Tag Archives: travel

Canada Day Camping in the Rockies

Last year on Canada Day, my best friend Lisa‘s sister Heather’s boyfriend Brent (that is a mouthful so I will just say my friend Brent now, because we are friends) posted this photo to Facebook.

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And I have never in my life been more jealous. I was like, where is this and why am I not there right now. Even though I was having a great Canada Day at the time (better than usual, even), that scene looked like a dream. I vowed that one day I would be there on that scenic beach and I would dance around in a Canada umbrella hat with mountains in the background.

So when Lisa texted me last Sunday and was all “Hey do you maybe want to come to Calgary and see me for the long weekend and we can go camping in Revelstoke with Heather and Brent and friends?” I thought it over for about two minutes, and obviously I remembered that picture, before I texted back YUP. I am in.

It was the combination of seeing my bestie, and her sister and friends, camping at that beautiful spot, AND the fact that the beautiful camping spot was only an hour away from my mom and brother in Salmon Arm, so I could see them too. The entire situation could not have worked out any better. I was absolutely sold and I booked my flights that evening.

Five days later I flew out to Calgary and had a wine-filled Friday night in with Lisa and our friend Crystal, who also happens to live out there. Saturday morning Lis and I left for Revelstoke, BC, about a five hour drive from Calgary, Alberta, to meet up with Heather and Brent and their friends in the Rockies for what would be the best camping of my life.

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I have made the drive along the Trans Canada Highway from Calgary over to Salmon Arm several times now and it will never get old. It is my favourite drive in the world. Everywhere you look is just breathtakingly beautiful, the entire drive.

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So the scenery coupled with catching up with my best friend while we sang ridiculous car karaoke make me pretty overwhelmingly excited for the rest of our adventures that weekend.

The drive ended up taking us a bit longer than usual because of a minor directions snafu that led to us nearly getting on a ferry and making friends with a directions-savvy biker (thank God or I don’t think we would have found it), but we eventually made it to paradise.

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I know, right? Amazing.

I was delighted to find Jen, Corinna and Elliot from our Vegas crew, as well as Heather and Brent, in attendance, and several of their friends, and friends and friends who were all fun and welcoming. There were 17 people there at one point.

Lis and I immediately cracked a beer, got into our bathing suits and got in that glorious water!

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The campsite is on crown land and is not an actual campground, so we did not have to pay (which was awesome). We were totally in middle of nowhere in the mountains, no cell signal or any way of contacting the outside world really, and no other campers within a good couple of kilometres. Extremely secluded. Mountains on all sides!

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View of our site from the water

Pictures just do not do it justice. Even that picture with Brent didn’t prepare me for what I would experience when I saw that view in person.

Heather was all “I need to show you the bathroom, it’s so nice!” which…

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Cute

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and…rustic.

I guess. Pretty nice. I’ve seen worse, it did have a seat. And twinkle lights!

So for the next two days, we did all the camping things. We drank a lot. We spent hours and hours in the river, either floating, swimming, or sitting in chairs.

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The water was very cold, but it was very very hot (38 degrees C on Sunday! I don’t know what that is in F, but definitely over 100), so it was refreshing. Being outside would have been unbearable without the river. We had a good breeze, too.

I leisurely dog paddled around for about two hours on Sunday, swimming close to that mountain across the way and then lying on my back in the water and just staring up at it for a really long time. Lis and I also took our inflatable boats out there and floated around.

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We slept in a wonky tent that we left open to the sky so we could see the mountains and the stars.

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We ate all the camping food.

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We listened to Elliot and Lauren play their guitars and we all sang along.

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Hands down the best campsite I have ever had.

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Mainly I tried to convince Elliot to play Neil Young. 

We had campfires and roasted marshmallows.

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We played ladder ball and watched the sun go down, although it stayed light outside until 11pm. And even then it never got fully dark because the moon was so bright rising over the mountain. It was surreal.

I made new and closer friends. I laughed harder than I have in a long time, almost at everything. I got my bestie time.

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And I got my picture with the Canada umbrella hat.

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So, it was the best time ever. I was really sad to leave. The perfect way to celebrate Canada Day weekend!

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Sandals Royal Bahamian: Our Resort

As I mentioned, several times, we stayed at the beautiful Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau, Bahamas. I feel pretty lucky to have stayed there as I think a Sandals would typically be out of the ol’ price range over here.

Past resorts that I have stayed at and written about are the Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton in Lucea, Jamaica, and also the Brisas Guardalavaca in Holguin, Cuba. I like to get detailed about the resort not only so that I can have a record of where I stayed, but also for other people who are thinking of staying there and are looking for info about it (a blog reader actually stayed at our resort in Jamaica after I wrote about it, and maybe she was humouring me but she did say it was because of my review).

Let me tell you I wish there was a blog post like this one when I was researching about the Royal Bahamian before we left. Sure, you can check out Trip Advisor, but I find the reviews on there are pretty hit or miss. You never know who the reviewer is, and some people just like to complain, ya know? I like to know what to expect.

Anyway, let’s get to it. It was pretty ridiculously beautiful. If you are into the whole sun, sand, and being pampered kind of thing.

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Which I am. And I feel like this is my climate.

This is apparently the oldest Sandals location and people in our group did say it was the most run down Sandals they had been to, and I also read that in some reviews. I am probably not the best person to ask about that because it looked friggin’ nice to me and I was impressed…but just keep in mind that it’s been around for a while. It seemed to me like they did a pretty good job with the upkeep, and most of it has been refurbished.

Our room was great.

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Just fabulous. I love a good four poster bed.

And I was quite a fan of this:

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This is my third all-inclusive and I have never had a bar in the room like this (in Jamaica there was beer in the fridge but that was about it). Evan saw this and was all “Whoa, we be gettin’ crunnnnnnked!” but in reality I think we had one glass of rum each. We barely spent any time in our room. Though I did have a few cans of beer from the fridge while I was getting ready for dinner activities in the evenings.

Here was the view from our balcony:

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So no complaints about that!

The resort had two main pools. The one our room looked onto, which we called the party pool because there always seemed to be a party happening in there…

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This picture was taken before 9am so the party pool wasn’t quite happening yet.

And the quiet pool.

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Pretty much the same as the party pool but…quieter.

Evan and I both preferred the quiet pool and spent two afternoons hanging around there with various coworkers of mine. Both pools had swim-up bars, which are very important in an all-inclusive resort pool (look at me talking like I’m a pro, about two years ago I had never even been away anywhere!)

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The service was great. All around, not just in the swim-up bars. The staff were fantastic.

Both pools had floating rafts which I actually had a little nap on one afternoon…

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And in the quiet pool area there was a waterfall and this angry god.

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Evan would be recreating this beautiful picture from Cuba…

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He likes to shower with random statues (who doesn’t).

We were in the Royal Windsor room complex, but some of the more private villas had private pools.

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For all the lovers, you know. And yes I felt like a supreme creeper in the bushes taking that photo…

But the most important part of any resort is the beach! The beach was very beautiful and the ocean was warm and lovely, but the beachfront was very small.

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The beach is separated by a big pier in the middle, and you can swim and leisure on either side, but it is still very small. Our resort was very contained and there were other resorts (one actually might have been a private residence) on either side of us.

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They do have all the fun water things you can rent, like kayaks, water trikes, sailboats, etc. We tried to rent a water trike one day (because they are hilarious and look like big tractors), but unfortunately it was too windy to take it out.

The other thing about the beach is sometimes when you were swimming in the water you could smell a strong sulphur scent. Evan had actually read about this before we left and was explaining the reason behind the sulphur smell…but still, even if there’s a good reason, sulphur smells like rotten eggs and it is not a dream scent while in paradise.

To make up for the small sulphur beach though, this resort has a private offshore island and a water taxi will take you there every hour (or you can rent a kayak). The private island has two insanely beautiful (and big) beaches. One that faces back to the resort…

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And one that looks out to the deep, blue sea of forever.

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This beach was my favourite. The water was so incredibly clear and the sand was nice and…sandy.

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Photobombed.

About 8 of us took the earliest water taxi over there on our last full day and spent hours there. It was a dream.

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In addition to the two beautiful beaches on the island, there was another pool with a swim-up bar and a seafood restaurant called Stew Fish (more on that in the food post).

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I didn’t go in this pool at all, but it looks pretty nice.

