The seed was planted early on…

It’s back to school week!! I don’t even have children (thank god) and I am excited. A couple of my nieces are in kindergarten, one is in grade THREE and my nephew is in pre-school… where did the time go?

IMG_7017I’ve said many times I grew up a little differently than most kids. My parents divorced (for the better, they are now good friends) when I was about 5 and I moved with my mom to this tiny town and eventually moved to an even tinier place called Keats Island. I would take a small boat over to town to attend school, day in and day out. It made for random stories that I look back on fondly. I could even say I miss island life. Being from a coastal city, I remember our gym classes weren’t the “norm”… we would actually have to go outside and RUN 2km each class. We had this forest that wrapped around our school and we would run daily. We would go on snowboarding trips, beach days and even big treks to the big city (Vancouver) for a day of rock climbing.

In about grade 5 or 6 (I can’t remember I had the same teacher both years) we would have Greenpeace come in and talk to our class about the importance of the environment and my teacher would explain to us the meaning of respecting nature and all living things. Ms. Russell was her name. She knew I lived on an island and, more often than not, I would have some weird story about the commute to school. She would do roll call and right before we started class she would ask me about my ride in. Some days there was nothing to report, others, like in the fall or spring, I would tell the class stories of riding the tiny little 20 passenger ferry when pods of orcas would come right up to the windows and peer in the boat. I would talk about the dolphins that played in the wake or that one time the ferry caught on fire (under my mom’s and my seat) or when the ferry hit a “dead head” log sticking out of the water and I went flying the length of the boat, thinking I broke my wrist… see? Different/weird upbringing. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world now that I look back on it.

Trust your JourneyShe would be teaching us geography in class and asking us the capitals of countries and I would jump out of my seat to answer, eagerly waving my arm in the air. Normally I was a pretty quiet kid, but my obsession with traveling started in that class, in Ms. Russell’s class! I would dream of these far away places in other countries; the languages they would speak, the food I could try. I felt, even in Grade 5/6, I needed to see the world. I have only had ONE dream in my life that I hope to accomplish before my time is up and that is to travel to Nepal and set my eyes on Mt. Everest. I didn’t say climb it… I would like to just see it. 🙂

Ms. Russell took us on our first ever climbing experience to Cliffhanger Climbing in Vancouver. (I can’t believe I remember this far back!) I remember my instructor, a shorter girl with spiky hair who many, many years later both her and I learned we knew each other way back when. We became friends and played in a band together and toured North America. (Small world, eh?) Ms. Russell taught me to reach for the stars, to go forth and see the world and experience new things. The best education was to see the world and experience everything it could offer.

She told us of this place she used to kayak on vacation, it was called the “Bay of Fundy” in Nova Scotia. I’ve never been but you bet your ass that place has been on my list of places to see since I was 10 years old.

lookout at Canyonlands National Park
Lookout at Canyonlands National Park.

Ms. Russell, thank you for inspiring me to see and feel the world, to experience it on my own and with others. The best education you can give yourself is to immerse yourself in what you are truly passionate about. I am passionate about travel (we already knew this). I now get to travel the world, taking photos and collecting tattoos along the way!

I’m considering writing that book you always told me I should write. I hope you are well. 🙂

– Devon.

Advertisements

Why I Vacation.

Vacation is today’s big bad wolf.

That’s right. Millions of people are frightened of taking time off from work. Why? They dread the pile of work awaiting them when they return and no one else can do what they do at the office. This is, essentially, a ‘martyr’ complex, believing that they’re the only ones who can do their jobs.

This is my definition of insanity. There is a certain amount of ego in this thought process. The world does not stop revolving because you’re not at work. Yes, someone else does know how to do your job. That’s called cross-training. Of course they don’t do it “your way” but the job still gets done.

There are many companies with a “use it or lose it” policy in place when it comes to vacation time. Many would prefer you to take time off while others buckle when pushed to pay out that time. Your employers want you to take some personal time. It’s healthy.

Benefits of vacation:
– Better physical health
– More productivity
– Closer family relationships
– Newer perspectives
– Increased mental power
– Lower chance of burn out
– Improved mental health

Now that you know the science behind it, here’s my reasoning. Up until eight years ago I had never taken a vacation. I had also become stagnant. I gained weight, became complacent and was no longer satisfied by activities I once enjoyed. I had all the signs of depression and burn out. It was for these reasons that I finally took my first vacation. I was already in my thirties. I have only one regret… I wish I had taken a vacation sooner. It would have spared me a lot of mental anguish.

