After mostly being home in July, supervising landscaping and doing my altMBA, August saw me escaping to the Olympic Peninsula with my Rainier Ravens women’s motorcycle group, then over to Victoria to visit a friend and see the Egyptian exhibit at the Royal BC Museum.
Then Matt and I broke out the dirt bikes and did a part of the WABDR – the Washington Back Country Adventure Route. Definitely looking forward to ramping up the dirt adventures next summer.
I threw all my clothes in the wash and swapped my motorcycle boots for Louboutins for Allyson’s bachelorette spa day and dinner, followed by her fairy tale wedding.
In between it all, both dogs have been taking obedience classes and I have been working like a fiend on a work project gone sideways and then upside down.
To celebrate coming out the other side, Matt took us to the beach.
What was beautiful:
All of the Egyptian artifacts at the museum, the many generations of Seattle
and the serene blues of twilight on the banks of the Pacific
“Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four Cs. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” —Walt Disney
Trying to get the yard finished up so we can enjoy it but in the process, I fell off the ladder onto my face so I am also practicing putting a fair bit of makeup on my eye as I run from the Anniversary sale at work, flamenco classes and shows, painting the living room, participating on various projects and learning groups for the altMBA, scrambling to keep up in my podcast fellowship and get going on The Travel Cure and 1000 Things to Love, interviews, appointments, and social calls. Phew! But the yard is finally done and I have a brand new motorcycle so in spite of the classes and all of the upcoming trips to Vancouver, summer starts now and I fully intend to kick back and enjoy it.
What was beautiful:
What made me laugh:
A different thing every day, as it was part of the Whole Life Challenge lifestyle exercise this week.
Summers are always about the same…ride motos, sit in the sunshine, do yoga, go for a hike, cook some delicious things, work on a project (or 3). This one is somewhat different in that the yard work / landscaping project is still continuing but we are getting close to being done (and then I think I will actually be able to sit back and enjoy it!), and I am participating in both Seth Godin’s Podcast Fellowship and the altMBA workshop in place of some of my usual adventures.
What was beautiful:
A butterfly fluttered by and then skidded to a stop on my 17th-floor office window ledge at a moment when I really needed some magic.
I listened to the Just Kids audiobook – the story of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe and it just drips and aches with beauty. I am going to have to listen to it again, and then probably read the paperback version, and then consume all the other formats for their work. Incredibly inspiring and artfully crafted.
Gardening, studying, dog-walking, dancing…working on a couple of new outbuildings for my home (a mini book library and a greenhouse) while trying to stay out of the way of our landscapers while they resurface basically the entire yard, working on bettering myself (altMBA, podcast fellowship, blogging, looking into grad school, Coursera courses, PMP) while working at the J.O.B., riding my new motorbike
What was beautiful
My garden (or at least the parts of it that are intact at the moment) but which now also includes the magnolia tree blooming in front of my studio window.
What made me Laugh:
The dogs are always good for a laugh but even that’s been pretty thin. Need to insert more joy into this summer ASAP.
What I’m reading and listening to:
My reading list for the altMBA has arrived, my PMP exam is booked and my podcast fellowship class started today so have not been clicking on too many links.
Most of July was spent on unpacking and setting up our place in Seattle, hanging art and preserving fruit – because the farmers market is only a block away and I can’t seem to help myself. But I have picked up the Washington State Visitors’ guide and made all kinds of notes in it in preparation for exploring. I thought that would happen on my own, later, so it was kind of funny that my sister came down to visit and right away suggested we go to Oregon to ride dune buggies.
I was thinking that we would tour around the Woodinville wineries, maybe go for a bike ride and check out a new neighbourhood but I am always down for both a road trip and an adventure and both together is just not something that I need to be convinced of. My friends, knowing that I love adventure, took me snowmobiling for my staggette and I’d been ATVing before (and of course I ride my motorcycle on a regular basis) but neither of us had been in a dune buggy or on a sand dune, and Ally hadn’t even been to Oregon! So we were very excited.
We took Highway 101 for maximum coastal scenery, through such funny little towns as Centralia, Pe Ell and Lebam, past a hundred antique shops and drive-through espresso booths, and stopping at every third pull-out so that I could take a photo.