Evan and I also went snorkeling on our first full day. You can borrow masks, snorkels and fins from the main resort beach and they will take you in a boat about a kilometre off the island.

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Not THE BEST snorkeling, but not too shabby at all. We saw some pretty fishies, and that’s all that matters.

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The only annoying thing about the snorkelling was that you couldn’t borrow masks and snorkels from the offshore island, you had to get them from the main resort beach. But you also couldn’t borrow them and then take them over to the island by yourself, you had to go on the snorkel boat and do the snorkelling at a scheduled time (and our boat was full so my coworker friend and her husband weren’t able to come with us). I wish I had known this in advance because I honestly would have brought our own equipment. People who had their own equipment on the island saw an eel, a stringray, a lobster and a turtle just off the beach and I was jealous. I saw no such things.

Some other cool things around the resort… Many, many statues, and many fountains…

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And many gods…

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I originally thought that was Zeus, but since we’re near Atlantis Paradise Island I am going to say it is probably Poseidon. Either way, that statue was huge.

There were also little coal fires everywhere along the beach.

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Which were very nice at nighttime when they were lit and you could lounge around them.

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Tres romantique!

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That is actually a professional photo that a resort photographer took while we were chilling by the fire one night. They also offered to do a complimentary photoshoot with us around the resort, which was very nice, but unfortunately the timing didn’t work out for that. Apparently they offer it to all their guests, but no one in our group took them up on the offer.

The only thing about the Bahamas, or maybe just Nassau, the area we stayed, is that I don’t feel like I got an authentic island experience like I did in both Jamaica and Cuba. Off the resort is very Americanized. I’m sure it would still be fun to explore (we didn’t have much of a chance), but it’s difficult to picture the culture when just beyond the gates of your resort there is a Domino’s Pizza, a dentist and a Dairy Queen.

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I don’t feel like there was a ton to do at this resort aside from laying around on the beach, which don’t get me wrong, I enjoy…but I don’t think I could have done it for another day so we were there for the perfect amount of time. If I was going for a week I think I’d pick a different location so we could do some off resort adventuring and experience some culture.

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All in all though, it was very nice and we had a VERY fun time. I would definitely recommend the resort. It was very popular for young newlyweds, so if you didn’t just get married be prepared for everyone you meet to ask you if you are on your honeymoon.

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I know this is misleading but we are just on a trip with my coworkers.

And now you have a background of where we stayed and I can move onto the fun things 🙂

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Bahama Mamas

Ahoy ahoy! I am back! We arrived home from the Bahamas (or The Pajamas as Evan likes to say) on Thursday evening and I immediately showered and slept for nearly 12 hours. It was back to work yesterday for me so I wanted to make sure I was in tip-top condition for that. It’s a busy time of year and I had a ton to catch up on.

Our trip was really great. We were only gone for four days, and technically only had two full days there, so I knew going in that it was just going to fly by, and it did…but I found there was still ample time for adventuring.

I think I am going to keep with my standard vacation blogging protocol. I like to ease you into things with the highlights and then get into more detail on our resort, the food, the shenanigans, etc. It may have been a quick trip but I still have a ton to talk about. And yes I sure will milk it for blog content.

As I mentioned, I was vacationing with all my coworkers and their spouses/friends. Our entire trip was a Christmas present last year from my CEO to us.

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Because we look like the type of group who you’d want to give a very fun Christmas present to.

He must really like us all to want to hang out with us for four days straight (he is the one holding the wine bottles). We all became very close on this trip. My fellow coworker and turquoise twin in the front with me just started with us two weeks ago and we are already clutching hands. And before our trip I didn’t even know who this person is.

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But now she is my new bff. That is what happens when you take an all-inclusive vacation with your coworkers and their spouses/friends. Not to mention all the food and all the alcohol. You have much intensified bonding time. And EVERYTHING will be hilarious. Watching my boss with his two brothers who were also on the trip (they are very involved with our company and I have met them many times before) was like watching a comedy show. Actually, the one-liners from everyone in attendance were a’plenty. It was impressive. We were all comedians and I loved it.

