Meeting my Blog Buddies in Montreal!🇨🇦Part Deux!

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Remember this motley crew from part one of this visit? We last heard that Dominique, Darren and I were heading to Mount Tremblant 🏔 for a fun filled day of laughter, food and reluctant hiking. And Linda and Bill, were scheduled to arrive the following day in Montreal.

Dominique saved the trip to Mount Tremblant for when I could go with her and Darren. She thought I would like it, and she was right!! She knows me so well😊

This ski resort is a couple hours Northwest of Montreal in the Laurentian mountains. Like any ski resort it has a vibrant presence year round. Something that I forgot to mention in part un, is that it was hot in Montreal! We were experiencing some really warm temps, and it was gorgeous up here in the mountains.

We arrived and set out for the village. There was stunning architecture everywhere and I took far too many pictures. I will restrain myself and just post a couple.

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The main building at the base of the mountain

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This is one of Darren’s pictures, I didn’t even know he took this one! 😂

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I loved the colors of the village shops and hotels

It would take two gondolas 🚠 to make it to the top of the mountain, where the hiking paths were located.

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The first gondola took us to the shops and restaurants

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It truly was a gorgeous day!☀️

By now, it was lunch time and we (meaning for sure, me😉) were hungry. There were many restaurants to choose from but I saw a Crepe shop, and lobbied hard for that choice! Dom and Darren were kind enough to let me have my way! I could have had any one of the dishes, they all looked good. Dom and I settled on ham and cheese crepes and Darren went for the yogurt. Look at the differences in our lunches 😳

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Darren’s sensible and healthy lunch!

 

Look at these crepes!!! They are massive! And, mind you, Dom and I each had one plate of these😲, and don’t forget the maple syrup we added 🍁😂.

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Clearly Darren is the healthiest of us all! With a couple pounds of protein and carbs in us, we were ready to head to the top of the mountain. This required gondola ride number two, and was a rather long trek up. We had plenty of time for some photos. 🚠

In all combinations possible!

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Damn, I have a lot of freckles!!

 

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Dom loaned me her hat

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This is my favorite picture of them both ❤️

Now, we are ready to hike, or are we?🧐 The tricky part about the term “hike” is that it is subjective. What one person sees as a hike, might be a walk to another. I was prepared to let Dominique and Darren choose what they wanted to do. We were all full, and Dom had  her running shoes on, so we went to the map.

I made a few modifications to the map, just for clarification purposes 😉

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The star marks the gondola, which we were informed, would be closed by 5pm.

The arrow shows the “360 trail”. This is a short loop that is known for its views and observation tower. The three of us decided that would be a smart place to start.

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The views were as advertised!! So pretty💕

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Dom told me that this lake has canoes, paddle boards and kayaks for rent.  I may have to make my way back out here!!

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Darren’s picture of me being a big dork😜

 

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Darren caught this image of Dom and I attempting to lure a crow out of a tree with some chocolate. We wanted a picture of it for Lisa! This did not work as the crow was too smart and the chocolate melted in the sun!

As we neared the end of the 360 trail, the observation platform became an option.

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Well, for one of us! Two of us decided that there were too many stairs😂

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We made our back toward the gondola, where we faced a decision. There were many more paths to choose, should we go on another hike/walk? After careful study of the area, and some quick calculations on mileage vs time until the gondola shut down, we settled on the Sasquatch trail. We would go down the Sasquatch and back up one of the other paths to make our way to the gondola.

It is important to note that every opportunity was afforded all members to vote down this idea!! It was Dom who said “we have plenty of time, lets do it!”

The peppy girl with her hand up on the map is Dom!

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We started off well. As usual, Darren and Dom would stop and take pictures of inspiring critters or plants. About half way, Darren started casually mentioning that we were going down in elevation quite a bit. Then he would speculate on when we might be going back up. We had a group meeting to determine if we should just turn around at that point.

We decided that we would have time to make it, if we didn’t stop for any more pictures and picked up the pace. Ya, that did not last 😂😂. You can’t have three bloggers together and not take pictures!

We made it to the bottom of the route, and turned to head back up the other trail (yellow arrow). That’s when it happened! Dom went down, voluntarily! I was a little further ahead scouting for the best/shortest path back up. I turned around and Dom is laying on the ground (😵) and I hear Darren’s sweet, soft voice saying “are you ok?”

