Its a long winded post but stick to the end for a reveal of our new adventure. (cheaters can scroll to the end! No I won’t give you a cheater link).
I promise, the rumors aren’t true. We didn’t freeze to death up here in Canada (although it was close in those first days). The fact is, we just wanted to some time to decompress, reflect and plan our next adventure….. Then on my birthday the world changed forever and all our plans were wiped away. Blog writing took a backseat as we tried to figure out what the hell to do. We didn’t even have a place to live and everything we owned fit in bags on our backs. However, I’m getting ahead and this story is probably best told from the beginning.
In my last post, the boat was for sale and we were contemplating options for our next adventure. As you may have gleaned from the website, the boat did indeed sell. It sold fairly quickly to a great family who was planning many adventures of their own. However, while the boat sale went smooth it seemed like the islands were not done with the Party of Five crew. In the weeks after the boat sold we had a comical time trying to actually leave the islands. First our flight was cancelled, then we got bumped from the next flight, until finally an airline agent took pity on us and ensured we got out. Frankly, we were hoping to get bumped again as living in 4 star hotels seemed like the perfect life for people without a home! There were definitely some misty eyes as the plane finally lifted off, banked and we watched St. Lucia fade below us! It was a tough moment when I realized the sailing adventure had ended for real.
As one would expect, our first week back in Canada was busy. It was filled with visits, lunches and chats with people we hadn’t seen in years. However, after that initial whirlwind, we settled in, flew under the radar and began working on the next adventure. My parents had graciously let us stay with them until we figured out what we were doing. We bought a broke down car that I fixed up so we had something to drive for groceries and errands (Canada is a big place and there aren’t $6/day rentals like Martinique.) . We worked with the kids school every day and talked endlessly about what was next. I know it sounds insane, but it was overwhelming. When the entire world is an option, how do you pick? It took close to a month, but we eventually zeroed in on a plan and began booking things. We would fly to Istanbul, Turkey and use it as a base. From there we would head to Georgia (the country, not the state) where we would hang out for a bit. Then we planned to travel to Armenia and Azerbaijan before looping back to Turkey. Once back in Turkey, we planned to use the rail system to head into Europe. We would bounce around Europe for the remainder of our planned year long adventure. Of course, at this time we had heard that there was a virus making its way around the world, but we assumed it would halt like all the past ones. We began hearing about it more and more and our hearts became heavy as it devastated Italy and was reportedly rampant in Iran (shares a border with BOTH Armenia and Azerbaijan). We tried to stay positive, discussed options and alternatives, but ultimately it was futile. On March 11, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and all our plans turned to dust. All Canadians were ordered to return home and our flights were cancelled.
A Party of Five tailspin ensued as we quickly realized we were now trapped in Canada and ill prepared for life here. We had no furniture, limited clothes, an iffy vehicle, no income (its damn expensive here yo).. but most importantly no place to live! Disaster mode kicked in! We started with a place to live and once that was settled, worked on the other items one by one. Hell, we were in the land of plenty so some of those things were easy. Clothes and furniture, hello Amazon and Walmart. Other items like income were not so easy (remember we are still holding out hope of traveling in the nearish future and want to slow the bleed of money). Finding employment in the middle of a pandemic lockdown was as hard as it sounds. Complicating the matter was the fact that we still thought it would be short term and we didn’t want burn a bridge if things changed and we left. Rhonda landed a job at a registry (American friends, think DMV) fairly quickly. I found some temporary contractor carpentry work initially. Then my brother reached out and hired me back at his company. It was the same company that I worked for when we came back for our break in 2017 (LSC Industrial). Unfortunately it was 265km (165 miles) from our current “home”. This meant that I would be separated from the family as I could not drive that far for work everyday. I would be living in our RV for part of the week, then back on weekends. It wasn’t ideal, but manageable… and hell I was again just a big kid playing in the mud with GIANT Tonka trucks. LSC is a super diverse company and I got exposed to a ton of things. I learned so many things like driving an articulated front end loader, operating skid steer, installing screw piles, pipe and structural fabrication, pipeline maintenance and bolt up, pigging, welding (it had been over 20 years since I burnt a rod). Just like 2017, working there was an adventure all on its own. I’m pretty sure there are people I worked with in the past that would have had a heart attack if they seen me in a front end loader flying a 30 foot length of pipe through the yard to deliver to a welder. They would probably wonder how I got Powershell or VB to drive the loader for me.
Anyway… That brings the story almost up to date. We had solved those initial problems and the Party of Five crew adjusted to our new life in our little condo, with bare furniture. However, as the months ticked by, that damn elephant kept growing and the room got smaller. We did our best to ignore it, but the question of what our future held eventually required an answer. I have no other way to explain it, but we were absolutely in morning. As we realized our plans would not happen we had to go through the stages of loss. Some of us more than others :). So the time came.. Put on the big boy pants, comb my hair, mix a stiff drink (come on, I’m still a cruiser at heart) and answer the question of what the future held. It was very clear that our travel plans were not feasible for the foreseeable future. Did this mean that the adventure was really over for good? Sigh…. No.. The world is full of adventure and if we couldn’t go have one outside Canada, then we would have one here. Rhonda and I talked through all kinds of options, from crazy (lets move to Niagara… next week) to more subdued (an RV trip across Canada). Its funny, but Rhonda and I never really vocalize our choices in big decisions like this. We seem to be able to read each other and steer the outcome to something we both want. We go through options and naturally migrate to an answer… and that answer finally brings the story to now.
First, we decided to commit and stay here in Edmonton for a longer period. We extended our lease on the condo and are working at reintegrating the kids back in the school system. Right now they are distance learning (over the Internet), but we will gauge the situation and eventually put them back in “normal” school. Rhonda is enjoying her work and will adopt the cruising philosophy for work (stay there until the money or fun is better somewhere else). While I would love to stay having an adventure in northern Alberta, our time in the Caribbean has ruined me and there is no way I can work outside at -40. Not to mention I have no where to live (a sane person does not live in an RV in Alberta in the winter. It would be a grand adventure though, just not pleasant!). So.. I’m either going to be spending my time on the couch in a stained up muscle shirt or finding a job back in the IT industry (I’m really hoping to find a company that will let me come to work in a stained up muscle shirt.). Anyone know of a company looking for diverse IT guy that could work on the pigging crew if required (LOL)? As to adventure… Its everywhere and we will enjoy all the little adventures (how long to cook lunch in the new microwave at work, ripping open tough coffee packets, is the new greek yogurt as good as the old, saving a batch of perogies without a big freezer)! You know standard life adventures…
LOL… You cheeky bugger, you scrolled down. “So what is the new real adventure”, you ask? Well, just yesterday we closed on a 1/4 section of land (160 acres) in northern Alberta. Its 1 hour and 45 minutes from where we live. We plan to build an eco cabin and private campground for our use. Ziplines, quad trails and a shooting range are all in the plans. We plan to include the kids in all aspects of the build and hope to pass some great skills onto them. Of course we know that this isn’t a sailboat adventure through the Caribbean or a year long trip on the spice road, but we had an epiphany. Since our kids have spent much of their life having that kind of adventure, this is very foreign to them….. and its way more rewarding for us to see them grow and the adventure unfold in their eyes!
For anyone wondering how much 160 acres is, there is less than 1 acre in this picture. The property we bought has about 25 acres that are broke (cleared of trees like this), the rest of the property is full bush, like you see at the tree line.
Dammit, a guy gets old and fat enough that he has boobs and no one tells him. Sigh.. Anyway, I have done a quick lookover and I approve.
Although it look like there is a road to the property, its not really a “road”, its just a grass trail. Its the only way to access the property, so its super private. All the other land around is farm land with no houses. The closest occupied land is like 3km (2 miles).