Visitors from Palm Desert

It’s Sunday morning. I’m waking up WAY too early. The good thing is that the timezone here is 2 hours behind Steinbach time, and quite a few of the shows on TV are on earlier than they’d be at home. So I watched SOME of my favourite Sunday morning TV shows.

I’d been derelict with my blog writing and posting on this trip, so I sat down and started writing about the past 5 or 6 days. Man, this sucks! I should know better than to procrastinate. I can’t even REMEMBER what I did every day! Oh well, like Mary Poppins says, “Well-begun is half done.” I had a pretty good start by the time Robert and Arlene arrived. They had driven down to Phoenix where they’d left their motorhome in fall, and driven it down and parked it Palm Springs where they will be spending the next month or so. Today they are driving their car back here to Phoenix for a 3-day visit at my place. I’ve booked tee times at Sidewinder for today and tomorrow afternoon.

The Dycks arrived at around noon. We made sandwiches and had a quick lunch and then hurried to the golf course. The temperature was a little cooler than what is forecast for the next week or so, but very pleasant for riding around the course hacking away at a little white ball. Which is what we did! And it was fun. My sore hand meant I had to adapt my grip a bit, but in the end the three of us finished (just before the sunset at 6:30) with similar, if not stellar, scores for the round. 

It hardly made sense to go back to the house for a happy hour — it was already time for supper! So we opted for dinner at the roadhouse that is next to the golf course parking lot. The restaurant has undergone numerous changes over the years since we’ve come here — most recently it was known as ‘The Hitching Post’. Now it is “Wahoo’s”. Well, the name has changed, and it certainly is busier than it often was when we were here 3 winters ago, but there are more similarities than there are changes. We found an open table and ordered pizza and wings. Next to us were a couple of big poker tables where a motley assortment of players came and went while we had our meal. 

Back at the house we opened up a very fine bottle of port that Robert and Arlene had brought with them and toasted the conclusion of a fine day here in Gold Canyon. Let’s do it all over again tomorrow.

Golfing around the clock — a lesson

Saturday morning. I should have bacon and eggs. I should be sitting down to tackle the weekend crossword puzzle. I should have a second cup of coffee.

A few days ago, enroute, I took a look at tee times and rates at some of the golf courses in the Gold Canyon area. I noticed that there was a golf clinic scheduled for today — more than 4 hours of instruction to a small group by the resident golf-school instructor focussing on the golf swing, especially the long irons, hybrids, and drivers. I signed up. So after a quick fruit and yogurt and only one cup of coffee (although it was a GOOD cup of coffee — my grinder, my aeropress coffee maker, and my package of coffee beans made the trip here with me), I drove down to the practice tees at Mountain Brook Golf Course. For the next five or six hours I listened to Maria P. critique our swings and encourage us to ‘swing through the ball’. I kept wondering why we were being critiqued but not really given any ‘lesson’ on how to improve. But Maria promised she would start ‘teaching’ once she had taken a short video of each of us with her iPhone.

We stopped for a sandwich lunch at the clubhouse and then returned to the range and kept swinging our clubs. At one point Maria offered that I should try one of HER clubs — a Ping seven-iron with a longer than average shaft (she was also a professional club-fitter and would happily have measured me up and sold me a set of custom clubs!) I was amazed at how far my first swing at a ball flew. However when I tried to repeat the shot, my (longer) club dug into the ground and I injured my hand. That made the rest of the afternoon less enjoyable, and I was actually a bit concerned that I might have sprained my right hand and wouldn’t be able to go golfing with Robert and Arlene for the next couple of days. Finally, in the last hour of our lesson, Maria took out a big poster with clock-like numbers arranged around a couple of parallel lines. Maria gave a little talk about the importance of the 45 degree angle at the 2 o’clock and 7 o’clock positions. Hmmm.. I don’t really get it. So why are you showing us this at the end of the day, when we really don’t even have time to PRACTICE this and for you to watch us practice this? At the conclusion of the clinic I was disappointed with how little I had learned. I came away frustrated and with a sore hand to boot!

Oh well, I tried. I went back to my townhouse. The house was pretty good — I felt confident that my kids will enjoy it when they come at the end of the week. It will suit us just fine. But after going through it, there were some things that it lacked. Most of the light bulbs were the ‘new’ fluorescent energy efficient kind — the kind that start up very dim, and gradually get brighter. And only two of the four in the kitchen worked at all! I can’t tolerate burned-out light bulbs! So I made a shopping list and I headed into town to the nearest Walmart. 

Here are some of the photos of my rented townhouse (‘borrowed’ from a realtor’s online listing)

I found most of the things on my list and then stopped at a Chinese take-out on the way home. I unpacked and replaced bulbs and filled up soap dispensers and rearranged dishes and washed all the cutlery and mugs and generally cleaned and fixed things. Then I sat down and watched a couple of interesting documentaries on Netflix (via my AppleTV which I brought from home and hooked up to the living-room TV) before going to bed.

And so it begins…

Sunrise over Sidewinder #5

Woke up just as the sun was showing its face over the golf course outside my kitchen window. The dawn of another chapter. Not a bad way to see a new day.

I spent the rest of the morning catching up with emails and doing a few little website jobs that were waiting for my attention. I had a call from Anne Froese to talk about hiking options. In the end we decided that she and her company would come HERE and we’d hike up to the hieroglyphics on Wednesday morning. I’m hoping I can ‘trade’ the favour and try one of ‘their’ hikes later in the month.

Later in the afternoon it occurred to me that perhaps the hieroglyphic hike wasn’t even open to the public — it’s been at least 3 years since I walked up there. So after ‘assembling’ my bikes and filling the tires and generally ‘organizing’ all my stuff in the garage, I got on a bike and pedalled up to the hiking trail head. Clearly the hike was still a ‘thing’ — the parking lot was full of cars, many from out-of-state. I locked up the bike and set off on the trail. I more-or-less ‘ran’ up to the top, passing lots of late-afternoon ‘adventurers’ along the way. And yes, all was still as it ever was. The view was great, the pools of water were still there, the ‘hieroglyphics’ were still visible, and it appeared the hike was as popular as ever. And it wasn’t too difficult or too long for the Froese (Enns?) group I was going to lead up there on Wednesday (in fact, it took me less than half an hour to run up). All good. My bike was waiting to take me back down to the house.

It was around 5:30. I decided to text Hans and Chris Neufeld to see if they were interested in going out for pizza tonight or tomorrow night. I was pretty sure it was already too late for this evening, but was pleasantly surprised when Hans replied almost immediately. We’ll meet you at the Handlebar Pub & Grill in Apache Junction at 6:30. GREAT!

I quickly showered and headed out into town. I was not surprised that the Handlebar was PACKED. The wait for a table was 45 minutes to an hour. But the evening air was warm and the beers on tap sounded interesting. And since tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day and I was already wearing one of my green golf shirts, I started with a Guinness. And so did Hans when he and Chris arrived a few minutes after I did.

We sat in the busy outside bar area and visited while we waited for a table. And about an hour later we were shown to a table right near where tonight’s 3-piece band was just getting going. Big burgers and cold beers and old-time rock’n roll. And here in the retirement capital of the world it doesn’t take much to ‘shut the place down’, which we nearly did. I think I was home and in bed by ten o’clock.

Spectacular Drive down to GC

I’m telling you, those crazy waffle machines they have in all the hotels now aren’t NEARLY as exciting as they were the first few times I saw and used them! Every flea-bitten (flea-infested?) hotel now advertises “Hot Breakfast” or even “Hot BUFFET Breakfast”. By now I know better; I’ll skip it and instead pull into one of the truck stops an hour into the drive and go for the egg mcmuffin and coffee. 

Near Grants, New Mexico

It’s just a few minutes out of Albuquerque and immediately the scenery changes. Before me, as far as the eye can see, extends a big valley with rocky ridges out in the distance and a ‘ribbon of divided highway’ painting a black stripe from me to the horizon. And the farther down the road I go, the better the scenery gets. I take a turn south off of the interstate at Grants and take the scenic route through the El Malpais National Conservation Area. I should have taken more photos. It’s a bit of a climb up to Show Low, Arizona where I stop for gas. At 6300 ft, the temperature here is freezing. And the ‘sleety’ rain that’s coming down limits my fill to ten bucks — that will get me ‘home’ where I’ll fill it up for real. But the best part of the ride is just ahead. The winding trip down to a thousand feet of elevation takes me through the Snake River Canyon. STUNNING! You don’t even WANT to pass the slow vehicles ahead of you because it’s so much fun to look at the cliffs on the one side and the canyon down to the river below you and the other side. The highway soon takes a turn back up to northwest, and then it’s only a few more minutes and I see the familiar and welcome sight of Superstition Mountain. I’m “home” — at least it FEELS like I’m home. I’m happy to be here.

