A personal message from Lyn

This last week, has been the worst week I have had in our business, our travel agency Grey Nomads Travel and Cruise & former Yarra Travel Junction, we are in our 30th year of business and have never had anything like this, it is crazy!! I am trying to keep positive, but at times it is hard.

My clients mean the world to me and I go all out to do my very best for them. They become my friends and I just love putting their trips together for them and fulfilling their dreams. I sure hope this Coronavirus goes away real soon, but I have a feeling it is going to get worse before it gets better. Let me know if I can be of help to anyone with advice or travel arrangements. It is hard for everyone at the moment.

I look out at our garden and I feel blessed that I have a little haven to rest my soul.

Oh well as we face this new week, I just want to say, stay safe and keep well and healthy and be kind to each other, and remember you are not the only one that needs toilet paper!!! Share the love.

The story of Ken’s masterpiece.

Let me tell you the story of this painting. It’s a long one.

Back in 1993, we moved shop from down the street to where we traded for another 24 years or so. A friend used to come into the old shop for a regular chat. I knew he was a great artist so asked if he would do a mural on the feature wall of the new shop. His foresight was better than mine and his generosity was even greater. I took him up on his suggestion to do an oil painting of the Yarra River taken from behind the bus sheds in Warburton near Yarra Junction. He spent 6 weeks well into each night, painting this major masterpiece. As he needed the parts to the frame, he asked if we could pay for the frame, which we did. (We did not see the work in progress). Then on day of hanging the work, he said he would have to charge $1 per year. First payment done, no questions. It was on the condition that he be allowed to take it to his art shows which he put on in the valley and nearby. The first time, the office looked so bare we decided to buy it so as not to have the vacant wall on display spasmodically.

Many students from his art class would come into the office just to admire the work, like many of our clients did too.

When we were deciding to move away from the shop a few weeks ago, we wrote to the local shire to offer them first choice on hanging the painting in a public place, as it deserves. We haven’t heard from them. We offered it to the local aged care facility where Ken spent his last few years. No response. We tried a winery restaurant – no response. We offered it to the local church in Warburton. No response. A guy came into the shop two weeks ago and, not knowing why he was in the shop, I asked if he wanted to buy a painting. He responded positively with “how much?” I said “twenty-seven fifty”. “It’s a deal” and placed $30 on the table. (I thought he was paying a deposit with the rest of the

money to come on pickup day the next week.) It would be hung in a restaurant in the Valley. The next week I called the guy to ask when and how he was going to pay the balance and he said he had payed for it. He thought I was meaning $27.50 not $2750. The confusion meant the sale didn’t take place.

Lyn’s response was “bring it home and hang it in the family room”. So today, with help of kind Alan Hall, we brought it to its rightful place, we believe, and have it at home to enjoy for many a day in the future. Thanks Ken Mead – your masterpiece is our blessing in our home now.

End of an Era

Today is the last day Yarra Travel Junction will operate out of Yarra Junction after opening in 1990 – 27 years and nearly 7 months. You would have noticed that the website has changed to Grey Nomads Travel and Cruise.

We intend to travel Australia selling travel from our motorhome in country areas of Australia and at various festivals and rallies we attend. Look out for a brightly coloured Peugeot on a trailer as you drive along the highway or country road. You will see us, that’s for sure. And if you see us at a truck stop or rest area, come and have a cuppa – we should have the time.

Thanks Lyn, for being the “face” of our business. You certainly have done a fair and proper job to all who came in the door. The tours we took people on were well planned and a pleasure for all who joined us. I commend and appreciate you for a job well done.

The contact phone number is now 0418185850 and the email is lyn@gntc.com.au.

171004 Halifax

Halifax is the seaside capital of Nova Scotia. Enjoy which ever excursion you choose.

Overnight, we leave the United States and cruise on to Halifax, Canada. The entertainment for the evening is a young saxophonist who plays all his own arrangements of old songs as well as some he has composed himself. After he is done, we went to the BB Kings Show for some African American pop-type music.

Halifax has lots of history to do with the setting up of the country by the British and the wars and take-over bids for various parts of the ‘colonies’ of the day. There are many types of parkland, we notice, and after the 3-hour city tour and walk around the Fort George Garrison Grounds, we make a beeline back to where we noticed the Public Gardens. (Did I say that was after we had a delicious Cows brand ice cream for lunch?) At noon, an old cannon is fired to signify the event, which causes many in the tour group to wonder where we were.

There are three cruise ships in port today; the Zuiderdam, the Queen Mary 2, and a Celebrity Cruises vessel (Haven’t seen the name yet). With so many tourists wandering about the various ‘high’ spots in the town, it becomes difficult to manoeuvre to where you want to take the photos you want to capture, especially in the public gardens. A cold snap of weather is due to arrive next Monday. The locals say this brings the leaves to their colour-change season. We haven’t seen the REAL colours of autumn, yet, but are hoping to in the next 3 days or so before this cruise ends.

