??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness


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11th October 2021 – Freedom Day

What a day that was. NSW, Australia came out of what was to be the last Covid lockdown (to date).

Starting 22 February 2021, COVID-19 vaccinations began in Australia. Groups were prioritised. They were told when they would get their turn. People anxiously waited. Some made up excuses to jump the queue. Some like myself were hopeful this disease would run itself out so no vaccine would be needed.

May 6th saw masking reintroduced in stores and public transport , limits on wedding dance floor numbers and only 20 guests to a family gathering. This was the Mothers Day weekend so families had to start deciding who were the favourites that could visit.

Numbers of cases rising in late June saw first some parts of Sydney go into lockdown. Then, on the 26th June, it was announced that all of Sydney and Greater Sydney would also be included.

For the next 3 and a half months I was isolated from contact with my children and grandchildren. It was a hard time. It was such a depressing time. My son and daughter in law were still spending time working outside of their home and I feared them catching this hideous disease and that I wouldn’t be able to go comfort or help them. I thought darker thoughts too. My kids were still waiting for their vaccination turn.

At beginning of October I had a major health issue. With extreme medical anxiety at the best of times, I had to face this alone in hospital. My head was in no space to deal with this. I truly thought I’d never see my family again and I had had enforced wasted 3 months of no physical contact with them.

But the operations went well. I was released from hospital on the 8th October, but still couldn’t visit my kids and grandkids for up the lockdown. Emotionally and physically I was defeated. I had the operation so I could have more time with my family but the government rules still blocked this.

On the 11th October the state reopened. FREEDOM DAY! First thing I did was hug my kids, not tightly for I was still experiencing pain at the surgery site.

What did I learn from that lockdown? I appreciate it gave people time to be vaccinated. That was important. The Media reported lots of benefits, but for me there wasn’t a lot.

I already valued the simple everyday things. Seeing family and friends is what makes life worth living for me. But this was denied.

I don’t want to slow my pace down. Time is finite. I want to cram in as much as I can. But we couldn’t leave our homes.

My well-being was debilitated by the lack of family contact, the fear of this silent stalking disease snd the lack of choice I had in where I could and couldn’t go. I became depressed and anxious about everything. But I’m working on leaving that behind now.

And I definitely didn’t see much compassion . The amount of people I saw turn on each other over varying rules about masking, following rules about lockdown etc was appalling. Many people became so self centred about their own safety they forgot those that went out to the Covid war zone daily providing services for them, so they could stay in their own little safe bunker. People ranked others as ‘good’ for not catching the disease and as careless and lacking care about others if they did. People scrambled to point the finger of blame as to where they caught it, for what reason I never understood.

Masking and vaccinating is a choice now. No longer do these things give us a status of what we can and can’t do or where we can and can’t go . I hope we never have to repeat lockdowns.


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Rocky Mountaineer Day 2… or deserts and cities and delicious food

7:10am was to be our departure from the hotel to the train. Of course at 7:15am the driver was still chasing up a few stragglers before we could head to the stations. The sky was just starting to gain a faint blue hue, changing from the darkness of night.I always find it exciting to head off on journeys at this time of day.

Our drive to the station took us via a two-way bridge- a slim bridge- and this coach was anything but slim. The bus entered it as other cars joined from their end. In the middle there were fists raised and not so friendly words shouted from the cars as they reversed off the bridge to let the bus through. Think Google maps got this a bit wrong.

Soon it once again was “All aboard”.

Coffee was served as wafts of bacon and waffles filtered through the carriage. I grabbed the menu from the seat pocket and had my food sorted way, way before I was asked what I wanted.

Again food didn’t disappoint.

Breakfast entree was a cinnamon croissant and fruit salad – crisp grapes that crunched when you bit them, extra sweet pineapple that dripped juice, honey dew and rockmelon.The flavour of the melons took me back to childhood when melons were only eaten in season.

I chose the frittata with bacon. I just love the thinness of bacon in Canada. It fries up crinkly, with just the perfect amount of crispness and saltiness. I will miss this at home.

Jagged rock faces of black, red and grey reflecting their base minerals thrilled our eyes. Kamloops lake was fringed like the beaches we had seen on Vancouver island. Big boulders and tree logs washed to shore, resting on the boulders grey and white rounded boulders.

The environment began to change as we left Kamloops behind. The grasses dried, the trees were shorter and sparser.

We enjoyed lunch as watched the scenery pass by. The chicken had a mushroom sauce and it was so succulent. My favourite – baked cheesecake- was the dessert. Only thing missing was a huge dollop of whipped cream ( well that’s my opinion).

All too soon the scenery began urbanising, with scattered houses and barns first then suburban housing. Just before arriving into Vancouver the instrumental theme from Rocky the movie was blared through the carriage, and biscuits not unlike an ANZAC biscuit ( but with dried fruit) was handed out- and one more beverage from the cart. My beverage was another Caesar,. It is considered Canada’s national cocktail the hostess told me.. The ingredients are vodka, clam juice, tomato juice, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.

With a few toots our arrival was announced coming into the station. The Rocky Mountaineer has its very own station. It was easy to navigate and fast to collect luggage and to be on our way into Downtown Vancouver to spend a day before ( hopefully ) boarding our shop bound to Alaska.


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Exploring Lake Louise…or Lake Louise through my senses

The photo is framed with trees layered to reach the sky. The turquoise lake ripples silently, except for the occasional splash or drip from the paddle of a red canoe cutting through the water.

Gravel crunches under the feet of travellers who have made this pilgrimage. Occasionally the rhythm of the crunch is broken by a brief stumble but with a quick pick up the rhythm commences again. Bells rattle from ankles and walking poles and dog collars and bags, a message to the bears of humans approaching. I am yet to spy one of these magnificent creatures.

The scene begins to lose crispness as smoke wafts through. The stark white of the glacier watching over us becomes a muted grey. The smell of weak pine wood assaults the nose.

Chipmunks gather and scramble over the rocky edges of the lake. They perform like a busker, then pose for the cameras, hopeful for a tasty morsel. The tourists obey the “Do not feed the wildlife” signs though. Yet still the chipmunks perform, ever hopeful.

Voices break the serenity. They share their thoughts, amazement, and gossip. They speak to strangers, loved ones, new friends. They have their stories to share like these gigantic rugged mountains watching over us.

My tummy rumbles without food for none is available to purchase here. I munch on a cookie I’d bought the day before, but hadn’t eaten. The crisp crunch of an apple nearby reminds me how hungry I am. I can smell the sweet juice from where I sit. I watch in envy, the stranger eating it.

Time for a selfie or two.


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West Coast bound… or Goats, mountains, tall trees and lakes.

Driving across to Ucluelet and Tofino our first stop was to see goats on a roof. Yes – goats grazing on a grassy roof. They are in the Country Markets of Coombs. You really must take a look at this place using this link! I am not a shopper but was in awe of what was offered here ( more than goats). No way could you leave here without finding the obscure thing you needed ( or decided you needed).

We ate our breakfast with views of the goats ( occasionally a less than good for eating view 😂) Tried a Nanaimo Bar and enjoyed is version as much as the ice cream.

The road trip then took as past HUGE mountains , some with snow caps. The lakes were a beautiful blue green hue and not as cold as I thought they’d be. Yes, I tested with my feet.

We passed rivers with deep swimming holes and rapids. Brian was more adventurous clambering down rocks to reach the rapids. Someone had to stay up the top to document it on the camera 🙂

At Port Alberni we strolled the waterfront and funnily enough Brian found yet another ice cream and lolly store.

The mountains were majestic as we drove across the island. Not a bear or elk or cougar was seen. And I tell you I was looking! 😂

Tofino beaches had a mist rolling in by the time we arrived. The sand was hard packed. People rode bikes on the sand! Beach combing was interesting. Pity I can’t bring anything home.

Ucluelet was our base for the night. Dinner was at Howlers, a restaurant that had food as well as a bowling lane and pool tables.


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Exploring Vancouver Island…or Big, bigger, biggest.

Everything is so fabulously large here. Ironically I’ve only included a small selection of items.

Nachos for two.

A small watermelon ice cream dipped in candy gloss flavoured white chocolate.

Bottomless Coke glasses.

Pizza for one

Fish and chips with one serve of a freckle (deep fried battered dill pickle)

A cinnamon pop over ( I didn’t actually try this but it fitted the story title)

Chairs

Totem poles

Mountains and trees

Us 🥰


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Arriving in Vancouver … or A brisk walk around the airport.

After eating breakfast of muesli, an egg and bacon croustade with sauté mushrooms and toasted cherry tomatoes and a croissant, the descent to Vancouver began.

I watched as we flew over Vancouver Island ( our soon to be destination for the next 10 days). Touch down was smooth and before I knew it the rest of the plane was awaiting our departure.

Then I realised I had a km or so to walk to customs. Not bad I hear you think. However, I had my suitcase to roll, one of Brian’s backpacks pretending to be mine ( that man does not understand the concept of light travel – he also had a very large suitcase that just sneaks in at the maximum size allowed) and a cross body handbag filled with my most essential things and an overcoat. I may or may not have been whinging but Brian decided maybe he could manage the extra backpack himself).

Customs was fast and it wasn’t long until we were in the taxi bound got the ferry terminal. Of course Brian checked an email he heard arrive- only to find out he had won the grand prize of a random Covid check. We continued on our way to the terminal as it advised he had until 11:59 pm the next day to do the test. We were headed for Victoria the capital city of BC. How hard could it be we thought? It’s compulsory to do and it is a free test. Well $150 for global roaming phone call to organise the test and about 4 hours of run around for Brian ( I napped off my jet lag as it was over 24 hours since I’d slept) it was done and dusted and we were free to go about our holiday. The test results take up to 4 days they said.

So we took off to explore Victoria.


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Eating your way to Vancouver … or how to have mask free time.

From the moment I boarded Flight 036 Air Canada I realised that not only did I have extra leg room in my business class seat but I also had a 14 hour eat-feast. And, I was up for it! Never been more thrilled that I’d chosen my floral dress to wear on the flight. I’d chosen it because I thought it looked pretty with a business chic elegance. But, it turned out it had a hidden extra… an elastic waist!

For 14 hours I played the role of Augustus Gloop, the greedy, gluttonous boy from Willy Wonka. Imagine, if you will indulge me, the tune of Fantasia in your mind. Now keep that playing while you read. I think the tune is perfect.

Before I knew it, my cabin crew member, Sandy, had whisked my tray table from where it was hiding and slipped a white mini table cloth on it. Remember, I always fly economy. I consider it a good flight if the tray comes down and food is supplied.

The starters were almonds washed down with my favourite drink of Coke.

More food appeared less than 40 minutes later. First tuna tatami, and a green salad with a balsamic and olive oil dressing. This came in its own little twist top bottle so the dressing could be just where you wanted it, it in the exact quantity you desired. This is just how I like it. A sour dough roll with butter accompanied the starter.

The plate was whisked away and replaced with salmon with a barley risotto, spinach and zucchini. Delicious!

Dessert for me was a cheese platter.

A little after dinner I had a Perrier…

Then an apple juice…

A Kit Kat…

Then tomato juice with chips…

Then a dark chocolate…

Then a Coke…

Then some chips…

Then a Perrier…

Then a coffee with two biscoffs…

Then a Perrier…

Then a bottle of still water ( important to keep hydrated)…

Then breakfast!!

Actually I sound like the very hungry caterpillar 😉


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Business Class travel or… What’s behind that curtain to the left?

I’m an economy class girl when flying. Always have been. I figure I’d rather spend money when I land than money in the air. This is probably too because, excluding a European adventure and a couple of USA trips my flights have been within Australia or to a few neighbouring island countries. I cope (not graciously, but I cope) with my nose on the seat in front. That’s not because I am in the brace position, nor am I a relative of Pinocchio. It’s because I’m stingy!

I’ve seen the fun family and friends have had in the pointy end of the plane. I even have pyjamas from those people who kindly share their stash. I am in awe of these people.

I decided to splurge for our flight to Canada. The trip was planned to celebrate my retirement snd 60th birthday. I felt I was deserving of this treat and it was as my savings I was using.

So, what was behind the curtain?

A time of luxury, indulgence and food…so much food, and drinks to wash them down.


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Check in… or The day has finally arrived!

Well check in was much easier by the words SIGNATURE CLASS ( that’s Air Canada for business Class). Instead of joining the long snake line we ambled past, towing suitcases and carry on bags. With just one ahead of us, check in was over – start to finish I’d say 5 -10 minutes with most of that the time of checking passports and ArriveCAN documents.

Then we hit the leveller. Just as they say “There’s no I in team”, we’ll there’s no class in security lines either.

The line was long – but luckily moving fast. It snaked like a mouse maze run and we were the compliant mice chasing the elusive cheese of a plane ride.

Then I caught a bit of a break. With my heart pacemaker I can’t use the regular security arch so it was the body machine. It was fast but I did feel a bit silly standing like a scarecrow with my elbows dangling.

Headed to the Air New Zealand Business lounge. I was instantly impressed by the pink chairs.

And the pink bathroom.

And the toilet roll.

Most people seemed oblivious to the opulence of this experience. I guess this may be that they have been desensitised from frequent use HA!HA! They read a book and sipped a coffee. Not me! No! I raced around tasting all the food offered, chatting with the staff who now know every detail of my trip as if they’d planned it themselves. I took photos and sipped Coke from a champagne glass. Well Coke IS my champagne so it was worthy.

As our boarding was announced we joined the small line and soon I was seated in what would be my castle for the next 14 hours.

Then we had lift off!!


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If only I’d had a crystal ball

Totally devastated today. As an extremely hesitant medication/ medical intervention/ medical test taker I finally got an AstraZeneca vaccine 4 weeks ago. I wanted to see my kids that badly. I could foresee possible restrictions lifted to see family if vaccinated so I did it.

This wasn’t an easy thing for me. Everyday (and I mean all day) I can’t stop thinking about if I have a headache and if it’s a blood clot. I have done 28 of those days ( starting day one as ATAGI says Days 1-83 with days 4-18 most common). The pamphlet said to Day 42. Then I read in an ATAGI report that while rare, there have been some cases of clots after the second shot. Great, I get to repeat my 83 days of anguish. That’s until Wednesday, 16 February 2022!!

Had a very sore arm that was hard to move from the day after I got my vaccination. 11 days after the vaccine my arm swelled, hot and red about a tennis ball round size near the site. Least I had my second outing for the month- to the doctor ( the first was to dr for the vaccination).This arm lasted til day 20.

My only way of getting through this was telling myself I would see my kids. 

I was told ( doctor) that 12 weeks between shots is max efficacy. I was told 6 weeks is ok for now. I took this vaccine to get max efficacy as I know I don’t get great results from vaccines. I’m fully vaccinated ( and boosters ) for whooping cough yet have had it diagnosed through nasal tests twice. Tests also showed when I was pregnant that my rubella immunity was similarly poor.
For this reason was going to wait 12 weeks. This is to the end of November. It was a long time to wait but there was no alternative for me at my age. No Pfizer at my age for me!

Now, if I’d waited out just 4 weeks I could be getting a Pfizer shot in 2 days ( next appt at local hospital) then wait three weeks until double vaxed with max efficacy and be hugging my kids. As it is now,  I must remain away a further 5 weeks than that date  and watch them on FaceTime as they mix with their families including my husband. 

I have been punished for doing the right thing. Or, I made a poor choice I suppose. Those that hung off waiting are now reaping rewards that I will have to wait for.


My reward for doing the right thing is longer in stay at home orders as I’m not double vaccinated. I knew I would have to wait til the 24th November and was ok with that until I saw the Pfizer appts opening. I guess I will take another risk and have the booster early and worry about my coverage later.

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