Summer Activities (2019)

Last post we shared about our trip to San Diego and Disneyland. But it was far from the only trip we had in the summer of 2019.

On coming back from our trip to California we had Uncle Richard in town, staying for a bit over a week. Helen and Daniel were coming a few days later because they had been travelling in China. But not letting moss grow under their feet, the girls left for Kamloops with Uncle Jim and Jessica on the Thursday, just 2 days after we got back from California. Jessica would be staying to for a week with Rebecca in Kamloops while our girls (in order to see cousin Daniel and Auntie Helen) were coming back on Sunday. To achieve this on the Sunday Glen drove to the toll booth to pick up the girls who were driven there by Glen’s parents. The Britton Creek rest stop, where we had lunch, was filled with travellers some in strange cars.

The girls and dad drove back just in time for a big family BBQ at our house, and a whole lot of eating with lots of food during the week Richard and family were here (with just an occasional bit of exercise thrown in).

On Sunday a couple of days after it opened Kayla and dad took the bus to the PNE. Susan and Melissa went shopping for the day. We got in cheap, for only $2 / ticket as there was a discount if you had the PNE app installed on your phone (and for a savings of $16 / ticket, I was happy to install the app for a few hours).

While at the PNE we saw the Superdogs show. We went and visited the CTV booth and had our picture taken with Jon Montgomery from the Amazing Race Canada (well, at least a cardboard cutout of him). We didn’t just get pictures taken with cardboard cutouts, we actually did meet (and take a picture with) the real Keri Adams and Krissy Vann. Keri is the morning anchor for CTV News Vancouver, and Krissy also a reporter on the morning show. As the anchor of a show I reasonably often watch, Keri strikes me as intelligent and friendly, and she was that in real life. I’m a bit of a bumble with small talk when meeting new people (as I’m sure you all know), and I felt that way when talking with Keri, but she was friendly all the same.

Glen took some allergy medicine to avoid horse allergy problems which allowed us to go see jousting and pig races. We saw the farm animals in the barn, including a very big pig (which I didn’t get a good picture of), a very big cow, and spent some time at the bee booth. Can you believe they take a random volunteer from the crowd, spend a few minutes in preparation with them, and then place them on display in a sealed booth and give them a bee beard! Can you imagine volunteering for that? I’m not sure I would want to do that…

We went and saw Mama Lou, one of the world’s few strong woman shows, showing feats of strength and doing things like ripping up card decks and squashing (popping?) apples in her biceps. You thought getting locked in a sealed display case and having a bee beard is bad? Mama Lou’s show had something even more people would probably want to skip… They had this poor guy from the crowd go up on stage, playing along that he was an evil nemesis of Mama Lou, and had to wear an orange leotard and have a phone book tearing duel (proving that the phone book was real by not being able to rip it in half while she did). Why do I describe this in detail? “That guy” was Glen! Sadly Kayla didn’t get any pictures, I think she was more trying to sink into her seat hoping that no-one she knew would see her and find out that her dad was on stage wearing an orange leotard in a phone book ripping duel with Mama Lou! In conversation after the show, although strong and playing a bit of comedy to make a good show, Mama Lou was a nice lady.

Our time at the PNE wasn’t all high energy, we spent some time by the Lake.

We watched a bit of glass blowing and finally took the bus home.

One evening we went for a bike ride to Dairy Queen at Kensington for some ice cream, and we sent the girls in by themselves to make the purchase. I think it was the first time for them both where they went into a store by themselves and made a purchase without adult help. Thanks for the ice cream girls (OK, admittedly dad gave them the money).

The last weekend in August (ignoring the labour day weekend which will have the Saturday on the 31st) we went for our annual trip to Alice Lake with our friends Jen and Zac and their kids and about 40 of their closest friends. We had an excellent weekend as usual, although it was a bit rainy on the first day we were there. Other than the fun and good memories, I think one phrase that could describe the weekend was “bad estimating”. Glen convinced half a dozen parents to go for a hike from the campsite to Cheekye Creek. The word was we could get there in about 20 minutes. It wasn’t a huge problem, but it took us about 45 minutes to get there. But it was far from the only misestimate. The second I believe was preparation for lunch. Every year each campsite (usually 2 families per site) is assigned one meal for which they cook the meal and clean the dishes. We had Saturday lunch with Jen and Zac. We planned for lunch about 12:30. We ended up serving the meal at about 2:00. Oops! Then on Sunday morning (the day we would leave even though the campground was booked through to Monday) we went for a mountain bike ride. Rumour was we were going for an hour. It was more than three hours before we all made it back. Once again, we were the last to checkout.

One more piece of trivia about the Alice Lake trip. Mice! We suspect that when we served the meal on Saturday, we brought some mice back into our trailer in a chip bag. Melissa was the first to notice one on Saturday evening when she went in to get ready for bed. Due to our misadventures with a mouse earlier in the year at Sasquatch Provincial Park we had traps so immediately set them out. In order to try to force the mouse (all we knew about at the time) to eat the cheese in the trap, we though we would carefully examine each package of food we had in our trailer and (hopefully) transfer it without a mouse to the truck. We failed! Yes, we moved all food to the truck and saw no mouse. We obviously did a shoddy job of our search, for when Susan went to the truck to get some food she saw a mouse running around in the truck. We moved a couple of traps from the trailer to the truck. An hour later I took a look and we had caught a mouse in the truck. “Great, we got him!” I thought. I asked Susan to get me my truck keys from in the trailer so I could get rid of the caught mouse. She went in the trailer and reported that a trap in the trailer had caught another mouse. I got rid of the one in the trailer, and then went to get the one out of the truck. While doing that I saw another mouse running around in the food boxes in the truck!

I got rid of the first two and left out some traps in both the trailer and the truck. When we got up in the morning we had another caught in one of the traps in the truck!

That seemed to have been all, we never caught anymore all weekend, and had the traps out this past week while home and didn’t catch anything else. It did take a long time for us to unpack though as we upped our scrutiny in examining everything we brought in from the trailer to the house, so it took us about 3 hours on the night we came home, and then another hour a few days later when we completed emptying out the trailer and winterizing it.

Summer isn’t over, we have a cabin visit planned for this coming weekend, Labour Day, and then the girls are back in school. All for now!

Summer Vacation, 2019

Last post I mentioned we were in Richardson Park, Oregon, when I wrote the initial words. That is where I am at right now. But again, more on that later.

On Thursday, July 18, we got up at 5:30am and got away from the house in our truck, towing our trailer, at about 7:00am. We had been looking at border wait times and saw that if we got to the border early we could avoid spending an inordinate amount of time waiting in the lineup. We had thrown out the idea for discussion that it would be good if we could get away by 6:30, but being infamous for taking a long time to get going in the morning, I think getting away at 7:00 was very respectable. It mostly worked, we didn’t spend long at the border.

We took advantage of our early start to try to get some distance and I think we really succeeded. By about lunch time, we had a sense of how far we would make it and set Eugene Oregon as the proposed destination for the day. We had taken out from the library the excellent book West Coast RV Camping, by Tom Stienstra (the 2015 edition, and I kick myself as the trip ends that I see the library does have another copy which is from 2018), and looked around to see which campsites would be possible.

From our experience when we did a similar trip 5 years earlier, we had found that Saturday nights campgrounds would book up, but most other nights you could just pull into any old campground late afternoon and get a site. Since our phone company, Public Mobile, gives us a good enough deal that we had unlimited cell phone usage through the US for our entire trip, we would often make a call ahead in the morning even if we were thinking it wouldn’t be necessary to make a booking, but just to check if the reservations clerks would think it would be a good idea.

In this case, being Thursday, we thought we would be fine. The book told us about Armitage Park, part of Lane Country Parks, which we liked the sounds of. Just a bit off the I-5 just on the edge of Eugene. We called the Lane County Parks reservation line to see if the clerk thought it would be good for us to get a reservation, and were susprised when she told us that actually there were no spots available that night for Armitage Park. She suggested that Richardson Park, also part of Lane Country parks would likely be available. We called that number and the lady confirmed that they did have three spots still available and making a reservation would be unlike if we were to get there late afternoon (there was a fee to make a reservation which is why we didn’t make one).

We arrived at Richardson Park and were very impressed. Our camp site was in a quiet section of the park in the trees. Following the camp host’s suggestion, after putting up the trailer we immediately took a walk over to the lake, actually the Fern Lake Reservoir, and were happy to find a gorgeous lake that the girls were happy to put their feet in after a long hot day of driving.

Later in the evening the camp hosts were around selling firewood, and we bought some and had a nice campfire around which we roasted some marshmallows.

I also spent a few moments working on our website, and it was here that I made mention in the previous post about being in Richardson Park. Wifi was good in the park. What more could one ask for? 🙂

In the morning, we couldn’t just leave without one more visit to the lake(/reservoir) so after packing up we pulled out and drove over to the day use area parking and spent a few minutes before getting on the road. Truthfully, our tire monitoring system was telling us one of our tires was low, so we actually stopped for gas and a quick pump at the Costco in Eugene before really getting on the road.

Where would Friday take us? Knowing we had 6 days to get down to San Diego, and wanting to be aggressive in our first few days in order to spend more time in places we can’t get to easily (such as maybe San Francisco and the coast down near LA), we chose Red Bluff California as a reasonable place to target for the day. Our book told us that Sycamore Grove State Park campground might be a nice place to stay. We called the reservation line, and found that to stay here we 100% did need reservations (not because the park was going to fill up, but because that’s how this State Park works). As we were driving the last few kilometres, the area seemed more and more familiar to us. On arriving at the park, we were surprised to find that we had actually stayed in this campground before! We had stayed here five years earlier on our very similar driving trip down to Disneyland! Although the US economy by most measures is doing better than it was doing five years ago, one wouldn’t be able to tell it by the state of this particular State Park (budget constraints have been hard on this park I guess).

Sycamore Grove campground is right next to the Sacramento River by the Red Bluff Diversion Dam. When we had been here five years ago the dam was closed, this time it was open. Similar to the day before we setup and then went for a walk. Red Bluff, and specifically Sycamore Grove, is a very hot dry spot, and we took a nature trail that took us along a hot dry dusty trail where we saw a good number of lizards and desert like trees.

Unlike the pleasant bathrooms and showers we had had at Richardson Park, the Sycamore Grove washroom facilities were some of worst so in the morning we had breakfast, packed up, and got on our way.

Since we had made good time to get out of our “local neighbourhood” (anywhere we could get in a long weekend or such), we decided we would head to San Francisco for the next night. The book identified a few potential campgrounds, and after a few calls we were lucky to get a campsite in the Pelican Point RV Park in Half Moon bay. After driving for a few more hours we decided that since we had a couple of extra days before we needed to get to San Diego, we should see if we could spend a few nights in San Francisco in order to give us a full uninterrupted day there. I tried calling the campsite back to see if we could extend our stay for another night, and tried continuously for about 45 minutes only to get a busy signal every time. I gave up as we drove down the hill as we entered California. An hour or so later we tried again and this time got them. I suspect I had been calling when the office was closed and they were maybe out cleaning up spots. Susan did get us a second night booking, with the caveat that we may have to move, but they would try to move things around so we wouldn’t have to move ourselves. We were lucky, they succeeded.

As we drove towards Half Moon Bay, I had answered to the GPS that it should avoid toll roads. Susan was partly paying attention and suddenly asked where in the world it was taking us as it seemed to be taking us way down towards San Jose. We pulled off the road maybe 10 kilometres further down the road than would be sensible, reentered in the GPS that we were going to Pelican Point RV Park and gave the option that tolls would be fine, and came back and spent $16USD to cross the San Mateo Bridge. The Highway 92 San Mateo Road, up and over the a small coastal ridge was beautiful to drive. Kayla fell in love with the idea of stopping in at a roadside succulent(and carniverous) plant store every time we drove by (we never did get to stop when the place was open).

We checked in at the very nice Pelican Point RV Park late afternoon, setup, and then took our kites and followed the path down to the beach (the campground is separated from being directly beachfront by the swanky Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay golf course. All thoroughly enjoyed flying kits and jumping in the waves and revelling in the enjoyable scenery.

On the Sunday (July 21), after cleaning up after breakfast we drove into San Francisco itself.

Boat tours to Alcatraz were out of the question, booking up in the summer at least a month in advance, so we walked along the piers taking pictures, seeing some of the distinct San Francisco buildings and unique treats (we never saw Tree Man!), and rode the Powell and Hyde cable car for the full length!

We had lunch sitting in Union Square. Strolled around Macy’s (OK, maybe it was mostly to use the restrooms), toured the Dyson store, did some shopping and sightseeing at an open air market, and then walked back to Fisherman’s Pier.

We then drove up to and parked at The Presidio and were awed by and walked out on the Golden Gate Bridge.

That evening we couldn’t not go down to the beach again and enjoyed the ocean before settling down for the night and our continued road trip the next day.

Like many San Francisco beach mornings, the next morning was cool and overcast and had us taking the 101 south. By the time we stopped at a rest stop in Bradley California for lunch, the environment had changed enough that it was cooking hot at 40℃+.

We thought we would go over to the coast and maybe see the Hearst Castle. Just after Paso Robles we took highway 46 west and headed out to Highway 1 running along the coast, but since the sky along the coast was overcast, and it would be after 4:00 before we got to the Castle and would only be able to look at the Castle from the highway (and with the overcast skies who knew whether we would even see anything), we gave up the minor backtrack up the 1 and instead turned south and started to look for a place. Our turnaround on the backtrack was at the San Simeon State Park, whose sign said they had no space. The trend continued with all state parks all seeming to have a FULL sign. After failing to find a sign that showed spots available, we actually did pull into Morro Strand State Park just off the 1 to ask if there would be any state parks that would have availability so we would know whether we were just wasting our time if we had to pull off the highway. The guy in the booth smiled and told us he actually did have 4 spots, he just never bothered to go up to the highway to change the sign each day because they for certain did get full each and every day by the end of the day. So we claimed a spot and spent some gorgeous time walking on the beach, seeing sealife and fauna in general, enjoying the view, and playing in the waves. We bought some firewood and had a campfire that evening.

Our campsite was nice enough, and the next morning to celebrate Glen’s birthday breakfast was pancakes. An interesting sidenote was that there was an abandoned cat and her kittens living in the bushes right by our campsite.

After breakfast we got heading south on the 1 along the coast. Another sidenote is that where we live in Burnaby, a neighbourhood called Montecito, is full of streets (and the neighbourhood name itself) that are cities in California where we would be driving this day. A few examples are Camarillo, Capistrano, and Goleta; all of which are streets right near where we live and also cities we drove by on this day in California. The street we live on, Broadway, is of course not named after a California town; probably instead named after the more famous New York Street. We stopped in Montecito California for lunch in an oceanside park (well, top of the ocean cliffs) and got to enjoy a hike down to the ocean and some nature.

We stopped for dinner at a Costco in Laguna Niguel, on the south side of LA, and pulled into the Metro KOA in San Diego (actually south San Diego in Chula Vista), about 15km north of the Mexican border at about 9:30 that night. Setup was mostly done in the dark.

Wednesday (July 24) had us up with plans to go to the San Diego Zoo. We pulled out our tickets (all our tickets, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Sea World, Knott’s Berry Farm, Disneyland had all been bought at Ares Travel, an online ticket site that seemed to offer the best price on admission to everything (by a slight amount)) and headed off to the relatively close Zoo. Parking was free and we got into the zoo and got a good recommendation from a helpful volunteer on how to tour the park.

One of the first places we went was to see the very cute and Melissa’s absolute “must see” animal, the Red Panda. Next up to see were the elephants. We spent some time with statues and displays showing various animals, some heading towards or already extinct. Next we saw the giraffes. Tired rhinos. Hungry Zebras. After lunch as we got into the hot part of the afternoon, we tried to stay cool by staying more in the shade so started by taking a (covered) bus tour through the park. Then we saw the birds. Finally we ended the tour with the primates: gorillas and monkeys. We of course liked everybody, Red Panda a highlight, but one of the agreed upon favourites were the monkeys. We were all entertained by their playfulness, their ability to climb and be gymnastic, and actually their smarts. At one point we sat down on a bench near a very big monkey enclosure to have a snack. After a few minutes one of the monkeys came over and sat down on his side of the enclosure quite near us and stared at us as we ate for a while. A minute later he threw us some of his food. We didn’t respond in kind. So then he grabbed another bigger piece of food he had and threw it to us. We could tell he was thinking to himself that he was being nice in offering trade and was hoping we would throw some of our food to him for him to try. I’m not sure how successful he would be, but he must try it often, since there was a sign near that spot that said “Please do not feed the animals, they are on a special diet”. Somehow I suspect the zoo knew this was a favourite spot for the monkeys to try to get people to throw them food and it wasn’t the first time the monkeys had tried to trade with somebody. It was very cute.

