Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! Or as my Grandpa would say Happy Dominion Day! He was never big on the new Canadian Maple Leaf flag NOR was he all that thrilled with other eastern Canadian influences which I will not go into here. But let’s just say, he was a proud Canadian and he was a tremendous role model for us whippersnappers when it came to patriotic pride!

For as long as I can remember, our family has had a Canada Day BBQ. It isn’t just for family, often friends of various family members are invited to join in the festivites as well. My Grandparents were often the annual hosts for the events and then we would walk down to watch the fireworks extravaganza down at  the park.

I remember lemonade, ice cream, burgers and hot dogs, potato salad and homemade beans. Often there was a birthday cake and the yard was decorated with Red, White and Blue balloons and streamers. The Blue had nothing to do with our American Neighbors but everything to do with our ties to the UK. The Red Ensign ( Canada’s original flag) held the Union Jack proudly in the upper corner. This is why the blue was present.

Most of us wear Red and White, play baseball or bacci ball. Sit around and tell crazy stories that are too bizarre to be true – yet are. Mostly we laugh. If you know me, you know laughing is my favorite pastime. I learned it from some of the funniest people on the planet, my family. I love my family and Canada Day. It is one of my most favorite holidays.

Today the plan is to laugh, share, play and then walk to the park to hear the musical stylings of Honeymoon Suite then watch the Fireworks. I look forward to this day every year. I invited several friends, but all were skeptical as to how much fun it really is. Trust ME! If I invited you, A> I must really like you and consider you family and B> I hope that you like me enough to be accepted into my family.

I will be tweeting the events today and adding pictures via Plixi. Please share in the fun and join me @EdmontonTourist by following the hash tag #bbqeh! I can’t wait to share the best day of the year with my new friends and family.

Happy Canada Day eh!

The Land of Disney in Paris: Part III – Frontierland

When I was a kid, my brother and I we able to venture around Disneyland alone. Before you say a THING, it was a different time. We were given my mom’s watch and had to check into the Hub and see them every so often. The sense of freedom rocked my world. We would ride coasters endlessly. When we returned as older teens, we would ditch the oldies at night, and head into the park to ride coasters at night. SO FREAKING AWESOME! Our favourite ride was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR) located in Frontierland.

Our early morning adventure in Paris was about to begin and we stood with the crowd waiting for the rope to drop at the entrance of Frontierland. I knew BTMRR was waiting for me. I knew it was vastly different from the other parks, I couldn’t wait to try it out!  As the cast members dropped the rope and allowed us to enter the land, I was taking in the detail of the the place. I had been to Walt Disney World in August when the Halloween Decorations went up. I found that to be fun and exciting. Nothing had prepared me for the amount of thematic  decorations placed all over Disneyland Paris. There were pumpkin people every where, I must admit, I loved the attention to detail! I was caught up in looking at all the amazing little things before I realized I was at Phantom Manor. It’s equivalent is Haunted Mansion in the sister parks in the states. Phantom Manor sat on the hill over looking Frontierland. It had an air about it not unlike the home next to the Bates Motel. It LOOKED spooky and creepy.

The queue was particularly well themed with nifty little details that rocked my world. My family was walking fast up the hill while I was quickly snapping photos along the way. We were in a time crunch and wanted to see everything, but how I WISH I could have lingered just a bit longer to take in the surroundings!  As we entered the Manor, the spiel was given to us about not getting out alive, just like the other parks. Only it was in two languages, quite comfortable really for Canadians who are use to everything being duel languages, it felt oddly home like.  Away we were whisked to the Doom Buggies and on our first Disneyland Paris Adventure! The ride did not disappoint! The order was different from the American Parks but the story was very similar, Madame Leota’s voice was french and didn’t not sound even remotely the same, but I loved it just the same.

