An Epic Trip Back To Canada.


First time on Korean airlines.  Really impressed with the leg room and the cleanliness and the overall experience.  We did 10 hours and a stop-over in Korea to change planes and then 10 hours to Vancouver.  Both flights were about half full so everyone had more than enough to room to stretch out or even lay down.  I said it was like having a sleepover with a bunch of friends or family after a great party and everyone fell asleep on the couch in their clothes.  Except, these people were much more friendly than our friends or family – in that they none of them were asking us for money, running from the law, or trying to pinch my cheeks.

I was not thrilled with the food.  It all tasted the same.  A salad with something weird and unidentifiable in it that was half from mars and half from the annual church picnic (i.e. potato salad with some kind of slimy something in it).  The desert was the same one for all meals.  It was a thin cake base with a gelatine, milky some kind of layer and then a thin layer of fruit jello of some kind.  They changed with each meal to colour co-ordinate, only they weren’t trying to match it to the bowls or a flower arrangement – it was to the colour of the meat.  One of the jellos was orange.  You get my drift.

There wasn’t any salt, pepper or sugar with the meal but they did give us a toothpick and real metal utensils which greatly surprised me being as they could all be used as weapons.  Why take my nail clippers if you are going to give me a knife and fork?  I can do martial arts with a knife and fork.  I can butcher a water buffalo with  a spoon.  Really. Nail clippers … can anyone actually cut a toe nail with one of those things? I mean without bleeding out? Continue reading

Fired With Compassion.



Unless you have been living under a rock this past week you have probably heard of the fires that are devastating Canada right now in the wake of a very dry year, hot temperatures and unforgiving winds. More specifically, the damage inflicted on Fort McMurray, the heart of the Oil Sands in the remote regions of Alberta.

There is a history here that is difficult and time-consuming to explain to someone who does not know Canada. Like all countries, we are the product of our history, and feelings and emotions run deep.  Events are always shaded with the colourings and outcomes of past experiences. There is a process in place, Canada evolves and changes with each passing year. Canadians live, eat and breathe these experiences and so of course, they understand them in a way that others cannot fully appreciate. Continue reading



Finally!! The big day. We are going to pick up the caravan, fill it full of all the treasures we had bought, and start the long drive towards home. Every detail had been taken care of. We had a whole week to make sure we had insurance and all the necessary bits and pieces that add several thousands of dollars to your already hefty purchase. We now knew that we had to buy a even more stuff, and we had voted on which children we could sell for the best price.

We got lost on the way to the dealer. Mainly because we could not figure out how to work the new Hema meant to lead us through the wilderness of Australia and never get lost. Either we were incredibly dumb, really old, or crappy shoppers.  All we knew was that we already sucked at being Nomads and we hadn’t even been allowed to hook up the caravan to our truck yet.

The phone rang. It was a 20 something receptionist asking where we were and telling us we were supposed to be there a half hour ago and people were waiting on us and had other things to do. We really liked her immediately. Then, when we tried to explain to her that we had not been given any time, she informed us that the people doing the hand over would have explained all of this to us. We told her they hadn’t because the show was closing down for the day and everyone was in a rush and no one had phoned us since then. She rolled her eyes. I could hear her over the phone. This whole “Grey Nomad,” “caravaning” thing was starting to get on my nerves. It is like once we signed on the dotted line we had entered this alternate reality where everyone was treating us like we were seniors in a Giant Nursing Home of a life where everyone wanted to pat our hands, scold us, and tell us that our perception of reality was not at all real. All that was missing was someone coming at us with a spoon of gruel making airplane noises.

We got to the dealer and she was just as pleasant in person. When I tried to address her accusations, she dismissed me with a wave of her hand saying “whatever, we don’t have time to argue this right now, I have papers for you to sign.” Derek talked. I was too busy giving her the stink eye and wondering what the heck had happened to my laser destruction beams and why she was still sitting there and not busy vaporizing.

