Days 50 & 51 – This is the end…

Wednesday, September 18 marked 7 weeks exactly since we pulled out of our driveway in Stevie to embark on this adventure, and boy did we put her to the test on Day 50!  We decided we would drive form Osoyoos to Kimberley, BC.

Our day started well with a beautiful winding climb up the mountain overlooking Osoyoos.  The views are simply stunning, and we had plenty of time to enjoy them as Stevie climbs very very slowly.  Note that it’s not a graceful climb in Stevie.  It’s much more like sitting in a 10,000 pound jolly jumper.  As we bounced around one corner, our fridge decided to explode it’s contents all over the floor.  Jenn jumped out of her seat to check the damage to find that our container of pureed pumpkin (we feed it to the dogs) had splatted all over the kitchen.  Luckily there was a handy viewpoint so I pulled over and parked.  (OBHE got to take great photos while Jenn cleaned up the messJer:  Thanks for liking my photos!)


While we were planning our drive, Google maps told me that it would take 5 hours to get to Kimberley.  Over the seven weeks we learned to add at least two hours per trip to allow for “Stevie Speed.”  What we didn’t factor in was the fact that we would be climbing and descending three massive mountains to get from Point A to Point B.  (JB: you also forgot about the hour time change, dumbass).  We thought we would arrive at the Kimberley Riverside RV Park at about 6 o’clock in the evening, which would give us time to visit with our friends Debs and Pieter.  Instead, it was getting close to 9pm by the time we arrived, so we had to postpone our visit with them.  Let’s just say there were a few tense moments in Stevie as Jenn processed her disappointment!  I admit I was bitten by the bug to get home while Jenn would have happily camped one more night between the two end points.  It was a fairly tense day of driving up and down the mountains.

JB: Jeeezus, this is really a climb. Who picked THIS route?

Jer: We’ve done it before.  I don’t remember it being so steep.

JB: Because you were driving a BMW, Dumbass. Not a 1978 motorhome.

Jer: fair point.

JBHoly crap this hill is straight down!

Jer:  It’s not that bad….   *fingers tighten on the steering wheel as the brakes start to overheat, time to downshift*

Jenn: what’s that noise? Is Stevie backfiring?

Jer: I think so.

JB: There is no guardrail on the edge of the road!

Jenn: *picks up crocheting*

JB: Why the hell are you crocheting at a time like this?

Jenn: because if I don’t crochet, I’ll…..


Jenn: …scream like that.

JB: That yarn sure is pretty.  Carry on.

At one point, Stevie did feel like she was completely DONE with the trip as she sputtered up a huge hill.

Jenn: Is she dying?

Jer: I hope not.

OBI told you we should have camped in Creston!

Jer:  Yah but it’s dry today.  Can you imagine this in the rain?

Jenn: should we pull over?

Jer: I can’t. There isn’t room.

OB: Better to pull over while you have some control than sputter to a stop in the middle of a lane.

Jenn: Keep that inside your head, OB.

Jer: *exhales loudly as Stevie recovers*

JB: I thought we were goners there.

Jer: Yep.


Even though it was the most stressful drive of our trip, we still managed to have a good time.  Jenn got excellent shots on one of our frequent rest stops along the way.  It’s amazing that we left in 40c heat at the height of summer, and we are returning in autumn.


We had one final stop on our trip.  While we weren’t able to connect with Debs and Pieter the evening we arrived in Kimberley, we managed to grab a coffee with them the next morning.  Jenn met Debs walking Saela in our first Calgary neighbourhood, and we all became fast friends.  Debs and Pieter are an inspiration to Jenn and I.  They are kind, graceful, and loving people, and they are examples of living your dreams fully.  They have traveled the world, pursued their passions, and even once owned a restaurant / bar in Barbados so they could live the Caribbean life for a while.  Our visit was brief, but full of love and laughter.



And with that, we began the final drive of our Freedom Adventure.  Our route home overlapped with our first day’s drive down to Montana, and it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come, what we’ve seen, and how much we enjoyed it.  We clocked over 9000KMs on Stevie, and even though there were times when I thought she might kill us, she was a champ and a way better investment than renting ever could have been.

We are now home and settling back into our routines.  It’s a blessing to have a king size bed, a dishwasher, and a full sized bathroom for sure, but we learned a lot about how little we actually need to celebrate life.  I encourage all of you reading this blog to ignore your internal JB/OB (JBHey wait a minute!) and do something that scares the shit out of you. Don’t let your brain be the barrier to achieving your own dreams.

Thank you for coming on this adventure with us.  Jenn and I have truly enjoyed sharing our experiences with you.  Now, it’s time for me to turn my attention to creating employment (OB Please someone hire him, he needs to get out of the house!) and figuring out what’s next in the adventure we call life.


Days 48 & 49 – Did you say Cork Sluts?

On the morning of September 16th, we got up in Hope and hit the road heading towards WINE COUNTRY!!!  The Okanagan-Similkameen region of BC is definitely one of our favourite spots.  I first started visiting the region when Terreena and Stan moved to the area.  I always joke that when I first discovered BC’s Wine Country, I drove a sporty two-door car.  Now I drive an SUV.  It’s not because I’ve had children or acquired a job that requires me to carry heavy loads to and from work.  Nope…. It’s because I can fit many more cases of wine into the back of an SUV than into the trunk of a coupe!

We typically get out to the region at least once a year to visit with Terreena and Stan.  They often have an August Long Weekend get together with a group of us that we all look forward to each summer.  This year, we wound up meeting on Haida Gwaii, as covered in our long-winded blogs from that part of the trip.  So, this time we opted to book two nights at the Nk’Mip Campground in Osoyoos.  The campground is on the lake and, although each space is close to the next one, the views are amazing.  Seeing as it was mid-September, with school back in and the high summer season over, we lucked into a campsite right on the lakeshore.


But before we even made it to Osoyoos, we stopped in Okanagan Falls to have lunch at one of our favourite wineries, Liquidity.  We shared a bottle of wine, a house-made specialty pizza and delicious salad.  Afterwards we enjoyed a wine tasting and left with a few of our favourite bottles.   It’s absolutely beautiful here.  Can you spot Stevie?


From there, we popped over to two more of our favourite wineries – Stag’s Hollow and Wild Goose.  Jer has always loved the red wines at Stag’s Hollow, so he was more than happy to nearly fill a box just from their selection.  We also grabbed a couple of bottles from Wild Goose.  Normally, we would have purchased more from Wild Goose, as we love their Harvest Gold wine, but our lovely neighbours recently picked up several bottles for us.  (JB: way to totally forget to offer to return the favour and pick up wine for them whilst YOU were in the regions, DumbassOB: you guys suck at being neighbours.)

And so it began!

As we drove towards our campsite, we thought we would squeeze one more winery in, so stopped at Noble Ridge.  We arrived about ten minutes before closing, which we could tell did not impress the guy working there.  He instructed the woman doing the tasting to make it quick, and boy did she ever!  While we liked the wine, and did buy a couple of bottles, we didn’t overly enjoy the rushed experience.  Part of tasting wine is to give yourself a second or two to gain a feel for it on your palate, but I really felt like we didn’t have the time for that, because I was rushing to meet her hurried presentation of the wines.  As we were ringing in our sales, the guy came back into the room and made a wise-ass crack about the minimum purchase at closing is supposed to be three bottles.  This said as I was eyeing up their $80 hoodie because I loved it.  THAT sale fell through for him, though because I knew it would piss him off had I asked if they had the sweater in my size.  Not to mention that I was annoyed at his demeaning attitude towards us from the moment we stepped inside.  I appreciate the frustration of last minute customers, and yet his negative attitude cost the winery a sale of something that I’m sure has close to 100% mark up.  Fortunately for the winery, the woman presenting the wines was friendlier, and I sense she may have given us more time if he’d not instructed her to be quick.

The next morning, after enjoying our shakes and coffee lakeside, we took Stevie to explore the wineries in the Similkameen Valley.  We’ve been to many wineries in OK Falls, Naramata, Summerland, Peachland, Oliver, and Osoyoos as well as some in Kelowna over the years, but haven’t really spent much time in the Keremeos/Cawston area.  Keremeos is known for their many fresh produce stands and Cawston advertises as the Organic Capital of Canada.  In addition to their fruits and vegetables, they are part of BC’s wine growing region.

Our first stop was at the Crowsnest Winery, where we shared a salad and charcutier board for lunch.  After placing our order, we went into the tasting room to try a few of their wines.  They are a German influenced winery, and their whites were quite tasty.  After sampling them, we ordered a couple of glasses to enjoy with our lunch.  The winery neighbours an apple orchard and the apples were looking ripe for picking.  (OB: pick one.  Go ahead, do it!!  JB: Don’t be a dumbass.)


After lunch, we stopped by Twisted Hills Craft Cider for a tasting of something other than wine (OB: I notice you didn’t even think to try any of the non-alcohol options, though!  JB: there were non-alcoholic choices?)  They have several ciders to choose from and their tasting room is housed in a very unique building.  Jer says it’s a geodesic dome (OB: a what????  JB: I taught him that word.)


As we were chatting with the woman providing the tasting at Twisted Hills, she gave us a tasting passport for the Similkameen Valley.  If we managed to have five stamps, we would be entered into a draw for a prize package.  Wine as a prize?  YES PLEASE!  (OB: who needs a functioning liver anyhow?)  We asked her for her recommendations, and she said, “have you been to Cork Sluts?” Or at least, that’s what I heard!  Instead of repeating it back to hear, I simply said, “where did you say?” (OB: finally, she thinks before sticking her foot in her mouth!  Cork Sluts…. C’mon now.)  Turns out, she was asking if we’d been to Corcelettes, a winery on a ridge with gorgeous views.  Phew!  Glad I didn’t say what I heard, but c’mon…. Cork Sluts WOULD be a pretty great name for a winery, right?  😊

We drove to Corcelettes next, and their views are gorgeous!  No surprise, we tasted the wine.  (OB: shocking development.)  The tasting included a bubbly wine.  Normally, I am not a huge fan of bubbly wines, but I was surprised by the clarity of this one.  While we didn’t purchase any of the bubbly, we did manage to choose a couple of bottles to bring home.


As we spent time at the wineries, we heard a gunshot-like sound at consistent intervals.  It turns out that several wineries use propane blasts to help keep birds from eating the grapes at this time of year.  They also use netting to help deter the birds.  Poor Pepper was terrified of the noise, and demonstrated her fear by looking at us with her big, scared whale-eyes and leaping in Jeremy’s lap as he sat in the driver’s seat.  At Corcelettes, she also bolted out of Stevie when Jer went to leash them for a quick walk before we left.  She ran to the stairs and almost made it up into the tasting room before we stopped her.

Jer: Who knows, maybe a shot of alcohol would’ve helped calm her nerves!  😉

JB: pretty sure poisoning a dog is not a viable solution, Dumbass.

Jenn:  To quote the song lyrics, in Pepper’s sad Eeyore voice…

“Bang bang, I hit the ground

Bang Bang, that awful sound”


Now with two stamps on our passport, we next visited Robin Ridge for a taste.  The woman providing the tasting here was so friendly and shared with us that she and her husband moved to the area in retirement after he worked for 35 years with BC Ferries.  Guess what we did?  (OB: they know, they know. You bought wine.)  Yep, we bought wine!

OB: is ANYONE thinking of where in the hell all this wine will fit in Stevie?

JB:  These two? Thinking? Don’t be ridiculous!

Jenn & Jer *clinking imaginary glasses*: Cheers!

Next up, we visited Clos du Soleil for a fourth stamp and sip, sip, hooray!  By now, they all tasted REALLY good to me.  Luckily for me, Jer is better at pacing himself and remembering that spittoons exist.  Weird how I seem to miss those!  (OB: the big silver things on literally EVERY tasting counter? Suuuuure you’re missing those.)  I DO recall that we purchased a rather voluminous bottle of their dessert wine, though.  And, I loved the teal-blue colour on the exterior of their tasting room along with their chalkboard with an oh-so-appropriate quotation.

At Liquidity, we noticed they plant roses at the end of each row of grapevines.  This is because roses are subject to some of the same diseases as grapevines, so they serve as an early-detection device for the vineyards.  At Clos du Soleil, they have planted sunflowers at the row ends.  According to my Encylopedia (OB: aka Google), the sunflowers attract larger insects.  These predatory insects then eat the aphids that are attracted to the grapes.  The sunflowers also attract the pollinating insects to help increase fruit production on the vines.  And, seeing as “soleil” means sun in French, it seems fitting that this winery opts for sunflowers!


With only one stamp needed, we were cutting it close to quitting time for the wineries, so pulled into Orofino.  Unlike the rushed experience we’d had at Noble Ridge the day before, our tasting host at Orofino welcomed us in as though we were at the start of her day rather than being her last customers.  She happily poured our samples and explained the wines to us and told us not to rush our tasting.  We made sure to purchase several bottles and complimented her on her customer service.  This tasting room had a really neat countertop – made of glass set upon ribs from oak barrels.  We left our passports with her and are just awaiting the call to notify us we’ve won the prize! 😉



In all, over two days, we purchased 27 bottles of wine and one bottle of cider without thinking of where in the world we would be able to store it all for our last night or two of camping!  Not to mention the 20 pounds of tomatoes and bag of apples we picked up from a couple of the Keremeos fruit stands!  Mom inspired Jeremy with her home-grown roasted tomato soup, so he is looking forward to roasting these fresh tomatoes and making soup and spaghetti sauce.

Stevie has become a living Tetris Game when it comes to storing everything.  The shower space was already filled to the brim with birthday gifts, driftwood and lampshades.  So that means the two boxes of wine are being stored on the floor in front of the toilet.  On top of them sits our laundry basket.  Once we park for the night, we haul everything out of the bathroom and take over the kitchen floorspace.  The apples fit under the sink, and the tomatoes go wherever we find room!  It’s obviously time we headed for home!  We can’t possibly fit anything else in Stevie!

OB: I still want to buy yarn at Joann’s.

Jenn: but we can’t cross the border with all this alcohol on board!

OB: dammit.

JB & Jer: *high five* our plan worked!!

OB: that’s OK – it’s Fall Shindig season when we get home!

JB: what the hell is a Fall Shindig?

Jer: it’s like a craft fair but only with yarn.

JB: so, no beer?

Jer: no beer.

JB: we get to stay home, right?


OB & Jenn: *high five* our plan worked!!



Oh we almost forgot to mention that if you ever find yourself in Keromeos and are feeling peckish, they have an excellent Thai restaurant in town called Benja Thai. The food was fresh, flavourful, and well worth the stop.


Days 45 – 47 So long and thanks for all the sushi!

Several days into our stay on the Island, we made plans to meet our friends, Jan and Stu for lunch at the Crow & Gate.  Yes, the very same restaurant where we had lunch with Jeremy’s parents on our first day!  What can we say?  When we like a place, we like a place!  (OB: you COULD try somewhere new, you know.  JB: NEVER!  We are creatures of habit!).  Jan and I became friends when we worked together at a couple of schools in Nanaimo.  She’s now retired and is busy with home renovations, yoga, and travel.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Jan is one of THE BEST Grade 7 teachers I’ve ever met.  That last year before transitioning to High School can be tricky for some kids, and Jan always managed to develop her student’s leadership skills and independence while maintaining structure and routine.  Her humour and kind heart always shone through, and I know her students felt safe and loved.  Every year, at the Grade 7 Grad Ceremonies, Jan would pull comments from each student’s Kindergarten or Grade One report cards and read them aloud to the audience.  She would then share an anecdote of the student’s Grade 7 experience and how they’d grown through the years.  She also took their strengths into consideration and connected those skills into how they could be used in real-world jobs.  I always felt like, for some of the kids, she handed them a dream to hang onto as they traversed the sometimes rough waters that is high school.

Anyhow, we were quite excited to join Jan and Stu for lunch.  So excited that we showed up early.  Normally, they arrive before us whenever we meet up for a visit.  Not this time, though, because we made sure to be early.  SO EARLY, in fact, that we arrived TWENTY-FOUR HOURS ahead of time!  We were meant to meet on Thursday at 11:30am, but Jer and I had it stuck in our heads that lunch was set for Wednesday.  So, we showed up on Wednesday.

OB: you know your phone has a calendar app built into it, right?

Jenn: I DID put it in my calendar app!

OB: so, it’s the skill of reading that failed you, then?

I figured it out almost right away, as it was about 11:35am when we sat down, and as I mentioned, Jan and Stu are much more punctual than we are.  We gave them a call and sheepishly asked them if they would join us a day early.  Luckily, they were able to rearrange a couple of things and made their way to the pub.  We had a good chuckle at our calendar fail and carried on to have a fun visit catching up.

Because Jan and Stu so generously rearranged their schedule for us, Jeremy and I were able to make a quick trek down to Victoria on Thursday to check out two antique stores specializing in our favourite era, Mid-Century Modern.  As noted in our last blog, we’d found two teak lamps at a second hand shop in Nanaimo, so were bit by the hunting bug, and decided to see what other treasures we might squeeze into Stevie.  While we did see several items we coveted, none were worth spending the money on right now.  (JB: FINALLY.  Some common sense when it comes to spending money on this trip.  OB: plus, most of them wouldn’t actually fit in Stevie.  Except the vintage yarn wall hangings.  WHY didn’t we go back for those?)  Jer did find some old speakers at the Value Village in downtown Victoria, so he’s looking forward to hooking them up to the record player his dad gave him.  (JB: Speakers? Record Players? Do these idiots know it’s not ACTUALLY the 70s?  Or has driving Stevie for 6 weeks caused permanent damage?)

That evening, we met up with Greg and Carrie to catch up over beer and wine at White Sails Brewery.  Greg was the Regional Manager when I first started dating Jeremy, and he was a key mentor in Jeremy’s career.  Greg’s leadership helped shape who Jeremy was as an employee and leader within the company.  Greg is very affable and is ready with a laugh while always seeing potential in others.  He left Shaw a few years ago, and has continued on to great things.  Even now, as we sat sharing laughs over drinks, Greg had some sage advice for Jeremy during this transitional time.  His wife, Carrie is also a gem.  She always welcomed us into their home with warmth and grace.  We are sure to share a few good laughs when we see them, and I know Jeremy appreciated having an opportunity to connect with Greg while we were on the Island this trip.

Friday was our last full day in Nanaimo, so we spent the morning packing up and rearranging Stevie to fit a few new items inside – the lamps, a sewing machine Mom gave me, and some birthday gifts I received as well as a few gifts we were bringing across to Vancouver the next morning.  Let’s just say that the shower area is chock-a-block FULL!  After packing up Stevie, we took a trip out to Woodgrove Mall to see about getting our knives sharpened because it was starting to feel like we were cutting everything with paper!  (JB: I’ve been telling the Dumbass to get them sharpened for over a year. When does he listen?  Not until we have to pay BC taxes on everything. Sigh.)  We dropped them off at House of Knives and then wandered the mall a bit.  As we were leaving, I felt someone pulling sharply on my purse strap.  What thief is this???  Turns out, it was our friend Cheetah pulling a fast one on me!  We had a quick chat and then all needed to head our separate ways.  Jeremy went back to the mall later to grab the knives, and we are very happy with the sharpening skills of their staff!

That evening, we met Kimberlee for sushi at Nori Sushi (OB:  Yep. SAME restaurant as the first sushi date with Shannon & Toby. There are at least 3 other sushi places in town they could have tried.  Jenn: Settle down, OB. Sushi Nori is hands down the best, and you won’t win this argument. Pick your battles. OB: Fair point.)  As always, the food was delicious.  I’m sure Jeremy and I would have eaten there several more times if it wouldn’t have been ridiculous to do so in such a short stay!  We were lucky to get to visit with Kimberlee once more before we hit the road.  This time, we managed to remember to take photos of our food BEFORE we’d already dug in!  (OB: Almost – Jenn had already covered hers with ginger and Jer ate one piece before he thought of photos.  JB: once again, you just SHINE as bloggers. Dumbasses.)


The next morning, Mom, Jeremy and I loaded up the dogs in Stevie and headed out on the ferry.



Mom’s best friend since Grade 2, Pat was having a very special birthday party for her husband, John.  John will turn 90 in December, so Pat held an early birthday party for him in September.  Auntie Pat (said quickly, so it sounds more like Annie-Pat) and John are huge inspirations for us behind taking this long Stevie trip.  For at least a decade, Pat and John have gone on long sojourns in their camper van.  They’ve driven across Canada more than once, and my mom and Pat drove out to Manitoba together in the van as well.  In fact, Jeremy and I visited John and Pat in a Calgary campsite earlier this summer before we left for our own adventure.  It’s from them that we received the tip to buy a couple of those old metal TV trays.  They allow you to have a small table anywhere you’re parked, even if there isn’t a picnic table available.  We’ve enjoyed many morning coffees along the journey using our TV trays as tables.



It was important to both of us that we attend John’s birthday celebration, and we actually planned the back-end of this trip entirely around September 15th, the day of the party.  John looked very handsome in his tuxedo and there were many people in attendance sharing their love for him, including two of my aunts and my cousin, Amy.  I love that my mom has been friends with Pat since they were little girls – I often think that influenced how many friends I’ve kept since childhood.  I remember being a little girl visiting Pat at her house or apartment in Vancouver.  I don’t remember which it was, because what I remember the most was that she had a beaded curtain in one of her doorways.  Oh my goodness!  I was pretty sure that was the epitome of hip and cool way back when.  Keep in mind, this was probably around 1978.  (OB: aha – now we know where the love of all things Mid-Mod Century started!)  That beaded curtain kept a hold of me and when I was in college, I used a sheer curtain in one of my doorways as an homage.  (OB: not to mention that she stops dead in her tracks if she ever does see a beaded curtain in a second hand shop).  John is a very dignified man who has lived his life with a vibrant sense of adventure, and it was our honour to be invited to his 90th birthday celebration.



My Aunt Sharon drove mom back to the ferry terminal so she could get home to Nanaimo while Jeremy and I hit the road with Stevie and the dogs.  We had some stressful moments driving out of Vancouver dealing with Stevie’s old brakes, slick rainy road conditions, and some SIDs (Self-Important Drivers).  Side bar – PSA to all drivers – please DO NOT pull out in front of any RV or motorhome when going down a steep hill in the rain.  This is solid advice, and is particularly pertinent when you’re cutting off a motorhome built in 1978, before the time of ABS brakes.  Jeremy is a rock star driver, and avoided more than one potential accident entirely on his own.  Several oblivious drivers later, and we were more than happy to find ourselves on the quieter route to Hope via Highway 7.

The conversation as we drove in the rain:

JB (directed at car cutting in front): What the fuck are you doing?

OB: Listen up, self-centered Lexus drivers – Stevie can and will take off your ass-end if you cut us off in the rain.

JB: ohmygawd, you just pulled out in front of me.  On a hill with a red light at the bottom.  In the rain.  That just cut my stopping range by a full car-length, Dumbass.

OB: You are VANCOUVER drivers.  How the hell do you NOT know about driving in rainy conditions?

Jenn: we will need a drink when we are settled in the campground.


Once we were in Hope, we spent the night in the Crowsnest Campground.  You may recall that the cranky campsite owner in Chilliwack questioned why we weren’t 30 Amp when we stayed there.  After that experience, we made a pitstop in Quesnel to pick up an adaptor so that we could connect our 15 Amp plug to 30 Amp sockets.  Well, it turns out that the lady was onto something when she questioned how we could possibly be only 15 Amp.  As I was setting up inside of Stevie, I heard a tap-tap-tap on the window and looked out to see Jeremy holding up Stevie’s electrical cord with the plug in one hand and the adaptor in the other.  Not the adaptor we purchased, however.  Nope, this was the adaptor plug that Stevie had ALL along!  It had been taped closed with electrical tape by a previous owner.  The tape was coming loose, so Jer gave it a little tug, and TA-DA!!  Both options have ALWAYS been available.  (JB: way to take inventory of your equipment, Dumbass).  We had a good laugh at the fact that we didn’t discover this until the last few days of this 7 week journey!  We can now, finally, use the AC and the fridge…. wait for it…. at the same time!  (JB: Good thing you discovered this now that it’s Autumn and the weather no longer requires air-conditioning.)

Both my mom and our neighbours Dave and Laura recommended The Home Restaurant in Hope, so we made sure to stop in for supper.  Jeremy had the baked lasagne and I had their homemade mac n’ cheese.  OHMYGAWD!  That mac n’ cheese was A-MAZ-ING!  We each only ate half of our entrees so that we would be able to enjoy the leftovers on the road.  As promised during the stressful, rainy drive, we were ready for a drink, so we had the waitress add a shot of Baileys to our milkshakes, which was a very good idea, indeed.  The restaurant was understaffed that night, and the three waitresses were working their tushies off to get everyone seated and fed.  The line was out the door, but the wait was short and it was worth it.  All three servers were friendly and efficient.  They got a kick out of our Baileys milkshakes, and we sure hope they were able to enjoy one of their own at the end of the night.  The Home Restaurant will be a stop we make anytime we are in Hope from now on!


We had a great time on the Island, even if it did rain a lot.  We figure the rain is to remind us that it isn’t always sunny and gorgeous on the West coast!  I’m fairly certain that my friend Terri arranged the rain to dissuade me from leaving Calgary just yet.  I’ve received a couple of texts from her: “OK.  That’s enough now.  Come home.”  I am so blessed to have built strong friendships in Calgary since moving there, and Terri was my first friend in the city.  I’m grateful for her down-home welcoming nature and her wicked sense of humour.  Plus, she taught me to crochet. (JB: so SHE’S the one responsible for this yarn addiction).  And she convinced me to run a marathon.  She’s good people!  (OB: but we aren’t running another marathon anytime soon).

While on the Island, we spent most of our nights staying with my Mom, who is always happy to have us home, even if Pepper is trying to re-carpet the place in black fur!  She made us many great meals, including a roast dinner for my birthday, delicious home-made soup using roasted tomatoes from her garden and her fresh-made garden salads.  Speaking of her garden, she grew a Monster Zucchini this year!  One afternoon, we decided we would have zucchini with our supper, so she went out to pick one.  Turns out, she discovered this monster hiding amongst the leaves.  Jer snapped a picture of her holding it and then we weighed it – FIVE POUNDS!  We cooked up half of it, slicing it and topping it with some grated parmesan and roasting it in the oven.  It was so good!



Both of our dogs also love spending time at Grandma’s house.  Pepper loves ripping around on the carpet and sleeping on her favourite chair.  Saela runs straight to the piano and stairs at it, then looks at Mom, and stairs back at the piano until Mom finally sits down and plays a few notes.  We aren’t sure if Saela loves the music or if she thinks there’s a very melodic creature living inside that must be destroyed.  Saela also loves when Mom is watering the garden and she’s quick to join in the fun by biting at the water coming from the hose.  Most of all, we are pretty sure they were happy to have a wheel-less home for a couple of weeks!

We had a blast on Vancouver Island and have enjoyed our entire trip.  We are looking forward to our last few days on the road before getting home.  We are NOT looking forward to the fact that Calgary has already had snow.  (OB: makes the rain seem less annoying, doesn’t it?)

Days 32-44 And you thought the Haida Gwaii posts were long…

Having dug ourselves out from our mountain of laundry, Jeremy and I met his mom and stepdad, Diane and Al for lunch at one of our favourite spots in the Nanaimo area, The Crow & Gate.  This is an Olde English style pub where you can have a Guinness and a ploughman’s lunch on the lawn amongst the swans.  We opted for dry cider and stayed inside – less bird poop that way.  We had a great time noshing and catching up.  After lunch, we toured Stevie and Jeremy was very proud that his parents liked our choice of accommodations (JBI’m sure they were just being nice…)


We headed home and took Saela and Pepper for a stroll around my Mom’s neighbourhood.  As we walked along one of the streets, we noticed a woman mowing her front yard (JBthank god we don’t live here, the mowing never ends!).  All of a sudden the mower cut off and she was running at us exclaiming “are you from around here?!”  She promptly dropped down to dog level to love on our dogs.  We spent 20 minutes chatting with her as she made our girls feel special.  We learned that she and her husband recently acquired their first puppy, and it was obvious she has fallen in love with all dogs as much as she’s fallen in love with her own pup!  Our dogs were more than happy to be on the receiving end of unexpected snuggles!  We haven’t seen Tina again, but Saela and Pepper now look for her every time we walk by.

By the time our third morning in Nanaimo rolled around, we felt something was missing.  After some reflection we had our Eureka moment – it had been quite some time since we’d been to a brewery (OB: and your livers thank you for a few days off).  So to satisfy our dryness, we went to the White Sails Brewery in Nanaimo for a sample flight.  Overall, they were all a bit on the hoppy side, but I did enjoy the…. (OB: it doesn’t matter what you liked, nobody cares what you think about beer  JBmmmmm beer.)


That evening, my twin aunts drove up from Victoria for supper.  Mom had prepared a delicious roast beef dinner as an early family birthday dinner for me.  And, there was my fave – DQ ice cream cake!  YUM!!  There should probably be ice cream cake at all occasions (OB: not if you want to continue fitting pants).  We love it so much we even had it in place of a wedding cake when we got married!  It was a great afternoon to visit with some of my family and enjoy mom’s cooking.

There are three craft breweries in Nanaimo.  Having frequented The Longwood Brew Pub fairly regularly when we lived here, we decided we would focus our next sampling at the third brewery in town, Wolf Brewery.  They had a sticker for Stevie (OB:  it not a sticker, it’s a bottle label and it’s bigger than our other stickers and now everything is ruined!) and we each had a sample flight (JB: shocking development within the freedomadventure blog,  Jer is drinking 4 tiny beers – news at 11!).  The tasting lounge at Wolf is a bit sparse, but for fun they have small vases with Trivial Pursuit cards, so we took turns asking the questions and taking guesses.  This simple placement of cards on the tables is a brilliant sales strategy – not being able to answer random challenging questions on cards from the 1980s may in fact drive one to drink!  And no, I still don’t know who the vice president of the US was during the Korean war.  On a side note, you absolutely know you’re in a brewery on the West Coast when the bartender mentions that some people fill their Grumblers (smaller than a Growler) with 2-3 finger-heights of the featured kombucha and top it with one of their light beers.  I took a sip of each when I overheard him telling another customer about the combination, and I must admit, it wasn’t bad.  Not sure I could drink an entire Grumbler’s worth, though!

JB: never mind the kombucha-beer drink thingy, you know you’re in a BC Brewery simply because they have Kombucha on the menu!  Also, you know you’re with Jenn because she samples the Hippy Juice every damn time.

Jer: What the hell even IS kombucha?

JB:  I already told you – Hippy Juice



After visiting the brewery, we went to the Nanaimo Harbour for lunch.  We shared crab cakes and fish and chips at Troller’s Fish and Chips.  Troller’s is a floating restaurant right on the docks, and is extremely popular.  It was a hot summer’s day and there was a half hour wait for our order, but it was worth it because the food is excellent!


That evening, our friends Kristine and Craig hosted my second birthday bash, an end-of-summer BBQ which so many of our friends were able to attend.  This blog has taken a while to write as I struggle to express how much we love and care for all of our great friends.  The house was simply packed with boisterous energy, endless laughter, and a whole lot of gratitude.  It was so great to see everyone, especially considering most of them are teachers and this was the last weekend before they all went back to classrooms.  We feel absolutely blessed to have these people in our lives.

Plus, Cathy brought ice cream cake.  😊  (OB: official birthday cake count: 2)


The next afternoon, Kristine and I went for a coffee and then a walk along the waterfront.  I always love walking or running along the waterfront pathway, and it was extra special to get some bonus visiting time in with Kristine.  While I was out galivanting, Jeremy helped my mom dismantle some old fence panels (JB: YAY!  Let’s wreck stuff!).  They were finishing up when I got home, so we loaded the wood into the back of mom’s pick-up and took it to the local recycling depot the next day.  I believe the depot recycles the old wood into bark mulch, which is such a great idea.  When we dropped it off, we had fun watching the machinery at work – it’s like watching life-sized Tonka Toys!  (JBwrecking stuff and man-sized Tonka toys, what a day!  Is there another brewery around?)


The morning of my birthday, we had an appointment with our financial advisor Anne Menard.  When we were first considering our options around leaving Shaw, Diane and Al had recommended we connect with her as they had a similar situation when Al took an early retirement from the Navy.  It turns out she also works with some friends of ours, and we have loved working with her through Jeremy’s transition.  She is confident, friendly, and reassuring (OB: on the one hand, we buy a lot of yarn.  On the other hand, we are terrified of being homeless.  Anne reassures us one won’t lead to the other.)  After our meeting, Anne treated us to lunch at Delicado’s, a long-standing southwestern restaurant/deli in Nanaimo.  It’s always a summertime favourite to sit on their downtown patio for lunch.  After lunch, we gave a tour of Stevie to Louise, Anne’s fun-loving and energetic office manager.  These two ladies are a dynamic duo, and I would confidently recommend them to anyone seeking financial planning advice!

Having taken care of business, we picked up the pups and headed down to Victoria for three nights.  Jeremy’s Dad and step-mom, Mary just moved into a brand new home, and were happy to host Jeremy, myself and his step-sister, Julie for a delicious steak dinner on my birthday.  Tucked inside the fridge was a delicious lemon-blueberry cake.  I LOVE LEMON!!!  (OB: official birthday cake count: 3)  The meal and company were excellent, and I really like the floorplan and Richard and Mary’s new home.  (JB: um…. Stevie stands out like a sore 1978 thumb in the land of brand new houses.  I think someone may phone in a complaint).


The next day, we enjoyed a visit and lunch with Jeremy’s long-time friend, Kari.  They’ve been friends since their early teens, and were in Sea Cadets together.  From the stories they share, I think maybe the were actually in the “Seagrams” Cadets!  We ate at Spinnakers Brew Pub, the first ever brew pup in Canada (OBOMG really, another brewery?)  Jer had a sample flight of their beer, and I opted for their cider flight.  Luckily for us, Kari got her fill of drinkin’ during their cadet years, so she graciously drove us to and fro.  Side note, the traffic in Victoria is INSANE.  And, we live in Calgary, a city of about 1.3 million people, so for us to notice bad traffic, that’s saying something.  (JB: Victoria is now OFF the list of places to move.)  After lunch, we walked along the Victoria Inner Harbour to watch some seaplanes, sea otters, and seamen.  Well, not really any seamen, but there was one guy reading his book on a bench overlooking the ocean.  That’s the same thing, right?


That afternoon, we walked from Jer’s parents house in Royal Bay to the Esquimalt Lagoon.  It’s about 5-6km return, most of which is pathways along the beach.  My family has enjoyed visiting the lagoon for years, and I hope Richard and Mary enjoy having such close beach access.  It’s a bit of a hill to get back to their house, and Richard and their little dog, Maya put the rest of us to shame, jogging up the hill.  Must’ve been because Richard knew he was going to be feeding us huuuuuuge pieces of lasagne for supper, so he and Maya were pre-emptively burning some calories.  (Jer:  seriously dad, I know you are reading this, those pieces were crazy big!  JB: mmmmmm….. melty cheese.  Maybe my middle name is Garfield?)   After dinner, Jer and his dad turned into the zombie twins – sitting on the chairs, staring at their phones – carb comas! (Jer: I don’t think we are all that similar.  JB: uh-huh…. it’s like Dr Evil and Mini Me… Dumbass.)


On the 7th, we drove into Metchosin with Richard, Mary and Mary’s sister, Margaret to have lunch at the My Chosen café (though we drooled over the smell wafting up from the My Chosen Pizza joint.)  I really enjoyed my grilled cheese and salad lunch.  Jer had their Monte Cristco sandwich and says it was very tasty.  Uniquely, they offer half-salad, half-fries as a side, which made him happy.  (JB: yah, like the half-salad makes up for the whole sandwich being fried in egg!)



After lunch, Stevie was feeling unloved, so we picked up dog food ingredients and looked for a place to make dog food and rest.  We wound up back at the Esquimalt Lagoon and took a few minutes to admire the many driftwood sculptures on the beach.  One artist has created all kinds of birds out of driftwood and shells, while another artist created a huge statue called McGnarly the Beach Ent (OB: what the hell is an ent?  Jer: a tree giant, typically found in stories like Lord of the Rings.  OB: *snoring*).  Turns out, Kari and Jeremy knew the artist back in the day.  He (Alex Witcombe) also created the pair of mammoth sculptures in Royal Bay.  The rain started coming down at this point so we put on a CCR record, made dog food, and watched the ocean roll on


In the late afternoon, we met up with our friends, Sylvia and Paul and their daughter, Akaylia for sushi.  Afterwards, we spent the night at their house and had a lovely evening with lots of laughs and wine.  Sly surprised me with a delicious chocolate mousse and fresh strawberry cake and Akaylia helped sing me Happy Birthday.  (OB: official birthday cake count: 4 …   and we can no longer reach our shoe laces.)  After a fun night with our friends, we stopped at my aunt’s on the way out of town to have a cup of tea and a visit with three of my aunts and my cousin, Sarah.


We took the scenic route back to Nanaimo, popping off the main highway and traveling through Maple Bay, Crofton, and Chemainus.  It’s amazing how scenic Vancouver Island is, especially when you get off the main highway.  Once home, we went to our friend Kimberlee’s house and had a great visit with her, and we got to meet her new-to-her senior cat, named Sam.  Sam is a giant friendly fluff ball, but he was rather embarrassed.  He’s had some medical issues lately, so the vet had shaved half his belly and he was looking rather out of sorts.  (Jer:  that didn’t stop me from getting some kitty snuggles.  I love cats!)

That evening, Mom, Jeremy and I decided to watch a movie.  For a few years now, Mom’s TV has seemingly been in a state of decline.  Jeremy and I had gifted the TV to my step-dad Sam about ten years ago, so it’s not a new TV, but it’s not exactly really old, either.  Anyhow, as we sat there trying to watch the movie through the wavy lines on the TV and trying to hear the script over top of the strange buzzing noise, Jeremy texted me saying, “can we buy your mom a new TV and call it her birthday present?”  My simple reply: “yes.”  About ten minutes later, Jer was finished pretending any of us could actually see or hear a damn thing happening on the TV, and got up to fiddle with the wires and connections.  He asked Mom if she had an extra RCA cable, and she managed to dig one up.  He took out the old, put in the new, and TA-DA!  The awful buzzing noise and the fuzzy lines all disappeared, and the TV is good as new.  (JB: Um, Jeremy worked for the CABLE company for 20 years and let his mother-in-law suffer with terrible signal for years, all because he didn’t think to check the cables???  Dumbass!  I hope you are ashamed of yourself)

On Sunday, we met up for coffee with Cindy and Donn.  Cindy was the principal at two of the schools I worked at in Nanaimo.  She was beloved by staff, parents, and students because she treated everyone with respect and had complete confidence in her team.  Her belief in you as a strong and capable person inspired you to be that kind of person – be it in the role of parent, student, support staff, or teacher.  She was an important mentor in my career, advocating for my unique project idea as I completed my Masters of Education, and inspiring me to teach and lead from a space of love and laughter.  She is a wonderful friend, and Jeremy and I were blessed when she served as MC at our wedding.  As far as I’m concerned, Cindy set the standard for leadership in education.  She retired a couple of years ago and I hope that new leaders will pick up the torch she passed.

Over coffee, they shared their own recent experience with retro camping.  They purchased a VW Westfalia van and had it completely updated.  They were excited for their first night of camping and took pictures of the set up – we know what that is like.  Then they attempted to go to sleep.  Turns out a VW van is a bit small for them, as Donn’s feet were sticking out the back window and Cindy was half in the closet.  Needless to say, the VW was sold the next day!  They have purchased a better-suited trailer and spent a lot of this summer exploring the great camping areas on Vancouver Island.  Cindy and Donn are also the kind of people I’d hashtag with #couplegoals, #retirementgoals #livingandlovinglifegoals if I were to post their photo on Instagram. They jauntily walked away from our coffee date holding hands with plans to leave soon for a trip abroad.  If we could all add even a dash of their humour and joie de vivre, we would likely all live a happier, more relaxed life.



In the late afternoon, I joined my friend Chai at a Vision Board gathering as part of the fitness group we have joined.  The Healthy Role Models group is based in Nanaimo, with members joining the online community from all over the globe.  It was fun for me to get to take part in an event here in Nanaimo before I head back to Calgary, where our #yychrms will get together for stair workouts and maybe some other events as well.  While I was creating a vision, Jer went up to Ladysmith to visit with his Mom and Al.  (Jer:  I had a lovely lunch with my mom, and found out that Ladysmith will be featured in the upcoming Sonic movie starring Jim Carey.  We will have to check that out!  OBOh no, that’s about a video game isn’t it?  PassJenn: maybe we’ll go just to see Ladysmith on the Big Screen.  OB: dammit.)


On Tuesday evening, we joined our friends, Shannon and Toby for sushi at Sushi Nori in Nanaimo.  I think this may be Jeremy’s favourite restaurant in Nanaimo, so he’d been counting down the days to eat some amazing West Coast sushi.  Shannon and Jeremy have known each other for years, having met through their work with Shaw.  Toby and I showed up in their lives around the same time, we were all engaged close to each other, and our weddings were within a year of one another. Shannon is the kind of person whom you’ll laugh with and feel connected to very quickly after meeting her.  Although we don’t see them often, we always walk away feeling uplifted and energetic.



Just like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, my mom and I have an affinity for Thrift Shop finds.  We are pretty sure we’ve inherited this hobby from my Grandma, who was always on the hunt for a good cast iron frying pan or glass crystal treasure.  Luckily, if you like thrift stores, Nanaimo is the place to be!  The three of us spent two days wandering through just some of the stores in town.  We each came away with a few treasures – mom found some beautiful quilting fabric, Jer found two gorgeous teak lamps for us (JB: how the hell do you plan to get two floor lamps to fit in Stevie, dumbass?), and I found a couple of pairs of full-length pants (OB: because the packing genius didn’t think about Fall when she packed clothes in July).  We all came home feeling like we’d won the Thrift Shop game!  Now that we’ve been bitten by the bug, Jeremy and I are planning to head down to Victoria to visit a couple of antique stores specializing in our preferred era of furniture and knickknacks (JB: whatrya gonna do, rent a U-haul trailer to get shit home?  Jer: hey!  Good idea!  JB: *eyeroll* dumbass).


Days 28 – 31 Over the river and through the woods, to grandmothers house we go 😊



Leaving Hadia Gwaii was rather bittersweet because we had such a lovely time.  Jenn and I were sad to leave, and we were SO excited to be heading to Vancouver Island for our next stretch!  Having driven from Hope to Prince Rupert once already, we planned our return trip to be as quick as possible.  The weather had turned a little so it was much cooler than the 40c Stevie had endured previously, and we even had some rain along the way.  That made driving in Stevie much more pleasant, and she made the journey to Vancouver in 3 days.  Of course, they were long days and the dogs weren’t too happy with us!



We don’t have many pictures from this part of the trip, so we have included some random bits of fun from our first month on the road.  Damn, I can’t believe it’s been a month already!  So please enjoy such quips as:

Jenn:  Are we driving too fast?  This feels fast.

Jer:  Nope we are fine.

Jenn:  But look, there is a cop.

Jer:  it’s OK, Stevie doesn’t speed.


We left Skidegate on Haida Gwaii on the 10 AM ferry, arriving in Prince Rupert about 5:30 PM.  We considered staying in Rupert for supper, but both felt like putting some miles behind us would be a better choice.  So, we put pedal to the medal Stevie-style and after 5 or so hours we landed back at the Riverside campground in Smithers.  Luckily, they had spaces available and we happened to bump into the site manager right away.

Getting ready for bed one night:

Jenn:  Aaaaaaaah!

Jer:  OMG What?

Jenn:  I got toothpaste in my eye!

Jer:  How the hell….


The next day we packed up quickly and motored all the way to Lac La Hache for a return visit at the Big Country campground.  When we checked in this time, Jenn chatted with the owner John and discovered that he just happened to be from Haida Gwaii, and amazingly – he knew Jenn’s dad from back in the day!  He told Jenn that Tom was such a nice man, and that he actually had an 8mm film of Tom (stashed somewhere in his house) outside his bakery.   John said that when Tom saw the camera, he giggled and dashed back into the bakery.  It was such a nice moment watching Jenn as she heard something new about her dad.  She threw out a bunch more names of people from there, including her stepdad Sam, and John knew every single one of them.  Sometimes we live in a very small world.

While driving…

A good song comes up on the stereo so I turn up the volume.

The next song comes up and Jenn turns down the volume.

The next song comes on, it’s Pearl Jam, Jenn hits skip.

The next song comes on, I turn up the volume.

Jenn turns down the volume again.

(OB: Jenn finally hears a song she likes and turns volume up a little bit.  Jer immediately turns the volume ALL THE WAY down because he’s up to some big, important driving task that requires him to concentrate.  He typically finishes this task in time for the next “life sucks, let’s write thrash music about it” song to come on and he turns the volume back up.)

Nothing is said…

A Christmas song comes on (I have an excellent mix of Christmas tunes) and both reach for the skip button.

A U2 song comes on, Jenn hits the skip button (OB: because it’s about the 50th U2 song on the playlist).  I whine, Jenn rolls her eyes and hits the replay button.

A Sarah McLachlan Christmas song comes on.  We look at each other and say oh what the hell, and turn up the volume 😊

This cycle repeats for 30 days….


After a nice pleasant evening, we had a choice to either head to Whistler for a night, or make a run straight to the ferry.  With such a pull for “home,” we chose the latter, and packed up the dogs for another long day.  The only really interesting stop of the three days was a quick leg stretch at bridal falls.  Having lived on the west coast almost all our lives, neither of us had ever been there before.  Well I recommend that you do stop if you’ve ever driving by, it’s a quick 7 minute hike and the falls are beautiful!


One morning over breakfast…

Jer:  These bug bites are super itchy, I’m going to take some Benedryl.  <pops 3 pills>

Jenn:  Hey do you want Bailey’s in your coffee?

Jer: Of course!

After 2 cups

Jer:  Maybe Benedryl and Bailey’s isn’t a good combo….  I think I might go have a nap.

We made the ferry terminal in Tsawwassen by about 6 PM, and found out the Nanaimo ferry was “really late.”  We weren’t sure how late was late, but asked if we should head to Victoria instead and were advised that would be a really good idea.  So, we hopped on the 7PM and after landing, took the Malahat (a notorious island highway mountain pass…) up to Nanaimo.  We passed the Nanaimo ferry terminal about 10:30 and didn’t see any cars, so I’m not so sure we saved any time 😊.  I should note that for the entire trip Stevie has pretty much been the slowest vehicle on the road, but the island is a special place.  I feel like all the drivers should have been embarrassed that Stevie was motoring past them in the fast lane up the mountain, but none of them seemed concerned.  Regardless, we made it to my mother in law’s house safely.  Donna was ready to greet us with open arms.  Of course she was most happy to see her grandpuppies, and they were simply thrilled to see her again.  It’s so good to be back in Nanaimo – Saela and Pepper agree!


While driving on highway 19 between Hope and Lac La Hache…

Jenn:  Is Stevie OK?

Jer:  Stevie is fine.

OBOMG she isn’t , she’s overheating and we are going to die in the desert.

Jenn:  Are you sure? I feel like I smell something burning.

Jer:  Stevie is fine.

OBHe doesn’t know anything, we might catch fire and then what will happen to the dogs? 

Stevie struggles up a hill and starts to skip

Jer:  OK, maybe we should pull over

JBDamn it, we are losing time here! 

Jenn.  Good, I think the dogs need to pee anyways.

OBWe could have gone to Italy…

We were so ready to laundry and clean out Stevie, only to find out that Donna’s dryer had conked out ☹.  I think it was probably just a simple fuse, but you have to take the entire dryer apart to fix it, and an in-home repair was going to be at least $200.  Donna suggested we go check out Restore (the Habitat for Humanity donation sales center) for a replacement.  Now if you’ve ever been to Restore in Calgary, you know it’s kind of lame.  I’m not sure if it’s too many people and everything gets picked over quickly, but we’ve never had luck there.  Well Restore in Nanaimo is just awesome!  The selection is excellent, and we found Donna a new dryer that was better than her broken one, and the thing only cost us $80 including tax!  After a quick and mostly painless installation (aluminum dryer hoses are SHARP!) Jenn and I were able to put 7 loads through the machine and it works perfectly!

While driving between Lac La Hache and Hope in the rain…

Jenn:  Is Stevie OK?

Jer:  She’s fine.

OBIt’s raining and we are going to hydroplane off the mountain and into a ravine and DIE!

Jenn:  Maybe we should slow down…

Jer:  We are already way under the speed limit

JBDamn it, we are losing time here!


It’s great to be here and we’re enjoying having home cooked meals and sleeping in a real bed again,  though we’ve gotten used to having some sleeping space.  It is taking some getting used to having Jenn, the dogs and I all crammed into a queen bed.  In Stevie, there isn’t room for both humans and two dogs in either bed, so I’ve gotten used to stretching out on the bunk above the cab while Jenn and the dogs fight for space in the smaller pull-out bed on the floor.  Probably the top two things we will be happy to return to in our Calgary home will be the king sized bed and our own bathroom!

Jenn:  I don’t really like beer

Jer:  But you keep taking us to brew pubs

Jenn:  They have stickers for Stevie 😊


And finally,

We think our GPS unit has a bit of a speech issue, which is kind of funny considering Jenn does speech therapy.  We giggle every time we need to stop at a gas station as I punch in the closest Chevron.  Now you and I would say we are going to SHEVron, but the GPS pronounces the CH as you would in Cheese.  Maybe this is why we buy so much Chocolate and Chips every time we stop at Chevron.  Don’t get me started about going to the “EEEEsso” gas station. 😊

Days 22-27 The Haida Gwaii MEGA POST, part 2



After feeling sad saying good-bye to Terreena, Stan, Leigh-Anne and Lyle, we knew we couldn’t mope around too long or else we’d lose our last few days on Haida Gwaii.  So, we went back to Cemetery Beach to walk the dogs and beachcomb.  Back when we stayed in Prince George, I noticed that Dana has several beach finds around his house.  A true sign of anyone who has lived on Haida Gwaii is collections of driftwood, agates, and shells along with some Haida art and jewelry if you’re lucky.  I quickly developed some driftwood envy, and was on a mission to find some to bring home with us.  I figure…. Stevie has space, right?  (OB: not if you fill her full of rocks and sticks.)  We had one piece tucked away to bring back for Leigh-Anne, so I was determined to find something for us to bring home as well.  About 25 minutes after we started walking along the beach, I spied the perfect piece of driftwood.  Jeremy was initially somewhat reticent about bringing it home (JB: you want me to carry that sand-covered piece of wood half an hour down the beach?  I don’t think so), but as he stood there looking at it, he began to see the magic and hauled it up onto his shoulders to hike back up the beach.  (JB: on the one hand, it’s awkward to carry.  On the other hand, it’s more affordable than the bracelet, ring, and paddle she’s hinting around at.  OB: those remain on the list.  Her birthday is in September.)  You know your husband loves you when he’s willing to carry driftwood and chain it to the back of your camper to be hauled across two provinces and then likely put in your living room!



After finding the Big Treasure, we went to have tea with Babs Hageman.  Babs is like another mom to me.  Her family has embraced me ever since Lisa (her youngest daughter) and I were in first grade together.  Lisa remains one of my dearest friends, and she inspires me to live a life that includes spontaneity and joy.  We didn’t get a chance to see Lisa this trip, as she is in Vancouver working on her Ravenstail Weaving.  Luckily, Babs was in Masset for a few days before heading down south herself, so we managed to have two visits with her.  When my dad’s boat went missing at sea in 1983, Babs’ husband, Bruce Hageman, was among the fishermen who took their boats out in the January stormy weather to look for him.  Bruce, Babs, and their daughter Shelley always told me stories of my dad.  They told me they called Dad’s favourite style of fishing rig the “Tom Jellema Hook” whenever they used it themselves.  Bruce passed away about 18 years ago, and he is missed by all of us who loved him.  Babs’ kitchen table has been a welcoming space ever since I can remember, and Jeremy and I loved having a visit with her over tea.  On this day, Tracy and Daen were also there.  Tracy is Lisa’s older sister and Daen is Tracy’s son.  To my surprise and delight, Tracy pulled out a very special gift for me, z-twist yarn that she spun herself.  Normally, yarn is spun in what is called an S-twist, whereas the Z-twist is spun in the opposite direction – the picture of the two styles may show the difference.  The s-twist is the grey and the z-twist is the cream coloured yarn.  Z-Twist is used in the Ravenstail Weaving, but this particular wool wasn’t going to work for Tracy’s project, so she gifted it to me.  I’m the proud, drooling owner of some z-twist superwash merino wool!! (JB: greeeeat…. yet another avenue to obsess over yarn.  OB: speaking of that bracelet….)  First I have to love on it awhile and then I’ll have to choose a project to make with it.  I have a couple of ideas floating around in my head.


It seems that Day 22 was the day of visiting, as later in the day we met up with Lorne and Missy to return their car and have a coffee together.  Lorne, Missy and I have all known each other since forever, and in high school, Lorne and I spent more time writing notes to one another than we ever spent taking notes in class!  He was a master at folding the notes up into odd shapes and tossing them to me as we passed one another in the hallways.  He and Missy have two beautiful daughters and they generously lent us their car for a few days.  I know he would’ve been happy to let us use it the entire time we were on the Islands, but I felt too guilty leaving them with only one vehicle to do that.  (OB: you didn’t have too much shame to beg Missy to make pizza while you were home, though!)

Once we gave them back their car, we took Stevie for a little cruise just outside of town to the 5 acre piece of land that was my family home when I was very small.  Once upon a time there was a house on the land, but now there is nothing but a slowly disappearing pathway.  My mom sold the property a long time ago, and I don’t really know when the house would have been torn down.  The forest has reclaimed the land, as it should be.


We continued on to Tlell for our second dinner at the Haida House, where we enjoyed a delicious salmon chowder along with the rest of the amazing meal.  After filling our bellies, we drove a little further along the highway to a pull-out alongside the road.  We had scoped it out a few days prior and thought it would make a great camping spot.  Apparently, we are not the first, nor the last, to think of this idea, as there was already a camper set up when we arrived.  Not to worry, there is enough room for two, so we tucked Stevie in and enjoyed a walk on the beach before bed.  In the morning, we took our coffee (OB: and Baileys… don’t forget the fact that you’re a fish, apparently) to the beach.  There is nothing in the world to complain about when you’re sipping coffee on a gorgeous beach, listening to the waves roll upon the shore.


We also drove into Jag’s Beanstalk for breakfast.  Truly…. It was so that I could meet up with Mare Levesque of Laughing Sea.  Mare hand-dyes yarn, and one of my favourite things to do whilst traveling is to look for (OB: and purchase) locally dyed yarns.  Mare has some lovely colours to choose from, and while I took my time picking a few skeins, two other tourists stopped by and one of them made a purchase as well.  (OB: of course, Jenn immediately wanted THAT skein as soon as it sold).  Turns out, one of the two visiting ladies was from Powell River and had worked in the classroom of one of my close friends.  I snapped a quick selfie with her and texted it to Sylvia.  I love those small-world moments!  I made my purchases and then enjoyed a delicious breakfast sandwich from Jag’s.  We also grabbed a pastrami sandwich for the road to share later.  On our way to the ferry the morning we left, we stopped by Jag’s again to grab our coffee and breakfast to eat in the ferry line-up.  I had their avocado toast that second morning, and it was SO good!


After our night in Tlell, we drove back to Masset and stopped to buy some blueberries from the local Mennonite farmers.  Their blueberries are delicious, and we also bought some sweet cherry tomatoes.  Upon returning to Masset, we met up with our friend, Allan Davidson at the carving shed in New Town.  Allan has been carving a few years, and was working on a small pole, about 3 feet or so.  It will look beautiful in the home of the person who commissioned the piece when it is finished.  The shed is Jaalen Edenshaw’s working space, and we were very fortunate to get to see him in action as he is completing a pole to be shipped to Whistler.  Jaalen’s work is breathtaking, and we enjoyed listening as he shared the stories of the pole.  I asked Jaalen if I could take a few cedar shavings from the floor, and his apprentice, Tyler York, joked that we could trade some ketchup chips for cedar chips!  I wish I could’ve taken a big bag full of the cedar chips.  (OB: Jaalen would have let you, but where the heck do you think Stevie has room for a garbage bag full of cedar chips?).  We returned a few days later and left a box of ketchup chips for Jaalen and Tyler to enjoy.  Be sure to check out Tyler’s acting in the upcoming Haida film, Sgaawaay K’uuna Edge of the Knife.  The film is co-directed by Jaalen’s brother, Gwaii Edenshaw, and Jaalen was part of the writing team.


We left the carving shed, picked up a few groceries and then went out to Agate Beach for two nights of camping at the provincial campground.  While a windy camping site, the spots do look directly onto the beach, and that is excellent!  We spend two nights there, and probably clocked over 10km in one day walking along the beach.  More agate hunting, of course.  You can’t camp at Agate Beach and not look for agates!  One of Jeremy’s favourite things was hearing the sound of the ocean waves rolling back and forth over the rocks.  The water is strong enough that it pulls rocks as the waves ebb and flow, creating a unique sound of rocks rolling over one another in water.


On our second night there, we had a wonderful surprise when Lori Holt drove out to our campsite.  She stopped by for a quick chat, and four hours later we were still laughing together.  This is a repeat of the last time I was home, when Lori and I met up “quickly” so I could give her a couple of things, and we wound up sitting in her car visiting for over two hours.  I love that lady!

After our two nights at Agate Beach, we came back into Masset for the next two nights.  It was a bit drizzly, so we stuck close to the campground on our first day back in town – mostly to have showers and get some laundry done.  YAY, LAUNDRY!  You really come to appreciate clean clothes when you’re limited to what you can wear and have to go several days between washes.  The Hidden Island RV Park in Masset has good machines and we found that the dryers do a great job for the $3 you pay per load.  Their showers are the most expensive we’ve found on the trip so far, though.  $4 for 4 minutes – you become VERY efficient!  Of course, the first 30 seconds or more are a write-off as the water heats up and it’s too cold to jump in.  That would be my only feedback for them – give 5 minutes or even 4 and a half minutes for the $4 so that the water has a chance to heat up before you start shampooing.

We also lucked into a couple of visits with Neena once we were back in Masset when she stopped by our campsite there.  She’d tried to catch us out at Agate Beach, but we must have been on the beach walking when she stopped by.  Both Neena and her husband, Mike grew up in Masset, and have recently moved home as Mike is taking over as principal of Chief Matthew’s School in Old Massett.  Their son, William holds a very special place in my heart.  I was in the delivery room when he was born, and having no children of my own, he remains the only baby for whom I’ve witnessed the delivery.  He’s now in his 20s and is so handsome! Jeremy teased me when I told that story in William’s presence, by saying (with a hint of JB sarcasm), “I bet you love that she tells that story.”  To my delight, William responded by saying, “actually, I do!!”  (OB: *sticks tongue out at JB*)



We finally had a chance to enjoy Missy’s delicious pizza for supper our first night back in town after Agate Beach.  We received some special treatment when Missy convinced their daughter, Courtney to deliver it to us at the campground.  Thank-you, Courtney!  If you’re in the Masset area, keep an eye on the Facebook page Made in a Dish for when Missy is making her homemade pizza.  It’s worth it!  For those of you from out of town, when the Facebook posts include 4 numbers, know that it’s the phone number and the prefix is 626, the area code is 250.  You can text those pizza orders in!  😊  We grew up only needing 4 or 5 digit dialing, so the shorthand of giving 4 numbers remains strong!



On our last days in town, we made sure to stop by Charter’s Food Truck for their scallop tacos.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  Scallops.  Tacos.  Together!!  In total, I think we ate at Charter’s at least three times during our stay on Haida Gwaii (OB: did you even cook once while on the Islands? JB: way to save money, dumbass.  Jer: Hey!!  I cooked, too.  Jenn: Ummm…. Scallop tacos. ‘Nuff said.).  One of the days we ate there, we met my friend Leslie Brown for lunch.  She had been busy working on halibut when I texted, but made time to visit over lunch.  Leslie is one of those friends with whom you’ll share a good belly laugh before too much time passes.  She is culturally and community minded and it’s always fun to grab a visit with her.  She spoiled us as well – having her husband Tyler bring us some fresh frozen halibut to take on the road with us.  How’aa, Leslie!


One afternoon, Jeremy stayed at Stevie with the dogs (JB: FINALLY.  Alone time.  Can we binge on Pearl Jam now?  Jer:  GREAT IDEA!) while I walked up town to meet Vanessa Bennett for a coffee.  Vanessa and I were on the Masset Eagles Swim Club back in the day, and we would walk to our early morning swim practices together.  Sometimes we would see people “sleeping” on the steps of a store we walked by.  Often those sleeps were alcohol-induced.  One time, we thought we saw someone sleeping on the steps, but it was really foggy.  As we got closer, we realized it was a bear.  Good thing we weren’t in the habit of approaching any of the sleeping humans, or we would have encountered a sleeping bear instead!  It was really nice to catch up with Vanessa – she’s as beautiful and fit as ever, having recently completed the Agate Man triathlon event held on Haida Gwaii.

Speaking of bears, I forgot to mention!  We did get to see one bear on our trip to Haida Gwaii – there was a bear along the road as we drove out to Agate Beach for camping.  Pepper was pretty sure it was her long-lost cousin.  It ran away into the bushes before we could snap a photo to prove our sighting and show the family resemblance between Pepper and the bear.  Pepper is like a really small, friendly version of a bear.  Kind of like a teddy bear, but without the stuffing.

We loved the spot in Tlell so much that we returned to sleep there for our last night before catching the ferry back to Prince Rupert.  Once again, we missed the prime spot that night as two ladies had beat us to it.  It’s a popular place for people to camp, apparently!  Also for people to park and walk the beach or hike, as there is a hiking trail entrance across the road.  After two drizzly days, the sun was out in it’s glory, tempting us to stay longer.  We soaked it up as best we could, and I took the dogs for a long walk along the beach, once again finding a few pieces of driftwood to tuck away into Stevie.  Our last night on Haida Gwaii coincided with the night that the full moon and Mars were visible at the same time, so we hit the beach for some night sky viewing.  As we walked along, two fellows on quads rode by, each with a dog sat behind him.  Our girls were sure they were missing out on a good time!  (JB: never mind the dogs, where can I get a quad for the beach?  We should live here.)  The picture does not give any justice to how gorgeous the moon looked, shining it’s orange glow onto the ocean below.  We took it anyway.  (JB: another moment proving the advice I gave to bring your damn Nikon).


We are now back on the mainland, heading South to visit more friends and family on Vancouver Island.  The biggest How’aa (thank-you) to everyone on Haida Gwaii who helped make our visit so special.


Random photos of this amazing place:


Days 18 – 21 The Haida Gwaii MEGA POST, Part 1

Man have we ever done a lot in the last 8 days.  I will cover the highlights in this blog, but know that even with how long it is we had to cut some things and split it into 2 posts (JB: like it matters, no one will read your drivel anyway!)  Let me start off by saying that Haida Gwaii is an amazing place.  I believe it is truly unique in the world and Jenn and I have wondered aloud several times if moving up here would be a good idea.  Of course, it’s been sunny and 18 – 20 degrees almost the whole time which is simply unheard of.  The rain has finally come back today and reminded us that it rains 300 + days (or so it seems) a year here 😊 .

I encourage everyone reading this to get up here at some point in your life.  This should be on everyone’s bucket list.  So without further adieu, here is the Haida Gwaii MEGA POST part 1!



When Jenn and I landed off the ferry we immediately drove to Port Clements to see our great friends Terreena, Stan, Lyle and Leigh-Anne.  Three of the four grew up on Haida Gwaii so this was something of a reunion trip for them and Jenn.  Stan was the only first timer in the group and it was fun watching him take in the beauty of this place with his camera.  We had a quick bite, lots of laughs, then set up our campsite and prepared for our adventures.

We had some jam-packed schedules to see all the highlights of the islands.  Our first adventure was a 10KM (round trip) hike to the beach to see a shipwreck.  The Pesuta was a timber carrier that went down along the coast in 1928, and has slowly been disappearing back into the environment.  The scenery out here goes from wild west coast forest to insanely long stretches of sandy beaches.  The pictures really don’t do it justice, and there was no way we could capture things like the Eagles, ravens, and dragon flies that are everywhere.  And the sound of this place, OMG!  The ocean breaking on the rocks, the eagles chatting with one another, the ravens cackling at you, and the wind through the trees.  It’s just simply awesome.  At one point we looked up and saw 5 bald eagles flying overhead.  The only image I managed to capture was on my phone at max zoom so you’ll just have to trust me.  (JBI TOLD you to bring your Nikon, you dumbass.)


One of the advantages of living here is that you can drive on the beaches.  And, everyone seems to know each other.  So we were not at all surprised when 2 trucks met us on the beach and they happened to be old friends of Leigh-Anne and Lyle.  We had a good laugh that of all the locals, almost no one had ever walked out to see the Pesuta. (JB: you mean we could have driven?  That would have been way more fun cause you didn’t have a backpack, supplies, food, or enough water.  Some hiker you are.)

After the hike, our friends went to their B&B to shower.  Since Jenn and I have no shower, we drove to the beach for some relaxation and a quick sponge bath. I mentioned that everyone knows everyone here right?  Cause as we were about to get clean, a car pulled in and out popped our friend Alan.  Stevie is a bit of star out here on the Island so everyone knows where to look for us 😊 .


After a quick visit and de-odorizing (JByou guys really do stink you know!)  we joined our friends for a scrumptious dinner at the Haida House in Tlell.  The Haida House is a top notch restaurant that is 100% Haida owned, and the food is excellent.  We were very excited to have local salmon, and the food was so good (and reasonably priced) that Jenn and I booked a return visit for later in the trip.


The next day, Jenn and I moved our campsite up to Masset, the town where Jenn grew up.  In fact, we met our gang at The Ground coffee shop, which just happens to be in the house Jenn and her parents lived in.  It’s always a treat to have a coffee and a nibble in Jenn’s old living room, or buy a shirt from her mom’s old bedroom!

Our next stop was North Beach & Tow Hill.  Tow Hill is a small mountain located on the north end of the island, and is the anchor for North Beach which is a ribbon of sandy decadence that stretches for more than 10 KM.  Side bar, if you’ve ever been to Long Beach on Vancouver island, you will know why we chuckle when they call it long.  In comparison to here it’s like the kids beach 😊 .  The hike up Tow Hill is a bit steep and somewhat sketchy for dogs, so I took Saela and Pepper to the beach while the rest of the gang hiked to the top.  (OBDon’t believe him, he’s just lazy!)  Jenn got some excellent shots from the top.


After the hike up, we all walked out along the beach, or at least we started to.  We were cut off by more friends in their trucks 😊 .  Man I love this place.  We all hopped in to the vehicles and drove 6 km further up the beach.  I know for sure it was 6 km because our friend Neena was doing a 6K run.  Of course we aren’t sure if Mike – her husband – stretched her a little further than that!  Jenn and I hopped in with Derek and Christina, and Saela immediately made a new best friend!


We all went our separate ways for dinner and Jenn and I had the best Chinese food in Masset (JB: dumbass, it’s the only Chinese food in Masset!)  By bed time, I believe we had broken our dogs:



The next morning, Jenn was in the washroom and heard the following exchange:

Child:  Look mom, I’m washing the shower

Mother:  What are you doing?  Stop that…….  Give me my Loufa!

OBJenn was certainly amused.  She was so amused she left her damned cell phone in the washroom! That’s twice now with the phone…

Jenn:  Hey, I remembered and got it before we left for the day.

JBI think we need to get you a fanny pack!

We took the dogs to the beach for the morning to do some agate hunting.  Agates are volcanic based crystalline rocks that when polished are bright and shiny, and they are ALL OVER the beaches here.  A popular past time is to go “agate hunting” on the beaches.  You will see people slowly wandering the tranquil stretches of sand and rock with their heads pointed down to their feet.  Jenn was saying that it doesn’t matter if you’ve been gone from here for 5 minutes, 5 years, or 5 decades, if you’re back home on the beaches, your head is down and you’re agate hunting.  Needless to say we have collected more than our fair share!  More importantly, we discovered something on the beaches of Haida Gwaii we never expected.  Our prairie raised rescue dog Pepper is completely at home and in love with the ocean.  We have never seen her so mellow before, she absolutely loves it here.


Our next set of stops were for the local food truck, and then a visit with Miche, a great old family friend of Jenn’s mom and one of the most lovely ladies I’ve met.  She is originally from Quebec just like my dad, so we always enjoy sharing stories of what it was like way back when.  Of course she has been a fixture on Haida Gwaii for over 40 years now.  We lucked into a fun visit and a few warm cookies, fresh from the oven.  Miche is a great cook!


By this time our gang was up in Masset, so we all decided to hit the local Masset Museum.  This isn’t just any museum, it’s a small house with artifacts from the history of the town, including the time when Jenn, Leigh-Anne, and Terreena lived here.  We had a riot looking at old school photos, family history, and pictures of Sam’s (Jenn’s stepdad) tow truck and Chicken Shack.  Yes, Jenn’s family once owned a Chicken Shack.  They have also over the years owned a bakery, a pizza place, and an automotive shop!  The caretaker of the museum said she had never heard so much laughing in the museum 😊 .  There were many memories and photos of Terreena’s family as her grandfather was the first doctor here, so her family has quite a history, and her brother lives here still.  His name is Shaun, but most people around here know him as Bonehead.  Thankfully, he is well known in the community, as Jenn’s driver’s license had fallen out of her pocket (OB: maybe that fanny pack IS a good idea….) and the people who run the museum were able to track Shaun down.  He picked it up for Jenn and got it back to us safely.  Thanks, Bonehead!

Terreena and Stan had plans for the evening, so the rest of us went for supper on the beach.  On our way to the grocery store, Jenn and Leigh-Anne saw a friend of theirs drive by with 2 huge dogs in the back.  One of the dogs is called Handsome Gus (he’s Instagram famous!), so the ladies started calling out to him as the vehicle drove by…. But the truck didn’t stop.  We found out later that the driver was thinking “damned tourists!”  Turns out other folks have randomly learned his dogs name and say hi all the time, so he didn’t stop and missed a chance to see some old friends 😊 .  We finished the evening with hamburgers on the beach and visiting with another good friend, Melanie.


Tag in Jenn cause this post is looooong…

The following day was the last day that Terreena, Stan, Leigh-Anne, and Lyle were on the Islands.  In the morning, 4 of us zipped down to Skidegate to visit the Longhouse Gift Shop to find matching hoodies for the three ladies.  Terreena and Leigh-Anne had been scoping out the other gift shops along the way, but hadn’t found any that we loved.  So, Leigh-Anne and I were on a serious mission to find them!  And – success!  We found Haida Watchmen hoodies in the right style and they are super comfy.  Insert requisite matching shirt group photo on the beach:



We also stopped at the Balance Rock on our way back north from Skidegate.  It was BUSY!  Normally there may be one or two cars, but, this time there were several vans full of people.  I had to take a picture of all the people there to prove it 😊  We took our own photos and quickly got back on the road.  Back in Port, the 6 of us parted ways so that each couple could get a few things done prior to meeting back up for coffee at The Ground (yep, my old house) in Masset.  After grabbing a drink, we went back out to Cemetery Beach.  There is a beautiful cemetery there, and some of the group spent time wandering through to look at the headstones.  The beach is also gorgeous, and is close to town, so easy to get to when you have places to be but need a quick beach injection.


That evening, we were invited to Candace & Christian White’s Tluu Xaadaa Naay Longhouse in Old Massett.  They were hosting a group of visitors to learn a little bit about Haida culture, Christian’s carving (he is a Master Carver), and to see and learn about Haida songs and dances.  It is always moving to hear the drums and see the dancing, and I am always brought to tears.  Although not my culture, growing up here demands that the drumming and music become a part of your heartbeat.  It was such an honour to have received Candace’s invitation, to get to see her “in action,” to learn some of the stories behind Christian’s totem poles, and to visit with them afterwards.  She even convinced their cousin, Lisa White to open her gift shop after hours for us.  The Gin Kuyaas – Haida Art Studio & Gifts is a beautiful gift shop housed in a long house near the start of Old Massett.  The smell of the cedar longhouse alone should bring hordes of people in!  Once you’ve inhaled that gorgeous smell, bring your eyes down from the ceiling and look at the many beautiful art, clothing, and jewelry pieces available.  Jeremy and I were thrilled to find a gorgeous Jordan Seward print to bring home for our walls.  If I’d had my way, I also would have left with a paddle and some pieces of jewelry.  (OB: yah, but remember how your husband is unemployed now?  Simmer down on the spending, lady!).  This gift shop is a “must see” when you’re on Haida Gwaii.  My advice?  Don’t spend all your money on BC Ferries or in the first store you find as you get off the ferry!  Take your time to see all that is available as you visit throughout Haida Gwaii.  There are some great hidden treasures to be found.  The six of us spread our shopping between the Longhouse Gift Shop (Skidegate), Crystal Cabin (Tlell), and Gin Kuyaas (Old Massett), and Jeremy and I are still here for another day or so.  (OB: nice try, you’re still not getting a paddle, ring or bracelet.  Jenn: dammit.)

