Feel Good Drive Home

Driving home yesterday from the Speed Skating meet felt great. A big burden for our son is behind him/us. The attitude in the car from each of us portrayed as much.

Right from the beginning of the trip- my wife and daughter were having some fun. We stopped at the only sight in Prince George that we could think of- Mr. PG. It’s a large tree like statue with what looks like an oversized antenna ball from Jack In The Box as his head.

The rest of the drive we had really nice weather. There was an occasional spotty shower during the bright sunshine. But that’s what happens when nature does what it wants. I enjoyed the drive on Highway 97 because it wasn’t overly busy and parts of it reminded me of our previous road trips on Interstate 5 through California.

Our son was so worn out that he slept at least half of the way home cuddling his Duffy teddy bear. Even though he’s a teenager and working hard towards his goals in the sport of speed skating- he’s still just a kid at heart.

I’m glad that one more major competition is behind us. For the next few months it seems we will be hitting up a meet every couple of weeks. It’s good practice and will help him with his mental game before the big competitions in early 2020.

Until then, it’s nice to be home.

Driving On Nine

We travelled for nine hours to get to Prince George, BC. I did the majority of the drive. The only time my wife did the driving, she was stopped by the police for enjoying the speed of the car. Which unfortunately was within the first couple hours.

We made a pit stop in Quesnel just prior to arriving at our destination. There’s a small brewery that we liked back in the summer, so we made sure to stop once more for some lunch and beers. With a little over an hour remaining to get to the destination, it was a nice way to enjoy the afternoon.

We checked into our hotel- The Pomeroy- and they had upgraded us to a full kitchen suite at no extra cost. That meant we could go to the local grocery store and make a quick dinner instead of spending money unnecessarily at a restaurant! Bonus since we have a small fine to pay from earlier…

I took our son downstairs to do a workout before dinner. He hit up the elliptical, bike and treadmill for about ten minutes each. It was a great way to get his leg muscles active after such a long journey in the car. I even got my heart rate going on the bike and treadmill.

Our daughter has been enjoying writing during the road trip. She has a journal titled “Plans For World Domination“. I’m pretty sure she is secretly trying to take over the world by being obvious. Only time will tell.

I spent some time after dinner enjoying the newly updated pool and hot tub that the hotel had to offer. I’d like to say I was alone, but since there are a couple of waterslides- there were a few kids around. I still got a couple of laps in though and felt relaxed afterwards.

Now it’s time to encourage Theory in his Speed Skating. I mean, he is the reason we came up here!

Quick Weekend Road Trip

We are off again on a road trip related to Speed Skating. This time it’s an eight hour or so journey up to Prince George, BC. We are hoping for decent road conditions as winter is on the way up north.

As with most road trips, the essentials are needed. Music to sing along to, movies for some down time, neck pillows and snacks for a bit of comfort. Crammed into a car with bags and blankets. Road trips are something we have been doing for ages.

On the road before sunrise in hopes of beating some traffic. Although it’s not the local area that I’m concerned with but rather all the road work further along the way.

Let’s do this! ROAD TRIP!

Safe Travel Day

As I mentioned yesterday in my blog- Off To Fort St. John– we had a road trip taking us fairly far North in British Columbia. We left our home at 6am and made it into Fort St. John by 8pm. we made it in one word:

Safely.

That’s the key that I want to mention about this road trip that I always overlook when talking about driving. I love taking the roads through the mountains, deserts, countrysides and cities. Road trips are a good way to bond with my family on these vacations. But the journey needs to always be taken safely.

We left before the sun came out. But we stopped twice before even hitting the freeway. That’s because I was uncertain about one of the front straps on the kayaks I had mounted to the roof. Because of my anal retentiveness- this prevented any possible issues during our drive. Every time we stopped for gas- I rechecked the tie downs. All was good.

After about eight hours of my hand at driving, I realized I was becoming extremely tired and had my wife take over. I hopped into the back seat with our son, while our daughter sat up front and played “DJ”.

After a couple of hours driving on the single lane roadways- my wife was behind a slow moving vehicle. When an opportunity arose for her to pass the RV, she signaled and began to pull around. At which point the truck behind her also decided he wanted to pass both our car and the RV. He had no signal and a lead foot. My wife had to jerk back into our lane narrowly avoiding hitting the front side of the truck and the rear bumper of the car in front. There was no reason for the guy behind us to try and run us off the road. But he felt he was more important.

