Road Tripping with a Toddler!

Things were moving quickly and we were surprisingly prepared.  The house was rented out to great tenants, our furniture was on the truck heading to Vancouver (or…so we thought…more to come on that later), we had a new place waiting for us in Vancouver and a job lined up for Shawn.

We finished packing up our car and said our goodbyes.  The goodbyes were definitely much harder than I anticipated they would be.  So, after a few tears and a slightly delayed start to the drive, we were on our way.

Day 1:

We left from outside of London, Ontario and ventured toward our first stop (which we were hoping would be somewhere near Chicago).  We didn’t pre-book any of our overnight stays as we weren’t entirely sure where we would end up each day.

Within about an hour our daughter was sleeping peacefully.  We crossed over the border into Michigan and continued on our way.  Finally around midnight after 6 or 7 hours of travel we decided to call it a night.  We took the first exit that we saw for hotels and ended up stumbling across a hidden gem.  Right before we turned into the Best Western we noticed a sign for the Marina Grand Resort.  We followed the signs until we ended up at the cutest little spot.  It was lit up with a veil of twinkling Christmas lights around the entrance.  We knew this would be the perfect spot to stop.


So, in Shawn went to check us in and it actually came up way under budget.  We unloaded the car and carefully carried Hadley into the hotel room.  It was a stunning room with a fireplace, living room and a covered balcony overlooking the marina.

The next day we quickly toured the New Buffalo beach and then boogied onwards to Chicago.

Day 2:

We parked at the Navy Pier and decided to wander around for a couple of hours.  It was a little bit chilly, but the sun was shining.  We walked around Grant Park and then went on to find Cloud Gate.  On our way to the Cloud Gate we noticed an ice skating rink that was just opening (at noon).  So, in we went, grabbed some skates and took Hadley on her first ice skate.

After one blissful lap, the attendant promptly advised us that carrying a child in our arms while ice skating was not safe and that we would have to leave after our lap was completed.  This was perfectly OK with us as we got to skate the rink practically by ourselves and Hadley loved it.  **Disclaimer** Shawn is an excellent skater and Hadley was in perfectly safe and capable hands.

Me on the other hand, I had completely lost my seven-year-old self’s ability to navigate the rink and was clutching to the rails for dear life.  After leaving the rink and getting some pictures at Cloud Gate we headed back to the Navy Pier to play at the Children’s Museum.

The Children’s Museum was wonderful.  It was equipped with lots of activities for busy little ones!

Day 3:

We ended up in Wisconsin and after every single hotel in Madison was booked, we were left in a very, very, verrrry small town where the hotel options were extremely limited.  We took the room but greatly regretted it when we felt as though we had to sleep with t-shirts over our pillowcases and in our clothes from the day (with socks on).  It was imperative that no bare skin would touch the bedding.  My distain for the hotel was highlighted when I found fake rose pedals scattered near the Jacuzzi which was situated in the middle of the room.  *Insert nausea here*

Needless to say, this stay resulted in a very early morning!

After realizing we couldn’t stand being in a tiny town with limited accommodations for another night, we pressed on for 10.5 hours until we made it to Rapid City.  I can’t even describe the feeling of relief when we pulled into a hotel whose brand we recognized with a clean room.  We ordered food up to the room and enjoyed some much needed R&R.

Day 4:

This was by far one of our favourite days from the journey.  Travelling to Keystone and through the little town during off season was incredible.  (We were sad that nothing was open, but it was such a neat feeling being in such a monumental city with absolutely no one else around).  Driving around the bend and up the hill towards Mt. Rushmore was incredible.  The sun was shining and the view was spectacular.  We took a few pictures until a lovely gentleman stopped on his way up the hill to offer to take a family photo for us.

We toured around the park observing the scenery.  This was definitely one for the books.  If you haven’t been, I strongly recommend it! It was extremely quiet, you could hear the water bubbling underneath the ice on the lake.

Then, on we went to Billings, Montana.  I’m not going to lie, I really had no expectations for Billings, Montana.

However, to my surprise and delight, this city was amazing.  Once we made it to the downtown, we noticed it was lively and filled with delicious restaurants, quaint coffee shops and lots of beauty.  Unfortunately, it was also freezing  (notice the ice cube floating in Hadley’s water cup above….that was after the cup was left in our car for a little while).

We checked into our hotel, bundled up and wandered around the downtown for as long as we could.  I wish we would have had a bit more time to experience this city, but it was late and soooo cold, so we grabbed dinner and went back to our room for another restful night.

Day 5:

Next up – Helena, Montana.  I’m not going to lie, we really felt like we were playing A Ticket To Ride.  Helena was definitely not what I was expecting.  It was still freezing cold when we woke up, but again the sun was shining making for a great day on the road.  And, considering it was December, it wasn’t the worst weather we could have encountered.

The drive to Helena was beautiful.  When we arrived, we looked around and I remember feeling very confused.  “This is the Capital city?”  I don’t really know what I was expecting.  High-rises, a bustling city perhaps.  But, instead it was a small town in what felt like the middle of no where.  But, it was charming and gave us a reason to slow down and relax for the afternoon.  We checked into our hotel after some exploring and took Hads for a swim.

Day 6:

After breakfast, we got back on the road again as the sun was coming up.  The sky was breath taking.  The clouds looked like cotton candy and snow dusted the streets and trees.  This was probably one of the most scenic days we experienced throughout our travels.

We cruised through Idaho and ended up in Spokane, Washington.  The weather continued to get worse as we pressed onwards.

Despite the ever changing weather, we made it through without any problems!

We stayed at an amazing resort in Spokane (after we failed to remember the exchange rate).  But, hey, we had made it this far and decided it was time for us to celebrate!  We had a fabulous stay in Spokane.

Day 7: 

When we were planning our travels, we figured after Spokane we would stop in Seattle.  But, after making it this far and being so close to Vancouver we decided we were going to push through and make it there.

Hadley was such a trooper.  She never complained once during our drive and kept a smile on her face the entire time.  We couldn’t have been any luckier.

The bad weather disappeared as we made it through Seattle and towards the Canadian Border.  At the border, we were informed that our vehicle was selected for a ‘random search’ which makes complete sense considering we were relocating from across the province and entering from the United States.  The border officers were great.  They handled our search in a timely manner and got us back on the road quickly.

After one week on the open road, it was final, we had made it to Vancouver! Everything with our road trip went so smoothly, we almost expected that something had to go wrong…stay tuned!



What I’ve Learned from our Adventure Out West!

After travelling to Kelowna and road tripping to Vancouver last year in November, we immediately fell in love with British Columbia.


It’s hard to believe a province this beautiful exists.  It feels funny looking back on our time in Ontario now and our longing to live somewhere else for a change.  All the while, this gem was right underneath our noses.

It’s no surprise that we’re a family who loves adventure, challenges and change, so why did it take us so long to make the move out west?  I really can’t answer that question.  Aside from the fact that we got so comfortable in our day-to-day routines that we became terrified to make such a large change.

On top of that, I’ve also noticed something else since making this move.  When you’re surrounded by the same people and grow very close to them, they start thinking that they know you better than you know yourself.  Any time I tried to make even small changes about myself (say, a slight darkening of my hair), my decision was typically met with “But, that’s not like you?”  These simple words are so dangerous and haunting.  Even though they are unintentional, they can have such a large impact.

For example, I found myself longing to make lifestyle changes or become more in tune with my creativity, but felt too scared to make any changes because of the comments I would receive.  I dreaded those words, “That’s not like you,” and eventually started believing it.

I remember thinking, “Yea.  They’re right, that’s not like me.”  And even though I wanted to make changes, I ended up remaining stagnant in order to keep the people I loved at bay.  (This isn’t to say that everyone in my life voiced opinions like this, but they seem to happen more often than not).

On top of that, I spent many years feeling unhappy in my career and my life, but I couldn’t justify reasons for my unhappiness.  I had a job, a nice house, the perfect husband, great family and my health.  I remember thinking that something just felt off yet I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

After sharing my unhappiness with family and friends, I remember getting an outpouring of advice.  Advice mainly revolving about how I could change my mind by reading different books that would allow me to become happy in ‘any’ situation and that my happiness wasn’t about places/ things but it was a mentality.

For some reason, all of this advice led to an even bigger void in my life.  Not only was I feeling unhappy but I really couldn’t put my finger on why I was feeling this way.  I was also being told day in and day out that no change was going to bring me the happiness that I was after.

All of the well intended advice really just ended up driving me more mad.  I felt like there was no basis for my feelings and that I was ‘crazy’ and ungrateful for feeling unhappy.

I kept saying, “I feel like there’s something else out there for me.”  That mentality coupled with my longing to experience living in at least one different city/ province from where I was born and raised led us to finally making the leap.

It wasn’t until my Mom agreed that I was longing for something else and that I should try to seek out whatever that may be.  Our conversation gave me the confidence I needed to make the change.  My Step-Dad, Mom and her sister, My Aunt were the perfect sounding boards.  Not only did they champion this decision, they were there for me 100% of the way.

The moment we decided to make the move across the country, I immediately felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders.  After taking my parents’ advice yet again, we decided we would keep our house in Ontario (…and we couldn’t be more thankful for this as our house has appreciated quite a bit).  So, we worked with a real estate agent to find great tenants for our home in Ontario and rented it out for the year.

We easily found a condo that was small (extremely small) but would do the trick for our adventure and my husband secured an amazing job.  Everything fell into place quickly and felt pretty effortless.  We knew then that we were making the right decision for us.

So, this post is also an open Thank You to Mom, B-ri and Aunt Cathy.  Not only did you help us to make the necessary changes to try something new, you were our advocates.  You gave us time to discover if we were missing something in our lives.  More importantly, you helped by guiding us through the process ensuring we were making smart decisions instead of emotional ones.

Even though we received a wide range of feedback, majority of it seemed to be very positive.  There was a bit of humming and hawing, but that seems consistent any time you make a change that people around you aren’t totally comfortable with.

Regardless, we packed up our house and began our road trip.  From the moment we hit the open road with our car literally packed to the brim, we knew this was the right decision for us.


Now, being out west for almost 6 months, the only thing we find ourselves saying is Why?  Why didn’t we make this change quicker?  Why didn’t we make this move sooner?

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from this journey thus far is that it is okay to make changes to your personality and lifestyle.  Personal growth should be embraced not feared.  Who I am today, probably will be different from who I am in a years time and I’m good with that.  Having some separation has given me time to develop thicker skin and to be comfortable and confident in my own decisions.

I guess my biggest take away is… if you’re feeling unhappy or that you’re missing something from your life…well, you probably are.  Does that mean you have to make a move across the country to find out what that is?  Probably not.  But in our case, it is exactly what we needed.








Our first west coast experience 

After living in our fifth or sixth house for just over a year, we got the itch for an adventure.

Yes – we love to move…well, maybe not the moving process itself, but, certainly the adventure that comes with it.

For a few years, we have been toying with the idea of moving across the country.  Even though we have travelled a lot, we’ve only ever lived in Kitchener / Waterloo…all within Ontario.

After my husband called home from work one day proposing the move to BC, our adventure bug was ignited once again.

We booked our flights and decided to fly into Kelowna, rent a car and tour around and then finish in Vancouver.

The trip did not disappoint.  It only left me questioning, how have we  ignored this breathtakingly beautiful province for all of these years?

The 4+ hour flight to Kelowna wasn’t horrible, but the flights are certainly becoming a little more difficult now that Hadley is rounding two and is such a mover and a shaker.  She was entertained for a while, people watching and watching a kids show on the TV, but that was short lived.

Long of the short – we survived.  But, this is the part where I enter my disclaimer for those who give glaring looks at people traveling with children *please let me remind you, that travelling with children is much harder on the parent than it is on you – the bystander… who can sit back and relax and put your headphones in to drown us out.  And, here’s a not so gentle reminder that your glares / stares and glances literally do nothing to help settle my daughter … so, feel free to put your headphones in and ignore us!”*

The best part of the flight was looking out of the window and seeing one of the most picturesque views that I have ever seen!

Anyways, once we landed in Kelowna we picked up our rental car and decided to drive around.  Kelowna was gorgeous.  Since Hadley didn’t sleep for the entire flight, she was exhausted.  By the time that she got into her car seat she was fast asleep.  So, we ended up touring around all of Kelowna and then eventually driving up Big White.  Being there on the “off season” was great because a few restaurants were still open but it wasn’t crowded with people.

After driving down from Big White, we noticed a beautiful view point with a creek, so we pulled over and we were pleasantly surprised when we founded a pine tree completely decorated with tinsel.  The most adorable Christmas tree in the middle of the wilderness.  Naturally, we had to stop for photos – 2016’s Christmas card photo!

We spent the night at the Hotel Eldorado.  The staff was above and beyond.  They made sure we had everything we could possibly need and provided the most pleasant first experience at the check in.  The room was adorable and quaint and had a great pool and hot tub area.  It was right in the marina and offered stunning views.  (Thanks Mom & Bri for the great hotel!)

The time change had us all screwed up and we all fell asleep at 6pm… so, naturally we were awake by 4am, so, we decided to take an impromptu trip to Whistler.

The drive was spectacular and definitely a once in a lifetime drive.  The views got more incredible with each passing moment.  However, the roads were extremely windy and after 4.5 hours our little trooper got car sick… but, she was so good, she got cleaned up and continued on still smiling and singing.

We fell in love with Whistler.  This time we stayed at the Delta in Whistler.  Again, the staff was incredible!

We spent the night wandering around the village and checking out the shops.

After falling asleep yet again around 7pm, we were all awake by 5am again and showered and dressed by 6am.  So, we went to the Olympic Rings and we were finally able to get a picture in front of it without a huge crowd of people.

We checked out fairly early as we were eager to make it to Vancouver.

WOW! Is the only description I can think of to describe the drive from Whistler to Vancouver.  It was so lush and colourful even on a rainy day.

We crossed the bridge, drove by Stanley Park and then made it to our first condo.  It ended up being everything and more than what we wanted / expected, so, we cancelled the remainder of our showings and took it!

After a short but busy weekend, we had toured across BC, fell in love with the province and found our perfect condo!

Our house in Ontario is rented out and we are getting ready to embark on our cross country road trip to our new home!