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:

I Hadn’t Planned a Recovery

This COVID thing has finally ticked me off. Our road trip to Disneyland at the end of the month is cancelled. I really didn’t want to admit that it was a possibility. But here we are, no Disneyland trip.

And no recovery plan either. It’s not like we can drive across the border and take a break someplace else in California. We can barely travel between provinces here in Canada as it is…

I am at a loss for what to do in order to get some “Rest and Relaxation” away from the daily grind. Seems like camping is about it. But being so late to the game, I have no idea if we can even book a site at the last minute.

I’m not used to this. Last minute travel is not my thing. I like plans! Itineraries! Goals! Gosh dingit! I feel lost. I need some guidance as to what to do or where to go.

Pool of Thought

At the start of my preteen years, we moved from the arctic tundra of Edmonton to the rain forest neighborhoods of Vancouver. We gave up ice and snow for an older home with a swimming pool. This was the greatest single thing that I appreciate my father ever doing for the family. Of course I was angry to leave my three closest friends behind, but I eventually made new friends. I did manage to keep in touch with my best friend since kindergarten 1981.

Back to talking about my first Langley house. I loved that home. I had plenty of privacy upstairs. My little sister didn’t like having the bedroom across the hall from me, so she moved downstairs and the upstairs became mine. We also had a large unfinished basement with plenty of space to become a second home. But the house had the greatest thing ever- a swimming pool.

Not one of those circular above ground pools that are only good for playing “Marco Polo”. This was a pool with a ten foot deep end, a slide and diving board. The prefect size for swimming laps and filling with 20 friends. Our backyard at the time was basically a large deck and the pool. Perfect for lounging on a hot summer day. I remember swimming in rainstorms and at night. My family sold that home due to many factors. One of them being the cost associated with upkeep and heating of the pool was far more than was worth the headache. My parents figured we weren’t getting much use out of the pool anymore, so it was time to move.

Since my memories of that home, whenever our family travels, we always have to book a hotel with a pool. I love swimming, my kids don’t overly care one way or the other. That being said, we’ve never bothered to pursue the idea of a pool in our current home. I do love the trees we have and don’t want to get rid of them to add a pool at this time.

Assuming our kids move out or we get grandkids, or my wife and I ever do sell this house- I’d like to find a home with a pool. It would be a treat for me to have a little oasis to enjoy. Or maybe one day we will redo the landscaping in our current yard and add a pool. I’m sure that a windstorm or two will knock down a few more trees over the years.

Perhaps that will be my midlife crisis. Who needs a luxury car? Give me a pool any day.

Bucket List Places?

Once the restrictions on travel get lifted, will you be planning a vacation?

Personally, I think I’ll wait a bit. But I also realized that there is a great big world out there that I’ve missed out on already. I now want to see more of this planet than ever before. Mostly because I’m being told to stay home!

Of the vacations and travel I have done, the best times was spent with my family. We’ve taken our kids from California to Tokyo, Hawaii to Calgary. These are top of my lists- especially to travel to with kids/teens. I have now created a small list of places I still want to go to as a family. Now to figure out when to get there and how to afford it!

  • Peru
  • Brazil
  • Hong Kong
  • Shanghai
  • Czech Republic
  • Russia
  • Ireland
  • Road trip across Canada

The last one is what I’d love to do with my wife. Do a fun road trip in a camper van or small RV once we retire. Spend a few months just picking up and going everywhere we can. Plus if we’re on the move, it’ll feel like a grand adventure!

This summer we would like to be camping more than before. Not glamping. We’ve never done that, yet. Or we may just stay in our yard and live the best quarantine life we can! But I want to travel!!!

Back To The Drive-In

This Saturday is our son’s 14th birthday. With the world being what it is, no party will be happening. But we still want to make it special for him.

It just so happens that our local Drive-In Theater The Twilight Drive-In is playing retro movies. This is due to the fact that the movie studios are not releasing anything new. The Drive-In allows for social distancing in our cars as a family. Which is perfect. The film series this week? Back to the Future.

Our family has always loved the Back to the Future series. Back in 2010 at The Calgary Expo, we met a couple who built replica DeLorean and was taking donations for Parkinson’s Research. We took some photos that created the start of some fantastic memories.

Fast forward to October 2015. We are now in California at another convention… our son decided to cosplay as Marty McFly. He had a great time taking photos and pretending to be Marty.

This Saturday will be a fun night of watching a double feature. BTTF and BTTF 2. When I was younger, I rented Back to the Future 2 on VHS when it first came out. I watched it 9 times in a row during the one day rental we had. Needless to say, I enjoyed the film.

So come on out to the Drive In the Saturday and walk past to say Happy Birthday to our son!

Sweet Sixteen in Social Isolation

Today is our daughter’s sixteenth birthday. Unfortunately with the world being the way it is, we are unable to make this birthday an extravagant one. The plan was to take her out to get her “L” so that she could begin to learn driving. We would also have gone for dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant- Nikko Sushi- but it’s just not in the cards for today.

And that’s totally fine. Because we have our health. And we have our memories of her previous birthdays. Each of them unique in their own way.

One year we took her to Build-A-Bear. Another time she was on an airplane flying back from Hawaii. We’ve been in the car on a road trip to another province. We’ve been at a few different conventions. A couple of times we went out bowling. One time she was competing at a Cheer competition.

But my favorite memories were spent at home. Where we made her a cake, gave her gifts that were created with love, and did the things she wanted to do. Like watch a movie or play a game. This year is no different. There is a great joy that we share in being home as a family.

So today, as our daughter celebrates her 16th Birthday, the sun will be shining down on her as she fills our lives with happiness.

Happy 16th Birthday Darwin!

Easter Hunt 2020

Our kids aren’t kids anymore. They have become teenagers. Two of which are cresting the second half of their teen years as well. Driving, jobs, and teen angst a plenty… Oh my.

However, my wife loves to treat them like children on occasion. Especially when it comes to those childhood memory maker dates. Be it at Christmas, Halloween or Easter. Today was no different.

Last night the “Easter Bunny” hid some eggs, chocolates and candies throughout our living room. The same room the “Santa” visits. Our kids all know this. I guess what I’m saying is that our teenagers still hunt for Easter eggs.

There is the joy of the hunt. Discovering more challenging spots where the Easter Bunny can get to. They also appreciate the junk food that’s for sure.

And as they have done every years for Easter and Halloween- they divide up their haul amongst one another. I think this began when we realized the oldest was always getting the most, while the youngest got the least. Today was the opposite. Our youngest brought in the biggest collection and had to spread it out.

These traditions are important to my wife and I. As our children become adults, the traditions may evolve over time. Or make an egg-ception, like when we went to Tokyo DisneySea in 2018. But we will continue to make sure those imaginary gift givers keep visiting.

Disneyland Churros

Disney released the greatest thing ever this week. They released their churro recipe for those of us at home who miss attending the parks. The recipe is extremely easy. Find it at Disney Parks Blog Churros.

Of course, we HAD TO MAKE THEM!

My kids had a great time helping make the churros, deep fry the churros, sugar the churros and of course- eat the churros!

It was a fun bonding time with the kids and surprisingly easy to make. (Especially with a deep fryer). I highly suggest those who love churros and miss the most magical place on earth- try this recipe. It’s a great way to bring the magic home.

And don’t forget to listen to your favorite Disney music while making them!

Meh or Blah?

So… places of large gatherings are shutting down. Perhaps it’s over precautionary, but that’s probably for the best. I’ve seen and experienced firsthand how gross things can be. Spending a decade or so at various comic and fan conventions- you realize how valuable hand sanitizers and Lysol are. Crowds of people sharing germs, constantly touching things. Rather disgusting.

Prior to those conventions, I spent five years working at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Colds and flus were rampant among guests and staff members. Honestly, I think it boosted my immune system working there. Still, the place was wiped down and disinfected constantly.

Soul Eater

Sporting events, conventions, and Disneyland are being closed to the public. None of those places want people to fall ill or even worse. Completely understandable. You wouldn’t want your business to be the epicenter of an outbreak… I wonder how it’ll affect our vacation plans this summer when we wanted to hit up that magical place once again.

Maybe we won’t go… Only time will tell. If our trip gets postponed it may mean more time hanging out locally in smaller settings. Or just staying home.

Has the COVID-19 hampered your travels?

Is the world freaking out for no good reason?

The Window Seat

My wife was kind enough to allow me to take the window seat for BOTH flights in and out of Fort. St. John. To me it’s kind of a big deal. I’m 6’8” with long legs. Usually I sit in the aisle and stretch out a bit. I also take the aisle seat so I can walk around during a flight.

This last set of flights were short enough that I could cram myself into the edge of the seat against the wall. I took a bunch of photos. Many of which turned out blurry. But I managed to capture some beauty of our province.

I love night time photos. The city lights on the ground showing the hustle and bustle of life below. We also sat at the tail end of the wings both times, so some of my photos were obscured by parts of the plane. We all know what it’s like to look out those tiny port windows.

But I think that adds to the reality of the journeys. I still find the magic in the reality of flying. Here we are thousands of feet in the air in a floating metal box while life goes on below us. Most of us forget that planes zoom above us everyday, carrying thousands of people to their destinations.

Within a few days, I’ll be there as well. Completely forgetting that I was up in the air, enjoying the window seat for the first time since childhood.