Fort Langley – Days 61 & 62

This is a very special post because Isabella wanted to share her thoughts about our next destination herself. She felt so strongly that Fort Langley was a key destination that she is sharing this journal entry.

Fort Langley once was a trading fort. The settlers who lived there would exchange things with the First Nations people. The First Nations people would have furs, fish and cranberries which they traded for metal tools, blankets and rope.

The tents were truly in the middle of the fort
Dad loved having keys to a National Historical Site.

Today, Fort Langley is a National Historical site outside of Vancouver. Not only can you visit Fort Langley but you can you can also stay in an Otentik inside the fort. There are only 5 tents inside but we got one for two nights. Dad was so happy because he had keys to the fort!

At 5 o’clock, the fort closed so the kids staying there could go into any of the open exhibits and could bike everywhere like to the gold panning station and to the bunnies. Fort Langley was a huge play pen so I just got on my bike and said bye to mom and dad and went over to the goats.

Isabella carrying furs to complete her Xplorer booklet

We learned a lot about people at the fort like the cooper (he makes barrels), the steward (he makes the food) and the blacksmith (he makes the metal tools). There was also a garden and animals like bunnies, goats and sheep.

Once the fort closed, the kids could ride their bikes anywhere.

One of my favourite parts of visiting national historical sites is collecting dog tags. To get dog tags, you have to do a Parka or Explorers booklet which teaches us stuff and is absolutely fun. In this booklet, I had to be a cooper, steward, the master and a trader (carrying an enormous bundle of furs on my back).

Fort Langley, in my opinion, was the best place we ever camped.

Names Isabella gave the animals:

  • Goats: Talker, Walker, Soccer & Locker
  • Bunnies: Dots, Snowy and Snowflake
  • Sheep: Wooly and Mully

By the numbers:

  • Number of nuggets we found in the gold panning station: 4
  • Age kids started work at the fort: 5
  • Times we visited the pool nearby: 2
  • Hours we’ve driven so far: 200



Salt Spring Island – A Return Home of Sorts- Days 52-57

My family had a summer cottage on Saltspring Island for 24 years.  My dad used to spend a few months on the island every summer (when his television program was on hiatus) and the rest of us used to come for two weeks every July.  I lost my dad when I was 17 but there’s nowhere that I have fonder memories of him than on Saltspring Island.  I think of him teaching me to drive a boat, catch crabs and drive a Yamaha scooter (well before I turned 16). I have such happy memories of the place that I was terrified to go back as a tourist without a “home” to stay. Yet my desire to show the place to the girls outweighed this fear.  To make it even more special, my brother flew to BC for a long weekend to be able to return with us.  We rented side-by-side Airbnbs (on a different part of the island from our old cottage) and we crossed our fingers hoping that the trip would bring happy new memories and not just make us sad.

The magic of Saltspring was still there.  Leif and I were reminded of all the things we loved about the place and we weren’t sad -only grateful for getting to spend so much of our childhood here.  We were shocked at how much was the same after 8 years but also managed to find some new island gems.

A little about Saltspring Island

It is a relatively large island between Vancouver and Vancouver Island (you must take a ferry or float plane to get there).  The island has a history of farming and it is very pastoral in appearance.  In the 1960s, Saltspring became a haven for artists and hippies seeking an alternative lifestyle and this culture very much still exists on parts of the island.  It became a “cottage destination” for people from Vancouver and Victoria. Impressive houses have been built on many of the waterfront properties.    

A few things that I love and reasons to visit Saltspring

The ocean: Muskoka might have stunning lakes but Saltspring has the ocean (which is better!).  My kids checked out a different beach each day.  The girls seemed a little young to explore the open ocean but next time we’ll have them kayaking around the bays!  Tidepools, spitting clams, crabbing from the pier – it is all magical. We especially loved our hike in Ruckle Park -somewhere we had never discovered in our decades visiting the island.

Mike eating a tart at the market

Farmers’ markets: I love a good farmer’s market but the Saltspring one will always be my favourite.  Some years there is one market per week but currently, there are two (one for all things touristy on Saturdays and one for food on Tuesdays).  Since Saltspring remains a mecca for artists, you’ll often find them selling their creations at the market so you can find everything from tie-dyed clothes to silver jewellery to Tony’s Tarts (Mike’s choice)!

