Monday, January 01, 2018

What a year!

I described 2016 as one fraught with drama, medical emergencies, death and enough stress to snap my crayons.  2017 has been (for the most part) the polar opposite with new beginnings, adventure, fun and joy.

In October, we welcomed Brad, Anette and Magnus to our new home.  We bought Magnus a bike to have on hand whenever he visited, and he quickly got the hang of it and happily cycled around the community.  Brad and Anette went to Tofino with friends for the weekend, so we kept him busy and had a great time keeping up with a four year old.

We took Magnus to a store to fill up a Samaritan's Purse shoe box, explaining he would be buying gifts for a little boy who didn't have anything.  It was a learning experience for him and touching to see him decide what to buy.  There were, of course, cars chosen but also useful items like combs and toothbrushes.  

Magnus loves going to see the Goats on the Roof market at Coombs, made even more fun by the opening of Billy Gruff's Donut Shop this year.  He chose a peanut butter, jelly and chocolate one which he ate with great gusto!

He was in heaven

When Brad and Anette returned from Tofino, they treated us to lunch at our favourite restaurant, Cuckoos.

Our last camping trip in late October was to Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville.  As I took this picture we heard the tell tale "grunt" of nearby whales .  Sure enough, we saw their blow spouts and saw them glide through the glass-like water.  It doesn't get much better than that.

We also welcomed Kathy and Randy Cardon who spent a few days with us in late November.  The weather wasn't ideal, but we still managed to take them to sights they hadn't seen on previous trips.

Englishman River Falls was roaring after all the rain

We decided to host a Christmas Open House - our first since 2006.  Roger set up the garage (or Man Cave) as the bar, and we welcomed 28 neighbours and enjoyed every minute.

We headed to Bothell, Washington to spend Christmas with Brad, Anette and Magnus.  And what a magical time it was with Magnus in total Santa mode.

Roger and I were treated to an early Christmas present by being taken to a spectacular brunch at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian restaurant close to Brad's office.  If it is possible to have a food hang over --- well, we had one.

After brunch, we went to Valve and toured the offices they just moved into.  Holy Toledo.  I remember working for a division of Dome Petroleum in the late 70s and being impressed when there were cookies provided in the coffee room. 
Reception area

Most floors have food stations including a sushi fridge, a smoothie bar on the Fitness floor, catered meals,  and candy and healthy snack stations.  

The "Sulking Room" complete with Netflix, games, magazines and comfortable furniture to turn your frown upside down.

Roger had never seen such an incredible fitness facility --- including individual rooms for personal trainers, massage therapists, yoga, and group classes.  And the views are incredible.

Every company provides these perks, right?

Families are welcomed to come so there is this amazing play room, and a nursing room complete with everything I'm sure I wished I had 35 years ago.
It was really wonderful seeing Brad's work environment and knowing how valued he and other employees are.  At times like these, I'm always reminded of the conversation I had with Brad when he was in Grade 8 and said he wanted to be an animator.  I asked him if he could make a living at it, and he said he thought he could.  He certainly has and we love to exclaim, "BFA for the win!"

After a fun filled Christmas Day with a fabulous home cooked dinner, Brad and Anette headed on a 3 night getaway in a lodge near Leavenworth, Washington.  They bought us tickets to a children's play, as well as time at a ceramic painting shop to keep us busy with Magnus.
We enjoyed seeing Mr. Popper's Penguins!

The boys were very intent on their art projects!

LEGO is one of Magnus' favourite past times, so RaRa was kept busy helping him build some of the sets.

It was a winter wonderland for Brad and Anette --- they tobogganed, went snowshoeing and had a relaxing time together. 
I love this photo of them!
We came home on December 30th in time to get ready for another new chapter in our lives.  With the desire to stay closer to home and put uncertainty about visas and drilling contracts behind us, Roger sent a proposal to our strata to bundle all the contracts for landscaping and maintenance together - and he got the job!  

So, starting January 1st, our home will also be "the office".  No commute, active lifestyle, and the ability to actually make plans --- a first in nearly 40 years of marriage!  Qualicum Landing is like the Idaho property - but on steroids.  My money is on Roger in making this work and he is pumped about buying tractors and other equipment these days.  

We both feel we're too young to fully retire, so we'll make it so it balances the work and a lifestyle we want.  One of my first jobs out of high school was doing landscaping for a condo company in Calgary, and I used to mow the lawn in Idaho, so I've also been hired! 

Pictures of Roger's new "office".....

Once again, not being afraid to make changes in our lives and thinking outside the box has led to the beginning of another new adventure.  As usual, Roger had the idea and vision, but I've happily jumped on the bandwagon.  We're excited -- energized --- and ready!

Our wish for those who stop by and read our blog is to have a healthy 2018, the spirit to take a different path and the love that makes everything possible.

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."
                                                                                               C.S. Lewis

Monday, October 02, 2017

Big, Beautiful British Columbia

In 1964 British Columbia adopted the slogan "Beautiful British Columbia" for its license plates. Well, I think the time has come to really capture the essence of this province's grandeur and ratchet up the adjectives.  A morning sky can be "beautiful" --- but some of the scenery we've seen in the last month defies such a mundane word.