My wife remained calm and then passed the RV. The other truck was now barreling down the road ahead of us at close to twice the posted speed limit. Oh well.

About an hour before we were to get to our destination- there was the remnants of a bad accident. It looked as though a train had collided with a semi trailer at the only train crossing around. The flag people were in position alternating the flow of traffic. We weren’t held up for very long.

Needless to say, we encountered a few indiscretions during our fourteen hour drive. Road trips are long and can be tedious. But keeping your occupants and fellow drivers around you safe should always be number one. We preach safety at my work, and I take that home every day as well. I’d much rather get to our destination safely than in a hurry.

So we made it to Fort St. John safely.

Off To Fort St. John

Today we are driving North. This will be the furthest North I have ever driven. Prior to this was back in Grade Eight in 1988 when I went on a band trip to Prince George. That was memorable because we stayed at the host homes of one of the schools up there.

But today we are driving for about another four hours past Prince George. Driving North. I can’t get over how far this is from our home.

But it’s not the furthest we’ve driven from our home. We drove South one time almost all the way to the Mexican border. Driving South usually means warmer weather and a more fun destination.

Earlier this year we headed East. Not quite out of Alberta. But getting pretty close. The distance is almost as far as our travels today. But the time to get there is quicker. Most likely due to the route and my tendency to get a speeding ticket in Alberta…

As for driving West- Gold River On Vancouver Island was the furthest so far. Can’t overly drive through the Pacific Ocean. The ferry only gets to the islands nearby.

Do you enjoy roadtrips as much as we do?

What’s the furthest you’ve driven?

Any sights you’d recommend on the drive North through British Columbia?

Let me know in the comments!

From Fastest Ice to The Slowest Drive

Leaving Calgary on Saturday should’ve been a breeze- and it was… until we hit Golden, BC.

Our drive was going to get us home in about 9.5 hours. Not bad. Plenty of time for sleep before working the next morning.

Unlucky for us, there was an accident on the way with no possible detour. This added an extra 4 hours to our drive home. Painfully slow. It’s not common during this time of year to have accidents like this causing massive delays.

We got home just after midnight. Meaning I would only get about 4 or possibly 5 hours of sleep before work. Looks like I’ll be running on fumes. Not much I can do. Definitely a hard way to end a great trip to Calgary to promote my son’s future in Speed Skating.

Drumheller

This afternoon, we made it to Drumheller, Alberta. The journey was through the mountains and past farmer’s fields.

We stopped for gas partway through and the kids were visited by Prairie Dogs. So they fed them some bread pieces. Then it was on to Dinosaurs!

Drumheller loves their dinosaurs. There are Dino statues everywhere. Including the “World’s Largest Dinosaur”. This town is a Dinosaur lovers haven. But there’s more to check out than just fake reptilian creatures.

The Hoodoos in the Badlands are breathtaking. It was neat to wander around the land formations. Respecting the natural beauty is paramount in order to keep this place attractive.

Up the road from the Hoodoos is a town called “Wayne” with a population of 29. We stopped at the “Last Chance Saloon” for a bite to eat. We were treated like family which was awesome. Inside was one of the most unique attractions I have ever seen. (I used their write up, because why not). The “Band Box” was an old school animatronic puppet show while 1940’s music played.

Click to see: Band Box Video

So far Drumheller is a neat little town. Next is a visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum and really get our Dinosaur knowledge upgraded! Check out what our adventures will be tomorrow.

Mountain Driving

Driving through the Rocky Mountains is always a beautiful drive. Last weekend was no different. We were lucky enough to drive home from Alberta and see the sunset over the mountains.

We travelled back the same way we came in- through Jasper National Park. Both Jasper and Banff are beautiful drives. In fact, both towns are nice to take a quick stop in to look around.

This time of year was neat because the rivers, lakes and waterfalls were starting to thaw. The mix of ice and water made it seem like there was life trickling back into existence.

I would recommend the drive any time instead of flying. Take your time and view the natural wonder this world has to offer.

