Feeling Gassed

Just like nearly everyone else, I’m astonished that the gas prices continue to rise. Living in the Vancouver area, we are experiencing the highest in the country.

I thought this was funny years ago. Now I cry.

With rising gas costs, that means rising food costs. As well as travel expenditures. For whatever reason, the governments around the world aren’t doing anything to combat these rising costs. All the news from them is, “we acknowledge that gas prices are high.” No resolutions. This cannot be sustainable for the future of the world.

With electric vehicle makers not being able to keep up with the demand, many of us are stuck paying these prices at the pump. All I can do is vent that this situation sucks. I’d love to buy an electric car. Maybe in a few years. But for now I just have to minimize how much driving I do and plan out my shopping trips to hit stores in the same vicinity at around the same time.

I also drive the speed limit more often than I once did. My car also has an ECO Mode which I have turned on. I haven’t seen much in the way of savings or good fuel economy with this option engaged. Only time will tell.

Slow Love

I first met my wife a little over 22 years ago. On our first date, we set our wedding day based on numbers with both like. Within a couple of weeks, I told her I was falling in love. within months we were engaged. Thirteen months after meeting, we were married.

Life and love was a whirlwind adventure. We made moves together that benefited us long term. Kids were quickly in our lives. We tried to budget, but bought a house and a new car. My wife was a stay at home mother. She did a few part time jobs. I was still gaining ground on where my career would take me. Money was tight for years… Until last year. Somehow we took out a million dollar mortgage and our money woes are behind us (hopefully permanently). Don’t ask me how, but our mortgage payments are easier to handle compared to the credit card debts we once held.

Taking love slow. Snailed it!

Nowadays my wife and I are re-kindling our love. It’s a slow go, but we are finally able to focus on ourselves. Our kids are starting to grow up and explore independence. The two of us are going on much needed vacations together without the teens also.

What I like most about the changes- we are still in love, and slowing falling more in love each day. As each day, week, month and year passes- I am glad to have found a partner who makes me happy every time I see her. Somehow the slow down of our life together has been a glorious change. The rest of our lives are busy still, but there is an end in sight for that aspect.

Soon it’ll just be the two of us taking it easy and falling in love all over again

What’s On Your Bucket List?

Normally I talk about myself in my blog. Sometimes at the end I ask if anyone wants to share in the comments, and I’ll get a few responses. But today I wanted to try something a bit different.

Today, I want to know more about all of you. I want to know one of the following two things. You can answer both if you wish.

  • Have you completed something important on your bucket list- and how did you do it?
  • What is on your bucket list and how do you plan on accomplishing it?

That’s it. Pretty simple questions. What I would like to find out is where people are getting their ambition to achieve their goals.

I am hoping that the answers will help other people in getting to their goals. Because we are all in this together and we need to cheer one another on! Please, do not be afraid to share your responses. I’d love to hear the answers.

Excited For Disneyland

Even though we don’t head to Disneyland for a few more months, I’m getting very excited for it. It seems as though everything is pointing to a wonderful vacation.

Yesterday I was driving home from dropping the kids off at school- the sun was starting to come out. As it did, my watch reflected onto my visor; creating an all too familiar image. The iconic Mickey Mouse ears.

Naturally it made me feel jovial and happy. The previous trips were a blast. Each one was slightly different- creating new memories and unique experiences for all of us. Our future trip is looking almost like a whole new experience as well.

We will get to travel to the Star Wars inspired portion of the park: Galaxy’s Edge– finally after three years of anticipation and excitement. Plus there’s a whole new Marvel inspired land that will be a fun experience for all of us.

But there’s also the normal fun we love to have every trip. Turkey legs, Dole Whip, parades,shopping, rides, meeting characters… the list goes on and on. It’s just such a magical experience each and every time. This next time around, we are bringing a person who has never been to Disneyland. So we will get to see the joy and wonderment through their eyes as we hit up all the fun spots and secrets we have learned over the years.

