Yukon Diaries: Keno 2016

“And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?”

-Elizabeth Bishop, “Questions of Travel”

Yet another year has rolled around and I have still not updated you, friends and fam, with last years adventures! The passage of time and daily life over the past few months has somewhat blurred my memory of last summer, tinging it orange with a warm glow like the flaming sunset Michael and I got to witness in Keno at 11:35 at night. As such, I’ll have to keep the dialogue short and let my snapshots tell you the story.

20th July, 2016

As per usual during my hectic 6-days-a-week work schedule, we squeezed out every inch of free time I had, taking advantage of the late solstice sun, and left straight after work was finished. The familiar scenery of the Klondike Highway and the Silver Trail flashed through the window screen until we reached the Mayo gas station, then from there it was alien territory to me.

The wide, sweeping landscape was bathed in sunlight, and so was the little town of Keno, all shiny and nestled away at the base of the hill like a little gold nugget.

The tiny building on the right was faced with bright copper tiles that reflected the blinding sun.

This church is actually a library. It’s such a shame I didn’t get a chance to go in–although I’ve heard it on good authority that it’s well worth it if you can!

After a quick drive through town (and I mean quick!) we snaked our way up the gravelly, pot-holed road to the dome.

The red sun and barren hills made us feel as if we were on Mars.

As the brightest rays of sun died down, we followed an overgrown dirt road away from the main peak and found ourselves a spot for the night.


21st July, 2016

The next day dawned with grey and heavy skies, a moody compliment to the dramatic landscape.

The textures of the mountains and scrabbly rock was gorgeous.

Fireweed blooms

Although we enjoyed our brief getaway and hike, the end of the day and the heavier clouds were edging in so we made some hot lunch on the camp stove, took one last look at the moody view before the curtains of rain enclosed the town, and headed back to dodge.

Very different light than the previous night


Sombrio Diaries: 2016 Edition

“All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,

Swelling slowly as if considering spilling over”

– Elizabeth Bishop, “At the Fishhouses”

Sitting under a hot midnight sun in Dawson City it’s almost hard to imagine the sky darkening enough to see silver-tipped and midnight blue waves. Or ocean at all, really. This beach has become an annual recluse where every year the gang and I look forward to escaping the stress of exams and summer plans, to drinking beer in the sunshine and cooling off in frigid Pacific waves, and to hanging around a campfire all night with the best people.This year we spent a great sunny weekend doing just that!

24th April 2016

With exams over, house (partly) packed, and the sunshine out, we were finally off for our Sombrio trip! Well, sort of… as usual, mishaps occurred and while munching on Tim Hortons we realized supplies were forgotten, unavailable, or not bought at all.

I have such beautiful friends! Hehe

So Aly, Brooke, and Kieren went back to Victoria to get stuff, and Fred and I sipped tall foggy glasses of locally brewed beer at the Axe and Barrel (instead of getting the firewood and liquor like we were supposed to – whoops!).


After a few hours of Talking Heads, The Strokes, and “the car song” (which I will never be able to get out of my head) we were bumping down the ridiculously pot-holed dirt road to the parking lot of the Sombrio trailhead and trekking all the way down to our favourite spot at the end of the beach. The sound of the waves and glimpses of sparkling blue between tall pines hinted at our arrival right before the full force of the salty air hit us.


Ilia and Corey met up with us minutes after we’d reached our spot and, after setting up camp, we all settled in around a flickering campfire to watch the sun transform bluegreen water to fiery orange and pink. Only Fred and I stayed awake long enough to watch it change to silvery edged navy.


A great view from Corey’s hammock


25th April 2016

We were lucky enough this time around to avoid the stormy weather and were woken up by warm sunlight heating the tent, as well as the chipper voices of Emily, Jericho, and Victoria, who’d driven up early to come meet us.


We all lazed around on the beach for a bit, enjoying the warm sunshine before heading off to explore the beach.


Again, because we had “new people” – as in, friends who hadn’t seen the beach yet – we walked along the Juan de Fuca trail a little bit to see the hidden waterfall cave, the little inlet with a waterfall thundering straight into the ocean, and the rocks at the end of the point which were being enveloped by heavy foaming waves. A few of us were even silly enough to stand close enough to get a soaker. Totally worth it.


Em and Jericho

After that, we all dissolved into various activities, reading with beer or cider in hand while sunbathing, “baseball” with crude stick and rock, soccer, or searching through rock pools before the tide came crashing in again. In the evening we discovered the ocean had delivered up tiny little blue jellyfish that edged the tidelines like sea-glass. Until you got up close and they looked more like tiny blue condoms.


