Changed My Mind

No way home.

Last night I hit the road to go home. Only once I was out there- I stopped on the side of the road made a couple of phone calls. I turned around and went to a hotel instead.

After I checked in, I needed some dinner since it was past 8pm and I was a hungry man. I went to the restaurant in the lobby and had a prime rib dinner. The best part of the dinner was the roasted brussel sprouts. That’s right I said brussel sprouts were better than the meat.

The room accommodated me just fine. I had a clean bed and fell asleep knowing that I was safe and warm. My sleep was broken up as I was too hot, then too cold. And in the morning the coffee was terrible and barely palatable. But at least I didn’t get stuck in the snarled up traffic trying to get home.

I am sorry to all of those who got caught in the snowmageddon that hit us. I hope everyone was safe in the end- as frustrating as it may have been.

Trying To Get Home

First Snowfall of the year! You know what that meant! Getting home will take at least three times longer than usual.

Leaving work didn’t look that bad at first. But where I started we didn’t have quite the snowfall compared to when I drove eastward to get home. Snowmageddon 2022!

Much like everyone else commuting- it’s not looking good. Red routes everywhere on Google Maps and crash warnings. I’ll take my time. So I figured I’d write my blog as I wait for my car to warm up and check the traffic.

If anything goes sideways- I have extra clothes and a blanket in my car. I also have a couple snacks and water. Not that we ever get traffic snarled that bad, but who knows; it could happen.

Be safe out there folks. This snow always catches people off guard, even with repeated weather warnings!

Can Am Long Track Day 1

As always, I love to write about my kids. Specifically when they are working hard to accomplish something important to them. This weekend my son is in Calgary (again) for a Long Track competition. Today, he was on his own at the rink because I’m still at home and my wife was working remotely from their Airbnb.

All day long I had the Calgary Olympic Oval YouTube live feed playing. I was able to watch him skate on our big screen. Due to a slight delay to my phone- I was able to screen grab his races without missing the starts.

I sent the results, along with the videos- to my son, my wife, and his current coach. In the group text, there was great feedback and discussion about the races. His coach is also here and not in Calgary. However, there is a BC coach who has taken on the roll to assist skaters from our province in person.

I have heard from numerous sources that our son is “very coachable”. He listens to the advice and goes out and works hard to get better. As always, I’m really impressed by him. He got a personal best on one race and took a strong lead on another.

There is two more days of these races ahead and I am looking forward to seeing him in action all weekend.

Go Theory!

Gone Again

My wife and son have left for Calgary this weekend. Theory will be skating all three days at the Calgary Olympic Oval. This is one of the few times that he gets to put on his long track skates. Unfortunately there aren’t any rinks nearby that allow for him to practice. So his ice time is limited on those style of skates.

Our son took a picture of our home from the plane.

This time around, my wife decided to fly with him instead of the road trip. I don’t blame her since driving through the Rockies in summer is far different than driving in inclement weather. On the fun side of things- my son took a picture of our home from the plane as they passed over. That’s really neat.

I’m relieved that they made it safely to their destination. I was kind of spying on them with the “Find My iPhone” app. In the new year, we are sending him off on his own to fly to a competition. I will 100% be spying on his progress when that time comes!

I’m the meantime, I will be watching his skating from the live feed on YouTube. I think he will get some personal bests since his training on short track speed skating has been intense for the past few months. I wish him the best of luck!

Foggy Autumn Vacation

This is one of those rare vacations where I didn’t have much planned. Setting up the Christmas lights was really about it. Everything else I am doing is just the routine of our lives. Grocery shopping, speed skating practice, meeting up with friends… that sort of thing.

During my downtime I am watching some tv and playing video games. No big household projects or crafting this time around. I just want to relax. And I’m getting to do exactly that.

Last night I soaked in the tub, read a book and enjoyed a glass of wine. This morning I have been staring out the window amazed that the fog is so thick and just doesn’t want to lift or burn off. Yet somehow our view is still just as stunning without being able to see much. As if we are floating in the clouds.

That’s kind of how I feel about my week of vacation. I’m enjoying it, yet not much is happening that is exciting. This staycation is precisely what I needed. No hustle, just floating through. A chance to watch the world and appreciate the beauty it holds.

Slow To Get Home

Protecting work is a part of my job. But sometimes it can be a long, drawn out process. I was waiting for a train to go back on for 24 hours. I was originally expected to be a conductor in the early morning, but that never happened. In the end, I am heading back with a crew in deadhead service.

This is also in part because the roads are treacherous as well due to a snow fall and strong winds. Getting in a taxi was not the safest choice at this time. So I am glad to be traveling back by train. I am also with an experienced crew who is good at their job. I know they won’t feel intimidated by my appearance there.

