Escaping to LaChance

If you’re in Missouri in the autumn, take the chance to tour some wineries. It makes a lovely outing with friends as you drive the country roads enjoying the colorful scenery.

We were slightly south of Saint Louis, so we visited the Wild Sun Winery near Hillsboro and enjoyed it so much, that we went on to the LaChance Winery near DeSoto.

Both sites had patio areas where you could enjoy their great views while you sip your wine. You could get a sampler or buy a glass or bottle of wine. They had food as well but we were saving our appetites for a special dinner that evening.

A red wine, the sangria and a white wine at LaChance Vinyards in Missouri.

My husband tried the Special Reserve, a cabernet sauvignon, and liked it so well that he bought a bottle to take with us. The friend who was showing us around opted for a white and I chose a glass of the sangria to try.

All were quite satisfactory and gave us an excuse to loiter in the autumn sunshine, telling stories and relaxing. It was a treat to escape the hustle and bustle for these moments in the country.

Later that evening, we shared the bottle of cabernet while eating tender venison. Hours of slow-cooking resulted in the most savory, lean meat with potatoes and its own gravy. The LaChance wine was a perfect accompaniment for the tasty meal.

Both wineries had glasses that you could buy for souvenirs. Whenever we use our LaChance glasses, we’ll think of that perfect autumn afternoon on the patio and the lovely dinner later that evening.

Grass plumes by the deck of the winery.

Seeing Winslow Homer’s Studio

A visitor expressed an interest in going to see Winslow Homer’s studio in Maine. I love his paintings of the rugged coast, so I checked for information about the studio at Prout’s Neck, north of Kennebunkport. Unfortunately it isn’t easy to visit.

First off, it is open to tours 2 days a week and on those days, they only give 2 tours. The tours are limited to 10 people each and it costs $55. To take the tour, one must go to Portland Museum of Art. For us, that’s an additional half hour drive over the hour and 10 minutes it would take to get from New Hampshire to Prout’s Neck. Then the museum transports the tour members to the studio for a 2 hour tour and then back to the museum.

Sigh… Too expensive and too far for an easy day trip. We may take a drive one day and at least see the scenery along that stretch of coastal Maine.

There’s a web cam so you can see the view from Homer’s studio (keep in mind, that you won’t see anything after dark). You can also watch some videos on Youtube about Winslow Homer’s paintings, his life and his studio.

Celebrating the American Artist, Winslow Homer

The great American artist, Winslow Homer was born February 24, 1836. His work is highly valued today as some of the greatest American realism painting. I’ve collected some of his art, now available on posters, cards and framed prints for your enjoyment.

Be sure to watch the videos about the influences on his painting and also the ones that explain individual paintings. This will give you an even greater enjoyment of Winslow Homer’s contribution to American art.

Winslow Homer: Noreaster fine art Canvas Print
Winslow Homer: Noreaster fine art Canvas Print by Virginia5050

His paintings of people appeal in a different way than his seascapes.

Morning Glories - Postcard
Morning Glories – Postcard by dchaddad
Check out other Winslow homer Postcards at

Links for Learning More about Winslow Homer

Bill Gates bought a Winslow Homer painting for 36 million dollars.

Finding Family

The second day in Neguac, we knocked on the door of the house with the ALLAIN and FORBES signs in the yard.  When a lady answered the door, my husband explained that we were probably related.  He told her who his grandfather and great-grandfather were.  She drew us into the house and we met her husband who was a first cousin to my husband’s father.  We finally figured out later that made him his second cousin.  They were in their eighties and we embarked on a mixed conversation of French and English. 

Jacqueline called her children and sister-in-law to come over to meet the long-lost relatives from the States.  One daughter brought over her grandmother’s diaries and another brought family photos.  The visit continued as we all trooped over to Chez Raymond for a seafood lunch.  Another cousin (second or third?) had been called to meet us there.  Bebert was his nickname and he was the keeper of family memories.  Over lunch, he recited family stories and connections running back for generations to the first arrival from France in the 1600s. 

We drove to several houses after lunch just to photograph the exteriors.  Bebert had identified these as Allain homes, including where my husband’s grandfather had lived before emigrating to the States.  One house was gone and a pharmacy stood on its location across from the graveyard.

Returning to Levis and Jaqueline’s we met more relatives.  Conversation was lively as we all got acquainted and they shared family history with us.  By six o’clock, one cousin asked us over to her home to see photos she had and to have pizza.  Finally as dusk fell, we tore ourselves away to go set up our camper at the campground.  The mosquitoes in Neguac are truly ferocious. 

It took us awhile to unwind after such an exhilerating day of meeting so many new relatives.  The warm welcome will stay in our memories for a long time.

Searching Acadian Roots

My husband and his cousin chose the summer of 2009 for visiting New Brunswick.  This was the year that the World Acadian Congress celebrated Acadian culture and history in that province.  Held every four years in different regions, the Congress triggers major family reunions among far-flung Acadians from Louisiana, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. 

Dennis and Donald hoped to reconnect with the New Brunswick roots.  Although no Allain reunion showed on the official schedule, they made the trip from the United States to the birthplace of their fathers.  The American branch of the family left Neguac in 1923 to settle in Maine where there was work in the mills.  Donald had worked for a few years already on the Allain genealogy and he hoped the trip would connect the dots.

The first day in Neguac, the two cousins visited the graveyard behind the church to check the names, dates and relationships on the Allain tombstones.  Donald took photos of all the stones marked Allain.  There were a lot of them.

