“In The Shape of An L On Her…”

Car!

Random did it. She turned 16 yesterday and went and got her learners permit today! She passed the test without issue.

So my oldest is now learning to drive. I raced home from work so that I could take her out for a spin. She slapped the “L” on the back of my car and we got ready to head out. Being her first “official” driving experience (she may have moved the cars a few times over the past year in our driveway, but I won’t tell) she did everything by the book!

She walked around the car- twice. She sat in the driver’s seat and adjusted her mirrors, steering wheel and seat. Her seat belt went on, she started the car and the radio got turned off. As we drove, she used signals, drove just below the speed limit, shoulder checked, and focused. Our trip up the road to the gas station was one of the most perfect by-the-book rides I have had since probably my road test 35 years ago.

Starting with the good habits is difficult. I know how I drive. I know what my car is capable of. I also know how to *ahem* bend the rules a bit. I had to put all of that behind me and talk with her about how to drive properly. She did great- and her smile afterwards was worth it all. Like back when I taught her how to ride a two wheel bike. She was so proud of herself. That was eleven years ago…

But she’s still my little girl. And I am proud of her accomplishments as well.

Our Oldest Turns Sweet 16

Today our oldest daughter hit that milestone of turning 16. As per her wishes, we did not make a big fanfare of it. She doesn’t like many pictures to be taken, but when we do she has a beautiful smile that makes others happy as well. Random also woke up early today to bake her own cake.

Besides being a good cook and baker, she is growing up in many other aspects. She can now try for a driver’s license! She’s been studying hard and I think she will get the learner’s license without fail when she goes in this week.

She makes me proud in so many ways. She will continue to be an amazing woman as she grows up. We love her immensely!

Happy Birthday Random!

You are our answer to Life, the Universe and Everything!

WASPS!

Today we were cleaning around the yard getting ready for a bbq party tomorrow. As my son was cleaning up toys, he got stung five times by a group of wasps. They even chased him into the house to get him the last two times! I went to check where the nest was and got stung as well for just being in the area. FFS!

Every year I usually destroy two wasp nests. Seems like I found the first one of the year. Last year one was in my roof and the other next to our awning. So my son and I went to the store and got our spray attack ready. We are prepared to kill!

These jerks won’t be stinging my guests this weekend after tonight. Once the sun goes down, death shall be brought upon the beasts! Why must wasps be so evil?

Go make honey like the bees you jerks.

Nowhere To Go, Can’t Wake Up Late

Today we left my sister’s place at 8:15am. We weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere. Our ferry was to depart at 9:20 and it was just up the road.

We were one of the first few on board. But it seemed that they over loaded the passenger count. Turns out that there were four charter buses filled with choirs from around the world on the ferry. The ferry ended up departing 20 minutes late. Meaning we weren’t going to get the connection to our next ferry. I had no problem with this since the choirs were rehearsing on board the ferry. These were very talented kids and teens and a real pleasure to hear. They were also filled with smiles and wonderment as they enjoyed the ride along the water. Sometimes I forget how lucky we are to have British Columbia as a home.

Because I knew that I wasn’t going to make the earlier ferry at the next spot, I chose to leisurely drive and stopped at a couple breweries for a growler fill. Unfortunately the first one I stopped at was closed, so I proceeded to the Persephone Brewing Company. While they filled my growler, a young kid sitting a a table with his father offered to do a magic trick for me. Again, I was impressed. He might’ve been about 12 years old and his card force skills were impeccable.

A rule of thumb that I follow for street performers is that if they can stop me and hold my attention for a few minutes- it’s worth giving up some money. This boy was talented and a really good showman. I hope he continues on his journey to entertain and perform. Donating a small token of gratitude can go a long way at any age.

That’s how today went. Easy breezy but unexpectedly entertained by talented youngsters.

Day 2 of More Nothingness

This vacation is filled with no plans, but we are still doing stuff. This morning I slept in and was served bacon and pancakes. It seems that when I was drinking the night before- I had agreed to take my son and nephew to the driving range. So I had to live up to my drunken promise.