After the constant communication, collaboration & negotiation, finally the timing was perfect. Schedules were cleared and the stars aligned. That first vacation was the breath of fresh air my soul so desperately needed.

I’m not one for the details and I certainly don’t need to know everything. The planning part I can completely do without. But everything else is pure joy. Whether you’re flying or road tripping, the process gets smoother each time. We’re like a well oiled machine now. I enjoy watching the scenery change as we make our way to our destination.

Everything is fresh and new when you’re on vacation. Even the people are nicer. It just occurred to me that they’re nicer because maybe they’re on vacation too. The process of de stressing and recharging your battery is as simple as showing up. Maybe all you need is a good hike in a national park. Perhaps a massage is in order. Lounging poolside is the key for some individuals. Some people find searching for knick knacks in gift shops a thrill. I honestly don’t care what it is that you do, just so long as you do it.

In fact, you don’t even have to go anywhere to enjoy a vacation. I’m a big fan of the “Staycation”. It does the soul wonders to turn off all of your electronics, unplug and relax in the comfort of “Porta My Yarda”. It can be as easy as not having to answer to the alarm clock in the morning and waking up on your own, naturally. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to feel re-energized.

I don’t know why North Americans find excuses for why they shouldn’t go on vacation or why they don’t deserve one. The daily grind can really chew you up. Some european countries have a mandatory thirty days off. You’re not allowed to work for thirty consecutive days. We could learn a lot from their laid back lifestyle.

Why do we, as a society, feel the need to punish ourselves for all our hard work? Shouldn’t we reward ourselves with time off? Why do some of us feel undeserving while others overindulge?

I vacation because I owe it to myself to live a happy, stress free life. I owe it to myself to get out there and see new things. I like the adventure. Each trip is filled with spontaneity. We’re not meant to stay in one place. We’re drawn to new surroundings. I can’t imagine living my life any other way.

Life is meant to be experienced.

– Jade

RV or Tiny House

To RV or to Tiny House.

That’s my question right now, Jade and I have had these dreams for 4 years to get an RV and travel. We’ve worked hard at eliminating our debt and saving our money, downsizing our belongings and getting things in order to hit the open road and be free.

A month ago I saw an article online about tiny houses built on trailers and you can tow them… WTH! Amazing right! I fell in love instantly, I could have all the comforts of a house and tow it behind me and travel. I started following a couple blogs about tiny houses and a few couples who travel the USA in them. It’s do-able. It makes sense.

Now I am at a cross road, RV or Tiny house. Each has its pros vs cons. I’ve made the list, it’s currently on my HUGE whiteboard beside my desk in the office. RV pro/con and Tiny house Pro/con, I add to it every day. I text myself things for the list when I get home.

My question to you is, have you experienced either? Do you live and travel in an RV or a tiny house?? I would LOVE to hear from you and hear your experiences. I would LOVE to ask a million stupid questions if you are open to it.

Please get in contact with me at:  frugaltrekker@gmail.com I want to hear from people out there living it, living the dream they have. 🙂

We are getting down to the wire on what we want and making the necessary purchases. It’s a VERY exciting time in our lives and I can’t wait. I’m not one to jump into a big life decision quickly, I pro and con the hell out of it.

-Devon.

Mill Fork Cemetery.

We’ve zipped past this a dozen times on our annual drive down to Moab UT. Each time we both say, “Dang! We missed it again. Next time!” Well… next time finally happened. Ironically, we missed the entrance on our way down but we managed to take the time to stop and check out this semi-hidden jewel on our way back home.

Mill Fork is a ghost town, established in 1837 and abandoned by homesteaders in the 1930s. It’s located in the Spanish Fork Canyon. Based around and named for the sawmills, at its height the town boasted some 250 inhabitants. It was an important part of the railroad development through the canyon and upon completion the town & its resources dried up like the earth surrounding it. All that remains of the town is the cemetery offset from the busy highway camouflaged by the tall grass that is typical of the area. The arched entrance to the small, well-tended to cemetery is a landmark on U.S. Route 6 between Spanish Fork & Price UT.

The ancestors from three families, the Atwoods, Chadwicks & the Elliotts, are responsible for the maintenance of this tiny reminder of a long since forgotten town and its history. Without their tireless efforts, most of the 16 known residents of the cemetery would have been forever lost or unknown along with their tragic stories. Up until 2005, no one had known exactly how many souls where forever marked on the unforgiving terrain, their names a mystery shrouded in the dust and decay.

The Mill Fork Cemetery entrance.
The Mill Fork Cemetery entrance.

We pulled off of the highway and drove under the arched sign and parked in the small area levelled out for visitors. We grabbed our cameras and started our way on foot and I was surprised to feel an overwhelming sense of calm wash over me after crossing a run down bridge into the cemetery proper. Devon & I had thought being in such a place would have given us both the worst case of the heebs. The fenced in cemetery with its carefully planted trees had an eerily soothing feeling to it. Being mindful not to step on any of the residents we both walked about reading their headstones in sombre silence while taking pictures. I left a coin on the main marker bearing the cemetery’s name. This slab feels original. Legend has it that leaving coins helped the spirits pay the toll to have the gates of Heaven opened for them. This is especially important to do so in a place where most of the inhabitants are children. Leaving coins also lets others know that people have visited.

The original Mill Fork headstone.
The original Mill Fork headstone.

Devon wandered off on her own & I found the visitors book in a neat looking box with a pen. I thumbed through the pages and read some comments before flipping to a crisp page to leave a message of my own. I then returned the book to its rightful place and locked the door. We went through each section at a time. The family plots were distinctly marked with separate fencing and gates. I’m no stranger to cemeteries, I actually find them both beautiful & calming. I will say this… the markers for the children were the smallest I have ever seen.

The earliest inhabitants, the Finch children. Interred June of 1893.
The earliest inhabitants, the Finch children. Interred June of 1893.

I looked up a few facts about Mill Fork before we arrived and it turns out the cemetery is steeped in tragedy. Two such events stand out for me. The earliest inhabitants were three little girls, sisters, who perished due to scarlet fever in June of 1893. The youngest, Edna Vivian Finch, just 1 year old.

Even more shocking than that is the story of Paris & Voila Chadwick Ballard. The two met, fell in love and married. Years later, in 1919, Paris took a job as a range rider on Antelope Island (another of our favourite spots). The Ballards had to relocate to Salt Lake City for this job. As Paris was away for work, Voila spent more time with her first cousin, H.A. Hill. Paris grew paranoid & jealous of anyone who spent time with his wife. Voila’s cousin ate supper with her & her sister almost every night. When Paris came home, he grew increasingly jealous of Hill because of his constant presence. After one particularly bad argument where Paris had threatened to kill his comely wife, Voila & Hill went to the police station to report it. Voila was then accompanied home by the deputy sheriff, where they discovered that Paris was gone, so the deputy left. Paris had taken his clothes, making it appear that he had returned to Antelope Island… he had not. He purchased a gun & ammunition the next morning and returned to his apartment to confront his wife. After a heated exchange neighbours heard two quick shots followed by her screams. Seconds later, two more shots rang out. Then there was silence. When officers arrived they found two bodies. Paris lay on the bed, barely breathing… he died in hospital eight hours later. Voila lay dead between his feet. There is still speculation today among their ancestors whether his jealousy was merited.

The sad final chapter in the Ballard's lives.
The sad final chapter in the Ballard’s lives.

Mill Fork came about in the pioneer days, bringing much needed jobs with the expansion of the railroads and the industrial revolution brought the demise of the town altogether. The beautiful arched entrance, in its simplicity, stands as the constant sole reminder of this long gone town. Without the dedicated work of these three families this cemetery would have been but a faint mark in an obscure history book ignored on a dusty shelf in a tiny library in some forgotten small town. Due to their efforts, the cemetery, like its inhabitants buried within its sheltering fence, has undergone a resurrection.

I’m glad we took a few minutes to finally stop and visit. It was worth the wait.

– Jade

Big Love in a Small Town.

There’s something to be said about growing up in a small town. What might be better than that? Growing up in a village. During the May long weekend Devon & I were invited to and enjoyed an adventure in such a place. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s a place called Chase.

The scenic village of Chase, BC nestled near the base of the Shuswap is a vibrant community of lush green pastures mixed with unpredictable weather and warm locals who are quick to smile and chat about random topics at the drop of a hat. It’s a place where outdoorsy individuals either visit seasonally, move to upon retirement or for some lucky humans, grow up in.

Our good friends Ben & Rhonda sent an open invitation to come along with them to take advantage of her parents quite vacant and very charming character home. With only minor pondering and thoughtful pro & conning, we welcomed the opportunity to venture into Pleasantville.

I’ll just highlight some items from here on out.

McAllister Manor (as I dubbed Rhonda’s folks’ casa) felt like home the second I crossed the threshold. Equal parts country home to upscale cabin in the woods, I was quite surprised at how quickly we four fell asleep. It could have been our midnight adjacent arrival but I’m more certain that the house’s energy was warm, balanced and welcoming.

We spent the next three days poking our heads into very cool mom ’n’ pop shops with an amazing selection of arts, crafts, organic, homemade products and more locally grown produce that I can shake my fist at. The handcrafted First Nations items were of particular interest.

*editors’ note: The “Safety Mart” store does NOT have anything to do with safety. I had every intention of bubble wrapping Devon and “gently” shoving her down a hill for some redneck zorbing.

Three Sisters Falls.
Three Sisters Falls & the Thompson River.
The Three Sisters waterfalls (formerly called Chase Creek Falls) located in and around the Mt. Scatchard Switchback Trails (rated easy) near the south end of town were refreshingly misty. The Thompson River and its offshoot arms were raging and swollen (If you’re an avid angler, Chase is the place for you.) making the tiny trek up the banks mildly treacherous and at one point, completely impassable. The water’s power managed to drown out the Trans Canada Hwy we ducked under via the underpass.

Rhonda’s parents were amazing hosts. (I could explain further but this statement sums it up.)

Niskonlith Lake & the rebuilt pier.
Niskonlith Lake & the rebuilt pier.
We also took a scenic drive onto Niskonlith land with the destination of Niskonlith Lake Provincial Park. Along the way you observe wild horses, cows and if you’re really lucky, Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep. With two vehicles, six adults & four dogs in our caravan and minor barking along the drive in, we enjoyed walking along the gravel road, snapping photos and running the dogs. The lake itself is beautiful which is an odd statement as I’ve yet to come across an ugly one. It was here that we observed a falcon eating a fish on a burnt tree leaning over the Niskonlith (sorry, no photo as we were too enthralled with the beauty of it all). It was also here that two of our handy capable dogs somersaulted down the embankment for a quick dip. Two of the most graceful bails I have ever witnessed.

To stave off some downpour boredom Devon thought it funny to use the DR-HO’s Dual Muscle Therapy System as a means of amusement. After placing the pads on her biceps, she literally almost punched herself in the face. Amazing. Ben put both pads on his right foot and with Rhonda at the controls he practically fell over the top of the barcalounger. Also amazing. It’s quite frightening to have your partner in control of essentially, a mini AED. *please use this equipment properly. I nixed Devon’s idea of her putting the pads on her chesticles as it is way to close to the heart. Know your limit and use safe words.* It sure sounds like I’m a bit of a kill joy, but she had me looking like Frankenstein’s monster with the pads placed on my triceps. Youch. Good times.

What I took home from this micro staycation… we live in an amazing province which I haven’t given myself the time to explore. Shame on me. Something else I took home with me? Just how lucky Rhonda is to have such a wonderful hometown.

Mt. Scatchard
Mt. Scatchard
Would I go back again? Definitely. Should you make a run up to Chase? It would be an injustice not to.

“Nothing is more expensive that a missed opportunity.” – H Jackson Browne Jr.

– Jade

Road Woes…

I had left SLC heading south to warmer weather and to a few other places AND surprises. At about 9:30am I hit a gas station for a fill up and was texting a friend about how warm it was outside. She was telling me it was raining back home so of course, being the douche that I am, I FB some photos of the sunny weather I was having and tagged her in them.

The photo that had karma catch up with me
The photo that had karma catch up with me

Not even one hour later karma was out for me. Driving down the highway from SLC to Vegas I noticed my car shake in a weird fashion then all of a sudden, BOOM, my back passenger tire explodes!! All over the highway is tire “guts” from my car. The car swerves left then right, I’m on the e-brake trying to get it under control. I manage to get the car off the NOT AT ALL busy highway. I flick on my hazards and start looking in my wallet for my AAA card… not there… I’m looking in my glove box when I hear a honk behind me. It’s a flatbed tow truck! YAY! I’ve been saved!

1 yr old rescued shop dog :)
1 yr old rescued shop dog 🙂

This little old man with an oxygen tank strapped to his back gets out of the truck and wanders over to me. “Seems you need some help, ma’am.” Uh, duh! ☺ I explain I don’t know where I am and DO need the help. It turns out Kevin, old dude’s name, has a shop in the next town over so we get Smelly car up and on the flatbed and off we go. 10 minutes down the road, we hit the town and his gas station/shop.

My car is put up on a lift and his shop hand, a lovely dude named Bruce, gets working. Bruce was an older guy, probably my dad’s age; he had 2 rescue dogs that I played with until the damn POM (with no teeth) bit me. The best part of this story is I had ordered a new credit card before I left for my trip that I had originally planned with a friend and of course it didn’t come in time. I ended up calling my friend Rhonda and she helped me out. I have kickass friends, yo!!! I found out when I got home my new credit card arrived that Wednesday afternoon… go figure!

My car Smelly Jr jr (don't judge her name) getting new "shoes"
My car Smelly Jr jr (don’t judge her name) getting new “shoes”

Bruce and I exchanged road stories while he was fixing my car up. Sometimes you hear of women getting taken advantage of in these situations but Kevin and Bruce were AMAZING! Not only did they fix my car, they fixed a couple other potential issues for free, filled up my gas and when I asked what town I was in, gave me 2 free t-shirts saying where… BEAVER, UTAH!

So if you’re ever in Beaver Utah, stop by the Conoco and say hi to Kevin and Bruce, tell them Devon, the tattooed Canadian, sent you.

And also… NEVER EVER tease your friends about the weather and your travels or you’ll end up with karma hitting you back, sorry Ashley.

– Devon

Salt Lake city and the mighty mighty Bison

The vegan buffalo sandwich!
The vegan buffalo sandwich!
Yes, I drove to Salt Lake city for a sandwich, don’t judge me. It wasn’t the only reason, I LOVE SLC. The town, the people, even the religion going on in the city. 🙂 I still didn’t really have a destination for my trip so I decided to spend a few days around the SLC area and go camping up at Antelope Island. It was so peaceful.

I got in around 2pm, got my sandwich(es) and made camp. I set off to explore the island some more and was met by these two very lovely students from BYU. We talked roadtrips. I told them the best places to see the bison on the island and soon we parted ways.

I took off to the other side of the island to catch the sunset. Having been to the island once before, I had a good idea where I was heading. I was told by the park ranger earlier that evening that only four other groups were camping on the island that night… that put the head count at about a dozen people on Antelope Island that night, CRAZY!

Wandering the streets of Antelope Island
Wandering the streets of Antelope Island

I must say watching the sunset from the roof of my car was a highlight of the trip. I pulled over to the side of the road, climbed up onto the roof of my Honda Fit and just laid there taking in everything around me. No phones, no cameras, no distractions.

Bison

Watching the sun setting off in the distance and as I lay there taking in the scene, three bison walked over to my car to sniff it. Remember, I am on the roof sans phone or camera, just watching the sunset. I’m laying flat on the roof of the car so as not to startle the bison, when all of a sudden the three of them move towards the trunk of my
car to give it a sniff (I’m sure they are smelling my dog). I flip over to my stomach ever so calmly so now I am laying the entire length of my car (on the roof). I could have reached out and touched the bison but no, instead I just laid there watching in awe as they sniffed around my car, grunted a few times then wandered off. My heart was RACING. A total Jurassic park moment for me… Cue the music 🙂

After the sun set over the hills, I hopped back into my car and took off for camp. When I ran into those same three bison again, I jumped out of the car and grabbed this photo of them, wished them a peaceful night and back to camp I went. I watched a movie in the car and fell asleep being sure to set my alarm for the sunrise that would be anything but lame. 🙂 Utah, you are one of my favourite states!! 🙂

Sunset on Antelope island
Sunset on Antelope island

– Devon