All posts by Travel Writer

What if I went for My Dreams in Spite of everything?

What if I Went for My Dreams In spite of Everything?

By Barb Rees

On our dream board was a picture of a woman crossing the finish line of a race. That winner pictures me! My face is ecstatic, bursting with happiness and pride. My arms are raised above my head in victory. It was a long journey across Canada with minimal income but first let’s go back to 2003. My husband took early retirement at 58 and I at 54 didn’t have a “real” job. I was making money where ever I could. No more mill pay cheque every two weeks, just a much smaller pension once a month which seemed to rule out our dream to RV across Canada.

 “What if we sold stuff at farmer’s markets to pay for the trip?” I asked Dave. It was the first of many years of him rolling his eyes at my hair-brained dreams but bless his heart he keeps going along with them. People thought we were crazy. Ever had a big dream your friends said you were nuts or irresponsible to even think of? That was us and not spring chickens anymore either.

Halifax flea market
Halifax flea market

I am a big believer in abundance mentality. Hold out your left hand and make a fist. Hold out your right hand and keep it open palm up. If the universe (or God, call it what you may) is going to send abundance your way, which hand will receive it? That is the difference between scarcity mentality and abundance mentality. Always stay open to ideas and opportunities. Avoid naysayers. Sweep fear and doubt out the door before they poison your dreams.

 June 2003 we left Powell River, BC, $300 in hand in a 1977 motor-home loaded with driftwood, brandied blackberry sauce, my first book “Lessons From the Potholes of Life” and a ton of faith that we would make it to PEI and back. Boy oh boy did that trip test us but we made it and I was the woman doing the yippee skippee dance around the tourism lot in PEI singing, “We did it. We really really did it!” In 2006 I wrote my first RV Canada book about the trip, “RV Canada On A Dime And A Dream” then in 2007 took it back across in a cranky van I named “Boo the menopausal van.” She grumbled her way across, repeatedly breaking down towing a 27 ft trailer. She became the title for the next book “RV Canada With Boo the Menopausal Van” which we took up to Yukon and Northwest Territories in 2009, and stood in the Arctic Ocean.

Barb and Dave at Miles Canyon, YK

It was the same story; not much money, humongous dreams, vehicle problems and lots of creative selling to keep us going. It became the third book “RV Canada’s Far North On A Dream” which we took on tour to Hudson Bay, MB in 2011. That trip is the latest book “RV Canada And The Polar Bear Dream” which we are taking to Newfoundland this summer.

Money is tight but we have faith we will sell enough to help pay for the trip. I’m sure we will be tested but oh the joy of standing at Cape Spears as we greet the first sunrise in NA.

Each trip has taught us not to give up on our dreams. They have taught us to be grateful each day for what we call “gifts of abundance” those big and small gifts people give us. It can be a vendor giving us extra potatoes or no charge for camping. We are grateful for them all.

 Our favorite quote posted on the wall for all our trips is from Dr. Robert Schuller, “You don’t have a money problem. You have an idea problem.” Anytime we have been stuck far from home down to our last few dollars, we look for ideas and with them comes the money.

 Spread out both your hands palms up. What abundance could the universe send your way if no matter what happened or what people said you followed your dreams? Can you live with the worst that can happen? Then go for it!!

Spring camping in Powell River
Spring camping in Powell River

10 Tips For Sharpening Your Writing Tools

The following tips have been gleaned from professionals and the following books. “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg. “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. On Writing Well by William Zinser. “On Writing” by Stephen King. “Painless Writing” by Jeffrey Strausser. “Painless Writing” is filled with exercises and easy to pick up tips.
 Develop a respect for words. Be curious about their shades of meaning. Play with them.
 Words are the only tools you will be given so learn to use them well. Make the thesaurus and online search engines your best friends.
 Words to avoid: Too, relevant, senior citizen, myself, upcoming, notables, great, hopefully, I think, honestly (or worse “to be perfectly honest”), amazing (vastly overused), suddenly. On the tool bar, click ‘find’ to see if you’ve overused a word, Type a word in and replace it if it feels worn out. Examples of overuse: and, so, that, if, really.
 My favorite expression from “Writing Down the Bones” is to make mud pies on the page. Don’t edit as you write; it interrupts your creative juices. Edit later.
 Stick to one tense. Don’t mix your tenses. If you start in first person, stick to it.
 Don’t mix your tone. If you’re chatty, keep it. If you’re speaking as the expert such as a travel guide, keep it. Don’t switch back and forth or if you are going to, tell the reader at the beginning. When introducing my RV Canada travel books I tell people they are a combination of our stories, other people’s stories and resources.
 Advice from Mike McCardell, reporter for Global BC TV: A powerful title is only 4 words. If you can say it in 100 words don’t ramble on for 500. Using action verbs keeps it tight.
 Before you start writing ask yourself:
* In what capacity am I addressing the reader?
* What corner of the topic will I cover? I can’t cover it all.
* What tense will I use?
* What is my style, chatty or formal?
* What attitude am I taking? Involved, amused, critical?
* What one point do I really want to make?
* What point do I want to leave in the reader’s mind?
 From Toastmasters on writing speeches I learned that my story should cover the 4 H’s: Head/grabs their attention at the beginning, and makes them think. The lead is another term for it. It captures the reader’s attention and forces them to keep reading. Leave hard details till later in the story. Heart/ makes them feel something. If we don’t reach our readers hearts, we’ve missed out. Humour/ makes them smile. Hit/ leave them with something to think about. The ending is as important as the lead so your reader doesn’t go away feeling unsatisfied.
 Stephen King sums it all up in two words, “Writers write.” They don’t just talk about it. They don’t just read about it. They don’t just attend seminars. They write.