After the ride we wandered down the path to the cemetery to take in the hilarity of the tombstones. A very western theme was present. It gave the impression that America is all about the wild west. The views from the cemetery were really spectacular, showing off the sights and sounds of the Mark Twain. We took a bit of time to soak it all in, when we should have been hightailing it to BTMRR!! It was a Saturday with the first sunshine Paris had seen in a while, the park was getting busy! So we made our way to BTMRR and looked at the stand-by time, 10 minutes! YAY! That is barely a wait at all. My general rule of thumb is if it is longer than 20 minutes stand-by then get a fastpass! So away we went! Within moments we realized the Stand-by LIED! It LIED to my face! We ended up waiting about 30 minutes, not cool Stand-by!  Did it really matter? it did a little, it took away from other rides in the afternoon. But in the big picture, BTMRR was super fun! It was mor intense than it’s sister coasters. Traveling under the water to get to the island was a fun experience. Didi I like the ride itself? You Betcha! It did disappoint me to see all the garbage in the queue and the way people would just toss stuff on the props as if it was a landfill. Use the Garbage People! Disney provides one every 20 feet for your OWN personal use! Take advantage of it please!!!

 

Next Stop, Adventureland!

The Land of Disney in Paris: Part II – Main Street

Here I was, Disneyland Paris. Park #3 on my bucket list.

Walking up to the hotel was very exciting. The Entrance to Disneyland in Paris looks nothing like it’s sister parks in the United States. The big reveal takes a while. Through the ticket booth, up to the turnstile and across an open walkway and finally you are at the tunnel. The Tunnel is in the sister parks too. The train travels over head. In the other parks I went to there is only two choices, left tunnel or right tunnel with a sign over hear that reads : Here you leave today and enter a world of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy. I looked for a similar sign and could find it. It must have one. That was the first thing I noticed was different, that and THREE tunnels to choose from.When we travel to the parks, we take turns deciding which tunnel to go through. I prefer entering the park on the right and leaving on the left. Here in Paris, we threw caution to the wind and went in the center tunnel! Crazy and shocking, I know! Thrilling none the same.

My fist glimpse of Main Street, There was a gazebo where the American Flag stands in the States. I understand why the flag was not there. The Gazebo was charming all dolled up for Halloween. I looked for the Fire Hall… To my extreme disappointment, there was a store in it’s place. There was no apartment overhead, no light in the window, no sign of Walt Disney. Maybe that is why the spark was not the same. I sent the muppets off to get photos with Characters before the rope drop (park opening), while I went to City Hall to make dinner reservations. By the time I found them, they were disheveled and flustered because here in Paris, guests do not queue up for pictures and autographs. They channel their inner hockey players, hoist their elbows up and force their way to the front. For a couple of Canadian muppets, this concept felt rude and unappealing. No autographs this trip. Secretly I was relieved, this meant more time for rides and details! YAY! Score one for the mom!

As we walked closer towards Main Street, I noticed the Castle drawing me in. She was beautiful and more spectacular than the other two castles I have loved before. It was hard for me to pull my eyes away and discover the details that surrounded me on Main Street. Windows on Main Street traditionally are painted with names of Disney builders, and imagineers, these windows did not disappoint. Except they are sparse in comparison. The street is wide and gives you that “walking down the red carpet” feeling Walt had wanted for the other two parks. By this time I was so excited to get to the castle I could barely contain myself! I wanted to see the Partners Statue and compare it to the others. We passed Casey’s Corner, and Gibson Girls Ice Cream Parlor, saw a shop that gave a nod to Lilly Disney – that thrilled me. All I could think was, I am walking right down Main Street in Paris with my family, Luck me!

Off we went to find the rope and join the masses for rope drop. We reached the “hub” and noticed no Partners Statue! WHAT THE…? It was later when I discovered it was at the Studios, a separate park – WRONG WRONG WRONG! But WHATEVER, it’s not my park, I understand you can put it wherever you like Michael Eisner, maybe that is why you don’t work there any more….poor decisions. The Castle up close and personal, amazed me with the scope and grandeur. I fell in love with my 3rd Castle. Although I think she is my favorite.

We had time to listen to the Main Street Loop music that is piped in. It really adds to the magical feeling in the park. Listening and singing while we waited in Frontierland for the rope to drop and our brand new Disney Adventure to begin!

