Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Whitehorse Adventure

Our Valentine weekend getaway took us to a 'new-to-us' Canadian Territory - the Yukon! It was a fun little winter wonderland getaway. Of course we had in mind that travelling so far 'up north' in winter might give us a glimpse of the Northern Lights....as yet elusive to us both (after travelling in search of them a few years back to Iceland without success)...this was it - round 2 in the Aurora battle....*

Whitehorse is a pretty small town of around 37,000. It's the main city in the Yukon with over 75% of the population living there! Whilst it started off it's life caught up in the craziness of the Klondike Gold Rush, it's settled into it's current role as a main stop-off on the Alaska Highway. The highway was built in 1942-43 by the US Army after the Pearl Harbour attacks. It was handed over to the Canadians following the war and now it a major tourist route between northern BC and Alaska where thousands travel each year. Obviously not many of them travel the road in winter....and so Whitehorse is quite a sleepy little place in the off-season! But that's not to say we didn't have plenty to fill our time on our 3.5 day break!

Downtown Whitehorse - the museum and main street

We used Airbnb to book our accommodation. (and if you use this link to sign up for Airbnb you'll get a $30 credit on your first stay!) We spent our first 2 nights in the city and the second 2 nights at an incredible Mongolian Yurt about 1/2 hour out of town overlooking a frozen Cowley Lake. The Yurt wasn't just our bed for the night but ended up being a really memorable part of our trip! We arrived after dark and had a brief 1/4km walk through the trees and along a ridge line to get to the yurt on a well trodden snowy path. It was a clear night so we got a hint of what the view would bring us come morning - it was so exciting! Our host had the wood burning stove roaring away and the yurt was amazingly cozy and we immediately felt right at home. Come morning we stepped out onto the little deck perched right on the edge of a high ridge to a stunning view of the snowy mountains in the distance and an expansive view out over a frozen Cowley Lake.

Views from our cozy Yurt! Overlooking a frozen Cowley Lake where we snowshoed on our final morning!
We spent some time exploring Whitehorse itself - the city is quite compact and easy to walk around...we got lucky with the weather and had quite mild temperatures during our stay. We found some awesome little shops to explore - the Aroma Borealis was a lovely shop full of scents, potions and crystals - we brought home one of their unique essential oil blends. The Collective Good was another favourite - it was a beautifully curated design store of unusual and modern home decor, clothing, accessories and gift items with a great selection of local items but full of many others from all around the world - we'd been looking for some coat hooks for our mud room for the longest time and I was happy to find something a little different here! And we couldn't pass up the opportunity to get our 'outdoor store' fix! - we both could spend forever in a great outdoor & sports clothing and equipment store - Coast Mountain Sports was Whitehorse's answer to REI and MEC! Obviously it's a great outdoor adventure area and they have a fabulous store to service it! And of course we couldn't pass up the local brew - Yukon Brewing, where you can sample all their beers on tap!

It may be small but Whitehorse serves up some top-notch eats! We loved pastries at Baked Cafe, Brunch at Burnt Toast, hot chocolate and snacks at Bean North. We dined at Antoinette's on our first night - a friendly and busy spot serving incredible Jamaican food with some wicked flavour and flare. We took our time over dinner, enjoying the house created cocktails and even managed to save room for dessert - squeezing in as much of the awesome food as possible! We picnicked in the yurt on our second night and on our final night hit up the Dirty Northern bar. We'd heard great things about their pizza and it didn't disappoint.

We lounged in the thermal waters at Takhini Hot Springs, visited the small but awesome MacBride Museum - I loved exploring the exhibits on 'ye old life' and socio-economic growth of the town - lots of stuff on the gold rush and rural outpost type life!  We took a 2 hour drive south to pop into Skagway, Alaska (where it was a totally different climate and not a snowflake in sight!). The drive south was stunning and we had gorgeous weather for it - blue skies and the crisp white snowy mountains as far as the eye could see, stopping at Carcross briefly en route!

Views around Carcross on our day trip to Alaska!

Our final morning before our flight home we squeezed in a snowshoe hike across Cowley Lake - the snow was crazy deep so it was a healthy workout! Just as well as our journey home ended up being rather long and frustrating. Having flown via Vancouver all the way back to Kelowna, we were on finals with the wheels down before deciding the fog was too bad and they routed us back to Vancouver with a night in a hotel! Oh well, bonus day on vacation!! And a great vacation it was too!

*And whilst we caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights it was a little faint and shimmery pale blues - not the wild dancing greens you see in photos, and so for now I'm not quite 'satisfied' enough to check it off my bucket list and the aurora battle continues!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Harvey gets a makeover...Our RV Renovation project!