A fun town to explore: When it comes to cottaging, I get antsy when there isn’t a cute town to visit because I grew up with Ganges as my example. Whether it is buying groceries, looking at galleries or shopping for a new book, Ganges is a great little town. I had fun going to all the old shops that we used to visit and checking out the new ones too. We had a great meal at the new Wild Cider (apparently it has been there for 8 years but it was new to us!). I also discovered Boogaloo Bubbywear which is my new favourite bamboo kids’ clothes brand – affordable and made in Canada.

Island Time: This is something that I often associate with the Caribbean but Saltspring has its own version of Island time.  Here are a few rules that I had to teach Mike who kept saying “we can go there later”.  Ignore posted opening hours because they are almost never correct.  A store may say that it is open until 5 pm but it may well close at 3:30. If it is open, you should visit it now because it may well never be open again for many days. Next, do not think that things will be open because it is the weekend (i.e. the busiest time on the island).  Popular places like the bakery are closed on the weekend because they do not want to deal with the crowds. Lastly, go with the flow on Saltspring. We saw a sign saying that the local camp still had spots. We ended up signing up the kids for two days which might have been their best camp of the summer. They visited with the local firefighters and learned a great deal. They had a leader named Soleil who had died her hair like a watermelon (including the black seeds). I am now going to spend the next year convincing Isabella that she cannot have watermelon hair.

Overall Saltspring was great. My brother’s visit was the highlight and we’ll miss him as we head off to the mainland again. Are we really heading east now? Yikes! P.S. Some of you may notice that we’re a little behind with the blog but I am going to publish how far behind we are so that we have pressure to catch up.

By the numbers:

  • Times we ate a the Treehouse Cafe: 3
  • David Wood Saltspring Cheese‘s consumed by Mike: 3 plus the cheese we ate while we visited the farm
  • How long it takes Saltspring’s fastest Fire Fighter to get dressed: 48 seconds
  • Number of people who went in the hot tub at Uncle Leif’s Airbnb: 2 (you can guess who they were)
  • Number of times we said we missed uncle Leif after he left: too many to count
  • Blog Posts Overdue: 7 (Vancouver, Fort Langley, Vernon, Jasper, Banff, Calgary, Dinosaurs and Grasslands)

Where we stayed (five words or less):

Orchard Cabin: Too Small but Great Location

Wildlife Spotted:

  • Deer
  • Tide Pool Critters
  • Free Range Farm Animals: Turkeys, Sheep, Goats
  • 2 Free Range Kids
After camp pickup
Bathing suits, facepaint and balloon animals!

Tofino and Pacific Rim – Days 38 – 41

Let’s start by saying 4 days in Tofino ain’t bad (even if you are not a surfer).

We woke up in the morning after our ferry to Port Hardy and blitzed to Tofino. We stopped only in Coombs to find a cute market with goats on the roof that we remembered from our last trip to Vancouver Island. Instead of a quaint market, we found a zoo of shops selling every piece of tourist junk you could find. Our ice cream hole-in-the-wall was replaced by a gelato store trying to look like a french cafe. It’s one of those dangers of going back to places you’ve been to before. Your awesome memories get replaced by new crappy ones. Oh please … do not ruin the “Mike and Paige newly in love memories” from Tofino!

We started our adventure in Tofino with a resort with a view of the beach -one night to relax, have a nice shower and prepare ourselves for camping again. We used our Best Western points (from 10 days of staying in Best Westerns earlier) which got us a free night (saving budget for Tofino dining!) We loved our beach room but we were equally excited to move to Pacific Rim campground the next day. This is probably the hardest campground in Canada to book. Reminiscent of booking early rounds of COVID vaccines, you wake up early on a special day and log in to get your place in line (in our case it was 1500 and something). We were so excited when Mike snagged one of the 114 spots.

Girls were ready for a beach
Julie with surfers in the distance

It’s hard to forget the first time that you see Long Beach in Pacific Rim National park. Imagine a 16km strip of undeveloped beach with the backdrop of a lush emerald green rainforest. There’s practically no one on the soft sand beach and the ocean (albeit chilly) has the perfect waves for playing with the kids. The only complaint people have about this paradise is that you very rarely see the sun. Somehow we got 4 days of total sunshine and it only rained as we packed up our gear on the last morning. Michael spent hours jumping in the waves with two little girls (who only agreed to wear their wetsuits after their lips were a dark shade of purple).

