Those of you who’ve been following Roaming Days via this blog and/or Facebook would know that we’ve recently packed up our life in Australia, and moved to Canada with half a dozen suitcases.
We possibly underestimated the size of the change. Large city to small town, our own house and space to living in Marlea’s sisters basement, and massive schedules and work commitments to starting anew.
We are now over a month into this adventure and we’re just starting to feel settled.
Since our kids, nicknamed Dora and Boots in this blog, have never experienced a Canadian winter, there’s been a number of firsts for them. In our last post, they were busy tobogganing and playing in the snow. They’ve also been ice-skating, snowshoeing, and a few days ago we made our first ever snowman. They’re now excited when we ask them to put on their winter jackets and snow pants, and little Boots is starting to look less robotic in all of his winter gear. Dora knows NOT to play in yellow snow, and she has also warned us about black snow. ☺
For Marlea and I, it’s been more about getting reacquainted with a real winter, as it was a decade ago that we last spent an entire winter in Canada, and 8 years since we were back for Christmas. It hasn’t taken long to remember the good, the bad and the ugly.
It’s also taken me a month to work out that I was putting on the kids ‘long johns’ backwards, and maybe my own as well??
Canada has put on a real show for us. We didn’t get a dress rehearsal, we stepped right into the live show – and what show it’s been! ‘A polar vortex’ has caused record-breaking low temperatures in Canada and the US. From what we’ve heard, this has made regular news in Australia, as well as the freezing of Niagara Falls. For us, we only need to look outside at the snow bank beside the driveway, which stands over 3ft tall.
The small town we are living in lies in a snow belt, so we’ve been in receipt of fresh powder snow day after day. For the last week the temperature has warmed which has been great on one front but it does make the conditions outside very icy. But today the temperature has plummeted to -18 degrees, (-30 degrees to -35 degrees with wind chill) so we are calling these ‘indoor play days’.
However, I don’t intend Roaming days to become a weather station ☺ I’m hoping that we will have a few other exciting things to share, but we will report on the extremities as they occur.
So the first month has been busy. LA was a nice way to break up flight over and the kids were amazing on the first leg from Sydney. Dora loved her TV and endless hours of Dora and Peppa Pig (which is normally restricted viewing at home). Meanwhile, Boots played with what would’ve felt like a revolving table of toys. After about 6 hours they were both asleep and we actually had to wake Dora for breakfast. After our previous long haul flights with Dora, this was a pleasant surprise.
Once we’d touched-down in LA we had some minor delays with our friends at customs, and then we were on our way down to Anaheim. Disney was essential for our little girl who loves princesses. Entertainment on the other days included the Science Centre in Anaheim and a tour of LA in a big yellow taxi – not strictly legal but a cost effective way to see the sights.
Our short stay in Orange County was perfect and before we adapted to our new time zone too much, we were on the move again. First we needed to deal with the small issue of baggage. We’d chosen to fly with Qantas because they allowed two pieces of checked luggage per seat. However a warning for unsuspecting travellers, if you add a layover the baggage allowance doesn’t carry through anymore, despite what the airline tells you when booking the ticket. As an added bonus, we found out the day before leaving Sydney that American Airlines had allotted us a zero baggage allowance from LA to Toronto.
At LA airport, we made a decision to accept an offer from an AA worker to carry our bags to check-in. The decision resulted in good fortune, as we by-passed the usual check-in desk and before we knew it, we were on the plane with two pieces of checked luggage each, no arguments, and no additional baggage costs.
Again the flight was rather non-eventful which is a great thing to report when flying with two little ones.
Although Boots was involved in a minor ice and cup incident.
As a method of distraction, whilst walking the back of the plane I grabbed a cup and two pieces of ice for Boots to play with. The game was simple. Pick up the ice and put it back in the cup. It was fantastic, and kept Boots entertained obviously until the ice melted.
The mistake was to send Marlea for more ice. In her defense, she thought the hostess had given me the first cup of ice, and she just asked her for more ice.
As Marlea returned to the seat with a full cup of ice, she questioned how this was going to work. No real surprise that it didn’t. Before we knew it there was ice on the seat and under the seat, as Boots started to shake the cup and scream while he lost ice here and there. That was the end of the ice game.
Toronto airport was extremely busy and there are some advantages of having children who have been cooped up on a plane for an extended period. We were ushered to a freshly opened customs line. Soon enough we were in a nice big crew-cab truck and on our way to our new home (for the next couple of months anyway).
Our home is now a small town consisting of a couple of thousand people. We live in the basement, which sounds much worse than it actually is. In Australia, basements are rare whereas in Canada every house has a basement. And more often than not, Canadians finish their basement into a very useable space whether it be a rumpus room, or in our case, a lovely living area, bedroom and bathroom with sliding glass doors which currently looks out onto a snow covered inground pool. And yes, the basement is heated. ☺
What’s funny is that although we have downsized significantly, we still feel like we have too much stuff. It’s a good transition into life on the road, where we will have even less space.
We’ve been surprisingly busy. We’ve been getting ourselves set up, we’ve had friends and family visiting or staying with us, we hosted a large family Christmas day, and we’ve been adjusting to general day to day life with young children (with two parents at home)!
It has been fun so far. I had a night out to a local hockey game, and the company was much better than the actual hockey. We’ve been 5-pin bowling and took a sleigh ride through some beautiful trails in the woods. We’ve taken numerous trips to the barn to watch our niece train and ride her new horse. I, by complete chance, got an hour and a half private curling lesson… watch out Winter Olympics two thousand and never.
Our only ‘routine’ so far is Sunday public skating at the local arena. Dora absolutely loves it, and I think we all enjoy it for the skating as much as the poutine afterwards.
We’ve just returned from 5 days on the road. We headed south towards Toronto to check out a few motorhomes and 5th wheels (trailers). The International RV show was in Toronto and helped us fully explore all of our options and we are excited that we’re not far off finding our ‘home’ for the rest of this year!
What’s coming up? Well part of this trip is not planning too far ahead and going with the flow. We ‘re currently scheduling a few short trips through February before trying to hit the road in March (weather permitting).
The next question will be ‘go east or west’?
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