At first I wondered what the protocol was for hanging out with your coworkers outside of work. Did they want to? Are we excited when we see each other at the airport, or do we try to avoid each other? I learned pretty quickly that yeah, we wanna hang out and get to know each other, because this is not work and we’re all pretty cool people and we might never again all be together in a place like this in this sort of situation, so we better take advantage. Or at least that is how I felt.

The trip is hands down the most extravagant gift I have ever received and believe me I know how lucky I am. I am not sure I can even put into words how grateful I am that this happened to me. I probably thanked my CEO a million times, and I doubt I am even close to being done with the thanking yet.

Anyway, let’s get to some details. We stayed at the Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau, Bahamas and it was as beautiful as you would expect a Sandals in the Bahamas to be.

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The photos look like professional resort photos, but that is from my phone. It is just that nice.

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Paradise and a half. But more on that later.

My boss also, as a surprise, got us all gift certificates to use at the spa while we were there. A Sandals spa, which I will probably never have the opportunity to visit again so I was pretty excited. And also apprehensive, since I have never actually been to a spa before (I am not really a spa person and to be honest I feel weird about strangers touching me)… Evan was in the same boat so we had a hard time deciding what to do. I knew I had to get something besides a pedicure though. Eventually we decided to go with the 60-minute “Scents of Love” couples massage because why not?

It was interesting. I felt weird at first and for the initial 10 minutes I wondered how I was going to last through another 50 of a stranger vigorously rubbing me. But I relaxed pretty quickly and actually at one point was enjoying it so much that I started drooling.

The most awkward thing was in the beginning before the massages started we were instructed to light candles and to “make promises to each other,” which may be the cheesiest thing I have ever been asked to do. But I promised that I wouldn’t laugh during the massage, and I kept that promise and did not even let out one tiny giggle when my masseuse was essentially tickling my feet (I am VERY ticklish).

And near the end of the massage our masseuses tried to get us to hold hands while we laid on our separate tables, but we were both blindfolded and they just started mashing our hands together and we didn’t know what was happening and I thought my masseuse was trying to get me to hold her hand so I was all stiff and awkward… And then they said “So we are putting your hands together right now…” Ohh, okay. We get it. We’ll hold hands.

Anyway, it was an experience, and we received those promise candles as keepsakes so we can “scent your bedroom” (direct masseuse quote) so I guess that’s a good thing. Who doesn’t enjoy a well-scented bedroom?

Um, what else.

We ate a lot.

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Enough for an entire post about food? YUP.

In four days we squeezed in a significant amount of beach time…

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Pool time…

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I may be a bad influence… and no we are not peeing, there is a yellow design on the bottom of the pool.

Social time…

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Evan and his new buds.

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Me and mine. Again I might be a bad influence.

And also alone timone.

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We had absolutely perfect weather, and I was never at any point the drunkest.

It was amazing and I feel like I love everything right now.

I will be back with some more deets on Monday, but in the meantime have a great weekend!!!

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Boston Blue Jays

On Monday evening, after our Boston adventures, we quickly took over the bathrooms in the lobby of the Buckminster (we didn’t have a room anymore, so thank you again Buckminster staff!) and changed into our gear for the Red Sox vs. Blue Jays game at Fenway Park.

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We’re obviously cheering for the Jays!

It was still so incredibly hot and humid (I think the east coast is stealing our summer), so I stayed in my skirt. The thought of trying to encase my sweaty legs in skinny jeans made them feel like they wanted to fall off.

I have only ever seen the Jays at Rogers Centre. I’ve never been anywhere else, and I don’t think the girls had either. So we were excited to be at a real American ballpark!

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And I can’t tell you how fun it is to go to a game cheering for the opposing team.

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I don’t think any of us were as excited as our little Ern was though.

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She is a Blue Jays super fan and pretty much the entire reason we were in Boston in the first place. She made that sweet sign as a tribute to her dad, whose dream it is to see a game in Fenway Park.

The Fenway area was absolutely rammed with people. Mostly Red Sox fans, but we were surprised at the amount of fellow Jays fans that were in attendance. Dawn brought her Blue Jays 1992 World Series Champions flag, and as we walked by people we would lift it over their heads while we sang to them.

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Initially we targeted excited Blue Jays fans, but we got some Red Sox lovers under there as well. They liked it. Red Sox fans were pretty tolerant of us cheering for the opposing team, and we had a lot of fun with friendly heckling. We even made a couple Red Sox fan friends.

