4 Day Yellowstone Itinerary

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In early July 2019, we set off on our Harley Davidson motorcycles for Yellowstone National Park. Because our home in Saskatchewan, Canada is about 1000 kilometres from the North entrance of Yellowstone, we took two days to make the drive south.

We stayed one night on the Canadian side of the border, at Grasslands National Park. The following day we drove to Livingston, Montana, with a lunch stop in Lewistown on the way.

It was later in the afternoon when we arrived in Livingston, so we enjoyed a drive through the town and then went to our KOA campground.


We love staying with Kampgrounds of America! We rented a cabin, so upon arrival we quickly got to work making supper- kabobs over the fire. After supper, we headed over to the pavilion where they were selling ice cream that evening. We went for a walk around the campground to check out our surroundings before getting showered up and heading to bed.

Day One: Mammoth Hot Springs and Beartooth Highway

The next morning we had breakfast at that same pavilion, where KOA offers an a-la-carte selection each morning for a very reasonable price. We drove the hour down to Gardiner, and from there we were just moments away from the park entrance.

Just beyond the North Yellowstone entrance is the area of the park known as Mammoth. Here, there is a visitor centre, campground, gas station, tourist shops, and a couple of restaurants.

The highlights of this area are the steaming hydrothermal features. Enjoying this area can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, or more. There is an Upper and a Lower Terrace. Each terrace includes nice boardwalks for easy and safe viewing of all of the hot springs and other hydrothermal features. The Upper and Lower Terraces are connected by a staircase, but if you want to avoid the steep climb, you can drive up to a parking lot above and explore the Upper Terraces from there.

Mound Terrace
Mound Terrace
The view from the Upper Terraces parking area
Orange Spring Mound

There is a guided, 90 minute ranger-led hike around the Upper Terraces offered in the morning. You can check the park newspaper for times. There is also a short scenic drive when you leave the parking lot for the Upper Terraces. There are some additional parking spots along this drive and in the likely event that the lot is full, you could continue on and try your luck at one of these spots. There are a few more small hydrothermal features to enjoy along this drive.

Once we had walked along the terraces, we headed East towards Tower Junction. Originally, I thought we could stop and see the Undine and Wraith Falls and maybe have a picnic lunch. I was not expecting the falls to be so close to Mammoth, however, and we ended up driving past them without stopping. Being on motorcycles with no way to communicate is not the easiest way to road trip! It did look like the pullout for Wraith Falls had a nice picnic area though.

We drove through Lamar Valley, spotting several herds of bison along the way. Lamar Valley is Yellowstone’s number one spot to view the park’s abundant wildlife, but early mornings and evenings are the ideal time for viewing . We both experienced a bit of motorcycle trouble along this route, but nonetheless made it to Cooke City, Montana for a late lunch.

From Cooke City, we hit the Beartooth Scenic Highway, which is a 68 mile stretch of road that rises to 10 947 feet at the Beartooth Pass in Wyoming. Because we were still experiencing some difficulties with the motorcycles, we only stopped a couple of times during the drive along the Beartooth. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful journey to experience on a motorcycle.

The Beartooth Highway ends (or begins) at Red Lodge, Montana. Once we arrived there, we continued South towards Cody. We camped for the night in Buffalo Bill State Park.

Day Two: Yellowstone Lake

Luckily, by the next morning Travis had remedied the problem with his bike, and we were able to get an early start on our journey back into Yellowstone. Highway 14 from Cody to East Yellowstone is also know for being a scenic drive. We had such a nice drive on a beautiful summer morning.

Once we arrived in the park, we stopped to enjoy Yellowstone Lake. We went to the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center to poke around. We also stopped at the General Store across the road, which was loaded with any kind of souvenir you could imagine. We ate lunch outside the Visitor Center, and walked down by the lake for a bit. The temperature was a bit chilly so we decided to move on.

We headed North and stopped at the Mud Volcano area. It was a slow drive due to vehicles stopping to view large groups of bison- a regular experience on the Yellowstone highways. The Mud Volcano thermal area is an area of muddy hot springs and fumaroles located near one of the Yellowstone Volcano’s vents. It was a pretty awesome stop, with a short trail around the bubbling mud pit itself, and some of the most acidic springs in Yellowstone (think sulphur smell, lots of sulphur smell). 

From Mud Volcano, it was a 16 mile drive to Canyon Village where we were staying at the campground there. We set up camp, cooked a campfire supper, and then headed back out on the road for a bit more sightseeing. We went North to see Tower Falls, and had some ice cream in the store that is located there.

Tower Falls

We ended the evening with another drive through Hayden Valley for some wildlife viewing. We saw elk and bison, but no bears!

Day Three: Canyon Village

The next morning was a morning for chasing rainbows! I was excited to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, but even more excited about catching a glimpse of the rainbows that are rumoured to show up on both the Upper and Lower Falls each morning. We started on the South Rim at Uncle Tom’s trail, which is the easiest spot to see the Upper Falls. The Upper Falls drop 109 ft over a lip of volcanic rock. We took an easy walk around to two viewpoints where I had heard that the rainbow can be seen between  9-9:15AM. We didn’t see a rainbow at first, so we walked to the upper viewpoint. But, when we got back down to the main viewing area, we could see the rainbow! It was a bit faint, but beautiful nonetheless.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone varies from 800 to 1200 feet in length, and is about 24 miles long. The upper 2.5 miles, where the falls are, are the most colourful of the whole canyon. Hot spring activity in the area has altered the colours of the lava rock to give it such a lovely appearance.

From Uncle Tom’s Point, we continued along South Rim Drive to the Artist Point parking area to see the Lower Falls. Wow! They were stunning! The deep canyon’s colours popped so beautifully against the river running through it. We spent quite a bit of time here, taking in the sights from all different angles. After awhile, we looked back over the Lower Falls and could see a rainbow there, too! Can you see it??