Julie in tree picture for scale

Our campsite was up a trail in the rainforest with trees that seemed straight out of Cathedral Grove. Bears, cougars and wolves frequent the park and so the park staff are vigilant about keeping a BARE campsite. I had never seen anything like these little golf carts driving up and down the path ready to pounce on any left-behind water bottle or bottle of shampoo. The park staff wants to ensure that the wildlife stays very far away from people to avoid having to deal with wildlife that is not afraid of us. We heard stories of emboldened wolves a few years ago that had to be put down because they were attacking pet dogs (on leashes). We never saw any scary animals but went on a guided hike and found their tracks which kept my bear spray tight in hand when venturing out after dark.

Isabella and Julie’s tidepool obsession began here after visiting Chesterman Beach’s rocky outcrops at low tide. They saw everything from anemones, crabs, barnacles and mussels. Isabella did get a scraped arm in all the excitement (there was little chance of avoiding it) but all we heard for days after was “when can we see tide pools again?” I was sad to learn that sea star wasting disease (hadn’t heard of it) has decimated the population here. We did see sea stars but far fewer than I remember.

The town of Tofino was a welcome change after being in the Northern parts of Canada for several weeks. We were suddenly in the world of kombucha and smoothies again! We scrapped the idea of cooking at the “Bare campsite” and frequented the many restaurants instead. We had four great meals in Tofino (2 of them at Shelter). Unfortunately, red tide meant that oysters were a no-go in this area but we finally got to eat BC Salmon and crab and the kids were back in the land of kids’ meals that did not always have fries on the side (Salmon and veggies was a big hit). Having just seen bears and whales, we did not find the need to go on these tours from Tofino but we just enjoyed visiting bookstores, playgrounds and coffee shops again.

Wonderfully paved route
must stop for snails!

Another huge bonus about the Tofino area is the bike paths – the best of which just opened this spring. The Canadian government spent $51 million building this path which runs for 25km and took us from our campground all the way to the Tacofino parking lot (it would have taken us right into town but my riding partner was exhausted). Isabella and I rode 15km (by far Izzie’s longest ride to date). The trail was truly spectacular including features such as boardwalks and generally great infrastructure. Seems like a hefty price tag but I can definitely think of worse things on which the government has spent a fortune.

We also did go to Ucluelet which is the town on the other side of Pacific Rim Park. They have a fabulous mini aquarium which strengthened the kids’ tide pool obsession. We went here for breakfast twice enjoying the little cafes and people-watching.

By the Numbers

  • Score for the Parks Canada Slug presentation: 10/10 – we are still being lectured about the breathing and sensing abilities of banana slugs
  • Ice Creams: 3 – we were back in the world of ice cream parlours
  • Trips into town before finding Tacofino – the famous taco truck: 4 and we never ate there (not wanting to wait 2 hours for a taco)
Slugs, slugs and more slugs

Where we stayed (five words or less):

Wildlife Seen:

  • 25+ Starfish – both the purple and orange varieties
  • Bazillion crabs – lift a rock and catch em
  • Oysters – just don’t eat them
  • Mussels – Didn’t eat em
  • Anemones – I taught Julie how to poke em
  • Beach hoppers – Julie learnt about them at a Parks Canada session
  • Barnacles – Izzy was the first to cut herself on them (wouldn’t be the last)

We made it! – Kluane National Park – Days 29-31

We planned for Kluane National Park to be the furthest point north that we’d venture before turning south. Michael had always dreamed of going to Nahanni in the NWT but when he realized that required a float plane, he decided that Kluane was a little more realistic. We were surprised to find out that my mom also dreamed of seeing the Yukon and its rugged wilderness. She signed up to join us for this leg after flying into Whitehorse to meet us.

Otentik at Kluane National Park

My mom is a seasoned world traveller who loves adventure but camping has never been her cup of tea. We were genuinely surprised when she agreed to stay in an Otentik with us at the National Park (not sure if she quite knew what she was agreeing to). While the pictures might make an Otentik seem like glamping, I can assure you that it was a rustic camping experience. There were no flush toilets within 20 km and there were a lot of bugs making it hard to be outside in the evenings. Despite the basic nature of the facilities, Kluane’s ambiance and scenery are pretty special and the camp is quirky and fun.

Our favourite park leader was Ryan

Every night there was a campfire chat hosted by a Parks Canada employee (with free tea or hot chocolate to stay warm). We learned about birds, mountains, moose, grizzlies and the First Nations people who co-manage the park. Kluane is also home to Canada’s highest peak (5,959-metre Mount Logan). It was unfortunately on the other side of the giant park and not visible from where we were at Kathleen Lake – a glacial blue/green lake like those in the Rockies. Michael did a polar plunge into the frigid water (something that he told us he would repeat each day but unsurprisingly did not).

