Sept.15-20

This is the last instalment of our trip. We’re traveling down highway 69 south. Just like a pair of horses that have been turned toward the barn, we’re going home. The last five days have been grand, just like this whole trip.

Wednesday morning and afternoon we stopped at several churches in Sault Ste Marie. They received us joyfully buying books and telling us about their ministry. The Bible Book store down town gave us the brush off. They weren’t interested in books written by a United Church Minister, but this lovely little bookstore in the Wellington mall understood the ministry of hospitality and acceptance.

Most of our customers are Roman Catholic, the owner said, a loving smile shining from her face. We’ll buy two and see how they do. Give me your business card, we’ll be glad to order more.

We followed that pleasant encounter by visiting one more United Church, and discovering that this pastor had been at General Council too. After sharing memories and hopes, she bought the books and sent us on our way.

The distance to Sudbury seemed much greater than I had planned. We arrived at my sister Sharon’s at 7:00 p.m. “I don’t cook,” she said, “as she popped rolls into the oven, “but supper’s ready.”

We enjoyed lasagna, Caesar sald, rolls warm from the oven and tarts. Everything tasted scrumptious. For the last three and half days, we were wrapped in the Sharon’s loving arms. I felt as if I had come home. We visited and walked, sold books around the city, went to the Imax theatre and relaxed on her balcony.

This morning, I read Spectacular Stella for the Children’s time and told “An Ancient Love Story “ as the message at St. James In the Valley United Church. Tom sang a solo that went with the theme of the service. This congregation supported me as I became a candidate for ministry twenty years ago. We ended our journey surrounded with old friends. Acceptance and love surrounded us. Of course, we sold books.

We’ve been taking orders for Can I Hold Him, during the last week or so, as all the copies we had with us are sold. There are still a few copies of Stella but very few. We left home with two cases of Can I Hold Him and one case of Stella (held more than the other two since Stella is thin). We’ve left books in book stores in the cities that we visited. Afew are out on cconsignment but not many. Our book trip is a resounding success.

We’ve had a wonderful time together. Tom and I are truly partners and friends. Now, we are anxious to get home. Tomorrow life begins in a new way. I’ve a golf game scheduled weather permitting, and Tom’s Bethel course starts in the evening.

Hallelujah! Thank You God. We’re home.

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It’s been a long drive to Sault Ste Marie through rugged mountains and past trees and sparkling blue lakes. Lake Superior is another sacred place. For most of the journey to Wawa, we glimpsed the shining lake waters through the trees. We stopped for a late lunch at a roadside park just past Rossport. The road led us down to the shoreline, where we found picnic tables and the essential outhouses. It was easy to say thank you to God for this place. Like Moses, we took off our shoes, rolled up our trousers and waded into the lake. Expecting the water to be frigid, we were surprised to find it quite comfortable.

“Look at all the pretty rocks. Let’s collect some for Ellie,” I said.. “Well, probably the rest of the grandchildren will like some too. We’ll have to get lots.” What followed wwas a delightful half hour gathering stones and talking to the other people who had broken their journey in this beautiful spot.

Refreshed and fed, we traveled on. Five p.m. found us driving into Wawa.

“We’ve gone far enough,” Tom said as he rubbed his eyes. The first motel had no pet free rooms so we took a room at the Sportman Motel. It’s just fine. Of course, not posh like the Sleeping Giant B&B, but quite adequate. At the restaurant down the road, Tom was complaining a bit. I reminded him that we were back in our own territory now. We can’t travel with the rich every day. When our dinner came it was scrumptious. Once fed we felt much better. We took a drive through town and found a big United Church as well as three other churches, and a beautiful lake and beach. The Laundromat was closed. Guess we’ll just carry our dirty clothes a little further. We might have enough clean stuff to get to Sharon’s.

Tonight there is a chill in the air. “I think fall must finally be starting to come,” I said.

Tom replied, “Don’t be too sure, I think it’s just the wind blowing across the water.”

