Vancouver, Canada 2022

When visiting Vancouver, BC, the question is not what to do but what to do first. I’m excited to share our recent adventure and then you can take it from there. It’s glorious to get out and travel again!


To/From the airport: It’s a breeze to take the Canada Line Skytrain from Vancouver airport to downtown. Built originally to handle visitors to the 2010 Winter Olympics, it will take about 25 minutes and cost under $10 per person to ride to downtown. Purchase tickets on the platform-signs in the airport will lead you to the platform. An Uber will cost you about $50 at least for that trip and take at least an hour in the heavy traffic that Vancouver has most of the time.

Vancouver is a walking town but, if your legs wear out, we had no problem getting an Uber or Lyft within 5 minutes. If you don’t use those apps, my advice is to find the nearest hotel when you are out and about and ask their doorman to get you a taxi.


As a former frequent business traveler, I’m still local to the Marriott brand, which includes the Westin Bayshore. It is right on the water next to Stanley Park and has both an inside and outdoor pool. I’ve also stayed at the other Marriott hotels in downtown Vancouver, and they were fine as well.

If you want more of a boutique hotel, I walked by the Sylvia Hotel, which is on the opposite side of Vancouver from the Westin Bayshore but it is across from a beach and close to lots of cafes including their own outdoor patio with a lovely view. I could imagine myself sitting there with a cocktail watching the waves roll in. Next trip!


I am not a foodie but there is one restaurant that I always go to when I am in Vancouver, and it never disappoints. Water Street Cafe has a variety of delicious menu items but I had the salmon on this trip, and it was SO good. On past visits, I’ve had the risotto and wanted to lick the plate clean. Seriously.

We also enjoyed a nice happy hour with a view of the water at Cactus Club Cafe Restaurant | Casual Fine Dining at their Coal Harbor location. Again, I had delicious fresh seafood.

Try some dim sum at New Town Bakery/Restaurant at 148 Pender Street in Chinatown. Check out the hours before you go-everything closes early in this neighborhood and bring some cash-no credit cards accepted. Don’t miss taking some bakery items (egg tarts!) back to the hotel for dessert.

I read an Anthony Bourdain book recently, “World Travel”, and he recommended Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca | Vancouver ( and Home – JAPADOG for a more casual meal. Next time!


I love to see concerts, theater, and sporting events when I’m travelling. I usually go to Ticketmaster and check out what’s happening in a town when I will be there. You never know!

Queen Elizabeth Theatre | Vancouver, Canada | Latest Events and Tickets is a great venue in downtown Vancouver-no bad seats. We saw Hamilton there on our trip. Fabulous, of course.


Local brands abound to check out in downtown Vancouver. Walk down Robson Street and check out all the cool stores. They even have Muji, a favorite Japanese chain store we shopped at in China. Here are some other favorites:

Fluevog Shoes in Gastown showcases their handmade unique shoes-I have several pair and can attest to their quality and design. I get so many compliments on them!

Roots chain for true Canada clothing-heavy duty sweats and flannel!

Lululemon for exercise wear primarily but I have a pair of Lululemon black travel pants that I wear on every flight. Comfy, tailored, and non-wrinkle, they are perfect in every way, and I love them.


Our hotel was near Stanley Park, so we took advantage of the proximity to really enjoy this urban oasis. Walking/running/biking around Stanley Park should definitely be on your list! Our hotel graciously supplied bikes free to guests, which we took advantage of! There are also many bike rental places close to the entrance of Stanley Park. The paths are nice and flat. Get a map from the hotel concierge and take off. If you get hungry, stop off at Stanley Park Brewpub in the park. Yummy food and local brews to try out. Just don’t try too many brews-the bike paths are one way and you have a healthy ride to get out of the park from there.

Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tour 2022 – Vancouver ( was a fun way to learn about the history of the park and get the lay of the land. You can book in advance or just show up to the kiosk that is near the front of the park as you enter from downtown Vancouver. We went on a rainy day and our group had almost the entire carriage to ourselves. We snuggled under blankets and had a great time!

If you have time, get out of town and take in the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It’s still on my “to do” list but I swear next time I will carve out time to go there. I’ve heard it’s fabulous. To get there, you can take the free shuttle from the waterfront. There is a fee to enter the park.

