Are the kids going?

In a few weeks we’ll be traveling to Nicaragua and almost everyone I’ve told has asked me if the kids are going. YES! The kids are coming we rarely travel without them.

Nicaragua is a place my husband and I have traveled before when we drove our Westfalia from Canada to Chile (if you look back I’ve posted some stories about the trip). He didn’t immediately fall in love with the place as I did and that’s another story (I’ll be sure to post soon) but it fit the criteria we were looking for in this family trip. We wanted to take the kids somewhere they speak Spanish and somewhere warm, check & check!

This time however we also wanted to add a bit of connection to the local people the kids really haven’t had before. So we’ve contacted a school in Granada and we will be taking some donations from my oldest son’s class to deliver when we visit. Things like arts and craft supplies mostly.

We chose this because we thought it would be something our kids could understand; at age 3 & 6 we can only expect so much but school is something they can both relate to. We’re hoping to show them how differently people around the world live. How much less people have and how happily they live their lives. We hope they’ll see the difference but the similarities as well. How a boy in Nicaragua likes to laugh and play just as they do. How he has to listen to his teacher and learn to read and write just as they do.

It feels poignant right now. Up here in Canada we have recently elected our Prime Minister who fills us with hope. Hope for bringing out the good in people. Hope for the future. But just below us, in America, watching the tidbits online it fills me with despair, true despair, to hear the politicians encourage racism, violence and hatred. I know we live in a bubble here on Vancouver Island, it’s why we live here, surrounded by lush green nature and welcoming supportive people it’s truly a paradise but I’m worried for my friends in America and how their lives will change if Trump is elected. Will their lives change? Will they survive President Trump? How will it affect us here in Canada? I’m afraid to find out the answer to these questions.

I want my children to know no matter where someone lives, no matter what they look like, how they dress, what religion they practice, how they feed their family we can always connect respectfully with one another. We can choose to point out the differences but we can also choose to celebrate the similarities because we are all human. We share this one planet. We breathe the same air. We all want to be loved, treated respectfully and with dignity. And every now and then we ALL need a hug to get through the day.

So this trip won’t be just all sand and surf it will also be about connecting and building relationships. It will be about celebrating similarities and diversity. It just feels right, right now.

Getting Back to Nature: Little Huson Caves

I’ve been finding the summer days, although luxuriously long, have been falling through my grasp like fine dry sand. Looking back, well I don’t even want to do that right now because frankly it scares me a bit how fast days, weeks and then months disappear, gone.

I’ve also been needing a great big dose of nature. Just us in the wild, no one else but us with trees, a big body of water, blue skies (preferably) to just explore somewhere and it needed to be a new place.

I stumbled, online, onto Little Huson Caves. Just floating around the interweb thinking about exploring the north of Vancouver Island I found this site. The first opportunity I had to go was last weekend but my husband was out of town so I bribed a friend, with drink, to accompany me and my two wild boys on an adventure and what we found was unbelievable.

Little Huson Caves is about 90 minutes north of Campbell River. After taking the turn off to Zeballos you follow the well placed highly visible signs all the way into your parking spot at the trailhead. The trail is so easy my 3 year old could do it no sweat, both ways, while jabbering about anything and everything that crossed his mind. We took small glow in the dark sticks for the kids to explore the caves with and I highly recommend this if you go with children or headlamps at the very least. The caves are very open so taking a light source is not a requirement for having good time but let’s face it, it’s way more fun with light sticks!

This weekend my husband was here and my short burst of caving experience had given me an idea. I planned our over night lake/cave/canoe adventure.

When we left Saturday morning my husband looked at me from the driver’s side and said “so, where are we going?” I wasn’t exactly sure but I knew I wanted to find somewhere it could just be us with no influences, no noise. “North” I said with a confident shrug. I had some ideas in mind but with the camp fire ban finally lifted after many, many weeks I was certain we would be battling to find any kind of privacy. We started again down the road to Zeballos and I found myself thinking what have I gotten us into now, would we be spending all day looking for a camping spot? The kids were already getting a bit tired of being in the truck, placating them with copious amounts of snacks and finally, grudgingly, handing over my husband’s iPhone we pulled up and parked in a small gravelly parking lot. I had scouted this spot out the previous week but had wholeheartedly expected to be confronted with a well established camp filled with seasoned J Crew clad campers frolicking in their smoky camp fire scent. What I received was glorious space, filled with everything nature. A small lake, perfect for our relaxing family canoe paddle, enough wood, rocks, blue sky and trees to fill up my nature void.

Ok, sooooo the relaxing family canoe ride was, ummm, not exactly relaxing being only the second time my husband and I have canoed together. Broadside to the wind, actually paddling in circles, the kids yelling we are “going to crash” into some rocks at the edge of the lake was anything but relaxing but once our feet were firmly planted on firm ground we hit our stride, well right after the wasp sting.

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Travel just to watch the sunset and you will find beauty everywhere.

Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I’ll miss you, until we meet again.

A little poem I stumbled across on the internet today perfectly sums up how I felt about saying goodbye to Maui a few days ago. I have lots to tell but for now just the sunsets. My oldest came to watch them with me every night. Every night. Sunset pals. Saying goodbye to the day together. Perfect.

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PS other than cropping I’ve left the photos unedited, Mother Nature’s paintbrush at it’s finest.

A whale of a way to start the day

After our trip to visit family in Chile I made a committment to myself for this trip; I was going to find time for myself everyday to relax, just for me if only for an hour I was going to do it. So, I searched the internet for some yoga classes close to where we would be staying because I knew if I was left to my own devices my committment could easily be derailed. I tried two different studios in Kihei, Maui Yoga Path and Kihei Community Yoga Centre.

I enjoyed all my yoga classes immensely, but Maui Yoga Path worked for me the best it was early in the morning and just a short walk away.

Heading down to my third class of the week I was full of doubts and feeling like each step was just taking a little bit more energy than usual. When I arrived I unrolled my mat onto the short green grass and plopped my butt down while crossing my legs to stare out into the ocean waiting for the class to begin. I wasn’t there a moment when a grey whale breached directly in front of me. My eyes opened wide and my breath just stopped. I quickly looked around and spotted a couple only a few feet to my right when our eyes connected through beaming huge smiles we squeaked out; “did you just SEE that?” simultaneously. It was so unreal we had to check in with each other to confirm it actually happened.

To my further amazement the whale stayed throughout my private lesson, no one else showed up to class, slapping the water with its fin and tail. At one point in her soft yogic voice my instructor asked me to raise my right hand up to the sky and my whale, certainly we were buddies now, raised her fin and just held it there, in a simple salute.

Facing out towards the ocean moving through the class watching my whale moving through her own morning routine filled my soul right up. That coupled with chest openers throughout the session on my short jaunt back to the condo, to my family, I felt like my heart was leading the way. I felt lighter, taller, straighter and stronger all at once, in that moment my life felt blissfully perfect.

My silent exchange with this majestic animal was an acknowledgement of sorts, we were both taking our time. Her a straggler at the end of the migration season, me a wife and mother separated from my pack for a morning, moving through the world, taking in the sunrise, stretching out for the day ahead. Preparing to take on the rest of the journey whether it be a day at the beach with family or an epic journey across oceans we knew our tanks need refilling on this morning.

 

 

The Storm before the Calm

On the eve of our next adventure I stood in the middle of our bedroom surrounded by clothes, luggage, personal grooming items, passports and out came a big sigh, turning on my heel I walked out the door. I wish I could say I was headed for a pedicure or something relaxing like that but as I slipped my unpedicured feet into my shoes I was mentally counting off the number of errands I had to run in order to prepare for our journey. Bank, drug store, bank again because I probably forgot something the first time, post office, etc.

Getting a family of four ready for a vacation is work. To me it always feels a bit like a tornado, everything is whirling around me and I’m holding on for dear life because I know it’s eventually going to come to an end and my feet will land on the ground again, preferably on white sandy beach ground.

