End of 2017 Report



End of 2017 Report

As the year rolled to to end, December looked like being very quiet, with nothing much going on, until Igot another invitation to join my daughter Carla , Alex, and the family in Austin ,Texas .

With the house now occupied by grandson Benji, baby grandaughter Sophia plus Angie, their nanny, I wasn’t expecting to go this year. I thought I’d be back home having  a quiet Christmas by myself .

My December agenda started on Saturday 2nd , with a long over due road trip to visit my friends, in the Barry’s Bay area of Ontario , which was where the  Canadian chapter of my life began.

 I set off early from my home in Cornwall and by 9-00 am I was in Renfrew, using the fee wi fi in McDonalds. 

Renfrew is about 45 minutes from Barry’s Bay and was one of the first places I worked after moving to Canada in 1994.

From here I continued my journey, but before reaching Barry’s Bay, I wanted to check out, the site of the former Golden Lake Speedway , near to Eganville, which was the track I saw my first bit of North American racing back in 1994 .

The track has been defunct for many years and is now overgrown, but I managed to find it, after asking directions at the local gas station.

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From the site of the old Golden Lake Speedway, I carried on to Barry’s Bay.

When I live around there (Combermere) over 23 years ago, there was not even a Tim Horton’s, but in recent years things have got civilized, and on my arrival in town, I dropped in for a coffee.

It was here, after making conversation with some locals , I found out that this particular Saturday, was the towns Santa Claus Parade, an event I attended on my first Christmas in Canada. It was now 11-00 pm and I was told that it started at mid day.

I wanted to take a look at it, but first needed to visit my old friends Brian and Vicky Staal who live beside Lake Kamaneskeg on the road to Combermere.

The view of Lake Kamaneskeg from the Staals back porch
The view of Lake Kamaneskeg from the Staals back porch

On arrival, Vicky was down with the Flu, but Brian wanted to check out the parade too. So we left Vicky in the warmth of their house and headed back in to town.24291467_10212448552827380_8780299627558951161_o 24177128_10212448562067611_2797427341741047753_n 24210521_10212448584068161_1661896231674109099_o

Lucky for us Hot Chocolate was being given out along the street.


After the parade I wanted to pay a visit to see Brian’s father,  Klaas Staal, who was now living in a residential section of the hospital.


Klaas and his son Brian, were instrumental in getting my Canadian immigration back in 1994 and I worked for them in the fall of that year .

Before returning for lunch at Brians place, we drove into Combermere , where I checked out my first Canadian home on Mill Street. Like Brian’s place, it was located beside Lake Kamaneskeg.


Here’s how it looked back in1994, with our Plymouth Reliant parked outside.


Now  23 years later.

By 2-45 pm, I left the Staal’s and was heading for home.

On Thursday 7th , I had  a routine  appointment at the Ottawa General Hospital with my MYASTHENIA GRAVIS specialist Doctor. As a result,  I have more I.V.IG  transfusions planned for the coming year.

Before returning to Cornwall I met up with my friend Chantal Lesage for supper. 

On Thursday 14th I joined my buddy Ron Morin, attending the local hockey game between the Cornwall Colts and my old ‘favorite’ team the Pembroke Lumber Kings. The Colts beat the Lumber Kings 3-2 . (Brian Staal’s sons Darren and Sean, both used to play for the Lumber Kings)

On the lead up to my Christmas Texas trip , my HHR was in the shop at Seaway GM in Cornwall, , getting an annoying miss-fire sorted. With the problem solved, I was already to head for the Ottawa Airport on Tuesday 19 Dec.

The days before (Sunday and Monday), Cornwall got served some big dumps of snow. Thankfully my good  buddy, Pro Stock racer, Dave Bissonnette had been making sure my driveway was plowed .


First thing on Tuesday morning, I was able to head to my ‘Tog” buddy, Don Simpsons place in Russell where I’d be parking my car.

It was a horrible journey in the snow , and even worse for Don, as he drove me to the airport.

My  Air Canada flight to Toronto, took off on time, but my connection to Austin, Texas, took off about an hour late.

Carla picked me up around 5-00 pm from the Bergstrom Airport  in Austin and we were soon having supper at a nearby Burger Bar  .

The plan for my first night was for a Christmas Night of songs at one of her local churches and we drove straight there.

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It was here that I met up with Alex, Benji, Sofia and Angie the nanny, who had driven direct from the Loayza family home in Leander in the second car.


I had a relaxing few days preceding  Christmas Eve , when we all went to another church for a carols and songs.

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On Christmas morning, I awoke to a traditional Colombian breakfast of Bunuelos ,  prepared by Angie.


DSC_0066 (Medium)After the  opening  of gifts and a couple more guests had arrived, we all sat down for dinner.

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The next few days were spent relaxing with the family, until Wednesday 27 Dec, when we all went along to watch the local Hockey game .

The Austin based , Texas Stars are the feeder team for  NHL team, the Dallas Stars. Their home-ice is the HEB  Center at Cedar Park, which is just a ten minute drive from the Loayza household in Leander.


That night, they were playing against the San Antonio Rampage.

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It appeared that most of the home team were made up of Canadian players, with one guy, Remi Elie, coming from my home city of Cornwall, Ontario.

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It was great to see the Canadian flag joining the USA and Texas flags at the end of the arena.

The game went into overtime, with the visiting team winning 5-4 .

The weather hadn’t been typically  warm Texas temperatures  so we didn’t stray too far from Leander during my stay.

On Saturday 30 Dec, the night before I was due to return to Canada, we had another night at the Hockey, when this time the Texas Stars were playing against the San Diago Gulls.

Benji was now a fan !


Unfortunately it was another lost game

On Sunday 31 Dec it was my time to leave Texas, and Carla dropped me off at the Airport soon after lunch, for my afternoon flight.

It took off on time and I landed in Toronto around 8-30 pm. My connecting flight to Ottawa was late taking off, but by 11-55 pm we were in the air and over the city.

As the 2018  was rung in, I was flying over Eastern Ontario and heading toward Ottawa on the short 40 minute hop. 

Soon after 12-35 am , I had landed in Ottawa, where Don, was waiting to pick me up. After the short ride to his place, to pick up my car, I was driving towards  Cornwall on the final leg of my trip.

By 3-00 am on New Years Day, I was relaxing in my living room, with a glass of wine.