Sept. 12 & 13

We spent two full days in Thunder Bay. Saturday morning I wandered and meditated in Sonja’s garden. We took pictures of the seven different garden rooms she had created with flowers, trees, and arbors. Sonja is an artist. She and her partner were friendly, welcoming and interesting. Breakfast was fabulous. We decided the experience was well worth every dollar. In the end it was no more expensive than an reasonably priced hotel when we considered the breakfast. In conversation with our hosts we mentioned our love of dancing.

“I’ll call my friends Daniel and Michelle. They’re going dancing tonight. I’m sure they’ll be glad to take you with them,” Sonja responded.

We spent the afternoon downtown at the sidewalk fair. We found a wonderful Christian Book store called Hull’s Family Book Store.

“We’ve been in business here for 91 years,” Sarah the owner said. (She looked to be about 30). “We like to support Canadian Christian Authors. Yes, I’ll buy your books, just four of each to start. When they sell I’ll order more. I own two other stores, one in Winnipeg and one in Steinbach. I’ll see about getting some for them too.”

Sarah was friendly, helpful and affirming. We went to Staples for more business cards, had supper, and returned to the B&B happy with our day, and excited about going dancing.

Danielle and Michelle were great. We had a grand evening and were ready for sleep.

Sunday morning we drove out to Camp Duncan where four downtown United Churches from ThunderBay were gathering for worship. Tom had talked with Janice Stevenson one of the ministers involved on Saturday. He brought along his guitar and helped with the music. The service was meaningful and fun. The sun kept trying to shine and God’s Son did shine through the people of the four congregations. We were welcomed and fed both spiritually and physically. And we sold books as well as recommending that people go to Hull’s.

On the way home we went to the Amethyst Mine Panorama. A tourist trap yes, yet interesting and fun. We did some mining for amethysts and got a handful of unpolished stones to bring home. We also sold the store clerk two books. All in all it was a good day, and it wasn’t over yet. Daniel and Michelle had invited us to go dancing with them again that evening. This time it was a dancing lesson. Tom and I learned a bit, got some exercise and enjoyed ourselves. Afterward we went for coffee with our new friends. Michelle even bought a copy of “Can I Hold Him?”.

This morning I was up early to do my meditation in the sun room and watch the sunrise. Once again we had a scrumptious breakfast. It was time to load the car and head towards the Sault. The Sleeping Giant B&B has been a fabulous experience, the house the garden and especially Sonja and Dick. The wonder of this journey is that the blessings never end.

By eight a.m. today, we were on the road heading for Thunder Bay. I had been dreading this part of the drive. Trees, I thought, it will be eight hours of trees. Well, there were trees, yes, lots of trees. The trees came in every shape and shade imaginable. Around almost every corner the trees opened up to a beautiful blue lake, sparkling in the sunshine. Then the trees would close in again. There were miles of rock cuts, some 30-40 feet high, revealing every colour – pinks, blue greys, rusts, even blacks. Once again God overwhelmed me with the beauty of creation. We stopped in Kenora at Ho Jo’s coffee shop and bookstore. It’s owner bought my books outright (Hallelujah), and we bought coffee, a delicious muffin and a Kenora Misty Tea Latte. That was a huge improvement on my milky tea and only half the calories of a cappuccino.

In Dryden we were directed to a wonderful book and gift shop called Inspirations. The owner, Holly, said “This store is my ministry, and I love it. It’s like being surrounded with candy. I’ve got my dream.” Holly also bought my books outright. Her enthusiasm for my books and for her store was catching. The visit certainly gave us a blessing from God.

Arriving in Thunder Bay at supper time, we decided it would be best to get our motel room and then eat. I got out the list and we tried to call. The cell phone acted strange. We went to a shopping centre looking for a pay phone. We stopped at a Kiosk that sold cell phones (not Telus of course). A very pleasant, friendly, helpful young man informed us that Telus had no contract with the Thunder Bay Cell System. He loaned us his phone. We started with B&B’s. After two “no answers” and one “no vacancy” our frustration level on an empty stomach was rising. Tom dialed the “Sleeping Giant B&B”. They had space and the price was manageable. “She sounds nice,” Tom said, his hand over the phone. “Let’s take it.” The same helpful young man got out the phone book map and explained how to get to the B&B and to Montana’s. We took a deep breath and went to eat.

