Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We are not normal. Either!

I have been meaning to write a post on this topic for a while now - ever since I read Kevin and Ruth's post 'We are not normal.'  As I read it and realized that we were very similar it dawned on me that we are not normal!

WE are NOT normal?!

Actually, I did know that. Derek and I, and Cassia by default, are not normal and we are not living a normal life.

This topic maybe a bit out of the ordinary from this blog but actually it shouldn't be. When I began this blog and chose a name for it - I meant for it to be about HOW we live - HOW and WHY we keep things simple. It has been mainly about travel for the last five months because well - that's what our life has been about.

It hasn't been just about travel - I mean throughout we have been living - buying, making, shopping etc. I really should have been talking about those things also along the way - but well - there are only so many hours in the day - right?

Especially with a toddler.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

It would be best if you went and read Kevin and Ruth's post first......I'll wait - go ahead do it now...

Good post - right?!

Ok - so we don't do any of those things either! notta one - nope - nothing

1. Television - we don't have one either - we haven't had a BIG TV (as in our 42" plasma) and cable since 2008, we did have a little TV in 2010 for a bit but with 2 channels - since then we haven't had one at all. The only TV viewing we do is when we are at friends or family. (I have a whole blog post in me for that one - I'll do that soonish - TV or no TV for Cassia - it's a tricky matter!)

2. Microwave - we don't OWN a microwave. We certainly don't have one in the trailer but there is one at the cabin that we live in. I can't say that I have never used it but I RARELY use it - this summer I may put it in storage to ensure that I'm not tempted to use it.

3. Hot Water Heater - we have one in the trailer too but it has NEVER been used - by us or the previous owner.

4. Restaurants - same - occasional. Man if we had the dough we'd probably eat out EVERY SINGLE MEAL. We LOVE eating out if the restaurant is good. But living a life made simple and with a very small budget, eating out at restaurants was one of the first casualties. Yes, you will see that we ate in restaurants on this trip but we saved it for special places and really out of our $15,000 or so spent, the eating out bill was probably about $300 - not bad.

5. We don't tow a vehicle - well this one doesn't apply to us but if we had a motorhome like K&R do we wouldn't tow either.

6. RV Parks? nope not for us either. We equate RV parks with the suburbs - we don't do suburbs either. We rarely pay to park while on the road, if we do we go to State Parks - at least we usually get a little more nature and space then in the private parks.

That's a good list - but I can do better in the not normal department....I'll continue...

7. We don't have a gps - this one really gets people I think because we travel so much - anyone ever hear of a map?

8. We don't have cell phones - WHAT? NO CELLPHONES? nope! I guess we are for sure the only ones in our age group or any age group below us! The only other group without cell phones these days are probably the 80+.

9. We don't shop for entertainment - We go shopping out of necessity. We don't see it as a way to whittle away an afternoon or evening. IN and OUT is our philosophy. Yes, there are times that we get tripped up on something new and flashing - but a few shakes of our heads and we are back on track.

10. We don't buy much 'stuff' and we rarely buy 'new' - ok - we do buy stuff and we do buy new BUT only on things we have to. For instance, Cassia has had very very few new clothes - not none - but pretty much none bought by us. She is our second hand sally - the other day I bought her 2 new shirts - nice ones - no rips or stains - for $1 and you already saw the beautiful summer dress I bought for 75¢.

11. We don't buy paper towels - by this I mean we don't buy things that we see as a waste of money - paper towels and the list goes on and on. One of the things that bothers me about travel is that I can't make as many things homemade as I would like. Due to some time but mostly space and equipment restraints I buy things like canned refried beans, hummus, pita chips, and baked goods and the list goes on. Part of living a life made simple means making things from scratch. That's not simple you say! True - but it is cheap and cheap is good!

I have recently found some great 'homemade' products such as toothpaste and beauty products as well as food items on pinterest (LOVE LOVE LOVE pinterest - just a slight addiction there) - I can't WAIT to get to the cabin to start making!

12. We don't use credit cards - we don't like them and they don't like us. It was an unhealthy relationship so we ended it. Try it - you'll like it too!

13. WE DON'T OWN A HOUSE - and we don't pay rent. This doesn't really make us abnormal among the full timing set but it does make us not normal among our age group for sure!

Preaching? Nope - do what you want - REALLY.

If your way of life makes you happy and is stress free and all the rest - go with it. For us - keeping things simple so that life doesn't get too complicated, too expensive and too hard makes us happy!

Thanks for sticking around even without all the fancy travel pics!


Today's Interesting Link: OK - today's link is a doozy! Please please please watch this video - Consuming Kids - The Commercialization of Childhood.  It is important to all of us! Not to toot my own horn - ok - I'm tooting - but I have known about this problem for awhile now and we are doing our best to shelter Cassia from this as much as we can, for as long as we can. 

We live in troubling times - don't we? 

Monday, March 26, 2012

West along the Crowsnest Highway

Friday and Saturday promised to be two more good travel days .....

sun sun sun

That was all the incentive we needed to get back on the road to continue our trek west through southern BC along the Crowsnest Highway.  

THE plan - Castlegar to Chilliwack in two days! Here's how it turned out!

A final picture of 3 generations - a goodbye to Derek's dad and step mom.

It was a good thing that the weather was better since heading west out of Castlegar means climbing up and over the Bonanza Pass through the Monashee Mountains. The elevation of 5,036 ft means SNOW..... lots of snow. A surprising amount of snow for this time of year. Thank goodness the roads were dry and the sky was blue.

Exactly WHAT was I thinking when I grumbled during our drive from Nampa to the border about going up and down, up and down! They have NOTHING on BC along this stretch of highway and these are mountain roads - up and down - and CURVY! say no more!

up ......

and down!

Not to far along the way we stopped at a rest area, since Canada doesn't have too many it is best to grab the opportunity when you can. Of course Roofous was the happiest with this since it gave him a chance to play and roll in the snow. 

Toddler meets Parent - 'No I don't want my shoes on!' 

Gotta love the mountain streams - love love love the red dogwood.

A picture of Christian Lake - one of the warmest lakes in Canada. The town of Christina Lake is a popular summer place. Kool Treat is our favourite stop there but alas it is too early for this great burger and shake joint. We HIGHLY recommend if you go by in the summer!

By the time we were between Christina Lake and Grand Forks there was no longer snow on the ground - it looks quite spring like here compared to the higher elevation we just came from.

We took a quick tour around Grand Forks to see what was new AND to take a look at the historic Grand Forks Hotel. Sadly we had heard from Derek's dad that it had just burned down. I couldn't find on the internet how old it was, Derek and I had lunch there with a friend back in 2003.

We then carried on to Greenwood to visit a boyhood friend of Derek's that he grew up with in Mackenzie BC. Greenwood is a neat little town with one main street lined with historic buildings. A bit of trivia for you - the 1999 movie Snow Falling on Cedars with Ethan Hawke was filmed there.

Downtown Greenwood is very picturesque with lots of little shops and a few restaurants. Stop in at the Ruffled Raven Boutique if you go.

We stopped in Greenwood to visit Will. Derek and Will have been friends since they were eight but haven't seen each other in 19 years - WoW - time sure flies doesn't it! This was my first time meeting Will whom I have heard about for the last 10 years. 

Cassia enjoyed the rocking chair on the front porch.

We couldn't stay too long and visit since we had a schedule to keep. A actual schedule if you can believe that! We had to be at the Storage place in Osoyoos to pick up our u haul cargo trailer - no time to dawdle. 

The one blip in the day's travel was the hill down into Osoyoos - not a problem really but it is very steep - towing a trailer meant taking out time. A beautiful view though!

A somewhat ariel view of Osoyoos. Osoyoos is also a popular summer town because it gets very hot but has the lake and beaches for recreation.

This is the last picture of our first travel day. From Osoyoos we drove to Keremeos - 48 kms (30miles), dropped of our travel trailer at the storage place, then drove BACK to Osoyoos - 48 kms (30 miles), picked up the u haul trailer and then drove BACK to Keremeos - 48 kms (30 miles). 

a whole lotta fun there!

We have been looking up against this for months now but it HAS to get done. We have had our stuff in storage since we left Keremeos in the fall of 2010. We should have moved it out last spring but we procrastinated and then started working and it couldn't be done. We promised ourselves this winter that we would get it done this year.

So - here we are.

Getting Cassia set up in the trailer with a movie and some toys, Derek and I spent the evening - about 3 hours - filling the trailer. Boy what a job! All of our stuff + some of Derek's mom's stuff fits in a space of 6 'x12' and we STILL have too much stuff!

The next morning we were up early and on our way - again. Travel day number two - Keremeos to Chilliwack. 

Keremeos, Keremeos, Keremeos how we love thee!

Ahhhh Keremeos! This IS Derek and my favourite place to live. We first tried to move here back in 2006 when we moved off of Vancouver Island. By the time our house sold, there was nothing there that we could afford because the market was hot then. When we moved back from Saskatchewan in 2009 we were determined to live there, so we rented. The year we spent living in Keremeos, in a great house with a garden, was the best year of my adult life! no joke!

Being here again only convinced Derek and I that this is where we belong - we are intent to again settle in Keremeos and STAY! How we are going to accomplish this is still a mystery but we are two determined people so it will happen some how, some way.

Keremeos definitely seems to be struggling in some areas (in these hard economic times who isn't?) but it has everything we want in the place we live - small town, great temperatures for gardening, and all the amenities we need. We both love all the fruit stands and I HAVE to live near a library.

So - we are going to move back to Keremeos - we'll keep you updated on our progress through our blog.

Alas, this day it was time to hit the road.

Just west of Keremeos stands this little white church. It was in  The Pledge with Jack Nicholson. A great movie if you haven't seen it yet. Scenes were also filmed in Lytton, the town closest to the provincial park that we work at. 

The trip from Keremeos to Hope continues on the Crowsnest Highway. It is very winding and up and down and not a favourite road of ours. It is also a pretty bad road surface wise. Sheesh - Derek and I couldn't think of a road that we were on the whole five months in the States that was this bad. Potholes! Lots of them! 

AND another PASS! 

So it was back into snow as we went through Alllison Pass - elevation 4,403 ft and Manning Provinical Park.  Manning Park is a popular recreational destination year around - there is a lot to do there from skiing to camping - we prefer the summer time!

LOTS of snow - this wall of snow measured about 15 feet!

At Hope the Crowsnest Highway meets the Trans Canada Highway which we took west to take us to the Fraser Valley and the city of Chilliwack. Much different from where we had come - green grass! The Fraser Valley is an large agricultural area west of Vancouver.

The only picture of the u haul trailer. I guess I was too busy packing to take any pictures.

Almost there!

Derek's sister and family lives in Chilliwack as does his mom. This is the end of the line for us and a place to store out stuff. We are going to visit here for a while and get some good family time in before we head to our final destination - north to the Provincial Park where we live and work for the summer. 

Although this is close to the end of our travels it is far from the end of our blog. I hope you continue to check in on our life - I have lots of things to write about and some big news about our plans for next winter and the BIG plans I have for our blog 'a life made simple'.

Thanks for sticking with us!


Today's Interesting Link: The area encompassing Osoyoos and to a certain extent Keremeos is called the Okanagan. After the Fraser Valley it is BC's main fruit/veg growing area - it is also filled with vineyards and wineries. We love the Okanagan region - especially around the city of Penticton - because it is hot and dry with lots to see and do - if you plan on traveling through BC in the summer it is a must stop!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ainsworth Hot Springs

Pulling into Nelson BC the first order of business was a stop at Oso Negro - one of our favourite coffee houses. 

ahhhhhhhh! a great cup of coffee

Oso Negro was a hopping place, obviously THE coffee and hang out spot in Nelson. Since we don't get this way often we also bought a pound of Speckled Sky beans to take back to the cabin. 

We then headed to main street for a quick walk about and a bit of window shopping. Nelson is a veryyyyyyyy interesting place. It is the type of town where you would need a whole lotta money to live there. We stopped and looked on the window at the properties for sale - there were very few houses in for 200k and more in the 400 - 700k range. yikes!

It is also the type of place where if you DID move in you would have to have enough money left over for a new wardrobe. Now, I don't want to be unfair here but really - almost everyone we saw was dressed in what I'll call the 'neo hippie look' or the 'high end outdoor look'.... hmmm not sure if that captures it! The look is hippie but in a very expensive way. I saw kids Cassia's age wearing $200 worth in clothing!

We really didn't blend in of course. Oh well, just passing through anyway.

hmmmm - the economy of Nelson is based on ummm - well, BC bud......

just to be clear about what BC bud is.......!

We stopped in for a few groceries at Extra Foods to take with us to Ainsworth. Well - at least I got my first sticker shock out of the way. Our first grocery shopping trip after coming home from the States is always a bit of a traumatic experience. I still have USA food prices in my head and I think I am seeing things when I look at our prices - I rub my eyes a bit - try again. I actually left without buying one of the items on our list - cheese - I just couldn't do it - I'll need a bit more time to get over the price!

A nice drive up to Ainsworth with clear roads for most of the way.

About 10 kms from the springs the clouds darkened ahead and looked like snow - it caused a neat effect over the lake.

Yup - more snow!

Since we made the trip all the way up to the Ainsworth Hot Springs we decided to spend the night. We thought at the time that it would be better to wait out the snow which had started to fall in earnest upon arrival. The hot springs is also a resort with a hotel but the room rate is way out of reach for us. Instead we stayed at the more affordable Ainsworth Motel - we also stayed there way back in 2003. 

so so glad we did!

The Ainsworth Motel is THE place to stay in the area - and that's not just us saying so! The motel was recently awarded the TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice Award Plaque for 2012; AND the proprietors - Glen and Elaine are lovely people - we quite enjoyed talking to them and swapping 'going south' stories! The motel is VERY comfortable and VERY clean! 

We were only in the motel long enough to get into our swimsuits!

One of the unique features of the Ainsworth HS is the horseshoe cave. The cave is dark with a few lights and offshoots and benches along the way. It is hot in there and the air is very humid and so I can only stay in for a few minutes at a time. Cassia was sure happy with it all!

Pictures were hard to take because of the steam.

The best pic we could get in the cave. Check out the website linked above for better cave pics.

The outlet of the spring water running down to the neighours below.

The view of Kootenay Lake from the motel.

By staying up at Ainsworth for the night we thought we would wait out the snow -


We woke up Thursday morning to more snow! Well we thought - we'll stay until check out and wait for it to taper off and/or turn to rain -


The longer we stayed the worse it got. By 10:00am we decided that we had better start back to Castlegar. Boy, am I glad we have a 4x4 truck! Some of the road was plowed and were ok - until we got to a pinched area that drops steeply - curves tightly and rises quickly. It was bit nerve racking but we made it through!

The motel looks a bit different then when we arrived.

Thursday, March 22nd was also Roofous's third Birthday!

The road at it's worst.

Once the road south dropped in elevation and began to parallel the lake the snow lightened and the road became clear. Happy to have made it down we decided to stop at Balfour and the Old World Bakery for a coffee and breakfast. We had never been before but - again - we were really impressed! Great bakery and very friendly staff - stop in if you are that way!

hmmmm what to get? a tough decision - I ended up with the blueberry white chocolate scone and Derek the ham and cheese croissant. 

And Cassia the Easter Bunny - good parents eh? a cookie for breakfast!

The line up for the Balfour Ferry.

The rest of the ride to Nelson went pretty quick with good roads.

Hey! another bridge!

Nelson is a very picturesque city but not so much in the winter and not from this angle. If you google image Nelson you'll see some great pics - this fall picture is one of my favourites.

And that was our Nelson and Ainsworth Hot Springs mini vacation! We felt pretty special staying at the motel and walking to the hot springs. We purchased the daily fee so that we could visit multiple times in one day. After dinner at the Resort Dining Room we went back to the hot springs - what a nice way to end a day. Although the afternoon wasn't too busy we thought that it would be nice to go at night thinking it would be quite. But we were wrong, it was very very busy at night. With all the kids around the hot springs must be a spring break destination as well.

Thanks for checkin' in!


Today's Interesting Link: We would be remiss if we didn't point out that The Nelson Brewing Company  also makes a fine bottle of beer. 
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