MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 12 – Kate Harris

This podcast episode was a LONG time coming and for that I apologize. I unfortunately had some technical problems with the sound when we recorded the episode and lost all of my questions. That said, it was too good of an episode to not share it with everyone. So please forgive the imperfect sound quality!

My guest for this episode is Kate Harris, she is a writer and an adventurer who recently published a book called Lands of Lost Borders, recounting her cycling travels across the Silk Road. In addition to being an author, she is also an accomplished scholar with degrees from MIT and Oxford. She also has also written for Canadian Geographic Travel, The Walrus and other notable publications. I’m so thrilled to have this modern-day explorer on the podcast today. I hope you’ll enjoy our chat!

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

Unique Getaway Idea – Nectar Yoga B&B on Bowen Island

If you’re like me, then you’re always on the lookout for unique experiences and getaways.

Since before moving to Vancouver, I had been wanting to check out a super cute B&B located on Bowen Island that I found on Instagram called Nectar Yoga B&B. I had heard that this place was not only a great spot for yoga but also a very tranquil place to stay and recharge for a couple of days.

I had the opportunity to finally to check it out just a few weeks ago and the magical B&B did not disappoint.

Getting to Bowen Island is a quick 25-minute ferry ride that departs from Horseshoe Bay several times a day. Once on Bowen Island, you can easily access to Nectar Yoga B&B either by car, by bike or even just walking or hitchhiking, as a lot of locals do.

Located just off one of the main roads on the island, this beautiful eco-friendly B&B offers its guests 3 different lodging options on its 1.2 acre lot. You can either opt for the Nectar Loft (that can welcome up to 4 guests), the Forest Cottage (that can welcome 2 guests) or even opt for the Garden Suite (which can accommodate an even larger group).

The Nectar Loft offers guests beach style cottage accommodations. The loft is furnished with sustainable and local decor, organic bedding, a Canadian-made pull-out sofa and all-natural beauty products. There is also a kitchenette that is filled with local coffee and teas as well as an area with books, board games and art supplies encouraging guests to get creative during their stay.

The Forest Cottage is a prefabricated building that was delivered to the property by boat as a way to reduce waste, fossil fuels and have less of an impact on the forested area in which it is located in. This west coast beach style cottage has a very homey feel with its cute beach-themed deco and fireplace.

There is also a beautiful outdoor shower on a private deck that features all natural eco-friendly bath products. From the shower, guests can spot local wildlife such as deer and beautiful 100-foot trees. The cottage also includes a mini fridge, local teas, coffee as well as a wide selection of DVDs and books to cozy up with in the evening.

Another reason why this place is so special is because the entire B&B only uses natural cleaning and beauty products to ensure they minimize their negative impact on the environment.

The one thing I was most excited to check out at the B&B, is their yoga dome that is located on property. When you check-in, you can opt for an Evening Arrival Yoga Lesson in the dome followed by a Guided Relaxation. Each morning, you can also start your day with a Guided Meditation and Yoga Lesson, before enjoying the homemade vegetarian or vegan breakfast that is delivered right to your door. Waffles, coconut yogurt, smoothies and fresh fruit are just some of the delicious homemade treats that can be served for breakfast. It’s a healthy and hearty way to start off the day!

During your stay at the B&B, you can also set up an in-room massage or even order a juice cleanse (that is made with seasonal fruit and veggies that are local and organic when possible). To top it off, there is also a Wood Burning Finnish Sauna that you can access on property.

If you’re looking for things to do beyond the property, you will find a little secluded beach just a 5min walk away. The beach is quiet and offers breathtaking views of Horseshoe Bay and the surrounding mountains.

If you’re into hiking, there are also tons of trails on the island to choose from, Mount Gardner being the most popular and longest route.

All in all, the Nectar Yoga B&B is the perfect place to unwind and spend a couple of days focusing on your health and wellbeing while being at one with nature. It’s a true gem and so incredibly close to Vancouver. I look forward to spending some additional time there later in the year.

For more info on the Nectar Yoga B&B, go here.

5 Counties Worth Visiting in Gold Country – Pt. 2 El Dorado County

Today’s Gold Country destination is El Dorado County. The county is located entirely in the Sierra Nevada and ranges from the western foothills to the High Sierra in the east.

This is the location where gold was found for the first time!

Situated just a 45 min drive from Sacramento, El Dorado County is where James W. Marshall discovered gold in Coloma on January 24th 1848. Soon after, the population of the area exploded with miners hoping to strike it rich. Today, the area is home to more than 181 000 residents.

These days, the area is known for its wineries, 26 miles of biking and hiking trails, pristine public lands, glamping tents as well as fun outdoor water activities on the American River.

White water rafting has become a huge attraction in the area, thanks to companies like Raft California, that offer a multitude of organized excursions from a simple rafting trip to rafting and wine tasting, camping and so on. Rafting with the crew from Raft California, was hands down one of the coolest experiences of my life!

Talk about a thrilling adventure. I would go white water rafting again in a heartbeat!

The area is also filled with tons of cute farm to fork cafés such as The Argonaut, which is located just a stone’s throw from the river and the historic Sutter’s Mill Site, where gold was first found.

The first covered bridge in California was built in Coloma.

In addition to the protecting the rich history of the area, locals have worked hard at protecting the local environment and unique lands such as the Lake Tahoe area since the 1960 Winter Olympics hosted at Squaw Valley Ski Resort.

El Dorado County is an easy getaway to the Californian countryside for anyone coming from Sacramento and beyond.

For more information on El Dorado County, go here.

Tomorrow’s Destination – Amador County!

Making Gut Health a Priority this Spring

With spring in the air, now is as good of a time as any to do a little health check. The gut is often referred to as the engine of the human body, so taking care of one’s gut can have a big impact on your overall health. Did you know that taking probiotics like Renew Lifes Ultimate Flora Critical Care 50 Billion can positively impact your digestion and gut health? It wasn’t until recently that I realized the importance of maintaining a healthy gut.

With my health being my top priority, I wanted to get more information on what a probiotic actually is and its overall benefits. So, I got in touch with an expert on the subject who explained the following.

The state of a person’s gut can influence health in many ways. With optimal digestive health, vitamin and nutrient absorption increases, which can result in more energy, reduced signs of aging and better health overall,” explains Naturopathic Doctor and Renew Life Canada Spokesperson, Dr. Sara Celik, ND. “Few are aware that the digestive system affects immunity, inflammation, and other critical functions in the body. From food allergies to headaches and skin problems to anxiety, the gut is a key player in leading a healthy lifestyle. A body without a healthy gut is like a car without a working engine.”

Although everyone responds differently to probiotics, she states that she’s seen the following five benefits in over a decade of using probiotics in her practice:

  1. Improved digestion and a reduction in IBS symptoms such as gas, bloating and constipation.
  2. Reduced cold and flu as a result of a stronger immune system.
  3. Better skin – probiotics may help with occasional break outs in some cases.
  4. Fewer food sensitivities as a result of improved gastrointestinal health.
  5. Less fatigue since improved digestion results in better absorption of vitamins from food.

The use of probiotics can be especially beneficial to women, as we are more prone to occasional constipation and digestive health issues than men are. It can also help women with chronic yeast infections and urinary tract infections better balance their good and bad bacteria. Renew Life’s line of probiotic supplements offers a variety of potency, multi-strain probiotic formulations to choose from and Renew Life has been focused on digestive health for over two decades. Dr. Sara says, “The potency or culture count refers to the total amount of live, ‘friendly’ bacterial cultures per dose. Since each person has unique needs, it’s important to select a probiotic supplement that best suits the individual. Since probiotics are alive, a delivery system such as enteric coating will ensure the bacteria arrive alive in the intestines where they are mostly needed,” adds Dr. Sara.

In addition to taking supplements, adding gut-friendly foods to your diet can also help deliver health benefits. Foods such as yogurt, fermented vegetables, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic, and bananas are all great for your gut.

So, with that new knowledge, I’ll be doing a different kind of “cleaning” this Spring, focusing on my gut and making sure my digestive health is at the top of its game.

For more information on probiotic supplements or Renew Life, visit Renew Life Canada on Facebook here. Renew Life products can be found at your local grocery, drug and health food store.

This post was written in collaboration with Renew Life, but all opinions are my own.

Discovering the New 2018 FORD F-150 Lariat

I love getting to test drive new vehicles, especially when I’m allowed to go adventure with them.

This past week, I got to try out the 2018 FORD F-150 Lariat. Though I’ve test driven some of FORD‘s vehicles before, I’ve never had the opportunity to try out one of the most popular vehicles to date, the F-150. Out here in BC, these trucks are everywhere and after spending a week driving around in one, I totally understand why the truck is so popular.

LOOK

The Lariat is one of 7 models that you can choose from in the F-150 family. It comes in a variety of colours including “Race Red“, which is a definite eye-catcher when driving around. The Lariat comes with a chrome front and back bumper, halogen headlights and fog lamps, same colour handles for the doors and tailgate, 18-inch machined-aluminum wheels, as well as a Chrome Two-Bar Style with Four Minor Bars grille that has black surround and background mesh, making the truck look powerful yet also high-class. The inside is incredibly spacious allowing for 3 people to sit very comfortably at the back with ample leg room. The driver’s seat can be adjusted electronically in all planes, allowing for pleasant long drives like the ones I did this week. Other details worth mentioning are the cargo box hooks that allow you to easily tie down things such as motorcycles, sleds, etc. in the truck bed as well as two front tow hooks. The model that I was driving also had the super luxurious Twin panel Moonroof (SuperCrew), which allowed for so much additional light in the truck and perfect for viewing the night sky and the beautiful outdoor BC scenery.

SAFETY

The F-150 is equipped with all the state of the art safety accessories one would want. From the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to Curve Control – which helps slow down the vehicle when going too fast on a curve, to the 360 camera with split-view display that allows you the driver to get added support on the road. This truck also has rear view camera Dynamic hitch assist, so that if you’re wanting to carry a trailer (or even a tiny house!) you can easily direct your hitch ball to the trailer. ABS breaks as well as driver and front passenger airbags plus side curtain airbags are also included in the vehicle’s basic package.

PERFORMANCE

The F-150 is great for driving in all sorts of conditions. There was a huge snowstorm this past week in BC yet I was able to drive the truck around with peace of mind. I was so happy that I was able to switch to 4WD during my snowy and icy travels. The truck comes with an electronic 10-speed Transmission with Tow/Haul, Snow/Wet, EcoSelect and Sport Modes. I love that it has automatic start and stop engine technology, which is a big plus for people like myself who are very conscious of their emissions. The 2.7L EcoBoost engine is according to FORD 30% better on fuel efficiency and emits 15% fewer greenhouse emissions. The estimated fuel consumption is 11.9L/100 KM for city driving and 9L/100 KM for highway driving. In a full week of back and forth driving from North Vancouver to Downtown Vancouver, Squamish and back and then all the way out to Joffre Lakes, Pemberton, Whistler and finally Sasamat Lake, I couldn’t believe that it only took me 1 full tank of gas!

TECHNOLOGY

This is probably one of my favourite parts about testing new cars. I love checking out all the new features that come with vehicles these days. From the aforementioned 360 cameras on the truck to the heated seats and steering wheel and the SYNC 3 – which is an 8-inch LCD touchscreen system that allows you to control navigation, audio, climate, etc. With this system you can easily connect your iPhone (which is what I did as soon as I received my new iPhone X this past week), allowing you to use Bluetooth, play Spotify wirelessly (or SiriusXM Satellite Radio which comes with the vehicle!), receive/send text messages, etc. The system also allows you to perform voice commands and you can also use the No-Extra-Charge 911 Assist in case of an accident or roadside emergency. All this technology makes it possible for you to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

RECAP

All in all, driving around in this vehicle made me feel safe, comfortable and gave me all the little luxury items that I could ever want in an adventure vehicle. No matter where I went, it was easy to maneuver, park and drive. I think it’s the perfect adventure vehicle especially for someone like myself who always has so much gear and wants to go absolutely everywhere, no matter the terrain. Whether I want to bring my surfboard, bike, snowboard or even if I were to want to carry a motocross bike or my motorcycle in the future, this truck would be able to handle it all. Looking forward to more road trips with the F-150 Lariat in the future!

For more information on the F-150, go here.

Video shot entirely with GoPro Hero 6 + Karma Grip, thanks to Sport Chek and GoPro.
Big thanks to Tourism Vancouver, TAG Whistler and also MEC for their support!

5 Things to do in Long Beach

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Located less than an hour drive from Los Angeles, Long Beach has become one of the hottest travel and living areas for millennials and young families. With rent still being pretty affordable, the city has really transformed a lot in the last couple of years. Long Beach is renown for its great cultural activities, food and outdoor activities just to name a few. Here are just a few recommendations for your next trip in the area.

1) Grab coffee at Portofolio. Located on East 4th St in Long Beach, Portofolio Coffeehouse has been a local favorite for years. It’s a great place to grab breakfast, coffee on the go, vegan treats and also a fun spot to spend the day working remotely. The coffee house also puts on a series of community events in their back room. It’s the perfect spot to meet locals and people watch.

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2) Go vintage shopping on Retro Row. If you’re on the hunt for new vinyls, cool books or unique threads, Retro Row is your go-to spot. Also located on 4th St., this super cute walkable strip of stores has become one of the city’s most coveted shopping area. Whether you’re on the lookout for antiques, you’re in the mood for thrifting, looking for records or wanting a bite to eat, you can find it all. The 4th Street Long Beach Association also puts on a handful of special events throughout the year.

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3) Eat lunch at Ahimsa vegan café. Praised as one of the city’s best vegan spots, Ahimsa vegan café is a restaurant that prides itself in using only the freshest and best local ingredients to craft delicious vegan plates. All of their food is made from scratch and all bursting with flavour. Their bowls and burgers are definite must-haves as well as their freshly made cold-pressed juices and desserts.

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4) Find local street art. Long Beach is renown for its beautiful street art. Their street art festival POW! WOW! Long Beach is one of the most popular street art festivals in the United States, bringing in artists from all over. Searching for local street art around the city is a great activity to do while in Long Beach as it will make you discover many different neighborhoods in the city. Plus, they have some of the most beautiful art to see.

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5) Satisfy your sweet tooth at Scratch Bakedgoods. This cute little bakery is the perfect place to stop at after a busy day of walking around and exploring in Long Beach. Scratch Bakedgoods makes some of the most delicious homemade baked goods from scratch daily. Whether you’re looking for cookies, a slice of cake, brownies, tarts, gallettes, brioches, bars, etc. they’ve got you covered. Everything in the shop is to die for.

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