cross bar.
The white stuff was a load of bird poop.
The heavy rain and poop missed us by that much.
Timing is everything.


Now that we're retired it usually doesn't matter when it rains.
We do feel a twinge for our working friends when it rains on the weekends.
This seems to be a summer of wet weekends.
We can remember suffering through a few summers like that.
Summers are too short here to lose a weekend to rain.

The nice thing is that it has cooled off a bit.
We turned off the air conditioner and opened the windows.
Ah, fresh air!
We can hear the baby robins screeching in the nest.
When they're hungry, they're hungry!
If I could, I'd feed them, just to shut them up.


Forty years ago we had a cold Saturday in the Rockies.
I don't know if it was because of a cold snap or the elevation.
We could see snow on the mountain tops.
After sweltering in the prairies, we had to dig out our warm clothing.

The couple at the KOA said we could stay.
Even though the view was nice, we didn't want another night by the office.
Since we didn't know where there'd be a restaurant, I cooked beans and frankfurters. 
I wrapped the pot in a few blankets, and then we left.

The driving and scenery were pleasant.
Most of the highway went through the valleys.
The Rocky Mountains were in the distance. 
Paul took a picture of me shivering by a glacier.
Yes, it was that cold.

Things were going well until we had almost crossed a bridge over a valley.
Along with the valley, there were deep ditches on both sides of the road off the bridge.
Our car's right rear tire blew.
The car swerved for a few minutes.
Paul, who had gotten more varied driving experiences in a few weeks than most New Yorkers had after a decade, kept the car on the road.
Finally, we stopped.

We just sat and stared straight ahead.
We didn't want to see what was behind the car.
We didn't look at the mirrors.
We were sure the trailer had been jerked loose.
We just knew it had fallen off and was somewhere down in the valley.
Bye, bye, clothes, stuff, souvenirs.

Finally, we looked behind us.
The trailer was still there.

There was another car behind us.
A man and his daughter stopped to see if we were alright.
The daughter had a cat named Tuffy who'd had kittens.
She asked if we would like a kitten.
I thanked her and said no.
The Dad had a cross wrench and gave Paul a hand replacing the tire.
He then wished us well and they left.
Thank God for friendly Canadians and the tourist season.


We were still shaken, so we decided to find a place to have lunch.
We stopped on the lookout by Lake of the Shuswap.
At the start of our trip Lake of the Shuswap would've made us giggle.
By now none of the local names surprised us.
It was just the name of a lake.

An older couple also stopped for lunch.
The man said we should hitch the trailer higher.
As all of the hitch equipment was welded in place, we couldn't.
I guess the fellow meant well.
Maybe his hitching equipment was adjustable.


Near Kamloops we heard Peter, Paul and Mary's Puff the Magic Dragon.
The announcer boomed out, "You're in Our Country."
We don't know if he was being overly patriotic, or if the station was OUR.
Either way, after a while that promo got on our nerves.


We drove into Orchard Ridge Trailer Park in Kamloops by mid afternoon.
It wasn't filled, like the parks had been in Lake Louise or Golden.
Orchard Ridge sounded prettier than it was.
It wasn't exactly a tourist favorite.
No one stopped there for a two weeks holiday.

After registering for the night, we drove to Kamloops to phone home.
My sister answered the phone.
She said the cover of our wedding album looked like a wanted poster.
I had a headache and wasn't very chatty.
While I went to the rest room, Paul bought gas and a tire.
After that we went to A & W for root beers.
That helped.
Then we picked up groceries.

There wasn't much to see in Kamloops, so we just drove back to Orchard Ridge.
The campers next to us were cowboys whooping it up on a Saturday night.
We decided to stay in our trailer.

The frozen pizza fit in our trailer's oven.  Just.
We ate while we caught up with the TV series, Elizabeth R.
Elizabeth was confronting Mary, Queen of Scots.
There wasn't a comedy on TV that night.

No one was hurt.
But, as in a marathon, we were hitting the wall.
We were so tired.
And we still had another day's drive to reach Vancouver.

We had made plans and lists for such a nice trip across the country.
Well, man plans and God laughs.
We didn't want to stay in Kamloops.
We decided to drive to Vancouver the next day.


We had been lucky forty years ago.
The tire didn't blow on the bridge.
We did handle the problems we faced during the trip.
No major blowups like Lucy and Ricky had in The Long Long Trailer.

We had been lucky this morning, too.
We got home before the storm started.
The crows didn't poop on our heads.

Yes, indeed, timing is everything.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Rocky Mountains / Golden, British Columbia, by Margaret Ullrich, part 20, Transplanting

Both robin parents are busy feeding the babies.
We watched one parent feeding and fussing over the nest.
Then the other parent, beak full of worms, came.
The parent who'd been on the nest left to find more worms.
No, I can't tell which is Mama.
They've been doing this all day.
I wonder when the babies will be able to find their own worms?


The haze is from the fires in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Yes, both provinces are having forest fires.
We're not so far away that we can't share a bit of their misery.
Our prairie provinces aren't as big as Ontario.


Forty years ago the sky was overcast.
Which, when you're driving in the unshaded prairies, is a very good thing.
We had gotten attached to Medicine Hat.
It had a quirky charm in those days.
A lot of local signs were in the shape of cowboy hats.
We thought they were cute.

We were heading into the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
The thought of driving through them was not comforting.
Just like in the movie The Long Long Trailer, Paul took the car in for a checkup.
It drizzled while we were there.
The car was fine.
STP and transmission fluid and we were good to go.
The mechanic wished us well.
Unlike the movie, there weren't any rocks stashed in the oven or under the seats.


We were starting to wonder about what we were doing.
After dangling off the car wash lot yesterday, the Rockies were beginning to look scary.
The car wash was in the middle of town.
The attendant and strangers were there and could help us.
What if something happened in the Rockies?
Was anybody else going to be driving through the Rockies? 

As we approached Calgary we could see the Rockies looming in the distance.
We were quiet during our KFC lunch in Calgary.
Maybe we should just stay in Calgary.
It might be a nice place to live in.
We didn't actually have a job lined up in Vancouver.

Then youthful bravado gave us a nudge.
We'd made it this far.
We were almost there, for Pete's sake.
We'd always wonder what it was like past the Rockies.
Years ago folks made the trip in covered wagons.
If they could do it, so could we.
Sure.
We drove toward the Rockies.

By 5:00 p.m. we were entering the Rockies.
After a while we got used to them.
The TransCanada Highway was just the same.
Nice and level, with easy grades.
The mountains were a few miles away on either side.
They were just scenery.
So this was the Rockies.
Big Deal.

We paid the entrance fee to Banff Park.
We had planned to camp by Lake Louise.
Paul made a wrong turn.
Five miles the wrong way, then five miles back.
We finally arrived at the trailer park near Lake Louise.
It was full.
We went to the overflow area.
It was also full.
We drove to the tent area.
We'd do without the hookups.
Area G was full, so we left Lake Louise.
And we were worried we'd be alone in the Rockies.


Munching on potato chips, we drove to Golden.
Just like in the prairies, the sun was in our eyes.
Not like in the prairies, there were curves and elevations.

Finally we arrived at the town of Golden.
It's 163 miles west of Calgary.
As the crow flies, that's not much of a distance.
We weren't flying.
It had been seven hours since our Calgary lunch.
We didn't know where the hell we were going to camp.


We went to a pay phone to call home, so the folks wouldn't worry.
Ma said our wedding pictures had arrived.
Paul's folks were going out to Long Island.
I told Ma the Rockies were pretty and the campsite was nice.
Well, what would you tell your mother?

The KOA Trailer Park and Campground in Golden was full.
The owners took pity on us and allowed us to stay.
We paid and parked next to their office.
No hookups, but we could manage like we had in New York.

Our trailer had a gas stove and gas lights.
We used their washroom and got fresh water.
It wasn't so bad.
After a supper of macaroni and cheese, we got ready for bed.

So much for being alone in the Rockies.
We worried if we would find room at the next trailer park.


The robins are still feeding their babies.
That nest is really sturdy and able to take all the comings and goings.
The haze is making our yard smell like we're sitting by a campfire.

I wonder how the tourists are doing in the Rockies this year.
It can get pretty crowded there.
It is the height of the summer tourist season.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wild Rose, Alberta, by Margaret Ullrich, part 19, Transplanting

It's a sad day in Winnipeg.
The Wagon Wheel, A local institution, is closing after 60 years.
It was a popular restaurant downtown.
Its sandwiches were the stuff of legend.

Friday the 13th.
According to superstitions:
Don't cut your hair.
Don't do laundry.
Do relax and enjoy the weekend.

Many years have two Friday the 13th's in them.
We also had a Friday the 13th last April.
The next one is due in September 2013.
Followed by one in December 2013.
Just so you know.

On a happier note:
We did get some rain last night, so I won't water the garden.
Mama Robin is just zipping back and forward from her nest.
Her beak, on the return trip, is loaded with worms.
I had to go on a food errand this morning, too.
No, we didn't eat everything I had bought yesterday.
We're still not getting our flyers.
So I walked to Sobey's and Safeway to see what's on special this week.


July 13 was on a Thursday forty years ago.
Thank goodness.
I'm not that superstitious, but we needed all the help we could get.
I guess things could've been worse.


After breakfast we drove to Medicine Hat.
Paul wanted to wash and wax the car.
We had quite an assortment of dead bugs on the front of our car.
The self service car wash was on an elevation.
Paul had to drive up a ramp to get to it.
After he got our car nice and clean, he drove it off the elevated lot.
No, he didn't use the ramp.
For a while our car was half off the lot, dangling a few feet above the sidewalk.

Alright, it wasn't as dramatic as when Lucy and Ricky's car was on 
Whitney Portal Road in The Long Long Trailer.
The elevation of the car wash wasn't as high as Mount Whitney, located in the 
Sierra Nevada mountains in California.
We weren't hanging off a cliff.
We didn't have as scenic a view as they'd had of Owens Valley.
But we did cause Medicine Hatters to gather.
In particular, a man and his son thought it was quite funny.
After they stopped laughing they helped Paul get the car back onto the lot.
It was quite a production.


At first Paul tried to back up.
He hoped the car's rear-wheel drive would do the trick.
It didn't.

The attendant came out.
He was quite apologetic. 
He said he was always afraid something like this would happen.

The attendant then brought out a supply of wood blocks.
Paul put his bottle jack behind the front wheel on the passenger side 
and raised that side of the car until it was level with the pavement. 
The attendant and Paul stacked the wood blocks under the front wheel. 
Then Paul removed the jack and placed it on the driver's side.
Once the driver's side was raised, the attendant put more wood blocks
under that wheel.
After the car was leveled, Paul was able to back the car out.

Folks in Alberta are friendly, too.
Especially to folks who make them laugh.

We drove around for a while.
After we figured the witnesses had left, we parked and walked around town.
The white church, St. Patrick's, was open.
So we went in to pray and have a look.
It was quite pretty and had a varnished wood ceiling.

We had lunch at a non-chain place.
Phil's had a steak platter with garlic bread for $2.
It reminded us of Tad's in Manhattan.

Ah, the Tad's of our youth...
Tad's had been introduced in the Wisconsin Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair.
New Yorkers had found a cheap steak dinner.
The heck with the world of tomorrow.

For $2 you got a steak, a baked potato, garlic bread and a cooking show.
It wasn't like what the chef at a fancy Japanese restaurant does.
No flashing blades.
Nope, it was a truly moving experience.
The steaks were grilled on a conveyor belt.

You would enter and tell the chef how many steaks you wanted.
Rare, medium or well done?
Rare went on the edge of the belt a few inches away from the flames.
Medium went right over the flames.
And for well done:
The chef would spear and hold the steak in one spot a few minutes 
to give it some more cooking time.
Your professionally prepared meal was on its way.

You would walk along the belt and escort your order, 
pausing midway through where another chef turned the steak.
At the end of its journey, the steak was placed on a plate.
A potato and a slice of bread were added by the starch chef.
You paid the clerk and received your plate.
Henry Ford would've loved it.


Back to Medicine Hat...
This time I got a souvenir - a small Winnie the Pooh statue.
We'd heard that the sun sets earlier in the mountains.
So we got a high beam head light.
And a hanging Misto-van deodorant for the trailer's toilet.
The trailer was 8 feet by 11 feet.
The bathroom was the size of a gym locker.
It needed all the help it could get.