My other advice?  Definitely take part in the dinner, dance & culture evenings hosted by Candace & Christian White.  Keep your eyes and ears open for dates, times, locations, and pricing – ask around and someone will likely connect you!  Word of mouth is often the best way to find out about what’s happening here.  Be respectful, be willing to learn, and be prepared to be moved and inspired.

Another friend I grew up with, Leslie, participates in a cultural teaching and dancing group called The Davidson Descendants.  Again, if you’re visiting Haida Gwaii, ask people you meet about local events.  You’ll no doubt stumble across an amazing experience.


We will have part 2, days 22 – 26 up soon, we promise 🙂

Days 15 – 17 (sorry for the delay, Internet is spotty!)

After two relaxing nights in Smithers at a campsite alongside the river, we packed up Stevie and the dogs and continued on to Terrace.  Once there, we booked a spot at the Ferry Island Campground and then headed to town for supplies, and, oh!  What’s this….. another brewery??  Why, yes indeed, it is. (OB: greeeeat, now you’re going to be loving beer as much as you already love wine.  That’ll be awesome for both your wallet and waistline!)  We dropped our laundry off at the laundromat, where they offer a wash and fold service.  We were more than happy to spend a few extra dollars rather than having to sit around the laundromat watching machines.  (JB: you might wanna be mindful of that carefree spending habit, Jer…. you’re unemployed now, remember?  Jer:  yes, but beer…..   JBok, you win!)

With the laundry being handled, we drove over to Sherwood Mountain brewery for some samples.  The beer was excellent and partnered well with the snacks we brought from Stevie.  We both agreed that the best brew was their Skeena Sunshine Saison so we left with 2 large bottles, 2 new glasses to drink from, and a new sticker for Stevie!  The sticker count continues to climb, thanks to several of the breweries!  And one yarn store, of course. 😊 We took the dogs for a stroll, picked up our laundry and then headed back to the campground for a pleasant evening. (OBreally?  That campground was creepy AF.  Jer tried to tell ghost stories, the jerk!)


The next day (Day 16), we set out for Prince Rupert on a gorgeously clear and sunny day.  Most of the province and into Alberta is bogged down by smoke from the many, many forest fires burning throughout BC, so it was such a reprieve to be driving through a clear area.  We have seen several of the fires along the way, and been caught up in the smoke, as Jeremy mentioned in his last blog entry.  But, the stretch between Terrace and Prince Rupert was clear the day we drove.


While visiting Dana in Prince George, I had mentioned to him that Pepper was having a difficult time settling down on our driving days. She was always cramming her way between Jeremy and I in the front seat and seemed to just stand there staring at his feet while he drove.  We figured she was trying to determine how his feet were making her house move!  So, Dana grabbed a scrap piece of plywood and cut us a dog-gate to put between us and Stevie’s living quarters while driving.  We’ve named it “De-Fence by Dana” and so far it’s working well.  Pepper seems less stressed and now sits on the couch looking forlornly our way.  It’s a step up!


As we drove towards Rupert, Saela jumped up on De-Fence by Dana, which is out of character for her, so we figured she probably needed a bathroom break.  Luckily for us, there was a rest stop just 400m up the road.  As Jeremy turned Stevie into the rest stop, we heard a really strange noise.  At first, I thought it was some train track machinery I’d seen, but we quickly realized the noise was coming from Stevie.  As we’d made the turn, one of the outside storage hatch doors came unhinged (JB: not unlike you, Jer!) and was dragging along the pavement.  The wood and screws holding the door onto Stevie have seen better days – showing some signs of wear and tear, earning the name Stevie maybe from Steven Tyler and his hard-core livin’ back in the day rather than Stevie Nicks???


As I dealt with the dogs and their bathroom break, Jer jury-rigged the door back into place (JBold stupid piece of shit camper that’s falling apart while we are driving I mean really wtf were these morons thinking that they could just travel across the country in a vehicle almost as old as them and everything would be fine I mean come on that’s just pure stupidity and I bet…  Jer SHUT UP JB!) and we kept a close eye on it as we finished the ride into Rupert.  Once there, we stopped by Home Hardware and he came up with quite a clever solution!


After Stevie was dealt with, we went into my favourite part of Prince Rupert – Cow Bay.  We’d read online reviews about Dolly’s Fish Market so we bee-lined it there for lunch.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!  It was so damn good.  I had the crab mac & cheese and Jeremy had a 2 piece halibut and chips.  He says it’s the best fish and chips he’s ever had – even did a Yelp review!  And…. the mac and cheese had 4 kinds of cheese and huge chunks of fresh crab meat.  Yes, that’s crab spelled with a  ‘c’ not a ‘k.’  I’ve seen so many restaurants, especially sushi joints that offer “krab rolls.”  (OB: that shit is “krappy krab!”)  We were so impressed with Dolly’s that we’ve already made a reservation for dinner the night we get back to Prince Rupert off the ferry!  (OB: y’know there are other good restaurants there, right?  You could have tried a different one.  *eyeroll*)


After lunch, we wandered over to…. wait for it….. another BREWERY!!!  (Jer & JB:  Yay!) The brewery in Prince Rupert is called Wheelhouse Brewery.  Jer and I both love the nautical theme.  I tried their Trade Winds (ginger beer), Flagship Pale Ale and Scurvy Dog Spruce Ale, but I think my favourite sample was the Gillnetter Golden Ale.  We love that their beer is served locally, including at Dolly’s and on the BC Ferry route.  And guess what?  Sticker Butt!!  The Wheelhouse Brewery sticker has us up to 8 stickers on Stevie’s bumper – five of which are from breweries!  We also had a great chat with a lady we met there by the name of Sandy.  She just happened to be the sister of someone Jeremy worked with in Nanaimo for a number of years – small world, eh?


Once we’d indulged our foodie and brewsky habits, we grabbed the dogs and went to walk through the Pacific Mariners Memorial Park.  A few years after my dad’s boat went down in 1983, the Lions Club in Prince Rupert was working on establishing this Memorial Park, which includes monuments and a commemorative wall.  Families of loved ones lost at sea were able to purchase a brick for the wall with their family member’s name and details.  I remember, at the time, not really caring one way or another if my mom purchased a brick in my dad’s memory.  At that young age, I thought…. we don’t live in Prince Rupert, why bother?  But, now I’m so grateful that she did it.  I have such respect for her thinking of me, of my memories with my dad, and for doing it for me, even though I was non-committal!  While I don’t get to Rupert often, if I’m there, I go and see the park and my dad’s brick.  Jeremy appreciated being able to see the space as well.


After a beautiful afternoon wandering in and around Cow Bay, we went to camp at the BC Ferry parking lot.  On their website, they say you can camp overnight the night before your sailing.  They fail to mention that the parking lot is gated and you have to be there before they end their shift.  That happens to be at 4pm the day we drove up at around 7pm! (OB: mastering your homework, once again, I see.)  So, with no competition in PR, we drove 1km up the hill to the only local campground.  They WAY overcharge for their spots, and as you drive along the road, keen eyes notice that the campground is pretty much beside a landfill.  They try to pretend the trees hide it, buuuuuuut…..   Needless to say, we came, we slept, we left!

We spent much of Day 17 on the ferry.  The last time we were on the ferry to Haida Gwaii was about a decade ago when Jer and I took the Inside Passage from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert and then across to Haida Gwaii.  Back then, we camped in the Port Hardy parking lot and the next morning as we waited to board the ferry, I grabbed the binoculars and said, “I wonder who I know waiting to walk on the boat.”  Jeremy answered in JB’s voice, “you’re not going to know anyone.”  Three seconds later, I’m naming about 5 of the people I see.  That story has become one we laugh about and share when trying to describe for people just how small a place I’m from.  This time, OB stood in my way: “No one knows you.  No one cares you’re heading home for a visit.  It’s tourist season.  You’re now a “tourist” when you come here.  You’ll know no one.  You hear me?  NO ONE.”  And yet, as I took the dogs for a walk before we were to board the boat, who do I see but the dad of someone I grew up with sitting in a truck with the brother of another friend returning home from a golfing trip.  We walked upstairs to get our cabin key, and whaddya know, there’s someone I went to high school with whom I haven’t seen since the early 90s.  Take that, OB!

One tidbit we haven’t shared thus far is that we are meeting friends on Haida Gwaii, several of whom also grew up on the Islands.  They haven’t told anyone they’re traveling up there, as they’re hoping to surprise a few friends upon arrival, so we’ve kept “mum” about it to help keep the cat IN the bag, so to speak.  As I was sitting in the ferry cafeteria enjoying a cup of coffee before I lost internet service on my phone, I received a Facebook message.  It was from my friend Lorne who lives in Masset.  His words to me: “is that (mystery friend name #1) I see in Sandspit?”  I tried to fake him out by spilling the beans that Jeremy and I were on the ferry from Rupert and I was hoping to see him in a few days and order some of his wife’s famous pizza.  After a couple more exchanges, he asks, “Is that (mystery friend #2) as well?”  I was texting, FB messaging and even tried calling to let my two friends know, “You’ve been spotted!”  It’s not very often we’re happy to be out of internet service range nowadays, but drifting off the grid helped me keep my poop in a group!

OB: doesn’t matter, they’re still gonna think you ruined the surprise.

Jenn: no, they won’t.  We’re FROM here, we get it.  You can’t hide here!  Plus, I didn’t ruin anything.  They’ve remained nameless, even in this blog.

OB: nobody is reading your damn blog.  I bet blogging is sooooo 2012.

We are close to docking in Skidegate as I finish this, and I’m so excited to be home on Haida Gwaii shortly!

Day 11-14 – EI-PA-eh?

Day 11 began our first morning back in Canada, and we had a few things to accomplish.  First, Jenn had discovered that our friends, Kristine, Craig & their kids just happened to be in Chilliwack on vacation at the same time as us, and we made arrangements to see them for coffee – and they even offered us use of their hotel shower!  The other mission of the morning was a visit to Service Canada.  I applied for EI (as I’m now unemployed, you know) but found out that my social insurance data had an incorrect birth date.  So for 30 odd years, the government hasn’t actually known how old I am.

JBwait wait wait, you mean you’ve held down jobs, paid your taxes, and served in the military, but the government doesn’t need to fix your birthdate until you try and get service from them?  WTF? 

Jer:  I’m sure it’s just a simple mistake JB, no big deal

JBRiiiiight, because the government really does want to give you benefits after you’ve paid into them for so long.

I dropped Jenn off with our friends and then Stevie, the dogs and I made our way into bustling downtown Chilliwack.  When I say bustling, I actually mean entirely dead.  There was literally no one around at 9 AM on a Friday.  Good thing, I was actually able to park Stevie on the street within site of the Service Canada office!  After an initial grilling with the office staff (what do you mean you are on vacation, you should be looking for work…) I explained my severance and we all agreed that I would not be entitled to any cash.  They asked why I was bothering, and I explained I wanted access to the EI training programs, like starting your own business.  At that point the demeaner softened and we had a great chat about camping across western Canada. 😊  (JBsee, it’s all good once they know you can’t get any money out of them!)

I finished in 20 minutes or so, then went and joined Jenn and the Letourneau family, who as mentioned let us use their hotel room shower.  I can’t tell you what a treat it was after 10 days to shower without flip flops on!  Once completed, we all had a tour of Stevie and the kids gave Saela and Pepper lots of well-received cuddles.


It was then time to hit the road.  Our first stop was Hope BC to fill up on supplies, fuel, and alcohol. (OB: damn, I think you guys are getting a bit boozy on this trip.  People are going to think you have a problem… )  After a quick stop, we turned on Stevie and had no stereo or GPS system.  Turns out one of Jenn’s hair clips had fallen into the cigarette lighter and shorted the system. (JBSabotage!  She did that on purpose!!!  She hates your Pearl Jam obsession.  OBI’m not saying that we did it on purpose, but I am saying that next time I bet you will stop at Joann’s for yarn))  Thank god it was Friday, and we were only a block from Napa Autoparts.  After a quick fuse change and a few swear words, the systems were online and we were back on the road!



