Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Sentiment

Maybe it because of covid, dealing with loss, getting older or being shooken up from all the falls; I am feeling more sentimental than usual.  Ski season ending, groups dissolving, never to be repeated in the same way ever again.  Am clinging to the daily routines and don't want it to end.  This resistence to change is likely part of my effort to self soothe.  

Good thing I've been dwelling in self soothing as I had my first mammogram yesterday and holy crap did it hurt -- Still sore the morning after!  A trainee worked with me plus I needed a few extra shots.  Many fingers crossed that I won't need to be called back by the radiologist for more of that joy.

Also managed to fail a recent health screening test, so now am signed up for an additional procedure.  Had my telephone consult and date now set.  Hard not to wonder if the relatively carefree life as I knew it will come back again.  

Am not letting all this stop me from taking steps forward.  Have trips booked.  Ordered more protective gear for snowboarding next season.  My shoulder is slowly starting to come round.  Pelvis is sorting itself out.  Dr on the mountain told me to give it another 2 weeks and am currently where I should be at the 1 1/2 week mark.  He's good.  Still hoping to avoid physio but if I need a consult I'll do it.  Paddling season is starting and I don't want to miss out.

He was also trying to convince me to come out of retirement to help him part time during the ski season.  Not likely to happen but I can see the role I could play and it would make his ability to provide timely care much easier.  Hope he'll attract a suitable candidate for next season.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Injuries

In the spirit of continually learning new things, I decided to take up snowboarding.  I had been warned and advised to take precautions as it is a steep learning curve.  Armed with padded impact shorts and wrist guards (could have used padded top and knee pads) I went for it when D finally found me an instructor.  

Have had 5 lessons and have come to a full stop this week due to a couple of injuries, one to the shoulder and the other to the pelvis closest to the tailbone.  Got to meet the Doctor on the ski hill and am glad to hear that I had been doing the right things but "maybe you have had enough snowboarding for the season...".  

I was planning on 3 more lessons next week but will snowshoe and ski instead -- both I can still do with minimal discomfort.  The season is ending and we are flying home next weekend anyways.  Feel such relief from going through with the consult.  I'm not one to complain but unfortunately know enough about about injuries to know what I was experiencing was more than just a couple of bruises.  

My bigger concern was the prospect of long term disability from these injuries, which shouldn't be the case.  Physio was recommended for 4 - 6 weeks should things not resolve in another two.  I'm actually going to consult him again for a skiing knee issue before I leave since I had such a good experience.  

Someone once told me that the warranty on the body expires at 50... I'm definitely feeling that to be the case... 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Empty

I've gotten overloaded and overwhelmed with everything that is going on with the world.  A response team from the organization I've been involved with is on the ground in Moldova to help.  Like many others, I've been donating money and medical supplies.  And to think a mere month ago I was excitedly looking at enjoying spring in Europe.  

Going numb and empty is an emotional defense mechanism for me.  I need time for my system to reset before engaging again.  Those running away from war don't have this luxury.  I can only imagine the level of attack on their nervous sytem if I'm finding it difficult just reading and seeing the news.

On some level I can't believe this is happening.  It does feel like we as a species is on a one-way course to completely destroy everything we know to be true and right.  So many people are acting like they have lost their minds.  Makes me want to run away, to try and rationalize life, if that is even possible right now.

At this point, I'm wondering if life as we knew it will actually come back.  Forget supersede.  Just to almost neutral.  Neutral is mighty appealing right now.  Those large emotional and too eventful swings have taken such a toll.  Will we even be able to crawl up from this massive hole we are in?  

It has been a while since I've felt such despair.  I won't allow myself to dwell too long in the dark as I feel the best thing we can all do is continue to do and emanate good.  Add some joy into the world and allow that energy to clean up and brighten the skies again.  

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Rest

It's a rest day today...That's what I said yesterday until I was lured out by a warm blue bird day and the prospect of a food truck selling fish and chips at the bottom of a ski run.  So I braved the crowd, got in line and ate lunch in the sunshine on a snow bank.  Glorious.

D said that I was adapting well to this "ski bum" lifestyle and I think I would agree.  It's been real healthy to live in a beautiful fresh air environment where I'm drawn to spending my days outside doing whatever activity comes to mind.  Getting slimmer and fitter is a gradual byproduct.

Part of the challenge with getting used to being here and having a full time active lifestyle has to do with meals.  At home, I don't eat breakfast and fast until almost noon.  

It has been a transition, making sure I now eat a proper meal first thing to have enough fuel to go out for a few hours in the cold.  A vegan protein bar and half a banana hasn't cut it.  I've had to organize my cooking to have things on the ready.  

My energy and recovery suffered until I realized I needed more calories.   My ferritin level has dipped below 50 again so I need to be extra mindful.

Another area I'm working on are gear upgrades.  Skiing is not a high output activity for me so I need windproof and increased insulation or else I freeze on the chairlift and while skiing.  I'm wearing 3 layers plus jacket along with 2 layers of tights under ski pants, plus mitts or gore gloves. It's ridiculous.

Whereas I can go out on the same minus 17C day without windchill with just a breathable shell and 1 heavier gauge merino layer, single layer tights plus wool insulating skirt on extra cold days, go snowshoeing for a couple of hours and have to take off my hat, neck warmer and gloves because I'm sweating.  They are completely opposite activities for me.  It's going to take more time to dial in the gear changes.

It's another bright and sunny day today but even when it isn't, the moodiness of a grey day is still beautiful.




Monday, January 31, 2022

Transition






It has been a few weeks and I can't say that I am into a solid routine yet.  It is taking a longer time to transition from holiday mode to longer term living.  My eyes are catching things that I would like to change or modify to make things more livable.  Items we have previously been willing to overlook temporarily.  

Been trying to understand the rhythm of this place as well, so I can work around busy times and crowds.  Having fun trying different bakery and restaurant items.  Along with adding stuff to D's "to bring out" list.  

Am planning to be out here for a month this summer.  Undecided if it will be a road trip or flight and rental car.  Either way, it will be an great opportunity to stock up and complete the larger things on the to-do list.

On a whole, am enjoying living smaller and simpler.  The light is so beautiful and the colors of the sky are a feast for the eyes and fuel for the soul.  I find myself happy to just sit there, looking out like a cat.  Photos above were taken through our main picture window last week.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Made it!



After much anticipation and a near missed connection, my luggage and I have arrived.  I actually reached the gate of my final connection after the boarding door was supposed to be closed .  Fortunately for me, boarding hadn't started. 

For this flight, I was especially anxious about the luggage after reading about the numbers of delayed luggage claims.  And of course I happen to be checking in the most luggage ever (Three hard cases plus a carry on and personal item) due to my longer stay.  

The hard cases consisted of a solid 80% non perishable food plus items that I cannot easily buy here without a car.  Bringing so much stuff wasn't part of the original plan.  Am fortunate to be able to check luggage for free and took full advantage. 

Due to emergency flood damage causing the collapse of major highways linking the lower British Columbian coast to the interior, supplies have been delayed.  There was even a fuel limit imposed.  We noticed the effects on supermarket availability so made the change to bring what we could this time around.  

The drive up was stressful as it was the first time my taxi driver had ever done the drive and it was really foggy.  Normally I would take a resort run airport shuttle with drivers that are experienced with dark twisty mountain roads but as I was the only one booked, the mode of transport got switched.  It was trial by fire for my driver as it was not an easy nor short drive.  I wished him a safe journey back down.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Uncertainty

Am waiting with bated breath, to see whether my flight will get cancelled last minute like so many others have been since Christmas.  I had no idea the sector would blow up like that when I flew back east.  Had my share of delays (6 hrs out and 2 hrs back) but it never crossed my mind that manpower was quickly to become severely limited.  

D's flights back out west got cancelled and changed 4 times.  He bailed on the trip as he had planned to work remote, had meetings scheduled and did not want to contend with the uncertainty.  He has since rescheduled for end of Feb in hopes this current covid wave finds itself on a downturn by then.

I'm still committed to going back out and settling in for a couple of months.  Am willing to wade through the vortex that is domestic travel right now.  It is overwhelming the extent of moving parts that make up an airline, much less an airport.  All the different lives impacted, their health and individual stories rippling out, all of our actions intersecting.  

I relinquish control.  I know what flights I would likely get move to and their seat availability for the following days.  I've taken pictures of my luggage contents should I need to file a claim.  I'm carrying all must have items.  May the stars align well enough to allow me to move through relatively unscathed.

Unlike the way in November when I was trying to force my way through to a destination.  Just banging my head against one regulation after another, followed by hoop after hoop.  All those emails sent inquiring about where I would get sent should I test positive before my flight home.  

Were tourists sent to mass public facilies in community centers and would I get the boot from the hotel I would be staying in?  Would my new covid insurance cover me if I found to be a close contact of someone on a plane or shuttle and sent to isolate for 10 days even if I'm symptom free?

Signing up for various online private lab accounts to faciliate booking a PCR test.  Asking them what happens when they discover you test positive.  Writing to Consulates to see if they had a plan to recommend -- No for Argentina...And all those contact tracing apps!

The best replies with the best plans came from Greece (really impressed me), Cape Town health authority office -- Literally 5 days before Omicron imploded the world and Singapore (website only -- emails were quite delayed and surprising irritating and not very helpful).  Thailand continues to make changes seemingly every week.  

I feel like I've got a handle on most of the EU requirements and processes.  Central and South America procedures remain hazy.  Got replies to emails from Lima but not confident their system is robust enough to handle negative outcomes.

Am not willing to just show up somewhere right now without knowing whether you'll have any say in where you are taken, how you will be treated and whether your insurance will have any rights to insist differently on your behalf.  

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Plan A







First time posting with my cellphone.  Can't figure out how to change picture size...

Am happy that my plans to South Africa, Thailand and Singapore did not work out, saving me a whole lot of stress.

Have been out west for 2 weeks now.  Photos above were taken today while snowshoeing.  The light was magnificent.

I try to avoid skiing on the weekends as it tends to be real busy.

Super grateful to be here.  With the way the world is going, will likely be spending the rest of the season out here.  

Happy Holidays.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Venting

I've been pressuring (killing) myself to come up with something travel-wise ever since our government quietly lifted its worldwise advisory against travel about 3 weeks ago.  We had already mentally given up on any hope for this year.

Naively, I didn't think it would be problem to come up with something before Christmas.  But after 3 weeks of trying to absorb all the entry rules and testing requirements of many countries, the excitement of travel has been beaten out of me.  

As per usual, I aimed far and wide.  Instead of checking out one country at a time, I naturally took on 14 and quickly realized it wasn't fun at all trying to locate Covid testing labs near home nor in foreign countries.  Or which countries you shouldn't be in or transit through if you are hoping to enter other countries.  Lists of high risk countries are frequently changing.

It was the first time I've missed living in a major city.  Being limited on the days I can fly because I cannot get tested or receive results in time to board isn't something I really had to contend with before.  Our infrastructure isn't quite near where it will be once more demand creates additional capacity.

Europe and the US have had months of experience already.  And the well travelled locales have gotten used to seeing vaccine QR codes from them.  Ours is barely a month old and it hasn't be easy to search out on the ground experience.  Do I want to be a beta tester?

We've had to cancel a trip already due to tight timing with respect to PCR test for re-entry.  The solution to the farther flung destinations is to choose another airline carrier.  Needed to cut out the 2 hop itineraries.  

Disappointing after jumping through all the hoops with the new Thailand Pass application and getting approved.  But will know for next time.  

As I alluded to above, the challenges of finding foreign country medical labs for Covid testing has been a lot of work.  Need to be sure I can trust them.  I've had to create a list per country with the criteria of having easy online or email booking, availability during the week or weekends -- As it would affect which days you can fly home.  

