Ten New Things 2016 – 1

I realize it has been a very quiet posting year.  We have been busy and my interest hasn’t been in writing and posting, but I still want to do my annual Ten New Things.  It will likely be my last post on this site.  It isn’t really worth paying for a site that I use a few times a year.  I’ll keep you posted another way on interesting things.

Not posting didn’t mean things didn’t happen this year.  It was actually a very “get things done” kind of year for Dave and I.  We decided to stick around North America and put some money into things that required some upgrading and just getting done, like putting up new blinds and buying a fridge, or getting Dave some oral surgery he had been putting off for several years.  It was time!  The only thing on our list that we didn’t complete was creating a will.  Very exciting, I know, but still needs to be done.  Here are some other things we got up to.

1. Donating my voice

I blogged about donating my voice in February.  It was a way for me to volunteer on my own time that held meaning to me.  Since then my voice has three potential matches.  I’m hoping that it gets used.  It would be incredible to know that someone has their own sound which deepens their identity because I spent the time to donate my voice.  If you want to learn more check out the Vocal ID website.

2.Negotiating buying a new car

Ugh!  No likes doing this, but it had to be done.  Dave’s car had been hanging on for about 3 years and we kept putting off buying a car so we could save more money to get the one we wanted.  It literally rolled into the scrapyard in March with very little life left.  We had to do a patch up job on the breaks in January to hold it out until the new 2016 redesigned Prius came out.  

When I bought my last car in 2006, my dad did the negotiating, I had no idea what I was doing.  I just picked the car that made the most sense for me and my budget and I promised myself my next one would be a hybrid or electric or something that didn’t depend on gas.  I figured by 2016 there had to be more options.  And there definitely are today.  But the process of negotiating prices and going to dealerships was stressful, but I managed to pay hardball as best I could with the information I could gather.  The sales lady said I played a hard game and I wanted to tell her that I would have gotten her lower if I hadn’t been too exhausted by that point.  

 

We love the new car, it saves so much money.  At the time we bought it Dave had to drive to Surrey each day for work and spent 1.5hrs a day in the car.  This was going to save us $100 a month.  This January, my office is moving to a more transit friendly location and we will sell my trusty Pontiac Pursuit, that I will have had for 11 years by then and, finally, we will be down to one car, which I have been wanting to do for years.

3. Visiting Prince Edward Island

On our trip out East this year we visited family in Ontario and New Brunswick, but tagged on a little side trip to PEI where we stayed for three nights.  The island is lovely and you can tell people take great pride in keeping their yards and homes in good shape.  While we were there we had another first, where we stayed at a really nice rustic hotel, Inn at Bay Fortune, that included a multi-course meal by the chef/owner Michael Smith.  It was a fantastic meal at a long table and we met some really nice people.  Before dinner we also got to walk around the property and eat appies served in the yard and back herb garden. We even talked to Michael Smith, which was also another first (talking to a celebrity). It was the highlight of our time in PEI.

There is a Bothwell in PEI and it is even smaller than the Ontario one.
There is a Bothwell in PEI and it is even smaller than the Ontario one.

4. Going to Austin and Waco, Texas

We had a surprise trip to Waco and Austin, Texas when Dave’s old roommate from the Men of Marpole house, Mark Mayhew, got engaged early in the year and set his wedding for August.  We had a great time with friends at the wedding in Waco.  There was a big BBQ for the engagement party and a delicious spread at the wedding at the botanical garden’s there.  The live band was amazing, the best I’ve seen.  Everyone was dancing until the end.

Canadians represent at the wedding.
Canadians represent at the wedding.
The American's challenged the Internationals to a dance off, so we pulled out our secret weapon, the orange men, and easily won.  (Orange men's names will not be disclosed.) Photo above with the lovely couple, Jenn and Mark.
The American’s challenged the Internationals to a dance off, so we pulled out our secret weapon, the orange men, and easily won.  (Orange men’s names will not be disclosed.) Photo above with the lovely couple, Jenn and Mark.

