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Winnipeg Family Album

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With Christmas holidays approaching, Gregor and I are thinking about our families back in Canada. We last saw them this past August when we flew back to Winnipeg for two family weddings. During our month-long visit, our relatives showered us with love and support and reminded us that – no matter what – we will always have a home in Winnipeg (or a parking spot with access to a bathroom, at least).

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Winnipeg, the prairie city where Gregor and I grew up.

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Gregor with his sister, Gesine, and brother Gerald

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Gregor with his dad, George, and his wife, Rose

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With my parents, Connie and Joe (Consolacion and Jose)

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My parents’ beloved shitzu dogs: Gizmo, Sachi, and Chewby

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My siblings: Nicolette, Francis, and Rexis. I’m the oldest.

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My time in Winnipeg was particularly special because it brought me closer to my little sister, Nicolette. Nikki asked me to officiate her wedding (conduct the ceremony that is normally done by a priest, pastor, or Justice of the Peace). I felt very honoured to marry Nikki to her soul mate, Alan, and I’m grateful that I was able to witness their marriage from the other side of the altar.

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Nicolette and Alan. Photo by Brittany Mahood Photography.

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It was such a special day. Photo by Camryn Harder.

The ceremony at Pine Ridge Hollow was absolutely beautiful, but what I enjoyed most was the quality time I spent with Nikki and Alan at their house during the hectic days before and after the ceremony. Watching them problem-solve through pre-wedding drama and seeing their creativity and positivity shine through was really inspiring to me.

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As Nikki ran around preparing for the wedding and honeymoon, I helped around the house and tried to make sure that my sister was rested, hydrated, and fed. I even pre-cut Nikki’s food into little chunks so she could shovel it in her mouth between all her tasks and appointments. I actually used to feed Nikki when she was a baby. I guess once you’re a big sister, you’re always a big sister.

I was about 12 years old in this photo.
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I was about 12 years old in this photo.

Photo by Brittany Mahood Photography.
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Photo by Brittany Mahood Photography.

Photo by Brittany Mahood Photography.
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Photo by Brittany Mahood Photography.

Gregor’s big sister, Gesine, is like a big sister to me, too. Whenever we’re in Winnipeg, she spoils us rotten when we stay at her place. Gesine and her husband, Reg, will do whatever it takes to make us feel welcome and comfortable. They also love to share good food with us – bonus!

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My sister-in-law, Gesine

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My brother-in-law, Reg

At Carlos and Murphys
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At Carlos and Murphys

Gesine was really helpful to me and Gregor during our stay in Winnipeg. For example…I absolutely hate shopping. It stresses me out because I have a hard time making decisions. After landing in Winnipeg, I had only one day to buy an outfit and other important ceremony items for my sister’s wedding. Luckily for me, my sister-in-law is the Shopping Queen.

Gesine planned out the most efficient shopping route (on the roads and in the mall), she was quick to make fashion decisions, AND she made sure we took regular food breaks so that we wouldn’t lose our shopping mojo. For the first time since my teenaged years, mall shopping was actually stress-free and fun (Thanks a bunch, Gesine!).

Gesine and her daughter, Kira
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Gesine and her daughter, Kira

Gesine’s daughter, Kira, also got married in Winnipeg – her wedding was at the picturesque Fort Gibraltar historic site. Gregor had the honour of giving a speech for his niece at the reception and welcomed her new husband, Jason, into the clan on behalf of his family. (Following photos by Megan Steen Photography)

Kira and Jason
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Kira and Jason

With her proud parents
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With her proud parents

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Speech to the bride

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We partied like it was 1999.

A family gathering is just not complete without The Twins. I’m talking about Gregor and his identical twin brother, Gerald. Both of them have a wicked sense of humour and they share the same loud laugh.

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Thanks to Nikki’s and Kira’s weddings, Gregor and I had the opportunity to connect with our families and rediscover Winnipeg, too.

My niece, Mia
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My niece, Mia

My cousin, Vincent, his wife Katrina, and their daughter Amara
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My cousin, Vincent, his wife Katrina, and their daughter Amara

The classic “Filipino family eating at the table” shot. Seated (left to right): Tito Noel; Tita Nora; cousins Rebeka, Dominic, and Laura; brother Rexis, and Tita Jennifer. Standing (left to right): Papa, Tita Marite, and Mama.
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The classic “Filipino family eating at the dining table” shot. Seated (left to right): Tito Noel; Tita Nora; cousins Rebekah, Dominic, and Laura; brother Rexis, and Tita Jennifer. Standing (left to right): Papa, Tita Marite, and Mama.

Gregor’s side of the family. Top row: Niece Tess, brother Gerald and his wife Marnie, Gesine and Reg, and Nephew Justin. Bottom row: Nephews Ryan and Jared with me and Gregor.
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With Gregor’s family. Top row: Niece Tess, Gerald and his wife Marnie, Gesine and Reg, and Nephew Justin. Bottom row: Nephews Ryan and Jared.

Gregor’s nephew, Braeden
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Gregor’s nephew, Braeden

Gregor’s step-sister, Janice, and her son, Alex, who were visiting from Newfoundland.
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Gregor’s step-sister, Janice, and her son, Alex, who were visiting from Newfoundland.

Nephew Alex at Assiniboine Park Zoo
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Nephew Alex at Assiniboine Park Zoo

Janice and Janice with T-Rex
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Janice and Janice with T-Rex

Heritage buildings in the Winnipeg Exchange District
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Heritage buildings in the Winnipeg Exchange District

With nephew Justin and his wife, Tess, after Argentine steak dinner at Hermano’s
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With nephew Justin and his wife, Tess, after Argentinian BBQ dinner at Hermano’s

Winnipeg Electronic Music Festival, at the Old Market Square “Cube”
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Winnipeg Electronic Music Festival, at the Old Market Square “Cube”

Hanging out with my bro at the music festival
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Hanging out with my brother, Francis, at the music festival

Osborne Village, our old ‘hood
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Osborne Village, our old ‘hood

Gregor and I celebrated our 18th Wedding Anniversary at the place where I proposed to him: Bankok Thai Restaurant in Osborne Village
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Gregor and I celebrated our 18th Wedding Anniversary at the place where I proposed to him: Bankok Thai Restaurant in Osborne Village

During our Winnipeg visit, we were asked many times: “When are you coming back to Canada?”. Back then, we weren’t sure, but now the universe is telling us that we need to get back home as soon as we can.

Our original plan was to extend our overlanding adventure to Europe and Africa, opting to ship Lucky from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Hamburg, Germany, in spring of 2017.

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Due to a series of logistical glitches (which I’ll explain soon), we’re now returning to Canada next year. The plan is to ship Lucky from Chile to the USA in February 2017 (ports to be determined). It takes 30-40 days to ship the van to North America, so we should be back in Canada by around May 2017.

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It’s a long story, but this is why we’re going back home…

Gregor and I both grew up in Winnipeg but our place of residence is Calgary, Alberta (we don’t actually own property in Calgary any more, but that’s where our mail goes). By this New Year’s Eve, we will have been traveling internationally for two years – a wonderful thing according to us, but not according to the Establishment.

Apparently, when you’re away from the province of Alberta for over two consecutive years, you lose your Alberta Resident status. This means that you also lose your Alberta Health Care status (Canadian Health Care is managed on a provincial level).

Traveling more than two years makes it harder for us to purchase private Emergency Travel Medical insurance. Our current insurance company won’t extend our medical policy after the two-year mark because it’s too risky for them. Other insurance companies require us to have valid provincial health care, which we will soon lose at the two-year mark. The remaining companies that are willing to insure us will charge outrageous premiums or lower our coverage to unreasonable amounts.

We can’t really lie about how long we’ve been gone – our blog clearly states the date we left Canada and any investigation into an insurance claim would reveal our extended absence.

The responsible solution: Re-instate our Alberta Health Care by reclaiming our Alberta Resident status. That means we have to live in Alberta for at least six months per year for two consecutive years.

There is another option: Go without emergency medical insurance in Europe and just pay hospital bills out of pocket. The problem is that health care is much more expensive there and an emergency treatment could break us financially. It may actually be worth it to pay the outrageous premiums now, but there’s another glitch…

If we go to Europe like we planned, we’ll burn through our savings because things are generally more expensive there than they are in Latin America. When we return to Canada in another two years or so, we won’t have much left for a decent down-payment on a condo or house. With Gregor only working part-time and me not working at all, there’s a good chance that banks will refuse to give us a mortgage. This happened to our overlanding friends Travis and Amanda, and they talked about it on their blog Freedom with Bruno.

Rebuilding our financial status in two or three years’ time is not very palatable to us right now. So that’s why we’re coming back to Canada in 2017. We’ll make some more money, put in our two years, and hit the road again.

The insurance companies, the banks, the government…they don’t make it particularly easy to be a long-term nomad. Gregor and I are sad to be cutting our world travels short, but we are clearly being signalled to come home. How it will all play out, we’re not sure yet. At the very least, we know we have a parking spot somewhere with access to a bathroom 🙂

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18 thoughts on “Winnipeg Family Album

  1. Laurie

    Just saw this blog now. Happy for us that you are coming home but sad for you that travelling for now is coming to an end. You know you always have a place here…and the snow will be gone from the property by then!!

    1. Janice Post author

      Thanks so much for your message. We love that you always open your home to us. We’re looking forward to seeing all of you (and your new property) when we return.

  2. Gesine Kovac

    Beautiful pics! We had an awesome month with you guys here. And look forward to you coming back! Janice I loved spending time with you……anytime girl!!!
    Safe travels! Merry Christmas, we will be thinking of you. 🎄🎄🎄

    1. Janice Post author

      Merry Christmas, Gesine 🙂 If I was shopping for the holidays this year, you would be my girl! We had a great time with you, too. All our love, from Patagonia, Chile.

  3. Janice S.

    Loved this post.

    Sorry to hear that your trip will be cut short, but I echo Mel’s words – we are pretty friggin’ happy that you will be returning to Calgary in May, if only temporarily!! Woot woot!!! We have a guest room with your name on it!

    And, I echo Cheryl’s comments – Janice, I especially loved the photos of you and your sister. And, you and Gregor are still rockin’ on the dance floor.

    Love you guys!!!! Merry Christmas!

    1. Gregor

      Hi Janice,

      Merry Christmas to you, Mel and Alex. We are very sad we have to come home, took a few months to get over it, we’ve known for a while. But we are now ok with it, and ready to start another stage and prepare for our next big trip. Looking forward to seeing you guys soon.

      We may take you up on the guest room, but hope to live in the van until we find a place to stay.

      And Janice can dance, I cannot 🙂

  4. Rose Pam Wood

    We enjoyed following your blogs and reading about all of your experiences and all the people that you have met along the way. We are sorry to hear of your journey being cut short but we will definitely enjoy seeing you back in Canada. Love Dad and Rose

    1. Gregor

      Hi Rose,

      Thanks for following along, I’m glad you are enjoying the blog entries. We will come to Winnipeg before we hit Calgary so will get to see you all then, sometime in May I think. Big hugs and love to Dad.

  5. Cheryl F

    I love seeing all of your family here. Janice, the photos of you and your sis are really precious. And after 18 years you and Gregor are still dynamite on the dance floor. Big love to you both. xoxo

    1. Gregor

      Thanks Cheryl,

      We had a hard time picking all the right pictures, glad you liked them. And as I said to Janice S., I’m not the dynamite one on the dance floor, my better half is 🙂 Hugs and love to you and Ted. Merry Christmas.

  6. Karen

    What beautiful families you both have! Congratulations on your 18th wedding anniversary. Wherever your life adventures take you both, clearly you are surrounded by love and support. Take care – Happy Holidays – Karen

    1. Gregor

      Hi Karen,

      They are all better looking than us 🙂 We will only be back in Canada for as long as we need to retrigger our residency and health care, then on the road again to…somewhere. Hugs to you and Adam and Happy Holidays.

  7. Melvin

    Sorry to hear you have to cut your trip short…actually we’re pretty frigging happy that we’ll all be living in the same city again!

    1. Gregor

      Hey old man! Yeah, short, two years is pretty good 🙂 We are looking forward to seeing you guys next summer.

  8. Reg Kovac

    Merry Christmas Gregor and Janice . I know you have done your homework is there no port access to Vancouver when you ship Lucky , just wondering .

    1. Gregor

      Hi Reg, Merry Christmas to you as well…and the whole family of course. There is port access into Vancouver, but it is quite expensive. We found that if we ship to the States then we can share a container and halve some of our costs. We will also get some work done on the van while we are there. It also seems that the northern ports have a hazardous goods rule, no propane tanks…and our tank is fixed to the van.