This update comes from Canada, where we are spending six weeks this summer visiting family and friends. Did you check out our update last month?
We had all been awaiting this trip with much anticipation, counting down the days. Back when we first moved and I was feeling homesick and unsettled, this trip was a lifeline that I clung to. Now that I feel happy and settled in our Melbourne life, it feels strange to be leaving.
I flew home alone with the kids and Paul will join us next week. Since being in Canada for over a week, here are my musings and thoughts.
- I hate LAX – I have always detested Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and try to avoid flying through there. In fact we generally try to avoid flying through the US at all. However, I couldn’t justify spending hundreds more to avoid LAX and so that what our route. We had over 2 hours for our connection to Canada and almost missed our connection. That is how crazy messed up that airport is. It was a rude awakening to arrive in North America and be constantly yelled at and belittled by TSA officials. We had to line up and go through security twice and had to sprint through the outside airport road to get to the terminal needed. It definitely wasn’t fun by myself with three kids. Morale of the story – avoid LAX, even if it means spending hundreds more!
- Canadian Prices are Bliss – after living in Melbourne for 10 months, Canadian prices are so refreshing. One of our first stops was Tim Hortons where we got 4 bagels and 4 donuts for $10!!! Just the week before in Melbourne, I bought a donut for $6.50!
- I didn’t miss Tipping and Taxes Added – I love in Australia, that the price you see is what you pay. In Canada, we have to add 30% to restaurant bills for tipping and taxes…ouch! I definitely don’t find tipping increases the quality of service we receive. In Australia, there is absolutely no tipping and we always receive friendly and happy service from the servers who are paid a decent wage. I would love to see Canada include tax in their prices and do away with tipping, but somehow I think neither is likely to happen.
- Canadian Mosquitoes – they are terrible! You might have heard me moan about the black flies in Australia in the spring that try to get in your eyes and mouth and swarm you. They are awful, but at least they don’t bite. We love the Canadian wilderness, but the mosquitos are intense.
- Daylight Hours – We went from winter solstice in Australia to summer solstice in Canada, where it doesn’t get dark until almost 11pm. This intensified the jet leg factor for the kids and made it impossible to get them to bed at a decent hour. But we are loving the long summer day.
- We are with our people – I love meeting and interacting with people from all over the world, but when I am in Canada, I feel like I am among “my people”. I feel more relaxed and it is so nice to be wrapped in a blanket of familiarity. It is like putting on your favourite comfy sweatshirt; it feels so comfortable and evokes nostalgia and good memories.
- Gavin’s Aussie Accent – when you see us, you will pick it up quite quickly. For some reason our middle child quickly developed a natural Aussie accent. It really is quite cute and I love how they all use Aussie terms like jumpers and texters (markers) without thinking about it. It will be interesting to see if it changes during our visit.
- Canada 150 is a Big Deal – being overseas, I really hadn’t heard much about the Canada 150 celebrations. Since landing here, we have loved seeing all the special signs and events celebrating Canada.
- It is Easy to Adapt to the Other Side of the Road – I quickly got comfortable driving on the left in Australia and have found that I quickly adapted back to the right. It only took a day or two of chanting “stay right” as a drove before it became natural. I am loving turning right on red lights but miss the efficiency of roundabouts.
- Traveling Solo with Kids is Hard – we left Melbourne 10 days ago and there is nothing like traveling on your own to make you really miss and appreciate your partner. Paul and I are a total team when we travel and it is tiring to be on my own with the kids. We have our designated roles that we play efficiently and suddenly I have to keep track of the electronic cords, pull our splinters and roll the clothes into the packing cubes in addition to my regular travel and Mom duties. I have total respect for single parents who travel.
- Coming Home Prompts More Thoughts on Home – I wrote a post recently about how I have changed from living overseas and the concept of home. Being home in Canada continually has been questioning and reflecting on what is next for us and where do I want home to be. Every time we visit the Rocky Mountains to see my brother and his family I feel a strong pull to live there. I love being in the mountains, the opportunities to be outdoors and active and the lifestyle out there. It also forces me to consider if I will ever feel content settled anywhere. There is no question I am restless, but is there a place to call home that will tame that restlessness?
- I miss our Aussie Life too – I miss how much we walk in our urban Melbourne life. I miss the relaxed, “no worries” nature of life in Australia. I miss sleeping in our own beds, our school/volunteer/coffee morning routines. I miss our 5th family member sniffling a way alone in the house, not wanting to turn on the heat for just him.
Our Rocky Mountain Holiday
We had 10 blissful days in Alberta in the mountains with my brother and his family. They truly were blissful because we love spending quality time together and getting to know our niece who is now a toddler. We also got to visit with the grandparents who have just moved to Calgary and spend lots of quality time with them.
In addition to lots of great family time together, we also got to play tourists in the mountains. Our days were busy with white water rafting, hikes through the mountains, and camping. We love spending time in Banff, Lake Louise and Steve’s home in Canmore. I am sure I will have lots of posts coming about all the wonderful things we got up to. Since I have been traveling solo with the kids, there hasn’t been a lot of me time to sit down and write any blog posts.
We celebrated Canada Day camping in a beautiful lakefront British Columbia Provincial Park, Premier Lake. Our camping season in Australia is over and it was so nice to be camping again. The kids met friends to play with, we braved the chilly lake waters and spend lots of quality family time together. I feel so lucky to have this special time with our niece and my brother and his wife. Playing tourist in Canada also makes me want to see so much more of this amazing country. Already in my head I am planning trips to Vancouver Island and a road trip to the east coast. This is how my mind works – constantly dreaming and planning our future trips!
June in Melbourne started to bring cooler temperatures, but still lots of fun activities. I was still biking into the city to have lunch with Paul once a week and enjoying city living. We took the kids out for the most elaborate freakshakes.
The kids had some special events at school like Crazy Hair Day and Disco Night, which they were really excited about. I am continually amazed at the community and parental involvement in the school activities. For instance after the Friday night disco, Miles’ class reps organized a pizza dinner for the whole class. Both Ella and Gavin had Cubs and Guide camps, which they really enjoyed.
Miles’ birthday is in July and he really wanted to have a class party. He had his party at a really cool venue where you climb elaborate and colourful routes. It was a really fun day and Paul and I are eager to return and actually give the climbing a try.
Top Instagram Posts
I love Instagram – it is my favourite of the social medias. At the beginning of this month I started a #travelinstachallenge where I had to post photos daily of various themes (cold, beach, a long time ago) and it was fun to go through our old travel photos to find a great photo. Later in the month, we had the beautiful Rocky Mountains to share photos of.
DAY 3 #travelinstachallenge – TRAIN. I was choosing from train journeys in Switzerland, India and Sri Lanka. I picked this one in Sri Lanka going from Nuwara Eliya to Ella through the tea fields. It was so fun to ride in an open air carriage where you could stick your head out the window to check out the passing view or the other travelers. We love trains and we love tea fields, so this was a great combination. What has been your favourite train journey? #train #srilanka #travelwithme
DAY 4 #travelinstachallenge : AEROPLANE. Well, I went with a helicopter instead. Ironically in Canada we live right near one of the world’s most iconic waterfalls, and yet I am posting another iconic waterfall halfway around the world. This is from a backpacking trip through Africa BK (before kids) where we totally splurged on a helicopter flight over Victoria Falls. ⠀ ⠀ Sometimes you just have to splash out. I remember on this trip not drinking 50 cent beers in Zimbabwe because we were so cheap, but we spent hundreds on a helicopter trip. What is something you have splurged on when traveling on a budget? Was it worth it? #splurge #victoriafalls #africa
Yesterday we headed to Lake Louise and I dragged the kids on an 11k hike to Lake Agnes Tea House and the Beehive. The kids miss snow so much and we’re very happy to see some on the hike. There were lots of snowball fights☃️❄️☃️. The colour of Lake Louise never ceases to impress me. So proud of the kids, but I am getting so tired – this solo parenting thing is exhausting! #lakelouise #rockymountains #therockies
My June Writing
Just so you fully appreciate that I don’t sit at home and watch TV all day, here are some posts that I published in June:
- Ella’s review of Rainforestation Nature Park in Queensland
- Fitzroy Island, Queensland – a great day trip to a tropical island
- Cairns with Kids – a wrap up of all the amazing things to do in Cairns with kids
- Expat Reflections – things that change forever when you live overseas
- 14 Incredible Destinations for Families in Canada – for Canada 150 celebrations, this was my first collaboration with other bloggers on my site
I also continued to contribute to other articles in the travel writing world:
- Best Day Trips from Amsterdam – we share our fun day at Zaanse Shans
- Most Beautiful Caribbean Beaches – we share our love for the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas
- Best Aussie Animal Encounters – we share our experience in Cairns at the turtle rehab centre
- Friday Family Feature – we were featured on one of my favourite family travel blog sites, Mumpack Travel, where we shared our experience sailing the Bahamas
- How to Entertain Kids When Traveling – so many great ideas in the post. We love the Lonely Planet kids books
- Top Rated Things in Paris – we share Paris Plages where the city creates beach getaways along the river in the summer
First and foremost we are so excited to pick Paul up at the airport on the weekend. It has been great to stay in touch with Facetime and Ella regularly texts Paul at work. But we are so excited to have him around 24-7.
Ella and Gavin are off to summer camp this week, which they are really excited about. Our calendar is happily very full with visits with friends and family. We thought we had a lot of time in Ontario, but sadly there is never enough time to see everyone and do everything that we want to do.
I have a feeling July will be a whirlwind and then we are off to Japan in August.