We took some old clubs and my brother-in-law and I tried to explain how to golf to the kids. A few good hits, but mostly terrible form. We had lost of laughs and busted up a few dozen tees in the process.

While we were gone, my daughter used her free time to write. She is taking it upon herself to write a novel this summer. In a couple of years she wants to major in writing at school. This trip has been a great excuse for her to express her ideas.

Afterwards, I took each of my kids for a rip on the quad. They even took turns driving. We made a few videos and took a bunch of photos. It ended up being a fun day of nothingness again.

That’s the best way to spend a vacation.

Extended Family Visit

Today I am traveling with my two youngest to visit my sister and her family. We are only going for a couple of nights, but the journey takes us a bit. At least an hour drive from our home to Horseshoe Bay to catch the first of two ferries. But traffic wasn’t being helpful in the first part of this journey.

We missed the 1pm ferry and had to wait for the next one at 2:20pm. While we waited, we played some “Knowledge Is Power” in the car. It’s an app for our iPhones as well as a game we enjoy on the PS4 at home. It really tests your knowledge on everything. Missing the earlier ferry means we will be delayed to get the next one which is just over an hour drive from the first.

It was a hot one outside. So I ended up turning the car on a couple of times to crank the AC while we waited. It seemed as well that people were talking a lot about the weather on social media. It’s pretty normal when the weather has extreme changes. I love seeing the outdoors of BC on a sunny day. Everything is a beautiful green and blue.

The ferry ride through the Georgia Straight is alluring. My daughter and son took numerous photos of the scenery as well as a few time lapse videos of us moving along the water. I think they are getting ready to make another fan music video like they did for our trip to Japan. Check it out here: Big in Japan

Theory and Darwin are looking forward to seeing their cousins again. It’s been almost a year since the last time we saw them. Even though it feels like they live pretty close, taking two ferries is expensive and time consuming. Which is why I’m only taking two of my kids while my wife and oldest are staying home.

It should end up being a pleasant visit with my sister. I brought back some books she leant us, and we may grab a few new ones from her. Time for some rest and relaxation with no worries for the next couple days.

Our Canadian July 4th Tradition

Even though my family and I are Canadian, we celebrate Independence Day the same way every year. We get together and enjoy a typical American meal such as burgers or pizza- tonight is Costco hot dogs and soda.

I put on the closest t-shirt I have to being something that symbolizes USA. And we wish a happy, healthy Fourth of July to our friends in the USA.

Then we watch the one film that symbolizes July 4th for us.

We love this film. Two years ago I wrote about how the tradition began and our journey through Nevada on the Extraterrestrial Highway: ID4

I wrote again about the film Last year and my opinion on “fake news”.

But something wonderful about the film reminds me of America. It’s a classic Hollywood Blockbuster with action, comedy, and heart. It showcases heroics, the fall and rise of a diverse group of people and a sense of leadership. Leadership that is needed to bring the US back from destruction.

I love this film- for all it’s campiness and ridiculous moments. And for the joy it brings my family as we look forward to viewing it every year.

Pathfinder LE

Today my wife is trading in her 2008 V8 Nissan Pathfinder LE. We bought it on her birthday December 6th, 2010. Here is her legacy…

The First Day. December 6/2010

The day we bought it was quite by accident. I was getting the windshield fixed on our minivan at the time and decided to browse used cars online. After booking an impromptu test drive, we spent the entire day at the dealership getting the paperwork in order. By nightfall, my wife had in her possession one of the most expensive birthday gifts ever. We needed a new vehicle at the time since our 2000 Chevy minivan was dying (and hated). Timing worked out that the Pathfinder was available on my wife’s birthday.

We brought it home and managed to get a Nightmare Before Christmas sticker for it to match our Honda Element. Both vehicles are silver and well loved. Seems we like owning matching colours of vehicles. The Pathfinder has taken us on many journeys up and down the West Coast.

