Ack Ack Kayak!

So… I was at the Grade Seven camp a little over a week ago when I tried Kayaking for the first time. I enjoyed it tremendously. My wife hates me because of this.

She hates me because for years now she’s been trying to get me to go kayaking with her. When I finally did go on a whim without her, I wanted to go again. I really should listen to her the first time around…

As I mentioned yesterday- I put on a new Roof Rack on my Nissan Rogue. It was to prepare for the possibility of getting a kayak. My wife finished work at six last night and wanted to go price some kayaks out. I’d been looking online at places and prices earlier in the week, but it was my wife who wanted to go and search for herself. Unfortunately we only went to one place- Canadian Tire. Not my usual place to go shopping- however we do find some great deals on occasion- like our bbq grill about four years ago.

Anyways, window shopping for a kayak turned into buying a kayak. Make that buying two kayaks at a wickedly good price (they had them marked incorrectly but honored the price). These kayaks also came with oars and straps to take them away on the roof of my car. (As reference I found similar ones at Costco by the same manufacturer for $160 more each.)

I’m happy with the purchase to make our lives healthier. We just need to find the time to hit the water together.

And maybe my wife will forgive my ignorance all these years. Or she’ll drown me. Either way- we own a couple of kayaks now!

Roof Racks

Today was a day of roof racks. How exciting! One was for my Nissan Rogue. The other was for our Honda Element.

The Rogue was super easy, but super expensive. I shopped around to find crossbars, however it seems that Nissan Dealers all charge the same. $350 after taxes and five minutes of my labor and the Rogue is ready to start transporting stuff. It does look pretty slick mind you.

The Element was more challenging. Since the vehicle was discontinued a few years ago, accessories aren’t readily available from dealerships or online. So it was time to improvise and see what other people have done. After a couple of YouTube videos and a sense of, “That looks easy.” I took on the challenge.

We had an old display shelf that was the perfect length and the bars are durable. The Element is already boxy, so the square metal tube from the shelf fits in nicely. I hit the hardware section of a few stores to find a metal corner edge, bolts and some pins. I measured out the bracket sizes and cut four pieces with my hacksaw. After filing the edges, I bolted them into the roof. (The Element had bolt holes hidden in the top side panels making it easy to attach these brackets.) I used an angle grinder to slice out the perfect slit in the rails. Then I drilled holes that lined up with the brackets and tested my pins. Everything fit perfectly. Lastly was to remove everything once more and give it the first coat of black paint.

All that’s left is to figure out how to add crossbars in order to retain the durability. So far the roof rack for our Element has cost about $20, some recycled materials, a few fantastic YouTube lessons and a couple of hours of labor. Not too shabby I guess. Plus I really enjoyed working with my hands creating something useful for our car. I can’t wait to see the finished product and go camping!

Modifying Our Honda Element

Last year I made a quick bed and storage space for our Honda Element. Read about it here: Camperizing Our Honda Element. I did this design to maximize our storage inside the Element for our camping trips.

Last month I installed a Keyless entry: Keyless Entry Install. At that time I also replaced the tail light super quick since it was cracked.

I want to do more to the car now. I was hoping to add a roof rack. But our local Honda Parts dealer doesn’t carry the crossbars since the vehicle has been discontinued. My next step was to watch videos of people who made their own roof racks and bars. It doesn’t look too difficult, just time consuming to find the parts and put it together. Once done- I’ll be able to put a carrier basket on top or use our car topper again.

To get to the top of the car, I am wanting to add a ladder from Gobi Racks. It is a bit pricey, but fits perfectly on the back of the Element. It will add to the ruggedness look of the car. And add ease to climb up.

Our oldest daughter who will be driving the vehicle the most doesn’t seem impressed with my plans. She thinks it’ll turn into a “Hippy Van”. I’m wanting to keep the car for many years after she is done driving it. Plus, technically it is my wife and I who own it- we will modify it to our choosing. Perhaps some daisy decals and peace signs stickers?

I’m looking forward to camping this summer. I am picking up crossbars for my Nissan Rogue with a hope to purchase a kayak or two in the future. There’s something about living in BC that makes me want to be more outdoorsy. Having roof racks on vehicles makes it easier to transport stuff as well.

Work vs Vacation

I make the most of my vacations. My days off are full of fun times and experiences. I came back to work after ten days off this past vacation to find an abundance of emails.

That was probably the hardest part of coming back to work. I enjoy the job itself, but there is often excessive emails that I need to sift through to find what I need to do my job.

Coming back to work and I’m already thinking towards my next vacation. Planning ahead is tough when you’re not sure how much you could spend.

I’d like to try and not go into debt to enjoy some time away from home. Pinching pennies and returning empty bottles for refunds may be how I pay for our next bit of fun. Back to working in order to afford my vacations I guess. Like a vicious circle.

Camp Jubilee Day Four: EVEN MORE ACTIVITIES!

This place never stops. So much so, that I don’t have any pictures today. I ended up making videos of the kids’ activities instead.

On Thursday we started our day with three hours of “High Ropes”. The kids tested their fears of heights through a series of obstacle courses set up in the trees. After the first try, many of the kids become confident and began to speed up. It also turned into a bit of a competition to see who could complete it fastest.

After lunch we were kayaking for about an hour. It ended up being cut short due to the conditions of the water, so our camp leader opted for an hour and a half hike. This was a good endurance challenge since it was a tough climb to get to the summit.

After dinner was Skit Night where each of the cabin groups had to perform. The parents and teachers also did one where we made fun of the behaviors of the kids. The boys in my cabin volunteered to go first. In the end, they also won the competition! Which they were surprised by but took the win nonetheless.

