Home is Where we Hook-up

December 16, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

Filed under: Holiday,Travel in Canada,Travel in the U.S. — Heligypsy @ 6:25 pm

I snapped a photo of our darling Christmas tree in the RV this year, those who have seen it (on Facebook and Twitter) seemed surprised and have enjoyed it. I’ve been working with a lot of our photos from the past nine years, and thought I’d post a blog with pictures of our Christmas Trees past.

Not our first Christmas together, but our first tree. I was (as I usually am) really proud of how it turned out.

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The “tree” in this next picture requires a little imagination. Far right in the photo, it’s a spiral piece of acrylic wrapped in candy cane garland. At least it gave me something to hang our ornaments on in this 18 ft trailer. By this time, we had begun collection ornaments, starting with the handblown glass Bobbo Natale from Venice, Italy.

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This was our first RV. We have since decided that we do in fact love the full-time lifestyle and have traded up a little bit (both the RV and the camera). Anyway, this was how we decorated for Christmas while camping at the Carpinteria State Beach, a very short walk to the water

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No tree this year, we were celebrating in Jindabyne Australia

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This is my mom’s tree, which she and I decorated together. Christmas in Bishop with the family, it’s a treat. Mom can really light a tree, I tell ya! Look closely, Keith is trying to get Zoe to smile for the camera.

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Fun-facts about Keith’s career:

Among the heroic duties of firefighting and the economically important seismic exploration or logging contracts, he has also fulfilled contracts to fly in harvested Christmas Trees. Bundle at a time, slinging from steep tree farm forests into the backs of waiting trucks.

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Each year working this duty he has received a gorgeous Douglas Fir. Finally, after three years of giving friends and family the tree for their holiday, I finally got to keep one for myself. Here it is.

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In 2006 we were camped in Vegas. Though we went to my brothers in Big Pine for Christmas Day, I still put a tree up. Went a little overboard bringing in the 5 ft’er, but loved every day of it.

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I did say we were in Vegas, didn’t I? Since we weren’t going to be there, I didn’t do much outside decorating. I let nature do it for me.

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Keith has been in Australia since Monday (well, Sunday for us, it’s confusing when you travel down under). Even though won’t have Christmas together we did put our tree up. It’s a smaller version than ’06, Keith could circle the tree and name the places all the ornaments came from in less than 5 minutes, ha ha.

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We’re in a warmer climate this year, parked beneath palm trees, enjoying the evening air with the door open

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Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas from Florida (this year)

December 9, 2008

Reminiscing 2008

Some numbers from the last year:

12 months, eight countries, 27 states, two provinces and two continents. These are my travel stats, Keith’s vary slightly – add one province and a third continent…he’s off to Australia this week. I regret that I am such a chronological blogger, and that if I don’t write when travels are current…I don’t write. There is a lot of sharing to catch up on.

The first three months of 2008 were spent living in Belize. Having our our Visa’s in order meant we could stay for a year, and were considered Belizean. This last bit doesn’t mean much, but was fun to acknowledge. Such a beautiful little country, I fondly think back on the snorkel trips, Mayan Ruin exploring (taking us into Guatemala), jungle treks, trips to the islands, helicopter flights over the reef and life in general camped at the Cucumber Beach Marina. Most of what is packed into my journal from living last winter in the Caribbean are not details of the trips we took, or wildlife we encountered, it’s about the people we met, time shared with new friends, and things I learned from other people. That’s what I cherish most. We will return to see our friends and build our life in Belize. To see archived blogs, search Jan, Feb, March 08 on the right-side of the blog. For photos use the Webshots link, search Belize Album.

I get very attached to the people and places we visit, but when it’s time to roll I get anxious to move on. When it was time to head back to the U.S., at the end of March, I was ready. The drive up the west coast of Mexico was a rewarding 18-day trip in itself. The lessons we’d learned on the east coast in the fall made us feel like real pro’s, not cocky enough to get into trouble, just confident enough to have a nice time. We beach camped our way home staying along nearly deserted stretches of beach some nights, other nights we camped near Acapulco, Zihuatenijo, Puerto Vallarta (actually, Sayulita, a place that won our hearts), and Mazatlan. The days were long again, just like summer days as a kid. Beach combing, body surfing, meeting new friends and just working on our tans, ahhh a couple of lucky people. An archived blog in May 2008 has some photos of our camping spots.

