You Voted!

Thank you to those who voted for the subject of my new header. Hope you enjoy the winner: Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba.

It was taken the final evening of my 2 month summer adventure – what a gorgeous sunset to top off an amazing, adventure filled summer.

The runner’s up were:

En route to Revelstoke, B.C.

Waterton, Alberta

Your vote!

Top 5: Roads for Cruisin’

I am a big road trip fan, and I always need to be the one behind the wheel (except when driving a manual transmission in Italy – thanks Katie for taking on that job!).

I’ve done a few gorgeous road drive in my day, and I am going to attempt to pick my mostest favoritest ever.

This is going to be hard.

5. Highwood Pass – Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada

I’ve been back and forth on this road a billion times, it feels like. I know it like the back of my hand, I suppose! It was all those early morning and late night drives in search for the perfect grizzly bear to observe.

4. Rogers Pass – TransCanada Highway in B.C., Canada

I didn’t expect much on my way to Revelstoke, B.C.. But this pass was absolutely breathtaking. The wildflowers were the most colourful and widespread I had ever seen!

I wasn’t able to stop and capture my own photo!

3. Going to the Sun – Glacier National Park: Montana, U.S.A.

I’ve completed this drive 3 times now, and I will never, ever get sick of it. It would really be nice to drive it some day when I can actually see the sun peeking through the gloomy clouds. Still – jaw-dropping beauty with all the glaciers, pine trees (ohhh the smells!), and mountain goats.

2. Amalfi Coast – Italy

Zing – jaw dropping scenes and those crazy little towns like Positano hanging off the side of those sheer rock cliffs. Sure, I would move there though!

1. Road to Hana – Maui, Hawaii, U.S.A

WOW – the views! At one spot, there was a very unique tiny town that sold the best banana bread and shave ice. The volcanic rocks and huge crashing waves there were amazing! Once in Hana, we noticed that it was getting late in the day and we had to turn right back around. I was kicking myself for not booking a room there to spend the night (they were full). Try to keep your windows open when you pass the eucalyptus trees – wow! Wow. WOW!

Honourable mentions to Beartooth Highway, the Canadian gold rush route through the Fraser Canyon, the drive from Vancouver to Whistler (Sea to Sky highway), and any driving we did in Italy and Hawaii – there wasn’t a dull scene anywhere!

 

What the bleep is glamping?!

I’ve been seeing it everywhere lately, this ‘glamorous camping’. And by everywhere, that means on Pinterest. I can’t quite wrap my head around the concept, and why this is becoming/is so popular.

Here is my version of glamorous camping:

Glamorous! I even have my Kobo awaiting me on the picnic table!

Not so glamorous – after a wind storm. Bye bye tent.

Anyway, I don’t think my version of glamorous camping is the same version that everyone is talking about. Research time!

This luxury camper in the Highlands of Scotland has a shower, TV, microwave, kettle, fridge AND an electric heater AND is 200 metres from pubs and a grocery store. Don’t worry though, you have to rough it a bit – there is NO cutlery provided. Phew!

At least I can see a picnic table in this photo. Some of the next glamping experience do not have this camping staple at all! Shame, shame.

Wow – check out this one in Martis, Italy. There are tiny Christmas lights all over the ‘Emperor Bell Tent’.

Please read what this site provides for a wonderful glamping experience:

“No sleeping bags, hard floors, or ‘roughing it’ we provide everything you need for your glamping holiday.

Leave your cares behind and unwind. We provide everything,  just bring your heart and soul and romance. Honeymoon couples will be spoilt upon request!

Each Emperor tent has a separate private gas heated shower, vanity basin and eco toilet facility, you also have a private terrace with garden furniture and a little Cool Pool.”

WHAT?! Shouldn’t your private little terrace there be the edge of a cliff, situated along a valley with a meandering stream, speckled with grazing ___________ (bison, deer, antelope, bear….ANY wildlife).

This place has breakfast service, PRIVATE showers, a fridge and a freezer, even CUTLERY! Wow. Way to be closer to nature!

On Mafia Island off the coast of Tanzania – your very own private island awaits your glamping experience. It starts off describing the bar and restaurant areas encourage guests to walk around barefoot, then walk out to your private beach, and later have a nice cool shower in the solar powered facilities.

And hey – while you are at it, go to the spa for a nice massage to help you relax just a bit more…

Finally, near Queenstown, New Zealand, I could take a helicopter into a very remote area (could I at least hike in there?! Is that too much to ask?!).

Here’s what’s in store in this glacial valley:

“Guests are hosted under canvas in luxuriously furnished tented suites complete with wall to wall sheepskin carpet, king beds, private deck set with its own hot tub, full en-suite with double vanity and endless hot showers.

On-site facilities include the ‘Mountain Kitchen’ with its well stocked library, dining room, living area, open fires, first class chef and on-site private guides.”

A LIBRARY?!?! A FIRST CLASS CHEF?! SHEEPSKIN CARPET!?!? Why is the word CAMPING even PART of this style of traveling?! This isn’t a type of glamourous camping, it’s a type of luxurious travel in very expensive but unique rooms with full amenities and beyond. I can’t even use the word ‘rustic’ for most of these examples.

Do I sound cynical? If I do, it’s because I am fighting very hard right now not to click on the reservation button on one of these options. Groan.

More glamping locations:

The Red Snowshoe in Slocan Valley, British Columbia – Canada

Forest Tree Houses, South Carolina – U.S.A.

Le Camp – South Western France

Surfing Beach – Santa Maria, Greece

Mmm I could do this one – are there sand flies?

Not too shabby, living in Vancouver

I am here in West Vancouver, babysitting a dog for a week and I absolutely LOVE it here. It’s my third time visiting the “best place on earth” – according to the limited edition license plates they produced. There is a picturesque scene awaiting me at every turn, so I believe this saying 100%!

Yesterday, I went for a jog around the neighbourhood:

Along the seawall in W. Vancouver

Keeping me motivated near the end of the jog

What a great way to explore the city. I could not believe some of the houses around this area. Jaw dropping…and what scenery to look out to!

I’m excited to get downtown Vancouver in the next few days and explore the view from the other side of the Lion’s Gate Bridge. I have driven downtown several times already this trip, and I can tell you that the road system is NOT the best place on earth. Traffic jam city!

After the jog yesterday, we met up with a few of my boyfriends friends and headed out in a boat around Howe Sound and Bowyer Island.

Again, my jaw was dropping at all the views around me. I even saw 4 different seals swimming around our boat. So neat!

A seal! Too bad I didn’t bring my Nikon

Never a dull moment in Vancouver…

 

 

Fantasy Friday – Happy birthday to my sister!

It’s my fabulous sisters birthday, so I am dedicating my Fantasy Friday destinations to a few of her favorite places:

Her favs:

Grand Floridian Resort at Disney World

Brugge, Belgium

London, England

Las Vegas

Cuba!

Jasper, Alberta

Waterton, Alberta

New York City

Some places I think would be her favs some day:

Vancouver, B.C.

Yellowstone

Chicago

Rome

A hike across two provinces

Last summer, I was so into hiking that I set out one day in Alberta, and ended up in British Columbia!

What an intense hike right?

Mmmm…not really a 5 day epic journey if that’s what you are thinking.

When in Waterton National Park, Alberta, my boyfriend and I set out on 2 hikes that led us just beyond the border, into British Columbia.

We attempted both Forum Lake and Wall Lake hikes, and did both of these from start to finish in 3 hours!

Check out the actual times recommended below:

See, when we go hiking together, it’s always a competition. We try to pass as many people as we can, quickly snap photos of our arrival, and run back to the car.

I’m sure that’s not the right way to do it, but we do actually get to see the beauty in the landscape, satisfy our competitive streak and get some darn good exercise.

Can’t wait to try and beat our time this summer! The competition against ourselves is ON!

Taaa daaa, at the border!

Pizza pizza pizza!

Shout out to my boyfriend today for this post. The ultimate pizza maniac I have ever, and will ever know.

Source

Lonely Planet came out with an article on the best pizza in the USA. It mostly discusses the debate between New York or Chicago style pizza. As a person who has only had Chicago deep-dish, and has tested it a total of 4 times at different places, I have to say that it would be very tough to beat this ooey-gooey-cheesy goodness.

Here are their top picks:

Manhattan

1. Joe’s in the West Village

2. John’s in the West Village or Midtown

3. Patsy’s uptown.

Brooklyn

Source

1. Grimaldi’s, under Brooklyn Bridge

2. Di Fara (1424 Ave J)

3. Franny’s in Prospect Heights

4. Totonno’s by Coney Island

5. Lucali’s in Carroll Gardens

Chicago

1. Giordano’s in the Near North

California, New Haven, and St. Louis are also mentioned. Which I found came right out of left field!

I was a bit disappointed that they only listed one pizza restaurant in Chicago. Me thinks Lou Malnati’s and Gino’s East should be included as well. (read my review of Lou’s on my Restaurant page!). Can’t complaint too much since Giordano’s is where it’s at!

In Canada, I have a few to add to the list:

Toronto, Ontario

Source

1. Queen Margherita Pizza

2. Terroni’s

3. La Vecchia

4. Mercatto

5. Camerra’s

Kingston, Ontario

1. Wooden Heads

Halifax, Nova Scotia

1. King of Donair (KOD)

Quebec City, Quebec

Source

1. Portofino

2. Savini

Vancouver, British Columbia

1. Hell’s Kitchen

2. Incendio

Victoria, British Columbia

1. The Joint

Waterloo, Ontario

1. McMullens

I think the most entertaining aspect of this article are the comments at the end. Some people, like I just did here, recommended their own favorite pie places.