The hydro package we bought into is a good one, especially for when we are about to go to bed. We missed the evening’s show and spent the time in the spa, and some time on the heated ceramic beds; the best way to end another day on a cruise.

We head to Sydney, Nova Scotia, this evening.

171008 Saguenay

Today we will cruise the Saguenay Fjord and marvel at its immense glacier-carved rock walls.

I awoke with the ship’s foghorn blasting signals into the dense fog. We were in the St Lawrence River about to enter the Saguenay Fjord. There was hardly a ripple in the bow wave but we were moving towards this little town of 12,000 inhabitants to what turned our to be the best welcome we had received of any of the ports along the cruise. The town was giving away blueberry welcome pies and the local Indian people had a tepee set up with an open fire. Happy dancers were performing their folk moves to entertain the passengers lining the balconies before breakfast.

We had booked a kayak cruise in the Parc National du Saguenay Interpretative Centre, which was preceded by a one-hour drive through the colourful countryside in a disused school bus. You could tell it was a school bus; it was yellow and the knee space was very limited between the seats. We had come all the way from Melbourne to see the Fall Colours and only two days ago, the leaves started to show colour. However, Saguenay sure has turned it on for our farewell to the tour. The roads are literally lined both sides with autumn yellows and reds. The only thing missing from our photos today were blue skies and sunshine, but you can’t always have that after nearly four weeks of sunshine.

After arriving at the interpretive centre, the twelve of us budding kayakers were given a 5-minute lesson in the art of paddling and steering an ocean kayak. We then proceeded to get changed into wetsuits and kayak garb for our paddle across the fjord. Grey skies, but calm waters with a little rain is better than sunshine and wind blowing us out to sea. The kayaks were great to paddle, but when Lyn and I were told that our rudder was not in the water and we needed to pull a rope to set it down in the water, we started to get some distance in a straight line. The steering was done with pedals in the back seat, and fortunately, that was my role. Oooops! I think I have said too much.

When the rain stopped and the water was glassy calm, we had some great reflections of the colours up the sides of the cliffs leading into the fjord. Our kayaking experience was terminated after an hour and we were back on that school bus for the trip back to the ship. We did enjoy the time but have not decided on buying a kayak for our trip around Australia in the motorhome next year.

Tomorrow, our cruise ends in Quebec and after a night there, we fly back home to Melbourne.

171006 Charlottetown

Get your old storybooks out to renew childhood acquaintances of adventures we read. Here we explore the home of ‘Anne of Green Gables”.

Our ship berthed very early in the morning as there was a medical emergency on board last night and the old man had to be taken to hospital in the waiting ambulance. We were in the shops about 8:45pm and this guy right next to us collapsed onto the floor. Seriously, it was full on heavy stuff. I checked to see his breathing was ok and moved him into a comfortable position and then set the medical alert alarm going. His wife certainly was distraught as one would be. I was surprised that none of the staff seemed to know first aide other than to call for the doctor. I took on the role of letting the medics know which way to head when they arrived to attend the man. It shook us up a little so we went to the spa to relax and take it easy. I don’t know what happened, but I suspect he had a stroke. I checked the reception this morning for an update but staff would not say anything.

Charlottetown is the main town on Prince Edward Island (PEI). There are between 35-36,000 people in Charlottetown that has 35 churches. PEI has 308 churches so they must have been a very sinful people at some stage.

There is a CBC in town and it is said that the only news item each year is when a mother duck and her chicks make their way to water for the day. The traffic police are given the assignment to care for mother duck and her offspring. Apparently, they have set up a webcam in her nest to be sure of her movements and can report the progress of the goings on and what the offspring are doing, direct each morning from the webcam.

The economy of the island is based on agriculture, fishing, and tourism. There are 95,000 acres of potatoes. 60% of the potatoes become French fries, 30% cooking potatoes, and 10% become seed potatoes and are exported around the world. The record pumpkin size is 660 kilograms for one pumpkin. 75% of oysters are wild, 25% are cultivated in plastic baskets. Muscles grow on nets for two years before being harvested.

There are no business billboards on the island but businesses have a directional sign installed on the intersection poles free of charge.

I didn’t get the details but robotic dairy farms have an automated system for the cows to be milked. When the cow wants to offload its milk, it comes to the milking shed and somehow gets milked by a robot. The farmer gets an alert on his phone and knows which cow has entered the shed. So, the farmer can do all his work while he is on 3 month vacation, if he so desires.

Lobsters are a big industry. May and June are the only months they can be harvested. Each fisherman is only allowed 300 traps for their lobsters. Female lobsters are not harvested but thrown back into the ocean to keep reproducing.

With 20 golf courses on the island, there is a lot of lush green land with deciduous trees lining the fairways. The picture postcard farm-houses are surrounded, more with mown lawn than scrubs and trees. Very few houses have well tendered flower gardens.