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Mother daughter Red Sox fans!

And this Boston police officer.

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Dawn spotted him and was all “we are going to be his friend,” and so we were. Does he not look like the quintessential Boston police officer? When I think of Boston cops, that man is what I picture. We told him he was cheering for the Jays tonight and the man who was taking our picture for us was all “You poor sucker.” Maybe, but he enjoyed. I need to point out that in Toronto, officers usually refuse to get into pictures with us, so that made us love this man even more.

After wandering around the street a bit, we made it into the park.

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Skydome/Rogers Centre it is not, but it was all sorts of awesome in there. It opened in 1912 and is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball! So that is pretty cool.

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Yay Fenway

Our seats weren’t far away from the Jays’ bullpen, and Dickey made an appearance.

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Dickayyyyy

Joanna and I were about to stalk him for an autograph, but then we didn’t want to kill his concentration so we were able to refrain.

After we got settled into our seats, I went off by myself in search of a hot dog before I died of starvation. Aside from an ice cream cone I hadn’t eaten since brunch that morning so I was ready to punch anyone who talked to me in the face. My Fenway Frank really hit the spot. While I was waiting for my dog a few 12ish year-old boys came up to me and said “Excuse me, do you live in Canada?!” so I said yes, yes I sure do, and they were like “Good for you!” and all shook my hand. I am not sure if they were surprised that Canada is populated? Or that Canadian people are fairly normal looking? Who knows, but it was funny.

The park was packed.

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I was sitting for a bit with Erin while the rest of the girls went to grab some food and she was like “I don’t think I have ever been so excited for anything in my entire life.” I think she was vibrating.

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I wouldn’t have thought that anything would be able to top my Blue Jays experience last summer, but man, it was a good game! The Jays CRUSHED the Red Sox, 14-1! Cabrera hit two home runs, and one of them smashed a car’s windshield outside the park. We were cheering ridiculously loud for most of the game and obviously the megaphone came in handy. I was expecting people to boo our cheering, but we only got booed by one Red Sox fan, a 10-year-old girl sitting to the right of us. She did not like our cheering and whenever I looked over at her she looked like she wanted to shank us. But the people in front of us actually thanked Dawn and Emily for being respectful fans, so I guess we couldn’t have been too annoying.

There were some kids behind us who were from Tampa and big Rays fans and said they just did not want Boston to win, so we got them on our side and taught them a few of our cheers (“KA-WA-SA-KI” clap-clap-clapclapclap). It was awesome.

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Unfortunately we did not make it on the big screen, but I think probably because we are Jays fans and may have been booed. When I think about it I don’t recall ever seeing fans for the opposing team on the Jumbotron in the Rogers Centre. So I suppose that is fair.

Immediately after the game ended we made our way out to the street with the crowd…

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Walked back to the hotel where we were parked, got in the car, and drove back to Toronto. We made much better time going home and were back by 9am on Tuesday. Just in time for work, HUZZAH! So not 14 hours, but I’ll let you guess how much fun driving overnight is. Zero. Until near the end when we all hadn’t really slept and we were just giddy with over-tiredness. But well worth it. Such a great quick trip to Boston.

Thank you for hosting us America!!! We love you!

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Oh and the last name of the border guard who let us through as we crossed back into Canada was McWeenie. So that was a beautiful ending to our amazing whirlwind trip.

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Margaret Falls and Herald Provincial Park

Last Wednesday was our last full day in Salmon Arm with my mom and brother before we were off on a road trip to Banff, Alberta (and then Calgary). The one thing my mom really wanted to do with us was take us to Margaret Falls, a conservation area just off the Trans Canada Highway. We slept over at Kenya’s mom’s on Tuesday after the Canada Day festivities, so in the late morning on Wednesday we picked up my mom and a cooler full of food, and we hit up the trails.

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Hello trails.

And what beautiful trails they were.

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I’ll say it’s adventure time!

We were almost in sort of a canyon, with all the big trees surrounding us.

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It was a very pretty walk.

Speaking of big trees…

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What is really funny about that photo is that I came here in the winter with just Eric six years ago, in 2008, and I have the exact same photo.

