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 (JB: I’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 (JB: thank 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 JB: mmmmm 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! (JB: wrecking 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 (OB: OMG 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! OB: Oh no, that’s about a video game isn’t it? Pass. Jenn: 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).