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!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Race Recap: Ragnar Napa with Team Tough Chik

I couldn't resist! After the fun I had in April at Ragnar SoCal I was desperate for more! And so were most of my team-mates from Team Tough Chik. In fact the whole of our original Van 1 signed up - including our driver.
The Golden Gate shrouded in morning mist through the window of our van!

This time we ran Ragnar Napa.The race covered 205 miles between the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, across the famed bridge, through Sausalito and Mill Valley before heading north to San Rafael, Petaluma, and Santa Rosa then winding through the smaller scenic roads of Napa Valley's wine country in a round-about way to cover distance from Napa and eventually finishing in Calistoga by way of the beautiful Silverado trail.

Once again I was in Van 1, this time as runner #5 and over the course of my 3 legs I covered 20 miles; 6.4 miles from Mill Valley to Corte Madera up and down a very brutal hill (400ft in just under 1/2 mile!, but then I was rewarded by a beautiful off-road section on a trail at the top of said hill with fabulous views of the bay). 8.6 miles from Sebastopool to Santa Rosa spanning the midnight hour from Friday to Saturday (and just by chance I looked at my watch dead on midnight!). And my third and final leg was a 5 miler looping around Napa along the Napa River trail and finishing on a pretty tree-lined back road heading out of town.

Van #1 - Jody, Jen, Krystal, Shannon & myself having just dispatched Julie to run her final leg!

Ragnar is so much more than a pretty run. Though there was plenty of prettiness to look  out during our 205 miles. Ragnar is about the people and the team spirit. The fun, friendships, laughter. The crazy van decorations, the crazy costumes and the funny, witty and clever team names. Whilst half the team was made up from ladies I'd met at the SoCal event that meant half were new! It was awesome to meet some new friends and re-connect with the 'old'!

The ladies!
And the guys! Our 2 incredible and long suffering drivers Jeff (Valerie's husband) and Chris (you know Chris right?!)
And for those of us who had done Ragnar SoCal in April and completed this race we received the Ragnar Gold Rush Medal - and what a massive hunk of bling it is too, plus it's a bottle opener too!

The Team (L-R) - Jessy, Lauren, Jody, Krystal, Jen, Me, Julie, Shannon (Mama Chik), Valerie, Lisa, Lori & Nikki
Thank you Team Tough Chik for organizing us, and for being the reason I did Ragnar in the first place! And if you'd like to be a part of this awesome group of women then registration for the 2015 Tough Chik team is open now until 15th Novr! It's open to ALL women, anywhere in the world, from beginner to pro athlete. We have a private facebook group where we hang out and stalk, share or over-share (whatever works for you!) and it's a great network of women passionate for their sport (whether it's running, tri, cycling or archery!) supporting each other and having fun! All you need to do to be part of this awesome team is buy something from the team gear catalogue - there's options for cycling, Triathlon or Running and from my past 2 years experience it's totally cute and great quality. I for sure will be back for my third year! Maybe I'll see you there?!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Squamish Music Festival

So last weekend at the ripe old age of 40 I finally went to my first ever Music Festival!! The Squamish Music Festival! Woo hoo!

Squamish is a 3 day festival, but due to other calendar commitments we were just looking at Sunday. Enimem head-lining along with the Arctic Monkeys, Pete Tong & John Digweed (and obviously dozens of others that we'd never heard of!) Tickets were $150 for a day pass. Which at first glance seemed expensive but then I reasoned that we'd be paying that for a concert in BC Place in Vancouver, or even locally here in Kelowna. And for that money we get a whole day of music and entertainment! Really it was a steal!

Gates opened at 1, music started around 3pm. We made the 6 hour drive on Sunday morning to get there in time to collect our wristbands and parking pass from the gate. (If we booked in advance these would have been sent to us, but actually it was an efficient pick-up system and saved us another added fee for the courier delivery!)

The weather was amazing. Temps in the early 30's and wall-to-wall blue. The festival grounds did lack shade which was hard going, but Squamish is surrounded by giant mountains so the sun dips below the horizon earlier here than some places. It was an instant and welcome relieve when it did!

The Stawamus 'Cheif' was a pretty magnificent backdrop to the stage!
Night-time the sky was filled with strings of glowing balloons and the smoke from the DJ stage

We loved the whole experience! There were 4 stages - 2 'big' ones, a DJ arena/stage and then a smaller stage for more alternative stuff. We hovered between the Tantalus, the Stawamus stage and the Blueprint arena. We listened to Phatogram & Atmosphere whilst laying on our picnic blanket in the late afternoon sun, then cruised by the DJ stage and chilled out to tunes from Project 46 (was one of my favs from the event). We checked in on the Arctic Monkeys but it's not really my taste. Back to the other end of the grounds for some awesomely varied music from the Theivery Corporation.

You can see the man....just!! Eminem played an awesome set!

Eninem was the day's big draw for most people, and he was on the Tantalus Stage at 9:40 - it was packed!! We worked our way through to a spot nearer the front for the first half of his show, then moved back for a slightly more relaxed time for the second half - with less crowding around us you could actually see more! (just further away obviously!). he played an awesome set - some older stuff mixed in with the new and he had an great singer accompany him, taking the place of Rhianna in several of those tracks - she sounded fantastic! His encore was 'Lose Yourself' which had the crowd erupt! He was done around 11:20 and we headed back to end our night listening and dancing at the Blueprint arena and a bit of John Digweed

I was surprised and impressed how organised the festival was. Obviously great weather helps things enormously! But the line-ups for our tickets at the start of the day and then food, merchandise and porta-potties were never long. They were efficient and staff were jovial, professional and knew their stuff. it was altogether well organised and a slick moving operation. I was never overcome by the crowds and mass of people - and of course there were lots of people - but there really was space for everyone and no-one was bitchin'. Even the RCMP roaming the grounds were friendly and seemingly enjoying themselves, chatting to festival-goers as they went. I didn't see or sense any bad vibes. It thankfully wasn't as 'hippy and young' as I thought it was gonna be - quite the relief for this old dog! Aside from the music there were plenty of vendor and sponsor tents to browse - most giving out freebies of some kind - we had free slushies, Kind bars, Jerky and Hawaiian Tropic had a stand doling out sunscreen and after-sun samples! (pretty handy given the weather!) I missed out on getting a free caricature done, but we get some groovy sunglasses and a beach ball! (which Meli loved destroying! - and then still loved as she tore around with a deflated ball!).

At the end of the night we drove the 1/2 hour down the road to our camp-ground at Porteau Cove (one of our favourite BC Provincial parks) and woke the next morning to the sound of the water lapping the shore. A morning paddle-boarding and yoga session before getting back on the road for the drive home.

Linking up this fine Monday morning with Katie's 'Marvelous in my Monday' linkup - celebrating all that is good about the beginning of the working week!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Savary Island - BC's 'Tropical' Paradise!

We've lived in BC for nearly 5 years. Until a few weeks ago we'd never heard of Savary Island, and we'll be forever thankful to the Powell River taxi driver who told us about this hidden gem! On doing research for our trip I realised there isn't much visitor information out there about Savary Island - I think those that know like to keep it to themselves!!

Savary Island is a small island in the Strait of Georgia just off the BC coast near Lund on the Sunshine Coast. It's only 7.5 km long and less than a 1km wide. There are no paved roads, no electricity and no mains water or sewage systems. 

Once you drive all the way up the Sunshine Coast, the paved road ends in the tiny community of Lund. From there you get the Lund Water Taxi across the water to Savary. The water taxi is $11 per person each way and leaves every hour. You generally need to book ahead since it gets pretty loaded up with people and luggage. It's just a 10-15 trip across the water landing you at Government dock on the north east shore of the island.

We were staying at the island's only campground. It's very informal, and I'm not even really sure what it's called! We found out some information ahead of time online with it called 'Savary Camping & Cottages' but I think the locals more commonly refer to it as 'Pascal's Campground' (surprise, surprise it's run by a guy called Pascal! and really, since the information online is sketchy the safest, easiest way to connect is by good old fashioned phone - 604-698-8745) Thankfully it's on the eastern end of the island and a manageable walk from the dock - maybe 10-20 minutes depending on how much luggage you're hauling. Alternatively there are people at the wharf with trucks so you can pay someone for a ride. From the dock turn right and head up the hill. At the junction keep left onto Anderson Road and follow it around to the left until you see the camping. The campsite had around 10 sites all with nice wooden tent pads, picnic tables and lots of shade. There's a very basic outhouse with a flush toilet, dish-washing sink and a cold (really cold!) water shower. It's rustic to say the least! There's also a covered picnic shelter which would be a perfect escape should the weather be bad. The campground is in the middle of the island so it's a 10 minute walk in either direction to get to public beach access. We had gorgeous weather for our weekend stay on Savary but the campground is so heavily shaded by the lush green trees it actually gets quite chilly so bring a sweater if you're hanging around camp!

