Spring Break: WestCoast Style

5 05 2015

Spring is here!  And with Spring comes Spring Break.

Now, it’s been years since I’ve thought about Spring Break and that’s only because I happened to visit Lake Havasu City during Spring Break and got to witness the shenanigans that took place – drunk guys wearing boxes on their heads, girls sporting pasties and old men showing off what they’re working with in waaaay less clothing than they should be wearing.  And before that, when I should have been one of those dancing beach bombshells (kidding) we didn’t really have ‘Spring Break’ – those of you at SFU know that what we had was ‘Reading Break’ – which doesn’t really inspire spontaneous trips to Cancun or Cabo or some other spring break sounding place.

Well this year, Nathan and I took Jonathan, who is now 16 years old, out for Spring Break – WestCoast style.

First up:  Victoria, BC

After narrowly missing the Black Ball Ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria because we just HAD to stop for the ‘Best Fish & Chips’ at JJ’s Fish House in Poulsbo, we found ourselves basking in the sun on the upper deck as we motored our way across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

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After an hour and a half we found ourselves in downtown Victoria – which brought back memories of Spring Break like times from yesteryear….first year university and all the girls went for a road trip and found ourselves in Victoria.  We all chipped in to stay at Paul’s Motor Inn (which I saw this trip) and after, probably more than a few drinks, found ourselves on the stage at a Karaoke Bar singing Girls Just Want to Have Fun.  And I think we made it through a verse and a chorus before somehow the song was over already and we were being ushered off the stage….still haven’t figured that one out. Ha!

Well for this trip to Victoria, we took the opportunity to walk the harbor and take in the Parliament Buildings.

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After a quick overnight, we were back on the road and headed to Tofino, BC.

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Now, this is the second time we’ve been here with Jonathan so we knew the drill.  Our first stop was to rent a couple of wetsuits and boogie boards.  And after a quick lunch on the water we were suited up like seals with hoods, gloves and booties ready to brave the balmy 48 F waters of the Pacific Ocean.

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Cox Bay Beach


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An hour and a half later we dragged ourselves out of the water.  I was still on an adrenaline high – for a girl who can’t really swim and isn’t the best at water sports, I was riding those waves all the way onto the beach!  Now Jonathan on the other hand, well turns out his gloves had holes in them, so after an hour in the water he ended up with white hands and what locals would call ‘The Claw’.  It took a soak in the hot tub and another couple hours inside before his hands started to resemble something other than an arthritic old man.

Our second day in Tofino we decided to ease back on the water activities, at least those as physically demanding as hurling yourself at an oncoming crush of water to see if it’ll let you go along for the ride or if it’ll twirl you around and spit you out on the other side.  So we went on a boat ride in the middle of rainy/stormy weather to enjoy the Hot Springs.

And after a bumpy, slightly nauseating ride where we saw eagles, harbor seals, seal lions and a glimpse of a sea otter, we found ourselves at Maquinna Provincial Park and just a 2km walk through a WestCoast rain forest from the Hot Springs.

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We arrived to the Hot Springs platform and change rooms about 45 minutes later and although there was a slight sulphur smell in the air, the view was enchanting.

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There’s something about sitting in geothermically-heated hot springs with the rain falling down on you as you hear the roar of the waves crash against the rocks around you that just seems a little crazy.

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After a soak and then watching some adrenaline daredevils jump from the rocks into the waves…we headed back to the dock…

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…where we were greeted by our ride home!  After enduring the hour and a half ride jostling in the waves to get there, the Sea Plane – with its 15 minute trip time – never looked so good!

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View of the Hot Springs from above

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It was a gorgeous way to see the coastline and a perfect way to cap off our time in Tofino.

The next day it was an early morning drive to Parksville – a stop in to see my parents – before hopping on a ferry to Vancouver, BC.

I always forget how beautiful and peaceful it is on the Island – I definitely took it for granted growing up there – but I never forget how fortunate I am to have called Vancouver home, even if just for a short time.  It’s just gorgeous!

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View of Coal Harbor from the Westin Bayshore

And so there you have it – ferry boats, boogie boarding in wet suits, marine life, Hot Springs, sea planes, mountain views and all you can eat sushi (not shown but definitely eaten):  Spring Break – WestCoast Style!


Time for a Staycation

26 06 2013

There is just something exciting about packing a bag and leaving the house, not really knowing where you’re going or what you’re going to do.  This time, we packed a bag and knew that we were heading towards the Olympic National Park, but other than that?  Nothing.

So we found ourselves driving along a country road and came across the cutest fence post.  Little birdhouses on every fence post around the yard and up the drive way.  And the best part about that is that they were actually being used – little swallows were hanging around all over the place.



Down another detour, that turned into a road leading to nowhere but another dirt road leading to who knows because we were too chicken to see where it went.  Correction – I was too chicken, because we were in a rental car, had no cell reception and I had no idea if we were just driving further and further into the depths of the park with no guarantee that it came out the other side.


And we eventually made it to Hurricane Ridge.   I did my research, looked at the webcam and saw mountains and mountains of snow.  So I came prepared with jackets and snow boots and layers galore (similar to my trip to Big Bear Lake, CA).  Well it was 65 degrees at the top of the 5200+ ft elevation, and everyone was running around in flip flops amidst towering walls of snow.  Really a bizarre experience when you’re used to equating snow (especially that much of it) with cold weather.



After a little bit of calling around, we did end up finding a place to rest our head for the night.  Although spontaneous, I will admit that sometimes it is nice to know where you’re going, but at least we didn’t have to double back, much.

Day Two of our staycation found us jumping out to Ruby Beach that had dazzled us during sunset the night before.  It’s a whole different feel when it’s day time and the water is so still that it shows perfect reflections of the sea stacks, and, oh yes, it shows off the perfect ripples of a skipped stone.



A short drive from Ruby Beach and a short hike, and all of a sudden we’re in a dense forest with tons of greenery reaching for the sunlight.



And the reason why you go on a hike is to get to the pay off – to get to that final view that makes the huffing and puffing worthwhile.  Marymere Falls – where the waters of Falls Creek drop nearly 90 feet from a cliff into a small plunge pool near the trail below.


And after 45 hours, 450 miles, one suitcase, 2 pairs of wet shoes, an elevation of over 5200 feet, and many, many photos, we hopped on a ferry and headed home, needing a rest from our Staycation.   But what a great view on the way home. 



Cheers! To Mother Nature!

24 07 2012

Sometimes you feel like you need to make an effort to celebrate certain occasions.  Birthdays, anniversaries, and national holidays are kind of a given.  But it’s fun to celebrate Mother Nature’s milestones as well.

A Moment that Anyone can Enjoy

This year, on the First Day of Summer, we decided to party it up with Mother Nature.  And I think we had the bug bites to prove it too!

On the First Day of Summer, for my very first canoe ride, we decided to take a canoe down the Shenandoah River.

The Shenandoah River

Celebrating the ‘First Day of Summer’

I have to admit it was a pretty relaxing afternoon.  I had my handsketched paper map in front of me and made note of the slow moving deep water, the rapids and the beach and swimming areas.  I don’t think the map was drawn to scale though, because I always felt like I was ahead of the map, or missed the beach and swimming areas completely.

A Calm Day on the Shenandoah River

Stroke….Stroke…..Stroke….. Is that canoeing? Or rowing?

Either way, sometimes we floated along peacefully watching the turtles sunning themselves and cranes wading in the shallows, drifting under the low hanging branches, other times we challenged ourselves to keep up a rhythm and bypass all of the drifting tubers.  They even had an inner tube for their cooler, although sometimes as we passed a group, we noticed that they had found themselves in an eddy and weren’t going anywhere.

Time to Suntan

Picture Perfect

Tally Ho!

Not the whole trip was peaceful though.  We prepared ourselves for the Class 2 rapids that were at the end of our 4 hour trip.  But we got cocky.  Camera placed in the nose of the canoe, we took off to battle the rapids.  Of course…. you guessed it.  Water lapping over the sides, right into the nose of the canoe, the camera taking on water, the canoe taking on water.      My handsketched map floating to the back of the canoe….  Well, we made it to the other side, a little waterlogged but at least we didn’t flip over, we just ended up leaving the rapids backwards, that’s all.  Thankfully, the camera dried out, but my little map didn’t fare so well, and despite my best efforts, it didn’t make it.

But, all in all, I truly feel that we did our best to celebrate the First Day of Summer. 

Cheers! To Mother Nature!

‘We’re Having FISH Tonight!’

2 07 2012

Mahi Mahi to be specific….

Fresh Mahi Mahi

I should back up a bit.  For our second day in Maui we decided that our trip wouldn’t be complete without a catamaran ride to Molokini for a couple hours of trying to ‘be one’ with the tropical fish, which may or may not include trying to join a school of fish and trying to chase down an octopus.  So, snorkeling.

View of Haleakala

We boarded a catamaran from the beach and took off for a 4 hour trip with 50 other fish wannabees.   I don’t know how it happens, but we always end up at the helm and for the majority of the trip out to the island, we were manning the boat.  There were a couple of surprising looks close to the end of the trip when people started to take a second look and wonder if we were the ones that they boarded with at the beach or not, but overall, no one was alarmed, or harmed.

View from the Helm

After a couple hours of chasing needle fish, parrot fish, the racoonfish, Grouper etc, etc we made our way back to the beach.

With fishing lines trailing us, the crew took a gamble to see what they could catch.

Whoo Hoo.  We’ve got a live one.  Two lines caught at the same time, and although we lost one, we did reel in our mahi mahi.

Caught One!

We finished the day with mahi sandwiches and mai tai’s.  How appropriate.

Maui Mai Tai

The Grass IS Greener on the Other Side

26 03 2012

Amidst the craziness of Spring Break in Lake Havasu City, AZ, you can still find some peace and quiet.

But you need to head to the other side of the London Bridge and make your way to Topock Gorge.

O’Day on a Monday

30 08 2011

Mayday Mayday!

31 07 2011

This is an old photo of the ol’ Rocky Comfort when we first put her in the water 2 years ago.   Take a close look, I added a few additions to the photo to help illustrate my story for today.

Now, picture a very sunny hot day on Lake St. Claire in Michigan, put me in the spot where Loyd is and imagine that we are just leaving the dock.  With Nathan at the helm, I jump up to the front of the boat to help guide us through the dock poles.  And then…it happened.  If there was ever a reason to make sure that all your lines are organized, now would be the time.  See that ‘arrow‘ and the ‘orange circle‘?  Well, that would be the spot where I got caught up in the jib sheet lines and I fell over board into the lake water.  Yup.  I fell overboard.  And I don’t know how to swim.  It’s okay to laugh.  Obviously I survived and I’ve realized that if I fall out of a boat I know how not to drown.

It all happened in slow motion.  I almost heard the water splash around me before I realized that I had fallen in, but I kicked my legs and made it to the surface.  And then I hung on to the side of the boat, in shock for a little while, until Nathan told me to get my phone out of my pocket (so, if you’ve tried to call me, my phone is drying in a bowl of rice trying to suck out all the lake water).   Nathan tried to hoist me up, but that wasn’t going to work so I paddled over to the back of the boat and hung on to the dock for a while.  I tried to grab onto the dock and lift myself out of the water, but my arms were so weak!  Damn that Insanity work out that I did this morning with all of the push ups! (I actually did think that at the time, and ‘aren’t the Insanity workouts supposed to make my arms stronger?‘).

I did finally make it out of the water with a little help from the swim ladder.  And yes, we did end up going for a sail after I made it back into the boat.  I gave a little wave to everyone as we left the marina, since yes, there were spectators to my hopefully graceful fall overboard.  And if anyone is wondering if Nathan jumped into the water after me, the answer would be “No”, since at that point the boat was floating with no dock lines attached and it didn’t seem smart for both first mate and captain to be overboard with a runaway boat.

To think just moments before I fell into the water I was thinking, ‘I better not sit on the cushions right now since we just hosed them off, I don’t want to get my shorts wet or dirty.’  It’s like I jinxed myself!!