So back in the day we used to travel around North America in Harvey. It was the travelling around for nearly 5 years that led us to Canada. When we eventually settled and bought our home in the Okanagan Harvey the RV took some much needed down time and sat out to pasture for a few years in a friend's field. Amazingly nearly 6 years have passed since that happened! And our poor old friend is showing the signs of neglect and his age (Harvey is a 1996 National Dolphin 36ft Motorhome).

After friends borrowed him last year for the summer he did make a small comeback and really importantly reminded us that there's life in the old boy yet! We had in mind that this summer we'd book him into a local campsite (just a couple of miles from home) and we'd spent a healthy amount of time chilling out down at the lake...

Because this is our view from the door!

(best spot in the campsite right on the beach!)

Except things never really go quite as planned do they?!! Once on site we discovered that he hadn't been winterized properly and just about every bit of plumbing was leaking. Then that list of problems just started getting added to...I could give you a giant pity party list of everything that was wrong but honestly I'll just bore myself and start sobbing (again). We'd been told about a leaking toilet prior to getting Harvey back from the friends who'd borrowed him - unfortunately the fix they'd done involved a small glass bowl catching the drips and not a not else! But whilst fixing that issue we discovered a much larger issue - since the toilet hadn't been drained for the winter the water sat in the pipework had frozen and split the pipes. We didn't realize this till we turned on the water and the next day discovered a slow leak had seaped its way all across the bathroom carpet. It was this sodden carpet that was the catalyst in getting stuck in renovation mode.

(Note: Since Harvey is 20 years old we'd had various renovation projects on our radar for a few years, but had originally envisioned doing it at a slow and relaxed pace - nothing was urgent, just some gentle upgrades along the way whilst still enjoying spending time using him!)

So the carpet and underlay were ripped up and the floor cleaned and sanitized. We removed the toilet to try and fix it but new parts were going to cost so much that in the end we opted to treat ourselves to a brand new toilet - with the added bonus of replacing the dodgy cream version for a nice clean fresh white model. So.much.better. All the faucets were replaced and the leaks stopped - finally we were back in action with water - hurrah! (apart from the small issue of a split hot water - yes that too hadn't been drained so we were left with this...

Yikes!! We've been able to isolate the hot water tank so for now we're just carrying on with no hot water - still figuring out a way to NOT spend $700 on a new tank)

I'm not sure at what point I ended up down the path of complete renovation but I think Pinterest must take much of the responsibility! Honestly I got carried away with pretty pictures, beautiful decor and clever hacks and tips to DIY reno' your RV or trailer!

So stayed tuned.....this really is our ultimate story of 'What Happened Next' (it's come full circle from the start of my blog writing days, of travelling for 5 years in an RV, life after travelling and now back with our same faithful friend getting his very own chapter of the story of 'what happened next!' - read the background story of my blog name here)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Guest Wifi Print download

This is perfect for our guest room, one of those added little touches to help our guests feel at home and settled in quickly. It's been particularly ideal for our Airbnb guests!

I'd seen a few variations of this idea online but decided to create my own. And I'm happy to share!

You can download a PDF file - in either gray or cream (with the network details left blank so you can either write in or print your details) or a PSD file which is fully editable in Photoshop - if you use this version you can get fancy and add your own background papers!

Enjoy! and please share and leave me some love in the comments if you like!

Linking to Marvellous in my Monday! #MIMM

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

NYE 2015 Murder Mystery Luau Party!

We spent our New Year's eve at a Hawaiian Luau. Sadly it was not in Hawaii but it was a ton of fun and we got in the hula girl mood!! (including Meli! - she had more fun that this photos suggest honest!)

We hosted a Murder Mystery party! I purchased the game online from MyMysteryParty.com who have dozens and dozens of game options depending on the size of your group, your male/female ratio and even the age of the attendees (some games were specifically suited to kids or teens). Eventually I decided on the Hawaiian Luau theme - I wanted our guests to dress up, but didn't want the costumes to be too involved given the busy holiday season - and everyone has beach wear! (Even if it's buried away in the bottom drawer right now!)

Once you buy the game you get instant access to download your party pack and invitations. Despite the rather hefty 60 page document it wasn't too difficult to coordinate. As host I read through the first dozen pages or so to understand my role and suggested process of the party. The remaining pages were ready to print clue cards, games, 'investigation sheets' and recipes. Once printed I needed to cut up and seal into envelopes all the clue cards (We had 3 rounds of our game and 10 players). I also needed to print some miscellaneous bits and pieces like 'evidence records' and victim props.

The instructions were clear and for each round you were given a handy check-list of everything you needed, right down to suggestions on when you should be serving your food (it was suggested you based the evening around a 3 course meal). Much as I tried to absorb all the information I needed beforehand I did find myself retreating off to a quiet place a couple of times to review and 'prep' for the next round!

I had some fun with the decorations - I turned our lamp into a palm tree, we had grass 'fringe' all the way round the table and kitchen counters and we got some awesome giant tiki decorations for the wall and a beach scene that fitted our windows perfectly. We strung up some mini lights, had a tiki hut door fringe and decked our snowman on the porch out in his own grass skirt and leii! Salads were served in colourful buckets with spades as serving spoons. Honestly my creative side had a blast converting our kitchen and dining area a little Hawaiian paradise!! I got some perfect decorations and supplies from Party City and our local dollar store. (The 8ft Hanging palm tree was the priciest investment but it was totally awesome in our hallway - it's tempting to leave it up all year!!)

As host I had no idea who the victim was, nor who the murderer was. Again the instructions are clear as to how to ensure you remain in the dark and have just as much fun as the rest of the guests! I had to 'hide' away some props for the victim to use but until they got up to leave the room I had no idea! In the end our victim was Chris!! When he left the room his instructions had told him to go to the bathroom and find props that I'd left under the bathroom sink - there was white face paint (to make himself up to look 'ghost-like!', the weapon used to kill him (in this case a bloodied coconut!) and a funny 'victim' sign to wear! From that moment on he was still part of the game but couldn't talk - only gestures and hand signals allowed!! (think Charades!) - it was funny!
Our unfortunate victim...played by Chris!

We cranked the heating up to 27-28 for the night so the place was hot! Just as well as we had Deanie & Liz in bikinis & Grass Skirts, Dustin as our resident life guard, a couple of beach bimbos, Amos as the useless waiter and a couple of total beach nerds - fisherman Jack and Sol the donut man....

It was a lot of fun - great to have a bit of focus and structure to the evening rather than just drinking and chatting, though obviously there was plenty of that too! We'd arranged a little cocktail menu, and had plenty of snacks and appies - we barely made it to the main course of BBQ & Pulled Pork sliders! It was chaotic (made even more so in our case since we had a couple of characters pull out at the last minute so we had to improvise and had 2 guests play 2 roles each (with a mini wardrobe change to represent which character they were playing - it wasn't ideal but it worked - sort of!!)

Characters would receive their clue cards on which they were provided info on themselves to keep secret and information they were specifically instructed to share with certain characters. There were also questions you needed to ask others, and information you were instructed to find out. By any means....we added in the optional 'money challenge - where everyone started off with 4 loonies and they could use them to bribe or pay for information! Each round provided the character with more information to share, conceal or acquire!

Let me just say that cocktails and Round 3 get messy! It was tricky to keep the momentum going towards the end but we just about managed it - we were all too jolly to be bothered by then! We finished off the game in style with our murderer revealed and instructed to produce a rap song of his dastardly deed! And shortly after we rung in 2015! Happy New Year y'all!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Best of 2014

A little late in pulling these together but here are some of my favourite moments of 2014 in pictures;

Happy New Year to you all!

(here's my best of 2013 post)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Love Bomb!

Nothing like getting Love Bombed!

We 'found' this in our house a little while ago. We concluded one of our lovely Airbnb guests left it. It had been discreetly placed in our gym area in among the hand weights. Chris discovered it a couple of days later...and then he left it on the kitchen counter-top so when I got home from work I 'found' it too! 

The idea is delightful! "Anonymous art in the name of love [and fun]" I 'found' our love bomb at the end of a day, at the end of tough working week...and the sentiment was just what I needed - a little boost of love! 

This is the description of the Guerrilla Art Love Bombs from their Facebook page;
Who: We are an anonymous, ever growing inter-generational group of local folks dedicated to having fun and sharing artful messages of love, hope and opportunity in our community. Anyone who shares this view is welcome join us.
What: Our definition of Guerrilla Art is earth friendly, non-violent, non-destructive, dedicated to sharing positive messages. We create art by using found natural objects or recycled materials. Performance art will also be a part of our repertoire.
Why: We believe that getting folks of all ages together to have fun, create art, share food and music is the best way to change the world, inspire hope and build a community based on creativity and love.
Much as I'd love to hold onto this Love Bomb forever it seemed more in the spirit of things to pass it along. I got the boost of love and human kindness in that moment and that was enough - now it's time to do the same for someone else.

And I want to add to the movement by creating a couple of my own 'Love Bombs' - this is such a fun idea - who wants to join me? Let's spread the love!

Linking up today to Marvelous in my Monday #MIMM

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vacation time! - California

This year Chris and I tagged our vacation time onto my trip to California for Ragnar Napa. Much as I love getting away (far, far away!) it wasn't really on the cards for us this year so several months back we turned my 3 day Ragnar trip into an 11 day California vacation for the both of us! It's been long overdue with family and friends there that we were eager to catch up with.