But a few actually were offended by this piece of writing. Come on, it’s pizza! Everyone has their own tastes, don’t be a pizza party pooper.

Mmmmmm pizza…

Fantasy Friday – Learning about responsibility in the Arctic

I am still able to tolerate this cold weather that has swept Toronto, and I am nervous that this high spirit I have about snow and cold and warm drinks may go away at any moment, so I better daydream about a cold weather travel adventure while I can!

Source

Along with this cold weather adventure, I have also been supporting the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition‘s recent issues with a proposed pipeline through a very ecologically sensitive area, an area where the spirit bear lives. Oil tankers might soon be using the waters in the area where the bear lives, which consists of areas that are very dangerous and difficult to navigate through. How absolutely ridiculous this idea is to me, and to many others out there. (please help them, it’s easy, or even just learn about the spirit bear, it’s facinating!).

Does Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline know that there is a perfectly fine pipeline infrastructure (Kinder Morgan) ALREADY in place to Vancouver harbour that is much safer to use? Easier all around? I am baffled why this is so hard for Enbridge to figure out.

As a result of my daydreaming this week, I declare my fantasy trip today to be:

1. chilly

2. include a possibility of seeing white bears (polar bears in this dream, not spirit bears just yet…that’s for a special occasion!)

3. be environmentally responsible.

Responsible Travel seems like a great site to use if you have the money to spare, and like guided tours. They claim to provide ‘respectable, environmentally-friendly and safe expeditions in the Arctic’.

Sounds positive and right up my alley in the adventure category.

For their sustainable tour of the Arctic, this is what they invite us to partake in:

Spitsbergen; with its rugged mountains, sweeping tundra and ancient glaciers, is part of the Svalbard archipelago in the High Arctic and lies just 600 miles from the North Pole. This true Arctic wilderness represents a remote and fragile Arctic realm, steeped in history and rich in wildlife.

Spitsbergen is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and exciting of all Arctic destinations, acting as an important hunting and breeding ground for its population of more than 2,000 polar bears. Large numbers of walruses, Svalbard reindeer and Arctic foxes, as well as huge colonies of Arctic seabirds are also found across the island. The combination of long daylight hours and ice-free shores help facilitate the exploration of the unspoilt natural beauty of this area.

Our trips are led by experienced natural history experts and well-equipped zodiacs are used to navigate deep inside dramatic fjords and hike across spectacular tundra, dotted with an array of both plant and animal life.

A voyage on the waters of the Arctic seas is not one you merely take to reach your destination but one to savour in itself; giving you time and space to remove those urban cobwebs and revitalise the mind. From the outset, the seascape is both rich and expansive, where one may marvel as colossal whales raising their tail flukes from the water; follow beautiful skuas wheeling through the skies after smaller birds or watch as iconic polar bears walk along frozen pack ice in search of seals.

We provide you with the opportunity to explore Spitsbergen by sailing on a beautiful one hundred year old schooner. This charismatic light ship accommodates twenty passengers in comfortable surroundings and as the sails unfurl and catch the winds, a touch of exploration and romanticism is added to your Arctic adventure. All of these trips include a programme of lectures by noted naturalists and the leadership of experienced expedition staff.

Our exclusive Around Spitsbergen natural history voyage provides our longest exploration of this polar archipelago and the greatest opportunity to include all that you hope to see on one trip. On this 16 day trip, there is ample opportunity to see the very best of the Arctic wildlife, including beluga whales along the western coast, walruses up north, polar bear breeding grounds on the eastern shores and fin whales and Arctic foxes towards the southern end of the island, as well as the opportunity to visit some truly immense colonies of seabirds.

We are running this voyage 28th July – 12th Aug, when we can expect both to circumnavigate Spitsbergen, yet find sizeable areas of sea ice which provide ideal hunting grounds for polar bears. In this brief window, the Arctic summer brings with it immense numbers of rare and beautiful seabirds, often nesting in colonies exceeding one hundred thousand in number. This is also the season when Arctic foxes have their pups and mother polar bears emerge from their dens with their young cubs for the first time. Sailing around Spitsbergen experiencing the phenomenon of the ‘Midnight Sun’ allows you to watch for wildlife, enjoy landscapes of coastal mountains and glaciers, and truly experience the Arctic realm at your leisure.

The spirit bear needs help!

Today, the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition needs your help on two fronts to save the spirit bear.

Source

1. URGENT REQUEST: Sign the petition to create sanctuary for the spirit bear and be part of a unique book being delivered to BC Premier Christy Clark. (http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/trophyhunt.html)

2. URGENT REQUEST: Register by October 6th to have your voice heard during the Canadian government review panel that will decide if tanker traffic will be allowed in spirit bear waters. (dogwoodinitiative.org/notankers/actions/speak-for-the-spirit-bear)

Please help this bear survive on the BC coast. Voted recently, by National Geographic as the wildest place in North America.