In six and a half years, we managed to put on almost 200,000kms. Through deserts, mountains and beaches; windstorms, snowstorms and heatwaves: this SUV has been as big a part of our road trips as the destinations.

From ferry rides to doughnut shops; dinners at In-N-Out Burger to watching documentary films in the backseat: the comfort of the Pathfinder is unrivaled. For all of our trips, this Pathfinder has been the shit!

It will be sad to see it go. But as the kids grow older, our journeys have become more about the destinations and it’s time to see more of the world that the Pathfinder can’t reach. It is time to say goodbye to her.

One final night in our Pathfinder was spent at the Drive-In yesterday. A fond farewell to our summer routines in a vehicle that we have slowly outgrown for film watching. (We really could not fit all of us inside anymore.) The family talked about every movie we could remember seeing at the drive-in. We even spoke of the memories of killing the battery after watching a Saturday triple feature (on more than one occasion.)

Today we say goodbye to a family member. A piece of our past shall remain in photos and memories as we move forward into a new car. A car that can still fit our family as a local driver. A car my wife is excited to be driving. It’s new and a bit more sporty with a six speed manual transmission. Something she has been missing for a few years now.

It seems as well that my wife will be driving a white vehicle. Something I never would’ve expected. As I said, she likes owning matching colours.

Goodbye 2008 V8 Nissan Pathfinder LE. Your luxury and reliability did not go unnoticed. To whomever gets you next- may they have as many great memories and adventures as we did.

Farewell old friend. You truly were a Path Finder to us.

Dinner: Disassembled

One of our favorite meals involves using wraps. It’s a fun and easy way to serve dinner. Plus it means the kids have to do some of the work.

Fresh vegetables this time of year are a must. Crisp green lettuce and firm juicy tomatoes add to the enjoyment. Sometimes we slice up an avocado or peppers as well.

Seasoned ground beer is our most commonly used main part of the dish. Using a Cast Iron pan keeps the meat warm and is great to go from stovetop to oven as well. (Sometimes we substitute grilled chicken with taco seasoning.)

Add a bit of sour cream and shredded cheese, wrap it up and enjoy. Wraps are very versatile. We also make a wicked garlicky grilled chicken caesar wrap. On quick meal making days, a can of refried beans, salsa and leftover rice makes a tasty burrito.

Since it’s dinner at home, a cold beer or some tequila is a great way to wash it all down. Lots of smiles and full bellies afterwards “wraps” up a family dinner.

Humph

Today was meant to be the first day of summer and the first day of our daughter’s summer vacation. Instead, we got a call from our oldest daughter’s Social Studies teacher this morning. Turns out our daughter wasn’t handing in her work this semester.

Her teacher gave her numerous warnings and opportunities to hand in her work. So instead of sleeping in and enjoying the start of summer vacation- I had to take my daughter to school to finish her incomplete assignments. Lucky for her that the teacher is allowing this. Back in my day: If I didn’t hand in my work- I failed.

My wife and I warned our daughter midway through the semester when we saw her report card that if she failed the class, she would be attending summer school. Which meant she wouldn’t be working at the job she loves and saving money for the laptop she wants to buy. I’m not sure why this threat didn’t motivate her. Back in grade 8- she did the same thing for science.

In grade 8, she barely passed science- we made her do summer school in order to prove a point. She hated summer school. Not because of the work. She got an A (even though she did great in summer school- the school district wouldn’t increase her grade from passing). What she didn’t like was the quality of students attending. Many still didn’t care to be there and they put minimal effort in.

I’m not saying that I was a perfect student. After grade 12 ended, I was short One Credit to graduate. I ended up doing night school and paid for it out of my own pocket in order to be done. All because I dropped the ball on too many classes between grade 11 and 12. The hardest part now is trying to explain to my children to not screw up like I did.

I’m not angry at our daughter. Just frustrated. Probably the same way my parents were frustrated with my sister and I way back when…