Coast Starlight Train: Part 1

Ok, I’m giddy. No sense hiding it. I haven’t been this excited about travel in a few years

I’m on the Amtrak Coast Starlight train from Seattle to Santa Barbara. It’s November the 7th and I might be lucky enough to see 3 seasons in one day. Snow has fallen here on the Washington coast. I expect I’ll see the fall leaves and colours in just a few hours down the track. Then, it will be sunny and still above 20C in California. That’s spring-like to this Canadian.

Why the Coast Starlight trip? I’ve seen it on-line, read about it and believe it to be legendary. So I want to see it for myself. I get to see the Pacific Coast without having to drive it! I can be a rested passenger and just take in the view. OMG.

Why now? Why NOT now. Do things when the opportunity comes up. Opportunity may not knock twice. So I often ask myself…. “If not NOW, then WHEN?” The companion question to that of course, “If not ME, then WHO?” That second piece is the inner voice that encourages me to step up, speak up and act when I think something is possible.

That, in a nutshell is how I ended up on the Coast Starlight train today. And boy am I ever excited.

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.

 

 

 

 

Tips and Tricks: Get more family photos on vacation

Does your teen resist vacation photos? Do your kids make silly faces? Do you wonder why you ever bother?

My answer to this is the selfie scavenger hunt.

It’s this easy.

Step 1: (Before you leave on vacation.) Hey guys… what do you think we might see on vacation? Let’s brainstorm and make a list.

Step 2: (The day the vacation starts) Pull out that list. Make teams. Introduce the game. “First team to get selfies with 6 of the things on the list, wins souvenir t-shirts.”

If your family is competitive like mine, they’ll be racing around, eyes wide open, taking it all in. Big grins and laughing all around. AND, you’ll have a bunch of fun selfies to cherish.

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.