And the additional step of getting a local SIM card as some online lab booking procedures send you confirmation and reminder texts.  And which company/brand to buy?

Canada requires a PCR test which takes 24 - 48 hours to get results back.  As well as the test needs to be taken within 72 of the flight that takes you back to Canada.  So if you are connecting, you need to count backwards from the final leg of the journey.  Not so easy when there is a significant time zone difference.  

Then there are the local Covid restrictions like double masking in Peru and their recently cancelled requirement to wear a shield on flights.  And all the other QR codes allowing you into venues and all the changes to the application process -- Looking at you France!

As much as I've been waiting for this time to finally get here, my mind has taken a hit trying navigate this new world.  Have asked myself if this is worth it right now and how much do I really want to travel as it is just not easy. 

Trying to gage covid numbers here at home and where the destination country is trending.  Is there a "safe" travel window?  

Then there is Covid insurance.  And finding out that not all insurance policies will cover quarantine.  Really important if you are found to be a close contact of someone on a plane or bus and then are mandated to quarantine for 14 days even if you have no symptoms etc.

And finding out the local lab I've purchase pre-travel testing has been horrible at refunding customers.  

And the shuttle I have come to rely on for airport transport understandably not being able to provide the schedule it did before.

And our main international airport having difficulty processing all the flights with every department getting accustomed to new protocols and increasing volume again.

I do have a flight and testing booked -- Have to make a decision before 7 pm tonight.  It's not looking good but I'm going through the motions of packing to see if the travel spark comes back.  

Hate to admit that all of this has gotten the better of me.  Part of me feels I just need to get one under my belt and it will be fine.  The brain is saying I don't need the hassle and just do something else fun over the winter and try again in the spring. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Improvements

With the advent of more extreme weather in our area -- mainly wind and rain; it has led to deeper thinking about preparedness and greater appreciation of how "solid" our house is compared to a camper.  Despite the camper/ tiny home being on the larger end of the spectrum (2 bed, 2 bath), the decreased insulation (regular and sound) becomes quickly apparent when a storm rolls through.  

I suppose I had greater expectations with respect to build quality.  That bubble burst a while ago and we've been busy designing and building additional protective structures to deal with diverting water to hopefully avoid future commonly known issues.  D estimates he has put in over 200 hrs in the construction alone with likely more in my planning.  

Thank goodness we are nearly at 100% completion -- It has been exhausting. Not only did we save money compared to lesser effective alternatives, we now have something that has been custom designed with weight, sheer and other forces in mind combined with esthetic.  It has been neat to combine D's previous construction experience with my architectural.

There's another capital project I'd like to do but not this year.  Had we not been under lockdown/stay at home orders and lost another month to rain, it might have been completed or at least started, but as of now, we are both spent and just want to enjoy the fall.  My mind has linked this place to work and I don't like it.

We were recently at 40 hrs without power out there from another storm, but not going to consider a generator.  So will need to consider editing what we leave in the fridge and freezer moving forward.

The challenge for me is trying to stop my brain from automatically and continuously thinking (and dreaming) of solutions like an annoying program running in the background of a computer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Misc

For environmental reasons we have been attempting to grow clover instead of grass on the lawn.  It has been rotation after rotation of lawn seed, additional top soil, aerating etc. -- All things that don't really interest us -- Just trying to save the initial sod replacement 14 years ago.  

After years of fighting acidic soil due to pine needles, we have given up on having a lawn on the shady side of the yard.  I think we are finally seeing some results.  Benefits would be no more mowing, if we aren't bothered with the flowering phase -- Especially now that we aren't around much over the summer.  Will definitely consider seeding the rest of the property next spring.  

After 7 1/2 months, I finally received an email about my Nexus renewal.  With border offices closed for so long, I had read last year to get your renewal applications in a year earlier; so I did.  Of course D waits until a month before his expires and gets his approval back in 2 weeks...nice.

Called the Canadian border office after D got his and the gentleman who answered was super sympathetic to my cause.  Saying that he'd be rich if he got paid each time someone called to ask why such a discrepancy in application timing?  Their office couldn't make sense of the US border procedures either. 

Am thrilled to finally receive my new card in the mail and proceeded with the subsequent activation.  Excited to read about the new streamlined Global Entry procedure as well.  Anything to speed up future re-entry to the continent.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Summer

Summer finally began for me mentally and emotionally in July.  It took a bit for my brain not to worry when leaving the house.  For someone who rarely hesitates to fly off somewhere, hadn't expected to feel so much paranoia.

Due to the insurance claim process, I was a month late with moving out to our forested getaway.  Since settling in there, it had been a different type of challenge with all those gypsy moth caterpillars and their poop everywhere.  Lots of daily sweeping and removal.  

Am currently back home recovering as the extended rain we have gotten the last month had meant a crazy mosquito and deer fly season.  I have been eaten up by them despite being mostly covered up along with copious amounts of bug spraying.  And I react to bites so welts all over along with feeling irritable and tired. 

After a few days of taking antihistamines, I usually start to feel better.  Happy to be home and great to have access to a bathtub and central air again.  Plus it is easier to cook and bake here and order another bug zapper before heading back out.

Speaking of AC, it has been very recently replaced.  The previous one was just over 25 years old, so it didn't owe anyone anything.  It just decided to quietly stop working.  The new model is 16 seer and ended up costing just under 5K installed.  Unfortunately no government rebates this time around.

Almost forgot -- Canoeing is going well.  Been out a couple dozen times already.  The canoe courses paid for themselves when we got caught in wind and rain -- Much more to it than kayaking.  The on and off the roof of the car process has gotten streamlined as well. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Claim

For the first time in both of our home ownership histories, we experienced a break in.  Via a fenced-in side door to our garage that we rarely used.  All six of our bicycles were taken.  Nothing was trashed inside.  We slept through it.  

