Monday, September 28, 2015

Reality Check Update And Progress

(photo credit -

Short little update. It's almost been one month since I had my reality check. Where am I now? I am happy to say I am making progress. I weigh in every Monday morning. When I started this new weight loss journey, my weight was 146.8. As of this morning, I am down to 143.6. So definite progress. And I am moving a lot more than I was. As I said in my last post, I joined Jessica Smith's September challenge. That challenge ends on Wednesday. I did skip a day here or there, but I doubled up the next day. On some days I did more than the required workout for the day.

The September challenge really helped me to get back to consistent workouts. I plan on getting in some type of movement every day even for just 30 minutes of very low impact walking in place. I have slacked off a bit on the elliptical, but I plan on getting back to that now. I did do 1 mile on the elliptical on Saturday, and my endurance is actually better than I thought it would be. I took my normal three breaks instead of four of five.

It helps that I enjoy the workouts that I do. I enjoy Jessica Smith's DVDs immensely, and I have a play list on my phone/ipod that I listen to on the elliptical which makes the time go by fast.

The food aspect of this whole journey hasn't changed a whole lot. I'm trying to cut back on my evening snacks, and I have improved. It did not help that during the first week there was apple pie in the fridge. Yes, I had apple pie, and I enjoyed it thank you. There are no bad foods, and I am not depriving myself. However, I am trying not to have too much of them either. I have yogurt if I need something, and I also have some dry chocolate cereal (chocolate Krave) if I really need that chocolate fix.

It's a process. It's a balance. There's no one thing that will have the weight drop off. For me, though, I think it's more movement that helps me drop the pounds. If I stop moving the scale creeps. 

So far so good. I don't expect to lose weight every week, but it will happen. The key for me is to keep moving.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Time For Change: Workouts, Food, And Weight

(photo credit -

Time for me to have a reality check. Here are the hard facts.

1. I've gained 10 pounds over the last two years. That's the big reality I have to face.
2. I'm snacking on junk food way more than I used to.
3. I've had no consistent workout schedule for a long time. Strength training in particular. It's been about two years since I've done any consistent strength training.

Those are three big facts staring me in the face. I can't pin point when I fell off the wagon as far as fitness goes, but I'd say it was around the time we got our dog Jax. We'll have had him for two years at the end of this November. I got out of my normal routine when we got him, and I've been slacking ever since.

I haven't totally fallen on the wagon. I still do my elliptical and DVDs, just not with any regularity. As far as eating goes, it's my own fault shoving junky food in my face. I'm not one to say there are "bad" foods. I say "everything in moderation". I have to reign in my "junk food" consumption. I take one extra cookie (3 oreos are a serving, I have 4...things like that), I'll get a Frosty from Wendy's, or I'l get a hamburger from fast food places rather than the salads I used to get.

The result of all of this over eating and lack of exercise is of course weight gain. Like I said, 10 pounds in two years. Ugh. It just creeps and creeps. I'm still not overweight according to my BMI, but it is creeping.

According to my current weight of 146.8 (yikes) lands me with a BMI of 23.1. My safe BMI range is from 18.5 to 24.9. So it's not in the center when I want it to be. My healthy weight range (I'm 5'7'') is between 117 to 159. When I lost weight from 2007 to 2008 I got down to 127. I stayed there for a year, the scale didn't budge. When I had to take a break from exercise in 2009 roughly (I had plantar fasciitis I believe), the scale moved to 130. Didn't really move from there for several years. I was fine even with the scale being 135 a few years ago. But 145 is entering into my "stop it" zone. Have to nip this in the bud.

I have a few goals. One is to lose 10 pounds (I can't believe I'm going back into weight loss mode...never thought that would happen). Second is to get back to exercising regularly. And third is to tame my eating habits.

The third is probably going to be the hardest. The junk food that goes through this house is nuts. I'm not in charge of grocery shopping, but that doesn't mean I have to eat the junk that is here. Living with my in-law's and our 26 year old niece is tough food-wise. But I can get healthier snacks to eat, and do my best to avoid the unhealthier ones (why do peanut butter M&M's have to taste so good?).

I'm going back to my way of thinking "no food is bad". I don't plan on never eating "bad" food again. I'm going to plan days to eat it. I'll be keeping a close eye on my SparkPeople food tracker and my calorie range on FitBit (SP says I can eat more than FitBit says, and I think that's been part of the problem).

My exercise has been hit and miss. Here's what the last few months have looked like.

Monday 7/20 - .7 mile on elliptical
Tuesday 7/21 - .5 mile on elliptical
Sunday 7/26 - 1 mile on elliptical
Tuesday 7/28 - 1 mile on elliptical
Friday 8/7 - 1 mile of elliptical
Friday 8/14 - 1.4 miles with Jessica Smith
Monday 8/17 - 1 mile on elliptical
Tuesday 8/18 - .7 mile on elliptical
Thursday 8/20 - 4.2 miles with Jessica Smith
Monday 8/24 - 1 mile on elliptical
Tuesday 8/25 - 1 mile on elliptical
Monday 8/31 - 1 mile on elliptical
Tuesday 9/1 - 1.62 miles with Jessica Smith and 1 mile on elliptical
Wednesday 9/2 - 1 mile with Jessica Smith

Thursday 9/3 - 1.5 with Jessica Smith

So 15 days since July 20. Not good.

I have to revamp my exercise page here on my blog. I need to add some things to it. I've joined Jessica Smith's September challenge (I need to write a blog post just on her, she's awesome). This is day 3, and I'm still going strong. The 30 day challenge will get me back into a more regular routine again.

OK, I've put this out there for the world to see. Now it's time to get it done. I have no goal date for my weight loss. The weight will go when it goes. I'm not too worried about it since it's movement that I'm more interested in. Weight loss is just the icing on the cake so to speak.

Let's go! Keep moving!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

2015 Vacation Recap: Whistler British Columbia Accessibility And Walking

(photo credit - screen shot from the FitBit app on my phone)

I'm wrapping up my 2015 vacation recap with how well I was able to get around Whistler, what sort of accessibility there was, and my steps counts each day. There were tough areas to get around, that's for sure, but for the most part I had no difficulties. Nairn falls is nearly impossible, but still doable if you have a milder case of cerebral palsy. If I wasn't in as good enough shape as I am, I would have really had a problem. I wasn't in the best shape either. For the last six months my exercise has really slacked off, but at least I was in good enough shape to push myself through it.

Another area that was tough to get to if you are in a wheel chair, is 21 Steps. To be honest, I didn't look for an elevator, but I didn't clearly see one. You have to go up 21 steps to get to the bar that we ate in. The gondolas were kind of tough also. Just awkward really. In other areas of Whistler, there were plenty of ramps, elevators, and railings to help you get around.

As far as the hotel and it's service, the Fairmont Chateau was fabulous. I called down for a shower chair to be brought up. It was funny, the person I spoke to didn't understand when I said "shower chair", she didn't know what I meant, even though it was listed that way in the booklet in our room as to what was available to be brought up (shower chairs, toilet railings, and shower bars). She said she'd ask housekeeping about it. We went down for breakfast, and when we came back afterwards, the chair was there. Very prompt with that request even with the misunderstanding.

As I mentioned before, we did a ton of walking on this vacation. Since I own a FitBit One, I was able to see just how many steps and how many miles I covered every day. Let's go through it day by day.

Friday, June 26 was a travel day. I actually put my FitBit One in the back pack so the step count is not accurate at all. I use a wheel chair at airports because they're so crazy and we were rushed. All the steps that day were from bouncing around while my husband ran through the airport to get to our connecting gate in San Fransisco. Total steps that day was 3,360.

Saturday, June 27 was the day we went to the Peak to Peak Gondola. We walked some trails and covered quite a bit of ground. My total step count that day was 12,694 steps.

Sunday, June 28 we walked around Whistler Village and did the photo walk tour. This was the best step day I had on the trip. I got up to 18,877 steps. I was so tempted to march in place that night to get to 20,000 steps, but I was too beat. Eventually I will make 20k a goal, but I'll need to work up to that.

Monday, June 29 was the day we saw the three falls. A lot of walking. I managed to get 16,991 steps that day.

Tuesday, June 30 was the zip line adventure and the bear tour. I did a total of 15,175 steps that day.

Wednesday, July 1 was another travel day, and again my FitBit was in the backpack. It registered 5,232 steps of which I didn't take, hehe.

As far as how my body held up with all of this walking, it held up pretty well. The only real pain I had was at the end of the trip. Right after the zip line trails, my left knee started twinging a bit. That surprised me as I haven't had knee pain in years. It's usually my hips that go first. When I was a kid (January 1986), I had an overuse injury that caused my knee to give out. We went to the Orange Bowl parade and had to park on the 13th...or there abouts...floor of the parking garage. Once we got on even ground again, I took a few steps, and my knee buckled. Took a few more steps, and the same thing. It wouldn't hold my weight very well. I saw two doctors and they said it was an "overuse" injury. For several years after that, if I fell in just the right way, that injury would come back. I guess all the walking on the Nairn trail started to aggravate that injury. Not too bad though. It only took a few days for it to feel like normal again. Luckily it never gave out totally.

That's a lot of steps for me, I have my daily goal set for 10,000 and I rarely make it. That will change though. I figure if I can do all of these steps while on vacation, there's no reason I can't do it here also. I had to put my workouts on hold when we got back since I came down with a nasty chest cold. I felt fine for the most part with this cold, but I was coughing a ton and I lost my voice for a little over a week.

Looks like that wraps up my 2015 vacation to Whistler British Columbia. I'd love to do it all again that's for sure.

Friday, July 17, 2015

2015 Vacation Recap: Whistler British Columbia Food Part 2

(photo credit -

And now for the main event! Dinner!

Friday night was the big celebration dinner as it was actually on my parent's 50th anniversary. We ate at the Edgewater Lodge. A cozy little place with a nice view of Green Lake. We also had lovely views of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains as well as Wedge Mountain and Armchair Glacier. The Edgewater Lodge often host events such as wedding receptions and birthdays, so this was a good spot for hosting a 50 year anniversary.

I forgot to make a note of what I had for a drink, but I believe I had a brandy that night. I'm almost positive. I'm a brandy girl as it turns out, but I also like scotch, vodka, and rum. Basically I like anything, and if I don't I usually like it mixed it with something. I don't drink a whole lot, mainly on vacation, but I like to try a variety of things when I can.

As a starter at the Edgewater I had the Seasonal Soup, which was the mushroom celery soup. It was very good, and I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms. I like them fine mixed in with things, but not on their own. For my main course I had the Line Caught Spring Salmon. It was served amongst asparagus and corn barley risotto, and tomato fondue. I'm also not a huge fan of asparagus, but I like to give it a try here and there. The risotto with the asparagus in it was very good. I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe it was because the corn had the stronger flavor, but it was really nice.

And for desert my husband and I split the chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream. It came with three or four raspberries which were all mine since my husband doesn't like them. I love brownies and ice cream together. Can't go wrong with that combination.

You can check out the Edgewater Lodge and their menu by clicking on those links.

Saturday night was a fun night. We had a "progessive" dinner. I had heard of bar hopping, and this was similar to that. You have appetizers and drinks at one restaurant, dinner at another, and then dessert at a third location.

For our first stop, we went to 21 Steps. This was an interesting place. To get to the bar itself, you had to go up 21 steps, thus the name. The drink I had here was called The Surfer. This drink consisted of Malibu rum, banana liquer, and pineapple juice. It was delicious, but to be honest I had to wonder if they forgot the rum! It didn't seem to impact me at all. Which is very odd, seeing as it doesn't take much alcohol to get me giggly. I'm sure it was in there, and it was very good. We had random appetizers as well. If I can remember correctly (I didn't write them down), we had mixed marinated olives, fried goat cheese (I think?), tiny bacon wrapped filets, edamame, and baked mushroom caps.

I tried everything except the baked mushroom caps. I don't particularly like them as I said, and these were the main focus, so I skipped them. I don't know why, but they smell and taste like feet to me. Just saying. I didn't care much for the edamame either, but that was mainly because they were in their casings. I've heard that you can eat the casings, but they were just too stringy and tough. I tried an olive, also not one of my favorite things, and they were pretty good. I loved the cheese and the bacon wrapped filets. Those filet were fantastic. Check out 21 Steps' menu.

Our next stop on the tour was Alta Bistro. I ordered the Confit Locally Caught Salmon. It was served with Pemberton potatoes, horseradish sabayon, preserved lemon, watercress, and fried oats. It was very well done, Any chance I can order fish, I do. Fish is one of my favorite things to eat. I didn't finish the meal, there was some texture that I didn't care for and was hard to eat. The salmon is itself was wonderful, and the potatoes also, so it was probably the fried oats or horseradish that set me off. Great little place. I'd definitely go back and try another dish. Check out the menu for Alta Bistro.

Our last stop was back at The Fairmont. We went to the Mallard Lounge for drinks and the "chocolate bar". I ordered a hot liquid dessert called Paris is Burning which consisted of Remy Martin VSOP and Chambord (an infusion of red and black raspberries, Madagascar vanilla, and XO cognac). Fantastic drink! I would get this again in no time. Very warm and soothing. We also got a sampler plate of chocolate. What a way to end the night, chocolate and brandy! You can get a good look at all of the drinks om the Mallard Lounge drink menu.

Sunday night we ate at Beacon Pub and Eatery. Originally we planned to eat at the Old Spaghetti House, but it ended up being an hour wait to be seated. So we moved on from there. It ended up being a great decision. The Beacon Pub and Eatery was a fun place to eat. We got a table outside (it sprinkled for five or ten minutes on the awning), and enjoyed everything. I ordered the fish and chips and had a Rock Creek Pear Cider to drink. Awesome food for this little place. The fish and chips were crispy just the way I like them. The pear cider was really good. I need to get more cidery drinks from now on. They're alcoholic, yes, but not too much. Better option than beer, since I don't like beer. Check out the menu at Beacon Pub and Eatery.

After dinner we went back to the Mallard Lounge for drinks. I ordered the Mandarin Sting this time around. The Mandarin Sting consists of Absolut Mandrin vodka, Serrano chili, cranberry, orange, and lemon. Awesome drink! Very spicy but in a good way. I love fruity drinks like these.

Monday night was a treat. We went to a restaurant called Hy's Steakhouse. The whole table started off with  the Cheese Toast For Two. I love cheese toast. I also started with the Hy's Tossed Green Salad. The main dish I had was absolutely wonderful. I got the Baked Sea Bass which came with white beans and tomato concasse, and ancho-chili aioli. Fabulous. Creamy and tender deliciousness. Once again I had fish for dinner. How funny is that? I can't pass it up. My husband got the Gorgonzola Filet Mignon, and I had a bite of it. Best filet I've ever tasted. Tender, juicy, and the Gorgonzola complimented it very well. I would order that if I ever went back. They need a sampler plate to be honest. I'd love to try just about everything on their menu.

Dessert at Hy's was a treat for sure. My brother in-law ordered the Bananas Foster, and they made it table-side. Our server was very outgoing the entire time, and by the time dessert rolled around she was in full swing. She had my niece and two nephews captivated with how she was making the dessert. Once it came time to flame it all up, the kids were so entranced the flames startled all of them. I thought one of my nephews was going to run straight through the table he jumped so high. Hysterical. Everyone got a taste of the bananas foster, and they were really good. My mom and I shared the Key Lime Pie. If I see key lime pie on a menu, I have to get it. It's funny, as a kid, I never liked it that much. I think it was too sour. But now, it's one of my favorite desserts. It was really good too. We all were too tired to hit up the Mallard Lounge that night, so we skipped it.

Tuesday night we had a quick dinner at Brandi's, a sports bar. And by quick I mean quick. I ordered the Keg Sliders and Cheese Toast, but I don't think my order was written down. I think almost everyone ordered the same thing, and one got left off. Tuesday we were doing the dinner with the bears jeep tour, so we were a little pressed for time. Once my order was taken (again), I basically had five minutes to scarf them down and go. Granted they were good, but I didn't really get a change to enjoy them. As it turns out I did have time, because when we went to catch the shuttle to get to the bear tour meeting place, we had just missed the shuttle. We had to wait for the next one. Ah well. Life happens.

After the bear tour we met one last time in the Mallard Lounge. For my last drink of the trip I had the Midnight Cafe, which is made up of Patron XO Cafe, Grand Marnier, lemon, and raspberry syrup. Fantastic drink!

That wraps up the food portion of our vacation. I can say the best meal was probably Hy's Steakhouse. Great food, awesome server, and an all around good time. As for my favorite drink, I can't pick one. They were all good, and looking at the menu as I write up this post, I'd like to go back and try them all!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

2015 Vacation Recap: Whistler British Columbia Food Part 1

(photo credit -

Food, glorious food! We ate rather well while we were in Whistler. Very well indeed. Let's get to it!

For breakfast we ate in the hotel buffet every morning. The buffet was served in The Wildflower at the Fairmont Chateau hotel. Saturday morning, We met up with my parents and my aunt and uncle. Along with the buffet, you could also order off the menu. We had the buffet that morning and I got my self scrambled eggs, bacon, and home fried potato wedges. It was actually quite good for buffet food. I don't usually do buffets, but everything looked to be cooked well and pleasantly arranged.

Sunday morning we again ate at The Wildflower, but this time, I ordered off the menu. They had banana pancakes and I love banana pancakes. And these were especially good because they mix the bananas into the pancake batter. Most of the time when I order banana pancakes, I get pancakes with bananas sliced on top. Having the bananas mixed into the batter made these the best banana pancakes I've had by far. These pancakes had chocolate Nutella drizzled on top and had a bunch of raspberries on the side. No need for syrup or butter on these babies.

Monday morning I went back to the buffet and had the French toast. I got lucky because as I was going over, they were putting fresh slices in. So I had the freshest of the bunch. I had plain old maple syrup on top and it was very good.

Tuesday morning...again the buffet. I had more scrambled eggs, toast with orange jam, and orange juice. I love jam, and this orange jam was very nice.

Wednesday was our last morning and we hit the buffet one more time before hitting the road back to Vancouver (and it's nasty traffic). I again had scrambled eggs, toast with orange jam, and this time I tried the apple spice bread. Yum! That bread was very good. And filling. I was stuffed by the end of that meal. Which was good, since we had a long day of travel ahead of us.

You can check out The Wildflower site by clicking the link.

Our lunches in Whistler were really sporadic. We only had one real lunch meal together. That was Saturday afternoon when we did the Peak to Peak Gondola. We had lunch at the Roundhouse Lodge in the Mountain Market section. Cafeteria style ordering, of which you had plenty of options. I chose to go with a gigantic ham and cheese wrap with lettuce, tomato, and cucumbers. It was so big I only ate half. It was very good though.

Sunday was the day my husband and I wandered around Whistler Village. Since I got very overheated and very thirsty, we decided to stop by a coffee shop. A little place called Lift Coffee Company. I had the best strawberry mango smoothie. It was so cold and so yummy. It was actually heavy when I picked up the cup, so I'm not sure what all they added to it other than the fruit. It kept me full for a while. And kept me cool also.

Monday was our waterfall tour and we just ended up having random snacks in the car. I had a brownie and some chips.

Tuesday after the zip line, we just had Starbucks drinks for lunch. I had my normal mocha frap that I usually get.

You all are going to be mad, but this post is getting a bit long, so I will save dinners for the next post. It will be well worth it though. A lot of great food to come!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015 Vacation Recap: Whistler British Columbia Activities Part 2

(photo credit - My husband)

Ready for more excitement from our travels to Whistler? Good! Where did we leave off? We left off with Saturday's activities. Sunday everyone in our group (unfortunately my aunt and uncle already went home) did a waterfall tour on our own. We saw three waterfalls in one day. Alexander falls, Brandywine falls, and Nairn falls. As it turns out, we went from the easiest falls to get to to the hardest. Alexander falls was just off the parking lot, no real hiking involved there. Beautiful falls. Here's a picture of Alexander falls. We spend some time there taking pictures and enjoying the nice view.

Alexander Falls
(photo credit - Me)

Then it was off to Brandywine falls. The trail to see the falls is 1 kilometer or roughly .6 mile. Not a problem at all. This trail was smooth and easy to walk. It didn't seem like it was .6 mile either, it felt much shorter than that. Brandywine falls is very pretty as well. The water is so clear and you could feel the cool air flowing up from the falls. Felt very nice after a hot walk. And I am so glad I bought those shorts from Columbia. There's no way I could have survived all of this hiking otherwise. I would have had heat stroke by the end. And that's no joke. I wanted to jump into the water at Brandywine because it looked so refreshing.

Brandywine Falls
(photo credit - My husband)

The last of the bunch was Nairn Falls. Nairn was by far the hardest hiking path I have ever been on. You take a 1.2 kilometer (.7 mile) hike along a very narrow trail with a lot of loose rocks and roots. Lot of up and down stair type stepping or stepping on roots to get to where you needed to go. You had to keep to the side to let others pass you. There's a steep slope to the river, so I didn't want to get too close and slip on rock and go tumbling down. Unlike the Brandywine trail, the Nairn trail felt a lot longer than .7 mile. Even in shorts I was sweating so much it looked like I took a bath by the end of it. I was nasty hot. 

Close to the end of the trail, there was a giant rock that had a nice little cut out to sit on. My family was already there and was taking a break when we showed up. The rock was nice and cool and it felt good to sit for a minute or two. I was out of breath (because of the altitude or just overall exertion I don't know). I had to take several breaks to slow my breathing down on the way up. We trudged on after sitting on the giant rock and finally made it to the reward.

Nairn Falls
(photo credit - my husband)

Nairn Falls
(photo credit - My husband)

Nairn falls is by far the most gorgeous falls of them all. The pictures above prove it. We were a lot closer to this one than the others, and the power you felt coming from it was enormous. Well worth the hike. Again, I wanted to jump in. I watched the falls for quite a while and then I sat my butt down on some steps. My legs were tired, but at least they weren't dead yet. We still had the .7 mile hike down to do. My mom and I sat for a while and cooled off. Meanwhile there was a second falls that my husband, sister, brother in-law, and the kids went to see. It wasn't too far, but I said no. You had to walk on some slippery stone to get there. I could have done it certainly, but I wanted to just sit.

The hike back down was actually not that bad. It was tough, but no tougher than going up. My husband and I started back a bit earlier than everyone else, because I knew I'd be the slowest. We made our way and took our time. Everyone else did catch up to us eventually, but we made it almost the whole way before they did. Made it to a picnic table by the parking lot and sat for a while. I think everyone was tired after that hike. Nairn was a total of 2.4 kilometers (1.4 miles). The way I walk (and I never think about it), I bend my knees and don't always straighten them all the way when I walk on rough terrain. My sister said I basically did a two and a half kilometer squat.

Onto Tuesday. Tuesday was a very exciting day. And a bit stressful for me. There had been talk here and there about my sister, brother in-law, and three kids doing a zip line. I instantly thought about our vacation a few years ago to Atlanta. We all went to Callaway Gardens and they all did the whole Treetop Adventure. I was thinking that this was going to be somewhat similar. I wasn't able to do the Treetop Adventure at all because of the obstacles in between the zip lines. So I ended up watching. Which was fine, but it looked like a lot of fun. I wanted to give zip lining a try, but I was anxious about the "other" things we had to do. How do you get up to the zip line? Were there any crazy obstacles to deal with? How hard would it be to slow yourself down at the end of the zip? Things like that. I wanted to see what it was like before I committed to it. I was back and forth with the idea for several days.

My sister informed us that she made reservations for her, my brother in-law, the three kids, and my husband. I had my decision made for me. Which was a good thing, or else I would have kept flip flopping and would never have made a decision. I was going. End of story. I wanted to zip line. I wanted to zip line the last time, but those dang obstacles took care of that. So, this was the trip I would zip. Hehehe. And thanks to my sister for making up my mind, although she didn't realize it. I mentioned a few times that I was thinking about it, but I don't think she heard me. I said I wanted to give it a try too, and we signed me up with the group.

The night before the zip, I was so anxious. I couldn't get to sleep. When I did fall asleep, I kept waking up. I woke up for good around 3 AM and just lay there with my mind spinning. When my husband woke up, he saw how worried I was, so he brought up YouTube (love YouTube) and found videos of the actual zip line we would be on. That calmed me down and put my mind at ease, but I was still nervous about it. The only thing I would have changed that day is that I would have taken a Xanax the night before. Instead, I took one that morning. If I had taken it the night before, I would have slept without a problem. However, by taking one the day of the zip, I ended up with looser muscles and had an easier time getting around. So, sleep or easier movement? I think my movement would have been OK if I hadn't taken one, but I'm glad I took it when I did. Lack of sleep doesn't really bother me especially when I'm as keyed up as I was.

The whole experience was a blast. The company is called ZipTrek EcoTours. We took the ZipTrek Bear Tour. We got set up with our harnesses and helmets, and were ready to go. The two guides were very friendly and helpful. The took their time helping me into my gear. We took a bus ride up to where we needed to be, and then we were off. We huked a trail to the first zip line, walked up some stairs and there it was. The first platform. Luckily there were plenty of railings and things to hold onto if I needed to. When my turn came up, I got on the platform, they hooked me to the line, and told me to go when I was ready. I could already feel the harness starting to lift me up, and when I stepped down a few of the steps all I had to do was sit down. I sat and I was off. And it was awesome. I'm a zip lining fool from here on out. If there's a zip line with no obstacles, sign me up. There were five zip lines on the tour we took, and it took us about three hours. It did not feel like three hours. The time flew by. I even let go of the harness thingamajig and just hung there a few times. And the braking at the end? No problem. There was an automatic break thing near the end of the line. When your harness reached that point it slowed you down, and the guide would reel you in from there.

After the excitement on the zip line, we all hustled over to where we were to meet up with everyone else for our "dinner with the bears" jeep tour. No, we didn't actually eat dinner with the bears, but I thought it was a clever name. This was another event that I read about online and was interested in doing, so I was glad everyone was up for it also. We were a bit late getting to the meet up spot and the first group had already left. That's OK, since we had to split into two groups anyway. We just got a late start. We all piled in to a 4x4 jeep with our bear guide and headed off up the mountain to see if we could find any bears. It took about two hours (the tour was three hours long) until the other guide said they spotted a few bears where they were. So we went on over. We saw three bears on our tour. The first bear Alice was by herself wandering around. We actually got out of the jeep and went to look at her. I was a little concerned, but I guess the guide figured it would be OK.

We then went a little further on to see Brownie, a huge black bear just laying around in a grassy field. She was chewing on the grass and just hanging out. We sat there for quite a while and just watched her. She stood up a few time, but always plopped back down. We headed up higher for look down at her, and we ended up seeing a third bear (don't know the name). It was pretty cool to see all of these bears. I love bears. They're so powerful and yet so cuddly looking.

Brownie the Black Bear
(photo credit- Me)

I would have a hard time choosing what would be the highlight of this trip. It would have to be either the falls or the zip line I thing, but I can't decide which one it would be. I would do everything again if I had the opportunity. Only next time, I would bring shorts!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2015 Vacation Recap: Whistler British Columbia Activities Part 1

(photo credit - My husband)

Ok! Let's get to this! My family had a mini family reunion at the end of June to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. The destination? Whistler British Columbia! How awesome is that? We were going to be in Canada, in the mountains where it's nice and cool right? Wrong! The temperatures were actually in the 90s while we were there. How weird is that? Anyway, it was a fabulous trip, and it got us out of 110 degree desert heat. I actually think of this vacation as possibly being the best family get together that we've ever had. Everyone was able to do whatever they wanted to do. No rush or pressure to be anywhere or do anything. Very relaxing in terms of mental stress.

Did we relax? Mentally yes. Physically, not so much. We were on the go every day. And I loved every second of it. A run down of who all was there. My parents (of course), my sister, her husband, their three kids, and my aunt and uncle. Everyone came from various parts of the country to celebrate my parents' big accomplishment. Everyone stuck together during the day for the most part, since everyone wanted to do the same things. We only split up one day when some people wanted to play golf, and others wanted to do different things. We all met up for dinner every night.

My husband and I were the last ones to arrive. We got in Friday in the late afternoon, and the drive through Vancouver was horrendous. It took us about an hour and a half just to get through the city. At one point, we only drove a block or two in 20 minutes. It was insane. We made it to the first dinner though which was our main goal. We had no time to check into the hotel (Fairmont Chateau) first to get cleaned up or dressed up. My husband and I had every intention of getting all dressed up in fancy clothes (and I was going to wear make up which is a rarity). No go on that plan. We hustled our butts over to the restaurant in the clothes we flew in (jeans for me, shorts for my husband). So we looked scraggly, but we were there.

Saturday was the first full day of activities. We did the Peak to Peak Gondola. This was one of the things I wanted to do when I was looking at things to do in Whistler. I've been on these types of gondolas before. The Palm Springs Aerial Tram is pretty much the same thing, only you stand the entire time, and the inside of the tram rotates. The peak to peak gondola was stationary on the inside and you got to sit down. Another difference between the two is the Palm Springs tram stops as you board and get off. The gondola in Whistler doesn't stop. That was my only concern with this activity.

I do what I do best when something has me worried. I looked up the peak to peak gondola on YouTube to see how slow the tram cars actually went. I watched and thought it would be slow enough. I'd have no problems. There were four trams in total that we took. One to get up to the Peak to Peak site and then the one Peak to Peak gondola itself. So two gondolas each way. The Peak to Peak gondola was the one I watched on YouTube. The first gondola actually surprised me. It was smaller than I was expecting.

(photo credit - My husband)
(ignore the time and date stamp on the picture, we forgot to reset it when we put in new batteries)

I did just fine though. My husband and I got in first, and I of course bobbled getting on. Balance got thrown off, but I stayed on my feet. For the first two gondolas my husband got in first and I followed. By the end we reversed that. Letting me go first and having my husband nudge me from behind actually made me a bit steadier. So now we know for future reference.

We saw some pretty remarkable views at the top of the mountain. We walked a little ways along some of the trails. Took a bunch of pictures and just enjoyed being outside. We saw a helicopter fly in and land, so that was pretty cool. There was snow along side one of the trails and it felt good to pick some of it up and cool off.

(photo credit - Me)

One thing that I did not do while on the mountain was take a ski lift. Several members of our group decided to go to the tippy top of the mountain, and you could only go by ski lift. Nope. Not me. I just figured that would be too much of a challenge. I don't feel bad about it though. I liked the view from where I was just fine.

On the way down we took one of the glass bottom gondolas. The floor had about a four foot by four foot (I'm guessing)

(photo credit - My husband)

On to Sunday's activities. Sunday everyone split up during the day. Some people played golf, others went to Lost Lake (which we never did get to, but that's OK). My husband and I decided to wander around Whistler Village. I enjoyed people watching, seeing all the dogs that were around, and did some window shopping. My only problem was I got very over heated. It was hot! And I was wearing jeans. Stupid me didn't bring any shorts, partly because of my self consciousness about me legs, and partly because I didn't really "think" it would be "that hot".

I was wrong. So what did I do? First we went to a coffee shop and I got a smoothie. That worked wonders. Mango and strawberry smoothie was a winner. Then we went on the hunt to buy me a pair of shorts. We found some at the Columbia store (the link is to the actual pair of shorts I got), and if I could have, I would have bought 10 pairs. They are super comfortable. So light weight it feels like I'm not wearing anything. Now I need more of those shorts and some shirts made of the same fabric and I'm good to go! The lady at the store let me wear them out. Much needed buy.

After our walk through the Village, we met everyone back at the hotel, and got to relax a bit before heading off again. Most of us were all signed up for a photo walk tour. We had a guide that gave up tips and tricks to improve our photography. I tend to use my phone or iPod as a camera most of the time. We do have a Samsung digital camera also, and my husband mainly uses it while we're on trips. In order for me to take decent pictures, I need to sit down, or at least be able to rest the camera on something. Otherwise I shake too much.

The guide gave really great tips as to how to frame things in the picture. We also saw several areas we never would have thought about if we were wandering around on our own. I didn't do too much picture taking on the tour mainly because I couldn't see the darn screen on my phone well enough. But I took mental notes for later.

This has been the first half of our trip. I'll write up a second post for the other half. There's a lot to talk about and share in the next post, and I don't want this to get super long. So, you'll just have to stick around for the next one. And it's a goodie!