Iced

The past few days have actually dipped below freezing. Which is uncommon for the Lower Mainland even in winter. We are expected to have a couple of more centimeters of snow overnight tonight, plus some rain. This creates very icy conditions on the roads and pathways.

I may not be happy about the freezing temperatures. But I really like seeing the white dusting of snow on the ground and rooftops. at night it’s especially beautiful when those Christmas lights come on.

Two of my favorite decorations are hanging from our bedroom windows. We have a couple of clear acrylic snowflakes that look like water at the right angle. Looking through them at the outside world- they manipulate the image in a similar fashion like a kaleidoscope does.

As pretty as the snow and ice may be- it can cause havoc in our lives. I find myself extra tense walking around outside. Just hoping not to slip. Driving is equally strenuous. I leave space between myself and the car ahead, but other drivers take it as a cue to squeeze in. Not cool.

I take the good with the bad when it comes to this winter weather. Doing my best to appreciate the beauty that nature shares.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

Long Way Home

Sometimes traffic just isn’t on my side when I want to go home. Tonight for instance added and extra 20 minutes or so to my commute. On very slow traffic days, I have been known to get home in 35 minutes. So I’ll take those wins when I can.

Tonight’s commute really isn’t so bad considering my commute for 14 years was nearly an hour and a half some days. However, I always looked for to my home. There’s something nice and relaxing about stepping foot inside and just leaving work and traffic behind me.

I listen to news radio for a bit on my way home, followed by a phone call or two. Ending with some music as I pulled into the garage. A great way to break up the drive.

How’s your commute?

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.

Theory aka The Roy Turned 16

Today is our youngest’s birthday. He turned 16. It’s a big deal because now he can go and start to learn how to drive. That’s truly exciting!

He also wanted to do something else more grown up- he wanted to make dinner. He asked if I could help him make schnitzel the way I make it. Which is a variation on the recipe my father used to do. Theory’s comfort level with cooking is getting better. Dinner was delicious!

In true teenage fashion, getting a nice photo of him wasn’t happening. So I ended up with a bunch of blurry, hands in the face, head turning photos tonight. But in the end, he wanted to spend time with me. Both watching tv and making dinner. That was more a gift for me I think.

The one gift I’m really happy about that we gave him was a license plate. It was hand painted by a street artist who tags rail cars. His name is also Theory. I reached out to him a while back and paid for a piece in order to gift it to our son. I’m really happy with how perfect the gift was for Theory since he will soon be driving.

So a big shout out to our son on his birthday!

Happy birthday Theory! Who also goes by these names:

  • The Roy
  • Theor Bear
  • T Bear
  • Bearbee
  • B Bear
  • Bear
  • Scrufty
  • Boy Darwin
  • Boy Random
  • The Boy

We love you buddy. We are so proud of who you are becoming.

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.

Daddy/Darwin Day June 4th, 2021

Once in a while my middle wants to have a day with me. We have dubbed it “Daddy/Darwin Day”. Usually it’s me taking her out for a lunch or coffee and we talk. Today was a spontaneous “Daddy/Darwin Day” that we both needed.

We started with returning the recycling to get a bit of money back and clean out prior to our move. $12.10 is all we received, but no big deal- we didn’t have much to return. Then we went for gas and into town to hit up Indigo Books. It’s a favorite of our two daughters to go to a bookstore when they need an emotional “pick-me-up“.

Our little world at home has been having a couple road bumps, so it was nice that she asked me to go out with her. In fact, she paid for our Frappuccinos later in the afternoon. That was a lovely treat.

We had good heart to heart bantering. As well, she asked cryptic questions that I answered, but knew she was trying to get somewhere… without getting there directly.

She even tried to drive the Honda Element down the block to our house. This was a good milestone achievement as the vehicle is manual transmission and this was her first time driving a car with a clutch. Not too shabby.

I enjoyed our time together and wish to have more days like this.

Maki School Pick Up

Once in a while I’ll bring our dog to get the kids from school. I used to bring Lex, but he is elderly and frail that I worry about him traveling. Even if it is for a short distance.

Maki did a pretty good job hanging out in the very back on the way to the school. She popped her head up a few times, but mostly laid down. She did bark as we approached the school which shocked me. She tends to bark at other dogs.

Darwin was pleasantly surprised to see Maki in the car and quickly took her out to wander the field. Maki loved the new scents and grass, giving a good tug for Darwin to keep up.

The drive home was a little more chaotic. The kids put their stuff in the back on half the trunk space and folded one of the chairs down. Theory sat in the back and tried to keep her still, but I was getting dog breath in my face as I drove.

Maki only barked once randomly as we neared our home. It was a good little surprise for the two youngest seeing their dog greet them. I’m hoping to do it more often as the weather gets nicer.

Pretty sure Maki likes car rides.

Big Tire Blow Out

About a decade ago I was driving our Honda Element to work when the tire essentially ruptured. I was on the highway doing about 100km/h in morning traffic when it happened. I was safely able to pull over to a shoulder and changed out the tire. Something caused it to blow out the side walls rendering the tire absolutely useless. I changed the tire in a matter of minutes and still made it to work on time.

I tell this story because my wife had a similar incident on Tuesday. Only she struck a pothole that had formed after the rain storm. This was on a side street doing about half the speed I was doing. However, the tire still exploded. Because the tires she has on her car are designed as high performance tires and are very thin, the rubber sits closer to the rim.

My wife drove the last few kilometers back home and parked the car thinking it wasn’t that bad. I’m now waiting at the local Kal Tire getting a new tire put on. I’m hoping there isn’t much damage to the rim and that everything will work out. The folks here at Kal Tire have great customer service and appear to be very efficient.

Because my wife hardly drives the car, the wear and tear on the vehicle is minimal. Financially we are lucky to only need to replace one tire. Where as normally they recommend two in order to keep the wear even. The car will get the tires rotated and balanced before I get it back.

Now that I’m done today’s blog, I’m going to finish the rest of my hour waiting here to surf the Internet. That way I can tackle the yard work when I get home and keep myself active as the sun comes out.

Christmas Eve 2020

Everyone I know has some sort of tradition they do around the holidays. This year, being what it is, may have adjusted or outright changed those traditions. We have a few that begin this afternoon. But first things first- we had a couple of other events that aren’t as exciting.

A big house cleaning is one of them. Dusting, floors, windows, even the skylight needs to get a good ol’ sparkle before we do anything else. The family loves to do that. *eyeroll*

Next is the sad realization that I need to do a quick shopping run for last minute items. A Baguette is on my list because the loaf I tried to bake this morning was a pretty good failure. I guess we have some bread lightsabers to swing around…

As well, because of the snowstorm on Monday our daughter’s driving lesson got moved to midday today. Which was totally fine since I was able to make my errands completed during her lesson.

So even though we have traditions that we will adhere to this afternoon/evening, our day was kind of like any other day. My wish is for all of you readers out there who do celebrate, to enjoy your Christmas Eve! No matter what it may bring.

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.

Early Autumn Morning Drive

Living in the countryside has its advantages. My commute to and from work can be long and tiresome. I try and use that time to decompress and leave the workload behind me. Driving home from a night shift lately has been rather pleasant.

I enjoy the sunrise in the autumn much more than any other time of year. The sun is at a slightly different angle as well as a bit later to rise. A misty morning makes the light of day shimmer with a hazy aura. As if the trees are glowing and preparing to change colors.

Having trees all around my neighborhood makes for a peaceful autumn morning. A freshness is in the air. One that you cannot experience in the suburbs or city. It clears my head and relaxes me on a daily basis. My own little zen experience.

An autumn morning drive fills me with contentment. This world is a pretty place.

Sweat

I hate to sweat. It’s probably why I don’t overexert myself. I also dislike sweating due to the summer heat.

This isn’t the first time I’ve complained about the summer heat. In fact it was almost exactly two years ago that I wrote, Gonna Make You Sweat.

But I really dislike getting sweat stains on my shirts. Especially in the arm pits. That’s probably why I don’t wear light coloured clothes. Or certain fabrics. I find I even get sweaty when I’m driving as well. Seems my body doesn’t like being nervous.

Yes. I hate driving. And I often sweat while doing it. Even short commutes will get me wet (in a bad way). Something about controlling a box made of glass and metal that travels 100x faster than I could run makes me nervous. But only when I think about it while I drive. Which is why I play the radio or talk on the phone while I drive. I need the distraction from my mind.

But I digress. Sweating is yucky. I don’t like it. Not one bit. And getting doubly sweaty because of summer driving makes me upset.

Road Worthy

Our middle child turned sixteen on April 15th. Right in the middle of quarantine/ social distancing life. (Note: I’m not saying the world has overcome the pandemic, just that the peak of solitude seems to be behind us.) We were hoping that on her birthday she would have been able to go and do her knowledge test to begin driving. But it seemed that life was on pause until the start of June when ICBC began allowing people to book these tests.

