What it is like to see a grizzly up close and personal with Adventure Quest

One of the things I love most about BC is the natural beauty and endless wildlife. From the mountains to the ocean you can find whales, seals, elk, black bears, and grizzlies to name a few. While we have some neighbourhood black bears, I have always been a little afraid of grizzlies and never really wanted to get close to them.

That was until my dad (who happens to be a National Geographic photographer) told me about the Grizzly Bear Adventure with Adventure Quest Canada and Homalco Adventure and Wildlife Tours. He described it as a bucket list experience and so I definitely wanted to find out more.

I found out that not only do you get up close and (safely) personal with the bears, you also get to learn about these amazing animals in their natural habitat and learn about the first nation reserve that they live on, and to say the least it is a bucket list experience that I want to share more with you.

 

Getting here

The tour starts in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. I am not going to lie, it is a bit of a treck to get here from Vancouver. You can either fly or take a BC ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and then drive about two hours. I decided to do the later because I always have a great experience with the ferry. It is a  comfortable journey and I can take my car with me so I don’t have to worry about transportation on the other side. Another bonus is they have great food on board, and you never know what you might see. I have spotted whales several times from the ferry deck.

Where to stay

Campbell River is a small town and I absolutely love exploring some of the local spots when visiting a quaint area. I decided to stay at one of the local spots, Painters Lodge. The beautiful lodge is located right on the ocean and I was lucky enough to have a room overlooking the water. The room had a large balcony so I could sit outside with my morning coffee and keep my eye peeled for orcas in the distance (staff told me it is pretty magical when they swim by). I also loved the downstairs restaurant. The food and drinks were delicious, the staff was so friendly, and there were beautiful ocean views. I loved the lodge because it had a very comfortable vibe.

The tour 

The tour started at Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River. The tour starts with a two hour boat ride from the Island to the mainland, Bute Inlet. Along the way we saw two humpbacks eating and another three sleeping. It was pretty neat since I have never seen whales sleeping before. We also spotted some stellar sea lions and seals out for a morning swimming.

 

Once we arrived at Bute Inlet and Hamalco First Nations land we met with our guides Tony and Koji from the Homalco First Nations. They greeted us with a traditional welcome and went over some safety tips. Then we were off on our adventure.

There were several different viewing towers that wrapped around two different rivers. The reason this is such a popular spot for the grizzlies is because of the annual salmon run and a lot of the bears are trying to eat as much salmon as possible before they go into hibernation in November.

It didn’t take long for us to spot our first bear. At the first tower we stopped at we came across a big male relaxing in the distance. I was already in awe of these amazing animals.

After driving around for a little longer we came across another fully grown female sleeping by a tree. She was honestly no more than 20 meters from us. She sniffed around (smell is their best sense) and once she realized we were no threat, she continued with her nap. It was amazing to see that the bears weren’t the killers a lot of people make them out to be, and while they are more aggressive than black bears, they will only really attack if they feel threatened.

At the next viewing tower we didn’t come across any bears but we did get to see the bears favourite lunch meal, salmon. Just below our viewing deck were about 10 giant salmon swimming upstream getting ready to spawn. I have honestly never seen such large fish in my life.

Our last stop of the day was the most spectacular. We weren’t in a tower but out in the open and the only thing separating us from the grizzlies was the river. First we saw a female bear eating a salmon. Moments later, she went back into the water and we had a chance to watch her fish for a salmon and take it back to the shore for lunch. You could hear the crunch sounds of the bear chowing down on the fish. It was incredible.

Moments later we noticed another bear heading over, closely followed by an adorable nine month old cub. I couldn’t believe how adorable the fluffy baby was and it was amazing to see how protective the mother was of her cub. She crossed the river to check us out and got really close before going back to her cub and trying to find food for the both of them. I still cannot believe the beauty of the bears and seeing them in their natural habitat was so special.

After two hours with the bears, it was time to head back to the boat and make our way back to Campbell River. Along the way we were lucky enough to be treated to a show from a lone male orca. He breached twice and was doing some flips along the water. I have never seen an orca act like that before.

Alas it was time for the tour to come to an end but I still cannot get over how lucky we were. From spotting humpbacks, to orcas, and then having a chance to get so close to he bears and learning more about them and their habitat was a really amazing and unforgettable experience. You can find out more about the tour and experience here.

I also wanted to share some more pictures with you. All of them were shot on my new Nikon Z.

Happy exploring my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

My love/hate relationship with ‘Shredding for the Wedding’

He liked it so much he put a ring on it. That is right I am a fiancée, at least for another three weeks. The moment we got engaged I started looking at venues, dresses, oh and I finally got a gym membership because I had to start “Shredding for the Wedding.”

I had heard that term before used in magazines and by other friends that have gotten married and would always joke about it but now it was my turn and I was determined to shred some pounds for the big day.

I started hitting up the gym at least five times a week, combining my favourite SoulCycle classes, Kondi HIIT classes, F45, you name it I was trying it all, doing it all, and sweating it all out.

On top of upping my fitness game, I was also paying more attention to the food I was eating. Cutting out carbs and sugars and eating smaller more nutritional portions and meals.

In just a matter of weeks I was starting to see the pounds fall off but I also started to notice other changes. I had more energy, my skin was clearer than every before, I was in a happier mood, and feeling more confident about myself overall.

It was in that moment that I didn’t need to shred anything for the wedding, I needed to start living a healthier lifestyle in general for my own well being and personal relationships.

After quitting tennis, I had always been a bit of a yoyo dieter and had always struggled with self image and confidence because I wasn’t the athlete I used to be. However when the wedding came up, I had real motivation to stick to a plan and to better myself.

I am not going to lie, I was disappointed that it took a proposal to motivate me, I should of wanted to do this for myself but at the end of the day at least I got the push I needed and can start this journey back to a healthier me.

The best part about it all, is it has been relatively easy. Sure I wish I could drink an extra glass of wine or indulge in another scoop of ice cream but I haven’t done any actual dieting. I have let myself have cheat days, eat chocolate, drink wine but just in smaller portions. I also enjoy working out but would always make excuses if I got to busy. Since I got engaged I have stopped making excuses and have been making time.

Now the last thing I want anything to do while reading this is think that you need to lose weight if you are getting married, or need to lose weight period. What I want people to realize is that life can get busy and we can get distracted and lose sense of ourselves and that is ok. What is not ok is if we don’t check in every once in a while and reconnect with ourselves and make sure we are taking care of ourselves and if we aren’t well then it is time to make the changes. For me that change was leading a healthier and more active lifestyle and that might not be the same change for you but no matter what it is important to be aware.

I am three weeks away from my wedding and I have lost 20 pounds and am back down to a healthy weight. But besides the pounds I lost I have gained energy, confidence, and overall happiness. So while I don’t necessarily agree with shredding for the wedding, I do agree about shredding for yourself, or really anything for yourself if it is going to improve yourself.

xo

Mia

5 Reasons you should get a wedding planner

It was just five weeks until our wedding when everything came crashing down quite literally. My wedding planner texted me the news that the Sea to Sky Gondola’s cable had been cut and now the wedding that had been planning for almost a full year wasn’t going to happen. I was gutted, devastated, and heartbroken. I threw myself a pity party and cried throughout the weekend but then realized I had an amazing fiance, friend group, family, and wedding planner and we would be able to pull together a fairytale in the five weeks we had.

While friends and family were amazing support and helped me from going crazy, it was our amazing wedding planner Caroline Hyatt that made all the difference because she actually knew vendors, helped set up meetings, and got really creative with ideas since this is her job after all. Even before this disaster struck, I felt our planner was the best money we spent during this wedding process and I wanted to share why it is important to consider a wedding planner for your big day.

 

1. They are there for you for disasters

I honestly don’t know what I would of done without Caroline during this whole situation. While I cried for three days straight, she managed to reschedule five weddings in three days. She helped all of us stay calm, asked what was the most important factors for a new venue and got to work. She wanted to make sure we didn’t sacrifice our dream wedding because of the situation. I told her a background of mountains was very important to me and within hours she had four venues in the mountains ready for me to visit.

2. Their job is to take the stress off of you

Even before the most stressful wedding planning moment, there were little situations here and there that were stressing me out. Everything from the hotel not making the right bookings to trying to accommodate all of our food allergies, she was on top of it and made sure that we didn’t have to handle these situations and could instead just focus on the happiest time of our lives.

3. She knows how to get deals or good prices

Trust me, when you book a wedding planner, it usually isn’t her first rodeo (unless you are her very first wedding). Also a lot of them specialize in a certain area (ours Squamish) so they have developed relationships. She would know where you could find the best deals on the exact decorations, rentals, desserts, you name it that you dreamed of having on your big day. I feel like at the end of the day we almost saved money (and definitely time) by taking out the research part.

4. They help keep your budget and your to do list in check

Wedding planning is stressful. Then try plan a wedding, work your full time job, and move into a house (ya that wasn’t the smartest thing we have ever done). Sometimes you can get lost in all the craziness and then all of a sudden you have forgot to pay your officiant or book the makeup artists you wanted, or you accidentally went way over budget on your flowers. Every month Caroline sends us our check ins to make sure that we are ahead of the game and don’t miss a beat.

5. They bring your vision to life

You have enough things to worry about like how to keep uncle Joe and cousin Joanna on opposite ends of the table or letting your friend know they cannot bring a plus one they have only been dating a week. Making sure that everything is delivered on time and set up in the right spot. She will make sure your day goes off without a hitch no matter what you have had to go through to get down the aisle.

Happy wedding planning my friends,

xo

Mia

5 tips to maximize your bedtime skin routine

When it comes to your skin routine, we all know there’s one part which is possibly more important than all the others put together. And that’s the bedtime skin routine.

At the end of a long day, it can be really tempting to just get those comfies on and sink into bed without taking your make-up off – but it’s absolutely vital that you get into a regular skin routine at night to avoid any nasty skin issues further down the line.

1. Know your Skin type

First thing’s first, you need to know your own skinreally know it.

Many of us are confused about what skin type we have, so if you’re unsure, get yourself down to your local beauty counter and get some help. From this, you’ll be able to select the best products which will be kind to your skin and work hardest to keep it looking its best.

2.  Use Cleanser

Cleanser, or cleansing wipes if you’d prefer, are an easy way to get rid of all the day’s impurities – make-up, pollution, and even sand if you’re lucky enough to live on the coast.

Use soft cotton make-up pads if you’d prefer to use a liquid cleanser, being careful not to apply too much (as your skin will struggle to absorb the moisture).

Be extra careful around the eye area, it’s super delicate!

2.  Exfoliate

Many people are scared to even touch their face with an exfoliant, but it’s not the enemy (in fact, it’s far from it).

Exfoliating our facial skin (gently!), is an easy way to keep it clean, buffing away any dead cells or dirt which could cause issues if left in the pores.

Use a sensitive one if you’re new to the world of exfoliating, and be gentle, moving upwards in small circular movements. The result – fresh, clean skin!

4. Explore New Products

So many of us are guilty for sticking to the same products, even if they’re no longer suitable for our skin. Like our bodies, our skin changes as we age, so using the same product at 29 as you did at 22 may not be the best approach.

Once you’ve established your skin type, explore new product ranges to ensure you’re getting the most out of your skincare. More and more consumers are now taking the cruelty-free approach, and you should do the same. In fact, a recent study found more than 35% of women only bought from brands who didn’t test on animals – it’s the best way.

 

5. Know Your Water

Before using any products, wash your face with warm water. The temperature helps to open up your pores, making it easier to remove any dirt or grime.

After completing your routine, splash your face with cold water and pat dry with a clean, soft towel. The cold water (not too cold!) will close the pores up again, preventing your skin from absorbing any additional nasties in the night.

 

This is a contributed post written by Dale White

Summer ready with Fielding Estate Winery

When I think of summertime I think of laying out on the beach, picnic in the parks, hikes in the mountains, and of course BBQs to catch up with friends. For the later one I also think of a delicious rose or white wine that screams summer, because let’s be honest there is nothing better than a rose on a warm summer day. I am pretty lucky to live in a place like B.C. that is pretty famous for delicious vinos, however having grown up in Ontario I absolutely love the sweet tastes from Niagara. My love for Ontario wine eventually led me to Fielding Estate Winery.

 

What first drew me to this winery was the story behind it. This is a family run winery that focuses on high quality, while at the same time practicing sustainable farming. Their focus on quality and sustainability has not gone unnoticed. they have been named one of Canada’s top 10 wineries several times.

Fielding Estate Winery 

Now the question I am sure you have all been waiting for me to answer, what about the actual taste of the wine? Well trust me it really awakens the taste buds in the best way possible.

I had a chance to try their Fielding Estate Winery Rose and the Long Weekend Rose. Both very unique and very delicious wines.

Fielding Estate Winery Rose

If I could bottle up summer and put it in a wine, this is exactly what it would taste like. Watermelons, strawberries, and citrus notes had my tongue begging for more. I loved that it was on the dry side and not overly sweet but you could definitely taste the fruit tones. The best part is, it pairs perfectly with a burger!

Long Weekend Rose

This wine was a bit more drastic in flavour combining the citrus notes with more of the deep red fruits. It is truly the perfect combination of Cabernet Franc and Cab Sauv and just what you want to drink on a hot summer day.

Both are absolutely delicious and the perfect wine for summer time and the best part is, they are both under $20 a bottle.

Check out their website to find out more about the winery or to order some perfect drinks for your upcoming BBQ party: https://www.fieldingwines.com/story

Happy summer my friends,

xo

Mia