I had emailed the rental agent yesterday to enquire about how to get access to the house — and she emailed back that she was too busy and so she gave me the access code to the community gate and told me the keys to the house would be under the mat at the front door. I made a quick stop at the Basha’s grocery store at the corner to buy provisions for the first evening and tomorrow’s breakfast. I’m still not very comfortable shopping for groceries, but I had made a bit of a list and I managed okay. Then I drove to the house — again, I remembered the area because a few years ago Sue and I had come from Palm Springs to visit our friends Dave and MaryLou who had rented a house in this same complex. I found the keys, parked the van in the garage, unloaded the groceries, and opened a bottle of Sam Adams lager. Ahhh. This will work out just fine!

Oklahoma City to Albuquerque

Another cool morning. Scrambled eggs and sausages for breakfast. Fill up the van. Hit the road, heading straight west to Albuquerque. Most of the way the road was 3 lanes in each direction, with the trucks limited to using the right two lanes. There are so many semis on the road now that it makes sense to have dedicated trucking lanes. Nothing is more frustrating than getting slowed down by a semi SLOWLY trying to pass another semi.

I got into Albuquerque early. Because I’d booked a hotel on the west side of the city I got stuck in rush hour traffic for the last hour of my drive. Still, I checked into my hotel at around 4pm. Plenty early. Last night when I made my hotel booking for today I had purposely selected a hotel that was near shopping centres and restaurants and theatres — thinking that would be more convenient than repeating the long late night ‘stroll’ I’d had through ‘no-mans-land’ last night. Well, I guess there’s always a trade-off: sure, the Microtel Inn and Suites was surrounded by strip malls and gas stations, but clearly THIS side of Albuquerque wasn’t the ritzy part of town. Pimps and beggars and a busy highway did not make a walk tonight all that appealing. And the note at the hotel front desk, suggesting that vans and trailers would be safer if parked in the well-lit back lot where there were security cameras, didn’t instil a whole lot of confidence in me either. Instead of walking, I ended up taking the van to the strip mall just down the street. And whatever ‘fitness kick’ I thought I was on was quickly undermined when I ordered a big greasy shrimp and fries meal at a ‘chester-fried’ chicken joint where I could sit by the window and keep an eye on my van! No movie tonight. I was back in my room by 8:30. Since the last leg of my trip was a 6-hour drive into Gold Canyon, and ‘possession’ of my house was supposed to be at 3pm, I decided I might as well stay up ‘late’ and watch a couple of the late night comedy shows. Unfortunately the next time I looked at the clock it was one o’clock in the morning — I had slept through my shows and the only thing on TV now was infomercials and late-night TV preacher shows. Man, I’m such a loser!

Sioux City to Oklahoma

I guess ‘Free Hot Breakfast’ is also subject to interpretation. Luckily the egg mcmuffin and one-dollar coffee at the nearby McDonald’s drive-thru were less disappointing. The overnight temperature was just above freezing, but it would be another great day for driving. With both me and my van freshly washed, clean and shiny, and fuelled up, we hit the road. Straight south. All day. Straight down to Oklahoma City. That’s about the same latitude as Albuquerque and only a little farther north than Phoenix so it should be nice and warm.