Neguac showed its Acadian pride by decorating the yards and houses with red, white and blue.  Families posted name signs in their yards; Savoie, Breau, Hebert, Cyr, LaBlanc, Gagnon, Allain.  We were tempted to just walk up and knock on the door and ask if we were related.

Taken with the idea of having our own red, white and blue flag with ALLAIN across the center, we drove to Tracadie and found the Acadian souvenir shop.  We had to settle for the plain Acadian flag, as the name flags required ordering. 

Back at the van for the evening, Dennis started reading Les Allain, a genealogy book by Fidele Theriault.  We’d found it at the Neguac visitor’s center earlier in the day.  At last he was able to make the link between his great-grandfather, back generation by generation, to the original Louis Allain who came to the colonies in the 1600s.   

In looking back at his grandfather and great-grandfather and following the listings for his grandfather’s brothers and sisters, he made an intriguing discovery.  His grandfather, Benjamin, had a sister Suzanne who had a son Levis whose wife was a Forbes.  One of the decorated yards we passed in Neguac had both Allain and Forbes signs in the yard.  It had to be Levis and his wife Jacqueline.

I’ve compiled a booklist on Amazon for anyone who’s searching their Acadian roots.

Campervan Traveling

We traveled in our Road Trek campervan for the New Brunswick trip.  It’s a very well-made recreational vehicle, actually made in Canada.  I’m amazed at what they are able to squeeze into the small interior (a kitchen, a pull-out table, a bed, TV, a bathroom).  Even more amazing, it almost fits into a regular parking lot space.  We usually look for a space where we can pull-through, so we don’t have to back out with cars crowding us on both sides.

To simplify breakfast, we usually pick up carry-out coffee and cocoa at a fast food place.  In Canada, there are the usual McDonalds, but we looked for the Canadian chain, Tim Horton.  On the third morning of our trip, we had our usual bowl of fresh fruit and a container of yogurt for breakfast inside the van.  Then we parked close to a Ramada Inn so we could pick up their wi-fi in the parking lot.  We’d brought along a notebook computer as a space saver.  It worked just fine for us.

Set out following the lighthouse signs that marked the Fundy Coastal Drive.  The road followed the coast down to Cape Tormentine.  The GPS often couldn’t detect a road and just showed us driving through uncharted forests.  The route followed the coast so closely that the little car icon looked like it had one wheel in the water.


Seafood crepe
Seafood crepe

Reached Shediac by noon, so it seemed appropriate to lunch in a local restaurant.  The small city’s claim-to-fame is its lobster festival, but it might be the campground hotspot for New Brunswick.  Quite a few RV parks lined the coast there.  We picked a restaurant at random and enjoyed a seafood crepe and caesar salad.  Couldn’t resist a photo of the giant lobster sculpture at the edge of town.  The local Rotary Club paid for it and the tourists, including us, loved it.

I had to restrain my on-the-fly photography when it started to rain.  Raindrops on the window interfere with photo ops.  To make things worse, the automatic window chose this time to get stuck.  Riding along in the rain with 63 degree temperatures cured me of lowering the window every time I saw a scenic village church. Finally got the window back up, and left it up.

Found a rustic campground near Escuminac that had wi-fi.  Stopped for the night.  I fixed a rather ambitious meal of ham steak, mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables in the two and a half-feet of counter space in the van’s kitchen.  Thank goodness for microwaves and propane stoves.

Through the Windscreen – New Brunswick

Our New Brunswick odyssey took nine days.  The official province map lays out five “routes panoramiques” and they were indeed quite scenic drives.  We started with the Fundy Coastal Drive, then onto the Acadian Coastal Drive, connected to the Appalachian Range Route, and cut across at Saint Quentin to the River Valley Scenic Drive.    This took us counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the province.

That meant we missed the Miramichi River Route which cuts diagonally across the province.  Ah well, it gives us a reason to return someday to take that drive.

Here’s a sampling of photos showing New Brunswick architecture, sweet churches and scenery as seen through the windscreen.  It would have been nice to stop and take better photos of all these, but then our trip would have taken three weeks. 

Sampling New Brunswick Foods

When I travel, I love tasting local foods along the way.  Of course, traveling along the coast of New Brunswick, we made sure to eat plenty of their great seafood.  My first experience with it was in the tiny village of St. Martin’s.  Side-by-side restaurants with a view of the Bay of Fundy enticed us.  We chose The Caves, named after the local attraction, caves carved out of the cliffs by the tidal currents. 

I choose the seafood bake which turned out to be scallops, shrimp, haddock and bits of lobster in a sauce with three kinds of cheese melted over it.  Delectable!  The simple decor of blue checked oilcloth on the tables, white and blue walls were secondary to the superb view and the food.  You could also eat outside on the deck.

St. Martin’s is well worth getting off the divided highway and trekking on the scenic side road.  The village visitor’s center looked like a lighthouse, but if you follow their directions, you’ll see a real lighthouse.  Two covered bridges, adjacent to the visitor’s center, can be captured in one photograph if you align yourself close to the shore.  Then drive on through the one nearest the water to get to the seafood restaurants.

Time your visit for when the tide is out, if you want to walk down to the sea caves.  The visitor’s center has the times posted.  If you go at the wrong time, the Bay of Fundy tide comes in fast and deep so you want to play it safe.  The tide was in when we were there.