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5 Ways to Relax in Tofino

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Kyla and I spent the November long weekend in Tofino, a surf town on western Vancouver Island. I’ve only heard amazing things about Tofino since moving out here, and it lived up to the hype!

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Lots of people who visit the town choose to enjoy it the active way… surfing, hiking, that kind of thing. While it’s a fantastic place to do both of those things, and while I’ll definitely do more activities next time I go, we went the more… lazy relaxed route this time! Not only did we need a break, but we were both sick, so you could say that taking it easy was what the doctor ordered. And I mean… it’s not really that hard to chill out in a surf town! Here are 5 relaxing ways to explore Tofino:

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Juan de Fuca Trail Day 4: Payzant Creek to Botanical Beach Trailhead

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Day 4: Payzant Creek (km 40) to Botanical Beach Trailhead (km 47)

Read about our hikes from China Beach to Bear Beach, Bear Beach to Chin Beach, and Chin Beach to Payzant Creek.

Our last day on the trail was a short one: we only had 7kms to go! We woke up to misty treetops, and quickly packed up all of our gear, not minding that it was wet and muddy. Off we went!

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Juan de Fuca Trail Day 3: Chin Beach to Payzant Creek

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Day 3: Chin Beach (km 21) – Payzant Creek (km 40)

Read about Day 1 and Day 2

This was the day I tried to get eaten by a bear!

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Day 3 started out like the others, only a little wetter. We got up early, and headed out towards Little Kuitshe Creek, where we were planning to camp that night.

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The hike from Chin Beach to Sombrio Beach started out with some steep ups and downs, similar to the previous day, but this time they didn’t go on forever. There was a flat bit! And a few creek crossings with ropes, but these were fun and we made them look more dramatic in photos than they really were!

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Since it had rained the night before, the day brought a new challenge: mud! We’d encountered muddy spots before, but for the most part, we’d been able to manoeuvre around them, using rocks and tree stumps and packed down patches.

But today, we got the gaiters out! We knew we’d packed them for a reason! We couldn’t really avoid trekking through deep mud just east of Sombrio Beach, but at least the gaiters helped keep it out of our shoes. (Unless you have brilliantly designed boots with a breathable mesh front, like mine! Mud for days!)

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As we made our way onto Sombrio Beach, we met a woman who told us that there was a bear on the beach! “Don’t worry,” she informed us, “it’s a local, it’s friendly, and it won’t come too close”. We were delighted to see the black bear, looking for snacks on some rocks in the water.

We stood watching – at a very safe distance, with other campers – and I decided that this would be a good time for lunch. “Not here!” Kyla whispered, her expression incredulous, as she gestured towards the bear. “Oh, duh! Silly me!” I laughed, taking a half-eaten Cliff Bar out of my backpack. “I just needed a quick snack though,” I explained, shoving the remainder of the bar into my face. She shook her head at me, as we both continued snapping shots of the gorgeous bear.

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Juan de Fuca Trail Day 2: Bear Beach to Chin Beach

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Day 2: Bear Beach (km 9) to Chin Beach (km 21)

Read about Day 1 here.

The 12 kilometres between Bear and Chin beaches are some of the hardest on the Juan de Fuca trail; almost the entire section is a series of steep ups and downs! We started out early, after filling our bellies with oatmeal and chocolate.

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Juan de Fuca Trail Day 1: China Beach to Bear Beach

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Kyla and I recently spent 4 days hiking the Juan de Fuca trail, a 47km coastal rainforest hike on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast. It was really hard! (Especially for an inexperienced hiker with minimal training, oops!) Lots of steep ups and downs, muddy sections, and tricky creek crossings which required creative, acrobatic moves while wearing a gigantic backpack! That said, it was absolutely achievable, and SO worth it! The trail offered spectacular ocean views and wildlife sightings, great nights of camping on beaches, and lots of hilarity. It was exhilarating to finish, and I’m still riding that high, feeling proud of what we accomplished. (Proud enough to earn a break from multi-day hiking for a while!)

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Here’s the first post from my rundown of the trail (with occasional comments from Kyla!), with lots of pictures.  Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 1: China Beach to Bear Beach”

Five Things to Do on Hornby Island

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Last month I got invited to join Kyla and her family for a long weekend of camping on Hornby Island (I’ll ‘b’ careful not to misspell it). We spent five days there, so I was prepared for lots of lazing around, which – don’t get me wrong! – is a fantastic way to spend a vacation. What I didn’t realize was that there’s tons to do and see there! So while the island’s laid-back vibe meant plenty of recharge time, it was balanced out with lots of time exploring cute spots in town, gorgeous beaches and coastal bluffs, and checking out the bottom of many glasses of mead! Here are 5 suggestions for things to see and do while on Hornby Island:

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Camping Like a BAMF on Mayne Island

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Kyla and I spent a long weekend camping on Mayne Island last month and it was badass! Mayne is one of the Southern Gulf Islands, which sit in the Georgia Strait between Vancouver Island and Vancouver/mainland BC, and are home primarily to hippies, artists, and retirees (based on a mix of casual observation, anecdotal evidence, and census data). These quiet little islands can’t really be the site of much badassery, right? WRONG! (No, you’re right, but I lead a pretty tame life, so humour me with this one!)

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Being a badass.

Here are some reasons why our weekend rocked, and tips so that you can have a badass-as-you-can-get-in-the-Gulf-Islands weekend too:

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Vegas: 5 Things to Love That Aren’t Gambling

20170402_004547     In March, I met my sister and three friends in Las Vegas. Monica (sis) is getting married this fall, and for a while she’d joked about how much fun it would be to do a Vegas bachelorette. It turned out that the plan made a lot of sense! We were coming from different cities in eastern and western Canada, and it was a good excuse for us to travel.

