Wash / Van Trip [part 5]

On our last full day on Vancouver Island we began by going to Avatar Grove after breakfast. Before arriving at Avatar Grove, the road turned into mainly big gravel, with lots of potholes. At one point we almost turned around since it didn't seem we were headed the right direction. We eventually found it, which was quite worth it because we got to see Canada's Gnarliest Tree. 

We ate our packed lunch at Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. There were a bunch of Steller's jay birds hanging out by us. They were really excited when a couple got done eating so they could go scrounge for crumbs. I think they were waiting for us to leave as well. 

We walked the trail which took us to Botany Bay and Botanical Beach. We saw some tide pools and unfortunately a deceased octopus. 

After a few hours we took a break and headed to the Renfrew Pub for a beer. It was a little soon for supper, so we went and walked a shorter trail to the water for some more spectacular views. 

For supper it was back to Renfrew Pub. Before leaving we walked the docks a bit trying to get a closer view of an otter out in the water. 

On the way home we made a few stops to get a better view of the sunset. Even our little cabin welcomed us home with a beautiful view.

Wash / Van Trip [part 4]

On our first morning in Canada, we leisurely made breakfast and packed our lunch before heading out to explore. Upon leaving, we took a quick detour to the top of the hill that our cabin was located on to take in the view. Not too bad. 

Our first stop was at Sooke Potholes Provincial Park. We never quite knew if we were on the right trail. Some trails were super rocky, while others took us back to the road for a bit until we hit the trail again. In the end we finally found the potholes and made it just in time to watch a guy jump in as his friend watched. 

East Sooke Regional Park  was our next stop. This area is huge and we could have spent all day here if time allowed. It didn't, so we picked one trail to explore. We were kind of hoping to spot an otter or two, since they are known to be in this area, however, they must have been hiding from us this particular day.

After our hike, we headed to Victoria to visit Eric's cousin Nik. It had been roughly 25 years since they had last seen each other, so it was due time to get together again. 

Upon arriving, we were greeted by Herbie + Doogan, two playful labradoodles. I was mainly smitten by Herbie [probably because of his name]. The weather was beautiful, so we sat in the backyard catching up / getting to know each other. 

For supper, Nik's husband James made fresh pasta [which was fantastic!]. I watched as he made it look so simple.

I made myself useful by making sure all their pets were entertained. I specifically got along with Francois the cat. He enjoyed the attention / pets, while I got my cat-fix. 

I'm so glad we got to spend an evening among great company. We heard some great traveling stories, plus got some tips of places to check out before we left Vancouver Island.

santa cruz, part 3

On our second full day in Santa Cruz, we left the hotel early in the morning. The last two nights of our trip we stayed at Hotel Paradox. It was not on the beach, but it was a nice hotel none-the-less. The check-in desk was part of a huge redwood and there were nature-esque decor all around, which I'm a big fan of. 

The morning was cloudy and rainy but we were hoping it would clear up by the time we got to our destination to do some sight-seeing. 

Our first stop was at the Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. It was not raining, so we got to walk around for a bit. The goose below did not like me taking pictures and tried to attack me. 

Because we were still craving tacos, we drove to downtown Palo Alto to go to Tacolicious for lunch. It was still a little early, so we browsed the farmer's market and did some window shopping before making our taco stop. 

The drive to Big Basin Redwoods was beautiful. VERY curvy roads and almost every other vehicle we passed had a Christmas tree they were hauling home. We didn't get to hike that far into the woods since we didn't have much time before we needed to head back. Also - surprise! It started to rain again. 

The only thing I'm bummed I did not see was a banana slug. Maybe next time. 

Before heading to supper, we went to watch the sunset at Steamer Lane. Many others had the same idea and the beach was filled with couples and families trying to soak up the last of the sun before it set. 

Finally it was the night I had been waiting for - the Aimee Mann Christmas show. It was held at the Rio Theater [iPhone pictures below] which was a bit smaller than we had expected. There were a bunch of seats in the middle-front which were reserved but all others were general admission. We decided to sit on the right side, second row. Yes, we were right by the speaker but knew it wasn't going to be deafening. However, we overheard countless people complain before the show about how it was going to be too loud, or they weren't even going to chance it. Wimps! 

Also pre-show, I enjoyed other overheards like:

"I think it's a small band, her husband is here.", referring to Ted [not her husband].

"Who's the opener?" "I don't know but it will be good since she's a music snob."

The show was filled with both comedy and music. The main story was that Santa was murdered backstage and it was Aimee and Ted's job to find the murderer. The opening for the show was an amazing video of "Murder, She Sang". [I just tried to search for the video since I keep hoping it finds its way online. It hasn't but I found the skit from Wits which must have started this idea?]

Along with being excited to see The Both [Aimee and Ted] I was also excited to see comedian Tim Heidecker. I'm pretty sure no one at this theater understood his humor. We, along with maybe one other guy, were the only ones laughing. Santa Cruz - stop being scared of loud music and comedians! 

Anyway, I just want Aimee, Ted and Tim to know - we enjoyed the show! We laughed with you and also at you [well, mainly just Ted in his baby New Year outfit]. 

butterfly garden

A couple weeks ago I was in Madison for my cousin's bachelorette party. We started off the day at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. We mainly went to see the Blooming Butterflies exhibit [if you haven't seen it, you've got until this Sunday the 10th!] but walked around a bit outside as well before we headed to supper. 

It was a great exhibit and a fun way to start off the night.