We really were not that far away from the finish, but I was getting worried that Darren and I may be carrying her the rest of the distance! I resorted to, what every hiking guide does at some point, lying! “Its just over the next hill!” They saw through my deception immediately! But, once Dom was vertical again, and with some well placed hands on her back, we made it to the gondola, with time to spare 😊

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Another brilliant capture by Darren! 

We had another couple hours in the car to make it back to Montreal. And a delicious and hearty meal at a Thai place (I think). We were discussing what to do the next day, we knew Linda and Bill were planning on arriving, but not exactly sure when.

Dom and Darren had some photo work to do with Lisa, and I thought that they might need a break from me the next day😂. We decided to do our own thing in the morning, and meet up for lunch. Dom and Darren were going to work on some photo shoots and me…..

I was starting to feel the need for a work out 🏋🏻‍♀️! There were several climbing gyms in the Montreal area, however, I was on foot and wanted a good one within walking distance. Allez UP turned out to be just the right fit!

It was a 4 mile walk to the gym, actually 4.5 thanks to, you guessed it, more construction! I had to get going early so I could get there, climb, and get back for lunch with my buds💕

It was another beautiful day ☀️ and there were some cool things to see. This bridge, near the gym, had hundreds of spider webs! 🕸🕷 Had to take a pic!

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I finally found an unblocked entrance to the building! And, had a great time climbing the auto belays and bouldering 🧗‍♀️

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I felt good and ready to walk back. Near the end of the trip I realized that I was seriously low on nutrients and caffeine😬  I didn’t want to eat lunch without Dom and Darren, but what to do? Remember that beautiful gift basket they gave me when I arrived at the hotel?
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I tore into this like a pack of hyenas with a fresh kill! Well, not the gourd! This, and the in-room coffee at the hotel, got me through!

After lunch, we still had some time to kill while waiting for Linda and Bill. Dom took us for a short walk to a beautiful cemetery. Ya, a cemetery. Honestly, I could have spent all day there 😊 So serene and full of old architecture that you just don’t see anymore.

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Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name, but I do know that it is hundreds of years old.

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You just don’t see headstones like this anymore

 

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I loved this angle, where you see the old statue with the newer church dome in the background

While we were roaming around, we got the word! Bill and Linda were at the hotel😍!

The three of us rushed back to find Bill in the hotel lobby. Somehow, Darren recognized him from a picture Linda posted three years ago!!! I am now officially in awe of Darren!

We chatted for a bit, the five of us, and decided to head to a nearby park that Dom knew to have amazing views of the city. Once again, she was right💕

It was a short walk to the top of the view point. And, once again, I took too many pictures! I will just post this one.

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It was at this point in the trip that Dom revealed a very personal battle that she has been having with her phone. Apparently, she has “selfie” issues 😲 So, at the top of a very steep drop off, she decided to work on her craft. Darren and I were a little concerned as she seemed to be teetering on the edge of a long drop!

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My picture of Dom’s selfie form, it looks good from here😂

I still haven’t seen any of her selfies and do hope she is making progress on this vital skill 😉.

My last night in Montreal was upon us, and we went to a Thai restaurant (or was it Indian?) for the only meal I would share with Bill and Linda.

Sadly, I only saw them for a couple hours, and the lighting at the restaurant was not awesome for photos.

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Linda getting a shot of Dom and Darren

 

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Not sure what Linda and I were thinking with this one!

 

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I love this one of Linda! This is who she is, fun, warm and so very kind! Bill is pretty awesome too💕

 

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These three are up to something!!

We ate, we laughed, we talked way too loud, we took tons of pictures, we told stories and we closed the place down!! Honestly! The dude had to kick us out😂

And then I was out of time😔! I had a very early flight back to Washington, plus I walked a total of 14 miles that day😏, I was tired!!

I know this was a long post, and most of you gave up reading by now. But this was an emotional journey for me. I never dreamed that when I started my blog, almost two years ago, that I would make such important connections, with such amazing people! It’s true that not everyone could make this trip, and there are other bloggers out there who are just as important to me. But the fact that I pulled myself out of that dark place, and put myself out there, and let’s be honest, that is scary, and came away with these friends…Well, all I can say is thank you❤️ Thank you Dom, Linda and Darren, for rescuing this once sad, lonely and invisible person. I love you all🙏

 

Meeting my Blog Buddies in Montreal!🇨🇦Part Un!

 

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It has been almost one month since I went to Montreal to meet up with some of my BBBs (best blog buddies). Why has it taken me so long to blog about the trip? Is it because I had a rotten time? NO!! Is it because we didn’t do anything fun? NO!!! Is it because I took so many pictures of all the places we visited that I could not figure out how to start this post? BINGO😊

I was only there for three days, so how could I have a billion photos? I think this phenomenon has something to do with getting bloggers together. As individuals we tend to take more pics than the average human, but combine us! I can’t begin to imagine how many storage sticks Darren had to buy for his 10 day trip🤣 Not only was this my first time meeting Darren, Dominique, Linda and Bill, it was my first trip to Montreal. Another reason for my snap happy camera finger.

I decided that the best way to approach this retelling of the first annual BBB meeting, would be chronologically, and in two posts. Is my boring science background coming through loud and clear? 😂

I flew in on Tuesday, about 3 hours late (thank you Air Canada). Darren and Dominique waited to have dinner with me! I felt so bad for starving them all day. We had a lovely dinner, not that the food was scrumptious, it wasn’t. But, meeting these two wonderful souls was a blast! I could tell this was going to be a fun trip😊!  It was getting late, so we called it a night and wound are way through the maze of construction that is downtown Montreal. Seriously, every street was in some state of reconfiguration! 😳

Dominique chose the perfect hotel for our stay, the Hotel Terrasse Royale (not my photo!). As she put it, it is clean, comfortable, affordable and central to everything. She was right on all counts!

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I would definitely stay here again and recommend it to everyone.

There was one more surprise when I checked in.

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As if being the best host in all of North America was not enough for her, she and Darren put together a gift basket for me❤️ This would be very important in a couple days!

The next morning, I was still on West Coast time, so I was up kinda early. I needed coffee so I ate at the hotel restaurant. Of course, being a food blogger too, I wanted to capture my gorgeous and tasty breakfast!

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This oatmeal with fresh fruit was so good, I had it the second morning as well.😋 I did my morning yoga and met Darren at the pastry shop across the street, for more coffee! ☕️☕️Montreal is so much like Paris! I couldn’t resist taking some photos of the breads and pastries.

I didn’t sample any, but did have a fantastic cappuccino (or two 😉)

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Wednesday was to be our Botanical Garden day🌳 so off we went to Le Jardin Botanique de Montreal.

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I did not take this picture, I swiped it from the internet. I like it for a couple reasons. Firstly, the garden was presenting their Chinese Lantern Exhibit, and some of that is depicted here. Secondly, see that tower in the background? I was in love with this structure! I believe Dominique told us that it was part of a venue built for the Montreal Olympic village.

We began our tour inside, with the tropical flowers and plants. You can imagine how many pictures Darren, The Arty Plantsman, took😆 He was a botanist/blogger/photographer on a mission!

As he is far more talented at plant photography, I will only share a couple of shoots and blooms that caught my eye. See Darren’s post for the real good pics!🌸

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I love these giant, prehistoric looking leaves🌿

 

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I couldn’t resist taking a pic of Dom, taking a pic of the pathway. Can we just appreciate how she is dressed right now! She always looks fabulous🤩

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This waterfall was located at the end of the pathway. I took a couple long exposure shots from the front….

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and the back.

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The ceiling of the inner building had these beautiful botanical drawings.

IMG_5172I could totally envision Darren’s artwork hanging up here one day 💕!

Eventually, we made our way outside!

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I loved the reflection in this shallow pool

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the one dark berry caught my eye

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This picture just says “fall” to me and made me think of Lisa! She could do so much with this💚

There were a few critters out too! I did my best to channel my inner Roda, who along with Lisa, we missed on this trip😞

And speaking of Roda, I can’t see a sunflower, without picturing her! Anyone else remember that post of her carrying 300 pounds of sunflower heads?🌻

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There were some structures in the garden as well.

