5 Cool Things To Do In Portland


Portland Oregon

With no plans for Canadian Thanksgiving and a nice long weekend ahead, we decided to take a road trip and head down to Portland Oregon which is one of our favourite cities in the US. To our surprise Portland was hosting their annual marathon and the hotel prices were through the roof! Luckily we were able to find a great deal at the Kimpton Vintage. It’s super cool boutique pet friendly hotel located in the heart of Portland. Staying downtown with our fur ball, Costa the super dog, was great, and a little more challenging than expected. The pee spots were scarce and the vibe at night felt a little sketchy. Lucky for me, my wonderful husband volunteered to do take Costa out!

The trip was short and packed with good times and here are the highlights:

1) Kimpton Vintage Hotel for its level of service, amazing welcome for humans and furry friends, free wine tasting for you and your dog, cool décor and great location.

2) Mother’s restaurant for breakfast. Be prepared to wait in line and just know that it will totally be worth it.

3) Ground Kontrol for a few drinks while playing vintage video games to the sound of a local DJ.

4) Voodoo Donuts. I think I love the names of the donuts more than the actual donuts themselves. Chuckles guaranteed.

5) Cannon Beach for its pure natural beauty. It’s a short drive from Portland and well worth it. Take a long walk on the beach, bring your surfboard and definitely a wet suit!







9 Things to do in New York City Rain or Shine


Last February we had to go to New York City for a workshop and to our surprise it happened to be the coldest it has been all winter. I have always had an amazing time in NYC but I wasn’t convinced that 9 days in the freezing cold was going to be much fun. We chose to stay at the W Hotel in Union Square which was super close to my training and right in the middle of pretty much everything.

Did I mention that it was really darn cold! Wearing two of everything: pants/long johns, jackets, mittens, etc., we braved the cold in search of finding 9 awesome things to do.

1) Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
It’s awesome, healthy, historical, and yes it’s even free. Make sure to bring your camera because it offers plenty of amazing views of both the bridge and the city.

2) Visit MoMA
MoMA in case you didn’t know stands for the Musuem of Modern Art. On their website it’s described as: “a place that fuels creativity, ignites minds, and provides inspiration” and I couldn’t agree more! It’s alway rejuvenating when you let yourself get lost in amazingly cool art. And if you get hungry make sure to grab a bite while you are there, their bistro is fantastic!

3) Shop at Your Favorite Century 21
Shop, shop, shop! Century 21 is in my mind one the icons of New York shopping. I remember going there on my first trip to NY when I was 18. I loved it then and I love it now! Everything from the cool little fashion brands through to high end labels are all there and the discounts always impress me.

4) 9/11 Memorial Plaza
The memorial is built on the spot where the World Trade Centre’s twin towers fell in 9/11 and it’s absolutely stunning. The design captures a feeling of deep void as well as the beauty of hope and renewal.

5) Walk the High Line in the Meat Packing District
A decommissioned central railroad line that’s been transformed into a beautiful elevated walkway. It’s a unique 3rd story view of the city complete with it’s old worn down brick buildings and it’s stunning newly built apartments.

6) Empire State Building at Sunset
Step back in time as you rise high above the city in one of NYC’s most iconic landmarks. Not only is it super romantic, it’s also offers amazing views of the sun setting over the Hudson casting a soft pink light across the city.

7) Treat Yourself to a Mani/Pedi
Just like Karate schools in a California strip mall, nail salons are a dime and a dozen in New York! You don’t have to break the bank to treat yourself here and be sure to finish off your appointment with a 15 minute chair massage. Lets just say that the best day ever just got a little better!

8) Shop in Soho
What else is there to say but hooray for shopping in Soho! There is a great mix of cool small independent designers and top name brands with all of the latest fashions to feast your eyes on. While you are at it be sure to stop for a moment to notice the architecture and design of the brick buildings with giant windows and and fun staircases. There is a lot of history in the old buildings of Soho which reminds me of where I grew up in Montreal.

9) Wine & Dine
With so many amazing places to eat in New York, it’s best to make a list because you will want to experience it all. A few of my favourite new findings from this trip were Casa Mono and Flex Mussels.

Despite the freezing cold, visiting New York with a spirit of discovery and adventure made me fall in love with the city all over again. So much so, that I haven’t stopped talking about it and I’ve even been secretly following the real estate listings for cute little Soho apartments. Who knows, Noel and I might be spending more time there in the near future!

