Sorry, what's that word?  Yes you read correct - the Seawheeze - Lululemon's half marathon.  The first of this now annual race was this past Saturday.  I have done quite a few local half's and this was probably one of the best.  Not my favorite (which is the April Fool's half on the sunshine coast - mostly for sentimental reasons), but it is for sure second.   The amount of preparation and little details that went into this event was incredible.  

The expo the night before the race was seriously more like a party hockey players on stilts,  a lovely relaxing lounge with hammocks overlooking the water, free popsicles and free manicures/pedicures.  I have never heard of this at a race before!! Mind you some of those toenails will probably be falling off in the next little while, the effort might be in vain.  The swag in the race package was also impressive - bottle of water, dried fruit, 15% off clothes (which of course sucks you in to buy something), free coffee voucher, flip flops (!!), and not to mention that the bag itself was one of those shoe backpacks thingies.  Pretty cool (although slightly useless and likely to be thrown out).  

The morning of the race kicked off with sunrise yoga (which I missed) and an incredibly long gear check line - I wasn't looking forward to picking up my gear after either.   I have never seen so many spectators and people cheering at a race before - it really made a huge difference.... plus you always had to be on the lookout for quirky little touches - paddleboarders out in the water cheering, guys riding triple sized bikes along sides, a large group of drag queens, mermaids perched on rocks, a tai chi demonstration, taiko drummers, a cappella singers and witty signs saying things like "your pace or mine."  (just to name a few!!) I wish I had run with my camera to capture some of this!!  

The post race food was delicious - apart from the super nutrituous recovery drink... couldn't even drink it! You seem to have to worry about super-nutritious things...  But wow - the waffles were amazing!!!  And fruit skewers and watermelon and mini quiches... delicious - I am getting hungry just thinking about them.  Also after the race was a concert (fun. and Hey Ocean) and sunset yoga on Kits beach - neither of which I stuck around for (my family was having its own beach party).  

The run itself was hard!  The route was challenging with lots of hills - lots, you know, being more than none. And in some stretches it got crazy hot - no breeze, no shade... just keep plodding on, feeling your skin burn.  It was my slowest half marathon, and my feet are in the worst shape ever (details that may gross you out), but trust me, I'll be back next year! 

So you know how much I love biking?  Well today was perhaps the one exception.  My mom and I were meeting my cousin and her boyfriend out in Delta (like an hour away) for some go-karting, and since that only lasts about 15min, we wanted something else to do.  I had the hair-brained (or is it hare-brained??) idea that we ought to bike down to Point Roberts.  Point Roberts is a little piece of America surrounded entirely by water or Canada - so yes, after our go-karting adventure (which was awesome!!!!) we planned to venture down there.  And by planning I really mean we agreed to do it with no planning whatsoever, which may have been the problem.  

Things got off on the wrong foot when my mom 'realized' she left the bike book at home, and we had to use google maps to try to figure out where to start, where to park, all those details - we both were getting frustrated... so we parked in a random residential area and went from there.... and discovered this whole time the darn book was in her bag... had to laugh.   So we got ourselves on track.  This is where I should tell you that this book was written in 1973... that's really old for a guide-book.  

After following one road for miles, it suddenly ended, well sort of ended... it gave us the option of crossing a murky, garbage filled ditch on a log someone kindly laid across.  Mom was a little hesitant (and perhaps logical), but I was sure we could carry the bikes across and carry-on... so we did.  This new route led us to the train tracks - we again had no choice to follow this oil-soaked road along the tracks until we found a place where it wasn't illegal to cross.  This was one instance I really wished I had fenders on my bike!! I was covered in oily grime within minutes.  Still have marks on my legs that just won't come off.  Anyway I was still cheery and enjoying the adventure at this point, and really enjoyed the whole ride to the race track.  It was after that point that things went really downhill.   

Well really, I started to get hungry... and every dead end we ran into (which was often - seriously out of date book!!) made me get irrationally angry.  At one point I hear my mom chuckling behind me... apparently she finds it quite humourous how my normally cheery and positive attitude (I think my positive spin on everything annoys her) disappears quickly as my hunger grows.  Sorry mom!  My mom had told me that we would find beautiful beaches lined with fish and chips shops... not true!  It took us forever to find a place to eat.  Once we did, my mood improved drastically and despite more wrong turns (the books fault, I swear!!), we finally made it back to our car.  

Just one random fact about Point Roberts (also affectionately called Point Bob - that doesn't count) - in 1973, a drought hit the area causing tensions between the American and Canadian residents of Point Roberts.  If Delta did not agree to provide the residents with water, the Americans threatened to cut off the Canadians water supply and apparently even hung up signs saying "Canadians go home."   Delta complied and in 1986 this arrangement became permanent.  

So my friend Emily - one of my oldest and dearest friends - has been home this past week from New Hampshire.  She goes to Dartmouth and is working on a cure for every disease out there.... ok maybe not, but she studies experimental and molecular medicine.  I have given her the well deserved nickname Emstein, as she is the most intelligent person I know and I'm incredibly proud of her.  

Anyway she has come home and brought two of her friends with her, and we have had the pleasure of acting tourists in our own city and exploring it with them.   We first went south to Harrison Lake where Diana has a cabin and spends most of her weekends in the summer.  Emily and I both hadn't been there for a number of years, so it seemed long past due for a visit.  Diana's parents picked us up in her boat and we sped over to their cabin on the far side of the lake - this trip is my favorite part as the three of us always sit up front and dangle our legs over the front, skimming our toes in the water until we pick up speed, and hold on for the ride.   We spent the good part of a day there, swimming in the lake and lazing on the dock, and just enjoying the peace and quiet of such a secluded area.  

We next went north.  We drove up the Sea to Sky highway to spend the day in Whistler.   Mostly our day consisted of shopping and browsing touristy stores - the three of them fly back to Boston tomorrow, so it was their last chance to pick up gifts, and clothes and things for themselves as well... they live in Hanover which has very few stores... just a GAP I think....   So it was an afternoon of wandering, shopping, drinking tea and eating the famous Cows ice cream.  Cows is a very successful Canadian (from PEI) ice cream chain - it has been rated Canada's best, as well as the World's top place for ice cream (don't know how legit that one is... but it is really good).  Cows is not only known for its ice cream but also it's cleverly mocking t-shirts making fun at pop culture....  you can find shirts like "50 Shades of Hay" and "Moomoolemon" - my two favorites.  (50 Shades of Grey is the latest greatest (yet terrible) book (smut) and moomoolemon is referencing Lululemon, where I used to work).  I seem to have gotten a little stuck on ice cream... I had cookie dough by the way, and it was delicious!! 

After our shopping extravaganza we drove around a few beautiful places in Whistler - a couple of lakes and out towards Callaghan Valley, hoping to see some bears.  No luck there.  I always thought tourists were crazy for wanting to see bears so badly... but now here I am, one of them.  

Warning: You are entering a particularly beautiful area! :D  

I am constantly being blown away by the beautiful places in my own backyard.  Just an hour or so into the woods in West Vancouver is Whyte Lake - inviting green water nestled in between giant Cedar and Douglas fir trees.  The water was deliciously warm after being heated by the sun all morning, calling for us to go for a swim (and also very important - it seemed leech free).   It was quite a popular spot and we hadn't anything to swim in, so I will go back another day for a dip.  And probably many more days after that.  

During our hike I learnt a few interesting tidbits of information from my companions.  Did you know that the Guinness family (of Ireland) built the Lion's Gate bridge?  Our city would cease to function without this bridge - it is a very big deal.  They also own the plot of land our trail started in and are building a development in the area.   

Another thing topic of conversation - A man in Florida went to retrieve his golf ball from a water hazard on the green and a croc grabbed his leg (it was going for the ball, but overshot a tad).  His quick-thinking friend hit the croc with a golf club, only to be accosted for hitting the thing by an irate woman who had befriended the hungry crocodile.  She had built their friendship on marshmallows.... which look suspiciously like golf balls....  So I also learnt on that hike that you probably shouldn't feed golf-course-resident crocodiles marshmallows. 

Oddly enough with an entirely different group of people later that night marshmallow eating crocodiles came up in another conversation.... how bizarre.  

Several years ago I went to a Vipassana meditation retreat.  It was 12 days of silence.  12 days of eating barely two meals (vegetarian) a day, avoiding eye contact with my fellow meditators and doing nothing but living with the thoughts in my head and noticing life as it was passing me by.  Throughout this incredibly long 12 days - longer than any other 12 days I have experienced - I went through an incredible range of emotions.   Sometimes I would find myself in complete despair, and others incredibly happy for no reason at all.... well no there usually was a reason - it was watching the leaves of a trembling aspen quaking in the wind, it was really tasting food for the first time in my life.  It was feeling energy inside me, and it was being so stuck in my own head, that in order to get out, I found myself dancing to a tuneless song in my head - a little break, a little salsa dancing in the bathroom.  I felt like I was going crazy, but I also felt like I was waking up to some real truths of life. 

There is one principle, one teaching of Buddhism that has stayed with long after I stopped being a vegetarian (6months) and my meditation routine lapsed... and that is anicca - the nature of things to always be in a state of impermanence (now there is an oxymoron!).   This too shall pass - seasons change, bad moods pass, good moods do to, relationships end, new ones begin, life goes on - even if it feels like it won't, even if you fear what the future holds - tomorrow and every day after that will still be here, and it is your choice how you greet them.  

Today I am sad - a part of my life is over, and I am grieving.  Every aspect of my life is in a process of changing, and I am feeling as if the only thing I can do is hold on and enjoy the ride.  
I have no idea what this is going to end up looking like as I am writing my first ever post on my IPad. I've been in Victoria for the last few days and have not had Internet access... We are now in Starbucks reconnecting to the online world.

That picture floating around somewhere on this page is Thetis Lake... It's a beautiful place i cannot wait to explore more. There are two 3 km loops around two beautiful lakes with ideal trails for running.... Plus I think there are some trails that lead off up into the mountains that are calling to me.
There is the best breakfast place I have ever been to (and I have been to a lot!) in Victoria... The Blue Fox. Even at 1pm on a weekday there is a 45 minute wait for a table. But it is totally worth it.

All righty, this IPad app is not the best... It has taken me about 20 min to type what I have written so far and the random addition of capitals and line breaks are frustrating me! Perhaps this is more a problem with my incredibly small hands and short fingers than the app itself...
Despite having lived in Horseshoe Bay as a teenager for some 10years, I have never explored north of there by bike.  True this was also the part of my life when I hated exercise and hoped in all seriousness that I would break my leg to get out of PE class.... but still biking has always been the exception.   

But yesterday we ventured out into this unchartered territory.  We rode up the Eastern side of Howe Sound in the direction of Squamish and Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway.  It's a funny thing; you (as in I) think you know the city you live in, but then someone goes and says the Eastern side of Howe Sound, and you have no idea that is precisely where you have lived most of your time here.  That's why I love this blog.  It pushes me to figure these things out.     

The ride was surprisingly difficult - there were 13 (!!) small (ish) climbs at giving it a climb rating of 5 according to mapmyride.com - whatever that means.  I think it's something like - good for you, you warmed up your legs a little for all the real climbs out there, here's a pat on the back.    

Porteau Cove lies just south of one of the most dangerous spots for rockslides along the Sea to Sky Highway.  In 2008, a slide blocked the highway seriously messing up traffic for 5 days, but thankfully nobody was physically harmed.  Porteau Cove has an emergency ferry dock, so that when slides do happen, traffic can be sent via ferry either to Horseshoe Bay or Squamish.  

The area is really spectacular with views of a million little islands (I exaggerate a little), and bluey/green water, unlike the adjacent ocean water - perhaps due to glacial water coming down from the mountains?  

So another thing I came across - Howe Sound is a sound - a sound is a geological term, not just some word they stuck to Howe to make it sound better.  A sound is a large ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight and wider than a fjord ... what are all these terms!!! 

Find more Bike Ride in Canada
So I stand corrected - when we bought the property on the highway, there was nothing on it - we (ok probably not me as I was about 2) along with my aunt, had to put in everything - including a well for water and all. 

So why did we choose this place essentially in the middle of nowhere to start a tourist-driven business?  Because of the spectacular hotsprings across the road - Liard River Hotsprings.  These are the second largest hotsprings in Canada - despite living across the road most of my life, I didn't know this until just now!  The first pool and boardwalk was built by the U.S. Army in 1942 - I am guessing this is the same time that they were building the Alaska Highway - connecting Alaska to the rest of the states (after Pearl Harbor, they feared a Japanese invasion of Alaska).  There are two pools - the Alpha pool (in the picture) which has always been the most popular, and the Beta pool, farther on up the boardwalk.  Although both pools were always open when I lived there, the Beta pool has been closed due to a snail on the Red Listed species list.  Something else I just learnt!!  

The hot springs were a huge part of my childhood.  We were there all the time - summer and winter.  I remember getting all bundled up in our snowsuits and heading out to the springs.  There was some degree of strategy to getting changed to go in/out of the pool as it was freezing... literally like as cold as -50 some years.  When I got older I was so annoyed when they put a steel door handle on the changing room... didn't anyone know flesh sticks to cold metal?!! 

We used to roll in the snowbanks and jump back into the hot water - or sit under overhanging tree branches and have someone shake off the snow over our heads.  My dad created the -50 below club - he sewed fur loincloths for a group of men who for us, and himself, and they posed out in the snow at the springs.... 

There were numerous upgrades and improvements to the pool over the years - but the best one was when a tree fell over one end of the pool - the cooler, slightly deeper end.  This tree soon became a destination - a place to play volleyball, a climbing challenge, a jumping spot.  It's funny how the best improvement came from a free through the course of nature.    

Remember this large lump of granite?  This is the Chief - besides the Grind, this is probably the most popular hiking destination in the Vancouver area. 

It is claimed to be the second largest monolith (single massive rock) in the world... what is the first?  Well the only other one I can think of is Ayer's rock, so that's my guess.  Turns out monoliths are quite an interesting topic themselves - did you know in Lalibela, Ethiopia there are 11 churches carved in the 12th century from red monolithic volcanic rocks; and they are considered the 8th wonder of the world?  Ok that's enough following wikipedia into the depths of random facts.  I could get lost in there for days.  

Back to the Chief - there are three peaks to hike to and it takes about 5 hours to do them all (although that is just a bit of hearsay, I have never done it).  We just went to the first peak, and because the trail becomes more difficult for dogs, we turned around there.  As it was, Tim (the dog) had to be carried up a few ladders, but ultimately seemed to be enjoying himself.  

Normally the summit provides a fantastic view of Howe Sound and Squamish below, but we found ourselves in the middle of clouds, that only blew off for glimpses of the town below.  It was pretty cool though to be surrounded in clouds, completely in another world. 

An update on something I mentioned ages ago - the 40km hike from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove that I wanted to do... well my friend Michelle is going to do it with me next Monday!!  Yes :D I am so excited! 

Vancouver doesn't get hot often, but when it does, it is my favorite place to be.  The past weekend was for me, what summer in Vancouver is all about. 

Friday I did the Grind with my mom, and was so hot and sweaty after I headed straight down to the ocean to cool off.  There aren't many other places - none that I can think of - that you can climb a mountain then within minutes be in the ocean!  I was waiting to meet up with some friends in the evening, so I set myself up on the one of the many grassy fields at Ambleside Park and enjoyed my book (Plain Truth - Jodi Picoult, a good one).    There is nothing so relaxing as lying in the shade reading a book... just missing a big glass of ice tea... but I suppose a camel back is close enough.  A few chapters later it was time to head to my friends house.   We played Bocce ball in her backyard - this is basically a formal ("adult") version of the kid's game throwing rocks at things  - which pretty much everyone has done at least once in their lives.  During this rousing game, we realized there was a great tree in her yard that I had failed to climb despite having lived their for a year and visited often - this is very abnormal for me, as I love to find a good climbing tree.... so anyways checked that one off my list. 

In the evening we got Indian takeout and headed back down to Ambleside for a picnic.  To work-off our meal, we went for a stroll along the beach... to TCBY, my favorite frozen yogurt shop.  I love this place, and not just because I worked there for almost two years, and it feels a bit like home - but also because the yogurt is absolutely delicious!! 

We topped off our night at our friends house playing an XBOX dancing game, that I swear is more of a workout than doing the grind!! 

Saturday morning, Diana and I hit the grind again - and somehow it was even hotter today.  It was absolutely packed full of people - so many that at some points I felt like I was just waiting in a queue rather than going for a hike.  A bit silly.   We of course headed back to the beach after for another swim, and later met up with some more friends.  We took over one of the playing fields in the park and had a 3 on 3 ultimate game - ultimate is kinda like football, but with a frisbee, and no tackling - you just try to complete a pass behind the opponent's goal lines without running with the frisbee... that's the essence of it anyway.  And to top off our day we ordered pizza and sat around in the sun playing Catchphrase.  

To me, these two days sum up Vancouver in the summer - beautiful mountains, crowded beaches, good food, and great friends.