Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island

When I feel the need to flee the city, unplug, relax, be immersed in the wild and just let myself breathe, there is no better place to travel to than Port Renfrew.

A sweet little hamlet of a little over 200 people surrounded by the rugged beauty of Vancouver Island’s west coast, this part of the world is a pretty magical place. Let me show you a few reasons why:

Beaches with hidden caves and crashing waves..

The magic of old growth forests..

Sweet BC sunsets..

And places to swim..

Who could ask for a better place to recharge your batteries?

Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. — Maya Angelou

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Hiking the Hoodoos

I visited the province of Alberta for the first time about a year and a half ago. Before that, I have to admit, I had very little knowledge about the place. I knew that Banff was beautiful, that Calgary was the largest city (with an annual out-of-control party called The Stampede) and that it was our oil province. That was the full extent of my knowledge. Since that initial visit I’ve been back about a half a dozen times and each time I get to see a bit more of Alberta’s natural beauty and fall a bit more in love with it.

Banff, Kananaskis, Lake Louise, Jasper, to name a few places, are all  stunning. But this time I visited a spot that was quite different and breathtakingly beautiful in an unusual way.

The Alberta I’d seen so far consisted of pristine glacier lakes, incredible forests and wildlife and rugged mountains, not the unique rock formations of the Hoodoos (aka. earth pyramids) just outside of Drumheller.

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The Hoodoos caught me by surprise and made me feel like I had been instantly transported to some mystical place far, far away. “Is this still Canada?” I thought as I looked at the strange beauty of the rock formations surrounding me.

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The Hoodoos give you a great hiking workout but, even more importantly, they are still and silent and offer you a special place to rest for awhile. So, after exploring, accept their invitation to sit quietly and take in the awe inspiring beauty of nature.

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Hiking the Hoodoos

Yoga & Martinis

Shade Boutique Hotel in Manhattan Beach was my home away from home in California and I feel like I could have happily stayed there forever. I truly mean that. When I was a teenager the most glamorous life I could imagine, and would constantly daydream about, was the life of a writer, in a big city, living in a luxury hotel room. I still think I would be incredibly happy living that life, especially since it includes daily maid service.

My dog and I both enjoyed Shade’s perfectly glam roof deck. I loved the morning yoga classes…

And the Nickster enjoyed lounging by the pool, drinking cucumber water and deciding if he should bark at the other guests.

pool dog

The daily, complimentary breakfasts were amazing…

smoked salmon bagel

But the real jewel of this hotel is it’s lobby bar-restaurant, Zinc. This is a cool little spot where you can end the day sipping a craft cocktail, chatting with the bartender and getting to know the other guests. My favourite fellow guests were two sisters from Atlanta. They were drinking wine and laughing every time I saw them and were in town to get a little botox and fillers in Beverly Hills. Just a touch so they could go back home looking “refreshed”.

There were a lot of delicious cocktails at Zinc but my absolute fave was the sweet and cool Cucumber- Pear Martini.

The Drink at Zinc

  • 2 oz. Grey Goose pear vodkamartini
  • 1 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • one peeled slice of cucumber, muddled in the glass
  • lemon lime juice (organic citrus fruit, agave syrup and water to taste)

Instructions:

  • Muddle cucumber in the bottom of a martini glass
  • Shake (or stir) remaining ingredients with ice
  • Pour over cucumber

Voila! A perfect cocktail.

Oh, and then there was the food…

Shade Hotel

California

My little furry sidekick and I just got back from a week of sun, sand and surf in California.

It was just what I needed with a ton of beach time, listening to the waves and feeling the amazing power of the ocean, a couple of days in Malibu with my friend, Tammy, and a lot of eating and drinking (I had my must-visit restaurants and farmer’s markets all lined up). I met up with one of my favourite food bloggers, Sue of Birgerbird, for lunch. And I even spotted Gene Simmons of Kiss, filming an episode of Family Jewels on the rooftop patio of my hotel. Since Kiss was the first rock concert I ever saw, when I was 14, I was maybe a little overly excited to see this now reality tv star.

Another thing I did on this trip was continue to unplug from my beloved Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Instagram, and Pinterest (whew!) by leaving my laptop at home. Although I could still access my social media loves from time to time via my iphone, I was hardly online at all for the whole vacation and it felt amazing, like a true break. I spent my down time reading (no kindle, just old fashioned books) and writing (old school, with a pen and paper journal) and daydreaming on my balcony, watching the waves of the Pacific crash against the shore.

So, now I’m back home sweet home with a bunch of photos, a recipe or two and a few stories to tell…

pacific

the pier

sand in your toes

pink hibiscus

Beast the chihuahua

El Matador Beach Malibu