Week 27 update

May 20-26, 2015.

This was our last week in the van together – Toronto-Oakville-Burlington-Toronto-Brockville-Ottawa. Wow, 27 weeks living in a very small space and we even kissed goodbye. That’s 189 days together full-time, day and night. This was definitely the adventure of a lifetime and a growth experience for us as individuals as well as us as a couple. We came up with some very useful “house” rules that were posted in the van.

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Thanks to Jackson’s parents who made this possible through lending us their amazing Roadtrek for the journey. It was the best vehicle. We’ll do some future posts on what we learned and how to get the most out of a road trip like this, but for now we’ll give you our highlights from the week.

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Highlights

Oakville for lunch with Erin’s college friend Alex. She had a busy day so we went right to her parking lot at the Weather Network and made lunch. There’s no stopping us when we want to see lovely people!

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We visited Erin’s family in Burlington and helped them with moving out – clearing out the treasures they’ve collected over the years. Good luck on the move Aunt Carol and Uncle Frank!

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We visited lots of great friends in Toronto. We had tea with our previous neighbor Joan, Korean food with Bonnie, more tea with Julia and Connorly.  Thanks for your warmth and conversation.

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We visited the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College where Jackson studied. We visited the faculty and staff who made a real difference for him.

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We also painted a deck with our friend Sum. She was hosting a reunion of sorts of her previous chiropractic students (she’s a prof of micro-biology) and she wanted a fresh-looking deck. It ended up being too cold to be outside for the party, but the view was nice 🙂 It was perhaps serendipitous that Jackson hurt his back at the gym so Erin ended up painting it 🙂 We believe you Jackson.

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Here’s the reunion in progress. Corn boil, steaks on the BBQ, beer all around, Korean desserts, rootbeer floats – a whole spread. It was fun to see everyone again – especially the friends we’ve had for a long time like Leo, Larisa, Rob and Sum. You guys really made our time in Toronto awesome (when we lived there and also recently when we visited).

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We took in a Jays game with our friend and past roommate Julia and her colleagues. What a blast! We started the wave a solid two times and belted out the singing portions of the evening with vigor (“Take me out to the ballgame…”). We even got hotdogs (veggie dogs) with all the standard Toronto toppings – olives, saurkraut, honey mustard, etc.

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Our time in Toronto was up and we headed east to Brockville, Ontario where we visited Ashley and Drew (Ashley and Erin went to college together). We saw them in Florida at the beginning of our trip (see that blog post here). They live in a very cute town. We went out for a walk, for Thai food, for a dip in their hottub, to see a live band (teachers that Ashley works with) and over to visit another friend Sarah. She had a spectacular selection of nail polish so we had fun with that. We also really enjoyed playing with Ashley and Drew’s kids – Addison and Ben. They are such smart and adorable kids.

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Ottawa was our final stop on this journey together. Erin is staying in Ottawa for a couple weeks to visit and for a conference (related to her previous work). Jackson is moving on to New Brunswick to drop off the van. We did a major clean and fix-up of the van including replacing a hub cap we lost back in Florida and waxing the whole darn thing. That baby shines!

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In Ottawa, we visited our friend Sarah and got a massage (she’s a massage therapist at Life Therapies).

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Bye bye Jackson.

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After Jackson left and Erin collected herself (despite having the odd challenge living in such a small space together with so much time on our hands for 27 weeks, it was tough to see him drive away), Erin got right back into the swing of things in Ottawa. She played with her former roommate’s dog Buffy and went for a run with great friends Jeannine and Katie. Ah Ottawa, running your river trail is so lovely.

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Stats:

0 US states this week, 26 in total during the trip
1 Canadian province this week, 6 total during the trip (NB, BC, AB, SK, MB, ON) – Jackson also did QC on his own while returning the van to his parents
1117 kms this week (694 mi), 26131 total on the trip (16237 mi)
Spent $872.10 this week, $27042.95 total CAD

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Week 26 update

May 13-19, 2015.

This week we drove….a lot. We went through northern Ontario and around the Great Lakes to Sudbury. We went full circle all the way back to Toronto (where we sold our place back in September and started this whole journey). We just relished in visiting with old friends and seeing familiar city sights.

Highlights:

So we drove through the forests of northern Ontario. It was a bit drab (we’ve done it before and the scenery was a bit pre-spring so-to-speak).

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Check out the ice flows near the Muskoka Area

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We finally made it to Sudbury, Ontario and visited our friend Tiffany (our past Toronto roommate and now a chiropractor)

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She took us on a walkabout around the lake

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We took in some Sudbury night life. We prepared by having some moonshine (from Jill in Alberta – you might remember from a previous post). Cherry pie moonshine. Yummy! BTW we were just hanging in the van here and not driving. It’s a hot spot for entertaining it turns out.

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We went to this awesome remodeled KFC which now serves vegan tacos – Taco Lounge. Oh gosh, this was one of the best food stops on the trip. Go Sudbury!

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We saw a museum of artifacts I think. You might call it the netflix of the past. But it exists in present day in Sudbury. I think they call it a video rental store.

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A new indoor exotic zoo is opening soon in Sudbury. For now it’s just a cool pet store. Check out these neato creatures.

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So we’ve been to lots establishments that sell flights of beer samplers (and we love that), but this took it to a whole new level of booze sampling. Hardrock 42 (Sudbury) serves flights of caesars – dill, spicy, traditional, with Jack Daniels added. They do beer flights too. Fun place to visit during an evening in Sudbury. We went to the Laughing Buddha after as well which was a super packed spot (full of young hipsters). Go there!

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Tiffany and Erin hit the trails. Jackson, of course, was taking a beat on his own in a cafe. We both were rejuvenating.

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We saw a movie at the theatre (a classic in the making….Pitch Perfect 2) and then we made dinner together. Erin loves making her dips – guacamole, salsa and humous.

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Tiffany made homemade crackers. Making these are so easy and they are great to impress your friends at a dinner party. Flour, oil, water, salt (and optional spices, herbs and seeds). Literally that’s it. Mix it together (no need to measure) until you get the consistency of dough.

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We had finger foods, wine and netflix. Just what we all wanted.

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Lastly we saw the big nickel. Full photo shoot… Embracing the role of tourist.
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When we arrived in Toronto we had dinner with Sum and Mike. Sum was a professor of Jackson’s and a wonderful friend and support to us during the years we lived in Toronto. She’s a great cook too. Tons of traditional Chinese food. Jackson was immediately called to service – gardening, fixing garage door, etc. There’s no such thing as a free lunch!

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On the Victoria Day Monday we took a Body Flow class (yoga, pilates, tai chi) with Lisa (a friend of Erin’s from Nova Scotia – they’ve known each other since they were 4 years old). Lisa is a Goodlife Fitness instructor. Her voice is soothing and her occasional singing between instructions is angelic. What a great way to spend a holiday morning. She joined us for a healthy lunch in the van after class.

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We went to the Distillery District to grab coffee at Balzac’s Cafe with Lorraine (a friend of Erin’s – they used to work at Katimavik together doing youth development work). She leads such a rad life – travel, so social, great music, so much care for others. It’s inspiring to meet up and catch with a friend like this.

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Lorraine has a stunning condo in the Distillery District. Her outdoor space has this awesome view of the city.

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We headed over to another hot neighborhood – Queen West – for Thai food with Peggy and Ed (college friends from New Brunswick). To say we had lively and varied conversation is an understatement. Teaming up Jackson and Ed is fireworks. Smart + Funny. Peggy and Erin are no slouches either.

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We visited another chiropractic friend Larisa (and her husband Em) who has a new, gorgeous clinic at Bayview and Sheppherd in North York. She has magic hands!

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We headed back for a campfire with Larisa. Inner-city camping. Who says Toronto doesn’t have it all?!

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We returned to our favorite, absolutely favorite restaurant in Toronto which is Jerusalem Restaurant…which we call Jerusalem Palace. Below is Jackson’s face in heaven i.e. eating a falafel pita sandwich (fresh pita made on site to start with lots of humous, pickled turnip, tahina, coleslaw, tomato).

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We had another special dinner in the van with Julia – Goolia. She was a friend of Erin’s from high school and later became a roommate in Toronto. Best times! Champagne reunion.

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Stats:

0 US states this week, 26 in total during the trip
1 Canadian province this week, 6 total during the trip (NB, BC, AB, SK, MB, ON)
2107 kms this week (1309 mi), 25014 total on the trip (15543 mi)
Spent $1393.74 this week, $26170.85 total CAD

 

Week 25 update

May 6-12, 2015.

We stayed in Alberta for the better part of the week. We then headed east and committed the great (and terribly common) Canadian sin by breezing through the prairies in just a two days. We just drove. We’re keen to see friends in Sudbury, Toronto and Ottawa….so we rushed Manitoba and Saskatchewan. We decided to head north around the great lakes in Ontario instead of taking the US route just south of the great lakes.

Highlights:

We visited Elana, a good friend of ours from our days in Toronto. She showed us around her chiropractic office at Optimum Health in Calgary. She gave us both great treatments. We’re moving smoothly again.

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Elana suggested we try out Farm, a simply wonderful restaurant with delectable food in downtown Calgary.

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We had a selection of wine, homemade mac and cheese and veggies.

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Jackson partook in the city’s conveniences as we walked about. Good thinking Calgary. On a Friday or Saturday I imagine this place is packed.

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Erin also partook in the city’s services – a thorough shoe shine by Peter who stays around 6th and 17th. It’s pay-what-you-want and he’s got lots of stories to offer. Major improvement for my boots (they’ve got A LOT of miles on them).

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Before we left Calgary we did the “Maritime pop-in” on Rob, a friend from Fredericton. In the Maritimes it’s common to just pop in without calling first and we did just that! He was home, and his wife and daughter were too.

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The next big stop was visiting Erin’s old friend Jill (old meaning they’ve been friends for almost 20 years). Wow, it’s wild when one can say that! She just got back from Vancouver where she went to see a TLC and New Kids on the Block concert. That’s a great hug!

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Jill and her partner Dave live in Brooks, about 2 hours east of Calgary. They welcomed us for an extended weekend. We ate, played and got to see how they live. First thing when we arrived, we ate lobster! It wasn’t like when Erin was a kid and they raced them across the kitchen floor to see who would get boiled first (seems mighty cruel, right). A friend dropped them off already cooked. Now that’s a friend!

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We made homemade lip balm and hand salve. Jill does some super cool projects and the homemade body products are just the start. Loved making a mess and it turned out!

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Another thing she makes is Moonshine. We sampled lots of it and it was good. She gave us more for the road. Living in a van and having mason jars of booze just feels like a good match.

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Jill also showed us around the library where she works. She made an accessibility room, a teen area and she runs tons of youth programming. It’s cool to see a friend in her element.

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Jackson made himself at home at the library. Seriously, let the kids have a chance!wpid-wp-1431148096478.jpg

We ate great food! We had BBQ, turkey dinner, yummy Vietnamese food out at Wasana and we tried “grapples” – the grape/apple hybrid”.

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We went to the awesome rec facility for swimming (lazy river, laps, slide, wave pool) and the gym.

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We got outside to enjoy the sun too. Mostly we sat on the back deck and drank Corona. However, we also walked around the nearby park a couple times.

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We fed some horses too.

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And showed off our hula hooping skills. Jill rocks.

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Then it was time for the “glamour”shots! #whenoldfriendsreunite

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We saw [some of] the prairies (the pic below is Alberta…didn’t get much of Saskatchewan or Manitoba). We met Gabby (who used to live in Halifax) for a coffee. Thanks for making Regina a destination for us Gabby!

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Stats:

0 US states this week, 26 in total during the trip
3 Canadian provinces this week, 5 total during the trip (NB, BC, AB, SK, MB)
1706 kms this week (1060 mi), 22907 total on the trip (14234 mi)
Spent $1127.61 this week, $24777.11 total CAD

 

Week 24 update

April 29-May 5, 2015.

We spent the whole week in Calgary, Alberta (the Texas of the north), with a short venture out to Lake Louise in Banff National Park. It was so neat to hang out with friends’ kids and see our friends as parents. This week was also exciting because there was an election and the NDP won a majority government (on the same night the Calgary Flames won a playoff match against the Ducks  – to boot). The energy was palpable throughout the city.

Highlights

Our friend Hazel and her partner Greg had us over for dinner and we had some great conversation. Greg, Hazel and Erin are all into co-operatives (collectively-owned, democratically-controlled businesses) and shared their stories about community development and how they’ve been involved with different projects. We toured their housing co-operative too.

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Our friend Farshid took us to the best pizza place we’ve possibly ever been to – Famoso Napolitan in downtown Calgary. The one with sharp cheese, walnuts, dates and honey is absolutely heavenly.

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As Erin prepares for her hiking trip to Iceland (coming up in June), we have taken on little hikes every other day. We went out for a couple hours along the Bow River. As the trains passed we *found* flattened coins on the tracks.

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We went off-trail for a short time and that didn’t work out so well. Erin caught her hand on a thorn bush, but no major injuries.

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Jackson’s Aunt Susan and her partner Lutz took us out for yummy Indian food. They are both so animated and live rich lives. The travel stories and conversation were just as awesome as the food.