God must have been smiling on us. Supper was good and the B&B wonderful. Our hostess showed us our room – the Green room with pictures of Anne of Green Gables here and there, a wonderful ensuite bath, a sun room to relax in and beautiful flower gardens to enjoy in the morning.

September 8,9,10

Our time in Winnipeg has been interesting. The Holiday Inn Express with its hot tub welcomed us with low affordable rates. Tuesday night we soaked in the hot water and let the jets do their healing work. Already my elbow is much better. We need to remember that you can’t beat old-fashioned remedies.

Wednesday morning we slept in again. When we finally got on the road it was after eleven. The night before we had listed the United churches and their locations. There are approx. 35 United Churches in Winnipeg. Wow. Checking them out became an ordeal of navigating traffic trying to follow an inadequate map, only to find no one at the churches. By one o’clock we were tired hungry and, of course, cranky. We gave up and headed down to the Forks – the main tourist center of town in hopes of getting a map with all the city streets marked.

The Forks is grand. We wandered through the market inhaling all the wonderful smells. After munching our cheese and a heavenly biscuit from a vendor we felt much better. I indulged in a carmel ice cream cone. Ice cream fixes everything for me. Fortified, we looked around a little more, picked up a transit map at the tourist center and continued our search for churches. By supper time we had sold just two books. For the first time we were disappointed. We asked ourselves, “What have we accomplished?

To our surprise, we discovered that we had done and seen heaps of great things. The most out standing experience and blessing of the day was our visit to Sturgeon Creek United Church. The church building itself is fabulous. Tom and I decided that it is the most beautiful modern Cathedral-like structure we have ever seen. As we stepped from the spacious foyer into the sanctuary the words of God to Moses found in Exodus 3:5 echoed in my mind, “Take off your shoes. The place on which you stand is holy ground.” Reverence, awe, holiness, peace, the Spirit floated on the air. Prayer, thanksgiving, praise filled my soul.

“The original building burned down,” the minister told us. “When the congregation replaced it, they chose to risk being creative.”

Returning to the narthex, he pointed out seven exquisitely quilted panels that tell the Biblical story from Genesis to the Resurrection. With intricate detail and in vivid colours the quilting artists have lovingly created Biblical images that even the unchurched can enjoy. Yes, our visit to Sturgeon Creek Church is one of the highlights of our trip. Once we identified the wonder and beauty of that experience, our hearts were opened to all the other good things and people we had encountered throughout the day. We luxuriated in the hot tub bringing relaxation to our stressed bodies. We were ready for sleep.

Thursday dawned sunny and warm. Our first stop was Charleswood United Church and a visit with Mike Wilson, a classmate from Emmanuel. His love for his congregation and his pride in their accomplishment in the new addition, reminded us once again that this United Church of ours is God’s gift to the world. Michael pointed out the beautiful modern stained glass windows, another artist’s concept of the Biblical story. The sun shone through illuminating the brilliant colours of the amazing designs. God’s Son shone through Michael and his colleague and many others.

That was just the first stop and the day continued, each moment bringing joy for Tom and I. Even the hairdresser, who squeezed me in for a colour and cut, was a blessing. The day over we had supper at a wonderful Greek restaurant on Portage West called the Olympia. We had sold eight books, our tummies were satisfied, we could rest.

September 7

We slept in. It must have been the clouds and the rain. We had a grand search for our records. When we finally found them, it was after eleven. Sharron made Saskatoon berry pancakes that were delicious. We watched the rain pelt down, stop and then start again. In between showers Tom packed the car. The clock had rolled around to 1:30 when we finally left Fort Qu’Appelle. That along with the change in time, put us in Brandon Manitoba at 6:30 p.m..

We stopped first at a pharmacy to get my elbow checked. Some time in the last three days, I had been bitten by some thing. Infection raged. The spot was swollen, red, and tingling. Time to get it checked. I had two alternatives, three actually. I could take my arm to the hospital, the drugstore or ignore it. WE decided on the pharmacy. The very friendly and helpful pharmacist suggested soaking it in salt water, applying Polysporin, and a bandaide. If it isn’t better tomorrow morning go to a walk-in clinic, she suggested.

