Friday, September 26, 2014

Coffee and Scones in Canada to the Sierras


Autumn Scones 
from Montreal to LakeTahoe

By Cal Orey

It’s the first week of fall and change is in the morning air around the South Shore at Lake Tahoe. Recently, I returned from a trip to Canada.  Ten degree mornings and pumpkins lined up in front of shops on cobbled streets greeted me as I walked up and down the streets in Quebec City.  I admit a horse and carriage took me for the longer walk.  It was all a sign that autumn--my favorite season at Lake Tahoe--was waiting for me as well as cooking and baking fall foods, especially breakfast fare. 
A carafe of coffee each a.m. via room service to afternoon
lattes boosted my mood and energy and zapped jet lag

On the way home I didn’t have time to savor a Mediterranean breakfast in bed due to an early morning flight.  After an easy go of it through U.S. Customs in MontrĂ©al–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Canada (unlike the 1:00 A.M. sobering interrogation via Immigration coming into Quebec) I made a stop at a coffee shop for a continental breakfast—popular in Europe--which often includes coffee and a croissant.


Going home to Calif.  U.S. Customs was quick


WELCOME TO CANADA - "Got Pot?"
This time around, when coming into the province brimming over with French Canadians at 1:00 A.M. EST, I was stereotyped as a West Coast hungry hippie chick. Clad in skinny jeans with holes (thanks to Victoria's Secret), a vintage gray tee-shirt, combat boots, and minimal make-up, I suppose I looked like a NorCal independent Tom boy as I did back when I was 21 in Quebec... 
Welcomed by a feminine looking redheaded young, cold Canadian Customs Officer with a  strong masculine edge, she darted and repeated her first words, "Do you have any marijuana?"  I did not. No smiles for her nor me. Sleep deprived I submitted to the grueling grilling which took over an hour with absurd questions, including "Are you here for our healthcare?" to "Do you have any friends or family here?"  The last punch hit hard. I noted I am an author whom writes about food with an underlying European theme. The woman mumbled, "There isn't Mediterranean cuisine here!"  But even the hotel I was booked at flaunted in their online description "Highlighting French and Mediterranean flavors, Restaurant Samuel de Champlain offers savory Continental Cuisine."  
I was craving my reserved city view room not a
Canadian Customs interrogation
During the ordeal, I sat down cross-legged on the floor, too tired to toss sarcastic rebuttals. The bullying interrogator scrutinized my itineraries and seemed dumbfounded that my booked train ride to Quebec City didn't include the time--just the day--of returning. Then, she called the hotel --the one with my reserved city view room with decor and food of France and Italy that the gracious French Canadian manager was holding for me. I yearned to plop onto the bed, look out the window and fall asleep after being up since 1:30 A.M. PST... Eventually, the immigration agent settled down. Ironically the probing was no different decades ago for me except it was male agents doing the poking. I had my loyal Lhaso apso with me. I was penniless with no I.D., passport, hotel room or itineraries. Older and wiser, this time I had my papers (and dogs kenneled) in a row but was still barked at... Wondering if they will smile (a bit) if I pack my bags, bring my two dogs, one cat, fish and come back: The Goal: Apply for Canadian citizenship? 
At the airport en route back to my Golden State, I ordered a coffee latte (I enjoyed a lot of these during my adventure) and a large and lovely looking cinnamon scone—a cake-like semi-sweet quick bread (glazed or plain served with butter). The caffeine fix could do no wrong but the pastry was not my cup of tea.  It was sweet enough and big enough but the texture was too hard. It was in one of those big glass jars. The cafe owner told me it was fresh and yummy. I, the California fussy scone girl, thought, “Ah, but she hasn’t tasted my sweet scones.”  I vowed to whip up a fresh batch of homemade pumpkin scones when I returned home to my cozy cabin.
My warm Calif. scones would make Canadians smile


