Author Archive

Links to Christmas 2009 Newsletter and Video’s

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

We’re really bummed because our annual Family Photo Christmas Card seems has been lost by Canada Post!!! It’s been over 2 weeks and no cards. Usually we have our Christmas Cards and Newsletter mailled out by now. So for all those who can’t wait we decided we should post them up on our family weblog!


As mentioned in the newsletter, during our holidays in Dawson City, we were filmed by the Canadian Tourism Commission, so here is the video we partly starred in.

Funny enough when we got back home to Fort Smith, the same film crew was here filming kayaking on the Slave River, so here is two video that show some local flavour and, our amazing world class rapids.

And here’s another couple videos from different groups, of the rapids. Really amazing…

Slave River 2009 from Jacqui Whitehead on Vimeo.


Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Home at last! August 2008

We have yet to finish totalling how many km’s we covered or how much money we spent. I’ve been waiting to have some down time but we still haven’t finished hanging all the pictures back up on the walls.

However in the meantime I wanted to say that we are all happy to be home safe and sound, and have settle back into the routine of life in Fort Smith, NWT.

Take care for now, The James’

Fulfilling a dream!

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Part of my expectations for our adventures was to drive across Canada, as I believe as Canadians we need to get to know our neighbours. I have always been amazed at how much Canadians (in general) will spend to visit other countries but have never been 2 provinces over from where they live. Therefore if we were going to drag our kids around the world, I thought it our duty to make sure they had been everywhere in Canada.

So I can now finally say that 9,600 KM later, we have crossed 9 provinces (we were in PEI 4 years ago, and lived in what is now Nunavut 96-99) and traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Rick and the kids will still need to go to the Yukon, but I can now officially say I’ve been everywhere in Canada, fulfilling a life long dream.

Ready to leave Halifax, again…

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Here’s a quick update for those that have been missing our blog, since Rick has been failing in his duties lately.

We had to wait almost 2 weeks for our car so we had a great time relaxing with Marc and Wendy. On one weekend, we visited Peggy’s Cove. After finally picking up our new car on May 26th, we drove to Newfoundland where we visited Gros Morne National Park for a few days. The pictures are spectacular and are already posted in the picture gallery. As well we visited Cape Breton on the way there and back. Louisbourg was great with the staff all dressed up and animating the daily tasks of what the fort would have been like.

Unfortunately we had to hurry back to Halifax as we had an appointment to get some things fixed on the car, although they ended up taking a few more days than we originally planned but luckily, we got to stay with Marc and Wendy for a few extra days. We’ve had a great few days where Wendy went all out for Luke’s 11th birthday hosting a party with family and friends and making a great cake. We also took a day trip to Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, which were both just beautiful little towns. On our last two days we’ve spent visiting downtown Halifax at the Discovery Centre and Museum of the Atlantic.

Today before we leave Halifax we are meeting up with Sylvia Burns (my sister’s mother-in-law) so we can go see an afternoon performance of the show “Riverdance”. After the performance we plan to hit the road and see what we can see of the Bay of Fundy.

Thanks for following our adventures, and we will try to get back to posting some regular messages. As the kids say that they have some entries but Dad just hasn’t posted them yet (although I know Rick will say I could have done it too). Take care!

Waiting to move on…

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Well, we thought we were being smart! We purchased a used 2007 Ford Freestyle from Montreal about 2 weeks before arriving in Canada. The plan was that the vehicle would be shipped to Halifax so it would be waiting for us when we arrived on the 14th. Well it’s now 10 days later and we are still in Halifax waiting for our car to be delivered. So much for planning ahead…..

We are still planning to drive across Canada with a small detour into South Dakota as Rick wants to see Crazy Horse ( ). Hope to see a lot of you along the way, so we will try to keep you informed as soon as we know too. Bye for now, Claudette

Realizations and Philosophies

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

I’ve come to the realization after traveling around the world, that it really doesn’t matter where you go and who you meet; we are who we are! This reality stuck me as I gazed upon these beautiful house with their view of the Atlantic ocean and realized that I liked what I was doing and what I had done but there is no place like home!

Now that my philosophizing is done back to reality. We have been in Europe for just over a month, and the countdown (10 Days) to returning to Canada is on. Eventhough we’ve spent quite a bit of time in Europe with family (Rick’s mom, Vi and my dad, Ray) and then met my sister Monique and her husband Greg, and Aunty Viv, Uncle Chris and my cousin, Mik; I think we’ve hit the wall, and the four of us universally agree that we looking very forward to getting back home. Also I don’t think our credit cards can handle much more. Even though I know that we’ve been averaging about $100 Euro/night for a room, it’s the food which is outrageous, as an example in Euros (last time I checked the exchange was Can. $1.83for 1 Euro) it’s usually $25-40 for breakfast, $35-50 for lunch and $85-130 for supper. I’ve decided that my coping mechanism will be not to check my credit card balances until we’re back in Canada.

As some of you may have heard already we are now the proud owners of a 2007 Ford Freestyle Limited AWD in gold (Um, not sure if I’ll like the gold part). So we have finally decided that we are driving across Canada and into part of the US. (Rick HAS to see Crazy Horse in South Dakota and that was the only way he’d agree to drive across the continent.) So with that said, we are OPEN TO ANY INVITATIONS for free beds, couches, and/or floor space since we have no money.

Here’s the quick plan so far; land in Halifax (visit Marc & Wendy) visit Cape Breton on our way to Newfoundland (find someone to take us in there) it’s also the only province I’ve never been to. Visit Frank & Sylvia in the Miramichi in New Brunswick, then on to Quebec City, before visiting Ottawa. From there we will probably head into the states (returning to Canada in Manitoba or Saskatchewan) or possibly staying in the US all the way to Vancouver Island before returning through BC to Edmonton, where we will send a couple of weeks before returning home mid July.

Anyway hope you’ve enjoyed my little rant and catch up post! Take care and miss you all, Claudette

Good Bye to the Middle East, Hello Europe!

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted a new message, so here goes a quicky update.

We spent our last bit of time in Egypt in the desert and then the Sinai with the McBride Family from Ottawa. Our adventures in the desert were very fun and interesting. You’ll have to take a look at the pictures of us in the Black and then White Deserts. After the desert we spent about six days relaxing by the Red Sea in the town of Dahab. It was so nice to spend a few days with another Canadian family. (i.e. other adult conversation other than your spouse, and we generally all agreed at how we didn’t like been the “tourist” in India.)

After saying goodbye to our fellow travellers, (Thanks, Janice, Warren, Connor and Alannah we had a blast!!) we headed for Jordan. We spent the next few days in Petra, which was spectacular, to say the least. For sure it ranks up in the top 2 or 3 spot for places we have visited this year. I won’t go off in a big tirade of adjectives, I would just highly recommend visiting if you get the chance. Our last highlight of Jordan was realizing that this would probably be the last country in which we were awakened by the 4/5 AM Muslim prayer calls as it seemed like most of our hotels since Malyasia were right across the street from a mosque. (-;

We arrived in Rome on April 2nd, where Grandma Vi (Rick’s mom) and Grandpa Ray (my dad) surprised the kids at our B&B. They are spending the next few weeks travelling with us. After touring around some of the manditory sites such as the Vatican and Colloseum, then we took the train to Florence. We have a villa in the Tuscany countryside booked for a week. Yesterday we drove to Venice for the day where we walked around the city and took a small gondola ride down a few of the back canals. Tomorrow we are going to go to Pisa, before heading to Nice, France on Saturday.

Take care for now, Claudette

Claudette’s Safari Experience

Friday, February 29th, 2008

February 23rd, 2008 Safari Day 1 = Maryana Lake National Park

We were picked up from our hotel in Arusha at 9:00 AM by our guide/driver Thomas. on the way out we stopped at the grocery store to pick up water. I didn’t go in with Rick & the kids but I think I should have as they spent $90 on apples, carrots, potato chips, chocolate bars, 30L of water, and 2 bottles of wine.

We then travelled to a small village, Mto Wa Mbu, which is just outside Lake Manyara National Park. We are staying in tents on the grass of one of the local hotel/guesthouse. We had a quick box lunch after dropping off all the tents, food, luggage etc. We then left for our afternoon safari drive through the national park where we saw baboons, elephants, giraffes, impalas, hippos, warthogs, and dik-diks. One of my greatest fears before agreeing to go on a safari was that I feared the animals may have been fed or corralled into central areas so that the tourist could have a good look at the animals. It was with great satisfaction that in my opinion these animals do indeed look wild and unhasselled by the tourists driving by.

The scenery on the drive to and around the park was fantastic. It was surprizingly very calming and soothing. I can only hope that the next few days will be more of the same.

February 24th, 2008 Safari Day 2 = Ngongorororo Conservation Area (Ngongorororo Crater)

Today we left Lake Manyara NP at 9:00 AM for NCA. We stopped ATM in the village of Kanuta so we could get the final 400,000 to pay for the balance of our safari. Rick also asked if we could stop at the local internet cafe so we could transfer some money to cover the VISA cash advance.

The drive took about 2 hours when we reached our campsite we unloaded the truck again, and then took off for the bottom of the crater. We stopped near the bottom so that we could eat our boxed lunch before proceeding. We toured the crater for about 4.5 hours. We saw zebras, wildebeests, lions including 2 lion cubs, a leopard, thomson gazelles, elephants, and numerous kinds of birds.

The view from our campsite at the top of the rim of the crater is spectacular. I can’t wait to see what more lies ahead.

February 25th, 2008 Safari Day 3 = Serengeti National Park

We woke this morning on the rim of the crater at about 2400 metres. Needless to say in was a little chillier than we are used to. We all got a fairly good sleep, eventhough I was woken up in the middle of the night by an animal (assume it was a Zebra) eating grass right outside our tent.

We hit the road shortly after 9:00 AM again, after a quick stop at one of the local stores for more TP (toilet paper for those of you who weren’t sure). On the way we saw a herd of Wildebeest that must of numbered in around 5000ish, that was crossing the road in front of us. Our second stop was a few kilometers into the park at the Naabi Hill Gate Park office, so that the driver could pay our entrance fees. After a long delay we decided to drive straight through to our campsite near Seronera.

After lunch we did our afternoon safari drive. One of the first animals we saw was a Warthog which was just on the side of the road. We saw many more of the animals we’ve seen on the past few days, however the new animals we saw included a topi, waterback, mongoose and a leopard up in a tree.

Seeing the animals has been a great experience although I think that the grass plains are even more spectacular. I expect that the great plains of Alberta must have looked exactly the same 150 years ago.

February 26th, 2008 Safari Day 4 = Serengeti National Park

We have been spoiled a bit on this tour, as Richard, our cook, has insisted on letting us sleep for the kids. So again this morning almost all of the other safari tours have left before we’ve gotten out of bed. We did 2 game drives today. The morning drive we saw more of the same animals we’ve seen on other days, however the afternoon drive was another story. We finally got yo see our first male lion up close.

Camping has been reaaly nice although we can’t shower here in the SNP as they don’t have enough water, and now that it’s been really dusty on the roads my hair is like straw (Yuck!!!).

February 27th, 2008 Safari Day 5 = Serengeti National Park/Mt. Lengai (Volcano)

We hit the road fairly early this morning, which was good as we saw quite a few more animals on the road as we had on earlier safari drives. I’m sure it’s because it’s cooler in the morning, and the animals are more active at the time. Before leaving the SNP we saw 4 cheetahs lying on the side of the road, and a serval cat cross the road far ahead of us. I have now seen every animal I could have hope for.

Our driver Thomas has agreed to take us by a volcano which has been active on and off for the past few weeks. In order to do that we have gone north through the SNP, and the road out of the park it not even on the map. Truth be told I’m not even sure it’s a road as in places it looks more like a dried out creek bed. The road/trail is very rough, dry and dusty. After about 5+ hours on the road we stopped for lunch. We could see the mountain, but the locals said that it had erupted earlier in the morning but that it was dormant now. We were initially disappointed but after about half hour back on the road as we were approaching the volcano, it erupted again. The eruption must have lasted almost 1 hour as we followed the trail which skirted the base of the mountain. What a spectacular sight, I have added this to my list of natural wonders we’ve experienced.

Overall, I will have to admit that I was very wrong, as I intialled did not want to come to Africa. I have really enjoyed our time in Tanzania and the safari experience was worth ever penny. I would say that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

Not Yet the “Wilds” of Africa

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Well we’ve been in Africa for almost a week and we have yet to see anything remotely wild animal-ish except maybe a stray cat or two. Our first 2 days we spent in Dar Es Salaam, which is the major economic city in the country. Luke wasn’t feeling well and on the morning we were taking the ferry to Zanzibar, I took him to the hospital to make sure he didn’t have Malaria. Good news was that he didn’t have Malaria, and we made our 10:30AM ferry departure for Zanzibar.

We’ve now spent 4 nights In Stonetown on Zanzibar Island. Everybody in finally healthy as Alex was sick for 2 days after arriving here. Yesterday we took a spice tour and went swimming at a remote beach north of Stonetown. Today we are heading to Moshi, which is at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Originally I wanted to take the ferry back to Dar Es Salaam and then a 10 hour bus ride to Moshi, however Rick finally convinced me that the 55 minute flight was more worthwhile than the 2 days of travelling so we fly out of Zanzibar at 7:55PM tonight.

We are just making the finally arrangement for our 5 day safari through the Serengeti and a couple of other places. The price basically works out to $170/person/day or $850 each for 5 days. I’m sure it will be worth it, and we will finally see the wilds of Africa.

Take care for now, we miss you all.

Claudette’s Impressions of India

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Well it’s been a month since arriving in India, overall I would say that I enjoyed it. The most memorable will be the people that we have met although I’m sure in the future we will also reminisce about the many loud sounds, awful smells and places both rich and poor, we’ve seen with our friends for quite a while. In the end I don’t think I will visit India again.

Surprisingly we’ve met a several Canadians while in India. Firstly we met Patti S. from Calgary, she was traveling for 5/6 months. We had a great evening in Jaipur comparing notes and just generally chatting about home. As well we’ve met 2 other Canadian families who are traveling the world for a year. Firstly it was the Gunn family of 6 from Calgary, although we didn’t get much of a chance to compare notes and chat. Check out the blog roll for their blog, listed as the Gunn Family.

Next we met the McBride family, Warren, Janice, Connor (14) and Alannah (12) from Ottawa at an internet cafe in Fort Cochin. We arranged to meet up for supper, where we had a great time comparing notes and swapping stories and the kids had such a great time too. We are going to try and meet up with them in Egypt. Check out the blog roll for their blog, listed as the McBride Family. As you know I’m not someone you usually muses much about fate and destiny however, as it turns out when we arrived at the airport on the 8th we found out that we were supposed to have flown out of Fort Cochin to Mumbai on the 7th. But if we had not missed our plane we would never had met the McBride Family, and as for our missed flight we had no problem catching the plane on the 8th and it only costs us about $100 extra. All in all I figure it was well worth it, as it was just great to have met the McBride’s.

Next we are off to Dubai for 2 days and then we fly to Tanzania on the 13th. I know that I don’t post many messages but please know that we all read all of your comments and we love any news from home. Missing all of you, take care! Claudette

Enjoyed Laos and very fast visit to Vietnam

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Hi all, I know I’m not as prolific a writer as Rick is but here goes anyway. I really enjoyed our time in Laos. The descriptions of the tour books is accurate when they describe the pace of life as slow. No one or thing moves fast, especially the transportation, but this was nice as we had a lot of time to watch the people and the countryside go by. Firstly I really enjoyed the 2 day slow boat ride down the Mekong river, the city of Luang Prabang, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, was nice with it’s very old temples, the king’s former palace, and the great waterfalls we saw just outside the city. The 5-6 hour drive to Vien Vieng was a little more stomach moving as we had to cross the top of several mountain ranges, back and forth around the corners (you get the picture I’m sure). But once in the valley near Vien Vieng and into the capital, Vientiane, it was much better. The hotels we’ve stayed at have been great. Our tour guide, Phanh, was really good as he had many stories to tell us as he had spent 12 years (11-23) as a novice monk.

At the hotel in Vientiane, Luke introduced himself to another family, mother, Mary Jo and 2 boys, Kaleb (13) and Conner (11) from Sydney, Australia. The kids had a blast together swimming in the hotel pool and we even let them have a sleepover, as all 4 kids stayed in Alex and Luke’s room for 1 night. Unfortunately they are also coming to Hanoi, and funny enough booked to stay at the same hotel as us but we leave a day before they arrive.

As it turned out with the tour package we booked, we are only staying 2 nights in Vietnam, and since we flew in late last night and have spent the morning on the internet I’m not sure we are going to get a chance to see a whole lot. We are planning to walk around the Old Quarter and take in a water puppetry show today, and then we are off for 4 nights in Hong Kong.

Have to run, take care for now. Claudette

Having a great time in Thailand!

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Well we arrived in Chiang Mai 2 days ago, after spending 3 days in Ko Phi Phi.

In Ko Phi Phi we spent one morning snorkeling around Ko Phi Phi Ley, which was spectacular. The coral wasn’t as great as the Great Barrier Reef but the fish were way more plentiful and varied. On the downside though, there were a lot of (non-stinging) jellyfish and (stinging) sea lice which freaked Alex out so she really didn’t like it. I think Grandma Vi enjoyed herself even though it had been 30 years she she last went snorkeling.

Last night we went to the Night Bazaar which was like shopping overload, imagine blocks of vendors set up on the sidewalks with hundreds of people trying to get through on a 1 – 2 foot wide sidewalk…. We tried to control ourselves as Grandma Vi already has a full suitcase to take back for us.

Today we went to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center so as to get in our obligatory elephant show and ride. We had decided that we wanted to go there as they are known for their conservation efforts and all funds they raise from admissions goes to the Elephant Hospital on-site. In the end I think the kids really appreciated what the animals can do, and we also got to see a couple of baby elephants.

Tomorrow we are off white-water rafting, I’m not sure how Rick convinced Grandma Vi to go but I’m sure it will be a riot.

Claudette’s view on Singapore and Malaysia so far…

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Well, it’s just barely been a week since we’ve left Australia, and I must admit I really miss the familiar and the annonymity. So far we stick out like tourists even more so than I felt in South America. It’s a bit eerie to be watched everywhere we go.

We have kept to most of the big shopping centers and attractions, although we did venture out to Chinatown while we were in Singapore. It’s pretty much just like the movies with small 4′ x 8′ kiosk selling everything and anything. Yesterday we picked up a couple of watches for ourselves. Rick bought a Rolex off the street and I picked up a “Guess” watch from a kiosk for the equivalent of about $3 Canadian.

In Singapore we did mostly family stuff with going to the water park and theme park, while in Malyasia we have done more sightseeing. The hotel we ended up picking is fantastic as it is walking distance to most attractions and the KL Monorail is right beside it. Tomorrow we are off to the island of Penang, so we will be doing more relaxing on the beach.

Rick’s already nagging me to start thinking about contributing some writing to the family Christmas letter, Ugh… I can’t believe how quickly time is flying by.

I highly recommend the Whitsundays!!!

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

We are having a great time. We did 2 trips with the “Cruise Whitsundays” company and I would highly recommend both. We put up some of the pictures from Saturday’s trip out to Knuckle Lagoon on the Great Barrier Reef. However you will have to wait and see the pictures from yesterday’s sailing adventures on the “Camira”.

Australia has been so much fun and relaxing, we’ve met some great people from Australia as well as a few Canadians on the cruise yesterday. I was fun comparing notes as to how much Australians are like Canadians. Personally I have felt more at home here than even when we’ve been through the US.

The family has been getting along really well, eventhough our campervan is rcrowded. Alex complains that she has to share the bed with Luke, but there hasn’t been too many fights. My only complaint would be that there has been several nights where it has been very hot in the van. Humid hot with no breeze, but the kids haven’t complained about it too much. A few times we’ve had to have cold showers before going to bed. Needless to say, I have a new appreciation for air conditioning.

We are leaving today to go visit a Rio Tinto mine near Clermont which is about 3 or 4 hours south. Hope that all is fine with you. Take care, Claudette

Loving Australia!!!

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Well, as you can tell from reading Rick and Alex’s entries, we are just having a blast in Australia. We’ve met some great people, and had some great wine. It’s been just the best prevention for any homesickness. Luke has made friends in almost ever campground we’ve stayed in, and usually their has been a friend for Alex too (even a few boys).

I am loving some of the different words Australian use and may just have to keep using them. Especially “feral” which is used like we would use the word “bad” and the word “dear” which is used to mean expensive.

Anyway, I know this is a quick note but we are leaving Brisbane today. So we are packing up after making ourselves at home with friends we made, Robert, Leesa-Maree and their kids, Riley & Emile for the last 3 days.

Glad everyone is enjoying our blogs. Take care, Claudette

Hello from Downunder!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Yes, I know I haven’t posted a new message in quite a while, although I have to say I have been more faithful in keeping up my journal. Well, we are leaving Sydney this morning. We stayed in a hotel/bed & breakfast for 2 nights and then we picked up our camper van and stayed for 2 nights in a campground near the Sydney Airport so that we could finish seeing the sites in Sydney. Yesterday we did a guided tour around the Sydney Opera House and then we had to run to get to the Bridge Climb Tour that we booked. The SOH was beautiful and very interesting however the bridge climb was the most fun even Luke & I weren’t that freaked out by the heights.

Rick is off at the moment mailing another package home, while I am suppose to be looking for a new campground south of Sydney. I think I’ve found one that the kids will like. (

Anyway thats all for now. Take care, Claudette

Getting down to the details!

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Originally Posted by Claudette: Thursday, March 29, 2007

Welcome and hello to all our family and friends!

This is my first entry to our family travel blog!

We have started to get down to the little details for our up and coming trip. I can’t believe that it’s also time. The 4 years of talking about it has just flown by, as I’m sure the next few months will as well.

I hope that you will enjoy following our travels starting in early August 2007.

Take care for now, Claudette