On the road

The world adventure has begun! It was more than a year ago that Noel and I decided to embark on trip around the world. For a while, we weren’t sure of the exact date of our departure and since the summer is so nice in beautiful British Columbia, we decided to stick around and enjoy the sunshine. It was perfect really since it gave us time to go to Mexico for two weeks for a swimwear photo shoot/ surf trip, and prepare for this trip. It took a lot more preparation that I had envisioned, so we both ended up working a lot more than expected and the trip, even though it was coming quickly, seemed like it was never going to happen.

Noel’s mom drove us to the airport and it is only when we sat down on the plane that it felt real!

We have been gone for 4 days now and it seems like it’s already been forever. Vegas was a blast! Staying awake all night was definitely the call and it made for a sleepy plane ride on our way to Panama.

It is the first time for both of us here and we didn’t know what to expect at all. I was surprised to see how many high rises there are in the city and how tall they are. My guess is that the tallest is around 80 floors and the crazy thing is that it is right next to the ocean. The architecture of some of these new buildings is impressive.

The old part of the city: Casco Antiguo is beautiful and great fun to walk through. The old buildings now house government offices, churches, restaurants, stores and hotels. It definitely has a tourist vibe and at the same time it is vibrant with the locals presence. Casco Antiguo is on the other side of the bay from the downtown area and it makes for a bit of a clashing scenery. While most of the government buildings are revamped and quite charming, the rest of the area is surrounded by dilapidated buildings and rough neighbourhoods.

Unfortunately, there is no real surfing right in the city, so after two days, we decided that it is time for us to move to our next destination: Bocas del Toro.

We could have flown there easily within 45 minutes and we decided that saving a few bucks by taking the bus was a great idea. It is an 11h bus ride! Ouch! In fact this is where I am writing this post at this very moment. I love going on bus rides in tropical places because it gives you time to reflect on what you’ve seen so far and plan your next adventure. That being said, the real reason why I like bus rides is that you get to bring snacks! And shopping for snacks in tropical places is the best!

First you get as much local food as you can: empenadas and locally made ham and cheese croissants are the best! Second you get to choose between all the sugary snack from your youth and some that you never even heard from before! The labels are usually pretty awesome too, in a non American kind of way! Third is the drinking yogurt! I don’t know why we don’t carry more in our grocery stores back home in Canada, because it’s are purely delicious and they have all the fruit flavours that you can imagine. I have to say that the mango and passion fruit mix is my favourite so far.

My sugar rush is finally coming to an end so I will put my headphones on, listen to a audio book and pray for the bus driver’s assistant to find the key to for the bathroom which has been locked since we left the bus terminal a couple of hours ago:)

Vegas & Panama City


We landed in Vegas at 4:45pm and our flight to Panama didn’t leave until 4:45am. Rather than get a room and sleep we decided to gamble, drink and eat a greasy late night breakfast. Our first stop was the United Lounge which was underwhelming, but not totally disappointing. We had enough time to check our emails, do a quick blog post and down a couple of stiff drinks. Vegas is a town best served with a buzz.

My observation of Vegas is that it’s made up of 70% waisted dudes looking for action that they will never find, 20% women who are dressed like really dirty hookers and 10% old people smoking darts and playing slots.

We didn’t gamble much, just enough to win enough to pay for our cab fairs to and from the airport to the strip. As long as I leave Vegas up just a little I’m always happy. I credit my luck to doubling down when ever I get a chance and to only drinking Jack and Coke when gambling. I don’t drink it back home, but when I’m in Vegas it’s the only thing that seems to make things right.

When we finally got back to the airport to check in we were beat tired so we curled up on the floor next to where we checked in. I have crashed on way too many airport floors in my time, but this time was different because when we woke up we skipped the line and dove into our first class seats.

Flying with Copa was like flying in the 70’s, but the plane is now old and without the hip and stylish flight attendants. We slept hard most of the flight.

As a photographer, I found Panama City is rich with vibrant ageing textures and colour which made for some fun photos.

We stayed for 2 nights and would have likely only stayed just one had we know that it had little to offer us other than a few great photo opportunities. We stayed at the The Hard Rock Hotel which came with first world prices and third world service. The longer are in Panama the it seems as though that many of the workers can’t be bothered. Of course there are some great exceptions, including the taxi driver who took us to the bus depot and then lead us deep within it’s masses to the ticket booth that we would have never found otherwise.

Every day has had a mix of little sun in the morning and then hard core thunder showers in the afternoons that sneak up on you from out of no where.

We did enjoy our Pacific Ocean facing 34th floor suite (they gave us a free upgrade) because it offered a great view of the huge cargo ships as they either entered or departed from the Panama Canal.