PUMPKIN SPICE  SCONES

2 3/4 cups 100 percent all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup white or organic brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1⁄2 teaspoons cinnamon (extra for sprinkling on frosting)
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1⁄4 cup European style butter (cold cubes)
1 brown egg
1⁄3 cup raw honey
1⁄2 cup 2 percent half and half milk (extra for brushing on top of pre-baked scones)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Raw sugar (for topping on scones)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and spice. Add chunks of butter, sliced in small squares. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, pumpkin, honey, and vanilla. Combine wet ingredients with dry. Stir until a dough-like mixture forms.  On a floured cutting board, form dough into two circles. Brush with milk and raw sugar. Place in freezer for about 15 minutes to firm.  Take out and cut circles (like a pie) into 8 large triangles or 12 smaller ones. Place onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes till firm and golden brown on edges and bottoms of scones.

Frosting: Mix approximately 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 1 teaspoon melted butter, 3 to 4 tablespoons  milk, 1 capful vanilla extract, and 1 capful almond or maple extract. Swirl a spoonful of glaze-like frosting on scones when warm. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Serves 8-12 scones.


On Wednesday morning my kitchen smelled like a bakery after I baked my first batch of scones for the season. The scent of pumpkin and warm spices filled the air. My first bite of the scone was crisp on the edges and chewy. The raw sugar gives these edible treasures a crunch. The nut flavored glaze is full of deliciousness. Pair with hot coffee latte and you’ll soar into breakfast heaven. The warm scones welcomed me to a new season with promise of colorful hues, fun activities, and cooler climate around the lake. It’s good to be home. Coffee and scone, anyone?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Author Anticipating Road Trip--Edgy and Excited

By Cal Orey

Yes, I'll be passing out the new
cover of my olive oil book while
en route
So, the time is nearing for me to relive the past. Funny, I took my blood pressure this a.m. 122/70 but I'm still feeling anxious. Going out of a comfort zone, leaving my fur kids, and returning to a foreign place is spooky like Dorothy going to Oz without Toto. I wish I could take my Brittany or Aussie or calming kitty Zen. But that's not in the plan... 
Seismically sensitive Simon senses
change and has attitude

Fun-loving Skye doesn't know the plan

Ironically, as I snuggle up to my three kids I'm hearing the sound of a plane at Tahoe. Actually, planes fly in and out often to this small mountain town. Now, it's my turn to go but instead of rural I'm going back to the city. I'm sensing my heart will connect with Quebec City which promises more of a rural, earthy feel to it. And the train ride I've got booked? It's so strange. But I've experienced this recurring dream for years where I'm doing just this...on a train, trees, northeast. It's a sign and I've toyed with fate to bring this image to fruition. 
My goal, a vow I made decades ago

Yesterday when I called the airline to finalize plans I was told that people fly every day. Nobody is nervous. What planet is that rep from, anyhow? He needs to watch "French Kiss" or "Cast Away"... I read 40 percent of people who fly have some sort of anxiety. It's normal. The way I see it, I will pretend I'm in the dentist chair, having a procedure done, and take myself to that Zen Zone (God, I wish I could take my cat!)

So, there is still time to get my ducks and dogs in order. Filling out the kennel papers is tedious but I must be thorough. I was going to pack too much. I read whatever you pack--cut in half. So back to the suitcase(s). When I was 21, I had so little and felt so secure. I want to be that hippie girl. I'm talking jeans, t-shirts,  bare essentials. I want to take my canine companion(s) and I admit I am a bit gun-shy to travel alone nearly 6000 miles. 


Flashback from the Past
As an intuitive I often sense if someone has a fear it comes from the past. Today, I am getting flashbacks of my hitchhiking travels from yesteryear. While I was young, carefree, and happy--sometimes not so happy things did happen. One night I found myself in Lexington, Kentucky. I ended up at a hotel parking lot. My eyes fixed on a black truck with an open bed. Assuming the owner was spending the night at the hotel, I placed my knapsack (full of my worldly possessions, like peanut butter and a pair of jeans) and sleeping bag into it. The thought was, "I'll go wash up (sneak me and my best friend into the hotel bathroom) and come back out clean, sleep under the stars. If lucky I could get a ride northbound in the morning." 
Once back in the parking lot I didn't see the truck. At first I thought I wasn't looking at the right parking spot--but then it was an easy read. The vehicle was gone. I was left with the clothes on my back and dear companion--my black Lab.  I felt lost in the middle of the U.S.--until it hit me that's all that mattered. If my dog was AWOL I'd be crushed. We had each other. We traveled on through the night. We were okay.