 

 

The Mom Who Drank Wine on the Champs Elysees

Ever since I saw Charade (1963) with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, I wanted to sit on the Champs Elysees, drink wine in a quaint cafe and watch the world go by. In my mind it happened like that. In my mind I was dressed Hepburn-esq, in Givenchy head to toe, because that is all she ever wore since Givenchy designed her wardrobe for Sabrina in 1954. She always looked stunning. In my mind, so did I.

In reality I was chillaxing with the muppets at a pizza joint on the Champs Elysees. I hear you…ED, seriously? A PIZZA JOINT? French food is so freaking amazing and you eat pizza on the Champs Elysees. How disappointing! Agreed. It was disappointing if you look at it from that point of view. Let me explain…

As you know, our day started at Notre Dame, continued to the Louvre, then moved up the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was one of those “WOW” moments where you think about what you are seeing. It was the entrance to the worlds fair. Pablo Picasso looked out his window and could see it every day, the Nazi’s climbed to the top to fly their colours in a horrifying manner. The Eiffel Tower is an architectural marvel. It changed the way people built tall structures and bridges. It has stood in the same spot  since 1889. The iron lace work is beautiful. But it wasn’t the Champs Elysees.

We had seen more Paris tourist spots in one day then some people see in a week. By the time we walked halfway up the Champs Elysees, my feet were cranky. My shoulders were starting to get snarky with my neck and when my offspring are hungry they get crabby.  We were desperate for food. If anyone ever had muppets, you know how fussy they are when it comes to food.

Me: Look over there, a crepery!

Muppets: Ewww grosss!

Me:Look over there, a bistro!

Muppets: What’s Duck Comfit?

Me: Duck liver in fat.

Muppets: EEEEEWWWW GROSS!

Me: Look over there, a cute cafe!

Muppets: What’s Escargo?

Me: Snails in garlic butter.

Muppets: EEEEWWWWWW GROOOOOSSSS MOM NO WAY! Look its Pizza! I’m in!

Mom: eeww gross, FINE but I am drinking wine.

So, there is me drinking a glass of wine in an open air cafe/pizza joint, on the Champs Elysees, watching the world go by, imagining I am wearing Givenchy, pretending I had bags from all the shops we passed along the way Gucci, Prada, Channel,and Hermes.

After dinner, the muppets were satisfied and I got to walk father up the Champs Elysees and pass by Cartier. Everyone else was checking out The Arc de Triomphe and trying to figure out how the people crossed over to get to the top of the arch. There was me checking out Cartier and imagining I just bought myself a Laniers bracelet,  covered in diamonds. ($12600 if you must know).

Did I get to experience everything I had hoped I could? No, but I had the perfect back drop to my secret fantasy and I loved every minute. I am thrilled I was able to take the Muppets to the Champs Elysees!

And I drank wine…

 

 

 

 

 

One More Notch on my Bucket

I have seen 3 Eiffel Towers in my lifetime. Only one was the original structure.  The other two were the Eiffel Tower, France, EPCOT and the poor reproduction in Las Vegas. The original tower remains one of my most favorite visuals in all of Paris. The single day my family of Muppet’s spent in Paris was exhausting but amazing. We shared a Hop / Hop Off Boat pass with the other half of the Muppet Cast. This saved my life. Paris, for those of you not in the loop, is one huge sprawling city! We limited our adventures to a small section of the city but it still was quite the walk!

We floated down the Seine and the sight of the Eiffel Tower came into a larger frame of view. I took about 40 more pictures. I have no idea what came over me! I would stand in the same spot and take picture after picture of the same thing. Thoughts running through my mind were things like….Picasso, Degas, Matisse, Cezanne saw this too, this survived two world wars, why is it an ugly colour, and there are no skyscrapers in Paris! So I continued to snap away, luckily it is the age of digital and I didn’t go through a dozen rolls of film.

As we approached the boat launch for the Eiffel Tower, I could see Lady Liberty down stream in the distance. That vision coming into view took me back to when I was a child and my brother spotted her for the first time. I then thought to myself, I have seen the Statue of Liberty twice and have not been to Ellis Island once.  I MUST get there, it is becoming a like a magnet for me now. But I digress….