A poor ball cedar got trampled on the way in and a utility line was cut.  The perpetrators were quite careful with moving things out of the way.  In order to gain entry, a crow bar was used on our steel door.  It was dented along with damage to the surround, deadbolt and strike plate. 

There were 4 people involved.  A couple of them served as lookout.  And the other two rode and guided the bikes 2 at a time, a short distance away before returning for more.  

The last month+ has been a blurr of activity as our insurance policy was tested.  To be honest, I didn't know the limits of coverage for things like bicycles.  When setting up the policy, I was mostly interested in making sure we'd be covered for a complete rebuild should the house burn down etc. 

As an aside, a highschool friend of mine is currently going through a claim as his house burnt down due to a faulty power bar.  It will take at least 8 months for his family of 6 to be able to move back.  They will be living at a hotel until then. We've all learned a whole lot about all the professionals sent to the scene to search for the cause.  

I wasn't concerned about our bicycles.  I remain concerned that the perpetrators now know that our garage has 2 other doors leading into the house -- Mudroom and basement, along with a ladder to the garage attic.  Who knows what they could be thinking.  

We already know that with Covid, nothing happens fast.  So the quote for a new steel door is 3 months+ depending on the style...

Since our door is usable, meaning it didn't have to be boarded up, it was important to secure it better, to make it harder to another break in.  We now have very large strike plates which makes it harder to pry around.  New locks have been installed as well as window security film as about half the door is glass.  

We do have motion detector lights but they had not been used in over a decade.  They've since been replaced and we are now using indoor and outdoor timers for lights again when we are away.  Our neighbour owns a security company and will be getting us a quote for a home alarm/monitoring system.  It was his camera that caught part of the scene.  That's how we know how many people were involved.

And because of the video, all 4 people were arrested.  A couple of them were released with a future court date and then proceeded to promptly steal again and were arrested again...

It's been proving difficult to find bicycles to buy.  Because of this, our insurance company issued a straight pay out.  It was a bit of work, listing all the bikes, upgraded parts and accessories.  Believe it or not, there were 68 line items, from mostly D's bikes.  

In the good news category, both of my bikes were found by the police (who were fantastic to deal with) within the first week.  They were a bit dented and scratched up so I've had to doctor them with touch up paint.  The busted frame of one of D's bike was found as the money is in the parts ie.  the wheels of D's fat bike alone are about 1K. 

Our local bike shops had their contacts keeping eyes out for us and a complete stranger attempted to chase down one of my bikes the day after it was stolen, when he saw "...a large guy riding the smallest olive Salsa bike he had ever seen..." (my bikes are an xs frame).  We were alarmed that he would risk confrontation but I've learned that bike owners are a passionate group.  

With depreciation, and a 3K deductible; in the end, we received about 9K back for the bikes and 3K for the replacement door.  And because you are dealing with an insurance company, we can expect our premium to increase next year.  

A real highlight was our claims adjuster who is such a kind and patient soul.  Over the years at work, I've dealt with my share of insurance and case adjusters.  So I know how fortunate we were to have been assigned a real standout.  I made sure she knew how we felt too.  

***Pro tip:  Replace surge protectors / power bars that are over 5 years old!***

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Negotiation

I've learned quickly that backpacking is an exercise in negotiation.  What do you want to bring vs how much weight are you willing to carry?

Turns out I don't actually own a backpack that is suitable for multiday trips.  I have daypacks and duffels.  Thankfully D has an older 50L one I have been filling and training with.  

Let me tell you, I didn't love it then the weight was over 25lbs.  So out came my tarp, paracord, tent footprint, hatchet and 2L of water (leaving just 1L for now).  I will still have a knife that I can baton wood with.    

Am packing for a few scenarios.  First will likely be a local hike in basecamp setup for a few days.  Will have to go back and forth as I will need to fetch water.  And want to bring a hatchet or axe to be able to process wood for the fire.  But I won't need to worry about bear proofing, just critter proofing.

The most difficult will be a multiday camp in bear country because the bear vaults etc.  adds significant amount of weight.  I'll likely upgrade to a 65L pack especially if I'm going in cooler temperatures as you'll need extra clothing and cold weather gear tend to be heavier.

For a multiday hike that is more culture based like in Nepal, Turkey, Europe etc.  that doesn't involve camping, packing would be much easier.  Just a daypack as I won't need to worry about carrying too much food or water. 

I'm starting to tire of all this planning but no real doing.  Camping has been delayed yet again until mid June now.  Which has meant our canoe classes as well... Been doing some stress baking lately, which has provide a nice reprive from all the uncertainty.  Just follow the recipe and voila, something expected actually happens!  

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Solo

I'm starting to really miss solo adventures. 

My intention is to solo camp for the week before we are scheduled to canoe camp late next month, assuming our stay at home orders aren't extended.  At this moment, it isn't looking good.  Both of our canoe course have been rescheduled already.  

However, having something to look forward to is important for my mental health.  I like to be learning, planning and moving towards something rather than dwell on what I cannot do.  Possibilities keep me enthusiatic and sane.  We've already come up with new options for our local area to check out.

I finally started delving into cooking with cast iron this month after getting an outdoor griddle.  We were originally going the Blackstone route but switched to a Camp Chef two burner system with removable griddle for more versitility.  

Had long been intimidated by cast iron cookware and the whole needing to season it etc.  Right now I only have a panini press and a 12" fry pan (8 lbs!) and having used and cleaned it a couple of times, I want more!   

The first time was a bit of mess as soon as I added some gluten free gnocchi to sauteed onions and bacon.  It had only been seasoned once.  After the 2nd seasoning, noodles did not stick and neither did tofu.  D is going to season it once more for good measure.  

Having had low ferritin, this is another way to add iron to my food in order to avoid yet another supplement.  I going to order both 8" and 10" pans to add to my collection which will also work well over a fire.  Don't think I have a need to go the dutch oven route yet.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Plans

The biggest one is D's countdown to his retirement.  He is planning for Dec 2022.  

I had wondered how he would see things when I was done, if he would feel left out?  He says that he doesn't feel left out as there is so much we cannot and shouldn't be doing still, that he might as well continue his relatively "easy" work.  Whereas I have not felt one pull towards work at all, despite not being free to do or be anywhere I'd like.  My days are full in a mostly good way.

Our province has enacted an "emergency brake" for the month of April followed by a stay at home order (not sure if people will actually listen anymore...here's hoping!), so our camping plans got cancelled.  We have reservations for May and June so fingers crossed as they coincide with canoeing classes.  Have started to make a list of things we can do should everything get cancelled this summer.  Easier to think about that now.

Fishing has been slow going.  Fortunately we both enjoy spending time outdoors.  Both of us got trout on the first day but failed to land them.  Since that early action, neither of us has had any real bites.  So all the fish crisp, seasoning and beer batter packs are sitting on the shelf waiting... And to think I had the gall to buy a sport fishing licence as the recreational limits seemed too small!

Turns out D is quite the legendary fish lure saver.  The lengths he will go to not lose a lure is nothing short of incredible.  I have never seen someone walk from under a bridge to up and over to the other side in order to get the right angle to dislodge a snag.  I was ready to cut it off and buy a new one pretty much right off the bat.  D's efforts stemmed from not being able to afford to keep buying good fishing lures as a kid. 

Our ideas of being able to head out on interprovincial road trips have pretty much disintegrated.  We are flexible enough to make something happen should things improve.  Meanwhile, have hired our building manager of the condo out west to go in and close the water on our behalf.  A relief to close that loop.  I've seriously cancelled 5 flights since Dec.  

We had wanted to head east this summer as well, to check out land for sale.  Had been in contact with a great realtor but don't expect this trip to happen either since the atlantic provinces will not likely open up to the rest of Canada without a quarantine period.  Was hoping to fly in for a week.

The whole camper van and truck camper ideas are dead as well.  Test drove an older camper van and while I could manage it just fine (D said I drove it "like a boss"), we questioned its ability to pass safety.  Newer ones are 100K+, far beyond what I would care to spend on a "fun" camping vehicle.  

We did however buy a 1 year old recreational vehicle last fall, a few months after I sold my car.  More like a tiny home (2 bed, 2 bath), too long (43 ft) to be pulled around but set on a large ravine site (larger than our home lot), 30 ft deck, with no neighbours behind or on the one side, 10 min to the beach / lake.  

Very private site for a park, tucked away at the back in the forest, 70% shaded.  If you were to stand at our driveway (length for 2 cars), you'd barely see our heads or the fire when we are sitting at the back as the land tapers slightly down.  There's enough space and sun for a vegetable container garden between the driveway and the RV as the plan is for D to work from there this summer.  

He had to drag me to see it as I wasn't keen on the whole RV park idea after attending a summer bbq at one decades ago (found it a bit claustraphobic with so many people around, minimum trees).  He had been looking for a small "home base" in that particular region for his bikepacking and mountian bike outings.  As I do neither, told him to decide for himself as I was more interested in a mobile version.

When he stumbled on this, he thought it could be a place I wouldn't mind going to as well.  He was right.  The season was ending when we became owners last fall but I spent most days that I was there outside trying to chop wood and cooking over the fire.  Something D has never seen me do in all the years we had a cottage.  

We are still not sure why this lot wasn't divided into at least two like what you imagine a typical park would look like.  Sure, there is premium site fee but well worth it in our opinion.  Only thing, it is in another health unit district, so we are subject to restrictions.  

So until that season can start, I am going to continue to focus on my conditioning and endurance.  Start carrying a pack while on the treadmill to get ready for hike-in camping etc.  And continue to declutter the house.  You know, all that fun stuff.  Honestly, it has been very gratifying to donate and clear house.  I know many started on that road a year ago but as usual, I'm often late to the game.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Food

Now that I have a handle on all the gear we will use for canoe camping, my focus is turning towards figuring out our meals.  

Just going to make it clear right off the bat that I am not interested in macaroni and cheese (never have been), instant oatmeal or conventional freeze dried meals.  

D has gone with all of the above on his previous bike camping trips as he had firm space and weight restrictions.  But in a canoe, we will have capacity in our food barrel, so no need to go that route on these types of adventures -- One of the biggest selling features for me when deciding on a boat.  

It won't be full on food like a car camping trip, due to the need to be bear aware, but I want to eat semi normally, with variety, not a bunch of stuff I would never consider in everyday life.  

Our approach is to continue to eat foods that have higher nutritional value per serving.  It's the philosophy we already use at home but it was a good excuse to see what is new on the market. 

Examples of new finds include a higher protein pancake mix that just needs water but provides a higher amount of protein, and chickpea and quinoa-rice pasta instead of just a wheat or rice noodles. 

We will attempt to dehydrate a number of base items including tomato based sauce, vegetables like mushrooms, olives etc., baked beans and some meats like chicken, turkey, ham.  Just one ingredient things, no whole meals planned at this point, to keep things simple.  Once we get the hang of the dehydrator, we may continue on.  Don't think we'll bother with fruit as they can be purchased easy enough.

Other meal options include using different types of pre-made curries (chickpea, potatoe, eggplant) on top of pasta, rice, with naan.  D is going to try packaged tuna plus vegetables on top of pasta as well.  I'm looking into incorporating some Thai (tom yum) and Japanese (miso, soba, udon) items to the mix.  This will likely mean buying some leakproof jars for the pastes.  

The testing has just started with the new to us pancake mix (resounding success!), concentrate chicken broth with gluten free ramen (good, but the broth was weak when following instructions, needed to double).  Won't be surprised if I have to do the same with the beef broth concentrate.  

Chickpea pasta was a bit grainy tasting, so next time will undercook.  The quinoa and rice spaghetti is a clear winner.  My stomach can't digest well the 100% quinoa pasta that D eats at home, but this one I could! The Indian curries will be next.  

