Outlet Shopping & Tulip Town

Phebe and I drove down to the States for an overnight trip during spring break. We stopped by Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip for a little shopping. I found out that if you show your Canadian passport to the retailer you can get a discount from your purchases. I ended up getting some dress shirts and running shorts which were on sale. For dinner we sent to this Greek place near Marysville where we had delicious gyros. We then drove to Everett where we stayed overnight at a hotel. The next day, we explored the little down of Everett but there was not much to see. In the afternoon, we drove to Skagit Valley to visit Tulip Town. It was nice and relaxing to walk around the tulip fields and seeing all the different colored tulips. Later in the afternoon, we went to Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham where we did some more shopping and had a buffet dinner at the Old Country Buffet. After dinner we went back home and had the shortest border crossing ever. I think we waited for maybe two minutes and then we were back in Canada. Overall, great relaxing trip.


Needle Peak

My friend Steve and I had been planning to meet up for quite some time and do a hike together. He lives in Kelowna and I live in Vancouver and so we decided to meet halfway near the Coquihalla Recreation Summit Area which was both a two hour drive for us. Perfect!

After some online research, we decided on Needle Peak as it seemed to be the most difficult hike. Some of the posts said it would take around 7-13 hours of extreme hiking. The forecast for that day called for reasonable weather, about a 20% chance of rain. However, Steve and I were both unprepared to what we had in store that day. During the middle of the afternoon, it had actually snowed on us! Luckily I brought some pants, but I wished I brought a pair of gloves and a toque!

We left the trailhead around 9am and arrived at the top of the peak in about 2 hours. The elevation at the top was about 2000m. We were probably at the top for a good hour or so since we wanted to wait until the clouds cleared up to take our signature “Buddha” picture. So we had our lunch there and waited for the clouds to disappear. By then other people started to come to the top and it got a bit crowded.

Since we got to the top earlier than we had intended, we had the rest of the day to ourselves and decided to explore the area. We went to an area called Flat Irons and that’s when the weather turned on us. The fog and snow came in and the cold was almost unbearable.

We hiked about a total of 24kms in total that day. We wanted to celebrate with a big meal at the end of the hike but the only thing that we thought was open was an Indian food truck near the Coquihalla Recreation Summit parking lot but it was closed. So left our separate ways until our next conquering adventure!

Pender Island – May long weekend Trip (May 15-18, 2015)

For all pictures from our Pender Island Trip, click Pender Island.

Friday, May 15 – Arrive Pender Island

Alas! The weekend we were eagerly anticipating for! We arrived Pender Island late Friday evening around 10:00pm due to the ferry being late. The cottage that we booked was conveniently located in a secluded area on South Pender Island next to the National Park Reserve trail to Mt. Norman. We were ecstatic on the place that we were going to stay for the weekend. It was clean, spacious, and was equipped with everything that we needed. It even has a hot tub! It was a bit hard to sleep due to all the excitement but we all managed to get some shut-eye.

Saturday, May 16 – The Lost Watermelon

Since we arrived late last night, we had no idea what kind of ocean views our place had but when we woke up that morning, we were amazed! We each took turns making meals for the weekend. It was my turn to make the breakfast meal and so I decided to make waffles, bacon, turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, and assorted fruit. A good way to start the weekend!

After breakfast, we went to the Farmer’s Market at the Community Hall and then took a stroll around Hope Bay where we spotted a bald eagle. We went back to our cottage for lunch where Phebe made delicious ground beef wraps with all the fixings and a black bean and quinoa salad. I ate so much that I almost passed out. It was that good. After lunch we just lounged around and relaxed.

As Patrick was trying to gather his ingredients for tonight’s dinner, he asked if anyone had seen the watermelon that he had brought to Pender as it was nowhere to be found. Patrick thought that his wife and the rest of us were playing a prank on him by hiding the watermelon but that was not the case. Patrick desperately rummaged around the cottage trying to see if the watermelon was even there as he remembered packing it and putting in the car. I know this is silly but he even looked inside the washer and dryer! He must’ve have felt pretty foolish that he even looked there! He finally recalled that as he was unpacking all the items and bags from the trunk of his car that he heard a little ‘thud’ but didn’t think nothing of it and thought maybe there was something moving in the bushes. The car was parked on a unpaved driveway on a slight hill. So it was possible that the watermelon somehow dropped while unpacking and rolled down the hill! Our first thought was that even if it did drop that it would just splatter on the ground. However, if it did drop, it wouldn’t have rolled too far. So we begin looking around the bushes around the car. We found nothing. We went back into the cottage a second time to look but no luck. The last option was that it might have rolled all the way to the entrance of the driveway, in which case it would’ve made a slight left turn around the bend! We thought that there was no way a watermelon would roll down the hill and make a sharp bend to the left. But it was worth a try! The watermelon was in a white plastic bag so that was what I was looking for. We looked around the bend but still could not see anything. However, a few metres further, out of the corner of my eye I spot something white! Could it be? Yes it could! Deep in the bushes was a white plastic bag! Patrick verified that there was a watermelon inside by poking the bag with a stick. We couldn’t believe it! The prodigal watermelon has been found! We were laughing so hard that our stomachs almost burst open. We couldn’t believe that we found the watermelon around the bend of the driveway deep into the bushes. That was one magic watermelon!

After the watermelon fiasco, Shalom, Phebe, and I decided to hike Mt. Norman. The trail head was literally right next to our place so it was not too hard to find the trailhead. The hike up took us only 30 minutes and we were rewarded with great views of Bedwell Harbour and the surrounding islands.

It was Patrick’s turn to make dinner that night and on the menu was baked steelhead fish stuffed with fennel and liquorice, brussel spouts/zucchini/onion skewers, grilled Portobello mushrooms and pineapples, and baked potato nuggets. And for dessert, we had the infamous watermelon. It was a meal to die for!

After a hearty dinner, we all relaxed in the hot tub gazing at the stars, occasionally seeing the odd shooting star that Shalom boisterously pointed out.

Sunday, May 17 – Kayaking adventure

This morning’s breakfast was made by Sarah. She made Swedish crepes with delicious savory and sweet toppings. My favorite was the mashed apples and walnut topping.

After a wholesome breakfast, we headed out and drove all the way to the end of South Pender Island to Gowlland Point to relax at the beach. I managed to get some good photos of sea otters. We wish we could’ve stayed longer but we had kayaking that afternoon.

For lunch, we decided to eat out at the Port Browning Marina restaurant since we had a kayaking rental booked at 2:00pm. Although we got there early, we waited almost an hour for our food to come out. The service was really slow, probably due to the long weekend and the restaurant being short staffed. The food eventually arrived and we gobbled up our food very quickly so we didn’t miss our kayak appointment. Sarah and Patrick ordered a “small” plate of nachos but when it came out it almost filled half the table. I would like to see what a “large” order looked liked!

Rumour has it that the double kayaks are also known as “divorce boats”. So the group decided to split up the couples for our kayak adventure. The pairings were Shalom and I, Roberto and Sarah, and Patrick and Phebe. During our two-hour kayak, we saw many sea creatures including starfish, crabs, and even a jellyfish! It was a nice, relaxing time out in the ocean.

After the kayaking trip, we ended the long afternoon by hanging out and relaxing at Mortimer Spit. Patrick and I managed to skip some decent rocks that we found on the beach.

For dinner, Shalom made a wonderful BBQ sausage, asparagus, corn, and baked potato dinner. She also brought some fresh greens from her garden for the salad. It was another awesome dinner.

We relaxed in the hot tub again which ended another successful day.

Monday, May 18 – Return Home

It was Roberto’s turn for breakfast and he made his favorite Colombian breakfast of boiled plantains with his special homemade tomato/onion sauce. There were also sausages, eggs, fresh avocado, and smoothies served. It was delicious and I hope Roberto will make this again in the future.

That morning was spent cleaning up and packing as our check out time was 12noon. In the afternoon, we went to the south end tip of North Pender Island and decided to have lunch near Peter’s Cove for a beach picnic.

After a late lunch, we headed to Sea Star Winery for some wine tasting. The art show at the winery was disappointing but at least the wine was exceptional. It was so good that we bought a bottle of wine to take home.

We had extra time to kill before our ferry departure so we hung out near Port Washington and relaxed at the beach.

When it was time to leave, we got to the ferry terminal pretty early. Near the dock we could see lots of orcas swimming in the ocean which drew a huge crowd of people.

It was a successful long weekend trip to Pender and I look forward to coming back soon!

Urban Grind

Last week I went to climb the stairs at the Harbour Centre, known as the Urban Grind. This was an alternative to the Grouse Grind since it was closed momentarily until May for trail maintenance. The Harbour Centre is a 28 storey building (equivalent to 40 flights of stairs) and is 593 steps to the top. The cost is $5.00 but that gets you a free voucher to the Harbour Centre’s food court and also a free beer when you get to the top of the observation deck. From there, you are also rewarded with great views of the city of Vancouver.

I went with a few people from my work place. When we got there, we were surprised that there was a huge line-up. We had to wait in line for about 10 minutes. I decided to time myself to see how long it would take to climb the stairs from bottom to top. It took me 5 minutes and 45 seconds! To get down, you can either take the elevator or take the stairs. I decided to do it a second time so I walked down the stairs and did it again. The second time around it took me 5 minutes and 52 seconds. People were saying that to climb the equivalent of the Grouse Grind, you will have to do the Urban Grind five times.



First Dinner in 2015…Sushi!

To celebrate the start of 2015, my sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandma, Phebe and I went to eat at Matsuyama Japanese restaurant in Richmond. It was my first time being there. We ordered a whole bunch of tuna and salmon sashimi; a bunch of rolls including California, unagi, salmon tempura, spicy scallop; vegetable tempura rolls; salmon belly; spicy salmon sashimi; and miso soup. We wrote down our order on a piece of paper to give to the waiter. He repeated our order and right away he mentioned that we were ordering a lot and probably will not finish everything. We had to reduce our quantities of sushi rolls from three rolls each to two rolls each. We were really glad that we did. By the end of the meal, we were stuffed to the max. Everyone was super full and my hollow legs were up to the brim. It was a good way to start the new year!