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

Wild Wandering Women Woes

Well the wild wandering woes began just as we got to the Canadian border.  I was not aware that the entry to Canada was over a very big bridge, and I’m not too excited about driving over bridges so I was a little nervous.  As we exited the bridge, I could only see two lanes, one said Nexus and the other Nexus, Nexus, so I just followed the crowd. As I got up to the entry, I saw the other lanes open and realized that I was probably not in the right lane. When we got to the window, I got a lecture from the custom’s agent and we had to pull over, exit the car, have it searched and explain what we were doing in Canada.  Fortunately, they didn’t make us take everything out of the car, like some other cars in the area, and they didn’t keep us too long.

We began our journey towards Niagara Falls, then on to Toronto, driving on highway 3. We got as far as Tillsonburg and stayed overnight at the local Howard Johnson’s.  Went to the local pub, Copper Mug, for a good perch dinner and then on to dreamland.

After breakfast the next morning, we continued on to Niagara Falls. It seemed that we were never going to find the Falls, then, suddenly, they were there.  We drove slowly down the road in front of the Falls, in both directions, but there were hundreds of people there, and parking was terrible, so Kathy would have had problems navigating the area.  We decided that we had seen enough and were happy to start driving to Toronto.Niagra Falls

As we drove toward Toronto, Kathy began calling motels to get a reservation for the night.  Toronto was booked and we began to worry. She looked at the map and realized that a suburb of Toronto is Markham.  We both knew immediately that we had to stay there.  After all, Markham was the evil spirit in our grandmother’s garage. He terrorized all of the Flanagan cousins and has gone on to terrorized additional generations of children. We had no idea he was Canadian.  But of course because Markham was involved, nothing went as planned.  The first major chain that Kathy called informed us that they had a handicapped room with two queen beds, just what we needed.  We drove 1 1/2 hours out of our way to get to this unnamed motel, only to discover that they completely mislead us. They did not have a handicapped room available, and in fact had booked us on the second floor with no elevator.  I became rather upset in the lobby, so the manager called a number of other hotels in the area and was able to find us a room at the  Courtyard by Marriot down the street.  Although the price was higher than the first place, the hotel was very nice and we ended up staying two nights.

Now that we were in Toronto, we knew that we wanted to do something that was iconic to Toronto.  We decided to go to the Gardiner Museum, the national ceramics museum of Canada. So we drove to downtown Toronto…no one warned us that traffic in Toronto is about equivalent to traffic in New York City!  There was construction everywhere, one way streets that our GPS, fondly named Mavis, didn’t know about and absolutely no parking.  After Adding Lemon to Blue TeaAfter 7 or 8 wrong or missed turns and passing by the museum about 5 times, we finally found an underground parking lot.  As we exited the parking lot, a gray haired gentleman with a wonderful handlebar moustache stopped to hold doors for us and we started talking to him. What an interesting man. He is a retired AP Photographer who still freelances (recently in the Sudan and Middle East) and teaches photography at the University of Toronto.  It was delightful and fascinating to meet him.  We finally made it to the museum, which we found so interesting. Both Kathy and I prefer the ancient ceramics and the very contemporary ceramics. While we are interested in the European ceramics, just not as much as the others (probably because we come from a long line of peasants who would never have been able to afford porcelain)  We stopped for a late lunch at the museum restaurant, Clay, which had just reopened, which was wonderful.  My ice tea was blue and turned purple when lemon was squeezed into it. Kathy had the rigatoni with shrimp, walnut pesto and summer peas while I had a wonderful French omelet with cheddar, mushrooms and fine herb paired with a simple salad

After we left the museum and worked our way back to Markham,  in the late afternoon,

Pedicures at last!

we found a local nail shop and treated ourselves to long overdue pedicures. (I think my nails had become weapons that I was going to need to register!}.  Take out roasted chicken and salad for dinner to make up for lunch.

Days 33, 34

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!

Miller, South Dakota

After staying in Kennebec we took I 90 to Chamberlin, SD, where we stopped for breakfast at a nice little cafe. We discovered we were very close to the Saint Joseph Indian school where they had a Lakota museum and cultural center. It was easy to find, was beautiful, and wonderfully informational. The small building had exhibits on the people of the ancient Plains gave understanding on how the Lakota tribes and culture. The influence of European explorers and settlers was also discussed. As we broke treaties and more settlers moved into their homeland, they were pushed from one area to another. When they stood up for their rights and there was trouble, they were jailed or killed and blamed for what happened. There was a showing of current art that was on the experience at Wounded Knee. Poetry and writings were combined with visual art and powerfully expressed how the historic event still impacts their lives. IMG_2305

There were beautiful quilts for sale and one of the men taking charge of the gift shop explained to Bridget and I how the women were taught to quilt after all the buffalo had been killed. The large star became the design for the Lakota, representing the Morning Star, an important part of Sioux ceremonies. It represents the direction from which spirits travel to earth and is a link between the living and the dead. Bridget and I fell in love with these quilts we each bought one Bridget’s is pink and mine is green.

