The End of the Big Drives

As unbelievable as it seems to me, John and I have now completed our last Big Driving Tour.  The car has been emptied out and things are put away.  Maybe now I can actually unpack my stage clothes and quilts.  I found all the fabric I bought during the tour – see the last picture on this blog post.  Here’s a recap of the tour from September 11 to November 22nd, 2016 (I know this is waaaay late!) – pour yourself a cup of hot brown drink; it’s a long one!

We started to see some lovely colours through the mountains in Wyoming, through the Snake River Valley, just south of Jackson Hole.


It’s unusual to see red maple leaves in the mountains.

Steamboat Springs was our first stop, and I taught a Mock Mola class there. It’s a ski town in the mountains in Colorado, and we both said we could live there!


It was a small class, and they did great work!

From there, we headed across the final mountain range to Colorado Springs. Absolutely gorgeous drive through Rocky Mountain National Park, above the tree line. None of our pictures fully capture how astounding the scenery is there.  I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great drive. In the summer.


In Colorado Springs, another class!


After class, we spent another couple of days in town, hoping that we could have a balloon ride.  The first two days were too windy, then it looked like it was a “go” for the third day.  Unfortunately, someone (who may or may not still have his job) neglected to refill the gas tanks of our balloon, and we missed out – AGAIN!!!  Maybe sometime we’ll get up in a hot air balloon; we’ve now tried 6 times without any luck.



This is the closest we’ve ever gotten to getting airborne in a hot air balloon!

We had a bit of time before we had to get to our next show in Kansas, so we turned into tourists for a while. We stopped in at a couple of presidential museums on the way.  In all, we visited 3 official presidential museums on this trip.  Fascinating, to learn of the history behind each presidency.

(L to R): Eisenhower statue in Abilene KS, me with Amelia Earhart (I know, she wasn’t a president, but we went anyway) at her family home in Atchison KS, and John with Harry S. Truman in Independence MO.

Another class in Leavenworth KS.  Our show in Leavenworth was small but enthusiastic. Connie and Maria did a great job organizing the event.

This is Vicky, Kim, Connie, Shari, and Denise displaying their stunning work at the end of class. 


After Leavenworth, we stopped in to Hamilton MO on our way east. This was a Highly Recommended Stop, for a quilter!  The big mural in Hamilton MO signifies the Town that Quilting built. It seems like the entire downtown is one big quilt shop! It’s not, though – it’s TWELVE quilt shops! Yes, this is the home of Missouri Star Quilts.


We paid a visit to the Lincolns (Abraham Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library) in Springfield IL. It’s a very good museum, but of the three we visited, we liked the Eisenhower the best.  There was an amazing map in the Lincoln Museum, though, that was worth the price of admission: it is an animated map of the US, detailing all the major battles and territories held by each side throughout the Civil War – the entire history in 4 minutes!


Can you spot John hobnobbing with the Lincolns?


From Kansas we drove through to southern Ontario for the month of October.  There are always lots of people to see there, including many family members.  Our first show and class was in Burlington ON. I’ve written a song about the Burlington Teen Tour Band quilt (“Boots and Bayonets”), and it was great to sing the song for them again. The class the next day was very creative and fun.


I have a very old friend who lives in Burlington – in fact, I used to babysit her kids when I was growing up in London.  We spent a delightful evening with her and her daughter the next night.

The next day we drove into Toronto for a Thanksgiving lunch at my nephew’s new home.  I gave away two quilts at that luncheon – it’s my very favourite thing to do! One was a delayed wedding quilt for Dan and Yasi – they wanted a cuddle quilt for watching TV under, all flannelette. The other was for my brother and sister-in-law: a portrait of their old house.  I learned a lot doing that one – I even used a new technique called “Confetti applique” that I learned from Ruth Bloomfield in Queensland Australia. (She has given me permission to teach this – watch for a new class soon!)

Here’s a closeup of the “Knoxvilla” quilt.


Then we headed up to spend the remainder of the weekend with my other brother. I picked up a new sign for him when we were in Texas earlier in the year (thank you, Paul Hewitt!). Doug would not be a Republican, if he lived in the US, hence the look on his face! I love this picture of him!


The leaves were just getting started in the near-north of Ontario, and they continued for us for the next month.  I have so many pictures of the gorgeous fall leaves!  I’m sure there will be a confetti-appliqued fall colours-themed quilt or two in my future.



We had lots of shows in Ontario: Orleans, Algonquin Highlands (Haliburton), Whitby, and Richmond. Then we crossed over to the US again to complete the tour.  Erie PA was our first stop, and I taught a class for them as well.


I love glass. Stained glass, blown glass, fused glass, any kind at all.  We’ve been able to visit a couple of glass museums over the years, and took the opportunity to stop in Corning NY at the largest glass museum in North America. Corning – the inventors of Corningware, Corelle dishes, and Fibre Optics.  At the museum is a working glass-blowing studio, and many displays about telescope and lighthouse lenses, safety glass for automobiles, history of glass making, modern art glass, and computer display glass.  Four hours is not enough for this museum! And the gift shop is the whole bottom floor of the building. Since we were there just before Halloween, they had all their blown pumpkins on display.

Corning Museum of Glass

Then we had a week off to explore the Washington DC area.  On our way, we stopped off in Mifflinburg PA to visit Verna’s Quilt Shop.  It’s in a Mennonite/Amish area, and here’s the view from our car window on the way to the shop.



