As some of you know I have had some trouble carrying bicycles to California. Last year we lost two bicycles from a hitch-mounted carrier in Burlington ON, the first night of the drive to Palm Desert. The Thule bike rack ($800 installed) straps broke let go of the bikes on the QEW at high speed. They were both subsequently run over by a truck, completely destroying them.

Two years before, we had two wonderful bikes in roof mount carriers, and sheared them from the top of the car going into the covered entrance at a hotel in Effingham IL. The roof racks were busted and stripped from the car. One of the bicycles ended up entering the back seat of the car through a side window, and I was totally humiliated. I reassembled the car with duct tape and we continued on.

Yesterday we set a new Appleton distance record for bicycle carrying. We are in Springfield Mo. We have beaten last years distance of 164km by 1526km, and the previous record of 1150km by 540km. We are at kilometre 1690, and we still have the bicycles. We are smug. It is the same bike rack that let go last year but with a couple of non-Thule improvements.

Tonight they will be in Amarillo TX (home of the 72oz steak). Speaking of the 72oz steak, you can get one at the Big Texan, and if you can eat it in one sitting, it is free. How good is that!





Fred Eaglesmith


Just a couple lonely guys on the town. Ross and I went to Duntroon (yes, Duntroon) to see the Fred Eaglesmith Travelling Steam Show. Good fun. Fred is an international star who was born in southern Ontario, probably near Port Dover. I thought that you might enjoy seeing a YouTube video of Fred singing White Rose. That is Willie P Bennett on the mandolin and harmonica. Willie was a Toronto born singer, song writer who released his first single in 1969 and won a Juno Award for best roots album in 1998. Willie died in Peterborough in 2008.


Added 27 photos of Gray's Greater Canadian Shows from 1937 to the FairGround.

Steve Earl


Sometimes my ability to screw up something simple surprises even me. Last night Katie and I had a father-daughter date - martinis at the Pantages Martini Bar followed by en evening front-row at the Steve Earl concert at Massey Hall. It was terrific to spend an evening with Katie. We shared lots of laughs and conspired just enough to make the evening memorable. The martinis were good. The tickets for the show stunk. Nobody's fault but my own; rather than having two tickets front-row right of the aisle, I had two tickets last row left of the aisle. It seems that I had the seating plan upside down when I selected the tickets. I guess the price should have tipped me off.

Cousins reunion


Mid September we were joined in Collingwood by Carol's cousins for the annual Stuart cousins get-together. Susan was not feeling well enough to make the trip up from Georgeville, but Sharon came from Ottawa, and Heather from Orillia. Of course, Len and Earl came along to help me listen. I brought out a couple of boxes of photographs from London East and we never looked back. Good visit.

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I have finally posted a few photos taken at Erin Ecker's April wedding in the Dominican Republic. It was a beautiful wedding for a terrific couple.

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Much of the family made it to Collingwood yesterday for Thanksgiving. Michelle and Tyler were unable to come, but all the other important people arrived. Billie did a good job stealing the show from the adults. She floated from one person's arms to another's for the whole day, finding each new set of arms perfectly suited to her amusement. 1


Top Ten List for 2013

  • Ten: November - getting out of Toronto early enough to save our sanity from the Rob Ford insanity, and miss the "Catastrophic Ice Storm". We had already had our ice storm in Texas. Enough with the ice already.

  • Nine: November - Carol cruising with the Euchre ladies to celebrate their 30 plus years of friendship. As they boarded the ship, they all donned tiaras so the staff and crew would be able to guide those who wandered off, back to the group. A wonderful time had by all.


  • Eight: March - making the decision that we had sighed up at the blue sky and palm trees with contentment enough times that we should purchase a small shack in California and enjoy it over the next few years - while we can.

  • Seven: discovering that tennis does not have to hurt; the right training, and the right medical attention, and tennis can be pain-free.

  • Six: May - attending Erin and Jono's wedding in the Dominican Republic. A handsome bride and groom, the blue sea and warm sand, along with Sue, Dave, and Bronwen - a cherished family occasion.


  • Five: September - celebrating the "Debut" of Billie Grace Garland at our backyard party in Collingwood. Friends and family gathered from all across Ontario to meet the new gal in the family.

  • Four: June - attending the Spring Concert for the Festival Wind Orchestra, Bronwen dancing with the troupe, and meeting Glenn.

  • Three: working with the dedicated volunteers from the Collingwood Food Coop. The Coop itself may not be all that we planned or wished for, but the people that I have met are amazing. I wanted some community involvement for 2013, and I could not have wished for a better engagement.

  • Two: changing - it seems very strange to be in California for Christmas. It has broken a tradition for me that goes back to the day that I was born. Even after Carol and I married, Christmas was always with my mother and father, until my mother passed away. Then my sister took over all of the work of having Christmas for both her family and mine. Christmas tradition seemed to continue without skipping a beat for over 60 years. From California, our thoughts and wishes are for a great holiday season and terrific 2014 to all.

  • (drum Roll) - Billie Grace Garland


In June last year Joan & Charles, Keitha & Ross, Mary & Dean, and Carol & I spent a weekend in Gananoque as wished by Mary. A good boat ride in the thousand islands, a too long bike ride, and some uncooked fish, along with a nice visit with all. A good weekend.

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