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This little potting shed caught my attention

 

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Dominique took this picture of me, as Darren took a picture of her. I haven’t seen it yet! Dom does pretty well behind the camera too. Not just a a model my friends! 

Of course, while I am taking these pictures, Darren is capturing images of flowers the size of a pea and Dom is on her second wardrobe change! I can’t wait to see how those shots turned out😊!

We continued meandering our way through the Chinese lantern display.

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I am determined to get this Silver Chinese Grass in one of my yards, maybe both of them!

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Another view of my favorite structure in Montreal!

 

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A beautiful bench for a cup of coffee ☕️

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One of the rare moments when Darren isn’t smiling! He is deep in thought, looking for his next shot 💕

We posed in the corn for one last picture! We had a great time, but needed nutrients, well, caffeine! Darren and I opted for, yet another, cup of coffee and Dom would have passed out if she didn’t have that Diet Coke in the car 😂 it was hot and flat but she downed it like a pro!

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What a doof I am! Look at these two European gems and I am the dopey American with the white shoes on! I have got to read Dom’s blog more often🤣🤣😂

Off we went to an Indian Restaurant, my first! I have no idea what I ate that night as Darren ordered for me (thank God!). It was delicious!! Seriously, I will have to try that again, whatever it was 😋. I slept well that night, after all that walking and laughing😂 Little did we know that our trip to Mount Tremblant the next day would require even more effort 🏔.

I will save that story for the next post, but let me just warn you…..Dominique almost didn’t make it off the mountain. 😱!

You may be asking “where was Linda and Bill”? They won’t be in Montreal for another day, but they should have started driving by now😉💕

A Family Vacation/Adventure to Remember 🚣‍♀️ ⛺️ 🌊

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I have finally, finally sorted through these pictures from our OARS trip in August😳!

If you happen to have seen the OARS trip that my hubby and I went on back in July, then you already now what fans we are of this organization.

It has taken me this long for a couple of reasons. 1. I have been fortunate enough to be extra busy this summer. I have been traveling and playing with my kids😊 And, 2. mine was the only camera on this trip, which meant that my other family members would grab my phone and took far more pictures than my capacity to sort through!

I have lots of this:

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And this, to deal with!

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So….You can see part of why this took so long!

This was a true family vacation. My hubby, our two kids, one boyfriend, hubby’s parents and me, set out for Moab, Utah. Our plan was to visit both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, for the first couple days, then meet our OARS guides for a 5 day, 4 night white water adventure.

We flew from Seattle to Salt Lake city and rented two cars to transport the seven of us, and our gear, to Moab (a four hour drive). After stocking up our VRBO and getting a good night sleep, we all piled into one car for the 30 minute ride to Arches. To accomplish this task, two of us had to ride in the back of the van. The smallest ones got that honor!

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Yes, I have a coffee mug with me! This was not the highlight of the day, to be sure 🤢. But is was worth it to see this gorgeous park!

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Of course, you can’t take climbers to the rocks and expect them to stay on the ground.

 

We had a blast climbing and scrambling up the formations!

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Even Grandpa could not resist doing some climbing!

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That evening, the kids and I decided to hike to the iconic Delicate Arch, to view it at sunset. My son set a rapid pace, so we got there in plenty of time!

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We hiked back in the dark and got ready for Canyonlands the next day.

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Canyonlands is beautiful, no doubt! But I have to say, for me, Arches was a little better! Of course the kids found plenty to occupy themselves😊

Alex loves to boulder, so she had to work her way over the top of this ledge.

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And Ryan couldn’t pass up this crack climbing opportunity. I am sure that we received some odd looks from the other visitors 😬

Finally, it was time to meet our guides and start our trip down the Colorado River. Our path would take us through Canyonlands once again, but at the water level. We began with a couple days of motoring down the river. We had a lot of ground to cover before finding the rapids.

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We were treated to amazing views!

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And then the skies opened up and it poured ⛈ 💨 🌊 I am talking biblical proportions here! We all grabbed our rain gear and huddled, under what little cover there was available. But we had to keep motoring down river to make it to our first camp site.

Very wet!

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And, look at the color of the water! It was full of sediment streaming down the red rocks. The guides, who spend every week in this area, said they had never seen the water so red.

 

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Nevertheless, they set up camp and made us dinner😊

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OARS trips are known for their amazing food preparations, even in the middle of nowhere! We had delicious dinners and breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) was perfect, every time😋

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Our first night was wet, but fun!

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The next day was cooler than most, nice if you are in the desert, in August. We did appreciate the cooler temps.

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We did dock along the way and take some time for hiking around. Our guides were very knowledgeable about the local geology and the former indigenous tribes. We saw glyphs and old ruins that were the way of life thousands of years ago.

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The weather dried out and the hot temps returned showing us amazing sunsets and abundant wildlife. I especially loved the bats at twilight.

 

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While the guides made dinner, we would pitch our tents and play games. My son is throwing a horseshoe in the picture below, That is some follow through 💕

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One night, I was taking some panoramic shots when the kids got involved.

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Each night we were treated to spectacular sunsets and moon risings.

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Our last day was rapids day! Sadly, I was too busy trying to survive to take any pictures of us actually navigating the white water. It took all day, and I swallowed a lot of the Colorado in the process 😆. Absolutely the best day of the trip! We did not flip, which is great, but we did go vertical a few times🌊

All great trips have an ending! We motored to the extraction point.

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And loaded up into two, very small planes!

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Ryan jumped into the copilot’s seat.

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Our final view of Canyonlands came from above, making our trip complete!

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This is the “confluence”, where the Colorado meets the Green River. We were treated to a view that is unique due to that thunderstorm from three days prior! Really amazing😃

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If you have hung on this far, then thank you! I do hope I have not driven you crazy with my wacko family adventures! If you get the opportunity to travel with OARS, you will not be disappointed. 😊💕

Adventure Travel and an Apology💕

I am a terrible blog buddy! 😞 I am so sorry that I have not been paying attention to all your amazing and wonderful posts. I do have a feeble, but credible defense.

My adult children are both between jobs and done with college. Which means that when they call me up and say “mom, do you want to climb/paddle board/go on a hike/see a movie…” I say “YES!” You see, I know that this is a rare opportunity for me. Next summer, they will be working, and/or in graduate school, in other states. I am milking this for all I can while they are nearby! 😉

The hubby and I have also been traveling quite a bit too. We recently went on an OARS trip for our anniversary in July. I have mentioned the OARS company when I wrote about adventure traveling. They organize and partner with local groups to set up adventures all over the world. This time we headed up to Bear Camp, at Chilko Lake in Northern Canada. This beautiful and remote property is owned and operated by Brian and Ashley, a married couple that hosts adventures all over the world! You can find out more about them at Iroamtheworld.com.

Granville Island, Vancouver

The first part of this adventure required us to drive up to Vancouver, BC. Having lived most of our lives in Seattle, we have been to Vancouver many times. But this was the first time we have ever stayed at Granville Island. What a treat!!! We were sad that we only had one night there.

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The island has running paths, ferry rides, paddle boarding… So many activities and in the heart of this amazing skyline.

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Check out these silos! The art work is vibrant and impressive.

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I found this building to be so unique.

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This pirate ship cruises around the island to the delight of many squealing kids!

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The local street market reminded me of Pike Place in Seattle. It is full of fresh foods, unique gifts and specialty foods. I took way to many pictures, but will spare you!

 

Getting to Bear Camp

Did I mention that this is remote?😳 We boarded a small plane in Vancouver, and flew to Williams Lake. The plane held 18 passengers, with the pilots that makes 20 people total.

 

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Once at Williams Lake, we then pilled into a van and drove for another 4 hours to the camp. Many of us cited this bus ride as the low point of the trip. Still worth it to get there! But, a long dusty ride!

Arrival Time!

The main lodge, where we have our meals and meet for our activities, had our tent assignments and morning coffee drink orders! Yes, this is glamping!!

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This is tent #8, our home for the next 5 days 😊 as seen from the lake.

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And, inside the tent…a king bed with lamps, heated blanket and beautiful wooden furniture.

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Some of you may be wondering about the facilities. Well, check out this gorgeous shower (one of three available for the guests). Each is hand crafted with the stones from the lake.

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And check out our view from the deck! The water is clear, clean (no filtration needed) and COLD 😬. Canadian mountain water, all the way!

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The Activities

We only had three full days and wanted to spend as much time on the water as possible. We decided to brave the class I and class II rapids in the inflatable Kayaks on the first day.

It was actually raining a bit for most of the day. But we were supplied with full wet suits and were never cold!

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I was not good at this! And did find myself in a tree (or two!) but it was a blast!

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The second day we decided to attack one of the hardest hikes we have ever been on!

This is Mount Tuillan, it is 12 miles round trip, so that is 6 miles with 3000 ft gain, and back again!

 

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Finally, the views were starting to pay off about half way up!

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And then the top!

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We are smiling here, but actually suffering. So sore and the mosquitoes were the worst part!! 😫

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The biting bugs were so bad in fact, that we jumped on some paddle boards to get out onto the lake once we returned from this hike. Our theory was that there would be no bugs out there!

Look how clear this water is!!

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We really enjoyed the calm water, and the peaceful, relaxing time on the lake. Unfortunately, Dennis still managed to get a large bite while in the middle of the lake!

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After killing my upper body kayaking in the trees, and my lower body hiking the mountiain, I wanted something fun and simple for the last day. Fishing!! 🎣

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We landed 8 fish between the three of us! We released them, but it was so fun watching the trout hit the lures. The water was that clear!

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The one activity that we did not do was horse back riding, but this is also available on this trip.

Now for something important, the food!

Of course we have to talk about the food! One of the hallmarks of an OARS trip is that they provide all the meals. And, they don’t skimp on that!

Our first dinner was served right on butcher paper, down the center of the table! I love this idea, and plan to steal it😊

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Another dinner!

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Desserts were delicious too! 🍫

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Dennis loved this vegan fudge.

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And, eggs Benedict anyone? Don’t you always make that when you go camping💕

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All great things must come to an end, and it was time to make our long, long way back to civilization. Fortunately, we were spared the four hour bus ride this time! We took a float plane back to Vancouver. This was my first time on an amphibian aircraft and I was so excited!

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This time it was a family of 4 and us! 7 whole people on this flight, counting the all important pilot😊

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Gorgeous views!

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And back to Vancouver

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From here is was just a simple 4 hour drive back to Seattle (thank you border control 😬)

 

This was our second OARS trip and we enjoyed it just as much as our first, a decade ago!

When is the next one you ask? In 5 days!!!! Yep, our entire family -including a boyfriend and grandparents, are heading to Moab to raft a segment of the Colorado!

Thank you for hanging in there with me this summer!💕

 

A Yoga Retreat 🧘🏻‍♀️, and I am the Caterer👩🏻‍🍳 😬

That’s a scary thought huh?! You might be wondering how this happened, I know I was!

Last January we went Mexico to attend a yoga retreat. I did a few posts on that trip. This was the same location as the previous yoga retreat, which we loved! Our yoga instructor, Lisa Shifler for both of those retreats, recently moved to Twisp, WA, 4 hours east of our home in Redmond. She told us that she was building a “yoga Shalla” on her property and would be holding retreats this summer.

We were all sitting at breakfast, talking about her plans when she said she was looking for someone to do the cooking for two weekends in June, during the women’s only yoga retreats. I blurted out “I will do it!” And she said “great!” 😳

What was I thinking!! After my head stopped spinning, I realized that this would be a great challenge and experience for me. And, with the first one in the books, I can honestly say it was a blast!

I had never been to Twisp before, which is located in the Methow Valley. I have heard great things about the area so I was excited to see the area. It is as advertised!

This is the Methow River, and it is so relaxing and I love the sounds of the water flowing along.

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I drank a lot of coffee sitting next to this beautiful scenery💕

And all the blooms were out. 🌼🌸🌹It is sunny on this side of the mountains, as they get less rain than the Seattle side.

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Lisa’s yoga Shalla was so cute and inviting!

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Lisa decorated with articles from her two trips to India

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And, bought Mexican blankets, a nod to our other retreats .

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But I had a job to do! I made two desserts, both gluten free, dairy free as one of the ladies has Celiacs. Friday night we had a chocolate cake with bruleed bananas. Saturday’s dessert was this angle food cake with triple berry sauce and ice cream (for the dairy folks). Some of you may remember these from instagram, as I have been recipe testing for the last few weeks.