After the wedding we did a quick stop at Magnolia, the market and outdoor area created by the couple who host Fixer Upper on HGTV.  I don’t know much about the show, but it was the only other thing to do in Waco.  We then headed back to Austin for a night were we checked out a cowboy boot store, stopped at a brewery, ate some awesome tacos and had amazing BBQ at Terry’s Blacks BBQ.  We also went down and watched the bats that live under the bridge fly out at dusk.  There are about a million of them.  It was a fun time checking out the city before heading back to Vancouver.  Our last little highlight was seeing all the commotion of Trump’s motorcade coming into town.  They shut down the highway so that he and about a hundred police offices in cars and bikes could escort his 10 black cars into town for the Republican convention there.  What an unnecessary show of importance.  

5. Building my spice tolerance

When people have me over for dinner and ask what I don’t like, I say spicy food, salmon and goat meat. (Just kidding on the goat meat, I actually don’t have a problem with it.)  Dave loves spicy food, but it has been something I just had no interest in in the past.  Even in China, we had a spicy and non-spicy table at every restaurant, so Dave and I ate most meals apart so he could get his spice on.  This year something changed in me though.  Something clicked and I needed to figure this out.  I think I’ve watched enough Anthony Bourdain to realize that if I want to experience what the world has to offer for food, I need to get over this spice problem.  So I have and I realized that with spice used the right way, it doesn’t just add heat, but it also adds to the flavour and I think that is what I’ve been missing.  Everything spicy I tried when I was young just killed the flavour, it was spice for burning your lips off and making your nose run, but not to enhance a dish.  Now I know the difference.

We make this awesome dinner of Malaysian beef rendang.  We love it and it was the perfect dish to gradually bring up my spice tolerance. We started with one Thai chilli and have moved up to six, with the seeds.  It has opened up a whole different variety of dishes that I can enjoy at restaurants or at home and because of that I’ve been cooking a lot more Asian dishes.  Last year I would never have owned fish sauce, hoisin, Kaffir lime leaves, or turmeric, but those are staples in the house now.

More to come!

Advertisements

Ten New Things 2015 – 2

Ten New Things cont’d.

6. Discovered the Sunshine Coast – Our church small group goes on a retreat each year and this time we rented a massive house on the Sunshine Coast that slept 16 people.  I had been to the Sunshine Coast once years ago, but only to the town you arrive in at the ferry drop off, so it didn’t really feel like I had experienced the Coast.  We had fun watching jellyfish off the dock, Dave went out on a late night canoe run to stare at the stars and the phosphorescents in the water.  We did a hike up a small mountain and had a spectacular view of the area we were staying in and relaxed in an outdoor hot tub.  It was a fun weekend with friends and we’ll be back in the future.

7. Surprising my family at Thanksgiving – Given the opportunity to take a work trip home at Thanksgiving, I knew that I had to go the extra few hours to see my family for the long weekend. The look on moms face was worth it, she was so surprised and so were all the kids.  Amazingly, it still ended up being really busy as I quickly made the rounds to see my big family, but it was really fun to just ‘pop in’ for a little bit.

8. Going to Brooklyn – I was super excited about getting to go to Brooklyn. I had been to Manhattan before and did all the major tourist things, but never strayed across the river. We learned a lot about this borough through a food tour and saw all kinds of awesome street art. It really reminded me of Vancouver, just more of an East Coast feel. I know we’ll get back again soon for some good coffee, food and hopefully next time a brewery or two.

So much great street art in Brooklyn.
So much great street art in Brooklyn.
Mmm enjoying a coffee at Devocion in Brooklyn.
Mmm enjoying a coffee at Devocion in Brooklyn.

9. Eating at a Michelin starred restaurant – This was such an awesome experience.  Dave and I don’t like to buy things; we would far rather spend our money on an experience that we can share and remember with happiness later.  Eating at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan was one of them. A sister site also exists just outside of New York City and is one of the 50 best in the world, so we knew this was going to be amazing.  It was1If you have a chance to watch Chef’s Table on Netflix, there is an episode all about Barber and how he sources his food and focuses on flavour. Best restaurant meal we have ever had. We followed that up a couple days later by eating at The Spotted Pig, which has also received a Michelin star for its amazing pub food.  It was a food lovers paradise for us in NYC.

10. Running the New York City Marathon – My hardest marathon bar-none.  For years I have seen a picture hanging in my aunt’s house of her and her sister crossing the finish line of the marathon in 1993. So it has been on my bucket list for a long time:  Run NYC, one of the Big 5 marathons.  I finally got the opportunity to run it with one of my closest friends from Australia, Megan.  I thought it would be my best run ever and my training had been my best.  I was faster, my body felt good, I was ready to roll.  Reality was, we both found it super challenging; the hills, the bridges, the long, long sections of street and the endless crowds.  I finished in 4:11:41 and I wish I could go back and do it all over again, because I know I could do better. But I’m proud of what I did despite how it turned out because I pushed until the end and never even considered giving up. For now though, I don’t want to think about another marathon for a long time.

Heavy into the merchandise at the Expo.  
Heavy into the merchandise at the Expo.  
Brooklyn at km 16.  Brooklyn is the first half of the race and THEN you hit four bridges! Talk about a brain buster!
Brooklyn at km 16.  Brooklyn is the first half of the race and THEN you hit four bridges! Talk about a brain buster!

What will 2016 bring?  Hopefully a new province to visit and maybe some new BC experiences. We’re calling it our Year of Canada!

I hope you did some new things in 2015 as well.  It keeps you young and bring lots of fun to life. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ten New Things 2015 – 1

Looking back on 2015 I can think of so many things that are new to me.  We had some wonderful trips, I grew in my role at work and my cooking has continued to improve as I start moving into Asian cooking more and more. Here are the highlights!

1. Travelled to China – This was my first time in Asia and it was such a rich, exciting adventure for Dave and I.  We did so many new things while there.  We ate all kinds of new foods (frozen yogurt with beans, YUM!), explored the Forbidden City, survived the driving, bought steam buns from holes in the wall and sped through the countryside on a bullet train.  The country is vast and the people so kind.  I’ll remember Dave constantly getting his photo taken, line dancing with the locals, bean smoothies, the painful Chinese massage and the corn that came topped with sugar and sprinkles.  I suspect we’ll end up back there soon.

Before the pain of the Chinese massage.
Before the pain of the Chinese massage.
Enjoying street food with Megan and Shannon.
Enjoying street food with Megan and Shannon.

2. Worked with disabled and abandoned kids – This was such a highlight of the year.  In Sanmenxia, China, I was placed in the baby room and every day I would spend time with these wonderful kids who struggled with various disability, showing them love and attention, which they desperately desired.  Since coming back, Dave and I have continued to support the baby room at the orphanage we were at.  I hope to one day get back to see how these children have developed, and even better, not see them because they have been adopted into a loving home.

The centre where the kids lived in Sanmenxia.
The centre where the kids lived in Sanmenxia.

3. Touring the Terra Cotta Warriors and The Great Wall of China – Seeing these sites always seemed like a far off reality.  I didn’t anticipate that I would even see them in my lifetime since China wasn’t really on my list of places to visit. But we did, and we loved it, and we saw these great wonders. I really enjoyed The Great Wall and would have loved to spend more time there. It really was beautiful seeing the ruinous area that stretched as far as you could see from the clean, safe, tourist section. It was like there was an adventure waiting right over the next hill. 

Into the forbidden zone!
Into the forbidden zone!

4. Joined our strata council – When we bought our condo a couple years ago I knew I wanted to join the strata council to be apart of decision making and the care for our buildings (there are 3 large condo buildings and 4 townhouse complexes – 165 units total).  So this April when we had our annual general meeting, I signed up for the standard two year term.  My goodness, I had no idea how much work and communication would be involved.  Within just the first 2-3 days I had about 50 emails back and forth about issues.  You’ll never know what is going on in the background until you get on council!  It has been trying at times, but a good learning experience so far.  

5. Grew into a manager at work – The first year as a manager is pretty challenging.  Every difficult conversation you have with am employee seems painstaking for the first while, but then you get used to it (thank goodness) and you are able to sleep at night knowing what conversations will take place the next day.  I pray a lot for wisdom in my job and the ability to be fair and consistent with my employees, to coach them through failures and praise them in success.  At the start of the year, I didn’t enjoy being a manager, and while I still have lots to learn, it has become easier and I gain more confidence in my abilities each day.