We were going to take county roads up to Miller, but missed a turn, so we returned to I-90 and continued on our way. Just before we were going to turn off the Interstate, we saw a sign for a tractor museum. Excited, we stopped and met a lovely 85-year-old man took us on a tour to see all the tractors. There were mostly John Deere tractors in the two barns, but there was also one which came as a mail-order kit and the farmed used an old Model A or T for the mechanical sections. In one of the barns was the metal contraption that was the local jail, only used for the town drunks. There was also a church and one-room school house, each of which had been moved to this location. This man was a rancher who had lived in that area of South Dakota for a long time and made little side cracks one of which was “not all farmers are poor.” As a matter fact, he was going to go up to Miller the next day to get his plane and fly somewhere.

But we were going to Miller using the county road right next to the museum. OK, I hear you asking why. But in Cedar Township of Hand County, SD in the early 20th century (possibly in 1900), my grandfather and his sister, Julia, joined his grandfather, grandmother, aunts and uncles to homestead a claim each. Patrick Dunn was my grandfather’s grandfather and one of our ancestors who came to the United States at about the age of 20. My Aunt Peggy made a copy of her Aunt Kate’s genealogy that stated he “came to America around 1840 from Ireland. The(sic) cam over in a sailing ship. It took six weeks. Settled in Baltimore, Maryland then Ohio and the Illinois. (I think he and his wife, Mary Murray came separately because in the 1910 census it is stated she arrived in 1850, but that is inconclusive.). She (Mary) became a seamstress (and) later went west with (the) Baltimore and Ohio Railway. Stopped in Chenoa Illinois (sic) and bought land and established a home. Later at the encouragement of her brother (they) went to the Dakota territory 1853.” My father (Patrick Flanagan) recorded that they were married in 1850 in Ohio.

We were unable to locate where Martin’s and Julia’s claims were, but the land today is rich and grows good crops of corn, soy beans, and sun flowers. In Miller, we made a visit to St. Ann’s Church and Cemetery. Many Dunns were buried in that cemetery, including Patrick Dunn, our immigrant ancestor.

South Dakota, Days 1 and 2

Hello friends, it’s been some time since we updated the blog. We have been traveling and enjoying life. After we left Rocky Mt. National Park, we drove through Colorado and Wyoming and into South Dakota. (We stopped in Cheyanne, WY at Poor Richard’s Restaurant for lunch.) Arrived in Mt. Rushmore around 6:30 and had planned to go to the lighting of the monument, but by the time we found a room, unpacked and had dinner, we were pooped and didn’t make it.

Up early Sunday morning, breakfast and then on to Mt. Rushmore. It is beautiful, majestic and huge! The logistics of building it were amazing and we were impressed at the work that went into the building of it.  After we left Mt. Rushmore, we went on to the Crazy Horse monument. This is being built in the same manner as Mt. Rushmore, but is privately funded and is still being built.  It was interesting to see these techniques being used. The museum there was very well done and we hope to go back and see everything some day.

Later in the afternoon we drove through South Dakota to Wall. We stayed overnight in Wall and went to the famous Wall Drugs first thing on Monday morning. We then drove on to Pierre, where Kathy spent the day doing genealogy research and I did the laundry. We planned to stay overnight in Pierre, but the entire town was booked. Turns out that there was a county commissioner conference going on and every county commissioner in South Dakota was in town.  At the last motel, we asked another traveler where the next town with rooms might be. He sent us on to Kennebec where we stayed in an old-fashioned motor hotel that had been reconditioned called King’s Inn.  We had dinner at the local bar, The Prairie Dust Bar, which made a great hamburger, and served the coldest beer around.

To be continued…

Kathy Day 23 and 24


And Away We Go

Well, we have finished our 2 and 1/2 weeks at our cabin in the Colorado Rockies. Time without internet, telephone, TV or other interruptions.  Spent time with our brother, Terry, and our sister-in-law, Miriam, as well as my son, Matt. We went on great jeep trips, took multiple long walks, not quite hikes but I did use my new walking stick, and our annual scrabble tournament. Saw many old friends and had a wonderful time.

We left on Wednesday and brought Matt to the Denver airport. He’s returning to Sierra Madre after working for a year in Gunnison, Co.  And we are actually beginning our wonderful adventure. Yesterday we spent the day with my college roommate, Joan and her family in Lyons, CO just a few miles from Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Today, we spent the whole day in the Park. Miriam hooked us up with the RMNP Conservancy and we took a tour with Alexis, our guide, three other Conservancy employees, Kathy and me. It was an all day tour of the park and we learned all about the geology, geography and history of the park. We were in and out of the van multiple times and the people on our tour were wonderful, helping Kathy get out, bringing her walker to her and helping her with the terrain and helping me get back in the van.  We saw gorgeous scenery, lots of elk, pica, and marmots. What a wonderful beginning to our trip. Tomorrow we take off for Mt. Rushmore and other explorations in South Dakota.

Day 19, 20, 21

Adventures, travel and genealogy of a couple of retired ladies.