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.
SLO CAL is without a doubt one of the most underrated regions of California. Located smack dab in the middle between Los Angeles and San Francisco, this county is host to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire state, from beautiful beaches to pristine mountains and valleys, there’s really something for everyone. SLO CAL is home to cities like San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles and Morro Bay just to name a few. Though it was impossible to visit the entire county in the 3 days I spent there earlier this month, I was able to discover some amazing local gems. I completely fell in love with all of the outdoor and wellness activities that you can do in the area so I decided to share with you today some of my favourites.
1) Relax at East Wellbeing & Tea – Located in downtown San Luis Obispo, this luxurious concept spa and tea room is the perfect quiet oasis for anyone looking for a little self-care during their vacation. Specialized in Eastern massage techniques, all of the rooms at East Wellbeing & Tea have been carefully created and decorated drawing inspiration from different parts of the world. They offer a wide array of treatments such as massages, acupuncture, facials, baths and cupping just to name a few. I had the opportunity to enjoy their 60-minute Signature East Massage, which also included a 30-minute soak in this beautiful in-suite tub prior to my treatment. Once your treatment done, you can enjoy some of their healthy organic and plant-based snacks or organic teas while reading and relaxing either indoors or outside at their cafe.
2) Go Trail running at Bishop Peak – There is an abundance of hiking and trail running trails located in the entire SLO CAL region. With the area nestled between the Nine Sisters (five of which have beautiful trails to hike/run on), a string of beautiful mountains that stretches from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay, there is plenty of terrain to discover. Bishop Peak is easily accessible from downtown SLO. You can also visit some of the local State Parks such as Montana de Oro or opt for the challenging Hazard Peak that offers 360-degree views of the coastline and Morro Rock.
3) Surf at Morro Bay – If you’re into watersports and want to spend time at the ocean, there’s plenty to do at Morro Bay. Whether you want to kayak, SUP or just go for a surf session, both the bay and the ocean are available to you. Plus, chances are you’ll be able to scope out some local marine life such as dolphins, seals and otters playing in the waves or just straight up chilling in the bay. The stunning Morro Rock is a beautiful backdrop for your water adventures. The large sandy beach and Morro Bay is perfect for a picnic lunch or a post-surf nap. Though the water can be a tad chilly, the lack of crowds in the surf lineup is a major plus. If you came without any gear, do not fret, the local Azhiaziam surf shop has everything you will need for some fun activities in the water. And if you’re planning on spending a few days being active in the water, stay at the 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites, located right on the main street in Morro Bay. They have beautiful suites that come with a fireplace and a patio that overlooks the ocean and Morro Rock.
4) Visit the Farmer’s Market. Every Thursday night, the city of San Luis Obispo and its neighbouring towns get together on Higuera Street to support local artisans and farmers while also grabbing some delicious grub and watching some of the best local musical acts perform. The market has become a must-attend for locals and a great way for visitors to really catch the spirit of the region. I made a few delicious local discoveries while at the market such as Whalebird Kombucha and Atsa Superfood Bars, companies that were both started by young locals.
5) Explore the Sand Dunes at Pismo Beach – Just off the scenic highway 1, the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area are the last remaining coastal sand dunes that are open to off-highway vehicles in California. There’s around 1,500 acres of dunes to play around in. If you’re looking for a great place to rent a dune buggy or ATV, check out SunBuggy, not only do they have one of the largest fleets of rentals but they will also drive you to and from the recreation area. It’s a great outing for thrill-seekers!
Other suggestions: visit the local wine country in Edna Valley, go bouldering at The Pad Climbing in SLO, rent a bike and cycle from San Luis Obispo to Avila Beach on the Bob Jones City to Sea Trail.
A big thank you to Visit SLO CAL and their partners for all of their help setting this trip up. Watch for a special plant-based food post coming soon!
Video by: The Offners. Shot entirely with GoPro Hero 6 + Karma Grip, thanks to Sport Chek and GoPro.
Being a new cyclist in the greater Vancouver area, I’ve learned a lot about cycling around the city these past couple of weeks. So I wanted to share with you today, some of the things I’ve learned if you’re thinking of starting to ride a bike (even as fall rolls around!) or if you’re planning to rent a bike when you come to the city for a visit.
1) Bike lanes – Unlike Toronto, where I’m from, bike lanes in Vancouver are legit. Every bike lane is clearly indicated at the top of street signs. Some of the bike lanes are also painted in green, reminding drivers that they are not allowed on that area of the road. Additionally, a lot of the bike lanes here in Vancouver are separated either with cones, plants or even a cement median, thus protecting cyclists even further when biking around town. To get a full cycling map of the downtown core, go here and for the North Shore go here.
2) The hills are alive – If you’re like me and you’ve never really biked up hills before, be prepared to be doing a lot of uphill climbs. No matter where you are in the city or on the North Shore, the hills will have you sweating up a storm. That said, what goes up must come down, so the downhill rides are always that much sweeter. In all honesty, I’ve stopped or even walked my bike a couple of times when I couldn’t pedal anymore, it definitely takes some getting used to but it’ll make you that much stronger!
3) Relationship with cars – I’ve found that compared to a LOT of other cities across North America, a cyclist’s relationship with automobile traffic in Vancouver is a lot more pleasant (most of the time!) than it is in other places. There’s an awareness here that isn’t present in most parts of the country and because so many drivers are also cyclists, I think it makes a huge difference in their attitudes towards you and your bike. That said, buses and cabs are still the scariest, so definitely always be vigilant when riding around town. I’ve learned that the best thing to do is be VERY visible and loud. Invest in bright lights for your bike, a good bell and even a reflective vest or clothing. MEC has a ton of options for you to choose from, including the vest below.
4) You need rain gear – It’s inevitable, no matter how sunny it is right now, if you’re coming to Vancouver and planning on biking or hoping to bike well into fall and winter (which is very doable, as temperatures stay quite warm all-year-round!), you’ll want to invest in rain gear, or else cycling won’t be nearly as enjoyable. Since I’ve been commuting with my bike to and from work, I know that I will soon have to invest in proper slacks and jacket to protect me from the rain. Luckily, MEC has a ton of cool and reasonably priced items like these waterproof pants priced at $69 that can definitely do the trick.
5) Get to know your bike – I’ve never owned a brand new bike before and never really cared much for learning about bikes. But when I got my new bike from MEC, I was able to learn a ton about how my bike worked, how to take it apart, how to pump up its tires, etc. Whether your bike is fromMEC or not, you can easily bring it in the store and not only get a tune up and bike parts but also get some education about cycling and your bike in general from one of their store experts. MEC even has cycling clinics and events that you can register for (check them out here). That way, you can ride around the city having all of the knowledge necessary for a safe ride. Plus, in times of crisis, you can always resort to YouTube tutorials. I did just that the other day for my back tire and I got it all figured out.
If you’re looking for a great weekend getaway idea for the summer or fall, try out Salt Spring Island. It’s just a quick 90 min ferry ride from Vancouver. Check my top 5 things to do in Salt Spring Island below.
1) Visit the Saturday market – The Saturday market is a great way to start off a weekend trip to Salt Spring Island. Whether you’re a fan of crafts, jewelry, handmade goodies or delicious fresh organic produce and homemade snacks, you’ll want to stop by the market during the day. It starts early in the morning and lasts until mid-afternoon. There’s also music and even some dancing in the grass, making it a fun outing for the entire family. If you make it out, make sure you grab some “Green Godess” tacos from the market taco stand, they make the best lunch! If you’re lucky you may also see Raffi there (word on the street is he sells his music there!).
2) Go swimming at St Mary Lake – This beautiful lake is located right in the middle of the island. You can pretty much park anywhere on the side of the road where you find space and walk down to the lake. There is also a small beach area with sand but that can get quite crowded on the weekend. The lake is warm in the summer, making it a great way to cool off after a day of outdoor activities!
3) Hike up Mt Maxwell – There are tons of trails that are available around the island but one of my favourites was the Mt Maxwell trails because of the incredibly views you can get at the top. The trails are uncrowded and allow you to explore a bunch of different viewpoints and landscapes on the island.
4) Cycle around the Island – Salt Spring Island is a popular destination for cycling enthusiasts. Lots of people cycle around the island, stopping at all the different farms, art studios, yoga studios, etc. around the island. You can find a map with the bike routes on the island here. There are also cycling excursions that you can join and bike shops, in case you need any tune ups while journeying across the island. If you’re a fan of hills, then you’ll be well served on the island!
5) Grab a snack at Morningside Organic Café – This cute little vegan café is located right beside the Fulford Harbour ferry stop. The Morningside Organic Café serves up a variety of bowls, wraps, vegan pizzas, gourmet sandwiches, nut mylks and more! You can also buy local produce and even books at the café. It’s also the coolest looking café around!
Summer is officially here on the west coast! It has been nothing but blue skies this past week, which is very welcome after a series of rainy months. Since this is my first summer out west there are a lot of things that I want to do while the sun is shinning. So I have decided to create a summer fitness bucket list!
Topping my list is this summer is training for several half marathons. I did my first ever half in May and loved it so much that I decided to register for a few more down the road. I am taking full advantage of the fact that I’m out west to pick races in beautiful destinations that showcases some of the best Pacific Northwest scenery.
Obstacle course races are also high on my bucket list. There are so many great events being held across British Columbia that I want to hit up as many as possible. So I’ve been doing a lot more strength training and training with weights to get in the best shape possible in order to be a strong competitor for these races. I’ve always lacked upper body strength so it’s something that I’m really working on.
Races aren’t the only thing that are on my summer fitness bucket list. I’m also hoping to do more trail running, outdoor cycling, hiking, open water swimming and rock climbing. Basically, I want to be outside as much as possible and be as active as possible for the next couple of months!
Today is Bike to Work Day! If there’s one thing I love about Toronto is that I get to bike to and from work every day at least 6 months out of the year. There’s nothing I love more than a leisurely bike ride to start off and end my work day. It clears my head and is a form of meditation for me. While I’m biking, I’m 100% in the present moment, I’m not on my phone, I’m looking around at the beautiful scenery and am fully immersed in my cycling experience. Cycling in Toronto has taught be to be a better and safer cyclist, opting to always wear a helmet, get great bike lights, etc.
I can’t think of better shoes to bike in than these UNEEK shoes by KEEN. Excited to have them on my feet throughout the summer!
Bike Month kicks off today in Toronto. For all the details, go here.
Yup… Frigid! I biked to work wondering if it was March instead of late May today. I desperately should have worn gloves and probably could have done without the big wedges. @offneraurelien makes fun of me because I always bike in heels or wedges. I admit it probably isn’t the best footwear for biking but I’m definitely getting better at it. Anyone else bike in heels?
This weather just makes me more and more excited about going to LA next week. Seriously… the spring in Toronto this year has been pretty ridiculous. I’m back to wearing my big leather jacket and socks it’s so cold.
Who’s excited for the weekend? On my to do list this weekend: packing for LA, dropping by The Black Box Boutique for the I’MONIQ new collection launch (deetshere), running and enjoying the sunshine! What are your plans for the weekend?