Leah Explores … Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

When I headed to Northern California one of the things on my to do list was to see the infamous Redwoods, and I was not disappointed. We headed into Felton, a small town in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which is home to the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.


The park itself is on the family friendly side, with picnic areas and a steam engine ride, as well as blacksmith demonstrations, arts and crafts and much more. I was visiting with my cousin and her two children who are three and five and it was a perfect day out. We started off with a picnic in one of the many shaded areas before heading over to the visitor center to learn more about the area. From here we headed out onto the ‘Loop Trail’ which is a 0.8mile (1.2km) flat loop that takes you through the heart of the redwoods. One particular highlight on our trip was spotting a doe and fawn grazing just off the trail, completely unfazed by all the people mere feet away. Along the trail there was a tree which had been hollowed out by a fire, the tree was still so big that we were able to fit four of us inside with plenty of room to spare,  as well as seeing ‘The Giant’ a redwood that is 17ft wide and 270ft tall, it really helped to put into perspective just how big these giants are.


I would definitely recommend a day trip to Felton if you are in the vicinity, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park was a fantastic day out. I’m so glad that I got to see these trees up close, to truly see how magnificent they are, and to tick one more thing off the ever growing bucket list.



Leah Explores … San Francisco 

I have been wanting to go to San Francisco for so long, and I finally made it happen! Luckily it more than exceeded my expectations, and all the hype my friends had had was not misplaced. I had two and a half days in the city, and although I covered a lot I feel like I hardy scratched the surface, which in my opinion is the perfect excuse to go Hotel Mark Twainback and explore more in the future.

I stayed at the Hotel Mark Twain which was conveniently located just a few blocks away from Union Square. It was pretty reasonably priced (for San Francisco) given the location. It even had a secret garden tucked away out the back that was the perfect place to sit and sip a coffee and hideaway from the city for a little while. The staff were also helpful, when it came to advice on directions and places to avoid, and there was a helpful guide book in the room that listed some local restaurants and bars. I would definitely stay here again, the bed was comfy, the place was clean, there were some quirky touches and like I already said the location was pretty great.

Getting Around:
San Francisco was a surprisingly easy city to navigate, and the public transport was pretty easy to master. I did a lot of walking whilst in the city, mainly because it is my favourite way to explore a new city and stumble across something unexpected. I used the BART to get from the airport to the city, which cost $8.95 and was painless. I also took the MUNI  a couple of times, which is $2.25 for a 90 minute transfer. Leaving San Francisco to head to San Jose I used the Caltrain, which was painless, and cost $12.95, the journey took just under two hours and was a great way to head into the Silicon Valley area without hiring a car. Of course the most fun way to get around is on a cable car, it was $7 for a single ride which was all I needed to do. However, it is worth bearing in mind that for $20 you can get a day pass and ride as much as you like.

The most fun way to get around.

Things to do:
There is so much to see and do in San Francisco, I feel like what I saw was just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll admit I went into full tourist mode, in an effort to see as much as I could in the little time I had. In my two and a half days in the city I managed to see Alcatraz, Union Square, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Coit Tower, Ghiradelli Square, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Lombard Street, Chinatown, the Ferry Building, Twin Peaks and to squeeze in a ride on the infamous cable cars. I also did a Vantigo Tour which was a great way to see the city in a more authentic way than some of the bigger tour buses, and the tour guides were insightful and hilarious. The tour also took me to some of the places that were on my list but I knew would be a bit tricky to get to, which was super convenient.
My highlights were definitely seeing the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, the views from Twin Peaks, riding the cable cars, and of course seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in person.

To say I loved San Francisco would be a huge understatement. I ran out of time to do all the hundreds of things that I wanted to do, but I am definitely looking forward to going back in the future, exploring some of the neighbourhoods in more depth, and ticking more things off my San Francisco bucket list.

Leah Explores … Santa Barbara

Before heading to Ojai for a few days I decided to take a little detour to the coast and spend the day in beautiful Santa Barbara to do a bit of exploring.  I only had the day there so I made sure I did a bit of research beforehand so I knew where I was going, to allow myself  maximum time for exploring. Santa Barbara isn’t that big, and is definitely somewhere you can get away with seeing most of it in a day. Here are my must see places for a whistle stop tour of stunning Santa Barbara.

The Historic Old Mission
This is definitely a must when visiting Santa Barbara. America is still a relatively new country so any chance to see something historic is an opportunity I always take. Founded in 1786, the mission is nestled against the hills and overlooks the city. You can take a self guided tour for $8, but I decided to skip it and just had a look around the beautiful grounds.

The Clock Tower in the Courthouse
This was recommended to me by my best friend, and I am so glad about it, even though it was pretty overcast and cloudy it still provided some amazing panoramic views of Santa Barbara. The courthouse itself is beautiful, and on the way up to the top you can stop in and see the bells inside the tower. There are some cool murals to check out too, as well as beautiful details like tiled staircases. Definitely worth a look, plus it’s free!


State Street
State Street is where the main hub of activity in Santa Barbara is. Full of shops and restaurants there is plenty to explore, and it’s the perfect place to mosey in and out of shops admiring the beautiful surroundings. Also there are more cool staircases nestled into the Paseo Nuevo shopping complex, which are completely Instagram worthy.


Stearns Wharf
A great spot to see the ocean and look back on the city. You can wander down the pier and look in some of the touristy shops, admire the stunning beaches, grab something to eat and drink, or look around the Sea Centre. It wasn’t too busy when I visited on a Wednesday afternoon, which was perfect, but I imagine it gets very crowded in the height of summer. I walked to the end, grabbed some Salt Water Taffy and headed back to spend some time on the beach.


All in all I was pleasently surprised by how much I enjoyed my time in Santa Barbara. It didn’t sound like there was too much to do there and I was worried I was going to be easily bored and not be able to fill my day. But once I was there, I discovered it was just a really pleasant place to wander around and take it easy. Another pleasant surprise was how much free parking (for 1-2hours) there was dotted around. This made it so easy to park up and explore. A definite recommendation if you want a relaxing weekend away or a day by the sea! 

Leah Explores … Ojai

A few weeks ago, I had a bit of a “treat yo’self” moment and decided that I wanted to escape for a few days. After a bit of browsing and comparing, I decided that flying into LA was my cheapest option (even with the Canadian Dollar being so low) so from there it was just a case of deciding where to go. I settled on Ojai (pronounced “oh hi”) partly because I’d never been there before and partly because I wanted to go somewhere a bit different.
Here is my guide to beautiful Ojai.

I stayed in the Ojai Rancho Inn, and I really loved it. It was a little bit pricier than I initially wanted but it had great reviews, had a pool, free bike rentals and was pretty close to the Downtown area. I’d done some research before leaving but the staff at reception offered me a sheet with a list of local favourite restaurants and shops which was really helpful. There was free coffee in the morning, which is always a positive (I am not a morning person!) Another added bonus was that they had a small bar which played vinyl and served local wine and beer – win!

I did not have one bad meal whilst I was in Ojai, everything was scrumptious! I’d done a bit of research online before getting there, and combined with the list the hotel provided I was able to get a taste of Ojai. Here are the places I ate whilst there.
The Farmer and the Cook
Looking for something delicious, healthy and laid back then this is the place for you. Half market, half cafe/restaurant, they serve yummy vegetarian food. I had the Goat Cheese and Veggie Taco’s and they were divine!
Knead Baking Company
If there is one thing I love in life it’s carbs, so finding a yummy bakery is a no brainer. Knead definitely delivered with their Nutella filled Croissant. Honestly, everything on their menu looked and sounded delicious. Plus there was a lovely little courtyard to relax in.
Hip Vegan
This place does what it says on the tin. Tucked away down an alley, this place is pretty low key, and was filled with locals. They have a huge menu that includes sandwiches, wraps, salad and rice bowls. I had the Echo Beach Bowl which I would recommend without hesitation it was so good!
Ojai Ice Cream
Sometimes you are just wandering along and fate steps in and presents you with an ice cream shop. I tried their White Chocolate Gelato, but it was tough to narrow it down to just one flavour from all the choice they had.
Deer Lodge
A bit further out of town but definitely worth the drive, this place has a great beer selection and offers farm to table menu. I opted for the Mac and Cheese which was part of their small plates options. It was indeed small, but delicious. I had an early meal and the place was really relaxed but it sounds like it can get pretty crazy later in the evening as they often host live music events.