At the Sears, Paul sucked on a slushee while we browsed through the catalog.
Oh, did we ever want a working refrigerator!
The trailer's fridge worked when the trailer was plugged in at a site.
Well it worked after it had had a few hours in which to get cool.
On the road it was an insulated box.
In other words, we did not have a fridge.

We went our first IGA to pick up some more groceries.
When we returned to our site it started to rain.
We remembered that old saying:
If you want it to rain, wash the car.

Since we hadn't travelled that day, our folks weren't expecting a call.
It was raining so we just stayed in our trailer. 
Television was the same as in New York:
Night Gallery, All in the Family (their Christmas show), and The Untouchables.
We also saw The Irish Rovers.
We'd never seen them on television before.
We'd just heard their Unicorn song in New York.


Once, when talking about our family, my sister said, It's all about food.
That's true for my family.

After remembering the popularity of Tad's and seeing how upset folks are today 
about the closing of The Wagon Wheel, I think it's true for a lot of people.
And for robins.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Medicine Hat, Alberta, by Margaret Ullrich, part 18, Transplanting

It's official!!
The baby robins have hatched.
This morning when Mama Robin, with a worm, flew back to her nest, 
we saw a few tiny open beaks poking up over the rim.
After she had fed them, she settled down on top of her babies.
The sky had clouded over and it looked like it was going to rain any minute.

I can't imagine sitting on those sharp beaks.
It gives a whole new meaning to Motherhood bites.
I went to Safeway soon after it opened at 7:00 a.m.
I had one of their $10 off, if you spend $75 coupons.
Well, that's better than the deal on 10% Tuesday.

As it was a non-special day in middle of the week, Safeway was very quiet.
After the produce man put out fresh lettuce, I grabbed a couple.
Paul and I aren't vegetarians.
We just seem to go through a lot of fresh fruits and veggies.
I guess that's a good thing.
It's amazing how quickly one can gather $75 worth of groceries.
Well, food isn't selling at the same price it was in 1972.


Forty years ago it was a cool day in Moose Jaw.
We'd had a regular night's sleep, so we were ready to go.
Our trailer wasn't.
The post under the hitch had sunken into the asphalt.
So that was why the other trailers had wood coasters under their posts.
Paul yanked the post out and we were on our way.
We had left our mark on Saskatchewan.

The drive was fairly pleasant.
We saw a few memorable items.
Signs proudly proclaimed: 
Point of interest - 1/2 mile - Outhouses
Joe Hughes and his Wings
Scotty does his thing
Crop dusting display - with perfume!

Yes, indeed... It's a great big place.
Full of nothing but space.
Alberta - at least the eastern part - was the same.
We drove on, feeling a little homesick for the north of Superior area.
At least it had been shaded.


We arrived in Wild Rose Trailer Camp at 3:20 p.m.
There were worn out mobile homes in most of Wild Rose.
If we'd known the Dueling Banjos theme from the movie Deliverance, 
we'd have hummed it.
It was that sort of place.
Boy, were we ever missing Ontario!

We went to an A & W  in Medicine Hat for a couple of teen burgers.
We were getting used to burgers Canadian-style.
Feeling better after our stomachs were full, we decided to drive around town.
We reasoned the whole city couldn't be like the trailer park.
I'm glad we did. 
Medicine Hat was quite nice.

There was an interesting old white church.
It reminded us of churches in New York.
Things weren't much different in Medicine Hat than they were in New York.
When a church wasn't open for busines, it was locked.
A sad commentary on the times.
And it hasn't gotten any better in the twenty-first century.


Along with being a railroad fan, Paul loves comics.
He'd fit right in with the guys in The Big Bang Theory.
What amazed me was how quickly he managed to find a magazine store.
In those days comics shared shelf space with other magazines.
Comics didn't become a specialty item until a few years after our trip.

Paul went to drop off our mail at the post office.
I asked him to pick up some fruit.
He came back with enough to hold us for a few days.
Did I mention we seem to go through a lot of fresh fruits and veggies?

After supper we went to call our parents.
On July 8 Ma had remembered it was our three-month anniversary.
Today she remembered she hadn't asked if I'd gotten my period.
I said yes.
Sheesh... Pop was on the line, too!

We went for another drive to see more of the area.
Paul was feeling peckish and got a banana split.
It was his idea of a night cap.

No, he wouldn't do that now.