Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Good, the bad and the amazing!

Where do I begin? As I sit typing our final post I have a mix of emotions… Happy to be home surrounded by family, friends and all that is familiar… and sadness that this chapter is coming to an end. We still have a hard time wrapping our minds around the last 2 years. Some of you may not realize, but we started this journey on January 7th, 2013. We were very fortunate to be able to bring this dream to life. The 3 of us began our hiatus by flying down to Playa del Carmen Mexico, soaking in the sun, sand and turquoise waters! Not a bad way to start our run-away plan! Next was California, relaxing in Palm Springs, soaking in the retro vibe! Love that place! Then 2 months on the Gulf Island of Saltspring, hiking and eating all the farm fresh fruits and veggies we could get our hands on! After those extravagant portions of our time off we realized money doesn't grow on trees! Who knew!? So we made the decision to buy our little home on wheels, the T@b, and hit the road! We love a good road trip, and we have always wanted to explore the United States with all its beauty and quirkiness! And of course… to drive across Canada is just a necessity for all Canadians! Then throw in an unexpected 3 month Portugal house sit! How lucky are we! So back to the beginning…. I feel the need to express our thanks and gratitude to all the amazing people we met on the road. Without sounding like a Hallmark card, you have all restored our faith in human kindness! We have made some friends for life, and I can only hope we see your friendly faces again someday.

One of the many questions we were asked on the road is… You're going where? In what? And you aren't divorced yet? LOL! So to all of you that had no faith… Yes! We drove 29,000 km or 18,000 miles, in the tiniest trailer known to man, and we still like each other!! Secondly, we were asked many times what was your favourite spot? One of the strangest questions we were asked was, what was the most mundane spot we visited? I guess it isn't that strange… Perhaps it was just the use of the word mundane! LOL! Ok! So for all of our curious followers! Here are our top spots with a mix of the mundane!

Top Spots!

Austin Texas! An eclectic, happening town, full of cool people, music, restaurants, shopping, museums, parks, and great weather! Everything you need for a perfect vacation!

Texas Hill Country! The small towns and beautiful countryside located between Austin and San Antonio. Rolling hills, rivers, wildflowers, quiet country roads, Texas BBQ's, wineries, antique shops, galleries, bistros and breweries, and that's just the beginning!

Savannah Georgia! What isn't to like about Savannah?! Loved it! Architecture, history, museums, parks, shopping, eating, drinking! Anyone watch/read "In the garden of good and evil"? Do it! And you will be on the next plane to the oldest city in the state of Georgia!

Washington DC! If museums, galleries, and historic landmarks are your thing. Then this is your city! The White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Museum, Capitol Building, and the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. The list goes, on and on and on! So much to see!

Bisbee Arizona! A former bustling mining town turned culturally alive tourist destination. An architecturally cool town filled with Victorian, and Art Deco buildings. Streets lined with cute shops, galleries, and restaurants! Bisbee was also runner up as one the Quirkiest Town's in America!

New Brunswick Canada! One of 3 Maritime Provinces and the only province in Canada that is constitutionally bilingual (English and French). Super friendly, beautiful scenery… Bay of Fundy! The Appalachian Mountains, rivers, loads of uncrowded parks for camping. And some history thrown in! We would definitely go back to explore more of the Maritimes!

Quebec Canada! Loads of quaint small towns! We would love to go back when we don't have to camp in a Walmart parking lot! Dido for Ontario! Unfortunately the parks were a little expensive for our budget, but the amount of cool small towns to explore was huge. Always a historic district with a "Main Street" brought back to its former glory! So fun to wander these out of the way towns!

Southern Alberta! Golden wheat fields, rolling hills, to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains! Awesome! And let's not forget the affordable Provincial Parks! Yaaa!

British Columbia! Jaw dropping beauty! Mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, the Pacific Ocean, old growth forests, wild life, and outdoor adventure abounds…. Ok, yes, and home! So I'm a little biased!

Ok, so I think I need to land this portion of the blog! Because seriously… I could go on and on. I didn't even touch on Portugal! Everywhere we visited had something unique and special about it! And to be truthful, now that we are home, I'm a little homesick for our little T@b and the places it took us. So let's switch topics and reminisce about some of the fun stuff we did!

So besides taking a leap of faith and jumping on a plane to fly to Portugal and house sitting a 300 year old house… What were some of our highlights you might ask?! Well……

Disney World and Epcot Centre for starters! Thank you C!

Kennedy Space Centre!

"This is the best day ever!"
Cruising Route 66!

An unexpected ATV adventure! Never thought I would like this…. But what a hoot! Thanks Jack!

And a few others worth mentioning….
  • Niagara Falls!
  • Remember the Alamo!
  • A tour of Canada's Parliament Buildings!
  • A tour of the LBJ Ranch… Better known as the Texas White House!
  • Visiting the Florida Everglades… Minus the mosquitos!
  • Touring the Cabot Trail on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island!
  • The Bay of Fundy
  • Meeting all of the friendly Tourism Information Staff and the smiling Walmart Greeters!
Ok, the not so good….

What the heck happened with our 2013/2014 weather? Ice storms, and snow in the South!? That Polar Vortex followed us everywhere! 

Picking up garbage on the shores of an undisclosed beach of the Gulf Shores. We spent one week in this area, and every day we visited the nearby state park and picked up garbage. I cringe to think of that vast whirlpool of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean. What have we done to our planet?

And… These are some random things that brought smiles to our faces!