After a full day we finally left the zoo, but didn’t immediately head back to our campsite. The zoo is immediately next door to Balboa Park, one of the parks we had on our todo list for San Diego, so having a few minutes before the sun went down we went next door (taking advantage of the “included” zoo parking) and saw the buildings and fountains in Balboa Park.

The next morning saw us up and heading to San Diego Sea World. Sea World is a funny combination of big theme park with things like big roller coasters, and of course many sea animals and their advertised marine rehabilitation program. In the days following we had great debates over whether the dolphins and whales and other marine animals being in shows was actually a good idea. For some the park was a favourite, for others the San Diego Zoos (both original and Safari Park) were a more decent organization to look after animals in captivity. But we’ll leave that heavy topic and tell about our day.

One of the first things done was to ride a few of the rides. First up was the big Electric Eel which made us very happy. Susan skipped this ride. Then we all went over and did the Wild Arctic, which is a motion simulator that take you into a mockup of an arctic base where you get to see some walruses and whales. Next up we rode The Manta, another coaster (Susan skipped this one). This actually turned out to be Melissa’s favourite coasters from all the parks we went to on our trip. As it got hot, we cooled down with a flume ride, the Journey to Atlantis. In the hottest part of the day, we sat in the splash zone of both the (acrobatic) killer whale show and the dolphin show.

Thursday, the next day, had us taking a day off. We had originally thought we would go out to one of the San Diego beaches, but with the “busyness” of the prior few days, we actually just stayed around camp all day, taking advantage of some of the campsite facilities. We did some laundry. We went shopping. Melissa fell in love with the name of a big company called Petco and so we spent some time in one of their stores. Melissa went and rode “the barrel train”, a bunch of little barrel wagons towed by a golf cart around the park. We rented some bikes and rode them around the park. The girls went rock climbing on the park’s wall. We all went swimming in the pool (probably the nicest pool of anywhere we stayed — it was filled with salt water).

Friday saw us back at it, heading out on a further out of town trip to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Animals seen this day were birds, tigers (and more), wallabies and kangaroos, elephants, antelopes, rhinos, and camels (plus many other things too numerous to list). One neat show the park put on was one where we had an opportunity to watch a cheetah race. Sort of like a greyhound chasing a mechanical rabbit, the park setup a stuffy to be pulled by a cable and let a cheetah go. We watched him go from 0 to 80km/hr in something like 3 seconds. Again at peak heat of the afternoon we took a bus tour. We had fun as we toured around the park.

Sunday was our moving day, leaving San Diego and heading North to check in at the Anaheim Harbour RV Park, just outside the Disneyland fence. We checked in early afternoon so spent the day with a bit of leisure, playing a bit of mini-golf in the campground course (immediately next to our site), and spending time at the pool. Across the way was a family also visiting Disneyland from BC, with a couple of girls the same age as Kayla and Melissa. They played games together and swam in the pool together a number of times during our stay. Unlike us who was visiting Disneyland near the end of our trip (having already spent time in San Diego), they were visiting San Diego more at the start of their trip, and when they left late in the week they were heading for time in Las Vegas.

Our site was great for watching the fireworks show happening in Disneyland, and we took advantage of that benefit on this first night, as well as subsequent nights when we weren’t in the park itself as they went off (nightly at 9:30pm).

Due to the sites that put the theme parks under a microscope and do the equivalent of weather forecasting, but for crowds, we saw that the Disneyland parks were expected to be maximum busy early in the week and then to trail off to a relatively quiet day at the end of the week, while Knott’s Berry Farm was expected to be relatively stable in “busyness” throughout the week. So our plans had us going to Knott’s Berry Farm on day 1, Monday.

We packed our lunch and left it in the car as Knott’s doesn’t allow guests to take food into the park. We returned to the car mid day to have our lunch on the grass near where we parked. One big drawback to Knott’s is the WiFi. Understand that “free” WiFi coverage is actually great, it seems to blanket the park. What is the huge drawback (and mostly stopped me from using it) is that for some crazy reason after the first few megabytes the network starts to insert ads into pages you request. And not only on non-encrypted pages (HTTP), but also tries to do it for encrypted pages (HTTPS). How do they do that? Well, after the first few megabytes, the network kept trying to feed me a non-CA root certificate whenever I tried to visit a site using HTTPS. Susan actually accepted the “fraudulent” signing certificate into her phone for the day and got along just fine (other than the privacy loss and the additional ads on every page she visited). I shouldn’t say I don’t know why the park did it, I suspect it’s because of some company selling to Knott’s the proposition “We’ll blanket your park with WiFi so long as we can use the customer data we gather” and maybe Knott’s isn’t paying attention to what the provider is doing. It’s technology hijinks I would expect from a country like China or Kazakhstan, but I was surprised to see it being tried in such an apple-pie and baseball all-American service company. But on to what we did… Rides we rode include the Stage Coach (actually only the ladies did this one as Glen is allergic to horses and instead he went and rode the train). We rode the famous GhostRider coaster (the tallest and longest wooden coaster on the West Coast of the US), and Kayla’s favourite coaster of the whole trip. We rode the Silver Bullet, Glen’s favourite coaster of the whole trip. We rode the Timber Mountain Log Ride (probably the family favourite flume ride). We rode the Calico Mine Ride. We rode the Pony Express, a favourite coaster of Melissa’s where each rider rides their own individual carousel horse (although with advanced coaster seat bars to keep the rider attached). We rode the Jaguar, which we all agreed for a hot day was the worst line to go through to get on a coaster for the whole trip (the line goes through hallways in a pyramid, with no air conditioning). We rode HangTime, another favourite where the cars go vertical at 95° (i.e. sort of a slightly upside down section after an over the top section). We rode the Sky Cabin (nice air conditioning!). We all rode the Supreme Scream. We took the Voyage to the Iron Reef (actually Glen skipped this one). We rode the Xcelerator (this is extremely smooth and we told Susan she could probably ride it without bothering her back, but she didn’t take us up on the offer for us to ride it again with her). We of course went in some shops and did a bit of tourist shopping, we enjoyed the themed fun of the old west town in Knott’s Berry Farm and attended a showing of the fun stuntman show. A great day!

