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😉💕

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Sally’s Baking Addiction: September, 2018 Challenge: Choux Pastry

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I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to complete the September challenge this month! The last two months of the summer have been a whirlwind! In a good way!

I have not made pate a choux since culinary school, and am not a big fan of cream puffs, or eclairs (and neither are my family members) so my first thought was, “should I try to fit this in?” But, I have not missed one of Sally’s challenges yet, so I had to try. It turns out, my hubby’s coworkers did like them, so it was worth it.

Sally provided us with the basic recipe and then presented us with our many, many options. I had a tough time deciding between cream puffs and eclairs, so I opted to make some of each.

Then the flavor combinations: Oh my! So many to choose from. I kept it simple and went with the classic chocolate and peanut butter duo. So….

First I made her peanut butter cream cheese mousse, to fill both the eclairs and puffs.

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Then the choux dough. Sally has a great video to help with this if you are intimidated by the process. Honestly, it takes very few ingredients, and is not that hard.

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Both of these went into the fridge for later, I had to go for a run! When I got back I piped the shapes onto parchment lined baking sheets. A word of caution here!! If you refridgerate the choux dough, let it come to room temp before piping, your life will be easier, I promise.  Also, I did not have the tips that Sally recommended, so my final products were “mini” eclairs and cream puffs!

 

Into the oven they went…

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Even though they were small, they puffed up nicely. While they were cooling, I decided to pipe some chocolate decorations from a little melting chocolate, that I always have around for just such an occasion!

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I made a few pans of different designs, just for fun

Once the pasteries had cooled, I set about filling them with the peanut butter mousse mixture. For the cream puffs, I just sliced the top 1/3 off and piped in the filling. The eclairs were “injected” using a number 2 Wilton piping tip.

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The eclairs were filled and dipped into some chocolate ganache.

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The eclairs were so bright and shiny that I decided to not decorate them further.

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They were small, but tasty! The perfect two bites with a cup of coffee!!

I am glad that I took the time to fit this one in, I kept my Sally streak going and some people really enjoyed them, what more can I ask!!

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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. 😊💕

Sally’s Baking Addiction: August, 2018 Challenge: Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer Cake 🍪 🍰

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Oh My! It is August 31st and the last day for me to get this challenge completed 😬. Nothing like waiting to the last minute😉

I got incredibly lucky this month, because Sally chose an easy challenge for our August installment. If you have ever baked a cookie, and made frosting, then this is a fun and simple project! In fact, the hardest part of this challenge was choosing which of Sally’s flavor combinations to make. 😊

My hubby’s birthday is also in August, so I chose flavors that I knew he would like. I made Sally’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, as written in the link above. The only difference was that I included white chocolate chips, along with the semi sweet ones, and made mine a 9 inch, 3 layer cake.

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I also made her Chocolate Peanut Butter frosting, yum 😋

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After that, which was very little work, all I had to do was assembled and decorate!

I kept the decorations simple, as this was for my husband (who does not like sprinkles😳)

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This flavor combo was a hit with the whole family, and it was a fun alternative to the standard ice cream cake he usually requests for his birthday.

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Next month’s challenge involves choux pastry! So I will have to be on top of my game in  September! 👩🏻‍🍳

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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 Guest Spot on “Loving the fifty something” blog!😊

HI Everyone!

First, let me apologize for being behind on your awesome blog posts! I am back now and hope to catch up, but I have to admit that I have been chronically behind for months now! 😳 And, we have three trips scheduled for August! I really hope to read your awesome words soon!

While I was traveling, Sam, from Loving the fifty something, published a guest post featuring me. She was kind enough to include me in her “amazing over 50’s” series! If you have not met Sam yet, she is a amazing over 50 herself! She surfs and mountain bikes and has a fabulous attitude about aging! Check out her blog and connect with an outstanding person!!

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Thank you Sam 🙏!

You can see her write up, (and then follow her blog!) 👇🏻

https://lovingthefiftysomething.com/2018/07/26/amazing-over-50s-guest-post-5/