“You don’t want to end up in the hospital on IV antibiotics,” she cautioned.

We followed instructions. The next morning it was a bit better. The swelling had diminished.. Tom went to the motel desk and came back with two handfuls of salt packets. We now have a supply for the next three days. We soaked it again

Tom took the car for a checkup and oil change and I did Staples, Sobey’s and the bank. We checked in at bookstores and went to two churches. Sold four books at the churches and left the books on consignment at two stores. It was time to move on to Winnipeg.

Our Visit in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sept.3-6

Time with friends is special. Last Thursday we checked out two bookstores in Regina. Our books are now for sale at the Book and Brier-Patch, and Burns-Hanley Bookstores. We also stopped at Sunset United Church and Knox Metropolitan United. Our work done we left the city to visit our friends in Fort Qu’Appelle. Sharron and Randy welcomed us for joy. Friday we returned to Roegina to see the RCMP hereitage museum. That was extremely interesting. Friday evening Randy and Sharron treated us to the a wonderful dinner at the Off Bradway Bistro. We enjoyed each other, delicious food, and the Christmas ambiance., taking pictures in front of the Christmas Trees. The owner, Monique told us that in the fall and spring she has authors’ nights in which people gather for dinner and to listen to a reading given my a local author. Afterward the author’s books are for sale. She assured me she would love to organize an author’s evenings for me if I returned to the “Fort”. Saturday was a fabulous slow day., starting with coffee and tea on the patio and a trip to the farmers’ market. Sharron and I enjoyed a long walk down by the lake while Tom rested and kept the washing machine running. Together we cooked supper. Actually Sharron did most of the cooking. I made my famous chocolate sauce. Our tummies filled with delicious food we sat on the patio and talked.

Sunday morning I had the privilege of telling a story at St. Andrews United Church. Afterwards we sold books and then had brunch at a local restaurant. For the rest of the day Randy drove us on a tour of the area. The day ended with another long walk. We have been truly blessed by our friends and their hospitality.

Wednesday, Another book day.

I started this day with a swim in the hotel pool and hot tub. We checked out some bookstores and left our books in . On the road again we stopped and checked out prairie towns between Saskatoon and Regina. I love the prairies. The vast fields of grain speak of God’s extravagant blessings. The openness and endless blue sky
exudes peace. For me the prairies, Canada’s breadbasket, are a holy place. Prairies towns boast of super wide streets. Two giant combines could pass easily downtown. One side of town seems to be always bordered by the railroad, and the other bordered by the highway.

Like Saskatoon, Regina has a ring road that makes travel within the city very efficient. On the way into town we had picked a bed breakfast. When we checked it out, it was full. We phoned through a list in the Regina tourist hadbook. Eventually we contacted the Sunrise Bed and Breakfast.

The owner said, “$45 for a room for two and a bull breakfast. It sounded too good to be true. So we drove over to check it out. It was lovely. We had our won room in the basement with a private bathroom. The living room downstairs was very comfortable. We moved our stuff into our room, chatted with the owners Gary and Jessie and then went for a walk. Once again we were set for the night.

August 31
This has been a travel and a books day. We started at the West Edmonton Mall. My book “Can I Hold Him” is now available there in the “Fig Tree” books store. The store manager said they carried very few children’s books and was afraid that Stella would get lost on their shelves.

On the trip to Saskatoon, we stopped at the information centre in North Battleford. The kind lady working there wanted to buy both books but had only plastic money – bank card and credit card. She suggested we go to the little bookstore downtown called the Crandleberry’s Cybre Cafe. We stopped by there, and to our surprise the owner bought our books to stock in her store. The rest of our trip to Saskatoon was uneventful.

August 30

this morning we worshipped at Knox Metropolitan United, a beautiful building and a wonderful congregation. During coffee outside on the lawn, we sold quite a few books. Afterwards we checked back into “New Beginnings” bookshop at Beulah Alliance Church. The store manager had read my books, and gladly took them for sale in their church. We had lunch and then went back to Tom’s son’s place. I phoned my son to wish him a happy birthday. Family is so special. This was our last day with Will. We visited, went out for supper and relaxed for the evening.