Plan for a shopping/eating trip to Granville Island.  Take the tiny tugboat over from downtown Vancouver. Check out the farmer’s market with gorgeous fruits and vegetables as well as handmade merchandise of all kinds. It’s a great place for everyone to get a different item from the many food stalls and grab a table outside on the water. We love the broom store (they’ll ship your brooms home for you!) and there are many other artisans selling their beautiful items. If you have kids, they have a whole building annex with children’s shops, food, games, etc. to keep everyone busy. Lots of seafood restaurants and brewpubs on the island for the adults. You can easily spend a whole day there.

Raining on your trip as it does often in the Northwest? No problem because Vancouver has a lovely art museum you can walk around for hours in the heart of downtown and it’s conveniently located right across the street from the sprawling Nordstrom store. Win-win! Have kids and it’s raining? Check out the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. It is lovely or so I heard from my sister who attended a private party there for her conference that she was attending. She shared lots of pictures and it definitely looks like a winner, especially if it’s raining outside.

Since we lived in China, we have longed for a great foot massage. We used to go every week for 90-minute foot massages in Shanghai-heaven! I booked our group of six for foot massages at Toe to Soul in downtown Vancouver, an easy walk from our hotel. I had pretty high expectations, but they exceeded them, treating us all to a thoroughly wonderful experience. Some of us got 75 minutes and others, who had never had a foot massage and couldn’t fathom having their feet rubbed for 75 minutes, opted for the 55 minutes. Later, those doubters wished they had gotten 75 minutes because it was just that good. Book in advance. Next door is a fancy gelato shop, making for an end to a perfect evening!

I didn’t get time to do these tours, but they are on my list for the next visit to Vancouver:

Vancouver Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour 2022 (

Vancouver Harbor Sightseeing Cruise 2022 (

Tripadvisor | Whale-Watching Tour from Vancouver provided by Vancouver Whale Watch | Richmond, British Columbia

Enjoy Vancouver-a true gem of a city!

Seattle Speakeasies-Cheers!

“Go to the far side of the room.  Pick up the phone and identify yourself.  We will come and get you at the metal door.” Thus, our speakeasy adventure in Seattle began on a hot Friday night.

Interesting that speakeasies are, by nature, supposed to be secret and exclusive but they are trending all over social media these days.  Our first stop, Needle and Thread, was recommended by several people at work, so off we went for a taste test.  Reading up on the speakeasy protocol, I learned that you can call in advance to secure a RSVP in this very small (probably 20 people max) prohibition-style experience.  Just calling to get the RSVP was fun-you leave a message (no more than 7 days in advance) after hearing the strict rules–if you are lucky enough to get a call back, you better actually PICK UP THE CALL to talk to the host or you won’t get in.  Done.

Promptly at 5 p.m. when the parent bar, Tavern Hall, opened, we were at the phone calling upstairs to gain entrance to the speakeasy, Needle and Thread.  Dress code:  “Keep it classy”.  Not sure what their definition of “classy” is but Thom was rocking his porkpie hat and looking very hipster.  When our friends arrived after fighting the horrible Friday Seattle gridlock, our drink master interviewed us on our cocktail/alcohol preferences as there is no menu and they warn you in advance not to expect an appletini to be made in their establishment.  There ARE speakeasy standards after all and only custom cocktails served, thank you very much.  Prepping for our trip to Ireland in the fall, I’m leaning into whiskey to be better equipped to take on the true Irish experience.  Our host got it right, creating for me an iced cocktail created with Irish Bushmills whiskey, orange liqueur, cherry herring and lime juice.  Tart and sweet and very refreshing on a hot day in a bar where ceiling fans provided the only air conditioning.  We drank up, chatted politics and then headed down Pike St. to our next speakeasy experience.

After wandering the block looking for Foreign National, I spied an unique door tucked away between other restaurants-found it!  Through the layers of beads and velvet curtains, we quickly hopped into a communal booth with strangers as the space is limited and in high demand.  While we sat and enjoyed our cocktail creations, other bar patrons streamed in looking in vain for seats in this trendy bar.  I went for the Foreign National house cocktail made up of pisco, Amaro Montenegro, honey, sour orange served with an egg white frost on top.  Petite and delicious.  Our friends had the complex cocktail named Osaka #1 consisting of Suntory Toki whiskey, vermouth blanc, lemon, yuxu, orgeat, ardbert spritz and anise smoke.  WOW-I have not a clue what most of that stuff is but I got a taste of it and it was interesting to say the least.