The first evening we explored the south shore beaches near the campground. There's quite a cliff to get down to the beach and it's mostly lined with private houses so you need to pick your spot to get down to the beach, but there are a couple of marked trails. The beach is strewn with driftwood and a fun place to beach-comb for sand dollars and I found some smoothed-out coloured glass fragments which I like to collect

Our second day we spent our time on the north shore beach, near the dock. With the tide out its a huge wide, flat, beautiful white sand beach with shallow waters and you can people watch the comings and goings on the dock! Our second night we ate at Riggers Pub & General Store. A small, simple menu but the beer flowed (at only $6 a pint) and it filled a gap! I was more than impressed that the general store next door were only charging $1 for a small bottled water - totally reasonable when there was easy opportunity to gouge their captive audience! Hat's off to Riggers! (and if you're a patron of the pub they have super lovely clean toilets!!) We rounded out our evening by heading back down to the beach for the sunset - just gorgeous!

I explored the island a little on the second morning with a 'sight-seeing' run. I ran the full length of the island. The road runs through the middle of the island so in truth there wasn't a lot to see. Savary is heavily wooded with lush, old growth evergreens - it really does have that rain-forest feel to it and it was lovely to run through this 'enchanted' forest! It was fun to glimpse all the little cottages and homes buried away in the woods - some tiny and shack-like, others quite elaborate mansions! There are a few businesses on island - a small bike rental place (near the dock & Riggers on the east end), a few B&Bs, a couple of art galleries and a kayak rental place. If you can spare the luggage space I think taking a bike would be super handy - it's the most popular way of getting around!

We loved our 2 night stay on Savary Island. It really was amazing to disconnect, kick back and relax with no distractions. It was a perfect, lazy 2 days with some great company. The showers were challenging to say the least (the upside to a 9 mile run for me was that I was hot and sweaty so a cold shower was quite refreshing, the others were cold from hanging around camp for too long so being cold and then getting into an icy shower was pretty shocking!) Whilst there was in fact cell phone service there was no electricity and my poor iPhone is old and doesn't last long without some juice. I turned it to airplane mode and saved the battery just to take photos. (though you can pay $2 at Riggers to charge up your phone!)

And the beaches really are tropical-like white sands and the waters really are warm (the warmest north of Mexico some say!)

Also very worthy of a mention is Nancy's Bakery in Lund. It was the perfect place to grab some last minute goodies to take with us and something to look forward to on our return...the most incredible place serving up breakfasts, fresh baked goods, sandwiches, paninis and more. Their speciality blackberry cinnamon buns converted Chris (not a cinnamon bun lover) into an addict! They were amaze-balls! And all  served up with a lovely view overlooking Lund harbour.

Savary Island, we will be back!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Playing tourist in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Last month I took a fantastic trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was a work trip but Michele (my work colleague) and I managed to cram in a good chunk of sight-seeing too!

We stayed right downtown Halifax at the Four Points - it was 1 block from the water and I had a teeny glimpse of the harbour from my top floor room. We arrived late on Monday after a long day of travelling but we headed straight out and enjoyed a nice stroll along the board walk and into a couple of different pubs for drinks before settling down at Salty's for a classic Atlantic lobster dinner over-looking the harbour. (well Michele did - I don't even like lobster - I know - wrong province right?!)

Tuesday was a glorious day weather-wise. We worked in the morning but wrapped up our work day early enough to head out for the some sight-seeing. We hopped in the rental car and took the long scenic route south out of the city following as much coastline as we could get. We made a brief stop at the York Deboubt Historic Site - built in 1793 on a bluff overlooking the harbour entrance it was a windy stop, and not fully open for the season so we didn't stay long.