Driving Day

Today we embarked on a 12 hour road trip from our home to Grande Prairie, Alberta. It started off with us being an hour behind schedule. No big deal- I was able to... ahem... make up the time while driving.

We whipped through Kamloops with a quick stop for gas. Then off to Jasper for a late lunch and of course- trains. Plus amazing beer and food! We had nachos and Wild Boar Steam Buns all at the Jasper Brewing. I highly recommend the Boar and “Jasper the Bear Ale”.

It was a beautiful day to drive through the mountains from British Columbia to Alberta. We watched the sun set and the sky change colours. Absolutely stunning.

Now it’s time to unwind in the hotel room and mentally prepare for the next couple of days. A quick dip in the pool and finish my blog is a great way to end a 12 hour drive.

Pathfinder LE

Today my wife is trading in her 2008 V8 Nissan Pathfinder LE. We bought it on her birthday December 6th, 2010. Here is her legacy…

The First Day. December 6/2010

The day we bought it was quite by accident. I was getting the windshield fixed on our minivan at the time and decided to browse used cars online. After booking an impromptu test drive, we spent the entire day at the dealership getting the paperwork in order. By nightfall, my wife had in her possession one of the most expensive birthday gifts ever. We needed a new vehicle at the time since our 2000 Chevy minivan was dying (and hated). Timing worked out that the Pathfinder was available on my wife’s birthday.

We brought it home and managed to get a Nightmare Before Christmas sticker for it to match our Honda Element. Both vehicles are silver and well loved. Seems we like owning matching colours of vehicles. The Pathfinder has taken us on many journeys up and down the West Coast.

In six and a half years, we managed to put on almost 200,000kms. Through deserts, mountains and beaches; windstorms, snowstorms and heatwaves: this SUV has been as big a part of our road trips as the destinations.

From ferry rides to doughnut shops; dinners at In-N-Out Burger to watching documentary films in the backseat: the comfort of the Pathfinder is unrivaled. For all of our trips, this Pathfinder has been the shit!

It will be sad to see it go. But as the kids grow older, our journeys have become more about the destinations and it’s time to see more of the world that the Pathfinder can’t reach. It is time to say goodbye to her.

One final night in our Pathfinder was spent at the Drive-In yesterday. A fond farewell to our summer routines in a vehicle that we have slowly outgrown for film watching. (We really could not fit all of us inside anymore.) The family talked about every movie we could remember seeing at the drive-in. We even spoke of the memories of killing the battery after watching a Saturday triple feature (on more than one occasion.)

Today we say goodbye to a family member. A piece of our past shall remain in photos and memories as we move forward into a new car. A car that can still fit our family as a local driver. A car my wife is excited to be driving. It’s new and a bit more sporty with a six speed manual transmission. Something she has been missing for a few years now.

It seems as well that my wife will be driving a white vehicle. Something I never would’ve expected. As I said, she likes owning matching colours.

Goodbye 2008 V8 Nissan Pathfinder LE. Your luxury and reliability did not go unnoticed. To whomever gets you next- may they have as many great memories and adventures as we did.

Farewell old friend. You truly were a Path Finder to us.

The Shitty Routine

I’ve been coming to Calgary Expo for seven years now. And every year I get the same gift. A gift I don’t want. I thought this time would be different.

I had been awake since 3:30pm the day before, worked all night, then grabbed a quick nap before hitting the road by 09:00am. As much as I wanted to sleep, I had to stay alert. But throughout the drive, my co-pilot was out cold periodically. I began zoning out as I drove. It was the last leg of our journey- only about an hour and a half remained of our ten hour drive. Then it happened…

A speeding ticket.

This year it happened on my wayin to Calgary. The officer was quick to pull me over, issue the ticket and in a few short minutes- turning around his car to give out a ticket to someone else. Seems like it was a regular place to make a buck or two… Usually I get a lovely photo in the mail a few weeks after our trip. Oftentimes an image of my car the day we are leaving!

So now that The Shitty Routine is behind me for this trip, time to enjoy my weekend.

Let the Full Frontal Nerdity begin!

