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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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 😊

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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!

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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. 😊