The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) kicks-off this Friday February 9th in Vancouver and will showcase some of the best mountain and adventure films as well as athletes, speakers and content creators. During the 9-day program, festivalgoers will be able to screen films, watch live multimedia presentations, photography exhibits, take part in workshops, seminars and more! The festival will be taking place in a variety of theatres around the city and will bring together the Canadian and international community of mountain and outdoor enthusiasts.
Some of this year’s speakers include David Suzuki, Jim Herrington, Parvaneh Kazemi, Cory Richards, Darcy Hennessey Turenne and more!
Can’t make it to all the screenings? Here are a few recommendations to help you plan your week.
Saturday February 10th – 7:30pm at Centennial Theatre – Trail Running
An evening filled with presentations and films from trails around the world.
Speakers: Susan Hui, Rick Arikado & Suzanne Johnson, Laddie Hannam & Ann Taylor, Adam Campbell
Films: In Constant Motion (Canadian Premiere), Driven (World Premiere), Why I Run, Feel The Burn.
Sunday February 11th – 2:30pm at Rio Theatre – Best of: Mountain Sports & Adventure An afternoon showcasing international films on different sports and adventures.
Films: The Ario Dream (North American Premiere), Moment (World Premiere), The Worlds Highest Marathon, Freedom (World Premiere), This Way Up (North American Premiere), Surf The Line.
Sunday February 11th – 7:30pm at Centennial Theatre – Uniting the Salish Sea
Moving beyond extreme energy and protecting our communities.
Speakers: David Suzuki, My Sea To Sky
Films: Directly Affected (World Premiere).
Thursday February 15th – 7:30pm at The Cinematheque – Women in Adventure
An evening where women from around the world will be sharing their stories about being in the outdoors.
Speakers: Kat Young, Natasha Drozdzenska & Ania Markiewicz
Films: Where the Wild Things Play, My Big White Thighs and Me (North American Premiere), Army (BC Premiere), Waters of the Greenstone.
Friday February 16th – 7:30pm at Rio Theatre – MEC Canadian Adventure Show
An evening dedicated to pushing self-propelled adventure and exploration by Canadians.
Speakers: Steve Tersmette & Shawn Emmett, Lorraine Blancher & Robin Munshaw
Films: Escape, Strong The Wind Blows.
The sunshine coast is an incredibly beautiful area of British Columbia. Located just a short ferry ride away from Vancouver, it’s popularity with locals comes as no surprise with it’s beautiful beaches, array of lakes and pristine nature.
The Backeddy Resort & Marina is located in Egmont, which is just under 3hrs away from Vancouver. It is a beautiful and secluded property that offers all sorts of lodging and activity options for visitors. Their latest and most Instagram-worthy accommodations are their new Geodesic Domes. These unique glamping-like domes are located right on the waterfront.
The 5 domes come complete with a bay window, a queen sized bed, small indoor sitting area (perfect for your morning breakfast!) as well as blankets and heaters for the colder months. There is also an outdoor sitting area and table to enjoy a snack or relax while sipping a glass of wine or cold beer and letting the beautiful sights sink in.
You also have access to the resort’s bathroom and showers located just a few short steps away from the domes.
In addition to their domes, they also offer vintage cabins, waterfront cabins as well as Inn rooms and waterfront RV sites, so something for everyone!
On-property, you can also find a delicious restaurant and pub called the Backeddy Pub that serves up tasty food from local suppliers, prepared daily by their chef.
If you’re into exploring and adventuring, there are lots to do right at the resort. They offer, SUP, kayak and even bike rentals. They also offer a handful of guided tours with Metta Eco-Experiences, such as a Harbour Seal Tour, an Inlet Explorer Tour, Harmony Islands Tour as well as a Bioluminescence Tour in the evening.
There are tons of local hiking and running trails located nearby, the main attraction being the Skookumchuk Narrows Provincial Park, where twice a day, you can hike to the Skookumchuk Narrows observation points to watch the waves and whirlpools. It’s an easy 45 minute hike there and back. There is lots of incredible sea life to see while at the Narrows.
Their friendly staff is available at all-times to give you all of the local recommendations you’ll need during your stay. There are lots of other activities that are a short walk or drive away from the resort, so enough to keep you busy for a couple of days. Plus, if you’re just looking for a quiet area to retreat to, this is THE place to do it!
For more info on the Backeddy Resort & Marina or their Geodesic Domes, go here.
Looking to start camping this summer or in need of some extra camping gear to make your travels more epic? If so, check out MEC‘s camping gear rental program.
Before moving to British Columbia, I had never really gone camping as an adult. There are many reasons why I had never done so but the major reason being that I did not own or know anyone that owned good camping gear. The few memories I have camping as a kid are that it was always uncomfortable, that our old tent would always get wet, that we didn’t have the proper cooking gear, etc. So camping was definitely not one of my favorite activities growing up!
Now with mountains and the ocean in my new backyard, I’m making it a point to rediscover camping and give it another shot. Since I don’t own any camping stuff and am not ready to buy a ton of gear without knowing if this is something I will like doing, I was thrilled to find out that MEC has an easy to use camping gear rental program. Their gear is available to rent out in most stores located across the country including those in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Even as a long-time MEC member, I had no idea MEC rented some of their great gear out. They rent anything from camping gear to snowshoes and even SUPs!
What’s awesome about this program is that not only is it incredibly inexpensive to rent gear, it’s also a great solution for those who like myself, don’t have a lot of storage space or aren’t ready to make that investment just yet.
Thanks to the help of MEC, we put together a great pack for our first camping weekend in Tofino that included sleeping bags (they even have double sleeping bags for couples!), sleeping pads (that can be velcro’ed together to make a double pad) and a tent.
The gear is of utmost quality and super easy to transport. The MEC tent is also fast to set up. Sadly, it did rain on one of the days we were camping but unlike my experiences as a kid, the tent did not flood and all of our gear stayed dry!
Camping last weekend turned out to be so much more pleasant than I remembered. I know now that it’s all about the gear you bring (and also the company!). So whether you’re a seasoned camper or a total newbie like myself, camping is one of the coolest things you can do during the summer to spend time surrounded by nature. I highly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already!
For more info on MEC‘s camping gear rental program, go here.
This post was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.
Headed to Whistler and looking for some winter thrills that do not include skiing or snowboarding? Make sure you check out The Adventure Group‘s snowmobile tour.
The Whistler-based adventure group organizes several excursions a day that allow you to explore Whistler’s beautiful backcountry on Cougar Mountain. Whether it’s your first time out or you’re a seasoned pro, TAG has a tour for you! Their expeditions last on average 2.5 hours and allow you to explore everything from great local trails to fresh powder or even wide-open areas with breathtaking views of the forest and mountains.
Their snowmobiles are fully equipped with seat and hand warmers that will keep you toasty throughout. They also have helmets, goggles as well as gloves and hats for those who may have forgotten some of their gear.
TAG tour guides are super friendly and take the time to make sure everyone is comfortable before, during and after the ride. Plus, the company keeps the tours to a maximum of 5 guests per guide, allowing for a super pleasant experience.
They also provides a complimentary shuttle for guests from the Whistler Village, Fairmont Chateau and the Four Seasons Hotel. The company strives to make sure that their Whistler tours and activities are 100% carbon neutral.
I had only been on a snowmobile once before but it was a huge thrill to ride out with TAG!
If zipping around on ski-doos isn’t your thing, TAG also offers a wide variety of additional tours ranging from snowshoeing to heli sightseeing and more. For more information, go here.
Squamish has become one of the country’s most popular locations for outdoor sports and adventures. One of the latest and greatest activity to come to the area is the Sea to Sky Gondola, located just a few minutes from the city centre.
Right off the 99 Highway, the gondola allows guests to get a panoramic view of the area while heading up the mountain. Once at the top, they offer a wide variety of activities to choose from. Whether you’re into snowshoeing, a casual walk, tubbing or ski touring, the Sea to Sky Gondola has got you covered.
We opted for a snowshoeing excursion, which last 1.5 hours, with a super friendly and knowledgeable guide who has been residing in the area for 10+ years. Our guide brought us on some of the most scenic trails that tower the snow capped peaks of the mountain. They have trails for all levels and even have some light up trails and offer special themed activities depending on the time of year. The trails for snowshoeing and walking come at no extra cost once you are up at the top of the mountain.
In addition to the trails, you can also walk over the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge or get some breathtaking views of Squamish at the Summit Lodge Deck.
Following our snowshoeing excursion, we tried out their winter tube park, for some old-fashioned tubing. Situated just a few steps away from the Gondola, you get to slide down one of their four designated lanes as many times as you want for just an extra $5.
Once you’re done your activities, you can either sit fireside or grab a snack while warming up in their cozy in their mountaintop lodge.
Can’t make it this winter? Not to worry. They have just as many activities to do in the summer time. In the summer, you can also hike up the Sea to Summit Trail (and can bring your dog along with you!), go rock climbing, do mountain top yoga, etc.
If you’re headed up to Whistler or looking for a great day excursion, head over to the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish!
For more information on the Sea to Sky Gondola, go here.
This summer, I want to get lost: Lost in a new country, in a new scenery, in a new adventure. Summer is when I feel most alive. I cannot wait to explore some beautiful new locations near and far away from home.
I’m obsessed with the Tuck Shop Trading Co‘s x Bather Trunk Co. first ever swimwear collection. This GET LOST bathing suit is the perfect addition to my summer travels. The line was inspired by vintage maps that both designers are fascinated by. They worked with both Bather Trunk Co’s Kyle Kaminsky and Bathing Belle’s Danica Salajko on the design of this swimwear line (they designed some similar swim trunks for men as well!).
Who’s ready to get lost with me this summer?
You can support these local Toronto brands and designers by checking them outhere.
I spent the past two weeks exploring beautiful British Columbia. What makes BC so special is that they’ve got it all. They have the mountains, the ocean, nature, the city and also small villages. It’s a truly stunning place to spend time in. Just on this trip, I saw whales, seals, sealions, bald eagles, countless birds, etc.
After having spent the past two months traveling non-stop across the country, it was nice to finally get some time off in BC to explore nature and get away from the bustle.
I’m thrilled to share with you in the coming weeks, a series of travel and fitness blogs on this magnificent province.
As I write this post, I’m waiting for my flight back to Toronto and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t going to seriously miss this place. I hope I won’t have to wait another 3 years before heading back to beautiful British Columbia!
Last week I had the privilege of test driving a brand new Chevy Cruze Diesel from Chevrolet. I was extremely excited to be partaking in my first ever test drive and to be able to take this beautiful car home for the week!
Since I first got my drivers license 12 years ago, I’ve had the chance to rent a handful of cars for work and vacation. In addition, I also owned a car for over three years. It goes without saying that I’ve driven my share of vehicles over the years and none of them had been a Chevrolet.
It was therefore with much enthusiasm that I picked up my Chevy Cruze last Monday. My goal for the week: take the Chevy Cruze on as many adventures as possible to really see what the car was made of!
First off, I was thrilled to see I was getting a beautiful red car (red is my favorite!) for what would be one of the coldest week’s I’ve ever spent in Toronto since I moved here four years ago. Immediately when I sat down in the car, I was excited to see all of the car’s gadgets. The first thing that really caught my attention was the MyLink radio that came with a voice activated system, which could also work with Bluetooth or with the touch screen display. I was happy to see a USB port, auxiliary audio inputs (we’re in 2014 and some cars still don’t have them!!) as well as SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Since I always forget to bring my audio cable with me, I was happy to have some extra radio stations to choose from with the Satellite Radio feature.
Other things that immediately made me happy were the comfortable heated seats, that could easily be adjusted, Cruise Control, the Rear Cross Traffic Alert (which made it so easy to park all week!!) as well the spaciousness of the car. For a compact vehicle, I was pleasantly surprised by how big the trunk was and how much legroom was available for those sitting in the back seats.
So I took the Chevy Cruze on its first adventure, which consisted in first going to work and then spending the night running errands at Target and Ikea in Mississauga, two stores I rarely get to since I currently don’t own a car.
The thing that I most liked after my first day of driving was the Side Blind Zone Alert, a super neat feature on my side mirrors that alerted me any time there was a vehicle in my blind spot. I know that even if I’m a super prudent driver, there’s been several close calls where I’ve almost gotten into an accident because I didn’t see a car when I was changing lanes. I think having this safety feature on your car will greatly reduce your risk of having that kind of accident.
Tuesday the adventure began with a drive to work (driving to work reduced my commute time by 45mins!) and after work I took the Cruze to my favorite place to shop for healthy food in the city – Whole Foods Market. Driving around with the Cruze reminded me of just how lucky people are to not have to carry big grocery bags around with them on the streetcar or outside. Shopping with a car is so hassle-free. I then followed that up with a nice dinner at the current Toronto hotspot – Playa Cabana Hacienda. I had heard a lot about it but had yet to visit because it is pretty far north in the city. They have an amazing churros poutine dessert, it’s to die for! I capped off the night with a little visit at my friends’ album release party.
On Wednesday I took the car again to meet one of my girlfriends at my favorite vegan restaurant in the city – Hogtown Vegan. Look at that Southern Combo below, it was SO Yummy! The day was really cold so I made full use of the heated seats and features like the defogger. I think it’s so important when driving in the winter time to have a good defogging system in your car as well as good wipers because of all the dirt and slush that gets thrown onto your windshield while driving.
I was really excited about my Thursday adventure because it was an activity I’d been meaning to do for quite some time but had never been able to get there. I decided to take Offner, my partner in crime, to Skyzone, the indoor trampoline park located in Mississauga. It was great to take the car on the highway again to see just how great the traction, acceleration and suspension was. The car proved to be solid on all fronts! We had such a blast at Skyzone- not only did we get to jump around on all sorts of trampolines but we also got to do flips, play basketball and dodgeball. I totally recommend checking it out!
Friday after work, Offner and I headed to Polson Pier to watch the sun set. Polson Pier is my favorite view of Toronto! It was a cold but beautiful day so we also took that opportunity to take a few lovely pics of the car.
I couldn’t believe that after 5 consecutive days of driving to and from work and around Toronto and Mississauga, I was still left with more than half a tank of gas!
All week I had done a bunch of city driving so I was excited to take the car to the country side and on the highway for a longer period of time. So Saturday, Offner and I headed up North to spend the day antiquing. What made the trip even better was that it was snowing during the entire day, which made it the perfect occasion to see how well the car handled the snow. On the 4+ hrs of driving we did, never did we feel unsafe. The car reacted well when I needed to break rapidly, steering was easy and the car was also heavy and sturdy enough to not slip very much while driving over snow. We were both very impressed! The Cruise Control was super easy to use and always a relief to have when driving several hours. Though we didn’t find what we were looking for, we did bring back some cute little vintage teacups!
Sunday we took the car on a last spin around the city. We made full use of the radio system, listening to new tunes loudly in the car. As a music fan, I can say that the makers of this car definitely did a good job with the sound system. Every type of music we listened to sounded great.
Before returning the car on Monday morning, I filled up the tank with diesel. I had never driven a diesel car (except a tour van!) before but my dad has always owned and vouched for diesel cars. A lot of cars in Europe still run on diesel but it seems a lot rarer here in North America. I was astonished at how great the Chevy Cruze was on gas. An average of 4.2L per 100km (67 mpg) on the highway & 7.5 L per 100km in the city? Amazing! What I also learned about the car after doing a bit of reading is that the 2014 Chevy Cruze Diesel or as they call the Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel has the best highway fuel efficiency of any gasoline or diesel powered car in Canada. In addition, the car also meets the very strict new clean diesel standards plus the noise and vibrations that were once associated with older diesel cars are no longer there.
All in all, my 3 favorite things about the Chevy Cruze Diesel were:
-Side Blind Zone Alert
– MyLink system
All in all, I truly had a wonderful week with my Chevy Cruze! I was sad to say goodbye to the car but the Chevrolet staff were super kind and even offered me a lift to work after dropping off the car at the dealership.
If you’re on the lookout for a new car, I highly recommend checking out the 2014 Chevy Cruze Diesel. The car is safe, has every feature one could possibly want/need, is cool and will give you more bang for your buck!
I’m incredibly excited to have been asked to test drive the brand new Chevrolet Cruze Diesel for the week. I have been in many Chevrolet vehicles since I was a kid so I’m excited to get to spend a week with one of their latest and greatest models, to get to know all about it! I’ve heard lot’s of great things about car: comfort, gas mileage, state of the art gadgets, etc.
I picked up my red hot car this morning and have a full week of activities planned for my #ChevyCruze: snowboarding, antiquing road trip, etc! You can follow my adventure on my twitter: @melsays. I will also have a full blog recap of my week with my car next week!
Welcome to the family pretty little thing! What should we name her?
What an amazing year 2013 has been!! So grateful for all of this past year’s adventures, travels and opportunities! I’m grateful for my health and all the wonderful people that surround me.
I’m also grateful for all of you who took time out of your day to read my blog. When I started my online journal, I never thought it’d become such an important part of my life. Thank you to all of you who’ve made the journey so far, so enjoyable!
I wish you a very happy 2014 filled with health, love, travels and all of life’s little pleasures!! Here’s to a wonderful new year!!!