Our tour was mainly to see the site of Anne of Green Gables. Everything is neat and the site is surrounded by another lush golf course with colourful autumn trees all around. There is a house to walk through to view the setting of the books written by L.M. Montgomery. I haven’t read the books at all. I hear they are more young girlish books but I might just take a sneak to see the gist of the story sometime. The first chapter starts with “Mrs Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place.” The last sentence in the 4 volume set is “But as Anne drove away from Windy Poplars the last message from it was a large white bath-towel fluttering frantically from the tower wind. Rebecca Dew was waving it.” What intrigue! I think I will have to get my grand daughters to do the reading and give me a two-sentence summary of the 4 volumes.

We departed for our sea day at 4:00pm spent cruising the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

 

171005 Sydney

Sydney is on Cape Breton Island. It is rich in Gaelic, Mi’kmaq and Acadian culture and so we should learn something to tell our grand children about.

Sydney, Canada was our next stop. There is no fabulous harbour like the Sydney of Australia. There is no opera house, no grand habour bridge and no skyscrapers. This Sydney is just a little village that ‘closes down’ for the icy cold winter for 7-8 months of the year. This is ‘fiddle’ country and a big one welcomes us at the wharf.

After a full breakfast and some time on shore to use the free Wi-Fi, we check out the street shops nearby. Trying to find Wi-Fi while waiting while for the ladies to shop brings an idea to mind: why don’t shops have a Wi-Fi signal called “For Husbands Waiting for their Wives while shopping”? That would make things so much easier than waiting for all the different business Wi-Fi signals to show up on the device in hand.

When we booked for the Harbour Hopper, we didn’t realise that the mode of travel would be another ‘duck’, similar to how we got around Boston. This one was a little different but did the same thing; toured the city by land and then took us into the water for a quick sail around the harbour to view our ship from a different perspective. The Harbour Hopper idea is just three weeks old for this town and as we pass elementary schools, the kids wave and cheer to us and we shout back “quack, quack”. I guess the novelty will wear off soon but will begin again when the winter passes and the cruise ships return. Winter here, is not too far away and apparently comes all of a sudden and with a vengeance.

Our guide shows us the different types of dwellings that are built in the town. A different style for those areas that doctors and lawyers and well-paid workers live compared to the labourers and small wage earners. Interestingly, all are wooden and many have large stockpiles of cut timber ready for the fireplace. The leaves are showing signs of turning colour but we are running out of time to see the real autumn colours we came all the way from Australia to see. Yes, the weather has been sunny and warm, but that is not what is needed to bring on the colour. Up at this latitude, it takes one or two frosts and the leaves can change colour and fall within a few days. Hopefully, that beauty is at our next stop.

This Harbour Hopper is one of nearly a thousand built for the Vietnam War. Many were left in Vietnam in a bad state of disrepair but some were either returned or just didn’t get to Vietnam and were kept in ‘hiding’ until recently. It’s a novelty way to show us around Sydney, Canada. I wonder when Sydney Australia will catch on to the idea and start running similar modes of travel around that city?

It was great to sit out in the warming sunshine as our ship left Sydney and headed towards Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. After dinner and the evening show, we returned to the spa for another relaxing experience.

Tomorrow, we visit Anne of Green Gables territory on Prince Edward Island.

171003 Bar Harbor

Excursions to Bar Arbor’s idyllic natural surrounds, including Mount Desert Island’s coast and Acadia Nation Park are just some that are available.

Bar Harbour! Sounds interesting but then, it is tucked away in the Maine State of the far North East of the USA away from the mainstream touristy areas, so not much is ever heard of Bar Harbour in Australia. The NBC News rarely has to visit, it seems. But lots of tourists visit and there’s very good reason for them to wander around this mainly National Park region.

Our ship sneaks in in the early morning, making its way through all the lobster fishing spots laid in the harbour. Many fishermen have been out collecting lobsters for the restaurants to serve to cruise boat vacationers that invade the village for a day. And what a lovely little fishing village it is; well manicured lawns and gardens all around and shopkeepers ready early for the influx of prospective customers for the day. Yesterday, the Ovation of the Seas was here and today the Regal Princess is here with us. But the season of cruise boats only lasts for 4 or 5 months before it is just too cold for anyone to go on vacation.

We had chosen to go on a 2-hour walk around the Arcadia National Park. Only a small group of people thought of the same option, and so it was easy to get along between stops where a guide provided us information on the geological structure or the foliage of the coastline. Our 2-mile walk took about an hour of walking. The scenery looking out over the region was fabulous with sunshine and blue sky to match, again. Although there are no mountains in the area, the slight increase in altitude was enough to give us some autumn colours we had really come for.

We returned to the pickup point and continued to walk around the lower coastline near the village to just enjoy the clean air and sunshine and watch fishing boats pass by.

After dinner and the evening show in the main Vista Room theatre, the BB King Band with its loud slow, and fast, blues music filled the small theatre.

Tomorrow, we are off to visit Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada.