Grilled Cheese

When I was about 11, I had my first grilled cheese sandwich. It was in a restaurant with my family during a road trip to go skiing at Big White in Kelowna BC. My father had arranged this trip with his Czech buddies and it was only one of two ski vacations we went on as an entire family.

We drove to a mountain chalet for a week long ski trip. All I can remember about the building was the indoor pool, playing arcade bowling, and a sign that read, “Das Hofbräuhaus“. These two trips were the only time my father willingly spent quality time with me.

In the morning, I had ski lessons. By afternoon, my father and I would go down the hill for a few runs. By dinner, I would be back at our room for a quick dinner, then off to swim and play in the small arcade. No adult supervision by the pool or in the arcade. These were simpler times where a boy could spend his quarters happily without restrictions.

After this wind down, my parents would head to the pub inside the chalet to hang out with my father’s friends. They’d stay out late, so before my parents returned, I would watch some HBO in hopes to catch a glimpse of a boob or two. But my strongest memory of this trip was still at the very beginning of it.

To get to our vacation destination, we left our home in my dad’s packed Hyundai Stellar. (I don’t think I have a picture of the car because my father hated it, but I found one online.) Within the first hour or so of our journey we stopped in Hope, BC at a truck stop to meet up with his friends in order to make a sort of convoy to the ski resort. This is where I had my first ever grilled cheese sandwich. There was even ham inside of it. I was in heaven.

When we returned home from our trip, I vowed to learn how to make a perfect grilled cheese. I had never cooked before, so this was exciting for me. Years and years of frying up bread and cheese followed. I have now mastered the art of the grilled cheese. I have made numerous variations of them, all with near perfect results. It has gotten to a point that my family would ask for a sandwich if I was making one. But soon it shall be no longer.

Over the past few weeks, our 11 year old son has been doing his best to make grilled cheese sandwiches. He has asked for advice and tips as he slowly creates his near-perfect meal. Even though he has tried to argue some of my points, he would use them and realize that dad was right.

If my father was still around today, he’d probably never have guessed that the time he spent with me would come down to a simple sandwich. A sandwich that his grandson now excitedly creates almost daily. I don’t think my son knows where my obsession came from, but he is following suit.

All of this stems from one trip, one stop, and one happy memory. Thanks dad for that.

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Synchronized Solo Swimming 

We are in a hotel overnight for a speed skating meet in the morning. We always like to stay at a Holiday Inn Express whenever we travel. Free breakfast and usually a pool.  We went down to the lobby pool for a little bit of fun to have the night before my kids’ competition.


Previous times that we’ve been in hotel swimming pools we love to play around. Hours of “Marco Polo” have been played. We even pretended to be a variety of sea life. I can do a wicked dolphin! Eeee-eee-eee! I get pretty noisy as well as we splash around. My kids have even pretended to be Godzilla and Ariel as we goof off.


Tonight was about Synchronized Swimming! It started with me doing it solo.  I was having so much fun, that my kids finally joined in. We did some poorly choreographed water ballet. Another family was at the pool and decided to escape. Not sure why. Sometimes people are afraid to be silly in public.


Burning off some energy after a half day of driving is always fun. I love that my kids can let loose and not care what others think. Maybe in the future we can get more synchronized at our swimming.

Last Enjoyment Of Summer

This was the last weekend before summer ended. A friend of mine from work texted me late Thursday evening and invited me out to his family’s cabin the next day.  It sounded like a great little escape.


First we drove for a little over three hours.  Then we had to get to the cabin by boat. The lake was calm and the sky was clear. As soon as we arrived, we powered up the solar panel charged batteries.  “More than a Feeling” plays over Mountain Radio


The cabin has been in my coworker’s family since 1969. It has since been through numerous renovations and is decorated in eclectic cabin features. From handmade wooden cabinets to a variety of old couches and chairs. Mismatched blinds and vinyl flooring. Numerous dishes that look like they’ve been scavenged from thrift stores.

All of it beautiful.


We spent the afternoon and evening casually floating around the lake trying to catch fish. I caught a fish. Woohoo! My friend taught me to skin and gut the fish. 


As the evening progressed, we drank beers and a Barrel of Sunshine. With no cellular service to distract us we had great conversations about life and family. One night away was the perfect way to enjoy the last weekend of summer.

Passports

Today my wife and I are going to get new passports for the family.  The last time we did this was five years ago. The only country we have entered on these passports is USA. So we have had no stamps on them.  It kind of makes me sad, but at the same point- they look pretty cool under a black light. If all goes well, with the new ones we can get some real travel going.


My wife and I are going to get the ten year passport renewals.  (The children are only able to get five year ones.) I am hoping that over the next few years we can actually get some stamps in our books.  Even when I was younger, the only country I have ever been to outside North America is Scotland. It’s time to make amends to this situation.


Having a ten year passport means our picture will remain the same for a long time.  Hopefully the biggest changes will be in our personalities as we experience other cultures and more of the world. I’m looking forward to our future exploits.  Perhaps even a couple within the first year.

As they say, “Happy travels!”

Shift In Focus

My wife and I have come to a conclusion: we need less stuff cluttering our home. We are just inundated with belongings. Our home has become a catch all for things. Paraphernalia that her family or my family have decided necessary for us to possess or keep. 


Sometimes it’s even the newest toys and games that we all desire that takes over our home. (I’m looking at you Skylanders, Amiibos and Lego Dimmensions). The hardest part is saying no.  No to the freebies, no to the newest trend, no to spending money on junk. Sure, we now have stuff to show for it. And my family is pretty damn good at keeping things in near mint condition. 


Time to do away with wanting all of those possessions. We are going to attempt to become minimalistic. Both in our home and what we desire.  The big focus will be maintenance on our home and travel.  Lots more travel.  My recent vacation really made me appreciate how much beauty there is in the world.  We were really only a few hundred kilometers away from our home but still experienced wonderment. There is so much more to experience if we just venture a bit further. 

Time to start pinching pennies and those travel points. Life isn’t long enough to just be rooted down. I’m getting excited about the ideas.  So is my family.  

Look out world! 

The Havelka’s want to take you all in!

Great Wolf Lodge

Yesterday and today we enjoyed the water slides and Great Wolf Lodge. It’s a perfect ending to our summer vacation. Having children of an older age makes it a very different experience than the time we came here five years ago.


The first big change was requesting to stay on the Top Floor. Eight stories up- there aren’t any children running up and down the halls. We have a decent view of the side of the Resort as well.  The next big change- all of our children are comfortable in water. Neither parent forced to be with a child on every slide.


My wife and I took full advantage of not having to be with the kids. We snuck off to live life like a couple of teenagers. Sort of.  We were the parent couple that held hands walking up the stairs to the slides. We laughed and screamed as we went down the slides together. But our ages began to show. The exercise going up the stairs winded us.  Down the slides- the spinning and going backwards made us nauseous after a time.


Hours of waterparking gave us dry skin and prune hands and bad hair. The kids were independent and we were tired. There were no changes in how Great Wolf Lodge looks or is run. If anything, rust and peeling paint was more prevalent. The place is showing its age.  


Soon, our children won’t care much to return here.  But for now- it’s all about the fun!

Vacation Vacation 

I’m at the point in my vacation that I need a vacation from my vacation.  We have been nonstop going since my first day off. It isn’t slowing either.


Vacationing on a budget and trying to do as much as possible is a challenge.  So far, we’ve had a chance to have new experiences that will last a lifetime. We’ve been traveling around BC enjoying nature.  The weather has cooperated immensely.


I’ve hit a point though- I’m old. Early mornings and late nights to make the most of my time off are starting to have its toll. The kids have the energy which helps renew mine for most of the day.  I just need a day to recover.  Not like the old days- this isn’t a hangover. I’m too old for that. I just need a nap or two.

Earth, Water, Wind, Fire- A Week of Camping

We just finished our second family camping trip ever. We returned to 20 Mile Bay at the north end of Harrison Lake. We came up on Monday and left earlier today. It was great to say the least.


Our first day up there was mostly navigating the 33km dirt logging road for a little over an hour. Followed by setting up camp. The smoke from forest fires on the opposite side of the lake sat heavy in the air. But our camp view was breathtaking to say the least. ($15/day to enjoy it? Going to double our stay next year thank you!)


The next day my daughter and I decided to paddle in our inflated rafts to a small island in the lake. A little over an hour of rowing, complaining, floating, and more rowing got us to our goal.  We wandered the island and then we relaxed in the water before trekking back. When we returned, I needed to take a couple of Advil for the muscle pain , followed by a nap.


Later that afternoon it began to get a bit windy.  So the kids pulled out their dollarstore kites and were entertained for a couple of hours. It seems that they now want better kites for future use.


On Wednesday morning, my son wanted to go out on the inflated boats with me.  We decided to stay close to the shoreline and went around the campgrounds for a couple of hours.  I was still pretty sore from all the paddling the day prior, so this one was more leisurely.

A couple of friends were going to come up and meet us at noon.  Last year we had no cell service, so I didn’t turn on my phone this time around. By three o’clock I decided to try and turn on my cellphone. The service in our spot was spotty and intermittent.  But better than anywhere else on the campgrounds (no, I am not telling you the site number- my secret). Unfortunately the text messages that came through meant our friends were not going to make it.  So I took a nap. Naps are the best.


After my nap I decided to get “Girl Drink Drunk”  (old “Kids in the Hall” reference) on Growers cider that we were going to share with our friends. I suffered so much heartburn followed by a decent headache before bed to regret my poor choice.  I’ll stick to my casual beers from now on.


Over night was a pretty good windstorm.  The side of our tent was blowing over onto my wife.  We giggled at 2am for at least an hour while my wife cackled about “Tenty is trying to eat me!” Thursday morning the water was choppy and it was still extra windy.  My wife and I wandered around the camp on a hike and just admired the views and each other’s company. We enjoyed all of our days there.


We enjoyed the nights as well. Our evenings were spent around a propane campfire pit.  We also had music from an old iPod on shuffle playing through a Bluetooth speaker. These were the two “luxuries” that we afforded ourselves. No DVD players or internet. (Cameras and camp stoves were a necessity for reasons). The kids sang along and danced to music that they once made fun of me for enjoying.


Every free moment was spent reading.  We all brought books and just lounged lakeside and read. These five days were the best $75 I have ever spent on a vacation.

A True Man Cave

Last weekend we visited my sister in Powell River. Besides my sister having an amazing view all year round of the ocean, her husband has something equally as impressive. He built the most masculine garage I have ever been in.


When he is in town, his buddies love to stop by.  Some gorgeous cars and Harleys show up.  Inside the garage is a work space and diamond plates used as door frames and along the back of his counters. A grey, silver and black paint job cleans the place up.


He also has a tv, stereo, classic beer fridge, a large round table with “Corona” burned into it and bar stools.  Never need a reason to leave this room.

A couple of quads, a couple of his own bikes, and his black Super Sport are often seen inside.  

One of his bikes has gorgeous red imagery painted on the tank and fenders. He fired it up and you could feel the rumble just standing nearby.


I’m not mechanical in any way except doing an oil change. But I do appreciate the necessity of a Man Cave to promote your hobby.  His garage is pretty fantastic and well built. I hope he gets years of use out of it.

The Eagle Has Landed

Yesterday evening, my 14 year old nephew and my 11 year old son wanted to go out before dinner.  They asked everyone in the house to give them a ride. Each person kept sending them away and told them to ask someone else.  Including myself. Finally I asked where it was they wanted to go. 


My nephew talked about a place just up the road called Eagle River. He mentioned pools of water and cliff diving. I decided that it sounded kind of neat, and I really didn’t know what kind of cliffs a young boy would imagine. Next thing I knew, I was driving four children for a quick dip before dinner. I’m glad my wife came along as well to help look after the kids.


My nephew directed me towards the location that we could take the vehicle to. The river run directly under Highway 101 on the outskirts of Powell River. As you walk down, you can see the water running off and forming a large pool.  The cutouts in the rocks almost made it look like old Aztec ruins.  Then you round the corner and the views continue to be amazing.


There was only a few guys on the far end.  I went over and took a look.  One guy was doing backflips off the waterfall into a pool of water below.  I was most impressed.  These were definitely cliffs and it was definitely not something I was about to attempt or let the children who were with me attempt. That was a young man’s adventure. I’ve been cliff diving before, but didn’t want to encourage the small ones to try it.


So we stayed in the first pool of water.  By one edge it was fairly deep, so the two oldest did their version of cliff jumping about ten feet up from the water. Even though it wasn’t nearly as high up, the kids still had a bit of fear in them as they teetered before the first jump.

If we return next summer, this is going to be a place we hit for longer than an hour.  It was secluded and essentially empty. The water was clear with a jade hue, but clean nonetheless. Sometimes taking the time to listen to a kid can lead us on a great adventure. Eagle River was exactly that.