Vacation 2017 Day 4: On the Way Home!

The final day of vacation is here! Of course, only the trip portion as I still have one week of staycation afterwards, which turned out pretty great as I caught up with movies and TV series and a ton of chores that needed to be tended to. I managed to get some cooking done as well. Getting  ahead of myself again! What’s new, right?

Let’s go home!

The way home was pretty smooth. A few clouds and a few raindrops, nothing as intense as the first day. We ended doing a bit of the Acadian scenic route. Being Canada Day, there was a lot of Canada flags but there was also the Acadian flag which we didn’t know until we saw it. Its pretty impressive to see the Acadian settlements and how prominent they are, even after so many years. Its pretty amazing. I’m not a history major by far and I honestly have the worst memory for it. Still, the drive slowly went from that to looking again at creepy country houses and barns and formulating creeps in our head. Probably not the best thing to do but still. Between that and talking about home and games and working together with my husband on his first post for Game Warp, which is still in the making, it was a really nice drive home. Super long and stretched out, but also so very beautiful.

These pictures are after we crossed back over to the province of Quebec. We took a little bit of a shortcut from the originally planned route and it cut a little off the time of driving. We did do a lot of driving over the last few days and would like to get back sooner rather than later to just sit back and relax. We got to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and there are some fantastic scenery there. We head back into Quebec and every time we do these drives, we remember how big this province is and while we’ve traveled quite a bit of it, there is still so many places to explore and the road trips on Quebec roads may sometimes be boring but mostly, they are just so breathtaking that its something that everyone should try.

This wraps up the vacation recap! Like I probably mentioned before,I did have a week after that where I was on staycation and it was great because I managed to prepare for Montreal Comiccon, mentally, physically and with the blog and channel. I caught up with a lot of movies which I have ready to review when Fantasia Festival ends. July is a busy month for the recreational side of things like blog duties and event coverage, but also for actual work. 

That’s it for Day 4 of our vacation!
It was a long and calm drive back home with really not a lot of stops.
Its a lot of passing images as we drove by nice scenery.

Hiking: Owl’s Head

More hiking was set for us on that week of staycation we had. With a little research, we found our second location which is rather nearby to Montreal also at a offseason ski resort, Owl’s Head. I’ve only ever heard of it before. Owl’s Head, just like most ski locations but hiking spots in the summer/fall, are really another type of beast. They have some designated paths but mostly, its a free walk uphill. Owl’s Head was no different. In fact, the trek up was pretty intense. it was incredibly steep and pretty tiring for such a short walk. We didn’t make it all the way but we did get almost there except for a winding path that went up to a booth or ski station or something. However, the view along the way opened up over a lake and with the leaves changing colors, it was really breathtaking.

Here are some shots of what we saw. It gives an idea of how steep it was and also the views we saw. On our way down, we actually encountered a cute little fellow and I took a little video of it.

Owl's Head

Owl's Head

Owl's Head

And for our little porcupine encounter. This porcupine is definitely not full grown but then I’m not a porcupine expert. It was adorable as heck as it walked around forward and in circles and forward more and then went up the hill. It was a slightly windy day so sorry about all the windy  noises.

A lovely  little location for a short but challenging hike. It was getting cooler that day and on the hills near where we saw the porcupine, there was frost forming on the grass. Still, we enjoyed it a lot. Sometimes, hiking can really get to us and we want to give up but when we turn around and see all the natural beauty around us, it gets us all pumped up again to go higher and makes it all worth it!

Vancouver & Kelowna: Hiking in Whistler & Squamish!

How fast does vacation go by, right? We’re looking back at Day 6 of vacation over at Kelowna and Vancouver this year. It is funny because I am on a staycation as this post goes up and just taking it easy. Still, looking back  at this vacation still makes my heart flutter with joy. We went to some amazing places especially Kelowna having some incredible scenery. Day 6 of vacation that we are recapping today is also one of our most emotional and awesome days of the trip. We headed out to Whistler and Squamish but not before forgetting my coat at the breakfast place we went to and realizing an hour or so into the trip. Luckily, we were heading to Whistler village so at least there would be a possibly of finding something to wear if it got chilly and man, did it get chilly!

