Our Travel Blog

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Driving Miss Donna - what does this mean? Whenever I want to go somewhere, if Don is home he will usually drive. He always says he is driving miss Donna! This blog is for our travels, usually with our truck and fifth wheel trailer, but sometimes in our other wheels. When we are not vacationing check in for updates, although less frequent, about our life at home and our wonderful family:)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Writer’s Wrap Up

Although I took the easy way out on my December post, it was a great month and now that I have some time to actually write something I wanted to share this fantastic month with you before it ends!

December was pretty quiet for Don, compared to October and November, he only worked two weeks!  The first week was spent in Peace River, then home for a week, and up to Fort McMurray.  Then it was what I call Christmas week.  The problem with your own business is there is always paperwork to do, and that did take some more of his down time.  From the actual bookwork, to follow up drafting, permits, etc. he stays busy.

It was the first external Safety Audit for the company this month, and a bit of a nervous time.  The goal of having a Health and Safety Plan is multifaceted; obviously the safety of the workers – Don, then there are WCB premium benefits, and the achievement of receiving our COR (Certificate of Recognition), which many companies require you have to sign a contract.  The auditor we hired was very thorough, easy to work with, and we look forward to hearing the results soon.

The second week of December saw quite a surprise in our life – it appears my mother made a decision to move from North Battleford, Saskatchewan to Edmonton , Alberta to live with my brother and his wife.  Mom has always been a strong, very independent and private woman, and this move surprised all of us.  But she seems to be settling in, and is happy.  Hopefully we will be able to see her more frequently in upcoming months and years.  I know my sister will miss her, as they lived under 2 hours apart.

Mom had never met our son in law Jeremy or our newest grandson Connor, so our trip to Fort McMurray to babysit and visit was a perfect opportunity.  So we picked her up and took her for a five day visit!  She experienced Lindsay and I on a Christmas baking frenzy and Jeremy and Don on a mission to create multiple types of deer sausage and jerky.  Mom and I returned home on the Red Arrow bus as Don was scheduled to work in McMurray that week.

That same Monday, December 17, Erica and I attended a Rita McNeil and Frank Mills Christmas Concert at the Jubilee Auditorium.  It was FANTASTIC!  Especially Frank Mills.  Not only is his piano playing extraordinaire, he has a great sense of humour, singing voice and stage presentation.  Rita’s band was great as well. 

On Saturday December 22 we hosted the 1st Annual DWS Aggregates Consulting Inc. Christmas Party.  It was a blast, and we are so lucky to have so many friends and work acquaintances that enjoy our `little`house parties.  2012 was a fantastic business year for Don and we appreciate everyone`s support in the transition of our lives.

My month was absorbed by all the Christmas prep for not only the day, but the company party, etc.  My friends Anne and Maria and I spent a few days cooking together, as well as a special dinner out with Dana.  What a great way to catch up with each other and still add productivity to your day.  We cooked dozens of perogies, baked squares, and almond Roca.  Definitely a do over for next year!  Shopping trips with Sharon, visits with the kids, a weekend with Ron and Bev, and on and on.

One project I finally took a day out to work on was compiling our blog into a book for Don.  (Hard to buy something unique after all these years).  Along with producing an amazing keepsake of the past few years, I did learn some lessons about blogging.  Way less use of happy face icons, and not using photo albums if I ever want to print it again.  I used Blog2Book and highly recommend it to all.

Our Christmas Day, held this year on the 26th, with the family was exactly how I wanted it.  Tracy, Cal and kids arrived about 10:00 am, and brought my mom with them.  Lindsay and Jeremy and Connor were here the night before.  It started with traditional Christmas Morning Wifesaver, followed by extreme gift opening, relaxing, playing with new toys, a turkey that outdid all others, and ended with all the kids bathing and donning tjeir Christmas pj`s.  It was great to have Mom with us as it was the first time in over 25 years.

The next day Don and I headed to Tisdale for a few days to see all the Smiths.  It was a busy 3 days but worth it.

So that brings us to today, December 31.  We are spending some time at the lake lot today, attempting a bit of a toboggan party with the kids.  We have no plans this evening, just a quiet night at home by ourselves, which has not happened often lately.

January will find both Don and I working in Fort McMurray.  Yes – I will be working, don`t roll your eyes,  I am going to do some work for Volunteer Wood Buffalo.  January will fly by, and hopefully February as well, so Don can get back to what he loves best – Driving Miss Donna.

I will keep you posted throughout the next 2 months, and let you know when we hit the road in March, this time for 2 months!  Happy 2012 and welcome 2013.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

This is the annual Christmas Letter – enjoy!

Where oh where do the days, or the years, go?

Life is fantastic in the Smith house!! 2012 was another year of growing and learning for both of us. Don’s consulting company (DWS Aggregates Consulting Inc.) is far busier than had been expected. Silly people keep saying good, when all Don wanted was a little something to keep himself a bit busy. The company has morphed into a very successful venture, thanks to Don’s renowned expertise in aggregates. Along with that it has provided me with an opportunity to take training in the safety field, and become the Safety Coordinator for the company. We work very well together, and besides the safety stuff, I also do the bookkeeping, etc.

So a 2012 recap…

While Don spent January and February working in the Fort McMurray area, I was finishing my Volunteer Alberta contract until the end of March, and that allowed me to travel there a bit as well. On a balmy February day while I was conducting a workshop, a surprise arrived a bit early – Lindsay and Jeremy welcomed the most adorable little boy, Connor James, into the world! I arrived in McMurray, Lindsay went into labor, and the next day there he was. Lindsay’s story may vary! An incredible addition to our family, which now totals 10.

We travelled south for the month of April, and as always were treated to visits with great friends, sightseeing beyond belief, and days of relaxation and fun.

The summer went by all too fast, starting with our annual camping trip on the May long weekend with family and friends, days and days at our lake lot at Lac La Nonne, visits with the grandkids, a fabulous Smith Reunion, great days with my Aunt Doreen and Uncle Mike, trips to McMurray to visit the family, including an August long weekend camping trip I hope becomes a tradition, a Campbell birthday party in Rocky Mountain House, and my safety training classes. Don mixed in some work, and before we knew it September arrived.

We headed off to the Washington and Oregon coasts, and Lindsay and Connor joined us for a week.

Sadly, Don has been working since our return, but we are looking forward to 2 months away next spring.

Hopefully that thought sustains him as he works up north until then!

Our family is all doing great!

Lindsay, Jeremy and Connor are settled in their home in Fort McMurray – not just the house but the community. Just as Don and I fell in love with the place years ago, so have they. Lindsay has been enjoying her maternity leave, and so have I as it has given us a chance to visit more often.

Tracy, Cal, Blake, Emerson and Reese are flying through life as well! Blake (5) started Kindergarten in September, Emerson (3) is in her first full year of preschool, and Reese (2) is trying her best to keep up with everyone! Blake plays hockey, they all swim, and Emerson attends dance classes.

As every grandparent out there knows – I could write pages on how beautiful, adorable, smart, etc. they are, but that just goes without saying!

Please feel free to follow us on Facebook, or follow our life’s adventures on our blog: www.drivingmissdonna.blogspot.com You can see tons of photos and read about our adventures as we travel or not.

We can only hope 2012 brought you all as much joy as us, and look forward to the same in 2013.

here are our Christmas Angels…

Cameron xmas


Friday, November 30, 2012

And that’s a wrap for November!

November started out in one of the best ways possible – a brief weekend escape that included visiting with family we rarely see!  Don’s Uncle Ernest Campbell in Rocky Mountain House celebrated his 80th Birthday with an evening hall party.  Ern is the youngest of the Campbell family.  I sure hope Don has those age genes!  I know he has several other Campbell traits such as a love of adventure.

We went to Rocky for 2 nights, had a great Jacuzzi suite, and were thrilled that Don’s brother Ken and Brenda form Lanigan joined us.  As I say we rarely spend time with them one on one and had such a great visit.  And of course it was equally great to see all the Campbells that attended the birthday.  The Rocky family knows how to throw a get together!

The next weekend we headed to Fort McMurray for a few days of visiting with Connor (and his mom and dad) and an opportunity for Don to go hunting.  Successful visiting, unsuccessful hunting.  Although in the blur of October and November Don did go hunting with Dion once and they secured a moose.  I love not only visiting Lindsay, Jeremy and Connor, but also Fort McMurray.  I also finally fit in a visit with a dear friend Marlene.  Marlene and her then husband Doug Northey lived in Fort McMurray when Don and I first moved there, and she was the friend every new and young mom needs.  Gentle advice and always a shoulder to lean on.  One sometimes forgets those people in our lives, and we shouldn’t!

The rest of November was filled with work for Don, and 2 conferences for myself.  It has passed by far too quickly in some ways.

Although we are both anxious for our spring trip in 2013, as we are taking to the road for 2 months for the first time ever, I don’t like wishing days away just to arrive at another.  Don on the other hand is anxious to get out of the north, on the road, and start driving miss donna yet again! 

Have a great month!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Highlights

Well I did say that I would not blog much, and that sure proved correct!

Returning home in October is my favourite – being here for Thanksgiving and having our family together is fantastic.  I really think it is my favourite time.  All the same great food as Christmas without the presents.  I love watching the kids with their gifts, but overall the season just gets carried away.  I will save that rant for my December blog!

So Thanksgiving found Lindsay and Connor with us, as Jeremy was on a business trip in the States.  They weren’t considerate of Canadian Thanksgiving!  Tracy, Cal, Blake, Emerson and Reese came out to share turkey, and it was an awesome fall day.  We always try to go to Forest Green park for pictures and this year was no exception!


The annual fall park photo with my sweeties!

Don came home from holidays and hit the ground running with work.  I feel bad for him, but he says if we are going to be home winters he might as well work if it’s there, and let me tell you it’s there!  October is gone for him.

I can’t believe how easy I fill my days, although I still have lots of work to do as well.  Between some heavy volunteer work with the FCSS Board and Co-op Board of Directors, Ringette and the Library, days speed by.  I also sit on the Executives of the local Adult Learning Council and a Volunteer Action Committee, as well as the Chamber of Commerce.  And I actually had a small contract this month with my own company.  Oh and I am the Safety Officer for Don’s company, as well as the overall “office manger” for lack of a better title that describes bookkeeping, etc.  So when Don is busy – I am too.  Which is quite nice.

I have made a strong commitment the last few months to trying to get healthy.  This means many things, eating better, exercising lots, etc.  It seems to be working.  But that commitment takes time, as some of you may know.  Those lucky enough to have constitutions that haven’t yet required this may not sympathize!

I would have to say the highlight of October was babysitting Blake, Emerson and Reese while Tracy and Cal went on a much needed vacation!  It was rather hectic with the 3, and school and activities, but it was so great to be with the kids and be a part of every day and all that  it encompasses.  Although we see them lots, it seems to be for short times and visits.  Being with them for 5 days was a chance to get to know them all better.  It was an absolute blast that we would do again, after some rest.  LOL

Halloween (my least favourite occasion) was cute to see the grandchildren all decked out.  Connor was a fisherman, Blake a Ninjego, Emerson a dragon, and Reese a puppy.  So cute!!


Have a great November – talk to you at the end!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

And the end of another GREAT trip…

Our trek home after the peaceful stop on the Columbia River has been uneventful.  We managed two nights at the ultimate campground – Farragut State Park by Coeur d'alene, Idaho.  As you know this is where we like to make our last or first stop if possible.  It’s a very tranquil place, and allows us to take the time needed before entering “life” again.
On this stop we seemed to shop more than usual, which is typically a great indication that we are ready to go home!  Don was as always very accommodating in Driving Miss Donna.
We ended our trip with a overnighter at the Phillips RV park – also known as our friend Ivan’s yard.  His Canadian home is a beautiful property on the James River.  Always great to share a beer or two with!
We are not sure what is waiting for us when we return, although it appears Don may be going back to work sooner and harder than we expected.  All those summer contracts are gearing up.
Enjoy October – as usual my blogging will slow down through the winter.  Although we will still be enjoying life to the max.
Thanks for coming on this trip with us.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Driving Along the Columbia River…

I try to write every week, but although you don’t realize, by that time I forget so much.  I use Live Writer for just that purpose, so I can write as we go and post when we get wifi, but honestly that seldom happens.  So we are sitting here enjoying happy hour and I thought I would tell you about today.  We saw such beautiful countryside.

After dropping Lindsay and Connor off this morning, we hooked the fifth wheel up and decided to slowly make our way to the Coeur d'Alene area.  It was a quiet trip without Connor singing and talking to his toys :(

Rather than driving the Interstate 5 on the Oregon side, along the Columbia River, we decided to drive Highway 14 on the Washington side.  A great choice!  The winding highway with a much slower speed limit allowed both passenger and driver to enjoy.  And there is suspicion in the air as we even had a tail wind instead of the customary head wind!  Oh for a Starbucks and the day would have been complete.

Anyhow – plans are made to be changed as anyone who is semi-retired as us are aware.  I was looking at the State Park guide and noted a small campground at least 3 hours form our “destination”.  We pulled in, and as luck would have it, 1 of 16 sites (fully serviced) was available.  You know how I Iove power hook ups.  After setting up we also discovered that not only do our phones work, but the AT&T wifi data stick is performing at optimal.  First time this trip…

So a quick snooze for Don, Facebook fix for me, and we were off to explore.  There are several windsurfers out today, as well as kite surfing, and fishing.  We drove one of our “scenic routes” which is you are a regular reader you know equates to narrow winding roads.  But we saw some quaint towns, a rather large old steam engine on display, and miles of farmland and homes.

Now the chicken is in the oven, and everything smells yummy.  Ready for a quiet evening and feeling a little sad that Lindsay and Connor have returned home.

Talk soon…

Friday, September 21, 2012

Our Week on the Coast

We have had a fantastic week along the Oregon coast!  On Friday we picked Lindsay and Connor up at Portland airport and headed back to our site at Fort Stevens State Park, just outside of Astoria.  Astoria is one of the oldest ports along the Columbia River, situated on the mouth of the river.  It is actually the first settled US town on the Pacific Coast.

Our week was spent reacquainting ourselves with our favourite spots, while showing them off to Lindsay. 

This included a drive up the Long Beach Peninsula to Oysterville on Willapa Bay.  Oysterville boasts a few shops, the most popular being the Oysterville Sea Farms and the chance to buy fresh oysters for dinner!

No trip is complete without a stop at Mo’s Seafood Restaurants, and this week included 2 stops.  Poor us hey?  Since you can’t begin to taste everything in one visit, we needed to go twice to make sure Lindsay enjoyed a little bit f a lot.  Our fist visit was in Cannon Beach, which is in itself a unique visit.  Cannon Beach is a pretty “touristy” place, with a lot of restaurants and high priced shops, but a great walk none the less.  And nearby Seaside has an outlet mall, although a pretty bleak one.  We did find some treasures though, and a last top at Mo’s finished off a great day.

We stayed at a few state parks this round, Fort Stevens, Beverly Beach and Jessie Honeyman, but Fort Stevens is the best.  Easy beach access, and a coffee shop within walking distance!  We had forgotten why we aren’t totally thrilled with Jessie Honeyman, but as part of the National Dunes Area, there is no beach access, and we couldn’t find any either.

But we did fit in a lot of road trips, another visit to Mo’s in Florence, and another outlet visit in Lincoln City.  We visited lighthouses, beaches, checked out other state parks, and generally just enjoyed being together and visiting.

Aside from all of that, we had such a great visit with Lindsay and Connor.  It was so special to see Connor every day, and he was a fabulous guest.  He also happened to pop a few teeth while with us, and still he was 100% an angel!  He learned some new sounds, and found listening to Jimmy Buffet at a high volume was quite relaxing while travelling.

Our last day together we braved traffic and once again – hold on for this – we visited a mall!  Hard to believe hey?  Then came home, ordered pizza, went to the hot tubs and are enjoying a quiet evening.

Stay tuned as I fill in our last few days by the end of next week!


Friday, September 14, 2012

I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand…

Longest blog title ever?  Maybe, but what a great week.  As I said we planned on spending it in Washington.  It was worth every minute.  We stayed longer, found new favourite spots and revisited some old ones.
To get to Washington this way you cross the Strait on a ferry from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend.  Port Townsend itself is a historic but active port, and very interesting to meander their streets.  Our first stop was Sequim State Park.  Sequim is located off the Strait of Juan de Fuca, on Sequim Bay.  It is a small state park, with close access to both Port Townsend and Port Angeles.  This allowed easy access to travelling the smaller less busy roads around the area, and just sightseeing and enjoying the views.  The 2 nights there were a great start to relaxing.
Next stop was South Beach Campground.  This is a small “dry” campground within the Olympic National Forest, and by far our favourite site in our travels 100%.  You can choose a sight right on the ocean, as we did, and within seconds are walking miles of beach.  But what is a great rest stop and campground if it doesn’t also give you access to tonnes of great highways to explore?  We made a round trip to Hoquiam and visited an AT&T store, searching for one that could put more data on our wireless data stick.  NO luck that day, but as always we gained another lesson in Wi-Fi patience in America.  ALMOST got it online, but alas no Canadian addresses recognized.  ARGH
This is such an amazing, peaceful place, we could stay here for weeks.  The setback is it closes mid-September, and doesn’t meet our schedule too well.  We will have to adjust future August/September travel dates!
Anyhow – 2 nights in paradise and we moved on.  This next step of our trip is going to be so exciting – as I write this we are sitting in the Portland airport waiting for Lindsay and Connor to arrive.  They are getting in as much travel as possible before Lindsay’s maternity leave is up.  We are spending the next week showing off our beloved Oregon coast, and can’t wait to show it to everyone in our family some day.  Do you think Don and I could come here with all the grandchildren some year?
So the next story will be “Connor Does Oregon”!
Here are a few of our favorite shots...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September Week One

Well September started off quietly.  We decided to use the long weekend to relax and get ready for our jaunt down the west coast.  Lindsay and Jeremy were at the house on Thursday/Friday, on their way to Wabamun for the long weekend.  Connor is a growing too fast for my liking!

We are headed to Washington and Oregon on Tuesday, and Lindsay and Connor are joining us for a week!  We can’t wait to show Lindsay our favourite stops along the Oregon coast, and spend time with her and Connor.

Saturday was a day of organizing the house, finally getting everything put back together from the flooring and painting. It is not over yet, as when we get home I will be painting the cupboards and trim/doors.  Then that will be it this year.  I would like Don to put a laminate floor down in my office, and then I will paint it, but that depends on his work this fall.

Sunday Tracy and Cal and the kids dropped by for a visit and to see the changes.  Although we see them a lot, I love having the kids at our house.  They always are excited to play with our toys, and it’s just nice to have them.  Although of course Blake and Em are growing and maturing, it’s Reese right now who continues to amaze me.  She is in that stage where she learns something new every time, and her talking and comprehension of life is so engaging.  Then we were off to dinner with Paul and Mary.  We go out once a week, and had not met our quota this week, and wanted to visit before we left on our trip.

Monday we made a quick morning trip to Tracy’s to see everyone, including the Stecyks.  Then off to the lake to secure everything for the fall, or at least until our October return.

Tuesday was Blake and Em’s first school day, so we headed to Boston Pizza for a celebration lunch, then home to hook up the trailer and finally we are on the road!

We spent Tuesday night at Pochahontas Campground in Jasper, so we could make a visit to the Miette Hot Springs.  Our plan was to stroll Jasper on our way through, but it was raining buckets and a quick check on the weather indicate dour next destination, Clearwater, BC, was dry and sunny.  So off to Wells Grey Provincial Park and a favourite spot along the river.  We spent 2 peaceful days there, visiting Bailey’s Chute and watching the salmon make one last attempt at going up the river.  We also spent some time doing a few hiking trails, something we have not done for years.  It was great.

Next stop this week was Kamloops.  We have some great friends, Keith and Marcia Will, who live on a farm east of Kamloops outside Falkland.  Don and Keith went to school together, and Keith grew up on a farm adjacent to the one I lived on for a few years.  Although we don’t stay in touch in the in-between times, every visit is just like we saw each other yesterday.  The conversation and food is always top notch!  After some challenging life changing events in their life, Keith made some choices in life.  One of them is to become an Anglican minister.  He has one more year of schooling and will be ordained.

So that leads to today and the end of this week.  We are headed to Washington today.  Not sure where exactly, but you will find out next week when I update this blog!  Have a great week everyone!

Friday, August 31, 2012

So What Do We Really Do With Our Time?

Farewell to August!

And folks do actually ask what we do with our time, usually quickly followed by “must be nice”.  So first I must tell you yes it is nice.  Sorry to have to break that to you.  So now let me tell you about our nice August!

We spent the first week of August camping at Gregoire Lake Provincial Park, just south of FT. McMurray.  This is one of the classic old provincial parks in Alberta, maybe Tracy remembers our van camping trips back in ‘82?  LOL  Since our McMurray days the park has just matured and become even nicer.  The beach is huge, manicured and sandy, just like a beach should be.  Warren and Cherie, along with a friend Sheila form Ottawa, joined us on this adventure, but the best part?  So did Lindsay, Jeremy and CONNOR!!  Now that is one cute grandson.  I don’t know how the rest f you with grandchildren handle the cuteness of all of ours!!  ha ha  Days were filled with walks and cuddles, and good food and visiting.  It was a great extended long weekend.

By the time we got home that week, the rest f the days passed as many do, walking, having coffee with friends, visiting the Cameron family, etc.  Then it was out to Cross Lake for a weekend camping trip with Paul and Mary.  Beautiful weather and great fishing.  The guys limited out on perch so the eating was good too!

The week ahead was as busy as always.  I had an Audit breakfast with a client, more schooling at the ACSA office, this time Prime Contractor, completing the audit, a closing Audit meeting with the client, company year end with the Accountant, and working a hockey bingo for Blake.  And finally – the weekend!  One really cool activity was watching Blake run his first little marathon.  It was the Canadian Derby Marathon and Blake ran in the kids part – ABC For Kids.  It was so cute seeing him all ready to run with his water bottles etc.  He did fantastic…Right after his run on Saturday we decided to make a quick trip to Saskatchewan to see my mom for a night, then on to Lannigan to welcome Ken and Brenda’s first grandchild!  Little Blaire is a beautiful baby girl, congrats to the whole family!

And home again!  The kitchen and bathroom are getting new flooring but that always leads to new adventures.  This time I decided “we” would remove all the old bathroom wallpaper and use this opportune time to repair and paint the bathroom walls!  (Fast forward 2 weeks of Don working on those walls and it looks great!)  So as not to be in Don’s way (LOL) I decided to take a trip north to see the Stecyks.  I had the best week spending days with Lindsay and Connor.  It’s so great to see the recognition on his face when he sees me or hears my voice:)  Lindsay and I also attended Taste of Fort McMurray.  It was a first class evening, and we plan on going next year!  So again – home!  Just in time to help Don with the last minute work before the house became invaded by the flooring folks.  Floors go in and the bathroom priming and painting began.  As I said, the changes look fantastic and were well worth the efforts.

And August draws to a close.  Blake starts Kindergarten on Tuesday, Emerson is in playschool, and Reese is trying to keep up.  Lindsay is at the half way mark of her maternity leave, and time rolls on.  September is a vacation month for Don and I, and then his work will increase.

Follow us in September as we travel along the west coast!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

You Have Got to be Kidding Me?!

Um – I do not know how else to say this – but where has the time gone?  June and July passed in a blur of activity and fun.
We left you after the quad trip in McMurray, and time raced on after that.  June finished with a work trip to the Bonnyville area with Don, a visit with Ivan who attended the comedian Brent Butt show with us, and a nice overnight visit, a couple of days chairing a Casino for the Friends of the Library, and some overnights at the lake lot.
Ivan is from Tisdale (same as Don and I) and so is Brent Butt, so we were excited to see the show.  His humour onstage is the same as on his recent show Corner Gas.  It was a great evening out.
July was full of so many awesome visits and travel.  After spending the long weekend at the trailer, we came back to town so I could attend my first in-class training.  This one was the Auditor Training, and the 3 days were intense.  Saturday we headed towards the Rocky Mountain House area to attend the wedding festivities for our friends Wayne and Regina, who were married in February in Costa Rica.  Weddings are always great to attend but this one had an extra something to it.  They are our age and have not only overcome the “normal” obstacles of melding lives together, but a few extra.  It was a great weekend, the most engaging host and hostess, and a fun time by all.  A generous friend offered the use of his acreage and so even the setting was representative of the couple, with RV’s and quads all over.
When we pulled out on Sunday we headed to Ivan’s home on the James River.  What a beautiful home and site he owns!  We left our trailer there as we had to head back for Don to attend to a work project, then went back to Ivan’s on Wednesday morning.  We had a fantastic visit and enjoyed an evening out at the Bear Berry Saloon – somewhere west of Sundre,  Great atmosphere and food.  You need to check this cool place out some day.
From there we headed to Saskatchewan, first to visit with my Uncle Michael and Aunt Doreen who live in Brownlee.  Love these people.  We enjoyed a 3 day eating and visiting marathon and great visiting.  I purchased a Family Tree program, and Aunt Doreen is the keeper of all births, marriages, deaths etc. in my mom’s family.  We sat and copied out her records, and I will spend a few winter evenings entering the information into the program.  Then sometime when we visit Don’s mom and dad I will copy her computer records (she uses the same software), import them to mine, and our children will have a record of at least 2 sides of their heritage.  Don’s mom has the Smith side completed for sure, and Don thinks maybe the Campbells.  I have a small amount of information on my dad’s side and I will add what is there.  Uncle Mike and Aunt Doreen are such gracious hosts, and the visit was very special to me. 
Then down the road to Moose Jaw for the traditional Smith Reunion.  This is Don’s dad’s side, and they have a reunion every three years.  The best part was seeing all of Don’s siblings and his mom and dad, with the exception of his brother Terry.  The added bonus was visiting with his extended family.
It is traditional to gather for a group photo at these reunions – here is this year’s:
So it is now ONLY mid July, and we are not done…
We retuned home on Sunday July 15, to do laundry, a grocery run, and re-pack the trailer.  Our friends Ron and Bev were on their way to join us at the lake lot for a week of catching up and quadding.  I was VERY excited about this, as I love spending time with Bev, and I love quadding.  The weather could not have been nicer for our plans.  We rode the Peace River Trail, and visited the Vega sand dunes, for 2 long days of 4 wheel adventure. Unfortunately Ron and Bev had to go home, and I had to go back to school.  This time for 2 separate courses – Safety Excellence and WHIMS.  And that brings us to the last weekend of July.
On Friday we picked Blake and Em up at their house and headed to the trailer for a couple days of what we hoped would be quad rides, etc.  It was a FANTASTIC time!!  They slept so well, the both rode the quads, and Blake got to enjoy some time fishing with Don and Paul.  Blake has been excited about riding the quad, but Em we weren’t so sure about.  Don and Blake headed out one afternoon, and pretty soon Em was watching for them, asking how long they would be gone.  I asked her if she wanted to go find them.  When she said yes I wasted no time putting on our helmets and gloves, and sure enough – she became a rider just like that.  She is not too fond of the bush, prefers the road.  LOL  And Blake showed Grandpa that he knows what the throttle does…  it was a great 2 days with them!
We had a special trip on the August long weekend, but that will be the next blog.  Enjoy August – days are getting shorter, nights are getting cooler…

Monday, June 18, 2012

Now This is the REAL Boondocking…

First let me say that although I have not blogged in a long time, we have been busy and enjoying every day.  I can’t even seem to remember how May and June have passed since our return home, but it has flown by and every minute has been precious.  We have celebrated Blake’s 5th birthday, had a week with Lindsay and Connor to ourselves, attended a year end pre-school party for Blake and Em, had ice cream and special coffee dates with the grandchildren, an amazing Mothers Day weekend, went to a wedding, enjoyed a traditional May long weekend camping trip, celebrated our 32nd anniversary, and the list goes on and on.
I have resigned from my Volunteer Alberta job (the 2nd one – it was just not the right choice) and decided to focus on my company.  And as well in a odd turn of events I am taking courses on behalf of Don’s company so it can receive its COR which is Certificate of Recognition, which is a “safety thing”.  LOL
But the exciting news right now is that Don went on a northern quadding and fishing trip with a few people, 2 of whom are our great son-in-laws, and has earned the right to say he really knows how to boondock!  The pictures in the album highlight the trip, and the SPOT shows the camp area.
If you want full trip details you will have to talk to Don, as I am the lowly writer, and myself spent the weekend with 2 beautiful daughters and 4 incredible amazing grandchildren.
We have our trailer at the lake lot and have enjoyed quite a few relaxing days and evenings there so far, and hopefully many more this season.  More to follow through the summer…

Friday, May 4, 2012

What A Wonderful World

I decided it is time to learn to create movies and "stuff", so in an attempt to amuse myself on the long drive home, this is the result.  The video also includes audio:)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Last Few Days of Vacation:(

Wow – it has been a great month…  From meeting up with friends, to great conversations, sight seeing and shopping – who could ask for more.  Our last 2 days have been spent at Lake Utah State Park, a first visit for us, but definitely not the last.  It is a peaceful place in Provo, Utah.  You are truly removed from the noise and bustle of the cities around you, but just minutes away from everything as well.
The weather during this visit was exactly what we like – warm enough to cook outside, have evening fires, and not need the furnace or the air conditioning!
In true for to the name of the blog, Don drove me to an outlet mall, as well as numerous other sites.  Suffice to say the grandkids will receive their fair share of goodies.  And a few special things for myself as well.
In searching for trip souvenirs, I have decided to link my infallible love for Starbucks to my compulsive souvenir buying, hence resulting in various souvenir location Starbucks mugs.  This allows us to drive relentlessly around cities and states, in search of great coffee and the success and thrill of finding the mug.  Now the benefits don’t end there – of course my other love (my Tassimo coffeemaker) brews a mean cup of 12 ounce coffee, and wouldn’t you know it – these cups fit!  So see it is a win-win all around.
Not to be left out, we did make one special trip for Don as well.  He was in search of a Trimble hand held GPS, to replace one lost this winter.  Salt Lake City has a Trimble dealer, and they had exactly the one he wanted in their used inventory.  hmm – can you claim this as a business trip now?  Stewart – do you read this??
This will likely be my last vacation blog this trip, as we are on the road north now.  Today we are just taking a short day, staying in Idaho Falls.  Tomorrow we will cross and be home in Canada, with hopes to be home and able to see some of the grandkids on Friday for dinner.
Saturday is Blake’s 5th birthday and we want to take him shopping for his gift.  Saturday is also our friend Paul’s 65th birthday party, can’t miss that either.  We will see Lindsay and Connor on Thursday next week as they head down for a visit while Jeremy is away.  So between all that we will get caught up on cuddles with ALL the grandkids.
We are looking forward to our May long weekend camping trip, and getting the trailer out to the lake lot for a while.  Don has a few jobs to keep him busier than he needs to be – but I guess that is the life of a consultant.
Have a great week – we will continue reporting adventures as life offers them!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Checking Out the Canyons in Utah

I must admit I am weary of finding new words to describe the brilliance of the Canyons as we drive through them.  We have over 150 photos, but I am not even sure they do justice.  I wish each one of you was travelling with us, and we could ooh and aah along with us. As I said in a past blog, each view has its own merit.
Over the last 2 days we have travelled through Bryce Canyon National Park and Capital Reef National Park.  In many instances the “scenic route” we drove along to get there afforded more attractions and beauty than the actual canyons.
On Saturday we packed our lunch and headed through the park on Hwy 63.  We thought that was funny, as it was as different from Alberta’s Hwy 63 as you can get.  Bryce Canyon is full of incredible red hoodoos, not unlike those in Drumheller, other than the height and quantity.  It is so overwhelming to see them, and the drove allows you to stop and view from so many different angles.
Sunday we headed out again, ready to see Capital Reef National Park.  We were not sure what a reef was considered to be in this area, and must admit after the tour, still not sure why they chose that reference.  Capital Reef primarily allows you to drive rather than along the rim of the canyons, such as Grand Canyon or Bryce, along the river valley that created the wonder.  A totally different perspective.  Signs along the way warn you not to park in the river bed, or even enter,if there are any sings of impending storm.  As a side note, and not as an insult, it seems that Americans need to have posted warnings about everything in life.  You are in a raging storm and sitting in a river in your vehicle – you may want to leave!
Each of these day trips was so worthwhile.  I cannot believe how much new country we have visited this trip.  But also must admit I am done for the spring with red rock, canyons, and hills.  The truck must be wondering what we are doing to it.  The fields around Lethbridge will be welcome!
I will post pics as soon as we are in a more stable wifi zone.
Have  a great evening!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lake Powell Country

We travelled yet again into new country on Wednesday – Page Arizona and Lake Powell.  Lake Powell is formed by the Glen Canyon Dam, built on the mighty Colorado River in the Glen Canyon Recreation Area.
The closest town, Page, was formed in 1957.  Page is a popular area for snowbirds, and the scenery is majestic and peaceful.  We stayed at the Lake Powell Resort.  Although a bit expensive for our taste, we do enjoy having services in the heat, especially electricity and the campsites had fire pits.  Fire pits are not easy to find in campgrounds!
Tonight we are packing up after spending 3 nights here – it is time to move on.  Our stay has been quite slow paced here, it seems we are starting to get the hang of doing nothing while feeling like we are busy.  We did a road trip each day, today’s was most interesting, travelling to see Lees Ferry and the Navajo Bridge on Route 89A.  At the Navajo Bridge they have the original bridge closed to traffic in 1938, adjacent to today’s current bridge.  The Lees Ferry was at one time the only river crossing on the Colorado for 600 miles!
The weather has been very cooperative for us, hovering in the mid 20’s, although the wind has been testy at times.  We have finally been able to have an evening fire, share a few stories, and make some new memories.
What more can a person ask for?
Tomorrow we are heading a bit north to the Bryce Canyon area.  Not sure where we will pick to stay, but I will let you know.
Have a great weekend – I know we will.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Smiths Do the Grand Canyon

So we have been here before – BUT with the car and on a flying trip.  One that Don refers to as a Chevy Chase visit.  Watch Chevy Chase Vacation if that reference means nothing to you.
Anyway, this time we took our time and stopped at every viewpoint offered.  And it was totally worth it.  I heard someone say it was visually overwhelming, and that is an accurate way of looking at it.  I also heard a young boy about Emerson’s age say wow dad that’s a lot of really big rocks and hills hey.  Yes another accurate statement!
We visited the South Rim of the canyon, it is the North Rim that has the glass walk out, so before you ask, no we did not go there.  And we would not have walked out on that anyhow!
I think the pictures do the canyon justice, not my words, so here you are!
Tomorrow we are out of Flagstaff, heading to Page and Lake Powel.  Take care.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Amazing Road Trip

Today we travelled to Sedona, Arizona.  I mentioned we had driven through earlier, but today we stopped, walked and shopped:) 
Main street in Sedona is a busy place, with so many tourist shops, coffee shops and restaurants, that you may think you are anywhere in Canada or USA, like Jasper, etc.  But then you look at the view, and know you must be somewhere a bit different, as all landscapes have a beauty their own, no matter how similar to other locations you have visited.  What makes every place unique while appearing somewhat the same is what nature has done with what’s at hand.  In this part of Arizona it is not hard to find red rocks and canyons, but it seems to me if you really take the time and look you start seeing all the special differences and details.  It may be the vegetation that grows along the roads, the flowers that pop out now and then, or even the type of farming that happens along the way.  But every place offers its own views.
So I keep posting pictures of mountains, lakes and rocks.  If you are like us and love exploring the “in your face” differences, as well as the subtle differences, and collecting memories along the way, you will enjoy the photos.
We travelled Hwy 89A to Sedona, this is the scenic route.  After today’s trip Don declared all highways with the letter A mean scenic, as well as sometimes erratic and not straight.  Look at the GPS photo from a  few days ago to see what he means!  I usually get to pick the route we take (hence Driving Miss Donna), and sometimes as driver he pulls rank.
Anyway one of our stops was Montezuma Castle National Monument.  Just a note to travellers – National Parks week is a great time to discover all these treasures, as there is no entry fee all week to any National site or park. And I am not going to tell you much else about this great spot, other than you must visit.  In person or online – it was not Montezuma who lived there!  The link will tell you everything, and our pictures are amazing.
Now 89A didn’t have Don pull rank, but it was close. Next stop Jerome.  You must visit Jerome if you are ever in this area.  Do not drive a long vehicle when doing so.  Although it is common to see signs that state not to drive anything over 50 feet, this was not the case.  But if you are we are not sure how you get though the town of Jerome on this “scenic” drive. The city is made up of more hairpin turns that we have experienced in all of our travels together.  It is America’s most vertical city, the largest ghost town in America, and also a National Historic District.  And in no way is it a ghost town as you may think – it has as many restaurants, bars and shops as you would expect.
After Jerome, the trip was rather uneventful back to Flagstaff, but still scenic.  It made a great day trip.
Follow us in the photos…

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Driving to Music

Today’s travels take us to Winslow, Arizona.  Don and I have a habit of picking a line from a favourite song, one that has a town in it, and heading out to find that place. 
It all started with driving song we have had for years – on 8 track actually – CW McCall and Wolf Creek Pass.
September 2006 Road Trip with the NEW Fifth Wheel:
Bodega Bay, California – Bodega Bay by the Untamed
Oh my baby still loves me - she called me today
Come away for the weekend to Bodega Bay
It's a place by the ocean where lovebirds can play
Come away for the weekend - to Bodega Bay
April 2007 Road Trip in the new Dodge Charger with Ron and Bev:
Bakersfield, California – Streets of Bakersfield by Buck Owens and Dwight Yokam
I came here looking for something
I couldn't find anywhere else
Hey, I'm not trying to be nobody
Just want a chance to be myself

I've done a thousand miles of thumbin'
I've worn holes in both my heels
Trying to find me something better
On the streets of Bakersfield

September 2007 Road Trip with the Fifth Wheel:
Pagosa Springs, Colorado – Wolf Creek Pass by CW McCall
Sign says clearance to the twelve-foot line, but the chickens was stacked to thirteen-nine. Well we shot that tunnel at a hundred-and-ten, like gas through a funnel and eggs through a hen, and we took that top row of chickens off slicker than scum off a Lousiana swamp. Went down and around and around and down 'til we run outta ground at the edge of town. Bashed into the side of the feed store... in downtown Pagosa Springs.
Taos, New Mexico – Taos by unidentified artist1
Here I am in jail with no one to throw my bail and I just wanna go home
And when I do I'll never leave Maria alone
I'm servin' time in Taos, New Mexico and I just wanna go home
I'm servin' time in Taos, New Mexico oooh never felt so alone

June 2009 Road Trip to Alaska with Paul and Mary:
Alaska - North to Alaska by Johnny Horton
"'Cos a man needs a woman to love him all the time.
"Remember, Sam, a true love is so hard to find.
"I'd build for my Ginnie, a honeymoon home.
"Below that old white mountain just a little south-east of Nome."
Where the river is winding,
Big nuggets they're finding.
North to Alaska,
They're goin' North, the rush is on.
North to Alaska,
They're goin' North, the rush is on.

2012 Road Trip with the Fifth Wheel:
Winslow, Arizona - Take it Easy by the Eagles
Well, I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me
Come on, baby, don't say maybe I gotta know if your sweet love is
gonna save me
We may lose and we may win though we will never be here again
so open up, I'm climbin' in, so take it easy

So – you see the pattern?  BUT – Winslow was just the best!  Not only a statue of one of the Eagles and an actual red flat bed Ford, but 70’s music streaming from an adjacent corner curio shop, and an opportunity to buy commemorative T Shorts, which we don’t usually do.
If you have a special song with a town in it - let us know!
A great day spent seeing more countryside, and a great place to stop.  Enjoy every moment – who knows when or if we will be back.  Some great photos on this special stop on Route 66…

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sedona, Arizona

is beautiful!

After finding an RV site and having some lunch, we headed out to explore.  We headed south of Flagstaff down Highway 17,hoping to go off highway a bit and find some more rustic campgrounds, not just an RV park.  You know those old fashioned places with picnic tables, trees and fire pits!  We had only signed in for one night in Flagstaff in hopes.

We veered off Hwy 17 on SR 179, at a sign that said Cottonwood.  That sounded nice and we knew of a state park called Dead Horse Ranch which deserved discovery.  Dead Horse SP is quite scenic, although not as nice as the online pictures depict no surprise.  And we felt good about our decision not to pull the trailer down as it was again 36 out and no shade, and the campground was full.

So off we were again, in search of a new road to go back to Flagstaff on.  The sign said Sedona, and we have heard so much about that area it seemed like a great idea.  And that is when I fell in love with Sedona – for those of you on Facebook…  The city is surrounded by the most magnificent red rock and canyons, and as well as that it has numerous quaint streets, lined with coffee shops, restaurants and shopping!  Every house we saw in the residential areas were constructed to look like adobe walled homes, and that was in many economical areas.  I’m sure they have the more traditional homes as well but don’t ruin my dream!  Very much like the towns and cities we visited in New Mexico a few years ago.

Now some advice if you visit Sedona – don’t go on a weekend – it was worse than West Edmonton Mall on the last opening day prior to Christmas!!  We will go for a walk around and shopping/lunch this week.  And do travel Hwy 89A, the “scenic route” back.  You ramble past the most unique state parks, a natural rock water slide and many lazy fishing rivers.  And again incredible scenery.  A perfect drive.

But I will leave you with a few photos, and hope to share tomorrow’s adventure with you soon!


And I thought 28 was HOT??

Wow – last blog I said we needed to find a cooler place, as 28 was too hot.  Well someone heard us and the temperatures soared to 38.  Lucky us!