The aspect of travelling I have missed the most is the food.  This food exercise has been a fun reminder of all the places we have been and hopefully leading us to discover decent alternatives to some of our memorable meals abroad, like the simple street corner thali plate in Delhi.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Detail Crazy

I'm known for going overboard delving into new details.  

Been gathering unscented toiletry items and cleaning supplies for the backcountry camping trips we are hoping to take this summer.  And currently waiting on our scent blocking bags to arrive so we can begin to work out food portions etc.  

Figured out our water filtering and sterilizing procedures.  When I went to Nepal, I took the filter that came with the steripen with me and found it took forever, so didn't use it after realizing the water in the area didn't have a lot of dirt or gunk at all.  It has since been replaced by a Sawyer mini, a tip from a fellow wilderness first aid classmate.  

An added small pack of water purification tablets will serve as back up.  We aren't going with a gravity system yet but may change our minds once we see how the mini works using the squeeze method.

Also waiting on a larger stainless steel billy can to boil larger amounts of water for dish washing and cooking.  Plus a larger frying pan for all the fish we think we are going to catch!  Think we may finally be coming to the end of all this gear gathering.  Wishful thinking perhaps...

Even bought a 1 person tent in preparation for solo trips, after finding how heavy my canoe dry pack was getting with my 2 man tent.  Thought I leaned towards the ultralight end of things but that 115L pack fills and gets heavy real fast when it alone weighs nearly 5lbs.

So word of warning.  If you decide to go down this canoe camping road, not all your previous gear will transfer over.  And in an open boat (I'd like to get a spray deck -- we are on the wait list), you need to consider floatation and weather proofing everything.  Neither of those elements come cheap with respect to gear.  

It can be overwhelming especially adding in components that come with bear proofing (bear cache arrived yesterday...) your site.  We have decided not to carry bear bangers as we aren't planning to be that out there.  So I returned them.  Our non lethal deterrants will primarily be our responsible behaviour along with an air horn and bear spray.  Should a visit to the far north happen, I'll go pick up some bear bangers again.  

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Climate Catch Up

This post is weeks late as we are well into spring thaw.  

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We have lost most of our snow already... so D and I dug up all the snow stakes in order to take down my tent.  Neither of us had used winter specific stakes before and wasn't too sure how they would work.  But work well they did.  

It is just like described -- The snow freezes in the holes which creates a real solid anchor.  And because we stomped out the site in advance, the compacting made things even more frozen.  To the point where we needed to break out the ice axe (another piece of equipment to test) to get down to them. 

To completely stake out my winter tent required 15 stakes.  I only had 12 so used the ones it came with to make up the difference. They didn't work well at all and came undone pretty much right away.  Can't find anymore of the snow stakes to buy now, so will likely have to wait untl next season to top up.

Been reading of how this year will also be a challenge for gear inventory.  Or it could be a continuation of last year's phenomenon.  Or people are onto it and have bought early.  We continue to be guilty of that.  Using snow stakes as an example, I started making my purchase list early summer.  

D and I are getting ourselves back into the water this year and toward paddle in camping.  We had sold our sea kayaks last summer and considered various ideas but nothing came together until recently.  It started with us wanting to get back into fishing, having both grown up with it.  Then the idea moved to getting a fishing boat.  Which progressed to a fishing kayak (didn't know it was thing...).

And after watching some adventure videos, it has brought us to a 2 person canoe and maybe a solo kayak for me.  The huge difference this time around is portability.  I had been looking for a way to transport a boat with a potential camper van or truck camper and stumbled on a thread about pakboats. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks and we now have a 16 ft canoe sitting in our dining room with me busy packing it up with a canoe barrel and multiple duffels.  Add to it fishing rods, hip waders and a wet suit.  Fun times.  I did try out a smaller portable kayak but it didn't fit me well.

There are many moving pieces associated with canoe camping -- New paddles, back up paddles, many dry bags.  We had kept our paddle jackets, shoes, pfds and boat safety equipment but bought a cart again as we sold both of ours.  Also needed heavier duty lines. 

Paddle in camp sites tend to be in the backcountry, so camping this way often means being bear and critter aware and all the stuff that this entails.  It's the price to pay to be further away from others.  We are currently delving into the food dehydration thing and D couldn't be happier.  He has been trying to convince me to go down this route for a while.  

What remains to be seen is whether we'll paddling together well as we've never done tandem...We'll see if the marriage survives...

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Relief -- Life Continues!

I got my ultrasound results and it was negative for abdominal hernia!  What a relief.  I was starting to mentally write off this year and part of next already should surgery be necessary.  D waited 7 months for his in a non Covid year, so what hope would I have for what is not usually a life threatening diagnosis.

What the radiologist did pick up on the scan were some benign uterine fibroids.  I'll be finding out more about their locale and number next I speak with my MD.  My blood work to check my iron levels also came back and they are good.  I really do not want to be on an iron pill.

My injury set back my plans to start sleeping outdoors this winter as I wasn't wanting to get into low positions to set up my bivy, tarp, tent etc alongside stomping down the snow for my camp site.  So I missed testing out my gear during the polar vortex.  Bummer.  

D thinks I'm insane for even wanting to try that.  It's definitely not something he is remotely interested in.  He would consider winter camping only if it involved a hot tent and wood stove.  We're looking into it.  I would love for him to experience it in a positive way.

So I have completed 4 nights of sleeping outside so far.  Initially with my new tarp, bivy and sleeping bag.  Temps dipped to -19 C and did great.  Actually wore too many layers.  My new sleeping bag was really thick, so it took up a lot of room.  I used a wool blanket on top of it to catch condensation.  

Next up for the test was my winter tent as I've only used it in late fall.  It was luxury to have so much more space.  No condensation until last night when temps got warmer.  Didn't do a good enough job leveling the site so I can tell snow melt is gathering in the low sections.  Using an avalanche shovel can be tricky as the handle is short, even for me.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Travel

I've delayed writing about this as I am but one of millions whose plans have been cancelled last year.  Nothing different or unique there.  What I am excited about is having finally reached resolution of all of my cancellations right up to Jan '21.  

