Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ancient Cedars Hike – Whistler, BC

I don’t know about you, but have you ever had one of those days when you all of a sudden you get a burst of energy (this always happens when the sun comes out!) and you think to yourself ‘Man, it would be great to get out for a hike today.” Well, this happened to me last week. Sadly however, after doing some much needed research on where to go for a scenic hike that I was allowed to bring my dog on, I started realizing I probably should’ve left at 6:00a.m. This didn’t help considering it was quickly approaching 1:00p.m. – What? No judgment, I like to sleep in on my days off!

Then it hit me; the Ancient Cedars hike it is.

The beauty about this hike, besides the hundreds and thousand year old trees, the loop itself is only 5km. Lets face it, its the perfect distance for those getting a late start to the day but still want to take in Whistler’s backcountry and get some fresh air. Even better? The access to this hike is a short drive up a bumpy service road, so not much travel time is needed from Whistler Village. There is a way you can extend the hike to last longer, if you choose to walk around the lakes as well.
Just because the hike is 5km, doesn’t mean you won’t work up a sweat. Right off the bat, after you park the car of course, you start a fairly decent climb over the valley. The trail is well maintained and my dog, Hunter, loves bouncing around the trees on the way up. Before you reach the “Ancient Cedars Loop” that takes you around the historic trees and offers sign boards to explain what you’re looking at, there is a very beautiful lookout that you should check out. It over looks the sue valley and out over towards the lakes below and gives a great panorama of a typical British Columbia forest. It’s moments like these that make me fall in love with this province all over again. The “loop” itself offers some up close and person with some very old, and very massive cedar trees. You can climb on them, walk around them and admire just how small you feel on this earth in comparison.

All in all, the Ancient Cedars hike is a great way to start off hiking in the backcountry, as the elevation gain is quite low, and it gives you a good sense of what to expect for more advance hikes. The views are beautiful, and the fact that you can bring your dog makes me (and him) happy!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cheap Spring Date Ideas in Vancouver

When was the last time you took a day to appreciate a city for all it has to offer sans bill? Truly and honestly, I can’t even walk to work without dropping $5 for a half sweet, earl grey tea latte [damn, Starbucks for making them so tasty]. When I stopped to think about it myself, I couldn’t remember. So I decided to challenge myself by putting useless, often wasted  time on the internet to good use and made a ‘date day’ that I could do that was completely, 100% 98% free – you’ll see what I mean later.  I realize that there are a lot of unique things to do in Vancouver when you have money to drop, but as a working 24-year old living in Whistler, BC I don’t always have the luxury of spending $100+ when I want to have a day on the town. And I’m willing to bet I'm not the only one.

Not as strapped for cash? 
Well, no need to brag about it. But the good thing is, there are several ways you can throw a few bucks into this and make the day that much better, but for me, this day of bliss was exactly that.

Walk Lovers Lane in Stanley Park.

There are so many walking, hiking, running, wandering aimlessly [whatever you want to call it] trails in the Vancouver area, but none compare to those in Stanley Park. So do yourself a favour and take advantage of them on a sunny, spring-like day. We parked at the Tea House, near beach three – this is where the 98% free day comes into play. We did have to pay $5 for parking, but hey, that’s just one day’s worth of morning tea to me! Wander around the sea-wall, enjoy the salty sea spray of the Pacific Ocean and make sure you wander inland to admire the 100+ year old trees. Hold hands, get some exercise, throw a stick for the dog – just be mindful they do have a threatening ‘dogs on leash’ policy – just enjoy nature.

$$$:  Sneak into the Tea House for a mimosa or some mussels to share.  

Garden Hop. 

Spring wouldn’t be complete without a trip to visit some gorgeous gardens – especially if you have my type of green thumb, the one that kills all living plants by being near them. If you did the ‘Lovers Lane’ walk correctly, the signs for Lost Lagoon should have intrigued you to keep walking. Whilst getting lost on your way to the lagoon [they don’t call it that for nothing!] stop and check out the beautiful rose gardens near the golf course.

Or, if you’re like me, make your boyfriend drive around the city to find the best Cherry Blossom lined street in all of Vancouver. Ohmygoooosh is all I can say. This was the first time I had the pleasure of being in the city at spring, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The smell, the look, the joy… to say these trees are beautiful is an understatement.  We found these beauties on 16th Street and Granville.

Have a picnic at the beach.

Yes, it’s cheesy, I know. But a picnic is what you make of it. So grab a blanket, pack a lunch, kick off your shoes and enjoy this bit of relaxation. There are many beaches to choose from in Vancouver – English Bay, Third Beach, Second Beach, Jerico, Wreck, the list goes on and on. We chose to go to Kitsilano Beach, because the surrounding neighbourhood also boasts lots of boutique shops if you care to go for some window shopping afterwards!

$$$: Buy lunch and take it to go. There are some fabulous sushi shops just up the street, and the infamous Local Public Eatery.

Visit Art Galleries.

This is a great way to take in some culture and learn, without paying a dime. If you do your research, there are several random exhibits that take place around the city as well that change monthly. Go check them out, and ask each other questions about the pieces, or share your likes and dislikes about a collection – no matter how long you’ve been together, you’re surely to learn something about your partner in an art gallery, just saying. I am a Marilyn Monroe freak, so when I discovered that Andy Warhol was displaying a free exhibit in Yale Town, I had to go. If you haven’t been, check it out. Andy Warhol – A Different Idea of Love. It’s on display until March 30th – located on 1280 Homer Street.
Strangely enough, pictures are encouraged at this exhibit (that’s Andy Warhol for you!) #VanWarhol – but just a heads up, this rule is just that, strange, so leave the camera in the car for this part of the date.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The 'Quick Healthy Breakfast'

With the recent change in weather my healthy "summer smoothie" kick has turn into any and all "autumn comfort foods". Which not only makes my pants fit a little tighter, it makes my quick and easy liquid breakfasts a little harder to stomach. I mean, who wants to walk to work in the dark, as the rain pours down, drinking a breakfast that's getting closer and closer to the air temperature every day? Not me, that's who! But somewhere between my summer smoothie go-to and winter oatmeal on-the-run, somethings gotta give. 
So I created this perfect autumn parfait. The best thing is; its quick, easy, and every woman can make it (and eat it) in under seven minutes [bonus!]. It's best enjoyed by my comforting fire place and oh, and did I mention it's healthy!

What makes this so healthy, you ask?

Coconut Flakes [great source of iron, zinc and fibre]
Pumpkin Seed Flax Granola [great source of magnesium and zinc; adds a nice crunch!]
Agave Syrup [a natural plant-based sweetener; alternative to honey]
Plain Greek Yogurt [great source of protein, probiotics and vitamins - aids in weight loss]
Chia Seeds [natural energy booster with great source of omega's, vitamins + protein]
Raspberries [an antioxidant rich fruit that aids in weight management] 

Warning: after eating this you will become addicted. You will also be full, and remain this way until lunch!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

An Inside Look

Well, I hate to admit it but I am a slacker.
I love writing, I love photography and I love travelling and I will whole-heartily admit that when I first started this blog I had no choice - no one wants to lose 10% of their grade for not creating a silly online journal! However, combining my three loves and using this as an outlet for it was something I never imagined I would enjoy. I never thought this would turn out to be something... And this is where I have to laugh, because I haven't made it something,.. not yet anyways. But after watching a great documentary last night (Mortified Nation) I realized how much I had been putting off the things I love, the things that calm me (aka. my writing) for other important 'life' things I didn't enjoy. So to kick my bad habit/lack of writing, I figured doing something easy-ish would put me back on track. Here it is, a 'Me to Date' if you will.

And, stay tuned for more adventure/travel pieces to come, because let's face it, I have had so many great stories I've been dying to tell you about, and I am finally going to get around to them, if not for my audience (or lack there of) then, for me. 

Something big in my life: Everything and anything; life, love, my career - too much to explain.
What I'm most excited about: Winter. I can't wait to try my hand at deep powder mountain sledding.

What I would do differently, if no one would judge me: I would eat cookies for breakfast 
What makes me smile: My dog, Hunter. His part Husky, part German Shepherd breed only half explains his wild personality. 
Favourite song at the moment: Burning it Down - Jason Aldean 
What most people don't know about me: I love erotica. I love writing it, watching the passion, feeling the desire and I love, love, love reading about it. I am currently reading the Crossfire series, Entwined with You by Sylvia Day. 
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would: Travel with friends and family for a solid year or two, then start my own print magazine.
Reasons I love Fall: Besides not needing an excuse to turn the fireplace on and curl up with a hot tea, blanket and book, I love it for the style. At 23 [soon to be 24] I still don't know my own style, but this season seems to suit my personality a lot more than any other does. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rafting the River of Golden Dreams

So basically . . .this is a local’s thing. If you’re ever looking for a place to hang out, become one with and meet the youthful partygoers that run this town, you better go to your local hardware store…quickly. When you get there, you’re going to go for two things: an Explorer (aka the best invention to the Whistler locals since ElFurniture Co.) and a roll of duct tape (keep reading, I'll explain). It’s important to know that every local owns an ‘Explorer’ and they use them for one purpose, and one purpose only - to float down the River of Golden Dreams.

