27 May 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #44: Backtracking to Tofino

Chesterman Beach
Tofino.  For me, it conjures up images of majestic cedars stretching their limbs toward the vast sky, kayaks gliding along the water's surface as they skirt Vancouver Island's shoreline, vast stretches of ocean where the waves crash in their unending rhythm as they bring hardy surfers ashore.  A couple of weeks ago, Dave and I traveled back to Vancouver Island to celebrate our one-year anniversary as a married couple and it was so good to be there...this place that feels so much like home to the two of us...grounding us in its natural beauty.

We started our vacation by taking flights from Regina to Vancouver and then Vancouver over to Victoria.  Victoria is an urban-girl anglophile's dream.  Tiny boutique stores are tucked in between cafes.  British flags are prominent and in the people you find a delicate mix of Seattle mentality and gracious British Columbia hospitality.  There are funky clothing stores, and the requisite tourist traps with their tchotchkes.  Float planes glide out of the sky to land in Inner Harbour in front of the Parliament building and The Empress hotel (a former hotel that served as a terminating point for many a Canadian Pacific steamship voyage).

Murchie's goodness
For us, no trip to Victoria is complete without a stop at Murchies Tea & Coffee.  The scones!  The jam!  The teas and coffee!  The ambiance of the pastries in the display case and cozy tea shop next door!  We settled in a savoured our currant scones while people-watching, allowing ourselves to immerse and relax into vacation-mode.  We had the opportunity to stay on the naval base in Esquimalt just down the road from city center.  The view from the hotel, or "shacks," was gorgeous.  The ocean stretching out in front of us and a peek at Washington's coastline...just a ferry ride away.

The next day, we stopped in at our favourite church in Victoria.  On our first visit, we stumbled across it and it is gorgeous.  The organ pipes in the back reach up high, high, high and the stations of the cross are reflected in a variety of paintings donated to the church by individual artists -- each one unique, creative, and reflective.  We signed the registry book, just as we had two years before and took a little walk up the aisle to marvel at the space, the rose window, and the history of the place.

Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria
Once done there, we headed over to the market to pick up some goodies for our stay in Tofino and we were off for the six-hour journey through mountains and along lakes and the coastline.  The drive from Victoria to Tofino is incredible!  Driving through the mountains, waterfalls appear out of nowhere and this drive isn't complete without a stop in Cathedral Grove...truly one of the most beautiful and majestic places I have ever been.  Towering cedars provide dappled sunlight to the foliage below and plaques throughout the trail provide a history and education as to the delicate makeup of this natural community.  We walked while rain pitter-pattered off the leaves and branches, drinking in the woodsy smells around us and listening to birds twitter and streams gurgle.  Waxing a bit poetic, Heather?  Absolutely...this place is pure poetry.

Our man, Mike!
We were lucky enough to be able to reconnect with the gentleman who married us last year, Mike, and had a yummy lunch of fish n' chips at Frankie's Driftwood Patio Restaurant in Ucluelet.  We caught up and learned what he had been up to over the past year.  Mike rocks and we are truly grateful that we are lucky to know him.  His entire approach to life is one big adventure and he was the perfect fit to officiate our special day.  He gets just as excited for you and you are for yourself and I think that's is a pretty unique thing to find in a person.  He embodies the BC lifestyle and makes choices that allow him to travel for a good part of the year all across Canada.

Along Half Moon Bay Trail
We arrived in Tofino and stayed in the same cottage on Chesterman Beach we reserved a year ago.  We took a walk along the stretch of sand in front of the space and made plans for the remainder of our time there.  It was surreal being back given the unfolding of events that occurred just a year before!  We just took some time to reflect, unpack, and enjoy the sounds of the ocean and the views of surfers catching their rides.  The next day, we chose to hike and explore some new paths.  We made our way along the Florencia Bay Trail, Half Moon Bay Trail, and the Bog Walk.  Each offered us something unique and different to see.  The first two trails connect offering us spectacular views of the ocean, lots of rocks to climb on, and some pretty deep mud to squish through!  We spent some time lounging on a pebbly beach, warming ourselves in the sun and ending that trails walk near the Wickaninnish Centre which sits on quite possibly the largest, most peaceful beach I have ever seen...it stretched out in front of us forever and was impossibly long!

Happy place...
The next day was our anniversary and we spent the morning with Trevor, our kayaking guide from the Tofino Sea Kayaking Company (we love them!).  Trevor was awesome and the three of us made our way onto the water for a paddle over to Meares Island.  The island is home to a variety of big trees and there is a trail that winds its way among them.  Trevor coached us on how the First Nations tribes utilize the trees in a sustainable way, pointing out that the cedar plank path we were walking on was an example of that.  The water was quiet, the mountains were draped in clouds, and the sound of birds and visions of sea lions popping their heads out of the water were all I needed to sink further into vacation-induced bliss.  THIS is my happy place...THIS is where I am most content to just be.  On the water working with nature...

No trip to Tofino is complete without a stop at the Tofitian for some amazing coffee and good local vibe.  I love this place!  It is the tiniest of coffee shops and they produce the best soy latte I've ever tasted.  Dave and I like hanging out there on their outdoor seats, sipping our bevvies, and watching as everyone from backpackers to young families make their way through the doors of the shop.  We spent the afternoon walking along the beach, recounting the memories from our wedding day, and then dressing up for our planned dinner at Sobo (they catered our wedding).  The food was awesome -- although we might have indulged just a little too much with tofu pockets, a yummy local beet salad, a mushroom pizza, a delicious veggie curry bowl, and a flourless chocolate cake...sooo good!  We took advantage of the time together to reminisce and express gratitude for one another.  I am very lucky to have Dave in my life!

The next day concluded our trip to Tofino and we were back on the road to Victoria.  We couldn't pass up a second walk through the Cathedral even though it was pouring rain and the trail was super muddy.  Just breathing in the fresh air and walking among the tall trees was enough to make us want to turn around, head back into Tofino and live a hermit-like existence on the coast.  Alas, it was not to be.  We returned to our accommodations on the naval base and prepped for our return to Moose Jaw the next day.

Me inside a tree (those are all the roots) in the Cathedral.
We are grateful for our time away and for the time we had to reconnect and unwind.  It was ideal.  You can put me on a plane headed west any day of the week...I won't complain.

I'll post more pics of the trip in my next post, but for now...we miss you, Tofino and we can't wait to come back.  In the meantime, we'd love it if you rooted for us as Dave and I tackle the Saskatchewan Marathon this weekend!  I am running to support Women for Women International's Run for Congo Women (you can find out more by clicking on the link to the left!).  Cheers and thanks for your support!

23 May 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #43: May Two-Four Weekend

This is a long weekend here in Moose Jaw.  Much like our Memorial Day kicks off the summer season with a BBQ, some friends, and finally -- for you fashionistas out there -- the ability to wear white shoes without being mocked, the May long weekend, or May Two-Four (a case of beer up here is called a two-four) weekend, does the same thing here up north.  People throw burgers on the grill, they break out maple-leaf decked paraphernalia, pop a firecracker or two, and get together with friends to celebrate the fact that they didn't have to work on a Monday.

Really, just a long weekend you ask?  No, not really.  Today is a hiatus from the daily grind to celebrate Victoria Day.  It is the day of Queen Victoria's birth and is the official Canadian sovereign birthday.  To show their enthusiasm for the day...banks are closed, schools are closed, the post office is closed...you get the gist.  It always falls on the Monday closest to or on May 24 and is always the Monday before the United States celebrates Memorial Day.  While it traditionally signals the beginning of summer and folks take the opportunity to get out of town and travel, this particular Victoria Day finds us under cloudy skies and rain pelting against the windows.  Who am I kidding...it's kind of been off and on like this all weekend!  Needless to say, the weather didn't stop me from getting together with two awesome friends of ours over the weekend to feast on veggie burgers, salad, and some zucchini we threw on their grill in the backyard.

Dave opted to spend his long weekend working on the road, taking a long cross country and getting some much-loved time in the air.  Next weekend, we hit the pavement with our running shoes to tackle the Marathon...thank goodness we have another long weekend to look forward to!

17 May 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #42: A Recipe for Luck

Stephen Leacock
Guest blogger in the house!  Erm, literally.  Here are some reflections from my wonderful partner in life...

I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it. ~ Stephen Leacock

Luck. I have been very lucky in my life. As I reflect over the past year since Heather and I had our day on the beach, I realize just how lucky I am. That day, for our unknown friends from Korea (we track who views the blog), was our wedding day. It was all dumb luck that everything fell into place as it did. There were a million things that could have gone wrong with such a dynamic and daring plan. It was perfect.

When I consider where I am in life - the friends I have chosen to surround myself with, the career I am navigating, the home Heather and I are creating, the financial future we are building, how I think and feel about myself (Awesome! ...if you were wondering) and most importantly the relationship Heather and I share with each other - I am more then lucky. I am blessed.

With each of these points above I/we have worked to get to where we are. We did not win the lottery with friends, career, our home, money, our relationship with others or ourselves - we damn well worked hard to get to where we are. The more focus and time we spend on our lives, seeking the positive in all that we do, the greater amount of success we have had... and will continue to have.