In sharp contrast to flying first class and staying at the Hard Rock, Josi and I are now on an overnight bus trip ($27 each) to a small group of islands on the Caribbean called Bocas Del Torro. It’s meant to have a cool hippy vibe and great surf which is well needed after 3 days of travel, a night in Vegas and a 3 days in Panama City.


Let the Adventures Begin!

A rainy day is always a good day to leave Vancouver.

My goal of only half filling my big wheely bag fell a couple of items short of success, but with the amount of Coppertone Sport sunscreen that I rip through in the first month of surfing, not to mention the multiple bars of surf wax I plan on giving away to local kids along the way, my bag is only going to get lighter for the first month and a half. In case you are wondering, I’m dong my best to pack my bag only half full because I plan on buying cool things along the way.

Our first flight of the trip is on Air Canada and for the first time ever I was amazed by how friendly the check in lady was to us. Like all of the people who work for Air Canada, she was old and I was expecting a carbon copy of the multitude of bitter unionized lazy Air Canada staff that we have all encountered over the years. Why didn’t Canadian survive and Air Canada disappear into the memories yesteryear? But this isn’t a want about bad, but rather a praise about great because the lady who checked us in, aged and all, was something special. She had a sparkle in her eye, she was super helpful, she was happily married for 27 years and she joked around with us by making fun of me which Josi LOVED. Was she nice because we were flying business class? Or perhaps she was nice because I’m now overly nice when checking in to any and every flight I take… Yes, I once made the mistake of not being so nice by arguing with a young lady at check in about who was responsible if the airline were to break my surfboard which ended dreadfully. She must have put a big red X beside my name and when the perfect opportunity struck, she chose to have a 300lbs lady sit in the seat beside me on a totally full flight. At least she was very nice and pretty funny so it wasn’t all bad. Still, this lady was so big her food tray wouldn’t go down more than a few inches, her seatbelt was perhaps 20″ short of being able to close, and when the movie came on it was me who had to fish deep into the side of her many folds in hopes of finding the plug for her headphones. Elbow deep in a scene better suited to a bad comedy, I succeeded in supplying her with the needed audio for her movie and have felt slightly damaged ever since.

I’m writing this post from our double wide, second row, business class seats with more room than I know what to do with. Usually when we fly we fly coach and for us coach is great. What is really really fricken great is that for the next six months we are flying business class.

What I still love about coach is how if you are smart you can get three seats between the two of you if you request it when checking in and when we do Josi and I spread out and sit super close to each other. In case you don’t know us all that well, we love to sit close to each other and we cuddle a lot. If I were reading this and I didn’t know us I would throw up in my own mouth and then my internal voice would mistakingly slip out and saying for everyone to hear, “Get a room”, but for what ever reason it’s not that bad at all with us. I’m guessing it’s because Josi is so dam cute and at the same time classy so she can get away with pretty much everything. Anywho, in business class there’s a big divider/ table/ arm rest between us so she doesn’t get to sleep on my lap, but they are keeping us occupied with the kind of things those in coach only dream about. Warm cloths to clean our hands, hot meals (C-), Baileys/ Coffee, very pleasant red wine (served in glasses made of real glass), and more leg room we know what to do with. Not to mention being whisked straight through the security lines which meant that we had more time in the first class lounge while waiting for our departure.

Did I mention that they didn’t charge us for our surf boards? Once again I’m not sure if it was because we are flying business class, if we just got lucky, or if she believed me when I told her that the surfboard bag was a snowboard bag? Regardless, it’s always a good day if you manage to fly with out paying for your boards. The lady checking us in was so nice I felt a little guilty but the dam airlines have broken way more boards than I have when actually surfing and they always overcharge you like crazy. I never understood why, but when flying snowboards are free while surfboards usually cost between $50 and $200 per flight. Our board bag is only 6’6″, looks almost like a snowboard bag, and is a little lighter. My goal was to stencil the words “SNOWBOARD TEAM” in big bold letters on both sides of our new double board surfboard bag, but time got the better of us and I didn’t get around to it. Surf De Neige is French for snowboard, and it would make a great snowboard bag, so the line between truth and untruth is slightly fuzzy. Regardless, I’m calking this up as a immoral win and any money that I may have saved is my small reward for having to sit beside the 300lb lady all those years ago.

Luckily, our bags are being directed through to Panama so we will be free to spend 13 hours adventuring around Vegas luggage free. Vegas is a funny place that has very little love in my heart, but I’m pretty excited about checking it out given we are only there for such a short time. We will hit the strip checking out a few casinos, eat dinner and then sneak back into the safety of the first class lounge in the wee hours of the night while we wait for our 4:48am flight to Panama City.