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?

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.

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.

Shellfish Medley

I really do miss traveling these days. Besides hitting exciting destinations and seeing the sites, there’s a big thing that happens while traveling. It’s also the most costly part of vacations. That’s eating at restaurants- for five of us.

When we travelled as a family, we would make sure to go to one or two special restaurants. Some of my favorite places were sushi, ramen and seafood. We also made sure to dress up for a dinner as well (depending on the trip). Making meals an experience is just as important as the meals themselves.

Recently I was really missing the places like Joe’s Crab Shack, Bubba Gump’s, & The Crab Pot. From Anaheim to Seattle, even though they are relatively close- we aren’t leaving Canada any time soon. So why not bring the meals to us?

I went to the store and loaded up on shellfish for tonight’s dinner at home. Clams, mussels, snow crab, tiger prawns, Thai prawns, potatoes, fried farmer sausage and corn. It took me about thirty minutes of preparation and cooking. I sautéed some onion in garlic butter. Then I added a bottle of beer, two cups of water and lemon juice bringing it to a bowl. I spiced it up a bit with chili flakes, sriracha sauce and paprika before steaming the shellfish for a few minutes. Once everything was done, I tossed it all in a large canning pot with some taco seasoning.

Dinner was a success! Even though we had a large pot of food on the table, it was almost all gone. Everyone went for seconds and thirds. While we ate we talked about our previous vacations. It was a great feeling to reminisce. I enjoy how food can take us back to places we once visited.

Five Years Of Blogging

Well folks I made it this far and you have joined me for the ride. I am about to crest my five year mark of writing every single day. I cannot believe that I have been blogging now for 1825 days in a row.

I have diligently written every day for these five years- no matter what. I have written about movies and music (I’m not an entertainment blogger) and enjoying small businesses (I’m not an influencer). I even write about family (Not a parenting blog) or when I was on vacation in other countries (Nope, not a travel blog).

I just write for the sake of writing. Sometimes what I share can be inspirational. Most often it is to remind people that life is good and memories are worth sharing. Many people can relate to my experiences it seems, which can make for pleasant interactions with my audience.

Generally speaking, I don’t have thousands of followers. But of the almost 900 people that do follow and choose to interact with me, I will respond to every comment made. That always makes me happy. Last year in 2020, I had over 14,000 views on my site. That seems like an astronomical amount of strangers visiting my ramblings. Especially when I look at my stats and see that people all over the world read about my life.

I just want to say a hearty “Thank You” to all my friends and followers out there. I’m sure some days you think to yourself, “There’s Josef’s blog, showing up in my newsfeed again.” While other days you may look forward to seeing what I have in store.

I’m still Making It Up As I Go

I plan to keep my momentum going and will continue to share my thoughts each and every day. Please keep reading, sharing and interacting with me.

Love, Josef Making It Up As I Go

Lava

The word “LAVA” is so much fun. When you say it, your brain naturally goes to the idea of Volcanoes and oozing hot magma. Even the word “magma” is fun to say. I’m also enjoying “Lavazza” coffee these days. How fun is that? It’s like I’m pretending to have lava coffee!

When I was in grade 1 (…damn this story is starting waaaaaaayy back when…) I would take out a book about volcanoes from the library every week. Most kids were obsessed with dinosaurs or the Old Testament, that whole Catholic school thing; but I liked volcanoes. Plus every tv trope involving kids and science fairs naturally had a model volcano that made a mess. I remember trying to paper mache my own volcano and made a mess in the basement before completing it.

As well, when I was growing up, I also always wanted a Lava Lamp. In the late 80’s it wasn’t an easy item to find for a decent price. Many lamps cost around 100 bucks in 1987 dollars- so around $230 in today’s money. Not something reasonable for an 11 year old to afford back then.

Fast forward to around 2004… I was in the middle of my five year career at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Where I was in charge of the prize wall- and was permitted to take a prize or twenty home for myself. I took full advantage of this for my kids. They got a lot of toys. But the one that I loved most for me was a Lava Lamp telephone.

