Settling for Now

It's no secret that Zach and I fell in love with Victoria very shortly after arriving here. The first few days were stressful, what with having nowhere to stay and all, but once that was all sorted out, we got comfortable right away, and here we are, more than a month later.

Zach has been working insane hours this past month on a project, so we haven't gotten out as much as I would have hoped. We did put in an effort to get out and have a new adventure every day when I first quit smoking ( over 2 weeks now, people!), just to distract me, but apparently, you can't party all the time, no matter what Eddie Murphy may have told you. You have to tighten your belt, or your boot straps, or whatever the hell the saying is, and work so you can save, so you can have fun.

Anyways, what I'm trying to get at here is that Zach has been working a lot, so that means I have been spending a lot of time hanging out and talking with the dogs. If I know me, and I think that I do, this is not good. When I spend too much time alone, my imagination takes over, and I start to live in a land that exists only in my head, where everything is lovely, and is full of imaginary friends and scenarios as to how my life will play out. It's a super fun place to be, but it just isn't the healthiest place to spend too much time, and apparently isn't even real. In order to keep myself from falling too far down the rabbit hole, I have decided to take a job at a private group home in Langford, which is just down the road. It will only be two to three days a week, and the pay is not great, but it will give me some of my own spending money and I'll be able to socialize a bit more often with humans instead of dogs. This housewife thing just isn't for me right now, even though it has been a nice break.

So yah. I got a job, Zach's working, we like our RV park and the island, and we will be staying here until mid-April or so, when we head to the mainland...not sure if that mainland will be Canadian or American yet. This will give us more time to see the north part of the island, and get some day/weekend trips done to see what else this area has to offer us.

On that note, I've got some Jamaican Rum sausages cooking, and they're starting to smell lovely so I'm going to end this here. Hope y'all are doing well, and you have a great New Year's Eve, if you're heading out to party. We'll be heading to Salt Spring Island for a few days on the 31st, and I'll be thinking of all our Regina friends, as I sit in a hot tub and get drunk off my ass on Yellow Tail Shiraz.

Wordless Wednesday - Xmas Edition


Xmas Plans

This year, instead of working at a group home on Xmas Eve, I am working in our camper, sewing summer tops and tidying up so I don't have to do it tomorrow. Zach is working as well, he's on a deadline.

I threw a pork roast, potatoes and carrots in the slow cooker, so at least we'll be eating well tonight, if nothing else.

Tomorrow we will be heading to Clinton's for the afternoon to have a big, bad ass Xmas dinner and some egg nog. I'm a little nervous about leaving the puppies alone all day, but I plan on getting up early and having a long Xmas morning hike before we head into the city, so that should help them relax a bit.

We're going to try and get together with Bink and Ryan this week as well, before we head to Salt Spring Island for a few days to ring in the New Year.

We hope you all are enjoying your Xmas holidays, and for those who have to work, I hope you don't have to work too hard.

Merry Squidmas, and all the best in 2011.


Doin' the Tourist Thing

Ever since I decided to try and quit smoking, Zach and I have been busier than ever. I think he's trying to help me keep my mind off of the nicotine I heart so much, and it's working for the most part. We have been getting out daily to do tourist-like activities, and have been really enjoying ourselves.

We even went out last night on a ghost walk in downtown Victoria without the dogs. We even got hot chocolates and walked around a bit after our ghost tour before coming home to continue our nightly ritual of watching House before bed. It was wonderful, although Daddy Zach did worry about them most of the evening. I'm guessing this is how parents feel when they get to go out without their offspring.

On top of the historic ghost walk last night, we've checked out Craigdarroch Castle, some new trails around Goldstream and Victoria's small but lovely Chinatown. Zach's Uncle Bruce came for a surprise visit bearing gifts yesterday too...our first visitor!

I still want to smoke 4000 cigarettes all at once, but all the fun we've been having is making it much more bearable. Thanks, Zach. You're the best.


Walk at Beacon Hill Park

It has been raining cats and dogs here for about 5 days, which has put a bit of a kibosh on any outdoor activities. Yesterday, we decided enough was enough and we needed to get out. Another camper had told me a few days ago about a great off-leash dog park on Dallas Road, and we had been wanting to check it out. After a quick Google search, I realized he was talking about Beacon Hill Park, also known as Mile Zero of the Trans-Canada Highway and home to one of the largest totem poles in the world. We grabbed an umbrella, I put on my new ugly but practical rubber boots, and we headed into town in search of that darn totem pole.

Although it was raining, we had a great time exploring beaches, getting some exercise and seeing something new. I don't know what it is about the ocean, but it just makes me feel calm and happy, and closer to the earth.

As we walked, we couldn't help but imagine how wonderful it must be here in the spring and summer. If it is gorgeous on a cold, foggy and rainy day in December, it must be amazing when it's sunny and everything is bloomed. We have decided we need to stick around to check it out, so I think we'll be in Victoria for a bit longer than originally planned. Then again, we hadn't even planned on coming here in the first place. The universe makes things happen for a reason, I guess.

We'll keep you posted.


Things and Stuff

" We have too much stuff!"

" There are too many things laying around!"

" There isn't enough room to fit all our stuff in here!"

" This stuff is driving me crazy!"

These are very common phrases spoken by Zach and myself. It seems silly sometimes, considering all the things that we don't have with us on the road, and the insane amount of things we sold, or ended up giving away, or hauling to the dumpster before we left. In actuality, we don't really have that many belongings, but we do have very little space. We spend hours each week re-organizing, tidying, shuffling and throwing out even more belongings. It boggles my mind each time we part with yet another "thing".

When we first decided to do this trip, we immediately planned an apartment sale, and went through all of our stuff. We put a price tag on almost everything, except for the items that were deemed important enough to keep. We parted with our 52" television and accessories, our just-paid-off furniture, kitchen table and chairs, cameras, clothing, craft supplies and tools, picture frames, art, appliances and most of my collection of hundreds of books. It was scary, and rejuvenating all at the same time.

We spent the past couple years acquiring material possessions, because we wanted them, and we were making enough money that we could afford them. We were living the high life - double income, no kids. We took an apartment that had mostly been lived in by bachelors and students over the years, and turned it into a home. We painted and decorated and bought more and more stuff to fill it with. I loved our stuff, I really did. But it just wasn't feasible to keep it all in storage for when we wanted it back. We came to the decision that if we wanted it again, we could just buy new. And I'm sure we will one day.

Once all the big ticket items were sold and moved out, it felt like we had nothing. But somehow, the topic came up every day about what we need, what we could store at The House of Pain, what we could part with. When you're looking at living in only a few square feet of space, you really have to be realistic, and only pack what you will need to survive. We are still discussing things after more than 2 months, and still getting rid of things. It's crazy.

We did store some items. ( Thank you a million times over, Kevin and Paige) We kept anything sentimental like photo albums, family heirloom type stuff, kitchen ware that I knew I would use again given the chance, books, backpacks and some camping gear that we didn't need on the road. What we did bring were the necessities, clothing for all types of weather, extra bedding, a few books, a few board games, 2 computers, my craft supplies and finished product, Zach's tools and kitchen stuff, among other things. These things keep us entertained and connected to the world.

My friend Laurie asked me the other day if there was anything that I missed. I couldn't think of anything. After some discussion, it was decided that I missed having a bath tub, but only on those cold days when you would normally have a soak. We don't have television, but we have many series' and movies on the hard drive. We don't have running water, but I'm okay with hauling drinking water, and we have the best showers I have ever seen at a campground, which I also use for hauling hot water for dishes. There's a laundromat at the campground, and in every town in the North America, so we're covered there. The coffee pot can boil water for more things than just coffee. We only have a small porta-potty in the camper, but we've learned to be comfortable with our waste, and use the public washrooms whenever possible. We have the internet, which gives us TV, games, blogs to read and everything else that we used it for at home. We don't have propane yet, but the slow cooker and the charcoal grill cook all our food for us, and we just have to plan our meals in advance. We have all the necessities at our disposal, it's just a little bit different.