The next day, Tuesday, saw us driving over to Disneyland. It was a dilemna as to how to go, as the bus for everyone to and from was $22.50USD. The cost of parking was $25.00USD. For the first day, we chose to drive (to give us flexibility if we needed it — we ultimately decided taking the bus was better as it delivered us right to the front gate whereas the parking is still a shuttle ride away from the gates — as well as a seriously long escalator ride).

Tuesday saw us getting into the park at around 9:00am. One early impression, kept over the days we visited following, was that WiFi is surprisingly good in both parks. It doesn’t blanket the park as it does in Knott’s, but it is surprisingly strong throughout the park and even more important doesn’t play games such as decrypting of encrypted traffic and inserting ads into pages you visit. For the days we would be spending in either Disneyland or Disneyland California Adventureland (we had a 3 day 1 park per day ticket for each of us) there was one early admission benefit where we could choose the day. Generally speaking the hours of both parks is from 8:00am to midnight, and with an early admission you can go into the park (and ride rides) at 7:00am. We had thrown around the idea of trying to use our early admission probably on the Wednesday as that was the day we were going to California Adventureland, but since our first day here at Disneyland was at 9:00am with an 8:00am opening, things weren’t looking good from that perspective…

The first thing we did on entering the park was actually to go into Adventureland to tour Tarzan’s treehouse. When we came out of the house, we went right next door to the Pirates of the Caribbean. On coming out of that, Glen ran over to get a Splash Mountain (water flume ride) fastpass, which was good for about 15 minutes from the time he picked it up to about 75 minutes later (we wanted to ride the ride when it was later/hotter in the day). We then went through the Haunted Mansion. Next we went over to the Big Thunder Mountain coaster, which looked like it had a long line up. Concerned about the splash mountain fastpass, Glen asked a “cast member” host fast the line would be. They said it should be about 30 minutes, and would go fast. (Mistakenly) we believed them. It took almost an hour to get through the ride. We went back to Splash Mountain and the “cast member” there said we couldn’t use our fastpass as it was about half an hour overdue (!@$#$&@!). We claimed an Indiana Jones fastpass (good for later that afternoon) and then went and experienced the Enchanted Tiki Room. After being sung to by the birds (and other carvings) we had lunch. We claimed another Splash Mountain fastpass (with hopefully better luck this time) and then got on the Jungle Cruise. After cruising around the jungle we went and rode the Matterhorn. Since Susan didn’t use her Fastpass, Kayla used it and went twice in a row (back to back). Then we went and relaxed on the It’s a Small World ride. Then we used our Fastpass to go on the Indiana Jones Ride. Then on the Splash Mountain ride where we much appreciated the cool off. We went and watched Star Tours, a Star Wars extended trailer. We each got a new drivers license and drove our own individual cars around Autopia (and Kayla probably still took the lead for hitting the sides 🙂 ). We got a fastpass for Space Mountain, but it was good for starting at 10:05 that night, and we weren’t at all certain we would take advantage of it. We ate dinner in the Galactic Grill. After dinner we had fun on the Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters. We then went and experienced the new Star Wars land and the recently opened Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run. The lineup on this was about an hour long, but unlike many other lineups, there were things to do while in line so the time went quick and we were soon assigned with Kayla and dad as gunners, Susan and Melissa as co-pilots, and two individuals from the singles line as engineers. We were slightly profitable. We left the park as it was approaching 10:00 so didn’t take advantage of our Space Mountain fastpass.

The talk on reaching the campsite was that Wednesday would be the day we would use our Early Entrance benefit. Kayla was organizing us and telling us that we would be on a bus by 6:30 in the morning, and up at 5:00am to get ready. She set an alarm on her ipod. Imagine the chagrin next morning when she realized the alarm was mistakenly set for 5:00pm! Due to the late nights the last few nights, we actually slept in until about 7:30, and took the bus and got into the park at about 9:00am.

We had a good time in California Adventureland this day! We rushed over to claim a FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers in Carsland immediately, and already at just after 9:00 got a return time for 3:00 in the afternoon. We had planned to also stand in line for the Racers at that time, but it was broken down and only to open a little later in the day (in time for our FastPass thankfully). Then we went and rode the IncrediCoaster, the old “California Screamin” that has been rebranded in the last few years with the release of the new Incredibles movie.

Honestly, the rebranding of rides that Disney has been doing I found to work quite well. In my opinion, it would be no problem not to rebrand any rides, but since they are, they are doing a good job. The coaster now involves a bit of a story of the Incredibles on an adventure and is well done. Similar rebranding has happened to the old Tower of Terror, which has now been rebranded as Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT!. This actually is what we rode next after the coaster. I should mention that the Incredicoaster was in the running for Melissa’s favourite coaster on the whole trip, for a bit, but after a few days it returned to being The Manta. In Disneyland, Guardians WAS Melissa’s favourite ride.

