The “Did Not Need” Vacation 2019 list

I’ve fallen a tad behind in writing about stuff and junk, like the camping trip Jeff and I took last month. I have the text written for that and will pick and post the appropriate photos soon™.

In the meantime, here’s a post-trip list of what I took and found useful and what I didn’t need to bother with. For every trip I have to consider things like:

  • How long I’ll be away
  • What kind of place we’re staying at (campsite with full hookups, abandoned farm in the country*, luxury hotel, etc.)
  • How much is practical to bring along because the easy solution would be to bring everything if possible

We were going to be camping for a week in Hope at a campsite on the edge of town, with full electrical and water. We’d go without either the last day and a half at the dirt bike camp, but generally we’d be in civilization and close to the outdoors, rather than the reverse (as would be the case at Manning Park, for example). We did not plan on doing any laundry while away.

Here are the things I brought and did not use:

  • Jeans. It was mid-July and though we had a few misty days, it was never cold enough to wear pants. Even if it had rained all week, I still don’t think they would have been needed. Summer vacation does not require one to be a pantser, you might say.
  • Long sleeve shirt. See above.
  • More than one hoodie. I brought a thicker one and a thinner one and only wore the thinner one. See above and above.
  • iPad. I figured since we had electricity, I’d bring along my MacBook Pro, which is rated for 10 hours of battery life–the same as the iPad, but with the bonus of having a larger screen and keyboard. I never looked at the iPad, though I did charge it once just to keep it topped up.
  • Long socks. See bullet points 1, 2 and 3.
  • Running gear. I brought everything–shoes, belt, shirts, shorts, cap. But I never ran. It wasn’t out of laziness, either–we did plenty of hiking and biking and disc-tossing and such. I probably could have squeezed a run in, but I’ve only ever done this once while away (in Kamloops). Plus there was a cougar alert at the campsite, which made me not really want to go dashing off on my own.
  • Charger for Apple Watch and iPhone. I forgot the trailer has these.
  • Sleeveless t-shirts. I never wore them, not wanting to get my shoulders burned. I stuck to regular t-shirts. As it turned out, I likely wouldn’t have gotten burned, anyway, as it never got hot until the last day.
  • Jabra Move wireless headphones. I never listened to music because we were always doing other stuff.
  • Charging cable for the Kobo e-reader. It didn’t need to be charged, it actually wasn’t even close to needing to be charged, one of the perks of e-readers. Mind you, the MacBook Pro also didn’t need to be charged, because I used it for less than an hour per day.
  • Electric shaver. I could have slummed for a week without shaving, really.

Overall, my load would definitely have been lighter in hindsight, but I can use this knowledge going forward to be more efficient and satisfy my latent OCD.

The things I was glad I brought:

  • MacBook Pro. I wrote every day.
  • Kobo e-reader. I spent enough time reading to warrant bringing it along, plus it’s fairly light and compact.
  • Lots of t-shirts and socks. These tend to get dirty and stinky when you’re outdoors, so more is better.

I forgot to bring along bug spray, but surprisingly there were very few bugs. I got a couple of minor bites and that was it. I’m probably forgetting a few things–one of the hazards of writing this more than two weeks after getting back. If need be, I’ll jazz this up later. It’s mostly reference for the next trip, anyway. If this accidentally informed anyone reading it, I apologize!

Manning Park 2017: Day 2, Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Trails both open and closed, terrifying heights of terror

Day 2 started bright and early with a home-cooked breakfast of yummy pancakes and bacon. Thanks, Aunt Jemima!

Our first adventure of the day was to find internet. It turns out the boonies are much better equipped for booze than modern communications technology. Undaunted, we headed to the Cascades Lookout, a 16 km drive straight up the mountain (well, with a few switchbacks included) where a park ranger had promised the possibility of cell coverage, depending on provider.

The drive up was slow and terrifying for anyone with a fear of heights. Like me, for example. Once up top, we parked and indeed found we had two bars of coverage, enough to say hi on Facebook and sync all-important MyFitnessPal data. Those tasks completed, we set off on a couple of hikes, starting with the Paintbrush Trail, so-named because the trail is littered with discarded paintbrushes left by frustrated painters who came up to paint, only to find everything already painted in lush green alpine meadows and wildflowers.

Or maybe it’s because the meadows up here are filled with alpine blooms. We did see more than a few flowers but found out they are actually blooming later than usual this year due to the hard winter, so the big show will be missed, alas.

Paintbrush Trail
Standing on the Paintbrush Trail, contemplating paintbrushes. And trails.

All hail technology (and two bars of cell coverage on top of a mountain)

Jeff midway down the stairs taking a picture of me…

…while I take a picture of him from the top of the stairs.

After looping back around we saw a van pull up in the parking lot and, weirdly, the same Alpenhorn quintet, still in costume, came piling out with horns in tow.

Here’s hoping the fourth guy didn’t accidentally elbow the fifth guy. It was a long way down.

It turned out they actually had a second concert up here. It was announced and everything, though we missed the announcement. It was still bizarre to have them show up again. I’m waiting for their next sudden appearance.

We returned to the camp and had leftover pizza for lunch. It was surprisingly good. Waste not, want not and all that. After we resumed more hikes, heading along Lightning Lake to Flash Lake (the person who named the latter deserves a serious paddling). We had planned on looping Flash Lake until we met this little fellow:

Trail closed due to CAUTION sign in the way

We doubled back and headed over Rainbow Bridge. Midway across Jeff ran into a co-worker from UBC. Another weird coincidence. The Alpenhorn players did not suddenly appear, though. Not yet, anyway.

The total hike was still about 9 km in total. I used my watch to record it as a workout and brilliantly ended the workout early two times, so according to the watch, it was a long hike followed by a short hike followed by a “this is not really a hike” hike.

Before dinner, we went to the Manning Park Resort and Lodge and looked around the store for maps, souvenirs, and hidden Alpenhorn players. We found a map, I got a souvenir mug for Jeff, handy for imbibing liquids, and got a zippered hoodie for myself because I was dumb and forgot to bring a jacket. That wouldn’t be a problem if the whole night part of camping didn’t happen, but it does, so the hoodie will offer warmth as I remind myself not to forget things next time.

Seen at the Manning Park Resort: Statue recounting bear attacked by legendary nose-eating salmon

Dinner was BBQ chicken with potatoes and veggies and was extra yummy because were eating out in spectacular scenery up in the mountains instead of the couch, which offers little in the way of spectacular scenery. We made s’mores over the campfire after, fulfilling one of the mandatory camping requirements.

Later as it got dark we waited ’round the campfire for the stars to come out. Jeff eventually gave up waiting and went to bed. I kept waiting but when it was still light over an hour after sunset I also gave up. Stupid stars. I went to bed and dreamed about them coming out instead.

And thus ended Day 2.


Manning Park 2017: Day 1, Tuesday July 4th

Heading out, the drive, the marmots, the Alpenhorns

Having never had a formal vacation together, Jeff and I decided to do a five day trip to Manning Park, about 220 km east of Vancovuer as the crow flies, assuming the crow flies along the highway.

Day One found us heading out on July 4, humming “America the Beautiful” to commemorate U.S. Independence Day.

We left New Westminster around 9:30 or so and conditions were near-perfect, with temperatures in the mid-20s under clear skies. We picked up the trailer in Langley (and brother, that thing is heavy), then began the first leg of our trek, which would take us to Chilliwack for gas and propane. There wasn’t much to see in Chilliwack but here’s a picture of Vedder Road, named after Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder, or so the legend goes.

The splendor of Chilliwack
The splendor of Chilliwack

And here’s a giant Canadian flag that was flying outside the service station. This ends the Chilliwack portion of our vacation:

A giant Canadian flag for the 4th of July
A giant Canadian flag for the 4th of July

We headed off along Highway 3 (the Crow’s Nest, as it’s called, possibly because of something to do with crows) which became more snake-like than crow-like as it wound through the mountains.

Shortly after noon we arrived at Hope, a bustling metropolis with internet and everything. It was also windy enough that I saw dust devils forming in the Save-On Foods parking lot.

We had lunch at Home, a very busy restaurant, perhaps because people think it is their actual home and always go there to eat and wonder why mom comes around with a pad of paper to ask what you’re having for dinner instead of just cooking meatloaf again and telling you that you’ll like it.

Here is an obligatory shot of my hot turkey sandwich (I didn’t eat the cranberry sauce because it was cranberry sauce):

I don't know why I was stabbing my sandwich with a knife
I don’t know why I was stabbing my sandwich with a knife

Jeff had a BLT sandwich, which you can see at the top of the photo. I want one now.

