Elementary Alternative

Our daughter has been driving our 2003 Honda Element on her own since August 2019 when she got her N. She may not have always sounded happy that she got to drive the car because it wasn’t newer like mine or her mother’s. But she still calls it “her car”.

Recently she mentioned that the Check Engine Light came on. Naturally we asked when she needed her next oil change. She was unsure because she didn’t ever watch her mileage. Turns out she was within a few hundred kilometers of needing it done. So she planned on going in sometime soon. No big deal.

The other day however, her Battery Light came on. That was interesting since we had bought a brand new battery days before she got her N. Turns out that today the car just would not start. My wife drive out to where she was and gave her a “jump”. As our daughter arrived at home, the car died and she coasted into the driveway. Seems like the alternator is shot.

After looking online, it appears to be a nuisance to get this replaced, although rather simple. So now I have to decide if I want to attempt it on my own, or pay someone else to do it for me. I’m leaning towards getting somebody else to do it. Mostly because it’s cold and wet outside and we do not have a heated garage. If it was summer- I’d sure give it the ol’ college try.

So all things considered, it’s only may that this added expense would happen right before Christmas, and right after we have spent a butt-ton of money on gifts. Le Sigh. It needs to get done. Oh well. Time to call a mechanic.

A Decade of Disneyland at Halloween

Looking back at my memories, I saw that we spent a majority of our kids’ Halloweens in Disneyland. Since 2010 we have been enjoying haunting up the theme park.

To say I miss visiting Disneyland is an understatement. Once this pandemic clears up and travel opens again- I’d love to hit up Disneyland. No matter what time of year it is. The family and I always had a good time goofing around as we immersed ourselves in the joy of the parks.

Disneyland California Adventure 2010

We would push for full days at the parks. Lining up before the gates opened and being some of the last guests to leave at night. We made every minute count.

Honestly, some of the best parts of the trips was also the drive. We would be hyped going down the coast, then excitedly talk the drive back about all the fun we had. As cheesy as all this sounds, I am sad that we didn’t get to do it this year. Some of the biggest connections I created with my children was on these vacations. Those memories however will last me a lifetime. As is obvious by today’s blog.

In order to bring forth those good feels, I decided that tonight we are watching Disney’s Hocus Pocus as a family. I haven’t seen this film since the mid-90’s. I also have no idea of my family has seen it. I hope it holds up.

Even if traditions change and we need to adapt. We shall continue to make scary memories together as a family in a variety of ways.

Victoria: Day 3- Walking

We started our final day in Victoria by walking around Canada’s oldest Chinatown. There were the typical shops filled with cheap knickknacks. It was most fun to just squeeze down the narrow alleyways and admire the brickwork of the buildings.

We tooled around the tourist part of downtown Victoria and stopped in at a bookstore followed by a macaron shoppe. Both places were greeted by our kids with enthusiasm.

On our drive back to the ferry terminal- we stopped at The Butchart Gardens. I always wanted to visit this place, but never made the time to do so. Unfortunately, because it is autumn- the garden was rather lackluster. I’m sure it is far more vibrant and lovely in the spring and summer when the rose garden is in full bloom.

I did enjoy walking through the Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden. The time of year was good for the fact that it wasn’t crowded. Perhaps one day I shall see it in the spring time. But it has taken me until ages 44 to go my first time, so there may not be a second time. Especially since there is so much more of the world to explore.

At the end of the day we got lucky and made it on a ferry an hour earlier than planned. All of our walking had made us very tired, so that hour made all the difference in our trip. I do look forward to visiting Victoria once again some day. I have always enjoyed traveling there.

Victoria: Day 2- Impressed by the Empress

On Sunday we booked High Tea at The Empress in Victoria for the family. Over the decades of traveling to Victoria- I’ve always wanted to see the inside of The Empress. My wife and I wanted to make this trip to Victoria special for our daughters. Our sixteen year old had never been here, and our eighteen year old needed a way to celebrate her high school graduation.

Walking into The Empress is overwhelming and intimidating. Every bit about it was elegant. From the piano player to the china with which our tea was served- posh is the word that comes to mind.

We did our part by dressing in our Sunday Best. The kids behaved in their best possible manners as well. We got some great photos with beautiful smiles.

My wife and I chose a Rose tea that was a favorite of Princess Diana. Our children each chose a flavour that matched their palette. The food which was served was decadent and delectable. We were presented with fabulous tea sandwiches and desserts.

This trip was probably the most extravagant experience we have ever shared as a family. From staying in the penthouse suite to experiencing a high tea- this weekend getaway was a one of a kind local journey.

Moments like these matter most to us. My wife and I hope that our children will talk about this in years to come.

Victoria: Day One

We arrived in Victoria, BC at 9:55 Saturday morning. We were all extremely hungry, so we lined up at Jam Cafe and waited an hour to get in for some of the most amazing brunch meals ever. Seriously, I had an eggs Benedict on top of deep fried chicken- my belly was in love. My espresso was perfect and well needed to get me through the day.

Afterwards we headed for a walk towards the Royal BC Museum. We took a couple of tourist photos along the way including in front of the parliament building and The Empress hotel. We also had some fun with our photos.

After a three hour wander through the museum, we headed to our hotel- Victoria Regent Hotel, turns out we got upgraded to a penthouse suite on the top floor! The kids love it. We watched the sun set over the harbour and caught a sea plane landing from overhead.

As night fell, we enjoyed the views of the lights and my daughter and I decided to head out for an evening on the town and took some more tourist pictures. Lots of walking had us passing out early and ready for another day of adventure.

Early Morning Travel to Victoria

The family was woken up by 4:30am and we were on the road 45 minutes later. We had packed up the night before in order to get those few minutes more of sleep. It was an early morning in order to maximize our weekend away.

It was a rainy drive to the ferry terminal. Knowing it was a going to be a busy weekend, we decided to book a reservation on the ferry so as not to wait. We had about 30 minutes to sit and wait prior to boarding. The rain eased off as we departed for the waters.

My wife and youngest children brought the Nintendo Switch to keep themselves occupied during our hour and a half sailing. I chose to take a nap and our oldest read a book.

As you can see from the picture of the family- the ferry was fairly empty. Departing at 45% capacity due to COVID precautions. It’s one of the only times I’ve enjoyed the ferry ride. I’m not a big fan of crowds or people being near me. I was far more comfortable taking my brief nap.

The sun attempted to break through the clouds on our journey across the water. We passed a few other ferries along the way with a few toots from the horn of the vessels.

Our day was truly about to begin once we docked. A list of activities were planned for our brief time away this weekend. I’m looking to the time spent with the family.

Autumn Evening Paddle

I thought that at the end of August, we wouldn’t be out on our kayaks for the rest of the year. Turns out that the weather is cooperating these days and proving me wrong.

Late yesterday afternoon, my wife and I drove for about an hour to Aloutte Lake to set in the water. We arrived shortly before sunset and the lake was still alive with boats and people enjoying picnic dinners.

Even though the haze from smoke was still in the air- we were able to enjoy the autumn colours. The trees shared with us the oranges and browns that they were changing into. The sky even reflected the glass like quality that the lake had to offer up.

My wife and I headed back to shore shortly after dusk settled in. It was a short excursion, but the time I had with my wife both on the lake and driving, was some enjoyable quality time.

Sometimes my wife is right. Taking time away from the hustle and bustle- as short as those moments may be- is worth putting the effort into.

End Of Summer Vacation 2020

Well it seems my fun in the sun has come to an end. It’s back to work starting tonight. Two weeks of night shifts means I’ll be missing the last of the summer sunshine while I sleep the days away.