My final set of flight purchases were from Feb '20, thinking at the time, that Nov, Dec '20 and Jan '21 would be "safe" timelines to choose...and a fun way to end the year...    

Plenty of us have found the road to getting refunds and credits to not be smooth.   I had a combination of easy cancels (points flights, that I could cancel up to 72 hr before departure without penalty due to my airline status), auto systems to get airline and hotel vouchers for up to 2 years expiry, calling overseas (Ukraine!) to request a refund for a flight voucher, to insurance claims that rivaled the joy of teeth pulling.  

With respect to the insurance claim, it ended up being a misunderstanding.  In my case, I had open jaw flights (departure and arrival airports different) and there is a rule that I have to be able to prove that I start and end up back at home.  

It took a while, many emails and phone messages to clear it up.  I mistakenly assumed that claims adjusters were travellers themselves, had knowledge of Canada and US airports or had enough experience with claims to understand.  

Once I realized what the hold up was really about, a final email sorted it out and all was cordial and good.  By this time, my claim had escalated a number of levels and I had "lost my shit" over the phone after being asked 5 times to send in the same 26 page document -- Not the proudest of moments.  I did preface to the phone representative it wasn't about him before I lost it.  

D told me afterwards that I sounded highly irritated but didn't lose control in the way it felt like to me.  I think he was obliged to say that as my husband.  Not surprising, the amount I got back was woefully pathetic considering the amount of time spent.  But it is done!  In fact, I've started working on requesting additional extensions.

Last week, I received an email answer from Bologna, Italy, positively extending my hotel voucher another year, until May '22 as there is no way I would be able to make it this year.  They said that they clearly understand and their situation is nowhere close to being normal either.

Am still laid up and now thinking I might actually have torn something.  Managed to get an appointment with my MD tomorrow, so hoping to get sent for imaging to confirm things one way or another.  Glad I have a lot of books to read. 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Forced Down Day

Overdid it on the last couple of workouts so am forced to have a rest day today.  Made a couple of batches of soup, put a movie on the background while I catch up on writing while sipping on a coffee and amarula.  

The last couple of months have been a delicious indulgence in time.  Loving not having a strict schedule.  The biggest surprise has been how normal it feels to not be working.  Not once have I felt weird or guilty about not having an income.  Haven't missed anything about the office at all.  The only regretful thought being not taking the step 2 years earlier.

The couple of months leading up to Christmas were pretty horrible.  So many goodbyes, so many tears and red eye reducing eye drops, made even more awkward with all the PPE I was wearing.  That remains the toughest part of leaving.  It has passed and am thankful I do not have to do that over ever again.

D expected and was waiting for me to go into some kind of panic but that has not occured.  I don't think about money when I go shopping compared to before, which makes no sense.  The only explanation is that I trust that the plan leading up to this point works and we'll be OK.  I feel grateful, confident and free.  It is the feeling I had dreamt of. 

In fact, it is D, who is being more conservative and cautious about calculations for his end date.  It has been quite the role reversal.   Now that I've got the time, I've taken over the weekly errands and money management.    

The plan was for me to spend the ski season out west, leaving shortly after the New Year, with D coming out for a month.  But, our province went into a lockdown, interprovincial travel discouraged so I cancelled my flight and ski pass and booked for Feb and March.  We'll see if the stars align this month for it to happen.  It's starting to make me nervous (re: home insurance) not seeing our place for so long -- coming up to a year as we cancelled our last summer plans.  

We've been exercising, taking lots of early morning/early evening walks and cooking new to us recipes.  The gluten free baking trials haven't been very successful.  Still in search for a great gluten free vegan scone recipe.  Been starting to read more again, which has been enjoyable.  

What hasn't been enjoyable are the changes with my perimenopausal body.  My naturopath warned me about the effects of decreasing estrogen but I felt confident that I would be able to counteract it, until I couldn't.  Am in disbelief with how much more I have to do exercise wise to start noticing results compared to a couple of years ago.  Not thrilled and so easy to be discouraged.

Am currently drawn to country living or owning a parcel to land to escape to again.  We don't live in a large city, but we're not allowed to have a bonfire and it is something we'd like to be able to do on our property.   It's hard to find forested land without driving at least 4 hrs as we are surrounded by farmland.   Would also love to live in a winter wall tent.  

Buying something out west would be an obvious answer, so an option we are exploring is buying a camper van and hitting the road this summer to explore the different regions.  Want to head to the arctic (should our territories open up) as well, so this could check off a number of boxes as international travel won't likely be open for much of this year.  Now that I am no longer practicing, my vaccine timing will be based on age, which will likely mean end of summer.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Fire

The last months, I've been working on my fire starting skills in anticipation of rainy and snowy days.  As I still don't know my types of wood well nor have I had consistently dry wood, the results haven't been as predictable as I'd like.  Have some belief that I ought to be able to easily start a great fire on each non rainy day, no excuses...

The way I've been approaching it has been with a firesteel.  D has a small inexpensive one he uses to start his stove but I've been hesitant to even touch it over the years as I didn't relish sparks burning small holes in clothing or being burnt.  That's why I bought a pocket rocket deluxe in the summer, which has a piezo ignition vs his original pocket rocket.

Have come a ways since.  Been practicing with a "Light My Fire Firesteel -- Army model".  It's actually quite fun. And no -- I've not turned into a pyromaniac nor have burnt holes in everything!

Reason I went for a firesteel versus a lighter is because it requires no fuel, can be transported by airplane (thinking ahead of future adventures) and can be used wet.  Plus I'm delving into all things Bushcraft nowadays.

I bought other fire starting materials as I develop my layered approached depending on weather.  Wouldn't risk flying with some of this stuff though.  It's easy to get carried away with all the options out there.  