Desperate For Company

Next Wednesday I leave for Calgary Expo. I’m taking my 11 year old son and we are driving 10 hours from our home to get there. This is immediately after I finish a 12 hour night shift. By the time we get there, I’ll have been awake for over 24 hours. I’m not too excited about that aspect of the road trip…

This year, my wife cannot attend as she is only a couple of weeks into her new job. Because she booked for the show last year, we have a couple of tickets and a place already booked. At the show, my son and I will be able to wander a bit since we have many Convention Carny friends whom we trust that can look after our table. So now I’m trying to find a friend to come with me to share the driving duties. I have to make it through the mountains to the other side.

So I’ve tried to see if my friends on social media want to join me. I’m practically begging. I love my son and his company, but really shouldn’t let him drive the car.

But if it doesn’t pan out, I may have to find a Rest Area and take a quick power nap to recharge my batteries. Pretty sure Alberta has some nice Rest Areas.

I’m looking forward to the show no matter what. I have tons of good friends to see again. If I don’t hear from any of my other friends- it’ll be time to stock up on Red Bull and Coffee!

Center Of The Universe

I am not a spiritual man, nor am I religious. But I do have a desire to understand what it is that people find significant in the world. I have an open mind and respect those who differ from me. I also want to learn from mankind’s past. Visiting castles, museums, or places of worship help me to understand this world we live in.

Back in April of 2011- I travelled to the The Center Of The Universe. According to the Tibetan monks- this spiritual place is located in Vidette Lake, BC. Of course, I had to visit this spiritual location for myself. Thus it became a last minute trip that only my son and I went on.

To get there, we first had to drive from our home to Kamloops. Once there, we had to travel down a dirt road on the outskirts of Kamloops, BC. It felt like we were going to get lost. This was a time before GPS but I had a printed Google Map. Eventually we found the spot. No tourist signs. No kitschy souvenir shops. Not much of anything to signify a Spiritual Center. Here it was, just peaceful and serene.

I can understand why the monks feel it is a significant place. Nature sprawled out, no sounds of humanity, nothing but peace. My son and I have been to the “Spiritual Center Of The Universe”. That’s not something many people can say. It’s also not a place many know about. I hope it remains untouched and clean for others to be able to trek to for years to come.

Humanity’s Spiritual Journeys are an important aspect for discovering oneself.

Share the Road…

Yesterday we had a couple of last minute guests over for a Canada Day BBQ.  One was an old friend of mine from high school.  The other was her man she tagged along with as he brought a trailer down to the Fraser Valley.  He does a trip down to Vancouver once a week. It was neat to hear his stories of travel on the roads from the perspective of a trucker.


We have done road trips as a family throughout BC and Alberta. We have travelled down the West Coast of Washington State, Oregon, California, Nevada and Idaho. I have loved every minute of it. The majority of our drives are pretty spectacular.  The views of the mountains/ countryside/ cityscape are awe inspiring as they appear on the horizon.

As much as I hate being stuck behind a big rig or truck and trailer, I know that those people are just doing their jobs. Sometimes driving for long hours.  Really long hours driving, as I came to hear about yesterday.  It’s not fair to be upset at them for being on the road either.  Especially over a holiday long weekend. Because guaranteed, as much as I may be in a hurry to get to my destination- they are busy leaving behind family and friends. Of course there’s a bit of frustration when stuck in traffic or you set a time frame and miss it by an hour or two. 
But hey, your destination will still be there in the end.  So why not just relax. Read a bumper sticker or two.  Make silly faces at the van full of kids. Wave to the trucker as he safely pulls over to let you pass.

Why Not Fly?

Why don’t you just fly?

The Rogue is our new road tripper.


Because we’d miss out on hours of quality time and conversation. Flying is faster, but the cost is more and sometimes the headaches are too. Besides I just bought a new car only a few months ago and I love the luxury inside. Heated leather seats for the cold mountains. Full sunroof open in California letting in the breeze. XM radio playing whatever music we want. And scenery that is amazingly pretty.

I can’t get away from trains.


Plus with driving we discover parts of the world that we would miss. Today my wife and I stopped in at The Railroad Park Resort for a moment.  The rooms are all made of old train cabooses.  They even have an old dining car modified into a restaurant.  Next trip down- we will likely stay here.


Not only do we discover new attractions, we also stop at in at our favorite places. We hit In-N-Out Burger at least three times every trip.  Best burgers ever.  I think I mention this place far too often.  I can’t help it.  So tasty.

That’s me!


The drive into California is fun.  This may be a business trip for my wife, but it’s a vacation for me.  The art of the road trip isn’t as great as it once was.  That makes me sad.  We have done them for seven or eight years now with and without our children. Even the description of my blog mentions road trips… as well as trains, conventions, being a father and a geek…  That pretty much sums up my life over the past few years.  


I love every minute I spend in the car with my family.  It’s a quality time that usually has us all being nicer to one another for long periods. I miss my kids in a way this time.  But their toys are having a ton of fun!

Vacation Planning

When my wife and I got married, our honeymoon cost us about $400 and lasted three days.  This was our first vacation together.  We made the most of it.  We stayed at a B&B.  We had a couple of dinners out, bought some cheap kites to fly around the lagoon, rented a couples bike for an hour and went canoeing up a small creek.  I learned never to let my wife paddle a canoe, she learned that I can’t fly a kite.  It was simple and relaxing.  We went back for our one year anniversary for a night.  My wife was due with our first child within a few days of this.

But we didn’t vacation much after this.  We began to save for a home.  We also bought our first new car.  Then our second daughter was born.  We became busy with raising kids.  Our family was growing.  We had a third child a few years after.  We were now married for five years and no vacations were in sight for the near future.  Such was life.

First day at Disneyland in 2009. Early enough to stand at the gates waiting with anticipation.

Then it happened.  Early 2009 I got laid off.  I was given two days notice.  We had three small kids.  Six, four and two.  Being forced to take time off, I went on to the Disney website and booked a hotel and park tickets for us.  We left on the Friday driving straight down (24 hours with one four hour nap in a rest area).  We spent a week in Disneyland and forgot about all of our worries.  For under $2000 we had the experience of a lifetime.

When we returned home, we vowed to go to Disneyland every couple of years.  Turns out 18 months is the maximum time away that we can endure.  We have returned for Trick or Treating a few times and once for Spring Break.  Every time we go we make a new experience and set of memories.  I’m no expert on Disneyland, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve on how to make the most of a trip.

Sunset in Hawaii. 2014.

Besides Disneyland, we haven’t done much in the way of vacations.  We made it to Hawaii once for a Cheerleading competition.  We bought plane tickets and booked our hotel so far in advance that we ended up paying less than some of the other families that went along.  We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and had all of the amenities we could need.  We loved that trip, but I’m not sure we will ever return to Hawaii.  There are plenty of other warm locations that we would love to travel to.

Side trip back from California through the desert.

Over the years we even incorporated a few extra days into my wife’s convention circuit.  Attending a variety of Comic Cons, we have had opportunities to see more of the world as we drive to and from the venues.  This is another huge money saver for us.  Adding a small detour doesn’t really add anything to our trip.  Plus my wife’s business makes enough that we pay cash for the hotels and use some of it as spending cash as we travel.

All of this is wonderful.  And generally inexpensive.  We budget like crazy to afford the trips.  We also plan months/years in advance.  We also enjoy that aspect of the vacation.  (At least I do.)

Planning their next stop back in 2009.

This year we have a couple conventions that were already booked and we also plan to go for a few days camping.  All of it either paid for already or not going to cost us much.  I have decided that we need to really expand for our next big vacation.  Worldwide expansion…

The Twilight Zone

I spoke previously about how much I love road trips.  Yesterday’s journey was odd…  Probably because it’s the same road travelled as we’ve done many times before: Our children watched DVDs of a show we’ve seen previously.  We have the best restaurants that we’ve enjoyed in the past marked out on a map.  We stop in “Small Town USA” for gas and a stretching of the legs.  We even stay in the same hotels because of the comfort and service we like.

However, with this “sameness” has brought something I never thought possible.  A sense of déjà vu has overwhelmed me.  Not because of the locations or the route we used, but rather everything and everyone else.  My interactions with the cashiers at the gas stations seemed repetitive, as if we’d danced this game before.  Talking about spending time with family and not eating in restaurants because of the cost.  At another gas station I spoke with a couple about their vehicle and every moment felt like I was reliving something from the past.  Even the cars we passed and clouds in the sky all resonated a similarity to a journey we once had.

  

The end of our day had us staying in a hotel that we’ve stayed at before.  Getting there shared the same issues as we had before: wrong turns and the same parking spot (or so it seems).  I lay in bed still awake watching tv after everyone else had fallen into slumber.  I turned the volume down so as not to disturb my family, and proceded to watch the same shows I watched the last time we were here.  Right before my turn to pass out for the night- I ended my television viewing on a couple classic episodes of “The Twilight Zone”.  Episodes that I know I’ve seen.  Ones that I may have even seen the last time we were here.

My life is in rerun, but now I am aware of what is going on.  Question is- should I change it or just keep on repeating the same mistakes and consequences…

Fast food

When it comes to fast food, something about convenience makes me happy.  I only have a couple of favorite burger places.  But these are located in the United States.  British Columbia doesn’t offer up the same value or quality when it comes to fast food.  I’m not saying I don’t eat from these places, far from it.  I “treat” myself about once or twice a month to McDonald’s or Wendy’s. It’s not really a treat, it’s more that I’m hungry and need something in my belly.

Declaration of Delicious. Americans don’t take their politics seriously.

We, as a family, don’t make a habit of going for fast food. My children have never asked for Happy Meals. But on our road trips, I have mapped out all of our stops and the kids get excited as we approach our next location.  Only a fifteen minute drive from our home in Canada to the nearest Jack In The Box.  I usually buy myself an Ultimate Cheesburger when we go.  So tasty, and bad for me…  I love that they have American Dr. Pepper on tap.  Yes, there is a difference between Canadian and American Dr. Pepper.  We also buy a box of churros to share for desert.

But the best fast food burger restaurant in the West Coast has to be In-N-Out Burger.  I have included on our road trip maps, the locations of the restaurants and exactly how long/far they are from place to place.  Every time we go, the line up is out the door.  We wait patiently.  This is our treat.  The burgers are fantastic and worth the wait.  In-N-Out also had a travel kitchen.  Once a year, over the past few years, it has journeyed into Canada.  They come up to our hometown of Langley, BC every September for the Langley Cruise-In.  Guess what?  People line up for hours for the one day they come here.  The smell of the food fills the air and reminds me of exactly why we enjoy their burgers.

Soon we shall be indulging in their food as we journey on our road trip to our conventions.  Perhaps a chocolate milkshake will be purchased as an extra treat if we all behave in the car.

Travel

I just got home from dropping my wife and daughter off at the Vancouver International Airport.  They are heading out for the weekend to Los Angeles for my daughter’s Cheer Leading competition.  It’s a relatively short flight, the competition is for one day, and then home again.  I’m going to miss them, but I hope they have fun.

Driving to the airport in the early morning prior to rush hour allowed us to have a nice conversation and I didn’t stress about the commute.  I even arrived home well before the roads started becoming busy.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone to an airport during the day/afternoon for a departure in my life.  It’s always around midnight or really early in the morning.

Flying metal tube!


There’s something about flying as the sun comes up that makes the experience magical.  Plus, you get to be in the air like a bird above the clouds, how cool is that?  Flying isn’t cheap.  It’s also sometimes a hassle.  Delays, weather problems, stinky passengers, cramped seating…  The list goes on.  What people are paying for- the convenience of getting from one place to another in a short period of time.

As a family, we don’t tend to fly places.  We do a good old fashioned road trip.  It may take longer, but we see more of the countryside and stop along the way to check out places that we would’ve just flown past.  A drive from our place to Los Angeles is roughly 19 hours straight there.  A flight is 3 hours.  Plus checking in time of about an hour or two early and an hour drive to the airport plus disembarking and finding luggage is about an hour or two.  Then finding and getting a ride to the hotel is up to an hour.  So flying in the end, would save about 12 hours travel time.

