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.
Spring might be in full swing in the city, but it still feels very much like winter in Whistler. So there are still lots of winter adventures to be had with The Adventure Group (TAG) this season and all-year-round for that matter!
TAG offers a wide-variety of outdoor adventures for everyone from 7 to 77 years-old. They offer a ton of kid and family-friendly expeditions as well as some more extreme adventures for all you thrill-seekers out there. The one constant with TAG, is the good vibes and professional service you get throughout.
I had the chance to go one two of their winter expeditions. Last year, I tried their Cruiser Tour, one of their snowmobiling tour for beginners. Since I hadn’t been on a sled in a while, it was the perfect 2-hour re-introduction tour. They took us all around the trails on Cougar Mountain and also let us zip around on the frozen lake for some added thrills. This year, I took their BC Tour, which was a little more advanced and the perfect balance between single-track trail riding and “off-roading” through the Ancient Cedar Forest. They also offer more advanced backcountry and custom tours for those looking to only ride the most difficult terrain.
But sledding isn’t all… TAG also offers Zipline and Snowshoe Tours during winter and spring plus they offer Heli Sightseeing, Bungee Jumping as well as Scandinave Spa experiences.
If you’re thinking of heading up to Whistler once the snow has melted, you’ll also have a ton of summer activities to choose from. TAG offers everything from RZR Tours, Whitewater Rafting, Treetop Adventure Courses, Jet Boating, Mountain Biking and Stand-Up Paddleboarding, just to name a few.
What’s great about their tours is that they all happen in small groups. The ratio of guide to guest always makes you feel like you’re having a semi-private experience. On the latest sledding tour I just did, we were four guests total with one guide. All the guides are super friendly and professional. The guests’ safety is their number one priority and they also make sure that each guest feels comfortable no matter what activity they’re doing. They’ve also got a great shuttle service that will bring you from the Whistler Village to their base camp, where they have restrooms, lockers to store the guests’ belongings, snacks, etc.
I’m really excited for summer to arrive so that I can go back and try some of their other excursions. Whitewater Rafting is definitely on the bucket list!
Can’t believe it’s already been six months since I started my Scotiabank #SavingsJourney. My goal with was to save up $5,000 CAD in 180 days by using the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account. This money would allow me to buy a used vehicle to explore my new backyard in British Columbia. After moving here last year, I quickly realized that I would be needing a vehicle if I wanted to spend as much time as possible adventuring in the mountains, by the ocean and anywhere my heart desired.
The reason why I chose the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account is because it allows you to earn more by offering a higher interest rate the longer you save. You can select a savings period of 90, 180, 270 or 360 days. A longer Premium Period allows me to earn a higher Premium Interest Rate, with regular interest paid monthly and the Premium Interest paid at the end of the Premium Period. I was able to track the progress of my savings online and the fact that there was no monthly fee and no minimum balance was a bonus.
With the account, my 6-month #SavingsJourney started off on a great note. Throughout the fall, I was able to make regular contributions to my savings account because I was working quite a bit as a fitness instructor and also via this very website. What I enjoyed is being able to monitor my progress online whenever I wanted and making adjustments by adding either a little more or a little less to my contributions in order to stay on track.
Things were going swimmingly until I received a letter in the mail, just a few days before the holidays. The letter came from the CRA and was requesting that I pay $4,000 in income taxes within the next two weeks. Last year was the first year that I worked as a full-time freelancer and when it came time to do my income tax return, I went to the first place I could find in Vancouver, after just having moved to the city. Little did I know, the woman who completed my tax return wasn’t experienced with self-employed clients and didn’t do my return right. As a result, I had to send all the money I had been saving up for a car to the government.
I was gutted to say the least but when I came back from my holidays in January, I was confident I could still reach my goal in time because of the high potential to earn interest in my account. However, the reality of being self-employed is that some months are a lot slower than others. January and February are notoriously slow months for creatives. So although I’ve been working extra since the beginning of 2018 to compensate for the money I had to access in my savings account, I unfortunately was not able to make back the money I had saved up in time for the end of my determined savings period. That said, this journey has taught me a lot. Even though things didn’t go according to plan, I am really thankful that I had a high interest savings account to get me out of a bind. Seeing my savings grow has made me more determined than ever to keep working toward my goal of buying a vehicle, just a bit later than planned. It has also taught me the importance of planning ahead as well as putting aside a little extra money in case of emergencies (like mine in December!) and also making sure I get a good accountant!
I’m happy that the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account allows me to have flexible savings periods. Because of this I have gone ahead and increased my savings period to 270 days to replace what I used and save up enough in time for the nicer weather that is right around the corner. I have already started planning some of the hikes, camping weekends and surf spots I want to hit up in British Columbia when the warm weather returns, so I’m now more excited than ever to make my #SavingsJourney a success. I’m definitely not letting this little bump in the road stop me from achieving my goal.
I hope to see you out on one of my adventures this spring and summer!
This post was written in collaboration with Scotiabank, but all opinions are my own.
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!