Found that the best motivation to seek better options and improvement has been after suffering from the elements, exposing a need.  Thus the reason why I own 4 sleeping bags...Haven't yet forgotten how miserable I felt at night in Nepal and Mongolia using -11C and -18C rated bags respectively.  

Even though I may not measure up in toughness, my latest winter sleeping bag, bivy and tarp are patiently awaiting their turn to show me what they're made of.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Commerce

One of the real positive wins that has come out of this pandemic has been the ability to order local farmer's market produce, baked goods etc. online weekly.  We actually order from 2 different markets as the variety is quite different.  And depending on the market, you can choose a time for pick up.  It has provided opportunity to buy from producers that we would have not met otherwise.  

I don't know if it has been worthwhile for the farms to participate.  Just found out that dates have been extended through the winter into next spring for our local market so the hope is yes to the platform thriving and not just keeping heads above water until the world starts to normalize.

Like many others, we have also noticed that sports equipment, outdoor leisure supplies have been harder to come by and in the case of used bicycles, selling for far higher than they would have been last year.  We were too late with sourcing a couple of muskoka chair ottomans and another campfire grill.  

Now that I've gone down the rabbit hole that is Amazon, I can see just why they are so successful.  There are just some items that I cannot buy at the usual places.  After not being able to find directly, will now go through them.  

One thing hasn't changed though -- Still really like the online ordering for curbside pick up option.  There are stores that are a pain to shop at, at the best of times.  So being able to have all the searching done on our behalf has worked out really well for a couple of not enthusiastic shoppers.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Camping 2

To keep my mind occupied for now and towards winter, I have been looking into ways to cook meals over an open fire while camping.  

Summer was hot this year, so we didn't get much of a chance to do much until the evening.  Even then, it was only hot dogs as fun food.  

Now that fall is upon us, we've been using a griddle over a fire to fry up onions, pulled pork, toast buns etc.  And will up things next with mulled wine and apple cider, kept warm in pots.  

Want to maximize use of the fire for as many things as possible.  And decrease our dependency on other fuels and cooking methods as their efficiency tends to drop off as temperatures fall.

We bought a stainless steel nalgene which has been used to boil water directly in the fire, saving grill space.  Learned about it online -- Works great and faster than you'd think, considering our go-to is a Jetboil!  Burnt sap stains on it though, depending on the wood.  But easy to wash off.  

My new winter sleeping bag arrived and it is a bit of a beast!  Am waiting on my waterproof bivy and likely a better tarp and I'll be set for some minimalist outdoor sleeping.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Shipping

Not aware if this is a univeral "big company" thing, but as I have been ordering more stuff online, I've notice that rarely do I get the entire order at once anymore and have it come from nearby. 

More often than not, it will be split into 3 with each coming from different provinces.  I don't know how companies can make money when orders work out this way.  Three separate UPS charges!  Sometimes, the items ends up costing less than the shipping.  Am concerned for them. 

Because of this, I cannot bring myself to reorder things just to get a sale price and have them take the hit with shipping again.  Just happened today, when I got an email notifying me of a sale, 2 days after I ordered a better winter sleeping bag.  And I haven't even received the bag yet. 

Have noticed that some companies have increased their minimum order amounts this year.  I feel they need to.  What's the use of being "competitive" if it puts you out of business?

Friday, September 4, 2020

Car Camping

As we are staying in our main home province until Christmas, we have taken up "car camping" since June.  Until now,  I've never camped in Ontario during the summers as I am a mosquito magnet and had imagined being so irritated, I would not enjoy the rest of it.

Thanks to Covid, I was aching to get out to nature so much, I surprised D with the suggestion of giving it a go.  He had already started bikepacking and have been used to me saying No Way, so that idea surprised him greatly.  I don't think he really believed me until I started getting my gear together.

Our initial mistake was deciding that we'd just throw everything in the car and go from there and not really think it through.  We are both so used to hard limits with packing for flights and bikes, it felt so freeing to have the entire vehicle's worth of room to bring pretty much everything we wanted.  It was license to go a bit nuts and we did.

The first time, we packed so much stuff, it looked like we were moving...spent too much money buying ice for all the extra food (like the 2 dozen eggs etc., etc.) we didn't need...brought 2 coolers (crazy, I know)...and eventually losing a lot of the food due to melted ice getting into containers and ziplock bags (lost some great ribs and potato salad etc)...

The second and third times, we did much better as we came to terms that just because we have room, doesn't mean we need to use it all.  That it still takes thinking and problem solving.  It was luxury to be able to buy an outdoor grill that went over the fire so we could cook stuff over it.  Not something we would take abroad but something that super enhances the experience in the here and now.

And there was the issue with showers not being available this year at our provincial parks.  After unsuccessfull searches for a small privacy shelter to be delivered in time, we found online plans to build one out of pvc pipes and tarps.  The trickiest part was finding the corner pieces.  A pool supply company came through for us.  It withstood wind gusts up to 40 km/hr.  D did use extra tent stakes and guy lines.

It was also an opportunity to add a camping size frying pan (gsi), a better camping pot kit (sea to summit sigma) and an ultralight camp stove (msr pocket rocket deluxe) and a couple of stainless steel plates (msr again) to our arsenal as we identified further needs and wants for when we move towards the more minimal end of the range again.

We are both quite tanned and excited for the fall and winter seasons.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

It's happening

This turned out to be the year.  I gave my notice.  Last day of work will be shortly before Christmas.

No matter how many great things I hope to look forward to, it is still a huge loss, with the first few weeks post announcement the saddest.

My career has spanned over 2 decades, not including the schooling.  It has allowed me to build a lot of relationships, gotten to know generations of family members, walked alongside many through difficult times.

Have received a number of heartfelt messages and well wishes which continue to trigger tears.  It won't be the easiest emotionally the remaining months.  There is a lot of history there and I don't do well with goodbyes.


Thursday, July 9, 2020