For such a tiny city, I was really pleasantly surprised by how many unique stores Ojai had to offer. Here are my top three picks, all of which I had read about before I left, and were on the hotel list, and I was definitely not disappointed.
Fig Curated Living
Full of the cutest gifts you ever did see, this place is a treasure trove that took me two (okay, fine three) loops around before I made my final decisions on what to treat myself to. They have some cool handmade stuff that is locally made. A must if you are looking for something unique.
Bart’s Books
I love books!!!! So any chance I get to go and explore a book store is more than fine by me. Especially when it is as AMAZING as Bart’s Books. This bookstore is outside, with sails providing shade from the sun. I spent well over an hour just browsing before the arduous task of deciding what I wanted to get started, this basically involved another loop around the place.
Summer Camp
This place was right out of my little hipster dreams. It was beautiful. It was full of dreamy products. Everything in there was beyond unique. I could have spent so much money. I has a constant mantra in my head that I was on a budget and only had hand luggage, but boy if the tables were turned I could have done some serious damage. Definitely a place to check out and grab a one of a kind items.

I didn’t go away expecting to fill every minute with activities, in fact, I was quite looking forward to a bit of downtime and a change of scenery. Ojai is definitely one of the more laid back places I have been, which was exactly what I was looking for. There are lots of local hikes, and some tours are available of the Olive Oil Ranch and some of the vineyards, but on the whole there isn’t a ton to do. I had wanted to hire a bike (the hotel had free rentals) as there is a 9 mile trail running between Ojai and Ventura. However, it was overcast and a bit chilly and I hadn’t packed the most practical clothing, so I opted to give it a miss this time. I didn’t do too much but I enjoyed what I did do.
Ojai Valley Museum
The Ojai Valley Museum is small, meaning you can make it around in 15-30 minutes, but it is full of information about the history of this small city.Entrance was $5 and whilst I was there they had a cool art exhibit featuring local Ojai Valley artists.
Go for a drive
The Ojai Valley is beautiful and I highly recommend that you go for a drive around to see all the natural beauty. On my way back to the airport I drove over to Ventura as I had been told that there was a part of the 101 where you can do a coastal drive along the Pacific Coast Highway. It was totally worth the detour as the views were stunning (even if it was a bit overcast) and there were so many places to stop and admire the Pacific Ocean.

Getting there/Getting around:
It’s about a two hour drive form LAX, however if you’re flying into Santa Barbara Airport it’s only about an hour away. Getting around with a car was nice and easy and there was a lot of free parking around which is always great. I would say having a car is definitely the easiest option when it comes to exploring. Hiring a bike would also be a pretty fun way to see the city. I did notice that there is the Ojai Trolley too which seems like a good way to do some sightseeing, the only downside is that you are then on someone else’s schedule and route.

I would definitely recommend Ojai for a great weekend escape. The people were friendly, the food was delicious, and the scenery was stunning. Happy exploring!

Top Ten … Books about Travel

When it comes to reading there is no doubt that my favourite stories are those that inspire me; inspire me to travel, to become a better person (in a non cheesy way) and to live the life I want to. So here is a list of my top ten books about travel, going on adventures and generally experiencing this amazing world we live in.


