A Few Weeks In Between

Hmmmmmmmmmmm…………let’s see – It’s been awhile since we last posted anything to the website. No we didn’t drop off the face of the earth, we did not lose our precarious purchase (I felt a strong need to use some alliteration) off an impossible precipice and fall to our deaths, we have not been kidnapped by rebel guerillas, nor have not succumbed to plague. Nope, we are doing just fine, thank you very much.

Actually we’ve been driving around (thousands of miles), going hither and yon, visiting relatives, friends, and anyone we can find that will put up with us. Before we get into a discussion of our latest feats of alpine prowess, let’s spend a few minutes/paragraphs on what the hell Spanky and Rein have been up to, shall we?

Somewhere around 3 weeks ago we gathered up our gear and bid farewell to Lake Placid and the beautiful, albeit at the time rainy, Adirondack Mountains. We set upon a northwest course across northern New York, Toronto, Canada being our ultimate destination. Our route into Canada offered up another of North America’s tasty little treats of nature – The Thousand Islands.

I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly amazed at the abundance and diversity of natural beauty that there is out there. The Thousand Islands Region is another fine example. The Saint Lawrence River, at the eastern end of Lake Ontario is literally strewn with hundreds of rocky and wooded islands as if some giant had just gone nuts tossing hunks of rock around. Many of the islands have homes on them with boathouses serving as the garage (the only way to get there is by boat). It’s quite a scene to behold.

The combination of a whole bunch of natural phenomenon, the glaciers carving out and melting to form the great lakes, the water seeking and finding it’s way to the Atlantic via the St Lawrence, and the remnants of a really ancient mountain range which form the islands themselves. Of course all this took a quadrazillion years to take place. But it was well worth the wait.

So we get to Toronto and both Spanky and me are in shock how hot it is. We left mid 50’s in the Adirondacks, drove a mere 350 miles and it’s damned close to 100 degrees out there. Hey, this is Canada, what happened to the Eskimos and igloos (I’ve met a few uninformed Americans in my day that are surprised to learn that Canada is not covered in glaciers and that it even has electricity). Thankfully it did not last too long. The next several days were quite a bit cooler.

Why Toronto you ask. Toronto just happens to be home to my 88 year old aunt (my departed mother’s sister) and my cousin and her family. They are my closest living relatives on this side of the pond so Spanky and I felt that since we were pretty darn close we ought to pay them a visit. We had an absolutely wonderful time with the family. My aunt, who claims that she is not really partial to dogs got pretty close to Spankster. He could frequently be found laying at her feet getting petted and or scratched. So much for not liking dogs.

Me and my furry little pal spent about a week in Toronto. We had multiple family dinners, my aunt Elsa, my cousin Kati, her husband Toomas, her boys Paul and Allan (Allan happens to be my godson and Spanky’s godfather). Taimi, my cousin’s daughter is on official assignment (top secret stuff – I think she is spying on Estonian horses for the RCMP) in Estonia and thus unfortunately missed all the fun and festivities. It was a really nice change of pace for the two homeless vagabonds (Spanky and Rein) to do the family thing.

Interestingly enough, me and Spanks love roaming around the country side but……..I really do enjoy just sitting around and talking, especially with my aunt (she is the spittin image of my mom) and listening to stories about her and my mom growing up in the old country (Estonia). My aunt is also a voracious consumer of books and newspapers – she is well versed in just about everything and…………..she has the same crazy assed sense of humor that I do – must be a family thing.

I did stray from the family for an evening and managed to catch up with some Canadian/Estonian pals (Rosie, Eva and Peeter). We had a most excellent dinner downtown on the shores of Lake Ontario. It’s been too long since we’ve gotten together. We had a bunch of laughs telling stories, did some walking around and listening to a free concert in the band shell, and to top off the evening, got to witness an aborted landing at Toronto Island Airport (actually spotted by hawk eye Peeter – we just saw the commuter plane go round for another try).

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention Spanky’s Canadian girlfriends. Spanky first met Heidi (a little Tibetan Terrier) during our Christmas visit to Canada. She was just a wee pup at the time but I think the sparks were already flying. Heidi lives next door to my aunt – you should have seen how happy those two were to see one another. I lifted Spanks over the fence and the dogs had a blast running around doing dog stuff (no funny business – I think they were waiting for a moment in private). Spanky also met a really hot little white Husky, not fixed and Spanky’s age, in the park. I think Spanks is trying to make up his mind which one he wants to hook up with.

Up in Toronto there is an age old, summertime weekend tradition – it’s called going to the cottage. Substantially the whole population of the greater Toronto metropolitan area performs a mass exodus and heads north to the cottage. For those of you from NJ, this phenomenon is similar to “going to the shore.” Toronto becomes a virtual ghost town on weekends, all of its denizens off cavorting about in the woods, on lakes, etc. I think the only folks that don’t head to the cottage are the homeless – something to do with lack of transportation.

Spanky and I, not being ones to buck the trend, also went up to the cottage. We were most graciously invited to a birthday bash by my friend Merike. I’m still not sure who’s birthday it was. I think Merike figured that since she, as well as each one of her three sons have had or will have birthdays sometime during the 12 month period commonly known as a year, it’s time for a group party. We had a great time. Spanky had lots of kids to play with, plenty of room to run around, chase Frisbees, balls, and sticks, and lot’s of people sneaking food under the table to him in response to his big brown eyed, “I’m so hungry!” look.