We spent another night drinking in the scent of cuban cigar and campfire smoke, salty sea air, and bad boxed wine. Again, the couples were pretty lame and went off to bed early so only four of us stayed up to attempt finishing all the wine.


26th April 2016

When I got up the next morning only Emily and Jericho were up as Jericho had gone for a surf in the glassy waves further along the beach – though I did hear quiet murmurs from other tents. Still in that half-awake hypnotic phase of waking up, I watched and listened to the endless waves surging and crashing while Emily quietly read her book next to me until the others woke up.


Ilia and Corey had things to do back in town so the remaining few sleepy heads were rudely awoken and made to pose for the annual group shot before the pair went on their way.


A few of us went to explore the new treasures of the rock pools, and Jericho put a name to the pretty luminaria, reflective seaweed that looks as if it’s being lit up from within by blue and green electric lights.


Em and Jericho wanted to get on their way too so Al, Vic, Brooke, and I squealed all the way in and out of the water before they left.


Our car, the cool car of course, were the last to pack up and leave for another summer, stopping in at the Cold Shoulder on our way to a hot dinner and hot showers!



I don’t know if the nostalgia of the poem, the film photos, or the lovely golden light is evident in this post, but writing this has certainly been a nostalgic process for me. These are such great memories that makes me miss and look forward to seeing everyone so much! Thanks for such a lovely time guys and I can’t wait to do it again! xx

Reading Week Diaries: Hometowns and Big Cities

“The night did shed / On thy dear head / Its frozen dew.”

– Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Lines: The Cold Earth Slept Below”

New York was not the end of the adventure; rather, it was only the beginning. After arriving back to Montreal late Sunday night we had a week to spend together in the colder climes of Montreal and Wakefield, Quebec. Both Michael and I had a lot of school stuff to catch up on so we spent a lot of time in Montreal with me writing essays and him restlessly fidgeting his way through class – though we still managed to squeeze some sightseeing and shopping in.

8th-11th February 2016

Monday was a bit of a write-off as we both had a ton of homework to get done that day. We consequently spent “quality time” together writing assignments.

Michael looking so happy about homework. Sorry love, I had to! Hehe

Tuesday I toddled along the slushy streets of Rue St Catherine, checking out all the fashion, coffee shops, and crepes it had to offer. Wednesday, Michael and I froze our toes walking around the touristy, yet romantic, Old Port, then had the pleasure of having dinner with a lovely Dawson friend, Emile! I served up juicy wine and herb glazed chicken and veggies and we enjoyed good wine and conversation until the wee hours.

Emile and I. Photo by Michael Maclean

Thursday, we headed downtown to McCord Museum to check out the cool vintage toy exhibition and visited another Dawson buddy at the deeeelicious gourmet pizza restaurant he runs, Magpie. I definitely recommend it!


12th February 2016

Travel day! Michael had a big critique at the Universite de Montreal in the morning so I had time to entertain myself. The sun was shining brilliantly on the glittery snow and the sky was wide and blue, deceiving me into thinking it would be slightly warm outside – not the case. I bundled up and wandered around the little burgundy/St Henri neighbourhood, getting some snacks for later from the dingy and run-down depanneur on the corner of Rue Vinet and Saint Antoine, and meandering around until circling back to Lionel-Groux.

Michael’s apartment



The Saints-Martyrs-Koreans parish church. The monumental beauty of churches fascinates me.

Again, because we don’t seem to be able to make anything within a comfortable amount of time – or, as in this case, on time at all, we were a little late for the bus. Luckily, the depot people were lovely and put us on the next express bus to Ottawa, leaving us with only a ten minute wait. Michael’s Dad met us on the other side and drove us to their house in Wakefield.

Excuse the rather dark and blurry photo of the view from the highway.

We enjoyed a yummy red thai curry made by Michael’s Mum, had a lovely little visit from Jean, got many many cuddles from the adorable Cooper, and watched the frost crystallize in our hair, eyebrows, and Michael’s beard while star-gazing in the hot tub. The feeling of peace I had instantly on arriving to Wakefield was almost indescribable. Perhaps the magic of being in someone else’s childhood home had sprinkled a little of its dust on me. Falling asleep in Michael’s huge bed with the soft sound of snow falling on the trees, I had the most peaceful sleep I’ve had in a while.

13th February 2016

The morning dawned gorgeous and sunny in the Macleans’ cozy abode, with sunlight streaming in through the dining room and lounge.

Even on the opposite side of the house which faces away from the sun, dappled light managed to filter in.

Michael’s dad rustled up plates of steaming hashbrowns, toast, eggs, and a quebecois dish of ground meat and spices called cretons. After basking in the dining room sunshine, we ventured out with Cooper to see the town of Wakefield. We started with the cabin that Michael’s dad is currently fixing up, then drove through bucolic fields and hills blanketed with white and dotted with various barns and homes.

All ready to go, with the handsome Cooper in the middle!
I swear it was sunnier than this picture makes it look!
That’s the cabin on the left.



We stopped quickly at a family friend’s before arriving at the Fairburn House.

The Fairburn House, featuring Michael and Cooper (who was not pooping, though it looks like he’s about to in this shot)




After a nippy stroll through the bridge, we regained feeling in our toes and I had my first experience of the Tigre Geant. Next, Molos, a coffee shop where Jean met up with us.

Two of the loveliest people I know!

Then up to the beautiful Mill house.




Sadly, the adventure was already almost over and we just had a little while to eat some left over curry and chat for a bit before heading back to Ottawa to catch our bus. Thank you so much to Michael’s parents for having me, I had such a lovely time. I hope next time it’ll be a little longer!


14th February 2016

A bittersweet Valentines Day for us. We were both so grateful we actually got to spend the day together and have as great a time as we did but we were so sad that it was ending! Nevertheless, we enjoyed a sunny (but frozen) morning cooking breakfast together, slowly turning from liquid matter into frozen solid matter on our way to a coffee shop near by -they even gave us adorable heart shaped cookies for free! – and wandering through the Atwater market where I demonstrated my extensive knowledge of French – that is, all the flavours of macaroons you can buy. I can’t pronounce French, or even say much beyond ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci,’ but I can tell you the difference between ‘framboise’ and ‘fraise’ (hint: one is raspberry, one is strawberry).

Cooking up savoury waffles. Photo by Michael Maclean.


Thus, the journey ended with many tears but a lot of great memories. I had such a wonderful time and will be back soon, I’m sure! Hopefully I will explore Montreal properly next time and give the beautiful city the credit it deserves. But for now, the countdown to summer and all its adventures begin…

Reading Week Diaries: New York, New York!

“These vagabond shoes / are longing to stray / right through the very heart of it, New York, New York” – Frank Sinatra, “New York, New York”

Holly and Michael go adventuring again! The epic long-distance romance of Holly and Michael continues – this time in the big apple, otherwise known as New York City (*cue flashing lights*). I have been waiting to use this cheesy Frank Sinatra quote for so long and my wish finally came true! Thus on February 5th it was a quick bonjour and au revoir to Montreal and hello to New York City!

(P.S. go check out Michael’s blog  here where I’m sure there’ll be more photos of our trip soon!)

5th February 2016

After a harrowing 6-7 hour red eye flight, I was relieved to finally touch down in Montreal and realize a long-awaited reunion. We didn’t take long collecting my bags and picking up our rental car before heading out onto the labyrinth of highways. My faith in Google was momentarily shaken due to the horrifyingly long route it took us on instead of the pre-planned one we had set ourselves before crossing across the border. Note to self: never trust Google.

Au revoir, Montreal!

Luckily we had given ourselves a few extra hours so we got to see a seemingly endless array of pretty barns, fields, and towns in Vermont and New York (the state) but still arrived at Poughkeepsie with a few minutes to spare.


Me waiting at Poughkeepsie station. Photo by Michael Maclean


The sunset was brilliant but the exhaustion of the day and slow rumble of the train lulled us into a short nap until the announcer yelled “Penn Station! Next stop!” The maelstrom of New York hit us full force on our first subway train off the island of Manhattan and into the slightly more quiet Williamsburg where we were greeted by our eccentric  air b’n’b hostess.

Unfortunately the only pic I got from the train was a fuzzy iPhone one.

The excitement of the city  and our growling bellies were calling, however, and we didn’t want to spend our first night in the tiny windowless room we nicknamed ‘the dungeon.’ We re-fuelled ourselves with pho and beer at a hip little vietnamese restaurant in Williamsburg then caught the subway right into the heart of the city, Times Square. We had a lovely night strolling arm in arm, popping M&Ms, and exploring arguably one of the most romantic cities I’ve seen.

Times Square, NY

6th February 2016

We began the morning bright and early with breakfast at a trendy little cafe in Williamsburg, then traversed the hectic bus system to get ourselves onto the island of Manhattan (almost all trains from Brooklyn to Manhattan had conveniently shut down for the weekend).

Michael trying to figure out how to get anywhere
A cool mural in Williamsburg

We spent the day wandering through Soho and Greenwich Village, me drooling over all the shops and Michael snapping pictures.image

Little Italy, NY. Photo by Michael Maclean
The old fashioned burger joint we lunched at, across from the Chelsea Market
Somewhere in SoHo. Photo by Michael Maclean

We walked along the highline – one of the coolest things to see in the city in terms of architecture. I highly recommend it, even just for the wicked view you get. As the sun began to sink behind the Soho skyline we headed back towards the heart of town to Central Park.

The Highline. Photo by Michael Maclean
Carving of the island of Manhattan
My lovely hipster.



The chill started creeping in so we grabbed the largest hot chocolate we could buy and shared it while strolling through the park, then, realizing the time, hurried through the streets to meet up with Michael’s old school friend, Harley, at Bryant Park. image


Central Park


What a skyline! The artifice of the “natural” space reminded me of quote from a Frank O’Hara poem, “Meditations in Emergency” (incidentally set in New York): “I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It’s more important to confirm the insincere. The clouds get enough attention as it is…”

The lovely fashionista took us to a nice and cheap dinner spot and showed us the hilarious silent disco and beautiful skating rink at Bryant Park. After that, we were off to my awesome birthday present, a show on Broadway!!! We saw An American in Paris, a Gene Kelly film come to life. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

Harley, myself, and Michael
Michael and I at Bryant Park
The beautiful Palace Theatre, right on Broadway in Times Square!

Still not done exploring, we walked away from the garish lights of Broadway and found ourselves a super busy little donut shop. After sharing a cronut, a genius hybrid of croissant and donut, as well as some old fashioned glazed donuts and coffee we kept exploring a little before heading back to the apartment.

This place was a gem! My favourite eatery that we went to for sure.

7th February 2016

Sadly, our last day in this vibrant city. With coffee and bagels, Michael and I set out on citi-bikes this time, riding across the Williamsburg bridge, along the East River, under the Brooklyn Bridge, and along to the Financial District. This was such a great way to get around – better than subway or bus!







Apparently even in a busy city such as New York businessmen rest on Sundays, so we had the run of the place while walking to the National Museum of the American Indian for Michael’s assignment. I won’t even mention how problematic this display was, but it was nonetheless interesting to see.





We decided to take yet another kind of transport back to Williamsburg: the ferry. We enjoyed another brilliant view of the skyline then picked up our bags from the dungeon.

The Pier 11 Ferry Terminal, Wall St



Because of our bags, we were limited by what we could do so caught the subway into town and hung out at central park for a while. We got to see the outside of the Guggenheim, and I even managed to work my way through the revolving door but was promptly turned around because of all our luggage.


The Guggenheim
Back in Central Park; the view across the lake


We strolled through central park again with Michael relieving my heavy load, had a somewhat questionable hot dog, then shared a pretzel outside the Met. For some reason we haven’t been able to have one smooth travel time; we made the train back to Poughkeepsie by the skin of our teeth with the help of a lovely old man and fell into an exhausted sleep on the train. The drive back to Montreal was lovely and decidedly less eventful with not one border stop, strange route, or extra hour!

Outside the MET Gallery
Michael’s oh so photogenic shot of me LOL
Meeeee. Photo by Michael Maclean
The lovely Michael outside the MET, enjoying the calm before the harried rush to the train!

The lights, the food, the people, and the sights were all so cool but it could not have been the same wonderful experience without the lovely company. Thank you Michael for muddling your way through the crazy subway system with me, for staying awake ridiculous hours so we could squeeze the most time possible out of the experience, for bringing me a steaming cup of coffee every morning, for my AMAZING birthday surprise, for eating way too many donuts (among other sweet treats) with me, and for making this one of my favourite memories yet. I can’t wait until our next adventure! xx


Aotearoa (NZ) Diaries: Coromandel to Omaio

Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua” / “As man disappears from sight, the land remains”

-Maori proverb

When you’re far from the place and family you grew up with it’s easy to feel a little displaced sometimes or forget how much you miss home and everybody there. Even when I’m in Canada, just the passing scent of freshly cut grass or salty ocean air or Finley Quaye crooning “It’s Great When We’re Together” on the stereo can transport me right back to being a beach bum kid and I find myself feeling quite homesick. Going back to New Zealand made me feel just how much I love not only the people who make the place home, but the land itself and all those little things too. For example, sand or grass between my toes, PIES! (Oh Canada, you make delicious fruit pies but they have nothing on a good ol’ petrol station steak and cheese pie), melting fruju dripping down my arm, the sound of some lovely King or Christie kids giggling or arguing, hanging out with either Nanny or Nanny Vi in the garden – or with one of the loveliest men to have existed, my Grandad – incorrigible prickles in my feet, Koroua’s whistling, sitting on the beach with Mum watching Papa surf, waves – whether on a sunny blue day or a powerful stormy day as long as they’re REAL waves (if you hadn’t noticed, I love the beach). What made this visit even more special was that my parents joined us there too, the first time we’d all been together in NZ for about 9 or so years. The strange yet familiar journey I made with my parents and sister around the country was both gratifying and bittersweet. I know that my experience of being home will never be the same as it was when I was a kid, and in some ways that makes me sad… but different is not necessarily ‘bad’. In going home now I was also able to see everything through appreciative and adult eyes (ha!) and experience it in a new way. I think that may be why I have been feeling it so much more profoundly this time; that is, I’m not only missing home, but an idyllic time that will not be the same again. And I’m sure next time will be new again. But each time will be wonderful and each time I will cherish the time I get to spend with my lovely family and the beautiful place I get to call home.

Ka kite ano, Aotearoa. / I will see you again, New Zealand.


31st December 2015

Road trip day! We got up earlyish and said goodbye to the Kings then we were winding our way along the Thames coast. We took the real nostalgic tour, heading through Paeroa with its giant L&P bottle and on to the Mount where Papa finally found himself a wetsuit vest. Had lunch there, people-watched (so many teenagers ready to party for New Years it was slightly overwhelming!), bought bikinis, went to Papamoa beach, toured through the houses we used to live in, then hit the road again. We stopped at one of the many berry picking farms and got some homemade boysenberry ice creams, complete with flake, and kept going on to Ohope. New Zealand’s apparent “favourite beach” was not as busy as we’d anticipated – probably in part because of the small surf – but there was enough surf to play on anyway. We hung out there for a bit, then carried on to Opotiki for the BEST fish and chips I think I’ve eaten in my life (Mum’s paua fritter was to die for). We ate those on the beach and watched the dying sun go down before threading our way along the windy coast roads all the way home to Omaio. Nanny (again with those lovely happy tears) was waiting amid the stench of rotten corn and Uncle Willy was ecstatic to see us all. We toasted the new year in with a quiet glass of wine and the sound of the ocean crashing on rocks.

The Thames Coast
Papamoa Beach


The Boysenberry Farm
Ohope Beach





BEST fish and chips. Ever.



1st January 2016

Happy New Year! A very different feeling to last year’s first morning (i.e. no vodka shots had been consumed thank goodness)! Papa was itching for a real surf so after sharing coffee with my Uncle Jimmy we headed off to search for the so far elusive waves. We first checked Morrises Bay but the waves weren’t quite breaking nicely yet, though the swell was definitely being pushed in by the oncoming storm. We kept going, on past Hawai (note, not Hawaii) where it was rather flat and grey, all the way to Opotiki. After a failed mission there was nothing to do but grab a giant scoop of lime ice cream from the Tirohanga dairy and head home where a thousand family members were waiting to say hello.

Morrises Bay










2nd-3rd January 2016

These days were still stormy but being home made me too excited to stay housebound, so I put down Keri Hulme’s The Bone People and headed down to the beach. Even with the wind and rain Brooke still wanted to go for a swim and I – even with all my complaining – could not be the wuss who didn’t go so it was into the water with me! It proved to be quite gorgeous actually. By the next day, however, the storm had overfilled the river’s banks and it had found its opening to the sea, turning our previous swimming spot into a churning mess of brown water and broken tree limbs.

My friend, Hoiho (‘hoiho’ is maori for horse)






My river, the Haparapara, and my mountain, Rangipoua, in the background


For contrast, this is the serene clear Haparapara we swam in the previous day – quite a change!
Fuzzy iPhone pictures is all we got of that brief swim!



4th-12th January 2016

Sadly, it was time to say goodbye to Omaio – just as it was getting sunny of course! – and drive back to Hamilton. Happily though, it was time to start getting ready for Aunty’s wedding! We spent 3 days prepping and were relieved when it was finally the 7th! As I was part of the wedding, I didn’t manage to get any photos but luckily there were plenty of people handy with a camera around! These images are stolen from Matt’s Mum and Dad (thanks Fiona and Graeme!). It was such a lovely day that matched the lovey couple so well. I’m so happy I got to be a part of it all! The rest of the holiday was spent with visits – including some great ones from Sam, Nick and the gang, and Kate and Josh.


