Poutine

This is officially our first post all about food! That is quite surprising, because we do like our food. We try and get some popular local food wherever we stop. When we entered Canada, the one food that was widely popular was Poutine. If you don’t know, poutine is a dish made of thin cut potatoes, like french fries, topped with cheese curd, or some kind of cheese. Poured over it is a gravy of some type.

First stop, DQ (a.k.a. Dairy Queen)

Restaurant: Dairy Queen

Price: $5.69

Review: Served in a small round bowl, the fries were okay, the cheese was okay, the gravy was beef, and was also okay. It was probably the okay-ist poutine. Really, it wasn’t amazing, blow your mind good. It was okay. That is the best way I can describe it.

Restaurant: Costco

Price: $4.69

Review: It was HUGE. I mean, our friends warned us it was big, but it was larger than we thought. I must say, it was our least favorite. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, just not as good as the rest. The fries were thick and not crunchy. They gravy was beef, and heavy. Sure it was flavourful, if you’re into that. The cheese curds were large, and very good. They, I think, were the best part.

Restaurant: Humpty’s

Price: $7.50

Review: Before I tell you how it was, let me note that Humpty’s is a sit down, diner type restaurant, not fast food, as with the rest. It was yummy, and the gravy was homemade, so that made it extra great. And topping is wasn’t cheese curd, as is typical, but shredded mozzarella cheese. It was a good idea, and if you didn’t have cheese curds, it is a good substitute. Over all, I think Humpty’s was my second favorite.

Restaurant: McDonald’s

Price: $4.38

Review: Normally, I criticize McDonald’s, because they are the most popular chain restaurant, with the worst food. But the poutine they have IS THE BEST I’VE HAD. It’s probably due to the fact that I love their fries. And maybe because the gravy was chicken, instead of beef like the rest. Really, it was delicious. Everyone (Mom and Dad, because Marc won’t eat it) thought it was the best.

Maybe if we had gone to more than four restaurants and rated them, we’d have a different review, but we didn’t. And now, poutine is one of my favorite foods!

-Cali

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Oh Canada

Canada is amazingly different place. I always thought that everything would pretty much be the same, as it is quite close to the United States. But when you cross the border, things get bigger. The mountains, taller. The lakes, larger. The wildfires, more wild. At the moment, BC (British Colombia) is having a hard time with wildfires. So much so, that the air is always hazy, and hard to see through. I imagine that it would be gorgeous to drive through the mountains, but when we did, you could hardly see over the trees. Most days the sky is gray, not because it is going to rain (they wish), but because of the smoke.

Our Canadian trip started in Kamloops, BC. Friends we had met 3 year prior had heard we were coming into Canada, and invited us to stay with them for a couple days. They have a small house overlooking Kamloops Lake. After a – kilometer drive out a rough dirt road (the toughest trip for the bus yet), we arrived at a picturesque lake. There we stayed 2 nights and enjoyed our friend company. Thank you so much, Yvonne and Steve!

From there, we moved on to Vernon, BC, to a campground our friends were working at. It was a well kept campground, and they had done lots of work on it. For the first few days we had full hook-up, but the last couple days we only had electric and water. Almost everyday we had a little field trip. One day we spent at the lake, another day we went to an orchard. Also, almost everyday, we hiked down to a pretty waterfall near the campground.

We then moved on to Lake Louise. The campground was large, and the sites were nice. Our first full day there, we drove up to Lake Louise, and hike to the nearest tea house, about 4.5 miles both ways. It was smoky the whole time we spent at Lake Louise. The second day we drove to the ice fields, in Banff and Jasper National Park. We did several small hikes, to see a glacier and to a quickly flowing river. All the water up here is a Caribbean blue colour, because of what they call glacier flour. Small particles of dirt (glacier flour, because they are the size of flour) are in the water, and they reflect the blue colour. Our third day was spent seeing the spiral train tunnels and hiking around Lake Moraine. The spiral tunnels were made because the train tracks climbing through the Rocky Mountains were incredibly steep. They had lots of run-away trains. The solution to the problem was to build tunnels that spiral up through the mountains. I liked watching the train go through, because you would see the engine go into the tunnel, then coming out higher up. The end wouldn’t even be out of the tunnel before the engine went into the next set of tunnels.