Do you ever get signs of things to come? Does it make you excited? Let me know in the comments.

My First iPod

Since hearing about Apple retiring the iPod, I thought I could share about my first one. I first got an iPod in 2006. I bought it for myself on my 30th birthday. It was the latest version (5th Generation) and the first video model as well. 30GB in black.

I still have the iPod. I also still have the original box. On the day I got it, I uploaded every song in my library onto it. A far cry from 7500 songs that I could’ve put on it. But I also added a ton of digital photos onto it as well. Condensed video was not as easy back then to create. So my videos were minimal. Streaming was not an option either as you still had to connect to a computer where all your music and photos were saved.

That day, my wife gave me the gift of taking our kids away for the night so I could just enjoy my new toy. The kids were 2 and almost 4. Our son was to be born a couple months later. So I was left at home alone. So I did what any 30 year old man with 24 hours of freedom and a new piece of technology would do.

Mushrooms.

I will say, my first experience with the iPod was memorable. I listened to tons of different music, played with the settings, scrolled quickly with the click wheel and just enjoyed laying in bed listening to anything I wanted. However, by the time I was ready to sleep, I was lonely.

The photos I had put on my iPod were of my wife and kids from the previous couple of years. I missed them tremendously even though it was just one night. Our daughters were so loving and happy to always be around me. To this day, I still miss those moments of kindness and innocence they would showcase towards me with their personalities.

My heart was filled with joy the next day when they returned home. The love from the girls was the best gift that birthday. The iPod was a close second. Sixteen years later and I still get choked up thinking about my thoughts of missing them. Psychedelics are interesting to say the least.

Did you have a memory from your first iPod?

Hyped For Disneyland

Yesterday I booked the dates for using our Disneyland tickets that were purchased back in February 2020. I was only able to book them 120 days in advance. So when the dates opened, I jumped on them.

At this point the availability was good, but I didn’t want to chance it since we are doing a whirlwind trip. We are driving down, splitting it into a two day drive. Followed by four days in the park and a two day drive home. No resting or relaxation day in there.

From our first trip to Disneyland

Once I booked the tickets, our son began to really get invested in the trip. Discussing favorite lands/rides/food from previous trips. He also began to get new plans made for a possible itinerary for us. Plus he was sharing so trivia facts about the parks.

His excitement is contagious. It’s getting us all into the spirit of the road trip. I’m glad that our previous trips there were so joyous and memorable. I have a feeling this will be another memorable experience. Plenty of new things to see and do since our last visit in 2018.

Are you planning any vacations once more? Isn’t it nice to have a sense of freedom returning?

Best Burgers Ever

Las Vegas definitely has a lot to offer. But the one thing that was outstanding was the burgers we ate.

Two days in a row I hit up In-N-Out Burger. I’m not going to lie, they serve up the best fast food burgers in the Western United States. I have never had a bad experience at any of the restaurants. I have blogged numerous times in the past about In-N-Out Burger and how much we love it. (My wife is upset that I went twice on my trip!)

But the best burger I have ever eaten in my life was at Gordon Ramsay Burger. I can’t even… seriously… absolutely delicious! The quality of beef, the spices, the cheeses, the bun- all of it was cooked to perfection. I also had it medium done, which was something I have never had in a burger.

If I didn’t spend $60 USD on a burger and beer, I’d consider going there again. But I do worry that in doing so, I may not love the food as much in the future. It’s the sensation that the memories and the first time experience are most vivid and exciting.

At the end of the day, I’ll always have In-N-Out Burger. They have not disappointed.

More Vegas Lights

No one told me I’d be walking as much as I have this trip. But with so much to see you forget about the walking.

Besides walking around outside, we end up walking through numerous casinos as well. Tons of sounds and lights inside. The only part about walking inside is the smell of smoke is strong. Not my favorite aspect.

