5 Winter Getaway Ideas in BC

1) Go on a Food and Drink excursion in Kelowna. The region of Kelowna is well-known in the summer for its amazing wineries, but winter is as good of a time as any to visit the Okanagan Valley. Most of the wineries and wine trails are open all-year-round plus there are now tons of awesome local breweries popping up all over town, making it a great destination for wine and beer enthusiasts. Farm to Table is also a huge trend in Kelowna and the valley. Local farmers and chefs take pride in serving locally grown food from the neighbourhood farms. While you’re in the area, you can even take a self-guided farm tour to visit the local food growers and learn more about what the area can produce.

2) Go surfing in Tofino – Winter or the shoulder season are truly the best times to visit Tofino. Yes, the water will be cold but you get to avoid all the crowds and madness that you get during the summer. There are lots of great surf shops open all-year-round (Long Beach Surf Shop, Surf Sister, Pacific Surf School, etc.) and tons of spots to get surf lessons from if you’re new to the sport. Plus, the après-surf is that much more enjoyable when you’re sitting fireside with a warm beverage either at a nice Airbnb, an oceanfront cabin (check out Ocean Village Resort!) or even in your van. Van life is very much alive and well all-throughout the year in Tofino!

3) Go Hiking in Nelson – The Nelson Kootenay region offers a handful of amazing hiking options for those looking to spend some time outdoors this winter. Whether you’re looking for a quick jaunt like the 1.6k Pulpit Rock or something more grandiose like the spectacular Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, Nelson has all sorts of hikes that can be explored throughout the winter season with either regular hiking boots, crampons or even snowshoes.

4) Visit Halcyon Hot Springs – Open 365 days a year, these beautiful hot springs are located right on the waterfront of Upper Arrow Lake. While relaxing in the restorative and healing waters, you get to enjoy the beautiful views of the Monashee Mountains. The hot springs are just over an hour away from Revelstoke, making it the perfect après-ski relaxation spot. You can spend the entire weekend at the Halcyon Hot Springs exploring the area and renting out one of the chalets or cabins on property.

5) Go explore the backcountry in Whistler. Chances are, if you’ve visited BC in the winter time or your reside here, you’ve probably already gone skiing or riding up in Whistler. But have you explore the amazing backcountry before? There are lots of great local touring companies (Extremely Canadian, Altus Mountain Guides) that offer AST courses, clinics and tours for mountain enthusiasts of all levels. You can also purchase some backcountry tickets for Whistler Blackcomb, that are more than half the price of the regular lift tickets.

Happy winter adventuring friends!

World Ski & Snowboard Festival with CLIF Bar

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The World Ski & Snowboard Festival is now in full swing at Whistler Blackcomb. For the next ten days, some of the best skiers and snowboarders from around the world will be in town for some epic shredding, concerts and special events.

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CLIF Bar invited a small group of media up to their Basecamp this past weekend for an adventure packed VIP weekend at the mountain.

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The basecamp was located just a few minutes from the slopes. It had everything a rider could need including a hot tub, sauna, steam room, fire place, movie screening room and deluxe rooms. The basecamp’s bright red kitchen was also very on-brand, a total coincidence they assured us.

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In addition to the small group of media, CLIF Bar had also invited some of their ambassadors to come join us. Our host for the weekend was CLIF Bar ambassador, pro-snowboarder, environmentalist and founder of the organization Beyond BoardingTamo Campos. Spending the weekend with him was so incredibly inspiring!

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We kicked off the weekend with a private dinner at Stonesedge Whistler, a local favourite that serves delicious dishes made from local and organic ingredients.  We spent the first night at the launch of the State of the ART, a beautiful exhibit of local artistic talent at the Whistler Conference Centre.

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The next morning started off with a fun build-a-bar workshop with CLIF’s registered dietician Tara Dellolacono Thies, who is also an ultra runner and amazing athlete. We got to create our own custom bars, which I can’t wait to receive! We also got to try out some of CLIF Bar‘s latest products, including my new favorite bar, the organic Nut Butter Filled organic peanut butter bar, yum!

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We then hit the slopes with local mountain guides. We got to spend the entire day riding outdoors before enjoying a VIP après-ski at GLC, on their heated outdoor patio while listening to Walk Off The Earth sing one hit song after another on WSSF’s main stage. Like if that wasn’t enough, we also got to enjoy a professional massage at the Basecamp before chowing down on some delicious healthy eats and watching some of Tamo’s films, which included a very powerful doc he recently released that I highly recommend checking out called A Last Stand for Lelu.

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On Sunday, we got up at the crack of dawn to enjoy an energizing yoga session led by one of the media guests, who also happens to be a yoga teacher. Then it was back to the Whistler Village to go up the mountain to then take the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola all the way to Christine’s restaurant on the top of Blackcomb. The panoramic views from the restaurant were absolutely mind-blowing, it cleared up just in time for our 3-course lunch. The food served at Christine’s is topnotch, the perfect setting for a five-star snack.

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One of the best parts of the entire weekend was attending MULTIPLICITY, a TEDTalk-like event, which featured some of the most inspiring personalities in the mountain world. The sold-out event left me so incredibly inspired by everyone’s stories. Some of the speakers included professional Freeride MTB Hall of Famer Brett Tippie, National Geographic photographer Aaron Huey and his son Haweye Huey and our Basecamp host Tamo Campos, just to name a few.

The weekend spent at the WSSF with CLIF Bar was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. The entire CLIF Bar team was so incredibly kind and really made this adventure-packed weekend, one to remember.

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For more information on how to #FeedYourAdventure with CLIF Bar, go here.

Explore Whistler on a Snowmobile with TAG

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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.

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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.

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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.

Scandinave Spa Whistler

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One of the best things about Whistler is the brilliant 25,000 sq ft outdoor spa located just a few minutes away from the slopes. The Scandinave Spa Whistler is the perfect place to unwind after a day of skiing, hiking or outdoor adventure in the area.

Situated right in the heart of nature, this Nordic-inspired spa enables guests to decompress and enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating escapade.  The mountain views and fresh air transport you into an oasis of wellbeing.

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One thing the Scandinave Spa is renown for is its topnotch amenities. Their baths, wood burning Finnish Sauna, eucalyptus steam room and waterfalls come together to create the most luxurious experience. This past year, they inaugurated a brand new building at the spa that features a state of the art sauna, observatory deck, lounge as well an additional eucalyptus steam room. You can also book a massage with one of their highly qualified therapists to prolong your Scandinavian bath session.

There are many health benefits associated with Scandinavian baths, also known as hydrotherapy. In addition to it being relaxing and energizing, the baths also help cleanse the body as well as stimulate blood circulation and the release of endorphins.

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The spa’s eco-friendly and sustainable building allows them to truly be in harmony with their natural surroundings. They pride themselves in their “green” roof as well as the use of sustainable fibers and stainless steel water bottles. They also make sure to work with as many local suppliers as possible.

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The Scandinave Cafe is a real treat, no pun intended. Their delicious and healthy locally-made snacks are the perfect pick me up after a few hours spent unwinding at the spa.

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Get a 360 tour of the spa’s facilities below with the Samsung Gear 360. For more information on Scandinave Spa Whistler, go here.

Winter Getaway at Whistler Blackcomb

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For years now, I had been dreaming of riding in Whistler but I was never able to get the time off or travel to the area during the ski season. So I made sure that this year would be different and made it a point to include Whistler Blackcomb in my #wintergetaway destinations.

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If you haven’t been to Whistler yet, then you have been missing out! Since the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Whistler Blackcomb has become North America’s most popular ski resort. And there are many reasons why it has become the top winter riding destination.

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The first being the incredible skiing and riding you can do at the mountain. With over 200 trails, 37 chairlifts, 5 parks and over 8,171 acres of skiable terrain, even on their busiest days, you have so many options to choose from that it never feels crowded. What’s amazing is that no matter your level or riding preferences, there’s something for everyone. The resort is renown for its freeskiing and powder-filled bowls as well as gladed trees and also dedicated family-friendly zones. The views while riding are absolutely breathtaking. The infinite chain of mountain around you make you feel at one with nature.

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Also, it’s slope-side pedestrian village offers some of the best accommodations, top restaurants, hip shopping and fun activities one could want either pre or post-ski or for those who would rather just spend the day walking around.

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With reference to accommodations, I had the pleasure of staying at the Aava Whistler, a hotel located right in the Whistler Village thanks to the hotels.com mobile app. Whether you’re going on a budget or looking for luxurious après-ski digs, the app has it all.

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The energy at the mountain and in the village is electrifying. Everyone that comes to Whistler Blackcomb know they are about to have one of their best ski experience of their lives. It is understandable that this resort has become world-class over the years. With it being less than two hours away from Vancouver, it is definitely worth the visit!

For more information on Whistler Blackcomb, go here. To find accommodations in the area, go to Hotels.com or download their mobile app. Photos shot with the Samsung Galaxy S7, 360 video shot with the Samsung Gear 360.

Four Seasons Whistler

FullSizeRender(1)Whistler is such a great destination to travel to no matter the time of year. This was my second visit to Whistler and I discovered so many new things about this amazing destination on this latest trip. One of my great discoveries was the Four Seasons Resort and Residences.

The Four Seaons is the perfect place to call home while you’re in the city. Nestled in the mountains, right next the city’s multi-use trail, the hotel’s location gives you all the peace and quiet you need while also just being a few steps away from the village.

IMG_8630FullSizeRender(11)The resort’s design is inspired by its surrounding landscape, bringing the outdoors indoors. The use of timber, stone and glass gives a warm and inviting feel throughout. Staying at this hotel is like staying in a luxurious European-styled lodge, which I loved.

IMG_8381The 273 guest rooms each offer a private balcony that open up to beautiful Whistler views. Each room is spacious yet also cozy. The rooms are all equiped with first-rate amenities, including a walk-in closet, a fireplace, a marble bathroom and shower and a deep-soak tub. The hotel provides complimentary wifi as well as twice-daily housekeeping and evening turn down service.

FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(12)FullSizeRender(10)The hotel staff was splendid offering to help set up activities for us in the area as well as organizing complimentary rides using the resort’s car service. We also received the sweetest welcome gift and note from the hotel following our rock-climbing expedition, which the staff had graciously organized for us.

IMG_8489FullSizeRender(6)While at the Four Seasons, we made sure to enjoy their fitness room, outdoor heated pool and three hot spring-style whirlpools. Additionally, we cozied up by the fireplace at the Sidecut Bar prior to endulging in a delicious meal.

FullSizeRender(7)Sidecut is a great place for a romantic dinner after skiing or spending the day exploring the many outdoor activities Whistler has to offer. The restaurant’s earthy tones and open fire provide a relaxing ambiance. The steakhouse, led by Executive Chef, Chef Eren, offers a whole lot more than just steak. To my surprise, they even had an entire vegetarian menu for those who are looking for different dining options. The dinner service was excellent, all the dishes were refined and savoury.

FullSizeRender(9)FullSizeRender(4)FullSizeRender(2)FullSizeRender(3)It is the attention to the finer details and the five-star service that separates a hotel like the Four Seasons to others in the area. When you stay at their resort you feel right at home and feel all of your needs and wants are taken care of. I can’t think of another place I would want to stay at from here on out when I travel to Whistler.

For more information on the Four Seasons Whistler, go here.

13 Cities, 13 Runs – Whistler

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When you think of Whistler, you may not think of it as a running town but there are lot’s of great trails located in and around the Whistler Village.

What’s great about the trails in Whistler is that you can opt for more of a city trail that is paved close to downtown or go for a wild run in the mountain.

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The Paved Valley Trail is a 40 km multipurpose trail that goes from one end of Whistler to another. It’s the perfect place to do a long run! It’s great because you can easily access it from the hotel or condo that you’re staying at.

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If you’re looking for something more wild, the Lost Lake Park is a gravel trail located in the woods. The full loop around the lake is 4 km in length.

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What’s amazing in Whistler is that you can even run on the top of the mountain. You can take the gondola up to the top of the mountain and run on the trails there. I can only imagine the view! It’s definitely something I want to explore on my next trip to the area.

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For more info on the running trails in Whistler, go here.

5 Things to do in Whistler

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1) Relax at Scandinave Spa. Located just a few minutes north of the Whistler Village, this spa resort is the ultimate in-nature relaxation experience. The spa itself is situated in the middle of a beautiful spruce and cedar forest, next to Lost Lake and Spruce Grove parks. You immediately fall into relaxation mode as you walk along the forest path into the spa. In the spa, you will find several Scandinavian baths, also known as hydrotherapy. For those who are unfamiliar with the practice, hydrotherapy is usually done in three stages and some if its benefits include cleansing the body, blood circulation stimulation as well as the release of endorphins. To warm the body, they have several options: the eucalyptus steam room, wood burning Finnish sauna, hot baths and thermal waterfall. To refresh, they have a Nordic waterfall, cold baths and showers. They also offer solariums, hammocks, terraces, trellis and an outdoor fireplace for relaxation. Once relaxation is complete, you can eat at their on-site Scandinave Cafe, which features light and healthy meals or snacks. They also offer a super tasty locally harvested and handcrafted Namasthé Tea that you can only find at the spa. One of things I loved most about the spa was their green initiatives that include having “green” roofs, using sustainable fibres in their uniforms, stainless steel instead of plastic, etc. The Scandinave Spa will be expanding as of 2016, providing even more space to relax and enjoy the full experience. It was the perfect way to start off the day!

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2) Go ziplining with Ziptrek. Ziptrek is an ecotour company located in Whistler, BC (they also have ecotours in Mont-Tremblant, QC and Queenstown, NZ). They offer a variety of moutain adventures for people of all ages coming to the area. This past summer, Ziptrek unveiled the longest zipline in Canada and the US called the Sasquatch. This dual zipline launches from high up on Blackcomb Mountain and lasts for over 2 kms. Sadly due to the snow, we weren’t able to reach the Sasquatch zipline so instead ended up going on the Eagle Tour. The tour lasted 3 hours in the moutain, we did 6 ziplines and walked on 8 treetop bridges. It was the most magical tour because it was snowing on the mountain while we were ziplining and walking. We had two super friendly guides who taught us a whole lot not only about ziplining but also about nature, local wildlife and conservation. The group was kept small so it made for a fun little bunch and not too much waiting between each zipline. The views of the mountain were stunning and it was without a doubt one of the best outdoor adventures I’ve ever been on. What a rush!

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3) Eat at Bearfoot Bistro. If you ask anyone that lives in Whistler what the best restaurant in the area is, everyone is bound to answer Bearfoot Bistro. This fine dining restaurant was founded by André Saint-Jacques and is house to award-winning Executive Chef Melissa Craig. The space is a restaurant, a bar as well as a vodka tasting room. Since we were in town during the Cornucopia Food & Wine Festival, we were able to taste their special 5-course prix fixe menu that featured in-season local products. The dishes were colourful, the ingredients were of utmost quality and the technique used on the dishes was incredibly modern. They have a variety of meat, fish and vegetarian offerings. They also have an impressive list of wines that pair up nicely with each dish. The desserts were also incredibly artsy and delicious. All in all, Melissa’s creations lived up to the hype.

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4) Rock climb at Core Gym. I had been wanting to go rock climbing for a while to try and get over my fear of heights. The Core gym in Whistler is the perfect place to rock climb, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned climber, they’ve got a handful of options for both climbing and bouldering. They have a 5500 square-foot indoor rock climbing wall and have a handful of great guides on-site to help you get some 1-on-1 training if you so desire. They also provide indoor and outdoor courses as well as workshops to help improve your climbing skills. I felt really safe with the equipment we rented, the guide and also their True Blue auto belays, which allows you to climb even if you are by yourself. I started slowly and shaky but as time went on, I did routes and was so incredibly please with myself by the end of the session. I definitely reached new heights and worked on conquering my fear of heights at the gym!

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5) Grab a treat at Purebread. Located in the Whistler Village, this delicious family bakery offers some of the tastiest sweets and treats that you’ll find on the west coast. Their homemade scones, loafs and cakes are pretty and delicious. They have a great combination of sweet and savoury options and also have great coffee bar. The little seating area at the front is perfect for people watching in the village.

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KEEN for Winter

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Winter is just around the corner so I’m making all the necessary adjustments to my home and closet to make sure that I’m ready for what’s bound to begin any moment now.

Last year, I decided to adopt a more positive attitude towards winter. Though I still dislike it very much, I’m trying to embrace the snow and the colder temperatures a lot more. The best way I’ve found to do so is by being outdoors and having fun in the elements.

The one thing that is an absolute must in order to fully enjoy the outdoors, is a good pair of boots. Because I’m always freezing, the warmer they are the better and they’ve got to be waterproof. So this winter, I’ll be giving the KEENElsa” boot a try.

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I took my “Elsa” boots with me to Whistler two weeks ago because I knew there was a good chance that there would be snow on the ground or that we’d get hit with a snowstorm while we were there. And just as I had predicted, the day we went ziplining on the mountain in Whistler Blackcomb, the station received their first real snowstorm of the season. I was beyond stoked to have those boots on my feet for my outdoor adventures.

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They kept my feet nice and toasty during the three hours we were out and about going across from one peak of the mountain to another. More importantly, they also kept my feet dry! The Elsa boots are super lightweight and not as clunky as other boots I’ve worn before. And added bonus, the boots look super cute, so I was really happy to have them in-tow.

I’m now definitely more #KEENForWinter! Check my Instagram today @melsays for your chance to win a pair of KEEN boots!

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What I’m wearing: KEEN Elsa boot (get it here).

 

This post was sponsored but all opinions are my own. 

West Coastin’

Happy Tuesday from BC!

As you’re reading this, I’m (hopefully) on my way back from my first “bushwoman” adventure, which will have included a 6h hike and camping at the top of the Rockies.  I’ve been on the road a lot these past couple of months traveling for work, covering music festivals across Canada for BRBR but this is my first real vacation in a long time.

I’ve been going to California a lot these past couple of years for work and to surf but I hadn’t been back to BC since 2006, when I was tour managing The Expos and The One Night Band.  I’m happy to have taken a few days before heading down to California to explore more of BC.

The last few days have been spent, visiting Vancouver and exploring the beautiful small town of Squamish.  It’s my first time in Squamish and it’s absolutely beautiful.  Squamish is located in the middle of the rockies, just 40mins north of Vancouver.  Everyone here in the town here is really outdoorsy. Squamish is renown for its great rock climbing, mountain biking and also kite surfing.  So far, I’ve had the chance to check out “The Spit”, which is a famous place for kite surfing, swim and swing off Tarzan ropes in Brohm Lake, check out Squamish Days Logger Fest (super impressive logging competition) and visit the Brennan Park Aquatic Centre to do a few laps.  Check the pics below 🙂

Speaking of kite surfing, the other day I discovered this great kite surfing, surfing and SUP movie called “Antandroy” filmed on RED in Madagascar.  You can watch it here:

My next adventure will be my first EVER real hike up Whistler, with a night spent camping at the top of the rockies. I’m not gonna lie, this adventure is very daunting to me. Though I love nature, love being at the beach and surfing, I’ve never really been a “bushwoman”. I don’t like bugs, I’m scared of snakes, bears and whatever else lives in the woods.  So this should be interesting to say the least.  The thing I’m most looking forward to is the incredible view, flowers and lakes I’m supposed to see from up top.  I will definitely be posting some pics in the next couple of days.

Once I’m back, I’ll be staying in Squamish for a day or so to do some SUP and will then head back to Vancouver for a day before flying to California for the second part of my trip, where I’ll get to go SURFING!!!!! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m obsessed with surfing and everything surf-related. Though I’m not a great surfer, it’s the only thing I do that clears my head. For those of you who’ve never tried surfing, I highly recommend it!

That’s it for today. I leave you with Delta Spirit‘s rad track “California”, which they performed at Lollapalooza this past weekend in Chicago. Can’t get enough of this track. It rocks my socks off!

Much love,

Mel