Lower Falls

After we had soaked up the view, we decided to hike the Clear Lake Trail from Uncle Tom’s Point. The trail is just over 2 miles and takes you through large rolling meadows and forested areas to Clear Lake, which is a hydrothermal area. The trail ended back at the Artist’s Point viewing area, so we enjoyed some really nice views of the canyon along the last bit of the hike.

We spent the next few hours on the North Rim Drive, stopping at all three of the big pullouts: Lookout Point, Grand View, and Inspiration Point. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone area was by far my favourite part of the trip. It is so beautiful!

We had another KOA booked in West Yellowstone for that night, so we started heading that direction. We took a wrong turn and ended up in a very long lineup heading into Norris. Since we spent so much time waiting to get in, we decided to have a look around. There was a bit of a walk from the parking lot to a lookout point, where you could then walk around on boardwalks to get a closer look at the Geyser Basin. We decided we had seen enough for the day, took a quick picture, and headed out towards West Yellowstone.

We got rained on while riding out to our KOA, and so decided to upgrade from a regular campground to a campsite for the night. Of course, once we had finished checking in the rain stopped, so we got back on the bikes and went back into West Yellowstone for supper at Beartooth Barbecue.

Day Four: Geyser Country

We packed up early and were at Ernie’s Bakery and Deli in West Yellowstone at 7AM when it opened. We had breakfast and also got sandwiches and cookies to have for lunch later.

Our destination for the day was the entire Geyser Country region. To begin with, we started with the Upper Geyser Basin, which is home to Old Faithful. We arrived to the parking lot at just before 9AM, and it was already filling up fast. We walked to the Visitors Center where we found out the Old Faithful was estimated to erupt at around 9:50. Old Faithful erupts every 35 to 120 minutes and lasts from 1 1/2 minutes to 5 minutes long. They can predict the eruption within plus or minus 10 minutes.

We ended up just waiting around Old Faithful area, which has accommodations, shops, and fuel. When it was getting close to 9:40, we moved towards the Old Faithful viewing platform.  There is lots of room to watch it so you only need to be there about 15 minutes early to grab a spot. We weren’t sure exactly where it was going to come up from, but our spots ended up being great, although I am sure anywhere would have provided a decent view. There were people walking along the lower loops and I imagine that would be an interesting viewpoint.

You can spend a lot of time in this area- a half day easily and a full day would not be a stretch. There is a loop around the Upper Geyser Basin which is a paved road one way and a boardwalk the other for a total of 3 miles. To this you can add a small hike up to Observation Point for views of the basin. We got our bikes down and rose the paved portion of this loop, stopping and walking along the boardwalks when there was something we thought we wanted to see more closely.

When we got back from the loop, we ate our sandwiches near the visitor centre, and realized it was really close to another Old Faithful eruption. We decided to go into the Old Faithful Lodge for a quick look around, then we went up to the second story balcony to sit and watch Old Faithful erupt again.

After leaving the Old Faithful area, we went to Grand Prismatic Spring, which is Yellowstone’s largest hot spring, and most beautiful. It is 370 ft wide and incredibly colourful. There are two ways to explore Grand Prismatic. We first parked in the main parking lot and walked around the spring:

Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest of Yellowstone’s many colourful hot springs. The high temperature of the water (70 degrees Celsius) ensures that the spring is often cloaked in steam. I had read that the steam often dissipates in the afternoon, making it a better time to explore Grand Prismatic than the early morning. The Spring’s heat come from the magma of an active volcano deep beneath the ground where heated water rises to the surface through fissures in the rocks.

From this area, it was hard to really see all of the brilliant colours of the hot spring. The second option for viewing Grand Prismatic offered a far superior view of the hot spring. We drove just up the road to the next pullout, and biked up the Fairy Falls trail, and then hiked to the overlook. We were rewarded by this bird’s-eye view of Grand Prismatic:

The stunning Grand Prismatic
Could not get enough of this view

On our way back out of Geyser Country we drove along a couple of the pullouts along the way. We got to see the Young Hopeful Geyser:

Young Hopeful Geyser 🙂

We also drove along the Firehole Canyon and stopped to see the Firehole Falls:

We were staying at the KOA again, and on the way to our campsite we stopped in West Yellowstone at the Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon. The pizza here was delicious!

Day Five: Leaving Yellowstone

Even though driving through Yellowstone was not the quickest way to get to Great Falls, our next destination, we were not quite ready to leave Yellowstone, so we decided to take a slightly longer route and got to drive through the park again. We drove from Norris to Mammoth, stopping at the Artist Paintpots, to take in one more area of hydrothermal activity. Artists Paintpots is a small but lovely thermal area with a one-mile loop trail that goes to colourful hot springs, and two large mudpots.

From here, we continued North to the Mammoth area, where we very randomly ran into T’s parents and their travel buddies at a roadside pullout! We spent a bit of time hanging out and visiting with them, and then we were on our way out of the park. I wasn’t really ready to leave Yellowstone, I felt like there was still so much to see and do, but it was time to start making our way towards home.

We enjoyed our time in Yellowstone and definitely see why most people say you need a lot of time to see this park! It is HUGE, with so many things to see in different areas. There is a lot of driving involved in order to see Yellowstone, which takes up a lot of time. That is why it would be better to try and limit the things you do each day to one or two areas- so that you can see more of each area and spend less valuable touring time in the vehicle.

We did not do nearly enough hiking while we were in Yellowstone, which is a huge part of what the park is famous for. When we go back to Yellowstone, our priority would be to go for a longer period of time so that we could both sightsee and do some hiking (maybe even backcountry!) is each area at a more leisurely pace.

Please comment with any questions you have about Yellowstone, I would be happy to share more information!

Also, here’s a link to our YouTube video from the trip. We’d love if you to watched, liked, and even shared both the video and this post! Thank you!

Isle de Ometepe

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After crossing the Nicaraguan border from Costa Rica, we headed straight to Isle de Ometepe (Ometepe Island). This island is in the countries biggest body of water, Lake Nicaragua, and is formed of two large volcanoes connected by a flat and narrow piece of land.

We had our taxi ($35) drop us off right at the ferry yard in San Jorge, and had time to buy some snacks and use the washroom after purchasing our ferry passes ($10). When we got to the ferry there were only seats left below the deck. The seats were long benches like pews in a church, and the ride was very rough. I spent the 30 minutes ride with my head between my knees hoping that I wouldn’t get sick to my stomach. I made it!


We didn’t have solid plans for once we arrived to the island. I had read about San Jose Del Sur, Moyogalpo, and Merida and thought we would see what the first two areas were like before deciding wether we wanted to head to the much quieter and secluded area of Merida.

It must have been the fatigue, but for some reason when we got to the island and found out there was a “chicken bus” immediately leaving for Merida, we jumped on ($2) without much thought or consideration. At the time I don’t think we realized that it would be a two hour bus ride and that about half the trip would be on unpaved road. It was a very long drive but at least we were happy to have some snacks and cool drinks that we had picked up before the bus left the docks.

When we finally made it to Merida it was very easy to find the hostel I had read about online, Hacienda Merida. It was easy because there was essentially nothing around except one little restaurant, a school, a little shop or two, and some hostels and small hotels. We were very secluded.

We were happy, however, to get a private room  for $25 a night, and to be able to enjoy a dinner prepared for us right at the hostel just in time to enjoy the sun setting over beautiful Lake Nicaragua. It was a nice ending to a very long day.




Our next mistake on Ometepe came the next morning. We were up early to get ready to take the chicken bus back towards town, but during breakfast we decided we would rent bikes from the little shop up the road. These bikes were far from state-of-the-art. And the roads? Oh, the roads. They were rough, to say the least. Here’s a look:


It was impossible to avoid these large rocks, and therefore the ride was very bumpy. It didn’t take long for the journey to become uncomfortable. It did, however, take a long time to get where we were going. We stopped briefly to look at some petroglyphs, which was mediocrely interesting, and then a couple of more times just to give our bodies a break and get some water. After two hot, sweaty, and painful hours, we finally reached our destination- Ojo de Agua natural springs pool.

We spent a couple of hours here splashing in the cool water. There was a rope swing and a slack line over the water. The pools were refreshing, but the cement bottom was rough and definitely had some algae on it. We ate lunch at the on-site restaurant. It was a plain and simple meal, as good as it seemed to get for our short visit to this island.


We certainly weren’t looking forward to our return trip, but didn’t have much of an option so set off back on the road. The journey back was no better than the ride there. It ended up taking us 6 hours for the whole journey.

When we got back to Hacienda Merida we took a bit of time to relax and enjoy the many hammocks around the hostel. We tried to go out in the kayaks that the Hostel has, but were told it was too windy. We decided to have an early dinner, and shortly after the lake became a bit calmer. We quickly grabbed a two-person kayak and headed out towards the sunset. Being on the water, looking out over Ometepe, and watching the sunset was our favourite experience from our time on the Island.


That night was our last night on Ometepe. The next morning we were up early again to catch the 8:30 (8:50) bus back to the ferry. That was another interesting experience but luckily we had made it almost back to the docks before the bus broke down for the final time, and were easily able to walk the rest of the way. We caught the 12:00 ferry and waved good-bye to this unique little island.



Tortuguero National Park

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We travelled to Costa Rica in February of 2016. We booked our transportation from San Jose to Tortuguero through Gecko Trail. We were happy with the service we received from this travel company. It was $45 US per person for the shuttle, breakfast, and boat ride to Tortuguero.


A stop along the way for a photo op.

Our shuttle was to pick us up at 5:40 in the morning, and it was a little bit late, arriving at shortly after 6:00. By around 7:30 we had stopped for a great breakfast at a restaurant in a small town along the way. By about 10:00 we were boarding the boats at the docks at the entrance to Tortuguero National Park. We had arrived to the Almendros Dock in Tortuguero by noon.

Our first taste of gallo pinto, the most popular breakfast choice in Costa Rica


Our first taste of gallo pinto, the most popular breakfast choice in Costa Rica


The boats that took us to Tortuguero

 As soon as we got off the boat, our guide kind of “fed us to the fish” by ushering us off with the owner of one of the hostels on the island. We were shown a room that looked fine, but I had something different in mind so we politely declined and wandered off on our own.

Because we had some last-minute changes to our schedule, we actually had a room booked for our second night in Tortuguero, but not for the first night. We were booked in at La Casona but unfortunately they were full for the day we arrived there. The owner was very friendly and helpful though, and pointed us in the direction of some other hostels that we could check with.

We found Miss Miriam 2, which had room for us. We paid $30 for a private room with our own bathroom. We enjoyed our stay here because they have a nice outdoor lounge area on the second floor, plenty of hammocks, and there was even a couch right outside our room. Oh, and the wifi was really good, too!


Miss Miriam 2


We spent the rest of our first day wandering around the town, checking out the area, and enjoying the warmth and sunshine. There are no roads or cars in Tortuguero, so it is a very peaceful place to spend some time.


the trails of Tortuguero

As I mentioned, our second night was spent at La Casona Tortuguero. There is a charming common area equipped with a kitchen and the room was a similar quality to the one we had at Miss Miriam 2. We were a bit disappointed that the wifi would only work in the common area, and not in our room.


La Casona de Tortuguero


Our private bedroom at La Casona

So what did we do while we were there?

Well, it is a bit of a sleepy town, especially during the low season when the sea turtles are not nesting. Although it is surrounded by water, with the Caribbean Sea along the East shore, and the river along the West shore, it’s not really a beach town. The black sand beaches are soft, but the tides in the water are too aggressive for swimming, although some people do brave it. Even though there aren’t very many activities on the Caribbean side, the rivers offer a variety of options for exploring the area.


We signed up for a river tour with Ernesto, as we had walked by his house/office and noticed his advertisements.


Ernesto Tours

I was looking forward to getting out on the water in a canoe or kayak. When we showed up in the morning for our tour, we found out we would actually be paddling in a canoe large enough for us, Ernesto, and one other couple.


Posing with my mangles paddle and in front of the canoe we used. 

Ernesto gave an interesting tour. It was peaceful and informative. He made sure to mention over and over again that “yesterday” he saw all three of the types of monkeys that live in the area, as well as a sloth (once I had asked about them). Strange enough, the day we went we only saw a number of birds and iguanas, until the very end when we caught a glimpse of one monkey lounging high above us in a tree. After the tour I couldn’t help but wonder if his clients tomorrow would be hearing of all of the marvellous things we “saw” or if he would tell them we pretty much struck out. Overall Ernesto was warm and friendly and we did learn a lot from him. I just had trouble shaking the feeling that he was pulling one over on us.

What We Ate

We tried it all, from Sodas to the top rated Trip Advisor restaurant. Here’s some pictures of the places we enjoyed and would recommend:



Donde Richard


Soda Dona Maria

The Wild Ginger

Soda Heliconia

What we did next…

Thanks to Ernesto, we were able to arrange our departure from Tortuguero to Puerto Viejo. We went to Ernesto’s on the morning we were leaving, and the boat came right to his dock to pick us up. It was the boat that left from the main dock, and we were the last ones to board. I’m sure you could skip the step of booking through someone and just go to the dock and get on the boat.


A peaceful ride along the river


a brief glimpse of the Caribbean Sea

The boat ride took just over three hours. Near the town of Moin we started seeing lots of groups of monkeys, but the driver wasn’t slowing down at that point so we couldn’t really get any pictures. When we showed up at the dock there was a shuttle van waiting there that had enough room for all of us. It took around 2 hours and we had arrived at Puerto Viejo. The shuttle driver even dropped us all off at our individual accommodations.


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Happy New Year

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It’s too hard, too much work, too expensive, too scary…

2015 was about putting excuses to rest. I wanted to live 2015 without fear of failure and with the attitude that anything is possible; that we have to do all that we can while we can, because we are never promised a tomorrow, or we might not know what that tomorrow will bring. My life has been filled with dreams, some that were broken, and many that came true. In the shadows of my dreams were those ideas that I always thought were too big, too much to even dream of. Those ideas that I believed I could never accomplish, so I refused to let them into the light of my “dreams and wishes” fantasies. I ignored them, because I believed them to be impossible.

Since childhood, I dreamed of traveling the world, living and going to school or working in another country. Since I was a teenager, that dream was stuffed into the shadows, labeled as impossible. In 2013, I decided to bring that dream out of the shadows, and make it a reality. Was it hard? Yes, of course. And it was scary, expensive, and took me away from my family. But it was also one of the most amazing things I have ever done in my life. It was an experience that taught me more about myself, more about living, than anything ever has before.

My time abroad ended suddenly when my dad died. Have I regretted that I was away when this happened? Yes. Have I regretted that I wasn’t there with him for what would end up being his last ten months of life? Yes. But does that mean that I wouldn’t do it all over again if I had the chance? I’m not so sure.

My dad, through his life, and now through his death, always taught me that I could and should do anything I wanted. He taught me that anything was possible and that hard work can get you to your goals. Losing him has proved that life is meant to be lived while you can, in the way that allows you to be true to who you are. My whole life my dad has been the one encouraging me, pushing me, and believing in me. I still feel him beside me, being that constant pillar of strength and support.

So, in 2015 I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by people who believe in me, like Dad did, and who also realize that we should do what we can, while we can.

Running a full marathon?

I could never do that. That idea lurked way at the back in the shadows of my hopes and dreams. I rarely let it see the light, and fear and self-doubt would always quickly push it back into the shadows. In January of 2015, I began training for a full marathon. On May 17, 2015, Carly and I crossed the finish line of the Halifax Blue Nose full marathon. I did it.


We did it!

Being a farmer?

Well, that one was always just silly. My family doesn’t farm, so how would this ever even make sense to be a dream of mine? I had become independent and a world-traveler. I wasn’t sure the small-town life was for me anymore. In the fall of 2015, I learned to operate both a swather and a combine. I still have a lot to learn, but I have found my partner in life, and he is a farmer who is helping me to become one, too. I did it.


We did it!

Driving a motorcycle

No! This one is just way too scary, too hard, too impossible. Travis was convinced I could do it. He never doubted me. Even after dropping his bike more times than I can count, he still always picked me back up and told me to keep trying. It seemed impossible. On October 21, 2015, I got my Learner’s license for driving a motorcycle. I did it!


Scuba diving?

Scary, time-consuming, and expensive. Something I would never really have the time or money for, so why even dream of it? In 2015 I completed the classroom components of the PADI certification for becoming an open-diver, and I am scheduled to complete my training dives in February of 2016. I did it!


My new prescription diving goggles! 

Traveling is still a dream I have, one that I know will always be a part of my life. I am lucky to have found a partner and companion in life who will share these dreams with me, who will work with me towards making these dreams come true. We have two dream-come-true trips coming up in 2016, that are all about doing what we can while we can. To me, this means living without fear, of being true to myself, and of loving those closest to me with all that I can!

Happy New Year!

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A Roadtrip through British Columbia and the Okanagan Valley

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A summer road trip took us through Alberta and into British Columbia. Our first stop in British Columbia was Golden. We travelled there from Banff because my travel partner knows the owner of Glacier Raft Company and we wanted to test the waters with his crew.

We chose to stay at the Golden Municipal Campground and RV Park after checking out one other campground that we didn’t love. When we first arrived at Golden Municipal Campground we were given a site in the middle of the campground with no privacy between sites. We took a short walk and discovered several beautiful, and empty, spots. After a quick trip back to the office, here is the site we were given:


Golden Municipal Campground and RV Park

This was a beautiful site, and the campground had two different bathrooms with showers available. The bathrooms that are connected to the main gate are very nice and new, with pay showers. The campsite backs Kicking Horse River, and just on the other side of the river is the railway track, so there was definitely some noise throughout the evening and night. However, we were told that you can’t really go anywhere in Golden without hearing the trains, so I wouldn’t let the railway track stop me from staying at this campground again.

After we had supper at the campsite, we went for a walk. It took about 15 minutes to get to The Wolf’s Den where we stopped for a couple of drinks and an absolutely brilliant nacho platter. We had been told that this was the place to go for burgers, and the menu sure did make our mouths water. We can’t wait to go back here with empty stomaches.



The Wolf’s Den

The next morning, we drove up to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort as neither of us had been there before. There are opportunities to ride up the mountain on either the chair lift or the gondola. There is also a Grizzly Bear refuge where you can try and spot the grizzly that was orphaned as a cub and now relies on food from the refuge workers. We didn’t have a lot of time, so instead of taking a tour, we ate a quick lunch at one of the resort restaurants, and then headed back down the mountain.

Our next stop was Glacier Raft Company for our afternoon adventure. The owners, Ryan and Carmen, and the rest of the guides make this business so welcoming and comfortable that it’s hard to leave! We enjoyed an afternoon of high water rafting on Kicking Horse River, and would go back again and again if we could! At the end of the day, we even got to share a local beer around the campfire back at shop. This was my first time riding level 4 + rapids and it was definitely an adventure to remember.


You have to buy the shirt!

We ate a wonderful dinner at Eleven 22 restaurant (seriously, so good) and then headed out of town, towards Revelstoke. We used iMaps to find campsites along the route. We were nervous about finding a place for the night, but brave enough to turn down a one or two after a quick drive through them. We really wanted to find something beautiful.

And did we ever! Illecillewaet Campground was the hidden gem that we had been searching for! What a gorgeous front-country campsite this is. The only drawback? It didn’t have showers. However, we knew we would only be there the one night and the surroundings- and the fact that this was the first campground of our entire trip that did not have a fire ban on- so we were more than happy to stay even without showers. The woods surrounding these campgrounds were gorgeous, a lush cedar and hemlock forest, with a river cutting right through it, providing the most peaceful and natural wilderness setting.



After setting up camp, we took a very short drive across the river to what remained from the original CPR railway “loop” bridges that were necessary to allow the trains to pass through this section of the Selkirk mountains. They were huge and we were in awe of the work that must have gone into these structures. It took four years to complete the construction of these “loops!”


Unfortunately, after returning to our campsite, it started to rain. We spent some time inside the truck before ducking into the tent for the night. The rain continued throughout the entire night and into the morning. When it briefly broke in the morning, we got up and immediately started a fire and began to cook breakfast- we were so anxious to make bushpies!! Unfortunately, it did start to drizzle again, but we already had our fire going and were able to enjoy a delicious campfire breakfast before packing up camp and moving on.

Here’s a couple other things about Illecillewaet campground; like all campgrounds in Glacier National Parks, reservations are not available. Sites are first come, first serve, and require a self check-in which means you grab an envelope, fill out your information, and leave your money. Also, as mentioned, there are no showers here but there are both outhouse-style washrooms and some gorgeous washrooms with running water complete with granite countertops! This was our favourite campground of the trip, which is saying something as we stayed at half a dozen over the 10 days! It could have been our excitement of finally being able to have a campfire, but most likely it was the surroundings that made this the highlight, even in the rain.

After a fuel stop in Revelstoke the next morning, we continued on to Crazy Creek Resort. We had been to Crazy Creek the previous winter, and weren’t sure what to expect of the hot pools during the summer. We were pleasantly surprised and still enjoyed our time in the hot pool even though it was warm out. We took a plunge into the freezing pool to cool down between time in the hot pool, and then got the bonus of a free shower afterwards.


We drove West through Salmon Arm before dropping South and entering into the Okanagan Valley. As we drove towards Armstrong we repeatedly saw signs advertising the Log Barn rest stop, so when we got to it, we decided to stop and take a look around. It is quite a strange place. Originally it started as a roadside fruit stand, but over the years has become much more. They sell all kinds of sweets and treats. Although the food was expensive, it was certainly delicious. Without a doubt, Log Barn falls under the title of “tourist trap,” but we were, after all, tourists!


The Log Barn rest stop is also home to Dave’s Goat Walk. Does the name seem a little strange? Well, it is. You kind of have to see it to believe it, but I will describe it the best I can.

Dave’s Goat Walk is literally a platform high above the ground, where goats can walk right from their outdoor pen, all the way up a ramp and onto the platform to look down on us. What makes the goats want to go up? Well, the corn. Tourists pay 25 cents for a handful of corn that you put into a little bucket, and then using a pulley-system, relay it up to the goats. The goats are smart enough that they can actually turn the pully-system themselves and get the bucket to the top and reward themselves with the treats inside. Check out our pictures:


After this exciting stop, we made it all the way down to Kelowna, wondering the whole way where we would spend the night. We did stop at one hillside campground that offered gorgeous views of the lake, but no privacy or shelter, so we made the decision to keep driving, which had us both nervous.

We arrived in Kelowna and after numerous phone calls and a couple more stops, we finally settled on Willow Creek Campground. This was a very urban campground, the kind of place that many people call home as they have their RV set up year-round. It was right beside a main city street, which meant a lot of traffic (including motorcycles and semis) all through the night. Really, we knew to expect this from a campground in the city, so we shouldn’t complain too much. It was still an incredibly affordable way to stay right in Kelowna, it had showers, and it was close to a beach that we took an evening stroll along (before the campground locked it’s main gate and we could no longer enter or exit).

The next morning, we got out of the campground as quickly as we could. We had a brilliant breakfast at Bohemian Cafe and Catering Co. and then enjoyed some of the sites of downtown Kelowna.


Bohemian Cafe and Catering Co.

And, finally, what you’ve probably been waiting for this entire time- the wineries and vineyards! 11:00 was the earliest tour we could find, so we headed up to Quail’s Gate winery to learn all about the process of making wine. We would definitely recommend going on at least one winery tour while in the Okanagan. It was informative and interesting, and of course ended in a wine tasting. Yum!


We made one more winery stop in Kelowna at a place called The Vibrant Vine. This was recommended to us by a friend who had never even been there, but had heard great things about it. I searched it online, and agreed that it did look very cool, so that was winery tour stop #2.

Going to The Vibrant Vine was a very psychedelic experience for all senses! It hosts not only great wine, but also some amazing art work. It seems like the place you would want to go and spend your evenings listening to the musical performances that take place on the small stage set up outside. And did I mention the wine? It was awesome. The gal working there told us all kinds of stories about each of the wines, and even the labels. One of our samples was of a dessert wine, and you drink it out of a chocolate shot glass, which you then get to eat. So tasty!

After we bought our few bottles of wine, we were given a pair of 3D glasses so that we could fully appreciate the art work on the bottles! Take a look at the picture below to see the style of art I am referring to.


Chocolate Shot Glasses at The Vibrant Vine

With that, we began winding our way through the vineyards on our way to Summerland. We stopped at one or two more wineries, but had to be careful because those tiny samples do add up, and someone had to do the driving in between!

When we got to Summerland we went to the much-talked-about Dirty Laundry Vineyard. It was the busiest vineyard we had been to, but had a lot of character and we could see why it was so popular. We enjoyed the wine and the atmosphere here, had our samples, bought our wine, and were on our way.


Wine IS fun!

After Summerland, we continued on to Penticton. I haven’t mentioned this yet so I should here- the drive through the Okanagan Valley is gorgeous. The hills and lakes make for breathtaking scenery. Everyone should drive this area at least once (a year!).


By the time we got to Penticton, we were a little scarred from our Kelowna campground experience, so decided to really splurge and get a hotel room. On short notice, we ended up paying quite a bit (more than all of our campground passes combined) but we were thrilled to have a night away from the air mattress (did I mention it went flat on night three and we spent a night on the ground?). Plus, our room had a small kitchen so we were able to empty and clean out our coolers over night. Bonus!


Welcome to Summer! Penticton, BC.

As tempting as it was to spend the entire evening on the comfortable hotel bed, one of my close friends that I grew up with lives in Penticton, so we arranged plans to meet for dinner that night.

We had a delicious meal at Hooded Merganser. This restaurant was right on the water and offered gorgeous views along with their fantastic drinks, mains, and dessert!

After dinner we were so full that we decided to take a walk along the pier to try and work off some of that amazing meal. Again, more beautiful views.


The next morning, we headed out of Penticton and were homeward bound. My only regret of this trip was that we didn’t take advantage of the 30 degree weather and tube down the river that connects the Penticton lakes. This is a huge favourite among locals and tourists. Next time I go to Penticton, I will definitely be going river-tubing!

As we wound our way out of the Okanagan Valley, we stopped at a few more vineyards and a fruit stand. We left BC with our tummies, hearts, and truck full!






Travel to Kiev, Ukraine

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I moved to Kiev in August of 2013, and had no idea what to expect. The decision to move there wasn’t quite on a whim, but it was pretty close. I was at a time in my life where I felt like it would be a good time to travel and see the world. I was eager to look at international teaching jobs, but I was still just nervous enough that I didn’t want to do it on my own. One of my best friends was away teaching, and I asked her if she would join me in an adventure somewhere totally amazing and awesome.

The trouble was, by the time I asked her, she had already committed to a second year teaching at her current school in Kiev, Ukraine. To be honest, I didn’t even know that the capital city of Ukraine was named Kiev. The idea of going to teach there did not excite me nearly as much as more exotic locations such as the UK, Thailand…or anywhere else, really! However, my fear of striking out on my own led me to agree to submit my application to the same school that my friend worked at in Kiev. Before I knew it, I had accepted a two year contract at the British International School, Kiev.

I went into this adventure with limited travel experience. Travel details in the past had usually been sorted out by family members or friends. I will admit, I did very little to prepare for this new endeavor either. My friend assured me that it was a great place to live and work, and that it would be no problem to get out of the second year of the contract. At the time, I thought that was all I needed to know. In hindsight, I would certainly never do that again, but of course hindsight is 20/20.

After nine months of living in this amazing city I had done enough “field research” that I can now share what I have learned with others who are planning on traveling to Kiev. Here’s what I know:

The main language spoken throughout most of the capital city is Russian.

Most people are fluent in Ukrainian as well though. Most signage and things like menus are written using the Russian alphabet. You don’t really need to worry about learning Ukrainian phrases unless you are traveling to the west side of the country, to places like the beautiful Lyiv. Grocery shopping, no matter where you go, will likely pose a problem. You learn to rely heavily on the pictures on food packaging.

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Kiev does have a tourist industry, but it is not as far advanced as other parts on Eastern Europe.

