Canada

When most people say Canada, they mean the second largest country in the world, producer of hockey players and maple leaf memorabilia, birthplace of Tim Hortons, poutine, and Justin Bieber. When I say Canada, I mean a very specific location – a small island on the French River off the Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada. This was illustrated when, about two hours north of Toronto, I commented to Zach that it was starting to look a lot like ‘Canada’.

This is what Canada looks like to me

The island is owned by family of family friends and growing up, we would head up to the French River every year with our family friends, the Youngbloods. We would spend the week tubing, fishing, swimming, picnicking and playing games. Many of my favorite and most memorable childhood experiences took place in Canada.  The countless days of trying to fit three people onto a tube with only handles for two and the endless nights of drinking virgin strawberry daiquiris and winning Euchre tournaments. Each year we spent a week in paradise and the other fifty-one counting down the days until we returned to Canada.

Megan is handleless

This continued through high school but busy schedules have prevented us from returning the past few years. The rest of my family headed up in 2011 after dropping me off at West Point, Matt was working in Des Moines when we returned in 2013, and my dad, Matt and I made it up for a long weekend in the fall of 2014. This would be the first time since 2009, which concluded 15 straight years of the trip, that all 5 Cymanski’s would be on Power’s Island.

My first trip up to Canada circa 1995

I spent the past three years telling Zach about Canada so I was thrilled he would be able to see for himself why I loved the area so much. Unfortunately, the Youngblood’s couldn’t make it up, but we would have Mike, our French River Sherpa.

Another old pic because there’s so many good ones

Powers Island is about an acre large with one main cabin on it. There is no power other than a generator which is sometimes run at nights, no internet, no cell service. We leave our cars at the marina and travel by boat for the week. The French River is at some points a rapidly flowing body of water and at others, such as where Powers’ Island is located, more like a lake than a river.

Powers Island

I had a fabulous week in Canada.  Not only was I in my favorite place in the world with my favorite people in the world, but I was also on vacation! To you, it may seem like we’re always on vacation, but we actually work 40 hours a week.  I love CoverMyMeds and am very thankful for everything they do for Zach and I, but it was nice to get away for a week.

Zach happy to not be working

We did all of my favorite Canadian things.  This was my first summer up since turning 21 and I took full advantage of that by drinking beer, wine, margaritas and  some non-virgin strawberry daiquiris.  We slept in, went tubing and water skiing, ate great food, took naps and played a lot of cards.  Unfortunately, I didn’t win the Euchre tournament this year, but I have won the most tournaments overall, so I believe that still makes me the best player in the family.

Waterskiing like a champ

The weather was great – mid 70’s and it only rained once.  Appreciating the good weather, we picnicked at both Lovers Lane and the Dallas.  Lovers Lane is an area with small rapids – gentle enough to go down in person.  While Matt and my dad were using the current as a make-shift endless lap-pool, the rest of us played in the rapids.  The Dallas is a much larger set of rapids.  No swimming here, but we hiked around a bit and unsuccessfully fished.

Riding down the rapids

Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows my family, we returned to the mainland a few times in order to run and did near daily open water swims. Due to life on the road, I haven’t been able to swim much in the past months but it was nice to get in the water.  I used to be the fastest swimmer in the family but now I can barely keep up with my parents and am blown out of the water by Matt.

Ready for a nap!

The end of the week came too quickly, especially considering we hadn’t seen a bear or a moose! Not only was I sad to be leaving Canada, I also was saying goodbye to my family for a few months.  The five of us are only together a few times a year so I cannot put into words how happy I was to be able to spend a whole week with my family in our favorite place. I look forward to seeing some (or all) of them in Hawaii in October!

Fam

I really struggled picking pictures for this post because there were so many good ones! We recently bought a DSLR camera so the quality of our pictures skyrocketed! Check out other pictures from the week here! Below is the video Megan made – it’s much more exciting than the usual clips of Zach or I walking around.

OHIO

After nearly 5 months away, we returned to the homeland.  I love traveling but was ready to spend some time in Ohio.  We completed our drive across the Midwest and arrived home just in time for Memorial Day. It was a great holiday weekend full of catching up with family, cornhole, and enjoying the fresh Ohio air.

Reunited Serafini siblings

In addition to seeing family and spending time in the greatest state in America, work was another reason to head to Ohio.  CoverMyMeds is very supportive of our nomadic lifestyle but they still would like us to come into the office occasionally.  Of the five weeks we were in Ohio, we spent 3 of the workweeks in Columbus.  I hadn’t realized I missed working in the office and I really enjoyed seeing my colleagues in person and being able to easily communicate with them.

Literally the only picture I took in Columbus

After working during the day in Columbus, we spent the evenings catching up with friends and visiting our old stomping grounds.  We continued our losing streak in volleyball and celebrated with porch drinking and late night Taco Bell.  Zach went skydiving and I played Harry Potter trivia – both equally thrilling.

Ready to jump out of a plane!

I thought my month in Ohio would be relaxing and full of free time. But between watching the Cavs almost win a championship, helping out the family firewood business and trying to catch up on my reading and running goals, it turned out to be quite busy – in a good way, of course! One of my favorite experiences was attending the Laurelive music festival with Megan.  Less than a half hour from our house, there were great bands, including some of my old favorites – like The Head and the Heart – and some of my new favorites – such as Johnnyswim.

So much sunburn

For a while, Megan and I had been talking about getting matching tattoos once she turned 18.  This was my first time back since her birthday so we wrangled my mom into coming with us and all got matching tattoos. The ‘C’ stands mostly for Cymanski but also for Cleveland – our city, Crestwood – our alma mater, and calm, confident – things we strive to be.  Or collected, creative, cool– really any positive C-word works.

Cymanski

Another reason we needed to come back in June was to meet Zach’s new nephew.  He was due mid-June but was late so we were worried we’d be gone before he arrived.  Luckily, he decided to make his appearance on Matt’s birthday (fitting since Becca and Robby got married on my birthday).  Zion is absolutely precious and named after one of my favorite stops on our trip! I’m sad to be missing the next few months of his life and can’t wait to see him (and everyone else) at Thanksgiving.

Baby Z!

Although I didn’t make it back for Megan’s high school graduation ceremony, we were in town for the more important event – her graduation party.  It worked out nicely that I got to see all of our family and family friends before leaving Ohio.  Lucy (our trailer) was up in Hiram for the day so we gave everyone tours of our new house.  The food was great, the rain held off for most of the party and tent only blew over before anyone arrived.  I still can’t believe my baby sister will be attending Ohio State in the fall!

The only picture of Meg and I from the party is an actual polaroid

Zach probably disagrees, but five weeks in Ohio didn’t seem like enough to me! I was sad to leave, more so than when we originally left in January.  But there’s so much of the country left to see and we have some great things planned for the coming months (check them out here)! I’m looking forward to returning home for Thanksgiving and Christmas but will spend the meantime enjoying every minute on the road.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

After leaving Key West on Sunday morning, we headed back to Siesta Key.  Zach’s parents were vacationing there but we hadn’t told them we would be stopping by, in the hopes of surprising them (and not disappointing them if our plans changed).  I suspected they might have an idea we were coming, but it was totally unexpected. We only had about 36 hours in Siesta Key before the Serafinis had to fly back to Ohio and we had to continue on, but we still had a great time swimming, playing games, eating and catching up.

img_20170220_190445010

The reunited Serafinis

Before we knew it, it was time to keep traveling.  On Tuesday morning, we dropped Zach’s parents off at the airport and continued on towards Louisiana.  We had an Airbnb in New Orleans starting Friday night, so our plan was to work during the day and drive during the evening.  I hadn’t been to Mississippi before so we drove quite a bit on Tuesday and Wednesday so we could spend two nights in Mississippi and make it really ‘count’ as visiting.

img_20170222_193017967

I take a picture at every state line – they all look this bad

This ending up being a lucky decision on our part.  We arrived in Biloxi, Mississippi late Wednesday night and a few hours later I was taking Zach to the ER with severe stomach pain.  He had experienced similar pain a few times in the past months and decided it was time to get it checked out.  It turns out, he needed an appendectomy!

screen-shot-2017-03-03-at-9-22-34-am

Not a happy camper

While Zach spent the day waiting for surgery, I snuck out of the hospital for a short nap and a run.  Although Zach was originally lead to believe his surgery would take place in the morning, it didn’t actually happen until around 2:00.  Everything went well and it was a laparoscopic procedure which has a much faster recovery than the traditional way of doing it.   He was in quite a bit of pain afterwards, but we were both relieved that it was over and he would be able to leave the next morning.  I headed to a hotel to catch up on sleep and left Zach in the hospital to be interrupted by nurses every few hours.

img_20170223_175401052

Thanks Becca and Robby for the balloons!

There weren’t any doctors around to discharge him, so Zach spent most of the day in the hospital.  I worked from a Starbucks at the HardRock Cafe Casino next door.  By the time a doctor showed up around 4:00, Zach was very restless and ready to go.  We drove the hour to New Orleans, happy to leave Mississippi behind.

Playing cribbage to pass time

We figured we would run into some bumps along the way on this trip and all things considered, our first major incident wasn’t too bad.  I guess I didn’t get my appendix removed so I don’t know if I have the right to say that.  We had been planning on spending two nights in the Biloxi area, Zach got his appendix out before it ruptured, and although things were slow moving at the hospital, we were treated well.  Other than our Mardi Gras experience being a bit tamer than originally planned due to Zach’s recovery, this didn’t mess up our plans much at all.  And I think this definitely counts as visiting Mississippi!

Getting Ready

We’ve been talking about doing this trip for two years, making life decisions that allow for this trip for a year, actively planning for the past six months and now it’s actually about to start!  We’re leaving Friday, January 13th which is only 23 days away!!! And Christmas/New Years activities take up about half of those days so it’s very quickly approaching!

Our previously landlord didn’t allow subleasing and our lease is through July but just last week, our building switched management and now we can sublease! It’s great because it saves us 6 months rent but we might be moving out as soon as January 1st which is 10 days away, most of which will be spent in Northeast Ohio. We’ve been trying to get rid of our belongings – most going to Goodwill, some back to our parent’s house and a select few making the cut to take on the trip.

Other than moving out and hoping that everything we’re planning to take fits in the car, we’re mostly ready to go! We have our Airbnb/campgrounds booked through February (and a tentative plan through June).

  • Jan 14 – Congaree National Park
  • Jan 15 – 27 Charleston, SC
  • Jan 28 – 30 Orlando
  • Feb 1 – 9 Siesta Key, FL
  • Feb 10-11 Everglades National Park
  • Feb 12-16 Miami/Biscayne National Park
  • Feb 17-18 Key West/Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Feb 19-23 Driving to New Orleans (Mardi Gras)
  • Feb 24- March 3 New Orleans

From there, planning on heading to Austin (hopefully hit up SXSW), Western Texas National Parks (Big Bend, Guadelupe), Southern New Mexico, a month in Arizona, maybe Las Vegas, maybe Zion, and sometime in there flying up to Medford, OR to visit Tyler and Whitney.