Can you spot the bear tracks?

A highlight for me was a river raft tour (which we thought was going to be a motorized zodiac tour) but turned out to be more like a raft floating tour. The girls put paddles in a few times as we floated down the Dezadesh river and admired the scenery. We stopped and made bannock on a small island and the girls found fresh grizzly tracks in the mud. The guide brought a dog along telling us that she’ll be sure to find and alert us to any bears before they come near. We trusted him but I watched the dog sniffing quite carefully. The guide himself was very eccentric telling us about half a dozen different lives that he had lived before becoming a guide (everything from special operations in the British military to teacher to Oxford University student).

Julie making bannock

We also took a waking tour with Lionel from Belgium – a recent Yukon transplant. We started by driving across a creek in his Toyota Rav 4 then we hiked to Alsek glacier valley.  The kids had walking poles and we all jumped over creeks and small streams. Some of us (not naming names) got their feet wet! By the end of the hike, Julie was an expert creek jumper and Isabella was a seasoned pole-vaulter.  In a different life, we would have just continued the hike (which veered up a spectacular mountain) but instead we turned around since Julie was approaching her 3 km limit.

Overall we felt humbled to visit this part of the Yukon and so grateful to have experienced it with Mom/Pat/Nan. We know that the kids will have lots of memories from here too. Julie still asks about having bannock again and Isabella asks when we can jump over rivers again!

Animals Seen:

  • 1 big black bear
  • 1 grizzly bear: I am not sure what “Kluane has North America’s most genetically diverse grizzly population” means but we were reminded often of this while we were there.
  • 1 bat: did not eat enough of those mosquitos
  • 1 elk
  • 1 Bald Eagle
  • Dahl Sheep (specks on a hill that we watched with binoculars)

By the Numbers:

  • Total Kilometres: 8100
  • Number of visits to Village Bakery in Hains Junction: 3
  • Number of Nanaimo bars consumed by Mike at the Village Bakery: 3
  • Number of Nights Paige let Isabella sleep on the top bunk: 1 (but I barricaded her with a broom to make she would not roll out)
  • Cans of bug spray finished: 2
  • Pieces of bannock that Julie ate (they were large): 3


Whitehorse – Airbnb time – Day 26-28

A common question we get is whether we book everything in advance or if we just find places to stay as we go.  It has been a mix of both but when you end up with an Airbnb as good as the one we had in Whitehorse, you come to appreciate the “book early and find the most awesome place”.  We knew that my mom would be joining us for part of the time in Whitehorse so we booked a nicer place than we usually do. Even still, this place far exceeded our expectations.  It was a two-bedroom penthouse condo (3rd floor but that’s high for Whitehorse) with a great kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows.  It was really nice having our own space for 3 nights in a row.  It made us concentrate all the more to book longer stays in one place.

The most striking thing you notice in Whitehorse is the sunset at 11 pm.  Getting kids to bed is pretty challenging when 10 pm still feels like midday.  The condo had blackout curtains but also had a wraparound balcony and we liked the bizarre feeling of sunlight at all hours so we rarely shut the curtains.

Whitehorse also surprised us because it felt less isolated than we would have expected.  We had been driving through remote areas that felt very remote with things like exorbitant prices on fruit and 5 oil worker trucks for every car.  Whitehorse did not feel remote.  The grocery store had the best selection of organic and gourmet food that I’d seen since Toronto.  The Kind Cafe next door to our condo offered 4 kinds of milk and “dairy” seemed to be far less popular than oat or almond milk.  I even got to have an avocado toast with pomegranate, dukkah and pickled onion. Yummy.

Now on to what we did in Whitehorse. I am working to overcome my fear of bears but as we are now firmly in grizzly country, I finally bought a bear spray.  Most hikers here seem to carry one so I felt justified in having one too.  Hiking in and around Whitehorse is magical.  Michael and Izzie did an early morning walk down the Yukon River while Julie was still asleep (not surprising since it took until midnight to get her to sleep in the “daylight”).  We also did a walk on the cliffs overlooking the town and the majestic river (and for the record, it is as majestic as you imagine it to be). But the best hike of all was the guided tour we took in Miles Canyon.  The Yukon Conservation Society offers these free tours and we saw a notice pinned up in the visitor centre.  Given my fear of hiking around bears, I jumped at the idea of going with a group and a guide.  The guides that we had were not native Yukoners (they said that the society had trouble finding locals this year due to the labour shortage) but they had just completed an intensive training course on the flora of the Yukon.  They taught us to identify lots of plants and trees and the kids were in heaven soaking up the knowledge.  For the rest of our time in the Yukon, Izzie and Julie would quiz us on the sunscreen properties of the trembling aspen or the way to correctly identify a lodgepole pine.