The men in the back were much more pleasant. They stuffed a couple of folders in our hands and began what would be 6 hours of non-stop instructions on how everything worked and what else we absolutely had to have and did we want them to put it on now, they only had a little bit of time, but could do it right now if we wanted . . . $1500.00.   Derek calmly sorted through all of that and I tried to make sense of 5,000 buttons, and sequences, and warnings, without much success because somewhere into hour 2 of non-stop instruction with terms that made no sense to me all I could hear was “whaw whaw whaw whaw whawddy whaw don’t ever touch whaw whaw.” Continue reading

Prologue 4: Waiting in Melbourne Part 2.


We decided to take the trolley to and from anywhere we had to go, and leave the car where it was.  I informed Derek that I would not be going with him to get the car.  I would wait down on the street for him.  I kept reminding him of that, telling him several times during the day that I did not want, under any circumstances, to ride in the elevator again.  He didn’t say anything, in that vague kind of not saying anything way when you are not sure if it means “ya ok, no prob, you can wait for me” or “ya ok, no prob, you keep talking and believe whatever you want but you are coming with me and that’s that no need for me to discuss it with you further.”  Derek is like that, he keeps his cards close to his chest.

Meanwhile,  we trollied our little hearts out.  All these young people kept standing up and offering us their seats, the ones that say they are reserved for the handicapped, mothers with small children or the elderly.  Derek was quite put out that they were offering him a seat. I am not sure what he sees when he looks in the mirror.  Maybe he thought that  he had put on some weight around the middle and they thought he might be pregnant.

We ended up jumping off in the downtown area and as Derek grabbed my hand so we could run and catch the walk light up ahead, I managed to DEEEEEPLY massage my forehead with a metal sign.  I started sobbing like a kid and he was hugging me, not so much to comfort me as it was to muffle the sounds of my wailing.  I had to hit him so he would let go and I could breathe.  He set me down on a bench seat and made me drink some water (his cure for everything) and wrapped my head with something – I suspect it was one of his tube socks.  I had a goose egg.  I was not feeling good.  What kind of an idiot walks into a street sign?  Not a young person, let me tell you.  It had to be an taller, old person.  The kind of person who just bought a caravan.  I was starting to see a trend here and I didn’t like it. Continue reading

Prologue 3: Waiting in Melbourne Part 1.



Who knew waiting for the caravan would end up being such an adventure. We had to take our one night out of the resort and find a hotel. Ballarat was fully booked so we decided to head to Melbourne where we found a boutique type hotel room, centrally located close to the tram lines.

There was not much parking. So this “boutique” consisted of an elegant older house with an above ground tunnel attachment through the garden area, connecting it to what was once an older apartment building. It was on a lovely street, separated from one of the major roads by a nature strip and large trees. We could either park on the street, wherever . . . Including 5 blocks away, playing the “where the hell will we park now” game every time we left and came back, hauling our stuff through the city like pack mules minus the muscles and the “I could give a shit” attitude most mules possess OR (isn’t this sentence epic???) we could pay to park in the limited parking area in the back.

We decided to pay.

We assumed that “limited parking” meant that there were just a few spaces. We first drove into the typical parkade door to find ourselves in what looked like a small garage bay. The door closed behind us and we looked at each other and then around the garage for where we were supposed to park. There appeared to be room to park maybe three vehicles in a very random, angled kind of way … maybe. There were no other vehicles. And then we saw a door attached to a large container and a button. OH, the ramp was clearly there, behind the door! Right? Continue reading

I Will Lie Down with Bears, But NEVER Spiders.

Spider Bears


I whine about the spiders in Australia, because we Canadians are good at it, and then the Australians complain about the bears in Canada. Let’s compare:

1. I have never woken up from a dead sleep to a tickling sensation on my arm, only to find a bear sharing my bed and racing across the arm towards my left boob. Not EVER. Spiders .. . all the time. (OK I exaggerated a little, sometimes they are racing towards the right boob) Continue reading

Prairie Disneyland. Just like Disneyland Only With More Farmers.


Only on the prairies would you see photos like these supplied by my kids on a day out, back home on the prairies.

When you live on the prairies … life is hard. You make due with what you have. You do. If you lived in Essex there is a wonderful maze there with lovely green shrubs and waterfalls and statues. You would take a picnic lunch and drive through the lovely countryside and talk about the royal courts that used to frolic in these mazes while a stringed quartet gently played and men in satin and lace fed grapes and dainty pastries to women in incredible corseted gowns with heaving breasts. Continue reading