Of course, we stopped at Cannon Beach, and I was agog at the size of it. I had visited about 10 years ago – long enough ago that I was not surprised to see how much the town had grown – but I was surprised that I had so drastically misremembered the size of the beach. It’s the kind of beach that makes you want to play; run and do giant leaps across the sand or twirl or fly a kite just to try and consume a little bit of it. When I was last there it was winter and no one was on the beach but my boyfriend and I bought toy airplanes and ran around throwing them until they were destroyed and we were freezing.
The other thing that surprised me is that it’s not even close to the most beautiful part of the coastline. I guess the last time I was there we just got back on the I-5 and didn’t think much of it, but there is a Long Beach in each province and state on the Pacific Coast and (with few exceptions), it seems like it’s really just one long beach from Canada to Mexico, twisting and rolling through amazing pockets of scenery that can only be described as spectacular. I am definitely going to have to go back and do it again on my motorcycle.
We crashed in a beachside hotel in Newport and woke up in a cloud – there were people on the beach but I could barely see them. Even so, it was wonderfully peaceful and the kind of thing I used to dream about when we lived in the city. Sitting outside drinking my coffee and listening to the waves would have made the trip amazing for me all on its own but we were only an hour away from the dunes so the day just kept getting better!
I probably don’t have to tell you that the Oregon Sand Dunes are ridiculously fun. We were a little dismayed that they wouldn’t rent us a dune buggy (too expensive for them to maintain as rentals) so we hired a professional driver who took us out on the dunes for an awesome ride and then we rented an ATV and went back and did the whole thing over again ourselves. I’m glad we did both and I’m also glad that they hadn’t rented us a dune buggy. We told them we wanted to go fast and so they let us take their sole high-powered machine (and I suddenly had flashbacks of the high-powered snowmobile ending up in a ditch) and even so we still managed to almost fly over a sand cliff AND get stuck. I think when the operators give their fast machine to two women they assume it’s going to be babied. Not in this family!
We were barely back in town when it was time to go on the next adventure – a combination camping, diving and crabbing trip. I have been bugging Matt to go camping with me and Riley for a year now and I’ve been trying to go crab diving for way longer than that.
We drove down to a place outside of Sheldon in Hood Canal – about 2.5 hours south of here and camped in a state park and it was pretty fun – Riley LOVED the tent – but we were literally closer to our neighbours than if we had camped in our backyard, which I thought that was pretty funny.
The next day we drove up the peninsula to Shine Tidelands State park to meet some divers and get some crab.
I managed to catch some females and a few males that were too small but came back empty-handed for the barbecue. Luckily the others had better luck and we had a wonderful feast of crab, clams, mussels, foraged blackberries and cold beer. Ah, summertime!
Up next: Mount St. Helen’s, a loop around Olympic park, some more visitors, sailing, then Japan.
“Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.” ~Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets
Sometime in June while I was living in my car, I saw that piece of poem written on a sign. I sighed happily (as I often do when I encounter unexpected poetry) and then wondered if June was trembling because of anticipation, or fear, or just speed…and then it was gone.
I don’t remember the first time I saw the city of Vancouver. I was probably too young. I was born there, in Grace hospital (that burnt down and was rebuilt as Women & Children’s) but grew up in the suburb of Langley. The first few visits to the city that I do remember felt like a long journey – over the big orange Port Mann Bridge and then a seemingly endless stretch of nothingness until we were off the freeway. But even when I was asleep (probably most of the time), I always knew we had reached the city because I woke up when we stopped at 1st and Commercial and I would marvel at the gritty urbanness of the gun shop at that intersection, fiercely gated and barred up. Much later I lived right across the street from where it had been and felt completely safe, always wondering if I had just made it up. Our trips into town seemed to revolve around something my dad had forgotten at his office on Hastings Street or a Chinese food dinner at either Wok With Yan or the Beijing House. I remember trying so hard to get my hands around the chopsticks and playing next to the koi pond in the floor, but I am suspicious of memory. Even though I can picture Wok With Yan’s restaurant where the White Spot is now on Georgia Street, I know I was very young. I feel like I must be getting something wrong – not least because I haven’t seen either of my parents eat Chinese food in maybe 25 years. To think of them making such a long drive into town with small children to eat it boggles the mind.