Over the course of the next 3 days, the smoke in various locations of BC was so thick we could barely see 500 feet.  It’s really terrible how bad the fires are in BC this year and our hats go off to all the firefighters and volunteers keeping folks safe.  In any event, we put on 1000 KM travelling between Hope and Smithers BC, where we are now.  In that time, we’ve had some excellent stops including a night at Big Country Campground and RV Park outside Lac Lahache (they had a wicked pool!) a sleep over at Jenn’s friend’s Dana’s house, and the Riverside RV park in Smithers.  The best stay was obviously at Dana’s where we spent our first night in an actual bed in 11 days.  Jenn and Dana have known each other since about the time Stevie was manufactured, circa 1977.  (OB: you better not be calling us old!)  Saela and Pepper also became good friends with Dana’s dogs Dixon and Lucy.  Or more accurately, Dixon became enamored with our two lady dogs, and Lucy became jealous of her man 😊 .  Dana made us a delicious home-made meal of BBQ steak, roasted potatoes and fresh veggies.  It was another flip flop free shower experience, and Dana has THE BEST towels.

JB: That’s weird for one guy to say about another guy.

Jer: yah, but did you feel those towels?

JB: they were THE BEST towels…. Dammit, now I’m being weird, too!


These have been good days with lots of smooth driving and great friends.  And we’ve had some truly excellent beer!  We’ve hit 3 micro brews on this stretch of the trip.  Today alone Jenn had 12 beers in a row!  To be fair, they are 4 ounce tasters, but that’s still a lot!

OB: lush.

Jenn: hey!!  One of them was a Kombucha sample!!

OB: fine.  Lightweight.

Our first stop was Barkerville Brewing in Quesnel , where we sampled some lovely brews along with a pizza for me and a Rueben sandwich for Jenn.  We also picked up a new sticker for Stevie!  I will say that the best feature though was in the men’s washroom. I really appreciate that they let me recycle their beer directly back into the kegs 😊 .  We left Saela in the camper at this establishment and as you can see, she was giving us the stink eye the whole time.


The only beer we had in Prince George was at Dana’s house (thanks, Dana!) but we did stop on our way out for some take out lunch at a European deli.  The place looks a bit nondescript from the outside, but they made some damned tasty sandwiches and we would go back there in a heartbeat!


Our next 2 breweries were both in Smithers.  It turns out this town has 2 of everything.  There are 2 sausage houses, 2 sushi restaurants, and of course, 2 micro breweries.  Both were completely welcoming of Saela and Pepper, and we enjoyed multiple tiny tasty delights.  We also picked up some new hats and another sticker for Stevie.  My favourite beer of the day had to be at Bulkley Valley Brewery.  They had a delicious brew designed specifically for the seasonal workers up here.  When the tree planting season dries up, the workers need to apply for government assistance, so this brewer has crafted an EI-PA.   Well let me tell you as an unemployed man who was just in service Canada working on receiving EI, I thoroughly enjoyed their refreshing IPA brew 😊.  Jenn’s favourite sample of the day was at Smithers Brewery where she really enjoyed their Broken Ladder Cider, a very clear and very crisp apple cider.


Our final sticker came from Jenn’s favourite stop of the trip.  After she couldn’t go to Joann’s in the states, she was able to hit a yarn store here.  And would you believe they also had a sticker for Stevie?  Amazing!  Even more amazing, she did NOT buy any yarn at this store.  She likes to seek out locally or regionally dyed yarns when we travel (JB: it’s super masculine of you to know this) but this store didn’t carry any.  (OB: not to worry, she didn’t leave empty-handed, she fed her button obsession instead).



After a good sleep tonight, we are off to Terrace BC, and then on to Prince Rupert!  For all of our friends and family in BC and Alberta, I hope you are able to get away from the smoke for a bit and find some fresh air.

Day 10 -Stevie takes on the I-5…

The evening of Day 9 we walked the dogs from our campsite into the nearby seaside town of Westport WA and realized we wanted to come back during daylight hours to take a look at their Maritime Museum and have fish & chips for lunch.  So, after breakfast and coffee on Day 10, we packed up Stevie and drove into Westport.

The Westport Maritime Museum is housed in a former Coast Guard Station, which had Jeremy very excited and feeling nostalgic for his days volunteering as a rescue member and the Unit Leader with the Ladysmith Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit 29 (now called rcmsar 29).  The Westport site also houses a Fresnel Lens lighthouse beacon.  What an impressive sight!  The Fresnel Lens is credited to French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel and his design allowed the light to be seen for further distances than with the style of lights used prior to his invention.  They must be using a very low wattage lightbulb for their demonstration or else we’d have been blinded by the light within the walls of where the Fresnel Lens is contained.


After touring the museum, we made sure the pups were content and then walked along the waterfront to enjoy some halibut and chips at Bennett’s Fish Shack.  We each ordered our own, but the servings were large enough that we easily could have shared – and as a fisherman’s daughter, I’m not one to willingly suggest sharing orders of halibut!  In the end, I shared some of mine with Jer as neither of us could stand the thought of leaving any fish on the plate.  Fries, sure.  But fish?  No way!  After lunch, we wandered in and out of some of the tourist gift shops and we picked up a third sticker for Stevie’s bumper.


A couple of hours later, we wound up outside of Tacoma WA and this is where JB and OB took over….

JB: you guys just had to eat fish and chips for lunch, didn’t you?  Now we are hitting rush hour traffic.

OB: is Stevie OK?  She sounds like she’s dying.  Why is she making weird noises and motions? 

JB: (directed towards driver of the car three cars in front): STOP letting people merge from the exit lane, asshole!  They’re not lost, they’re cutting traffic.

OB: That driver is driving with his foot on the dash!  What the hell?

JB: Oh, look – that guy just cut across three lanes so he could be in the fast lane.

OB: (directed at several drivers) GET OFF YOUR PHONE!!!!

JB: hahahahahaha – we just passed the guy who was so eager to be in the fast lane. 

OBI think Saela has to pee!  I think she really has to pee!


And so it went for the next 3 hours that it took us to travel about 100km.  It was at this moment we fully understood why the 90s era Seattle area grunge bands sounded so angry – they were sick and tired of driving the I-5!  By the time we were through that craziness, we decided to just make a run for the border rather than stopping.  We made a quick stop to feed ourselves and the dogs and then hit the road.  Jeremy also spent his entire dinner break attempting to book us a campsite just inside the Canadian border.  Here’s how his call went:

Campground Lady: hello?

Jer: hi?  Is this the campground?

Lady: yup

Jer: Do you have any availability for this evening?

Lady: hahahahaha

JB: wtf?

Lady: I have to call you back.  Give me your number.

Ten minutes later, phone rings, Jer leaps up from supper table and runs out of restaurant to take call.  I pick up everything off the table and head outside to meet him.  His call continues:

Jer: hello?

Lady: hi.

Jer: yes?

Lady: so you wanna site?

JB: seriously?  WTF?

Jer: yes, please

Lady: OK fine.  What time will you be here?

Jer: around 9:30pm

Lady: OK.  See you then.

Jer: Do you want a credit card number?

Lady: nope. <click>

JB: that was seriously weird.  Do we actually have a site?

About an hour later, we drove by three grass fires in the short distance of about 100 meters.  We assume they were caused by assholes flicking their cigarette butts out of windows.  There were some people pulled over and running down the road with their 7-11 cups full of water, which was both endearing and funny at the same time (OB: 16 ounces of water isn’t going to help stop a grass fire).   We kept driving to avoid Stevie causing an accident and I placed a call to 911 to let them know of the fires.  The fires were so close to one another we almost wondered if someone was starting them purposefully as they drove along.  Intentionally or not, what stupidity.  (JB: People really are assholes.)

As we drove along, I was thinking about the fires and hoping all was OK.  All of a sudden, I realized that I had made the 911 call on Jeremy’s phone.

“OH NO!  Where’s my phone? I can’t find my phone!!” I hollered.

OB: you fucking idiot.  You left it on the table at the restaurant an hour ago, didn’t you?  Way to care more about making sure you both had your drinks than making sure you had your phone.

Jenn: shhhhh…… it’s gotta be in my pocket.

OB: you’re sitting on your pocket.  It’s not there.  I’m 100% sure it’s ON THE TABLE back there.  An hour’s drive from where you are.  Guess what you get to tell Jeremy right now?

Jenn: Pull over. Pull over!! I can’t find my phone.

JB: Oh for crying out loud.  Don’t stop.  DO NOT STOP.

Jer: I will when it’s safe.

OB: He COULD pull over now.  It’s safe enough.  He’s totally not going to stop.  Your phone is gone forever.  He’s probably wondering why he ever married you in the first place.

JB: just call the damn phone.

OB: it’s in “airplane mode” because Jenn is too cheap to add more USA data to her plan.  Y’know, because replacing a lost phone will cost less than adding more data.

Jeremy pulled over and I looked frantically everywhere for my phone while he calmly looked everywhere for my phone.  Neither of us could find my phone so I called the restaurant we’d stopped at.

OB: Apparently calling to ask if a phone has been turned in required a manager to respond to our inquiry about if a phone had or had not been turned in.  I’m sure we can trust them (insert eye roll).

JB: greeeeeat.  Now we get to turn around and drive back towards the crazy ass traffic.  How much is a new phone? 

Jenn:  but….. my pictures!!!!

OB: betcha you wish you used iCloud right about now.

Jenn: that’s not helping

JB (on behalf of Jeremy): we have a reservation at a campsite in Chilliwack. We will never make it at the time we told Campsite Lady we’d be there.  I’m sick of driving.  I don’t want to turn around.  Why the hell didn’t you carry your damn phone out of the restaurant?

OB (on behalf of Jenn):  we didn’t even give them a credit card number.  We can call them if needed and so what if they give away our spot, oh well.  There isn’t a law saying we have to cross the border just because we said we would.  We can camp wherever we stop.

So, Jeremy turned Stevie around and we headed back up the road, expecting to be driving at least an extra 45 minutes back to where we had eaten.  No sooner had we committed to the turn and wound up back on the I-5 heading South when I suddenly remembered exactly where I had put the damn phone.  There is a cover that lifts up to reveal Stevie’s ashtray and lighter jack.  We keep it lifted up so that we can use the jack for our phone charger.  I had slid my phone between the top of the lid and the gap it creates in the console.



While I think everyone was happy we didn’t have to make the full trek back down the freeway, the tension as still a little high for a few minutes.

OB: oh my gawd, just use your purse already. 

Jenn: it’s too big.

OB: I told you to bring a small one.

Jenn: but the small ones aren’t summery enough.

OB: you never listen.

Jenn: hey, at least I remembered now and not as we pulled into the restaurant parking lot.


JB: what a complete waste of time.

Jer: if it was my phone, we would have turned around as well.

JB: you’ll probably lose your phone tomorrow, dumbass.

Jer: hey, at least she remembered now and not when we arrived at the restaurant in an hour.

Once the energy settled back down, we enjoyed the remainder of the drive towards the Sumas border crossing.  I’d been keeping my eyes open for a Joann Fabric and Craft store the entire time we were in the States because they carry different kinds of yarn than what we can find here in the Michaels craft stores.  As my luck would have it, the only Joann’s store we saw was spotted after the Great Phone Turn Around.

Jenn: Oh noooooooooo!

Jer: What?

JB: what the hell NOW?

Jenn: there’s a Joann’s!

OB: do NOT suggest stopping.

Jer: *in silence* [continues driving, pushes harder on the gas pedal]

JB: *evil laughter* PEDAL TO THE METAL, Jer!

Jer: the phone saved us from stopping!!

JB & Jer: *hysterical laughter*

OB: *whispers* guess we’re crossing the border on our way back to Calgary.

We finally made it across the border and pulled into our campsite in Chilliwack by about 10pm, all people, pets, and phones on board.

JB: Yah, right.  The night didn’t end so peacefully.  The first campsite they gave us had the wrong electrical plug.

Jer: it’s OK, we just went to the office and they gave us a different site.

JB: but first Camp Lady asked why we didn’t have 30 Amp.  Geez, does it matter at 10pm?  Did you not see the 1978 bucket o’bolts we pulled up in?  They probably didn’t have 30 amp in 1978 for all we know.  Does asking me this question help us resolve the issue in any way whatsoever?

Jer: calm down, it was fine.  The guy set us up with a campsite for the correct Stevie Amp.

JB: yah, but it didn’t have water.  Good thing we paid for a “full hook-up” site.

Jer: *cracks open a beer*

JB: *chugs the beer*