Two Days to Quebec City

Driving 13 hours to Quebec with children isn’t as easy as driving 13 hours without children. But if you divide it up between two days, keep snacks handy, stop often, and be sure to have audio books downloaded, it can be done.

September 2016

September 2016

We divided our travel time into two days stopping at Toronto for the part-way mark. The sunrise the next morning was beautiful over the city in the distance.

September 2016

September 2016

On the road again, some of us took naps…

September 2016

…while the scenery of Quebec whizzed by. We arrived after dark in Quebec City at our AirBnB house, grateful to be out of the car.

September 2016

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What’s Been Going on in Our Lives

This past winter held a rather exciting event for us:

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It kind of happened quickly in the sense that we didn’t spend months and months looking for the right house, although we had been talking about it for quite some time. This one is on a couple acres of slightly rolling land with a grand yard, an attached garage (which is very handy in our northern winters), and an open kitchen-dining room-living room layout which we love.

The other thing I love is that it’s ours to paint and do with what we like. So paint I did, with help of family and friends. The master bedroom is shown here in the original color:

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And this is the dining room, mostly finished with newly painted white walls. Both rooms were the same purple color as above. It was SO nice to have both painted before we moved in.

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Natasha even helped do some touch up painting in her room with paint we found in the basement.019-001

Moving day was exactly three weeks ago and what a day indeed. It is a lot of work, lest anyone think differently. But we had help and it went very smoothly.775

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We are now settling in and making new memories in our new home. Natasha loved helping unpack easier items…mostly because she could stand on the step-stool. 033

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Along with having a new house, spring and summer make me so excited. Especially as we anticipate the arrival of our new little one in June. :)  1-011

Happy slightly late Easter everyone!

A {little} Journey Through Abel Tasman National Park

{Rewinding to a couple weeks ago…}

After driving under this boulder, we continued our drive to Abel Tasman National Park.

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For those of you who don’t know who Abel Tasman is, ask Natasha.

In her own words, she says, “A man.”

Hmm..okay, ask it in a different manner: “What did he do?”

“He found….he found…New Zealand!”

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Thus, this national park is named after him, and we explored some of it by walking along the coastal walk. It wasn’t very hard, and it calmly wound around the bay with the ocean on one side and forest on the other.

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There are giant ferns here, the size of trees.

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We could have gone on walking for days. Literally. The options for hiking and trekking are limitless and you can camp in huts provided along the way. Or, you can just hike a little ways to get the feel of it and return back the way you came. That’s what we did, since trekking 5 days into the forest wasn’t going to fit into our schedule. Plus, we ate all the carrot sticks at lunchtime…

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(Above photo credit goes to 4 year old Natasha.)

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So far, I’ve been rather impressed with the parks and places of interest here. You don’t have to pay to use the toilets, there are no entrance fees to the parks, and no parking attendant requiring you to pay to park, so aside from gas and the rental car, there are no outside expenses needed to enjoy the scenery. I take that back: We did rent the kayaks when we went to the Picton area. We have packed a lunch each time we head out, so eating out isn’t an extra expense either.

Usually we’re starving by the time we get home though since hiking and being out and about somehow makes you incredibly hungry. Still, it’s really easy to cut up some carrots, bag some raisins, almonds, banana chips, and carry along some cooked sausages or deli ham. Chocolate is always a good addition, and we’ve even fried up some sweet potatoes to bring along.

 

Flying Business Class

It most definitely has its perks. Let’s start with the lounge. When waiting for our flight in Chicago, we were granted access to one of those lounges that I’ve only seen people disappear into like a secret club. Well, it did seem like a secret was being shared, because I had no idea they were so nice. Not only do they have comfortable seating, but free food, beverages of all kinds and wi-fi. So we enjoyed a few hours of one of those lounges while waiting for our 15 hour flight to Hong Kong to begin boarding.

Let me say before we go any further, that we did not purchase business class tickets. Mainly because, we can’t afford business class tickets. We do however, work the system and use airline points (explained here by my wonderful husband) and that is the only way we were able to do this. This also was the reason we had such a funny routing:

  1. Chicago to Hong Kong: 15 hours
  2. Hong Kong to Kulala Lumpur, Mayalasia: 3.75 hours
  3. Kulala Lumpur to Jakarta, Indonesia: 2 hours
  4. Jakarta to Sydney, Australia: 6+ hours. We stayed the night in Sydney, then finished up the journey with
  5. Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand: 3 hours
  6. Auckland to Nelson, New Zealand: 1.25 hours.

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So basically we chose to fly business class to New Zealand for the number one reason that it will probably be the longest distance we’ll ever fly and we wanted to be comfortable for the 30 hours of flight time it takes to get there.

And comfortable, we were. (These seats not only reclined, but laid completely flat.)
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We were also quite well fed and hydrated. I have never used the bathroom so much when flying, and I think it’s because they’re constantly offering you something to drink. (Or maybe because I’ve never been on an airplane for 15 hours at a time before. Not sure which it was.) As soon as you’re in your seat, a smiling stewardess would appear asking if you wanted juice, water or champagne. I mean, you might not even be sitting down yet, and there she’d be asking for your order.

This first flight was the long one: Chicago to Hong Kong, and when we reached the gate for boarding they handed cookies out to commemorate this new overnight flight with Cathay Pacific. Daniel isn’t sure why they were saying it was new, because this isn’t a new route for them. Perhaps a new crew? Either way, the cookies were tasty.

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Shortly after the before-take-off beverages arrived, we were handed a menu. A menu, indeed! A list of appetizer types of dishes, then three options for a main meal. Supper was served soon after take-off, but Natasha was sleeping. So when she woke up sometime during the night, probably around 3 or 4 a.m. she had the fruit that we had earlier. It was amazing fruit…big raspberries, fresh blueberries and strawberries sweeter than the ones I picked myself this past spring!
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Later then, for breakfast, we all had omelettes with sausage and potatoes. Natasha ate like a lady of luxury, doing something she’s never been allowed to do before: watch a movie at the same time. I have to add that nothing was in a plastic container. Except the butter, which was in a teeny little white dish, all of its own. (Still classy to me for some reason. See bottom picture for an illustration.)

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So after that long, long, flight, we arrived safe and sound and a wee bit sleepy, in Hong Kong. But I must say, I was more tired going to Portugal than ANY of these flights. I think that was due to the fact that I was hungry, and didn’t get any sleep. Flying economy with seats that “recline” about 1/2 an inch, are not conducive to any type of restful sleep. So even thought we woke up every hour for 15 hours to take melatonin, we still felt rested at the end of the this first flight.

Ah yes. About the luggage now. You know how I mentioned that we were only taking 3 carry-ons and 3 personal bags? Here they are. For the flight from Sydney to Auckland and Auckland to Nelson, they limit the carry-on weight to 7 kilos. (That’s 15 lbs.) Any checked bags cost $125 each. So, we went the cheap route and packed light. Very, very light.

Daniel did send a box to our house in New Zealand before we left, because by not checking any luggage, that meant we couldn’t take any of those questionably pointy objects like his safety razor which uses straight blades, or my sewing kit with its small scissors. So he shipped his laptop and a few of those items to have waiting for us.

 

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Mostly happy travelers, in Hong Kong. 4 year olds who are hungry and sleep deprived can be rather fickle creatures.
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Here’s an example of the dining experience. A fork and knife for each course, and so on. A white table cloth on the table, then a tray with another linen cloth, and the silverware are wrapped up tightly in a real linen napkin. I didn’t get a picture of the strawberries and fruit I mentioned earlier, but that dish even had a sprig of peppermint as garnish. It’s all just so lovely.
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The service too, was very nice. The stewardesses and stewards have all been so very friendly, accommodating and helpful. They thank me, for handing them a cup, as often as I thank them for refilling my cup! And, no little plastic cups in sight here…they’ve all been glass. Even miniature goblet style for the beverages before take-off.

Now, on our last two flights, we didn’t fly business. Those were shorter flights so we survived economy just fine. But still. Flying business makes the entire journey so much more enjoyable, and I never thought I’d feel so at ease with flying. I actually look forward to our return trip home when we once again have many hours in the air.