We bought a couple hundred dollars in groceries, enough for at least several meals. Jeff may or may not have acquired liquor.

And then we were off.

Leaving Hope behind
Leaving Hope behind

Around 3 p.m. we arrived at Lightning Lake Campground and meandered to our spot. It’s a nice spot. It has a picnic table, a fire ring to prevent people from burning down the entire forest, and a forest, which surrounds it. We set up without injury or incident.

The campsite!
The campsite!

We went on a hike around Lightning Lake, called, cleverly enough, the Lightning Lake Loop.

Heading off around Lightning Lake. It's important to stay hydrated!
Heading off around Lightning Lake. It’s important to stay hydrated!

Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge. Diving allowed–no. Bears–maybe.

Jeff was well-hydrated by the end of the hike around the lake.
Jeff was well-hydrated by the end of the hike. And half-naked.

In the distance of the shot below you can see Mt. Frosty, the highest point in Manning Park, so-named as it is the burial site of Frosty the Snowman.

Lightning Lake view
There were some pretty views of the lake as we made our way around it.

On the last leg of the loop we saw a place that rents canoes for $20 an hour, with an option to buy after four. We declined and instead admired the water from the shore.

There was also a field filled with marmots, roughly a million or so. Here’s just one:

Marmots all the way down
The handsome knee you see is mine. Crouching down is marmot-speak for “may have food.”

One little kid was petting them. He probably has scurvy now or whatever it is you get from marmots.

They squeaked a lot. I did not pet them.

In the evening we went to the amphitheater to watch an Alpenhorn quintet in from Germany get eaten alive by mosquitoes. They also played their Alphenhorns. It was unique and interesting, even if a lot of the pieces sounded the same. I was mildly disappointed they did not end with “Stairway to Heaven.”

Alpenhorn quintet
Alpenhorn quintet that flew in straight from Germany (and boy, were there arms tired).

We did not stay for the nature trivia quiz after. The parks person hosting it noted that there would be no cheating as there is no Wi-Fi at the campsite. I imagine some were doubly hurt, as the symbol for the amphitheater looks just like a Wi-Fi logo:

Amphitheater sign
This is not a Wi-Fi sign.

We had hot dogs roasted on the campfire, as one is duty-bound to do when camping. Here’s our first fire, just getting started.


And then we slept, having survived an entire afternoon and evening without internet access. I only banged my head once getting up to use the loo, something I consider a minor triumph. I don’t do well in confined spaces.

In all, a good first day.




June 2015 mini-vacation: Rain, sun, ants and horseshoes

Back in early June of 2015, I booked a few days off from work in order to attend my partner’s sister’s daughter’s (!) convocation in Kamloops. Apparently, some people are unfamiliar with this term–it’s another way of saying “high school graduation ceremony” but uses one word instead of four. It’s efficient. Our trip was five days in total, starting Wednesday, June 3 and ending Sunday, June 7.

(I started writing this post a few months after the trip and never quite got around to posting it. I am now posting what I had written to that point.)

The exciting day by day details follow.

Read moreJune 2015 mini-vacation: Rain, sun, ants and horseshoes

Freedom, terrible freedom: Day 3 report

I know I said I would sum up things at the end of my time off.

I lied.

This is what I did on Day 3:

  • unloaded the clean dishes from the dishwasher
  • loaded the dishwasher with dirty dishes
  • did laundry
  • swept the living room and kitchen
  • cleaned a toilet
  • dusted
  • walked to the mall (about 5 km), bought underwear and t-shirts
  • helped prepare dinner
  • played some Minecraft

See? I totally know how to relax and enjoy vacation.

Freedom, terrible freedom

Starting on Saturday (yesterday) I began a 10 day vacation, the first real time off I’ve booked from a job in years. My goal is to return more relaxed than when I left. I am not traveling, I’m just hanging out and trying to, as they say, chill.

I’m beginning to think I may have been better off going somewhere. It’s hard to truly relax and feel vacation-y when you’re at home and all the usual obligations keep staring you in the face. Sure I can ignore them but the guilt kicks in automatically. It’s just the way my brain works. My guilt gene is highly developed.

Regardless, I’m determined to do some fun and accidentally productive things like:

  • gaming
  • reading
  • writing
  • running

It’s true I’d do most of these things, anyway, but now I’ll be doing them with extra gusto and no transit passengers to bug me.

I’ll report back on where the relax-o-meter sits eight days from now. Exciting!