The last time I saw Vancouver was at Crab Park early in the morning. I took a photo because it was gorgeous out and it felt poignant but I have so many photos of that dog park – a place that I have been to almost daily this past year. This last time though, we were in a rush. We had cleaners to deal with, cars to pack, and then a whole lot of paperwork to fill out at the border because finally, after a long wait, we were moving to Seattle.
I’ve always thought of Vancouver as my home. I read a poem once in which ‘home’ was defined by wherever you had your heart broken and in a way, I feel that that is true…home is where you had your formative experiences. I lived in the West End, East Van, Cambie Village, Commercial Drive, Main Street, Oak Street and Gastown. I ate at SO many restaurants (sometimes even consecutive businesses in the same storefront) and blogged about a great many of them, hiked in the forests, dove all over the coast, got married, worked for several different companies (as well as started my own), and made lots of friends…for all of these reasons Vancouver will be home but for many of those same reasons, it was also a good time to leave.
It’s always been a dream of mine to live abroad and I’ve dabbled in it (multiple home-stays in France and Germany and a lot of travel) and prepared for it (I’m a certified TESL instructor and a divemaster and I have a filing cabinet worth of books and maps) but there has always been something holding me back…a relationship, finances, poor timing.
But we are finally here, just barely abroad, and that’s ok. It’s a step. From here we can go elsewhere and even this border hop has had its share of paperwork and problems. Had we moved to say, Poland or Japan, we would currently be standing in a drug store hoping we were buying toothpaste and not hemorrhoid cream, walking everywhere for fear of driving (or taking transit and ending up in another city), and eating all kinds of interesting new food. Instead, we are driving around in our same cars (minus one motorcycle and one truck), speaking English, eating sushi and burgers at the two decent restaurants in our neighbourhood and when we get lost, we pull up google maps to tell us where to go. Easy Peasy. We are glad of the adventure, in any case and ready for all the next ones.
A better quote for this month might be this famous one:
“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
You know those summer days when you were a kid that stretched on and on? You would ride your bike to the store and then a friend’s house and entire days would pass where nothing happened except being hot. And then just when you thought you could not be more bored, it was time to go back to school and you instantly wanted to take back all the bad things you said about sitting around doing nothing. My summer was not like that at all. This past spring we decided to move to Seattle and got everything ready…and then deferred it until next year. Then I applied for and was accepted to the Master’s program at the Centre for Digital Media and decided not to go. It is too much of what I have already been doing as a career for me to spend the time and money learning. I went to Tofino for an epic spring break surfing and diving, we got a dog and closed our company, we learned to sail, I started Crossfit, took about twenty classes online, and read a lot of books.
And then there were more adventures:
Diving Skookumchuck Narrows
Some friends and I went to Powell River and did a couple of dives in Mermaid’s Cove at Saltery Bay before heading to Egmont and doing some wreck, drift and wall diving at Agamemnon Channel, the wreck of the HMCS Chaudiere, and the rapids at Skookumchuck Narrows. A fantastic trip.
Visiting the International Buddhist Temple
I took myself to Richmond’s International Buddhist Temple for a mini-adventure. It has the largest gold Buddha in North America and many beautiful murals and gardens. Once inside, I really did feel transported – I would have loved to stay and read my book or meditate by one of the pools. There’s also a restaurant on site where you pay by donation and that was pretty exciting too, although they brought me way too much food.
Riding Highway 20
In July we rode our motorcycles Highway 20 through the Cascades to Osoyoos and then home through Manning Park. He wasn’t in it so much for the stunning mineral-rich turquoise lakes, beautiful wastelands of flooded river banks, mountains or valleys but rather for the sexy S-curves and the lack of stoplights. When I stopped to take a photo of the scenery, Matt took one of the road. It was hot but we were both so happy.
We stopped for lunch in Winthrop, a delightful gold-towny surprise and then stayed in Osoyoos, which was less exciting than I remembered – especially with not being able to do any wine-tasting or fruit-hauling. But we were just there for the road so next time we’ll stay in Winthrop and ride it all the way back too.
Visiting Quadra Island
We had tried and failed to go camping a couple of times so Matt finally found us a cabin on Quadra Island for the August long weekend. Quadra Island is pretty far away but in exchange for a bit of a car ride (which Riley would give half her breakfast for anyways), we got an enormous house with an enormous patio, a hot tub and a bbq! We were delighted and wished we could have stayed a lot longer. I could see urchins 60 ft down from the deck (which had me regretting not bringing my dive gear), and porpoises playing in the channel a little ways out. We went canoeing and beachcombing and hiking to explore the bluffs. Riley was so happy to be able to run around outside by herself and explore under the deck. She did go in the canoe and in the water with a little coaxing, but we weren’t there long enough to get the ‘city’ out of her – she still peed in the driveway every morning.
Nick Bantock Art Workshop
The next weekend found me on another ferry, this time to Sidney-by-the-Sea by the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. I went for an art workshop with Nick Bantock that was even more awesome than I could have imagined. It was less technique heavy than the workshops I’m used to with Jeanne Krabbendam but provided enough ideas and energy to get me started on several projects – which I will probably have to revisit come winter.
Diving Browning Pass on the Mamro
I lasted about seven months after the last trip to Browning Pass before I had to book it again, this time on a liveaboard. I wanted to go back with a camera but now I think I may just have to go back every year. I’ve been diving in some amazing warm water places but this has got to be one of my favourite places in the world, mist and mountains (and more orcas!) topside and a world of colour down below – corals and sponges covered in fish and invertebrates – stretching as far as the eye can see.
There were only 6 of us on the boat which was nice and cozy. We had an opportunity to stop at Telegraph Cove – an old whaling station – on the way up to Port Hardy and have a look through the museum. The whole town is on boardwalks around the cove and the museum has whale skeletons of all varieties. You think you understand how big whales are but it really hits home when you can stand inside a jaw with other people or use a vertebra as a stool.
I have wanted to learn how to sail for a really long time. I have always had such a powerful love of the sea that I knew I was going to learn how to sail at some point. Having this time off work and no real direction seemed like the perfect time to start checking things off my life list so we signed up for the Crew course at Cooper Boating on Granville Island.
This is us about to go out, pretty sure we’re going to like it.
And we did like it, in spite of the grey days and having to be rescued on the way back in because the engine had run out of oil. Of course, sailing through the Bahamas didn’t do anything to dissuade us either so we rode our bikes down and prepared to learn the ropes.
Most of what we learned in the crew classroom sessions was what was required for the PCoC (Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card) exam but we also learned some of the language of sailing. There is a different name for every single thing on a sailboat and many parts of that language have made it into this (current, daily use) one. I find the crossover words delightful and love knowing the history of them. Some are obviously nautical (knowing the ropes, loose cannon), but many are more obscure; slush fund, bitter end, taken aback, hand over fist, high and dry, by and large, hard and fast, makemy way home, etc… I don’t think I’ve ever used between the devil and the deep blue sea but I love it so I’m going to have to rig a conversation where I can work it in.
We also learned how to sail, in spite of being out in 21-knot winds (a storm warning) on our first day and almost ramming another boat. We got through it though and brought our bruises and rope burns to Day 2 where our instructor filled in all the knowledge gaps and we got to know our points of sail, how to recover an object (man overboard) from the water, and how to tack and how to dock.
Then I took the Skipper class – to learn to make the decisions and call out to the crew to get things done. This involves knowing your points of sail, knowing your plan, knowing your boat and keeping a close watch on the sail, sheets, lines and tell-tales to make sure everything is ship-shape. I have no trouble giving orders but I discovered quickly (with the help of the instructor yelling at me) that I am tiller challenged. Tillers work in the opposite way that steering wheels do and being tiller challenged means that I invariably move the tiller in the opposite way that I want to go. On a tight turn with the sails hardened, this can be pretty dramatic and by the end of the day, I was exhausted and embarrassed. But a day sailing has got to be better than a day at home on the couch, so I practiced my bowlines and studied up on my theory, and now I have my Day Skipper certification too.