Earlier that week we received email from the Canadian Government. No I am not on Stephen Harper’s Christmas Card List, but we did register with the Government before leaving the country. It was one of those, “just in Case” moments because you never know what may happen. Well apparently there was a terrorist threat for Paris. I know, I know, there is ALWAYS a threat somewhere. If you let fear and common sense hold you back then you never get to see a THING!  The grounds of the Eiffel Tower were crawling with armed military guards and crazy hawkers trying to sell trinkets before the police arrest them. We climbed half of the steps to ground level when I stopped to admire the work of an artist on the steps. He approached me asking if I was American – Nope – Ahhhh Canadian…French? Nope, just a prairie girl with cereal box and hockey french. I laughed at my private joke and he looked at me quizzically. I explained to my son that this man was an artist and you would think I gave him the crown jewels. I purchased an acrylic on canvas of a french cafe and my son purchased an oil on canvas of the Eiffel tower. One of the greatest purchases I have ever made. I love to buy art of the different countries I visit. This was one country where I had planned to purchase art. I love it as much as I loved any of the Master’s work that I saw in The Louvre just hours previous. I am not sure why, but owning art from France is more meaningful to me then the other pieces I have collected. The Artist wrapped up my canvas and off we trudged up the rest of the stairs.

The amount of people who filled that area was once again, beyond any scope that I could previously envision. I know I must sound like a broken record, but THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE IN ONE SPACE IS MIND ALTERING! My Muppets were dawn towards the tower like a magnet. I was so important for Genetic offspring to stand beneath the tower in the center. So we did. I thought going to the top was important to me. The line up to reach the top had to exceed a two-hour wait. Apparently it wasn’t that important to me. Funny how just the day before it was a bucket list moment. Even now, I do not regret keeping my feet firmly planted on the ground.

On advice from my Mom and my Sister, we crossed the bridge towards the Trocadero for “THE BEST VIEW IN PARIS” of the Eiffel tower. They were not wrong. It was a great view. It led us to New York Street and a carousel, and more hawkers selling crazy cheap trinkets. We sat for a moment beside the carousel just looking at the Eiffel Tower. It seamed surreal that I should be sitting there looking at this monument.

Now THAT was a bucket list moment.

The Face Painter

I read a blog this morning that reminded me of this story. Thank you Bokkie!

I was a Face Painter – when I say Face Painter I don’t mean Puddy from Seinfeld I mean I was really a FACE PAINTER. I say WAS because I don’t want Santa to call me and ask if I am interested in getting back into it. Dear Santa, NO THANK YOU! I know this does not make any sense to any of you but Santa, so I shall explain…

I grew up in one of those very lucky families where the mom worked magic and made Christmas sparkly and special. Every year, just before Christmas, our family would march around the city looking at lights, participating in special Christmas activities. We always saw the Teddy Bears at the Museum, looked at the Christmas windows at the Bay downtown, saw the Creche at City Hall. We would drive around the city at night singing Christmas Carols and looking at lights.

The best was the annual Christmas party. All of our family and friends would come to visit, laugh, sing and Santa came every year. I knew it was always my Grandpa, my sister did not. She was a Believer. It wasn’t as if I never believed, I did, but as I became older those beliefs change and morph into something else. The age gap between my sister and I is LARGE. I loved to help keep the illusion up for her. I knew who Santa was, but I sat on his knee anyway telling him how good I was that year, and he would reach into his sack and pull out a gift with my name on it. To: Edmonton Tourist Love: Santa. Written in my mom’s perfect script.

As we got older, cousins and friends moved away, the parties stopped. I missed them.

When the offspring muppets came along, and we moved into our new home, I decided I wanted to reestablish the Christmas Party Tradition. I walked around my block, knocked on doors of neighbors I did not know very well, and handed them an invitation. I invited people I did not know very well from the muppets school, and I extended the invitation to my family. It was a Family party, so there was food, special responsible drink, and Santa.

I asked each parent to bring a wrapped gift with their child’s name on it, about a $5 value, and leave it in a box hidden on the front porch. At 8:00, we heard Jingle Bells, Stomping on the porch and then the great loud “HO HO HO”! The children were enchanted! The older children were trying to puzzle out who Santa was. You could see them search the room, count the dads, look back at Santa with a quizzical look on their faces. They would never guess. I knew the REAL Santa because I was a Face Painter.