  1. Travels with Charley in Search of America – John Stienbeck
    Without a shadow of a doubt this is my favourite book of all time. It’s a gently paced and highly insightful tale of John Stienbeck and his dog Charley traveling around America in a very primitive version of an RV. It reminds you to just take things at your own pace and remember to look around once in a while, so you don’t miss the details.
  2. Tracks – Robyn Davidson
    This true story, which is now also an amazing film, is an inspiring look at one woman’s journey across the Australian Outback with just a dog and some camels for companionship, proving that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
  3. Wild – Cheryl Strayed
    This is one of those books that I purchased completely on a whim a few years ago, and I am so glad that I did. I could not put it down. It is a story that proves you can do anything if you put your mind to it, even hiking the PCT being pretty unprepared. It is sad, uplifiting, heartbreaking, inspiring, funny, and full of adventure and wisdom.
  4. Travels with Myself and Another – Martha Gelhorn
    Martha Gelhorn was a complete badass, she was fearless and so ahead of her time, and this memoir proves it. Documenting her journeys around the world covering wars and conflicts from the mid 1930’s onwards it is an inspiring look at this remarkable woman’s life, and also a firm reminder that you too can do anything you want.
  5. The Lonely Planet Story: Once While Traveling – Tony & Maureen Wheeler
    This story is amazing for so many reasons. Firstly, it’s the story of two unassuming travelers who created one of the most beloved and widely used travel resources; Lonely Planet. Secondly, it is almost melancholic, reminiscing about a time when travel was less dangerous and a lot less limited, it is an insight into a time gone by.IMG_8991
  6. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
    If this book doesn’t make you want to shove some essentials into a backpack and head straight to India then I don’t know what will. Showing a different side to India, this story is thoughtful and uplifting, whilst also being one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever read, this book really makes you appreciate what is important in life.
  7. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
    Covering Italy, India and Indonesia this story of one woman’s adventures, makes you realize that sometimes leaving things up to fate is okay, and that sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and if you want things to change, you have to do something about it. It makes you realize that being a bit selfish is okay, and that travel has a remarkable way to heal old wounds.
  8. The Motorcycle Diaries – Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara
    This is simply the story of a young man who traveled around South America on a motorbike, and documented his adventure in a journal. This is ‘Che’ before he became the revolutionary ‘Che’ the world came to know. It’s a great read that shows you the man, not the political figure, observing the suffering and hardships that people face on a daily basis, as well as the stunning landscapes South America has to offer.
  9. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
    It’s a classic for a reason. Even if you’re not a fan of the debauchery of the Beat Generation, there is something about the undeniable lure of jumping in a car and going on an a huge cross country adventure. If there is one book to inspire a road trip with friends, then this would be it. Kerouac epitomizes the feeling of being young, carefree and having itchy feet, something that I can definitely relate to.
  10. A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
    Hemingways’ memoir about his time living as an expat in Paris in the 1920’s will ignite a sense of longing for a time gone by, as well as a burning desire to sit in a Parisian cafe drinking and writing all day. Hemingway delves into the day to day of living and working in Paris.



This list was harder to make than I anticipated when I started, so I would just like to list the honorable mentions who didn’t quite make the top ten.
On Paris – Ernest Hemingway.
Into the Wild – John Krakaeur.
My Life on the Road – Gloria Steinem.
Discovering Beautiful: On the Road to Somewhere – Rory Miller.
Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story – Dame Daphne Sheldrick
The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéy
Any Human Heart – William Boyd
And of course, anything by Bill Bryson.

Got a recommendation or a favourite book about travel that didn’t make the list? Let me know in the comments, and happy reading.

Leah Explores … Quarry Rock

There is no doubt that there are some stunning hikes around the Vancouver area. Up until this point I have never really been one to partake in such activities. But the weather has been so nice in the past few days that it just seemed like the opportune time to dive right in. I choose to do the Quarry Rock hike, which is located in the tiny town of Deep Cove, in the eastern part of North Vancouver. I’m not gonna lie, my main reason for picking Quarry Rock was that is one of the easier hikes in the area, which I thought would be perfect for little old me. Also, I have seen so many pictures from the top from when friends have done it and the view in insane.