The bridal party


nick and co
Some free shots of something dodgy thanks to the over-friendly barista. Thanks Amy for the pic!


Aotearoa (NZ) Diaries: Auckland/Coromandel

“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

-William Faulkner

It’s quite something to consider several places home; I consider Victoria my temporary home, and the Yukon my Canadian home, but when I say I’m going home home I mean New Zealand. Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud (and for a while during my visit it really lived up to its name). This Christmas I finally got my kiwi summer and spent the holidays with my family in New Zealand! There were Christmasses left, right, and center, many road trips, many an ice block, MANY a trip to the beach, and even a wedding. There were new friends, old friends, new family members and a lot of old ones too. I don’t know how we managed to cram everything in! This visit was not near long enough but I am SO glad I got to go and to see everyone even for a little while. Hopefully it’ll be less than three years next time I see everyone! xo

22nd (Canadian time) – 27th (NZ time) December 2015

The Odyssey begins! Brooke and I landed after a 14-hour long flight and were greeted with happy tears from my Nan. We had a little Christmas with my Nan and Aunt before getting up early Christmas day and heading to Auckland to see my Mum’s side of the fam. Unfortunately due to a bit of a mishap with my camera, none of my photos from that day actually came out! I did, however, manage to get some to turn out after my parents got there on Boxing Day. We spent the rest of the time in Auckland lazing in the sunshine, walking along Clark’s Beach, and even enjoyed a lovely visit with my Aunty Teena before heading along the Thames Coast to Coromandel!







Crates of beer! Not something I’ve ever seen in Canada – at least, not by anyone who isn’t a hipster.
Ice creams outside the dairy. Quintessential Kiwi summer.
The Thames Coast. Almost at Coro!

28th December 2015

It was one of those idyllic days where it felt like I was a kid again, waking up in my Nanny Vi’s house to a hot blue morning with the promise of a beach day somewhere with the King family. We spent the late morning wandering through Coro town and eating delicious Coro Pies across from the bottom pub. After that we packed everybody into two cars and headed to Amodeo Bay where the boys (and Brooke the helper in Alex’s 9 year old’s kayak) dove for kinas. I ate and remembered I don’t like rock oysters the boys searched for crabs and fish, and then we went on to Waititi Bay where my Grandad used to take my sister and I all the time.















Papa shelling kina






29th December 2015

Another beach day, this time at the beautiful Whangapoua Beach – but not before we had lunch with my Aunty and her now husband Matt at the Success. The rest of the day was spent in sunshine, glittering blue water, and hot sand whipping my back.






30th December 2015

Last day in Paradise… at least, this one! My parents, Brooke, Casey, and I went over to Matarangi for the day to see Mum’s bestie, Toni, and her family. While Papa and Casey went in search of a wetsuit, Brooke, Mum, and I stayed to go paddle-boarding and kayaking with the Christensens. We went back to Coromandel after Papa and Casey got back and spent the afternoon down at the creek before devouring a huge smoked snapper Alex had caught for dinner.
















Vancouver Island Diaries: Ucluelet/Tofino

“I dig my toes into the sand. The ocean looks like a thousand diamonds strewn across a blue blanket. I lean against the wind, pretend that I am weightless, and in this moment I am happy.”

– Incubus, “Wish You Were Here”

Just this past week I was lucky enough to have reading break and a visit from my one and only, Michael, at the same time! And what an amazing time it was. Our days consisted of beautiful drives, hikes through the coastal rainforest leading down to the beach, frisbee on the beach (even in the pouring rain!), exploring Tofino, barbecued fresh seafood, much arguing between Brooke and I over Game of Life, snuggles on the couch, $20 worth of M&Ms, and the best conversation and laughter. Thanks so much Brooke, Kieren, and Michael for the lovely memories. ❤

P.S. Here is the lovely place we stayed at if you’re ever that way!

9th November, 2015 – phone camera

On day one we took our time road-tripping to get to Ucluelet, stopping for a quick hike at Englishman Falls and Cathedral Grove along the way.