After Guardians we got ourselves a FastPass for the Grizzly River Run, and then went and rode Soarin’. A favourite definitely. We spent some time on the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, including a bit of head to head one armed bouldering between Kayla and dad, and a race up the cargo netting, and then had lunch on a bench near Grizzly peak (just outside the entrance to the challenge trail).

In the afternoon we cooled down by riding the Grizzly River Run, and were glad to have a FastPass (which we got another of to ride again late afternoon). The girls rode the Incredicoaster a couple of times again, (back to back) using their own then Susan and my FastPasses.

We were lucky to happen along Pluto just as he came out of “backstage” so were able to get a picture with Pluto without any long lineup.

We thoroughly enjoyed sharing a big ice cream sundae that we got at Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream shop, and sat at the Fiddler Fifer tables on the street.

We had a great run on the Radiator Springs Racers, with our car going through the paintjob side (there’s two ways the Racers cars can go) and then winning the race!

We had dinner with Susan getting a chowder bread bowl from the Pacific Wharf Cafe, which she brought over and joined the rest of us at our table at Flo’s V8 Cafe which the rest of us ordered from.

We joined Mike and Sulley on a taxi ride through Monstropolis in Monsters Inc, Mike & Sulley to the Rescue.

One of the surprise highlights was attending a few classes at the Animation Academy in Hollywood Land. The experience is a half hour class in a huge theater where you learn from a Disney animator how to draw specific characters. The ladies took a class on how to draw BB-8 from Star Wars, and had such a good time that they convinced dad to go and so everyone went and learned how to draw Goofy.

Thursday was our day off in LA. Unlike San Diego, we weren’t just going to laze around camp all day. Susan did some research from the California books we had along and proposed we go to Mother’s beach which is one of the beaches part of the big Newport beach. We entered Mothers Beach into the GPS, didn’t double check, and headed off. We ended up at Mother’s Beach, part of Long Beach, which is a nice beach for swimming on an inlet. So we didn’t get to experience the big waves of being directly on the ocean, but we did get to instead experience some nice salt water swimming.

Due to the girls convincing us to go to Petco (when it probably really wasn’t necessary) when we were San Diego, dad convinced everyone that it would be interesting to go to a Fry’s Electronics, so we went there and had fun looking at computer parts and electric scooters and glasses with cameras in them and karaoke machines — a true nerd’s paradise.

There was some talk of again trying to take advantage of our early entry day on Friday to get into a park at 7:00, but surprise surprise, it again didn’t happen. We took the bus again and entered the park at about 9:00. We went and drove around Autopia. We got a splash mountain fastpass and rode that in the afternoon. We did the Millenium Falcon, Smugglers Run again (this time with dad and Kayla as pilots, Melissa and Susan as gunners, and another couple of singles line individuals as the engineers). We rode Glen’s favourite ride from when he had visited in 1977, the Finding Nemo Submarine ride. When Susan and Glen visited in the late 90s, for some reason the sub ride was closed. When we visited in 2014, the sub ride was closed. This time it was open, and Glen was appreciative of everyone standing in line and reliving some of his childhood favourite memories of Disneyland. We rode Indiana Jones again. We saw Chewbacca in Star Wars land. We rode the train around the park, and had a somewhat more relaxed day strolling around the park and watching a magic show in Toontown. Before leaving, we visited the Disneyland Story and saw Great Moments with Abraham Lincoln, and actually spent some time chatting with the lady who must be the best Disneyland employee ever, Bobbie, who was wonderful at telling Disneyland park history and stories!

Saturday morning saw us getting away good and early and having breakfast on the road. We followed the I-5 all the way North to Orland California. We took a brief stop at a rest stop and got to Orland California late afternoon and checked in to the rather pricey, but nice, Parkway RV Resort and Campground in Orland California. It was cooking hot there, but we enjoyed a swim in the pool.

Sunday we got away early again and had breakfast on the road. Since we had made good time the day before and had started early this day, but had until Wednesday until we had to be back at work we didn’t set too aggressive of a schedule and having had such a good time on the way down, set Eugene Oregon again as our destination for the day, and again Richardson Park as our campspot. We pulled in at about 4:00. The girls and dad went to the lake and went swimming while Susan went to town to do some grocery shopping. Dad spent a moment starting this blog entry, which is why it starts by mentioning that we are in Richardson Park (believe me, I didn’t finish the entry until we were home).

Monday, again due to having made good time and being in a place where we could easily get home in one day, we enjoyed our breakfast before getting on the road. Being in Oregon which is tax free, we stopped by the Woodburn Premium Outlets (according to Wikipedia “the largest tax-free shopping outlet in the Western United States … and … one of Orgeon’s most popular tourist attractions”. We spent a few hours shopping, and then continued on our way and stayed at Columbus Park at Black Lake in Olympia Washington. It looks like a gorgeous place to spend a day or two, with some fun stuff like a water trampoline, but due to our arriving late afternoon and then leaving relatively early, we didn’t get to take advantage of the extra fun stuff like that. We did get to play with some of the playground equipment, briefly get onto the water, and see some wildlife (yay Canadian Geese).

Tuesday (August 6), the last day of our trip… We got away early enough to eat breakfast on the road. We stopped at a nice rest stop for lunch. Got gas and groceries from the Costco in Bellingham. And were welcomed back into Canada by a nice border agent mid afternoon. We made it home by about 5:00.

A wonderful trip!

The talk this time? Maybe in a few years we’ll take a trip to Yosemite National Park, but for now, we’ll see and enjoy the recent memories.