Lake Moraine was like Lake Louise, the same colour, but smaller and not nearly as busy. We climbed up a mountain of boulders, had a look, then walked around the lake.

The fourth day we left for Banff. Banff is a cute tourist town settled in the mountain. All of Canada is picturesque, but Banff especially. There was the Hot Springs, and the Banff Springs Hotel. We walked all over the town. Then it started to clear up, and the smoke started to disappear. We wanted to Lake Louise without the blanket of smoke, so the next day, we drove back the hour and hiked around Lake Louise. It was beautiful. I can’t stress that Canada was beautiful enough. It was gorgeous, pretty, wonderful, amazing.

A note about Canada:

We did not have any phone service in Canada, and we were completely okay. Yep, we didn’t call anyone in three weeks. We didn’t die. But really, everywhere in Canada had wifi. The National Park Visitor Centers had wifi, and if you where wandering around the town of Banff, they had wifi also. Tim Hortons, McDonalds, all of the fast food places have wifi. About once a day, for half an hour, we would go someplace and use internet. To check email, text, Instagram, things of that sort. We weren’t completely cut off from the out side world.

Cali

Choo Choo

Our parents love surprises, but this one they found hard to keep a secret. They were going to take us across the country, on a TRAIN, so we could be with our family for our 13th birthday. Why not fly, You might ask. It’s quicker, you might point out. True, very true.

But how many people that you know have taken the train across the US before they are a teenager? Not many, I’ll bet. Well, now you know two more.

Our plans for this trip took a while and went through many changes, but on July 13th we drove to the Redding, California train station. It was 5 o’clock in the morning and McDonald’s was just opening. The train was late, as it was supposed to arrive at 3 o’clock a.m., but Amtrak kept us updated with texts. We got to sleep in! Yay!

Anyway, we boarded and got settled in. This train was (supposed to be) taking us to Portland, OR, where we would switch to a train headed east. But because our train left so late, we wouldn’t make it in time to transfer before the train in Portland left. To get us on our eastbound train we took a shortcut, sort of. In Klamath Falls, OR they transferred us to a bus that would take us to meet the connecting train in Pasco, WA. That cut a bit off our trip. The bus ride lasted over 8 and a half hours, arriving in Pasco at 7:30. They gave us chicken dinners from KFC, due to the inconvenience. The train was supposed to arrive in Pasco at 9:25, but was delayed until 9:50. This is where we started to expect delays. Take the supposed arrival time and add 30-60 minutes, then you’ll be closer to the arrival time.
The train arrived, and we boarded. We settled in and got ready for sleep (Notice, I didn’t say bed. We didn’t get a sleeper car for any part of this journey). The next morning we went up to the observatory car and was greeted by magnificent mountain and lush trees (the first green, natural trees we had seen in a while, other that the Redwoods). We had woke in Montana, our second day in the journey. There were a couple of Park Rangers on, and they told us about the surroundings. We played board games, read, and watched movies to occupy ourselves. Mom and Dad found it a sit difficult to sleep in the seats, but Marc and I can sleep pretty much anywhere. Oh, and we booked our tickets back to California. We had held off, in case we hated the train and wanted to fly back. But, so far, we were having a great time.
Third day we arrived in Chicago, in the evening. We took turns watching the luggage, while the other half went for a walk around. At 9 o’clock p.m. we boarded the last train east. One more night and Grammy Carol picked us up in Syracuse, NY and drove us back to her house,where we stayed they first week, with the exception of two nights that we spent with my mother’s brother in Harrisburg, PA. Next week we spent at a lake house our grandma had rented. The last week we spent between our Aunt and Uncle’s house and Grammy Carol’s house.  I’m not going to really get into the details of what exactly we are doing, because it was more of a family vacation. We went to an amusement park, a carnival, watched a parade, your typical summer activities.
The time passed all to quickly and our day to leave came. On August 8th at 11 o’clock, we left our Uncle’s house for the train station. It arrived, and we boarded. After being on the train for a few hours, we stopped in Pittsburg at 8 o’clock that evening.  (Dad and I went to a Primanti sandwich and then when to the business district and saw where dad used to work. -M. W. Perry) We sat in the train station until 12 o’clock and after in the morning. I slept like a stone, only waking when we were coming into Chicago Union Station. As we pulled in, we gathered all our luggage. We detrained, as they call it, and walked down the long, dim, underground tunnel. We bought some of the best tasting donuts, and coffee, and relaxed. We boarded our next train, finally the on the train that would take us to Sacramento, CA. While waiting in the Chicago, we did a bit of math and figured out that if we waited in Sacramento for our train up to Redding, we would be waiting in the station for 10 hours. So, we rented a rental car, to drive up instead of waiting for 10 hours. Travel weary, Dad and I walked a mile to go pick up our car. We did, and loaded everything in the car. At 7:30 that night we arrived back up in Redding and home.
So, that is the overview of our trip. But I have no way to describe the tiredness, the wanting to get on the train, the uncomfortable seats in the train station. It is all part of the experience. That is the only way I can explain it, as an experience. You’d have to have done it or been there to understand. It was awesome, boring, comfortable, draining, exciting. I could go all through the alphabet like that. It was an experience.  – Cali