Trying to toy with destiny, the flight plan from hell has been changed for better or worse--if  Hurricane "Ed" doesn't strike off the Atlantic coast.  (Yes, I did consider this but I chose the risk over flying in a CRJ900 amid dark skies.) No need to stress over making a 31 minute plane connection in 15 minutes. But getting up early is the penance. Layovers?  By the time I return I should have a French accent with a tad of the Deep South drawal. It's time to get a grip on reality now in the 21st century.  I've flown before. Hawaii, Seattle, Los Angeles, BC, S.F.--and I hitchhiked across America, Canada, and south of the border to Mexico. Note to self: Stop analyzing. Feel life. Just go. It's time to face my fears, one by one.  But if I could have a do over I'd take one of my fur boys-a Sophie's Choice moment.  But this time around on the road I'm on my own. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flying Solo to Canada: A bag of mixed emotions

By Cal Orey

Last night I turned on a TV movie to forget my worries of travel. Too funny. "French Kiss" with Meg Ryan playing a neurotic female who sports a fear of flying greets me. She was taking a class to rid of her plane phobia. While I laughed out loud my inner voice keeps repeating, "You have flown before, many times--just not as far." As Ryan's character said, "You can do this" and she jumps at any sound of the airplane.  I wish I drank wine like the French do--but I don't.


The time is nearing when I pack my bags, kennel my dogs, trust Zen kitty with sibling--and go. Recently, I read people are happy while planning a vacation but when they return they are unhappy going back to the daily grind. I'm not in that group of folks. Instead, I've purposely made a list of things to enjoy when I come back to the mountains. And I find the preliminary hassle of preparing for a long journey very stressful!
Passport, itineraries, Canadian cash, How to speak French book, confusing Quebec City and Montreal travel guide, packing, cleaning the house, paying bills, taxes to come home to, went to the dentist and doctor (secretly wishing they would find a secret illness so I would have to cancel)...filling out papers for my two canines and so on. It's never ending. 

A Blast from the Past...
Today, it came to me. At 21, I was happy hitchhiking to Montreal because it was a spontaneous decision. It was me and my dog--no responsibilities. Now things are different. True, I am much older and thoughts of mortality and not being invincible are with me. 
So, maybe I cannot recapture yesteryear. This is a rude awakening. I've been planning, thinking of consequences, and that makes me feel not young.  Note to self:  Be more spontaneous! What's really bothering me, though, is that I'm not taking my dog(s). They are part of me and I will feel incomplete without my canine companion(s) and my beloved Siamese.

Hello Autumn, West and East Coast...  I'm gearing up for enjoying fall on the East Coast but the West is not out of my mind by any means. I'm trying to set up an order of firewood and anticipating hearing the heater click on for the first time. I'm saving one of the chime clocks to turn on when I come back home. Earth toned blinds for the living room will be en route and the first fire are something I can look forward to as I snuggle up to my dog duo and cat. 
That's another trip glitch. I miss my boys and I haven't even left. While I'm having a difficult time knowing I'll be separated from my fur kids I sense it will be okay. All three--are healthy and happy.  My fur children will be well taken care of and while the novelty and absence of us may be troublesome I believe we will survive.