No Sleep Till Brooklyn/New York

Thought I would share some photos from our trip with a few details.  Probably more for my memories than anything.  We arrived Thursday morning and amazingly our hotel room at the Hilton Manhattan East was ready at 11am and they let us put our bags in when we arrived.  We didn’t stay long though because David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar opened at noon and we knew it would get busy.  We had to get our New York on!

Waiting for yum at Momofuku Noodle Bar.
Waiting for yum at Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Dave’s loves himself a bowl of noodles and this one had a nice smokey flavour with a delicious egg yolk sitting in the middle.  I had a delicious soy sauce egg to start followed by an al pastor steam bun sandwich.  For dessert we had chocolate chip passionfruit cake soft serve.  What a great first meal in NYC.

After trying to go to the Statue of Liberty, but realizing tickets to get on the island were sold out, we wandered around the Freedom Tower and World Trade Center site, visited Trinity Church and Wall Street then headed back to clean up at the hotel for our ‘fancy’ dinner out at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill our first dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant.  His Upstate New York Blue Hill restaurant is in the top 50 restaurants in the world, so we knew the New York version had to be good.

Do you remember that dinner table scene from What About Bob?  Well this dinner went a lot like that.  Dish after dish after dish, followed by the most embarrassing moans of delight.  Best meal we have ever had.  They don’t allow phone use in the restaurant so, sorry, no pictures of the epicness.  Seeded butter, fermented rye bread, turnips, baby butternut squash with bacon marmalade and oh, green beans like you couldn’t imagine.  And I think green beans are boring!  Mmm, Faye this is delicious!

The next day was the big reveal at Rockefeller Centre, where we ‘ran into’ our Australian friends, Ben and Megan Auld and their daughter Charlotte.  We surprised them outside of Magnolia Bakery and it was like Megan saw a ghost, she just couldn’t comprehend what was in front of her. Tears and hugs flowed, then we headed over to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon for some mmm mmm pastries…and then back to Magnolia for a cupcake and Banana Pudding (mom, this is the recipe I made at the cottage this summer).  

You might think I'm eating like I have a marathon in two days or something.
You might think I’m eating like I have a marathon in two days or something.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

We split up so Dave and I could do a food tour in Brooklyn and Ben and Megan could get their bearings and run some errands.  They had only arrived the night before.

We saw some great street art, had more awesome food and learned a lot about the Hasidic Jewish community in Williamsburg.  Did you know families have from 6-8 children, and the woman wear wigs.  It was like they all had the same hair colour and haircut.  I think the most interesting thing we learned was that the leaders in the community put up posters saying that watching the marathon is not tolerated.  It has too many people running in promiscuous clothing. There should be no watching of it on the street and you must keep your children away from the windows.  The area was pretty quiet when you ran through it, but there were a couple little girls enjoying it from a stoop.

We met up with the Auld’s and did some shopping in Brooklyn, then had dinner at Diner.  After Dave and I took a detour and walked the Brooklyn Bridge at night.  What a great view and a nice walk.

The High Line
The High Line

The next day after picking out our race kit, we walked The High Line.  It is an old rail line that runs through the West Side of the city.  It was a nice, but crowded, walk that finished close to April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig, a Michelin starred pub.  What could be better for lunch!?!

April Bloomfield's The Spotted Pig - Can you see the pig?
April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig – Can you see the pig?

After a late lunch and more banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery, we split ways from the Auld’s and went back to Brooklyn in the evening for dinner at applewood, a restaurant I had read a book about last year.  It was Halloween and there was craziness everywhere.  The street by the restaurant was even shut down as kids and parents ran from store to store trick-or-treating. When we came back to Manhattan after dinner we took a short walk through Times Square to see some more costumes then headed back to the Hilton to watch the Mets and try to get an early night before the race. (This never really happens before a race.  You can’t sleep very well no matter what you do.)

Sunday was race day and you can read about that on my last post.  It was a hard run and I still think about it.  I talked to Megan yesterday, who just got back to Brisbane, and we both are still running it through our heads.  How would we do it again knowing what we know now?  We both feel like it isn’t a run to repeat.  No more uphill!