It's funny how quickly 11 days passes by!

Having arrived in San Franciso on the Thursday afternoon we spent Friday and Saturday doing Ragnar. It was awesome to have Chris along as the Van #1 driver! But as I kept on telling him he'd be hooked and now he wants to do another - next time as a runner! After our exhausting 48 hours we arrived back in SFO and spent the night at the airport Marriott. Winding down after a adrenaline charged weekend of fun, friends and running we relaxed in the bar with cocktails and said our goodbyes to our team-mates.

Our vacation started on Sunday after a huge lie-in! We headed straight for the ocean and we'd follow the Pacific Coast Highway all the way south to Orange County where my Uncle lives. First stop was Half Moon Bay and we stumbled into the most fabulous breakfast of the trip! We'd driven the length of the main street in town, eyed up a couple of options to eat and then cruised along till we found a car parking spot. We pulled in right in front of Chez Shea and decided it looked as good as anywhere, so without a step further headed on in! The breakfasts were Mexican styled - huevos rancheros, salsas & sour creams served on the side of the scrambles, breakfast burritos and my choice chilequiles. It was all so good!

Pacific Coast Highway

It was a long and gorgeous drive. From Monterey to Morro Bay the coastal route 1 is pretty remote with very few points of interest and even fewer settlements. We stopped frequently at the view points, and watched a gorgeous sunset and a small pod of whales frolicking in the ocean in the distance. Having started so late in the day we stopped that night in Santa Barbara and tried In-and-Out Burger that we'd heard so many people rave about.....uh....why?!! (Without doubt the worst meal of the trip - cardboard fries and tasteless soggy bun - ergyuk!)

Photo Credit: Tara Whitney

Monday we made tracks down to Orange County. After 7 years we had decided to get the fabulous Tara Whitney to take our photos again and we met her in Laguna Beach for our photoshoot. It was fun (if a little akward feeling at times!) but we had complete confidence in her after the last time! And within just a week we've got some beautiful new photos of us that I will treasure.

Tuesday and Wednesday was time spent catching up with friends.

We took a day trip to San Diego to meet with Libby - a fellow Health Coach that Chris had met during his time studying with IIN. We had lunch in the Gas Lamp area of town and then took a trip out to Old San Diego for a stroll around the heritage park.

Friday was a day at Disney. We got Park Hopper tickets this time. We'd both done Disney before but had never been to California Adventure. After a 'quick go around' on all our old favourites in Disney we headed into California Adventure in the late afternoon. In the evening we hooked up with Valerie (fellow Tough Chik Ragnar team-mate) and her husband Jeff and their kids, along with my Uncle and Aunt. After a quick ride on Screamin' (yes, without doubt my FAVourite ride in the park!) we headed into the rather exclusive 1901 lounge in California Adventure (it's one of  the private lounges for Club 33 members - and thanks to Jeff and Valerie's membership we were all invited in!). Oh my! What a treat! The park had gotten crazy busy since Disneyland had closed at 7 so we retreated into this blissful vintage club lounge and were treated to exceptional service, hand-crafted cocktails and appetizer plates. It was a perfect way to spend an hour or two! Eventually the park beckoned and we headed out in time to see the Magic of Color show and a last minute ride on Screamin' (again!) and the Cars ride.

It's got to be a good day at Disney when your car is the last one in the lot!! After more than 13 hours in the most magical place on earth we were dragged kicking and screaming from the park at it's midnight closing! What a day!

On our way back up to San Francisco I finally got to check off one of my bucket list items....To stay at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo! Many, many years ago I'd read some chick lit book that mentioned this hotel and after a google search and seeing the photos I was hooked on visiting! The whole hotel is just pure kitsch! Full of garish pinks and florals and patterns it's a visual overload! It could almost be tasteless and hideous but yet it's completing enchanting! I loved it! We booked a waterfall rock room and were allocated the Misty Rock Room.

Photo Credit: Madonna Inn

With 2 walls of the room built with giant rock boulders it was cosy and dark - cave-like! You really did have your own private waterfall as the shower water tumbled down the rocks onto you! Every one of the 110 rooms is individually and uniquely decorated and we strolled by some of the other rooms for a peek through the windows!! Even the public washrooms were crazy decorated! The men's room had a waterfall as the urinal!

The rest of our busy trip included as many beach sunsets, beach bars and beach walks as we could cram in - from Laguna, to Crystal Cove to Pismo Beach and Torrey Pines we stopped at them all and loved every one!

Pismo Beach

Crystal Cove

California livin'.....we could get used to this!

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