Hello there – we have missed you! Feels like we are back talking to old friends again. Speaking of which, we saw lots of family and friends over the last month+. That has helped with our gradual ease back into reality. Having loved ones around again, sharing stories of our year and theirs while we were still in our relaxed, holiday mode, has been awesome.
It was not all fun and games though; I used this time to update my resume and fired off a couple of applications. Ah, the dreaded task of job hunting and interviews. Joe however, is looking forward to being an ‘at home retiree’. His first year of retirement was pretty fast paced but he’s not complaining!
Here’s what we’ve been up to….
Rome to Toronto Aug 15
The 9.5 hour flight from Rome to Toronto seemed incredibly long. I was crammed into the middle seat with my elbows pressed into my sides. My plans of working on the blog were short lived after attempting a little thumb typing. Normally I love airplane food, but Air Transat’s meal service was not good at all. And the ‘snack’ near the end of the flight was a lifeless piece of Pizza. Nice food choice to serve coming out of Italy. We got what we paid for.
Once on the ground in Toronto, we had to flash our customs declaration form twice, but never had to speak to a Canada Customs agent. So much for wondering if our November 2, 2014 ‘departure date from Canada’ would be a red flag!
It felt great to be home!
We stayed at an apartment hotel near the airport and waited for the jet lag to hit us but it never really did! We did a little shopping at a nearby mall. Now that we were back in Canada, our ‘joined at the hip’ days will decrease and we need more than one phone. (Wish I had this iPhone 6 camera on our trip!) We picked up a few (fat) clothes to make it through the visiting portion of our trip. We had A&W for lunch – OMG so bad yet so good!
What a great dinner we had with Joe’s former colleague Daria and her husband Peter. The German restaurant they selected was featured on Diners and Dives and the food was great! ( I speak for myself when I say especially the roll mops.)
It was nice to see Daria and Joe catch up and reminisce about the good times in the video days. I think I captured the respect and integrity they have for each other in this picture. It was so nice to finally meet you Daria and Peter!
I had a delicious Thai lunch with my long lost cousin Janice, the ‘crazy dog lady’. Janice travels to Mexico frequently and not only transports needed veterinarian supplies, but returns with rescued dogs as well. A true animal lover with a heart of gold! Janice and I figured it had been 40 years since we last saw each other so we had a lot of catching up to do!
Can you see the family resemblance?
The Thai food was so good, Joe and I returned there the next day. We could understand conversations at nearby tables and boy did it seem strange! We sure missed and rapidly consumed, the variety of foods available in Canada.
Hail Caesar! We missed these….
Joe has a brother in Calgary and I have two brothers and two sisters. This visit was long overdue. We were greeted at the airport by my little Sista Jackie and hubby Claude and were whisked away for two days of good food, wine and laughs at their home.
They were great hosts – Jackie even gave us her car to use while we were in Calgary!
Their house is near a wonderful walk along the Bow River.
Jackie and Claude were pet sitting my nephew Bradon’s dog, Archie. Such a cute and rambunctious little fellow.
But would have preferred my new Great Nephew Oliver who was travelling with Mom, Kristin. Borrowed some pics of Mr. Adorable:
We had lunch with Joe’s brother Gerry, along with his friend Harvey.
We also had lunch with Terry McArther, a dear old friend from our Kelly’s Stereo Mart days. So great to reminisce about the record business in the 70′s and 80′s.
The next two days we spent at Sista Bonnie and Doug’s house in Dewinton; now barely outside of Calgary.
Calgary is a quick change artist when it comes to weather and right on cue and before our eyes, it went from sunny to clouds to raining to SNOWING.
Joe and I had barely recovered from the heat wave in Italy and were totally confused to see snow. It was August 21 afterall. Luckily it was short lived and warmed up nicely the following day.
We walked the back roads with Bonnie both mornings where we had a good view of the now white peaked Rocky Mountains.
Good clean country air. The city limits are moving in and some farm houses are being dwarfed by mansions. This is the barn on this estate:
Plus the spacious home:
Downtown Calgary in the clearing:
Thirty family members of the Calgary Crew came for potluck dinner our last night in town. That also included some second cousins from Washington State we hadn’t seen in decades that were guests of cousin Kevin and Leanna. Dinner included a smoked turkey, two varieties of smoked salmon, meatballs, braised beef, fantastic salads, and home made breads and buns. It was so nice to see my four Alberta siblings, niece and nephews and all of their families.