Sure, there are things that I wish I had with me. I do miss having a bath tub at times, and I've been kicking myself for not bringing the popcorn popper with us. On rainy days like today when I can't be outside and my body is aching, I miss my Wii Fit. ( You can bet your ass I'll be buying another one when it's time.) Really though, I don't miss much, because we have what we need. This lifestyle is not about going without, it's about making due with what you have, and learning to deal with situations that arise that you would never have to deal with in a "real" home.

But hey, so far, so good. I just have to figure out a way to make popcorn.


Travelling With Pets

Anyone who has ever had a dog, knows that they are more like children than any other animal. They need to be fed and watered and exercised on a schedule, they require almost constant supervision, they need to be taught right and wrong, they crave your attention, your love and positive reinforcement. Sometimes they have an attitude problem, and you need to lay down the law, or bribe them with something they desire. Any dog that doesn't appear to need all of the previous things mentioned, has either grown up outside on a farm or acreage, and can mostly fend for itself, or it is being neglected. It's sounds cheesy, but it is true that Patches and Maggie are like children to us, and unless a sperm hits an egg in the next couple years, they will be our only children. Or, our "fur-babies", as we like to call them.

When we decided to give up everything and live in a camper travelling throughout North America, we knew that it would be different than any other travelling we have done in the past. We were lucky enough to have friends to look after the dogs when we went to California and Cuba last year, and even had good ol' Uncle Rod to take care of the pups when we just wanted to have a romantic evening away at the Moose Jaw Spa, or at a hotel in Regina. We were beyond spoiled, and beyond grateful for our dog-sitters, and the reality has sunk in that we just don't have that option to fall back on while we're on the road this time.

In the past when we have traveled together, we did the regular touristy things like checking out museums and galleries, popular restaurants and clubs, shopping and just wandering around taking pictures at the tourist sites. Because of the dogs, we have not been able to do anything touristy "inside" since we left Regina. If dogs aren't allowed, in theory neither are we, at this point. Not that that has stopped us from getting out and about.

We have learned, that when you have dogs, even though some doors are closed to you, be it a museum, night club, or friends home, you can work around it. We try to plan our outings to include the dogs whenever possible, although sometimes that just isn't an option, so we work around it. When going for coffee, we try and find a coffee shop with a patio. When visiting friends or family that aren't keen on dogs, or when dogs just aren't allowed in their building, we make sure they get a walk in first, and then they wait in the truck while we eat/visit/drink. We make sure to always have their food and water in the truck, as well as a couple blankets, and doggie treats, and we check on them regularly. Instead of walking around a museum, we walk around downtown Victoria, or go to Goldstream, or even hunt for hiking trails at our campground in Malahat. Victoria, and Vancouver Island as a whole, is chalk full of things to do outside that are pet-friendly. We are very excited to spend the next couple months checking out all the outdoor adventure it has to offer, and are lucky to have two dogs who like these things as much as we do. They've camped with us before, they have been on boats and gone swimming....so this isn't new to them.

It's true, that the dogs have been having some trouble adapting since we hit the road. Dogs are territorial creatures, and with all the moving around, they aren't quite sure what their territory is, exactly. They were always very attached to us, right from the moment we brought them both into our home, and I'm not a dog shrink or anything, but they have most definitely been afflicted with a severe case of separation anxiety disorder. Due to the fact that they don't know where they are half the time, they become extremely anxious if we are not around.(barking, jumping, scratching at windows for example.) However, over the past week I have noticed that they don't bark as much if left alone in the camper for a few minutes, or even in the truck while we run into a store for groceries or something. It is taking awhile, but I am hopeful that within a few weeks, we will be able to leave them in the camper like we did at home, and it won't stress them out as much. Like a child, our dogs are upset when mommy and daddy aren't there, and we'll just have to be patient while they learn that we will always come back, and that we aren't leaving just to be mean.

Even though it has been challenging, I do not regret our decision to keep them, and bring them on the road. They make all our walks more exciting, they help us meet other dogs and their owners, and all our evenings at home enjoyable, thanks to their playfulness and their willingness to share their body heat and cuddle. They are our family, and no matter how weird that sounds, it is true. When asked what we were going to do with the dogs before we left, I think Zach's sister Rhonda summed it up best when she said "What do you do with your kids? You take them with you!".