Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hiking the Stawamus Chief

Oh hello!  That’s right, I am still alive, and I am still living in Canada.  After a three-month trip back home, I came back to British Columbia in March, and now live in Vancouver.

It’s very different living in the city, as opposed to Whistler where many outdoor activities are right there on your doorstep.  I’ve got very lazy and not done many hikes, I haven’t run in ages, and I don’t even have a bike anymore.  So when I was invited to a group hike of The Chief in Squamish, I jumped at the chance.  Well, not a literal jump, because I’m lazy, remember?

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I’ve wanted to hike The Chief since I first moved here (almost three years ago, what?!), but never really had the chance as I don’t have a car, and it’s pretty hard to get to on public transport.  I knew it was going to be challenging, especially as I am seriously unfit right now, but I did not anticipate just how gruelling it would be.  Brutal, that’s the word I have been using to describe it.

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This was the view about 3/4 of the way up.  We were about an hour and a half in at this point, and I was flagging big time.  Actually, to be fair, I had been flagging from ten minutes in.  I should have been drinking water right from the start, not waiting until we stopped for a break.

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Yeah, those are chains screwed into the rock face to pull yourself up with.

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That’s the view from the top.  Gorgeous, and totally worth it.

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After rehydrating and having some lunch, we began the trek back down, which was equally as difficult.  Let’s just say, going backwards down ravines is not the easiest thing for someone as uncoordinated as me.

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When we finally made it back to the car, four hours later, we headed to a lake to chill out and enjoy the sun… but when we got to the lake it suddenly became overcast

 

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Even though every single muscle in my body aches, and I can barely move today, I’m really glad I did it.  I’m also really glad that we went in the morning, before it got hot and before the trails got busy.

Maybe I’ll get back into the outdoors…

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Bowen Island

Bowen Island is just off Vancouver, about a fifteen or twenty minute ferry trip away.

I’d heard about it from my mum’s friend who used to live there, but I was seriously under-prepared for how beautiful it was going to be.  Words, and pictures, cannot describe it.

 

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These photos are from May, but it felt like the middle of summer.

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If I could go anywhere to retire, it would be Bowen Island.

I’d own a boat, and drink coffee and read on my deck all day (because it would never rain, of course).

 

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Let’s talk about food.

I started writing this post in the summer, and never finished it, never posted it, never committed to it.  I’m going to post what I had originally written, and then continue from there.

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I’ve been debating writing this post for a while now.
When it comes to food/nutrition/diet, I’m reluctant to blog about it, because frankly, I never stick at anything for very long, and I don’t want to publicly embarrass myself by blogging about it and then giving up on it.  But here goes.

A few months ago, I read a couple of books (Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin) which prompted me to do more research into what I eat, and how this affects me and my body.  Ultimately, after doing as much personal reading as I could, I decided to try veganism.  As I said, I never really stick at food-related changes for long, but it’s been almost four months and I am still eating 100% vegan.

I’m not going to turn this into a post about staunch veganism, or animal rights, or anything like that, because I would never try and tell anyone else what they should eat, because food is such a personal thing to each individual.  What I am saying is that this feels right for me, and it’s working for me right now.

I still have a lot to learn; I am discovering new things every day.  The biggest eye opener for me has been realising that animal products are in pretty much everything that’s in a packet or can.  I had no idea, and you know why?  Because I never looked at the back of the packet.  I never read the ingredients list, and therefore didn’t realise just how many unpronounceable things were in the food, and subsequently were in my body.

Of course, people love to have their opinions, and be very vocal about them.  I’m talking about the people who have told me that what I’m doing is unhealthy, and that there’s no way I’m getting enough protein or iron.  Funny how absolutely no one ever asked me about my protein intake until they found out I cut out animal products.  It didn’t matter that the only meat I was eating was processed and frozen, and therefore mostly devoid of nutrients.

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That’s as far as I got.

It’s been almost a year since I made the decision to go vegan.  And guess what?  I am still vegan.

I am absolutely loving it.  I love the journey this decision has taken me on.  I am learning so much about food, nutrition, animal welfare, governments’ involvement in all of this, and so much more.

Since cutting animal products from my diet, my skin has improved dramatically, I sleep better, I have way more energy, I feel refreshed and somehow more alive.

I’ve become way more interested in cooking and baking, and I’m loving learning how to veganise recipes and bake without eggs and butter.

I do love a good challenge, and that’s exactly what it is to go vegan after 25 years of being a carnivore.  I’ve had to re-learn what I knew about cooking, because I learned to cook meals based on chicken and beef.  It was totally eye opening to me that I didn’t need to base a meal on meat.

I really want to get back into regular blogging, and that will hopefully involve more insight as I learn more about all this, and of course some recipes.

I’ve had many people ask me “But what do you eat?”.  I’m going to finish this post with photos of what I’ve been eating.

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Hardly starving over here, folks.

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January.

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Do I pretend my months of silence didn’t exist? 

Life has changed, and I don’t know how to explain all that.  So I won’t.  Just know that things are different.

I’m still in Canada, despite saying it was a one year thing.  I’m not sure about the future.  I’m still here though.

Portland.

It rained the whole time we were in Portland.  Not just drizzly rain, but full on horrible, drenching rain.  Therefore, I did not bring my camera out with me, and all of my Portland photos are from my phone.  Sorry.

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This is me and my second cousin Amy (our mums are cousins).  She lives in Oregon so we decided it would be fun to meet up for the first time :)

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Portland is weird, and I loved it.

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This is my friend Mel who lives in Portland, and who I haven’t seen since I was in Chicago in January 2009.  Hi Mel! Thanks for coming in to meet me :)

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I’m a barista in Whistler and we serve Stumptown coffee, which is roasted in Portland.  People go crazy for it, and I love the drinks we sell in Whistler, but going to one of the original stores was amazing.  Trust me, this coffee is like no other.  I ordered a soy cappuccino and as soon as I was finished I ordered another one to take with me, it was just that good.

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I got a bit confused trying to work out where this photo was taken, but I’ve just remembered it’s from Seattle, but as I’ve already posted my Seattle photos, it can just slip in here.  I’m bringing the sign to life in this shot, as you can see :)

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One evening, we decided to do Portland by Segway.  About an hour before our scheduled tour, we called them up and asked if it was still going ahead, because of the rain and wind quickly turning into a monsoon (no really, we were about to get hit with the tail end of an Asian monsoon).  Yep, they said, rain or shine.  So we went, and had a blast.  And got absolutely soaked to the skin, zooming through puddles up to our shins and squinting to see through the walls of rain.  While I was glad to get back to the hotel room and change into dry clothes, doing the Segway tour was so much fun, and I’d definitely do it again.  It’s a little nerve wracking at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s awesome!

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Not pictured is the immense amount of food eaten.  Wow, is all I have to say about Portland’s food culture.

And that was Portland, in a nutshell.  Next stop, Northern Ireland.  I’m currently sitting in Newark Airport, feeling like I’ve spent far too much time waiting around in airports the past couple of days, but the travelling is almost over, and I am more than excited to have a shower and wash my clothes :)

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I’m in Seattle again.

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In a few days, I will be in Portland.
Next week I will be in Northern Ireland.  (Then I’m going back to Canada for another year.  Did I forget to mention that?)

August?

Er, how did August happen?

Sorry for my inactivity around here.  I’ll be back soon :)

Running.

Whistler is a very active place.  People make full use of the mountains; in winter they ski and snowboard, and in summer they bike and hike.  There are trails made specifically for walkers/runners/cyclists so that no one has to travel at the side of the motorway.
Frequently walking past all these active people started to make me feel lazy.  I wanted to start doing something.  A few years ago I started running for a brief spell, then I moved to England for university and stopped.  Since I had done it before, and it didn’t require the purchase of any expensive equipment (aside from proper shoes), I decided to take up running again, only ‘for real’ this time.

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This is the first pair of proper running shoes I’ve owned, and wow, it really makes a difference.  It’s a bit of an upfront cost, but it’s definitely worth investing in a pair of proper runners that are designed to support your feet and ankles.

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I started out with no real plan.  I just jogged/ran for as long as I could and then slowed down to a walk until I felt able to go faster again.  If you follow me on Instagram (@njmarcus), you may have noticed that a lot of my photos lately have been around Lost Lake.  This area is perfect for running because there are no vehicles, just cyclists, walkers and runners.  Plus, it’s a beautiful area.

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I have to go running first thing, otherwise I won’t go.  It’s never a good idea to head out on an empty stomach, but at the same time it’s unwise to exercise with a full stomach.  I’ve found that, for me, the perfect thing is a small glass of fresh smoothie.  I blend a banana, a handful of strawberries, some orange juice and soy milk.  Or a few slices of peach, or fresh mango, or apple, or grapes.  Or whatever I have in the fridge that morning.
I like to set off about half an hour after I’ve had my smoothie, so in that in-between time I get dressed into my running gear, and set out my clothes for the day so when I get home I can just hop in the shower then get ready.

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After about three or four weeks of just running, somewhat aimlessly, I decided I needed more structure, and maybe something to aim for.  I’ve said (mainly to myself) for quite a while that I want to run a marathon some day, but it’s gone no further than me thinking that.  To be honest, it’s something I’ve thought would be awesome to do, but at the same time I knew I could never actually do.
I read quite a few health and fitness blogs, and I read Katie’s post about surprising her sister by turning up to run a half marathon with her.  Then I flicked through some other posts on her blog, and saw all these other people posting their accomplishments and achievements, and something in me just clicked and I thought maybe I could do this.  But not on my own.

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I mulled it over while I ran by the lake that morning, and by the time I got back, I decided to look into races I could possibly enter.  The first one I found was the Whistler Half Marathon, which is happening this weekend.  Uh, yeah, I’m not quite ready for that.  I knew that for any type of race, no matter how short, I needed time to prepare and train.  So anyway, I searched and searched, and finally found a 5k in Ireland in October.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but I’m going to be back home for the whole of October (to be my big sister’s Maid of Honour, woo!), and so I pitched it to my family to see if anyone would run it with me, and virtually train with me.  Turns out my family are an easily led bunch ;)  Even my dad agreed to run.

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5 kilometres may seem like nothing to some people, but to me it is huge.  I’ve never done something like this before, so while I am excited, I am pretty nervous.

Since the decision has been made, I’ve started the Couch to 5k training program, which promises to have me ready to run 5k in nine weeks.  I’m at the end of week one, so I have a long way to go, but I am so happy to be actively (excuse the pun) doing something about this dream.  Right now I feel like I am walking more than I am running, but as the saying goes, you don’t have to go fast, you just have to go.

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The Hemloft

The Hemloft is a famous, but secret egg-shaped tree house in the forest somewhere in Whistler.  Basically, the guy who built it did it over a period of a few years, entirely in secret.
A few weeks ago it was reported that he was going to take it down (mainly because it was illegal; he built it on crown land), and so we knew that if we wanted to find it we had to stop putting it off.
Because of the lengths the creator went to to keep it secret, anyone who has since found it has honoured this by not disclosing its location.  Meaning we couldn’t just Google it and set off.   A previous manager of Jay’s was actually one of the first people to find it, so we called her to ask for some help.  We still went the wrong way, but thanks to Elias and Xavier being proper fearless explorers in the wilderness, we found it.

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Walking across there was actually kind of scary.  It’s way higher up than it looks; the whole tree house hangs on a precipice.

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L-R: Rachel, Elias, Jay, Xavier and me.

The Hemloft was dismantled and relocated two days after we found it.  It was such an impressive structure, especially when you consider that all the materials and  huge pieces of timber were carried in by hand, sometimes at 3am, over some very rough terrain.
It looked so impressive, and was well worth the slippery, icy hike (which resulted in me falling into a snow ditch up to my thighs).

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