(I would like to interject that the views expressed  may or may not  represent the views of the Unpredictable Perrys as a whole but rather those of the author of this post. – M. W. Perry)

California’s Central Valley

As we began to head north in California we decided to make a stop near Modesto.  First we had to see Shannon and Daniel.  It was great because Shannon’s dad was visiting from Tunkhannock while we were there.

Then we took a day trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  It was a three hour trip each way, but it was worth it to see General Sherman, the world’s largest tree, measured by volume.

On another day trip we visited Carmel-by-the-Sea.  It was a really quaint town.  We went to a French restaurant for lunch and went for a walk to sea the ocean and the cute homes.  Then we took the 17 mile drive along the Monterey Peninsula.

We also decided to drive to San Francisco for the day.  What a great city! We did over 7 miles of walking.  We went down Lombardi Street,  ate lunch at the Nob Hill Cafe and took a trolley ride. To wrap up an amazing day we stopped for some chocolate lava bread at Boudin’s.

Pinnacles National Park

While we were in California we camped near Pinnacles National Park.  We did two hikes while we were in the park.  Condor Gulch to High Peaks Loop was a 5.3 mile loop with some great views and we also did the Moses Spring to Rim Trail Loop.    If you are ever near this national park it is worth a visit!

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle was, to sum it up in a word, impossible. Gigantic and not gigantic, an actual castle, but reminded me more of a small Mediterranean village with a cathedral at its center. Okay, I think I failed to describe all its greatness, but that was a pretty good, if not a very vague overview of the castle.

In 1850, at thirty years of age, George Hearst, William Randolph Hearst father, “the boy who earth talks to,” moved to California during the Gold Rush. There he bought a claim that everyone said only had lead, but George believed that there was something. He wasn’t exactly sure what. The problem was that he couldn’t prove the substance was valuable, unless he crossed the treacherous Sierra Nevadaswith the ore to get it smelted. He and two of his buddies crossed the mountains, walking and on horseback, with 38 tons of ore. They made it across the mountains and got the ore smelted. When the results came out, the people were wrong in wasn’t lead. It was silver. They got 56,000 dollars in todays money for every 1 ton of ore they brought over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. George went back and continued to mine. He invested in successful gold, silver, and copper mines. George quickly became a millionaire.

In 1865, he acquired 48,000 acres of land in San Simeon and built a pier in the harbor he lived on this ranch. He married, back in his home state of Missouri, and had only one child, William Randolph Hearst. William Randolph, also known as W.R., and his mother Phoebe Apperson Hearst, went on a one and a half year grand tour of Europe. William Randolph was ten at the time, and that’s when his love art developed.

In 1919, William Randolph’s mother died. His father had died many years earlier. W. R., who already had built a media empire, inherited his father’s land and wealth. At 56, he decided to put a house on top of a hill where he went camping as a kid. W.R. first stated to his architect, Julia Morgan, “I just want a little something.” Julia Morgan was the first woman architect in California. The project spanned over 30 years, only stopping during WWII, when William Randolph went into $100,000,000 of debt. After WWII, his newspapers started selling and the project continued. It was lived in from just a few years after construction started.  It was never finished at the time of his death in 1951.

Hearst Castle is 68,000 square feet, which isn’t even half of the Biltmore Estate (the number one place I want to go in the US.). There is one main house and 3 cottages on the hill. The Casa Grande, which is made to look like a cathedral, is the main house, and the Casa de Sol, Casa del Mar and the Casa del Monte are the cottages. They are named after their views; Sunset, Ocean and Mountains, respectively. These are made to look like the village “huts”. We took three amazing tours and saw most of the house that was open to the public. I’d give you a detailed account of different trips around the house but I can’t for two reasons. A) I could not go anywhere near the grander of the house. B) I got lost (quite an amazing feat, if I may say so) and all the amazing, magnificent, wonderful rooms got mixed up in my head. The tours I would suggest are the Upstairs suite and the Designing the Dream. The Grand Rooms tour was spectacular, but crowded. It brought you through the downstairs of the house showing all the grand rooms (hence the name) of the house. If you’ve toured Mansions before then this one will look very similar. I would also defiantly watch the movie that comes with your tour. All around, if you’re in the area, then I would strongly suggest going.

M.W.Perry

Note by Cali:

The Castle was, well…extra amazing with incredible twists. The architecture was surprising. Back in that day, barely any female architects existed. During her life Julia Morgan completed 700 homes/offices/castles in California, all the time competing with the male architects of her time.

Also I wanted to mention W.R. Hearst’s family. He had 5 children, all sons, and the last 2 were twins. Most of them went on to be successful.

All of Hearst’s staff (never to be confused with servants), had an extraordinary privileges. Of course, he only hired the best of the best, but if you worked for him you could expect a very high wage, to keep to from looking at other jobs. Another perk of being in his staff was, if the guests weren’t enjoying the pool, you could swim. Also, if Chief, as Mr. Hearst was known to his staff, was showing, you could go see it in Chiefs personal Movie Theater. At Christmas time, you could choose any gift from around the tree that  you wanted. Want to work for Mr. Hearst now? Yeah, so do I.

 

Southern California

We have been in Southern California for the past couple of weeks catching up on school work and some projects on the bus.  Just wanted to share a few photos with you.  We toured the Queen Mary, went to a Christian concert to see some of our favorite art artists, went to the Getty Museum and the Getty Villa, had seafood at Neptune’s, stayed on the pacific coast and stopped by the mission in Santa Barbara.

Cousins and Baseball

Baseball games are one thing Marcus and I haven’t been to a lot. We’ve been to a little league game, but about 6 years ago. So when our cousin invited us to spend the day at a Padres (for those who don’t know, Padres is the San Diego team) game, we readily accepted.

On Sunday we woke up and drove the 2 hours to the stadium. We walked around for a while, then met our cousins outside. We squished into the stadium with the crowd, then took our seats. We were in the top of the stadium, so we could see the whole field from our seats.

They started the game without any delay, and we watched. Okay, maybe we didn’t just stare at the field. Mom and her cousin talked about things, and the rest of us chatted. Surprisingly, the stadium wasn’t that full maybe because it was a bit cloudy that day, but it was a perfect temp.

Mom and I posted a selfie and were on the screen, and to me that was one of the highlights of the game.  Our cousins made some awesome rice krispie treats too.

There were only 2 injuries, as one guy ran into the barrier between the stadium and the field. The second guy flipped over the barrier into the seats. Both caught the ball, and were only a little hurt.

The game was over in a few hours, Padres-1 to Colorado Rockies-3. Oh, well.
It was fun to see a baseball game and cousins. Maybe next time the Padres will win!
-Cali

Goodbye Phoenix, Hello Cottonwood

We left Phoenix early on Saturday morning, hoping that all the weekenders had already left the city. It was our first long trip in the bus, the longest before this being an hour. We made it out of valley and arrived in Cottonwood 2 hours later. We pulled into our site, then went to go meet our Uncle and Aunt for lunch. We wandered around Sedona, looking in shops and being tourists, as we don’t normally.

On Sunday we went to hike West Fork of Oak Creek. This hike had been recommend to us by fellow volunteers at Usery. The state park was super-duper busy. We expected it to be busy, but not ten-car-line-to-get-a-parking-spot busy. We saw people walking down the road and asked them if there was another parking lot. No, there wasn’t, but we could park along the road and walk back. We pulled out of line and parked up the road half a mile. We walked back down and paid our entrance fee.

The path started as a side walk, then turned into a dirt path. We first walked through an apple orchard, then along Oak Creek, as the name of the hike suggests. We crossed the creek 13 times on the way there. The state park very much reminded me of Zion and Yellowstone. The hike was around 8 miles, including the walk to the car. We then made our way out of the park. After a 3 mile line out, we made it into Sedona, then drove the hour back to Cotttonwood.