California Mediterranean Cuisine... This morning my editor allowed me to make a final tweak or two on the book cover for our new book due out the end of December. The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, Revised and Updated is in the final stages of production. I'm taking covers with me on my trip to Quebec City and a zillion states in the U.S. due to my flight plan from hell. During layovers on my "road trip" I'm sure I will make friends and they will ask me, "What do you do?" and "What do you write?" and then BAM! they will have a book cover with the inside revealing the Healing Powers Series.
As I think of French fare, it's almost time to sing, "I'm leaving on a jet plane"... So the trip--not France or Italy but should suffice--which I began planning in June is just around the corner. I will make my departure (I have gone through all the hoops, one after another) and leave the West Coast--fly solo into the unknown and my world of what ifs (but most of these do not happen). 
I want to learn how to be more serene, laid-back, easygoing but I find myself still controlling, trying to capture perfection. This trip is in the works to face my demons and morph like a butterfly, older but wiser. I sense there will be challenges but when I return my experiences will continue to rejuvenate my mind, body, and spirit. It's called living life and embracing imperfection in an imperfect world. Inhale, exhale. 



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mountain Author Pondering City Trip

By Cal Orey

Feeling edgy leaving my slow-paced mountain lifestyle
This week has been one filled with days  that have been uneventful leading up to a big trip to Eastern Canada. In the near future I'll be leaving on a jet plane to the unknown. I have a mixed bag of emotions, including excitement and fear. But I sense it's all the preliminary hassle of planning a journey out of the country. If I could do a re-do a vacation to the coast seems more my style, somewhere rural in northern California...


Quebec by the shore
City Trip--What was I Thinking? But I'm sticking to the flight plan from hell and determined to go to Quebec City as my final destination. We're talking shuttle bus, large aircraft to small aircraft, and several states. It's a road trip without my dog(s) or cat. Flying solo. A lot of what ifs haunt me but probably most if not all will not take place.

Commitment-Phobic Chime Clock: As I focus on getting my dogs in a row, I did order a watch. It arrived new and scratched. Back it went to the seller. I realized there isn't a clock in the house so I ordered a chime mantel clock. I was hooked at first chime. 
But within three hours the charmer came with glitches like a new man. It began to make strange sounds. It began to chime on its own schedule. It didn't keep time. It was late. That darn clock that is supposed to chime every 15 minutes and on every hour started to miss its schedule. It has mega commitment issues. Haunting me throughout the night, chiming in slow motion. It's off. So, a replacement clock will arrive tomorrow and this quirky one is going back to its maker. I was infatuated in the beginning. Maybe the new, improved clock will keep time. I do love it when it works...

Train Ride, Recurring Dream...During Labor Day weekend I booked a train trip from Montreal to Quebec City. This seems full of novelty. Odd doing it alone but I believe I can amuse myself. Vegan meals (this is a big step for a vegetarian) both ways. Funny, this trip is supposed to be a vacation but it's turning out to be a go-girl type of adventure. I miss the sofa spud-author I've become with bursts of energy to walk the dogs and swim at the resort pools in between penning  books, articles and reading for people on the networks who want to know what the future holds. And yes, the Pet Horoscopes for a major online site did go out...There goes the off chime clock...Late, sounds sad. Maybe it's a defective battery. Too many problems. No wonder I like being single.

My Bags Are Packed (or will be)... Time to get acquainted with the French language (almost 100 percent of the locals in Quebec City are French), pack and unpack (promised I would take less than more), learn how to use a digital camera...


Each day I look at my Aussie and Brittany. The time I'm away will allow them to bond more. This is a good thing. Simon will get his teeth cleaned. Boys will get their nails trimmed. Baths when I return. I don't want to think about my separation anxiety from the Siamese...he is my sleep partner, my lap dog-cat that keeps my blood pressure below normal. I adore my Zen and he loves me. But that's the deal. I'm off to live life (like when I was fearless back in my twenties) and find my own balance.

Friday, August 29, 2014

#Author-Intuitive to Flee Calif. for Canadian Adventure

My goal: Quebec City
By Cal Orey
The end of August is here with Labor Day weekend as a finale. Living at Lake Tahoe I admit I don't look forward to this last celebration. Tourists and fireworks irritate me and ruffle my fur kids' temperament. The upside: Off-season and pre-fall are up next so "this is the last weekend" is my mantra to get me through the end of summer crowds.


