Tag Archives: beach

4 Nights Camping in the Okanagan


We’ve made it a tradition to go camping every year for Astrid’s birthday. One night for each year she’s been alive. And every year something tries to get in our way. When she was 2 it was hand-foot-mouth. Last year it was a cracked elbow and a cast. This year it was COVID-19. But we persevered and got lucky with the timing, and were able to spend 4 nights camping in the Okanagan at Ellison Provincial Park.

Ellison Provincial Park

We booked our campsite back in February, before COVID-19 was a problem in BC. Fortunately our reservation wasn’t cancelled and campgrounds re-opened (for residents at least) only on June 1. There were a few signs reminding people to keep their distance and some extra cleaning, but camping was the most normal thing we’ve done since the pandemic began. The only issue was the Montana license plates on the vehicle we borrowed from a friend, which prompted a conversation with the park warden and got us plenty of dirty looks. We were careful to cover it up when the car was parked.

Happy 4th Birthday Astrid

I was a bit worried it would be hard to find things to do to fill 4 days, but the time flew by. We didn’t get the legendary Okanagan heat, but it was warm and sunny on Astrid’s birthday, so we spent the entire day at the beach. It was still a bit too cold for swimming, but we built sandcastles, moats, pools, and stick art.

At the Beach

It rained off an on, but we had a big tarp to keep our picnic table dry and our tent never leaked. Astrid also slept through the nights and our thermorests didn’t leak, so we were pretty happy campers.

Learning to Ride a Bike

Astrid got a new peddle bike for her birthday, and she spent a lot of time learning how to ride. We skipped the training wheels and followed the advice of some neighbours and just used a scarf around her waist to help her balance. By the end of our trip she was biking on her own, with the occasional scream and assistance starting and stopping (without smashing into something).

Fire Roasted Corn

For Astrid, the highlight of the trip was roasting marshmallows on the fire and eating corn on the cob.

Veg Patch Match

She also enjoyed playing her newest board game – Veg Patch Match.

Davison Orchard Farm

Ellison Provincial Park is right next to Vernon, and we took advantage by spending a day visiting Davison Orchards and the Honey Bee Farm. Davison Orchards is a kid paradise, especially for one pining for the freedom of the country. She got to climb up old farm machinery, feed the goats, race rubber ducks, and go for a tractor ride. When we finished the tractor ride, Astrid ran up to our driver and told him all about her COVID-19 visit to the Ponderosa and how Gigi let her drive the tractor.

Tractor Ride

I had the only injury of the trip. When we were at the beach I took Astrid to a little rock island. On the way back I slipped on the slimy rocks. I protected her, but destroyed my foot and leg. I couldn’t feel it at the time because my feet were too numb, but when I got out of the water I saw that I had completely ripped a toenail off. Once the numbing wore off, it was very painful and very bloody.

Camping Injuries

On the way home, we spent a bonus day in Kamloops. Astrid was very excited to see Jacob and Nora again.


More pictures of camping and of Kamloops.

Astrid: Summer Fun

Picnic at Kits Beach
We’ve been taking advantage of our hot, extremely dry summer with plenty of trips to the parks and beaches.

We spent one weekend up in Kamloops visiting Kelsey, Matt, and Jacob. Astrid had lots of fun playing with her cousin.


Backyard Bath

Kamloops Beach

Bullying her big cousin

We took a day-trip to Buntzen Lake to play in the sand and do a little hike.

Bucket Head

We’re lucky to have many outdoor options close to home. Hinge Park has new swings. Creekside Park has an amazing new playground. And Granville Island has a fun splash park.

Hinge Park

Little Rock Climber


Granville Island Splash Park

Astrid loves playgrounds. She’s mastered coming down slides on her stomach.

Last week we transitioned Astrid to a new daycare. Her previous care provider is going on vacation for 2 months, so we were forced to find a new spot (the joys of home-based daycare). Our new spot is a little bit farther away (10 minute bike ride) and Astrid will now be mixed in with a bunch of older kids, but we’re hoping it will be good for her development.

More Photos

Backpacking India: Gokarna

India - Gokarna
The second half of our beach vacation was surprisingly different from the first. Gokarna is definitely quieter and less developed than Arambol. It seems that new restaurant/accommodation joints are opening every year, but there isn’t much else. And yet the demand still exceeds supply, especially on long weekends (we were there for Republic Day). There are three main beaches: one in town used mostly by pilgrims, Kudle Beach, and Om Beach. The beaches are smaller and separated by rocky cliffs of green, red, and black.

India - Gokarna
Getting to Gokarna from Arambol was a long process involving two taxis, two trains, a security checkpoint looking for drugs, and a lot of waiting around. We left at 8 am and arrived at 5 pm, just to get 200 kms south. We travelled with a French girl and a Finnish guy, which helped pass the time and split the cost of the taxis.

By the time we got to Om Beach, none of the places mentioned in our guide book or reviewed on TripAdvisor had any space left. The best we could find was a dark, cell-like concrete room with shared pit toilets for $5 a night. I was pretty grumpy after all that and was not impressed by our new accommodations.

India - Gokarna
The next morning Chris went for a run to Kudle Beach and checked for available huts there. Most places were full, but he found space at Sea Rock Cafe, which had basic huts for $4, rooms with pit toilets for $8, and rooms with western toilets for $12. We splurged for the western toilet and larger room. Our experience with huts in Gokarna made us appreciate how good the rooms were at Laughing Buddha in Arambol.

Arambol and Gokarna were our first experiences waiting to find a room until we arrived in the place. We didn’t really have a choice as it’s the modus operandi. All other accommodation has been booked online directly or through a booking website. The benefit of finding accommodation when you arrive is you know what you are getting and you can shop around. The downside if it is busy is you end up walking from place to place and finally settling on something less than ideal. It’s easier when all accommodation is in one central place, but I still prefer booking ahead.

India - Gokarna
We spent our time in Gokarna relaxing on the beach, swimming in the wicked surf, hiking between beaches, and building sand castles. We went to one yoga class, but it was too advanced for us – with a lot of time spent on head stands and pretzel poses. It’s three days later and I’m still sore.

India - Gokarna
We’re now heading to Mumbai. It’s going to be quite the shock after 9 days of beach relaxation.

India - Gokarna

Backpacking India: Arambol, Goa

India - Arambol hula hoop

This week we finally hit the beaches of India. Our first stop was at the North end of the state of Goa, Arambol. Goa has a reputation that has changed over the years since it became popular with foreigners 20-30 years ago. We had heard that it used to be this untouched gem of beautiful beach that hippies had discovered and made their haven. But the word got out. Personally, I wasn’t expecting much because I heard it lost its charm. I was actually pleasantly surprised. Yes, there are tons of foreigners, many of which are visiting from Russia, and the beach is lined with restaurants and shops selling only what they think we want (french fries, pancakes, sarongs, flip flops, and techno beats). But we were very happy to take advantage of the expansive clean white beaches, cheap hut accommodation, and health-conscious food (organic, vegan, even raw) in a pretty hassle-free environment.

India - Arambol beach hut

We stayed at the Laughing Buddha restaurant and beach huts. Our room was the cheapest we’ve had by far – probably because it’s constructed at the beginning of every season from bamboo with fabric featuring Buddha and Hindu gods decorating the interior walls. There is no insulation, so you hear pretty much everything around you: dogs, neighbours, restaurant kitchen, temple bells, music at your place’s restaurant, music from next door, music from down the beach … you get the idea. But you expect this from a hut on the beach that cost $9/night. What we didn’t expect was our own washroom with running water, mosquito net, fan, electricity, and a front porch with table and chairs. We were very happy that it cooled down at night (we even needed blankets), because it got pretty hot in there in the middle of the day.

India - Arambol town market

India - Arambol beach

We didn’t do much other than read, swim, eat, and catch up on emails. Chris went for a run, we took a yoga class, and walked up and down the beach, which was especially nice at sunset. It was a nice change of pace from Hampi and some of our previous destinations.

India - Arambol Emily and chris

India - Arambol raw thali

What we didn’t spend on accommodation we definitely spent on food in Arambol. I figure this Goan subculture must support an economy of organic farms (and hula hoop manufacturers) in the region. The most novel was the raw food and vegan desserts. Some of the main courses left us a little disappointed – guess our tastebuds are accustomed to the spicy flavours of Indian food.

India -Arambol feet

We’re off to Gokarna next for 5 more days of beach relaxation. It’s India’s Republic Day on Monday so we’re excited to see how they celebrate.

India - Arambol sunset

India - Arambol

A Relaxing but Adventurous Vacation in Kauai, Hawaii

For our latest vacation, we spent a week on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It was our first trip to Hawaii and we wanted to have a relaxing but fun-filled holiday. Kauai was a perfect island for us – a lush tropical paradise with plenty of adventure to be found.

Top Activities
Emily and I must suffer from ADHD because there is only so much lying around we can handle. We like to explore and experience new places. Our week in Hawaii was still relaxing and we spent lots of time lounging on the beach, but we also did something adventurous everyday. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Hidden Valley kayak adventure with a short trek to a jungle swimming hole.
  • Hiking in the Waimea Canyon. We only hiked the first mile of the Pihea trail because of flash flood warnings, but the limited views we had were awesome.
  • Swimming and snorkelling along the coast. There were lots of colourful fish, but sadly a lot of dead coral too. We rented gear for the week and explored several beaches.
  • Taste of Kauai horseback ride through the mountains along the Kuilau Ridge Trail.
  • Couples massage at the Grand Hyatt spa. Simply luxurious.
  • Stand-up paddle boarding along the Wailua River. Fun, except for the motorboats.

Kayaking the Huleia Tarzan Pihea Trail Emily Snorkelling Paddle-boarding on the Wailua River Smiling Horse Beach Towers Sandstone Cliff Jump

Favourite Beaches
Kauai is dotted with beaches all along the coast, some of which are good for snorkelling (with protective reefs) and some that are more suited to surfing (with hard breaking waves). We mostly stuck to the snorkelling beaches, but the all the beaches were good if you just wanted to relax and enjoy the sun. We were lucky that the large winter surf along the north shore had just ended when we arrived in April, so we were able to snorkel on both the north and south shores. Kauai.com has good descriptions on all the beaches and Kauai Explorer has an Ocean Report detailing the surf conditions around the island.

  • Poipu – Great snorkelling, nice spot for suntanning, and close to amenities.
  • Hideaway – Secluded little gem with amazing snorkelling.
  • Anini – Long beach on the north shore with good snorkelling.
  • Shipwreck – Great spot to sit and listen to the surf or explore the sandstone cliffs.

Beer on the Beach Dipping Your Feet In Lounging at the beach Walking Hanalei Beach

We stayed in an airbnb property in Kapaa. Kapaa is a great home base to explore Kauai. There are good restaurants and grocery stores in town and it is equidistant to the beaches on the north and south shores. My only complaint was there were few sidewalks, which left me running on the road. The vacation property we stayed in had a spectacular view of the valley, lots of privacy, and a full kitchen for us to cook in.
Magic Sunrise Vacation Property Lanai Our Airbnb Bedroom Sunset on the Lanai

Hawaii Travel ExpensesCost
Hawaii is not cheap. We ended up spending $2,177.40 per person for our 1-week trip to Kauai. Our flights cost $680 each and we spent $115/night for our accommodation. We spent over $500 each on activities, with most of that going to our fancy couples massage ($215), horseback riding ($155), and the guided kayak adventure ($123). Public transit is almost non-existent, so we had to rent a car to get around the island but it didn’t cost that much.
Continue reading A Relaxing but Adventurous Vacation in Kauai, Hawaii

Shuswap Lake Houseboat

Shuswap Hot Tub
To celebrate our crew of friends getting older (Dan’s 30th and Erica’s “29th”), we spent the Labour Day long weekend partying on a houseboat crammed with 24 people. We had good food, lots of alcohol, swimming in the lake, a glow-stick dance party with a piƱata, and bonfires on the beach. It was a party weekend, but our boat was pretty tame compared to the craziness we witnessed on other boats that docked on the beach each night.

Loading up the boat and sleeping in the cubbyhole.
Lake Mara Wheelbarrow Loading Cubby Hole Accomadations

When it was sunny out, there was lots of deck space to lounge.
Sunny Morning Deck Chairs Relaxing Morning
Decktop Relaxing Captain Christina

Beaching the boat was tricky the first time, but we got the hang of it.
Beaching Knot Tying Driving the Stake

How not to land a boat (some drunken neighbours arrive).
How Not to Land a Boat

The lake had the warmest water I’ve found in BC.
Pineapple Toss Houseboat Leap Lake Floaties

Good food and lots of booze.
Vegetable BBQHouseboat Alcohol

More photos on Flickr. Videos of the fun we had with the boat’s slide below.
Continue reading Shuswap Lake Houseboat

Backpacking Vietnam – Nha Trang

Nha Trang Beach Feet
After almost two weeks of backpacking through Northern Vietnam, the multiple pairs of shorts I had packed had barely left by bag. That all changed when we arrived in Nha Trang, Vietnam’s premiere beach town. It was “cold” by local standards, but still hot enough to lay on the beach, sip fresh coconut juice, and get a nasty sunburn (at least in Emily’s case).
Nha Trang Beach
Our two days in Nha Trang were dedicated to rest and relaxation. We rented bikes and checked out the Cham Ruins of Po Nagar and the large market. Biking in Nha Trang was easy. Most of the streets had light traffic and the cars and motorbikes are good at giving cyclists a wide berth.
Biking Nha Trang Biking Around Cycling in Nha Trang
Beach Biking One-Legged Crossing Electric Bike Pull
The Cham ruins were an interesting diversion. Compared to some of the other ruins in Vietnam, they’re in remarkably good shape and easy to get to.
At the Cham Ruins Po Nagar Cham Tower
Remains of the Champa Empire Goddess Uma Old Uma North Tower Statue
We spent most of our second day at the Thap Ba Hot Spring Mudbaths. It was fun splashing the mud on ourselves, but it was surprisingly cold. The rest of the pools were hot, which was enjoyable in December but I can’t imagine they’d be that popular in July. I guess the cold mud would be more popular then.
Monkey Mud Bath Mudbath Muddy Woman
Hot Springs Maid of the Mist Lovely Lounging Lady
Pool Shady Loungers Hot Springs Pool Waterfall
Continue reading Backpacking Vietnam – Nha Trang