Another revelation is that there is life after boating and it's been fantastic exploring the island with our trailer.  Just 30 minutes from our home is Englishman River Falls.  We've passed the sign for it a hundred times and after a recommendation from friends, decided to go there for a couple of days.

The campground was quiet as a church and smelled of fir trees that stood so tall, they formed a canopy over our trailer.  We went for walks and could hear the water falls long before we saw them.  Even with the water levels being low, the falls were still impressive.

We were invited to a pancake breakfast at our clubhouse on the Sunday morning, and because we were close by, we got to enjoy the gathering and meet more of our neighbours.  We are constantly amazed at how many people that live in Qualicum Landing are from Alberta; many bought years ago in preparation for retirement and are now in the process of "living the dream".

Last week we headed west to Tofino; a place that is one of my favorite spots on the island and one I've never seen in the sun.  Until this time.

It was glorious.  Our campground made all other campgrounds pale in comparison.  Located in a pristine forest overlooking Long Beach, we could hear the waves crashing from inside our trailer.  A short walk led us to the expansive beach with miles of shoreline to explore.
Green Point Campground in the Pacific Rim National Park

Long Beach is aptly named

Huge clumps of kelp and sea onions spotted the beach

The campsite was really private and the trees even more majestic than our last campground

With fire bans finally lifted, we could have a real campfire while drinking gin and tonics

Morning light shining through the trees

Tofino's marina
There is a great vibe around Tofino.  Top knots, surfboards, Aussie accents, and words like "gnarly" pepper conversations and paint a picture of a community borne of adventure and young people communing with nature.
A surfing competition was held at Cox Bay so we sat on a piece of driftwood and caught a few rounds of the action.

Watching the sun set from one of the campground's lookout points

A rugged bay in Ucluelet.  The black rock reminded us of the Big Island, but without the palm trees

Happy days.  I'm not sure why I try and take all the selfies being that I have the shortest arms!

A trip to Tofino would not be complete without stopping by Tacofino for their fish and tuna tacos.  It's an iconic food truck where locals and tourists alike flock to a parking lot where it has been tucked away in the back for years without the benefit of traditional advertising or signage.  There were 50 people lined up when we were there -- good news travels fast and we again had a great lunch.
Tacofino started in 2009 and has now expanded to Victoria and Vancouver
It's been a great month of settling into our new home.  Roger has created a man cave in his garage complete with bar fridge, bar stools, his tools and a new rowing machine.  I don't think the chances are good that I'll be parking in it anytime soon.  But that's o.k. - you don't have to shovel rain.

So back to the license plate slogan conundrum.  I think the plates could read, "Spectacular British Columbia", or "Breathtaking British Columbia".  Anyway you slice it, the scenery I see every day is spectacularly breathtaking.

"The earth has music for those who listen."
                                                            George Santayana

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Summertime, and the livin' is easy....

The summer of 2016 was fraught with drama and near death experiences.  This summer, was sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.

June started by me welcoming Roger's mom and sister for a visit.  With the project in Costa Rica finished, Roger made it home the day before they left.  It was a relief seeing him tour the house that I bought and furnished in his absence -- he gave it a two thumbs up and said it was even better than the pictures I sent him.  Phew!

Roger and his mom down at our beach
Roger was away for this 60th birthday so the night after he came home I invited some of our friends for dinner.  We walked down to the beach for dessert and a campfire; something I knew Roger would love doing.
Left to right:  Roger, Rob Perry, Jodi Ikert, Barb Perry, Paul Ikert, Rhonda and Madalane
We always have fun when Dwayne and Annette Majcher come to visit so were thrilled when they popped up from Victoria where they have a condo to see our new place.  The original plan was to just stay for lunch and in true Kinley/Majcher fashion - they ended up staying for breakfast.

We had a campfire by the beach, watched eagles soaring overhead, seals swimming near the shore and there was even a whale sighting.  

Then in early July we headed to Calgary for a whirlwind family reunion.  We had a great time and it was terrific having so many attend.
Roger in the background, Brad, Magnus, John and Zunny

The family!
Back row left to right:  Cooper, Colin, Chris, Brad, Tyler, Samantha, Kathy, Roger, Jack
Front row left to right:  Anette, Walter, John, Heather, Rhonda, Siu

After Calgary we brought Anette and Magnus on a road trip to Idaho where we got our new trailer set up at Rusty Tractor Springs.  The Moes now own the property, but we were able to camp there this year.  
Magnus loves anything mechanical and happily spent time with Roger as he puttered on the trailer

Anette and Magnus enjoying the beach at Priest River
Once we dropped Magnus and Anette off at home, we headed to Sidney on the island and got on Tranquillo for a couple of weeks of cruising the southern Gulf Islands.  The weather was perfect as we spent a couple of days at Todd Inlet where we visited  Butchart Gardens, then went to Ganges Harbour where we experienced their famous Saturday Farmers Market, and then we spent a couple of days at Montague Harbour where Roger successfully caught more crab than we could eat.