Looking forward to fall at Tahoe
Enter Pre-Fall... It's the prelude to my fave season of the year. Ironically, I'm preparing like the squirrels to make my departure despite I wait for this time to come.


Will a stronger quake happen before Oct 31?


















Last Monday on the 25th I was a News Segment Guest on Coast to Coast. George asked, "Was this the Big One?" in regards to the 6.0 strong and messy Napa earthquake that rocked Northern California and Nevada. My answer: "Probably not." As I told him and listeners from coast to coast. It could cause a trigger effect (like in CA, June 2005 and Ring of Fire 2010/2011) in our Golden State and gave it a two month seismic window. 

Aging is bonding me and Simon
Back at Home...Simon, my 11-year-old Brittany passed the titre test. Translation: He doesn't have to have more doggie shots because his immunity is all good. The cat in my life is back to normal and in my mind used up one of his nine lives. The urinary woes he experienced a month ago has passed and his new prescription food is working like a charm. So for now we are all happy and healthy.The downside: I've run out of excuses to postpone my trip to Quebec. Evidently my dental appointment next week will not affect me going or not. So, it looks like I'm going to Quebec after all life's obstacles.

Hello Montreal!  I wish it was that easy. The thing is, it's not that I'm afraid to go back to Eastern Canada. It's my tiny fear of flying: Not a fan of small plane with too many strangers and dealing with the flight plan made for a survivor reality show contestant. Let's see, it goes like this: Cab, Shuttle Bus, Reno to Utah (super short flight connection), Utah to MN, and then Montreal after 12 hours...then going back home it's Atlanta, Utah, Reno with a long layover in Utah. The trek is a trip in itself. If I were a witch I'd gladly just twitch my nose and put myself in Canada--and in the room with the city view. But it looks like I'm going to have to put my hiking shoes on and be bold before I get my wish and greet Montreal.
Not my room but sort of like it I hope

Every time I leave Tahoe I enjoy returning to the trees

Goodbye Cold Feet... I've watched the spooky films with spook plane scenarios in "Alive" to "Final Destination" one too many times this month. Not sure why I'm doing this but I suppose I want to be prepared even though control is out the window. And, of course, friends and family are sharing their scariest airplane flight--the one where it dropped 1000 feet like a roller coaster. So far, it looks like there is 1 to 2 percent chance of a thunderstorm happening at Tahoe the day I leave. Isolated storms in MN (but don't they usually happen in the afternoon?).An Atlantic tropical storm or hurricane brewing? Too soon to tell. I'm a little squeamish when I think about that jet going from MN to Montreal in dark skies--but I'm caving. I could walk outside--a pine cone could hit my head.

So, for now, I have the annual Pet Horoscopes to complete and psychic networks to work. But soon I will be packing my bags, taking a big jet plane(s) to a faraway land. I'm leaving my fur children, my life as I know it and entering the unknown. And it's starting to get exciting, sort of like a sequel to "Travels with Charley" without the dog and a woman in the air and on the road once again.  I have this fantasy of taking a train from Montreal to Quebec City. With a long-haul flight it may indeed come to fruition--and be different this time around in contrast to when I was the 21-year-old hippie chick frightened in the French speaking province. I vowed I'd go back and that's what I'm setting out to do.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

NorCal 6.0 Quake Forecasted by Author-Intuitive, Sort Of

By Cal Orey

Update: On Coast to Coast AM, this past August 5, as a News Segment guest, I did say on air (at 2:45 minutes) SF could rock any time in the future and anywhere in CA...not excluding SoCal--which still could be next in line before the end of 2014.
Wayward bear tip off to intuitive
who predicted 2007 Bay Area EQ--
history repeats itslf


August 13 · Facebook Wall
Bear alert from yesterday...Earthquake coming in sierras or Bay Area--or hungry bear. Either or. He/she seemed harmless, sweet. Not my house...very close, tho. Not normal for these animals to come so close--didn't seem scared.
On August [12] in the afternoon my two dogs were barking nonstop. I walked out into the living room and looked out the window to see a man taking photos of a bear in our neighborhood. I told him last time this happened a huge crowd of people were watching the animal. The thing is, we don't get a lot of bears at lake level. And I said to the people that an earthquake will hit within the week in the sierras or the SF Bay Area. And it did. (See article below published in the Tahoe Daily Tribune.) History repeats itself.  