School bus and horse-drawn carriage.



Verna’s is chock full of fabric. If you want to use their restroom, it is a one-holer out back!

A this point in the tour, we became TOURISTS! We spent a week in Arlington Virginia, and took in a lot of things in the area, beginning with the George Washington Masonic Memorial.021-george-washington-masonic-national-memorial-small




There was a stunning view from the top of the memorial.


It was the Saturday before Hallowe’en when we went to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s house.  The place was overrun with children, all dressed up for trick-or-treating!


There was a lineup to get to meet “Martha Washington” on the front steps of the house.


Yes, Elvis made an appearance!


This little chocolate chip cookie was my favourite costume of the day!

It was final preparations for All Saints’ Day at the Museum of the American Indian, and Day of the Dead performances and celebrations were in full swing.  What an amazing building, designed by Canadian Douglas Cardinal.

There were performances all day long, and, from the fourth floor, we caught a bit of the ukuleles from Hawaii.


Beautiful day in the national capital!

The fall colours had followed us from Ontario, and were starting to blaze in DC as well.  We saw lots at the Arlington Cemetery in our visit there.


Our tours took us to the FDR monument, which also sported some fall colours.



John with FDR!

Above are three pictures of our day in Washington:  the gigantic Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, a section of the Berlin Wall at the Newseum (well worth the visit – there’s so much there!), and one of me sitting in a Parks Canada “red chair” in the echo rotunda at the Canadian Embassy.

Then, it was back to work!  I taught a class in Lewes, Delaware – a “Hexagons: State of the Art” workshop.  It’s a bit of a sweatshop, especially in the morning, but everyone gets to try out different ways to make hexies using many techniques.  In the afternoon we play with fussy cutting fabrics using the Lucy Boston templates, and beautiful things were created!


I also taught a Mock Mola class in Williamsburg VA, and got to see an old friend at the same time: Freda Atkins.


Then, it was a huge drive WEST! Seven days later we stopped in Havre MT at the quilt shop there, and as we approached the border to cross into Canada again, this is what we saw out the window.



Welcome Home!


Our friend Pat Ruby hosted a dinner where I got to invite some of the good friends I hadn’t seen much of since I moved to Victoria in 2000.  What a night! It was just like it used to be, with lots of laughing and storytelling, but somehow everybody is looking much older.  How did that happen?

One last show and class at My Sewing Room before we headed home.


We stayed with Robyn (on the right), a fellow engineer who knew John in Yellowknife – and a sewer of great skill. We laughed a lot with her, too, and I got to take a yoga class with her and her partner while I was there.

A last familiar road over the Rocky Mountains, ending with a ferry ride and our own bed for the first time in 10 weeks. After I unpacked the car, I found all kinds of fabric I had stashed in various nooks and crannies during the tour.  It was just like Christmas!!!


And that’s it! Thank you for reading until the end of this very long missive. It was a lovely tour, and a great way to end 16 years of touring this program. We got to see lots of old and new friends, took in a lot of touristy stuff, and enjoyed mostly great weather.  Thank you to all who made it memorable, comfortable, and enjoyable. I hope to see you again.

9 Responses to “The End of the Big Drives”

  1. Betty Cuti Says:

    Thank you for sharing your travels! Such a lifestyle you lead!!
    Great blog. I shall watch for more ……until next time….
    Betty Cuti

  2. hockeyirene Says:

    How wonderful to read another of your most enjoyable travelogues. Thank you, Cathy! It would be fun to meet again, now that I’m in the PNW, 25 minutes from Anacortes. Welcome home!
    In Peace,

  3. Jan Rhoades Says:

    Wonderful. And now to prepare for the next big ‘last’ adventure. But I bet it isn’t. Can’t wait to catch up Down Under. See you soon.

  4. quiltlady41 Says:

    It was so nice to hear from you again.  Loved the trip, felt like I was there with you, I am just not as tired as I am sure you were.  Love the mock mola.

    From: SingingQuilter’s Weblog To: Sent: Friday, February 17, 2017 10:01 AM Subject: [New post] The End of the Big Drives #yiv1575851389 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1575851389 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1575851389 a.yiv1575851389primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1575851389 a.yiv1575851389primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1575851389 a.yiv1575851389primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1575851389 a.yiv1575851389primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1575851389 | singingquilter posted: “As unbelievable as it seems to me, John and I have now completed our last Big Driving Tour.  The car has been emptied out and things are put away.  Maybe now I can actually unpack my stage clothes and quilts.  I found all the fabric I bought during the to” | |

  5. tonysuttor tonysuttor Says:

    Great blog Cathy and John. See you soon.

    Cheers, Tony

  6. joanne krause Says:

    What a wonderful journey teaching and Inspiring all over.We are glad you made it too Australia. joanne krause Melbourne

    • singingquilter Says:

      Hi Joanne – Thanks for your comment. You are right – it has been a wonderful journey. We’ll be coming through Melbourne on our upcoming trip (there March 26-29th) – but no concerts (I won’t even be bringing my guitar!). We are on our way in 3 weeks to spend 5 weeks in Australia before traveling on to South Africa and Europe. This will be John’s 2nd “Farewell Tour” of Australia…..

  7. Michelle Says:

    You’ll have to go on a balloon flight in Canberra when you are here! It will be autumn when you are around so perfect for ballooning.

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    The End of the Big Drives | SingingQuilter's Weblog

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