I loved the speakeasy ambience with the small interesting spaces filled with people who value quality booze concoctions over quantity.  I can’t wait to check out other speakeasies in Seattle (list below) and in NYC when we visit our favorite city in the fall.  Cheers!

Foreign National, 300 E. Pike St., Story in Seattle Times:

 Needle and Thread at Tavern Law, 1406 12th Ave., RSVP 206-325-0133,

 Bath Tub and Gin, 2205 2nd Ave.;

 Knee High Stocking, 1356 E. Olive Way,;

Many thanks to Karmann K. for sharing her photos of the evening’s adventure!



Make A Wish Princess Alexis!

Princess Alexis, a very brave five year old in a sparkly dress and waving her flower wand, ascended the red carpet with her prince and fairy godmother escorting her and her family into Cinerama today for the world premiere of the video that was her wish.  After watching a video that helped her during her personal struggle with leukemia, Alexis decided that she wanted to have her very own animated video of her journey with cancer to share with other children and help them too.  I can’t imagine a child under five years old deciding to use her one wish to help others vs. going to Disneyland, the most popular wish for children in this great program.  That’s amazing.  I am so inspired by her compassion and strength.

The hat is AMAZING!  This witch is ready to hit the red carpet and wave her wand.
The hat is AMAZING! This witch is ready to hit the red carpet and wave her wand.

Thom accompanied me to join the crowd to line the red carpet to welcome Alexis and support her as they showed her video at Cinerama today.  Everyone was encouraged to wear their best “fairy tale attire” so off to Goodwill I went and found the coolest HUGE black hat that, teamed up with my all black dress, boots and cape and paired with a glittery wand, created a first class “good” witch.  Alexis had on a princess outfit so it just seemed right to hand her my wand that went so well with her outfit as she walked by on the red carpet.  Later, the “prince” who was Roger Levesque, a retired Sounders player, was seen holding it and her flowers for her.  May I say that in tights and a cape, he made a mighty fine looking prince!   I hope Alexis enjoys playing dress up with her wand.  I’ll keep the hat just in case I need a quick costume for who knows what in the future.  You never know when a witch will be needed… no commentary, Thom.

Princess Alexis is the center of attention at her movie premiere.
Princess Alexis is the center of attention at her movie premiere.

I had never been to Paul Allen’s movie theater but from the chocolate popcorn (sounds gross but so yummy) to the cushy seats and sparkly ceiling lights, I was impressed and can’t wait to go back.  Cinerama donated the facility for the event today and World Famous studios volunteered their production staff to make the video, working with Alexis and her family to bring her ideas to life.  We got to see a video of how they made the video with everyone’s input.  Super team effort for such a worthy cause.  Check out her video at:

Alexis’s story reminds me that with the love and support of your family and friends, you can battle whatever challenges you may face in your life.  Thank you, Alexis.

Bruges-Medieval Mall

Bruges was always on our “must” destination list if we visited Europe.  So, at 6 a.m. yesterday after one hour of sleep (due to insomnia not partying), off we went on a four hour train ride from The Hague to Bruges.  Expecting to see a small medieval city with the iconic Bell Tower featured in the movie, In Bruges, we were shocked to turn the corner of the winding brick road into the city and find a commercial boulevard with a Zara, McDonald’s, Claire’s and all the modern stores found in the local mall.  REALLY?

Bruges-cobblestone streets, canals, churches, waffles & beer
Bruges-cobblestone streets, canals, churches, waffles & beer

Now, I’m all for retail stores, which have been my livelihood for years but there is a time and place and Bruges is not where you want to shop for $19.99 fashion at H & M.  I guess you can’t blame the locals who want to profit from all the tourism so they can make a living and there can only be so many chocolate, lace, waffle and beer shops to feed our appetites and tacky souvenir needs but still…WTF!  I don’t think the best use of a 1767 historic building is to house another Zara.

That being said, parts of Bruges were well preserved and, if you get off the main street, you can find quaint history houses from the 9th century as well as 17 churches (16 Catholic/1 Protestant) to wonder through and lovely bridges over canals for picture-taking.  The train station is conveniently located within walking distance of this town which used to be on the sea until it retreated.  Global warming may one day make it seaside again-you never know.

The highlight for Thom was walking up the 336 steep steps to the Bell Tower featured in the movie, In Bruges.  I guess someone is pushed off the top and lands SPLAT in the square below in the film.  Not my kind of movie but whatever-it was an interesting climb up teeny, tiny stairs with only a rope in certain places to cling to.  Just like the Great Wall, this is not ADA friendly and if you fall and get hurt, good luck getting back down those stairs ’cause no one is helping you down and there isn’t an elevator.  Still, the view was stunning from the top!

336 steps and you are at the top!
336 steps and you are at the top-grab the rope and pull yourself onward and upward!

The view of Bruges from the Bell Tower
The view of Bruges from the Bell Tower

I talked Thom into a horse-drawn carriage ride around town.  While he has never consented to one of these in NYC, he relented and ended up enjoying the guide’s history lesson as we galloped through the narrow streets.  You definitely could imagine days past when horses were the only mode of transportation and, when the final bell of the evening sounded from the tower, the gates to the city were closed to protect against marauders.

We were lucky to arrive on  market day in the town square.  Munching a sugar-coated waffle as my local snack (YUM!), we rested on the town square steps and wished we could take home the lovely pots of lavender offered for sale.  Gorgeous!  On the train home, we noticed fields of lavender waiting to be picked.  Though a long ride with a stop in Brussels to change trains, the 8 hours of train ride were just another part of the Bruges adventure.  Arriving home tired and ready to get a good night’s sleep, we were glad we had finally been “In Bruges”.

Thom talking to the swans that roam the canals
Thom talking to the swans that roam the canals


Oh the places we’ll go….

Yesterday, an awesome person I hired four years ago sent me a picture of herself in that happy moment along with some kind words-she has gone on to quite a career since that time.  It made my day.  That got me all nostalgic and reminiscing about everything Thom and I have experienced since then and how it has shaped who I have become.  Fearless I am after all that we have faced from Seattle to Shanghai and back again!

Patti & I hanging on for dear life in the boat in Beijing
Patti & I hanging on for dear life in the boat in Beijing

After living apart for a year so I could join a great company when the opportunity presented itself,  the family finally joined me here with James going off to Seattle U. and us selling the house we designed in Coeur d’Alene where the kids spent the majority of their childhood years.  I still miss that hot tub with a view of the mountains and fireplace in the master–we built a great house. Damn!

Great sadness came when my Dad passed over Labor Day and I still miss him so much.  I’m happy that Mom is doing so well living in South Bend and still looking good and playing bridge at 90.  They live long in my family! Grandma Hannah made it all the way to 99 still living by herself.

Four generations of Hoyt women
Four generations of Hoyt women

Soon after, I had the great privilege of opening my store and introducing the Black Keys and One Republic at my store concerts-what fun that was to dance backstage.  Since then, I’ve seen One Republic play in Shanghai and Orlando and they still rock it.  Big perk of my job is seeing great talent over the years at many concerts–Lady Gaga, John Legend, Bon Jovi, Maroon 5, Katy Perry, Allen Stone and the list goes on…and on…such talent to enjoy!  I have no musical gifts so I appreciate those who are able to entertain us all.

Allen Stone and I hanging out at his private concert for my company.  Cool dude!
Allen Stone and I hanging out at his private concert for my company. Cool dude!



While we enjoyed Seattle, we embraced our NYC adventure with great enthusiasm.  Oh what fun we had while there for the brief six month assignment!  Times Square every day for work and LOTS of Broadway plays with weekly trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Christmas in the city took my breath away and the kids came to share it all.  I still get to go back occasionally for business and always fill up on the carbs I love so much-$1 bagels and $1 pizza are my guilty pleasures.   We still visit the Madison Square Park dog park every time we go to NYC-Izaak spent many happy hours there playing with the other urban pooches.  I hope some day to live there again-you never know.

Izaak's favorite place in NYC-Madison Square Dog Park
Izaak’s favorite place in NYC-Madison Square Dog Park

Then, of course, China was the best experience ever.  I still stay in touch with my China team and wish I could be there to support them.  At times, it seems like a dream that we lived there but I remember the little details so well–our smiling doorman, the fruit lady on the corner, the dancing groups on every corner every evening, our dvd store with the best looking dog in Shanghai hanging out front always.  Our jaunts to Vietnam and Hong Kong were so fun and always filled with quirky wonderful moments.  My best friend, Patti and her husband got to visit as well as James spending his holidays there.  Thom is working on our book that will combine our blog posts and his amazing pictures.  Goal is to have ready by end of the year and I encourage (nag!) him daily to finish so we can share with family & friends.  We’ll publish on Amazon to help other expats going to China.

Golden retriever that was the house dog at our DVD store in Shanghai
Golden retriever that was the house dog at our DVD store in Shanghai

Now, we are back to Seattle as we are meant to be, supporting James while he goes to law school and being in Boise often to see Hannah and Mike and watch our granddaughter, Mia, grow up.  As I gaze upon Elliott Bay from our lower Queen Anne home, I am realistic that this is just a temporary stop in our worldwide adventure and that’s okay.  I am appreciative and loving it for now.   In a few weeks, we will take off to explore Amsterdam.  FUN!  Our dream one day is to live in 12 different countries in 12 months…don’t know when that will happen but as I look back on the incredible journey the last four years, I know anything is possible if you allow yourself to take risks and I’m all over that!  Here’s to the next four years (raising my glass of vino)–may they be filled with great appreciation for all that life can offer.  Carpe Diem all!

Getting Old Sucks (not me, of course, I haven’t had a bday for years!)

As I do NOT celebrate another birthday this week, I am surrounded by signs that everyone around me IS getting older and my body is starting to betray me.  WTF!  Dr. Ken was kind enough to work me into his rotation today after I procrastinated months to visit after suffering with shoulder pain.  Dr. K. informed me that, despite overall crazy good health, I probably had a “frozen” shoulder from taking a shove from the well-meaning dog who was jostling for premium positioning on my lap–my 60 pound lap dog that he thinks he is.  Now, in most people’s minds, especially children, “frozen” is cool and popular in the movie sense.  Not so much when that “frozen” settles in your shoulder restricting most movement and requiring assistance, Thank You Thom!, for clothing changes as needed.  What do people do who don’t have lovely partners to assist when the tough times hit?  I can’t even imagine that type of life and hope it never happens to me.  Scary and sad!

Bum shoulder=wine or Aleve but not both
Bum shoulder=wine or Aleve but not both

So, off to the Ortho Dude I go!  Thousands of dollars later despite having insurance, I will probably go through the MRI machine and get some cortisone shots as well.  Now, this also could well be the Curse of the Frozen Shoulder and Izaak was just a pawn in the bigger mystery of the universe.  See, my sis also had frozen shoulder(s) when she was my age, not that I age, so is this just coincidence or a family genetic curse???  Who knows but it hurts like hell and now wine or Aleve are my go-to’s for support to get through a happy day.  However, as the optimistic Dr. K. pronounced, “It could be worse!” So, living up to my motto from way back, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (shout out to Kelly Clarkson who sings it so well!), I will take my pain and put that happy face on it for as long as it takes to heal…WebMD says could take a year.  Blah!  Need to buy stock in Aleve and purchase my own winery I’m thinking.  Hmmm……

Just like the shirt says
Just like the shirt says “Happiness Rocks”

In the meantime, we enjoyed some awesome rock last night as KEXP sponsored a lovely evening of music played off the roof of Pike Place Market and featuring iconic artists:  Mike McCready, Duff McKagan (both from Pearl Jam), Barrett Martin and Mark Arm just banging it out with thousands crowding Pike Place Market on a lovely August evening.  Rock on!

We’re also gearing up for the kids (Baby Mia!) to come and visit us in Seattle over Labor Day–Children’s Museum, Aquarium and playground time galore.  Then, it’s off to Amsterdam for a week of urban fun on our fall vacation.  I foresee lots of biking and lovely photos to share with everyone.  When I tell folks where we are going on vacation, it seems like EVERYONE BUT US has already been to Amsterdam.  Time to catch up with the masses who all love it there.

A few days after we get back, my best friend Patti comes to visit with her husband Larry and we will show them all around our hometown as well as take the train to Vancouver for the weekend.  In addition to a burlesque show at our new favorite club, The Triple Door, we’ll just have to Ride the Ducks with them….SO FUN!  We do like to have fun wherever we go.  Damn, life is good even with a bum shoulder!

