Hey! Thanks for stopping by, I know things have been a bit quiet around here lately and for that I apologize. After a less than fruitful job search for something “in my field of expertise” back in August, I was blessed to stumble upon work for both Thom and I together, picking apples at local farm market. Harvest time was full on with lots to do on the farm, and we were literally on an eat-sleep-work-repeat routine. Our hard work was all for the greater good of our travels, as we were saving for the next leg of our cross Canada trip.
We did manage to take a small getaway for 3 days to Cape Breton, exploring an area of Nova Scotia that I had never been to or seen before, but was high on my list! 3 days of driving, site-seeing, museums, bed and breakfasts and just us hanging out together was exactly what we needed.
Now, we’re staying with my parents until Christmas in Yarmouth. I got a bit of part time work bartending for Christmas parties at the hotel I worked at in 2008, before I left for New Zealand. I consider myself pretty lucky to be taken back for such a short time.
Thom has a job lined up as well, continuing with his “true Nova Scotian experiences”. Since Yarmouth is such a small town, it generally comes down to “who you know” to make anything happen. My parents put the word out, asking if anyone needed help on their lobster boat when the season opens at the end of November, and it just so happened that someone knew of someone. Voi-la! Dumping Day is the generally last Monday in November, and Thom will be joining the crew as a bander. It’s hard work, and it’ll be cold as, but I’m so proud of him for taking on such a challenge! I know he’ll be great at it. Except, the weather has been atrocious this past week, and they’ve delayed the start of the season till the winds die down and the weather warnings are lifted. In the mean time, Thom has started helping Dad gut the upstairs bathroom to be renovated.
This past week alone has been uber productive, finally tackling many jobs that I’d pushed to the back burner for such a long time, such as looking into volunteering at the local elementary school. I want to get another look at the Nova Scotia curriculum and school system, just so that I can make some comparisons to what I know and my experiences from New Zealand.
That productivity also included confirming our next travel plans. Like booking and paying for tickets. You see, before we even left New Zealand in May, we’d found out that it was recommended that Thom have pre-purchased onward travel from Canada. At first we thought about buying a bus ticket to the US, but everyone advised against that, and the travel agent we talked to said that Air New Zealand could refuse us entry on the plane to Vancouver if he didn’t have tickets back to NZ or somewhere that he can legitimately stay. Now I do know that lots of people travel on way tickets all the time, but I also am familiar with my luck. Not really a risk we needed to take, so after chatting to a travel agent who suggested that there was a flight from Vancouver to Auckland via Fiji for $999, I started looking at my options.
With the travel agent, every time I talked to her, the prices of the flights seemed to escalate. We were completely and totally flexible with the dates that we could fly and could therefore choose based on best prices. I got frustrated with her because she just seemed to only look on the days I suggested, and eventually put my flight-finding-ninja-skills to use on Skyscanner, by using the Fly Everywhere feature, and finding the best deals out of Vancouver in January.
In the end, we booked flights from Vancouver to Honolulu on January 23, where we’ve got 8 days to explore! I have a friend from university who’s settled in Hawaii, so I’m excited to catch up with Chantal meet her husband and their adorable wee girl! Though we haven’t booked anything officially yet, I’m thinking of jetting over to the Big Island for a nose around there too. I have a hankering to climb a volcano. From Hawaii, we’ll be on our way to another tropical island paradise in the Pacific; Fiji. Again, as of right now, we have no plans made, no bookings or anything. We’ve got 9 days to island hop, relax, soak up the culture and try some kava. On Sunday February 9th, we’ll board our last flight, to return to NZ.
Those plans have long since been sorted before we even left in May – bought and paid for and don’t have to worry about. The only thing we had left to arrange was getting ourselves from Nova Scotia (on the east coast) to Vancouver (on Canada’s west coast).
When Thom and I were originally planning our trip, before deciding to buy a car, we’d tossed around the idea of taking the train across Canada. VIA Rail actually offers a CanRailPass, which allows you up to 7 stopovers and 21 days to use the pass as you see fit. We decided against this on the way home east when we had plenty of time and opted for the freedom to go wherever the wind took us. Heading west with a month to spare between Christmas and our flight out of Vancouver, this option was completely perfect for us! We’ll be selling the Explorer very shortly, and on December 29th, we’re going to cross Canada, AGAIN!
This time, getting to see and experience a few more cities that we missed out (Winnipeg and Edmonton specifically). And it will be full-blown early January winter temperatures, so that will be quite the true Canadian experience.
I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be able to finally make this age old dream of mine come true. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to see Canada on the train. And to be able to go from coast to coast for $700, how you can you beat that!? Don’t get me wrong, I fully realize that we could’ve simply flown from Halifax to Vancouver for about $400 and arrived on the same day. I’ve done that before, five years ago. I know that we’ll end up spending more money when we stop to see a city – but that’s all part of the experience. When else will we get the chance to do this? Just the same as we could have tried to find a direct flight from Vancouver to Auckland, much like the one we took on our way here. Island hopping actually cost about the same as or less than direct flight, but we’ll be so completely rich in experiences and memories and that is exactly what I’m aiming for.
So for the next month, as we head into the holiday season, my personal goal is to share as many photos and stories of the places we’ve been so far. And then once we’re on the road again, keep it actively writing. I have heaps of ideas that I’ve been sitting on, letting them ferment while I suss out the details and hopefully I’ll have some news to share soon! Thanks again for sticking along with me this far!