Monday morning we met for a late coffee and pastry at Frisson Espresso (we had been finding some great coffee shops, shout out to Blue Bottle Coffee and Devotion).  We had some final fun with Charlotte who had been a very good girl the whole trip and put up a lot from us old boring people.  Apparently, after Dave and I left she pointed out some runners who looked like me and has convinced her mom that when she is 20, Megan and I have to do a race with her.  So be it.  She has a tough momma and Auntie.

We’ll miss our Aussie friends a lot, but we are already talking about the next adventure in 2017. Dave and Megan have their eye on the Tokyo Marathon and I think they are kind of mad.

These two don’t look like they have work the next day.  Back to reality!

New York City Marathon 2015

I’ve never been excited about a trip than I was about going to New York City.  We had only been back from China two weeks, when I found out one of my bestie’s, Megan in Australia, had a surprise birthday present from her husband to run the New York City Marathon.  This race had been on my bucket list for about 5 years, so I knew I had to go and run it with her.  

Ben, her husband, was completely on board and we decided to keep it a secret for 6 months and surprise Megan in NYC.  In the meantime, I was supposed to be training for a race that happened on the same day in Delta, BC.  Megan completely fell for it.  We had a great time emailing, texting, and Skyping about our training whoas.  This was Megan’s first marathon (my fourth) and she had lots of questions.  It was great to help provide tips (ALWAYS use your BodyGlide!) and talk about our body aches.

It was so hard to keep it a secret and tough to try to figure out how the run would go.  Megan is faster than I am, yet I had dreams about crossing the finish line together, but I had to let that go, knowing I couldn’t hold her pace with the risk of forfeiting finishing because of burnout.  It would be what it would be.

The morning we were to meeting up with them, we had planned to meet at the Magnolia Bakery in Rockefeller Centre.  The bakery is one of Megan’s favourite places, so Ben knew it wouldn’t be hard to get her there.  Dave and I waited across the street and ran over when we saw them. Megan completely froze, it was like stumbling across your parents in the middle of the Amazon jungle, it just didn’t make sense.  By the time it sunk in, she was in tears and we had a big ‘ol hug.  It seemed to take her days to get over the fact that we were there with them.

The expo was a madhouse of spandex and people, but very well organized.  There are 50,000 runners and they all needed to get their bib, T-shirt, race kit, etc.  It felt like the first real moment of, “we’re really doing this!”

Race morning on Nov 1 was an early one.  I was up at 5am and out the door at 5:25 to head down to the buses that took us to the Staten Island starting line.  Megan and I picked the worst meeting point because of the way the buses were loading and we missed each other.  We didn’t meet up until 2 hours later in the start area.

Here we are sitting in the hay at our corral area.  We had a couple hours wait, go to the bathroom, eat, go to the bathroom, stretch, and go to the bathroom.  Nerves!

There was a giant screen showing the start of the race, which was happening right behind us on the bridge.  This is the woman’s start.

There were about 5 helicopters flying around recording the start area.  The bridge was our starting point and we could watch the first two waves of runners crossing from our area.

We got pace bands at the Expo and Megan put them on us…upside-down!   Oops! 

Finally our wave was called and we are about to start.  There were three sections, ours went under the bridge, and no, we didn’t get peed on.  :)

Photo credit: Sakepuppets
Photo credit: Sakepuppets

The crowds were immense, almost too much by the last quarter.  You eventually get tired of the same signs and high-fiving kids. I did see some original signs though.  There was one of John Snow upset that said “There will be no hitting the Wall!” Another was of Christopher Walken saying “There’s only one Walken, everyone else should be running.” But it was awesome when we passed this church and they had their choir singing out front.  One of the best crowd sections.  Harlem was also awesome with their hip-hop music.

I started running in the middle to take a break from them.  It really messes with your running plan if you do 10:1s (10min run, 1min walk).  It is so hard to walk beside people yelling at you to keep moving. My phone battery was quickly dying for some reason and I didn’t start my 10:1s until an hour in and then was trying to preserve my battery so I wasn’t using my timing app. Everything was thrown off. 

