Camperizing our Honda Element

We have loved our Honda Element since we bought it back in 2003. Since we are planning on a camping trip at the end of the month, we wanted to bring our Element with us. Today I decided to bring some new life into it.

I went online to see what people have done to make their Hondas more outdoorsy and versatile than they already are. To my surprise, they all did exactly as I would.

So I got started.

Taking out the back seats opens up a huge cargo area. Approximately 4 feet high by 5 feet wide and 5 feet long. Shaped almost like a box as well. Not a lot of wasted space either.

Putting our camping gear in filled the lower half of our Element. I didn’t really like the idea of stacking our stuff though. So out came the wood, saw and screws.

I already had an 8 foot 2×4 sitting around and a piece of plywood. I measured out the plywood for when the driver and passenger seats are leaning back. Then I folded those seats forward, cut another piece of the plywood at about 1.5 feet long. Screwed this board to the five foot board with an old piano hinge so I could fold it over when driving.

It also just so happened that I had five solid wood slats from an old double bed futon frame. Those fit perfectly across as a brace without any cutting.

We had an old 2 inch cheer mat gathering cobwebs. So I cut it to fit on top of the plywood. It looks as if it was made for the car- with the blue matching our interior. I cut another piece of foam for the fold out part. Once laid out, my 6’8″ body fit from end to end comfortably.

All of it is easy to remove as well. Which makes it a great option to camperize only when we need it.

I’m excited about the future camping trip. Our car is ready! My next couple of goals include getting some solar panels to charge our stuff. I’m also planning on building a slide out shelf to be able to use as a work station/counter.

If you have any tips or ideas for our Element, let me know. I’d love to try them out.

Auto Pilot Driving

This morning I made it home on autopilot. I’ve done this numerous times. Just like an ant- I know the route home off by heart.

I caught myself twice that I had zoned out. Once was driving past a police car with someone pulled over. Next, I was suddenly at my exit off the freeway without realizing it.

It still worries me though. I don’t like the sensation of losing the time. Once in a while I’ll take a different route home from the freeway just to change it up. I usually do that if I’m really tired. But it’s that long stretch driving for twenty minutes that has my mind wandering.

I can’t think of a good way to keep myself focused. I’ve tried a variety of music, podcasts, talk radio, even hands free calling.

Who knows. Hopefully one day I don’t have to drive anymore. Then I can zone out all the time.

Is Pizza a Breakfast Food?

After a shift at work, it’s nice to come home and relax. Grab a bite to eat and settle down. Today, when I came home, I decided to grab a cold beer and heat up some leftover pizza.

Thing is, it’s 7am and I came home from a night shift.

So am I eating breakfast or dinner?

Beer and pizza for dinner sounds not unusual. But enjoy it for breakfast, and that’s far from a healthy lifestyle.

I’m torn at which I am enjoying right now.

Is pizza a breakfast food?

Is drinking a beer with breakfast frowned upon?

When does one day end and the next begin?

Is there a heaven and hell? Do we reincarnate? Is mankind evolving? Or is it too late?

Obviously I’m tired. Gotta stop quoting Monty Python and go to bed.

Drinking Theme Song

I turned legal drinking age March 1995. This meant I could go to the clubs and bars without much hassle. This gave me a chance to rock out my killer dance moves… Of which I had none.

A few beers into me, and I’d bust a move. Poorly. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s MTV generation- where songs came with dances. People did their best to mimic and copy them. I more enjoyed memorizing song lyrics. This has come in handy on long road trips when we listened to Sirius XM 90’s On 9…

The one song that has stuck with me is “Cotton Eye Joe” by Rednex. It came out the year I was 19. It kinda became my theme song as I started to hit the bar scene. A catchy song that everyone can sing along to. Even my kids sing along to it these days.

As for dance moves- easy. Just dance like a Hillbilly. Do some square dancing or swing your legs and arms wildly. With my long legs and arms, I could look like this:

Everyone looked at drunken me as such a clown anyways. Lately, I’ve been tempted to go for dance lessons with my wife. We don’t go to nightclubs, but perhaps some ballroom dancing. I think it could be fun. Who knows, maybe one day we will.

What’s your go-to dance or song?

Back To Basics

Yesterday I got to do something at work I haven’t done in ages. I was able to be the conductor on a train from North Vancouver to Squamish and back again. I don’t usually get asked to help out, so it was a refreshing break from my usual office work.

I was also lucky enough to be with an engineer that was a pleasure to work with. That made the ride more relaxing and enjoyable. Years ago I would work as a conductor taking this train up and down along the west coast. Not every experience was a good one. Especially in the winter.

This route is one of the most scenic routes I know of in North America to take by rail. During the summer months, The Rocky Mountaineer passenger train also takes this trip. For those of you who like trains- the Rocky Mountaineer is like taking a cruise by rail. It also costs about the same. Seeing the beautiful landscape along British Columbia is worth it in my opinion.

My job is pretty amazing at times, that’s for sure. I’m really lucky to be able to have the experiences I do. In the end, it’s all about how you perceive the workload that makes a job worthwhile.

Last Minute Date Night

I was about to leave work when my wife sent me a text:

My suggestions of fast food didn’t seem to sway her decision from still meeting me.

So instead of me driving home, after a long day at work, to vegetate before bed; I met up with my wife for a couple beers and a pub style dinner at a place called Mission Springs Brewery.

We were seated out on the patio at a deck couch. A flight of beers and some crazy delicious burgers were enjoyed. We felt youthful again as we giggled and flirted like we did when we had just begun dating. No one else was sitting on the patio, so we felt like we were being treated like celebrities- Off in a comfortable corner, but with people still able to see us from inside.

The evening had cooled off nicely. Our meal was enjoyed as we watched the sunset in peace. This was the evening my wife had wanted. –NOT KFC

I’m glad I was able to accommodate. I enjoyed our spontaneous date.

Barefoot

What is wrong with me these days? I’m choosing to not wear shoes more often. That is not me at all.

At home- I am loving the feel of the moss underfoot. Or the sense of the wood floor and carpet inside my home.

The other evening I walked around the block on the warm pavement barefooted as well. I had simply forgotten that I should put on shoes when I left my house. I only noticed when I stepped on a pebble. But by then, I was too far gone from the house to turn around. And our dog was happily trotting beside me- I couldn’t force him to stop his walk.

On Wednesday, I dipped my feet into the Hayward Lake. It was so warm and refreshing. The sensation I experienced as I sat on the dock watching the sun go down was tranquil and mesmerizing.

The one thing I’ve noticed about being barefoot, is that every step taken is giving me a unique feel of the earth. With each barefoot step, the contrasts underfoot brings me a sense of well being and calmness as well as a connection to the world.

Is this what it was like to be a hippie back in the 60’s?

You know, they may have been onto something. I’m feeling youthful and fun again.

Froggy Frog

My son caught a frog the other day. We named it Froggy Frog. It’s not the first time we’ve caught a frog in our yard. We’ve even caught a salamander and a couple of garter snakes (or garden snake if you prefer).

We tend to just look at them for a day or so, then set them free again. There’s no reason to keep them in captivity or kill them. The little ecosystem in our backyard is as if living in a Disney movie. I even described the sounds we hear daily in The Early Bird as well as the time I had to set a hummingbird free. I’ve even discussed my dislike of Rats a few times. But country living is accepting that all of these critters live here as well.

Mr. Froggy Frog has been set free already. Maybe his journey will be an incredible challenge with a set of crazy memories of us. Or maybe he’ll just go about his business eating bugs and staying cool.

That’s about it for my frog blog post. Time to hop along.

08/08/80

Today is my sister’s birthday.

We don’t see each other much. In fact- only about once a year when I go over to her place. Which is pretty good honestly. We’ve kind of grown apart over the years. Which is also okay. Life just does things like that.

I’m about four and half years older than her. When we were kids, we were pretty good friends. We would put on puppet shows together, walk home from school together, swim together, watch the same cartoons together. (I kinda like My Little Pony I wouldn’t tell my friends that at the time.) At Christmas, I’d assemble the Barbie toys that she’d get. I was a good big brother.

Pretty sure she’s going to kill me for sharing these lovely photos…

As we grew up into our teenage years, we were still friends-ish. I still looked out for her to an extent. Except once….

On my 17th birthday, we headed out on the bus towards the mall. She hopped off at a stop to visit a friend as I went on my way.

I came home later that evening around dinner. No one was home but the phone was ringing. It was my father. As we spoke, my heart sank. My sister had been hit by a truck. She was airlifted to the hospital.

My 17th birthday was spent in the hospital waiting room, hoping for good news. Seeing her beat up and broken, I had never wanted someone to live as much as I did for her that day. That was one of the hardest things I have ever faced.

Luckily, she survived.

Our family did not.

My father blamed me for the accident. He told me so. That’s hard for a 17 year old to deal with. But I’ve moved past that now. My sister and I have had our differences over the years, but we never talk about her accident. We keep that tucked away behind a hardship we endured.

My sister has a great personality. Even if I do think she’s crazy. One Christmas she gave me a t-shirt that said “Nikki’s Brother” because she was tired of being called Joe’s Sister. I wore that shirt for over twenty years until it finally crumbled.

My sister is one of the kindest individuals you will ever meet. She always has a smile and a laugh ready at a moment’s notice. She’s a wonderful mother who works hard to give her children the best life possible. She’s active in her community and I swear- she knows everyone in Powell River.

I want to wish my sister a great big “Happy Birthday!” You’ve made it this far- may you celebrate 38 more years of insanity if not more!

And ALWAYS look both ways before crossing the street.

Game On!

Monday was a stat holiday which also meant “Game Day” at our home. Ok, not because it was a holiday- our kids are off for summer as it is, but we had a “Game Day” just because.

My wife and I often start our day by playing an old N64 game- Pok√©mon Puzzle League on the Wii in our bedroom. She loses pretty regularly at it. I’m not sure why she keeps wanting to play, but it’s kind of our thing. So I keep playing.

Since the weather is nice, I’m trying to get the kids not to play so many video games or be on their iPhones and iPads. A difficult task when they see mom and dad lazing in bed playing video games…

So I offered to hang with the kids throughout the day. We have a large collection of board games and tabletop games hidden away in an ottoman. Yesterday we decided to play a couple of these games outside.

First choice was Monopoly. Our oldest prides herself in kicking butt every time. This was no exception. I think she only won because we use the center of the board for the taxes incurred throughout the game and “Free Parking” as the winning spot to get those dolla bills- yo! (As the hip kids say…)

Just before dinner we played Settlers of Catan. I am viciously good at this game. I have an almost Rain Man ability to watch the cards being issued and played by each opponent. I’m also good at figuring out people’s strategies on the board. Needless to say- I killed it last night!

We ended our evening by watching “Ready Player One” as a family. Recently, a few people I know online have been mentioning the novel, so it was fresh in my mind. (Check out Cole Campfire Blog sometime for some outdoor inspiration.) Since four of the five of us in the family had read the novel, and my two youngest had already seen the film- it was an easy choice for family movie night. Clearly, the movie is not like the novel- a bit disappointing- but fun to watch nonetheless.

Our impromptu game day was a ton of fun and a good way to connect as a family.