As Heather and I arrive at our first anniversary it is a time to reflect over the growth we have shared as a couple. We don’t have it all figured out - and I kinda hope we never do! I enjoy the progress we make as we clear each hurdle and, even more so, the way we work together when we stumble and sometimes run smack into a wall. The working together part is what makes me know beyond a doubt that we have chosen well in each other.

A recipe for luck.

Luck, as I am learning, is created with varying degrees of:
  • Hard work - Heather and I talk... and we talk most when we don’t want to talk! That's hard work! 
  • Focused effort - Taking specific time to pause and reflect, as well, develop a plan to move forward in ALL areas of our lives. 
  • Simplistic design - The less cluttered our lives the less we carry around. “The Big Picture” with little detail is simplest of all. And throw out your crap! 
  • Inspiration and imagination - Dream a little... and share those dreams too! 
  • A healthy portion of patience - Life has its own way of working things out to its own rhythm. As we spend more time listening to each other and working through things together we are more pleased with an organic conclusion than a forced result. 
  • Zero expectations! - I want for Heather to be happy and fulfilled in our love and in our lives. By creating expectations we then make it complicated. Simple is best! 
Served with a positive attitude and you will be the luckiest person you know!

When I reflect on my life thus far I see how these simple ingredients have created my present existence. Was it dumb struck luck that I met Heather? Well, we both had to be in the right place at the right time physically, mentally and emotionally. Heather could have easily not clicked on my name - I could have easily not responded. But here we are through a long distance relationship, a crazy perfect wedding and lightning fast immigration.

Was it luck?


... and worth all the effort. 

Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl. ~ Stephen Leacock

How have you been lucky...tell us your story -- life, love, your respective pursuit of happiness...

10 May 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #41: One Year On...

Dave and I are celebrating our one-year anniversary very soon by going on the road.  As such, some reflections on love and wisdowm as filmed by Andrew Zuckerman.

08 May 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #40: Happy Mother's Day

Photo Credit:  James Moes

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, but especially to my own.  She is an inspiration...strong, courageous, and such a support to me over the years.  

I am so incredibly lucky to have her in my life!

03 May 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #39: Canada's Election

I will start this post by saying I am nowhere near getting a handle on Canadian politics.  Canadians went to the polls yesterday following a short bout of campaigning by the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Liberals, and the Conservatives (the front-running parties in the election).  At the end of the day, the Conservatives came out on top with Stephen Harper retaining his seat and, for the first time in a long time, a majority of seats in the House of Commons.  While all of that was happening, the NDP made a huge dent and is now the official "opposition party," beating out the Liberals.  AND, I can hear you waiting for it...what of the Bloc Québécois, the Green Party, and the Independents?!?!

Yes, folks, its a circus, although from my vantage point a much more subdued and peaceful circus than the one that surrounds our U.S. election process.  This will be the 41st Canadian Parliament following the 40th which was dissolved back in March following a no-confidence vote in the government by the House of Commons.  Following the dissolution, the politicians hit the trail, moving from riding to riding (kind of like the U.S. congressional districts), making their speeches, and pledging to bring Canada wealth, prosperity, goodness, and light.

It could be argued that there are six primary parties in Canada (listed in order by the number of seats they hold):
  • Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper (167 seats)
  • New Democratic Party, led by Jack Layton (102 seats)
  • Liberals, formerly led by Michael Ignatieff (34 seats)
  • Bloc Québécois (4 seats)
  • Green (1 seat)
  • Independents (whoops, no seats after this election -- they formerly held 2)

In addition, there are a variety of minor parties, including (and I kid you not):
  • Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party
  • Canadian Action Party
  • Christian Heritage Party
  • Communist Party
  • First Peoples National Party
  • Libertarian Party
  • Marijuana Party
  • Marxist-Leninist Party
  • Progressive Canadian Party
  • Pirate Party
  • Rhinoceros Party
  • United Party
  • Western Block Party

The PIRATE PARTY?!?!  How cool is that!  When I first heard about them, I had visions of hooks and swashbucklers making their way to Parliament to talk about stolen pirate booty and sing some songs with a glass of mead while adjusting their eye patches!  In fact, I know one special someone that would love to give it a try:

My nephew as a Pirate at Walt Disney World!

Alas, they focus on copyrighting, net neutrality and government reform...all which could be made much more interesting with an eye patch...just saying is all.

Saskatchewan went all Conservative save for one riding, Wascana, that went Liberal.  As a side note, it is interesting to me that on the map from CBC showing the ridings, Conservative is shown in blue and Liberal is shown in red...different from the Red and Blue states we know so well in the U.S. 

So, we wait to see what Harper is going to do with a majority government.  Maybe his tactics would be a little easier to swallow with some mead and a good song...and some pirate booty, with a Rhinoceros on the side.