Home is just a few hours away. My own bed and a good night’s sleep is well needed. I’m looking forward to my bedroom and the fireplace. The -5°C in Boston Bar is not pleasant.

Back To The Tracks

I mentioned the other day how I have been with CN for 15 years now (Read about it here:15 Years of CN). Over the last few years I have been in management and generally stay in the yard organizing the movements in and out of my territory. It has its challenges and I really enjoy them. Sometimes I’ll go back to my roots and get out in the yard and work with a switching crew.

Today I took a train as a conductor from North Vancouver to Boston Bar. This is because we have been short workers as of late and the workload has felt like it has increased. So out came my old notes from when I first hired on. Pages upon pages of assistance that made my first trip back on the road a smooth sailing.

Now I am in Boston Bar with the other crews in the bunkhouse. It has had a severe upgrade since I last stayed here. Nicer rooms with a Smart TV. So far, everyone I have run into has been jovial and nice. The crews are respectful and I feel that I have been equally respectful towards them over the years. This doesn’t feel like management vs union. More like we are all in this together- working towards a common goal- move the trains safely.

Now comes the part that was always tough- waiting for a call for the train ride to return home. The call may be in a couple of hours, but could be up to half a day wait. Uncertainty is tough. But that’s how the railroad works. For now, I’m going to get some rest and wait to see what happens.

Price Drop

Today the unexpected occurred. Gas prices dropped about 40¢/L. I was out get blood work done when I saw my first sign. Then I headed into Langley to do some shopping and get an oil change. That was when I realized the price of gas was not a joke.

JoeyKenobi sharing the gas prices.

As I sat in the line to fill up (surprisingly I was only the second car) I went on the “Gas Buddy” app. I was checking out the prices everywhere else. It seemed no one was updating them. So I logged in and added the price of the location I was at. When I hit submit, the app actually asked if this was correct because it was such a large price difference.

I am astonished that we feel this is a good price for fuel as well. It’s still far too high in my opinion. Not like the gas and oil companies are making it obvious that the price can be manipulated at will.

Anyhow, that’s the news for the day. And it’s something everyone I have met is talking about.

Rules Are Meant To Be Learned

This week I am renewing my conductor qualifications. Unlike the time three years ago when I Went to Winnipeg for my training- I am at home learning remotely this time around.

Because we recently had our tenants move out, I have the basement as my classroom. My wife has the office upstairs because she works online daily- and has for about four years now. Working remotely comes easy for her now and she is able to time manage quite well.

My first day is behind us and I’m starting to feel better about learning remotely. However- I can see how our kids had a difficult time adjusting and staying focused. But I made it through the first day and passed my first series of tests.

I’m glad that we have our basement back for the time being. The space has been calming and quiet. Perfect for studying and taking tests. Plus it’s got some of the necessities I need to make it through the day- coffee and snacks!

Only four more days remain ahead of me. After such, I will be a qualified conductor/switchman. By October I will need to get a physical from my family doctor and a recertification in first aid. At which point I can assist the company at different locations- including my home turf- in the running trades.

Wish me luck!

Final Push Home

Yesterday was the last leg of our journey to return home from Disneyland. We woke up and had breakfast by 7am as we were all eager to get under way. Home was only a short 5 hour journey if traffic was good. Otherwise it could take about 6 1/2 hours. We needed to get through Tacoma and Seattle.

Of course, the teenagers were out cold AGAIN almost instantly. Yup, I kept taking pictures of this. My wife and I talked and listened to music up front and enjoyed the peace and quiet coming from the back.

I mentioned about having road nuggies the previous day. This time my son wanted to bring “racon” aka “road bacon”. He grabbed a to-go coffee cup and filled it packed tight with bacon from the hotel breakfast. A couple hours after leaving and our car smelled like the heavenly aroma of bacon.

The journey only took us a little over 5 hours to complete. Once we got home, our oldest was in the process of tidying up. They had opted to staycation at our home and look after the pets and house while we were out of town. They even made my wife and I a painting and left it in our bedroom for us.

Being home is a great feeling. I was surprised that it was far hotter than Disneyland. But I got to work quickly and had the pool cleaned and open for us to relax in after our two day drive home. I love the memories that we have made over the years doing these road trips. Maybe more will happen, but I have a feeling this may have been our last one for quite some time.

Next summer I do not plan on going anywhere as our home is pretty gosh darn awesome. For now, I’ll enjoy the next few days alone as my wife is taking our two youngest on yet another road trip to Calgary for a few day. Practically feels as though she is living in her car. But this sacrifice she is doing is for our son’s speed skating. He has a competition this weekend and it was imperative that he attends.