Just me and all these truckers on the road today

After another 8-hour day of open roads and lots of great (loud) music from the random playlist on my old iPod that’s hooked up to my car stereo, I arrived at the (ten dollar pricier than last night’s hotel) ‘Broadway Inn & Suites’ Best Western in Oklahoma City. It took only three false starts for me to find a satisfactory room (with a working lightbulb in the bathroom) before I opened up my backpack and logged onto the hotel wifi. I was a little hoarse from singing all day and very hungry from not having eaten a decent meal for a couple of days. And I needed to stretch my legs. The little (thin) East Indian guy behind the front desk showed me on his phone how to get to the nearest cineplex where I would find restaurants and movies to help me while away the evening. Only about 2 miles from the hotel — I would walk. Walk? No, much too far. Yes, walk. I need the exercise. Is it safe for me to walk back in the dark later? Oh yes. I checked the movie listings and picked the one that sounded least like the typical big ‘blow-em-up’ sound and fury blockbuster of the lot. And then I headed out.

The movie wasn’t much more interesting than the fish burger I had before it. In fact, since I’m writing this a nearly a week later, I’ve actually forgotten both. But the walk was great. Sure, it’s a little unnerving to walk back in the dark in a strange city on an unlit sidewalk for a brisk 45-minutes, but it feels so good when you get back to your ‘Broadway’ suite safe and sound.

Gold Canyon – IV

Monday morning I loaded up my van and began the drive down to Gold Canyon, Arizona. It would be my fourth visit and extended stay there. I’d booked a townhouse there for March 15 to April 15. I took the largest suitcase in my collection and threw in virtually ALL of my summer (golfing) shirts and shorts. It and two of my bikes and my golf clubs were behind me in the back of the van. I also had Max’s little bicycle and Tim and Alex’s golf clubs loaded up. I left town just before noon, heading down to Sioux City, Iowa for my first night.

Fully loaded

The roads were fine — no ice or snow. The U.S. customs guy asked me where I was going and for how long and then wished me a safe trip. The American freeways were what they always are: big and smooth and wide open and fast. Eighty miles and hour. Just me and all my trucker buddies on the road. Big blue sky. I kept an eye on the outside temperature gauge on my dashboard to see how far I would have to drive before it went up a degree. It felt great to be on the road again.

I made it down to the America’s Best Value Inn in South Sioux, Nebraska by around 8pm. I guess ‘value’ is in the eye of the beholder. The ‘receptionist’ would have easily qualified for the Ringling Brothers ‘Largest Man in the World’ exhibit. I decided to forego a ‘happy meal’ or some similar fast food supper option, and just have a couple of ‘fleisch perschke’ and a can of Pilsner Urquell from my cooler of ‘leftovers’ I’d salvaged from my fridge when I ‘closed down’ the house this morning. I drove down Main Street and stopped at a car wash to desalinize my van. That made me feel better.

Carry On

Woke up at around 6:00am. Still dark outside. Windy. Raining. The electricity in our apartment is still off. No hot water. No shower this morning. No coffee either. I’ll just get dressed, close up my carry-on suitcase, say goodbye to the Driedgers,  and go downstairs and head to the airport. 

MaryLou is sitting on the couch reading her Kindle in the dark. She goes to wake up Dave to come say goodbye. Dave tries the breaker panel again — and voila! the power comes back on! Oh well — I’m set to go. We say goodbye and I head out to the car. 

The A22 freeway has very few cars on it — especially this early in the morning. It takes me just about an hour to get to the Faro airport. I park the car and go to the rental booth. It’s out on the parking lot and it’s raining pretty good now. The attendant isn’t there yet — it’s quarter to eight and he’ll be there at eight. When he arrives, he checks my car — checks the fuel, walks around it, looks for dents — all okay, good to go. I take my big golf bag and my small rolling suitcase out of the trunk, strap on my backpack, and walk quickly across the parking lot to the airport. By the time I’m inside my shoes and pants and luggage is sopping wet. And I’m cold. 

The airport info board says my flight is delayed by more than an hour — no one at the check-in yet. So I sit down, log on to the wifi, and read my emails. I’ve got lots of time. 

When I finally get up and go to the check-in gates I see that all three lines are backed up. WAY backed up. I go to the end of the shortest line and for the next hour plus, I’m shuffling my luggage ahead, 6 inches at a time, just like all the other impatient passengers. By the time I finally reach the desk, more than an hour later!, the flight is already boarding! My big golf bag gets checked-in as an oversize bag — I ask to have it checked through to right to Winnipeg so I won’t have to handle it again. The attendant asks if I want to check my smaller ‘carry-on’ bag as well, gratis, just to Amsterdam. Gratis? Well sure! By now there will be no room in the overhead bins anyway. Plus, I’ve got a whole afternoon in Amsterdam to kill — might as well spend it standing in the crowd around the baggage carousel!

The flight to Amsterdam is okay. Budget airline (Transavia) for this first leg, so no food, no drinks, and a very full flight. And sure enough, it takes nearly an hour after our arrival in Amsterdam for my little ‘carry on’ to come flipping out onto the baggage carousel. No problem. I’m in no rush.

It’s an hour later here than it was in Portugal, and it is after 4:00 pm by the time I finally get my bag. I eat a late lunch at one of the airport cafes (sushi and a beer), and then go stand outside where the free hotel shuttle busses come by. It is FREEZING cold outside. The reason our flight was delayed by over an hour this morning was because they’d had SNOW here in Amsterdam and had to de-ice the plane before flying it down to Portugal to pick us up. 

I haven’t packed enough sweaters and jackets for this. I DID have some winter gloves along, but they got checked through to Winnipeg in my golf bag. There’s no way I’m taking a train to downtown Amsterdam to spend an evening checking out the red light district in this weather! So I elect to go directly to my hotel when the shuttle bus shows up at 4:15.

Check in. Clean up. Log on. Catch up with what I’ve missed on CNN — and now I need to write TWO blog posts. So I write yesterday’s entry. At around 7:30 I go across the parking lot to the McDonalds and order a flat white coffee from the McCafe. Did I already mention that it is freezing cold outside?

Back in my room I finish my second (this) blog post. I have the TV on, listening to that idiot Trump spouting off about how he’s not afraid of the NRA and how they really need to get more guns INTO schools so that they can ‘protect’ the children! Boy, I sure haven’t missed much in the world of US politics!

It is 10:30 pm by the time I load up my movie, “The Shape of Water”, on the computer and settle in for an ‘evening matinee’. 

Final Thoughts:

Tomorrow I head home. Alex will pick me up at the airport, hopefully at around 8pm if all works according to plan. I’m looking forward to going home, but I’m very glad I made this trip. I’ve already said how grateful I am to Dave and MaryLou for inviting me to join them and for making me feel welcome. This Portugal trip was something that Sue and I talked about a year ago, something that we planned to do, something that Sue booked for us last July when she already wasn’t feeling great, but was hoping to do once she ‘got better’. And even after we knew that Sue wasn’t going to be making this trip, I didn’t cancel it right away. We didn’t know how long Sue would be around — when asked how long she expected to live she said sometimes she thought she might not make it to Christmas, but other times she thought she might still be alive to see the spring. And whenever I thought about what was ahead, about how it might all turn out, I too didn’t know whether I’d be going to Portugal — either way.

Well, now I know and I’m so glad that I came. It’s not my style to sit around and be sad. Sure, there have been quite a few times on this trip where I’ve thought about what might have been, and many times that I’ve been so sad that Sue wasn’t there to share the experience. And many, many times when I’ve really missed her. It’s all still a bit surreal. But (as Jerry Jeff Walker says), A Man Must Carry On. You just keep putting one foot ahead of the other. You keep going forward, one day at a time. With this trip to Portugal, that’s what I’m doing. I’m carrying on. 

So, buckaroos and buckarettes, until next time (which may be just a couple of weeks away), as they say in Portugal, “Ciao!” It’s been good talkin’ to ya. I’ll see you around.

Lights Out

The last full day in the Algarve started out not so bad. The rain that Dave kept warning us about didn’t really materialize. Yes, it was cloudy, and yes, there were some drops of rain from time to time, but really the day was pretty good! 

We started off kind of slowly. A lazy breakfast. The usual coffee and yogurt and bread with peanut butter and jam. MaryLou did a load of laundry. After I spend about an hour packing my bags, including my golf clubs, I sat around and worked on a crossword puzzle. Dave was checking out the late night talk shows. And in between we all did a bit of reading, too. MaryLou went for a walk. We had lunch. 

Okay, it’s too nice out there for us to just sit inside and do nothing all day. So we decided to take a drive — go check out the Lagos Zoo. There are splashy signs and billboards throughout our area advertising this zoo. Dave had often mentioned that he’d like to go see it. Well, today was the day. 

