How Far is Far Enough?

9867E2D3-D7BC-4812-BA95-252178FD6B7B

Do you have a limit as to “how far away” from your home is “far enough” for a hotel or motel stay?

We don’t. Okay, maybe fifteen minutes away might be too close, and it probably matters that we live out of town.

Even with the above view out our window, Mister and I still enjoy getting-away. Long distance trips don’t happen as often for us anymore, but we take a few short jaunts every year.

This post was triggered by our recent venture which is a popular one for us. It’s roughly an hour and a half drive from our home.

Have you or would you stay in a Hotel or Motel that’s near where you live?

I can’t speak for Mister, but what I enjoy most about these little trips is they are usually in a city, and are often closer to family or friends.

It has been 38 years since I’ve lived in a city with everyday conveniences within walking distance.

I loved living in the country with horses out our back door, and here at the golf and lake resort. But, I was born and raised in a city, and I kind of miss that way of life too. Maybe it’s just that “grass is greener on the other side” thing, but living in a smaller city or town remains on my bucket list.

If a “staycation” is when you vacation at home, is there a name for when you stay in the same city as you live or somewhere super close?

In the beginning years of marriage when our kids were young and we lived in the country, a 30-60 minute drive to one of the nearby cities was sometimes our vacation. (Guess what word I first typed at the end of that sentence? Check out my “Holiday or Vacation” post for an explanation.)

When our youngest was about a year and a half old Mister started travelling more and more with his job. The kids and I would go with him as often as we could.

They were (still are) great travellers. It never bothered them to sleep in a different place every night. They never whined about time spent in a vehicle, even if the day was 8-12 hours on the road.

Most of these trips were before in vehicle DVD players, handheld tablets, or cell phones. They would pack books, travel games, and a few toys each for entertainment, or just watch the scenery. Eventually, Walkmans and a few handheld electronic games, plus Gameboy, came out. Books remained one of their favourites along with listening to their own music.

A part of what we loved about these trips with Mister working his way across provinces and states meant we visited a lot of little towns. We’ve traveled many main routes, country roads, and back highways through areas most tourists don’t visit.

If Mister expected his business stop was going to be lengthy he would drop us off to explore shopping areas, playgrounds, parks, main-streets or wherever we thought looked interesting. This part of our life started before people had cell phones. We had to wear watches and coordinate pick-up places and times.

I remember when Mister got a pager, and how when it went off we all had to watch for a phone booth while he drove.

Do you remember the days before things like, “text when you are on your way”

Traveling Dilemma

 

A good portion of the population wear glasses, right? So, would it kill designers or manufacturers to have different coloured bottles, labels, or even caps on these mini sized products in Hotels, Motels, and Inns?

Maybe, they could incorporate a big, S, C or L, on the label, or just increase some print size.

Something, so those of us who don’t wear our glasses in the shower can identify which product is which.

Clear containers work when shampoo is also clear, and only if hair conditioner and lotion aren’t both creamy white.

Some places also offer body wash. That makes four bottles to choose from, increasing my odds of failure. Yes, I have tried to wash my hair with a wrong product.

This is a minuscule issue, but it is a pet peeve I have when traveling.

I do try and remember to check which is which before jumping in the shower.

I’m also grateful you don’t get those packets, like ketchup comes in, that use to be supplied anymore. The ones that were just as hard to tell apart, and nearly impossible to open with wet hands.

Funny thing, our next stay after this post was drafted, supplied shampoo and conditioner in the slippery packets with tiny print.

Have you ever had to play a guessing game with these mini bottles?

Have you fought with the shampoo packets with wet hands?

Who Remembers

Who remembers cameras using film?

Who remembers taking the rolls into a photo shop?

The waiting sometimes a week for it to be developed? The anticipation? The hoping that picture of something special turned out?

Did you ever come home from a holiday and spend hours writing dates and notes on the back of prints? Or, did you put them in albums right away with side-notes?

I love that newer cameras and mobile devices allow you to check a shot before the moment passes, and that dates are recorded automatically. If you have location service turned on even where you are can now be recorded.

Years ago, when Mister and I did our cross Canada retirement trip, we had a digital camera which was a blessing for checking shots. At that time though, location service wasn’t even an option. Every evening I would download that day’s pictures onto my laptop, and we would name them before we would forget. In our defence, when you cover a lot of miles and see numerous highlights in a day, details are quick to blur and mingle.

I’ve pretty much switched to digital albums, because of storage space, but there’s nothing like having a photo album on your lap and flipping pages.

Have you stumbled across prints years later that you wish you would have taken the time to write on the back?

This just happened to me while going through some boxes.

Oh and remember the sleeves of negatives, seldom ever looked at again but too precious to throw away? I still don’t know what to do with them.

Do you get print copies and do photo albums, or just have digital albums?

The Wheel and Lost With A GPS

wheel

I hate when reality proves there isn’t enough hours in a day or days in a week. When life is like being on a hamster wheel. With me running and running, and no matter the pace I get nowhere.

At least I’m still on my feet and life hasn’t thrown me out onto my butt. Smiley Face.

For anyone feeling like they’re in a wheel, let’s take a deep breath, put our heads down and focus. When it slows, we can jump off and take time to smell the roses.

How do I get so far behind so fast?

Are you, in the wheel or out smelling roses?

If you noticed I didn’t post last week it was because that darn wheel wasn’t laptop friendly. Besides, I was busy self-discovering.

Mister did a lot of traveling during his working years so him and I being separated was common back then. Since his retirement it rarely happens. The days we spent apart last week were eye opening. Who knew we would miss each other that much.

My biggest surprise was learning I’m human (or maybe aging). I’m not ashamed to share this next tidbit because maybe it will put someone else it’s happened to at ease.

Stress and sleep depuration can and probably will affect your concentration and coping skills more so as we age.

Did you know even an experienced traveler can get lost while using a GPS? It happened when I didn’t realize the wrong destination on the touch screen got programmed.

My road-trip home was going good, the first pee break was in the city I knew it should be in. After that was when things went south. Actually, I needed to drive south but under the cloudy sunless sky I didn’t realize I was heading east. Sure, I had moments of, this road seems different, but I chalked it up to Mister is usually driving while I’m distracted by reading or napping. When I passed a town I knew I shouldn’t was when all faith in the GPS left and I felt lost. That rattled my tired self which only frustrated me more. So, on the side of the unfamiliar highway with my data-less phone I made a few calls. Do you believe with everyone carrying cell phones it took five tries to reach someone who could confirm that I would eventually get home? The three hour trip turned into five because of my detour.

Thanks goes to the daughter-in-law who answered and the son who she put on the phone for the out of the blue call for a Google search.

Do you put your trust in a GPS when traveling?

The daughter-in-law informed me that it’s also very hard to get a good, clear picture of a hamster in a wheel for this post. Thanks for trying.

Can’t Get Much Closer, The Final Leg

IMG_2839

My previous post had us six siblings at the wonderful, Cowichan Bay. From there we drove the paved logging road across, Vancouver Island to, Port Renfrew. A never visited destination for all of us.

Port Renfrew, has less town than I expected, but it makes it up with scenery and tranquility.

The online pictures of our accommodation made it one of my anticipated stops this trip.

We reserved a two bedroom, log, row cabin, at, “Wild Renfrew Seaside Cottages,” and one word describes it, “Wow.” Gorgeous, peaceful, or cozy would work too.

I’ve never stayed this close to the ocean. (Even on the cruise ship, the water was farther  away.) At this seaside cottage, high tide waves almost lapped  at our deck’s support beams.

The shoreline at the bottom of our few deck steps was by far the best part for me, a sea-glass hunters paradise. Every chance I got I combed the stretch out front of our room.

Until this trip, the most pieces I’ve found on a holiday was, nine. I left this cove with a cup full. Without an actual count, I’d guess in 7 different colors.

Wild Renfrew’s staff was great, Martin K. in particular. He checked us in, looked after our needs (the precious extra coffee and condiments needed), and suggested places of interest in the area.

He deserves a special thanks, for the courtesy of emailing us that the brother-in-law left something behind, and then for taking time to package and mail it to his home. Many places wouldn’t bother doing this, and it was appreciated.

Some may think I’m strange for this, but I chalk it up to being a mother. No cell phone service in most of, Port Renfrew, took a little getting use to. It’s not that I’m addicted to my phone, but I relay on it for accessibility if the kids need us. The cabin had internet though, so we touched base that way.

The cabin also had satellite T.V., which we didn’t really watch, but it was usually on when the guys were inside.

In mine and Mister’s almost forty years together, I could probably count with my fingers how many places we’ve stayed without television. Most of those were not by choice. Mister is not an avid watcher, but he has said, “Roughing it even while camping, is not having satellite T.V.” I guess regarding televisions and cell phones, him and I are creatures of habit who like the comforts of home. Smiley face.

Back to Port Renfrew and this holiday. We ate a big, tasty lunch at the pub, therefore that night we opted for a simple hot dog supper cooked in our cabin’s kitchen. There was a campfire area and wood available but we were lazy. Oh, another great amenity at, Wild Renfrew, is propane fire pits on each deck. The men made good use of ours, whether outside soaking up the view or avoiding a house full of women, who knows, but it kept the October chill away.

All six of us stayed the first night in one cabin. Space wasn’t an issue, but one bathroom was a little tricky. Older bodies and hide-a-bed sofas don’t always get along though, so the sister and her husband moved to a cute studio suite for the second night.

At the other end of town from where we stayed is, San Jaun Beach. Probably a busy place during the summer, but other than the few fishermen, we were the only ones strolling it on our daily visits. This was my sister’s favorite spot for soaking up sunshine while searching the sandy beach for small driftwood pieces for a wreath she wants to make. A great place to let the sound of rhythmic waves wash away your cares.

Martin K. also suggested we do the short drive to Jaun de Fuca Provincial Park to explore Botany Bay and Botanic Beach. He said low tide was the best time to go because it’s when you can see the marine life in the tidal  pools. Lucky for us low tide was at noon the next day, and that’s when we went.

Our group is plagued with age related issues and aches, but by taking our time we managed the hike down from the parking lot, and back up, I might add. Worth the effort, and a highlight for Mister and I.

After roaming the rocks the others started back up the trail. I had been trying to capture a picture of a big wave as it splashed over a certain rock, so Mister and I stayed behind.

While I stood positioned, concentrating and waiting for the perfect shot, Mister scanned the open water. He soon reverted my attention to something far more interesting though.

We spent maybe a half hour longer at the beach than the others, and with patience, and persistence, I got a good number of pictures of off shore whales and their water spouts. At one time we counted five water spouts.

The coastal drive from Port Renfrew to Sooke is pretty and one we would like to do again but would allow more time for stopping at beaches next time. One place we stopped at was, Sheringham lighthouse. We didn’t hike all the way down to it, but got pictures of it non-the-less.

We spent a night at Best Western, Prestige Inn, in Sooke before heading on to Victoria and the Days Inn on the harbor. These were both waterfront hotels and the last before we had to head inland and home.

Would watching whales be worth a hike for you?

Are you a patient picture taker?

Everyone’s Favorite, Part#2

IMG_2741

Us six siblings and our two vehicle caravan drove off the ferry at Little River terminal, Vancouver Island. Continuing our ocean-side holiday, we crossed the city of Courtney, to Kingfisher Resort and Spa. Because of our short stay, I booked partial-view rooms here.

To our surprise, partial-view meant that a beautiful landscaped and manicured lawn was between us and the building which offered the full-view rooms. The unique part was, that building was terraced into the bank, so from our particular patios we could still see the ocean over it.

The next day we drove to the west side of Vancouver Island, which is open to the Pacific Ocean. A region with spectacular views and well known for wave watching and surfing.

Long Beach, is one of my favorite on this side. It’s ten miles of sandy shore and rolling to roaring waves depending on the day. The best part is, you pass right by it going to Tofino, our night’s destination.

All of us had been to Tofino before, yet Mister and I had never stayed there because it’s a doable day trip from across the island. Oceanfront accommodations at this end can be pricey, but this time we all splurged for rooms at the seaside, Best Western Tin Wis.

Tofino’s weather can be wet, but we went prepared. Our packed rain-gear came in handy when we walked the Hotel’s beach that afternoon and the next morning. (This beach is pictured in, “Pre-Book Accommodations or Wing-It”.)

The sister-in-law fulfilled her dream to waltz in the ocean with my brother. Even though, her mid-calf rubber boots filled with icy water in waves that splashed higher than their knees.

The town offers many small interesting shops, and there’s no shortage of fantastic seafood restaurants. There are also whale watching tour companies based there.

Before heading back to the east-side of the island, we also visited Uclulet where we walked the scenic Pacific Rim Trail and of course shopped a little.

Our next stay was at, Beach Club Resort, in popular, Parksville. The long wooden boardwalk out front of this resort is great for those who want to stroll and not get their footwear dirty. For shell pickers the shallow shores mean a huge beach becomes exposed when the tide is out. (Pictured in “Watching The Tide Roll Away”)

Since our last two accommodations were at busy, touristy spots, I searched for a, off the main path, but still on the water location for our next two nights.

When the GPS had us exit the Trans Canada Highway onto a road that wound down through about eight miles of country side, I began to doubt my travel agent skills.

The road hadn’t reached sea level when the town of Cowichan Bay started and we arrived at the parking lot of our accommodation. It was so unassuming that if we had been winging-it, we may have passed it by.

We took no pictures, and neither Mister or I can remember exactly what it looked like from the front. I vaguely recall a simple earth-tone two story building with little to no windows, other than the glass lobby doors.

But, walk through those sliding doors and beyond the reception counter there is a sitting area, furnished and cozy like a living room. The eye catching feature though was the wall of windows where we got our first view of the bay and marina.

Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay ended up being a little piece of heaven we all enjoyed. A place each of us say we would re-visit in a heartbeat.

I booked kitchenette suites in case we felt like cooking a meal, (which we didn’t). The suites were spacious with separate bed and living rooms, both areas had patio doors which opened to the bay. (The picture above is from our room.)

From our couches or beds we could watch Sea-Lions swimming in the marina and I saw on the news that shortly after we left there, Killer whales came right into the bay. Too bad we missed that.

When we went down to the swimming pool level, and stepped outside we were shocked by the size of the place. It didn’t match the impression we got from the front parking lot.

DSC02516

It isn’t new but was clean, well-kept and updated. We encountered friendly staff and great food from both its restaurant and the pub next door.

The town of Cowichan Bay, offers a candy and ice cream shop, a general store, a bakery, a whale watching tour company. These and more little shops, and all just a short walk from the hotel.

If you’re planning to visit Vancouver Island, and you don’t mind staying minutes from city conveniences, we highly recommend Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay.

Its location on the coast is great for doing day trips to many of the popular tourist places. Or, if you’re looking for a comfortable and quiet place to relax with stunning bay views, this place should be a serious contender.

This is post 2 of 3 on our Vancouver Island trip.

Have you ever stumbled on a hidden treasure like this when you’ve pre-booked an accommodation?

Ferries Not Fairies, The Start

IMG_0455

Brilliant yellow and orange leaves colored central Alberta’s trees, yet we woke to branches sagging under the weight of fresh overnight snow. It hadn’t accumulated on the roads and would probably all melt by later that day, but we didn’t stick around to find out.

For this October road-trip my brother and his wife joined Mister and I. We left shortly after sunrise for a scenic three B.C. Ferry, instead of the usual one, venture to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Our first day goal is always to make miles, put as much distance between us and home as we can. So after 10 1/2 hours in the van we arrived at Clinton, BC. Not as far as our younger selves would make in a day, but we also have more time now, since we’re all retired. (Gorilla Tape Saves The Holiday, talks about a morning mishap that delayed us.)

Clinton nestles in the hills of BC’s Cariboo region, and we were glad the historic Cariboo Lodge we booked was unharmed. The town was one of many evacuated during this summer’s devastating wildfires.

The next day we traveled highway #97 to #99. A pretty drive they say once it nears the river. A little high, and exposed (as in no guardrails) at times for me, but more so for the sister-in-law who has a height phobia.

Familiar with many roads, Mister or I, try to remember to have her sit on the side of the van which will be on the inside of the road when we’ll on a picturesque section like this. Where our heads were this particular morning, who knows.

Both us girl sat on the passenger side which offered unobstructed views across the narrow shoulder, off the edge, and into the valley far below. The men, being the boys they sometimes are, seemed to enjoy our muttered curses. Don’t get me wrong, I have faith in Mister’s driving. He did nothing crazy, but sometimes on roads like this it’s hard not to sweat and apply pressure to my invisible brake pedal.

At Lillooet’s Tourist Information/Museum we met one of my sisters and her husband and they joined and followed us for the rest of the trip.

The section of highway #99 leaving there needs a mention. If you have a tendency to get car-sick from side to side cornering motion, or travel in a large RV, be prepared if you head this way. Make sure your cupboards and fridge doors are latched, and you may want to have something handy if you’re prone to seatbelt rash on your neck.

Mister and I, do a lot of back-roads so we’ve been on many windy and even hair-raising paths, but this was a top five windiest road ever for us. It’s a pretty drive, just be aware. The good part was it isn’t as high and open as the previous stretch.

After lunch in Whistler, B.C. the Sandman Inn at Squamish, was our stop for the night. Another without ocean-views but we were within minutes of the first Ferry terminal.

In the morning we boarded the Horseshoe Bay ferry which goes to Langdale.

My advice if traveling on multiple B.C. ferries is to check into the, B.C. Ferry Experience card, it saved four of us in the one vehicle a hundred dollars overall.

Once across to land again our first stop was in, Gibsons. A small charming town some may have heard of because of the Canadian television series, “Beachcombers.” Filmed there from 1972-1990. It made the still operating waterside restaurant, Molly’s Reach, a well-known place.

Our next ferry departed further north on the Sunshine Coast highway 101, so after exploring Gibsons, off we went. This path goes through one of my favorite spots of the area, Sechelt. Unfortunately, on this trip we didn’t stop there or at any of the beaches along that stretch. All I’ll say as to why not, is communication skills were not 100% between Mister and I right then. A rarity but it happened.

We continued to Earls Cove for the ferry to Saltery Bay. From there it was a short drive to Powell River, and the first of our 11 ocean-side accommodations. Beach Gardens Resort Hotel, is older but with nice rooms and balconies facing a marina on Malaspina Strait.

We enjoyed beautiful sights, and it’s where the pictures for this post were taken. My brother’s candid shot of me and one I took of him the morning we left to board our third ferry, the one to Vancouver Island.

There are two places on the island where we stayed that deserve mentioning more than just their name so stay tuned to find out which they are and what made them special.

Have you been on a ferry?

Was it the large multi deck onewith restaurants and gift shops or the one open car level type?

These three we were on are the large type, but open ones travel between the many smaller islands and Vancouver Island.

I would also like to wish all my American readers

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy!!

Hello Bud, and Spring Travel

bud

Do you know how to tell when an Albertan believes it’s really spring?

When they’re going for a drive and they don’t throw big snow boots, winter jackets, gloves and a hat in the back seat. Smiley Face.

That’s Mister and I, anyway. We even keep snow-pants and a blanket in the van during the winter months.

Unlike most people, I will miss winter. Not the extremely cold days, but the freshness of a winter walk and the relaxation that comes with the season. It’s a great time for catching up on visiting or inside crafts and hobbies.

For those waiting for summer, it’s no longer wishful thinking that spring is approaching, the signs are popping up everywhere. Flowers and tree buds are sprouting, the geese have returned from down south, and the Jackrabbits are changing back from white to brown in color.

Neither geese nor rabbits would show themselves on Sunday so I could take their picture for this post.

spring flower

Even surrounded with snow and ice there is signs of life in the flowerbeds.

Mother nature can’t make up her mind though, and last week’s weather was like rolling dice. Something different showed up each time you looked outside.

Last Wednesday and Thursday were prime examples.

By noon Wednesday the temperature warmed enough that a light shirt and vest was efficient not just inside but when outside.

Born and raised in Alberta and setting out on a road-trip though, my winter coat and snow boots joined an overnight bag in the van. A duffle which contained three layer options of clothing for Thursday’s planned shopping day with my girlfriend.

For two hours, I drove North on dry roads for a night at the daughter’s. The glorious sunshine heated the van interior enough I had to put the air conditioner on from time to time.

Keeping up with weather forecasts is a must at this time of the year, so we checked it after supper. They predicted an overnight cooling with possible precipitation. No big deal, we’re use to that.

I joined the daughter when she set out to do evening chores. She fed and blanketed, “Nugget” her horse. With access to shelters and with him more content outside, he doesn’t spend nights in the barn. The temperature wasn’t expected to drop enough to warrant a quilted blanket but since he had already shed most of his winter hair she put a rain-sheet on him.

Early Thursday morning we woke to about one and a half inches of fresh, wet snow. It continued lightly falling while we drank our coffee, but the weatherman said it should clear by the afternoon so us girls decided to still go shopping. We picked up my girlfriend and by 9:30 am we were heading North for the forty five minute drive to the city.

The snow didn’t stop, instead the flakes got bigger and came down heavier as the day went on. With near zero temperatures the roads and parking lots got slushy and by the time we headed back South, between vehicle spray and falling snow, visibility on the highway was crappy.

Halfway to the girlfriend’s house the weather cleared, and it didn’t look like the area got the storm the city was getting.

I phoned Mister to see what the weather was like at the lake so I could decide if driving home or staying at the daughters one more night. He said, “Sunny and 5 above Celsius, all day.” I drove home that evening. The roads were dry the whole way.

So that was my Thursday, and its two seasons of weather in one day.

I should have taken pictures of the different conditions, but I was too busy enjoying the girls day out.

It’s not uncommon for us to get temperature changes, of ten or more degrees, during a single day. Now, that’s hard to dress for and why I pack more than I need. LOL

Do you get drastic weather shifts where you live?