Category Archives: Yvonne

Oregon and Seattle

The following is a poor recreation of the amazing blog entry that I typed while on the plane yesterday. It was accidentally erased (by Cam!) in the process of trying to upload it to the website! So, here goes… “take 2”.

So far, Oregon and Seattle have been the highlights of our trip! Cam wrote about our cycling experience in Portland — we sure loved the freedom of two wheels in the city. One evening, after buying the ingredients for a picnic dinner, a local cyclist gave us a great suggestion of where to eat it. A nearby park and school are the location of an interesting annual phenomenon: each September, when the nights are getting cooler, tens of thousands of swifts arrive at dusk to roost in a large chimney. They fly in from all directions and form a swirling mass that looks like a black funnel cloud above the chimney. Bit by bit, the birds enter the (no longer used) chimney to the oohs and aahhs of the assembled crowd of onlookers.

swifts coming in to roost at Chapman Public School

Part of the crowd that assembled to watch the spectacle. They were even selling pizza as a fundraiser for the school.

As much as we liked the freedom that bikes gave us in the city, we appreciated the generous offer of Seattle friends Jeremy and Pam’s generous offer to lend us a car for the duration of our stay. Also very much appreciated was Jer’s 45 minute drive airport pickup the day before. We visited their daughter Juliana who is a freshman at Lewis and Clark college in Portland. She gave us a great tour of the beautiful campus, complete with big trees and a view of Mt. Hood. Sharing a dorm room with 3 others looked a bit crowded but fun! The coastal rainforest did not disappoint. Short hikes through the old growth took us to wide sandy beaches full of surfers braving the cold water. We only lasted a few seconds in the water without wetsuits.

We thought we were traveling in the off-season (kids being back at school, after all), so were surprised to encounter full campgrounds at every State Park. Obviously, we weren’t the only ones out enjoying a beautiful weekend by the ocean. At Oswald West, there was a steady stream of surfers carrying their boards down to the beach.





clouds meet forest meet beach


Once back in Seattle, we hung out at Pam and Jeremy’s. Cam got a (36 hr) crash course in all things technical (Jeremy had a career at microsoft, and we are traveling with an alarming number of electronic gadgets!), which allows us to do things like type a blog entry while on the airplane and subsequently delete it and do it again in Costa Rica… what wonderful time-saving devices these are. We also had to re-think our packing after 2 trips to REI (outdoor store) to fill in some missing pieces. We eventually got ourselves down to the four packs that we will travel with all year (OK, plus a few carry-ons).

Pam, Jeremy and daughter Jillian

Will they still be smiling when the packs are on their backs?

We also visited friends Ian and Jen Simpson + their 3 boys who are recent arrivals from Ottawa to Seattle. Ian is the new VP of mobile at Amazon. Ian, Jeremy & Cam were classmates in engineering at Waterloo 25 years back. We loved the Simpson’s new (120 year-old) house in a very funky downtown neighbourhood and were impressed at how settled they seem to be already. We got our final vaccinations at a travel clinic and are now vaccinated for typhoid, yellow fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Hep A & B, rabies, a bunch of lesser evils and have 7 months of Malaria meds on hand – thank goodness for our extended health insurance! With bandaids on our arms we took off to see a few sights in Seattle (when we managed to see past the “Starbucks” signs!) One of those was the very lively Pike Place market where we bought fresh salmon for a farewell group dinner with Simpsons and Mercers.

The "gum wall" at Pike Place market. Yeah, a bit gross, but at least it wasn't in full sun.
The Simpsons' new home -- wow!

Ian proved himself to be the ‘superhost’ by getting up at 3am to drive us to the airport! He was going to put in a couple of hours of work before the start of the work day at Amazon (and probably pay a visit to one of the many Starbucks locations.)

So we’ve now arrived in Costa Rica and are staying with our good Peterborough friend Javier’s very good friend Arturo & family – they own/run a large adventure business that has a 8-stage zip line and fabulous mountain bike trails. They are lovely – we are in good hands and are really looking forward to trying some of their adventures. Ecotourism is our next filming focus, so Cam will be doing some homework tonight to start shooting tomorrow.

We are doing the classroom component of our SCUBA certification tonight, to start our course Monday. Adios, till our next entry ….


1 day to go!

Expand this map to see where we're off to.  Clearly my photoshop skill needs some work!
Expand this map to see where we’re off to. Clearly my photoshop skill needs some work!

1 year. 1 family. 1 world. Kaia named our blog.

We fly out of Toronto in 2 days time. Big journey ahead … here we go!
If you haven’t already done so, please follow the “About” link above right to understand who we are and what our trip is about.
It was five years ago to the day that I wrote the first entry for our year in Namibia blog. I was at our cottage then, too, just a day or two away from the flight overseas. I was filled with excitement and apprehension. Excited about what I expected and hoped would play out in our year away, and a little apprehensive about the 95% of the year that I really had no idea about. That’s pretty much where I’m at now. I have a broad sense of some places and activities, but honestly, I really have no idea what’s going to unfold.
We were checking out our masks and snorkels in the lake today. We plan to certify for SCUBA in Costa Rica in 2 weeks time (we’ve never SCUBA’d before. Excited about that? For sure … but so many unknowns .. and some anxiety for all four of us.
I do want to go on record here and say how lucky I feel to be able to do this. Yes, we’ve been saving for years to be able to travel this year. But to be able to contemplate such a trip places us squarely in the “1%”. I hope we can give something back along the way, and after we return home.
Our itinerary is listed below. In case you’re curious, I booked the flights through Air Treks. Our agent Sarah was wonderful. And for our plan, they were much cheaper than using one of the “round the world” fares you can get from OneWorld or Star Alliance. The only drawback is these are fixed dates. So this really is our plan! I’ll leave it there for the others to pick up from. See you after Portland & Seattle! Cam

Segment                                                             Arrive             Depart          # days
West Coast – Seattle/Portland         02-Sep-14     11-Sep-14       9
Costa Rica                                                      11-Sep-14        7-Oct-14     26
Equador-Peru-Bolivia                               8-Oct-14     19-Nov-14    42
Fiji (via L.A.)                                                   21-Nov-14      9-Dec-14     18
Vanuatu                                                             9-Dec-14    27-Dec-14     16
New Zealand (in. Auk out C.C.)        27-Dec-14    23-Jan-15       27
Australia – Cairns (Great B.R.)         23-Jan-15        2-Feb-15      11
Indonesia – Bali to Flores (cycling)   2-Feb-15       2-Mar-15     28
Phillipines                                                         2-Mar-15   16-Mar-15     14
Hong Kong                                                    16-Mar-15   22-Mar-15      5
Nepal                                                                23-Mar-15   19-Apr-15      27
UAE (Abu Dabi & Dubai)                     19-Apr-15    22-Apr-15       2
Germany-Neth.-Den.-Sweden        22-Apr-15     14-Jun-15      53
(in Frankfurt., out of Copenhagen. (cycling)
Iceland                                                            14-Jun-15      21-Jun-15      7
Toronto (in time for Kaia’s grad)    21-Jun-15

Two days left in Canada!
We left Peterborough yesterday – I’m writing from my grandma’s cottage near Haliburton. Tomorrow, we will go to Toronto and we fly out to Seattle on Tuesday at 10:00 am. We’ve spent the last two days packing up our house, so it felt great to just relax today. I’m so excited! I’m really looking forward cycling in Portland and meeting with Mia Birk who was really important in the city’s bicycle transformation. I’m also super excited about Costa Rica where we’ll be renting a beach house for a week. One thing I’m a bit anxious about is getting our SCUBA certification in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. I like to snorkel, but SCUBA looks a little bit scary! I guess I’m just going to have to trust the equipment. And after Costa Rica? That’s a bit too far away to think about right now.
I got a free app on my phone called “Duolingo” to learn Spanish. It’s like a game, with a bunch of lessons that teach you different words and sentences. So I can say stuff like “El gato no duermo los viernes por la noche” (The cat doesn’t sleep on Friday nights). It’s an awesome app and it’s really fun too!
Anyway, I’m really excited, it’s kind of overwhelming! Next stop: Seattle!    Kaia

Man, the last few days sure have been exhausting! We basically put everything we could either in a box to store in our basement for 10 months, or in the garbage. And every time I see someone I know, I have to hug them and say goodbye because I won’t be seeing them for almost a year. Today is August 31st, and it’s my 12th birthday. Last Wednesday, I had a birthday party with my friends from school. It was pretty hard saying goodbye to them!
Anyway, what I’m looking forward to the most this year is probably visiting the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. I find that place pretty cool because since there are no big predators on the island, the animals there (other than the fish: what everything eats) have never learned to be scared of other animals, or humans! So I’m really excited to go there. However, I’m a little scared to go into the big South American cities like Quito and La Paz. There are a lot of robbers and pickpockets, and I really hope we don’t lose something important!
But now that the hard part is out of the way, we’re finally (and I mean finally!!!) ready to go. Jake

As the rest of the family has explained, the last few days have been pretty intense: a marathon of packing, cleaning, organizing, and saying good-byes. We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time but it has always seemed a long way away. The summer had a distinctly different flavour this year because of the fact that I knew I wasn’t going back to the classroom on September 2nd. The crazy ‘teacher dreams’ that one gets before the new school year were replaced with certain anxious thoughts but mostly anticipation of a great adventure. When our tenant arrived last night with her boxes and some furniture, it really sunk in that our house was no longer our own and that we would be “on the road” for the next 10 months. A bit scary, but really, I was so tired of packing that it felt only good to be on our way. I hope Nadine settles in nicely and enjoys #317 Elias Ave!
When we arrived at the cottage just before midnight, I went for a dip in the lake to wash off the day’s layer of sweat and soothe the frantic feeling that comes with heading out on such a journey. In the pitch black, I slowly waded in (the lake didn’t feel so familiar in the dark), feeling the rocks with my toes and finally “taking the plunge”. Best feeling ever! I’m feeling ready to step into the unknown!  Yvonne