At the Espiche Golf Course

I took my big golf bag downstairs and put it in the trunk of the car, ready for my early morning departure tomorrow. Then we got in and headed north. The drive took us right past the Espiche golf course where Dave and I had played a few games earlier in the month (when the prices were still ‘discounted’ winter rates). So today we turned into the driveway and showed MaryLou where we had been. By now MaryLou had heard so much about Dave’s ‘miraculously’ finding his sunglasses in the thistles of this course, she thought she might right a book (or at least a column) about it. So we stopped for a short ‘photo shoot’ of Dave (and me) standing in front of the clubhouse, holding the aforementioned sunglasses. Click. Done. Next stop?

We continued down the road and wound our way through some small (and visibly less well-to-do) villages on our way to the zoo. When we got to the zoo, the parking lot had LOTS of room for us to park. We walked across the muddy parking lot and across the road to the big entrance to the zoo. Twelve euros for an entry ticket. I looked over the wall — a big pool with hundreds of small turtles crawling around and a couple of ducks swimming in it. A few (empty) cages and displays. The big sign at the entrance listed the animals to be seen here. Hmmm… Not many ‘exotic’ animals here — no lions, tigers, camels, elephants, giraffes, etc. No, they listed parrots and birds and hedgehogs and the most exotic animal was a crocodile. It looked like we would be the only visitors if we went in — but we didn’t. We got back into the car and kept driving. 

Coffee break

Now the fuel gauge was dinging ’empty’ and we needed to find a gas station so we could put a few dollars in before I take the car back to the rental company at the airport in Faro tomorrow. That turned out to be more complicated than we might have guessed. We ended up WAY west of our place, near the Santo Antonio golf course before we finally found a gas station at a large ‘Inter-Marche’ grocery station. We put in fifteen euros and then decided to have a coffee here before heading back home. We parked the car and went inside. Pastries and espressos. 

We drove back to our place and parked the car. A few minutes later we were all back in our respective stations. TV on. Waiting for happy hour. Dave and MaryLou both nodded off for a bit, although I’m sure it wasn’t the exciting day that tuckered them out! Happy hour. Our last G&Ts together. 

At 7:13 it was time to go out for supper. Although I really liked the Chinese food we’d had a few weeks ago, I thought we should really try the British pub that is just across the road from our place. Mushy peas and Guinness pie. But when we got there we learned that they are not open for meals in the evening — only for lunch, at least until the ‘summer’ season begins. Okay, that settles that — we’ll go for Chinese.

Dave & MaryLou at the Chinese restaurant

And we did. And it was good. And when it was done we went back to our place. MaryLou really wanted to play Parcheesi or Rummy Cube or some game like that — she’d found the game under our coffee table earlier today. But Dave wasn’t interested and I didn’t know how to play it, so we ended up watching a Beatles documentary on Netflix. That put MaryLou to sleep in her chair within 10 minutes. Dave woke her when it was time for our night snack — Venetian ice cream and a small port.

I was not at all tired and had intentions of writing a decent blog post — something to finish up the series — about how much fun it had been, how good it was for me to do this, how incredibly kind and generous Dave and MaryLou had been (and are), not only to invite me to join them, but to make me feel welcome and put up with my whining about the weather and my fussing in the kitchen and my walking too fast on the walks, etc. I was going to write a big long THANK YOU post to the Driedgers. They are GREAT FRIENDS to me. But right then, the three of us sitting there in the living room in front of the telly, POW! the breaker went and the power was off. Well, we’ve blown that breaker on a daily basis for the entire stay, so I just pick up my phone and turn on the flashlight and go reset the breaker. POW. It won’t reset. Hmmm.. Maybe the power is off in the entire building? Maybe that big stormy wind that is coming off the ocean and rattling our windows has knocked out the power? But we open the door and look out into the hallway — and there are lights on and the elevators are working. Dave determines that it is our breaker panel. He keeps trying to reset it over and over, but it pops right back off. 

Okay, that’s that. I gotta get up early tomorrow — I would like to leave by 7 at the latest. It’ll take me an hour to drive to the airport in Faro, and then I need to return the rental car and check in and make sure my oversize golf bag gets on the plane and the flight leaves at 10:30. I’m going to bed. We all did. In the dark. With the wind howling outside.