On the bright side, I only have 6 weeks of work until my next week of vacation time. We already have that weekend booked for a trip to Victoria, BC. Our middle daughter has always wanted to go there but never has. So it seemed like a reasonable idea. Last time I was in Victoria was a little over three years ago when I Chaperoned My Son’s School Trip.

Who knows what the world will be like in a month and a half. Everything is changing day to day. I hope this trip doesn’t get cancelled like our Disneyland one did earlier this year. But if the world needs to keep people healthy- so be it.

Even if our travel plans do go on hold, I can still look forward to my time off. In SIX weeks…

Camping Injuries: Cuts and Bruises Edition

Camping is over and we are back home. We have some great memories, loads of photos, and plans to return next year.

However, this year was my year for injuries it seems. Last year, our oldest suffered a wasp sting- Windy wind Down. It’s probably part of the reason she didn’t join us this year. Or maybe being 18, she doesn’t want to hang out with the family on boring camping trips…

Anyhow, my first injury came on the first night as I was wittling a stick. The blade slipped and cut into my thumb. A couple of days later I had a huge sliver go into the palm of my hand. The day after that was when I suffered the most.

Over the past few years, I have set up a hammock between two trees. I usually use a ratchet strap and tighten the tension up. However, I forgot it at home because we now use them for storing the kayaks. This year I used a piece of rope on one tree and on the other tree a luggage strap. It worked fine when I used the hammock the first time.

The second time I was not so lucky. I was in the hammock listening to music, enjoying the breeze and watching the rest of the family playing in the water. Suddenly the luggage strap opened up and my top half was on the ground. My elbow and thigh suffered some hefty bruising. So did my ego as I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my folly. Nope. I was good.

The bruises and cuts are already healing and starting to fade. Good thing I had my Nissan first aid kit with us. And Advil. Next year I will try and be smarter. Perhaps it will be my wife’s turn for injuries.

Fire And Bubbles At Sunset

Our last evening at the campground was relaxing and filled with silliness. We watched the sunset over the mountains and the sky turning pink. I started a fire in the fire pit with the help of my son and we sat at the beach listening to some Queen.

My wife and daughter began playing with bubbles between our fire and the water. The sheer amount of joy they were having astounded me. They kept it up until it got dark and had run out of bubbles. We all enjoyed our final evening together.

Of course we also had our last bite of campfire S’mores for the summer. Another nice way to end the trip.

Sky Sights

The skies were amazing this week. From rain clouds to completely cloudless. I enjoyed the pink clouds and the sunsets from our beach.

The stars at night were vibrant and awe inspiring. My iPhone could not capture the beauty at night. But the daytime skies have been equally as tremendous.

Here is a collection of the views we have enjoyed. Hope you like them as well.

Two Bar Island

About three years ago my daughter and I used the rubber dinghies and paddled to the island that we could see from the campgrounds. It took us an exorbitant amount of time to get there… and back. The next day, my son and I went. Still just as tough. More so because I was sore from the day before.

Last year we got our kayaks. It cut the trip down to about twenty five minutes. So we came every day to the island. This year is no different. Except that last year I discovered a sweet spot that I can get two bars of service on my cellphone.

I don’t think the island has a name. So my wife and I were trying to come up with one.

Cell Island

20 Mile Island

Two Bar Island

Signal Island

Any suggestions?

Playing Around

Camping is filled with loads of keeping ourselves active. We have been spending most of our time at the beach and in the water. Flying a drone, tubing, kayaking, fishing, playing cards, and cooking over a campfire. These are what makes the experiences more and more enjoyable.

Plus we have limited cellular service. So we are using our phones to take pictures and listen to music. I sneak off to a little island by kayak in order to get 2 bars of service in order to blog each day.

Priorities, am I right?

Half A Day of Rain?

We arrived at our campsite mid afternoon and set up our home away from home. Then we enjoyed the evening by the water and fire.

The next morning at 4:30 it decided to rain. That lasted until about 10am. The weatherman was wrong about a week of sunshine. But the day became comfortable and we hit the water for some kayaking to the nearby island.

