Saturday, December 30, 2017


It really has!

I'd like to say more good then bad but really - there was quite a bit of bad. Not tragic by any means but yet this year had a ton of obstacles. Interestingly, most weather related.

With last year being so cold and snowy it would have been difficult to convince us last January that things wouldn't improve - we all know one bad season leads to a couple good ones - right?! 

Sadly, no.

With spring we had flooding and then more flooding - first the creek and then the lake. And smoke - lots of smoke for most of the summer from the forest fires all around us. We had mosquitoes and we had wasps both at record numbers. We had a very difficult season at the Park work wise plagued by a ton of issues that are better left in the past -- plus a serious medical emergency of one camper and the tragic on-site death of another.

Sitting here now at the end of December I'm glad it's behind us now. We have a ton to be thankful for and have big plans for 2018!

So - let's get started - shall we!

In case you are new here .... the red bold words are links! ;)

The snow just wouldn't stop in January but at least we had some blue sky! The Okanagan is VERY cloudy in the winter due to the lake effect. It's not usual to not see the sun for three weeks! Not so great for us sun seekers.

While we lost all of our snow by the end of January the first year, it was still going strong until the end of February.

January 9th we celebrated Derek's 52nd Birthday ..... prior to arriving at Fintry, Derek spent his Birthdays in all sorts of locations south. Such as Troncones in 2013. 
Remember that! Now that was a Birthday in style! 

 Derek and Cassia on an adventure down at the Lake.

Just like in December (last post) Derek and Cassia -- and Rufus and Bubbles spent much of their time hiking by the waterfall.

Although Cassia was also waiting for spring - or willing it to happen.

At least she had a whole other world to visit indoors. 

After such a snowy winter we were happy to make our annual spring trip to 
Vancouver Island in March!

Something Cassia can't get enough of - a goat standing on her! 
All the rage with the kids at Beacon Hill Park.

Goat heaven!

The dinosaurs were happy to get outside upon our return to the park and so were we! 
April 7th was opening day - back to work!

Nice to see the garden getting going!

After two years with her other one - Cassia was do for a larger bike. Nice that she can ride it around the park in the spring while it still quiet.

These next few pictures were all taken on May 4th ... the calm before the storm. It was a nice day so we took a walk up to the waterfall - it was at it's peak with all the melting.

Shorts Creek is rising!

Still a bit blurry eyed - Derek woke to this at 6:30 am the next morning! (This was taken a bit later) When Derek looked through the kitchen window while making coffee he was shocked to see the dogs standing in water!

Although the day before was nice and clear a thunderstorm moved in over night. That combined with the runoff was too much for the creek to handle.

Meanwhile the front looked like this! We were both standing there staring when one of our local firefighters stopped at the road at 7:00 am telling us we should evacuate the Park! What?!

So there we were knocking on the doors of 15 campers at 7:30 am telling them they needed to leave. The issue was that there was a log jam up the creek and if it came down there was a fear that the bridge could be taken out - stranding the campers in the park.

Yikes! Our road from the service yard was a river!

As you can see it's a good thing our house sits upon a bit of a hill.

For prosperity?

Taken by Cassia -- she did well.

Derek was even on the local news!

Shorts Creek was now a raging river. It was actually quite amazing to see all the debris that made it's way down - large logs, tree stumps and a constant knocking of rocks.

One of the highlights was this little guy! It would have been so great to show you how we met him. The three of us and a BC Parks Ranger were standing on the road not far from the bridge. Suddenly this little gosling came running at us flapping his little wings. It was if he was saying 'Help me, help me!" He'd somehow fallen into the creek but was able to pull himself out.

Cassia was in love! So we went in search of his parents which proved to be fairly difficult with all the goose couples around. We did find a set in our back yard and hoped for the best. It happened again a bit later but we couldn't tell if it happened to another or was the same one. Derek walked around the field hoping to find the parents. In the end a couple with two other goslings came for him.
In our minds it all worked out just fine!