This most-talked about rafting adventure is not something to be missed; in fact it’s in the Top 3 of Whistler Blackcombs 99 Things to do in Whistler. The Golden River runs all the way from Alta Lake (in the south) up to Green Lake (north of Whistler Village). While this may seem like a short distance, 3-5km in fact, don't dedicate anything less than an entire afternoon to this activity; it’s sluggish pace will take you roughly 3+ hours to complete [and Lorimer Road is the best place to start].

But what’s so great about cruising down a freezing cold river, you might ask? Picture the most relaxing laziest rivers at any water park across the country and then times it by 10, now add in nature, snow-covered mountains, hot sunshine and cold beer…  now that’s what I call a Sunday afternoon.

Like any river, it makes several twists and turns and has random bursts of steady flows that come out of nowhere. Figuring out how to maneuver your Explorer is probably going to be the trickiest part of your day. The most physical part of your day is going to be blowing the sucker up (especially if you got the bigger, more luxurious Explorer 300 like I did when they were on sale – who can pass up 50% off when you live in Whistler!) And the most rewarding part of your day is going to be at the end, when you make it down the entire river with your raft still beneath you. You may laugh, but a popped raft isn't a rare occasion. This leads me to my second tip, duct tape – and plenty of it. While a man-made river is designed for you to mindlessly enjoy, the natural lazy river isn’t as thoughtful. It is surrounded by bushes, trees, twigs, rocks and the occasional stick poking out – and what happens to a soft plastic raft when it bumps quickly into one of those…well, you don’t want to find out. Especially considering the river is not up to most people’s standard swimming temperatures. Adding a duct tape layer, or ten, around your raft will only increase your chances of staying afloat, and bring more peace of mind to those who aren't confident in their paddling abilities. 

While this may seem terrifying, it really isn’t; it’s just a mere warning. The best part about this is the adventure. And of course, bringing some beers and relaxing as you occasionally steer your way down the river while staring at the mountains isn't so bad either. If you're lucky enough, you may even spot a bear from the shoreline!
A lot of tourists do this adventure too, however the only difference between them and the locals is the significant increase in cost to do this otherwise cheap fun. This is also not just a sport of the lazy, beer-drinking, sun tanning drifters - a lot of SUP, kayaks and canoes make there way down the river as well. That's going to be my goal by the end of the summer, to stand up paddleboard down it.

The good news for canoeist taking on the Golden River is the lack of paddling you’ll have to do in order to get to Green Lake. Steering and the occasional lily-dip will get you there in plenty of time and really, why rush? This is a perfect time to take in the scenery and gear those muscles up for the trip back. Going up stream is not as hard as you’re imaging, but after that lazy coast down, it’s no walk in the park either.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Whistler Train Wreck

I’m not going to lie; I’m constantly trying to one-up my travel journal. 
Seeing as I travel quite a bit, I learned early on to stay away from mainstream tourist attractions and I most definitely don’t do anything organized unless it’s a rad festival. I love art, untouched discoveries and can’t get enough of Mother Nature. So when I first heard about the Whistler train wrecks, I will admit, it sounded too good to be true. Are you telling me that several train carts were actually left on an embankment of the Cheakamus River, and… they are now covered in beautiful local graffiti? It’s like a dream come true. My curiousity (and hope) got the better of me. So when I traveled to Whistler for the first time last August, I made it a point to find this ‘beautiful work of art’ even if it killed me. Thankfully, all it took was buying a pint of beer for my local friend in return for his guiding skills – wow, that was easy.

Unfortunately, like all West-coast weather, it was pouring rain the first time I went. But I was so excited, I didn’t even notice. With a mass of wet hair, I battled branches, slippery paths and even tempted my fate by walking along active railway tracks. Nothing was going to stop me. In fact, I was a little thankful it was raining, as a steady stream of water dripped from my rain jacket into my hiking shoes – it kept the bugs down, and most importantly, everything was glowing with colour. Green moss covered logs were stunning. The river was a crystal clear, Tiffany blue. The trees were ominously dark, which made the graffiti pop with vividness. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Call me crazy, maybe it was the colour, or maybe it was the fact that I had been staring at the ground the entire way there, as not to let another slippery rock get the better of me, but it was a magnificent sight of twisted metal among a growing forest. There are several carts scattered among the site. Yet, it doesn’t look like chaos, in fact, it’s rather peaceful. As you walk through the site, which is spread out given the fact that it is a real crash site, you can hear the Cheakamus river running (or rushing, depending on the time of year you visit) and the trees are not disrupted in the slightest. It’s amazing seeing how nature has adopted these carts as one of their own, growing into them and molding around them. The graffiti, if you can even call it that, is beautiful artwork. It restores my faith in humanity as individuals have truly taken the time to make something worth seeing, and not just tagging the crap out of it. 

What’s even more eerie, is the fact that you can climb in, on top of and explore this once horrific disaster. Some brave soles even built an impressive bike ramp using the carts as jumps, which is now in poor condition, but worth a check out. And if you’re starting to think these carts were placed here strategically, take a look at some of the rock surfaces near a few of the box carts - you can see scratch marks.

Searching for information on the wreck, which supposedly happened around the 1950’s, is nearly impossible. But if you ask the locals, they’ll all tell you the same. “After the trains derailed,” which wasn’t uncommon for the Sea to Sky Corridor back then, “ It was deemed too expensive for them to clean up the mess,” therefore, leaving the carts as they were to rest next to the Cheakamus river, just south of Whistler. 

The trail itself is a little hidden, but thanks to its slowly growing recognition there are now a few small markers, which guide you to its hidden location. I say ‘slowly growing reputation’ with a loving heart because, well… we all know what happens to a hidden gem once tourism marketing gets a hold of it – and I can say this honestly given my career. Say goodbye to the untouched surroundings I pine after so deeply. As it sits now, there are already bits of garbage creeping up, and random fire pits next to flattened tenting grounds.

How to get there

Park in Function Junction, behind the Olive Market and enter the trail-head here.
Follow it under the bridge (where highway 99 runs over top) and to the railway. Please remember, this is an active railway, so use extreme caution.
Shortly after reaching the rail bed, you duck in to the left (look for the yellow arrows that say ‘Train Wreck’ on them throughout the entire hike).
The main trail winds along the Cheakamus river, which is glacier fed.
You will hop back out onto the rail bed a few times throughout your walk (technically you could follow it most of the way, but it’s not as beautiful, or as safe).
Eventually the trail leads you straight to the train wreck.
Overall the walk from the road is roughly 25mins, at 1.5kms. Most class this as an easy hike, with little elevation, and it is. Just be leery of slippery rocks and roots if you are heading out after a rainfall.

Can’t find it? Ask a local, or me. I am always looking for an excuse to go out there.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Moving across Canada

Well, I did it. 
I packed up my entire life into four bags in less then two days - we won't talk about the things I couldn't pack, it's still a sensitive subject. And it wasn't until I strategically packed it into my Chevrolet that I realized for the first time in a long time, I didn't know when I would be home again. 
Deciding to move across the country wasn't a hard choice for me. Ever since my first visit to BC I knew it was a matter of when, not if. And I did, for a summer. It was exciting, exhilarating and I learned more about myself there then I have anywhere else in the world. So when the opportunity arose to move back, my heart fluttered with joy. Only this time I had more of a life I was leaving behind, compared to other times. My cat, my dog, countless commitments that crept into my schedule having stayed in one place for a few years, and most importantly, my family. 
Considering my family was finally together again for the first time in 10+ years, this was more of a deal breaker then it had been in the past. I love my family and change isn't something I take easily so I constantly suffer from what I like to call FOMO, fear of missing out. While I have always marched to the beat of my own drum, traveling to me was no different. I would go my own way and always knew that sooner or later I would return home and once again things would go back to the way they were. We'd all wake up on Saturday morning, coffee (and Baileys) in hand and catch up as we relaxed in the hot tub. At days end, we would have a long dinner, typically started and followed by good conversation and wine, our beverage of choice. 
But this isn't just another trip, it's a life change. Or an adventure with no expiry date, as I like to call it (it doesn't sound as intimidating this way). I don't know when I will be home again for dinner, or when I will be able to take my dog Hunter for a run to our favourite spot. I won't have summer trips to the cottage and meeting up with my sisters for drinks will now be done via FaceTime. 
The only thing I know is, I can't win- I'm missing out if I go and I'm missing out if I stay. "You're only young once,"  was the deciding factor in this cross-Canada trek. So when the time came to say goodbye to my parents, they once again stood there with smiles on their faces, the same one that often matched mine as I was about to set off on the yachts. Only this time, those smiles were hidden behind tears, once again matching my own. Which quickly turned into a full on waterfall. What can I say, hearing your dad tell your boyfriend "you take care of her for me" is an emotional and literal change that hit me like a Mac truck. I know I have used this term before, but this has truly been an emotional roller coaster and it won't fully hit me until I arrive at our place in Whistler next Monday. Until then, I'm going to enjoy my second drive across the county, only this time it's with my boyfriend, best friend, partner in crime and, my new Saturday morning routine.