Good first day considering the unexpected rain.

Twenty Mile Bay 2020

This is our fifth year of going to Twenty Mile Bay to enjoy some camping at the end of August.

First off, the weather looks like it will be in our favor. Should be a comfortable week ahead with loads of sunshine. Honestly, we have been lucky every year we go. Not once has it rained. We did have one year of gusty winds- where our tent was trying to eat us. But it made for good kite flying.

The part I do not like is driving the logging road to the site. We drive about 45 minutes on nicely paved roads doing the speed limit. Then we have to drive about another 45 minutes navigating a rough path going up and down the mountain. With many parts only able to get one vehicle by at a time.

At least the check out time for the campsite is a few hours before the check in time. This means you rarely have oncoming traffic to negotiate around. Plus I like getting there at check in time to set up and start enjoying the trip.

Stay posted for lots of pictures coming soon!

Vacation Feels

It’s nearing the end of summer. It’s the final push to enjoy ourselves. I am also starting eleven days of vacation. That means time away from work, which is great to recharge the mental batteries. Even though we may not be traveling to a favorite destination.

We are still planning on having a good time as a family. Tonight we made smoked turkey legs and watched some “Disney Park Blogs” YouTube videos during dinner.

Of course we all wore our Mouse Ears! Because who knows when the next time we will be attending a Disney Park again… But the feels needed to come out. The ears brought forth joy, laughter and memories.

I’m ready to have a great time with my family during staycation. British Columbia is the next best place to be next to Disneyland! Especially if you get to share moments with loved ones.

Tires

Today I finally put new tires on my 2016 Rogue. It’s hard to fork over about a thousand dollars for four tires. But if I can go 3.5 years on them. Not too shabby.

I was really tired having to go in to Costco this morning after a night shift in order to get my tires installed So I went for a walk to keep myself from deflating before I needed to go home. I was pumped when they called me to tell me the car was ready earlier than planned- as I was exhausted.

Enough puns, as you can see- the tire on the left was my old one. Hardly any grip remained. I kept them in case I wanted racing slicks. Actually we kept the old tires for use in our garden. We wheel will be planting some potatoes and other root vegetables in them. It makes for easier removal of the vegetables when they are ready to harvest. Or so Pinterest tells me.

I don’t want to hang around this post anymore. I’ll try and swing some better content tomorrow. So I guess this is end. Sorry if it fell flat.

BC Day

When you live in an amazing province in one of the greatest countries, it’s hard to not be proud. With today being BC Day it’s just one more reason to celebrate living here.

I love sharing my adventures around the province here on my blog. With thousands of photos and hundreds of stories told, I didn’t know what to share. Instead I’ll be watching my friends as their share their photos and follies on Instagram.

So get out there and enjoy this wonderful province of ours. It’s no wonder they call it Beautiful British Columbia.

Sunshine Blogger Award

sunshine

The Rules Are:

1.Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.

2.Answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3.Nominate 11 people and ask them new 11 questions.

4.Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their posts.

5.List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award in your post.

Diary of a Gay Dad’s questions were:

1.What brings you the most happiness in life?

This is a tough one. I am most happy when I can make others happy. I find listening works wonders for this. I especially find happiness in making my family happy.

2. If you could ‘do it all again’? How would you have done ‘it’?

To partially quote Eminem- “If I could take it all back now, I wouldn’t. I would’ve done more shit that people said that I shouldn’t. But I’m all grown up now and upgraded…

3. Following on to that. Who would you be now?

Likely miserable. That “version” of me no longer exists. I’m glad to be the man I have become. I had to make mistakes in the past to get on the right path.

4.What makes you get up in the morning?

My alarm. Same when I have to work night shift. I usually hit snooze 4 times. A Shower and Coffee get me going after that.

5.Do you like Dalmatians? And if so, why?