We left Calgary in our smoke, actually Washington’s smoke, where it more than lingered for several weeks.
How exciting it was to arrive at the airport in Vancouver where we were greeted by Jordan, Amy and Spencer (Lindsay was working). We got some pretty long awaited and much needed hugs that day! Mint also assisted in our pickup:
Our Airbnb was across from Science World. Another great apartment half way between both boys but a tad too close to the waffling smells from the McDonald’s next door. We loved our morning walk / run along the seawall in the morning. Such an inspiring city when you know it is time to get your rear in gear again.
Jordan took this fantastic shot with Amy’s help:
Spencer and Lindsay used / stored our Jeep while we were away but we ‘confiscated’ it this week. We took a day trip to Campbell River to see Joe’s sister Dorothy and hubby Walter. Dorothy has had her share of health issues this year and on top of it, Walter was hospitalized for several months and is now residing in a care home. We were so happy to be able to spend the day with them.
Update: Saddly on October 1, Walter passed away. He was a great husband, father, brother-in-law and Uncle. He will be forever missed. xoxo
We spent lots of time with the kids during the week, even with them all working. We visited at each of the couples homes and met for a few dinners as well.
We were happy we finally got to meet Mint!
One morning we met our West Kelowna next door neighbours for breakfast! Carolyn, Rod and Paige happened to be in Vancouver so we were thrilled to see our great friends:
Terry Cullen came downtown to represent the Weyburn friends and we shared some stories and laughs.
Andra and Cliff Dunn shared part of their busy weekend with us over lunch. What amazing adventures they just had in Indonesia! (Borrowed their Facebook pic):
We even went to the PNE! We used to go every 10 years or so; it was surprisingly pretty much the same. The free trolley service and cheap entrance fees made for an enjoyable afternoon. We splurged $3 to tour a Beatles Display and wandered around the midway.
Our wardrobe became somewhat limiting as we had returned our warm clothes in favour of summer cool ones. Luckily Bonnie lent me a sweater which I lived in. Our last night in town there was a fierce wind and rain storm but the six of us went out for a nice dinner in spite of it. We were happy we also got one family game night in - if you haven’t tried ‘Head’s Up’, get the app! It is so entertaining!
The storm turned out to be Vancouver’s worst in 10 years! Areas of the coast got more rain in 3 days than the entire summer. Trees were uprooted by the wind and power lines toppled. 500,000 were without power, thousands for several days.
My ‘kind’ brother-in-law Doug started referring to me as a ‘black cloud’. Where the Thompson’s go, news and strange weather follows!
Our stay at the Tulalip Casino was pure luxury. We lost our slot ‘allowance’ money as expected but had fun doing it. We were in the market for new cutlery and an Espresso Machine but the Outlet Stores didn’t seem to have many bargains when the exchange was factored in. We are determined to not replace the ‘stuff’ we worked so hard to rid ourselves of but find ourselves gravitating towards it. It was a fun stay in Tulalip and we felt like travellers again.
Three and a half hours made for a long drive from Tulalip to Portland on this rainy day.
Portland was awesome and well worth the drive. It has more movie theatres, restaurants, microbrews, brewpubs and bicyclists per capita than any other U.S. city. There were so many restaurants in the ‘Alphabet District’ near where we stayed, we had a difficult time choosing where to dine. Portland is known for being ‘food-truck crazed’ and we found several groups of these in the centre of downtown:
Our kids have talked about these food trucks for years, so it was cool to see them. The trucks form a circle like wagons of days gone by. Endless choices, reasonable prices and incredibly popular. Wish I had some fish tacos right now!
Our hotel room was pretty basic, but clean and comfortable. Accommodation is not cheap in Portland so this ended up being one of the more expensive hotels on our trip. Luckily we paid for it before the Canadian dollar took the big slid into the well of hell.
Joe won’t miss this:
Just up the hill from our hotel was a lovely Rose Garden:
A little further up we visited the Japanese Gardens:
Nothing coy about these Koi – you could see and hear them feeding on some delectable greens:
Joe had visited Portland many times when Hollywood Video’s Head Office used to be in the area. He wanted me to see Powell’s Books, one of the largest new and used bookstores in the world, and one of the ‘coolest’, according to CNN. Powell’s is a full city block and 68,000 sq ft (1.6 acres) of floor space with over four million new, used, rare, and out-of-print books. The store was packed with customers – nice to see a still successful book store!
Ended our short US tour with a nice dinner at a Jazz Club which had entertaining, live music.
Our drive from Portland to Abbotsford went quickly as we were able to use the HOV and Express Lanes – fantastic!
We crossed the U.S./Canada border in the sleepy city of Lynden, WA. There were only two lanes at the crossing, each with just one car being processed. When the lane beside us opened up first, Joe backed up and pulled beside the border guard that surely worked there for 60 years.
The official approached my window, poked his head in and said to Joe in a slow, southern drawl, ‘I know what your middle name is sir, it’s impatient!” Humourous yes, but he was serious, and you never want to start off on the bad side of Canada Customs. After a few curious questions about why we had winter tires in the vehicle, we re-entered Canada for the last time.
My old friend and colleague Steve Rosset and his wife Kim met us in Abbotsford for dinner. Steve’s zest in life is mountain biking which has caused many broken bones; this time, it was his ankle. These new empty nesters were exploring BC’s wilderness in their motor home and loving it. So great to see them! Unfortunately, we spent so much time catching up, I forgot to take a picture of them but did remember a picture of our drink; what a terrible person I am!
It was a good drink though. :0
We wish we had more time to see so many other friends in Greater Vancouver. There will be many more next times!
Returning to Kelowna meant many things, one of which was THE END. In that respect, it was dread we felt for the weeks leading up to that day. We left September 4 2014 and returned on September 4 2015. IT WAS OVER. Then we changed our mindset to a more positive vibe and thought of it as a new beginning. Our travel adventure door might be partially closed (a foot is in it) but another door was wide open waiting for us.
We made it the year. We accomplished our goal. We visited 129 cities, slept in 103 beds and entered 22 different countries.
We did what we set out to do and had no regrets. So the feeling of dread was short lived and as we crossed the finish line, we were proud of ourselves.
We will touch more on feelings etc. after we have had some time to reflect. So stay tuned for yet another blog posting some time this fall.
As we drove nearer to Kelowna, I was filled with nervous excitement to see our little Salsa.
We knew she would still remember us but would she forgive us? After all, we disappeared for a year. We relied on information that dogs don’t have a good sense of time; they ‘live in the moment’. No wonder they are so happy! Guilt never entered the picture; Salsa was in the best of hands with Jan and Brian. We already considered them her co-parents and knew there would be no trauma.
She became a bigger part of their family, and always will be. They call Salsa their ‘dogter’.
Jan and I set the stage. Joe and I were standing inside the Kerr’s front entrance and Jan opened the deck door which sent Salsa Flinstoning across the hardwood floor. We called her and she ran to us, tail a wagging and many small circles spun. We were all very, very happy to see each other. Was she crying like on the Facebook videos where the vets return to their dogs? No, and I have to believe that although she missed us, she was very happy with the Kerr’s. How do you repay people for doing that? You slowly convince them that you will buy them a dog because they are meant to have one. Brian is still on the fence but when Jan finds the perfect puppy or dog, he will be all marshmallowy!
We stayed four days with the Kerr’s to allow Salsa time to adjust to our return. They were wonderful hosts and of course we were fed very well. They even hosted a party with some of our neighbourhood gang.
We are now in an Airbnb apartment in Kelowna that we rented for 2-3 months while we decided where and how we want to live.
After looking at multiple town homes and condos with our realtor for two weeks, we found and bought our perfect condo! We got our ‘walkable’ location and we will be close to the beach and downtown Kelowna. We had a pretty big checklist of must-haves and were limited by pet restrictions and very few listings, so considered ourselves incredibly lucky. Possession is mid-November giving us time to settle in before for the holidays. We are very excited about our new life style!
Gorgeous Kelowna and area from hiking trails:
My Dad and 3 of 5 sisters:
My new adorable Great Niece, Lilly and beautiful new Mom / niece Nancy:
Sista Barb and Lilly:
Enerby / Mable Lake on a sunny September afternoon:
Thriving, adopted plants:
Luck continued to be on our side when a job opportunity fell into my lap two days later. My boss, Victor, at GLH Vending, contacted me when he heard we were back and that I was job hunting. I am thrilled to rejoin my friends at GLH in a newly created marketing / merchandise position. I am already working!
As you can see, we are settling in quickly and nicely. Salsa has adjusted and enjoys her daily walks to the beach.
I am so happy that Joe will now be able to experience retirement as it should be – and he deserves it. We will have a new home, neighbourhood, I’ll be working, he’ll be homesteading. Let the new adventure begin!
I knew there had to be a reason I kept putting off completing this post – I was waiting for the happy ending….