Tranquillo at Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island

The long awaited crab feast at Montague Harbour
While we were cruising we talked about whether we should keep the boat or if it was time to sell it.  Despite living on the coast, we haven't used it as much as we thought we would.  And admittedly, I was eyeing the VHF radio with a different outlook after Roger's heart attack --- wondering if there would be a time I'd have to send an emergency call from a secluded anchorage.

At the end of the cruise we decided it was time, so took a couple of days to unload our possessions and clean it up.  We have a group of people in Kelowna who just put a deposit on it, and they are very excited about having Tranquillo shipped to them.  We know they'll love the boat as much as we did. 

Many people are shocked that for the first time in a very long time we don't own a boat.  Never say never, but for right now we're going to embrace our adage, "less is more".

After the boat we headed back to Seattle for a quick visit with the kids and then flew to Kansas City for a week.  Roger had meetings with Colin and Andrew regarding a job in Arizona and I got to spend time with Karen.  She has been going through a living hell after cancer surgery and I got to take her to her 11th chemotherapy treatment.  Karen has soldiered through very difficult side effects with humour and strength and we're so very proud of her.  

I was very happy to help with practical things to help her and by the end of the week she was fondly calling me Consuelo.  

Dinner time!  Left to right:  Roger, Karen, Colin, Cooper and me

August found us back in Idaho for a couple of weeks and having fun in our old haunts:  The Beardmore Bistro Wine Bar and Tap House, Willow Bay, and the Festival at Sandpoint.

One goal Roger and I had when returning to Priest River was to meet and personally thank Officer Dan Burkey.  He was our guardian angel the night Roger had his heart attack, and coming across his police car in the grocery store parking lot was truly the tipping point in getting Roger medical care quickly.

We were thrilled when Dan and his wife, Ashley, and two of their four children joined us for dinner at Willow Bay.  Dan is our hero, has served his country in Afghanistan, and is a devoted husband and father.  And all around great guy.

The three of us recounted August 28, 2016 and Roger and I couldn't believe how much Dan remembered despite countless other calls he would have attended in the past year.  As the evening wrapped up, Roger hugged Dan and thanked him again.  I told the Burkey family that (whether they liked it or not!) we will always be a part of their lives, and would love if they visited us on the island.  What a wonderful evening and what a fabulous family.

Left to right:  Cohen, Ashley, Kinley (yes! Their 4 year old daughter's name is Kinley!), Dan, me and Roger
Going to the Festival at Sandpoint is a summer ritual that is on our "Must Do" list.  This year we went to see George Thurogood of "Bad to the Bone" and "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" fame.  A great time was made even better by having Paddy and Dave Carlson and Shelagh and John Slater join us.  The food...the wine...the festival vibe all added up to a stellar evening.
Left to right:  me, Paddy, Shelagh, John, Dave and Roger
After staying in Idaho a couple of weeks, we headed to Whitefish, Montana with Dwayne and Annette Majcher, for the wedding of a very special couple, Whitney and Ryan.  Whitney's parents are good friends, Ed and Colleen Walsh from our Sunhaven Road days and we've known Whitney since she was about 4 years old.  The four of us were honoured to be seated with Colleen and Ed at the reception and we had a fabulous time.
Dwayne and Annette brought a trailer to Whitefish so we had a great time camping amidst wedding festivities.

Such a beautiful wedding at Whitefish Lodge by the lake.  
After a quick pit stop in Idaho to pick up our remaining personal effects from the property, we headed to Dash Point State Park just south of Tacoma, Washington.  We got set up and the next day went to Bothell and picked Magnus up for two days of camping.  

The beach on Puget Sound was gorgeous and provided a great place for Magnus to play in the sand at low tide.

Magnus hitched a ride with RaRa until we could hose off his sandy feet!

Because of campfire bans throughout the state, we bought a propane fire pit so Magnus could still make s'mores -- one of his favourite camping past times.
We arrived back in Qualicum Beach on August 25th and it was so good to be home!  Roger had only slept in the house for a few nights and he immediately launched into building shelves for the garage.  I love having him home, and he's been meeting the neighbours and enjoying the community like I do.

One of the reasons we decided to sell the boat was for us to use our new trailer to explore Vancouver Island.  We did just that this past week when we went to Salmon Point near Campbell River for three days.  We joined Barb and Rob Perry who brought their trailer too. We lucked out and had an ocean view site and the first day and evening were spectacular.  Smoke from wildfires blew in for the next two days so we were glad we got to see it in all it's glory.

Dinner with a view
Left to right:  Rob and Barb Perry, Roger and me

The sunset was breathtaking which was made spectacular when someone started playing Amazing Grace on bagpipes.

Smoke turned the blue skies grey and shrouded the islands so they were barely visible.
We're back home and happy to hang out for awhile. There may be a camping trip or two this fall but in the meantime, we're just going to enjoy being together in our new home.  

It was a summer of fun, friends and family.    Just the way summers should be.

"Some of the best memories are made in flip flops".
                                                                                    Kellie Elmore