Having nearly eaten my relatives out of house and home and getting close to wearing out our welcome, our Canadian soiree came to an end. I piloted the truck and trailer across the border for points south with the eventual goal of getting back home to Florida.

If you want to blame anyone in particular for all this Spanky and Rein nonsense, well there is one person that, more than anyone, influenced me to start this crap. A former consulting colleague and great friend of mine, Marty along with his wife Kim, their son Brendon, and their Yellow Lab Tucker, live in Rochester, NY. A really convenient place to hold up for the night on the way to or from Toronto, Canada.

Spanky and I stopped at their place at Christmas time (the first official Spanky and Rein road trip). Somewhere along the line Marty says to me, “When are you going to write a book?” That was the fateful moment folks. The wheels started turning and the rest, as they say is history.

In any case, me and the Spankster once again enjoyed their hospitality, gobbled up some most delectable barbecued kabobs out by the pool, engaged in some serious conversation about topics much too detailed to describe in mere printed words, watched the dogs run around the pool, and just generally enjoyed life on nice cool summer evening. Thanks as always.

Our next stop on the way south was good old New Jersey. Spanks and I had not seen my goddaughter Lilly since Christmas and we concluded that it was about time to stop in for a visit. Lilly (seven or eight – I should know but don’t) took a day off from YMCA summer camp. Spanky, Lilly, her mom Sirike, and little brother Mik, and I headed off to a county park. The kids took turns taking Spanky for a walk (mandatory leash law), playing in the playground, and generally running amok. I actually coaxed Spanky to the top of a slide. Instead of sliding down the slide, Spanks decided to take a flying leap off the top – guess he doesn’t like slides.

You may have noticed by now that all of our non summit related stops are planned around Spanky friendly activities. Either friends with children or friends with children and dogs. After all the hours stuck in the truck with me, I feel I owe it to the boy to have as much fun and to get as much exercise as possible. So………to those of you that we have not stopped in on (probably breathing a sigh of relief), no offense please. Our rigorous schedule (not) and doggie requirements took us elsewhere.

The New Jersey interlude also brought us once again to the home of another key Spanky and Rein supporter (and official proof reader) Frank, his wife Pam, son Max, and of course, Petey the dog. Spanks and Petey frolicked and romped over several acres of grass, woods, and apple trees. Spanky being especially intrigued by the many deer that blundered into his path (he sprang after them like a bullet out of a sniper rifle). Did you know that there is actually a deer over population problem in NJ? Great food, great company, and did I mention…………..I got to drive Frank’s 1993 (think I got the year right) black, six speed, convertible Corvette!!! If I owned that beast, I probably would have lost my license by now. But……someday when I grow up………I’m gonna get me one of those.

Bear with us, we’re almost done with the visiting and vacationing part of the journey. The coup de grace of our irresponsible loitering, freeloading, and malingering was a weekend spent at Estonian Boy Scout and Girl Scout Camp. That’s correct, right here in your back yard, in New Jersey, us kids of Estonian immigrants (and kids of kids) carry on the tradition of our own camp. Don’t worry, there are no sacrifices or other pagan rituals taking place, it’s just a bunch of kids enjoying themselves camping in the woods.

The key word here is kids – somewhere around 70? of em. Within a couple of hours, every kid in the place (I’m not exaggerating) knew Spanky’s name and…………every single one of em wanted to play with him. Spanks rose to the occasion, ran around in constant circles, fetched innumerable sticks, swam in the lake, rolled over, shook paws, and got fed tons of tantalizing and tasty scraps from the camp kitchen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the lad as worn out. Two days of having 70 or so playmates did him in pretty good.

On our last Sunday in NJ, we managed to sneak away from camp to visit the “Jersey Shore” town of Ocean Grove. Several of my closest friends have summer houses there and I wanted to make sure we hooked up and that Spanky got to meet them. Ocean Grove is a really quaint, tiny, seaside town made up of mostly Victorian Houses. It’s a time capsule into days gone by – the glory days of the Jersey Shore when city folks took the train to the beaches for the weekend. Thankfully, these days have returned. Houses have been and are being restored to their former glory. OG is once again a really pleasant, picturesque, friendly, family oriented summer vacation destination (sounds like an add for the OG chamber of commerce).

In any case, Sunday morning found two of my bestest, all time, female buddies Tiina and Katrin, me and Spanks drinking coffee on the front porch in a cool ocean breeze. Perfect! I think we hung around for about 3 hours without moving. Even Spanks (except for the occasional distraction of a passing pooch) seemed relaxed just hanging on the porch and taking it all in. Forget the TV, the computer, the video games and all that other crap……the good old American tradition of sitting, talking, and visiting with neighbors on the front porch is alive and well in Ocean Grove, NJ!

6 comments:

Taimi said...

Shhhhh..... You're not supposed to actually TELL people about my top secret mission.... :o)

Spanky and Rein said...

Taimi,

Ooooooooooooops!

Anonymous said...

It's been great reading about your and the Spankster's adventures. Even better was getting to meet Spanky and seeing you again at laager. You are the envy of many a working stiff! Thanks for sharing your adventures

Spanky and Rein said...

Anon,

Hmmmmm, I'm not sure who you are, but I'll bet I was glad to see you in laager as well. Thanks for your comments!

Ken said...

Great story! I'm glad that you were able to spend time with your family and friends. It sounds like a fantastic time!!!

Spanky and Rein said...

Kenmon,

It has been a great summer so far. We've got to get our sorry asses over to Vero Beach for some jetskiing soon! Spanky is anxious to meet the girls.

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