This means that many places outside the very center of the city don’t have English speaking staff or menus. Even those who do know English may be hesitant to speak it, out of lack of confidence or perhaps just to be difficult at times. This is not meant to discourage you from leaving the center, just to warn you that some awareness of the language would be helpful if you want to see all that the city has to offer.

The centre of the city remained largely in tact through all of the bombings that have taken place throughout its history.

This means that there is a lot of beautiful architecture to take in around Maidan (the city centre). Take some time to stroll along the cobblestone streets and through the many parks.


And you can’t mention Kiev without talking about the cathedrals

The beautiful onion domes (as my young cousin calls them) can take your breath away when you see them in person. Step inside to be truly amazed.


St. Andew’s Church (Andreevskaya Church)

The transit system will get you where you need to go, but don’t be afraid to walk! 

It didn’t take us long to realize that sometimes taking the metro can actually take longer than walking. By the time you go down, down, down underground on the escalators, wait for the train to come, make the stops, and then travel back to the surface, a twenty-minute walk could have gotten you to the same place, without having to go underground. Even better- you get to avoid playing the Kiev Metro game- how many people can be touching you at the same time? (the most we ever got was 6). This is a regular day on the metro in Kiev.

Because of the hilly landscape and deep river beds, the Kiev metro has some of the longest escalators in the world. One of them is actually the second longest in the world. So, seriously, it takes some time to get down and up at some of the stops.

Speaking of Transit:

It is so cheap! A token for the metro costs 2 UAH. Buses that run along the streets are usually around 1.50 UAH. Don’t forget to validate your bus tickets after you buy them from the old Ukrainian ladies on the buses!

Also, when you go to the ticket window to purchase a token for the metro, have your money out and ready. Just trust me on this one.


The M M Gryshko National Botanical Garden offers a breath of fresh air and beautiful views:

I didn’t know it then, but on what would be my third last morning in Kiev, I took a (long) walk to the Botanical Gardens. It was one of the most peaceful experiences I had while in Kiev. It was such a beautiful place to stroll around, breathing in the flower and tree-filled air. After awhile I settled down in a bench and read until I couldn’t bare to be in the sun any longer.


The Dnipr0 River provides endless opportunities to while away an afternoon. 

Go here to see the locals. Couples gazing into each other’s eyes (or maybe doing more than that- public displays of affection are very common in Kiev), parents walking with their children, and men fishing together off the banks of the river. It was my favorite place to go and run. You can run (or walk) for kilometers on end, and you won’t get bored because when you’re not people watching, you can take in the sculptures and the street art. One time I even witnessed a group of mimes practicing! You never know what you’ll see along the Dnipro.


The historic Opera House offers world-class productions at crazy-low prices! 

Not that I’m an expert, having never been to a ballet or an opera before, but while I was in Kiev I went to both Swan Lake and The Nutcracker and was blown away by the beauty of these performances. For only about 20UAH per ticket, you can’t go wrong here.


Buy from the markets!

In places like Androvski’s Descent, most of the merchants are able to speak enough English to make a deal. In other areas, such as outside of the metros, it is less likely that there will be English-speakers. Don’t let that stop you from buying their fresh produce or unique goods. Be brave- the worst that will happen is that they will giggle at your struggle to communicate. Or, maybe they will tell you (in Russian) to scram. Either way, once you walk away you will never have to worry about it again!


By all means, take a look at the main attractions of Kiev, but don’t forget to live like the locals. 

You can’t leave Kiev without visiting places like St. Andrew’s Church, Androvsky’s Descent, Maidan Nezalezhnosti (the center square), the Lavra, and Kreschatyk Street. But the time I enjoyed most in Kiev was when I was doing “normal” things that the locals were doing. Hang out along the river. Go to a park. Sit in small pubs and take a guess at what you’re ordering.

This picture below was from what would end up being my last weekend in Kiev, and it is one of my most treasured memories of my time there. Even in the moment, I realized what a special day it was. We were surrounded by Ukrainians who were enjoying their Saturday’s with their families and friends. I think the beauty of the way most locals live in Kiev is that it is the simple life. Due to the political situation in the country, many Ukrainians don’t have much in the way of material things. To me, this is where the beauty comes in because you can sit and watch them interacting with each other, and they are filled with joy and love for one another. That to me is what makes a city, and its people, beautiful and why I would tell anyone to go to Kiev!


Stay tuned for more information on Kiev. I am lucky enough to get to return there in early 2016, and will be posting more specifics following that trip about what to do in Kiev, and where to eat (and drink) while you visit! Have any questions about the city? Comment below and I will do my best to find an answer for you.


Staying near Sunshine Village

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Throughout my life I have been fortunate enough to experience many of Alberta and British Columbia’s ski resorts and stay right on the mountain. I love the accommodations and the terrain at both Panorama, BC and Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana. So, when my boyfriend and I decided to sneak away for a three-day weekend, we chose the mountain resort that was nearest to our home in Saskatchewan. That meant we would have two days of skiing at Sunshine Village, near Banff, Alberta. We also thought it would be very convenient to stay on the hill.

We left for our getaway Friday after work, and since we faced a 7 hour drive, we decided to save money and book budget accommodations for Friday night. We booked at the Banff International Hotel. I have nothing bad to say about this hotel. It was a great price, they have recently undergone renovations in the hotel rooms, and will be continuing to do renovations and updates in the future. You can’t beat the location, it is less than a block away from the main shopping areas on Banff Avenue. The friendly staff and location made the stay. If you are looking for a clean and semi-modern hotel at a good price, stay here.

On Saturday morning we headed to Sunshine village, which was about a 20 minute drive. We had two nights accommodation booked at Sunshine Mountain Lodge. Although it did include the cost of our lift tickets, I would consider this resort “luxury” based on the price.

