Franada

IMG_4184Bonjour, Bienvenue au Québec! (Hello, Welcome to Quebec!)

The French Provence of Canada embodied the spirit of hospitality and the moment we crossed over into the eastern Provence of Quebec, we felt right at home. Yes, all of the street signs were in French, and we don’t know French, but there were welcome signs everywhere and all along the way, the people met us with smiles, even the construction worker on the highway waved us through with enthusiasm. And, the efforts the locals made to meet us where we were at, openly sharing the richness of their culture, food, family, and the delight of community, really made our trip through the area a fantastic memory we hope to revisit again someday.

IMG_4403Our host family, Vann & Chantal and their awesome children welcomed us to their tiny hometown of Saint-Séverin, where we would park for a week, and enjoy life through their local eyes.

Our first night in town, we drove up the road to Saint-Frédéric, for a “Tent.” Local life in the summer means all the little towns in the area create a rotating tent that rolls through a different town every weekend. It includes a fundraising night of festivities, a beer garden and a rock band, usually a cover band, to come and play music. The night that we went a Bon Jovi tribute band took the stage, and let me tell you, they looked and sounded just like Bon Jovi. Craig got a bit of loving that night for his epic mustache. Dudes were enviously staring at him all night, and one bloke actually came up to him and began to enthusiastically reach out to pull his mustache, stating “j’aime ton pinch.” Which translated I love your mustache. We were all a little taken aback by the fella’s forwardness but it was flattering.

The next night we performed in Vann and Chantal’s barn for a good handful of their friends and neighbors. The barn was a fantastic venue, with twinkle lights, candles and a great sound system. They had a potluck style dinner and performed two sets of Hollands songs but continued sharing music in the round well into the wee hours of the night.

IMG_4272Sunday morning we roused for mass at the local parish just a block from the house. It was lovely to be so close. The service was all in French but we had enough experience with the format to be able to follow along. Our favorite part though was the beauty of the cathedral. Although just a small town of 250, the cathedral was grand. Actually every single little town we drove through had an iconic cathedral in the heart of the city center. After church Chantal took us an hour drive up to Quebec City, where she toured us around the famous walled city. It was awesome having a french translator to help us get a lay of the ground. However, everyone was quite friendly and happy to speak to us in English as needed.

IMG_4379Monday the warmer weather drew us to a local secret watering hole. We enjoyed cooling off in the little stream, walking rocks and especially loved the challenge of swimming upstream against the waterfall current. It was relaxing and lead to an evening dinner, and later while the fella’s played a rousing game of poker in the barn, the rest of us sat around a fire and talked well into the night about all the important things of life, like why are we here, who is God and why do bad things happen to good people.

IMG_4396We spent a few more lazy days with our host family, doing laundry, getting groceries, sharing meals and story. Chantal cared for my health by offering to share her gift of Chiropractic with me. Her office was lovely but more than that, her gentle and healing spirit straightened me right out.

On our last day with them, we took a stroll down the road to a local garden owned by an eccentric millionaire. We wandered around the gardens and enjoyed the fresh air and kind companionship.

IMG_4341It wasn’t easy to say good-bye when it was time, as these kinfolk in the Northwoods and rolling hills of Quebec had become family.

And, even now as I write this a few weeks later, we all pine to get back. Specially Craig, who decided although Australian of Scottish decent, that he must somehow be French because he felt so at home.

So I don’t doubt that someday, we’ll roll back through!

 

 

 

 

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Canadian Travel Log

It’s a rare treat to get ahold of Craig’s travel log, but today he let me have a gander. Here are his notes from our recent trip to Canada, in his bus language.

 

IMG_4037“We just ran our first trip into Canada, 1600 miles over two and a half weeks. Wasn’t quite sure what to expect crossing borders with the bus but everything went real smooth on both sides. We entered Canada from Maine at the Calais/ St Stephens crossing and headed up the New Brunswick Coast. Cell coverage was limited so went back to using paper maps for the two and a half weeks, which I prefer anyway.

 

IMG_4068First stop was the Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy. On the way we drove through Fundy National park which I’m glad we came from the Sth because the climb coming the other way looked pretty serious. The coastline along the Bay of Fundy was pretty awesome as well as walking the sea floor when the tide was out.

 

We then drove hwy 11 North through Moncton, Miramichi, Bathurst, Campbelltown and then onto 132 over to Rimouski. The section of the drive on 132 between Cambellton and Rimouski was my favorite, followed the Matapaldia River most of the way with some really long covered bridges to see. Not really any climbs and then a gorgeous drop to Rimouski and the St Lawrence River. Oh by the way everything was in French once we crossed into Quebec which made for interesting navigation, especially when it came to road works and detours. Being an older bus I had to make a cheat sheet of Miles/ KM conversions so I could figure out my speed. We stayed at an Rv park called Camping Motel de l’Anse in Rimouski that had cool views over The St Lawrence, really nice park and real helpful with restaurant recommendations etc.

 

 

Next stop was Quebec City where we stayed for almost a week with some friends about 45 sth in a village of 250 called St. Severin. Loved our time here, taking in the local French culture and driving into the city was quite beautiful. Everyone has been so nice especially as we can’t speak french. The food here has also been amazing, found a local Gin we’ve been enjoying called Ungava.

 

 

Headed to Montreal for a few days, stayed just west of town, parking thanks to a referral at St. Edwards of Canterbury in Beaconsfield, right near the St. Lawrence River. Was a busy city to drive the bus through, glad we have a toad for going back and forth into the city. Loved the markets and neighborhoods of Montreal and would definitely go back. Had trouble starting the bus to leave here, ended up purchasing new starter batteries and seems to have fixed the problem.

 

 

 

IMG_4802Our last stop in Canada was Toronto and I have to say after all the scenery of NB and Quebec, Ontario all of a sudden became quite flat and predictable. We liked Toronto well enough but were kind of itching to get back to Quebec. We visited Niagara Falls on the Canadian side and were wowed by the size and power of all that water.

Our trip went real smooth, Canadian dollar was favorable to us from down Sth. As long as I remembered that the prices didn’t bother me. The weather was awesome and after doing it once, we can’t wait to go back. Next time we want to spend more time in Quebec, New Brunswick and also explore New Foundland, Nova Scotia and PEI. ~Craig”

Dream Talk 2015

North America - 16x20 Close Up-800x800We are so excited for all that 2015 will and already is offering. This year, (October) we will celebrate four years of full-time family travel! And, even more exciting, this year will be our first trek to the East Coast & Eastern Canada.

As we look forward our vision is clear and we are ready to go ahead with what we’ve been given. Over these three years on the road, we’ve received a hardy portion of amazing grace and freedom. We’re deeply rooted in the message of reconciliation and know our way around the faith. We’re ready to do what we’ve been taught and continue to let our living intoxicate those we meet along the way. Musically, we have a strong sense that more will come, but hold loosely to whatever shape that might take. We are excited to see who ends up riding with us over the next season of travel. We can barely contain the joy when we think about all of the community we will meet on this new route and know that serendipity will find us every single day!

As we embark on new territory we would love to invite you to join us on that journey. If you have kinfolk on the East Coast, that you think might be interested in a visit from us Hollands! please send us their way. Or, if you’d like to ride the bus for a stint, please contact us at thehollands@thehollands.org

We will be in Austin until February 8, shoring up loose ends with our bus. We have to get a new tire, finish off a few building projects and refuel, which we’ll be able to afford thanks to our kinfolk, who have generously given through our Helping Hands/Modern Day Fund. We also need to say one last goodbyes to all of our precious friends here in ATX!

Here is a very loose itinerary for 2015:

FEB: South Padre Island TX, Beaumont TX, Lafayette LA, New Orleans LA (Celebrating Jana’s Birthday, all are welcome to come and camp with us the last weekend of Feb)

MARCH: We will be in Florida for the whole month of March. We are not exactly sure of our routing in FL and totally open at this point. We do have our sights set on a stop in the Ocala National Forest where we hope to bring our merrymaking to the Rainbow community. We also feel a strong pull to go to Key West. Who wouldn’t, right?! 🙂

APRIL/MAY: Hoping to connect with kinfolk in the southeast, including: (and anywhere in-between) Savanna GA, Charleston SC, Atlanta GA, Asheville NC, Wilmington NC, Richmond VA, Washington DC

JUNE: Philadelphia PA, Allentown PA, New York NY, Cape Cod MA, Boston MA

JULY: Portland ME, Old Town ME, Mid-July we’ll make our way up through North East Canada through Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto

AUGUST: Lansing MI, Muskegon MI, Chicago IL, Door County WI, Delavan WI

SEPT-DEC: We are applying for festivals in Australia and hope to be overseas by the middle of September. Our desire is to continue on through Oceania and make our way up to SE Asia or Europe. We’re open however, to other options. So stay tuned.

WordleWe look forward to the road that lies ahead and anticipate an awesome year of learning and growing. Our dream talk wouldn’t be complete without our “naming ceremony.” It’s time where we each quiet our hearts and listen, hoping to hear that still small voice speak a word over us; a word that will take on new meaning as trials and joys come our way. This year, Craig’s word is “embrace.” Graciana’s word is “patience.” Banjo’s word is “courage.’ And, my word is “treasure.” Each word by themselves is significant to each of us individually. However, we see the beauty in all four of our words impacting us as a whole. As we move through each day of 2015, our hope is for a spirit of abundant and bountiful thanksgivings. And, as we show our gratitude through our merrymaking, coming alongside, mentorship & craftsmanship that others will be moved by the extravagance of God in our lives.

We hope that you are encouraged by our dream talk and that you might sit down with your family allowing time and space to really hash out your thoughts, dreams and desires; looking for the interconnectivity of them and spurring one another on through out the year.  If so, please share, especially any other traditions that you might incorporate into your dream talks? And, if you do the naming ceremony, we’d love to know what word comes to mind when you quiet your heart?

Canada, Oh Canada

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We were only an hour from the border, so why not. We made our way up to Vancouver, BC on cloudy afternoon. The city was vaguely familiar with the electric bus line, the tall shrubs that fronted most houses and the fashion sense.

As we made our way through the city streets, Stanley Park, the Vancouver Yacht Club and Kits Beach we found that the city was the spitting image of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. We were in awe and conversations of migrating to Vancouver abounded.  We lunched at The Local Pub Eatery on Kits Beach which could have easily been mistaken for Brighton and enjoyed shopping on Granville Road, which mine as well have been Burke Road. The down side was that our Aussie family wasn’t there but we now know that if we’re needing a quick fix between visits home, that Vancouver is the place to go! By the way, the Fish Taco’s at The Local were out of this world.