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 Journey. Don retired October 2011 so hopefully the travelling part will increase! When we are not vacationing check in for updates about our life at home and our wonderful family:)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Review...

Why is it that time keeps flying by so fast?  I think I said the same thing last year.  So what has happened in 2011?  Rather than month by month – here are the highlights, as described in our annual Christmas letter.  I know it is a copout but at least it is a blogpost!

Don
  • 55 and retired
  • Working harder than ever as a consultant BUT planning on some down time February – August 32 year career with the Alberta government
  • Enjoying himself

Donna
  • Working as a consultant on a 15 month project with Volunteer Alberta
  • Contract completed March 31, 2012
  • Also planning some down time April – August
Us
  • Leased a lake lot to place out fifth wheel at when we don’t feel like pulling it around
  • New fence
  • New carpet
  • New Dodge Journey – bye bye Charger
  • Had a fantastic birthday/retirement party for Don
  • Had a great week in Laughlin and Vegas
  • Had a great week with our whole family at the Maureen Lake cabin
Our kids
  • Doing great
  • Tracy and Cal’s family are Blake 4, Emerson 2 and Reese 1
  • Lindsay and Jeremy – Ist baby due March 2; bought new home in Fort McMurray
Every single day is a new adventure as Don and I get used to working together in the same house, unless he is gone for great lengths of time on the road.

2012 holds lots of plans for travelling and adventure, we will see how that goes.  We know we will continue to enjoy and love every minute with the family, and very excited for the new baby!
All the best to everyone!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Road Trip to Saskatchewan

The last few years we have been going after Christmas, but Don will be heading north for work on January 2 so we decided to take advantage of us both not working the week prior instead.
On Saturday we headed out and stopped in Battleford to see my mom.  We took her out for lunch, where my niece Jen met us.  Jen is currently my mom’s roomie, and they make a fabulous pair, supporting each other.  Mom fell at work this fall and she is still recuperating, so I am glad that Jen is able to stay with her and help out and just watch over her.
We arrived at mom and dad’s just in time for supper.  On Sunday I drove to Prince Albert and had brunch with my sister Ginger and her partner Chris.  After brunch I visited a bit longer with Ging at her house and saw Alisa and Sonny.
That same day Ken and Brenda came to visit us in Tisdale and we took mom and dad out for dinner, with Terry joining us.
Monday Don and I spent at Ron and Bev’s place and Tuesday evening I had a fantastic visit with who I call the “Hainstock girls”.  There are 4 four girls in the family, two of which I met for coffee.  Kathy and I are the same age, and Donna is a few years older.  We laughed so much, talking about our families, our kids and life in general.  It was so goo to see them.
That was a lot of visiting for a few days, and by Wednesday morning I was happy to be heading home and started preparing in my mind for Christmas to come.  All I had left to do when we get home is a small grocery pick up and a bit of wrapping.  Can’t wait for Christmas….  We did stop again at my mom’s for a quick perogy break!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Retirement!

As I had mentioned before Don is/has retired!  The girls and I wanted to have a party for him at a small hall or something, but in honour of his retirement and the fact that it was his party – we let him pick.  LOL
So we had a great gathering at our house this weekend.  Don worked with me on the guest list and it was a perfect mix of people who have been a part of our lives through the years.
I would like to thank everyone who attended and helped us celebrate with Don – Ron and Bev, Jim and Janice, Paul and Mary, Todd and Sharon, Dave and Nadine, Kevin and Rita, Erica and Dion, Stu and Susan, Dean, Ivan and Bruce:)  And of course our marvelous family - Tracy, Cal, Blake, Emerson and Reese and Lindsay and Jeremy.  We had a great evening of visiting and reminiscing, listening to the “gravel guys” tell their tales, etc. 
Don’s company DWS Aggregates Consulting Inc. is bustling as of today, with plans for some work through the winter months.  Don keeps telling the contractors that call him he doesn’t want to work full time, but the calls keep coming in.  Essentially his immediate future plans are working for DBH Technical Services on a part time basis. 
We hope to spend April in the south, as my contract will be completed as of March 31, 2012.  There are murmurings that we may be retained on some basis via Volunteer Alberta, but no concrete offers or plans as of yet, so April will be ours!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I Promised BIG News!

Well here we are with lots of news!  Sometimes we have to wait a long time to write and say that, sorry.


Lindsay and Jeremy are having a baby!!

YAY!!  It feels different knowing our baby is having a baby!  That sounds strange but you know your kids are always kids to you.  We can't wait for March, but are also enjoying watching them live through this stage for the first time.  All our love and best wishes to them.

The whole family is headed to their new home for Thanksgiving, that means Don and I and Tracy, Cal and the kids.  I believe there are also some Fort Mac friends coming for turkey.  It will be an awesome weekend!

Announcement number two...

Don is RETIRING!

October 31 is his last day.  This concludes 31.5 years of government service.  That is a lot of gravel experience!  What next?  DWS Aggregates Consulting Inc. has been formed for just over a year, and will hopefully fill as much spare time as Don wants it to.  He has an opportunity to do some work effective soon, and we will see where the new path in life leads.  It has been an extremely busy time getting all the legalities, pension plans, health benefits, accountant appointments, business insurance, etc. dealt with.  But we think we are ready...  Maybe some more time with family?  Maybe more time on the road?  We are flexible and excited for wherever this goes.

And the normal news...

We have leased a trailer lot at Lac La Nonne Lake, which s about 40 minutes from home.  It is quite a nice spot, and we purchased the existing deck, storage shed and wood shed from the previous tenants.  Although it is not our intention to stay there always and not go camping elsewhere, it is a nice option.  There are quad trails and you can drive directly from your trailer site, so no hauling.  We have spent quite a few nights there, and love it so far.  Taking some time to get to know our neighbors has been fun, lots of campfires.  My brother and his wife, Warren and Cherie, also have a site there.

We attended Don's nephew Aaron's wedding in Saskatoon.  It was a great family time, and Daryl and Aaron make a beautiful couple!

September long weekend saw Don and I headed to one of our favorite areas - Coeur d'alene, Idaho!  Farragut State Park was booked for the long weekend, but we made reservations at Tamarack RV Park right in town.  This is usually a gamble, as the in town parks are sometimes more long term communities than campgrounds.  As it turned out though this time we were lucky.  The campground was nice, prices reasonable, and in a quiet part of the city.  And Starbucks was within a block!

On Monday we headed to Farragut State Park, which if you've read this blog you know is a favorite spot of ours.  We have stayed in the area for a few days at a time, but this week was spent exploring new places we had not taken the time for before, such as the Priest Lake area.  We did some shopping but honestly not as much as before.  I think we go to the states enough that it wasn't quite as entertaining as it used to be:)

I tried hard not to work but circumstances did not turn out too well, and I ended up almost putting full hours in.  Thank goodness Don is a patient person!  When I did my September expenses it reminded me how expensive american air time is.  Four days off was all I wanted!  ARGH.  Oh well - better luck next time.  My contract expires March 31, 2012 and then travelling can become our own again.  Who knows where life will take me?

So as I say good bye this time, lots of new things to think about and ponder.  Fall really set in today, the furnace is on in the house finally.

Have a great October everyone.  Part of us will be with those friends travelling south this winter, Pat and Walter, Ivan, Ron and Bev...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Life as We Know It

Well look at that! More than 2 months since my last post. It seems these things go one of two ways, either I post steady, or not at all. And trust me not posting over summer only indicates how fast it went by so far and how much fun we have had!

June flew by. I was on the road so much for work, and the weekends offered no solace from that. We went camping with Lindsay and Jeremy the first weekend. It was supposed to be our annual quad trip to the Six Lakes area north of Fort McMurray but unfortunalty outside forces caused us to replan. This was a severe year for forest fires and that area was really affected. At that time the trails were closed and nature was fighting to survive. Hopefully we can go back. But as I say we did go camping at a beautiful campground new to us on Beaver Lake called Fish'n Friends. We all went golfing one day and that was fabulous. Otherwise we relaxed and ate, the normal camping protocol.

The next weekend we were in Fort McMurray helping Lindsay and Jeremy move into their new and absolutely beautiful house. They took on some renovations as they were moving in and worked hard to accomplish them. The result is spectacular. So proud of you guys!

No sense staying home, so the next weekend saw us on a road trip to Ole McDonalds Farm near Stettler with Tracy, Cal, Blake, Emerson and Reese. This is a spectacular place for families. Although we faced a lot of rain that weekend, we still had a great time and look forward to next summer there. Gosh we love those kids:). It is so much fun seeing the world through their eyes, everything is exciting, even marshmallows. But really marshmallows still do it for me as well!

I cannot even remember what we did the last weekend of June. Maybe sleep?

The approach of the July long weekend saw us on the road again, this time to Saskatchewan to combine a family vacation at the cabin with our family (Tracy and Lindsay and all) with a special SMith Family event. We rarely visit the Smith family cabin, but enjoy it immensely. Our family spent many summer vacations there as the girls grew up.  It is at Marean Lake.  Our little family of four has grown to nine and hence Don and I took our trailer and slept in there.
This time together as a family is so special as I am sure anyone our age with family can attest to. We had the best weather imaginable. And again just enjoyed and relaxed so much.
The trip ended with Don's parents 60th Anniversary. The whole family gathered at mom and dad's house for an afternoon of visitng topped off with a great meal. It was relaxed and comfortable and I'm sure enjoyed by all!

So now it's mid July and we aren't done yet. Our third grandchild, second granddaughter Reese, was baptized on July 17. It was a great family day and she was beautiful!

The next weekend was one of relaxation at home. Through the week we had our friends Ron and Bev drop in on their way home from vacation. Ron just had to celebrate his birthday with Don! We always have such a blast with these guys, and they visit often. For that we are thankful!!

We also fit in attending the wedding of Stepahnie Marshall, now Stephanie Ball. Steph's mom Sharon is one of my dearest friends and Steph is our daughter Lindsay's close friend. Lindsay was in the wedding party:). The weekend wasn't busy enough so we travelled to North Battleford to celebrate my Mom's 80th birthday. Crazy lady still works, but good for her I think! Why not if you can and enjoy it? Must keep her young!

Almost done here....

On Tuesday Don's cousin Stu, partner Susan and friend Rick came for a visit. While we worked a couple of days that week, they explored the urban life of Edmonton, then off we went on a quadding/camping trip. We travelled the Iron Horse Trail and the Peace River Trail, both part of the TransCanada Trail System. I had some mud fun! Gotta love that. What a great visit with fabulous folk. We just don't see enough of them and are glad they came to spend some down time with us. And we really needed to get those quads out this year. If you are a quadder try those trails.

Last weekend (August 13/14) Lindsay and Jeremy were here and again we had some great visits. We visited the St Albert Market, and Lindsay spent some time with her sis while Jeremy celebrated his brother's upcoming wedding at a stag.

This weekend we are headed to Saskatoon to celebrate our nephew Aaron's wedding.

So that brings us up to date! I won't even tell you about all the traveling both of us have been doing for work. Numerous trips to Fort Mac ( added bonus of seeing Linds and Jer), down to Drumheller, etc.
September has some exciting adventures coming up and some wonderful announcements, but I need to leave something to talk about later!

