Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oh Canada!

One of our big trips this summer was a glorious two week stay in Canada. After saying goodbye to Stu and Becky, we hit the road for Iron Mountain, Michigan, which is the locale of our traditional "on the way to the cottage" hotel. It's a 16 hour trip, so we got the first 6 out of the way and then chilled with some yummy local fast food and fun in the pool. After a delish Holiday Inn Express breakfast, we were off for the 10 hour drive to the cottage! It's such a fun trip, through the UP of Michigan, and along Lake Huron in Ontario. Tons of beautiful scenerey, lots of cool and kitschy motels and tourist traps, and not a four-lane highway in sight! Aside from being led astray by our GPS on a remote road in Northern Ontario, and a litle bit of protesting from an active boy who was tired of being in the car, the trip went smoothly. It sure felt wonderful to get there though! It was great to see all the work Mum and Dad have done, and to sit down to a fresh Ontaro fish fry. And a bed never felt so good! Brett and Breha arrived the next day, and we spent almost a week at the cottage, as a family, and it was fantastifc! It was hot, hot, HOT, and not a cloud in the sky the whole time. We spent lots of time outside, in and on the water, and really only came in to make our nightly "feast" (steaks on the grill, deep fried turkey, "snackies", fish fry) and to sleep! There were lots of fish to be caught, and catch them they did! Our only complaint was that it was too buggy for a campfire. It was so nice to be together for some family time.

After that, we had a brief (and wonderful) interlude in Niagara, visiting friends and family. Activities included a BBQ with the friends crew, a trip to an awesome farmer's market, fun with Iain's cutie little pal Gavin on the Port Dalhousie carousel, some delicious trips for ice cream, yummy lunch at the Reeds, a fun-filled outing to a Toronto Blue Jay's baseball game with the fam, golfing for the guys, a (rained out) shopping trip to historic Niagara-on-the-Lake with Deborah, drinks and a fun patio (and the awkward experience of interrupting a wake/dance party???) with a certain wonderful cousin and her new boyfriend, a girls' trip to Ikea, browsing around the shops and cafes of Port Colborne (and seeing Auntie Breha's job!), a super fun photo shoot with Reed photography (to see some of his great pictures, go here: of course, lots of fun and delicious family dinners cooked to perfection by my wonderful Mum. Sadly, EVERY picture that we took in Niagara is on our other camera, which is temporarily out of commission. Perhaps another post?

At 3am Wednesday morning, it was on the road again, back to the cottage for Mum and Dad and us, to round out our trip with a few more days of sun, fun, fishing, swimming and relaxing. We left the cottage on Saturday morning to trek back to Iron Mountain overnight, and finished the day with a delicious UP Michigan staple: the pasty. It's a meat pie, with potatoes, carrots and rutabaga, in a crispy, pastry crust, and so delicious! After that it was time for a swim in the pool...I think Iain is under the impression that every long car ride ends with a pool, so Heaven help us if we ever deviate from this! It was nice to have a shorter trip on Sunday to finish the adventure, but we still got home road-weary and sore, although sun-kissed and happy. Here are the pictures!

On the way: Chiblow Chip Stand, for poutine...a delicious Canadian treat!
It's even in the GPS now, and Iain loves the rocks, so I think it's a tradition!

Iain's first sampling of poutine....Mmm!

We did a LOT of playing on the beach...

....a LOT of fishing (even Iain!)...

...and a LOT of swimming!

We spent a LOT of time on the boat....

...and ate a LOT of good food!
Iain spent a lot of time getting snuggles from Gramoo...

....and playing with Grampy...

....and of course, snuggling with Abby,
It was a perfect trip! Today, we're off on our next adventure, to see Stu, Becky and our little Coco Bean in NC. We have been looking forward to being with them again since the day they left! Some things we're looking excited about (aside from just being with them, which is the very best part!!) are: the beautiful mountainous scenery on the way, a beach trip (Iain's first time at the ocean!), meeting up with some good friends in SC, and lots fun pit- stops on both the way there and the way home! They say the joy is in the journey, so we're attempting to prove "them" right! We're doing the trip there in two days, and taking four to come back, with a little "family vacation" to Greenville, SC thrown in for good measure. We've found lots of cool restaurants and attractions to check stay tuned! First stop: Louisville, KY, and Lynn's Paradise Cafe!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When in Rome...