Our daughter booked her test immediately- but there was a two week queue already. This gave her more time to study and finally had a deadline. I went with her yesterday morning because I had to sign off on her getting her license as she is still a minor. Once I signed off, I was asked to wait outside. I watched from the parking lot as our daughter took her exam. She had forty five minutes to complete it.

She was done in eleven.

She successfully aced the test with only one wrong answer out of fifty questions! 98% is dang impressive, clearly she gets her intelligence from her father. A very proud teenager showed off her “L” to her friends on Instagram and through texting. We stopped about a block away from our home, and I let her get a taste of driving.

All I can say is that this one will need lessons from someone who is not mom or dad. She may be book smart, but she needs to become road smart because those are two very different skill sets. I’m really happy for her and think that driving is a great skill to possess.

Frosty

I find the biggest downside to winter is warming up my car. I can deal with snow and even ice. I just hate waiting for my car to get warm and de-fog.

This morning I decided to sit in my car and write this blog as I waited for my windows to clear up. I did my best to wait for complete visibility, but I’m cutting the blog short so I can start driving as the rest of my car warms up. My seat warmer works really well and I just feel like getting going.

I can’t wait for warmer weather to return.

108,000 Kilometers

I’ve owned my 2016 Nissan Rogue for exactly three years. I bought it the day I took a promotion and became a supervisor at my work: Changing It Up. The car received its regular oil change today. I also had the brake fluid flushed. My vehicle hasn’t required anything major considering I have put on 108,000 Kilometers on it since new. The service department was surprised by two things.

First, that I haven’t had to change my brakes. They told me that most people get new brakes between 50-60,000 Kilometers. Mine are on the verge of needing replacement, but can wait until the new year. The service department said I must be really gentle on my brakes. Um… not really, but I guess the vehicle tells a different story.

Secondly is my tires. They still have quite a bit of life to them. The tires came with the vehicle and are stock as well. Nowhere near high performance or high mileage quality. I’ll probably get some all-season tires in the Springtime. No need to fork over money for winter tires at this time either.

All in all I will say that my Nissan Rogue has been a great vehicle. “Five out of five stars- Would Buy Again.”

I did however forget to put insurance on it again this year. I noticed as I left the dealership that it expired yesterday. Oops. Time to get that rectified immediately. Wouldn’t want to have my car not taken care of since it’s been taking care of me for three years without complaint.

Getting Chipped Off

Over the past month or so my windshield has been getting abused. I don’t much care for it.

It’s very frustrating to be driving down the highway and hear that loud PING as a projectile leaves its mark on your car’s glass. I had three separate small ones all appear at various spots within a few days of each other. Every time I get in my car I think, “I should get that looked at and repaired”. But I never do.

Then this morning as I drove home from work- a massive attack occurred. I was even able to witness the projectile as it flew at my car. It was a dull grey image barreling directly at my line of sight. It wasn’t until it hit my window and scared me that I mentally zoned back in. Now there is a large crescent moon chip in the center of my windshield. The diameter of the damaged area is larger than a quarter- this is definitely a fifty cent piece sized chunk.

So I guess I’m glad I didn’t get the other three chips repaired. It would feel like a waste of time. On my next day off- I’ll be looking to get something done about it. Until then, I’ll just have to do my best to not focus on it… Good Luck Joe– it’s right at eye level. I better not buy a new vehicle like I did years ago when I got our minivan windshield replaced. Even though our Pathfinder was a great SUV and much better than a minivan. I still love my 2016 Nissan Rogue, so just a new windshield shall do.

Crossing Tracks

Everyday I cross two sets of train tracks near our home. I’ve been doing this for over a decade now. Recently they changed one of the crossings.

They removed the stop sign and installed some lights. Needless to say that many of the local residents are having a difficult time adjusting. Since many have lived here for a long time. Even though I know it has signals and no more stop sign, I still slow down as I approach. Perhaps it’s the railroader in me exercising caution.

At the other crossing I sometimes stop and take a photo. There can be something beautiful about the skyline and the tracks that needs to be immortalized in a picture.

First Day Of School- Sort Of

Yesterday was the first day of school. Only it was just one hour of school. Not really a “day” to speak of really. But the kids enjoyed seeing their friends and smelling the hallways once more.

My wife even took the obligatory “Seeing the kids off on the first day of school photo“. This year was of the car as it drove off. That’s because our oldest has her driver’s license and the other two are both in high school now. This meant we didn’t have to spend the “day” waiting for them. It’s bittersweet in a way. But for this year, my wife and I won’t have to spend 40 minutes in the morning and 40 minutes in the afternoon driving.

Huge sigh of relief.

Today is a real day of school. Now starts the hard work and education.