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This was my first trip to Vegas, and I’d conjured up this weird, wonderful land in my mind, where my senses would be overloaded by sounds and lights day and night. When I saw the slot machines in the airport, I knew I hadn’t been far off!

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As the hotel shuttle weaved on and off the strip, I craned my neck to see the oversized landmarks and famous hotels and casinos, smiling like crazy about how I was actually physically in this place that had always sounded like fiction. Here are five things I learned and loved about Vegas, the city that seems simultaneously so real and so fantastical: Continue reading “Vegas: 5 Things to Love That Aren’t Gambling”

Mystic Beach: Sunday sun day

This past weekend was the first in a long while that I didn’t have to do any school work. (Master’s complete! Woooo!) Naturally, that meant having a to-do list that’s been steadily growing since, ooh… September 2015! But after prioritizing filing our taxes on Saturday, Kyla and I decided to take advantage of a sunny day yesterday and go for a hike. Luckily, our friend who owns a car was free to join us, which meant we had way more options to choose from! We decided to head out to Mystic Beach, on the Juan de Fuca trail on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

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4 Reasons Why Japan is an Introverted Traveller’s Paradise

This one’s an oldie – it’s one of the first posts I published on this blog. I’m currently in the home stretch of my master’s degree, so it’s rerun time for blog posts!

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Mt. Misen, Miyajima

I’m a major introvert. I like meeting new people and hanging out with friends, I but need a good dose of alone time afterwards to curl up in the fetal position re-energize. When travelling solo, I will almost always choose to spend time touring around on my own, rather than with a “new friend” (i.e. person I just met who I have to make small talk with).

When I visited Japan, I was feeling particularly introverted. I hadn’t travelled across the Pacific to get there; I’d come over on an hour-long flight from Seoul, where I was living at the time. I really just wanted to see all the cool things (and eat all the food) during the day, and retreat to my hostel to read and hang out in the evenings. I was a little worried about whether I would be missing out, but it turns out Japan is a great destination for solo-travelling introverts!

Here are 4 reasons why Japan might appeal to other solitary souls:
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Getting Naked with Strangers: Navigating the Korean Jjimjilbang

This one’s an oldie – it’s one of the first posts I published on this blog. I’m currently in the home stretch of my master’s degree, so it’s rerun time for blog posts! This is one of my absolute favourites, and since I’ve been dreaming about these warm spas lately, it seemed like the right choice!

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One of the best ways to relax in Korea is to strip down and spend a day at the jjimjilbang, or public bathhouse/spa. If you’ve never been before, it can be a little overwhelming to figure it out. Namely: when should you be naked and when should you not be? (Coincidentally also one of life’s greatest questions.) Here are some guidelines for your first time.

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Queer Travel: Victoria

 

The thing about Victoria is that regardless of whether you hit up any gay events while you’re in town, it’s a beautiful, safe city* to explore with your same-sex partner, or to meet up with a group of queer locals. It’s also a great jumping off point for exploring this magical island, and a short ferry ride to both Seattle and Vancouver. There’s a lot to be proud of in Victoria! Victoria’s public school board recently passed a thorough new gender identity policy, the city explodes with rainbows during Pride, and hey – our wonderful mayor is an openly gay woman! Tourism Victoria even created an awesome map of all genders washrooms in the city and surrounding area.

      Hold on, you might be thinking, I heard that Victoria is a small city with a disproportionately high retiree population?!? You heard right! But there are way more people living here who are below retirement age! It might seem quiet at first, but have no fear if you’re young and queer: there’s lots to do in this city, if you know where to look!

Lez Go to Victoria:

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Happy New Year!

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Happy 2017! I have a couple of posts in the works at the moment, which I’m excited to share on here soon! In the meantime, I wanted to look back on three favourites from last year:

  • Ways that Coming Out Surprised Me: In 2016, I reflected and wrote a lot about coming out; it was my 5 year coming-out-iversary last February! Yes, I keep track of it! It changed the way I communicate and how confident I feel, among other things.
  • Faking Extroversion: Making Connections in New Cities: Some strategies I picked up after lots of moves overseas and back, and across the country. Adventure and change are invigorating but the social aspect can be overwhelming for the introverted-soul! A year and a bit after moving to Victoria, I’m continuing to expand my social circle, and I still use these tools.
  • Wanting the World: This one’s a little cringe-worthy; a letter I wrote to my “future self” 6 years earlier about the importance of travel. So yeah, it’s from my baby brain, but it reminds me that’s it’s okay to prioritize travel, and that being passionate about it (a little obsessed with it?) is part of who I am.

Last year, I was lucky enough to travel to Portland and Seattle, and to do some camping on Vancouver Island. I relaxed in Mexico with friends, and remembered not being able to relax on Boracay. I got to celebrate Pride in Victoria and Vancouver, and I turned thirty! I’m pretty excited about new adventures in 2017. Cheers to a New Year!

Weird and Wonderful Portland

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The day after the US election was a strange time to head down to Portland. The trip had been planned for months, but it still felt like we were going the wrong way at the border. My girlfriend and I tried to fend off the post-election haze with hugs and talks on the ferry over to Port Angeles, but had given in by the time we set off in our rental car, and decided to make a game out of the dark reality of President Voldemort and keep a tally of T***p signs we passed on the 101. Coincidentally, this was the exact number of times we flipped the bird out the window! We also passed a lot of (legal) pot shops, so that provided some balance!

The reality sunk in in other ways, too.* So it was a weird vacation, but what better place for weirdness than PORTLAND! I had an amazing time, and loved so much about the city. You really can’t go wrong. Here are some of the things we did, ate, and drank that we loved:

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