Raise The Bar

It’s taken years of education, experimenting, networking and just plain getting out there to bring me to where I am today as an author and free-lance writer. But I’m not satisfied with the level of success I’ve achieved. I want more. Do you? Are you willing to raise the bar on your expectations in order to get there? If you’re a life-time student, and writer who wants more,  then you’ll benefit from what Freelance Writers Den has to offer. I’ve gained valuable insights from their newsletters and now they are running a contest. In it we can win one year free in the Writers Den, mentoring and more. As I raise the bar on my freelance career to boost it over the top, I know what Linda and Carol are offering to the winning entries is exactly what I need.

Glamping, An RVers Version of Camping

Glamping? That would be camping in an RV, thus the glamorous and camping aspect all covered. Tenter’s sometimes mock us when we say we are going camping in our warm, dry motor-home.  I’ve done my tent time with sand in the sleeping bag  and a rock under it. I’ve shivered in the cold morning air, getting the fire started. No more. I want to be comfortable, dry, and have my own toilet at 3 a.m. No pain, not gain? Not for this camper. No pain equals happy wife.

That goes for cooking while glamping too. I love to experiment with food when we are RVing. Being  out of my home kitchen sets my creative cooking juices going, but I want it to be simple and yummy. When I heard about these two guys who travel around giving cooking demos for camping or the back yard barbecue, I was intrigued. Besides they remind me of the Red Green Show. A recent video had them making clam chowder the easy way. Check them out Ultimate Camp Cooking.

Last time we camped, we made Banana Boats. Decadence personified!

Lay a banana on its side and take a small slice from the top length wise. Make a shallow V in the banana running length wise. This is where all the goodies will go. Use your imagination. We put in mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, and almond slivers. Put the top back on and wrap carefully in tin foil. You can either put it on the top shelf of the barbecue or in the hot coals of the campfire. They take about 15 minutes, and look gross when they come out but OMG they are beyond delicious especially with ice cream. Warning: They are addictive.

Happy glamping! May the wind be at your back, and the bugs outside.

Twitter, Facebook and Hootsuite?

If you’re from my over 60 generation you know how “twitterpated” all this social media can make you. I attended the BC Association of Travel Writers symposium in Vancouver, followed by the Travel and Words conference in Port Townsend for tow days. What started with Owen Clark, founder of showing us the advantages of linking our sites up to Hootsuite, continued on with Julie Ferguson of Beacon Literary Services, telling the importance of sharing the love instead of selling. Hoot what? Are we owls? My brain was on overload by the time we headed across the border to my next banquet of knowledge.

I’d paid an extra $20 to have Colleen Wright, owner of Response Interactive to evaluate my web site. It was the best $20 ever spent! Did you know that the title on your main page shouldn’t be over 65 characters for optimal search engines finding you? Came home and fixed that right away.

It’s an exciting though sometimes mind boggling task but it goes to prove that we are never too old to learn how to “hoot our own horns.”

2011 Was the Best of Times. It was the Worst of Times.

Yes, it was definately a year of tests and we’re happy to report …We Passed! We made our fourth dream trip with the latest book “RV Canada’s Far North On A Dream” but not without major upsets. We covered 18,129 km from June 15- Nov.29.

It all started May 26/11, when we took the camper van “Boo The Menopausal Van 2” which was loaded ready for the trip, to the mall so I could buy a new smart phone. Our cute little pup Pali went along for the ride. It almost was his last. In the 3o mins. it took to get the phone set up, the van caught on fire. We had no idea until a fellow came running into the mall, and hollered at Dave, “Come quick. It’s an emergency!” Still, I didn’t clue in so I finished what I was doing. I went outside to see the mall lot yellow taped off like a scene from a movie, crowds of people standing around, and flames and smoke leaping from the van. Dave’s first words to me was, “Pali’s ok.” Stunned, I just gaped at our little home. Pali had been rescued, taken to the vet, and pronounced healthy by the time I got out there. I was more shaken than him. It tooks months to get over that scene.

That was the beginning of our summer. It meant dealing with insurance; deciding what to do about the trailer packed ready to go but nothing to tow it with now, making arrangments and finding another unit. People suggested we cancel the trip and our answer was always no. This was just a pothole, albeit a rather smoky nasty one.

Short version of the story: We took the trailer to Vancouver Island, left it on consignment at the lot we bought a 32 ft motorhome from which was a rip-off. Our departure date got moved to June 15, and car in tow we left Powell River, and broke down on the peninsula(part way to Vancouver). Four days and over $2200 later we left Vancouver wanting to sue Upper Island Motors for misrepresentation. Again it was asked if we would stop the trip Again it was no.

The RV continued to break down for the 3 months we were on the road but we kept on. We cut out Yukon and NWT because the money was so tight by then and moved towards our next big dream to get to Churchill, MB to see polar bears. We made it there and stood in the Hudson’s Bay doing our traditional water pouring ceremony. Standing under a full moon in Churchill, we were ecstatic we hadn’t given up on our dreams.

But the tests weren’t over. Sept.7, while camped in Mancota, SK we got a message that our son Brent had been in a terrible car accident in the Yukon while up there working. He became a quadrapalegic and was in dangerous condition. Dave drove over 1900 km in 3 days to get us back to Vancouver where Brent was in VGH. We spent the rest of Sept, Oct. and most of November camped in Surrey, and driving everyday to the hospital to be by his side. I’m happy to say on this day Feb.11/12, he is doing very well with his mind as clear and determined as ever. He has new plans for a  new life. The prognosis is that he will never walk but Dave and I believe in miracles.

I feel like it was a summer book-ended by sorrow but in between its pages were wonderful stories, people, and experiences. It’s going to make a fascinating 4th RV Canada book due 2013 for the next cross Canada trip.

The moral to the story is that life is constantly changing, nothing is forever so don’t waste time, get out there and make your dreams come true. Love and appreciate your loved ones.


Ten Things NOT to do When RVing

Thanks to Mark Polk for sharing this list.

 Ten things you NEVER do with your RV. Some of these are just plain old common sense, some you learn the hard way and some… well; you just don’t do it with an RV!

10) While traveling on the interstate in your RV floor it to see what your top speed is.

9) Assume you can fit under that two lane road bridge that doesn’t have the height posted.

8) Wait until next week to winterize the RV when the current temperature outside is 15 degrees.

7) Attempt to empty the holding tanks when your sewer hose almost reaches the drain outlet.

6) Loan your new RV to your best friend for a week. You may be looking for a new best friend!

5) Back the RV into the campsite hoping there is nothing behind you.

4) Take your 35 foot RV on the scenic mountain parkway where the posted sign reads no RV’s over 25 feet allowed. Trust me on this one!

3) Take your brand new RV on a hunting trip with all the guys, trust me on this one too!

2) Believe the RV salesman who says, you’re truck can pull anything on this lot!

And #1 if you read “My First Real RV Adventure” article on the blog you will remember when you’re camping in bear country you never put your trash bags outside the camper door!

Can you add anything to the list?

Happy RV Learning,

Mark Polk

RV University 101

RV Canada’s Far North on a Dream

Barb’s third RV book will be on tour  ‘north of 60’  summer 2011. Bigger in scope than the other two books, it is although similar size at 223 pages. With 30 pages of colour photos, and fascinating stories from the north Barb and Dave will take you on a journey into Canada’s wilderness. Listen to the locals’ stories, laugh over the Rees’s escapades, find out where Canadian history really started, and learn the best places to see. The resource section offers valuable information on: Where the sani-dumps are, boondocking spots, tourism offices, and preparation tips.

April 5, 7:00 at Breakwater Books in Powell River, Barb and Dave will launch “RV Canada’s Far North on a Dream.” The evening includes a travel show “Grizzlies and Gravel Roads North of 60.” If you don’t live in Powell River, find out when the Rees’s will be in your town with their show.







RV Canada’s Far North on a Dream $20 (CN/US) plus postage:

Canada $20 + $4.00
USA $20 + $8.00
International $20 + $16.00

Mastercard … Call Barb toll free: 1-866-373-2607

Sample paragraph taken from Yellowknife, NWT chapter:

But the highlight of the trip awaited  us in the most unexpected place. As we drove around The Rock, a car was tail-gating us and Dave hates tail-gaters so he pulled over to let them pass. Instead of passing they pulled alongside,  and two First Nations women ask, “Who’s the writer?” On Boo’s back window a sign says, “BC Author on tour” Dave points at me and says, “She is.” Without any explanation they say, “If you want stories, follow us” and take off. Stunned, we look at each other. “Well you said you wanted stories,” says Dave. “Follow that car,” I say.

We have no idea where we’re going but soon we are in the Ndilio First Nations Community (not a reserve). Ndilio (pronounced Dilio) means ‘end of the island.’ We pull into a yard, and introduce ourselves. Diane and Loretta brought us here because their mom Muriel wants to write. On the way Diane called mom on her cell phone and told her she was bringing a writer home. Unlike us whites who need lots of warning to prepare for company, aboriginal peoples take it all in stride. Remembering what the Tlingit taught us about being on Indian time, we are open to whatever the universe has in store for us.

By the time we entered Muriel’s kitchen she already had the big yellow mixing bowl out and started making bannock. The tea pot sat in the middle of the table,and for the next two hours folks dropped in for tea or ask something. Those were the richest two hours!

Muriel, a widow of 10 years tells us about her brother George Blondin, author of four books. As we drink tea, Muriel mix’s raisins into the bannock and tells us as a medicine woman she wants to write the female version of her peoples’ legends. Her mother passed on the knowledge before she died at 94. Her grandfather known for speed, left camp with his dogs to make a 20 mile trail for his people. He arrived in plenty of time to build a hut, and kill an animal for dinner. On his death bed, he called Muriel to him, held out his hand and passed the gift of speed onto her. Watching her get the bannock into the oven in record time, I have no doubt she is speedy.

As a medicine woman, she must be pure which means no alcohol so there is only positive energy around her. We were in the presence of a great woman. Only once when telling why her fingers are crooked because they were broken in residential school did her light waver briefly. She grew up at Great Bear Lake in the Slavey nation but was taken away at eight years to residential school. They broke her fingers because she wouldn’t quit speaking her language. Why do whites feel they have to change, Christianize or rescue other cultures? Why can’t they let them be? But she quickly turned the bad memories around and said, “I am a survivor because I have faith in God. I survived cancer five years ago. I want to carry on our traditions for the children. I nourish my life style. We can survive if we look after our food sources.” We’ve been hearing similar refrains the whole time we’ve been north of 60.

At 17 she lived in the bush for three months with her dogs, where she looked after two injured eagles that went on to protect her. One day a bear got a whiff of her kill from a hunt, started prowling around and the eagles heard him. They squawked and dove at him until he ran away.   Another time it had been raining for days so Muriel hadn’t been hunting. The eagle brought her two rabbits, one for her and one for her dogs.

This is but one of the many stories plus things about Canada you never knew. Arm-chair travellers, dreamers, or RVers all enjoy Barb’s books. Preorder yours today and receive the free gift.

2010 in Rees Review

It’s been a quieter year for the Rees’s as we stayed closer to home in preparation for the next “really big show” in 2011 when we take the new RV book on a 4 month tour. The manuscript draft is complete for “RV Canada’s Far North On A Dream” and now we start on the polishing and publishing by May 15/11.

I completed a 10 part series in Snowbirds & RV Travel about the 2009 northern trip. The Métis magazine Whispering Winds also carried some articles. My 2011 goal is to find new paid markets to write for. There are plenty of free magazines that expect writers to write for free and that’s how I got started but no more. I’ve done my time. As a member of the BC Association of Travel Writers I was privileged to go on my first all expenses paid “fam” tour to Dawson City in June. Thrilling and fun …I want to do more of this.

Boo the menopausal van was retired in Dec.2009, traded in on a 1992 Dodge Travel Home high top camperized van now known as Boo 2. We’ve had a ball this year taking little trips in her, sometimes just for the day but a nice getaway. She towed the 27 ft. trailer up to Kelowna for the RV Lifestyle Seminars in June without any problems. So now we have the best of both worlds.

We acquired a new puppy in April the same week Dave lost his only brother, Bill. Pali,a Shitzu/poodle, chihuahua cross is 3 pounds of love and bossy attitude. He’s changed our lives and the energy in our home.

Dave went to work at Wal-Mart in Sept in preparation financially for the big trip. He’s living proof that 68 yr old guys still can find work. While we have our health we are going to make good use of our time.

Métis of Powell River went from 3 of us to forming own community. How exciting to feel like I belong, like this is the family I’ve been missing after years of not knowing. It will be official in February and then we’ll start planning events and educational components.

As we close the door on 2010, hope you can look back on it with few regrets and look forward to an even better 2011. Life fully without excuses or regrets, make a difference in the world.