A Trip to Victoria, BC

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it?

I’m coming up for air after a whirlwind three months in Seattle, working for KING 5’s Evening show! How do I like my new job? As an international fast food corporation once said: I’m lovin’ it. No, McDonalds did not sponsor this post. But if they’d like to give me some fries for my free press, I’ll gladly accept them.

More on Seattle soon. First, I want to share a little video I made when I recently visited the city of Victoria in British Columbia.

Music by Incompetech.

This was my first time in Victoria. When I traveled to Vancouver, my mom and I asked one of the locals about Victoria- was it a good place to visit? His response was lukewarm.

Boy, I sure am glad we didn’t listen to the advice of a total stranger. Victoria is a lovely little city with a European flair. Seriously, I felt like I’d teleported to England when I stepped off the boat…which makes sense, because the city is named after England’s Queen Victoria. It’s a decidedly British city. Boats bob on the rocky coastline, high tea is served at The Fairmount Empress hotel. Queen Victoria herself, immortalized in stone, judges you from the front lawn of the Parliament building.

There she is! Always watching you.

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest and want to visit our Northern neighbor, I’d definitely recommend a little jaunt to Victoria.

What to Eat, See and Do in Vancouver, BC

Oh, Canada! You’re so awesome.

I visited Vancouver, BC for a long weekend in July. I’ve been to Canada once before- I visited Montreal when I was very young. Unfortunately, my only lasting memory of the trip involves a shopkeeper angrily berating me in French. I forget why.

So, I was excited to return to our Northern neighbor- and Vancouver did not disappoint. Travel guides often describe Vancouver’s waterfront as stunning and “glassy”. I didn’t quite understand the description until I visited. The city’s wide waterfront sparkles with bright, glimmering buildings.

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I feel like Vancouver is as close as I’m going to get to visiting a literal utopia. Or, at least, a city that looks like one.

Everything was clean. Everyone was polite and friendly. There’s a ton of fantastic food. It’s a diverse, multicultural city with incredible culture and a love for the outdoors. The waterfront sidewalk is split in two- one side for pedestrians, the other side for bikes. And people actually followed the rules! Which is truly a testament to the city.

Okay, I’m rambling. If my weird city-worship has convinced you to visit to Vancouver, the least I can do is give you some recommendations on what to eat, see and do in the fair city.

Granville Island Public Market

Seattle has Pike Place Market, Vancouver has Granville Island Public Market. This popular attraction sits across from Vancouver’s waterfront, on Granville Island. Hop on one of the convenient Aquabus boats and explore the public market.

img_3656Much like Pike Place Market, the market is colorful and loud and wonderful. Fruit and vegetable vendors wedge their stands together in narrow aisles, piling cherries in tiny pyramids to show off for shoppers. Bouquets of fragrant, blooming flowers at astoundingly low prices decorate florist stalls. And fish. Lots of fish!

I’d recommend getting there right when it opens to beat some of the crowds, especially on the weekend. Be sure to stop by Lee’s Donuts while you’re there, and get the Honey Dip donut. They’re almost always served warm, and they’re good for your soul. Your body? Debatable. But really, the soul is what matters in the end.

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Miku

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If you’re looking for incredible seafood and sushi in Vancouver, Miku is the place to go.

It’s a sleek, stylish restaurant right on the Burrard Inlet, a popular waterfront area. They specialize in Aburi sushi. Translated directly, aburi means “flame-seared”. The chefs take a blow-torch and a piece of coal to the top of the sushi, searing the fish lightly. What results is a really unique, rich flavor, complimented by the different sauces they use.

It’s an expensive restaurant, but in my opinion, it’s worth it. This is a distinctly Vancouver experience, and if you want to treat yourself to an amazing meal, go here. The food, the view of the waterfront- it’s all fantastic! The cover photo for this post is from Miku.

Bella Gelateria

Bella Gelateria is world famous. I didn’t know that when I stopped by, though. I was just looking for the nearest ice cream shop, because I wanted ice cream and have zeroimg_3820 self-control when it comes to food.

Bella Gelateria has won dozens of gelato competitions, been consistently voted “Number One Gelato/Ice Cream in Vancouver”, and even won “Best Gelato in North America” in the Gelato World Cup. The Italian Consulate of Canada has also given it their seal of approval, and it gets mine as well!

Their gelato is rich, creamy, fabulous stuff. And they have a host of interesting flavors! I got Black Sesame and Matcha Green Tea, because I’m a sucker for pretty food and unique flavors.

Vancouver Water Adventures

Boats are everywhere in Vancouver- little Aquabus boats zipping up and down False Creek, kayakers gliding on the water, houseboats hugging the side of Granville Island. So, it’s only fitting that you take a boat tour of a boat city.

Vancouver Water Adventures is a great option. I took the City and Seals Tour, an hour and a half tour that takes you past Vancouver’s most well-known spots. We swung around places like Siwash Rock, Lions Gate Bridge, and Vancouver’s nearby seal colony. And yes, there were plenty of adorable seals! They’re just so darn cute, I can’t get over it. They’re basically dog mermaids.

The company uses Zodiac boats, which is apparently the same type of boat used by the Coast Guard in Vancouver. I felt pretty safe jumping into one of those.

Stanley Park

Stanley Park is 1000 acres of lush greenery, quiet beaches and beautiful views. It’s oneimg_3756 of Vancouver’s main tourist destinations, and for a good reason. It houses Canada’s largest aquarium, as well as one of the city’s most famous icons, Siwash Rock. Pictured here! Ignore me.

The best way to see Stanley Park is on foot. A walk/bike path winds around the perimeter of the park, along Vancouver’s seawall. On a sunny, warm day, you’ll see plenty of people enjoying the weather- but even when I went on a beautiful Saturday, I never felt too overwhelmed with crowds.

You can get your exercise in, and see one of Vancouver’s most famous sites! Win-win.


Thanks for reading! If you can’t make it up to Vancouver, but can swing by Oregon, I’ve also got you covered. Here are some of my favorite restaurants in Eugene, as well as my favorite place to view waterfalls in Oregon.

Happy travels! Oh, and always remember–

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Where to Find Some of the Best Waterfalls in Oregon

Oregon is clearly Mother Nature’s favorite child.

How could a state have so much green, so many waterfalls, such a variety of incredible nature…and not be a favorite? Sure, the rain can be an issue sometimes, but as someone once told me: “We need the rain- that’s what keeps Oregon so green!”

Now that our land is a little dryer and a little warmer, it’s time to get outside. If you’re looking for waterfalls this summer, I recommend heading to Silver Falls State Park.

Silver Falls is the largest state park in Oregon. It boasts 10 waterfalls and a whopping 9,200 acres of land, which includes miles of trail, a restaurant and lodge, and plenty of parking. And yes! They have bathrooms.

The park is hidden away in Sublimity, at the end of rolling country roads. Depending on where you’re coming from, you might lose phone service and internet along the way- so download a map or follow the signs.

The main hike that allows you to see all 10 waterfalls is a 7.2 mile loop, and considered a moderate hike. I did the slightly shorter hike, a 5.1 mile loop that took me around (and under) plenty of incredible waterfalls.

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The path snakes around massive, gorgeous waterfalls, takes hikers on bridges over South Fork Silver Creek, and leads you through quiet, green woodland. The path even dips behind some waterfalls, into half-moon canyons coated with moss. Standing so close to the crashing curtain of water and cool spray is an experience like no other.

A piece of advice- if you can, arrive early! I arrived at 9:30am to a relatively empty park. However, by the time I left at 1:30pm, the parking lot was almost full and the trails were getting crowded. The early morning allows for a quieter, peaceful hike- if you can stand the early wake-up call.

There’s a ton of amazing waterfalls in Oregon. But if you’re looking for a great hike and views like the one below? Head to Silver Falls State Park.

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What’s your favorite place to hike on Oregon? Favorite waterfall? Comment below or drop me a line right here. And if you’re hankering for another Oregon adventure, check out my blog post on the famous Blue Pool!

Your 2017 Solar Eclipse Playlist

The 2017 total solar eclipse is almost upon us! In about a week, the sun will experience a total eclipse of the heart.

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Protective sun-viewing glasses modeled here.

The excitement continues to grow here in the great state of Oregon. Strangely enough, the “path of totality“, the area where one can see the full eclipse, hits both my alma mater, Clemson University, and my current state of residence!

