Paddling the Broken Group Islands in Comfort at the Sechart Lodge

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Relaxing in Sechart’s hot tub after a day of paddling—C.Helbig

“We’re the closest hot tub to the Broken Islands,” says Nancy, one of the managers at the Sechart Lodge on Vancouver Island’s Barkley Sound. That’s music to the ear for anyone who has kayaked through the frigid waters and often fog-laden air of this magnificent archipelago. Until recently, I had no idea that you could kayak the Broken Group Islands, part of Pacific Rim National Park, in warm, dry comfort. Last weekend, we had the pleasure of staying at Sechart Lodge. It’s the only viable non-camping option for kayaking the Broken Islands, and a haven for nature lovers and relaxation seekers. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Kayaking, Places | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail: Logistics and Itinerary

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Nicole and I reading up for our next day on the West Coast Trail

Planning a backpacking trip on Vancouver Island’s famous West Coast Trail (WCT) can be daunting. Should you hike south to north, or north to south? How many days of hiking should you plan for the 75 km route? At which of the campsites should you stay? While there are many opinions on these questions, I can tell you that we were pleased with our 7-day/6-night, south to north trip. What follows is a Q & A on logistics and itinerary based on my WCT experience. For those with no intentions of doing the trail, I hope you enjoy the photos. Also, check out my previous post, which has lots more photos and provides a broad overview of what it’s like to hike the WCT. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Hiking, Places | Tags: , , , , | 25 Comments

20 Takeaways from Hiking Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail

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Cribbs Creek campsite on West Coast Trail—C.Helbig

The West Coast Trail, a rugged 75 km (46.6 mile) backpacking route on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, has been on my bucket list for years. In early June, I finally did the iconic trek. It was a great, brutal, muddy affair—an experience I will never forget. This post is a lighthearted account of what I learned about the trail on a 7-day trip with my three hiking companions. In future posts, I’ll provide more of the informational “stuff” like logistics, itinerary and packing lists. So, in no particular order, here are my takeaways from our West Coast Trail (WCT) journey from Port Renfrew to Bamfield: Continue reading

Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Hiking, Places | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

Team “Make America Grape Again” at the Half Corked Marathon

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One of our lovely team members modelling “the cap”—C.Helbig

A few weeks ago, six pals and I participated in one of our favourite events of the year: The Osoyoos-Oliver Half Corked Marathon in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. We pride ourselves on coming up with clever and current wine-related costumes for the 18 km walk/run through the vineyards. Some readers may remember us as The Real House Wines of Vancouver and The Walking Red. This year our good neighbours to the south provided the inspiration. We thank you. And, in Canadian fashion, offer up apologies if our mockathon antics cause any offence. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, Crazy Fun Stuff | Tags: , , , , , | 21 Comments

Keep an Open Mind About Vientiane, Laos

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Patuxai at sunset—C.Helbig

In my last post I wrote about our high expectations for Luang Prabang with all its glowing reviews. In contrast, we arrived in the Lao capital of Vientiane with doubts. Many accounts of the city call it boring and lacking attractions. Lonely Planet describes it as “languid”, which gives the image of a lifeless place. They’re wrong. While Vientiane lacks the charm and tourist appeal of Luang Prabang, it has a lovely authenticity and plenty of worthwhile sights, activities, and places to eat/drink. The city has a warm and embracing feel, especially around sunset when locals congregate along the banks of the Mekong and around Patuxai.  I have very fond memories of our two days in this sweet place. Continue reading

Categories: Laos, Places | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

High Expectations for Luang Prabang, Laos

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Cooling off at Tat Kuang Si—C.Helbig

Described as “one of SE Asia’s crowning jewels” that provides “world-class comfort and spiritual nourishment,” there’s no wonder we had high expectations for Luang Prabang. The superlatives are largely true and a trip to Laos would not be complete without a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the things that stuck me most about our four days in Luang Prabang (not enough) was the diversity of things to do and see. From temple viewing, to pampering, to swimming under waterfalls, to shopping-til-you-drop, Luang Prabang can keep you as busy or relaxed as you desire. The one downside: the secret is out and you won’t have Luang Prabang to yourself. Continue reading

Categories: Laos, Places | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

100th Post: Ten Places that have “Stuck with Me”

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Skyline Ridge Loop at Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish, British Columbia

I was going to continue with my Laos series when I noticed that this is my 100th post. To celebrate, I decided to do a post about places that have stuck in my mind and in my heart. It was a tough exercise limiting this to only ten (there are many runners up). I took a broad approach to the word “place” and the list includes countries, regions, and provinces. A few of the places are from visits that happened long before I’d ever heard the word “blog” or even used a computer, and I’m happy to be sharing these “old” favourites. Thank you for reading, for your likes and comments, and motivating me to keep at it. Continue reading

Categories: British Columbia, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Namibia, Places, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

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