Tag: Canada

Leisure Travel Freedom – Our Van Tour

Van Life Van Tour
VanLife – Van Tour

We finally did it!  We were able to finish the video of our Van Tour.  I thought I should write this post while our video uploads to YouTube.  Please be gentle with your reviews as it’s our first video, and we seem to be a little long.  Everyone starts somewhere and things can only get better!

Freddy’s – Van Tour

We are very proud of our home.  We moved into Freddy back over Easter in late April, and have worked at perfecting our new way of life.  So many people seem to want to look down their noses at us.  Oh well, can’t please everyone, and at my age, I am not going to try!  So we hope you enjoy the Van Tour.  Be sure to leave comments either here or on our YouTube Channel.  If you have been reading our blog you will know already we are moving back to Beautiful British Columbia so be sure to follow along.  We will try to upload a video every Friday, and if all goes well we will have a couple of blog posts a week.

VanLife - Ontario Yours to Discover

Canada 150 – Ontario Yours to Discover

VanLife - Ontario Yours to Discover
Ontario Yours to Discover – National Steel Company

As our time is drawing to an end here in Ontario, I am torn but excited at the same time.  British Columbia has been my home for so many years and I have been away for almost 3 years now.  Though I was born here in Ontario, it’s never been home.  It’s so difficult to explain to people, but there is a burning inside of me to get back to my home.   There are some very beautiful areas in Ontario, places such as Belleville, or Cottage country, Northern Ontario is breathtaking.  I, however, live in the Niagara Region currently and there is truly so little to offer.

Ontario – Niagara Region

VanLife-Ontario Yours to Discover
Ontario Yours to Discover – Steel City

During my stay here in the Niagara Region, I have been introduced to many different people, some very interesting and some not so much so.  A perfect example was just the other night at Starbucks.  Three young ladies likely in their late teens, talking rather loudly about how they hate immigrants.  I thought this kind of funny since they were not Native Americans, so their families were immigrants somewhere down the line.  They looked over and saw my wife sitting there, and Michelle is from the Philippines.  One would think they would maybe cool it, but no a simple “awkward” and they continued their discussion.  As far as I am concerned this is not the Canada I grew up in.  It sickens me to hear things like this being said by the next generation.  I can somehow understand my parents thinking like that though I would never agree with it.

This is certainly not the first time I have heard such comments.  I have even heard things like that from some of my family.  One reason that makes us want to move from the area.   There is nothing here that we can relate to,  we are explorers, travellers.  Our enjoyment certainly not sitting in the backyard weekend after weekend seeing how many beers we can down.  This seems to be the extent of many in the Niagara Region.

Time to move on from Ontario

Now that we are in the early stages of the summer, and we have been able to work the kinks out of our Motorhome it seems like a perfect time to move on.  Since Michelle is new to Canada, it seems like a perfect idea to do a drive across the country so she can get an idea that there are wonderful places in this country.  There are many places that immigrants can be at home, respected and treated as equals.  I have learned over the years that people become “institutionalised”  where they are too afraid to learn and grow.  Once this happens they become closed to anything new or different and then all that is left is judgement.

Our plan is to depart late afternoon on the 2nd of July, and we are going to do our best to travel no less than 500 km a day so we can arrive in the lower mainland of British Columbia 10 days later.  I have made this trip on a number of occasions, and I have to say there is something so special watching the amazement on someone’s face during their first cross country journey.   I know Michelle took joy when we were travelling the Philippines watching me as we travelled all over Negros Occidental, now it’s my turn to watch her.

Shooting Pictures for Canada 150

VanLife - Ontario Yours to Discover
Ontario Yours to Discover – Quaker City

I am most excited about 10 days free to shoot images as we cross the country.  I am hoping to find the time to shoot celestial images as we cross through the Prairies.  There should be some fantastic opportunities for night shoots, and if we are really lucky there will be some fantastic opportunities for weather pictures.   I am looking forward as well shooting in the mountains if possible.  There is a special spot in my heart for sunrise/sunset and water.  I am wanting to shoot long exposure if possible.  I am also doing a review of a set of presets and brushes for Lightroom so be sure to keep an eye for that review!

Since this is Canada 150, and we have the opportunity to travel across Canada, explore like we love to do.  Memories last forever, those are the only things we can keep with us forever.  Houses, cars, pools they are material, but memories are forever!  I am so looking forward to shooting images as we go.  On “Instagram” I use a tag called #seenthroughyourbedroomwindow, I am hoping to be able to add many shots under this heading.  I love the fact that every day we will have another amazing view to take in.  My sister Deb is coming along with us, and I am very excited about her joining us.  She will be piloting “Little BlueJay” as we make our way across the country.

It All Started in Ontario

As a child, I played competitive hockey here in Ontario, first with the Penetang Jr Kings and then with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL and the Trenton Bobcats their farm team.  I spent most of my teens living with a billet in a different town and travelling by bus to games.  Most of the time I was on the road and I loved that feeling of being on the move.  Later with the Navy, and then of course when I retired I lived abroad.  Michelle keeps asking if I am excited about the trip, and so far I have been pretty calm but I know once I am on the road all of the stress from getting the trip organised will drain away and this will be another trip of the lifetime!

Be sure to follow along with us, enjoy our stories and hopefully many many pictures.  Are you on an adventure want to share? Let me know we would love to hear about your adventures as well!!

Boondocking in a Van

VanLife Boondocking in the Niagara Region

Boondocking in a Van
VanLife Boondocking

As Easter weekend in coming to a close, Michelle and I took Freddy out for a shake done cruise around the area.  We specifically were looking for experience in the area for VanLife Boondocking.  From our research, Ontario is not the place to boondock.  We started slowly, wanting to feel things out.  Friday had us head off to the local Walmart to purchase some of the much-needed items to make Freddy our comfortable home.  We found some great deals on bedding, pots and pans, and other items we felt were important.

VanLife Boondocking

After the shopping excursion, the rest of the day was spent setting things up.  Michelle had such a big smile on her face as we worked to bring our new home together.  Putting away things in places we feel would work, and to organise our tiny home on wheels.  We headed over to the Lowe’s parking lot right near the Starbucks Michelle works at, because she needed to go to work in the early evening.

Michelle wanted to nap before her shift, so we opened the roof vent, closed the curtains and crawled into bed.  No one seemed to notice us at the back of the parking lot.  Our first boondocking seemed to be working well!

Michelle’s shift was until 22:30, and it just so happened our home was just outside her work door.  It was perfect, out she came, climbed into Freddy and we drove off.  My first thought was to head down to the old Tallship near Jordan River to enjoy a sunrise over Lake Ontario.  It was late, and Michelle had to work in the morning so we thought better of it.  Instead, we headed down the QEW towards Fort Erie and decided to stay at the Flying J at exit 5.

Flying J Truck Stop – Boondocking Heaven!

VanLife Boondocking

Ok, I know a Truck stop is not really boondocking, but for a couple of newbies, it’s a great place to start.  Flying J’s have showers, laundries, Sani dumps ($10.00) as well as a restaurant if you’re tired of cooking. Oh, and they make a mean pizza!!

Once we arrived, the first words out of Michelle’s mouth was “Pizza Hun”, so we went in, used the Comfort Room, and I got Michelle and couple of slices of pizza.  Afterwards, we headed off to the parking lot to find our place to spend the night.  With it being a long weekend, there were so many good open spots for us. I decided to head way down to the back of the lot, near the Oil and Lube place and backed into the parking spot with our bedroom facing the highway.  We crawled into bed, and off to sleep, we went!  How I know Michelle had a good time, take a look at the smile on this ladies face!  Is there any doubt she loved the weekend of firsts!


Zero Waste

Zero Waste

Have you heard of the Zero Waste movement?  I watched a video interview with Mailyne on the website Exploring Alternatives, and she is living a Zero Waste lifestyle.  Not too many years ago, I would have simply moved on to the next video in line.  However, recently I find that I am more and more inspired by people living an Alternate Lifestyle.  I am tired of the status norm, there must be more to life than what I see on TV,and what has become such and wasteful existence!

Zero Waste

Zero Waste as defined in Wikipedia “is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycle so that all products are reused.  No trash is sent to landfills or incinerators.  The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature.”

The reason I find Mailyne so inspirational is she actually embraces her beliefs and not just preaches them.   I can remember watching Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth” I was on the edge of my seat with each word he spoke.  Sadly this changed when I learned that he was flying around delivering his presentations on a private jet.  As we know the Carbon footprint is huge for this type of travel.   Please do not get me wrong, I still feel and believe in what Al Gore presented was fantastic!

Inspiration Found in Strange Places

Michelle and I have decided to embrace the Zero Waste lifestyle as well thanks mainly to Mailyne!  Since we are attempting to purchase and move into a Class B Motorhome, space will certainly be at a premium, so being Zero Waste will certainly be beneficial!  We use the recycle bags we purchased at Walmart and The Bulk Barn.  Michelle is working on some burlap sacks for veggies and various fresh items.  We will continue to reduce and reuse as the time goes by.  I only hope we can do as great a job as Mailyne!

Be sure to check out the links for Mailyne and Exploring Alternatives Webs site list above.  Check back, I think Michelle and I have found out Motorhome!!  Once we get it, we will do a Tour of the Motorhome on our upcoming YouTube channel.




Sun’N Fun RV Centre

Sun'N Fun RV Centre
Sun’N Fun RV Centre

Michelle and I went to see a 1987 Camper Van at “Sun’N Fun RV Centre” in Waterdown Ontario.  We drove sixty minutes to see the Camper Van and as the excitement was high.  Just behind the back of the service department there she was, sitting there waiting for us.  Sadly though, just after opening the side door we knew it was not for us!

Sun’N Fun RV Centre

I am having a difficult time getting my head wrapped around how the viewing went.  The sales man, was sure to let us know, that the van was kind of guaranteed to run problem free for about six months but after that all bets were off.   I tried to find out what he meant by that, but could not get detailed answers. We are finding it difficult to find a Class B Camper Van in our price range, and when we do, it’s snapped up before we can get a bid on it.  We have been looking on Kijiji, CraigsList as well as Auto Trader but still no luck.  We have decided to search Canada wide from British Columbia through to Nova Scotia.  We just missed a beautiful Class B in West Kelowna today.

We will keep plugin away and see if we can find what we are looking for.  We even have thought about doing a conversion of our own, which we think would be a lot of fun but we are not sure it will be any cheaper then purchasing one.

Check back in a few days as we continue to look for a suitable Camper Van.


Western Union

Western Union
Western Union

I have been in the Philippines virtually since August of 2014 when I first arrived here on a scouting mission so to speak.  Originally I arrived here with about $1200.00 CDN funds which at the time with exchange was PhP47,500 which I figured would be more than enough for the 15 – 20 days I was planning on staying here.  One thing that I always notice is the big Western Union billboards and signs on almost every corner here in the Philippines.  It was kind of like this in Cambodia but not as many, Thailand there were a large number of Western Union places as well, though I never ever thought of using one.  That was then, this is now for sure.

Western Banks (TD Canada Trust)

Nightmares returned very quickly when I had to withdraw some money to help cover off my stay in Bacolod.  One of the reasons I went through so much money so quickly was needing to make three months rent payment in order to get my lease, not to mention the Php2,000 I had to give for utilities incase I take off and leave the landlord hanging.   So I approached the ATM, knowing this was going to be painful.  I was planning on withdrawing about PhP20,000, so I inserted my bank card, and did what was needed to have it denied….knowing this had to do with the amount I was asking for, I started reducing the amount I was asking for, and much to my horror, I was only aloud to take PhP10,000 out at one time.  This was something to do with the ATM’s here in the Philippines and not with TD Canada Trust.  However, each and every withdrawal I was charged $5.00 CDN for accessing my money, plus the most horrible exchange rate you can find.  I compared to what I was getting at TD Canada Trust to what the exchange rate was at Western Union and there is about a 3 or 4 peso difference per CDN dollar, and certainly not to the advantage of the customer.  Disgusted, I turned to my sister who works for a bank, and she said she could send money through Western Union right from her online banking access.  What??  How can this be, if I wanted to transfer money to myself in Bacolod, I had to pay about $30 – $45 at TD Canada Trust, and the best part is the customer service people tell me I need to be there in order to do it.  But I am in the Philippines, well sir I am sorry.  Yes you are sorry for sure!!

Western Union

Fees with Western Union out of Canada works something like this.  Money in minutes $9.50, and I have sent up to PhP35,000 where if I were to do that through the ATM and TD Canada Trust I would have to pay $5.00 per Php10,000 or in this example almost $20.00 CDN.  When you are living on a fixed income this is a lot of money.  With Bank of Montreal which is where my sister works she sinds me whatever amount I ask her too, at any hour of the day or night, directly through her Online Banking accounts and I pay about $11.00 Cdn per $1000.00 dollars.  Plus, the exchange rate is fantastic.  I will see it advertised at a certain rate and Western Union seems to offer it about 1 – 1.5 pesos more than what you will find at the bank.

Now I know why there are so many Western Union centers here in the Philippines.  The vast number of Overseas Filipino Workers and the amount of money sent back to the family, and with the way banking laws and banks operate so much money would be lost to big business.  I think it’s time the banks are regulated in the amount of services fees they are allowed to levy on their customers, especially since now a days its pretty much a given you need to have a bank account.