It doesn’t end when all the luggage is packed and the kids are buckled in the car because even though I have well behaved kids, super biased here, airports make children crazy. Maybe it’s the energy of the place, people’s excitement to see their loved ones, families heading out to a sunny destination for a well deserved break but children at the airport are like a pack of puppies. They want to see everything, sniff everything, pee all the time, climb up things, down things, run, run, run.

So here’s my suggestion to those of you travelling without kids. STEER CLEAR. Seriously. Don’t sit by the playground if you want to zone out on your handheld device or read a book, do not use the walking people mover thing whatever they are called they are a kid magnet and certainly do not expect children to not bump into you and your luggage while waiting in line for customs, actually you should probably expect to be whacked with one of those fabric retractable line formation things, whatever they are called. I’m sorry, truly I am.

Here’s the secret. I’m letting them run wild, as wild as possible because shortly they are about to be confined in a small space and expected to sit in one seat for a long, long time because anything longer than 5 minutes is really, really long for a toddler. It’s totally unnatural to their little bodies and the more pent up energy they have, well, you can guess.

I read awhile back about a couple who handed out a gift package to all the passengers on the plane, kinda of pre-apology to their fellow passengers for having to travel on the same plane as their infant. Well, you won’t be getting anything from me and here’s why; when I buckle myself into the airplane seat I’m still trying to figure out whether I’ve packed everybody’s toothbrush and trying to come to terms with the fact I’ve probably forgotten to turn off some lights at home while simultaneously whacking a finger out of one of my kid’s noses.

So feel free to shoot me a dirty look, request to have your seat moved further away, I would if I were you, but please, please, please remember families need vacations, preferably at white sandy beach destinations, too.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about” Ben Franklin

I was recently having a conversation with an elderly gentleman who was emotionally very frustrated because he was conscious of his inability to remember some very important life events. He was very sad, wiping away tears with his shaky wrinkled hand, so I sat with him awhile and listened to the stories he could remember eventually watching the tears of sadness turn to tears of joy, sharing a few hearty belly laughs before the end. You see he was an adventurer and I could relate to many of his stories and shared some of my more memorable ones with him. When we were done we parted with a hand squeeze and a brief shared look that we knew acknowledged the suffering but also the joys of our moment of shared time together.

After our conversation the thoughts swirled and swirled in my head resulting in a bit of a tornado. You see dementia, Alzheimer’s, they all run in my family and I just kept coming up with the thought “was I just having a conversation with myself in the future?”

Sometimes in the dark recesses of my mind when I forget someone’s name or the exact details of an event this little evil thread runs through “is this the beginning?” It can be a bit daunting carrying this weight around somedays. I try not to ruminate on it because what will be, will be. Maybe it’s why I’m drawn to words, stories, the truer the better. I feel a deep need to get it all down. Have it somewhere my boys and possibly their children can come to and read. See the photographs, read the stories of their adventurous family roots.

I can’t get enough of hearing about people’s adventures in this big wide crazy world. We all might not be climbing mountain tops or exploring exotic rainforest everyday but if you’re willing to step out the door with bit of saved up money and two feet and a heart beat, take some risks, rise to the challenges I’ll be waiting at the end to hear your story beer in hand.

Who knows how long we each have to live our adventures, to remember our stories, to share them with others, so get out there make stories together even those terrible scary moments you may look back and laugh about one day.

The first time my husband and I traveled together to Mexico we were backpacking around the Baja for a week. I had booked the first night hotel as we were landing late at night then it was moment to moment. We didn’t have a lot of money we were both in college and we had booked our airfare on travel vouchers we had been given after a trip to see his family in Chile when our flight home was overbooked. We spent the first night at a cheap small hotel in Cabo San Lucas and the next morning set off on the bus to San Jose del Cabo. As we disembarked the bus at the beach my husband informed me he had left all our money tucked under the mattress at the last hotel then he went and phoned the hotel and asked the receptionist to look to see if the money was still there. It was absurd. We bussed all the way back holding our breath and finding hope in the smile of that Mexican receptionist envelope of cash in hand. We walked to the first bar we saw and laughed over cold beers breathing a sigh of relief we’d have a roof over our heads that night. We just weren’t really sure where!