With water in our crawlspace and the power cut due to the trees along the creek we too were evacuated. Not the best feeling in the world - now I know how others feel when they are evacuated. We packed the van as best as we could in a few minutes and headed 20km south to our sister BC Park Bear Creek. We managed to do their hike to see all the water coming down their creek. They too suffered damage from the run off - they lost a few sites.

We could only stand to be away for a few days -- we came back before the power was back on but at least we were home. Well sort of, we spent a couple of days in one of our parking lots.

A few days later, our Supervisor being the star he is, showed up with a bobcat and tried to make some sense of our driveway. 

Although the Park being closed because of the flooding was all over the news - it didn't get the same attention when we reopened 5 days later.
Soooooo we spent most of May by ourselves.

But with true Canadian spirit the campers returned and we were full for the May long weekend!
This picture shows the Fintry group site.

After almost a year of begging asking nicely - Cassia finally got the kitten she longed for. Here is the newest member of the Wood Clan - Kit Kat. Oh sure he looks cute here - if we'd only known the trouble maker he'd become!

The end of May brought Cassia's 8th - 8th! Birthday!
I see now that I didn't get great party pictures. Here she is enjoying her spoils!

In early June - Cassia's Grandpa - Derek's Dad, Lloyd - stopped by to teach Cassia the fine art of blowing through grass.

Just when things were getting back to normal from the flood - we - and the rest of the Okanagan were hit by rising lake water. It was big deal around these parts. Lots of closed beaches and boat ramps and many residents along the lake suffered flooding and damage. By this time of year the water level should be at the end of the ramp and the ramp really should be going down not up!

By late June our front garden was doing well! LOVE the poppies!

This year in August we made it a point to go to Penticton's Peach Festival - we hadn't been since Cassia was a baby. Who knew she'd be such a ride freak. She went on all the rides she was allowed to including zero gravity! Since neither Derek or I were up for the rides we found 'friends' for Cassia along the way - she met some really nice kids.

It was a smokey summer! At least we were still able to catch the Canadian Snowbirds show.

Cassia's new friends!

On the way home we spent a day in Peachland. This is the Wibit - never heard of Wibit? Let me tell you this here is pure gold for parents. Derek and I are nicely set up in the shade with our chairs, beverages and snacks while Cassia keeps herself amused for five - yes 5 - hours!

She did however, swim back now and then to refuel - and - visit with the ducks who were obviously thinking the same thing!

And yes, work continued at the Park. No real pictures of us at work - cuz well, it's work. It's good but I don't usually walk around photographing us doing it. Derek is cutting the Manor House lawn in preparation for a wedding. Although we didn't have a large wind event in August like last year - we did have to evacuate one of our loops for a few hours because a lot of debris came down as well as two trees. Better safe then sorry. Thankfully we were able to let everyone back in that evening.

Come September, Cassia began Grade 3. 

Although we say that Cassia is homeschooled - that isn't technically correct. I mean - yes, she is schooled at home but since Grade 1 she has actually been part of a directed learning program. Which means she is still being educated within the provincial education system but at home with us as her primary teachers. For Grades 1 and 2 we were with SelfDesign. 

We decided to move over to VLearn this year because it is based in Vernon and the kids get together every Wednesday morning at 'school'. They do all sorts of things including field trips -- the school year started with a group visit to O'Keefe Ranch - we tagged along!

Our fall garden .... L.O.V.E.

With fall came our BIG news! We put in for a new provincial park with our company and had it confirmed that we were in fact heading to Kekuli Bay Provincial Park in the spring! At first we thought to purchase a tiny home but after weighing the pros and cons and realizing that we really didn't want to go into debt - which we've happily stayed out of for almost 10 years now ... we opted for this 2009 30' Arctic Fox. We didn't really need to purchase a trailer right away but when we found one in great shape nearby we jumped on it. After diligently saving for the last few years we were happy to be able to pay cash for it. Keeping it -- a life made simple.