Family Vacations ROCK!

Ocean fun!
Ocean fun!

The view from Hawaii
The view from Hawaii

Thom is feeding Mia a native apple banana on the patio while James and Hannah are drinking pina coladas and, tired from all that pool time, taking a break out of the sun to watch Scrubs, a longtime fav that never gets old despite repeated viewings.  Everyone is enjoying our final day of family vacation just hanging out.  Damn.  Time needs to stand still for just a while.  What will we do when we can’t see our family especially Baby Mia every day????  Yes, family vacations do indeed ROCK but need to be more like two weeks or a whole summer instead of a puny week.  We barely just got into our vacation rhythm–breakfast/beach/nap and repeat.  How will I ever work a whole day again??  Of course, I do realize no work means no vacation so off I will go on Tuesday when we return but only under protest.  Serious protest.

Grandpa & Mia discussing life
Grandpa & Mia discussing life

With two grown kids, a granddaughter now and everyone with busy, busy schedules working and going to school, we haven’t gone on a family vacation since Florida four years ago when Mike was newly dating Hannah and Mia wasn’t even a possibility thought about yet.  Since then, Thom and I have lived in Seattle/NYC/Seattle/China/Seattle, James has graduated from college and is set to go to law school in the fall, and Hannah graduated from college, married Mike and had Mia-she’s been a busy girl!  Mia just began walking last week and had us all running so hard we needed those multiple naps a day more than she did.  Yikes!

With the dishwasher and laundry running non-stop to keep up, we ran to the beach, the pool, and cooked all that food we got at Costco after we landed on the Big Island.  Somehow we were able to drink up all the booze we bought but the leftover food will hopefully be of benefit to the cleaning crew tomorrow when we leave.  I hate to waste but goodness we bought a lot!

We found our home away from home on VRBO, which we also use to rent out our cottage in Boise.  We have always had great luck, using VRBO places from Florida to Barcelona with great results.  Our 3 br/3ba condo here was no different with lots of room for everyone, a view to die for from all windows but especially our master balcony and a pool that was perfect for baby Mia.  The beach was just a short walk down the road where the surfers rode the waves and the snorkeling was the best on the island.  Paradise found indeed!

At the last minute, I insisted on my own checked luggage and then ended up not wearing hardly any of what I packed.  Next time, a carry on is all I need with shorts, bathing suit, flip flops.  It never got cold and there was no nightlife on the Big Island so quiet nights at home needed very few wardrobe changes.  Live and learn and always pack light.  Really no need for the six pair of shoes I brought.

Siblings together again
Siblings together again and enjoying ziplining over waterfalls

Tonight is our last night together and we are hoping for an awesome sunset.  While there are always rain clouds over the middle hills of the island, the sun is usually shining by us on the beach side.  Unfortunately, a few of us got a little too much sun despite repeated sunscreen applications.  The weather woman talked about being burnt in just 10 minutes in this sun which is frightening.  As a skin cancer survivor, I use SPF70 and move to the shade whenever possible.  With Mia being a “ginger”, her momma put her in l/s swim shirts, large hats and sprayed liberally with sunscreen at every opportunity.

Pool time..Mia is fearless in the water
Pool time..Mia is fearless in the water

Though no one wanted to play euchre with me (Midwest card game I grew up on) or Scrabble with me, we may try to do another round of Cards Against Humanity again, though I usually need to look up in the urban dictionary some of the more crazy terms that everyone but me seems to know.  WTF!  Yes, I know that one.  It’s weird playing this with my kids but they get a kick out of Mom’s responses so it’s a fun time.

Now, it’s on to Italy (Cinque Terri) in late September and planning for another family vacation back here in Hawaii next year.  After all, Mia needs to run in the Keikei Run every year now and try to beat her record.  She was so adorable trying to walk the 100 yard course with her mom and dad assisting as needed.  They are putting her on a path of healthy habits.  With her dad’s love of all things baseball and Mom’s expertise in swimming, tennis & soccer, I see sports in Mia’s future.  I can’t wait!  So, ALOHA for now as the sun sets on our family vacation.  Mahalo to all and to all a good night!

