What Now in 2010?

October 25, 2010 - Kelowna, Canada

So, we’d love to catch you up on our last 4 months!! First a couple of observations; Canada is a great  place to live but we forgot how big it was! We have amazing friends and families and lastly, we are very happy to report that we’re not living in our Ford Focus as of yet…although it didn’t hurt the career of singer Jewel!!

We are settled in Kelowna, nestled alongside the rippling Okanagan Lake and surrounded by the many vineyards and orchards that dot the terrain. Amazingly, after almost 16 months, over 300 different beds (does a sand dune count??) and 63,405 kilometers (39,398 miles) we are settled into a place where Revenue Canada can hunt us down!

Hurray and a double edged sword…we are no longer traveling!

In our last post we mentioned that after arriving back in Canada, we stayed with good friend’s Don & Bonnie in Victoria for 2 weeks. We of course always have great fun with these two but we also got a firsthand look at their soon-to-be- opened brew pub, Moon Under Water. The two of them, along with nephew Ron, have worked amazingly hard to bring this project to fruition (brewition?).

We also mentioned that we had a great time camping out at Mike and Sierra’s for 5 days. And, we mean “camping out” literally…we pitched a tent on their balcony! To our great delight and surprise, Mike met us at the airport, holding a sign, referencing an “inside” joke that read Flip Gunderson. He taxied us home …and for Ann, it was good to see her little baby! We’re sure, like any guest who perilously overstays their best-before-date, they must have been glad to see us go, however…they never let on! We had a great catch-up visit, we golfed, played tennis, hiked up Knox Mountain and toured around the City of Kelowna. And, we eagerly dug out long-ago packed clothes like it was Christmas morning…it was so nice to get into something different! Old ones, yes, but different or as the Vietnamese would say…”same, same, but different”!

Then it was off to Spirit Ridge which was pure luxury…hey our own queen-size beds, a huge bathroom and of course the complimentary robes! We did take the time to relax at the pool…but only twice. Our year of travel had always afforded us an excuse to put some things from our Canuck-based life on hold…like taxes and other scatological details required when one must “fit back into society”. Kind of like Tom Hanks’s character in the movie Castaway…except for maybe the entire plot. Then, in the second week, both of us happened to find job postings for pretty much the exact positions we had left before leaving on our trip. Wow, lucky right?? Well, after re-training ourselves in the art of pant pressing & sock-wearing, followed by a couple rounds of interviews, presentations, a job offer, a job decline…we found ourselves still gainfully unemployed. And, what does one do under such circumstances?? Well….GET MARRIED of course!! If there is a Hallmark card espousing the words “it’s about time…” we think most of you would have picked that card. It is not uncommon to hear about couples who backpack for a year, side-by-side, everyday, 24/7, never out of each other’s sight, ...did we say “everyday” (you’re picking up what we’re throwing down…right ;-), arrive home and separate before the luggage carousel has ground to a stop. We, however, went the “WTF…after 18 years??” direction. It was great fun, extremely meaningful, full of love….and quite possibly set precedence for the girls………..in that it was elegantly cheap!! Anyone out there who thought one or both of us should be committed can now rest easy.

The month of August was super fun, but also super exhausting. We didn’t appreciate (well we did, but maybe not in an everyday conscious sort of way) just how blessed we were with sooooo many remarkable friends & wonderful families. We flew straight across the country to see Squirrely Shirley and Company (this means Riverview, NB for the uninitiated). We picked up Christine on our way through Pearson International (huge hugs & tears) and were met by Ann’s bro, Kenny, at midnight. We suspected that Ken may have been subjected to one of those embarrassing body searches by a custom official but turned out he was just red from a day of sailing in the hot sun! Very stoked to see us, however, and vice versa! He and Philly plied us with heaps of drinks and snacks; we think only to ward off the frostbite, before they tenderly shoved us out into the frosty 5 degree evening to spend the night in their tent trailer!! Kenny woke us up the next morning with a Christmas-carol-singing & dancing penguin which was more than apropos.

Great to see Mom (Shirley), and super bonus that Thurman was visiting! Always amazing food; fresh lobster, fried clams (“one clam plate!”), champagne breakfasts….just some of our gastronomical indulgences.

Captain Ron and First Mate Marlene raised the sails and entertained us on the beautiful waters of the St. John River. What an exquisite day, never to be outdone of course, but the Wii Fit Plus that evening came close!! Marlene, btw, rocks at it…

Christine shared some great laughs hanging with her cousins, Brad, Stef and Lyss. These four enjoyed a cousin-only lobster dinner with father Ken swooping in to strip the carcasses clean like the vulture he is! Christine flew back east to Waterloo a couple days later while we stayed on to whoop it up for 6 more days.

Serendipity played a fabulous role allowing us to hook up with just one of the many great people we met on our journey…Catrina had emailed us while we were on the west coast wondering if we could maybe meet up in Halifax where she is studying at Dalhousie. Generally, not an easy task but we just happened to be in the area! We met Catrina, who hails from Portugal, in South Africa. She was/is doing her doctorial thesis on cross-border protection of marine animals. We all were staying at the Budget Backpackers in St. Lucia, where we shared some wild late night ‘’hippo hunts with scotch” excursions. We had a great time reminiscing, some stimulating conversation and topped it all off with a scrumptious ice cream cone…thanks Cat!!

We bid adieu to the East Coast, so thank you Mom for the fabulous celebrations, hospitality and those wonderful champagne toasts! Shirley you always hate to leave it at just one…a toast that is! So, let me leave you with another:

“Here’s to my mother-in-law, who still calls me a son…

But I never let her finish the sentence.”

After a teary and the extended NB goodbye, it was onward to Ontario. Paul D. had very graciously lent us “Gramma D’s” car, so we picked it up and went to his trailer near Vineland. Once there, Carter received as many hugs as he could bear!! And, Ann drank as many Black Russians as she could bear…leading to but I can’t hear what you are saying…I, have become comfortably numb!! Beautiful weather, though, as we hung out at the pool with Car-Car and his pals.

Uncle Al, ever gracious and kindhearted, accepted us back to our home-away-from home in Orangeville. Thank you again, Al for your hospitality, golf outings, bbq’s and for sharing your morning crosswords. From our Elizabeth Street command centre, we traveled far and wide (well, from Lake Huron to Niagara and points between) and got to spend some time (not enough, though!) with some great, great friends and family!!

August 20th found us back in good old Fergus, where with Christine’s help; we emptied our storage unit and packed up our meager belongings into a container bound for Kelowna. We visited some of our old neighbors on St. George, drove past the old house, and generally marinated in some great memories. But, wow…what an emotional roller coaster! At times it was like Night of the Living Dead…career break zombies, wandering about with blank looks on our faces…well, more blank than usual, anyway. It was quite surreal…an emotional cocktail of the joy of seeing old friends & family, uncertainty of leaving the familiar, fear of the unknown, along with a twist of high-octane anxiety. Who knows what spurs people on to make these decisions. The year of traveling was unreal…and we mean unreal…or at least the memory of it. All the memories, all the experiences, drop off like the Leafs at playoff time. At times it was hard to believe we had actually done it…all those adventures and we can’t remember half of them…WTF? This fitting back into the same slot, same cubicle, and the same lives…was not met without some real trepidation.

We flew back to Kelowna and then to Osoyoos... our refuge at Spirit Ridge. We had a whole month to job search, explore business opportunities and find a place to live... your typical month, right?? We were absolutely and most pleasantly distracted by good friends, Mark and Karen who were at their condo for 2 weeks. We broke bread, slammed down stuffed peppers and forced down bottles of wine with our Cow Town compatriots. Only to be left alone again…with only the heated pool, the steam room, an odd game of golf and an optional view of vineyards to divert our attention away from focusing on what the future had in store for us! But, hey as a great man once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!

So here we find ourselves…in a strange place…we even wondered “do they celebrate Thanksgiving out here?”...they do. And, it is so fantastic to have at least some family nearby. Mike and Sierra joining us for Thanksgiving dinner was just one of the many things that make us truly thankful! October 2010, was our first experience with “NOT” traveling, in over a year and again we find ourselves “all turned in” (Gramma D’s expression). The backpacks are stored away; our life of simplicity has switched to one of consumerism as we reluctantly replace the “essentials” of everyday life….things to sit on, sleep on, plastic spatulas…blah!! Any spikes in GDP can be attributed directly to us!!

However, we are maintaining our optimism and enjoying the process…moving forward on business ideas, job opportunities and anticipating that moment when the pendulum will swing back into balance. But still we ponder…"when will we have the money to travel again??!" And, where will that road take us?? Questions, questions…we can’t wait for the answers!! ;-)

Stay tuned for the details…once we actually figure them out of course!!

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arriving in Vancouver
me tired
tour guide
value village here we come


Mark Wallace:
October 27, 2010
As usual, great writing. The adventure continues guys. Your just turning a page. Congrat's again on the Wedding and all the best in Kelowna.

See you soon....
October 27, 2010
wow!! you guys really should write a book!! MUCH more interesting then my philosophy class is right now haha
November 8, 2010
Well written just as the others were....keep us posted on everything....Thanks for the visit to Orangeville....hope to see you again soon.
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