Since it's going to be our home for the foreseeable future we wanted to make sure we got something large enough to live in. We purchased an Arctic Fox because if we were going to invest in an RV we wanted to make sure we had the choice as to stay home for the winter or not.

Our new home's new home. This is the service yard at Kekuli. Yup - I know - it definitely looks like we are stepping down in life and not up. But really - after three years at Fintry we are looking forward to a change. Fintry is a beautiful park but it is remote - we will now be 10 minutes south of Vernon - much better for getting Cassia to her activities.

Plus we are more in love with the grasslands than the forest. 

And speaking of a dry landscape .... this is a picture of a park we used to manage - Goldpan Provincial Park. In early December we took the long route from our home to the lower mainland because of bad winter roads up in the mountains. This gave us a chance to visit our old stomping grounds. 

Our first stop was Derek's family in Chilliwack - this gave us an opportunity to visit a Craft Brewery - what else right!? We were happy to finally get to Field House Brewery .... they are a class act putting out some really tasty beer.

We took along Derek's 20 year old nephew to teach him the fine art of craft beer sampling!

Then it was on to the Ferry and Vancouver Island. If you are a long time follower of our blog you'll know that we've been doing this for years. Every spring and fall. Here's the link of the very first time I blogged about it .....

We love walking along the rocks and logs on the ocean.

We didn't mean to visit the Island so late in the year but we had a hard time finding a pet sitter. It all worked out though as the weather was great and we were able to enjoy all the Christmas lights.

We do the same things every time we are in Victoria - including a walk out to Ogden Point.
Here are some more pics from our visit two years ago. Worth a jump over to to see more pictures of Victoria - it's such a great city!

It's been almost a year since my mom was moved up from an independent care home in Victoria to 24 hour care in Duncan. Still going strong though! Cassia is my mom's only grandchild - sadly she only gets to see her twice a year.

Then it was back to Derek's family.Ten years separate Cassia from her youngest cousin! 
Thankfully she knows how to do fancy hair styles!
Here Cassia was getting a French braid. 

Since we were all together, Derek's mom planned a surprise early Birthday party for Derek! 
Those are Derek's parents as well as his sister.

Upon our return we got our tree - late for us - the middle of December! As opposed to last year when we forked out $80 for 'just the right tree' this year we were happy with our $15 tree.

Christmas treats on tap this year were shortbread, English toffee and of course gingerbread. 

And ... peanut butter, carrot and oat cookies for the hounds.

Knowing we need to down size in the spring we kept Christmas simple - Cassia picked out one gift....

And here is how it is now - at the end of 2017 - ending the year just like it began. 

All this snow has had us thinking about all of our winter's south .... hiking, eating, shopping - all without snow! Remember?! It's a certain kind of torture to sit here going through the blog looking at all of the years and trips that we have taken - you know - Arizona and California, to the Florida Keys and back, to Zihuatanejo and back, to North Carolina and back and then the last time back to Zihuatanejo. 

It was pretty easy to come to the decision to head back south next winter. I know I know - we did announce last spring that this would be a winter south and we were almost good to go until the house/pet sitter we had lined up cancelled on us. Knowing that this was our last winter in a real house we thought better to wait until next year when we would only need to close up the travel trailer and go.

So - that's the final decision - south next winter to our old stomping grounds - and some new - in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and all of the States between here and there. 

We are nothing if not excited. When we got off the road three years ago - it was time - we were good with that - we were tired - nothing was really new anymore. But with the passing years we once again yearn for those places - like old friends - it will be good to see them again.

And speaking of friends - we're excited about getting together with our old ones down in the States and making new ones along the way!

Will I continue the blog - probably - although I need to get a laptop figured it. Did you know that if you accidentally drop them on the floor they no longer work - yup - really. 

I'll even try to update the blog this spring and summer with all of our downsizing, packing and moving adventures. That should be interesting and a bit of a challenge to once again live 'a life made simple'.

All the best to each and every one of you in 2018!

See you then!


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