Shucking Oysters – BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival

Shuck an Oyster

This weekend was a happy whirlwind of food, sunshine and local beer. I hopped over the Strait Of Georgia to Comox for the annual BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival. We had a concert with a seafood feast on the first night, and an industry lobster dinner on the next. We also attended a seafood expo where I got to try geoduck, shuck an oyster and learn more about sustainable seafood. Next, we visited an oyster, salmon and geoduck farm before ending the get-away with a spirited Caeser competition. At the BC Seafood Expo, I picked up some interesting facts during Oysters 101: Lessons from the Producers and the Oyster Bar. In British Columbia, there are only two kinds of oysters: Pacific Oysters, which were introduced from Japan in the 1900s, and Olympic Oysters, which are native to the Pacific Northwest, but are now less commonly harvested since they grow more slowly than the imported species. Like wine grapes, oysters' flavours are influenced by where they are grown; different Continue Reading

Super, Natural Summer in BC

Picture from Comox Valley Tourism Board

I'm staying home this summer, no plans to hop on a jet plane and head to a foreign country. I'm fortunate enough to call British Columbia, Canada my home. As the tag line goes, ‘Super, Natural British Columbia’! The summer is a great time to enjoy the natural beauty of this province. https://youtu.be/CGL6UW7_aIQ Life has been demanding lately with switching to a new day job, recovering from surgery, a family death, a visit back to the Toronto area and now, finding out I'm moving in July! Despite the move, which is time consuming and costly, I want to make the most of this summer. I want to enjoy the hot weather, craft beer, local food and create more memories! June 12th - 15th - BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival. Comox, British Columbia On Friday morning, my travel blogging friend Henry and I are hopping over to Comox, BC. We’ll be taking a float plane before settling into our accommodation at the Old House Hotel & Spa for the BC Shell & Seafood Festival. It's a Continue Reading

Hit Me – A Night at the Blackjack Table

Angel of the Winds, blackjack

"Hit me." As I tapped my finger on the table, I wasn't sure if I was making the right call. Then the dealer flipped my card. Twenty one! I was safe and ready to play another round. On this Saturday evening I was gambling with my own hard-earned money. But converted into chips it didn’t feel like real cash — just toy markers for keeping score in a game, like Monopoly money. That made the chips all too easy to wager. Gambling isn't my usual thing. I’d tried my hand once at roulette in Vegas, won enough to pay for my trip within an hour and cashed out while I was ahead. But after being invited down to Angel of the Winds Casino & Hotel in Arlington, WA, I decided to give gaming another shot. The night before, we had learned the basics during a practice game. When we decided to go all in, we were given more chips anytime we asked the dealer. We got a feeling for when we should hit or stay, picked up tips and learned the signals so we wouldn't look like complete beginners. By the Continue Reading

Skagit Valley – Tiptoeing thru the Tulips

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Spring - The city feels fresh, the weather is warming up, the winter rains are easing off, and the days are getting longer. You can see summer on the horizon as the flowers and trees stir to life. Every year, Skagit Valley welcomes spring with fields full of tulips blooming. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival runs from April 1 to the 30th. The time window is wide because tulips bloom according to their own schedule. This year they were early, already in bloom during my Easter weekend visit on April 3-5th. Other years the blooming doesn't start until the second week of April. This year's bloom may only last another couple of weeks, so if you can't make it in time, put it on your calendar now for next year; you shouldn't miss the chance to stroll along the beds, admiring the incredible variety of colours and hues. We visited Tulip Town (15002 Bradshaw Rd) and RoozenGaard (15867 Beaver Marsh Rd). It's a $5 admission for each place and both are worth Continue Reading

Witnessing the reindeer crossing near Inuvik, NWT

Reindeer Crossing Inuvik

Reindeer Crossing in Inuvik Witnessing over 3,000 reindeer cross the ice road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T is an experience that is hard to put into words. So it's a good thing I caught some of my adventure on video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcNfMCInKQk On Sunday, March 29th, roughly 3,000 reindeer crossed the ice road, on the 80th anniversary of their annual journey to the calving grounds on Richards Island near Tuktoyaktuk. The day was cold (-17°C without the wind) and snowy. After we'd layered up against the chill, our friendly guide, Gerry from Up North Tours, picked us up and we headed down the ice road to witness this crossing. The ice road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk is 194 km long and the crossing is approximately 75 minutes away from Inuvik (at km 105). The landscape changes from hills and trees to open tundra as you continue down the MacKenzie. At the outset, the road conditions were good but as the day went on, things got more slippery and we had Continue Reading

Visiting a Tobacco Farm in Viñales, Cuba

Vinales Tobacco Farm

Cuba was a destination I had been wanting to visit for years, but the idea of spending a week at an all inclusive wasn’t appealing.  When I was booking my trip there, Viñales was one of the towns I knew I wanted to explore. Viñales is a World Heritage Site, but the main reason why I wanted to visit was to explore the tobacco fields and see how cigars are prepared. My trip was with Cuban Adventures, on the New Years Rumba tour. In Viñales, they did a wonderful job, arranging a guide for us who lived in the area and knew it as only a local could. He had a wealth of knowledge on tobacco, vegetation and the people who live there. Even for those not big on tobacco, Viñales has lots to offer: its surrounding farmland is lush and plentiful, with organic farms, caves, horseback riding, beach excursions,  swimming and lots of day hikes. Valeri, our main guide for the tour, gave us plenty of tips about what we could do, joined us for lunch and made sure we were taken care of in our homestays. Continue Reading

Celebrating Christmas Eve in Cuba – Las Parrandas de Remedios

Las Parrandas de Remedios 2014

I'm home from Cuba and it has been a hard transition back to my everyday life in Vancouver. I miss my travel companions from the Cuban Adventures tour, the delicious and cheap mojitos, the hot weather, smoking Cuban cigars, walking around exploring new cities and towns and the people that I met. The photographic opportunities ranged from crumbling old buildings in Havana to white sand beaches at sunset in Varadero and lush, tropical fields of tobacco in Vinales. I can't wait to share my stories and photos of my Cuban trip. One of my adventures was heading to Remedios to celebrate Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), a night that I won't forget anytime soon. Las Parrandas de Remedios is a night of partying in the streets and celebrating Christmas Eve on a rooftop. We enjoyed fireworks, dancing, partying, wandering the streets, exploring the stalls and squeezing past locals drinking rum and Cristal, all while the final touches were being made to parade floats. Las Parrandas de Remedios Continue Reading