Our days at Camp Davis Park near Laughlin were filled with activities we could do inside – eating, visiting, shopping, eating, visiting, shopping.  You get the picture.  Throw in a couple of evenings spending a few $$ at the machines, and that wraps it up.

But it is always great to find a new place to visit, and this time we discovered the AVI Casino.  It is just 20 minutes south of Laughlin, has an RV park with services and an RV dry parking lot (this means $$ vs zero), a wonderful restaurant or two, a beach, a golf course, etc.  We didn’t stay there this time but ventured down on Friday night to try their seafood buffet.  See a pattern here with us and buffets?  Anyway Pat, Walter, Don and I headed down on Friday for dinner, and I have to tell you that the AVI Buffet beats the Freemont Buffet.  That is a hard one for me to admit, as everything on Freemont Street is usually my favourite.  But not this time.  Also remarkably cheaper at the AVI.

We had a great evening out; the food, strolling through the unexpected car show, playing the machines and enjoying the atmosphere.

It was great spending these 3 days with Pat and Walter, it is always nice to see them, catch up on their winter, and generally just visit.  Although they only live in Calgary in the summer months, it seems we never get there.  Last year we were fortunate because Walter was working in Edmonton so we could meet for dinner often.

So this morning Don and I are headed to Flagstaff.  Can’t wait to tell you what we find there!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where Do the Days Go?

I hope no one gets tired of me saying how relaxing this is, but here I go again.  You have to appreciate that this is the first real taste Don and I have had at this retirement thing, so we are a bit giddy about it.

I left you on Sunday, while we were boondocking with Ivan at Stewart’s Point, Lake Mead.  It was so peaceful there.  Don jokes that they bored me into relaxation, but it is just a matter of teaching oneself to relax, and then the day passes quite nicely.  I think for me it’s the fact that I cannot remember a time since I was about 14 that I have not had a job, school, kids, volunteer work or something to focus on… 

Reflecting on the past few years I have been over the top about commitment to jobs, and I am just now appreciating that fact.  Good thing I have had Don to balance me out.  As recently as last September when we tried to get away for one week, that week was consumed by emails and conference calls with work.  There is nothing wrong with being a dedicated employee, but please take heed that I TRULY believe you should not give more than 100% to your job.  There may be circumstances where that requires some different approaches, and that is fine, but you always need to ensure your current priorities are being met, in life not in business.  So give it a 150%, but do it for yourself and your own sense of ethics and morals, and not for the “company”.  And take some down time after. Now let’s see if I heed my own advice.  LOL  I think I am going home to a part time position with Volunteer Alberta, but it is not confirmed yet.  Hopefully by the time we return I will have a contract letter or something, as it will have been over 10 weeks since the offer was made.  And I will dig into my business, develop a plan, and start engaging in it.  Don has a few more jobs lined up as well.  I am so proud of his company and how far he has come in a few months!

Okay – back to the vacation report.  We ended up spending 3 nights boondocking, then felt the urge to move on.  So we carried down to Davis Camp on the Colorado River.  It is across from Laughlin Nevada, identified as in Bullhead City, Arizona.  We love this campground, and you will see the photo below.

On Tuesday we drove into Vegas, and stayed at our favourite Fitzgerald's Hotel on Freemont Street.  It has been 11 years since we first went there, and we paid $32, which is $3 lower than the first visit.  We had a great evening out, ate at the Seafood Buffet and watched all the light shows at the Freemont Street Experience – American Pie, Bon Jovi, Queen and the Doors.

This morning we returned home to the trailer, and having a relaxing day at the site.  We are here until Saturday and then need to move somewhere cooler.  Don and I are not cut out to be sitting in 28 degree weather.

Pat and Walter Parker are joining us today, and we look forward to our great visit with them.

Have a great week everyone – it’s hump day so you’re almost there!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It’s The Weekend…

…and that means nothing!  LOL  How wonderful when you have to ask each other what day it is because it just doesn’t matter.
We have had a great few days.  We visited the Valley of Fire State Park, pulling in on Wednesday morning, and picked a site nestled amongst the giant red mountains.  I haven’t loaded the photos to create a slide show for you – maybe this week.
It is very warm and VERY windy here.  I can’t remember the last time we had the trailer in such wind.  But the temperature is still enjoyable and still short pants weather, so that is wonderful.  We set up camp and left to do some touring, and driving through the small town of Overton found a McDonalds with wifi, so had no choice but to have a milkshake and let our emails load, update Windows, etc.  All those things that use precious G.  Then off to the grocery/liquor store and back home.
We decided to see if one more day would ease the wind, and so when we got up on Thursday and had breakfast we headed to Las Vegas.  First stop has to be Costco, for essentials that are so much cheaper than other places.  For example Coors 36 packs for $18.99 and Baileys 1.75L for $19.99.  Then it was off to the Vegas Premium Outlets!  Love the outdoor mall thing.  We had big plans this day – to stay and visit Freemont Street, eat at the extraordinaire Freemont Buffet, have a few drinks and go home.  But we copped out.  The lure of that camper was calling.
And what a great choice we made, as when we pulled into the site and looked across there was Ivan!!  What a treat to see him there.  That led into an evening of visiting and a great campfire.
So it’s now Friday and we have to make a choice – stay or go?  Ivan was off to boondock at Stewart’s Point, just miles form the campground, so we followed him to see if we would be comfortable pulling our rig there.  It’s a great place, with a 15 night maximum stay, and the views are beyond.  (Pictures I promise).  So we headed back to camp, hooked up and went on our way. 
Although still extremely windy, and rain overnight, the site is as beautiful this morning as ever.  Lake Mead can be viewed form 3 sides of the trailer, and the only other occupant visible is Ivan.  Quiet and solitude, and a pile of books.  The only downer is our trailer batteries, which we will have to replace today.  Don suspected this would happen soon, and the time has come.  We didn’t worry too much about when as it is warm enough not to need the furnace.  So when the world wakes up and the stores open, we will be off to Overton NAPA.
Sorry we have no “exciting” news to tell you, relaxing is not that easy to write about.
Enjoy your weekend…