Category Archives: Travels

A Week With Friends

The Kennebec Watershed
The Kennebec Watershed is on the border of Quebec and Maine. Maine is in the foreground and Quebec out near the clouds.

We spent a wonderful week with our dear friends, Jeanne Currier and Delmarie Carver. Kathy worked with Jeanne for many years at Mt Gleason, and got to know Delmarie through Jeanne.  And I got to know them through Kathy. A few years ago, they bought a summer home in Norway, Maine, where Jeanne was raised.  They are now spending  half the year in Maine and half the year in the L.A. area.  Now that I’m retired, we were finally able to see them in Norway.  Maine is an absolutely beautiful! We were there while the leaves were changing, so every day the scenery changed.  On our way to their home, we drove past a retaining wall of bird houses.  These were all made of reclaimed material.  They were fascinating.  We looked up this wall to find out the story behind them.  No one knows who put the first one up and they just keep appearing.  Great folk art.

Jeanne and Delmarie welcomed us with lobster rolls for our first night and we had a week filled with talking, laughter, storytelling, shellfish and BBQ. We saw where Jeanne was raised, St. Joseph’s, the college she attended, and spent some time with some of her friends and family.  Went out for great BBQ at Smokin Dave’s Backyard BBQ and Grill.  As good as any BBQ that we have had.  While we were there, other California friends, Cheri and Lea arrived adding to the laughter and fun.

We did go on a moose hunt, which was unsuccessful for moose, but we saw gorgeous scenery and went to Height of Land on the top of Spruce Mountain in Rangeley, ME. This spot provides one of the most stunning overlooks in New England, with magnificent views of Mooselookmeguntic and Richardson Lakes and the White Mountains.


While we were in Maine, we took a day to go to Portland and see our cousin, Amybeth. We met for lunch at a yummy Thai restaurant and got caught up with each other’s lives. After we left Amybeth, we went to see the oldest lighthouse in Maine, the Portland Headlight in Cape Elizabeth. It was a stormy day and the Atlantic Ocean was wild. So beautiful and different from the Pacific.

One evening Jeanne and Lea made a wonderful lobster boil for us. My first lobster all by itself.  Cheri was kind enough to teach us how to pull it apart and enjoy it! So much fun that we are all going to get together in a couple of months in California to repeat the experience.   Another night we had a dining experience at 76 Pleasant Street. This is a very nice restaurant just a few minutes from Jeanne and Delmarie’s house.  It is in an old Victorian and the couple that runs it have done a beautiful job with the place.  The food was fabulous.  I had carrot, apple and ginger soup for a starter followed by grilled lamb with cannelini beans and harissa. It was perfectly seasoned and I didn’t even need salt or pepper.  Kathy had crab cakes with a seaweed-carrot salad and a remoulade and her main course was scallops with risotto and peas.  We shared a piece of limoncello cake for desert.  Everyone’s dinner was great. We will definitely go back next time we are in Norway.  (This was the only time that scallops were on a menu that I didn’t have them. I ate wonderful scallops at least 3, maybe 4 times in the week that we were in Maine.

Brid Days 42 through 49

More Ancestral Doings

On Thursday, we drove into Baie St. Paul, through the Charlevoix Region of Quebec. Trees were turning and the Canadian Shield rolled with mountains of red, gold and orange. Still some green there, too.

Screenshot_2018-10-03 Espace Muséal et patrimonial des Petites Franciscaines de Marie
Sr. Marie-Joseph from group shot

We went to Baie St. Paul because my great-aunt was one of the 11 founding sisters of an order of nuns, the Little Franciscans of Mary (pfm), that worked with orphans and old people in the French-Canadian communities in New England. The local priest in Worcester (who had asked Marie-Louise Rondeau—who became Sister Marie-Joseph) saw a need among the immigrants in 1889 and asked her parents-Remi Rondeau and Marie-Louise Guertin (Rondeau) if they could see their way to let their young daughter join. Although 18-year-old was reluctant to join because she was still a student at the convent of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, after prayer she decided to become the first novice. With three novices and two postulants, cared for some 40 children. After a few years, the priest’s decisions created instability and the bishop informed them they were not nuns. Father Farad in Baie St. Paul had seen a similar need in his community and offered to sponsor the Congregation in Canada and they kept their New England locations as missions. Sr. Marie-Joseph was one of the two nuns who went to Canada to discuss the possibility with the priest and bishop. Their mission changed in Canada to housing old people and insane people.