Monday we spent with our Aunt and Uncle. We cooked out and hung out. Isn’t that what most people do on Memorial Day?

Tuesday we visited Montazuma’s Well. Montazuma’s Well is a large limestone sinkhole filled with carbon dioxide rich water. Scientists aren’t sure how deep it is, as no one can swim down to the bottom. The deepest a diver has swam is 55 feet. From then down they can’t go any deeper because of springs that push up clouds of sand. They assume the Well to be 120 feet, but aren’t sure. The only living creatures that inhabit the Well are leaches, because of the large amount of carbon dioxide. Along the rim the Southern Sinagua people built pueblos. It was the perfect location, so near to water. The only down side was that the water has a large content of arsenic, but of course the Natives didn’t know that. The Sinagua lived in the area from 1125-1400. At one time, around 125 people inhabited the pueblos. The Sinagua also created canals to water their crops. The walk was around 3/4 of a mile. Also in the area is Montezuma’s Castle and Tuzigoot, but we saw both on a visit a couple years ago.

Wednesday was spent on school work, then a drive to go to Slide Rock. The threat of impending rain detoured us from doing slide rock, but it was a pretty 2 and a half hour drive. Thursday we were able to do Slide Rock, along with hiking Doe Mountain. Our Aunt and Uncle had done the hike the previous day, and posted pictures on Instagram. Mom thought it looked like a nice and easy hike so we did it. Round trip it was 2 miles and had some amazing views from the top. While we were sweaty and hot we moved on to Slide Rock. The water is melted snow, so it was literally ice cold. Refreshing after our quick hike. As we normally do, we followed the “Ladies first” rule (also know as the “Bravest First”) . I slid down. It was a shock because it was so chilly, but I went down and had fun. Marc was waiting for a report, so I told him how great it was and then went again. Marc and Dad followed shortly. The end tally was:
Cali-19
Marcus-16
Dad-7
Mom-0
That’s right, Mom didn’t go down. She has no idea what she was missing. I do not think she fancied getting bounced around by rocks in ice cold water. Oh, well.

Our two main goals to going to Cottonwood were to see Uncle Bill and Aunt Krysta, and to visit Slide Rock. When we had competed both, it was time to go. This morning, Friday, we took off. Currently it is 4:30. We left at 8:45 this morning. Originally the trip was supposed to take two days. It is 99 degrees inside right now, as we can’t turn on the air conditioning. One more thing Dad needs to fix. We are nearly to our stop outside of San Diego.

Cali

Wow Two Weeks Flew By

Cali wrote this post a couple weeks ago……..

At the moment we are sitting at the airport, waiting for the plane. But, I must finish telling my recounting my story.
In exchange for going on the last sales pitch, we got free tickets for Tulum, Mexico. The tour was smaller this time, only 12 of us in a small van. It was tight, but we were okay. Our first stop was a jewelry factory, then a tequilla shop. We had 45 minutes in the first one, and 30 minutes in the second one. That was way more time than needed, but some things got confused and we left quite late. I slept on the next leg of the trip, wanting to get to Tulum even more. The van pulled up to the curb and we all got off. I was a long walk to the ruins in the buggy, humid, sweaty, weather. It was so incredibly hot, I don’t think I can describe it. We walked around the ruins. The bugs were biting me like crazy. I already had lots on my legs from the ants at the beach. Funny thing is no one else had gotten any previously. Except me, of course. They bit and bit and shortly I was scratching everywhere. Grammy and I sat down in the shade while Marcus and Mum and Dad looked around some more. When they showed up again, they were excited. They had seen a coati and had photos of it eating. Back in town, we went to Subway, because the trip had given us free lunch there. It wasn’t a nice Subway, not even clean, but we were hungry and the place was air-conditioned. We ate then went back to the van. Homeward!!!!!
The next days until this time we hung around the resorts. One day we went paddleboarding, and sailing the next. Yesterday, the last day we spent in Cancun, Mexico, we took the bus up to one of the sister resorts and snorkeled, paddleboarded, and swam in the ocean. We had a buffet breakfast. Our plane is boarding shortly, and we need to gather all our bags. Goodbye, Mexico. But we will be back.
-Cali