Desert Adventures – Kayaking the Colorado River

If there is one thing you must do when in #LasVegas it’s go on a trip with these guys! We chose to go on a half day trip because despite being busy as HECK all week long with our day jobs, they’re really ‘at our desk, to our car, to our client’s desk, to our car, to back to the office’ jobs which is not a lot of physical exercise overall. We have taken a #canoe trip before & that was a lot of fun so we signed up for this one.

Our #tourguide was Dani Larget and she was awesome! From the first minute we met her she was energetic, informative & full of life. It was only my husband & I plus Dani so we got all her attention & could ask ask much as we wanted about the local #history & where we were going. Don’t let her slight build fool you, this girl can load up a van full of supplies, emergency gear & 2 #kayaks in the blink of an eye! We took off through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area where we learned a ton of the history of the area including Boulder City. This community was built in 1931 to house the workers building the Hoover Dam. It’s still a quaint town that looks a bit old fashioned & would be fun to check out if you have time, but since the Colorado River awaited us, we sped on through.

We arrived at Willow Beach where we would launch our kayaks & where the view was stunning! It couldn’t have been a more perfect day, for the sun was up, there was a really nice breeze & the water wasn’t too fast. Dani took us through a few safety rules & we loaded lunches, water, first aid gear & ourselves onto the kayaks and set off. #BlackCanyon is really beautiful – very craggy, very sheer & you can see where the water has left its imprint over the years – showing how the water level has dropped quite drastically.

There is a fascinating little “tram” that the gauger would take to pull himself across the river when he would go to work monitoring the levels of the #ColoradoRiver to aid the building of the #HooverDam. There is a small building perched precariously on the side of the canyon where he would go to do this & an even more precarious catwalk he took along the canyon wall. We hiked to the spot where his home once stood along the river, you can still see the foundation, and imagine him sitting at the end of a long day enjoying his peaceful, beautiful view.

There is a really cool little cave called #EmeraldCove that you can go into. You back up into the cave so that you’re looking out and the water there is green yet crystal clear. There was a little beach spot where we stopped for lunch (which was SO GOOD) & were joined by a drake & mallard duck. It was so beautiful there & even though the water is quite cold, it felt good to dip our feet & hands in after the heat of the sun. We refilled our water bottles, doubled up on the sunscreen & started off again back to Willow Beach.

We did see some other #animals, such as turkey vultures, a few cute, spike haired ducks, a mama Bighorn sheep & her little one wayyyyy up in the canyon but luckily NOT the swimming rattlesnake nor the scorpions that Dani mentioned to us are native to the area. On our way back to the office to leave our gear, before returning to our hotel, we make a quick stop at #HemenwayPark where there are a herd of Bighorn sheep were in the field of a recreation park… yes, right next to the picnic tables & slide! It was pretty neat to see them so up close & fairly tame but we still gave them plenty of space as there were at least three males & we didn’t want them to feel threatened at all.

All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better trip. When we travel, we always want to learn the #history of the area, we want to see the #landscape, the architecture… we definitely learned a lot about the many trips & #trails we could take if we wanted to go back and learning more of the history of the builders of the Hoover Dam was neat since we were fascinated by our tour at the Dam a few years ago.

I would give this tour 5 tickets out of five for sure. Dani, of Desert Adventures was knowledgeable, safety conscious & fun. The trip was well worth the money & we would go again. See, it must have been good because we bought T shirts & have already talked about what type of kayak we now need to get for ourselves!

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Believe In Magic or Not… Illusionist David Copperfield Stuns!

Out of the blue, Mr. My Return Ticket (my husband) decided we should go to see #DavidCopperfield on a recent anniversary trip we took to #LasVegas. I thought hey, why not? Famous guy, been doing it for years, probably a good night out. We weren’t allowed cameras for obvious reasons, so you’ll have to take our word for it.. this show was bananas!

Out he came, still a nice looking guy, appearing as if by … wait… alright fine, as if by #magic! Inside a giant box that WAS empty…  it was! I saw it was empty & I was looking underneath & everything! Yet, there he appeared, David on an awesome Harley Davidson motorcycle!  Nice start! He then is casually doing slow, easy little slight of hand tricks… cracking some jokes, talking with the audience… then SHAZAM!! There’s a spaceship in the room?! He does a full bit with a little robotic alien (long story – go see the show) where he lets the audience in on some emotion regarding his own parents, who have since passed away.

Another cool section of the show was when he talked about his favourite toy as a boy… a skeleton of a T Rex named Frank, who’s been missing for many years. The end trick is so unreal as a MASSIVE T Rex appears in front of our eyes! It’s so hard to figure out because it’s just so huge you can’t figure out how it is suddenly there while we watched so carefully??

There is a lot of audience participation which makes you realize that the results are very unpredictable, David even relied on tossing frisbees out into the crowd to choose people (or their answers) for him to have predicted before the show even started. He had emailed one of his #predictions out to everyone before the show ended (of course we didn’t know this since our phones were put into wooden privacy boxes) so this was even harder to explain – – how could he possibly have known what random results he would get beforehand? Mind. Blown.

Worth every penny, lots of fun & definitely makes you question what you think you know about magic & #illusions… he doesn’t take himself too seriously, despite having been famous for so so long & having travelled the world. A really great evening at the #MGMGrand  For more info or to see a show schedule David CopperfieldIMG_E6545

Celine Dion – That’s the Way It Is ;)

You know, I have always liked #CelineDion & thought her vocal rage is quite unreal but after seeing her concert in #LasVegas this week… I have a whole new appreciation for her. She was lovely & engaging from the moment she stepped out on the stage but once she started to sing… that was it… we were enraptured! You realize with every song she sings, that her #talent is ridiculous, she makes it look absolutely effortless, but also that each song must be hard for her to get through now that the love of her life (& her manager throughout her career) is now gone… Celine’s husband Renee passed away in 2016, which she does make mention of, but you feel it in her emotional performance anyway.

One thing I did not realize, is that Celine is quite funny! She made a lot of jokes while speaking to us, the audience & when chatting with her band & back up singers. She came out once wearing the #LasVegasKnights hockey team jersey! Despite her & I both being #Canadian girls, we obviously still have a healthy respect for the brand new team that has risen to the top of the NHL to be in the Stanley Cup Finals.

One thing we loved was that she happily allowed photos (no flash). She sang some of her original songs, even a little piano bar number… and who knew Celine could scat?! But scat she did & it was fantastic. She sang a duet with her back up singer of ‘Beauty & the Beast’ – excellent pairing of voices there! She was gracious to her band & they were spotlighted as well with some instrumentals. I did get emotional for her when it came to ‘All By Myself’ because again, you could only imagine the heartache she & her children feel since Renee has been gone. I think most of us are suckers for a true love story, non?

Of course, the highlight of it all was the encore… nothing other than spectacular… the #Titanic theme – My Heart Will Go On… not a dry eye in the place! Celine was featured inside of an actual cascading, spinning waterfall right onstage! She was amazing, a true show woman & I would absolutely go to see her again. Despite having has some recent health issues… her performance… flawless. IMG_E6607

To Plan or Not to Plan… Whichever, it’s Going to Require Coffee!

So we’re trying to decide where to go next… we’ve bounced a few ideas around… Tried to figure out timing… checked on pricing… I think it’s time we get serious & getting serious requires a serious beverage & a great little place to enjoy it.

Not far from where we live is a really quaint little place called Cafe Amarti www.cafeamarti.com It’s got a casual, comfortable atmosphere, they’ve got fresh healthy food, fresh maybe-not-so-healthy-but-oh-so-delish-desserts, they serve all kinds of loose teas, some wine & beer & best of all… 49th Parallel Coffee that is from Vancouver. It’s a great place to go with a friend or two, I’ve met clients there & a lot of students go there to study. There’s a dance studio & a martial arts business next door so I’ll bet it’s where the Mommies love to go wait while their kids plié or break boards. There is even a long community table to sit at if you have a crowd. The staff are quick to serve & friendly and made delicious sandwiches for us. It was the perfect place to start planning our next travel adventure. What’s cool is the owners are a brother & sister who love to travel & have used their experiences visiting different cafes & wine bars around the world to develop their own unique menu & feel. They have excellent hours: 8 am – 10 pm, so can accommodate the breakfast bunch or the after dinner crowd.

You just never know… The ‘flood’ of 2018

There we were just going along on our Saturday, cleaning house, doing errands, doing some work… I said to my husband for the second time that day “Something smells funny downstairs…” We happen to live where a forest is our backyard so everyyyy once in awhile a mouse gets in and well, you get the idea. Down we go to check it out… I’m wearing shoes & head in to the living room, my husband, wearing socks wanders in & gasps “Hey!! It’s sopping wet down here!” And lo & behold his socks are soaked! He opens the door to the furnace & hot water tank room only to get blasted in the face with a spray of water! Because the carpet is so lovely & luxurious it was hard to see at first that there was actually an inch of water down there! We quickly called our insurance & restoration company but there was no way we could stay in the house for the next couple of nights with 8 gigantic fans, dehumidifiers running & the water turned off – no plumber till Monday.

This is how we ended up just down the road from our home in The Quality Inn & Conference Centre in Abbotsford, B. C. http://www.qualityhotelabbotsford.com/

We need to stay for 2 nights so got a suite as we both have to set up our computers and get some work done. The room is a good size with 2 decent sized little fridges, a desk, great big king bed, flat screen tv, a couch & 2 wing chairs sitting in front of a fireplace. There’s even a jacuzzi tub – it’s huge! This hotel has a pool, exercise room & conference centre. We’ve attended many events with excellent meals in the conference centre but had never stayed overnight.

There is a White Spot restaurant attached, the breakfast we ordered in was really good & arrived in only about 15 minutes. I decided to order their special Nat Bailey Coffee since it was Sunday morning 😉 it was a delicious Baileys & Amaretto coffee. My husband enjoyed his BC Sunny Start & I couldn’t finish my yummy Breakfast Quesadilla – it was so big! Something we’ve discovered staying in hotels & ordering room service – read the fine print! We often have just paid a tip to whomever brought the meal but have come to realize there is already a $5 or so delivery fee PLUS a percentage on top of that! It’s right there in black & white…

It’s great to have a room with a microwave & coffee maker etc in case of a longer stay. The only negative thing we noticed was that there were the tiniest shampoo & conditioner EVER. There are two of us and there’s no way there is enough there for us both. Having said that, I’m sure we can call down for more.

There is quite a lot to do nearby for those who are travellers from elsewhere, including coffee shops, spas, yoga studios, a grocery store, Sushi restaurant, liquor store, fast foods restaurants & a place to go drive mini racecars, play on 3 different mini golf courses, play tons of video games, use the batting cages & even a soccer scoring net to work on your shots.

The hotel is conveniently located right off Highway 1 but luckily, we couldn’t hear any road noise from our room. So far a decent stay less than five minutes from home. I like that they had a QR Code in the Guest Services book that shows you all that is local and once you’ve scanned it you can take all the info with you. A nice touch. There are also menus for local, pizza and Chinese restaurants etc.

36 Hours in Ireland

NrothernIrelandCoastline

I arrived in #Dublin, the capital & largest city of #Ireland with a population of more than 1M, with only 36 hours to explore. I wasn’t sure what to expect… despite what many people say the service by Ryanair  was excellent, departing & arriving as scheduled. Landing at Dublin Airport, I proceed to get a taxi to downtown Dublin. The taxi driver was extremely chatty & told me that he had a connection with Canada & in fact his sister lives in #Chilliwack (British Columbia, Canada) – my wife’s hometown! He advised me of the things to do while in Dublin, how to use public transport, I thought this very helpful. When I arrived at the Ashling Hotel the driver asked me for 50 Euros in cash. I asked to pay by Visa, he declined saying that no taxis will take Visas in Ireland… I thought it was odd, but had cash so paid the driver what he asked. **As a side note: on the return trip from the Ashling Hotel to the airport, I also had a very friendly, former civil servant taxi driver & when we arrived at the airport he asked for 25 Euros… he said paying by Visa was no problem… I explained the issue with the first taxi driver when I had arrived to which he shook his head disdainfully.

The Ashling Hotel was a grand old #hotel, it was clean, had that antique feel & the service was excellent. I was informed about a tourist spot named Temple Bar, where all the #restaurants, #pubs & #entertainment can be found. Since the following day would be a packed day including a trip to #Belfast, I thought I would venture out, that very day to Temple Bar. The concierge told me to catch the public tram just yards away from the hotel, that would take me to downtown Dublin. I paid 3.7 Euros for a return ticket, hopped aboard a packed tram to downtown & jumped off the tram at the third stop. I walked across the Liffey River for the first time & entered Temple Bar. It reminded me of a hustling, bustling downtown Amsterdam, with live music in the cobblestone streets – every bar & pub overflowing with very happy people. Enjoying a quick meal, I returned to the hotel to get organized for the Belfast trip in the morning.

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A Day Tour of Belfast
Getting up at 6 am, I headed to the rendezvous point at the Gresham Hotel (23 O’Connell Street) for the 7 am pick up. I was about to embark on a day tour of Belfast including a visit to Giants Causeway, and The Game of Thrones filming locations with the Wild Rover Tours Company. Once aboard the 60 seat luxury coach, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a retired private school teacher. As we were to travel a number of hours, we got to share a bit of each other’s lives, it was fascinating to hear of he and his wife’s travel exploits around the world, and about their home city of Perth, Australia. As we departed Dublin, the guide explained about the Millennium Monument, The Spire of Dublin located across the River Liffey. Dubliners were disappointed as the big celebration planned for the Millennium that was to include the monument did not happen as the monument wasn’t finished until 3 years later. It has been given many names (some I cannot repeat!) but one popular name that is frequently used is the ‘Stiletto in the Ghetto’. We travelled for about 2.5 hours, heading to Belfast. We were given the option of either taking a Black Cab Taxi Political Tour or visiting the iconic Titanic Museum. I opted for the Black Cab Taxi Tour. We were dropped at a nearby shopping mall, grabbed a tea & a sandwich, then in groups of 5, were piled in to a series of Black Cabs. My fellow travellers included a couple from Germany & students from Toronto, Canada. The taxi driver was full of vim & vigor & couldn’t wait to tell us about the history of Belfast, and in particular, the division of Catholic & Protestant communities that still exists today.

BattleOfTheFalls

Our first stop, was called Battle of the Falls, where the famous murals of history are all displayed on the Catholic side of the Peace Wall. We got out of the cab in the pouring rain, were given umbrellas & marched along the Road of Murals with our tour guide in tow. Passionately, he explained about the brutal violence over 30 years that took place in the streets of Belfast, with thousands of people losing their lives. This included his own personal trauma during the troubles. We spent about 80% of our time on the Catholic side & the remaining on the Protestant side. When we stopped at the gates that divided the two communities it struck home to me, that the violence and the troubles were still very real.

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Dubbed ‘The Troubles’ – Northern Ireland 1968-1998
The memory of a 30 year stretch of violence in Belfast is still very apparent. The Catholic/Nationalist population together with the IRA (Irish Republican Army) was in a brutal conflict with Protestant led RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), UDR (Ulster Defense Regiment) and the British Army. The aim by the IRA was to achieve a United Ireland by removing British rule. Violence in the streets was common between Unionist/Loyalist Protestant population and minority Catholic/Nationalists, including; rioting, house burnings, shootings & bombings.