Sr. Marie-Joseph was elected the Superior when she was when she was 19. She was later sent to St. Joseph’s Convent and Boarding School in Wallagrass, Maine. It was away from her home in Worcester, but back to the teaching she loved. Wallagrass is in the northern tip of Main near New Brunswick. (And, as the crow flies, not too far from Baie St. Paul). She died in 1922.

After we left Bait St. Paul, we drove back on the route towards Quebec and, across from Montmorency Falls, took the bridge to the Ile d’Orleans. We circumnavigated the island and stopped at a couple of shops. It was one of the first parts of Quebec to be colonized by the French. Our ancestor, Thomas Rondeau (born about 1637), immigrated from La Rochelle, France in 1662 and his occupation was listed in the 1666 census as a cloutier—a person who made and sold nails. He died 10 November 1721 in St-Pierre-de-Ile-d’Orleans, Montmorency, Quebec and was buried the next day. On the 31 of October 1666, a marriage contract was signed between Thomas and Andreè Remondiere, a Fille-Du-Roi, who was about 14 years old. It is probable that that was also their marriage date. She also came from La Rochelle and died 21 November 1702, in St. Pierre and was buried the next day. They had at least 18 children,

Our direct ancestor was Francois Rondeau, born 7 April 1678 at St. Family, I’ll d’Orleans, died 28 1748, St. Antoine-de-Tilly, Lotbiniere, Quebec. He had three wives. Our ancestress, Marie Anne (and here I have problems with spelling so hopefully will get it right eventually) Decaux Sindeco (or something similar starting with an “F”) was his first wife and was born in St. Famile, Ile’d’Orleans in 1678 and died 12 August 1723 in Lotbiniere, Quebec. They were married 21 July 1705. St. Antoine-de-Tilly is on the south side of the St. Lawrence, south of Quebec City and Levis. They had at least 11 children, and our ancestor was Antoine.

The island is still an agricultural area (and lots of bed and breakfasts). We would love to come back and stay a few days or week on both the island and in Baie St Paul or Charlevoix.

From here we left for Maine and were the only people in line at Customs.  We found a motel to stay at in Jackman, Maine a town so small there were no food restaurants open at 8:00 pm, just the gas station.

Kathy Day

Where Ancestors Lived


When we arrived in Trois-Rivieres, we decided to stop at the visitor’s center to see if they knew of a hotel with a handicapped room. They were able to get us a reservation at the Gouverneur Hotel  in the heart of the city.  I spent some time recovering from my traumatic event and we finally realized that we were hungry. I didn’t feel like going far, so we decided to eat in the hotel.  The restaurant is called La Rouge Vin and this ended up being one of the best dining experiences of our trip so far. We had the Table D’Hotel, which was a 4 course meal. Kathy had arancini with lobster and peas, pear and cheese soup, shrimp carbonara and fondant au chocolat while I devoured brie crusted in pistachios on gingered slaw with applesauce, fennel soup, salmon with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce on a mixed grain risotto with asparagus and crème brulee. Yum Yum!!!

After a good night’s sleep, we decided to explore a museum in Trois-Rivieres.  Trois-Rivieres is the second oldest French speaking city in North America.  It is rich in history and one could easily spend a week exploring it.  We chose to go to Manoir Boucher de Niverville which is an exhibition  of bourgeois life in New France. The museum is very092618113 well done. They have crammed a huge amount of information into a fairly small space and made it very inviting. The exhibits are in French and English and truly explore the life of these settlers in the 17th century.  I picked up some recipes.  Anyone interested in braised eel??  When I went to get the car, Kathy stayed and talked to the hostess of the museum. She suggested that we go see the Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du-Cap which is the largest Marian shrine in Canada.

Notre-Dame-du-Cap is a magnificent church, surrounded by beautiful grounds that have the original small sanctuary to Mary, outdoors Stations of the Cross and Stations of the Rosary, a bridge dedicated to the rosary. Two miracles have occurred on this site, but I will let you look these up on their website.  What a holy site.  We seem to be concentrating on holy sites this trip, maybe it’s our time of life, or our spiritual development, but each has been very moving.

We took off from here to go past Quebec.  We passed by Montmorency Falls and stayed in St.-Anne de Beaupre at a small motel, Spring Motor, run by a multi-generational family .  The people were friendly, nice and the mother was a genealogist.  Kathy talked with her during breakfast the next morning.

Bridget  Days 39, 40

Exploring Homes of Ancestors

We were up early on Monday morning to make our 8:30 pick up for a Grayline bus tour of Montreal. We have discovered that it is really worth the cost to have a tour when someone else is driving around an area that we don’t know.  Montreal is spread out, there is lots of roadwork and new construction going on and neither of us wanted to drive in the City.  Kathy was able to get on and off the bus, but didn’t take the short walking tours at a couple of the stops.  There was a short walking tour to the Bank of Montreal and to the Church of Notre Dame that we had tried to see yesterday. Surprising how easy it seemed to get there with no marathon!  The guide was quite good and the bus driver was a hoot! The tour took us from the oldest building in Montreal, to the World’s Fair site from 1964, through neighborhoods in Montreal, back to St. Joseph’s.

We were back at the Hilton Gardens around 2 and hit the road for Quebec. We made it as far as a lovely town called St. Hyacinth, where some of our ancestors had settled.  As we had a late lunch on the road, we skipped dinner, but the hotel Le Dauphin had free laundry, so guess what we spent the evening doing!  After breakfast the next morning, we took off looking for old cemeteries to see if we could find any of our ancestors. Unfortunately, many of the old cemeteries have been moved and we were not able to find any old graves, but we did see the areas that they settled in.

When we left St. Hyacinth, it started pouring rain and eventually we needed to stop to eat and have a bio-break. We saw a big truck stop and pulled off the road.  First stop was the bathroom.  As I walked into the bathroom stall, the floor was wet and my shoes were greasy from outside, and I slipped and fell hard on the floor. Ended up with my elbow in the toilet and unable to get up for about 10 minutes.  A lovely Canadian woman helped me figure out how to get up, and nothing seemed broken. I was pretty shaken up and I still had to pee!!! Took care of that in a cleaner stall, and cleaned up the best I could.  Had a quick McDonald’s for lunch and Kathy took over driving because I was still a little shocky.  It was still raining, I was cold and shaking so we decided not to go to Quebec, but rather stop at Trois-Rivieres, which is also a site where some of our ancestors had settled.  (Note:  I am OK, bruised and battered, but nothing is broken.  I did make a Dr. Visit when we got to our friends in Maine and had some X-Rays to confirm that I’m OK.)

Day 38, 39

Montreal and More Mis-Adventures

Sunday morning in Montreal. We wanted to go to Mass at the Notre Dame Basilica in old Quebec and had found out that there was an 11 o’clock Mass with the choir. Hurray! We slept late, then went called the concierge to reserve a taxi. Matthieu was a very helpful concierge. He reserved a space for us on the Gray Line for a Monday tour of Quebec, went across the street to exchange American money for Canadian money and got us a taxi.