Getting there:

I looked into the different options for getting out to Deep Cove, and decided that as I was on a bit of a tight schedule, I would hire a car, so that I wasn’t going to be dependent upon bus timetables. I booked through Enterprise, who informed me when I went to pick up the small economy car I had hired, that I would actually be driving a huge pick up truck as that was all they had available. I was driving a Ford F150 (Google it, it’s seriously HUGE!) cue my minor panic attack as I set off on my adventure.

The drive there is very straight forward from the Downtown Vancouver area, and takes roughly around thirty minutes depending on traffic. Parking however was a whole other kettle of fish. I figured that by going on a Wednesday in April, it would be pretty empty, I was wrong. The two public parking lots near the start of the trail were full, plus I was driving a beast of a car that I didn’t think I would be able to park in a space that had another car remotely close to it. Luckily, after a few minutes of driving around I found a space a bit further away from the crowds that I could easily park in.

If you are taking the bus, it takes around an hour, from Downtown, and you will need to change to a different bus once you get to the North Shore. But I am assured by friends that it’s an easy journey and I will definitely take the bus next time for the convenience of not having to find parking.


The Hike:

As I have already said, the Quarry Rock hike is labelled as “easy”. That said, it’s not just a leisurely stroll, there are quite a few stairs involved and exposed tree roots so look out for those. For anyone feeling like they need to take a breather, I definitely did, there are plenty of places to stand off to the side and catch your breath and drink some water, as you watch sporty healthy people race by. The other great thing about the hike is that there are lots of flat parts along the way, and some stairs that go down rather than up. Another added bonus is that it is a dog friendly hike!

The views from the top of the rock are totally worth any second of doubt or pain you feel along the way.


What to take:

Water – You’ll be surprised how thirsty you can get on the way up, especially if it is a hot day. I took 1L of water which was perfectly fine, but I kind of wish I had taken a little bit more, especially as you have to wait until you get back to Panorama Park to refill your bottle.

Snacks – Take some lunch, or at the very least some snacks to refuel once you reach the top. It’s the perfect spot to sit and snack and soak in the stunning views.

Sunscreen – Just sitting on the top of the rock for thirty minutes, I managed to catch the sun and get some tan lines. Make sure to cover yourself in sunscreen.


Quarry Rock is a beautiful hike and I can’t recommend it enough. It was an easy enough hike that as a novice I didn’t feel overwhelmed at any point. It was the perfect way to spend a sunny day, and really soak up all the natural beauty BC has to offer.

Top Ten … Coachella Road Trips

Whether you are going to weekend one or weekend two, why not make the most of your vacation and take a pre or post (or both) Coachella road trip to squeeze the maximum amount of fun out of your trip! The last two years, we managed to fit in a bit of a pre and post road trip, partly because there are so many great places to see and explore in that part of the world, and partly because traveling 1400 miles from Vancouver we wanted to make the journey worthwhile! I ideally like to sandwich the craziness of the festival with some relaxation either side, with the option for a crazy night if the mood should take. We typically stay in or around Palm Springs before Coachella, and then afterwards head off on another adventure, we’ve visited Scottsdale, Las Vegas and The OC in the past two years.

Here are my top ten picks for road trip destinations (some I’ve been to, some I haven’t) all within a few hours drive of the festival grounds in Indio.

  1. Grand Canyon (approx. 6hrs)
    Yes, it is a bit of a drive, but boy is it worth it! Undoubtedly one of the most amazing natural wonders, it really is something you have to see to believe. This is definitely the place to go if you are looking for a more low-key break, there are some great hikes, but if that’s not your cup of tea, just having a wander around is enough. I splurged when I visited and took a helicopter ride which I would definitely recommend doing, it is so cool to get a completely different perspective of the canyon and really helps you to grasp just how big it is. Make sure you catch a sunrise or a sunset, or both, the views are incredible.

    The Grand Canyon
  2. Scottsdale (approx. 4hrs)
    Scottsdale was an unexpected discovery we made back in 2014 after our first Coachella, we picked it because neither of us had been before and it wasn’t too far from Indio. I absolutely loved Scottsdale, and will definitely go back and explore again at some point in the future. There is some great shopping, a taste of the old West, amazing Mexican food, and stunning sunsets on offer.

    Stunning Scottsdale
  3. LA (approx. 2hrs)
    Los Angeles, is more than Hollywood, there are so many unique area’s to explore, from Venice Beach to Universal Studio’s. LA can offer you a relaxing pre/post Coachella vacation, or if you’re in the mood a crazy few days of partying. The great thing about LA being so big and diverse is that it means there are suitable options for all budgets, and some awesome things to see and do for free.
  4. The OC (approx. 2hrs)
    Orange County has so much more to offer than angst ridden teens like some television shows will have you believe. From stunning scenery and quaint towns there is a lot to check out. I’ve been to a couple of places; Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach and Anaheim (see number 9) mainly fueled by my love of said angst ridden teen shows and loved all of them. I’m a sucker for a great beach and The OC certainly delivers on those!

    Newport Beach sunsets
  5. San Diego (approx. 2.5hrs)
    San Diego has been gradually creeping higher and higher up my travel list. I’ve always been put off by some of the bigger tourist attractions, but lately some Pintrest research has made me reconsider. Beautiful beaches, enclaves of bars and restaurants, what’s not to enjoy? I’ll certainly be visiting the next time I am in southern California.
  6. Palm Springs (approx. 30mins)
    Literally a stones throw away from the festival grounds is the desert city of Palm Springs. We usually stay in Palm Springs the few days before Coachella, last year we stayed in Rancho Mirage which is pretty close by. Beware, hotel prices hike up around festival time, so plan ahead. If you aren’t camping at the festival, there is a good chance you’re probably staying in Palm Springs already. It’s a unique place surrounded by high peaks and big blue skies. The perfect place to recharge and rest by the pool with a cocktail in the blistering sunshine.
  7. Las Vegas (approx. 4hrs)
    Not had enough partying over the weekend? Drive over to Las Vegas where the party never ends! The great thing about Vegas, in my opinion, is that it’s a destination where you can literally do everything. Want to relax by a pool and have a few spa treatments? You got it! Want to party 24/7? Sure! Want to eat amazing food, and have some fancy cocktails? You’re spoiled for choice! Want to see an amazing show? Take your pick! Want to gamble the night away? That’s what Vegas is all about!

    Vegas baby!
  8. Santa Catalina Island (approx. 3.5hrs including boat ride)
    Catalina is one of those places I stumbled upon a while ago and have been wanting to visit ever since. A short 75minute boat ride from Newport beach, the island offers scuba and snorkeling, hikes, beaches and restaurants.
  9. Anaheim (approx. 2hrs)
    Why not head over to Anaheim where you can visit Disney and embrace being a big kid! Hang out with Mickey and explore the vast park full of fun and adventures. The area is pretty much centered around Disney, but if that is the purpose of your trip then embrace it. Downtown Disney is a wonderful place to wander around in the evening, and if you are spending a day at the park make sure you stay to check out the phenomenal fireworks display at night.

    Just meeting Mickey Mouse, as you do!
  10. Santa Barbara (approx. 3.5hrs)
    You’ll probably be beginning to spot a recurring theme here, beautiful coastal California beaches are my weakness. Just a bit further up the coast from LA, Santa Barbara is famous for it’s beautiful beaches, fancy boutiques and nearby vineyards. Perfect for a relaxing break, soak up the sunshine and recharge your batteries.


So that’s it, these are just some of the many wonderful places to visit, within the vicinity of Coachella. I highly recommend planning ahead as a lot of people have the same idea and places get booked up well in advance. That said, if you are heading a bit further afield you might have a bit more luck if you’re looking for an off the cuff adventure. Most importantly, enjoy exploring this beautiful corner of America.

Leah Explores … Gibsons

Last week my mum came to visit on a spur of the moment trip. She was only here for a week, so I wanted to make sure that we made the most of her time here. She has been to visit me here in Vancouver many times before, and so is familiar with all the “tourist” things to do. It’s now a nice challenge to find new exciting adventures for when she is here, we already did a seaplane tour earlier in the week, so we chose to explore Gibsons, which is a tiny little town on the Sunshine Coast towards the end of her stay.

*disclaimer, I experienced no sunshine on the Sunshine Coast*

Gibsons isn’t somewhere people tend to flock to, even people who live in the lower mainland. It has a very small population and is a popular retirement destination. Although part of the mainland, Gibsons is not accessible by car, so after a short 45 minute ride on a BC Ferry to Langdale, from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, we jumped on the first bus which took us right to Gibsons Landing in around 10 minutes, easy peasy!


Gibsons is pretty tiny so it is easy to have a stroll around and see the town by foot. We looked in some of the cute and quaint shops, and then wandered over to Molly’s Reach (most famous for its part in the CBC show The Beachcombers) for lunch with a view of the water. Afterwards we walked down to the marina to look around and admire the beautiful scenery before jumping back on the bus and ferry to head back to Horseshoe Bay.

We knew this wasn’t going to be a huge adventure, and  didn’t stay and explore for too long because the weather was pretty dismal, and honestly there isn’t a ton to do in Gibsons. That said, I would definitely go back, preferably in the summer when the weather is a bit nicer, and explore further, and even head up the Sunshine Coast to Sechelt. All in all it was a nice way to spend an afternoon and explore somewhere that is definitely off the beaten track. I would definitely recommend Gibsons as a day trip for those looking for something a little different to do without having to travel far.


Leah Explores … The Vancouver Sky

I finally did something I have wanted to do for five years … I went on a seaplane tour. Anyone who has ever visited Vancouver will have seen the small float planes landing and taking off in front of Stanley Park from Coal Harbor. My mum is here visiting and this seemed like the perfect time to do it, especially given the beautiful weather we have been experiencing so far this week.

We booked through Harbour Air who had a couple of different options for flight length and routes. Our flight time was booked for 6pm on the ‘Panorama Classic’ tour, which included a 20minute flight over the city and the North Shore mountains. However, upon arrival we were asked if we wanted to switch to the 5.30pm flight which not only meant we left sooner but also that we would be on a smaller plane, we jumped at the opportunity. Five minutes later we were boarding our tiny plane (two pilots, four passengers, tiny!) I LOVE flying, I still get excited during take off even though I have flown countless times, and this was no different. Our route took us from Coal Harbour, over the Lions Gate Bridge, along the North Shore and out to West Vancouver. From here we then looped back around and flew all along Kitsilano and English Bay, up False Creek to Olympic Village and then finally turned back over Railtown to begin our descent back into Coal Harbour.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the stunning views we saw along the way.

Our noble steed.
Lighthouse Park from above.
Beautiful BC.
Canada Place and Coal Harbour.
Stanley Park, Lost Lagoon and Downtown.
English Bay.
Downtown, Stanley Park and North Vancouver.


I found the tour highly enjoyable, it really put into perspective how diverse the scenery is in this part of the world.  Although it is a bit on the pricey side, I would highly recommend taking a seaplane tour. It is a once in a lifetime experience, a fantastic way to see the scenery from a different perspective, and it is something that is unique to Vancouver.

Upcoming Adventures

It’s nearly March (where did January and February go?) and I haven’t been on a proper trip yet. Actually, that isn’t necessarily true, whilst I was back in England for Christmas and New Year, I did visit with friends in Gloucester and Manchester for a few days. But, I’m not counting those little jaunts as they definitely counted as social visits. So, with that in mind I decided it was time to nail down a plan of action for the rest of year and give myself something to look forward to.

The Definites

These are the trips that are already booked, or may as well be and are definitely happening.


My first trip of the year is coming up very soon. I’m off to Seattle, more specifically Ballad and Capitol Hill with some of my best adventure buddies, we went on one of my favourite trips ever to Hawaii together back in 2012. All of us have been to Seattle numerous times before (one of the perks of living in Vancouver) so I’m excited to get out of the downtown area to explore some new neighbourhoods and find some fun breweries and coffee shops to fill the days.

