Disneyland Is Back- And We Can’t Wait To Visit

Back in 2009, we went on our first trip to Disneyland. We have retuned to the The Happiest Place on Earth numerous times. That first trip was by far the most memorable. And probably our most joyous.

The photos from our first trip are filled with fun. Those smiles from our children are still contagious. Each trip since has been equally as magical in different ways. We have loved every visit.

Last February we bought tickets for Disneyland. Our plan was to visit in the July of 2020. Alas, the world shutdown. Now there is a glimmer of hope as the Disneyland park opens once more. Only to California residents and in a limited capacity- but from what I’ve seen today, my heart yearns for a trip back there.

The tickets we bought will be honored at a later date. So we will hold onto the thought of traveling once more. Only the next time, there will be at least four adult Havelkas entering the park. They may not be children, but we will be young at heart once more.

Is a visit to Disneyland on your wish list once travel restrictions are lifted?

Double Dose of Kayaking in Fort Langley

My wife and I took a break from packing our house in order to enjoy the summer-like weather. We got up early the past two mornings and headed out to Fort Langley to enjoy some tranquility and exercise.

Yesterday we went to Salmon River and paddled alongside of the farm land. The water levels were so low that we were able to get through a small tunnel and explore more than we had in the past.

Today we went to the Bedford Channel and pushed further than we have before. Whenever we kayak here, we go against the current first in order to float back. The current wasn’t as strong as in the past, which was nice. I was also impressed by the courtesy of other paddlers and boaters considering how busy the boat launch area was getting.

The feel of the sun on our faces really brightened our moods. We also stopped on both days to buy lunch from local businesses. Not that the Fort Langley community isn’t bustling as it is! But my wife and I have a couple favorite spots that we love to support.

I enjoyed my early dates with my wife. We needed some of this time together in order to rejuvenate.

Summer Graffiti

As the sun continues to shine, my work days have gotten a bit brighter. Even the rail cars are getting into the spirit.

I spotted a “Lilo and Stitch” graffiti painted car outside the window today. It made me smile at the abilities of some vandals. The recognition of a cartoon character on either side of a tag is becoming commonplace.

Seeing “Lilo and Stitch” reminded me of our trip to Hawaii seven years ago. As well as our trip to Tokyo three years ago. Which got me thinking about all of our vacations to Disneyland. I really do enjoy my time with my family as we make memories.

So if a graffiti vandal can make me happy, then I really don’t mind seeing their crimes. Especially on rolling art canvases that travel the continent.

Sun Of A…

I enjoy seeing the sun. It just kind of sucks seeing it when you are at work.

These early mornings are also rather chilly to start, but midday is toasty and warm out. You can tell that summer is peeking it’s head around the corner. We are getting just a little taste of things to come.

As spring keeps bringing nicer and nicer weather, I really want to get outside more often. A dose of vitamin D helps bring up that energy needed to feel good.

Even if I am stuck at work, I get opportunities to walk around the rail yard and enjoy the sun on my face. Sure, I’m not at the beach, but I’ll take what I can get. My days off look like they should be warm and sunny as well. Perhaps a trail hike or kayak trip will happen this weekend.

Swimming

I love to swim. Almost every time we would travel, we tried to stay in a hotel (or motel) with a pool. After a long day of conventions/skating/Disneyland- it was a good way to relax before bed.

Oftentimes we would be the only people in the pool. It was as if no one else enjoys swimming. Or perhaps they just don’t like us. We are a bit of a strange family- pretending to be dolphins or zombies. That may have had something to do with having the hotel pool to ourselves.

We also enjoy swimming in the ocean, lakes and other natural spots. My wife used to call our kids “Water Babies”. We would hunt down places to swim whenever possible. Hawaii and California have beautiful beaches, and British Columbia has some fantastic lakes. What’s not to enjoy?