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Lutz is a phenomenal guitarist/performer and even on Erin’s junky van guitar, he sounded spectacular.wpid-20150501_205833.jpg

We met up with Farshid after the UU (Unitarian Universalist) church service on Sunday and headed to the Rockies. We’ve seen the Rockies a couple times before, but we never stopped at Lake Louise. It was a beautiful place to see.

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We hiked around the lake which still had a lot of snow.

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When we got back to Calgary we went to the Kensington neighborhood for burgers. Flippin’ Burgers was a little hole in the wall that have a few specialties that proved tasty. Jackson had a handful with the signature burger and Erin had their falafel burger. The staff seemed of the cold hipster variety, but the food was good.

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We visited out friends Paul and Christine next and their three lovely girls (who we also met up with earlier on this trip in California). We did a day trip out to Head-smashed-in Buffalo Jump. We learned about how the aboriginal people in the area had herded buffalo off the cliff for food and materials. It was quite a community effort to orchestrate it.

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We grabbed lunch on the way back to town. The girls are so fun and energetic.

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We played Ticket to Ride which is somewhat like Monopoly and Settlers of Cattan, but even better I’d say.

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We got our hair cut by Amy from Salon FLI. Loved it!

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We saw one of Erin’s friend from her undergrad program – Renaissance College leadership program at the University of New Brunswick. We spent a little time at the park with Kate and her adorable kids.

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Comedy continues to be something we enjoy so we went to a stand up show at the Comedy Cave. We were the first ones there….we are very prepared to have fun!

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Our buddy Ben who is from Fredericton, NB and his partner Parm joined us. Since it was election day and the Calgary Flames were in the playoffs, there were only 10 people in the audience. The comics were great.

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Stats:

0 US states this week, 26 in total during the trip
1 Canadian provinces this week, 3 total during the trip (NB, BC, AB)
377 kms this week (234 mi), 21201 total on the trip (13174 mi)
Spent $746.25 this week, $23649.50 total CAD

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A truly Canadian moment caught on film.

Week 23 update

April 22-28, 2015.

This week we visited Kelowna, Banff and Calgary. We saw wonderful friends in each place so it was a great week  and we’re really feeling like we’re “home” again. Back in Canada, back to familiarity. We even ran into friends randomly on the street and in the gym in Calgary. Okay, Canada is that small. We really do know Joe from Winnipeg and Chris from Calgary. It’s not just a stereotype about how “small” Canada is. It’s real.

Highlights:

First thing we drove from Sqamish, British Columbia to Kelowna, BC. The drive through the Okanagan was beautiful to match its reputation. Laura, a sweet friend of Erin’s (and former colleague from March of Dimes) invited us over for dinner. It was awesome to catch up and enjoy some fish tacos. Thanks Laura!

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We had a brief stay in Kelowna and moved along to Banff to visit Meg. The rocky mountains are spectacular.

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Banff is known as a tourist destination so it comes with higher prices and grand storefront facades. We checked out a couple bars, candy shops and walked the tourist strip (even though it was super, super cold).

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We only stayed in Banff one night and then continued driving to Calgary. Before we left Banff we grabbed brunch with Meg who taught us a couple local secrets. Turns out most restaurants have a “local special” so people living in Banff don’t have to pay tourist prices. So we ordered off-menu brunch. Great tip Meg!

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We stayed with Melissa and Mike in Calgary for the first few days. Mike is a great cook so we ate well. Melissa and Jackson went to chiropractic school together (and Melissa was one of our roommates when we lived in Toronto), so they were able to trade techniques and we visited her clinic to see how she ran her business. We last visited Mike and Melissa last summer for their wedding which was such a blast. I wrote a blog post on it last year if you want to see an absolutely adorable country wedding. We went for a jog/walk in Nosehill Park one evening too. We’re getting outside a lot.

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We also visited with another former roommate Farshid who took us out for falafel (one of our favourites).

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We went to Unitarian Universalist church and saw our friends Hazel and her husband Greg who played music for the whole service in the Bruce Cockburn Tribute Band. We’re back in Canada now for sure! We saw Hazel earlier on this trip when she was visiting her Mom in New Orleans (blog post about that visit).

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Stats:

0 US states this week, 26 in total during the trip
2 Canadian provinces this week, 3 total during the trip (NB, BC, AB)
1132 kms this week (703 mi), 20824 total on the trip (12939 mi)
Spent $871.53 this week, $22903.25 total CAD

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*Jackson is saving money by getting smaller drinks.