No blog post tonight! (so I wrote this the next afternoon)

Rain on the plains in… Portugal?

I got up early today — yesterday’s forecast predicted rain here, beginning in the afternoon. Our 2:40 tee time looked like it might be too late for us to get one more (dry) golf game in. So at 7:30 I called the course and switched our time to 8:40 am. If we could finish our game in 3 to 4 hours we’d be home, high and dry, by noon.

The wind was cool and the waves on the beach below us were big and white. So I packed my hoodie, my poofy vest, and my rain jacket. When we checked in at the clubhouse, Dave asked the lady if she thought we were making the wrong call. She shook her head — and said ‘there will be rain’. Not too many other cars on the parking lot, and we only saw one other golf buggy anywhere on the course. 

But we’re Canadians, and we’re tough. And besides, tomorrow’s forecast looks worse and the day after that I’m outta here. We’ve got to make this work.

First tee: Driver hits it high and right, but it rolls down the big slope and it’s playable. Second shot lands on the green. Putt, Putt. Par.

Second hole: Good drive, a bit right, but playable. Second shot ricochets off two trees and lands on the green. Putt. Putt. Putt. Bogey.

Third hole: Good drive, but a bit left. Wedge shot to about 2 feet from the hole. Par.

Fourth hole: Short drive. Good second shot. Wedge onto the green. Putt. Putt. Par.

Fifth hole: Par three, 90 yards, green is WAY down below us, surrounded by bunkers and anything that’s not on the green rolls way down into bushes. Tee shot misses the green left, ball is at the edge of the bush. Wedge over the green, ball lost in the bush on the other side. Drop a ball. Hit it back over the green, ball lost in the bush. Drop a ball. Okay, this isn’t going so well — why am I even doing the play-by-play? Nobody wants to read this! Nobody cares about my GAME. Tell ’em what they wanna know, why don’t you…

Dave lining up his drive on the 18th

But how’s the weather? Well, the light rain we had for the first 7 or 8 holes wasn’t too bad — the cool wind was drying us off as fast as the rain was wetting us. But then the rain got a bit more serious. And we were getting quite wet. Okay, VERY wet.

I’m as wet and cold as I look in this photo on the 18th tee

By hole 15 I was REALLY looking forward to the finish. But we persevered. And although Dave could barely (or not at all) hold onto his club after each swing, we would NOT throw in the towel. We couldn’t throw in the towel — we only had one towel between the two of us, and we needed it to dry the seat on the golf cart so we wouldn’t get our pant seats all wet. Okay, our pant seats WERE all wet anyway.

We skipped the after-game beer and loaded all our wet gear into the car and went back to the apartment. Because it was our last game we took all our golf gear up to our fourth-floor apartment so it could dry out and I could pack it all for the flight home.

I ate the sandwich I’d made in the morning, and Dave boiled up a cup of tomato soup for each of us. All our heaters were on ‘high’. And then the cleaning lady came in and did a quick cleaning of our bedrooms (but skipped the living room and kitchen because we were in there). I don’t blame her for the ‘quick’ job — I had my golf bag emptied and every chair and table now had golf paraphernalia and wet clothes draped over it. And the wind was HOWLING around our doors and windows and the rain was pounding the windows and all that was left for us to do was to sit in our comfy chairs and watch TV. So eventually I download the Oscar-nominated best picture “Get Out” and we watched that. Interesting…

We had happy hour and then at around 7pm we headed out for supper. We made a quick stop at the SPAR to get some groceries for tomorrow, and then went across the street to one of the two Indian restaurants. We shared three mains and had a fine meal. 

Shortly after 9 pm we were back at our stations in front of our TV. Dave was blasting away at his iPhone Scrabble game and MaryLou was getting the latest news from her Facebook friends. I was busy adjusting my load of laundry — making sure that each piece some hot air from one of our space heaters. 

Dave found ‘The Thin Red Line’ movie on a Dutch channel on our TV and we watched that and had our nightly ice cream and port. And that was the end of Day 21 here in the Algarve. Looks like my last day here will be just as wet!