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Personal Challenge: No Netflix or any TV for 2 Weeks

It has been over a year now since we sold our television. Honestly, it was one of the best decisions we ever made in regards to freeing up space in our little apartment. Our daughter arrived shortly after we sold the TV so we wanted to create an atmosphere that was calm, light & spacious. Removing the TV was essential to create the space we wanted.

 

We both love watching a great movie or TV series. We still have our laptops & iPad so Netflix is still available to us. We agreed we would not watch TV from Monday to Thursday. The weekend is open to watch something good if we feel like it. Having no TV during the week freed up so much time to work on other projects like our blog, extra chores, fitness, reading, drawing, writing, board games and lots more. We really loved this balance of getting things done and watching TV when we had all our To Do’s done.

 

Lately, however, I found myself watching Netflix a lot more. Maybe it was a knock-on effect of COVID or maybe I was tired and just wasn’t able to do anything else. The latter was probably more accurate;-) Anyways I just didn’t feel like my evenings were spent well after I would watch Netflix. I didn’t like going to bed just after watching TV. My bedtime was getting later too which is not good when my baby wakes twice in the night. Something had to change, I needed to take action and get back on track with things.

 

I decided to give myself the challenge of 2 weeks completely TV free. I have just finished week one and I am feeling very productive (even back writing a blog). I’m exercising again, I’m ticking off my daily tasks, I’m reading more and more importantly, I am talking with George more. All of these things are the reason why we restricted our TV watching in the first place. We were never huge TV watchers but 1-2 hours every night is a lot to prioritise to mindless watching. We already have limited time to ourselves so we want to spend our time in the best way possible for us. 1-2 hours of TV a week works well for us.  Netflix is now seen as a fun thing do to together, a way to relax after a busy week when all our exercise, chores & to do’s are done.

 

I’m delighted I set this challenge for myself and that it has shown me when I am most truly happy. I have learned I need to exercise, read, deep clean and chat with George. These are just some of the things I am choosing to do with my free time without TV.

 

Would you ever go TV free for a week? What would you like to do instead?

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xx

Road Trip – Part 2 – The Rocky Mountains

Hi All,

I’m continuing from where I left off in Part 1. If you haven’t read that yet and you’re interested you’ll find it here. You can also read Theresa’s recommendations for travelling with a baby.

Day 8 Saturday – Valemount to Jasper – 122km

We were hoping that the COVID restrictions would lift before we hit the Rockies but they hadn’t. So far we have been using private campgrounds because the Provincial parks are all closed but there are no private campgrounds around Jasper, Banff or Lake Louise because the whole area is a National Park.

We assessed our options. We could drive to Jasper and stop overnight on the roadside along the Ice fields highway to Lake Louise but I was worried that we would be asked to move on as the road is opened to through traffic only. It is unlikely that the police would come knocking on the window of our RV in the middle of nowhere in the dark of night but we don’t take those chances due to the risk of a nuclear meltdown and subsequent fallout from the small baba being moved in the middle of the night.

We decided to divert and not drive through the Rockies which I was disappointed about but we would check out Jasper before turning back – then Brainwave – Hotels are open. A hotel tonight in Jasper and a hotel tomorrow night in Lake Louise and we stay on our planned route.

The approach to Jasper is beautiful, the scenery slowly got more and more spectacular as we got deeper into the mountains then out of nowhere we were blown away by the view of Mount Robson – the highest mountain in British Columbia at 3,954m.

Excuse the quality of the pic, it’s taken through the windscreen

 

We were lucky enough to see a mother bear with her cub along the road

Jasper is an amazing town. It sits quite happy nestled among the snow-capped peaks as they look down on the town through clear fresh air. It is touristy but not manufactured like some ski towns I have visited. I took the below pictures in the iPhone filter noir because I like how the snow and clouds stand out.

On arriving in Jasper there is an RV parking lot located here which is a great place to take a break and decide on your plan of action or take lunch. The parking lot was empty but I think outside of COVID times that would be different.

We could have parked the RV up in any of the quiet residential neighbourhoods and spent the night but we stuck with the hotel plan. We decided on the Lobstick Lodge. It was great but hot at night time. The heat wasn’t on, just warm rooms, luckily they provide a fan. There is a breakfast place close by but we didn’t bother with that because Theresa makes an EXCELLENT breakfast.

That evening we went out for dinner – it’s so good to see restrictions lifting and see restaurants opening. We went to Earls. We sat inside but the views of the mountains from the patio are amazing.

Remember that driving east into the mountains you transition to Mountain time (1 hour ahead)

Day 9 Sunday- Jasper to Lake Louise – 232km

The unfortunate thing about the national park being closed is that we had to do this drive in one day. There are so many campgrounds along the way and I would imagine that the hiking and backcountry camping is amazing. For a road trip, it is out of this world. Literally driving through snow-capped mountains with absolutely breathtaking views at every turn, passing turquoise glacier-fed lakes, raging rivers, sharp, powerful snow-capped peaks and huge glaciers. I have never seen anything like it in all my travels. It is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever made and the highlight of the trip so far.

I am so glad that we stuck to our planned route.

We got another up-close look at a black bear lumbering along the highway minding his business. We slowed down to get a pic, making sure there was nothing behind but did NOT stop or get out. These animals will literally tear you to pieces (slowly) if they take a notion.

Lake Louise is tiny. There is not much of a town to it but lots of trails and a ski resort. The lake itself is beautiful and sits under the watchful eye of the Fairmont Hotel. I would love to stay there sometime but it was still closed due to the COVID.

We stayed at the Lake Louise Inn, reasonably priced and close to lots of trails. It’s a ten-minute drive to the lake and a six-minute drive to the ski hills.

View of the mountains from Lake Louise

View of Lake Louise from the Fairmont frontage

Day 10 Monday – Lake Louise to Radium Hot Springs – 131km

You might wonder why the town is called Radium Hot Springs. I think there are some thermal springs in the area. Oh yes, there are and they look quite nice too but they were closed. I assume the hot springs is the big tourist draw in this town but we didn’t miss out by not visiting them. The town is so nice and there are lots of trails in the area.

The campground we stayed at was an easy walk along a nice trail to the town (ten minutes) and sat at the bottom of a valley. The Canyon RV Park is tidy, well-manicured and has a nice creek flowing through it.

We walked into the town and then headed out the highway towards the hot springs for a walk. It doesn’t sound enticing walking along the highway but there is a path all the way and stunning views of a waterfall and the canyon towering over the road.

Further past this canyon we saw five mountain goats making their way along the cliff. These are bighorn sheep, the ones you see with the huge curving horns but the ones we saw were females with shorter horns. We met a shotgun sporting park ranger on the walk back who told us that there was a dead sheep on one of the trails which would attract predators so the trail was closed.

Day 11 Tuesday – We spent two nights at Radium Hot Springs, generally taking it easy.

Day 12 Wednesday – Radium Hot Springs to Fort Steele – 128km

We took a detour through Kimberly on the way to Fort Steele. It’s a great little town with nice restaurants and shops. It was so quiet. I am guessing that’s not the case in high season as there is a ski hill nearby.

The main reason I wanted to stop off at Fort Steele RV Park was to check out the heritage town but unfortunately, it was closed due to the COVID. It looks absolutely amazing and there is an old-style heritage hotel you can stay at. We took a walk in any way but couldn’t see too much as it is fenced off.

The campground is nice but there’s not a whole lot to do unless the heritage town is open so we moved on the next day.

Day 13 Thursday – Fort Steele to Fernie – 95km

Fernie is simply amazing. I love this town. I could live here.

We stayed at Fernie RV Resort which is about half an hour walk from the centre of town. There are nice stroller-friendly trails into town along the river or you can walk through the quiet residential areas. 

There are also decent hiking trails close by where there are regular moose sightings. 

The campsite has full hook up which means you can use the City water main rather than refilling your water tank every day. It’s really spacious and so well looked after. There’s not much shade though and it got really hot.

We walked into town in the evening and ate at The Loaf. I got a great burger with very average fries but I think that may be down to the fact that it was only their second day open after the COVID. Theresa really enjoyed her food so overall I would recommend it.

Day 14 Friday – Fernie

We learned a lesson with our RV this morning waking up to the cold. We were out of propane, the heat works off the propane and there is no gage in the living area of the vehicle. This isn’t a big issue if there is a propane refill close by as a lot of gas stations do refill but the nearest one to us was forty minutes away – we also didn’t have gas to heat water for tea so we had our breakfast and headed out for propane.

If you were in real difficulty I think there is a way you can hook a propane tank up to your RV. We ran out after almost two weeks of steady use, using the heat every day, the fridge and the gas stove. Yes, the fridge also uses propane so good thing our food didn’t spoil.

I’d recommend checking it every week based on our usage. There is a gage on the tank where you refill it. Apparently, it is an offence to fill a propane tank more than 80%. 

 

That wraps up Part 2. I will post the final section from the Rocky Mountains along the Crowsnest highway to Vancouver in two weeks time.

Thanks for Reading,

Peace,

George

 

PS – If you interested in my new book – The Pagan’s Revenge – It is a historical fiction novel set in 10th century Ireland and it’s available on Amazon, Barnes and NobleAustin MacAuley and Bookdepository (Hardback, Paperback and E-Book)

 

 

 

 

 

3-week RV trip with a 10-month-old: What we recommend to bring

We had planned to go home to Ireland in June for a month but COVID put an end to that plan. Instead, we decided to rent an RV, Canadream and go travel around our province of British Columbia, Canada. An RV trip has been on our list of things to do for a long time so we decided to go for it. Our baby is just over 10months old, crawling, climbing & wanting to walk. She is a very active baby, because of this we went for the RV that had a little more space. The midi RV sleeps 4 adults and 2 children (really would not recommend that many people staying in it, perfect for 2 adults and 2 kids). The size was perfect for us as it gave our baby room to play and we could fit her travel cot in too, we use the Baby Bjorn travel cot. We bought this cot as it was super lightweight, neat & easy to assemble, excellent for travel.

Our baby only takes one nap a day, always in the morning, 3 hours after waking up. We planned our travel time while she napped. She is definitely not a child that will sleep when put in the car, she gets super bored & needs entertainment & movement. Cries instead of sleep! To avoid all that stress, we limited our drive time to nap time, usually about 2 hours. On days we needed to travel longer we stopped for lunch and had some playtime before travelling for another 30-60 minutes. We would take turns during this awake time to entertain the boss;-) This made our drive time stress free & fun. We definitely recommend planning the travel around your child and not the other way around. You will lose or go crazy with stress! We gave ourselves 3 weeks to complete a 30-hour round trip, we wanted to take it slow and go at our baby’s pace. We want her to enjoy travel so easing her in, we believe is best.

To say baba enjoyed the RV is an understatement, she loved waking up, coming into our bed and looking out the windows, she can stand and look out from there. So excited every day to do this. The campgrounds were all great to pop up her tent so she could have a bit more legroom, be outside & protected from the sun & bugs. We also had a picnic blanket (the waterproof kind) to unfold for cloudy days for her to play on, she always chose to sit beside it though! 😉

The items we brought for our baby and we would recommend are:

  1. Stroller, we used this for a high chair, a place to rest & for strolling around the towns & cities we stopped at
  2. Hiking carrier, we love to hike and this was an awesome purchase pre-used on Facebook market place. We used this a lot on trails during our trip and cannot wait to use it on our local trails too.
  3. Baby Bjorn crib, love this crib & baby sleeps so well in it. It unfolds & folds super easy, it’s compact & perfect for travel.
  4. Pop up tent to protect from the sun, we got the 3-man size as we all get in the tent, another great place for baby to play in the open, safe from sun and mosquitos. Great for us too. We bought it on amazon.
  5. Mec travel mattress, we placed the lightweight mattress inside the tent and baby love it, great for snoozing on
  6. Waterproof picnic blanket, this was great for having our take out teas on the grass after a stop off, great for baby to stretch out when we need to stop for a short time
  7. Ergo baby carrier, we used this a handful of times & probably would leave it at home the next time. Our baby feels too heavy in it as she is almost 11 months now.

The items we didn’t bring and would have liked are:

  1. A lightweight foldable high chair (not sure if they exist but will look into it), we used the stroller as a highchair to limit the amount of stuff to bring. However, with an RV you can bring all your luxury items as there is so much storage. Our baby loves feeding herself and our stroller doesn’t have a cross over shelf or table. Food got everywhere and feeding time would have been easier if we had a high chair. Saying that we managed fine without but I would bring one the next time. That’s the only thing I can think of that we would have liked to bring. In terms of the stuff we did bring, we used everything we brought.

Overall, I would say this trip has been one of our all-time favourite travel experiences. We have travelled all over the world & have experienced many different ways to travel. An RV trip in Canada is a must-do if you like to travel. The scenery, the campgrounds, the services, the food, the people, wildlife and parks all contribute to the best holiday & travel experience ever. We will cherish these amazing memories for the rest of our life, our first big holiday in Canada with our daughter has been an absolutely incredible experience. We are definitely going to plan another RV trip with her, thinking the East Coast of Canada next. Watch this space;-)

P.s George wrote his first novel which has been published if you like historical fiction go check out his book here.

Thanks for reading,

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

 

Road Trip – Part 1 – Vancouver To The Rockies

As restrictions lift in British Columbia we judged that it was safe enough to take a road trip. We will not come into contact with many people and will be staying in a self-contained RV. The original plan was to travel to Ireland but overseas travel is unlikely to happen for a while.

May is usually good in the lower mainland but June can be wet. VERY wet sometimes, so we decided on the end of May/start of June. Where to go? We thought about driving to the Yukon. It has been on my list for a long time. I am not the only George from my family to immigrate to Canada, my great grand uncle, George Pilkington spent time in the Yukon in the early part of the 20 century. Maybe the very tail end of the Gold Rush. That’s what brought him there anyway – gold, as far as I know.

After looking into the rout, we decided against this as it would have been a 30-hour one-way journey meaning we’d have to cover a few hours every day. Our idea of a holiday is taking it easy and stopping for a few nights if we want to. We did a crazy road trip like that when we drove across Argentina (read about it here) and then back again and that was a lot of driving every day.

We also thought about hitting Haida Gwaii as it has been on the list for a long time. Again, it’s about a 30-hour trip oneway including the ferries and I’m not sure if visitors are currently allowed there, so we decided on the following.

I thought of the trip as being in three stages. Vancouver to the Rockies (Jasper), Head south through the Rockies (Jasper to Cranbrook) and the Rockies back to Vancouver.

We decided on renting a 27′ RV rather than going with a smaller Westfalia (or something similar) mostly because we want the space with the baby. The total cost for three weeks was $3,300 which included delivery and pick up ($150 each way) to save us a trip to Delta. Keep in mind that if you do a trip like this you are paying fuel and campsites on top of this.

Fuel is currently at an all-time low which is helpful in this situation and private RV campsites generally charge approx. $40 for full hook up. Full hook means power and sanitary dump. There are so many places along the route where you can just safely pull over and spend the night. If you’re not hooked up you will have lights and hot water but you won’t have sockets or aircon (though there is a generator if you need it). Canadream recommends that you try to get a power hook up every two or three days.

The RV itself sleeps, 4 adults and 2 children. That would be tight but a family of 4 or 6 (2 adults 4 children) would be ok. We have a shower with hot water, toilet, stove, oven (which doesn’t work), microwave, kitchen sink and personal sink with running water, heating, air-con, fridge.

It is surprisingly easy to drive even though I have no experience driving these but once you get used to it it’s ok. It also feels kind of nice being the slowest vehicle on the road. Once you park up, the inside of the RV expands and you have lots of space with loads of storage underneath.

I was surprised how often we needed to empty the grey water (sinks and showers). Almost every day – at least every 2 days. Blackwater (poop and pee) we emptied every time with the greywater but that has not gotten close to full yet. It’s easy but you need to make sure you have a site with a sanitary dump or make sure there is a sani dump nearby. This link is useful for Sani dumps in BC.

The freshwater either comes with a tank which you need to fill every couple of days or some sites have a city main you can hook up to that has a constant water supply.