Oratorio of St. JosephWell, we were on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride with our monolingual-French speaking-Haitian cab driver and his monolingual-English speaking-riders. We were caught by streets closed by work and detours because…there was the Rock and Roll Montreal Marathon! Eventually it was obvious Old Quebec was closed for traffic and we turned away. As he was taking us back to the hotel, somehow we made it clear to him that we really wanted to go to Mass, not just visit the Basilica. His face lit up and he said, “I will take you to St. Joseph’s.” Great! But it was a long ride through much of Quebec and each of us separately and silently had Flanagan disaster thoughts wondering if we were being kidnapped. Nope! This nice man brought us to the Oratory of St. Joseph, an incredibly beautiful basilica.

Right Mosaic in Sanctuary
Second half of litany of St. Joseph, the whole of which reads: Joseph the Just; Saint husband of the Virgin Mary, Guardian of the Son of God. On this side it reads: Protector of the Universal Church, Model of Workers, Patron of those suffering.

St. Joseph was the home of Brother Andre who has a whole story that I’m not going into right now. Mass was at 12:30 and we arrived just after 11, so we had coffee and something to eat, then got to the church for the French mass with organ and a singer with a beautiful voice. Here is where having a Smart Phone was really handy: we looked up the readings for the day and could follow along in English. It is good to be “the other” sometimes.

Left ApseAfter Mass we visited the Chapel of St. Andre and the museum. The museum had an exhibit of international creches, and if you know Bridget, you know how important Nativity scenes are to her. Then, of course, the gift shop. We took a taxi back to the hotel.

That evening we walked down the street to a little Italian restaurant and had very good veal Parmesan..

Day 37

Kingston and Lake Ontario

Next morning we slept late and left Toronto after a yummy breakfast at an Eggsmart, which is a Canadian egg restaurant chain.  I had avocado toast (A little taste of home) with poached eggs on top and Kathy had fried eggs. We started on our way to Montreal, but knew that we would not be able to make it in one day, so we decided to mosey our way on Canadian highway 2, which is a more rural route than the Canadian Interstate.  We followed along the shore of Lake Ontario for much of our trip and noticed that the skies behind us were very gray as were the skies ahead of us.  We had very little bad weather, but did have a lot of wind.  The lake was very choppy, it could have passed for the ocean.

The  road reminded us of the English/Irish countryside and little towns along the way confirmed this feeling.  The Canadian countryside in this area is quite beautiful.  We stopped in Kingston, Ontario, just as the rains hit and were able to find a hotel with a handicapped room, Courtyard by Marriott. After we checked in, we found out that there had been horrible weather all along the route we had traveled, and further north from us, in Ottawa, a tornado had touched down. We felt that we had been protected by our guardian angels because we had none of it.  It was raining for the rest of the evening, so it was a soup and sandwich dinner at the Panera across the street.

One of the reasons we stopped in Kingston was that we knew that there was a Weight Watchers meeting at 9:45 on Saturday morning.  As we made our way there, we passed a cute restaurant called Toast and Jam, and decided to go back for breakfast after the meeting.  We had a very good meeting and met some delightful Canadian WW members.  Their meetings are done just like ours, with lots of participation and a good leader.

But, back to Toast and Jam.  This is the cutest local favorite in Kingston, I think.  The ambiance is very nice, staff is great and food yummy.  Kathy had scrambled eggs and toast with homemade raspberry and blueberry jam. The blueberry was intensely flavorful, like fresh picked berries.  I splurged and had French toast with strawberry/rhubarb compote, marscapone and real maple syrup!  After we finished we walked over to the sister bakery, Bread and Butter, and bought ciabatta, pretzel rolls, salami and cheese for lunch/dinner, a sweet roll with lemon and blueberry that we shared later, some Maple syrup to bring home and a shopping bag.