Mia's first Keikei 100 yard run in Kona
Mia’s first Keikei 100 yard run in Kona

Enjoying Family Time on The Big Island

Best thing hands down about the Big Island… not the beaches or the palm trees.  Nope, though they are nice and all.   The very best most wonderful thing about the Big Island is my family being together again.  How often do I get to spend a week in paradise with my grown kids who lead very busy lives???  Well, this is a first in the last few years as they pursued their college degrees–both are now college grads, Hallelujah!!!–and Hannah got married to Mike and gave us the magnificent Mia.  How time flies by!  With Thom and I moving between Seattle, NYC, Shanghai and back to Seattle and the kids’  busy schedules, we have only connected at the holidays, which are hectic and action-packed.

Thom and Mia exploring the great outdoors
Thom and Mia exploring the great outdoors

This week the biggest decisions are:  pool or beach?  Pina Colada or Wine?  Yep, that’s pretty much it.  I had Facebooked that there was no one more in need of a vacation than me.  My daughter countered that she was much more deserving than me, because not only did she work all day but then started Mom duty at night capped off with baby Mia doing her business while taking her bath.  Okay, she wins.  Hands down.

Getting to Hawaii from Boise and Seattle was no mean feat but after James graduated Sunday from Seattle University, we all took off on Monday, starting with Mia running us around the airport with her newly found walking skills.  She was a joy on the flight, taking two naps and playing with all the other babies on the flight.  After quaffing free Mai Tai’s (adults only)–thanks Alaska for the free booze–we found our new home for the next week in Kona, otherwise known as the sunny side of the Big Island.  With water views from every window of the condo and everyone with their own bed/bath, we were ready  to start relaxing.  A workaholic, A Type for sure, I haven’t disconnected from work on a vacation in years.  This week I unpinned my work email tile from my start screen and ignored the need to check in.  They’ll manage without me and maybe even appreciate all I do even more with me not doing it.  Maybe.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying trying very hard NOT to think about work and concentrate on my lovely family and pool time, which Mia enjoys very much.  Glad to see she is taking to the water and will probably be a great swimmer like her Mom.

Pool time..Mia is fearless in the water
Pool time..Mia is fearless in the water

So far we have walked to the snorkeling beach from our place a few times and had a close encounter with sea turtles, which I like from afar but really, really don’t like touching me in the surf.  Icky!!  They are large and have snapping, sharp teeth which I don’t want to encounter personally.  I swear they were attracted to my sassy red toes–note to self, next time go for beige vs. red for the pedi if going to be in an ocean with animals who can chew.  Thom said I screamed loud enough to be a tsnumai warning signal, which is probably a useful skill here on an island where those things happen.  I think being called a “siren” is a good thing.  Right?

Tomorrow we are off to a new beach in Waimea and later this week we will be zip lining down mountains and across waterfalls.  That should be a good tale to tell!  Aloha!

2 Days, 20,000 steps and 1 Cougar

Holy. Crap.  Yep, I just noticed I am totally and utterly alone in a forest in Canada with not a soul in sight and this sign comes into view, like someone quickly attached it to a post and ran away… Wildcat spotted in area.  Love the pictures to show you the differences between cougars, bobcats and kitties–duh!  If you are that stupid and need a pictorial of the differences between a cougar and a cat, you deserve to get f&*king chewed on like a kibble.  Just saying….

See Cougar Sign..See Melinda Run...Fast
See Cougar Sign..See Melinda Run…Fast

Looking around and, again, seeing nothing but trees, trees and more underbrush where that damn cougar could be hiding, I channeled my inner Hunger Games heroine and picked up an insubstantial branch to defend myself with and took off as fast as possible.  Deep in the forest by a lake in Burnaby, this was my “peaceful” stroll to get in my 10,000 needed steps to make my new Fitbit animate, aka it rattles on my wrist when I hit my goal.  Happy times staying fit and alive.  Eventually, I ran out of the forest into suburbia and found my way back to the hotel in one piece, feeling fit to live another day and vowing to stick to the urban jungle from now on instead of the actual jungle.  The kicker was that my Fitbit wasn’t working right so it didn’t even record my steps including the long climb back up the hill to home.  DAMN!  My calves are aching and telling me I hit that 10,000 step goal so we’ll just go with that unofficial count and charge it up for tomorrow.