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Just different attire and just a liiittle bit more grown up.

Of course Eric had to climb the tree, because he likes to live dangerously.

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He has grown up quite a lot since the last time we were there…

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He would have been 14 then. Just a little muffin.

It was a nice family hike.

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Don’t be judging our flippity-floppitys. It’s an easy hike and only takes about 15-20 minutes to get to the falls.

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Margaret Falls!

They are pretty impressive. That darker spot in the bottom half of the falls, in the middle, is actually a secret cave. I really wanted to go back there and check it out, but the water was rushing crazy fast and I am neither graceful nor coordinated, so I thought it might be a bit of a disaster if I tried to climb up in there (in my flip flops). Apparently the image of Christ is hidden somewhere in there as well, but I dunno. I couldn’t see it. But you can read all about it here.

We took a ton of pictures by the falls, as we do. We are tourists!

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And one from the last time I was there with Eric, because he is so cute with his bowl cut.

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Another reason I didn’t climb into the falls – the water was FREEZING. Like glacial water. Evan tested it and concurred.

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Icy.

If you are ever in the Shuswap area in British Columbia, I highly recommend checking out Margaret Falls. It is a very cool thing to do there.

It was a good hike with my mother and my lover and my brother and his lover.

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Evan maybe knew I was sneakily taking photos in the back…

I am gonna miss this lady!

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But she is coming out here to visit us in less than a month, so we will be reunited soon enough.

After our falls excursion we headed over to the beach at Herald Point Provincial Park for some swimming action.

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I liked swimming here even better than at Canoe Beach. It is still the Shuswap Lake but the water is clearer and deeper.

And after the swimming times we had a picnic, with sandwiches my mom made and the juiciest strawberries I’ve ever had.

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I was starting to think I didn’t like strawberries anymore because ones I get here at the grocery store are all ho-hum, but my mom scored these freshly picked ones and they were amazing.

And once we arrived home for dinner, my mom made my FAVOURITE…chicken soup!!!

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It tasted like my childhood. I love it so much. I am hoping to make it with her when she is here so I can see exactly how she does it. Mine never tastes as good.

The enchanted forest, Banff road trip and adventures, and the Calgary stampede are still to come 🙂 We really packed it all in.

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Kal Lake Adventuring

Happy Canada Day!!!! Our country is so beautiful.

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I hope all you Canadians have the day off and are celebrating Canada’s big day with your family and friends, while eating poutine with bacon and drinking lots of beer. We have some pretty awesome plans on the agenda here and I’m really excited about it.

On Sunday, Eric, Kenya, Evan and I went on a little adventure over to Kalamalka Lake in Vernon, BC (about 45 minutes from Salmon Arm).

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Eric and I stumbled across the provincial park when I was here two years ago and we were Googling around for things to do. The lake is clear and turquoise-coloured, and surrounded by mountains. The entire area is absolutely breathtaking.

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There are trails all through the hills and the four of us had quite the hiking adventure.

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Some of the parts we climbed were extremely steep and it was a serious workout (which was nice ’cause I’ve been eating like a champ).

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(I may have slid down this trail…)

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But totally worth all the climbing to get to the highest lookout point, which had panaramic mountain views and beautiful blue waters.

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After our big hike through the cliffs, we set up shop on the beach for a while.

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I had big plans to go swimming but it was really windy and the water was absolutely freezing so I ended up just wading around by the shore. Eric and Kenya braved it though.

I love that place and I think it needs to become a ritual that I go there every time I visit this area.

We also went out for lunch before our big hiking adventure at the Beach Pub right near the lake (Eric and I went here last year also and really liked it). The pub was absolutely jam-packed since we arrived at the same time as an impromptu rain storm, but luckily we were able to get a table. I love pub food and the food was gooood. The four of us started with an artichoke and asiago dip.

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Delicious.

And for my main I got the beef dip. I don’t know what it is about the beef dip, but sometimes I see it on the menu and I just can’t stop thinking that I have to have it. Sometimes you just want to dip some beef in au jus.

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Also really good.

And on Sunday I saw THREE double rainbows. ALL THE WAY ACROSS. Three of them!

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Still kicking myself for not buying a lottery ticket. If I won the lottery here I’m not sure I would come home…

 

 

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