We left Kingston to travel on to Montreal.  We continued on the country roads and found that we were not far from the Canadian side of the Thousand Islands of Lake Ontario, so we made a small side trip to drive through the area.  And yes, thousand island salad dressing is named after these islands as it was invented at a resort on the New York side. It was a gorgeous drive. Then on to Montreal, crazy traffic, lots of road work and an great stay at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Day 35, 36

More Family

It’s Sunday in the middle of September and we are in Livonia, Michigan, just outside of Detroit. A few trees are barely beginning to change colors…or at least fade. The air should be crisp and clear because we are going apple picking with my nephew, Dan, his wife, Amy and his three children. Unfortunately, the temperature was close to 90. Nevertheless, the Flanagans joined with the Markos’ and went into the groves, without me because it was too far and too rough with my mobility issues.

When they got back to the activity area we had a grumpy 7-year-old who was tired, hot and didn’t think it was fair he walked so far. So we got donuts and cider. That, some time to sit, coaxing from his sister, and loving from his two great-aunts raised his spirits and he was ready to take off with the aforementioned sister to pet llamas, went to see the bee guy, and went on a ride or two.

Great nephew...almost grown

Meanwhile, we adults and near adults (my oldest great-nephew would turn 16 in about a week), were sitting in the shed and talking. Then my brother, Dan’s father and our brother, showed up and more talking took place. I spent some time talking to the eldest of Dan’s children who is such a great kid.

Later that afternoon we went out for Detroit style pizza with my sister-in-law, Miriam, and her brother Kurt at a famous Detroit Pizza place called Buddy’s. Detroit pizza is a fairly thick crust cooked in a pan and is square. The toppings are put under the cheese and cut in rectangular pieces. It was good. Then we went to Terry and Miriam’s house

On Monday, the same five of us went to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. I got an electric scooter and that let me keep up with the rest of them. The museum is really well done showing the development of technology and its relationship to the culture of the time. It is also too big to see in one day. We saw trains, planes and automobiles and had a rest and sweet in a working diner in amidst the roadsters and sports cars. I decided that I would not mind having a 1929 (I think) Bugatti—one of 6 made is in that museum and it is gorgeous. Of course, I’d need a mechanic on staff as well.

We stopped at Sheesh—a middle Eastern restaurant that was very good and made their own pita: little bitty pitas. Terry and Miriam came over to the motel to talk and say goodbye (to Miriam, who had to go to work the next day).

On Tuesday, we went to Savannah and Bernadette’s home (the dogs who really own Terry and Miriam abode) to do laundry and Terry joined us after a dentist’s appointment. Bridget had particularly wanted to go to a Detroit “Coney’s Restaurant” so Terry took us to Senate Coney Island Restaurant. After hugs and kisses, we took off for Canada…an adventure in its own.

Days 30, 31 and most of 32


We left Rockford and stopped at a truck stop called The Iron Skillet for breakfast, before wending our way through Illinois to Pekin, IL. We had the delight of meeting up with our cousin Joanne and her husband Terry. We hadn’t seen them since their honeymoon almost 40 years ago, but we had spent a couple of summers with Joanne as teenagers when she spent time with our Grandparents and Aunt Peggy. It took only minutes fall back into our relationship and we talked up a storm!  Around 2:30, we went to the senior living center that our Aunt Rosie lives in. She is one of our dad’s 8 sisters and always fun to be around. She does have Alzheimer’s disease, but she was in good spirits when we saw her. We told stories, laughed and had a wonderful visit with her.
Later in the evening, Joanne’s brother, Jim, and his wife and daughters came to visit too. Kathy and I had seen Jim last year when he was in California so it was wonderful to meet Maureen, Rachel and Colleen after hearing stories about them.  After they left, Joanne, Kathy and I stayed up late talking, even though we all had to be up early.

Bridget, Joanne, Aunt Rose

Next morning, Joanne and Terry got up at the crack of dawn to leave for St. Louis as they had tickets for a noon Cardinal’s game.  We slept a little later, then got on the road to head to Detroit, MI to spend a few days with our brother, Terry, and sister-in-law, Miriam.  We arrived late, found a motel  and made plans to go apple picking with Daniel, our nephew, and his family on Sunday.

Bridget Day 29

Spam Museum, Old Friends and The Mississippi

0911180844Finally left South Dakota and made our way to Minnesota.  I think we forgot to mention that South Dakota has more flies than any other state we have visited. I think they are the state bird. Hotel rooms come equipped with a flyswatter!

Stayed overnight in Fairmont, MN and in the morning made sure that we stopped in Blue Earth, MN to get a picture of the largest Jolly Green Giant statue in the world.  Nothing there but the statue.  Apparently, there is a gift shop during the summer, but it closes in mid-August.

Ho, Ho, Ho!

We then made our way to Austin, MN to the SPAM Museum. Now, I have never really eaten SPAM, and am in fact frequently quoting Paul Theroux who said in The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific “It was a theory of mine that former cannibals of Oceania now feasted on Spam because Spam came the nearest to approximating the porky taste of human flesh.” But I do love unusual museums.  So we spent an hour or so viewing the exhibits and tasting the Spam flavors of the day, Portuguese Sausage and Hickory Smoke. Then we spent some time in the gift shop……watch your stockings at Christmas, there may be some tasty treats.  After we left the Spam Museum we travelled through the rest of MN and on to Wisconsin.

We followed the Upper Mississippi down from La Crosse, through Prairie du Chien, to the mother house of the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. Kathy spent two years volunteering with these wonderful women in Kansas City, MO. They had retreats and special meetings at “The Mound” and, with the help of Sister Marie, got a grant to take a busload of students on a bus trip through Iowa to The Mound. We saw Sister Marie Sullivan and Sister Elaine Robbins and it was really good to see them. They were both strong, determined women who made major difference in impoverished areas of our country. They now need some help, but they are still strong believers in their faith and themselves. We also stopped up at the gift shop at The Mound and had to buy some of their wonderful caramel rolls…mmmmm! And visit the beautiful chapel.

IMG_2404 2

We drove on through the beautiful town of Galena, Illinois, which we would like to go back and explore in the future, and on to Rockford for the night.

Bridget Day 27

De Smet, South Dakota

Mitchell, SD motell
The bears climbing at the Kelly Inn

After we left Miller we headed toward Mitchell, SD to see the Corn Palace. On the way to Mitchell, we stopped for dinner at a great Mexican Restaurant, Yessica’s, in Huron, SD.  We both had yummy enchiladas, Kathy’s beef with a spicy red sauce and mine chicken with a delicious green sauce. Quite worth the stop. It was after 6 by the time we arrived in Mitchell, so we found a lovely motel, Kelly Inn, that was covered in bears, to stay until morning.




Headed off to the Corn Palace in the morning.  Discovered that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, towns were competing for tourists and wanted to bring more people to their own town.  Mitchell started the Corn Palace in 1892 and it is the only Corn Palace in the world.  They decorate the building every year with $130,000 worth of corn in multiple colors.  All of the murals are made of corn.  Of course, we had to have our pictures taken with the corn stalk, too.

We debated whether or not we would go to De Smet, SD for the Laura Ingalls homestead, but love of the Little House books won out. Both Kathy and I read the books as children, but I was obsessed with them. From the time I discovered the books at around 8, until my mid teens, I re-read the series, in order, nonstop.  Every time I went to the library, I checked out the next book.  If the book I was due to read in the series was out, I read Farmer Boy instead.  Five of the books, from By the Shores of Silver Lake on, took place in the De Smet area.  So of course we ended up at the homestead.  The family that runs the place has done an awesome job. They have recreated a sod house, a small homesteader’s cabin, Ma’s house. There is the schoolhouse that Laura attended and many hands-on activities.  It would be a wonderful place to take children, and you can even camp there. There is also a museum on site, as well as a house in town to tour.  Almost more than one can see in a day. And on top of everything, they had golf carts for disabled people so Kathy was able to enjoy everything.

Replica of the sod house.

Now on to Minnesota and the SPAM Museum!