Lost in the forest and never finding the lake, running away from a possible cougar...that was my peaceful walk
Lost in the forest and never finding the lake, running away from a possible cougar…that was my peaceful walk

I got my Fitbit for Mother’s Day and am enjoying challenging myself to get out and get walking even more than usual.  Especially when I’m on the road working, it will get me out of the hotel in the evening and onto the streets.  Last night when I got into Vancouver, BC, I immediately took off on the skytrain from Burnaby where I’m staying to downtown Vancouver.  Only taking 20 minutes, it beat driving in traffic.  After a lengthy wait to get through customs due to Victoria Day traffic, I was done with driving.  I wandered through Gastown and enjoyed people watching.  Lots of buskers playing their songs and people eating outside enjoying the warm weather.  I finally settled in at the Water St. café and enjoyed amazing salmon risotto.  Seriously, I almost licked the plate–crazy American that I am.

Salmon risotto rand BC local Canadian of me
Salmon risotto and BC local wine…how Canadian of me

Washed down with local wine, I was happy, happy to walk back to the skytrain and join the crowds returning home.  Arriving back at the hotel with the Fitbit working, it synced and told me I had about 100 steps left to goal.  Did I run in place and rack up those last few steps???  Oh yeah-BAM!  2 days and 20,000 steps and feeling good… my Type A personality likes hitting goals and my body likes the workout.  Win-Win!

Life on the Road is a Challenge to Enjoy

In my new jobs, instead of having a grand time taking the bullet train around China with Thom by my side, I’m flying to exciting places like Durham, NC.  Not to malign Durham, I just am having a difficult time embracing new places and finding joy in travelling.  Just coming off a week in San Antonio and leaving on Monday for a trip to Vancouver, BC, I’m reevaluating whether I enjoy this life of business travel on the road.  My peer who doesn’t get to travel said he envied me–seeing new places, racking up frequent flier points, enjoying an expense account eating out, etc.  Except that I don’t.  Well, eat out at least and most often I don’t see anything other than the office instead of sightseeing in the hour a day I’m not working hard.

My typical food budget is maybe grabbing a free bite at the breakfast buffet at the hotel, a Cliff bar/apple that I pick up at a grocery store when I first arrive and work while I send out my trainees to enjoy lunch and I catch up on my work.  Dinner is usually some awful crap from the hotel snack bar because I really don’t enjoy going out to eat by myself.  I know I SHOULD research where I’m working and go out every night to a wonderful new “foodie” experience.  Damn.  I SHOULD seek out the local landmarks and spend at least one hour a day exploring new places.  If Thom was with me, no problem.  Alone, BIG problem-it’s just not fun by myself.

The River Walk is charming and quite long, making for a nice walk up and down while dodging tourists and drunk convention folk.
The River Walk is charming and quite long, making for a nice walk up and down while dodging tourists and drunk convention folk.

I tried this week when I was in San Antonio and, after a really bad day, forced myself to check out the Alamo and River Walk downtown experience.  It was cool and I was glad I forced myself out of the hotel on the one night it didn’t rain.  People were in boats drinking and having a good old time on the canal.

Selfie at the Alamo, which is right downtown San Antonio by the River Walk
Selfie at the Alamo, which is right downtown San Antonio by the River Walk

Me not so much but I sat by the water and ate hot food prepared that day which was a nice change from the cold pizza leftover from lunch that was my dinner the previous night.  I got some exercise walking vs. sitting in bed watching reality shows so felt much healthier, though I didn’t achieve my 10,000 steps that my new Fitbit wants me to achieve daily.

So, new challenges for me on my work trip to Vancouver–eat hot and healthy food daily, get out and walk my 10,000 steps for my Fitbit to be happy, and find at least one landmark or “hot” restaurant and go at least for one hour.  The day will come soon when I stop travelling for work and I’ll probably miss it.  So, for now, it’s time to get off my workaholic butt and grab a few moments of personal time during my work travels.  Oh, and look forward to those times (mainly Manhattan) when Thom can join me and together we’ll take our usual walkabout adventures.  Now, that’s the life!

Beautiful carriages straight out of Cinderella, all lit up at night, are all over downtown San Antonio.
Beautiful carriages straight out of Cinderella, all lit up at night, are all over downtown San Antonio.