Megan in the pink hat being chased by the Wizard of Oz characters.
Megan in the pink hat being chased by the Wizard of Oz characters.

Dave got this shot of Megan running (in the pink hat).  It shows you how crowded the running was.  After about 3 miles Megan was going too fast for me and I let her go.  By the half way point my feet were hamburger and things were tough.  How could we still be in Brooklyn!  We had 5 bridges to cross, only one that was flat.  It was a zombie race by the fourth bridge.  You could tell that a lot of people (like me) hadn’t paced well enough and had not anticipated the hardships of the bridges.  I knew I wasn’t going to quit, but I knew it would be a struggle for the last hour and a half.  

I also got run over by a Kenyan (that’s what I’m saying) in Harlem at a water station.  I got ran into from behind, slipped in all the Gatorade, water and banana peels (haha) and went down hard on my elbow and knee.  Half covered in pavement and liquid, it was a bit of limp-fest for the next hour, but I pressed on.  

By the time we got into Central Park I was aching for it to be over and was somehow convincing myself that I wasn’t going to walk over the finish line.  I had to run.  On the last turn at Columbus Circle, I pushed to run the rest, down the cheering section, with all the flags of different nations and over the finish line.  My time was 4:11:41, my worst time, but also probably my proudest finish for the hardest marathon I’ve done.  I finished in the top 35% of runners, so it’s hard to complain. Megan finished seconds under 4hrs, her new PR to beat.

After stopping in the medical tent (which was like a disaster zone of cots and wheelchairs) to get my elbow and knee checked and bandaged, I joined the zombie apocalypse through the park, for what seemed like forever, to pick up our poncho.  The ponchos were amazing!  I’m keeping mine to stay warm on the coach at home!  

It took almost an hour to get to Ben, Dave and Charlotte after the race in the Family Reunion Zone.  Megan who finished 11mins ahead of me still wasn’t there.  Somehow I had passed her after the finish line.  When we finally saw each other it was a teary reunion of “That was so hard!”

Upon leaving the park and heading back to the hotel, I received so many congratulations from people on the street.  Even on the subway a young kid recorded me and him on his phone and posted it to a NYC Marathon stream somewhere on the Internets.  He was so impressed that I had ran.

After going out for a nice dinner with the Auld’s at Ed’s Lobster Bar, Dave and I stopped for a cocktail at The Central Grill a couple blocks from our hotel.  We sadly watched the Met’s go down over free fries and a couple drinks and a fun conversation with the bartender and guy beside us.  Just as we were about to leave, the bartender came over with two glasses of champaign.  He told us a woman who was at the bar and had just left bought them for us for finishing.  It was probably the best moment I’ve had in New York thus far.  New Yorkers really love their marathon and love that the world comes to run it.  I haven’t felt hospitality like that before there.

Will I be back to New York, you betcha!  Will I run another marathon?  I’m currently saying I’m retired, but you never know, I kinda want to go back and attack this one again.  Clearly, this is crazy talk!

Portland in Pictures and Food

This past long weekend Dave, myself and 3 other couples drove down to Portland via Seattle.  We ate, we drank, we hiked and walked the city.

Above is the amazing ice cream selection at Salt & Straw.  The ice cream is so flavourful that we went twice.  Their Sea Salt & Caramel Ribbons is there most popular and very, very delicious, but my favourite has to be the Arbequina Olive Oil, made from oil produced right in Oregon.  Pure happiness in my mouth as you can see from the picture below, we were all pretty happy.

And yes, that is Dave holding a box from Voodoo Donuts.  It is one of the landmarks that we had yet to experience.  So after the famous maple bacon donut, we went for BBQ and then off to Salt & Straw.  And we all look like happy clams.

Mmm, bacon.  The other donut is a Raspberry Romeo.  Don’t worry though, we didn’t eat them both at the same time, we saved the Romeo for breakfast the next day.  :)

This is another totally delicious breakfast we had.  It’s called the Oregon Croissant.  It has the famous Oregon Marionberry, which we learned about on Portlandia.  I think this is the most amazing croissant I have ever had in my life.

