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21 August 2017

Oh look, a bigger font. If you noticed the change from 10.5 pt to 11 pt you are a hopeless nerd. Thank you for paying such close attention!

This update is pretty much just a travelogue of our recent RV trip. In my last update I closed with the words “go catch a fish” and I took my own advice. We took a 5 week trip to Prince Rupert, which is on the west coast of British Columbia, about 1,500 kms / 1,000 miles away. We also did some fishing along the way. We took an indirect route to get to the coast, as we often do. From home, north-west towards Grande Prairie, Alberta.

Between Valleyview and Grande Prairie is Swan Lake. We haven’t fished here in several years. This is where Tess caught her 8 lb Rainbow trout back in 2002. Nothing that big this time but we did get 5 nice fish in the 2 -3 lb range.

From there, Dawson Creek is only an hour or so farther north-west and is Mile “0” of the Alaska Highway. We looked longingly at the highway heading north and we turned west from there.

We stopped in Hudson’s Hope BC so I could go take the tour or the WAC Bennett hydro-electric dam nearby. I spent several hours on the tour and exploring the area. I even drove across the dam just to say I did.

We carried on westward and managed to score free camping nights at the Prince George casino and at the Burns Lake municipal campground where I spent my birthday. We stayed again at both places on our way home too. Free is good.

Along the way we saw fewer animals than usual. Plenty of deer, eagles, and the occasional bear but no elk, sheep, goats, coyotes/foxes/wolves.

The reason we went on this trip was to cross an item off Tess’ bucket list - go fishing for halibut and crab. On August 3rd, after 11 days on the road, we arrived in Prince Rupert.

The last couple of days’ drive were very scenic with real mountains (with glaciers) and wide, clean rivers. Once we settled into out site at the only RV park in Prince Rupert, we got busy trying to find a charter. The going rate for a full day is around $800 which includes the boat, crew, gear and tackle.

We picked Garrett Woelders of Anchor Management Fishing Charters. We bought our licences and were on the dock at 6am. The plan was to drop a couple of crab traps on the way out, catch our limit of salmon then halibut and pick up our limit of crabs on the way back in.

Well, things didn’t quite work out that way. The salmon part did as it took only 90 minutes to catch our limit of 8 nice coho ranging from 6 - 12lbs. Plus a couple more on the crew’s licences for a total of 10.

Then it was off to the halibut grounds. Different fish are at different depths and catching them takes different techniques. Halibut live at the bottom in 150 - 250 feet of water near rises or drop offs. Modern electronics to the rescue and we were soon at a likely spot.

On the way we saw seals, eagles, dolphins and even had to change course to keep from getting too close to a whale. They are big!

We caught a couple of black rock cod (which are very tasty) and a skate (like a sting ray but no stinger) which we threw back, but no halibut. We tried several places, different methods and different baits. The skipper and his son really tried everything but eventually we had to admit defeat and return to the marina.

The final kick in the pants was when we stopped to harvest our crabs - one trap had been emptied and the other stolen, so no crabs for us.

We took the fish to Dolly’s, a local processor where they were filleted, vac packed, flash frozen and packaged up in a styro cooler for transport. We picked them up on our way out of town a few days later.

Our first stop eastbound was Ferry Island campground in Terrace. They even had a large freezer where we could store our fish. We decided to give halibut one more try, this time out of Kitimat, about a 30 minute drive south of Terrace.

We dealt with a broker in Kitimat and hit the water with Blue Heron Charters. We chose a 6 hour charter this time and wanted crab and halibut. The skipper was knowledgeable and professional. The result? No halibut, again. But we did get our limit of dungeness crab which works out to be $58 per crab. Ouch! But at least Tess got to cross this item off her bucket list.

Ron Osika, the broker, has a bait and tackle shop in Terrace and he lent us the stuff needed to cook all the crabs which took less than an hour. All I had to do was refill his propane tank. We’ll use him again.

As I mentioned, we stopped at the free campground in Burns Lake again on the way home. Our next site neighbours were a couple from Brazil! Raoul and Valkyrie Seara have circumnavigated South America, toured Central America and are now doing the western part of North America in their Brazilian built Class C motorhome.

They are returning from Prudhoe Bay, on the Arctic Ocean in Alaska. Next year they plan to do the north-eastern USA and Atlantic Canada. This couple are my new RV heros!

They have a blog chronicling their adventures. Click on the translate button if your Portuguese isn’t up to snuff. It is very interesting to read a foreigner’s view of our region.

So now it was August 15 and we were back in Prince George. I was happy to see a Costco with it (relatively) low fuel prices and I pumped 247 litres into the tank which will get us the 800 kms / 500 miles home. Our next door neighbours were a friendly couple originally from St. Louis who have been on the road for 3 years in their 40’+ motorhome. Good for them.

We had planned to take a couple more days to get home but the fish in the styro cooler are starting to get soft and we really have no other practical options available so I drove straight through the next day. We got home around 8:30pm but didn’t unpack anything except the starting to thaw fish which went straight into the freezer.

We arrived home to a pile of mail on the kitchen counter (thanks, Mark) and everything in good order. The lawn needed cutting and that was scheduled for the next day by the maintenance company I hired. A couple of days after we got home we were sitting at the breakfast table talking about where and when we would go again.

I think we need to spend some time in the mountains. Once past Labour Day, the crowds disappear and we’ll have our choice of campsites and relaxing side trips. Maybe Calgary, Waterton, Kananaskis, Banff and Jasper? It has been over 15 years since we’ve done much of this route and even longer for Waterton. The RV is all serviced and ready to go on another trip so we’ll see.

In the meantime, we are settling back into our routines. Updating this site always takes a couple of days and a genealogy research book I ordered has arrived so I have lots of work to do on that hobby. My wife’s distant cousin Vir has posted new research into Tess’ family so I will incorporate that into her tree.

The eclipse happened today but we had enough clouds to obscure it here. It was only 70% and I have seen them before so not seeing it isn’t a big deal. For those of you who saw totality, I hope you were awed by it.

Until next month,

Greg & Tess

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June 12, 2017

I know it has been over two months since my last update but I’ve been busy. And my hard drive crashed in late April taking everything with it. I’ll spare you the gory details but if your computer ever dies and it isn’t under warranty, and if you decide to repair it like I did, don’t call the manufacturer - especially if it is HP. Long story short: the worst customer service ever. My advice is to take your sick machine to your local small computer store for an estimate.

Other than being without a computer for 5 full weeks(!!!), things are going relatively smoothly. We got out camping for a week in early May and, as we have done in several years past, we got there with the lake still frozen solid. And it was pretty cold too.

It took a few days for the sun, rain and wind to clear the ice and then another couple of days until the fish started to bite. We were there for a week and came home with our limit in the freezer.

The full story is on the 2017 Camping page.

I visited family on Vancouver Island in late April and then brought the RV home from Nanaimo as planned. I stopped at my Mom’s on the way back and my brother came over so we had a good visit. Mom came home with me and she stayed with us visiting for a few days before flying home.

Cold water rainbow trout!

My step-mother is coming for a visit this month so we’re looking forward to that too. I’m happy they get to spend some time with their great-granddaughter.

Now that winter is finally over, household projects are underway. The lawn and garden are looking good and I did some painting. We bought a new king size bed and had to rearrange the bedroom for it, and I put up a nice backsplash in the kitchen. I think that’s enough household projects for this year.

I’ve started on the motorhome projects, new flooring tile, trim, and backsplash tile for the rear bathroom are underway. Yes, there are two. I have already finished sealing the roof seams, replaced the vent covers and ordered new awning material for the slideout covers and more. I plan to have it all installed before we leave for the west coast next month.

I’ve been in contact with more long lost cousins who are also interested in genealogy and we have been helping each other fill in the blanks. One is in Victoria, British Columbia and the other is in Puglia, Italy. I have been busy cleaning up the databases while waiting for the next major release of the software I use to keep track of everybody - Family Tree Maker. It should be released this month so I’ll be spending many hours learning about the new features.

In the meantime, if you want to see details of the family trees, email me. My paternal tree includes Harrison, Pritchett, Potts, and Dempster. My maternal tree includes Silvester, Alabaster, Taylor and Jackson. Tess’ tree includes Nartatez, Adviento, and Befetil.

Living people are not included which is why you won’t find yourself but if your parents, grand-parents, etc are deceased, they should be there. If not, please let me know!

Isla had her first dance recital this past weekend - her class put on a short performance at the St Albert Arden Theatre. Although she was the smallest one there, she was an enthusiastic participant.

That’s all for this month. Get out and enjoy the warm weather - go catch a fish!

Greg, Tess & Camper

March 28, 2017

Hi! I’ll get right to the good news: Tess has received a clean bill of health after a battery of tests, procedures and consultations. The consensus is that the pain and intestinal bleeding were caused by a bacterial infection which has since cleared up. We have pictures of healthy looking pink wrinkly bits throughout Tess’ insides to prove it.

Of course things aren't perfect but they are pretty good. There are still medication side effects to deal with and neither of us is getting any younger so we have all the usual getting old kinds of issues like aches and pains.

Spring is in the air here in north-central Alberta. Daytime temperatures are usually well above freezing and the birds are returning. The woodpeckers are banging their heads against frozen trees and the geese are standing around on the lakes waiting for the ice to go out. Since the roads are all bare and dry, there are lots of motorcycles out in the afternoons. Once the pussy willows are out, it will really feel like spring.

We are busy making plans to catch lots of fish this camping season. Our first foray will be in early May to our traditional first trip of the year spot, a Provincial Park near Whitecourt, AB. It is a well stocked rainbow trout lake with a smaller lake nearby with lots of great northern pike, whitefish, perch and so on.

I plan to leave home around April 18th to make the two day drive to Vancouver Island to pick up the RV and bring it home, barring any surprise spring blizzards through the mountains. I’ll stay a few days to visit family and friends there and stop to see more family on the mainland on the way home.

As I mentioned in my last update, I have lots of repair projects to do on the RV this season - resealing all roof and slideout seams, new awning fabric on the slideout awnings, new floors throughout and new backsplashes in the kitchen and bathrooms. That’s all on top of the usual spring maintenance routines. Good thing I have lots of time.

Apart from several RV trips around our local area, we are hoping to get one relatively big trip in to Prince Rupert, BC on the west coast pretty much 1,500 kms due west of where we live, as the crow flies. Tess’ bucket list includes “catch a halibut” so we are hoping to do that this year.

My hobby of figuratively digging up dead relatives has kept me busy over the winter when it was too nasty go leave home without a good reason, like no food. I have founds lots of new people, several living cousins including one in Italy (hi Jen) and pushed back another generation in several lines. In my trees I have 8,449 people, 2,103 unique surnames and 2,487 marriages.

In Tess’ tree so far there are 845 people, 283 marriages and 223 different surnames. I am still a long way from tieing everyone together as one family but work continues.

There are many thousand source documents like census records and marriage certificates. The software I use does a good job of keeping it all organized and my subscription to Ancestry lets me collaborate with other researchers around the world.

You are up to date now. We’d love to hear from you.

Greg, Tess & Camper

January 27, 2017

I know it has only been three weeks since my last update but lots has happened so I figured I had better bring you all up to date. We are back home in Morinville after only 6 weeks of a planned 4 month trip.

The reason we are home is a couple of days after my January 5 update, Tess started bleeding somewhere inside her digestive system.

This happened once before about 4 years ago so she is familiar with all the signs and symptoms and so on. When it didn’t stop on its own, on the evening of January 16, after Tess spoke to her family doctor, we made the decision to come home for diagnosis and treatment.

The next day we packed up, checked out of the RV Park and put the RV into a local storage lot. We caught the afternoon ferry back to the mainland and spent overnight in the scenic little town of Hope, BC. We were back on the road bright and early and with the winter driving conditions, it took about 12 hours to get home on January 18.

The following day Tess went to the hospital where she used to work and got thoroughly checked out. A down-the-throat ‘scope was scheduled for January 24 and we got some nice photos of her pink and healthy stomach. The investigation will continue next month even though the bleeding has stopped and she is feeling good.

Now you are up to date.

We are disappointed that our snowbird trip was cut short by a couple of months but we really weren’t having a great time. We were busy and enjoyed visiting with family members we haven’t seen in ages but the weather was really lousy. Cold, snow, wind, rain. Yuk! We only had one campfire in 6 weeks. Yes, some folks will consider a propane fire to be cheating but the previous 6 weeks were constant rain or snow and nothing else was going to burn!

And we had all kinds of trouble with the motorhome, mostly about water. In no particular order: a burst pipe inside an interior wall, a leaking faucet connection, leaky ceiling vent, leaks in seams on the roof and both slideouts and freezing water supply lines due to failure of two hose heaters. Sigh.

I had to rip up the floor covering in the rear bathroom to trace the flow of water which was travelling under the lino from the sink and the carpeting in the main living area was soaked several times so that will have to be replaced. And several cabinet end pieces have started to delaminate because of the water.

So I now have a bunch of projects to tackle in the spring. Most are low cost fixes and even the most expensive (flooring replacement) will only cost a few hundred $ but frankly, I’d rather spend the time fishing. Good thing I am handy and can do it all myself.

Type to you next month.


A beautiful, frosty morning Jan 25 (back home)

Campfire on a chilly Nanaimo afternoon

4 October 2017

Last update I mentioned that I thought we should do a trip to the mountains and after getting caught up on household chores we did just that. We played tourist in Calgary, Kananaskis Country, Banff and Jasper for 15 days. You can read about it and see some nice photos here.

On Sept 21, I went back to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for another tune up on my heart. It has been about 15 years since they put in my 3 stents after my heart attack so that’s better than average, I think.

I have had some problems this year and so went in for an angiogram which is the definitive test. They gave me another stent and a warning about another partial blockage which isn’t (yet) bad enough to place a stent.

I’m going for a cardiac rehab refresher course and will try to do better with my diet and activity levels. If I can make it another 15 years I’ll be pretty happy.

Mark brought a new project over the other day. It is a mobility scooter. And no, not because I need it. The battery and little electric motor have been replaced by a 6.5 HP gasoline engine. Apparently it goes like stink but doesn’t stop so well since there are no brakes at all. And nothing else works either. Should be a fun project.

Since it is October in north-central Alberta, most of the trees are now naked and we have had a skiff of snow although it melts by the next day. More is coming, I’m sure.

October also means Thanksgiving here in Canada and we are looking forward to spending it with Isla, her Mom and their family. Tess is very happy not to be cooking this year.

October is also our wedding anniversary - 38 years on the 13th. Plus two more (as of last month) practising means we have been together over 40 years. Wow, we’re getting old! We have decided to go out to dinner at Thanh Thanh, our favourite Vietnamese restaurant to celebrate.

Since camping season is over, I am back at the family tree. Because it is Remembrance Day on November 11th, I have updated my armed services memorial page with the new names I have found over the past year. We owe our freedom to people like these family members.

Email and let me know what you think of the changes. Type to you next month.

Greg, Tess & Camper

This page has the ‘News’ entries for the past year or so. Its here to let you catch up if you like.

4 December 2017

Here we are nearing the end of another adventure filled year. We are both still alive and kicking so that’s good. Mark and Isla are well and healthy which is also good.

We spent a lot of time this year doing the things we love:

Islaing - we are so lucky to see our granddaughter Isla once or twice a week. She is such a joy to be around. Check out her latest photos here.

Rving - 65 nights out and 6,900 kms in Alberta and British Columbia this year.

Fishing - we tried for rainbow trout, salmon, halibut, dungeness crab, rock cod, and even caught a skate. We landed and ate everything except halibut.

 My cardiac rehab is going fine and I have been able to increase the duration and difficulty of my exercise routine. I haven’t lost much weight yet (maybe 10 lbs) but the conditioning and fitness are far more important than a bunch of extra lbs.

Tess is also doing OK although she continues to suffer the side effects of the surgery she had and the cancer medications she must take. She is a very strong woman.

My membership in Ancestry has expired and eventually I expect they will offer me a renewal at a price I am willing to pay.

In the meantime, I am busy cleaning up all the data - I have about 10,000 documents and photos to properly name and file, 4,000 place names and 1,000 groups of source names to review. It will take a while!

I discovered I’m related to the first President of the USA. Surprise!

George Washington is my 16th cousin, 7x removed. Our common ancestor was Edward I, King of England in the late 1200s. That’s a pretty distant relation!

We had some snow a couple of weeks ago and it is still on the ground so it looks like winter is here. Not too cold yet with overnight lows staying above -18C / 0F and daytime highs sometimes reaching the freezing (melting?) Point.

Christmas is too quickly approaching, only 3 weeks as I type this. That means only 20 days left until I have to start my shopping. At least I have the lights up on the house and trees. Our street is looking quite Christmassy.

To all my readers, Merry Christmas to you and yours and may 2018 bring you health and happiness.

Greg, Tess & Camper