Then I had two brunches to prepare, both had gluten free options as well.

Our first morning we had crustless quiche, one with cream cheese and one without. There was also fruit salad, mango-orange Greek yogurt, gluten free granola, breakfast potatoes (not shown), cranberry & pistachio biscotti and sourdough bread that I had made a few days earlier.

Sunday’s brunch also included the yogurt and granola option, along with a French toast bake, gluten free pancakes and bacon.

Lisa also made some gluten free steel cut oatmeal both days and I never got to taste it! Hopefully I will next time😊.

I am happy and proud to report that no one got sick!! That was my biggest fear, and we all were pleasantly full for the weekend.

The weekend wasn’t all about yoga, we had some creative time. We painted inspirational rocks from the river. I have a couple weeks to think about the next design and am hoping to come up with a better idea for my second rock!

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We also went into the town of Winthrop to do some shopping. I had never been there before, and found it to be a cute town. I have travel blogged about Leavenworth, a nearby town that has a Bavarian theme. Winthrop is fashioned after an old western town.

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This dude was in front of the Putt Putt Golf Course.

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Like most tourist towns, there were plenty of ice cream and coffee shops. I love the mottos and sayings of these two in particular!

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The weekend was a success! The 8 of us had a great time shopping, eating and stretching!

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The Yogis, relaxing and shopping

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Lisa, (left) is our instructor and Teena (right) also teaches in the Seattle area.

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And I am now thinking about what to prepare for the last week in June, when I will head back for the next, and final, retreat. Any suggestions??

 

Spelunking in Colossal Cave

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Most of you already know that we are a rock climbing family. We tend to spend a lot of time going up, when we are outside. So, when I told them that I wanted to go under the rocks, I was met with “why?” from the kids and “uh, how deep?” from the hubby.

Our kids would never choose to spend their precious down time exploring caves with mom, when they could be hanging off the side of a mountain instead. And hubby, well he is not super excited about the close quarters that are 80 feet below the surface. To be fair, he is not always happy with how far above the earth we take him either, but he is getting better with the heights!

Colossal Cave is located in Vail, which is about an hour south of our home in Tucson. I was not able to get the kids there, but I did managed to talk my husband into it!

There are three tours to choose from, the regular tour which is an hour, the ladder tour that goes for 1 1/2 hours and the wild cave experience that is 3 1/2 tour. Knowing that I was already pushing the boundaries of my marriage, I stuck to the shorter hike that did not require belly crawling through small openings.

It was a cold day, by Arizona standards, when we decided to visit the park. The site is dedicated to preserving the old mining history of the area. We were greeted by a statue and sluice used for separating the sediment from the desired minerals, mostly crystals at this site.

Additionally there is a map. The regular tour centered around the “sink hole” formation on the left. The more advanced tours head into the middle and right sections of the cave, which is still being developed today.

Although the temperature outside was in the high 50Fs that day, the cave is always around 70F, with fairly high humidity. It was quite comfortable! And there was plenty of room to accommodate the entire group. Perfect conditions for my hubby!

The cave is dark and picture taking was not always easy, but I did mange to get a few shots that show a small fraction of the beauty found here.

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There were plenty of stalactite and stalagmite formations to impress us.

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The guide was great! He was funny and provided a wonderful historical perspective as we moved from one cavern to the next. Along the way we were told about the life of the average cave worker, back in those early days.

One of the corridors contained display cases, which contained clothing and tools utilized by the laborers, hard to believe this was the “state of the art” equipment back then.

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Do you see the “head lamp” above? This cloth cap was attached to an open flame that was used for light and visibility,  in the dark cave. Imagine walking around, in pitch black, with a 6 inch open, blue flame emanating from your forehead. That is a cloth hat!! And, all the rope and clothing were cotton, yikes.

 

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There were no power tools, and no explosives were used to excavate the cave. Just hand tools and muscle.

Two of my favorite features are depicted below.

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This column formed when a stalagmite and stalactite fused together.

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This is a picture of “cave ice”. Remember, its 70F or more in the cave all year long. So, this ice is really a unique structure that forms from a particular combination of minerals, which came into contact with slowly dripping water for an extended period of time (like eons). It is white due to the crystal structure and it is slippery, much like the surrounding limestone found in all the rock climbing areas! I know this from trying to climb in the nearby Cochise Stronghold Area. It is hard to climb a bar of soap🤨!

My hubby was happy that the tour was ending and we went for a short hike, out in the wide open spaces.

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He is definitely happier out here! You can see the stone structure behind him, which is the cave entrance and visitor center.

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So I finally got my cave adventure😊 I will be going back in late April for one of the more extensive tours, and can’t wait to see the other areas of the cave. I will be doing that one solo as hubby has said “NO!” but that’s ok. I totally understand 💕

Yoga Retreat, One More Time

Last January I let my hubby talk me into attending a yoga retreat. He is a big yogi and his instructor told him about a retreat she was holding just north of Manzanillo. I was skeptical. I don’t love Mexican food, we had been to Mexico many times and it was always way too hot for me and I only do yoga when I can’t rock climb or run. So, how much fun could I possibly have?

The answer: So Much!!

Our goal last year was to meet fun people and do some yoga. We greatly exceeded those expectations, so much so that we signed up to go again this year. We even hosted a reunion last summer at our house. My blog posts from last time Good Morning from Manzanillo!, Exploring Bara de NavidadHappy Hour,Snorkeling and Lunch in Santiago Bay! and Our Yoga Retreat Wrap Up! are full of pictures and images that we were privy to this time around as well. So, for this year’s post, I tried to focus more on what was different.

Bill and Susan, our hosts, were once again, fabulous! They made most of our meals and they both are great cooks! Additionally, they would take us to places that no other tourists go-we had day trips to Colima and Comala and they chose restaurants that the locals frequent. They are a big reason why we chose to repeat this experience. Of course Lisa, our yoga teacher, was another big draw to the event! Once again we met wonderful people and had even more adventures. We did repeat the snorkeling trip but otherwise the experience was unique.

We began each day with meditation at the nearby beach then morning yoga, at Bill and Susan’s home. Look at these views!

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The infinity pool at the lower house

 

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View from the lower house

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Another angle from the lower house

We did all our yoga at the upper house, under the palapa. You can see the pool at the upper house as well

We had morning and evening yoga sessions. This year Lisa challenged us with partner yoga poses. She would give us a pose and then we had to interpret that pose in a creative way. For example, Dennis and I did a “moon pose” on the beach.

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And, Janet and Annie did this interpretation of the fish pose, in the pool

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So these were more creative poses than the traditional forms. It was fun to see what everyone would come up with for their assignment.

In between all the yoga were the adventures. Snorkeling, hiking, museum visits and lots of shopping.

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And the food! Oh my god, did we eat!! If Bill and Susan weren’t cooking then we were at some amazing restaurants! I have a few images, many of which were on Instagram, of some of the cuisine we were fortunate to enjoy.

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Breakfast was wonderful! Bill’s granola and yogurt, with local fruit was a fan favorite. And with this sunrise, hard to beat!

 

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Bill and Susan always served dessert-This is a Poncho Villa. Amazing!

 

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Lunch in Colima, these crepes could have been from Paris

 

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Bill and Susan selected this restaurant near Colima. So glad they did!

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Many of you know about my coffee “issues”, This Sunday brunch spot, Los Portales de Suchitlan, was a true highlight. A young girl served as our translator as this was a local place, no tourists around!

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And then this…A Swiss restaurant (?) in Comala, Mexico! Piccolo Suizo was spectacular!

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You can see why we are trying to eat lighter after coming back to Tucson! We ate constantly on this retreat, and it was worth it! So good 🙂

We had another wonderful experience this year, just like last time. One of the tasks I undertook was to organize a slide show for the final night, I was the only one who brought a computer (what a nerd, right?). I took the partner poses and some fun images of our experience to attempt to capture the feel of the week. It is short, only 2.5 minutes and our yogi buddies wanted to see it again. I thought I would post it here for anyone who wants to see a few more images.

 

So what is next for Dennis and I? We need to spend some time on the homes for now, no trips planned right now, but you never know!