Spring 2019 Events

We’re in Richardson Park, Oregon at a campsite near a gorgeous lake, but more about that later. I’m writing now to give a quick summary of the events from Spring 2019.

The year started with us at home after we had spent Christmas itself in Kamloops with Glen’s parents.

Through January Melissa was up skiing every weekend at Seymour in lessons, with Glen along as driver. Both girls continued in piano lessons. Melissa continued in accordion lessons.

Both girls took part in Odyssey of the Mind at school. Both their teams did the same “problem”, presenting an invention of Leonardo Da Vinci’s. Both girls teams did excellently, both winning the provincial competition for their respective ages, and both went to University of Michigan to compete in the works finals.

We went to our cabin at Easter for an egg hunt and with a bow and arrow we acquired had some fun doing archery. Glen has a couple of drones that were also along and had fun flying those.

We didn’t get to the cabin for the May long weekend as it ran into when the girls went with their team’s and Susan to Michigan to compete in the Odyssey of the Mind world’s. We did make it again to the lake for the July long weekend. Both girls gave waterskiing a quick attempt, a courageous attempt actually since the lake was so busy it was very rough and even for those of us with backgrounds in skiing it was pretty challenging to stay up. Our niece Jessica had a number of her friends along staying at Uncle Earl’s so they too came to the beach and tried waterskiing, but as mentioned no one other than Glen actually made it up for more than a few seconds at a time.

Glen continued playing indoor beach volleyball on a work team for the first few months of the year. As it got closer to summer that fell buy the wayside as work got really busy.

In late June we took our trailer out to Sasquatch Provincial Park for a weekend with Jim, Ellen, and Jessica.

Our main summer event, to be described in a subsequent post, is a road trip down to San Diego, which is what we’re on now (hunted at in the first paragraph of the this post).

Christmas Holidays

As hinted at in an earlier post, Christmas and concerts are something we need to journalize. The last day of school, and work for the year for Glen, was on Friday, December 21st (Susan had her last day of work on Thursday). The girls had a fun day at school with a pancake breakfast. Friday evening we went to a dinner party at Aunt Ruth’s. Deborah was home for the holidays with her new (to us) fiance Peter. A nice fellow. Welcome to the family Peter.

Saturday, we took our truck and headed to Glen’s parents in Kamloops where we would be spending Christmas. Although we weren’t going to be spending Christmas at our house, we did have a tree we enjoyed through early December and after coming back from Kamloops. We got away at about lunch time, and actually stopped at the McDonald’s by Cabela’s in Abbotsford for lunch. Honestly, this has got to be a McDonald’s on the bottom end of service in Canada. They were nice enough, but wow, mistakes and other misses galore. Three plus visits back to the counter to get our food order close to what we ordered (although never exactly). Thankfully we had fun looking around Cabela’s afterwards. We arrived in Kamloops in time for dinner.

Sunday morning we (including Glen’s parents) all got in our vehicle and drove out to St. David’s by the Lake, a church in Celista on the Shuswap, that we occasionally attend (although more often in the summer). After church and lunch (at the church), we continued on to our cabin and had a look around. We found out from the local churchgoers that snow had arrived on the night before, so the girls were lucky enough to be able to build a snowman. We drove back to Kamloops for dinner, and were lucky enough (for some of us) to have a Christmas eve tradition (on the eve of Christmas even), liver and onions. Yum!

For Christmas Eve day (Monday), we all went down to Petersen Creek and hiked the new Xget’tem Trail that is fully paved (wheelchair accessible) all the way from the bottom in Petersen Creek. Although it’s classified as “easy”, it is a serious uphill climb, so we all took the occasional break as we climbed up (to Sahali).

On Christmas itself we had a bit of snow arrive in town, and of course had a very nice visit from Santa Claus who delivered some nice gifts. We then went for an afternoon hike in Aberdeen on a trail called The Links. Oddly (no pun intended), early in the hike we saw a Lynx.

That night we saw some more snow arrive, but it didn’t stop us (primarily Susan) from getting out for some boxing day shopping. Late in the afternoon dad and the girls took a sled and went up to the dog park for some fun in the snow.

Thursday we all went downtown to visit Auntie Jen and Dale. The adults chatted while the girls kept themselves busy quietly amusing themselves at the dining room table. Jim and family (including Rebecca who had spent Christmas in the lower mainland) arrived at Glen’s parent’s just as we got back from our visiting. We then went out for a second annual dinner at the Moon Wok restaurant. Unlike last year where we all ate at the North Kamloops location, this year we ate at the one in Aberdeen.

Finally, on Friday the 28th we left Kamloops, gassed up the vehicle at Costco, and returned home. Immediately upon arriving at home the ladies went out to Debora’s bridal shower while dad unpacked and stayed at home (but did think about going skiing since it looked to be a good night for it — but instead stayed in for a quiet time).

On Saturday Glen and the girls went down to Metrotown and did the next best thing to getting a new phone, putting in a new battery. Since it took a while to get in to the Apple Store for service, we toured the mall quite thoroughly. In the afternoon as our Christmas present, Jen and Zac and family took us out to a play at the Surrey Arts Center, a presentation of Hansel and Gretel. Thanks guys! We enjoyed it!

Sunday saw our friends Pauline and Eddy and kids (some of who are now in University!) come over for the afternoon for a pleasant visit.