In my annual Earth Predictions column for 2014 I wrote: A Mixed Bag of Predictions for 2014
1. Earthquakes
* At least one major shaker is likely on the West Coast, including Alaska, Washington, on and Offshore Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and/or Greater Los Angeles as likely areas to rock.

My 2014 Earth Predictions include a SF Bay
Area significant earthquake
This time, however, as reports come in, the shaker was much stronger  than the Bay Area 5.6 several year ago (October 30, 2007)--and some say even stronger than the Loma Prieta '89 quake geologist Jim Berkland predicted.  This morning the earthquake caused lots of damage and injuries. Another Update: As noted, the wayward animal tipped me off as another bear did in the past. True, bears are part of Lake Tahoe but to be seen at lake level isn't all that common. As felt reports come in, look at how humans report feeling the earth move all around Lake Tahoe. More reports of damage in Napa and more reports of people feeling the earthquake CA/NV--like the one back on October 30, 2007--covered in the Tahoe Daily Tribune...

Did the bear in my neighborhood sense an oncoming earthquake? Is the Sunday early shaker a prelude to the Big One? Time will tell. But on C2C, August 25, I did say I sensed the quake that rocked California could create a trigger effect and SoCal or even NorCal could experience a stronger temblor within the next two months.

Cal Orey

Tahoe author predicts 

Bay Area earthquake 

days in advance 

(Oct. 31, 2007)

A South Lake Tahoe woman who for years has been among a subculture of intuitives who predict and track earthquakes says she 



foresaw Tuesday night's 5.6-magnitude San Jose earthquake in September. And what's more, she documented it just days ago on her 
Web site.
Cal Orey, a writer of several books, including a biography on Bay Area geologist Jim Berkland, who predicted the Loma Prieta 
quake in 1989, says she hit the prediction well ahead of time 
and sees more on the way.
"I believe this was a foreshock. I see a 5.8 to 6.0-plus earthquake that could hit on the Calaveras, Hayward or San Andreas fault
 by Nov. 30," Orey said.
This 5.6 quake is a strong but moderate earthquake, the largest one to hit the Bay Area since Loma Prieta in October 1989. Orey says she was tipped off again a few days ago by the Oct. 26 full moon.
"The tides were erratic," she said. She pinpointed her Oct. 26 prediction at Alum Rock, which was the near-epicenter, east of San Jose.
Also, on Saturday, Orey and her neighbors saw a disoriented bear next door to her house in Bijou Pines.
"In eight years, I've never seen a bear this close to town. I said to the crowd of people taking photos of the animal, 
'This could be due to the Angora fire and the bear is hungry, or a quake is coming here or to the Bay Area in a week.'"
Orey made the prediction Oct. 26 on her Web site.
According to reporting statistics compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was felt all the way to South Lake Tahoe, Tahoma and even Minden and Carson City.
"Historically, the Hayward fault has had larger quakes. And scientists are saying that a 6.0-plus could occur on this fault or the Calaveras fault in the future," Orey says. "I have a wager with geologist Berkland that Northern California will get a 6.0-plus before Southern 
California. I won the last wager for a 5.0, which hit Northern California first. I may win this one, too."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mountain Author Prepares Flight Plan to the City

By Cal Orey

Whew! I'm exhausted. Putting together a flight plan when you live in the mountains and crave going to a city in another country takes work, patience, and a strong stomach! Hitchhiking to Canada was fun--not as challenging. Worse, I haven't even left yet and I'm in need of some rest and relaxation. Here, take a peek at my grueling plans for a vacation-business trek...
Hitchhiking to Montreal with a dog was fun!