Harrison Hot Springs

Harrison Hot Springs is a unique little town that is less than two hours drive from downtown Vancouver, and yet it feels like a world away. It is a tiny little town situated in the Fraser Valley around the south end of Harrison Lake. I have been there briefly before, and by briefly I mean a few hours where we stopped for an ice cream and stretched our legs. So I am thrilled to be heading back there for a weekend in June with two friends for our annual weekend getaway. In previous years we have gone to Seattle, Vernon and even attempted camping at Cultus Lake, so it will be great to be able to relax and explore the surrounding areas a bit more in depth, and maybe even spot a Sasquatch.


Last time I went to Harrison I made a friend.

The Definite Maybes

These are safe bets that they (most likely) will happen this year, but nothing is booked yet.

Silicon Valley, San Francisco and the surrounding areas

My cousin and her family have just moved to Silicon Valley through her husbands work. So I will definitely be taking advantage of this and giving them a visit at some point this year, once they are all settled in. San Francisco has been on my list of places to visit for some time so this seems like the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and even explore a bit further afield; Berkley, Napa Valley and Carmel are all on my list.

Cabin Christmas

It has become a tradition in our friendship group that we go away for Christmas to a cabin in the woods, for the past few years we have gone to a lovely little cabin in Mount Baker, Washington. Last year I went back to England for Christmas and that was fantastic to be surrounded by family and old friends, however I couldn’t help but feeling like I was missing out by not being at the cabin. I was offered some constellation that due to the weak Canadian dollar my friends weren’t at “our cabin” and instead had gone to a cheaper alternative. There has been some discussion already about Christmas 2016, and even though the Canadian dollar isn’t looking so great at the moment, I’m sure we will find a cabin to suit our needs, even if it isn’t “our cabin” that we love so much!


Our Christmas cabin in Mount Baker.

The Maybes

These are the places that I would like to go to this year, but it will all come down to funds and the amount of vacation time I can get from work. Some are a lot more achievable than others.


As I’ve already said in this post, the Canadian dollar is weak at the moment, which means going down to The States isn’t as cost effective as it once was, not that that is stopping me, but it is definitely making me think. That said, domestic travel is extremely expensive in Canada (the country is huge after all) so traveling between provinces is not as easy as I thought it would be when I first moved out here. I’ve lived in Canada for five years now and have yet to leave the British Columbia and explore some of the other beautiful provinces in this stunning country. Top of my list is definitely Montreal. I have got a couple of friends who have been and loved it. From all the research and pictures I’ve seen it seems like a city in a bubble with some beautiful building and a bit of a party atmosphere, plus it’s the home of Poutine, yum!

The Rockies

Once again, a part of Canada that I am yet to experience, and definitely up there on my list. I’m not into winter sports or super outdoorsy, so I think a trip in the summer would be more up my alley, and the chance to see Lake Louise in the sunshine, is something I definitely want to do. I know my mum is planning on coming out to visit this summer, so I think this trip would be a nice thing to do with her.Plus the road trip to there would be pretty epic in itself.


Iceland has been a country that I have wanted to visit for years, and it is definitely one of the countries I wish I had visited when I was still living in England, where it is a lot cheaper to get to. Having done some research, it is definitely still a doable trip even from Vancouver, but it might also be something I save for the next time I go back to England and make an extended stopover.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of those countries that constantly comes up when I am browsing through the travel section of Pintrest. Not only does it look like there are some stunning beaches (I’m a sucker for a beautiful beach) and glorious lush rainforests and jungles, but it seems like there is a new adventure around every corner.


I definitely feel a lot better about not having a lot booked so far, having written this all down. I know I am not going to be able to go on all of these trips this year, unless there is a lottery win involved, and my vacation time through work doubles, but I am going to do my best to see and explore as many new places as possible. I will be making the most of the three day weekends coming up in the summer and attempting to explore the beautiful city I live in a bit further.