We booked the “waterfall suite” thinking we would have a luxury room for a romantic weekend. We weren’t too sure why we were promised a room with a waterfall view. It was either a joke because the ski run outside the window was called waterfall, or if there actually was a waterfall, it must only be visible when there is no snow.

We were pleased with the service at the bottom of the mountain for our check in and baggage drop off. All staff was friendly, cheerful, and helpful.

We got into our room around 3:00 which was an hour before the actual check-in time. It was quite small and very cold, although luckily included a fireplace which was extremely welcome after a chilly day on the hill.

Our suite was very compact, although it did include a king-sized bed. Other than the fire-place, nothing seemed very luxurious. The resort was, however, quite lovely and you can never beat the mountain views when staying on a skill hill. There is a large outdoor hot tub, a restaurant right in the hotel, and you can’t get any closer to a chair lift than the front door of this resort does!
The deal breaker of this resort for us was this though-during check in we found out that you cannot leave the mountain after the gondola closes at 5:30. So much for evenings out including shopping, supper, and pubs in Banff! At that time, we decided to cancel our second night stay so that we could spend the next night in Banff instead. There was no trouble canceling the second night as it was still 24 hours before.

After our second day of skiing we drove back into Banff, where we booked a room at Fox Hotel and Suites, which we had admired both online and then in person upon arriving in Banff. We had booked online and when we arrived we paid a small price to upgrade to the suite, which was double the size and included a king bed, and a kitchen, dining, and living room area.
We were pleased with the service upon check-in, the underground parking, and the hot pools located in the basement but with an open-air ceiling opening up to the courtyard.

The walk to the downtown area was a little further than we expected, but was completely doable.

We had the complementary breakfast the next morning which was nice as we were seated beside the wood fireplace. It was a very typical complimentary breakfast, but we weren’t complaining.

The rooms were clean, well kept, and nicely decorated. The lobby is beautiful and we were excited to get to see the Christmas tree and other festive decorations.

We loved it here and didn’t want to leave! Now we know where we will stay on our next visit to Banff.


To Those Who Know Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One

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To those who know someone who has lost a loved one,

I remember when one of my closest friends’ father was diagnosed with cancer. Besides feeling devastated for her and her family, I was also scared about what I could do and say throughout the process of his treatment to help comfort her and how I could show my support. I know that I am not alone in these feelings of helplessness when a friend is faced with a tragedy. One thing that I knew was that if the unimaginable happened to my friends’ dad, I was going to find out how I could be supportive by searching for information on the topic. I always turn to reading when I am faced with a new challenge or something that is unfamiliar to me. With this in mind, I decided that this time, I would share some of my own ideas that I have come to believe in the last couple of years, in order to perhaps help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

If you know someone who has lost a loved one, please know that for them, each day is filled with the realization that a person who they loved and who was a part of them, is gone from them forever. There can be no time limit placed on their grief. The pain and sadness will last forever. It may be true that one gets “used” to the idea, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still times when it is unbearably hard to believe that their loved one truly is gone. There is never a time when they should “be over it by now.” There will no longer be phone calls, hugs, shared birthdays, or special moments with their loved one. Please don’t ever expect someone you know to stop thinking about the loved one they have lost.

If you know someone who has lost a loved one, please don’t be afraid to talk about the loss, and more importantly, the person. For a long time after a death, there is focus on just that-the fact that someone passed away. Eventually, we need to start remembering the life of someone more than their death, and that involves talking about their life. It’s okay to make reference to the person who meant so much to your friend and who is now gone. Actually, it’s great to do that. The person you know has been changed by this tragedy, they will never be the same. Their new reality means loving the person they lost by reliving the memories they have, and sharing those memories with other people. This does not mean you have to mention their loved one every time you see your friend, but from time to time please acknowledge both the death, and the life, of the person who meant so much to them. Don’t be afraid to do this. I do not speak for everyone, but chances are your friend feels relieved and even happy to talk about their love one or even just hear their name mentioned in a conversation. Don’t feel that asking about how they are doing, or bringing up their loved one is going to hurl them into a downward spiral of grief. Yes, there may be a few tears at times, but I am confident you won’t be evoking the ugly cry while you’re out for lunch. So, on occasion, please do ask your friend how they are doing. Even better – drop a comment about, or bring up a conversation relating to, their loved one.

If you know someone who has lost a loved one, please remember what I said about their life being forever changed. They are not the same person as before this happened. They can’t be. This might mean that sometimes it is hard to be in social situations where the people they are around were not as affected by the loss as they were. It’s not anything about anger or jealousy, it’s just hard sometimes for these people to watch life go on but to feel that a piece of themselves is missing. At times, they don’t want to go on with their lives because they can’t share it with that special loved one. This may sound morbid, but it can be true. Our greatest joys in life come when we are sharing our lives with those we love. Once one of those people are gone, there is always a shadow behind every happy moment. Your friend is likely doing the best they can to come out from behind that shadow.

What I write here are just my own opinions. I don’t speak for everyone who has lost a loved one, but I know I speak partially for my friend, who lost her dad just a year and a half after his cancer diagnosis. I know I can speak for myself, because I also lost my father. It was unexpected and sudden. A heart attack. These things were not supposed to happen in our lives. We don’t think it’s fair. But they happened, and we keep going. Everyday we think about our dads. We talk about them often. Both their lives and their deaths.

It is sometimes shocking for me to think back on my attitude towards people who have lost loved ones, and how I had no idea what to say or do around them. I don’t think that even the most empathetic person can truly understand what it’s like to lose a loved one, unless they have lost someone as well. However, I hope these words can help you if you are ever faced with a situation like mine. What can you do to make it better for your friend? Honestly, at times nothing will help. But if you are there for your friend, even in silence if the moment demands it, and if you can do these small things from time to time, I bet they will mean the world to your friend. I know they do to me.


Someone who has lost a loved one