First Flight Plan: Customer rep (like a travel agent)  is friendly on the phone and gets to know me: The once adventuresome hippie chick who traveled with a knapsack, sleeping bag and dog who now has a mixed bag of phobias and fears, including flying in small aircraft surrounded by lots of strangers. So, what does the flight guru do? I am put on an economy flight for several hours and left at an Airport Terminal Hotel upon arrival. Yikes! "Twilight Zone" material. Why in world would I want to sleep in a room (if I got there after too many layovers and bumpy flights), and wake up to a view of airplanes? Not my fantasy.
Worse, I scrutinized the small jet (I am now plane size savvy thanks to the Internet) going home via Chicago. Uh, um...isn't that a windy city and a big airport known for not so smooth landings? Why would I want to awake before dawn to do that? True, maybe the wind doesn't kick up till afternoon like our Tahoe thunderstorms but still--I don't like small planes. 
Mountain woman with SF roots fantasizing about Montreal's
architecture, bistros, sights, underground metro

Flight Plan 2: All big planes, first class (so I can put the warm and fuzzy blanket over my head, sip ginger ale or chamomile tea, and listen to Bob Marley to chill). The downside is what I've noted in my last blog post: 1 31 minute tight flight connection from Salt Lake City to MN. If and if I miss this plane (Airbus320) due to fate (MIA pilot to getting lost from Gate B to C) I will be bumped to a little aircraft, demoted to an economy cabin and spend the night somewhere in Minnesota. Minnesota!
If the flight gods allow me to make the flight connection in SLC to MN, I get to take a CRJ900 2 1/2 hours into the dark night. Not my fantasy but they serve a meal so maybe it will be doable without a shake-up? And arriving in Montreal before midnight, praying that my checked bag will be there to pick up and not follow days later...enter my downtown hotel by dawn if the cab driver I choose understands my broken French. 
One more thing: I learned I would be paying for the ghost who would be enjoying the city lights in my paid room. Another glitch... If and when I arrive I was told that my hotel room had been downgraded to no city view for the last three days of my journey...So like what will I see? An alley? Parking Lot? This is not my vision! I am flying 6000 miles, fur kids kenneled, a bizarre trek to be put in a room with nothing to see? No, tell me it's not true!... It's not. 

Change of Plans. Due to two gracious managers of the downtown upscale hotel I selected, today I was blessed to get a room with a city view for my entire stay in Montreal--if and when I arrive. I'm feeling swimming pool, room service for breakfast, hot coffee, steamy bubble baths, a room with a European decor, and French accents all around me in and out... Once rested it's off to explore the foreign province (once again like I did decades ago). While I can see me there to experience...getting back home days later is another traveling adventure that makes me feel like the doomed character in Mr. Bill, the SNL skit of yesteryear.

Up at 4 a.m. (curly hair day) to be at the Montreal airport and grab the Boeing757 to Atlanta (isn't pre-fall hurricane/tropical storm season?). Then, it's back to SLC International via Airbus320 for four hours--a four hour layover. There's a spa...for $40 I can take a shower and pretend I'm home safe and sound in my controlled, cozy home in the sierras. Or, perhaps if I'm not too sleep deprived go to a fancy mall (buy my boys treats) folks rave about. It's back to Reno on another Airbus320 and a three hour wait (gamble while dozing off?) till the shuttle shuttles me home before midnight. Did I say I'm tired? I will have my blue-eyed  Zen kitty waiting for me (how will I sleep each night without my creature comforts, my loving trio?)...my beloved senior Brittany (provided he passes the titer tests to waiver shots) and young Aussie (never has been left without me for a night) will be picked up the following day. (Another hardship to be away from my boys.)
Zen kitty


So, what I've learned is that when you live in the mountains and want to go to the city out of the country, you have limited options of flight plans and a long haul. Will I still do it? For now, it looks like I might inhale and go for it. It's my vision to go back to Montreal. 
But to be honest, hitchhiking with a dog seemed a lot easier than this planned trip. Thoughts of staying home and buying a stainless steel fridge or rustic hot tub are starting to look better every day. I already miss my demanding fur kids. And I haven't the heart to break the news about mom's "vacation"... I will never leave home again if I survive this trip.