Monday, July 9, 2018

Camping With the Kiddles

Camping might just be the quintessential Canadian pastime. That is what we have been up to this past week. We went camping with my daughter's family at a lake on the northern part of the Island.

Yes, I did mean to type "kiddles." It rhymes with "littles." We were camping with the grandchildren, which is the best kind of camping of all.

The Belly Boats and Kate

We brought our dog Kate along with us. Of course, it was not without incident. She began breathing in a laboured way on Thursday, just before the long weekend, and we planned to leave Monday morning. A visit to the vet on Friday provided reassurance and we purchased some expensive anti-inflamatory medication and an analgesic. Her breathing immediately went back to normal and she seemed fine throughout the trip, cavorting around like a dog half her age.

Rob Fishing in the Belly Boat
The belly boats had been packed away since the move. It was great fun to get out on the lake in them and do some fly fishing. We were fortunate to have several days of glorious sunshine. Although it was obvious that the lake was full of fish as they were rising all around us, we only hooked one fish, but I lost it. However, the loons on the lake looked sleek and well-fed.

Beach Time
The little lake had a large area with a sandy beach, and it was terrific for swimming. The beach was also a good place for building sand castles. Our double campsite was right by the lake and it had its own little beach area.

On a Hike. The Pilings in the Water Were Supports for a Bridge Built During the Early Logging Years.
We went on several short hikes while we were there. Our small lake was situated beside a much larger lake which is part of the Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit, a 48 kilometer loop. Of this, 40 km is paddling and there is 8 km of portage. We paddled the Bowron Lakes circuit in central BC several years ago and had a wonderful time, so we feel tempted to do this one now!

In the Camper One Rainy Afternoon
The boys had their bikes along and spent some happy hours riding up and down the gravel road through the campground. We had one afternoon and night of rain. It was a perfect opportunity to retreat to the camper and read, play cards, and play early literacy games. There was no wifi or cell service. (Yay!)

We Spent Time Around the Campfire
As the forests are not dry at this time, there were no restrictions on campfires.

Enjoying some fresh BC Cherries
There were cherries!

Roasting Marshmallows
There were marshmallows!

More Marshmallows
There were S'Mores! In case you are wondering what S'Mores are, they are melted marshmallows layered with chocolate inside of graham crackers, kind of like a sandwich. The chocolate melts because it is close to the hot marshmallow. Yum!


And More Marshmallows
The boys were thrilled so see their uncle when he was able to join us at the campground for the last two nights.

The Sun Going Down
The last night at the lake provided some great photo ops. There was a beautiful sky as the sun set.

Sitting Around the Campfire
If going camping is the quintessential Canadian summer experience, then sitting around a campfire at night staring into the flames and enjoying a beverage or two is the quintessential camping activity. We turned our Canada Day celebration into a Canada week!

Monday, July 2, 2018

It's Been a Year!

Today is July 1, Canada Day. On this day, Canadians are celebrating Canada's 151st birthday. This date is also meaningful to me for personal reasons.

It has been quite the year! Exactly a year ago today was my first day of retirement. It was also the day that we took possession of our new house on Vancouver Island. So, on this significant anniversary, I will dedicate this blog post to a romp through some highlights of the past year.

July

Celebrating 150 Years Since Confederation on July 1, 2017
In July last year, we drove out to the Island to sign the final documents and take possession of our new house. Then we raced east back to our house on the prairies to finalize the sale for our house there, to pack, and to move. The moving truck loaded up our belongings on July 25. During that month, amidst the emotions and exhaustion of preparing to move, we took time to enjoy some of our favourite things one last time.

August

August, of course, also was devoted to moving, except this time to unpacking what we had just packed up, and setting up our new home. We spent all of 12 days moving in and unpacking, then we were off again on a three-week camper trip to northern BC! We attended a wedding and visited with lots of friends and family. We especially had fun with our other set of grand kids -- who had also just moved into a different house. We attended a Fall Fair and also managed to fit in a hike or two.

A Hike with my Brother. Looking across the Valley at Hudson Bay Mountain.
September

In September, we finally stopped racing around all over the country and began to settle into our new community and new life. We were thrilled to discover that where our house is located in a rural area, there is an elaborate network of walking trails right outside our door.

A Favourite Local Trail
 September gave me a chance to get a first glimpse of what retired life might be like for me. I wrote about the relaxed pace of a typical day, which is a huge contrast to the intensity of the long hours of work that I was used to. Instead of the possible difficult transition that I predicted, as I wrote about about in a guest post (drafted in June and posted in September), I found that I was enjoying retirement very much indeed!

October

At the Pumpkin Farm
Of course, the best thing of all about our new location is lots of family time. For example, one glorious October day, I went to a pumpkin farm and corn maze with my grandsons and their parents. I also participated in an art show as a guest artist.

November

Snow in Our Garden in November
 In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo and added another 40,000 words to my novel. My daughter hosted organized and hosted an art show in Vancouver featuring 23 international gif artists, and I attended.  November also included a surprise trip to Hanover, Germany, for a film festival where my daughter showed her work. We followed that up with a visit to Berlin.

Erica at the International GIF Fest
December

In December, we visited Vancouver again and saw the Cirque du Soleil's Kurios show.

We Enjoyed the Show
December was a whirl of activity, including a family skate party, skiing, family coming to spend Christmas with us, and of course, a big family dinner.

Family Skating Party
January

In January, we really settled into our new life. We enjoyed spending time with the grand kids, as well as lots of walks and trips to the ski hill. When it rained nonstop for the last two weeks in January, we went to the furniture shop and bought new living room furniture. (See, that's what too much rain can do to you!)

We Love the Local Ski Hill
February

February involved lots of hikes, lots of skiing, lots of time with the grand kids, time spent with friends, yoga, volunteer work, and time to read. So this is what it's like when you have time for a real life!

Fun at the Playground


March

We went skiing on average once a week from January through April. We have made new friends here who like to ski. I joined a local group of artists and spent lots of time getting ready for an art show in April, and working with Erica to build an art website.

Rathtrevor Beach
April

I joined a writers' group, and started working on my novel again. I showed my paintings at a weekend art show.

Easter Egg Hunt
May

I set up a studio and gallery named Notch Hill Art, and launched the website.

Ocean Sunset
June

I certainly have not lacked for things to do this first year of retirement. Considering how concerned I was about making the leap to retirement, I have to say that I am the most surprised of everyone to discover how much I love being retired.

Kate Enjoys my Retirement Too
It has been interesting to look back over the year. Despite the stresses of packing up and moving to a new place, and despite my fears about throwing my career away if I retired, I would have to say that my retirement transition has been extremely positive this first year. I am glad that I retired, and I really like living on Vancouver Island!