I use to Face Paint. Not the full face clown make-up. I specialized in cheek art. I drew unicorns, spiderman, puppies, you name it – I would draw it on your cheek. I had a booking agent who would slot me in great corporate venues, one for the highlight reel was The Edmonton Oilers Christmas Party. My booking agent also was an entertainer. He made/makes amazing balloon animals and hats. The big secret was, he was Santa Claus.

I would go to Christmas gigs, work for 2-4 hours, make obscene money, and come home. My children always asked who I saw. Every time I would say, Santa. He dressed liked the Coca Cola Santa, complete with the red coat to go OVER the red suit. Perfect! I would get phone calls from him to book my time, and my kids always ask who was on the phone, “Santa” I would reply. I would make arrangements for Santa to come to our home. He would always negotiate a plate of food and tin of homemade cookies. The food would be left in the box on the porch.

Santa would come and go every year. The same Santa, we have pictures to prove it. As the muppets grew older, they became more skeptical. One year we were at the Telus World of Science taking in the Christmas Lego exhibit when Chatterbox saw Santa. She knew there were fake Santas out there, but she maintained – just like my sister did years before – that SHE knew the REAL Santa. We walked up to Santa, and Santa KNEW my name. If there was a prouder moment in her life up until then, I was unaware of it. Let the bragging begin! Chatterbox’s mom KNEW the REAL Santa, so take THAT your stupid non believers. She had proof. Santa looked at my children, and thanked them for the art work they had made the previous year. It hung on his fridge and he described it back to them as proof. I had believers for a few more years because of that encounter. Thank you Santa.

Every now and then I get a phone call from Santa just to see how I am doing. When I hang up my kids say “who was on the phone?” I still answer “Santa”.

Shhhh be wery wery qwiet, it’s Secwet Santa time!

Roll on Christmas Break! I submitted my last assignment and can now kick back a relax. Say it with me, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. What a relief! So that gives me 12 days to bake, shop, wrap and party Christmas style. I baked a bit yesterday and brought some into work to share with my team. It has been a very long time since I was stress free enough to think about baking and actually enjoy it!

I brought in shortbread, placed it on the table and invited the team  to indulge. A gal at work picks up a cookie and says very wide eyed “but they aren’t burnt!” Um no, I wouldn’t have shared those ones.

12 days until Christmas. I need to mark in a way that it will be memorable! I could buy geese a laying or Lords a Leaping, but how do you pack those away after Christmas? Storage has become a big issue for me.

I think I will try to make an effort to participate in “something” Christmasy every day until Christmas Eve, but I need help to come up with something everyday!

1. Bring in Shortbread to share

2. Go to an Oilers Hockey Game ( It’s Christmasy, Seasons Greeting is written on the ice!)

Okay, that’s two things on my list. CLEARLY I need a nap. I need to refresh or reboot or something.

Or maybe I will participate in Random Acts of Christmas. I think I might end up being a secret Santa. I could pick on someone unsuspecting, someone who doesn’t read this blog (I know what you are thinking, who doesn’t read this blog? Thanks for the ego boost!) I will have to do it in a way they won’t suspect me. I may need to be a secret Santa to myself so they won’t be too suspicious. I can do it, I am sneaky enough – right mom?

Years ago I participated in a Secret Santa event at my first real job. Real because it was in my chosen profession. Now THAT was a fun Christmas! I pick a name of a gal I didn’t know. She was new to the place. The plan was to give a gift or special treat every day without her suspecting it was from me. I tried to be incredibly creative! I bought pencils with her name on it, I made treats and wrapped them in unusual boxes, I gave her a pez, some chocolate, a hot wheel of her dream car, I made her a tape with great and unusual Christmas songs, and I hid these items all over the office. She had to read clues to figure out where these things were. I stuffed notes in balloons and attached a thumb tack on a string. I wrote messages in mirror image. This was WAY more fun for me I’m sure, then it was for her. She told me it went a long way to making her feel welcome at this new place. Thinking about her gave me an idea.