  • Hiking trails and seeing new terrain with our best friend Mango!
  • Campfires and marshmallows
  • Our matching Smoky the Bear t-shirts! Ok, so we're starting to dress alike!
  • Morning coffee at a multitude of beautiful campgrounds
  • Sticker shopping!
  • High fives crossing State/Provincial lines!
  • Family size M&M's!
  • Box wine! 
  • Wildlife, crocodiles included!
  • Bird watching! Who knew!
  • Corn nuts and other varied snacks on the road!
  • Singing to tunes on the road. Even when all we could get was horrible country music… Which soon grew on us! LOL! Our favourite, Blake Shelton's Chew Tobacco song! 
  • Redbox! Movies for $1.20!! Can't beat that!
  • The sandy shores of Florida!
  • Christmas on the road and decorating the trailer!
  • Seeing a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Centre!
  • Driving through New York during rush hour with the car and trailer! LOL! Maybe that was not so good?
  • Camping World!! What a store! We could spend hours in there! Incidentally, that is where I bought my camp club chair!
  • Of course our little home the T@b. Which drew much attention in the campgrounds, Walmart parking lots and gas stations… Without her we would never have met so many wonderful people!

So I'm sure some of you are just dying to find out how our sticker collection turned out! LOL! Well, it did improve quite a bit. With that in mind we didn't start collecting until we hit our 4th State and some places we just couldn't find a sticker if our lives depended on it! So we shall use the wonders of the Internet and order up a few in the near future! Drum roll please……

On that note, I'm afraid this amazing display of stickers brings our "Have T@b will travel" blog to a close. That's not to say that we don't have many more T@b adventures planned! This has been an amazing journey, and it has been so much fun sharing it with you! If we have one bit of advice it would be… Don't wait, get out there and explore! You won't be disappointed!

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
-Mark Twain

Friday, September 19, 2014

Home Sweet Home!

Just a quick update to let you know we arrived home safe and sound! We rolled into Vancouver last week to a flurry of activity! Doctor appointments, dental visits (no cavities!), and some fun stuff too! Our friend's brother's movie premier! "Primary", great flick with some twists! Plenty of dog walks at our favourite city green space, "Pacific Spirit Regional Park". And let's not forget visits with family and friends! We spent the week with our good friends Lori and Doug, being spoiled rotten! I swear we left their house 10 lbs heavier!  Thanks guys! Their home is perched on a hill over looking the city (very nice!)… The city which we have missed so much! Absence makes the heart grow fonder right?! So fast forward to yesterday! We ferried over to Vancouver Island, my home town.. or Island I should say! I'm a Nanaimo girl! We are currently visiting my sister Tammy and her husband Ken, being equally spoiled! We are staying for a week before heading to an even smaller island. Salt Spring! Timing it perfectly for the annual Apple Festival! Woo hoo! Something Graham has been dying to check out! He is a bit of an apple nut! That's my guy! Ok, I'm wrapping up today's post, but I will be back with what might be my final entry… Where does the time go?

The view from Doug and Lori's! Not to shabby! Those are our North Shore Mountains!
BBQ Kings!
Did I mention we have been eating really, really well?!! Now that's a set of Flintstone ribs!
2 years ago we left Vancouver, we always thought it wasn't a dog friendly city. Well, I have to say… Our recent travels took us to the States, Canada, Mexico, and Portugal… and Vancouver is thee dog friendliest city by far!
We hit Pacific Spirit Park nearly every day. Mango loved it! I think dogs do smile.
Me and my girl!
Love this park! 73 km of walking/hiking trails! 50 km of which are multi-use, including horseback riding!
A view of Vancouver. Voted the best city to live in North America and 5th in the world! Sorry to brag folks!
West and North Vancouver, with a stick wielding Mango in the water! (That is not a seal!)
Home at last!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back in beautiful British Columbia!

As you may have guessed we made it back to BC! I have to say, when we drove through the Crows Nest Pass we were reminded of how lucky we are to call this place home. After driving around the States and through Canada, I can honestly say, this place is AMAZING! I'm not saying we didn't drive through some spectacular scenery on this journey, and there are plenty of more locations to explore with the T@b… OK, maybe we are a tad bit biased! But this province has some of the most beautiful landscapes we've seen by far! So good to be home! We missed you BC! So! Our first stop was 3 nights camping in Gladstone Provincial Park at Christina Lake…. As I mentioned in an older post, this lake claims to be the warmest tree lined lake in Canada…. Hmmmmm? Still seemed pretty chilly to us! Ha! But it was a picture perfect post card! Again we met up with our friends, Karen and Derek, and enjoyed some home cooked dinners, cocktails by the lake, and some campfire camaraderie! So nice to have company!

First off, I must include some pics from our first day entering BC… after a few high fives, a couple of "I can't believe we made it!!"…. and perhaps a couple of happy sniffles, we took the time to stop at a few pull outs and click some photos! All righty….. roll the photos! 
Warning: Extreme amounts of green… do not adjust your screen!

Sparwood BC and the Terex Titan, one of the largest trucks in the world! Mango can't believe her eyes!
Our first rest stop!
Mango takes a dip! 
Someone is a little suspicious of the Inuksuks! "They're everywhere…"
Graham and Mango enjoy the view at Stagleap Provincial Park
The view near Rossland BC
Nice trailer!
Our site at Christina Lake. Better than a Walmart!

Hike day!

Can you spot the paddle boarders?
Break time in a small creek! Someone is very happy to be back in BC! Sigh….

Cocktail hour at the beach! 
Graham tentatively testing the temperature!
Proof for my sister Tammy! He actually took the plunge!!! 

Another great pic from Derek and his retro camera! A Kayaker's viewpoint!
 Ok! Time to wrap up today's post… Please don't leave us yet. Soon to come: The best of times.. the worst of times!