Today will be a day of gift store shopping. There are neat stores everywhere. Coca-Cola, Hershey, M&M, Pepsi, so many kitschy places to check out. I’m sure I will find some great and unique gifts to bring home.

This Is Vegas

We have had a ton of fun so far over the last 24 hours. Lots of walking and drinking as we do it. I’ve enjoyed the strip and viewing every thing it has to offer.

I’m excited to see more of the strip tonight. We have had a good time of silliness and drunken stupors as we wander the city. My calf muscles are sore since I am not used to the walking.

I’m hoping to do some shopping tomorrow before heading home. There are plenty of kitschy places around. All of which I plan on hitting up for some souvenirs.

Have you been to Las Vegas? Any places I should try and hit up before leaving here?

Vegas Weekend

For the first time in a couple of decades, I am heading out for a “Boys Weekend” today. A coworker asked me about a month ago if I wanted to go to Vegas for his bachelor party. Initially I was leery because of a few reasons.

First, I don’t gamble. I have been to the casino twice in my life. Once was $20 and I lost it in the first five minutes. The second time was $5 and I won $50 in the first five minutes. I am also really bad at card games. I have gone to friends places for poker and always leave empty handed.

Secondly, I thought that I wouldn’t know anyone else. Turns out there will be a couple of other coworkers going. So at least I’ll have some people to hang out with.

Thirdly, I’m the oldest of the group. The next oldest is 11 years younger than me and the youngest is 20 years difference.

But I’m excited to have some time to just enjoy myself with a bunch of guys. There will be a lot of drinking. And insults galore. It’ll be a ton of immaturity and silliness. I have been asked to not take pics of our stupidity and not to share on my blog. So I will be respectful of my friend’s wishes.

Time to enjoy some Viva Las Vegas before we head out.

2022 Canadian Youth Long Track Championships: Live Feed

Today I was able to watch my son in Quebec at the 2022 Canadian Youth Long Track Championships. My wife sent me the link this morning. She also gave me a few minutes warning right before he hit the ice.

Viewing the races on YouTube in real time made me happy. I felt like I was supportive even though I wasn’t physically there. I also watched his final two races of the day on our big screen tv. That was cool!

Watching on my phone, I also did a “Screen Grab” recording. Once the races were done, I cropped the length of them to be just of his race. This way I can send it off to him to review. He will probably show his new coach as well in order to get some feedback to get better.

Tomorrow is another day of racing for him. I suspect that he is tired after todays events. Long track speed skating is not his strongest yet, but he really enjoys it. Now to get him some training in places like Calgary and Fort St. John.

For my family and friends who wish to watch the feed tomorrow, here is the link: YouTube Live Feed

Real Quebec Photos From My Wife And Son

Yesterday I mentioned how my wife was sending ridiculous pictures to me while on her trip. Shortly after writing that blog, she sent me some much nicer and more touristy style of pictures. Here is a quick collection of images from my wife and son:

Architecturally, Quebec is Eastern European influenced. The entire place reminds me of a real life fantasy world smack dab in the middle of Canada. And people just going about their business, because living like this is totally normal.

I do wish I was there with them. Maybe one day I will go on a trip and see what Quebec has to offer. For now, I just get to enjoy a few photo dumps from their trip!

Quebec Has My Wife And Son

My wife and son have arrived safely in Quebec. They have a couple of days to explore before the speed skating competition. So that’s what they did.

Throughout the day my wife sent me random photos. None were really the type that people share while on a vacation or trip. More just things that she found interesting or humorous- and sent them to send me.

I am a little unsure as to why she shared a picture of kale dumped on the side of the road. Or why she felt it necessary to send a picture of snow the height of a car. In fact, when she sent that to me, as I am here in Vancouver, it began to snow shortly after I received the text. We can all blame her for the snow arriving here! Sorry friends on behalf of my wife.

However, amongst the random pictures of things, she did send me a smiling selfie of the two of them. There was also the obligatory poutine meal picture. So I know they are happy and well fed on this trip. Hopefully she will share some other pictures of more interesting adventures and I can pass them on to everyone else.

Disneyland 2020? Finally Going 2022.

We booked Disneyland tickets in February 2020 about a week before the world shut down. We had been planning to go for July 4th in order to see the military fly over and fireworks for that day. However, our trip has been in a state of hiatus ever since.

Memories of our 1st Disneyland trip

We are now on the verge of finalizing a trip to the most magical place on earth! The tickets we had bought were extended, but only until December 15th of this year. My original plan was to go at Christmas this year. Sadly that is unable to be accomplished. The other unfortunate part is our oldest will most likely not be joining us. This will be our the first Disneyland trip without them.

Of course I am discouraged by all of this. However, I know that the remaining four of us can still have a good time together no matter when we book our trip. As travel to other countries has been returning, I find it encouraging for our future vacation plans. I know that Disneyland won’t be the same as it was in years prior. But the familiarity is something we can look forward to.

Have you begun traveling again? Has it felt different or just another step to be taken in order to experience the world? let me know your thoughts on travel in the comments.

Spring Break Staycation

As my last day comes to an end, I think I had a relatively great staycation. A quick look back at the last ten days showed how busy it was. As well as how productive it ended up being.

We did a bunch of gardening, went to a speed skating meet last weekend, had a night on the town for my birthday, and built a gazebo as a family. We built some Lego, and our oldest came to visit and we all had a delightful time. There really isn’t much more I could ask for.

All in all it was a great birthday week. I’m glad I spent it with my family.

Forty Six- Returning To The Wedgewood

It’s my birthday today. I am now 46 years of age. No big celebration this year. Just a night away with my wife. A chance to act young and silly. All while feeling like royalty.

We have returned to The Wedgewood Vancouver for our night away. Last time we were here was nearly three years ago. This time around we are on the 8th floor and truly overlooking the city. I like this place because of the service we receive. From the valet meeting us in the street to the concierge bring wine and chocolate covered strawberries to the personal touches of the greeting card in our room.

A sense of luxury and pampering really makes this feel like a well deserved getaway. The stresses of life are left at home, and our short journey into Vancouver is wonderful. A fancy dinner and a couple bottles of wine- we shall let all of our cares subside for 24 hours.

Cheers to everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday today! I may be older, but now my foolishness is more eccentric.

Onto the next adventure!

Goober

So my wife bought something from Costco the other week that she was really excited for. It was a snack food item called Smucker’s Goober.

This item is peanut butter and strawberry jam in a single jar. I had heard of this from the 70’s and 80’s, but never tried it. Which is really very odd since I grew up during that time when snack foods were heavily processed and my mother actively brought home many of the iterations of food products for us to consume. I was always more partial to orange marmalade and honey vs jelly and jams.

As pretty as it looked, I was unimpressed by the taste and texture. My wife was also a bit disappointed and assured me that the grape jelly flavor is superior. I don’t doubt that. But grape jelly is not one of the flavors we ever have stocked in our home even if it’s not pre-mixed with peanut butter. My wife prefers raspberry or mixed berry jam and I’ll eat strawberry jam on occasion.

Perhaps we will try the grape/pb Goober one day. Or that may end up being that special treat that we will have in our pantry as we get older and are closer to retiring. Like when we eventually get An RV To Travel it would make sense to minimize how much stuff you have.

Have you tried Goober? Is the grape flavor better, the same, or worse than strawberry?

Let me know in the comments while I go and make a goober sandwich.

Winter Walk By The Water

The other day my wife and I went for an afternoon walk by the beach. On our walk we talked about our first year together and how we went down that way only a few times. We now live only about a 20 minute drive away from White Rock, so heading there may be happening more often this summer.

When we first arrived, we took some happy selfies with the ocean and clouds as a backdrop. We were probably the least bundled up people as many who we passed had scarves, toques and gloves on. But at 8°C it wasn’t that cold.

Even though it was grey and a bit cool, my wife and I were wearing our rose colored glasses we had bought for her Birthday Trip to Mexico. The warmth of the view from the sunglasses made it easier to enjoy our date. We walked along the shore, up the pier and enjoyed the promenade. We headed back along Marine Drive and talked about coming back to enjoy a restaurant or two in the future.

It was a good few hours of casual strolling just holding hands and talking. As we get older, we both just want to enjoy one another’s company more. Keeping the emotional connection between us going and creating memories along the way.

Goodbye 2003 Elly

Yesterday we said farewell to a strong memory from 2003. That was the year my wife and I went into debt and bought our very first brand new car together.

I had seen the Honda Element in a magazine (probably Maxim magazine because that’s what I was reading all the time) and I wanted to see it in person. My wife was reluctant at first, but then she saw it and immediately wanted to own one. It would make getting kids in and out of the car so much easier!

Biggest selling feature at the time? It came in 5 speed manual transmission. The next best part was that the interior was all rubber. Very easy to clean with small children and pets! Within a week of purchase, we found out our second child was on the way.

We adorned our box on wheels with the best sticker ever- LEGO. Playful, yet fitting for the unique suv.

The vehicle was perfect for a family of four and a dog. But then the inevitable happened. My wife got pregnant again. The Element was only a four passenger vehicle. So we went out and bought a minivan. Not our greatest moment. A new sticker was eventually added to the back window.

After years and years of usage, we sadly had to say farewell to our Honda Element. None of us were driving it anymore and she just sat in the corner of our driveway. The same thing was happening in our last home, however our oldest was enjoying some of the freedom of a vehicle for a bit, but the stipulations were that she had to drive their younger siblings around.

We will miss Elly. She was a great vehicle, but didn’t owe us anything. 360,000+ kilometers of road trips, drop offs, camping, donuts, and numerous dents and scratches showed how driven she was over the years. A fantastic vehicle built only the way a Honda could be built.

Temporary Bedroom

Since we went away on a vacation last week, we required someone to be here to help our two youngest get to school and look after our home. My mother was gracious enough to travel over from Vancouver Island and take on that task. At 79, we couldn’t ask her to sleep in a kids bed. So we offered up our bedroom.

In doing so, my wife and I needed to sleep elsewhere in the house. So we took over the queen size bed in our eldest child’s room. Since they chose to go stay elsewhere over the past few weeks, it wasn’t going to inconvenience them. It’s a pretty good room in many ways. Close to a bathroom, has a fireplace, it’s own entry to go outside, double French doors inside… but you can hear everything that goes on downstairs in the kitchen and living room.

For me, Sunday was challenging to get some sleep since I have to work night shifts and the noise during the day kept me up. Today, because I am so tired, as soon as I’m done writing- I should be passing out. It’s the last time I need to use this room since my mother is leaving to return to her home.

I noticed that sleeping in our home has a “Goldilocks” feel. Our son’s bed is two small and the next two beds are two soft. But because the master bedroom is ours- it definitely feels like a “Papa Bear” place to rest. Which will be my normal place after this sleep. I look forward to that, but fully understand that our oldest may get cranky sometimes when people aren’t respectful while they try and sleep.

Do you give up your bed for guests, or do you have a spare room/ bed you give them?

Leaving Mexico

Yesterday was bittersweet having to end our vacation in Mexico. Seven days and six nights of fun was the perfect amount of time to get a mental recharge.

To end our morning, my wife and I walked the other side of the beach. Someone had set up a “reindeer” from driftwood. A bit of a reminder that Christmas is a couple weeks away.

A couple of hours before our shuttle was to arrive, we checked out at the main lobby. We had the option to go and swim, eat, or drink as we waited. Instead we all sat around and just talked. My wife and Megan played some cribbage. Russ enjoyed some cellphone time and I found a couch to shut my eyes for a bit.

The ride to the airport was quick, but getting through the airport was drawn out and exhausting. Airports always feel like that- organized chaos. Once we were in the sky, our six hour flight home felt like an eternity. But we made it home safely. My wife and I are already talking about when to return to Mexico again.

It was a fun trip for being a last minute excursion. (Last minute by our standards considering we only booked in Mid-October).

Second Last Day

On our second to last day, we went for breakfast at the restaurant by the beach. We had our regular breakfast server- Carlos. He had seen us numerous times this trip. We were even seated at the same table every morning. Carlos brought us our drink order without being asked. He knew exactly what we wanted.

Immediately after breakfast we spent the rest of the morning on the beach. The waves were calmer than the day prior, so we enjoyed splashing around and being goofy. At one point, there were schools of fish swimming up to us. A fellow guest at the resort gave me a bun he had taken from the breakfast buffet. As I tore off pieces and tossed them in the water- more fish approached me. I was able to reach down and pet them.

In the afternoon we wandered to the pool and cooled off before dinner. We chose the French restaurant this time. This was quite the elegant experience. From frog leg appetizer to baked Alaska dessert, everything was a production and delicious.

We ended our evening at a cheesy magic show followed by a few games of UNO at the bar. Every single day has been filled with good times starting at 8am and ending by midnight.

Mid-Trip in Mexico

In the middle of our vacation to Mexico, we decided to take a day on the beach. The beach first thing in the morning was impressively pristine. So we spent all day hanging out there.

Our friend, Megan, joined us while we relaxed. We had a few drinks, read our books, and frolicked in the ocean. I did my attempt at being David Hasslehoff running out of the ocean. The service was great as well, and the drinks kept coming.

Mid-day was a PCR test. We require this in order to get back into Canada. Not really a highlight, but it was quick and over with in a matter of moments. Soon we were back at the beach. That was when a couple of vendors came by selling jewelry, towels, blankets and dresses. I did my best negotiating and haggling and picked up a couple of souvenirs.

Shortly thereafter, my wife and I went to get a back massage on the beach. This was a fantastic way to relax and get those tense muscles loosened. The sound of the ocean in the background was tranquil and soothing.

Afterwards we headed out for dinner at the Teppanyaki again (it was by far the best experience for dinner). Once dinner was over, we headed to the theater and enjoyed a burlesque show. The theatrics and acrobatic dancing was intense. The show was well worth watching. My throat was sore from all of the hootin’ and hollerin’ I was doing.

It was another full day of relaxation and fun.

Poolside In Mexico

Yesterday we had a full day just hanging out at the pool. That’s a lie. First thing in the morning we ate breakfast at a restaurant by the beach. Shortly after, we learned how to make guacamole and the history of the ingredients. Then we did salsa dancing lesson. THEN we hung out at the pool.

It was a good time relaxing. The drinks kept flowing and laughs were raucous. Lounging for hours really helped with the relaxation that was needed this year. As well, seeing our pool back home surrounded by snow made me happy to be here.

Later we had dinner at the Mexican restaurant where a mariachi duo came to our table and played some music. Afterwards I caught the tail end of a Michael Jackson tribute. We ended the night eating churros as live music played in the main plaza area. Halfway through vacation and it’s been so much fun.

A Birthday To Remember For My Wife

Yesterday was my wife’s birthday. Besides enjoying Mexico, I added a day excursion for her and I to enjoy. All three activities were a blast!

First was a visit to Tulum. We learned about the ancient civilization and had a wonderful view of the ocean from up top. Shortly after we had some fun snorkeling with manta rays and sea turtles. This was immediately followed by a visit to swim through the Cenote caves.

When we got back to the resort, there was a lovely birthday plate waiting in our room for my wife. We met some friends for a Teppanyaki dinner. Great show with excellent food. Again, my wife was treated to a birthday dessert.

It was a great birthday for my wife who doesn’t always like being in the spotlight. The resort has been wonderful so far.