I always enjoyed swimming. For about half a decade during my preteen years- my family had a house with a pool. I swam regularly in it, even though I think my parents felt otherwise. I mean I also played a lot of video games and locked myself in my room watching television… But my exercise was to go swim. And I was good at it. I hope to be swimming regularly once more in our new home.

I do find it odd that last June I mentioned about buying a home with a pool: Pool of Thought even before we listed our house for sale. One year later we will be living out this desire. Our own private oasis in this world. Inadvertently I guess I had created a Vision Board and achieved the goal. Imagine what I could do if I set my mind to a goal?

Do you enjoy swimming? Do you hunt out hotels with pools when you travel? Let me know in the comments.

Farewell Spring Break

Today is the last day of MY Spring Break– even though it’s the First Day Of Spring! My wife still has Sunday off and our kids have another week off from school. Lucky ducks.

I’m not sure how it went by so quickly. I was up early almost every day and stayed up late as well. We achieved a lot around the house through packing and donating. I think that was where all my free time went towards.

We did get some driving lessons in for our middle child, which was good. As well as a ton of emails and paperwork completed for the purchase of our new home. My wife and I spent a lot of time together on a few walks, and we went out for my Birthday supporting the local businesses.

I guess in the end, it was a fulfilled “Staycation” keeping me busy. It just seemed like something was missing. Perhaps the whole “can’t travel” outside of Canada has me down. I’m sure once more folks receive the vaccine, those borders will open up soon enough. For now, I should just appreciate the time I had at home with my family.

It would also be nice not to have to return to work… but bills gotta be paid somehow. Now to look forward to my next set of vacation days- set for when we move!

Clean Sleep

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it really bears repeating. There’s something wonderful about sleeping on clean bed sheets.

Washing bed sheets is something that kind of gets overlooked on a weekly basis at our home. Every week, my wife does laundry. In fact it’s almost daily it seems. But the beds? Each bed is practically a load on its own. So they get forgotten or ignored for a bit longer. But it’s awesome when those sheets are fresh and it’s time for bed.

I think that’s why I love hotels. They will change the sheets DAILY if you want them to. When traveling, if we are extremely active for the day, I’ll get the sheets changed. Honestly, that’s the beauty of vacations and traveling. Nightly sleeping in clean bed sheets.

Aw man, now I miss traveling. Maybe I should ask my wife to wash the bedding every day… That would go over well.

Giving The Gifts of Memories

Yesterday was filled with laughter, tears, and everything in between. My wife celebrated her 50th Birthday at home with her family. And it was the only way she knew she wanted to spend it.

Leading up to her milestone birthday wasn’t easy. Hitting fifty is a tough one. In fact, almost every decade milestone birthday is tough after age twenty. You get moments of regrets- like you haven’t accomplished everything you had hoped. But you also get moments of appreciation for what you have achieved in your life. The most uplifting is when you get moments of clarity when you realize this is exactly where you need and want to be.

My wife’s birthday started with breakfast in bed. The kids greeted her warmly and were excited for the next part.

Followed by a Fifty Clue scavenger hunt. This lead her all around the house. The last clue brought her to tears. It was hidden hidden behind a picture of her puppy- Chuppy. This was her best friend prior to me entering her life and creating a family.

Her final clue lead her to our theater room. Where we set up a pretend car- as a reminder to her fortieth birthday when we bought a Pathfinder. Hidden inside were “Brown Paper Packages tied up with string” as a clue to her forty fifth birthday when I made her a 45 record spacer from a “Sound of Music” LP (her favorite movie). Inside the unsuspecting boxes was an Oculus Quest 2 VR. This was my chance to bring the world to her since we are unable to travel and we really wanted to get away.

Finally we celebrated with a lunch that was filled with coffee and coffee cake (made by our oldest). For dinner we did go out for sushi at our favorite restaurant. That was short and sweet because we all wanted to watch one another play some VR.

All-in-all I’d say she had a birthday that was memorable.

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.