The road took us through a number of other small communities - Ketch Harbour and Prospect all the while clinging on to the gorgeous rugged and rocky coastline. These little villages were smaller than I imagined and less touristy and developed - I was expecting gift shops, B&B's and cafes galore but for the most part they were quiet and unassuming places that looked like they were just going about their regular business and hadn't catered to the tourists at all. We made it to the infamous Peggy's Cove and lighthouse. It's a sight featured on many a calendar here in Canada!! It was later in the afternoon so the little fishing cove was deserted and the few art galleries and shops here were closed for the day but it gave the place a rather peaceful feel for us strolling  around. The lighthouse itself sat on the edge of the rocks right on the edge of Canada, waves crashing around it - we hopped the tide pools and rocks to reach it and admire the view of that big bad Atlantic ocean.

Wednesday morning I got up before work to head out on my sight-seeing run. I've started to really look forward to going for a run when I'm travelling - getting in my workout AND seeing the sights of the town! Bam! Killing it with the time management there! I used MapMyRun to scout out a route along the waterfront boardwalk (past some funky installation art - are those lamp-posts drunk?!), through the commercial docks to end up in Point Pleasant Park. Oh man, what an awesome park - it reminded me a lot of Stanley Park in Vancouver - lovely wide gravel pathways around it's circumference and cris-crossing through the park with a myriad more smaller trails through the forest. I headed out of the park, through the Spring Garden neighbourhood and to the Citadel - a short, sharp hill climb got me to the top where I could run the perimeter and enjoy some wicked views of the city. From there I headed back along the waterfront to the hotel and had clocked 10km for my troubles - such a great start to my day!

Thursday Michele and I had put in a vacation day so we headed back down the coast for Lunenburg. The weather was lousy - crazy torrents of rain which made for a sad, wet drive. We stopped briefly in Mahone Bay but really just cruised through town a couple of times admiring the views from the comfort and dryness of the rental car! Finally when we reached Lunenburg the rain had mostly let up so we could spend a couple of hours strolling around the town without looking like drowned rats!

We explored the very interesting little Knaut-Rhuland House Museum - where we had a personal tour guide who explained how the town was settled by the British - there were great incentives to encourage people to settle here - including a plot of land and some animals - each person arriving would draw a card to set what lot they were being 'given'! These days the town is a UNESCO World heritage site and is full of delightful old, cheerfully painted buildings and is a perfect place to just stroll around (even in the rain!)

I got in a final run on Friday morning before our flight out. This time I headed out of the city, over the main MacDonald bridge and across into Dartmouth. I ran along the water separating the cities of Halifax and Dartmouth. Much of the route seemed pretty industrial and at time perhaps a little sketchy and I was seriously questioning my sense of direction a few times, but Google maps is my friend and together we made it (as per my plan) to the Woodside Ferry terminal - part of the city's transport network it was a $2.25 fare on the water taxi back to the wharf in Halifax and 2 blocks from my hotel. Quite the adventure and some great views of Halifax from the bridge as I crossed the harbour.

I was quite taken with Halifax! I'm kicking myself for not sneaking Chris into my suitcase for this trip - he would have loved it! The city seems very funky and forward - the calibre of restaurants and eateries is a notch above Kelowna. We dined at some real gems - including a Vegan restaurant (which had a big picture of a vizsla on the wall so they got my vote even before the food turned up!!), an awesome place called 2 Doors Down who source mostly local produce, and an incredible fish n' chip place buried in the middle of a residential area but agreed upon by all we asked to be the best place going for classic fish and chips and the beer...oh the beer!! I only seem to drink beer when I'm travelling and then I turn into some craft brew drinking beer monster - and I really I love every minute of it - Propeller, Garrison, and not forgetting the most famous of them all - Alexander Keith's brewery (where we did indulge in a brewery tour - complete with costumed guides, a little singing and dancing and of course a couple of pints to sample!!)

Halifax, I think you're awesome!! (and you even have a shop especially for me!!)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Our AirBnB 'Hosting' experience

I first heard about Airbnb several months ago - from people who had travelled and used the service as a way to find accommodation. I was intrigued but I had no cause to book any accommodation at the time. 
(if you want to sign up and book through Airbnb check out my code to save you $27 at the bottom of the post)

According to their website;

Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone.

Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.

Then Chris and I got to thinking. We have a beautiful house which is generously sized for 2 people and a basement with 2 spare bedrooms that are rarely ever used. It seemed the perfect idea to sign up to Host on Airbnb.

A couple more months went by and procrastination was our houseguest so nothing happened. Then in June we eventually jiggled some furniture around to make the main room a little more attractive (read: photo-genic!) and functional for guests and then pulled out the wide angle lens for the camera and snapped some photos. I spent a couple of hours creating our profile online and writing a full and detailed description of the space we had available to rent. Details about the room, the space and amenities guests have access to, the neighbourhood & surrounding area, public transit options, house rules, and the level of interaction hosts have with guests.

Within 2 hours of listing our space we had our first booking! Then the next day another one for that very evening! It was an exciting start!

It's been an awesome way to maximise space in our home that was sadly under-utilized and meet new people. Meli has been in her element as chief guest-greeter and is making BFF's every time someone new shows up! We've had guests from Alberta, Hungary, France and of course BC. Airbnb seems like a no-brainer option compared to staying in a grotty motel - it's more personal and usually a lot nicer accommodations plus typically cheaper. For us it's great to be able to offer travellers that option and we make some cash to boot!

Guests make a booking through the Airbnb system either on the website or the Airbnb phone app. The booking comes through to us as hosts to accept or decline....although there is a calendar visible which we keep up-to-date as best we can it still gives us an opportunity to make the final decision. Once accepted the guest then pays Airbnb straight away (with a small admin fee added). As hosts we get the confirmation of booking and then sit tight waiting for the guest to arrive. We receive payment (minus a small admin fee) 24 hours after the guest checks-in and we have chosen to receive our payouts via Paypal which are pretty much instantaneous. After a stay is completed there is a review process for both guest and host - so right now we're working at building a good review base.

I now want to be on the 'other end of things' so to speak - I'm excited to stay in some of these beautiful listings - I'll have to plan a trip just so I can book through Airbnb!! Just browse the website listings - there are so many funky places to stay - in retro trailers, castlesigloos, a shipping container, a teepee, a lighthouse or a treehouse. Our listing is a bit 'plain-jane' compared to those but we've had great feedback from our guests and we don't want all out funky all the time, right?!?! It's just a nice comfortable guest suite....

If you'd like to try Airbnb for yourself then I can save you $27 off your first stay....use this referral link to sign up...if you're on a phone and it prompts you for a code then use hmills3
(I also get referral credit if you sign up and make a stay or sign up to host!)... Happy Travels!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Our 2-year Vizsla-versary!

July 4th marks the day when Miss Meli came to live with us. For us this date seems way more significant that her actual birthday and since she's a dog I'm hedging my bets that she probably won't care all that much either way!!

The last 2 years have flown by!

She's a well behaved girl - provided there aren't too many distractions!! Which means she's angelic in the house - using a bell to let us know she needs to pee, knowing her boundaries around the house (she's only allowed on certain furniture - and over the course of time that list is rapidly shrinking - we're such suckers!!), and waiting patiently for the command before she'll eat. Out of the house she's a bit more of a runaway! She still thinks everyone wants to be her best friend so she'll dash up to anyone nearby! She loves hanging out with other dogs, but does seem to tire of them quickly - after the obligatory butt-sniffing she does tend to come back to us (unless it's Brix the Weimaraner from down the road!).

These days she runs with me on most of my training runs - usually 2-3 times a week - our long runs are up to around 10-12 miles with a couple of shorter ones mid-week. The distance and time out running is great for her but she seems to come home ready for more. Unless she's had some serious off-leash play and running at her own pace (I'm just too slow!) she is difficult to tire! We're so lucky that we have access to around 20km of trails right from our front door so we trail run some of the shorter distances so we both get a great workout! And then she's a happy, happy pup! More recently Chris has also started taking her out mountain biking on the trails and she's loving that!

She is OBSESSED with her ball-on-a-rope. It's ideal for us since we can really throw it some distance (even me who can't throw to save my life!) The best game ever?! - Us standing on the front lawn and throwing it up the bank opposite into the shrubs and waste-ground. She'll dash up the bank, leaping like a deer at the crest, and then moments later come bounding back down the hill with it, do a lap around the lawn and come back for more, more, more!! It's a great way to get the wriggles out (I nearly said 'to tire her out', but really, that never happens!)

We did take her on an excellent camping adventure last fall - 2 nights in Glacier National Park, with a couple of days of serious mountain hiking. And actually that was the closest we may ever have come to the elusive 'tired vizsla'....6 hours hiking 16km up a mountain and back does that to a pup....She couldn't even keep her eyes open for the campfire...

