1 Jul 2018

End of June updates

Wendy wanted to clear up the guest room to make it more functional. She found and bought a used Murphy bed (on Facebook marketplace) and we had it installed (by Adam, mostly) in our guest room.

As June came to a close, Parker received word that he got into the university and the residence of his choice and is preparing for moving to Waterloo University in September. We will likely need to guest room floor to put all his stuff in preparation for his moving out!

Adam continues with the shed project and is in preparation mode for moving to North Bay to attend Canadore College in the fall. Here he is packing up stuff in a U-Haul trailer for a short trip up to get the keys to his apartment. He and his friend Neil (also attending Canadore) are going to be roommates.

We got a hitch installed on his car for these kinds of occasions.

Parker's June 2018 achievements!

As soon as he was able to go for the final part of his graduated driver's licence, Parker took his highway driving test to get his full G licence. He passed easily!

Waiting nervously for the test to begin...

That was easy! The test instructor seemed to like his car... making for a more relaxed test for Parker.

The very next day, Parker graduated from Nora Frances Henderson secondary school, winning many awards.

Receiving an award from his favourite teach (Mr. Paridy)

Parker had to purchase his gown, hood, and hat. Not sure what he will do with it...

Parker with his proud parents.

Auntie Mel was able to attend the graduation!

He got an extra 'scarf' for his "Specialist High Skills Major" from the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
The special program Parker took in his final year was called Justice, Community Safety & Emergency Services

Yup. Done!

Here are the awards that Parker received at the ceremony:
  • Honour Award (80%+)
  • Ontario Scholar (80%+ in grade 12 credit courses)
  • Nora Frances Henderson Cooperative Education Award
  • Mackesy Smye Law Award (highest grade in Canadian & International Law)
  • Specialist High Skills Major Award

After heading home to take a photo and change clothes, we took Parker to a burger restaurant.

Parker chose the 32 oz vanilla milkshake as a starter!

With a little help from mom, he was able to finish the milkshake. Unfortunately, he was too full to eat his whole meal!

For more pictures and videos of the graduation, check out the Google Photos album at this link:

If you want to see just the 3 minute video, this is the link to it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/c1QJYPCQdZ8.

Cottage time!

Wendy and I went with our friends Terry and Theresa up to a rented cottage on Lake Huron for a weekend. If was supposed to be poor weather that weekend, but turned out to be beautiful. Great scenery, good food, excellent shopping, and lots of sightseeing.

The cottage had direct access to the beach.

The water was a little chilly, but the view was wonderful!

Terry, Wendy, and Theresa on a quick hike around the cottage.

Camp fire was a must do. Sparklers and S'mores were part of the fun.

A relaxing sunset.

Lighthouse near Port Elgin

Beach rocks

Here is a Google Photos Album with more photos from this weekend:

"THE" shed

Adam started building a large back yard shed with the help of some friends and eventually turned things into a whole back yard renovation. We hope to be getting sod for the whole back yard by mid-summer.

Here are a few pictures from the process.
This is the shed we are replacing - it is too difficult to get the lawnmower and snowblower up from ground level.

Wendy playing with the mini excavator

Nick and Adam mixing the cement.

Our job was to feed the boys!

Neil and Adam working on the framing.

A used window for some extra light.
The electrician came later to install power for an outlet and an interior light.

Almost done!

Here is a Google Photos Album that shows the shed project over time.

New term, new classes, new office

I started teaching 2 compressed summer courses at McMaster beginning the very next morning after returning from our trip. After almost 2 years without a place to sit, I finally moved into my new office!

I added my own photos for decoration.
The globe on the table rotates on its own (solar powered). I bought it in Sausalito California.

This is the view when entering through the glass door to the office.
The photo on the wall is one I took in Hawaii.

A little bare, but all the essentials are in place. It will take some time to make it look lived in...

The new office with all the tech connected up! I use my laptop with a docking hub to turn it into a desktop.
The desk also rises to allow me to work at standing height.

In the second week of the courses, I finally had the surgery (for my prostate) that I was supposed to have in the early spring. This time it didn't get changed on me, and it didn't mess up my teaching schedule!

In the recovery room - well enough to take a selfie!

Long awaited trip to Hawaii!

OK, this post is going to be very long, but it summarizes the itinerary of the trip that we took to Hawaii during the last 3 weeks of April. We went to visit our friends Mel & Murray on Maui but decided that stopping part way there and back would give us a more relaxing trip.

I'll only add a few photos below with the descriptions of what we did, in chronological order. At the very bottom of this post are some links to a highlights photo album and another to some of my more artistic shots.

Apr. 10. 

San Francisco was our first stop - to see some tourist attractions and to begin changing over to the Hawaiian time zone. After arrival in the somewhat chilly city of San Francisco, we wandered around near our hotel next to Fisherman's Wharf then had a great dinner at the Boudin (a famous sour dough bakery and restaurant).

Apr. 11. 

After a good sleep, the next morning we took a bus tour to the Muir Woods redwood forest, just outside of the city. Muir woods is a fantastic place to visit. Very peaceful and very aromatic!

After lunch and shopping in Sausalito, we got back to Fisherman's Wharf and took a boat tour over to Alcatraz Island and wandered around the prison with the audio tour playing in our headsets. I think Wendy enjoyed this tour more than she had expected she might.

The cell where the most famous escape began.

Apr. 12. 

The next morning we took a stroll around the area, visited Ghirardelli Chocolate, and climbed up the steep hills to then walk all the way back down Lombard Street.

We took a mid-afternoon flight from San Francisco to Maui and arrived late in the evening in Kahului.

Apr. 13. 

The next day we toured around the town of Pa'ia and took some pictures at the beaches.

That evening we flew to Honolulu and checked into our hotel a few blocks from Waikiki beach during the biggest thunder and rain storm they had experienced for a long while.

Apr. 14. 

Today we took the whole day to tour of Pearl Harbor. The weather turned out to be very pleasant, and we got the chance to go over to the Arizona memorial.

We also toured the USS Missouri battleship, the Bowfin submarine, and the aviation museum.

Apr. 15.

Today we took an organized photo tour of Oahu, spending about 5 hr. travelling around the island with a photographer/guide, stopping at various spots to see the sights.

That evening we took yet another flight (#4 so far!) back to Maui for a day of relaxation.

Apr. 17.

One of the highlights of the trip started when we flew over to the island of Hawaii to Hilo. We got picked up by our resort (the Inn at Kulaniapia Falls) and went over to Liliuokalani park and the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory before checking in.

The resort where we stayed was just starting to try out an "all inclusive" option. This worked great for us, as it included all food and drink, plus multiple tours (all were private) throughout the time that we stayed. Kulaniapia was a fantastic place to stay and the staff were wonderful!

Liliuokalani park

Our resort. We were in the top floor of this building.

Kulaniapia Falls, just outside our window!

Later that evening, we were taken to the Kilauea overlook and steam vents, the Jaggar lookout and museum (at the Halemaumau crater). This active volcano erupted only a few weeks after our visit - it was definitely starting to do something while we were there! This area is no longer open to the public.

Apr 18. 

One of our tours was a private snorkeling trip with Hilo Ocean Adventures. The water was VERY cold just outside of Hilo Harbor, and not surprisingly, it was also somewhat rough. Too rough for Wendy's stomach, in fact.

The same evening, we went stargazing trip to the Mauna Loa volcano - about a 1.5 hr drive away.  Most visitors head to the taller Mauna Kea volcano to see the observatory, but the crowds and early closing time made it not worth the trip. The observatory is also not open to the public.

On our way, we headed up a narrow and winding but glass-smooth single lane paved road. Because of the altitude, we were required to take a 30 min stop to acclimatize at about 9000 ft. We arrived safely at a clearing in the volcanic rock around 11,000 ft and set up a large telescope. It was quite chilly, so we put on some very heavy full body snowsuits and laid on ground to watch the stars and Lyriad meteor shower. We got a few shots before the stars disappeared behind heavy clouds.

Laying on the ground at the top of a mountain in snowsuits in Hawaii. How cool is that?!

A meteor with a background of stars.

Apr 19. 

We took a drive to the Hilo Coffee Mill for a quick lunch then headed out for a private Lava Tube tour. After stopping in the middle of a meadow out in the middle of nowhere (private land but prearranged with the owner), we got geared up and crawled down into a hole in the ground.

We spent about 3 hours underground, in complete darkness. Surreal views everywhere you looked. Most of the time we could simply walk, but there were a few areas where we needed to crawl or climb.

Weird volcanic formations - looked like hematite!

Midpoint on our tour - the ceiling broke through at this point.
Oddly, nobody knows where this hole in the ground is located...

Hot and wet, we survived!

Apr 20. 

Wendy, Mel, and Murray went rappelling down the 120 ft waterfall on the resort property (Eric spent the time taking pictures).

The afternoon was originally planned to be a lava tour (walk out to see active lava), but since the lava had retracted and was hard to reach, we decided instead to take a drive around with one of the staff members to see the area around Pahoa. This is the area where the volcano erupted in the 1980s, and was also where the active lava came out in May 2018 (2 weeks after these photos).

A little Hawaiian humour - the sign says "Keep Off the Grass".

The sign just above the nude beach at Kahena Beach. We saw nude people, but the climb down was too treacherous for us.

Apr 21. 

We checked out and went to airport for a surprise Blue Hawaiian Circle of Fire Helicopter tour for Eric and Murray. This trip gave us fantastic views of the lava - including a triple lava waterfall into an old lava tube (at the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent).

That afternoon, we went back to the airport and flew back to Maui.

Apr 22. 

A nice, slow, and relaxing day of shopping in Lahaina. 

Shave Ice is all the rage in Hawaii. It is ice cream topped with shaved ice with flavour on top.

A random concert under a banyan tree.

This banyan tree is over 140 years old.

Apr 23. 

Today we drove along the coast on the Piilani highway. It was very windy but the views were spectacular.

Apr 24. 

Today we ate a very early dinner (3pm) at the exceptionally high end Mama's Fish House in Pa'ia. We realized it was high end when we saw that they had mandatory valet parking.  The meal was spectacular, and the fresh flowers on the urinals surprised Eric!
Fantastic restaurant on Maui
Odd place to see fresh flowers...

Apr 25. 

We headed to Makena landing beach for some snorkeling. Wendy almost got eaten by a turtle! Later, we headed for some shopping at Wailea, and ate at the Wailea Golf Club.

Apr 25.

Saying goodbye to Hawaii, we headed to Vancouver for the final leg of the trip. We stayed with Wendy's aunt and uncle in North Vancouver and were able to visit with her two cousins and their families.

Apr 26. 

We drove to UBC to take in the Museum of Anthropology and later drove up Cyprus Mountain for some sightseeing.

Apr 27. 

Our  Iceland Trek friend Penny recently moved to Vancouver, so we took a bus to her place to have lunch and a quick hike around her area. It was great to be able to catch up and to see her again!

Apr 28. 

After 3 long weeks and 8 separate flights (plus 1 helicopter tour), we arrived home via Toronto and got back to Dundas just in time for Eric to start teaching his spring/summer courses at McMaster.

Check out our Google Photos Album for highlights from this trip: 

Here is a Google Photos Album with some of my more artistic photos: