Winter Car Issues

Yesterday, my car wouldn’t start.

This sucked, considering I had stacked 5 full substitution jobs into my schedule this week, I had to call the school and make the cancellation at 7:30 am in the morning. Then I called CAA*.

Since I wasn’t on the road and just sitting at home, the wait was quite long. After 20 minutes, I hung up and went to do something else. Eventually I downloaded the CAA app. The initial wait time that was suggested was one hour, but as they can track your location and the type of job that you need (i.e. battery boost), they can prioritize you more efficiently. The wait time quickly dropped down to 20 minutes! Therefore, if you’re waiting for CAA, you should use the app! Don’t wait on the phone because there’s no way you can tell them what is happening. The app will get you help much more quickly.

The battery on the Honda CR-V is about 3 years old right now, but since it was used to having a block heater in Waskaganish, suddenly not having it plugged in this winter may be the reason it’s been struggling.

I ended up going to Canadian Tire after work and picking up NOCO’s Genius Boost Jump Starter ($125/USD or $155/CAD). This specific model is called the GB40 and delivers 1000 amps. NOCO products – a variety of them – have been popping up all over the shelves, since the technology for the battery jump starters have come a loooooong way. The old ones, which my ex had bought up north, were the size and weight of a large watermelon. You had to carry it with two arms and charge them every 3 months. If you forgot, too bad … now you have a paperweight!

The NOCO only needs to be charged, at minimum, once a year. The entire unit is about 2.5 pounds, fits into your purse or glove compartment. The jumper cables are beautiful quality and the whole package comes with a bag to hold it all. The unit even has an extremely strong double-headed flashlight on one side and can signal SOS.

Still don’t think it’s all that useful? You can even use it to charge your iPad or phone!

Overall, I’m really happy I picked this up. I’ll likely have to go in and get a battery check on the car** or perhaps a cable so that I can use the block heater in during cold mornings. And while I’m not much for Christmas presents these days, this would be a good one if you’ve got a friend or family member who’s on the road a lot.

*I have the Plus membership, which is approximately $141 a year.
**Canadian Tire does battery checks for free if you bring it into the store. If it’s the garage, they’ll charge.


Brief Visit to the North

Back in Waskaganish briefly, as J. has finished his 5 weeks of vacation and is back at work. Yesterday afternoon, when we pulled in, we dropped by the supermarket. One of the mothers whose son is graduating came and gave me a big hug. She said that the diploma just arrived in the mail and that she’s planning on framing it. It was heartwarming to hear that from her.

After dinner, J. and I broke into his new copper mugs ($24.40) from Bath, Bed & Beyond. I gave them as his birthday present last week and we tested them out by making Moscow Mules. We didn’t have any mint on hand, but they were still pretty tasty! I also bought him a black Columbia rain jacket (on sale for $60.95), since he needed a new one. The next year will be long distance, but we believe we will make the best of it.


Today, J. has gone to work and I am just packing a few more boxes up, stuff that didn’t make it to moving truck. Tomorrow, headed back south towards Montreal to visit a few more friends.


Road Trip to Waterloo

Earlier this week, J. and I stayed overnight in Kitchener. I drove in to take a class at the yoga studio that I may be potentially doing my Yoga Teacher Training at, just to reconnect with the studio owner, as well as check out the rental unit for September.

I also started walking around in my new Vibram FiveFingers ($115), which I picked up at Mountain Equipment Co-op on Tuesday (more on this in another post). We* tested them out with a short hike at Elora Gorge, just half an hour northeast of Waterloo.

My last month’s rent been sent off and I’m feeling good about my YTT application. It was a pretty product trip, so we rewarded ourselves with a dinner at the local Golden Turtle Restaurant. J. got a big bowl of rare beef phở and my tom yum bún was memorable. We finished it off with pineapple and soursop shakes!

*J. hates how weird Five Fingers look, but he has a pair of zero-drop minimalist shoes from Merrell.

Places I’ve Traveled In the Past 5 Years

I love traveling, I won’t deny it. I was bitten with the travel bug early on and my parents took my sister and I traveling regularly as we were growing up. I remember that there were periods of our lives where we were going overseas every 2-3 years and taking car trips in between. It wasn’t until I went to university that I was grounded for 4 years … it sucked and I hated it.

Over the past 4 or 5 years, I’ve been grateful for being able to afford travel, since being fully employed. Here are the other places I’ve been to in the past 5 years:


  • Portland, Oregon
  • Hawai’i, HI


  • Turkey
  • Mumbai and Rajasthan, India
  • London, England (layover)


  • Chicago, IL


  • Disneyworld, FL
  • Albany and New York City, NY
  • Jordan
  • Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel
  • Palestinian Territories

Checking out one of the tombs in Petra, Jordan

Having said that, I know next year might be different. I might not be going oversea and due to the current political situation, going to the United States doesn’t even seem like such a good idea anymore (although that won’t stop me).

I’ve been happy that I can do trips without budgeting much (really, I don’t budget at all), but if I am going to save for a house, I will have to tighten the belt a bit more and figure out how to be a better budget traveler.

Yes, I might be downgrading a little, but I love my freedom and I love being able to see people, spend time with them and learn about the world. I’ll never give that up!

Day 7 in the Middle East

Yesterday, we had a lovely time exploring the desert of Wadi Rum. This morning, we woke up in the beautiful sunrise over the sandstone mountains. Left our host camp at 6:30 am with the smell of wood smoke still in our hair. We traversed up the Dead Sea coast again on the Jordanian side.

Immigration through the West Bank was definitely a unique experience. There was a lot of hustle and bustle, but it was business as usual for many. Approximately 400 km later, we settled in downtown Jerusalem. Running multiple loads of laundry at the rented apartment and catching up with social media.

Now enjoying the street singing as we are getting close to the countdown towards 2017.

Happy new year, wherever you are celebrating (or not)!


On Holiday: Floating in the Dead Sea

Merhaba from Jordan!

It was a lot of work figuring out this trip and the first three days were quite rough, as two of us managed to get sick right off the bat. There were several moments where I wished we were simply at home with our respective families. Yet despite three days of bitter, hard rain, in both in Israel and Jordan, and our little trip ups, the sun finally came out today and day 4 of our trip was just really wonderful!

This morning, we enjoyed a lovely stroll around the Roman amphitheatre in Amman, walked around Mt. Nebo and floated in the Dead Sea. In the evening, we enjoyed a Turkish-style hamman to wash off the salt and filled up on a traditional Jordinian style dinner of spiced rice, potatoes, carrots and onions.

The internet access has been spotty and some of our clothes feel perpetually wet, but we are really glad to see such a special and unique part of the world. Looking forward to seeing Petra tomorrow!



Travel Planning: Jordan and Israel

It’s been months in the making.

What started off as a daydream to see more the Middle East, seeded by the fact that B. and I visited Turkey ever so briefly just a few years ago, is now finally coming together. Originally, only the two of us were traveling together; now, it will be a 10-day trip to Israel and Jordan with my sister, my cousin and my best friend!

Our flights to Tel Aviv were booked a few months ago, but we’d been taking our sweet time in planning. With December looming near, we spent the month of November researching, booking and finalizing, occasionally conferencing on the phone to pin down our needs and wants were. This weekend, a lot of our hotels and ground tours were finalized; I’m happy to say that this brings a great sense of relief. Now I can do the “real” planning and start looking for yummy vegan* restaurants!

Earlier this week, I finally started pinning down sites on Google My Maps. This is a great tool to have on your mobile device, even if you travel around with a data plan. I’ve had My Maps work successfully off triangulation while in India and Turkey.


One of my goals in December will be revisiting my Lonely Planet. It had been collecting dust on the shelf as I had foolishly bought more books – how I managed to get two Caitlin Moran books in November and not finish either of them is symptomatic of the book-hoarding problem I have – and it’s time to dig into it. For a long time, I was extremely ignorant of the history and culture and politics of Israel** and Jordan, so I really need to brush up on my politics!

*Apparently, Israel is going through a huge transformation towards veganism.

**Strangely, Toronto has an extremely large Jewish population. However, they are clustered in extremely tight-knit communities, and many people growing up in Toronto do not know Jewish people until much later in their lives. I didn’t know any Jews until I went to university . At the moment, I cannot recall if I know any Jordanians.

Back in Toronto

Got back in Toronto around 10 pm after a 10-day road trip. It’s been rad, making new friends and revisiting old ones. I even saw one of my former colleagues from South Korea; it has been 9 years since we last met up!

All and all, I covered about 1800 km, but I really had no intention of driving in the shape of a phallus …

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New York City 2016

Last weekend, I was in New York City with my family. My mom, sister and I spent a couple of days to ourselves and then visited extended family in Queens/Flushing.

I know, I know … I haven’t been blogging as much the past few months. The convenience of microblogging on Instagram means that I simply just don’t post as often on WordPress any more! If you’d like to see some of our family photos, click here.



Addendum: I should also mention that the highlight of my trip is seeing the Louis Armstrong House Museum. No photos are allowed, but you can easily go on YouTube and find videos about it. The kitchen, good lord. The kitchen is the stuff of dreams!!!