Dalmatians? I suppose I do. I like large dogs. I miss our Rhodesian Ridge-back and love our elderly German Shepard.

6.Apple’s IOS or Android? And why the preference?

Apple. I love the simplicity and have enjoyed using Apple products since the early 80’s.

7.What’s your ‘Porn name’? Add your first pet’s name to your mothers maiden name!

Whiskey O’Donnell

8.Do you ever give a political opinion on your blog? I choose not to. So, why do you (or not)?

I avoid Politics in my blog as much as possible. Everyone has an opinion, so no need for me to share mine.

9.I have a design degree but also did year 1 of a geology degree! What 2 opposites make you happy?

The two opposites would have to be in the form of films and TV:

I enjoy Dystopian Sci-fi and Musicals.

10.What started you blogging?

My friend Matt Harding. Since then, I have written a daily journey of my life for 4.5 years. I used to attend a writer’s conference every year thinking I should write a novel. But alas, that has yet to come to fruition(or a beginning). So I blog.

11.Now, we have all engaged with the image of the rainbow over the lockdown period! I want to see a real myriad of colour now, so my final question is ‘what is your favourite colour? (Hehe.)

Honestly, my favorite colour is the Rainbow. Thanks to Kermit the Frog. I used to like Green as a child. Then it was red. Followed by black. It depends on my mood. I have had blue hair, green hair, purple hair… Colour in general is fun.


Okay. Now it’s my turn to ask questions and nominate people. I have been struggling with this part for quite a few days now. Here goes:

  1. What was the first film you remember seeing in the cinema?
  2. When reading a book, if you don’t like the start of it, do you finish it just to see how it ends?
  3. Who are your 3 favorite bloggers? Give a brief description of what they write.
  4. What is the kindest thing you have done for a stranger?
  5. What is your definition of true love?
  6. Describe what your favorite colour is using only metaphors.
  7. Why do you read my blog?
  8. Where have you traveled- but long to return to?
  9. One space or two after typing a period at the end of a sentence?
  10. How do you think the world is going to recover from COVID-19?
  11. What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?

I don’t expect everyone to get in on this as many of the bloggers I read have certain styles that may not reflect this method of blogging. Here is my list of nominees. I suggest you check them out anyways, as I enjoy what they write.

Diary of a Gay Dad (I’d like you to answer my set of questions for fun if you wish)

The Matt Harding Blog (Since you started me on this journey- I’d like to see more of your writing)

Terri Starting From Scratch

Kayo Chang Black

Riddle From the Middle

Archon’s Den

Lifesfinewhine

Just Might DIY

Roads Bel Traveled

Pointless Overthinking

Finally- My blog readers and followers. I think it would be neat for some of my readers to share their answers in the comment sections here or on my Facebook page, or via email. I follow many blog pages that have thousands of followers- those blogs are more of a business per se than a personal interaction. The ones I mentioned here have liked many of my posts in the past or simply have great articles that they share.

Thank you for playing along.

 

 

Hayward Lake Kayaking

Today my wife and I set out early to go kayaking at Hayward Lake. About a 45 minute drive from our home just north of Mission, BC. It was a good thing we left when we did. The park gates get closed for parking once the lot and overflow is full. Which happened today within an hour after they opened this morning. The beach and park was busy, but not crowded. COVID precautions seemed to be adhered to.

The paddle on the lake was really calm. We first headed up towards the BC Hydro dam before venturing out into the lake. It was really neat to check out that aspect of the lake. Not many people ventured that way, so it was extra quiet.

After our kayak, but before we departed, my wife and I went on a short walk along the trails. We ended up at the Powerhouse and read up on hydro electricity. Nothing like getting educated while exercising.

Exploring parts of BC has been a ton of fun over the past few years. This year especially with the lack of opportunities to leave the province and country. I’m also enjoying the quality time I get to spend with my wife. It feels as if we are dating once more on the cheap- like when we first met and had no money.

We still have no money, but our belts aren’t as tight as they once were. So exploring the Lower Mainland is a great way to see parts of our community and spend money locally.

Last Minute Getaway

My wife and I decided on Thursday to get away for a night on our anniversary on the Friday. We found a spot to stay at the Lonsdale Quay Hotel in the Carrie Cates Suite. It has a fantastic 180° of the harbour and Vancouver.

Essentially we were in the “Honeymoon Suite” at the top of Lonsdale Quay. Cost was $294 and included a bottle of wine and breakfast for two. Totally worth the money to have some quality time with my wife.

We enjoyed the sun setting from the tub, and later on enjoyed the city lights across the water. In the morning, we stayed in our room right up until checkout so as to enjoy the cityscape and harbour a bit longer.

Weaver Lake Hike

Yesterday we took advantage of the overcast weather and headed on a hike around Weaver Lake. It was a good thing that it wasn’t sunny.

My friend was adamant that it was a 12km hike. My wife was saying that people do the hike in three hours. Neither sounded appealing to me. Especially since each of us were breaking a sweat within the first kilometer.

The trail was overgrown in some parts, and difficult to maneuver in other parts. I was glad that there were orange markers set up in trees along the path. There was also milepost markers every 500 meters telling us the distance traveled.

As we hit the 6 km marker we were at 2 hours and 45 minutes. We rounded the corner and we were at the base of the campgrounds. Turns out the trail was roughly 6 kilometers. I was overjoyed the it was over.

Honestly, it was a more challenging hike than I expected. Lots of rough terrain and constantly up and down the hillsides. Well worth it for the views. I’m glad it was shorter (distance wise) than we expected. The kids were happy as well.

Camping Is For The Birds

Our first night at Weaver Lake involved some visitors to our campsite. We had some Canada Geese show up near our fire pit. They were very domineering and strolled in like they owned the place.

A short time after, a couple of owls perched overhead preparing for their night hunt. They gave a couple squawks to one another as they landed. When they flew, it was silent. Most impressive.

We got ourselves a great spot by the water and enjoyed the frogs croaking as night fell. Being in the thick of nature is relaxing. And calming. Something magical about British Columbia that makes it worthwhile living here.

Time For A Tech Break

Getting the family ready for a camping trip is challenging. Even if you’re only gone for a couple of days, it takes hours to get packed up. No matter how much you tell everybody when you want to leave, you always fall behind.

It may seem odd to pack up the necessities of life in order to live outside temporarily. But I like camping. Most of my technology stays behind. Obviously I keep my phone for pictures and music. But the connection to the outside world via the interwebs is severed.

I like taking mental breaks always from the world. It keeps me sane. Plus I love the outdoors. I almost don’t need to leave our home as we have a lush and beautiful yard that seems to go on forever. We own an acre of solitude, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and suburbs.

Taking a break from technology is important. I appreciate the world a little more when we do go away. A chance to see the natural wonders out there.

July 4th 2020

This year, we were planning on changing up our July 4th festivities. Back in February (before the pandemic took over) we bought tickets to Disneyland and booked our favorite hotel. Up until about a month ago, we were having a tough emotional time canceling the hotel. We really wanted to experience Disneyland in the summer since we’ve had the chance to enjoy springtime and numerous times at Halloween.

We really wanted to see the Disneyland 4th of July Fireworks. I assume that Americans can put on quite the show. Tonight, we shall watch those fireworks from the comfort of our home.

As well, instead of a road trip along the West Coast of the USA, I plan on taking some of the family camping during my vacation. As our kids get older, it seems there’s a bit of freedom expected. So our oldest is choosing to stay home. As uneventful as camping is, we are still happy and healthy and ready to enjoy the world.

But tonight, we shall resort to our July 4th Tradition. A viewing of ID4: Independence Day. I love this film. I also love the fact that our kids believed me (when they were much, much younger) that this film is historically accurate. Thank you Hollywood!

Happy July 4th to our American Neighbours!