Monday, New Years Eve day, finally was free of schedule constraints, so dad and the girls went up for a day of skiing at Mount Seymour. It was a great day. We came home and after dinner played a very fun home version of an Escape Room. If you’ve never heard of an escape room, I’ll give you a quick overview. The last few years have saw them jump in popularity, and they traditionally are played in a business that sets up a set where you are (pretendingly) locked in some sort of a room, and you have to solve puzzle mysteries from findable clues in order to unlock the locks that will get you out of the room. Glen and Susan have played a few in the last few years, but for this evening’s fun we had a home version that saw us (pretending) try to decipher a treasure map, SCUBA dive down to find a sunken wreck (the Santa Maria), break into the wreck, find valuable sunken treasure (the name of the exact game we played), and break out of the wreck without drowning (pretend)! I’m not sure we were the best at being a TEAM, but we definitely were good problems solvers and after a few hours succeeded in solving all the mysteries (with the occasional help card where necessary). We all stayed up until midnight, spending the stroke itself watching the countdown and local fireworks on TV.

After having a slow start on New Years Day, we enjoyed the day by getting out for some running around (and drone flying) at the local school yard. On the Wednesday (the 2nd) dad and the girls again went up to Mount Seymour for some more skiing while Susan went back to work.

The next day we took the truck in for service. We had originally planned to go for a walk while it was being worked on, but it was a very rainy day and so instead we just toured the mall while it was in the shop. We had thought we would get up skiing again, but it was always rainy when we looked to go. The weekend saw us take all our Christmas decorations down, just in time for everyone to go back to school and work on Monday.

It was a very nice holiday, but like all such holidays, it went much too fast!

December 2018 Highlights

Every year December is always one of the busiest. This post gives some of our highlights from month of December.

The month started off strong, with December 1 being a Saturday. First thing Saturday morning Glen went mountain biking with a number of his coworkers. It was an annual tradition, the 8th year for this outing, but even though invited many times before, it was the first time Glen actually made it out. Some years the outing is cancelled due to weather, other years family responsibilities kept Glen away, but this year the stars aligned and he actually got a morning of biking on some North Shore trails.

Late November Kayla had taken a babysitting course, and on the afternoon of the 1st she had her first paying job, a couple of hours of looking after a girl in grade 1 from their school.

On Sunday (the 2nd), we hosted a number of old Toastmaster friends. The funny thing is we have been socializing with this Toastmaster group for years (maybe 15) even though we actually never attended a club with most of them. This year we enjoyed having them at our house, which also added incentive to put up a tree. So we put up our first tree.

The next weekend had us attending Glen’s work party on Saturday evening, a fancy shindig that happened at the Fairmont Water Hotel. We didn’t stay that late as Sunday morning was Glen’s company’s Santa breakfast. Auntie Shirley was over for Saturday evening with the girls, and then we were away on Sunday morning to have a great breakfast with Santa.

The next weekend had us taking out Susan’s parents, Shirley, and Aunt Fong for Dim Sum at Yan’s. For those of you who have been long time Western Canada residents, the answer is ‘Yes’. This is Yan’s Restaurant, from the show ‘Wok with Yan’, a chinese cooking show that was on I believe in the late 70s. In the afternoon the girls were out with their Girl Guide friends at the Aurora Winter Festival, happening downtown Vancouver where they went ice tubing and skating and had lots of fun. Sunday had an especially busy afternoon starting with Melissa playing soccer. This was an extra special game for Melissa as she scored her first game goal. The team they were playing was Melissa’s team from last year, a very good team. She held her position in front of the net, got passed the ball, pushed through two defenders while keeping control of the ball, and blasted it to the corner to get it past the goalie. Not only was it Melissa’s first game goal, but it was also the winning goal for Melissa’s team, as her team beat the other team with Melissa’s goal 1-0. It really was a good game.

Then an hour after her soccer game, with a quick stop at home for lunch, Melissa was out jamming/performing at a musical concert arranged by her accordion teacher. Melissa, along with about 10 other accordion players, were out playing accordion with each other for their musical concert.

Not enough music? An hour after Melissa’s accordion concert finished, she, along with Kayla, were out for another music recital where they both got to play a grand piano performing their piano pieces in a recital.

Coming up in later December? Christmas concerts and Kamloops for Christmas!

Burnaby Girls Remembrance Day Soccer Tournament

This weekend was a pleasant one, with Glen’s mom and dad in town to celebrate Melissa’s birthday (happening later this week), and a birthday dinner with Glen’s parents, Glen’s brother’s family (except for Zachary who was working), Susan’s parents, and Susan’s sister Shirley. Glen’s brother Jim was practicing his artistic photo skills in the basement before dinner while many others chatted upstairs. A happy birthday cake was accompanied by the Happy Birthday Song sung by the full family, finishing just in time for Melissa to go to bed early as she had a soccer tournament early on the Monday morning.

I would consider the soccer tournament to be a highlight of the weekend. Not only was there the tournament today, which I’ll describe in a moment, but we were also out with Melissa’s school friend Noemi, a soccer fanatic, practicing for a few hours over at the school yard.

Today’s tournament seemed to be a real leap forward in technique for Melissa, as she scored in 3 out of the 4 shootouts her team was in (each team member on each team gets to shoot once).

Unlike last year’s Remembrance Day tournament where it was a rainy day (with a few sunny spots), this year’s tournament was dry with clear blue sky for the whole day! It was cold though!

Glen helped out to setup at the tournament, meaning he drove over at 6:30 in teh morning. Glen’s dad and Melissa drove over about 7:20 for Melissa’s first game happening at 8:00am. Susan, Kayla, and Glen’s mom walked over to the tournament (which was happening at the Burnaby Lake West Soccer Fields (on Kensington near the arenas). Jim, Ellen, Rebecca, and Jessica all came and watched a few games as well. Glen’s parents (and Rebecca) left after lunch and headed back to Kamloops. Glen and Melissa drove home after the last game and shootout at about 3:30. Susan and Kayla walked home on the beautiful fall day.