Thanks for joining us!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

I thought today deserved a post. We are celebrating our 31st Anniversary. I cannot explain how short the time has seemed in so many ways! Let's see what I remember about that day? Well it was hot. We think about 30 above. We had about 14 people at the wedding. We had a supper at a great steak house in Fort McMurray but we don't remember the name of the restaurant:) insert later we think it was called the Pier?
But I do remember the ceremony, walking down the isle, my dad giving me away then expelling a heavy sigh ( which everyone laughs and says sounded like he was just glad to get rid of me) and the great evening after with our closest family and friends. Then 31 years flew by! Of course there are so many memories in between, mostly with our two beautiful daughters, and most especially always our corny love! All the towns and houses we have lived in and all then life we have lived. WOW
Happy Anniversary Don!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer? Hopefully:)

Well I think summer is here.  I am just worried that last weekend, which was 3 full days of fabulous, unheard of May long weekend weather, was summer.  That happens sometimes in Alberta, if you haven’t noticed?
Since our last blog May went by far too fast.  My work is picking up the pace.  As I filled in my monthly activity report wow – not much wonder I didn’t feel time to breathe.  I think Don felt somewhat the same.  June just plain scares me.
We had a great long weekend camping with Paul and Mary.  All of us had family throughout the weekend, and the great weather didn’t hurt either.  Don and I were on our own, which is unusual for the May holiday.  Most recent years have been all the family with quadding and fun, but this year as happens when your kids are actually adults, they had other things to do!  But we were lucky as Lindsay and Jeremy came out for Sunday and spent the night before returning home to Fort McMurray, and Tracy, Cal, Bake, Emerson and Reese came out for the day Sunday.  We actually spent quite a bit of time playing on the beach, which was a treat.  I keep referring to the weather, but really we are normally in winter coats and fighting off rain and snow the long weekend.  This year we fought off sun and bugs – a nice change!
May is a fun month as Blake and Lindsay celebrate birthdays, and Don and I celebrate our anniversary!  31 years for us.
June is crazy – weekend camping with Lindsay and Jeremy, weekend moving Lindsay and Jeremy to their new home (can’t wait to see it), weekend camping with Tracy, Cal and the kids, weekend off (yardwork, fence building?), then into July.  2 weeks at the Saskatchewan cabin, and then boom, July is half over!  Don’s mom and dad will celebrate their 60th Anniversary while we are there.
August we have 2 weddings and my mom’s 80th birthday!  Can you believe my mom still works almost full time at 7-11?
Also Don and I hope to take Blake and Em on an overnight camping trip.  They just love camping!
So that seems to be summer for us.  We will see if all goes as planned.  If you don’t hear from us at least you will know where we are.
Happy Warm Summer days to all!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Have Got To Love Life!

Well hello everyone.  We are still here, still moving along and still taking time for adventures once in a while.

A few years ago when Don and I started trying to get out more and farther on our holidays, I bought Don a picture frame that says “We followed our hearts rather than our itinerary”.  That is really how we have lived our life, always a bit off the path that others may choose.  We purchased our first RV before we even purchased our first home.  And there will never be any regrets over that.  I hope our girls feel the same way when we have the opportunity to remember all the days and nights spent camping when they were little, and now as we camp when we have the chance, with them as adults with husbands and a family.

Since the mortgage seems to be paid off at about the same time as everyone else (which was supposed to be everyone's BIG dream when we were young), our children received great educations and are established citizens of society, and we are happy, no regrets.

So back to off the path!  One of our favourite places to visit has become Laughlin, Nevada.  Although we both love a chance to visit, eat, drink and shop in Las Vegas, for longer times, we prefer the paid back atmosphere of Laughlin.  As well, basing in Laughlin affords the opportunity to easily visit other places we enjoy, such as Hoover Dam, Kingman, driving Route 66, etc.

What is off the path about that?  We drive, not fly.  People ask why, confused as to that choice.  Often we have been asked why we would want to spend that much time in a vehicle together.  My answer is always the same – why would you not want to spend all that time together with your spouse?  Driving allows you a chance for casual conversation, catching up on life, and yes even working on the laptop.  So often you hear the quote “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” and that is what our holidays are like.  We may not know what the walls of a resort in Mexico are like, but we do know the beauty of the hills of Montana, the flowers in the dessert, the lake country in Idaho, the coast line of Washington or Oregon, and on and on.
Although we may not have given flying an chance in some opinions, driving is our choice.

We just returned from a great vacation in the Laughlin area.  We spent a Saturday night on Freemont Street in Las Vegas, and took some time to shop at my favourite outlet mall along the way.  Sunday we were off to Laughlin, and spent a great week there.  We drove to Lake Havasu for a day and soaked up the sun, drove out to the Hoover Dam and saw the completed bridge project, drove to Kingman Arizona for lunch and through the odd but historic community of Oatman, and spent a great three days with Walter and Pat.  There was lots of time for lounging and visiting, and catching up with each other before we return to life!
What better way to welcome spring?!

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Drive!

Is that spring drive as in where are we going? OR spring drive - as in what drives you in the spring?  LOL

It's BOTH!

First you need to see our precious grandchildren:)  New picture at the left!

So yes spring does seem to be here.  There was so much snow this year that Don is actually moving it around, trying to dig our way out of the yard.  There is so much gravel and sand on the streets now, it will be nice when that is cleaned up.  The Town does a great job, but it can't come soon enough for me:)

We are heading down south for a week, stopping one night in Vegas, and spending the rest of the week in our favorite Laughlin!  I'll be sure to post from there and let you know how much fun we are having.  LOL

I am going to stay connected to work and try to keep building my contact list through the week.  We'll see if that turns out!

Have a great week.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sorry for the Absence

Wow – how can I expect any followers if I don’t keep the blog up to date.  My apologies to anyone who actually reads this.
The last time we talked it was right before Christmas.  We had a fantastic time with everyone.  Christmas with the grandchildren is so much fun.  And of course the food is always so good.  Blake really enjoyed the season this year.  He visited Santa so many times, and actually enjoyed it.  Emerson was still very hesitant but she still enjoyed it a lot in her own way.  Santa this and Santa that:)  Of course Reese was her quiet sweet self.  I can only imagine next year when Reese is a year old!
Santa was kind this year.  We got an iPad.  What a cool toy!
After Christmas Don and I went to Tisdale for a family visit.  We had such a great time seeing everyone.  I convinced Kathy to host a New Years Eve party, as well as a New Years dinner.  Even Ken & Brenda travelled, and it was good to see Don’s family all together.
We had an overnight visit with my mom as well, which was long overdue.
January hit us and we were back to work.  Well Don was, I didn’t actually start until January 10.  It has been an easy transition for me returning to work, probably because of the job.  I am consulting as a Regional Capacity Coordinator on a project called KnowledgeConnector.ca.  The goals of the program are to develop sustainable individual and organizational leadership, build community networks, and ensure sustainability of strengthened communities through access to quality learning and development opportunities.  When not travelling throughout my communities, which encompass North East Alberta, I am at home doing “paperwork and planning”.  So far loving it.
My contract is complete March 31, 2012, at which time regardless of whether Don retires or not, we are planning a 2 – 3 month trip to the East Coast!
As for 2011, we are busy enjoying the grandchildren as often as possible, planning some camping trips with everyone, another northern quad/fishing trip with Lindsay and Jeremy, etc.  We are also going to get a membership at the senior campground Warren and Cherie are at, in anticipation of getting a summer lot as soon as Don turns 55.  I know it sounds corny, but it is a nice place and you can quad in and out of it.  As well there are sites that our family can use for $12 a night, and our rental is only $400 annually.
We are going to make a quick trip to Vegas at Easter time, which we always enjoy.
Winter has been aggressive this year.  I think we have the most snow ever since moving to Alberta in 1980!
Have a good rest of the winter, and we will report back after Vegas!