I had no idea that just an hour and a half north of Vancouver I would find complete paradise! 

Garibaldi Lake.  

After trekking 9km through beautiful, lush Westcoast forest, we emerged in the middle of a scene straight out of a BC tourism ad.  I have never seen anything like this before!  And to think it existed this whole time only miles away. What have I been doing with my life?  

Garibaldi lake is 1,500m above sea level and is surrounded by mountains.  These peaks are volcanic along the north, south and west side.  At some point in history two volcanoes nearby erupted forming The Barrier - this lava dam is over 300m (1,000ft) thick and 2km wide.  The Barrier is holding back the water from the Garibaldi Lake system - which if it ever let loose, would do some serious damage to the nearby town of Squamish.  This is actually the reason why my brother and sister-in-law cannot get flood insurance on their home.  The most recent movement in The Barrier was in 1855-6 when the debris flow created a large boulder field giving the name to Rubble Creek.   In 1981 the BC government decided the instability of The Barrier made living in the nearby village of Garibaldi (which no longer exists) was too dangerous, so all the residents were relocated to a few Estates that were being built to the north.  At this time plans were also given up that would have made Garibaldi into the main ski resort in the area - instead the company Garibaldi Lifts went on to open Whistler Blackcomb....    interesting!!

We - my brother, his daughters, my mom, my aunt and uncle and I - went to Lund this past weekend.  It is only 120km north of Vancouver but yet the trip took a staggering 6 hours... yikes.  I was just reading that Lund marks Mile "0" of Highway 101 - Pacific Coastal highway - which is one of the longest in the world at 15,202km.... perhaps a good bike ride?   I think mom and I already did parts of it from Oregon to Mexico, so now we would just have to make our way down to Chile.... I am kidding... mostly. 

Anyway it was lovely to hang out with the family and celebrate my cousins (well cousin's daughter... what is that?) 3rd birthday party.  The sun was even nice enough to make an appearance!  It was a pool party, so it would have been really sad if it rained the whole time.  

So aside from all the family-related fun and delicious food (it's always about the food with me), the highlight was hearing the tale of a domestic goose - this goose used to live up on a farm, but he kept escaping down to the ocean. After numerous trips down the road to pick him up, the farmer finally had had enough and decided to leave him be.  This goose had to fend for himself now, and he could be heard crying and crying all day.  (I am not sure how a goose 'cries', but apparently it did.)  Until one day, a Canadian Goose befriended it.  These two were seen cruising up and down the shoreline all summer, and when winter came and it was time for the geese to migrate south, the one friendly goose stayed behind with his odd mate.   The two were looked after by a local and survived the winter without any trouble.  When summer came again, the pair joined the returning geese.  It seems like through the help of his friend, the domestic goose is being accepting as one of their own.  Although he has been seen leading the "V", he is still often the outsider, on the sidelines of the group.  That is where the story ends for now.  We saw this flock of geese when we first arrived, and wondered what that odd looking grey thing was with the Canadian Geese... that was him.  I thought it was a touching story and I hope it turns out well for the runaway goose. 

The run portion of a triathlon
For July I am focusing on the relatively easy stuff (for me, because I love this kind of stuff) - fitness and nutrition.   But I am going to split these goals into two different posts because I think I have a lot to say on both of these topics.  

I think it is a well known fact that exercise can make you happy - and not just because you love the activity you are doing... like riding a bike! :D  From experience, it is pretty clear to me that exercise changes my mindset.  I can be grumpy, angry, sad... whatever.. and once I have gone for a run, or gotten out on the bike, or hit the gym, I feel a million times better.  I think the best when I exercise - my mind seems to operate on a different level coming up with new ideas and understanding problems better.  It is no surprise to me that exercise has been linked to alleviating depression.  And of course exercise is great for your health from all angles.. but you all know that, so lets carry right along. 

So what are my exercise guidelines for the month? 

1)  Start everyday with exercise - every day that I have done this, I have been in such a better mood throughout the day, and have not had to rely on coffee for a pick me up.  I always think to myself that I should start everyday by working out, but I haven't accomplished this yet.  It is time.

2) Strength train 3 times per week - this means either lifting weight or performing body weight exercises to build muscle.  There is a joy that comes from knowing your body can do whatever you want it to do (such as opening tricky jars!), and this for me, comes through being strong.  It is also essential for a healthy life to actively build muscles, especially for women, who are prone to things like osteoporosis.  As you age, you lose muscle, so it is necessary to work to keep it up.  

3) Stretch or practice yoga everyday - every time I start to exercise a lot, I also start to notice all the irregularities in my body that cause overuse injuries.... I would love to be able to stay healthy as I increase my exercise level.  I want to do extreme activities... marathons, ultras, cycling races, etc... and in order to do that, I need to learn to balance strength and flexibility. 

4) Set goals for the future to stay motivated and continue to push my limits and comfort zone.  For me this involves running the Seawheeze half marathon in under 2:00 and completing an Olympic Triathlon this September.  I also would love to become a better salsa dancer and learn to rock climb... I have loads of things I want to do, so I may need to put some thought into which ones I want to pursue at the moment. 

That's all for now!  :D