Whistler Village

After the shopping priority and picking up a North Face Sweater and Eddie Bauer cap to fight the rain and cold, we walked a little more around Whistler Village.

Whister Village

Whistler Village

Whistler Village reminded us heavily of Mont Tremblant village near Montreal.

Lost Lake Park

With that done, we headed off for a hike. Actually Lost Lake Park was more of a walking trail with a little bit of hills here and there. A part of the path was blocked off to preserve wildlife, aka toad migration. So we took a detour, got a little turned around, the rain got heavier and then we finally figured it all out and went back to our car for the next spot.

Lost Lake Park

Lost Lake Park

Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish

Next stop is heading back towards Vancouver where we pass through Squamish and took the Sea to Sky Gondola. Note to all of you is that my husband is REALLY not comfortable with heights. I am also and gondolas make a little nervous especially at the steepness of this one at the beginning portion so we both picked up all our courage to do this and let us just say that it was extremely worth it even with some heavy rain and fog. Plus, we somewhat got stranded there as they investigated a potential issue which turned out all good thankfully. I like these companies being safe so it didn’t bother me too much when they told us they had to stop it for a while.

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky Gondola is so worth it. I didn’t really put a lot of the trail but it is really fun to walk through it and the plants and trees are cool. Plus, there are a few lookout points. We encountered a lot of fog as you saw that came in really thick and dispersed later on but it was still fantastic scenery. I totally recommend it. Its a little pricey but really worth it.

That’s it for Day 6 of vacation!
Check back next week for the last day of vacation in Vancouver! 🙂 

Vancouver + Kelowna: Trails, Winery & Family BBQ!

Kelowna is located in the Okanagan Valley area in Canada. It is beautiful and stunning and just absolutely breathtaking to explore. The day after my cousin’s wedding, we only had a late afternoon gathering at my cousin’s home for a barbecue with the family. We decided to head out for some hiking/walking trails to see capture some lovely scenery and get some exercise. We went out to a winery for lunch and then rounded up the day with the barbecue. That is the quick runthrough.

Kuiper’s Peak Mountain Park

Kuiper's Peak Mountain Park

Kuiper's Peak Mountain Park

Kuiper's Peak Mountain Park

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Kuiper’s Peak Mountain Park is a short 5 to 10 minute trail. There are mountain bike trails as well. This park’s wildlife is still recovering after a forest fire in 2003.

Bertram Creek Regional Park

Bertram Creek Regional Park

Bertram Creek Regional Park

Bertram Creek Regional Park

Bertram Creek Regional Park also suffered from the forest fire in 2003. It is a casual walking trail along the Okanagan Lake. There’s a beach and a little area to walk out to take pictures.

Cedar Creek Winery Estate

Cedar Creek Winery Estate

Cedar Creek Winery Estate

Cedar Creek Winery Estate

We went to Cedar Creek Winery Estate to have a quick lunch and then went out to walk around. Suffice to say, it was absolutely gorgeous. I’ll be talking about the lunch portion in a separate post.

Family Barbecue

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The family gathering was fun and grand. My cousin’s home is beautiful. They had food catered there and they made burgers for everyone as well. There was this cool sparking wine or cider (local) called Bling. It tasted really good.

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The view from my cousin’s place is absolutely breathtaking. It kind of makes its a life goal to try to move out to Kelowna eventually just to live in this quiet little city.

That’s it for Day 3!
Drop by again to check out the Cedar Creek Winery Estate Restaurant post later this week!

Vancouver & Kelowna: The Drive to Kelowna!

Its the start of the vacation posts! This year’s vacation was Vancouver and Kelowna. It marks a few firsts and some pretty awesome experiences.

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The first day of vacation was an early flight out of Montreal to Vancouver. This is memorable because its the first time I’ve taken a trip on a plane with my husband and the second flight he has ever taken. Thanks to our fantastic captain that flew the Air Canada flight to Vancouver, it was a smooth take off and landing. We landed in the morning at the airport, waited for quite some time for our luggage and then met up with my mom who left for Vancouver earlier than we did to spend some time with friends at the airport.

We arrived!!!

We arrived!!!

The next thing was picking up the car.

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We originally had reserved a full-size car but after we talked to the guy at Avis, he suggested that we upgrade to an SUV to fit us, my mom and my aunt and cousin that we picked up shortly afterwards and accommodate everyone’s luggage and still feel comfortable. We ended up with the Ford Explorer. Its been a while that my husband drove such a huge vehicle and just look at all these buttons and controls. We had to take a moment to sit there and figure it all out.

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After the car pick-up, it was time to meet up for lunch at Fortune Terrace Restaurant for dim sum. The restaurant review post will be up a little later this week! Chinese food in Vancouver is spectacular so its one to look out for!

With our bellies filled up and all the luggage packed in and everyone aboard, its time to drive out to Kelowna! For this part, I’m going to let my trusty Samsung Galaxy S6 camera do the trip justice (and it doesn’t because its just breathtaking) and look at all that amazing scenery!

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With that, we’ve entered Kelowna! Crossing the Okanagan Lake on this bridge was just amazing! We checked into our first ever Airbnb experience and it was smooth and awesome!

That night we headed out to a restaurant called Basil and Mint which I’ll also do a short restaurant review about! The funny story is that without even expecting we ended up meeting up with our other family that also chose that restaurant and had a huge reunion before my cousin’s wedding the next day.

Broken Ladder

In the night we headed out with some of my cousins to this new(ish) bar/brewery in downtown Kelowna. I was a tad tired so only had a local apple cider drink. We called it a night pretty early after some good laughs and caught up a little.

That’s it for Day One! Nothing super eventful but it was full of great scenery! 🙂
Drop by soon to check out some restaurant reviews/recaps for the two restaurants mentioned and the next day(s) of the vacation!

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 4]: Juneau, Alaska

Other than the price being really worth it for the Alaska Cruise, it was also a nice route because there were only 2 days at sea and after that we were pretty much at port or circling the Glacier Bay National Park.  That’s coming up…but next up was Juneau.  If there’s anything you’ll notice, Alaska ports are pretty much all rainforest territories.  Vegetation grows on so little earth and it rains a lot, although not so apparent for us because we got only that one time where we were leaving port and it rained.  I just can’t remember if it was at Ketchikan or at Juneau.

Day 4: Juneau, Alaska

We’re here! Day 4! Juneau’s port isn’t right next to the city so we had a shuttle to go which we realized was actually a little silly because the walk back wasn’t too bad either.  It’s like a mile.  Still, we took advantage of the free service 😉

Juneau Alaska

Arriving into Juneau, Alaska

We also had a shore excursion booked for Juneau which included stopping at 3 locations. Let’s see them, shall we?

Shore Excursion: Mendenhall Glacier

This place to visit Mendenhall Glacier was stunningly beautiful.  Its a pity that we couldn’t stay longer because it had a few trails and there was the waterfall which was a decent distance to get to.  We did get there and have to run back to catch the bus on time.  There was some really nice scenery with water, glacier, icebergs, etc.  It was so peaceful and nice despite all the tourists around. There was also some really nice plants and flowers growing around the trail that we took.

Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier Mendenhall Glacier

 Shore Excursion: Macauley Salmon Hatchery

I’m from Canada so salmon is kind of a thing we know about. Hatcheries and all that stuff, I’ve visited a few of them in the past.  This place didn’t have so much value for me.  The facilities were really  nice though.  Inside there was some animals displays and had a little aquarium going with some marine life like shellfish and coral and some fishes.  It was a quick little stop for some coffee and to know a little more about the various types of salmons in the area and just how the hatching process works and the role of the hatchery.

Macauley Salmon Hatchery

Macauley Salmon Hatchery

Shore Excursion: Glacier Gardens

The last stop of the shore excursion was at the Glacier Gardens.  Its a 50 acre rainforest botanical garden that features Flower Towers which are using dead tree trunks overturned to fill with plants as decor.  It also includes a tour that elevates a good few hundred feet to a vantage point where we can get a beautiful view of the whole Juneau area. Its breathtaking and beautiful.  The ride up was fascinating as the guide tells us about the history of how the Gardens came to be and how the owner came to have the Gardens set in the Tongass National Forest.  Its a unique experience and a lot of fun.

Glacier Gardens

In the Gardens Gift Shop

Glacier Gardens

Gardens Gift Shop: A special Mother’s Day photo with my mom.

Glacier Gardens

The ride going up to the peak

Glacier Gardens

The view at the top

Glacier Gardens

The view at the top

Glacier Gardens

Flower Towers

Rest of the Day

The tour took up a good few hours, probably around 4 hours or so.  We went back to the ship for lunch and came back out to explore the city a little.  On the path there, I bought two t-shirts which were rather subtle tourist-y ones.  But they were really nice and made from bamboo so really comfortable. We also walked by this really tourist sort of restaurant called Red Dog Saloon.  We didn’t want to go in so we just took a picture outside.

Juneau Alaska

In the city of Juneau, tourist spot, Red Dog Saloon

As I mentioned before, this day was also Mother’s Day so the boat had some little decoration in the buffet area.

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The Moms in our group got to choose the location of dinner that night and we went back to Chin Chin Restaurant.  Unfortunately those pictures turned out a little fuzzy and I already showcased that restaurant before.  I think we might actually have another night there so there might be more pictures. I just can’t remember until we get there.  That night, it was also comedian and that didn’t work with my mom and her friends since they wouldn’t understand it so we skipped the show.  I did end up spending some time with my mom to walk around the ship and look at the decorations and take some pictures with my mom.  This trip overlapping Mother’s Day was one of the highlights so since I  moved out, its these moments that matter a lot.

I ended the evening after my mom headed back to rest since we had an early start the next day going to the lounge again.  There was some nice music and that’s when I met a few more very awesome people from southern part of the USA.  Very nice people and it was nice to chat with some younger groups of people.  We have no contact now but hey, it is a cool memory.  We did hang out a few more nights during the trip at the lounge and had some fun times. No pictures of these events since I was off duty with my DSLR and my phone was slowly dying during the trip.  I’ll tell you all about the debacle when it actually happens later on 😉

For now, this is the end of Day 4 of the Norwegian Alaska Cruise at our stop in Juneau! A really captivating shore excursion for the most part and a great evening making it a fantastic way to spend Mother’s Day with my mom! 🙂 Which reminds me, I should get that picture with my mom printed and framed.

Remember to check back for Day 5!
Easily one of the most memorable stops and the day we cross back and forth from Canada and USA over and over again 😉

Alaska Cruise on the Norwegian Jewel: Day 1&2

I debated wrapping up the end of my trip with the second half of Seattle but I figured I might as well follow how my vacation went.

Day 3 of vacation was the morning blitz mode in Seattle that I wrote about HERE in the previous post.

Second half of that day was spending about an hour or so boarding the cruise ship.  During the first part of the line-up, I have to be honest that I freaked out just a little when I searched all my bags and I couldn’t find my passport.  Somehow I found it tucked somewhere or another.  It was just hidden.  Its been so many months that I can’t even remember where it finally popped up.  But that is generally how I am when I travel.  Good thing I pull out these documentation in advance. Imagine the stress of not finding it at the last minute and holding up the line, I can already feel the stress 😉

So, security checks and check-in for the cruise ship, getting our Norwegian Jewel card that is technically our access and payment for EVERYTHING for the 9 days on there.  I can tell you one thing, the perspective of life changes a little when money becomes this behind the scenes figure (kind of). I’ll talk about the entire cruise experience when I’ve finished with everything during a recap.  For now, lets get these rather uneventful Day 1 and 2 over with.

Day 1: Boarding ship and settling in!

Here’s our room, which is the first place we went after we boarded since we chose to carry our own luggages there. We didn’t bring a lot so it was light and easy.

Norwegian Jewel

Our room

There were no windows.  We were on the 8th floor.  It was a decent size and really tidy.  To be honest, I really just went back to rest here between activities or sleep at night or shower between workouts and meals.  I didn’t stay in there incredibly a lot so it didn’t really bother me much. It was really comfortable and the whole no windows thing made us kind of lose track of time in the mornings when we didn’t have to wake up for a tour because we couldn’t see when it was light out 😉 That’s vacation!

There was some Sailing Away activities in the afternoon as we inched closer to the 3pm time when we departed Seattle.

Norwegian Jewel

The Deck

Norwegian Cruise

View of Seattle from the Cruise Ship

When we sailed away, we walked around the ship to explore what there was and where it was all situated so we’d be able to get to wherever we wanted for whatever activities soon.  We peeked into the Workout room which I ended up spending a lot of time the next 9 days between trips and whatnot, starting the next day where I went two times or something since we were at sea. There were activities on the middle area with pools, sat down and enjoyed the sun a little, then found where the theatre for all the evening shows and we ended up finding the game room where we found a set of Mahjong complete with all the tiles.  Guess what? My mom and her friends wanted to kill some time doing that so we did until dinner time 🙂

Our first night at dinner was the restaurant we scouted out.  My mom and her friends had already been on various cruises before but its the first time they saw Asian cuisine as free dining on the cruise ship so of course, that was our first choice. Here’s what we had at this restaurant called Chin Chin.

The service was very nice.  The food was very westernized.  They called it Asian fusion, but its not.  Although, you will see that we did end up going back for lots of dumplings and possibly fried rice 😉

To wrap up the evening, we went for an evening walk on the deck where I discovered the Spinnaker Lounge which I will end up spending nights there checking out their game/theme nights and its kind of my way to have some alone time to relax and not be rushed from point A to point B. It was still relaxing but I do enjoy time to myself.

Norwegian Jewel

First Night on the Deck

There was also the Welcome Aboard Show at the Stardust Theatre to end off the night.

Day 2: At Sea

I was still experiencing jet lag on Day 2.  I’m telling you, as I get older, this jet lag business takes longer to settle especially those 3 hours time shifts.  So, guess what? I woke up at like 5 or 6 am or something and walked up to the deck and took some sunrise shots.

Norwegian Alaska Cruise

2nd day, sun rise!

Fresh air, ocean in front of the us and the dawn of a new day! That was an amazing and incredible feeling! 🙂

I had an early breakfast, headed to my first ever Zumba class then because the instructor was late and the class wasn’t long, I headed up to the gym to get in some jogging and rowing, before showering and heading down for lunch.  Sadly, it seems I didn’t take many pictures of the buffet portion of the trip, which I spent mostly for breakfast and lunch.  I can’t remember exactly what happened but I remember activities in the middle area with the pools slowly being opened and the hot tubs and whatnot.  There was the Mr. Alaska competition which was pretty entertaining, some music that followed.  We sat in the sun a little, booked our tours for the next few stops and just relaxed.

I’m telling you..I love relaxing but the first two days started getting so relaxing that I didn’t really know what to do so I walked around and explored by myself, especially after I went to do a second workout and lost my mom in the process on the ship.  I eventually found her right before dinner.  This night, we had already said to meet at one of the main dining halls called Azura.

Azura was very accommodating, especially for my food allergies.  The service was great and the food was delicious.  I can’t remember the name of the food at all but I have an idea of what it all is.

We ended the evening with a show at the Stardust Theatre called Back on the Road Show. I think it was a singing show.  I can’t remember anymore.  Then there was a game show called Battle of the Sexes which was really funny.

Its a calm two days and nothing much to really talk about so I put them together. We arrive at Ketchikan in Alaska for our first stop the next day! 🙂