Englishman Falls


Cathedral Grove


10th November, 2015 – 35mm Konica Pop and phone camera

Day two, a full day in the area! First we had a quick look at the lighthouse in Ucluelet. We were interested to learn that the noise in the night was not my snoring, but the whistling buoy system that warns sailors away from the rocks. My inner Famous-Five-reading-child’s imagination was intrigued! Next we hiked to Halfmoon Bay, an aptly named crescent stretch of beach, then over the other side of the point to Florencia Bay. We lunched at Long Beach, had a beer in Tofino, then bought some fresh seafood which we later barbecued.

Brooke and Kieren preparing lunch.
The Lighthouse in Ucluelet, BC


The beginning of the trail to Halfmoon Bay and Florencia Bay.
Brooke the pirate.


We made a friend.


After a good round of piggy (Kieren) in the middle.


Lunch at Long Beach

12th November, 2015 – Nikon D5000

Somehow my adventures always seem to go by so quickly! For our last day we explored Tonquin Beach, the town of Tofino, Schooner Cove, and South Beach before making the long journey home.

The trail to Schooner Cove

DSC_0074DSC_0086DSC_00900001_25ADSC_0095 DSC_0100DSC_0099DSC_0108DSC_0111

Long Beach again – this time in the sun!



Victoria Diaries: Halloween Shenanigans

“Men and girls came and went like moths among the whispering and the champagne and the stars.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

I decided to go with cheap disposable film to document yesterday/last night’s adventures. We had so much fun and looked oh so darling! The girls and I spent the day getting ready and drinking cheap champagne, then went to Corey’s for a bit, then on to Lucky for the rest of the night where live bands and a DJ played. All in all, a good night.

Poppin' pink champagne.
Poppin’ pink champagne.

Fan-Tan Alley, Chinatown.
Fan-Tan Alley, Chinatown.
Hehe Em's lipstick got a little smudged.
Hehe Em’s lipstick got a little smudged.

Space Invaders.
Space Invaders.

Yukon Diaries: Tombstone Mountains… Again

“Late last night, I lost track of time and I knew I was waiting for the sun to rise…” Snowmine, Columbus

Perhaps my title is misleading. I am writing another post about the Tombstones Mountains – and trust me, I could do a million posts on this beautiful place – but this visit actually occurred earlier in the summer. A week or so before the helicopter trip, Michael and I realized how quickly our time in the Yukon was running out and made our escape to the mountains again – this time for more than an afternoon!

19th August, 2015

We hit the road as soon as we finished work with a car packed full of gear, eager to escape town. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to Snowmine or Bombay Bicycle Club without thinking of that drive, those mountains, and Michael. One of the great things about Tombstones Territorial Park is that you can camp anywhere. With the campground being full and not really wanting to share our experience of the mountains with other people, we kept driving and found a great little spot just off the road.

One of my favourite sections of the park. This part of the road is where the valley really opens up before you.
One of my favourite sections of the park. This part of the road is where the valley really opens up before you.


The skies became more ominous the further into the park we got. We should have known there would be snow!
The skies became more ominous the further into the park we got. The way the clouds closed behind us like a curtain was uncanny!


20th August, 2015

It snowed overnight, though thankfully not where we were and not where we hiked. It was a chilly wake-up though. After a 5-star breakfast (who knew camping food could be so gourmet!?) we drove to a pull out near our mountain, Mt Adney. The journey began with bush-wacking through the willows and downy, swampy flats. Then began the gentler incline up the first ridge. It didn’t matter how many times you looked back at the view unfolding behind you, it was sublime every time. From that first ridge we climbed up to the second and had lunch on a flat spot near the peak. Let me just pause and say that I do not have much hiking experience. Though I am skinny, I am definitely not fit, and as I found out that day, I’m a little afraid of heights. I got close to the top of the peak, but absolutely freaked out on the scrambley cliff. Michael climbed to the top and took some gorgeous shots of the view then patiently guided me back down the scary cliff. This mountain was tough for me, but the immense feeling of accomplishment I found when I got to the top (or as close as I dared) was so rewarding. I’m hooked now! To add to that, the view was just stunning – there’s no words adequate to describe the beauty. We made our way back down the mountain (much more quickly than the way up!), pausing to collect some of the unique purple stones, then kept driving to the edge of the park to check out the views.

You can see the snow on the mountains in the distance to the left.
You can see the snow on the distant mountains to the left.


It doesn't take long to warm up!
It doesn’t take long to warm up!


View from the first ridge
View from the first ridge. Photo: Michael Maclean
From Michael's film camera
From Michael’s film camera
This photo reminds me of Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer Above the Sea Fog (1818) - fitting in its association with the sublime.
This photo reminds me of Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea Fog (1818) – fitting in its association with the sublime.
Michael realizing how crazy and steep the drop from that cliff is!
Michael realizing how crazy and steep the drop from that cliff is!
Photo: Michael Maclean
Photo: Michael Maclean


I'm not sure of the name of that range, but the array of shades is quite stunning.
The edge of the park. I’m not sure of the name of that range, but the array of shades is quite stunning.
I got my cheesy sign picture!
I got my cheesy sign picture!

21st August, 2015

Our last morning dawned with warm sunshine, making it even harder to fathom going back to reality. We had one last gourmet camp-stove breakfast and packed up, then drove to our next mountain: Goldensides. This mountain is considerably easier; for starters, there’s a pathway (Mt Adney was back-country hiking) and you drive a fair way up to get to the opening of the trail. On a sunshiney day like we had, you can see why it’s named Goldensides. All the Fall colours were out, with sun highlighting gold, burgundy, russet, and the last green vestiges of summer. Some wildlife made their appearances, including an eagle chasing a smaller bird and some happy sunbathing marmots. We hiked to the end of the short trail, enjoyed a moment there, then made a final stop-in at the visitor centre on the way home.


Yukon Diaries: Tombstone Mountains and the Yukon Ditch

“Sublime (a). Producing an overwhelming sense of awe or other high emotion through being vast or grand.” – Oxford English Dictionary

Sublime is the best word I can come up with to describe this beautiful rugged and daunting landscape. Their jagged peaks and ever-changing colours, their vastness and the seemingly endless stretch of mountain after mountain is so overwhelming it’s enough to make one’s mind explode! Just over a week ago my Papa absolutely spoiled my sister and I (plus a friend each) with a heli ride to the Tombstone Mountains. Yes, my Papa is a helicopter pilot and yes, he is definitely the coolest Dad you will ever meet. The autumn colours were out in full swing, turning the mountains red, yellow, purple, and orange. We flew to the actual tombstone range first, then took a tour over Azure Lake and Bompass Lake. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I would think the shocking blue of the lakes in my photos were Photoshopped! After that, we landed near Little 12 Mile Powerhouse, an abandoned little town that used to power Dawson City back in the day, and ate dinner/explored.

As I sit on the ferry taking me back to Victoria, posting these photos brings on a bittersweet mix of emotions — happiness for the great summer I had with such wonderful people, sadness for the goodbyes and the ending of another season, and excitement for the year ahead. As always, just one summer in Dawson City is enough to make me feel as if I’ve grown or changed somehow; I feel a confidence in myself and my abilities that I didn’t feel in the beginning – even if I still have no idea what I’m doing! So much of this is due to the lovely people I was surrounded by this summer – including the very special people featured in these photos. The others, who have not been featured in this blog, are my Riverwest lovelies — especially you, D and Mike! I would like to thank everyone for making this summer one of the best yet. Love you all so much! xo

Without further (emotional) ado, I give you Tombstone Territorial Park and the Yukon Ditch!DSC_1283DSC_1297DSC_1321DSC_1333

The foliage and colours in Tombstones is amazing.
The foliage and colours in Tombstones is amazing.


The ceiling of clouds were quite low that evening, covering the massive peaks at the top of the range.
The ceiling of clouds were quite low that evening, covering the massive peaks at the top of the range.
Three of my favourite people!
Three of my favourite people!


Best family photo ever!
Best family photo ever!
It's impossible to capture the sheer scale of these mountains.
It’s impossible to capture the sheer scale of these mountains.
Not sure about the name of this little lake but it's gorgeous.
Not sure about the name of this little lake (if it even has one) but it’s gorgeous.


Azure Lake
Bompass Lake
Blackstone River Valley
“The country traversed by this ditch is a rolling woodland indented by the alluvial flats of the Klondike, the Twelve-Mile, and other streams flowing into the Yukon river. As seen from a height the wilderness stretches unbroken from the meandering shimmer of the Klondike, enclosed within high banks on which white scars mark bench-diggings, to the Ogilvie range, where, far to the north, the snow still lingers in token of the gift of water that shall enable man to win the gold from the deposits of gravel strewing the tortuous valleys.” – T.A. Rickard, The Yukon Ditch (reprinted 1909)

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Dinner time!
Dinner time!

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A rare good photo of Michael and I. Thanks Brooke!
A rare good photo of Michael and I. Thanks Brooke!


Dawson City peeking around the corner.
Dawson City peeking around the corner.