With the Canada trip pending, the first two days of the week flew by. Monday was relatively normal but Tuesday was a train wreck. Most of the cubies in my office were being reconfigured (not mine) so there were workers dismantling the office all around me, which was noisy and disruptive. Add that the designer had completely screwed up the order so there were missing parts – like a wall so not a minor thing – plus everything she did order was the wrong color. The day was a nightmare with trying to make the parts we had work. Adding to the mayhem was the fact that our carpets were being shampooed that night so we had to have everything up off the floor before we left. Needless to say, I didn’t get much done on my last day. I was happy to leave at 5:00 and head home to repack. The weather forecast had changed so I’d be adding short sleeved options to my suitcase. What a day!
Andrea picked me up at 8:00 on Tuesday and we were off. It was pouring rain and we drove for 3 hours before it let up. We had a list of every yarn shop between Des Moines and the Canadian border but hadn’t stopped at any until mid-afternoon, when we saw a billboard for a quilt/yarn shop that was on the list so we got off in Princeton, Illinois. After driving 5 miles south of I-80, we found the shop but they didn’t sell yarn anymore. When we asked why they had a billboard advertising yarn, they said they hadn’t paid for that in months but it hadn’t been papered over. I told them they should remove their listing as a yarn shop on Ravelry and they were clueless on that front too. Sheesh! We did find a cute craft gallery across the street to redeem our stop but we’d wasted a lot of time.
Then we hit traffic near Chicago despite not getting there until 6:00. Between construction and rush hour, it was a mess and we missed an exit so had to take a different route to my sister’s. I had forgotten that it was Yom Kippur and they were waiting for us to get there to eat so I felt pretty crappy about the delay. It was good to be there and see their new house, which is gorgeous. I slept great and we got to hang with Dottie a bit in the morning before leaving. We had another long day of driving ahead of us.
I should mention that despite my offer to share the driving, Andrea drove the whole way both days so I got to knit in the passenger seat. Nice. We made great time getting across Michigan but once we crossed the border, we were on a two lane shore road and had hundreds of miles to go. We had thought we’d arrive at 5:00 but when we were hours away and it was only 3:45, we stopped at a Tim Horton’s for a snack since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast except for some car nibbles. I needed to call to say we wouldn’t be there for dinner but our phones wouldn’t work so I approached total strangers begging for a phone to make the call. The first 2 people didn’t have phones but the 3rd did ad let me call. Once they knew not to wait, the heat was off. We kept going but stopped at a Goodwill when we needed a break. We grabbed some dinner to go in Port Elgin and ate in the car on the way to the B&B. We arrived at 6:58 and the meet and greet was at 7:00. It was great to see Sue, Eileen and Gail and fun to meet everyone but the shower was calling my name so I ducked upstairs for a shower then went back downstairs. Gail and I were the last 2 up, chatting and knitting until almost midnight. Once I went to bed, I slept like a rock. It was great to be there.
After a delicious breakfast at the B&B, it was time for an all day class on designing a cable pillow. I chose gorgeous yarn and a beautiful pattern and happily knitted away the morning. We walked up to the art school for lunch then back to the B&B for more cabling. When Andrea came down at the end of her class, we decided to head to Port Elgin for some shopping. First stop was Canadian Tire, which is way more than a tire store. I’d seen reference to it many times on Ravelry so had to see it for myself. It should not have surprised me that the very first aisle was all hockey sticks. No one had a camera but I found this image on the web. Gotta love Canadians!
We did the aisles and I found all kinds of practical treasures, including 3 different LemiShine products, which were dirt cheap even without the great exchange rate (75 cents Canadian to $1 American.) Then we hit the Salvation Army, where we arrived 10 minutes before closing so just had time to run in and grab some canning jars. We all laughed at the harsh recording with dire warnings if we didn’t get to the register immediately follow by a “God bless you.” Then it was time to drive back to Southampton for dinner at a restaurant with the group after which we all drove back to Port Elgin (these towns are about 5 miles apart) for dessert and shopping at Sue’s shop. Needless to say, I bought yarn. Lots and lots of yarn, including more of the 80/20 Shelridge that Sue had held for me/ Like last year, I was rummaging through totes but this time in the basement instead of the back room. All good.
Saturday was another full day of classes – entralac knitting in the morning and mosaic knitting in the afternoon. Both of these were new to me and on my list of things to learn. We had lunch at the art school, which featured my fave butter tarts, which had been curiously missing on Friday. Both classes were fun and I got some shopping in at the local art gallery to add to my overflowing stocking stuffer drawer. (I have enough to fill 2 or 3 years of stockings. Really.) After a catered dinner at the art school, we all went down to the shore to watch the sunset. Someone had said Southampton had one of the 5 best sunsets on the planet so we had to see. There were no clouds so it was not spectacular but it was wonderful to see nonetheless, surrounded by friends and the beauty of nature. Sappy but true. I even went wading in Lake Huron! Then we ended the night with knit and natter in the common room at the B and B. Have I mentioned how much I love these people? Janice and Shelley had come just for Saturday so just added to my fun Canadian friends and Andrea was thrilled to see them again having not seen them in years. It was another wonderful day.
Sunday was our last day. We all slept in a bit and had a wonderful brunch at the B&B. From there we all headed to Sue’s store but Andrea and I stopped on the way at the market, where they were holding a tray of butter tarts I’d ordered for my sister, and then Bulk Barn. I stocked up on all kinds of goodies, including treats for the way home in the car to add to the leftover butter tarts Sue had wrapped up for me. Eileen had already brought me lemon chips since they hadn’t had them in Montreal’s Bulk Barn when I was there this summer so I’d been concerned Port Elgin’s store wouldn’t have them either. They did. Everyone was at the store paying up their tabs and yes, buying more yarn. We left Port Elgin just after noon for the ride to Dottie’s. At least this time we’d be doing the long shore road bit at the start of the drive.
Since Dottie knew we wouldn’t be there for dinner, we took our time, stopping quite a few times along the shore road. We went to a market for President’s Choice white cheddar mac & cheese (so much better then Kraft) and maple syrup for gifts then hit the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) for beer for Andrea. We hit the Goodwill we’d stopped at on the way there but the trifle bowls Andrea wanted were gone. We made a final stop at a store Shelley recommended for muffins, where I spent the last of my Canadian cash. I had exactly $3.50, which would have paid the toll on the final bridge into the states but alas, I’d spent it on muffins so paid in American, which cost more. Had I only known. The border crossing was uneventful and we were back on home turf. Since we’d done so much stopping in Canada, we made a beeline across Michigan and got to Dottie’s ~8:00. We were both tired so didn’t stay up too long. We had another long day of driving to look forward to so opted for an early night. Just one more day and it would be back to reality.
Like last year, the retreat was everything I love – friends, knitting, yarn, good food, gorgeous location. I don’t’ think there’s anything that makes me happier than knitting travel with friends. We are going to make plans for a Scotland trip in fall of 2016 but I’m hoping we get together before then. Somewhere. Somehow. Until then I’ll count myself lucky that I have such a great local knitting group. We wouldn’t be getting home in time to join them at the library Monday night but I know they’ll be there next week. Gotta love my knitting friends, both near and far. Love you all!