Thousands of people are expected to crowd Oregon to catch a glimpse of this astronomical wonder. Government officials are preparing for a dwindling supply of gas, crowded campgrounds and lots of confused tourists. On the day of the eclipse, the estimated travel time between Portland and Salem is at 6 hours (it’s usually 1 hour). The eclipse is sure to be a monumental (if not stressful) event.

And what better way to celebrate the eclipse than to make a playlist for it! I’m a child of the 90s, this is the closest to a “2017 Eclipse Mixtape” I’ll ever get.

May I present to you my “Oregon Eclipse 2017 Playlist”. Jam out to these tunes as you don your protective glasses and experience totality.

Think I missed a song? Comment your eclipse song recommendations!

And be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Where To Eat In Eugene, Oregon This Summer

I’ve spent summers in the Mid-Atlantic, the South and the Midwest. But in my opinion, the Pacific Northwest does summer the best. I think all Oregonians have a dreadful, creeping thought in the back of their heads…we only get 3 months of this, so we better enjoy it.

I hosted a local food show, Tasty Tuesday, which allowed me to sample lots of different restaurants and food trucks throughout Eugene and Springfield. Here’s a breakdown of some cool spots to check out during Eugene’s fleeting summer months!

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A Visit to Blue Pool

The Tamolitch Falls Blue Pool is remarkable.

A glance at the photo above, and you’ll understand why. It is literally a hidden gem on the McKenzie River Trail, a shimmering pool of brilliant, topaz water. You first come upon it from above- a sudden oasis in the forest around you, a shock of color against the rich green and brown of Oregon.

Another remarkable trait? The nickname. Blue Pool. So very to the point. I love it.

Blue Pool is part of the McKenzie River, but the pool is filled from underground. The river water flows up through ancient lava rock at the bottom of the pool, filling the basin.

IMG_5012The most popular way to get to the pool is a 2 mile hike from a trailhead that does not say it takes you to Blue Pool. The first time I visited the trail, someone tried to be helpful and stapled a piece of paper to a log. It said “BLUE POOL 2 MILES”. It kind of looked like a sign a criminal would use to try and trick someone into getting kidnapped. Still, it lead me the right way.

As you continue on the path, the ancient land shifts from soft dirt underfoot and towering trees, to craggy rock that threatens to trip you if you’re not careful. The air smells clean here, tinged with pine.

IMG_5014While the path changes, your companion of the roaring McKenzie River remains constant, following you all the way to the pool. At times, it’s churning rapids. Others moments, it’s a quiet, clear brook under a crude wood bridge, worn smooth by thousands of shoes.

Your first glimpse of Blue Pool will be from overhead. The path leads to a rocky overlook, abundant with large, flat stones- perfect makeshift seats. Look below and you’ll see the vast swatch of crystalline blue, sometimes peppered with people lounging on the right bank or scurrying along the rocks.

It is possible to reach the banks of the pool. The trek there involves light rock climbing, navigating heavy brush, and shimmying down a steep embankment to the pool.

Once at the bank, you’re treated to an up-close view of the shimmering water. On a hot day, after a two mile hike and crab-walk down a steep hill, it looks tantalizing. You have to jump in.

Potentially reconsider.

Blue Pool is cold. In early summer, it is truly, painfully cold. My friend and I entertained the idea of jumping in. We waded into the water- it felt like walking through a tub of melting ice. My feet started to hurt almost immediately. We decided to pass.

Blue Pool

It lives up to its name.

Some people do swim in the pool, later in the summer, but be careful if you do. According to Eugene, Cascades and Coast, the pool is a steady 37 degrees.

I settled for dipping my hair into the water, which sounds weird, but in retrospect was a fantastic idea. The extra cold water made my hair very soft. It felt like Mother Nature herself blessed me with fabulous hair.

An Important Note If You Use Google Maps to get to Blue Pool. Google Maps has Blue Pool listed as a destination, but that won’t get you to the most popular trailhead. Instead, when you’re on Highway 126, keep an eye out for a lefthand turn onto an unmarked road with an EWEB power station. On Google Maps, it’s marked as NF-730.

Oregon is somewhat funny in that way. One of the most spectacular natural wonders in the state, and the most popular way to get there remains unmarked and somewhat hidden. But I suppose there’s something exciting about a stunning secret hidden deep within one of Oregon’s forests.

You can find it- it just takes a little work.

 

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