We have not had a “landline” in years in this house. In fact, my lava lamp phone was put in storage and forgotten about long before we removed our home phone. This “editing/ purging” kick meant my kids discovered the phone once more. Our son had never seen it, or at least doesn’t remember it. I don’t think I’m quite ready to part with it. So it gets another shot at being plugged in for fun.

Do you like lava lamps? Or do you have memories about volcanoes you wish to share?

Let me know in the comments so I can share them from my secret volcanic lair!

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.

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.

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…

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.

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?

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!

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.

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.

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!

Newbie

So, I’m a relative NEWB when it comes to being outdoorsy. I have done some hiking and lately have been kayaking. I tend to get some beginner stuff in order to try out activities before getting carried away. Our kayaks are beginner style, and I have enjoyed them tremendously. My wife and I will probably upgrade them one day once we get better at paddling and such.

Today I went out and bought some fishing stuff. I’ve gone fishing with coworkers and friends in the past. I have just never owned my own equipment. I appreciate the basic knowledge they have given me over the years and am looking forward to having some fun this summer. Not the “Billy Bass” singing “Don’t Worry Be Happy” kind of fun. But actually trying to fish.

Before I bought stuff, I asked around for some advice on what a NEWB like me should buy. There is an art to what gear to buy depending on what you want to fish. Since I am doing fresh water fishing, I bought the gear that will be needed. I also paid for a fishing license for the year.

So any of my friends who want to hit the water with me and show me the ropes- I’ll be a bit more prepared than before. Now to watch some YouTube videos to get some skills before I make a fool of myself in front of my son.

Vehicle Milestone

It’s always fun to see your vehicle hit certain milestones. I was on my way to work this morning when a numerical one hit my odometer.

Yes, I’m a dork and stopped to get a photo of it. Good thing it was 5am on a Sunday and no one was on the roads.

I get pleasure from the simple things. Like seeing my odometer hit 123,456km. Yup, I also reset my Trip counter to add in the 7.8! I’d been planning this moment for a few days. Now to figure out what the next fun milestone will be. I can’t believe I’ve owned this car for three and a half years already.

Do you get little pleasures from numbers and sequences like I do?

The Vedder Made Today Better

I am so happy that my wife had us pick up a couple of kayaks last summer. We go a lot of use out of them last year, and we don’t want the momentum to stop this year. My wife joined a kayaking group on Facebook and there have been some great locations shared. Today, we drove about thirty minutes away from our home to enjoy a spot.

I want to start off by saying, it took me longer to get the kayaks ready today. That was because our fourteen year old son wanted to learn how to strap the kayaks to the car and he did the majority of it. There is a bit of an art to getting kayaks tied down, so I was glad to share the knowledge with him. I also enjoyed just chatting with Theory. He’s a bright kid who is always curious about how the world works.

Onto my wife and I and our afternoon. We found the small boat launch with ease. There was a few people around fishing, but no boats on the river. So we unloaded quickly, sunscreen and bug spray was applied and into the water we went.

My wife described the water as “Glass” and she was right. It was one of the smoothest paddles I have ever experienced. The water levels were so high, that at times we were not just going through tall grasses, but literally floating through the trees. It was calm and amazing.

We spent a good two hours just casually enjoying the views. We saw Canada Geese, ducks and a couple of cranes. It was quiet and peaceful as we wandered out.

By the time we returned, there were four more kayakers hitting the water. There’s something about kayaking that brought up conversations with strangers. We chitchatted with a few people as we packed up, because another couple of groups showed up. This spot is appealing right now because of the high water level and calmness. In a couple of weeks, the water will drop and the river will have an entirely different feel.

Chances are my wife and I will go back in a couple of weeks to see the change. But until then, there is so much more of British Columbia to explore. If you missed my Instagram video, here is a quick shot of a couple of cranes that we saw: