Wednesday, 18 February 2015

2015. Settled but not settled..

A taste of our current life...

So, we are settled in southwestern Ontario, in my hometown of Chatham. It's been hard for me write anything, hence the huge lag between this post and the last one. It's snowed a lot, which would be fine but the temperature has been so low, -20 range for a few weeks now which just seems like an eternity.

It has been an adjustment from being on the road since April 2014 until mid-November, staying in so many different places, our tent, others' homes, rustic cabins, rounds. and guess what? I miss it. Oscar told me last night he misses being on the road too.

There was nothing like feeling the sun on your skin every single day for hours and hours, fresh air in your face, little adventures, stopping to fish in random spots just because we can. Just because we can. That's what I miss most,  I think.

The view from our apartment...

Cara the Van is doing great - we have noticed some bald spots on the tires due to the 22k we put on her. She has a small oil leak, minute, really. And she needs new spark plugs. But other than that, we think we are just going to keep her and run her into the ground... especially if we attack the East Coast in the summer. We found a carpenter guy in Chatham, willing to make Cara into a sleeper van for $500 - so that we can just set up shop wherever we want, without having to set up our tent and that process, which takes close to two hours to set up and two hours to take down. Not exactly ideal when you just want to spend one night somewhere. The one thing about tenting is no matter what, it does get abit chilly at night and even in the hot summer, you can still sleep comfortably in the van. When the sun comes up, its a different story, but it just forces you to get up early and enjoy the day instead of sleeping in. We also had an amazing hammock we hung up when we were able and I heartily recommend waking up at 530 am in the summer, and going to laze in a hammock for a couple hours under a tree in those early morning hours. IT IS SIMPLY AMAZING. You hear the world wake up, slowly and the breeze is in your face while you sway. I also had a couple mornings where I played some Bon Iver, Tame Impala, Timber Timbre or Bonnie Prince Billy, as a bit of a morning anthem on my headphones. Funny how a tune can make you feel like the world is your oyster.

Hammock playlist to get you started this summer...

Back to reality, Oscar is drywalling - hard work, physically demanding labour every day that leaves his wrists, arms and well, his whole body aching. I am staying at home with Molly and attempting to better look after myself as I was lacking in that department for the last few years working. Self care was something I didn't really take seriously, because I was so stressed out in Toronto. Now, we are eating smart, making a couple super healthy smoothies every day for all of us, baking smart & overall, just eating healthy, eating clean.

Well, sometimes we treat ourselves....

We are thankful for Molly being able to see family quite a bit after being away for some time. She also loves 'staying in'. It's sort of her thing right now.  She require at least an hour of "horsing around time", which means we all pile onto the bed and proceed to become superheroes, villains, karate masters, or whatever she chooses. It most inevitably ends up in one of us getting hurt, but she has taken to dealing with the unfortunate mishap by crying fr a minute then rubbing her eyes and saying, the hurties will be gone in one minute and she then karate chops one of us. She does home schooling, well, un-schooling exercises and she is learning fast. Whenever an interest strikes her, she knows to tell me and we head on the internet and discover some things about her interest, make a craft related to her interest or just anything really. Library visits twice a week, of which I must say Chatham has the most amazing kids' section I have ever seen. She was in gymnastics classes for a few months and now we will sign up for the ymca classes shortly. We live around the corner from horsestables, so i'm thinking monthly pony rides would be a great thing to do. She takes it all in and that's been the amazing part of staying home for me. Being able to teach her, and not have this all happen under the care of others. It was the only thing I wanted when I was pregnant with her and so far, my dreams have come true, thanks to Oscar. Without him understanding this and also knowing that we will have do without some things, in order to teach Molly at home and also travel, he has made this happen. We are not saying that the unschooling will last forever at home, but for now, it's great. Most likely when we are settled, we will give her an opportunity to go to school and see how it goes. But for now, we do what's best in this moment, for us.

Our apartment is what it is and that's enough for us. It's up four flights of stairs, which can make you day a little bit more difficult, to say the least, but on the upside, there nothing like the cardio involved when you drag up 5 bags of groceries, a backpack filled with library books and trying to keep a five year old focussed on the end goal of getting in your home. It's bright, fairly quiet and big enough for us. It's enough for us, as Molly told me the other day, "I love my apartment." So, yeah, it's enough for us. We have been reunited with most of our vinyl records, which is nice. The furniture we did buy was all second hand - like two, yup, TWO, comfy, olive green velvet rocking chairs for $30! A vintage hutch, which we use for tv, playstation and record player - for $20! Four chairs and table - antique - for $50. We don't have a dresser in our bedroom, but as my wise friend Yvonne says, "F&%k a dresser! you don't need a dresser - use boxes! Who cares about a dresser - what a waste of money for you guys!" so, thats what we did. we use boxes to separate our clothes. But on the upside, we have enough room in the bedroom for Oscar to play guitar when the mood strikes him, with his stuff all set up in the corner. Our beds are all bohemian stylezzzz on the floor, which is fine, because its kinda like how we were sleeping in the van anyhoos.

Spring is upon us and we are eager to go fishing. Once a week, for the whole day is the goal. We live near some mean river fishing & access to multiple lake, creeks within a 15-30 minute drive, so we will not waste that aspect of being in this neck o' the woods.We do know that our absolute best days on the road were spent fishing - a quiet spot, sunshine, snacks, water, exploring, excitement, napping on the shore - fishing has it all. The following photos are from the days of pure joy we had (in random order):

Kinky Lake, Hinton (near Jasper, Alberta)

Pembina River, Drayton Valley Alberta

Swift Current, Saskatchewan
Pelly River, Yukon

Muncho Lake B.C., where we camped and fished for a night.

Along the road, random spot just entering into northern B.C.

Drayton Valley, Alberta

Fishing at the Brazeau Dam, outside of Drayton Valley, Alberta.

Fishing just outside of Calgary.

The next two photos were taken while we fished just outside of Dawson City, in the Klondike River. It started slow but Oscar decided to start tying some flies on instead and then the action started. We must have caught over 30 that day, the beautiful Arctic Graylings. One after another, they breached the river, jusmping at our flies. Molly caught her first fish there and we are pretty stoked about that. At some points, all three of us had fish on. 

As for plans for late spring and what we are going to do, well, we know that we can't leave in May again like we did last year, it was simply too early and too cold most nights. So, we would leave in July. We think we have narrowed it down to continuing on our adventure on the east coast but we think we will approach it differently this time around. How? Well, thats what we trying to figure out. Using our experience from last year and doing it better this time around. But most definitely, staying in one spot for awhile here and there AND lots o' fishing is on the list of our bliss moments.

Funny thing is though, anything shitty or 'not ideal' that happened last year during the trip, does make us laugh now. We remind each other of stuff that happened, several times a week. The stories always start with: "Remember that time when..."

The knowledge that good and bad times now just equate to interesting & funny stories, well, that just makes us eager to take on another adventure.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

...and, We're Back on the Road!

Due to help from family, friends and strangers, we got Cara the Van back, and were able to leave with only a smallish dent in our pockets. These folks were like angels smiling down on us, only wanting the best for us and in return, we can give them some sweet little treats once we get settled in our wintering spot. It was awesome of our friend Kyla, to have taken the time to start up the fundraiser for us, when our souls were down in the dumps and we thought the journey might be over with. Then, this light shines and we can't believe the help we received. Amazing stuff.

We have been traveling at break neck speed since we left escaped Whitehorse. As I write this, we are currently in lovely Swift Current, Saskatchewan. We have returned to the lovely host of a bnb, Stephanie, whom we stayed with on our way up to the Yukon. More on that to later….

On the day we left Whitehorse, Oscar and I turned to each other several times while in the cockpit of Cara the Van and debated if we should just turn around and go back to Whitehorse for another night - the roads were so bad as we headed out on the Alaskan highway But the urge to get out of that town we had been in for close to three weeks, was too strong. We traveled the roads at less than 20 clicks in spots, it was raining in spots, sunshine next, white out next minutes, then rain again. Sometimes the fog was at critical levels, then sunshine again. So we pressed on and we made it. As soon as we got that 5 hour stretch of highway done, we then headed south into B.C. and the weather cleared up. Onto to Dease Lake - the drive is a lonely one, as yet once again there were no dividing lines on the highway and no celluar service. It was nervewracking as you need to pay absolute attention to the pink flags that alert you to severe potholes or large bumps and cracks in the asphalt. Finally after the white knuckled drive, we were safe in our hotel room after 10 hours on the road.

Below, are the photos of the Tahltan elders who have camped at the entry road to the Red Chris Mine since August after the Mount Polley disaster and these good folks are determined not to let this happen to them. Imperial Metals is the company they are effectively blocking. This was a highlight of the trip for me, as I have been following them on Facebook and what they are fighting for, the advances, the setbacks and the small victories. They are costing Imperial Metals lots of money by blocking this one road.

After Dease Lake, we carried on to Prince George. It is a city of sorts, but we felt uneasy about parking our van in a parking lot downtown for the night and to be honest, I knew I still had a few hours of driving left in me and I didn't want to waste them.We also happenned google some really alarming crime rates about this city so we went with my gut feelings on this one. If we add a few highway hours every so often, we can effectively cut out a couple days which means less money spent on accommodations.

Onwards we went, through to a lovely town called McBride. We checked in and saw the light was still good, a pink hue just starting at the mountain tops, so we decided to hustle and go do some fishing! Molly and I piled into the car, and Oscar walked around the fron. I saw him stop, look at me, look down and motion me to pop the hood. Everything in me sank. We had a radiator leak.

We decided two things: we cannot do anything until it's looked at by a mechanic - could be a small fix or could be huge fix but why spend our night thinking the worst. So we didnt worry. We kept blocking it from our brains.

We found a shop willing to squeeze our van in and look Turned out to be a $40 fix. We actually really liked McBride, and had this been another huge expense, well we said we start looking for a place to live there and a couple jobs. Hah! Lucky for us though, we could keep moving. By 3:00pm, we were on our way to Hinton, Alberta at the top of the Rockies. We had an appointment with a Canadian Tire and we decided to keep it, as we felt the transmission was also acting alittle wonky on us. Spent the night in Hinton, and the next morning after topping our floods and doing a diagnostic check on Cara the Van, they said we were fit to hit the road again. By 1030am, we made a decision on the spot and decided to not take the upper route through Edmonton to Saskatachewan, we say, hey, let's drive through Jasper and the mountains again! When you get the chance, do it! This drive should be on your bucket list to see.

We Are Laguan With The Wind...