A bit of “me time” is on the agenda the next couple of days as my vacation time winds down. I’m sure I’ll be able to keep busy. Or at least catch up on some naps like the teens did.

Road Trip: Leaving Disneyland

We said goodbye to Disneyland yesterday and began our journey home. It was supposed to be 14 hours. However it took us 16.5 hours. We stopped for lunch and dinner, but we also took a wrong turn at one point.

Starting another early day meant the teenagers were exhausted. They slept and were generally quiet the entire drive. No fighting or bickering was happening. Honestly, they lasted longer than my wife and I did at the parks. The rest in the car was well deserved.

We stopped for lunch at In-N-Out Burger once more. Across the street was a McDonald’s, so we picked up some Road Nuggies as well. This is where things went a bit sideways as we left to get back on the I-5.

At this point we were driving on the I-5 heading towards San Francisco/Sacramento. Somehow my wife was distracted and we missed the split and wandered towards San Francisco. We caught it after about forty five minutes. Time to turn around and get back on track. Worst part- we did the same thing last road trip three years ago! Ugh.

We probably would’ve noticed sooner if we had our cellphones on. But paying a roaming charge in another country is a little bit outrageous. So we had gone old school and printed off directions prior to the trip. Although… maybe we should have read them instead of just driving… oh well.

We finally made it to our hotel by 11:30pm. About an hour and a half later than we wanted. Just enough time for popcorn, some television and sleep. Road trips mean hitting the road early. So sleep is limited- and we are off for the last part to get home.

Disneyland 2022: Day 4- Another California Adventure Day

For our final day at the theme parks, we hit California Adventure. This is our favorite park of the two overall. We love the Pixar Pier and the old school amusement park feel.

Of course, we made it to be first in line at rope drop in order to ride Radiator Racers. After that was the same plan as we had a couple days prior- Incredicoaster and Toy Story Mania.

My wife and I split from the kids for a bit throughout the day and hand a good time together. It was a bittersweet series of moments as we realized that our kids are no longer the youngsters they once were. As well, this is our last trip like this with them.

We did meet up with them periodically and had a great time. A few more rides and meals together. We made the coaster a couple times as it got dark. That’s always more fun when you see the lights of the park everywhere as darkness falls.

We ended our day at The Avengers Campus with some dinner followed by one final ride on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. Probably one of the best rides in the park. Full of high energy, great music and visuals.

Saying goodbye to the trip was tough. But it was a ton of fun!

Disneyland 2022: Day 3- Another Disney Day

We just finished our third day in a row at the Disneyland Park. We were there bright and early again. In fact, we were able to get to rope drop and be first in line.

Once the rope dropped, we hustled to Galaxy’s Edge and got onto Rise of the Resistance without stopping. That walk took us six minutes and was worth the rush.

Most of our day was casually hitting a few rides, meeting some characters and eating. Theory got a set of ears and had them embroidered. We got lucky and we arrived in Tomorrowland just after Space Mountain had broken down. As our son walked up to ask if they knew how long it would be down for- the ride reopened. Again, we walked right on to the ride. Once it was over, three of us walked right back on before the line grew once more.

The rest of the afternoon was shopping, followed by hours at Galaxy’s Edge. Our two kids decided that they wanted to build their own Lighsabers. Which was a pretty cool experience.

For day three, we had a pretty good time. Now onto our fourth and final day!

Disneyland 2022: Day 2 In The Park

We just had day 2 in Disneyland (Technically we finished California Adventure 2022: Day 1 In The Park). It was again started with getting there early. This allowed for us to be first in line and first at the rope drop. Big hustle to get to our first ride.

We hit up Radiator Racers first, then onto the Incredicoaster twice, followed by Toy Story Mania twice. We walked on each ride without lines. That was all done within the first hour of arriving. After that, the crowds caught up.

That wasn’t an issue as we still hit every ride in the park. Including waiting twice for Guardians of the Galaxy and an hour wait for a second ride on Radiator Racers. We also got plenty of shopping done and ended the day in the “Splash Zone” of World of Color.

We have one more day at Disneyland and the following day at California Adventure. Now that we hit every ride that was important to us- we are going to hit a couple of the big ones, but not try and rush as much.

Oh, and our feet are sore. Just sayin’

Disneyland 2022: Day 1 In The Park

We arrived early at the park and were second in line to have our tickets scanned. Then it was off to rope drop on Main Street. Once that occurred- it was a mad rush to our first ride: Rise Of The Resistance.

Afterwards was some fun wandering Galaxies Edge and getting onto Smuggler’s Run twice without much wait. Along the way, a Wookiee joined us. That was magical.

Then it was off to the other rides. Loads of smiles as we waited in the stand-by lines. Surprisingly the wait times were not as bad as the app was telling us. We did have a couple longer waits, but nothing exceeded 40 minutes.

Even with one ride crapping out- only lasting five minutes. But we were ready to wait for Space Mountain. Mostly because of the air conditioning. It was mid-afternoon and hot!

The end of our evening was spent in Fantasyland. Followed by a picnic dinner as we sat waiting for the Main Street Electrical Parade. It’s a neat experience to watch as the lights begin to turn on throughout the park from a central location.

After the evening ended, we snuck in another couple of rides followed by some gift shop wandering. A short nap (aka sleep) and we are off to Day 2: California Adventure.

Last Leg Of The Journey

Our road trip today was a little over six hours. We stopped at In-N-Out again. I was told by the cashier that I was number 1. So I totally did a dad moment and said, “You know it.” Afterwards we were stuck in traffic heading through Los Angeles and spotted a couple billboards for Disneyland.

We made it to the hotel without issue. My wife and I went out to get a few snacks for the parks and the kids were too excited to remain at the hotel. So they took off to Downtown Disney and wandered the stores. We met up with them at the first store and the played around getting some photos and grabbed a cheap dinner. My wife wanted a re-created photo of the kids at the gate waiting to enter. (Albeit we do have a substitute teenager in place of our oldest.)

Our evening ended back at the hotel. We stood on the balcony and watched the fireworks that exploded from the park. Our energy levels and dopamine was kicking in and getting to sleep was tough. But we did it.

The excitement of our first day is about to commence. Now onto a post- Covid lockdown adventure in Disneyland. Did I mention that I’m super excited about Galaxy’s Edge? Yeah. I kinda love Star Wars…. Squeee!!! I’m the biggest kid of them all right now.

More adventures to follow over the next few days.

Road Trip 2022: Beginnings

Wednesday we departed our home at 4:30am. Our trip was taking us south towards California. Because we were so early, we missed the rush hour traffic in Seattle. Shortly after that we paused at a rest stop and traded driving- it was now my turn. That lasted only about an hour until I got a speeding ticket. Now I’m not allowed to drive the rest of the trip.

Anyways… I got us to Voodoo Donuts in Oregon for 11am breakfast. After getting a sugar rush, my wife was driving and we were excitedly bouncing to some sing-along-songs until our next stop.

Shortly after 2pm we stopped for In-N-Out Burger. Seriously good burgers for an amazingly good price. Five burgers for $21. With fully bellies, it was time to get on the road for our final push for the day.

Ok, we drove for about an hour before we stopped at our usual rest stop in Weed. A quick stretch, bathroom break and photos… then it was onto our last stop. About five hours later we made it to the hotel. That last chunk was not so bad, until about the last leg of the journey. Because we knew today was coming to an end. All of us needed to get our bodies out of the car. It was as if we were suffering from rigor mortis.

On the bright side, we are now spaced out and refreshed in our hotel room. With only five and a half hours tomorrow remaining for our trip, I’m pretty sure we will do it in one go. Then we will be free of the car for almost five days. During which time, we will be walking. A lot. But that’s where the fun comes in!

Road Trip 2022: Beginnings

Wednesday we departed our home at 4:30am. Our trip was taking us south towards California. Because we were so early, we missed the rush hour traffic in Seattle. Shortly after that we paused at a rest stop and traded driving- it was now my turn. That lasted only about an hour until I got a speeding ticket. Now I’m not allowed to drive the rest of the trip.

Anyways… I got us to Voodoo Donuts in Oregon for 11am breakfast. After getting a sugar rush, my wife was driving and we were excitedly bouncing to some sing-along-songs until our next stop.

Shortly after 2pm we stopped for In-N-Out Burger. Seriously good burgers for an amazingly good price. Five burgers for $21. With fully bellies, it was time to get on the road for our final push for the day.

Ok, we drove for about an hour before we stopped at our usual rest stop in Weed. A quick stretch, bathroom break and photos… then it was onto our last stop. About five hours later we made it to the hotel. That last chunk was not so bad, until about the last leg of the journey. Because we knew today was coming to an end. All of us needed to get our bodies out of the car. It was as if we were suffering from rigor mortis.

On the bright side, we are now spaced out and refreshed in our hotel room. With only five and a half hours tomorrow remaining for our trip, I’m pretty sure we will do it in one go. Then we will be free of the car for almost five days. During which time, we will be walking. A lot. But that’s where the fun comes in!