August 28, 29

This morning we packed up at Jenn’s and had a late breakfast in Calgary at the Lido Café in the Kensington area. The trip to Edmonton was uneventful. We arrived early enough to begin visiting bookstores. We started with “New Beginnings” bookstore at Beulah Alliance Church. As usual, the manager wanted to read the books before deciding to take them. So we left a sample of each and moved on to the “Fig Tree” bookstore in the West Edmonton Mall. Wow! The mall is huge and noisy and full of excitement. We took pictures of the skating rink and the water park, as well as leaving samples at the bookstore.

We got to Tom’s son, Will’s, place in time to go out for a late supper with him. Will suggested that we walk to the restaurant. One of the best parts of where he lives is the community. It’s similar to Yorkville in the early 60’s. The university is a healthy walk, so the area caters to young adults. The street is lined with restaurants and coffee shops and places young people need. Will took us to a fancy restaurant with white table cloths, candles etc. We had a wonderful gourmet meal. Our visit with him had begun. We met his housemates and settled down for a good night’s sleep.

Saturday morning, we walked in a different direction to have breakfast. We followed this by a tour through Muttart gardens where flowers and plants of all varieties are growing in glass pyramid shaped greenhouses. Each of the four pyramids houses a different climate. The garden benches, tables and chairs that were scattered throughout the displays beckoned me to sit and meditate or write. Unique, beautiful and peaceful are the words I would use to describe this place.

Edmonton is divided by the lush green North Saskatchewan river valley. After the gardens we escaped the noise and heat of the city by walking the river valley. About fifteen minutes into our walk, we spied an old fashioned paddle wheeler tied up at a dock – tourist trap of course. Well, Tom and I are tourists, I thought, so why not. Tom went down to investigate sailing time and cost.

“She’s leaving in ten minutes. You have time to get tickets up there at the office,” the captain said as he pointed back up the hill.

Tom volunteered the climb. Will and I found a bench in the shade and waited. The cruise was lovely. The boat went just fast enough to make a light breeze. We sat idly in the sun, and watched the Edmonton sky line slip silently past. Eventually, I decided to walk a bit. I stood on the opposite railing and talked with a lady who lived north of Edmonton.

“That’s my husband, there in the chair. We’ve come to Edmonton to celebrate our first wedding anniversary,” she said. “It’s tomorrow.”

We watched the green water slip past the boat’s hull and talked some more. When she asked about me, I told of our book tour.

“What kind of books do you write,” she asked?

Once again, I pulled the books out of my purse. She showed them to her husband. They bought them both. When I was signing them, Tom and Will joined us. We discovered that Dave was a part of “Alternative Solutions Canada Corp;, “Energy for Life”. He sold horizontal windmills, that don’t have to be as high as the vertical ones, and don’t take as much space. Our books enable us to meet the most interesting people.

When our ride was over, we were famished.

“Let’s go to the Cheese Factory Restaurant,” Tom said.

“Yes,” Will and I declared in unison. Within half an hour, we sat at a table laden with delicious Russian food.

Once fed, we realized we were tired. We returned to Will’s to complete our day with a game of Euchre with Will’s housemate Race. Sleep came easily.

August 27

Today we went to the Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum in Drumheller. That was superb. I thought the Dinosaurs at the ROM were amazing. These were just fabulous. We took heaps of pictures. We also went on the guided tour. The temperature was at least 30 degrees Celsius. We trudged up and down the hills of the Alberta badlands in the blazing sun for an hour and a half, while our guide pointed out the seven wonders of the badlands and told its history etc. I wondered if I might be extinct before the tour was over. We were glad to return to the cool dark museum and look at dinosaur bones.

We had supper at Gus’ restaurant in Drumheller. A young family sat at a table across from us. The two kids (age 8 and 5), entertained us. Eventually, a conversation started. In the end we sold them a copy of each book. The children were pleased to stand and watch me sign them. For a few moments I felt like an important author.

Everyday we sell one, two, three, six….books. All we have to do is show them to people and they buy them. That feels good.

We drove home watching a beautiful sunset. This is truly a grand holiday.