Although Neil is a citizen, neither of us consider ourselves "American". Our hearts are still Canadian, and every year we celebrate "Canada Day" in some way...whether wearing red and white, or making poutine for dinner! But, I will say that there is nothing like a good old Fourth of July celebration. If you've never celebrated the 4th in small-town need to! And no small town does it better than "Garnavilla"!

Since Neil and I were dating, we've looked forward to the pilgrimage to Garnavillo, Iowa, with various Pitmans, Bishops, Pattersons, and other riff-raff for a morning parade and lunch in the park. This year was extra-special, since it was our "last great event" with Stu and Becky and Courtney. All of the Pitman siblings headed up highway 52 in the early hours of Saturday morning, and arrived in time to find our wonderful "front-row seats" on the corner, saved by Becky's great-Auntie Faye. We had enough time to grab a (delicious) snack from the bakery owned by Becky's mom's cousin (best five bucks ever spent...two delicious cream topped, caramel and fudge decorated iced coffees and two GIGANTIC cinnamon rolls, for about $4.75!!) and settled in to watch the parade. Then it was off to the park for some chicken dinners, authentic tamales and tacos, and to savor the last few hours together. Here are (many) pictures of our fun day.
Parade watchin'
Family shots

Our little spot on the corner
Big boy, watching the big parade

Some of the floats

Still a LITTLE scared of the fire-trucks!

Cute parade watchers

Tired out!


The whole gang of Pitman kids

Plus Auntie Faye-spot-saver extraorinaire!
Shortly after the last picture was taken, and the last morsel of chicken eaten, it was time for our sad goodbyes. The only thing that made knowing Stu and Becky were getting in a moving van and driving 16 hours away from us was knowing that we were off for our Canadian vacation, and would be spending two glorious weeks with the Patterson clan and Ontario friends. We sure do love our Pitman family, and it was hard to see them go! But as we know..."true friends are always together in spirit". -Anne of Green Gables

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Courtney's Birthday...and FAREWELL!

It's a catch-22. In the winter, life is dull and slow paced. We have all the time in the world to blog...but nothing to blog about! But summer. Ah...summer. Vacations, trips and travel, lots to do, lots to passes in a whirlwind and presents unlimited fun activities to blog about...but there's no time TO blog...because we're having too much fun having fun.

I am about a month behind here, but there are a few things that were just too fun to miss sharing. Our next big adventure starts Thursday, so I thought it was time to catch up.

July 3rd, our lovely little niece Courtney Grace Pitman turned one year old. It was bittersweet, because July 3rd was also Becky, Stu and Courtney's last day in Iowa, as they left that afternoon for their (at least but hopefully only) one-year move to North Carolina.

So she won't forget us all, one of her gifts that I made was a photo album of her Pitman family, complete with poems about each of us. Here are a few of them:

We celebrated her birthday one day early, as her actual birthday would be packed with a fun-filled last hurrah at Garnavillo's 4th of July celebration (more to come on that tomorrow!) and travel (more on the Thursday!) by almost all of the Pitman clan to follow. The day was full of sun, fun and joy, with a trip to the pool-every kid's favorite place! and a family BBQ at the Pitmans to wrap it up.
Here is the birthday girl, looking cute as ever!!

Cousin Iain, enjoying Courtney's toys at Courtney's pool party!

A beautiful cupcake-cake made by our resident baker-Auntie Ashlee!

FUN place-cards made by Courtney's Mommy

Iain showed his festive spirit for Courtney's birthday...!

And boy...did those kids eat cake!!!

Farewell dear ones...we will miss you EVERY day.