Driving a family of 5 costs us about $300 in fuel plus snacks/meals one way.  This allows us to have a vehicle at our disposal to travel and see the sights.  Flying a family of five then renting a car will cost $1500 for a non stop flight one way and a car rental of about $60/day.  If we wanted the cheapest flight for five, $950 with two stops lasting 12 hours.  Yes, flying saves time.  But driving saves us money.  I also find less headaches when driving.  I’m not stressed about what I can bring in my carry on, or details about my flight, or where I’m sitting in relation to the exit/washroom/stinky person.  Driving long distances is almost the same as a daily commute except you deal with a stuffy car, an occasional fight, or bathroom breaks.  Road trips aren’t for everyone and don’t get you overseas; and flying isn’t for everyone either.  Having an option of how to get somewhere is great.  Vacations and traveling is fun.

I’m looking forward to when they come home.  It’s always nice to be greeted by a loved one when you get back.  It may only be a couple of days, but it sometimes seems like an eternity.

The Great Outdoors

As much as I love technology, I’m also a fan of nature.  My home is surrounded by trees and we will be growing another vegetable garden this year.  In our last home, I spent four years pruning our two apple trees and kept the cherry blossom tree shaped like a weeping willow.  It sucked to find out that the people who moved in there immediately cut the trees down.  I’m not innocent here either- we cut down about a dozen trees the first year we moved into our current home as well.  But those were for safety reasons.  The trees were either too close to the house, almost dead, or were close to falling down anyways.

We live in a forest, so why not build an AT-ST?

I have a favorite tree in our yard.  We call it the elephant ear tree.  It is a tall crooked tree with large leaves (hence the name elephant ear tree) and it stands alone in the middle of the back of our property.  The tree feels like Tim Burton himself created it.  Throughout the rest of our yard there are firs, cedars, evergreens, vine maples and birch trees.  None of them as majestic as the elephant ear tree (I have no idea what it’s really called).

Living in British Columbia is a real pleasure.  As a family, we often find ourselves going for walks through various nature trails.  We can see many amazing wonders within about a 45 minute drive.  

There’s North Vancouver which had Lynn Canyon Park.  Or head out to Chilliwack and see Bridal Veil Falls.  Or head a little further east and visit the Othello Tunnels located at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. Or if water is more your thing, check out one of the many Vancouver area lakes.

We found a little spot five minutes away from home to cool off in fresh water.  We also hike into another spot that remains uncrowded.  Our kids and dog love cooling off in the water and we spend a nice picnic relaxing.

We also have beaches in the Lower Mainland.  My personal favorite is Crescent Beach in White Rock.  During the week in the summer is the best time to go.  Parking is free and there’s always a spot to sit on the sand.  Plus there’s really good fish and chips that you can enjoy while watching the sunset.

  
It’s great to have so much to do and see so close to home.  But even when we travel, we try and find sights that are awe inspiring.  In Alberta, we drove to the Hoodoos.  In Idaho, we drove out to Balanced Rock and Snake River Canyon.  We stopped numerous times as we drove from Death Valley through Nevada where the sky, the desert, the trails, are all amazing.

Vacation.

The other day I mentioned how much I love my job. I also enjoy my time away from there.  My vacations are now planned out for this year. This is the first time in many years that we aren’t heading to California in October and it seems strange.

Instead, this spring break we will head to California.  My wife has booked a couple conventions and I’m really excited about them.  Because… ROAD TRIP!

 

The end of Route 66.

We drive south at least once a year as a family.  My favorite part is the small stops we make along the way.  Good food, unique sites, and of course the beaches.

We spend about 24 hours driving down.  We hit Costco for some cheap food and gas.  We also hit at least two In-N-Out Burgers. Part of our journey involves watching “The Blue Planet” DVDs from BBC.  They are fantasticly visual and educational.  I’ve learned so much about our planet and my children enjoy the movies.

The journey is part of the reason we choose to drive.  We’ve seen some cool things and we spend time together talking.  Enjoying a road trip is a dying art.  Yes, my kids play with their Nintendo 3ds, iPads, or cellphones with headphones on when we need that small break from each other.  Surprisingly, the kids have put down these devices on their own accord just to look out the window to check out the scenery.

I know sometime soon we won’t all be going on these trips.  In fact a month later, we are doing a road trip without our eldest.  It will be strange.  I will be sad.  It won’t be the same.  I am putting my daughter’s education first and she is ok having a weekend away from her family.

Vacation is time away from routine.  It recharges and invigorates the soul.