Onto the trip itself.

Day 1 Saturday: Vancouver to Squamish – 67km.

This was an easy day, we drove to Squamish and stayed with our friends Miles and Pippa who live under the watchful eye of The Chief, surrounded by mountains in Squamish. The drive takes you along the spectacular Sea to Sky highway with amazing views of Howe Sound.

If you have not been here before, Squamish offers some of the best rock climbing in the world with some great hiking also. It is close to Garibaldi park which has some great wilderness camping and close to Whistler. It has so much more to offer but hiking and camping is my thing, so that’s what usually takes me there.

Day 2 Sunday: Squamish to Lillooet – 189km:

This is another beautiful drive which takes you through Whistler which is a world-famous ski resort. If you have time and you like skiing or snowboarding it’s great (so I’m told – I’ve never skied there in 9 years living here) but it’s expensive. Worth a stop for lunch or a walk around.

Next stop along the way is Black Bird Bakery in Pemberton, we stop here every time we pass through and love this place. We couldn’t go inside because of social distancing requirements but there are loads of nice places outside to sit if the weather is good. We got talking to Joel who works with Whistler Bear Safaris which is something I’d love to try out. He reminded us if we do see any bears on the road trying not to cause a “bear jam” – it’s ok to slow down to get a picture but don’t stop and DON’T gets out. Hadn’t planned on it anyway – not sure what kind of person gets out of their car to face one of the largest land carnivores on the planet. Especially around Pemberton where you are getting into grizzly country.

From here conditions start to get dryer as we leave the lush rainforests typical of BC and get into a much dryer warmer climate. Lillooet is spectacular. We camped at Texas Creek camp Ground and were surrounded by mountains on all sides with a view of the setting sun casting shadows against the stark rock straight across from us.

Texas Creek is run by Bruce and Jane who live there with their dog Craig. They have 15 amp hook up and fresh water hook up at the RV pads and fire pits with tables and benches. Such friendly welcoming people. The site is just off the main road which you can walk along to get into town or get to some trails. If you keep your eyes peeled in the evening you might see some owls on the property.

Immediately on arriving we loved the place and decided to spend an extra night to rest up and chill out. Baba played with the dog and by play I mean pointed and cried when he walked away. We also went for a few easy hikes, drank some beverages, had some fine food and that was the general gist of it.

Day 3 Monday, we took it easy and went for a couple of walks. The campsite is the perfect place just to chill out after a long drive. It is worth noting that Texas Creek does not have a sanitary dump to empty out you’re RV.

Day 4 Tuesday – Lillooet to Clearwater  – 295km:

Next destination was Clearwater BC. We got up, packed up and hit the road.

The drive from Lillooet to Cache Creek is absolutely spectacular. The landscape is dry and somewhat arid and the rock formations are beautiful. It really is frontier land, though some people might laugh at me for saying that (I have lived in a city for 9 years).

Just before Cache Creek, there is a great farm to stop off in for supplies and a break called Horsting’s Farm Market. You’ll find their website here.

It’s worth noting that there is a public sanitary dump in Cache Creek (exact location here) also which is free to use. I’m told there is a free one in Squamish also but we didn’t use it. We were full up with the greywater and didn’t notice until it backed up into the sink a little. The gauge full wasn’t exactly accurate. After a few days, we figure a shower for both of us every day, regular toilet use and washing dishes mean dumping the grey water every day. We also fill the freshwater tank every day also. The black water doesn’t even get 1/3 full but we empty it with the greywater anyway.

Emptying the tanks is easy, you literally just connect the hose and pull a handle, no smell, no mess, no hassle.

Remember this – Irish readers?

Anyway, enough about poop. The next stop-off point is Kamloops. We gassed up (petrol if you’re reading in Ireland – forgive me – I am Canadian also) and stopped in the station for an hour. They had a parking lot that allowed up to 8-hour stops for customers.

Kamloops wasn’t part of our plan to stay but if you haven’t stayed here before there are some great places to camp – Tunkwa Lake, where you have the choice of the Provincial campsite or the resort, Monck Provincial Park is also really nice – right by a lake.