Fish Ladder: This ladder was built to help salmon who are returning to their spawning ground after a dam was built which blocked their route. It is the longest wooden fish ladder in the world.  The first day that we tried to visit, we couldn’t because a beaver had decided to perch himself on the tourist boardwalk.  It was a first for us -closed because of beaver!  A few days later we returned and we were able to see the ladder and its workings.  The Chinook salmon run is about two weeks away though so only a few lonely fish were using the ladder.  

Canada Games Centre: For a travelling family, a great pool is an awesome find.  I do not think that I have ever been to a better pool than this one.  It had a waterslide, a sauna, a hot tub and most exciting of all a jet-powered lazy river.  The kids went twice.

We also visited the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre – a first nations spot with a collection of Native Art. Julie just loved watching artists there doing beading.

For the three days in Whitehorse, I cooked and we ate “normal for us” meals which was a treat.  It made us realize that an Airbnb nice enough that I want to cook saves us in restaurant bills.  However, the grocery bill does increase (as does the stockpile of things that I keep in the cooler).  My cousin already told me that soya sauce might not be an item that every camper carries with them across the country.  I’m glad she saw the cooler before Whitehorse when Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and other “staples” were added.  Essential right?

By the Numbers:

  • Total Kilometres: 7556km
  • Bags of English Peas Consumed: 3 (along with 3 trips to the BC fruit stand)
  • Bear Spray Purchased: 1
  • Pamphlets collected at tourist information: At least 12
  • Number of times Mike asked if I had written “By the Numbers” while I wrote this post: 5

Life in the Prairies – Saskatchewan – Days 18-20

Entering Saskatchewan, I always feel a weird sense of belonging since my parents were both from here. Isabella has been to the “Land of Living Skies” before but Julie had not. Thankfully both girls have now been to 5 provinces and there is no sibling rivalry.

I drove a decent chunk of the drive to Saskatoon from Yorkton (where we made a stop at Wal-mart to replace the bell that had broken off Julie’s bike). I love driving on the prairies; you just set the cruise control and stare ahead at the interesting clouds and occasional grain elevator. It was a long but pleasant drive.

We stayed at a hotel in Saskatoon. We’ve been staying at Best Westerns since they seem to always have exciting waterslides in addition to their free breakfasts. The kids took Mike to the pool within 10 minutes of checking it. I’ve somehow been able to avoid the hotel pools so far because of Mike’s FOMO.

We went to a Mediterranean restaurant as I am continuously trying to feed the kids enough vegetables. I thought that keeping away from the bad foods (fries, baked goods) was going to be the hard part but I have discovered that actually finding enough of the good stuff is harder. You can only eat so many cucumbers and carrots in the backseat and the side garden salad gets old quickly. I miss cooked veggies! Anyhow we had a nice dinner with vegetables included and then relaxed in the hotel.

We have been to Saskatoon before so felt less pressure to do everything. Instead we parked the car on the fringe of the University of Saskatchewan campus (where my parents met) and rode our bikes across the river into town. We spent most of the day at the Central Library doing research on prairie dogs. Animals seem to peak our eldest daughter’s interest more than any other topic. She read, wrote notes and then did her school assignment about prairie dogs with little complaining. It made our bike ride home more interesting as we examined the animals’ burrows and noticed things that we’d learned about. We are growing to love the “hang out in a library” stop.

We had trouble finding a lunch spot but eventually settled into an Afghan restaurant which the kids both agreed was their best meal of the trip so far. Our kids’ palates continue to make us laugh as it becomes more and more clear that they grew up in Toronto eating a lot of different foods. Isabella will not eat a cold cut but give her some shawarma and she’s good to go.

Later that evening we went to Fuddruckers which is a Saskatchewan memory from my childhood. Although the Regina outpost no longer exists, we were lucky that Saskatoon still has a location. It was exactly as I remembered it and we gave a silly name but Isabella told me she was embarrassed when she had to go to the counter and pick up Gummy Bear’s order! The girls made swamp water and the whole experience just made me smile and remember trips there with my great aunt and cousins.

We left Saskatoon the next day but not before a trip to the berry patch to pick Saskatoon berries. We literally picked a pail for which we were charged $11 and given 2 packs of candy and 2 freezies. Our Toronto perception of what things cost is being challenged in Manitoba and Saskatchewan! It got us in trouble when we ordered the $40 fish and chip meal which could have fed 8 adults!

Anyhow we finished our Saskatchewan jaunt with a trip to the Western Development museum outpost in North Battleford. Imagine a prairie pioneer village with all the requisite buildings : general store, blacksmith, church, schoolhouse, etc. I was fascinated by the grain elevator which you could enter and see inside.

Outside there were some First Nations elders teaching the kids things (and me). One group was smoking a bison right there and another group was teaching about wrapping babies in moss wraps. They also taught us about the teepees that were in the yard. All in all it was a great worldschooling day.

Now we are off to Alberta!

Sault Ste Marie -Days 4-5

Driving from Timmins to Sault Ste Marie was a longer drive than we had expected (about 6.5 hours). There were not a lot of stops along the way but we did manage to stop at the Watershed Drainage Divide this time (after missing it on the way north). It is pretty awesome to think that rivers and lakes north of this line feed the Arctic Ocean as opposed to the Great Lakes.

Other interesting sights along the way include a population of white moose near Foleyet. They are not albino – they just carry a recessive gene that makes them very light in colour. I kept my eyes peeled thinking that white moose might be easier to spot than brown ones. I had no luck with white ones either.

We drove through the childhood home of my friend Kandice, a tiny hamlet called Wharncliffe and we were reminded just how small of a place it is -wow. The drive’s highlight for the kids was the Big Loonie right outside Sault Ste Marie.

The “Soo” has always been a place where Michael’s relatives spoiled him with elaborate Italian meals – this was no exception. Michael’s aunt Silvana made a delicious homemade pasta with meatballs and sausage. Luckily the kids had swum in Sil and Ernie’s pool before dinner because, afterwards, we were all in a food coma!

After getting new haircuts the next morning, we visited the Sault Ste Marie Locks which is a National Historic Site. The Historical site was partially closed but the kids still managed to find a tent with National Parks workers and collect their first “dog tags”. We suspect that they will collect many more of these as we continue west.

Whitefish Island is also nearby which is an island with a unique location between Lakes Huron and Superior. There is a rich fishery at the St. Mary’s Rapids and we even saw fishermen standing on the breakwater casting into the rapids. This island has an unfortunate history whereby it was taken from the Frist Nations who had treaty rights to the island and was only returned to their ownership quite recently. The hike around the island was full of birds and animals but we had to turn around when the boardwalk was flooded -causing lots of excitement.

We finished our time in the Soo with a meal at Auroras and some movie watching with aunt Sil. The girls also loved watching cousin Aly put on her make-up each morning we were there. Now we have at least 5 camping days ahead of us so I guess we’ll test out all the gear and hopefully we did not forget anything important. Also, let homeschooling begin!

Paige’s List for the trip

A few days in and this is my first blog post. I start a lot of posts but then always seem to get distracted by children in the backseat. Today we sit in Mike’s aunt’s backyard while the kids play soccer and I am going to try to actually finish a post. Below you’ll find my fun list of things that we want to do in the three months across Canada. Please add to our list by letting us know your suggestions in the comments below. Any not-to-be-missed experiences that you’ve had in your travels across Canada?

See a moose: Despite spending a lot of hours in a car across Canada’s north, I have never seen one in the wild. My friend Tamara once told me that it was because I never spent enough time in a canoe. We’ve already driven about 12 hours and so far the only moose I’ve seen is the stuffed one (see above) in the ice cream parlour in Sault St Marie. *Thanks for the yummy treat Auntie Sil.

Hold a starfish: Spending lots of time in BC as a child I spent a lot of time taking starfish out of crab traps. It was only when I scared Michael by lifting them on rocks that I realized most Ontario children did not play with starfish. Izzie and Julie are going to learn about petting these critters.

Catch a fish: The fishing rods did not fit in the car so this will be interesting but I think lots of provincial parks rent them out.

Read 12 books (one per week): My friend Eva gave us a reading list. I cannot wait for reading to replace TV for a while.

Julie to swim with her face in the water: She still hates getting her eyes in the water so I think that this may involve a lot of diving down and picking up toys at the bottom of the pool.

Izzie to waterski: I loved waterskiing as a kid and I hope Izzie will too.

Get Pat’s curry at the Saltspring market: We’re stopping on Saltspring Island where I used to visit every summer as a kid. My mom asked to pick up some Moonsoon Balti (a large one). I am just excited to see the Ganges market once again after so many years.

Do Pilates in 3 different cities/towns: For Mother’s Day, the kids gave me this as a gift. I cannot wait to spend some time on a reformer again.

Remove Julie’s training wheels for good: She is very close to being to ride without them and it will make Michael happy to not have to put them back on each day (they do not fit on the bike rack).

Learn about 25 animals: During homeschooling, we’ll learn about two animals each week and hopefully write a short report that we’ll add to the blog.

Have the kids write a journal: Isabella has already started her daily journal which I wanted to be physical but the pull of imagery with the iPad may make it an online journal. I guess it will be less paper to carry and make it easier to syndicate to grandparents.

Send lots of postcards: We rarely get postcards anymore but I loved writing them as a kid. Get ready to receive a lot of postcards from Julie using all her new sight words!

Eat BC peaches in BC: I realized yesterday that we’ll probably miss BC cherry season but I hope that we make it there for peaches.

Pick blackberries: I love picking from those bushes along the side of the road on Vancouver Island. Isabella’s favourite fruit is blackberries so I hope we find some.

See a whale: Do you think that we’ll be lucky enough to see an Orca on one of our ferry rides?

Zodiac ride on a Yukon river: Getting the family out on the water seems exciting in the land of grizzly bears.

Visit a hot spring: We’ve done this in other parts of the world but the kids would not remember it. I love finding a hole in the earth and soaking sore camping muscles.

Go to the Olive Garden and Fuddruckers: Mike and I have different childhood memories when it comes to family restaurants. He loves the Olive Garden with its breadsticks and “Tour of Italy” trio. I remember my great Aunt Carrie taking me for Burgers at Fuddruckers with my cousins. We would tell the cashier that her name was “Michael Jackson” and laugh hysterically as she was called to the cash. The Regina location is gone but there seems to be one in Saskatoon.

See our new baby cousins: My cousin Jill has had two kids who we’ve not seen. My girls cannot wait to meet Henry and Halle.

Teach Izzie some Canadian history and geography: I brought a Canadian Kids Atlas (which took up too much space according to Michael) because I wanted to teach the kids about where we are driving and some of the history of our Country

Get zero speeding tickets: A lot of kilometres ahead of us and we need to learn to slow down and enjoy the journey.

Finish B level books with Julie: Julie learned to read all the A books. If the Canadian leg is the Bs then we can move onto Cs in Colombia. Seems right!

Read or listen to the first Harry Potter books: I borrowed the first few as audiobooks from the Toronto Library. Since I get sick when reading in the car, I thought that this might be a fun way to start the Harry Potter series. We are two chapters in and Izzie is loving it while Julie has trouble following the quick-speaking British reader.

International Itinerary – 66 days to go

One of our dreams for this adventure is that friends and family will join us in different places around the world. Whether you have a week or just a few days, we’d love to meet you somewhere.  If any of the locations below appeal, let us know soon (before I go ahead and book a tiny bachelor apartment there).

Some of our family have already signed up to join us in different places. My mom is coming to the Yukon, Bali and somewhere in Europe. My brother and sister-in-law are also coming to Bali for Christmas together. Mike’s sister is planning to come to Australia to discover kangaroos and koalas with the girls.

I know that others were waiting for our itinerary to be a little more locked down before making a plan to join us somewhere. Well here’s the plan! We are still flexible in our locations, especially for the second part of the trip. For example, we plan to spend spring in Spain but if someone we knew wanted to go to Croatia or Greece with us for a week then we’d probably just change the itinerary.

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A little about us – 117 days to go

Sledding in Austria

Ok so I’ve written my first blog post. Here we go!

Mike and I have both always loved to travel.  I was fortunate enough to travel a lot with my family when I was growing up as my dad was a journalist who, in addition to loving travel, also accumulated a lot of frequent flyer points. My mom loved to plan trips and she was very good at dreaming up journeys and booking itineraries. We rarely did the all-inclusive type of travel and instead visited destinations that were a little off the beaten path and less frequented by tourists.

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