It was a great way to end our week at Camp Jubilee.

Camp Jubilee Day Three: More Activities

Day 3 of Camp Jubilee was our cabin’s turn to set the table for breakfast. All the kids in my cabin didn’t want to be late so they were up 45 minutes early just to make sure.

They set up quickly and enjoyed being first to get breakfast. I was lucky enough to be in their group, so I received first breakfast as well. Not much time after our meal to get ready because we were off to do our first activity of the day.

We went canoeing for about thirty minutes to get to a place called “Twin Islands”. The ride there had us singing songs and racing the other group. Once we got to our destination we had an opportunity to swim in a small lagoon and hike around the hills. Our ride back was just as energetic. We were racing for lunch!

After lunch was “Orienteering” and “Team Building”. Because of our extraneous exercising at the first half of the day and the heat- the kids were too exhausted to put any effort in. That was okay. They tried- halfheartedly at least. Our next and final day will be a busy and active day as well.

All I can say is that theses kids sleep well every night.

Camp Jubilee: Day One of Fun

The trip up to camp was calm and uneventful. We took a 35 minute bus ride to the dock where we were greeted by the captain of our vessel. A short 45 minute ride took us up to Camp Jubilee.

Once we got to camp, we unloaded our stuff to go in a heat room. Later, we set up in our Yurt. The boys I’m with are stoked about having the Yurt.

Our first day at camp was great. We did archery and low ropes. As well as some great free time to explore the beach and play around. So far the kids have been having a ton of fun just laughing and running around. I’m even joining in with the activities.

Back to the fun, I’m only taking a few minutes each day to explore my technology.

Grade 7 Camp

Today we are departing for Camp Jubilee with my son, Theory, and his class. I’m lucky to have been chosen as one of the parent chaperones. My son and six of his friends are all in a cabin with me. They got to choose a cabin name and design a t-shirt. The fact that these kids go to a Fine Arts school shows in the logo they designed.

Our cabin is called “The Infinity Stones“. I even get a T-shirt! As the cabin leader, my wife suggested we get the kids some items that promotes their design. Each of the boys is a different “stone” so my son and I picked up some precious rocks to give each kid. I also got them some slap bands in their respective colours that light up. Along with a notebook and gel pen- I think these kids are going to enjoy their gifts.

I’m looking forward to hanging out doing the activities with the kids. Every afternoon we have some down time, which means I’ll quickly write a blog post and share our adventures. I forgot to mention- the kids aren’t allowed technology, so I’ll have to sneak away and use my phone. Parents are allowed phones- mostly for picture taking though. I plan on keeping mine in Airplane Mode most of the time.

Wish me luck! Hopefully I come home in one piece with my sanity still in tact. I hope you enjoy the adventures I’ll be sharing.

Galaxy’s Edge Excitement

I am such a nerd when it comes to all things Disneyland or Star Wars related. I read blogs, follow Instagrams, I even open my Twitter feed just to find the hints and rumors. I share what I find with others who are of like mindsets. The term “Fandom” doesn’t quite express my feelings or emotions dedicated to Disneyland or Star Wars.

Last night was no exception to my love of both of these. Disneyland did a live stream of their Dedication Ceremony for the new land “Galaxy’s Edge“. No- it’s not called “Star Wars Land“. I’ll always call it by it’s true name- “Galaxy’s Edge” because- die hard fan here. That being said, my excitement level seeing the footage of this new park expansion grew last night.

But…

With our commitments to our son’s Speed Skating future and our children’s education- visiting Disneyland during the first openings of Galaxy’s Edge isn’t feasible. I’m looking on the bright side, give it a few months to a year and the crowds should slim out and the kinks worked out. So when is a good time to visit Disneyland?

We usually go in October to experience Halloween time. But over the years- it has gotten tremendously busy. Again, mentioning our children’s education being important, I don’t want to take them out of school for extended periods. Our oldest is entering grade 12 in September and our youngest is entering grade 8 and starting his high school journey. The long weekend at Canadian Thanksgiving would alleviate much of a loss. But- crowds will be higher. Dilemma!

I like to plan and book vacations well in advance. 5 months ahead of time doesn’t feel like I’ve planned properly. Planning 9-12 months ahead feels more comfortable- financially as well. As much as I’m looking at hotels and deals in autumn, I’m going to postpone a Family Disney Vacation for about a year.

I think it’s about time we hit up Disney World. It’ll have Galaxy’s Edge opened and ready when we get there next August. First stop- Discover The Magic to get some personalized service from a travel agent that specializes in these sorts of things. I’m starting to get excited!

Soaring Gas Prices

Like many of my friends living in the Vancouver and surrounding areas- we are feeling the pinch of astronomically high gas prices. Current prices are anywhere from $1.55/L to $1.70L. Of course the Long Weekend is here which always sees an increase in pump prices as well. Ugh.

My work week has me driving 110km each day- just to and from work. I also don’t live anywhere that has decent transit. I have now resorted to making a weekly trek across the border to the USA to fill up my car. After exchange rate, today I paid approximately $1.25/L. For me is about $15-$20 of savings every fill. That is a significant amount of money in the long term. After filling up this morning, my car has informed me that I can get almost 600km from this tank of gas. That gets me through the weekend and work week until I have to fill it again. I’m lucky that I only put on 40km round trip from my home to earn those savings.

Looking at going electric in the future is definitely something to consider. Yes, I’d love to own an electric car. But I have two major issues: Nowhere to charge it at work and my home power fails in the winter regularly. That would kind of leave me stranded. So until I can figure out a more permanent resolution- punching pennies at the pump is the way to go.

Or stop driving.

Feel free to complain in the comments section.