Despite the lack of hair and undercoat our girl loves winter. Yep!! Crazy! Snow must be her favoutire thing and she was a great companion to our frequent snow-shoe trips this past winter. We got her geared up in a cozy fleece lined waterproof jacket and she'll go on forever! She also loves the lakes (even in the winter - sliding across a frozen lake was funny for all of us!!) - now summer is here she'll be back out on the SUP with Chris - she's rather protective of Chris and doesn't like to watch him disappear off too far from shore so will generally jump on in and make a swim for him! The 2 of them even went SUP in February when the lake was still partially frozen!

However, this girl does NOT like her photo being taken. It's usually the Miss-grumpy-pants face as soon as she sees us getting out the camera or our phones...
Possibly my favourite photo of the year - Daddy's Little Girl....!

We love you Miss Meli-mou!! xxx

Friday, June 13, 2014

Race Recap: Whistler Half Marathon 2014

Last weekend was my second year running the Whistler Half Marathon and once again proved to be an excellent weekend away.

In fact my over-riding impression of  the weekend is that it really was so much more than just a 21.1km race. it started the moment we drove into town on Friday afternoon. Whistler is such a great vacation-atmosphere resort town so I really enjoy the vibe and kickin' back. After our 7 hour drive I really do feel like I'm in vacation mode!! We wasted no time checking in to the host hotel, visiting package pick-up downstairs and then heading out for a late lunch. The village stroll is full of options; we took advantge of the gorgeous weather and ended up on the patio at La Bocca - a place right opposite our hotel! Later that evening we also attended the presentation and pasta party at the local Brewhouse. It was difficult not to sample too many of their craft beers, but race day in Whistler is Saturday!!

We stayed at the Crystal Lodge - the same hotel as last year and I really can't recommend it enough. It is so nice to be walking distance to the start line. With my usual race morning jitters and angst about last minute pit stops I can skip the porta potty lines and with minutes to spare leave my cosy hotel room and jog down to the start line and hop stright into the corral as the national anthem is playing! Sa-weet!

My race wasn't my best result. Last year I broke a huge barrier for me and clocked my first sub-2 hour Half Marathon - I then managed to finish all 4 of my 2013 halfs in under 2 hours. My race on Saturday I came in a little over 2 hours - of course I'm over 40 now! - yes, indeed, that must be it!! When trying to look for silver linings I can say that I conquered Blueberry Hill. A rather infamous hill near the start of the race - it stretches a little over 1km and I remember last year walking a good portion of it. This year I reached the top without stopping and felt pretty darn pleased with myself. But there was a lot of unexpected hills - a lot more than I'd remembered and Blueberry Hill I think had so physched me out I gave everything I had to that and left nothing for later! I was dragging from around the 12km point - yikes - it was a still a long way to go. Anyway, I finished. 2:01:51.

Surprisngly one of the highlights of my weekend was a late addition to the Race weekend schedule - a 'RecoverRun' on the Sunday morning. Given that it was an 8am start and I was giving up any chance of a weekend lie-in I signed us up for this free bonus event. It was a coach-led 5km trail run around some of the fabulous Lost Lake cross country trails right by the village. Aside from the fact I was taken somewhere I'd never been before it was a comfortable paced 35 minute run with a stretch routine after in The North Face store. There were just 50 spots available so it was a great sized group and perfect opportunity to loosen off those weary legs! We all received a North Face visor for showing up and had coffee, fruit and chocolates to welcome us back after we were done! And we were up, worked out and back in our room with plenty of time to shower, chill out a little and grab breakfast all before our check-out time!

The Whistler Half marathon sells out quickly and it's really no surprise why! It's a great deal - I think the early bird rate was just $78 (with no annoying fees and taxes) and our race packages were full of goodies - it's heavily sponsored by The North Face and they look after us well - a cute women's cut tshirt, arm warmers (whcih I saw in the store later retailing at $28!), a water bottle and the visor which I got at the Recover run. Plus awesome food and special 'North Face' toasted cheese as post-race food!! (yes the logo is imprinted onto the toast!), Refresher drinks from Starbucks and Oikos Greek yogurts from Danone.

Another fabulous weekend in the books!

I'm linking up to Jill's Fitness Friday!
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