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.
Jer: YES. YES WE WILL.
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?)