Christmas part 2: Royston Xmas

I forgot to write about this AT Christmas, and I finally have a moment to do so. Over the holidays I took a big chunk of time off (had to for work basically) and at that time, I desperately needed it. Things got reeeallly rough in my horse life, personal life, and work life. It was very challenging.

I then headed off to Kelowna for a good old fashioned family Christmas, which went better than I could have hoped for! When I flew home, I had 1 night at home and then we were driving off for another family Christmas- at Royston, for the first time! Ian’s folks moved just before the pandemic hit and therefore we couldn’t spend any time at their place over the holidays the past two years. This year though, no prob!

It went really well, the weather was insane though. UGH. It had snowed a bit before we got there and it was very rainy and slushy, but on Xmas eve? Blizzard with no power!! We spent about 4 hours shovelling, woof. That I do NOT MISS about living in the North, ha.

We also had a chance to visit with my friend and her mom who moved up right near Ian’s parents too, so that was really nice, and Ian surprised me with a lovely Xmas gift- visit to the Hydropath! It was sooo nice. On Christmas Day I booked x-c skiing for a half day for me and Ian, and it was just lovely. It was cold, there was a ton of fresh snow, the skiis were way better than when I went with my mom, and we had a great time!

The only thing that really sucked was driving home. It was an absolute, hair-raising nightmare on the roads and I now have more grey hairs because of it. Jesus, I never want to drive in a black-ice, blowing snow blizzard ever again. Yikes.

Sidney Spit for BC Day long weekend

The ferries were absolute NUTS this weekend, but not for us! We wisely didn’t travel. Instead we made a super nice dinner, I had a Working Equitation riding lesson on Saturday and then on Monday we went to Sidney Spit.

Lighthouse at the end of the Spit

You take a small ferry (passengers only), lots of water (none on the island) and off you go! It’s a lovely island only 30 min boat ride from Sidney and the sand….Oh man the sand. It is glorious! You can walk forever, but be aware- the tides come in very fast and then you’re wading back, which we were, ha.

On the boat

It has a forested section as well and is quite large. Part of it is a National Park and the other part is privately owned. There are campsites you can book through the feds too, which seemed tempting to me (a bit anyways). The weather was glorious not too cold (never a given here, lol even in summer!) and sunny, not too hazy or cloudy.

Busy at work

We cruised up and down the beach, relaxed on the beach for awhile while Ian built a ‘dog cage’ in the sand for Gidget, and then ate our lunch and walked through the forest paths. Incredibly, the time goes by so fast! We got the 11am ferry and then took the 4pm home, ok well straight to the barn so I could ride/medicate Oats and then home by 6:30pm. A busy and full day, but so great ๐Ÿ™‚

Finished product ๐Ÿ™‚

Goldstream? More like COLD-stream!

This weekend after dithering for literally weeks we finally did it…We pulled the trigger and CAMPED. Now, I am no camper. I am not an outdoorsy type of person, haha. But it’s been such a long year(s) during the pandemic and we were getting bored out of our skulls after 15 months of…the exact same thing every day, every weekend.

Goldstream is local to us, 20 mins from downtown, which is awesome. We can only stay locally now due to COVID-19 rules, and we respect those rules.

Deflating the damned air mattress!

Plus it was so great, we could get all of our stuff done (riding Oats for me, climbing for Ian) and then go camp. Easy-peasy right? Ha, close.

We got there and it was quite packed, but we did manage to find a spot. We unloaded, fought with the new tent (NOT an intuitive process, that one), and then hoofed it out to see the waterfall. It’s a lovely deep pool there, but quite cold as it is under a great expanse of trees and it was windy as hell on Saturday.

We actually ran into friends who were thinking about doing an impromptu camp night too and made plans to meet up later for a COVID friendly meetup around the campfire. I haven’t seen some of these folks in OVER A YEAR! How exciting!

We then waited…and waited…and waited…for the firewood person to come by and they didn’t. I was freezing! I hopped in the car and drove to the convenience store to get firewood, freaking finally. It was great wood and we had a nice fire for dinner.

We then met up with our friends and chatted around the campfire for a few hours- it was cold! I really missed seeing people and it was so nice to see them again. It felt like ‘before-times’ ya know? Before we knew it, we were cold and it was getting late so we went back to our site and went to bed. BED. Man, that sucked. It was FREEZING, and the air mattress deflated on us so we woke up (ha, like we were sleeping at all..) basically on the ground. Not fun.

Ian pumped it up a little bit more and we snuggled back down to freeze our butts off for the rest of an unrestful morning, ha.

At least the morning was gorgeous- sunny, bright and pretty warm (not in Goldstream- it is always cold there). We had some coffee, some pancakes and our friends said goodbye! We took our time and packed up, and drove to the barn so I could have a Sunday ride and medicate Oaty. It was a lovely day, not that warm (15 deg?) but so sunny! A nice end to the weekend and a great day to try something different ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh and I tossed out the damn air mattress when we got home. I do NOT want to repeat that experience!!

You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.

From Samuel Beckett’s The Unnameable.

How I feel about this year, in a nut-shell. Basically a list of things that were taken from me, from us and not much else. How do you keep going? You keep going.

I keep a running list of things I desperately want to do when this BS is all over. Horse camping, riding lessons with Oats, a horse show, running in a race again, flying to Argentina for the holiday we cancelled, seeing my friends for happy hours…

In the meantime, what do we do? I started a 30-day yoga journey, from ‘Yoga with Adriene’ which I am really enjoying. Otherwise, I quit drinking for January and was successful with that! I also run every day at lunch, and have been adding in some Fitness Blender workouts with my puny and pathetic 4lb weights, 5lbs weights and my lone 10lb weight. Hey, that’s all I’ve got!

I also enjoy eating a little too much, since I don’t have anything else to really do or enjoy these days. Little Cesars for the win! I also spend a lot of time watching TV, and hanging out with Gidget and Tucker and my husband.

Otherwise, this entire past year is a freaking washout. Goodbye forever, that piece of my life.

Nelson is great in the summer!

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After spending time in Kelowna, we headed up to Nelson to do a little exploring, trail running and eating/drinking. And it was fabulous! Very hot, sunny and gorgeous out. We stayed at a cool hotel downtown- the Adventure Hotel- which is pet friendly. Great because we had both critters with us ๐Ÿ™‚

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We went on a trail run on the Trans Canada Trail, and there were SO many thimbleberries!! Very tempting, and I guess, tempting for bears as well…

Since it was quite hot in Nelson, we did the run in the morning, and did a little bushwacking and found an old railway (still had the ties), followed it down to the lake, while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. It was a gorgeous little interlude.

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Then we got back to the room and the sun was very intense. We grabbed a drink/shower, and went for a walk along the waterfront with Gidget. It turned out to be a pretty long walk and WOW I had a terrible headache by the end of it. Turns out Ian and I both got a bit of sunstroke that day….I felt awful for the entire day. Never shook it.

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We then went to a local brewery and enjoyed a beer, and by that time I was developing a miserable headache…

We chilled in the room for a bit, feeling like crap, haha. Then we went to this cool Hungarian restaurant and the food they had was pretty great! We only went out to eat at places that we could sit alone, nobody close by, and outdoors. This one fit the spot!

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The next day we had to pack up and begin the loooooooong drive back to the Island. Of course we had ferry drama- but we made the 6pm!! if you can believe it!! And we were all pretty darned tired, Gidget, Ian, Tucker and me. ๐Ÿ™‚

More summer vacation adventures!

As I left off, I celebrated my birthday with family in Kelowna, and took my dad trail riding in the Westbank, and we picked a ton of sour cherries.

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The small red dots? Swimmer’s itch…picture it EVERYWHERE.

We also went to Peachland and went swimming- it is such a gorgeous spot, and excellent for visiting and swimming. There are bathrooms aplenty, free parking, a dive tower, a swing rope over the lake, and lifeguards.

The only thing I didn’t realize they also had? SWIMMERS ITCH! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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Swimming- in the pool this time, phew!ย 

Dude we got it so bad. Hah. I was scratching like crazy out of the water and at lunch (outdoor patio at the big German place. It was good!). But damn we got it bad. We were soooooo itchy. And the next morning, we realized that everyone had tonnes of red welts all over. Hah. Lesson learned!

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Great margaritas on the patio in Penticton!

I stuck to swimming in the pool after that ๐Ÿ™‚ And at Skaha Lake, where we went for a quick dip after visiting Penticton, such a lovely little town with quaint shops and a great and very reasonably priced Mexican restaurant, where again, we chose safety and sat outdoors at a patio with no patrons nearby.

Ian and I also spent a day going to two different wineries and checked out BNA Brewery. It was really cool (literally…it was about 35 degrees out) and they offered you still or sparkling water for FREE! Bonus points in my books!! Plus they had some giant model horses that I was sooo envious of!

Next up in our adventures…Going to Nelson!

 

When your life resumes (sort of)

At least my riding lessons are back on! Yes!

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I ran my shoulder into a telephone pole a few weeks ago. Totally an accident but ouch!ย 

But with the resuming of some ‘normal’ activities comes roaring back all of my previous concerns/issues. Footing in the indoor.ย  Horses not being turned out enough. The outdoor is kaput, at least for this season? UGH.

I told my husband that I want to just buy a farm and deal with all this myself, dammit!

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Ian made bagels and they were great!ย 

Otherwise…Address what I can, and then see what I can manage or not manage. Oats has been great otherwise, we had a return to lessons last week (jumping and dressage!) and I was really able to address our warm-up issues in a way that felt both calming, and productive. Go us! Phew!

I felt rusty as all hell but otherwise? Pretty darned good. Oats is moving great, I’m very pleased with that. I missed my trainers like crazy too. All the drama, angst, moving, rude and horrible boarders and COVID 19 and just…Man. My trip to Argentinaย  (haaaaaaaaa) not a thing anymore, summer holidays..?? Just. ARGH.

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Oats has enjoyed lots of hand grazing, now that I work from home during this time and I have no commute!ย 

It still feels like some of my life is on hold, and will remain so.

Ian and I are able to get a lot of cool runs done throughout areas locally, and in the Cowichan Valley and I feel extremely grateful that we are able to do so with ease. Same with riding- at least I can do it? Despite all the ‘should I stay or go’ angst that continues to plague us?

I miss horse shows, friends, races, travel…Happy hours are coming back, and so are hair cuts, but the other stuff? Nope.

Ian and I are forced to be creative with our time, so we do a lot of running, food projects, and some creative projects too- like water colours.

This is a long and strange time, and I didn’t want to blog about it because all I felt was gloom and doom. I don’t really feel that anymore, but I do feel like I’m in this strange limbo where everyone is acting like normal, but behind the act is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.

But since it’s going to be awhile, I might as well come back for now.

Tristars Sooke 10k- Race Recap!

Yes that’s right, the day after we flew back from Mexico (got into town at 11 p.m. on Saturday) we were up and ready to head to Sooke to race a 10k! We did plan it this way, because the VIRA races don’t start until 11 a.m., thank god. Even then, we had a pretty tiring journey home, complete with ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ type of mad, harried scramble, so I was pretty exhausted.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

But we got up around 9 a.m. and trekked out to the race! I didn’t have real expectations- Sooke is a rolling, hilly course and I think my best time on the course was last year, with a 44:?? Can’t quite remember what but something like that. I had my watch but it was dead, haha. So, it was freewheeling!

And I have to say, there’s something to that freewheeling. I ran by feel, started pretty quick, slowed a bit on rolling hills, played rabbit with a few other obliging runners (I passed them, then they passed me, and then I passed them again), shouted encouragement to a friend in my age-group who was running well, and just kept going.

My husband ran with me, he hurt his foot in the half-marathon so had to take it easy= running with me.

We hit the turnaround and I was still feeling pretty darn good, considering I was tired and my legs felt like freaking jell-o when I got up that morning! I cruised on, and my breathing started getting a touch more labored. I fought the urge to check my (dead) watch… We hit some more rolling hills, with a steeper incline between 7-8km that really killed my pace, BUT I still had some zip in my legs!

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

There was a bit of a headwind, but nothing terrible as we rounded 8km-9km…Homestretch here we go! I was feeling pretty confident! Best of all, my husband was able to cross the finish line with me ๐Ÿ™‚ and I didn’t get passed at the finish chute, sometimes that happens and it is a killer, haha.

I finished with a time of 43:17, which seemed unusually fast for me, I thought the clock said 43:30 or something, maybe even 44:00- my eyesight is not great. Many thanks to the fine volunteers who kept us safe on-course on a very busy day and road. Great turnout too, and I was third in my age group ๐Ÿ™‚ And I’m not going to complain but rather comment that the snacks selection was a tad limited and emptied out really quickly, unfortunately! The first race I have been to that had that happen. There were some really good power-balls but again, went fast.

Hola Mexico!

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We just went on a super awesome Mexico trip, driving down the Yucatan Peninsula to explore the side/route not taken- the Caribbean side! It was great ๐Ÿ™‚

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We landed in Playa del Carmen, which I didn’t really like…It felt like Las Vegas to be honest! Big loud bars, party scene, touristas everywhere and just very overwhelming. If we were there for longer, I know we’d see the ‘real’ Playa del Carmen, and not just the touristy veneer, but for first impressions it was nuts~ Plus we went to a restaurant, the food was quite good but they screwed up our order, when we called them on it, they straight up lied…And we could tell. Bad move, people.

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A diff restaurant, much more humble.

But at least the order we did get tasted good? Ha. Regardless, we were eating what they brought, not what we wanted.

Then we rented our car and were off to Mahuahual. I can’t even say the name right to this day….Much less spell it correctly. It’s a wayyyys off, basically 3.5 hours from Playa Del Carmen. It feels eerily like you’re in the middle of nowhere, haha. And then boom! You are at the ocean, and it’s a really cute little town. Very touristy and has a cruise ship port- but it was very quiet when we were there. It can be a bit of a party town too, down at the far end.

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The condo at Mahuahual.

We had a condo rented via air bnb and it was AWESOME! Cool, breezy, large, good internet, clean and had a fantastic blender that I made GREAT use of. Thumbs up! We did a fair amount of snorkeling and walking around in Mahuahual. We saw about 5 rays, I found a very large snail, almost as big as a conch! I also saw a lionfish.

We got pretty sunburned, but that was okay because soon we were on our way to the jungle! We then spent 1 day at a jungle lodge in Calakmul and it wasย scorching hot. Holy jeezus, it was stifling when we got there and our cabin sure didn’t have A/C….But they did have a pool! We spent a lot of time in it. Dinnertime and we saw some agoutis scampering around the forest!

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We spent a lot of time at the pool…it was scorching hot!ย 

The next morning there was much confusion as the state we were in was in a different time zone…Ha. We got up (too early as it turned out) to have breakfast and then head to see the Mayan ruins at Calakmul (the reason we went there in the first place). The ruins are located deep in the biosphere, on a 60-km long journey on a seriously pot-holed and pitted road. It was a long and arduous drive. We did see what may have been a tapir?? several toucans, and a wild turkey attacked our car too, which was frightening.

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Toucan friend

We made it to the ruins and I bolted out of the car and ran straight to the washrooms (another story entirely….bees and or flies. YIKES). There are no services there other than washrooms, so you have to be careful with water and food- you must bring everything with you, and there is nowhere to buy those items at the jungle lodge, so you have to come prepared early.

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We then walked what felt like forever to see the ruins, hidden among the jungle. They were VERY impressive…looming out of the trees. Tons of them too! And we were practically the only people there, only a handful of others. It was screamingly hot too.

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We explored/climbed until we ran out of water and had to go back to the car, having exhausted most of the ruins- at least the neat ones. Back on the bumpy pothole road we went, this time straight to Bacalar, home of the second-largest freshwater lake/lagoon of the famed ‘seven colours’ water.

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It was not disappointing. It was gorgeous! Windy as fuck as we soon learned…But gorgeous! We spent some times swimming in the lagoon, renting space at a fancy and well-maintained beachside resort-type setup in town.

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We then went to explore the centoes (big water caves with freshwater) that was famous in the area- Centoes Azul. It was very cool but the idea of basically this giant pit of bottomless water that goes straight down is kind of frightening when you’re used to seeing and walking on the bottom of the ocean/lagoon floor…. Also I got attacked by a fish that was trying to bite my legs. Reminded me of piranhas!! I screamed and shrieked and swam for the ladders to get out.

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Cenote Azul

We wrapped up our time in Bacalar enjoying some truly fantastic food- I had a very reasonably priced whole roasted octopus, we ordered some GREAT ice cream- Ian had queso flavoured! I had ‘mamey’ flavour (kind of like a cakey vanilla?? It’s red?) And our last night we had what can only be described as a cauldron of meat. Hahahah. Yum though!

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Cenote Azul

Our journey home was arduous, stressful and had me going from 0-100 in like ten beats. UGHH. What we learned from that was- the less moving parts, the better. Next time just get a car from the airport and remove the extreme stress of returning the rental, buying bus tickets, getting on a bus, getting stuck in gridlock traffic, getting into a major huge lineup at the airport (ok maybe that part is inevitable…) but yeah. Freaking stressful.

Anyways, I can recommend our journey. It was amazing!!

Peru final stage: Cusco

By the time we left Ollantaytambo, I was ready to feel better! I wanted to eat and drink well again. I liked Ollantaytambo, but I didn’t like how cars/buses went ripping around the very narrow cobbled streets- it felt too narrow and busy.

Off to Cusco we went, for the final 3 days of our trip. The ride back to Cusco was ok except I felt horribly carsick heading into Cusco- so twisty, winding, slamming on the brakes and oh, the car we hired didn’t have any seatbelts? Joy!

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We made it and wow, I felt like shit.

Cusco was very cool- lots of big older buildings, museums, hotels and tons and tons of pretty good restaurants and bars. Our hotel was super neat, an old monastery that was attached to a church! The church still held services, and the hotel itself functioned as a non-profit to support orphaned girls.

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I loved the hotel, and the town was very neat. The unfortunate thing about Cusco is that it is SWARMING with hawkers of nearly every description. It does get tiring to swat away vendors and tour guides and you name it. Every.single.time. you leave the hotel, without fail. Kind of exhausting.

We walked around exploring Cusco, and did a chocolate-making workshop that was SUPER fun. Highly recommend! It is pricey but worth it. So fun.

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We enjoyed a beer from the best viewpoint in town, for a very reasonable price.

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We also went to one of the best restaurants in Cusco (according to a friend of mine) called Pachapapas – I had the whole roasted trout, and Ian had Alpaca skewers.ย  They were amazing!! The only thing that sucked was that we were both starting to feel the effects of altitude, and our metabolisms started slowing down. That meant that after 1 meal, we no longer wanted to eat or drink anything…And felt vaguely nauseous for the whole day/night. That meant I wasn’t even hungry for our amazing dinner-bummer! And the thought of alcohol made me feel sick. Man!

We also went to the shabby-chic Coca Museum (it was more shabby than chic hahaha) but a fun little foray.

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In the end, I was glad to wrap up our trip. It was chilly in Cusco at night, but fairly nice during the day. I was wishing I could eat/drink normally again, and quite glad to be back on the road home by the end of our three days.

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Visit Peru- it’s a crazy place and you’ll have a grand adventure!