Road Trip Time

Today is starting with an early morning wake up for all of us. Of course, we are all energized and ready… seriously.

So Early

This is the kind of road trip that can get a person excited. Even the teenagers are awake without grumbling. Albeit quiet and subdued. But ready to go nonetheless. No photos of them quite yet as that kind of energy isn’t powered up.

I know I have been talking about this trip to numerous friends and coworkers, so many people already know where we are going. The picture of my watch is a dead giveaway. If you haven’t figured it out- here’s another angle of the picture.

Hidden Mickey

Disneyland! We are so excited! This early start to our twenty two hour drive is going to get us revved up for our four whirlwind days in the parks. At least we are breaking up the journey down into two days. Only once have we pushed through in one stretch- never again.

I’m excited to share our adventures over the next few days. I hope you enjoy them as well!

Disneyland- HERE WE COME!

Vacation About To Begin!

Work is over for the next week and a half. Time to enjoy some well deserved sunshine! Now, as the sun sets, I am happy to be off work.

My son and I had a good evening in the pool after dinner. After tonight’s relaxation- fun is the goal for the next seven days! I’m looking forward to time with the family as we hit the open road! We are packed and ready to roll.

Hooray for time off!

Vacation Anticipation

Relatable post time. Here come the memes.

I have only one more shift to go before vacation. Yes, there is a countdown within the family of how many hours remain as well!

There’s always the moments when your brain is already focused on the future and not the day at hand. Nothing is going to get me down. I’m preparing myself to be checked out.

Getting thru that last couple of days of work are always difficult before a vacation. It’s even harder to return to work after some time off.

But a break is always healthy. Leaving work behind and just focusing on some mental relaxation is paramount to good health. We all go through this. I hope you all have good vacations as well when you go on them!

Cheering On Theory From Afar

This past week, my wife and son were in Calgary for a speed skating camp. Today was a competition for the skaters.

My wife shared with me a live feed of the event on YouTube posted by the Calgary Oval. I watched our son competing from the comfort of our living room. seeing his name on the television brings me a sense of pride and joy.

But watching him skate brings me more joy. He is passionate about his skating and is always pushing to improve his skills.

In his two races- he got new personal bests. He even shaved ten seconds off one of the heats. I’m really impressed and I hope he continues on the path to success in speed skating. The trips out of province are a good chance for him to get better and meet with other skaters.

But I can’t wait for them to come home. I miss the family when they are away.

Weather Seems Nice

Normally we don’t do a big vacation in the summertime to a nice warm place. Living in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia- we have really nice summers. So there is never a need to travel to a sunny destination.

As you can see, this upcoming week has some high temperatures and mostly sun. A good way to enjoy August. Why should we go anywhere?

You see, our goal is to be in Disneyland for the first time during summer. Similar highs, but the lows are far warmer. We won’t get much of a chance to cool off each day. But that will be just fine with me!

We have been waiting for this trip to Disneyland for over two years. We bought tickets hoping to travel in July of 2020 to see what the summer season (and July 4th) would be like in the parks. But, you know, Covid had other plans for everyone.

Soon we will be south of our home and enjoying the Warm California Sun. I’m excited about our family vacation and look forward to the weather being on our side!

B E – A G G – R E S S – I V E

My wife pointed out that behind the wheel, I am an aggressive driver. She’s not wrong. I hate driving. Especially if other cars are on the road.

Commuting to and from work is irritating to say the least. Far too often there are drivers in the passing lane- not passing. They just casually drive right next to the other car- many times trying to “police” the people behind them. Stop that. You are pissing off drivers like myself.

If you get in the passing lane, you better be passing, not crawling. If I have a driver coming up behind me in the passing lane, I do my best to move over when possible, or I keep passing the line up of other cars so that our lane keeps moving. It’s the right thing to do.

Driving sucks. I hate it. Perhaps I should just give up and stay in the slow lane and just get where I’m going and accept whatever time I get there.

Life is too short to get angry.

But it’s also too short to go under the speed limit! Move already!

Weekend At Home With My Wife

This weekend our two teenagers went off to Vancouver to attend Anirevo (an anime convention). So my wife and I had the place to ourselves.

And we goofed off.

We played in the pool for hours- splashing and laughing with a few drinks inside of us. We lounged in the gazebo (which we have now dubbed “The Cabana”) and had some fantastic dinners together. It was like having our own private oasis on vacation together. These past couple of days has us realizing that becoming “Empty Nesters” won’t be so bad.

I’m really happy that my wife and I can do these things together. It feels as though we didn’t really have much time to date before we jumped into parenthood 20 years ago. So we are making up for it now.

Life is pretty good these days.