Wear your poppy


I was downtown Seattle yesterday, near the Pike Place Market. Things were starting to feel a little sketchy even though it was just mid afternoon.

I got called out for being Canadian by a couple panhandlers and a guy who wanted to sell me a CD. “Hey Canadian…. ” they said. “Give us your loonies or coloured money. I’ll take whatever.”

Later I was at the market and I was I stopped to look at some stuff and I am the guy asking what part Canada I was from.  So I asked him “what’s the dead giveaway why does everybody know I’m Canadian?” He said because that poppy you’re wearing on your jacket.”

Ah… my lapel poppy. Frankly I didn’t see it as a “Canadian thing” until that moment.  I saw it as a universal sign of respect for our veterans and soldiers.  I couldn’t imagine not wearing the poppy at the beginning of November.

I asked the friendly clerk. “Should I take it off? Does it make me stick out like a target, a tourist?”

“No! No!” He says, “we like Canadians. You all are good.”

I will admit that there were a few minutes on my walk back to the hotel where I thought about taking off the poppy because I was feeling a little uncomfortable.  But I surely didn’t take it off! War isn’t comfortable either. Our veterans and soldiers endured unspeakable horrors in defence of our country and freedoms. And therefore, I wear a poppy, because it’s November and I am Canadian. I frankly don’t see it as optional.





Splurge on your vacation with Air Miles

It might be old news to you, but I’m just learning about the new Air Miles reward certificates that can be used for package vacations with almost every popular, main stream supplier.

For each $100 certificate you will need 909 Air Miles. Frankly, in my opinion this isn’t the best redemption rate. HOWEVER, I’m going to think of it this way…. if $300 is the difference in what I what I feel is a good hotel package, and what I feel is a “splurge” package, then I would definitely use my Air Miles to pay the difference.

For example, it my budget dictates “Holiday Inn” but I’d be thrilled with “Four Seasons Resort” then why not use the Air Miles to cover what my budget would not? Be thrilled with the supplement to the vacation, rather than stress about trying to save enough Air Miles to cover the whole vacation.

Dollar Store Camping: What brought this on?

Let’s take a step back in this saga, before we proceed. Why am I camping like a newbie and why don’t I have deluxe camping equipment at my age? Good question. I can explain.

Though slightly embarrassing to admit, I’ve never taken my kids camping outside the backyard. At age 14 and 11 they haven’t slept in a tent in a National Park. There are a couple reasons. Firstly, my free time in the summer is extremely limited. I’m lucky to get one week off in the summer, so I really want to make the most of that time.

The marketing lure of Disneyland trumped camping one year. Cheap summer flights to the Caribbean and my intense desire for beach and turquoise water won a couple other years. Both these types of summer vacations were much more attractive than camping because camping was too much like home. (We lived on a beautiful acreage, surrounded by trees.) But now that we live in the city, the boys are missing “home” and the trees/wildlife they grew up around.

My oldest son Riley is keenly interested in wilderness TV shows, and survival videos on YouTube, and as I mentioned in a previous post he wanted to borrow my credit card to buy camping survival kits online.

So it was crystal clear to me that THIS was the time to plan a camping adventure. It won’t be long before he loses interest in family trips and becomes too strong willed to let me lead or teach. But let me say, I LOVE this age. While he’s still willing to hang out with his mom, I’m going to take every opportunity to make it memorable.

The next several instalments will be about our National Park adventure on the east coast of Canada.

Dollar Store Camping: Part 2

Dollar store camping success stories… The tools in action!

We used it for two nights, and it was a perfect camping night light. $2 And we left it for the next tenters with this label.

There’s no point theorizing. If you don’t take it on the road, you don’t truly know. So… we went camping. Here are the things we bought from the dollar store/ Dollar Tree and how we rank them.

Paper plates: Huge win. Use, then burn in the campfire. You can have spiderman birthday plates, or 50th Anniversary. It does not matter. Theme your camping and feel extra special.

Re-usable plastic cups: 2 for $1. Big win. Think wine cup.

Cutlery multi-pack: Win. Much better than asking for extra cutlery with your baked potato at Wendy’s.

Cotton balls: Riley used them for sparking the fire, with his flint. Made him feel boy-scout-ish. So, personal win for Riley.

Deck of cards: Weak. Didn’t get used. However, I think if it were raining and the campground didn’t have WIFI it would have been a big hit.

Tablecloth: YES! So good. Picnic tables are old and beat up and have bird poop. Table cloth and you’re set!

Solar puck light: I could not believe how well this worked. We charged it in the sun on the car windshield as we drove. It glowed all night in the tent.

“Copper” bowl with handles: YES! Another great one. I cooked soup, water, and even sauted scallops and spinach over a camp fire. It held its shape. The handles were effective. WIN! $3

Fresh, off-the-dock scallops in garlic butter, cooked over the campfire in the $3 “copper” pot

Oven mitts: We used them once. Could have used a towel instead. And while we could have used them to lift up the copper cooking bowl, we chose to lift it with a marshmallow stick threaded through both handles, because it was more fun. So oven mitts….waste of $3.

Tin foil: Yes, the rolls are fairly short for $1.25 but they were perfect for campfire cooking. A no-brainer. Grocery stores charge $3 or more for the same.

Bubbles: For blowing. Lame. I should have bought dish soap with that money instead. Maybe with toddlers, they would be a hit, but a fail with my teens.

Giant marshmallows. They were gross. You could’t even cook them thru. Fail.

All things considered, the Dollar Store/Dollar Tree had several things that were very useful for camping. If I could only take 5 things, or $10 worth, they would be:

  1. Cooking pot
  2. Solar Light
  3. Paper plates
  4. Tablecloth
  5. Foil