As you all know I embarked on a new adventure this fall. Not only did I go back to University, but I accepted the challenge of working with a new team. For those who know me and those who don’t, I can be a little lot bossy. I am working with new team members who don’t read this blog. I hope to ease them in and show them I can be kind too – not just bossy! So I am going to confess right now to being the Secret Santa. (Trophi Girl and Chicken Hawk YOU MUST KEEP QUIET! No spilling the secret and there may be a little something in it for you if your good!)

I have it all planned out! I went to Dollarama and purchase stupid stuff and tiny gift bags. I am making tags with their names on it and hiding one everyday in a place where I know they will look at some point. I am so excited about doing this I needed to share so I wouldn’t burst! Of course I will receive a gift every day too, so no one will suspect me either. Hee Hee Hee I CAN’T WAIT!

We Aren’t Lost! We Just Don’t Know Where We Are Going!

Today was one of those days where “out to lunch” had several meanings. We eventually went out to lunch for a well deserved break. My colleague drove with me on the way to the restaurant. She mentioned to me that traveling outside of Canada had never happened for her, but it was something she was eager to do. That got me thinking about how fortunate I really am. I have been all over the world, seen amazing things and had unbelievable experiences. One of those experiences was looking for a campsite in Europe with our trusty GPS Phoebe. This was one of those times where “Wild Goose Chase” would have been more productive than the tour she took the Muppets on.

We had left the Black Forest and planned to stay one more night in Germany exploring the area around the French Border. Phoebe, in her Infinite limited wisdom, led us to a campsite that had just closed for the season. Fair enough, we were travelling during “off-season” but this was the first time we had encountered a closed campsite. We punched in new coordinates and off we went again in search of a camp spot for the evening. She led us down a country road, that turned into a village, that turned into a town, that stopped in someones driveway. Clearly this was not a campsite. Okay Muppets, fear not! We shall just try again! Entered in new coordinates and off we went again! Around the corner, up the hill, past a sports field and into…a closed for the season campsite! Swell. Again, we repeated new coordinates, and we were off! This time we just kept driving until the road stopped. Just like Phoebe told us too. No road left, just a ferry. A Ferry?!?! Knowing if we crossed the river we would be out of Germany. We had no choice, the Muppets were getting hungry, it was getting late, we needed to find a place for the night. None of us were too keen on parking on the side of the road for the night, we were willing to do it if we had too but, out first choice was a camp spot. Onward we traveled. Drove onto the Ferry deck, stayed inside and across the river we sailed.

Before we knew it, we were in France. The architecture was still very similar to Germany, but now the signs were new. Being Canadian, we are exposed more frequently to French then German, not that our merry band of Muppets could understand it any better, it did look familiar. Phoebe seemed to know where she was taking us, so we let her lead. Up another road she took us. There it was. ANOTHER CLOSED CAMP SITE! That was the last straw. My mother, hopped out of the front seat, grabbed a PAPER map and started looking. Then she realized where she was.

A month earlier, the two Lead Muppets and Mrs. Statler had arrived in Frankfurt, Germany. They drove to Obernai France and camped for the night. Mom knew where she was and saved the day! She led us to the very same camp spot they stayed earlier in the trip. Best news of all, it was OPEN!

Dinner time! We had FINALLY eaten the last of the Schnitzel for lunch and decided we needed a change. Franks and beans it was. just so you know, my mother is one of the best cooks you would ever have the good fortune to meet. Franks and beans is NOT her usual fair, but it was dark, Muppets were hungry and we were thrilled it wasn’t Schnitzel. Over dinner the Lead Muppets shared stories of their last visit to Obernai, claiming the younger Muppets would love the charm just as much as the previous villages we had visited. We then discovered, the next day was market day in Obernai! We had yet to visit a market. Everyone settled down for sleep that night, tingling with anticipation of visiting the market. The Caravan was buzzing with excitement. Come to think of it, the excitement may have been due to the fact it was the last night in the Caravan for the Muppets. The following night would be spent in a hotel, in a bed that was the correct length for Honey and myself, AND there would be a shower in our room and not down the block to be shared with 100’s of fellow campers! Either was, we were excited about what the next day would bring. We were not disappointed!