The first week of April we crossed the border from Nogales, Sonora Mexico into Nogales, Arizona U.S.A. Immediately the fact that we had a schedule to keep sunk in. Our plan was to be in Gananoque, Ontario, Canada  by Mother’s day. Sounds doable. The catch was, we were not traveling directly,  but via some of our regular haunts, Las Vegas NV, Bishop CA and Tumwater WA to attend to the business of life that always awaits our return. At that time, we were paying $4.25/gal for diesel, on a truck hauling a fifth-wheel RV, getting 15 mpg. This 4500 mile cross-country journey we embarked on was likely to be the first (for me) and last time to see some of this country.

Our home for the summer season ’08 was an “ecological reserve” in the 1000 Islands, Landon Bay Centre. Knowing we would be away for a better part of the summer, the $7 a day camping rate was a better than average deal. One quick week after setting up our base-camp, we were on the road again. This time a “vacation”, spending 10 days in Virginia touring the Nations Capital. As I wrote in the June blog, this trip to D.C. and the area made me want to spend so much more time here – and as it turns out, we would return for 2 more weeks later in the fall. Yeah!

The majority of the summer was spent in Alassio, Italy on the Italian Riviera. Keith worked six out of nine weeks, I played, isn’t that how it goes? If you are keeping count, this makes the sixth country of the year. From here we hopped the train to visit Monaco and Nice, France – eight rounds the tally. This is the sort of summer that really puts life into perspective for me, how lucky a person could I be? Well, lucky enough to spend glorious days biking the cobblestone promenade from one village to another alongside the shallow waters of the Mediterranean, sipping espresso and eating gelato whenever I wanted. Unlucky enough to have a gigantic tree fall on our truck two days before leaving for Europe, only to have the wonderfully repaired truck stolen from the Montreal, Quebec airport not a month later – these things are all just part of life, taken in stride it makes for an interesting ride.

Our Ford dealer in WA was more than accomodating to help us replace our vehicle, without which meant our “home” was stranded in Canada, the winter clock ticking. Ironic to find ourselves making a repeat of a cross-country drive that we would take us through country we never thought we’d see so soon. Taking advantage of the opportunity, we changed the route from the I-90 to the I-94. We had some weather to out run, but enjoyed the last of the fall colors going back into Canada.

It was late October when we hauled out of the 1000 Islands, just ahead of the first snow storm of the season. Having decided long ago that since we are on the east coast we’d may as well stay, explore and enjoy it we spent November and December slowly making our way to Florida.  During the 2008 Presidential Election, we were camped in Maryland exploring more of D.C., where we stayed for more than 2 weeks. Now we’re hooked up in our home in Kissimmee Fl. where we’ll finish out 2008, and begin 2009. What’s in store? Not really sure, Belize and Mexico would be nice, spending more time in D.C., getting up to Newfoundland might be an option – we’ll let ya know.

May 31, 2007

Border Inspection

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 9:57 am

Ok, all you RVers here’s a great piece of advice for ya – give your plants away to people who will enjoy them before you cross any borders. Ok? Getting into Canada they don’t much care what you bring in with you, oh, except for potatoes, they are VERY concerned about whether or not you have potatoes. We were asked if we had potatoes, the answer was “no”, the border guy leaned closer, looked at me and said “No potatoes?”, still the answer is no and though I felt like he thought I was lying about the spuds, he let us pass into his country.

Getting back to the U.S. was a different sort of event all together. For one thing, we crossed at the Peach Arch, and as we approached the border we were advised by signs that the lane we were in had a 12′ clearance, and over sized vehicles should use the Nexxus lane. Nexxus users have a special pass they flash and just cruise right through, and even though the signs told us to use that lane, the border inspectors don’t take it too kindly when a vehicle comes through the Nexxus without the appropriate expedited paperwork. Pull it over, get out, take the dog, go inside and explain yourself, oh great!

The young lady at the counter was friendly and understanding when we told her how we came to be in the Nexxus lane. But, what was done was done, they were going to search through our stuff – best to declare things now.

I honestly never meant to be deceitful, I really heard “Do you have any plant seeds or cut flowers”, what she really said was “plants, seeds or cut flowers”. Needless to say, when I said “no” Keith got a bit uncomfortable. Next we were talking about the dog food, can’t bring dog food in from Canada – well, we bought it in the U.S. – Ok, it has to be in it’s original packaging, she asks me to tell her where the dog food is, so she can inspect it. I say to her,

“It’s in a plastic tub on a chair in the dining area, underneath the philodendron”.

Her face goes sideways, eyes squint just a tad.

“So you DO have plants??????”

From here it just goes downhill. I say yes, I have plants, I thought she asked me if I had plant seeds…I mean really, sometimes being blonde can be such a hassle, ha ha ha. She makes sure I understand I am going to loose my plant. My Philly – oh, the heartbreak, really. I bought this little guy when we first bought the trailer, and have lovingly cared for it for a year now.

Here it is, brand new one year ago

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And here it is again, last month

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This picture was taken as part of my “mobile office” portfolio I had created, my hands are gesturing to the computer, not to the little violet – which by the way ALSO ended up in the trash at the U.S. Border. When the inspector returned from our RV, she was carrying a plastic tub (my plastic tub) with Philly in it, and of course, I knew what else was in there. One of the guys in the room hollered out “Salad!” but she didn’t crack a smile – she approached counter, set the tub on top looked into my eyes and said,

“Of course, you didn’t tell me about the OTHER plants you had in there!”

Ashamed, I hung my head and said,

“I know, but you were already out the door when it dawned on me, and by that time I already knew that you would get them.”

Really, I just didn’t have it in me to yell after her “Oh, there’s a violet, two rosemary’s and a lily……” I wasn’t hiding them, they were all in the same area of the trailer. She returned to her friendly self, assured I really wasn’t pulling anything, just to stupid to know better. She offered my pots back to me, and even allowed me to pull all the rosemary from the stems of the plants,

“As long as it can’t grow” she said. I just told her to take good care of the philodendron, and that’s when she told me that all my plants were going to the trash. All of which, really is just true form bureaucracy B.S. – the entire system is worthless for effectively preventing the spread of what ever it is they are concerned with. I will forgo the rant of how ridiculous it is.

The trailer is now in storage in Tumwater, WA for the next 4 or 5 months – so we’ll see what I do plant wise down the road. For now, I am kicking it at my mom’s for a couple of weeks and she has a nice yard with lots of great plants to look after, it’s all good.

May 22, 2007

Boats or Floating Houses

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 2:02 pm

For the last little while Keith has been talking about living on a boat. (My Uncle wrote and said he thought Keith was “smarter than that” – ha ha) I am not 100% sure how I feel about the idea. I do love living in the RV, and we have looked at some boats that rival our current living space – and it’s an interesting concept.

 

After coming here to the Ark Resort, maybe we have a new living arrangement to consider – the Floating House.

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Now, doesn’t that just seem like the best of both worlds?

May 7, 2007

From the Forest to the Lake

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 10:50 am

Saturday morning, 5:30 a.m. buzzed from our sleep by the alarm, our chores for the next hour were simple – pack the trailer and leave our paradise the Living Forest. Keith readies the outside, I do the inside, and between the two of us, we are ready to hit the road in a little over an hour. I think my mom got a kick out of watching me bring the dining room in, then the kitchen, the bedroom next and last but not least, the “office”. Our goal was to be on the road by 7 a.m., and at 6:54 a.m. we entered onto Hwy 19 heading for Port Alberni.

 

The drive to our next destination was not a long one, just over an hour and was fairly uneventful. My favorite moment was spotting the cutest little black bear creeping out of the woods towards the road. Probably a young bear, only 2 or 3 years old with a shiny and full coat, Keith tooted the horn and sent him back from where he came. This makes my second black bear sighting in my life – (the first was a Momma bear and her two cubs we spotted in a ravine somewhere outside of Boise on our way flying back from Houston) I only slightly hope I see more while we are here.

 

We arrived at the Ark Resort (an RV Park, Fish Camp, Marina and Floating B&B all in one) a little after 8 a.m. By 9:30 a.m. Keith had the outside of the trailer hooked up, I had the slides pushed out and we were set back up for living, only this time our view overlooks Great Central Lake, a 28 mile lake with a picturesque marina and the most charming floating houses along the edge. On the opposite side of the lake are the Della Falls, the “Highest Falls in North America”. I will look into the claim, but it doesn’t much matter; I’m entranced with the sounds of gushing water and can’t get enough of the scenery. Even though the move was not such a major one, we were all 3 very tired from the day. I lay my weary head down around 9 pm, it was still light out and though all I wanted to do was sleep, I found it strangely difficult to close my eyes – silly really, but I kept wanting just one last peek. It really is lovely here 🙂

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May 1, 2007

Have you seen any other interesting birds?

Filed under: Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 1:50 pm

The identification of the Barred Owl really went over well with a couple of my birding friends, and led to the question above, “Have you seen any other interesting birds?” Well, my mom and I took a little stroll in the RV park this afternoon and discovered a well protected (and hidden) chicken coop with 5 hens. I heard them before I saw them, and couldn’t wait to get a closer look. Zoe had them all on edge, though I tried to tell them she knows better than to behave badly towards chickens. With all the predators around here, I’d guess they’re pretty nervous birds!

Ok, so the chickens aren’t the interesting bird I was being asked about. How about the Golden Eagle we scared up the other day on Gabriola Island? Yes, now that definitely counts. The granddaddy of all interesting birds (in my book anyway). This gigantic sucker was having a snack on the side of the road, when we barged by. Not much for vertical lift-off this massive bird just floated for a second or two, trying to get his wings underneath him. HUGE! I tell ya. Eventually he gained enough of a climb to disappear into the treetops. One of the gals here at the park was thrilled when we told her, as she had seen a Golden recently, but had been convinced by some of the guys around here that she didn’t know what she was talking about, ha ha.

Though there is evidence of large Woodpeckers (probably Pileated) in the area, we have not seen them. I guess seeing California Quail on the Island constitutes interesting, we just saw two this morning. I am listening to the barking Raven as I type this, and the Robins are enjoying our 4th sunny day in a row.

It’s all very relaxing, calm and peaceful here at the Living Forest. We are really enjoying ourselves.

April 30, 2007

Afternoon Tea

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 9:42 am

Today’s post is by Special Guest writer Pat Williams (or as we call her…Mom).

Keith and Paula picked me up at the Victoria Airport on Thursday, in the rain. Relaxed all day on Friday, watching the rain. Saturday’s plan was to explore the World Famous Butchart Gardens, hoping not to do so in the rain. Luck was on our side, the weather cooperated fully with sunshine, and mild temperatures. We oooohhhh’d and awwwww’d throughout the entire garden, in pure amazement at what nature (with the help of man’s hands) can produce in near perfection.

 

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For lunch we experienced Hi Tea. The picture is only the tip of the iceberg, the tea room with windows looking out on the private garden and glass ceiling providing perfect lighting for all the orchids. We enjoyed the sandwiches and pastries to the last crumb. Missing was the Victorian dress code. It was so relaxing.

**I have replied in the comments about the menu for this High Tea – what a wonderful day

 

 

 

 

April 21, 2007

Birding Paradise

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 10:00 am

Keith and I are both somewhat amateur birders. The smaller the bird gets, the harder it is for me to identify, and around here there are hundreds of the smaller breeds. I holler out every name I can think of, and Keith will reply “I think that’s just a chickadee”. On the day we arrived, we walked to the beach (mostly by accident, we were just exploring the park) The sun was shining, in opposition to what the weather reports said, and the birds were out celebrating. Even the big guys, the one’s I can easily identify from miles away, the Bald Eagles. We counted 5 within minutes, a few were immature being taught to hunt.

That night we fell asleep to the “who-who-hoohoohoo,wh-wh-wHo-whooooo” and in the morning I asked “did you hear the owl?” We both laughed in agreement that while it was neat to hear at first, it would have been better if he’d have shut up at some point during the night. Everynight we fall asleep to the sounds of the park owl.

Last night we were sitting outside after an evening exploration of some of the nearby trails. A dog barked in the distance and Keith asked “what kinda dog is that? Sounds like it has the hiccups.” We listened for a few more barks, and then – though it was early, we heard “who-who-hoohoohoo, wh-wh-wHo-whoooo” I said I thought he was far away, Keith disagreed, so we set off in search of our friend the owl. We didn’t get far, as Keith was seriously distracted by this barking dog. The next thing I knew, he was backtracking and then, strangely enough, he began to look high up into the trees, muttering “what IS that???” I looked off into the distance at some of the other trailers, searching for a dog to point out to him, and clear up the whole mystery. But, the barking stopped. A Raven descended from the Pine Tree, gliding down the lane way, circling to another Pine opposite where we stood, and “BarK”, it barked. It BARKED! My mouth hung agape, I just couldn’t believe it. Surely the raven knew we were listening and watching, and he didn’t care for the attention, so off he flew.

The owl on the other hand, was not yet aware that we were after a sighting, and he kept up the inevitably locating “whooing” until we pinpointed his position. What a nice looking bird he is! I tried to be casual, you know like shuffling my feet, hands behind my back, a little whistle going on, proving my intentions were “Nothing???” But, I couldn’t pull it off, he scrunched his head down as he looked me square in the eye – pushed off the branch and glided over our heads, through the forest and off to the other side of the park.

April 18, 2007

Now we’re heading to…

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 7:22 am

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC

The phone call came in at 11:30 a.m., on Tuesday. It was up to us whether or not we wanted to haul the trailer over to the island or not, or when, but that’s where the company wants Keith to be by the end of the week. Well, this is good news on so many levels. For one, you know, we had serious business to attend to here in Surrey, or rather Keith did – (OH, and before I continue, might I just pass along the CONGRATS to him for passing that mind-numbing final exam!!!!! Ya done GOOD, darlen!) but, really – other than that I got to hang with one of my “virtual” pals that I met in Dallas last October, this place didn’t have much to offer in the way of recreation. The only other thing I have really enjoyed is my cell coverage is still picking up on the local network – that’s how close we are to the US, ha ha. Oh, and we did cross the border yesterday to fuel the truck up – saved about $40 compared to fueling here. Now, if we can just make this tank last another four weeks…ahhh the dreamer in me…

Among the other things I am looking forward to are, well, the ferry trip itself is always a fun adventure! Keith laughed at me last night when I said I thought BC Ferries might now have wi-fi available. He says to me “remember when we used to just play cards on the crossing?” Ohhhh, the good ol days, LOL. Our RV park looks like a heaven to me – called the Living Forest With trails and oceanviews, short walks to the City Center – oh and wi-fi connection, ha ha ha. And, we will finally be on the same piece of dirt as Keith’s sister, Sherryl, whom we haven’t seen in several years. So, yeah, we’re really looking forward to our time on the Island.

How long will we be there, you ask? No, you didn’t, did you, because you know better, and you know the answer is we don’t know

Seriously, though, we guess we will be there until mid-May-ish. After all, Keith’s on the schedule for going to Greece on May 22nd. Now there’s something to plan for!

There will be lots of pictures and stories to come – have a great day 🙂

 

April 15, 2007

Still in Surrey, B.C.

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Canada — Heligypsy @ 11:27 am

Or SLURREY, as it has been called by one local. A place that Keith’s sister warned “stay out of the burbs” when she heard we were coming this way. I don’t know about any of that. We aren’t here for sightseeing, and therefore haven’t ventured too far out to make comments either way. The weather has been very typical for the Northwest – rain, rain more rain. Keith is not letting the rainy weather get to him. As a matter of fact he’s looking on it as not such a bad thing, considering he has been spending all day of everyday since we got here in a classroom. Ya, he’s gone back to school for the last two weeks. He must write exams for Transport Canada, the equivalent of the FAA in the U.S. His final will be on Monday, and we’ll know just a little more of our plans to move on.

My experiences the last week have been of a fairly simple nature, strolls down memory lane from the time we’d spent in Canada when we first met. I’d forgotten all about needing a quarter at the grocery store to put in the handle bar of the cart, which releases it from the locking chain of the cart in front, and so had to settle on a hand basket until Keith showed up (I had no loonies or toonies with which to get change, either, I was just so unprepared!)

One evening walking out from a restaurant, I looked upward as saw a sight as common as seagulls soaring along the shore, it was a bald eagle cruising the main drag so casual and elegant. Each time I spy an eagle it makes me smile, and around here that’s a lot 🙂

Other memories revolve around the price of things When we lived on Gabriola Island in 2001 fuel was selling for .73 cents a liter. At 3.78 liters per gallon, that was about $2.15 a gallon. Do you remember that it was around $1.70 in the U.S. back then? Do you really want me to convert the prices now? Ok, I will, I can’t help myself. Complain all you want about paying $2.79 – Keith and I do. Canadians in BC are paying $1.18 a liter. Remember that’s 3.78 liters per gallon, and after the 14% exchange on our dollar difference this equals, uuuuggghhh, I can hardly type it, $3.98 per gallon. Looks like a border crossing for us to fill up the ole diesel.

On the other hand, a head of romaine or red leaf lettuce FROM CALIFORNIA can be purchased for $1.28. Anyone know how they get lettuce trucked all the way up here from California and on the shelves for a lower price than you can buy the stuff IN California? It’s a mystery.

A mystery, just like what our plans are in the next few days. I suspect I’ll have some news in the next couple days to share. Until then, have a beautiful day and a great week 🙂

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