I’ll tell you something we didn’t have a lot of…

Things are so cheap in Portland, they make origami from their money.

We did do some exercises though.  We took a beautiful hike to Triple Falls about 40 minutes outside of Oregon where we saw 6 water falls including this beauty.

We had such a great trip and it wouldn’t be complete without some beer for Dave and I.  

Washed down by some water.

Of course, I won’t lie, there was also a little bit of this…

Keep it weird Portland!  See you next year.

2011 Ten New Things – Part 1

Almost unbelievably, another year has passed.  I was thinking about the time I have been living in Vancouver, and it has been almost 3 years.  I tried to think back over my time here and I almost couldn’t think of what happened in my second year here.  Of course it happened, but it happened so quickly.

Thinking about this past year, I continue to be surprised how fast things are moving.  I have been dating a lovely man named Dave, who is the love of my life, and no one has made me happier.  I have traveled to Hawaii, the Caribbean, parts of the States, and all over Canada.  I have never spent more time on a plane in one year, but I continue to find it my favourite place to be.  No phones, computers, work, people to talk to, just me and my knitting or reading or catching up on movies.  True time to relax that includes mini servings of pop and pretzels.

Mmm, now with that thought in mind, let’s take a little trip.

2011 The Year of Travel

1. Snowboarding on Mt. Baker

 
Snowboarding at Mt Baker
Snowboarding at Mt Baker

You can catch up on this experience in my blog from March.  It was something I always wanted to try, but turned out not being something I enjoyed.  However, that said, I think I might try it one more time, in a different location and with better snow conditions and see if that changes my mind.

2. Hawaii
 
Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
 
Hawaii was always on my list of places to see when I moved West and it didn’t disappoint.  It was a great place to visit.  The weather was wonderful, it was easy and safe to get around, and personally not as expensive as everyone says (as long as you do it right). I traveled with three friends and we went to Maui for 5 days and Oahu for 5 days and during this time I has several firsts.
 
3. Surfing
 
Surfing in Maui
Surfing in Maui
 
 

Dylan and I with the Surf Board
Dylan and I with the Surf Board
Surfing was awesome, I really feel like I found something I would want to continue to learn.  And this is coming from someone who doesn’t care for beaches or water that much.  I had a great ‘dude’ of an instructor that helped me one on one.  The waves were really mild and I got up on my first try.  Being the adventurer that I am and having a teacher that was ready to see what I could do, we tried everything.  I surfed backwards, did my yoga pose and even did a quick handstand while riding a wave.  Everytime I got back to Dylan, he would be like, “I think you could do a triple axle on your board this time.”  Sadly, the photographer that took pictures only took them for the first 45mins of the lesson and not the last part where I was building up the confidence to do all the fun and crazy stuff.  Either way, it was fun.  I think I still have a lot to learn about timing the waves though, but hopefully I can do that on my next try.
 
4. Whalewatching
 
Whale Watching
Whale Watching
 
While on Maui we also went whale watching.  It was the end of the season, so there was a chance that we might not see anything, but it turned out to be the best outing that one of our guides had all year.  There was only one whale out, a teenager sized while, but like any good teenager he loved attention and taking risks and he came right up to our boat and swam under and around us.  In the whale watching world, we had been taken hostage by the whale, since you can’t move your boat while a whale is a certain distance from it.  It was a pretty incredible outing, even though it was bloody early in the morning, but it was well worth it.
 
5. Drive a scooter
 
 

Scooter Gang
Scooter Gang
 
Once we got over to Oahu, we rented scooters for a day and set out to drive around some of the island.  Before we left we asked for helmets and got the strangest looks.  In Hawaii you don’t have to wear helmets on scooters or motorcycles, so the scooter place managed to find two helmets for us to use which we shared.  I can see partially why people wouldn’t want to wear them…it is HOT! 
 
I’m pretty sure we weren’t suppose to go on highways or as far as we went, but our fearless leader Michael led us out anyway.  The sites as we drove along the coast were incredible and the beach we stopped at had perfect sand and a great view of the ocean with surfers and some small little rock islands.  If I remember correctly, there was even a bride and groom getting their pictures done there.
 
To be continued…