We found parking and walked through yet more donkey cart sized streets. The vendors were just setting up for the day. We had expected a dozen or so stalls filled with farm grown food. That was indeed there. But there was everything you could possible imagine! Mushrooms to Mattresses, Vegetables to Violets, Brand name clothes to Beniets, anything you could think of, it was available! There wasn’t just one street filled with market stalls, there were several streets, people filled the square and lined the street looking at things to purchase. The Church bells sounded to signal the start of the market and people filled the streets.

Once again we had stumbled upon the most amazing adventure. Purely by accident. Thanks for not being so helpful Phoebe, and thanks for being in complete control mom!

A Plumbing Museum? I Can’t Wait!

I am willing to bet the majority of you have no idea there is a plumbing museum in Germany. I KNOW! I can just hear your excitement building as you realize this may be the topic of this blog entry. Fear not, the only one who is faintly disappointed is Honey.

We left the Camping Platz with the knowledge that Chatterbox must have a cuckcoo clock before we left the Black Forest. That was the mission of the day, the Muppets were all on high alert in search of a cuckcoo clock shop. It was very important for several reason, 1> she would not stop talking about how important it was to her 2> did I mention we wanted to stop hearing about how important it was to her?

The first stop of the day was early morning around 9:00 AM. We entered into a little village called Schiltach. Charming little place that was filled with steep hills and gingerbread type cottages. We would find our way through the cobblestone streets to discover tour bus and caravan parking was a gazillion miles away from the village square. Fair enough, out we would go for a walk. The charm of the place was adorable. We came to the village water well, where we imagined women fetching water to bring home. Behind the well was an outdoor cafe! We all desired a beverage on the crisp morning. Pots of chocolate for everyone, except two elder Muppets, their beverage of choice was coffee. There was something so quaint and very European about sipping our hot beverages at a table that stood in the middle of a cobblestone square.

This was when I heard Honey exclaim, “LOOK AT THAT SIGN!”

Huh, it was a blue tourist sign that read “Hansgrohe”. What was the big deal about Hansgrohe? For those of you that don’t know, my Honey works in the plumbing industry – no he isn’t a plumber but is handy with a leaky faucet. Apparently we were at the Head Quarters for the amazing shower-head company. Not that I knew how amazing these shower heads were, because you know the old adage “the cobbler’s wife has no shoes”. Yes, that is me with not a fancy shower-head in the house. Best part of all? THERE WAS A MUSEUM! Off ran Honey and Genetic Offspring to the museum, they would meet up with us later. The rest of the Muppet Crew decided to pass on that particular adventure. To his incredible disappointment, the place was close. Awwwww. He did thrill us with tales of the size and scope of the place, then he talked about other fascinating bits but my mind wandered off at this point. I did try to listen, I really did, but I just don’t understand the inner workings of hardware. Sorry Honey.

Time to move on! We had other places to see. Yes we were still in search of a cuckcoo clock shop for Chatterbox. Next stop Vogsbauerhof the Black Forest Open Air Museum. We had no idea what an open air museum was. Fresh air was a special thing here? No, lots of it was around. Curiosity go the better of us so away we went. We saw a VW Beetle with big red balls on top. We weren’t sure what those were, I suspect cherries but if any of you know, please tell me! We found the place to be very similar to Fort Edmonton or other outdoor museums we had visited back home in Canada. It struck me that farming and pioneering efforts in the past 500 years hadn’t changed much. Not much to see here people, keep moving!

Then it happened. The Cuckcoo Clock Shop was spotted! Slamming of the brakes followed by the Muppets running across the street leaving the driver in a cloud of dust. We had found the very place that Chatterbox had desired. Honey, of course made friends with the owner Adolf Herr and invited him to visit us. Genetic Offspring was looking to buy beer-steins for all his friends but settled on hats. Honey bought a blown-glass Christmas Ornament in the very place that is famous for them. The rest of us thought we would save our cash for Paris. My mom informed me this was the very place we had been to years before when I was 10. The very shop where I had purchased my own Cockcoo Clock that had proceeded to annoy me for years to come.

Now Chatterbox owns one that annoys us all.

When we got home, I was presented with a Hansgrohe Shower-Head, and it is awesome.