My favourite thing to do near Kamloops is to visit Birken Forest Monastery which we visited a couple of years ago. You can read about my experience here.

Kamloops to Clearwater is another fantastic drive. The scenery changes again, from dry and arid to greener and more vegetated. The drive along the North Thompson River is so nice and I can imagine if we weren’t dealing with COVID it would be crazy busy.

We arrived at Dutch Lake Camp Ground. My strategy for picking campsites is just going with Google review above 4 out of 5. It certainly paid off here. Dutch Lake is amazing. It’s right on the lake with great views. There is a restaurant in the campground (currently closed with COVID), cabins, RV sites, tent sites, laundry, walking distance to shops and trails.

We have been sticking with the private campgrounds as there is no sign of the provincial sites opening up for overnight use yet. To be honest I haven’t really been listening to the news anyway to keep an eye on the situation but they are currently closed as I write this on May 23.

We had Dutch Lake booked for 2 nights but thought another night might be in order.

Day 5 and 6 (Wednesday and Thursday) we checked out the trails around Dutch Lake. There are lots of trails around the campground some of them along the river. The river is wide and fast-flowing and the trail gives some great views.

One of the nice things about Dutch Lake is that there is a sanitary dump right in your campsite so you don’t need to go anywhere to empty.

Day 7 Friday – Clearwater to Valemount – 199km

I would have liked to explore Wells Grey Provincial Park when we were so close but it wasn’t happening with the baba as it was a decent detour.

Valemount seemed like the logical stopping point on the way to Jasper and the Swiss Bakery made it worthwhile. Great cake and great bread, apparently at this time of year there are usually lines out the door but COVID has had a serious impact on the tourist industry. It’s also not a copy or a franchise it is owned by a Swiss lady.

We camped for the night at Yellowhead RV Park which is nestled away in the trees. The site was drive through which is good with an RV with one sani dump for the park which means you have to drive a couple of hundred meters to it. There are loads of sites here and it seems like it would be a fun campground in the height of the season though it was quiet when we stayed which suited us.

The campsites are very close together so you would definitely get to know your neighbours when it’s busy here.

The town is really nice and has an IGA if you need to stock up on supplies.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip. We have another two weeks to go so I am going to leave part two for next week.

Keep safe and keep sane (ish)

Peace,

George

 

PS – If you are into historical fiction, my new book, The Pagans Revenge is available on Amazon. 10th Century Ireland, war, love and lots of other good stuff.

 

We Are Each Others Strength

As thousands around the world die, the news tells us that the situation in British Columbia is looking up a little as the curve begins to settle.

This is good news but I write to implore everybody to remain vigilant. We must remain strong for the person standing next to us. We must be the shoulder to cry on and the rock to support them. We must remain close to those we love by staying away.

This situation is not likely to end soon, our patience and resolve will wane but it is those moments of weakness that we find our true strength. It is when we are about to fall that we find the greatest strength deep within ourselves to remain standing and fight on.

We must stand strong for each other when the strength of the person next to us dips. We will be there to hold them up because we know they will be there to hold us up when our strength dips.

When we stay inside, when we are lonely, when we cross the street because we see someone walking towards us, when we tune into the news to hear the death toll rising, that is when we must look within ourselves and each other. We can support each other from a distance. We can smile across the street or the alleyway. Just listen to the noise every night at 7pm when complete strangers join to cheer from their balconies and wave to each other.

We have the strength to carry ourselves through this but we also have the strength to carry each other through this so let us stand strong and stand together by maintaining our distance and maintaining our resolve.

This is our chance to prove that we are not to be remembered as a generation of polluters of the planet, slaughterers of animals and as violent misfits who are constantly in conflict. This is our chance to be remembered as the generation who pulled together in a time of great loneliness. The generation who stood strong and defended each other no matter what race, religion or culture we come from. We will be remembered as survivors who did what we had to do so our generation would pull through and rebuild our economy carry on. We will endure.

This situation will not last forever. When you see your friend struggle, be there to take some of the load, remind them that we must stay strong and stay resolute in our determination to beat this disease. Short term isolation does not have to be long term loneliness. We are all there for each other.

Peace,

George