Our taxi driver, Martin May, with Black Cab Tours, said “There were troubles on both sides. I will never forget the death squads (RUC/UDR) as they were known, who came & simply hunted Catholics to kill. On the other side, I recall the IRA getting information that leaders within the Protestant groups were enjoying a meal at a local fish & chip shop. They planted a bomb & blew it & everyone in it up. No one survived. They later found out the leaders had already left & innocent people were killed. The conflict in Belfast/Northern Ireland was officially ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. 3,500 people lost their lives & 50,000 were injured over the thirty year conflict.When you enter Belfast, in particular along the Peace Wall, it is evident that there are many reminders of the conflict however even today the main gates between the two religious groups are locked every night at 6:30pm & all day Sundays.

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Back on the coach, we then departed Belfast for Carrick-A-Rede and Larrybane, about a 40 minute drive away. When we arrived at this location, we were told it had become extremely famous throughout the world as it was a major film location for The Game of Thrones (since I was not a current fan of the show, it was difficult to follow all of the characters that were discussed & what they had done here). It also struck me when I saw a National Trust logo, that we were in Northern Ireland under British control. Before we disembarked the coach, we were reminded that currency would now be in pounds at the gift shop, not in Euros. The tour guide explained that the walk along the cliff path would be about 2 kms & that we had an hour in total before the coach would depart. Out in the rain, I headed to the famous rope bridge which was featured in The Game of Thrones. About a hundred people ventured along the cliff path with me, but only 8 people at a time were allowed on the rope bridge. The bridge named Carrick-A-Rede, allowed you to cross over to Carrick Island. The bridge was approximately 100 feet in the air, and in the name (Scottish Gaelic) means The Rock in the Road. It has been used for over 350 years by fisherman gaining access to migrating salmon. It was awful weather, pouring with rain & very windy, so I stopped at the gift shop for another quick hot tea & warm up before boarding the coach. The tour guide, who was extremely entertaining, explained to us that on a good day you could see Scotland as it was only 13 miles away from Carrick-A-Rede.

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Basalt Columns – photo Wikipedia

We then headed off to Giants Causeway, which was about a 40 minute journey. The guide explained that you could walk to the Causeway (about 2 kms), you could ride in a shuttle for 1 pound or you can visit the pub, sit by the fire & enjoy a beer (or two!) before venturing out to the Causeway. Almost everyone headed to the pub! After my own liquid refreshment, I headed out once again into the rain & wind, to the shuttle pick-up point. Disappointingly, the only ‘ride’ that stood in front of me was a golf cart full of garbage. It looked like another 2 km walk down the cliff path would be inevitable. The Giants Causeway is a World Heritage Site with an area of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The Causeway is located in Country Antrim, on the North Coast of Northern Ireland, 5 kms from a town called Bushmills. In 2005, the Giants Causeway was named as the 4th Greatest Natural Wonder in the United Kingdom. All owned & managed by the National Trust, it remains as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland. Once again, sopping wet, I headed back to the coach, for a three hour return trip to Dublin, in Southern Ireland. Interestingly, there is no border between Northern & Southern Ireland, making it quite difficult to distinguish between the two, however, as noted, the currency did change. On the return trip, just outside of Belfast, we passed through the small village of Ballymena, famous for being the hometown of actor, Liam Neeson.

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Happy New Year!

And just like that, it’s 2018 . . . Make the best of this bright, blank slate of a new year. Make goals & break them. Set your sights high & keep them there. Do something inspiring. Put out your hand to help a stranger. Be kind. Do your best. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Stay in touch with your family, even a text is better than nothing. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today UNLESS it means putting off doing the laundry to play with grandsons. . . always do that. Find a hobby & enjoy every minute spent doing it.

For God’s sake, T. R. A. V. E. L. See the world, learn about others’ way of life, walk a mile in their shoes, absorb their history. . . If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with the love of your life, tell them, tell them every day, multiple times a day & give all of yourself to them. . . Be their partner, their cheerleader, their sounding board. . . Love them through everything. We’re not promised tomorrow. Not any of us. Live today the best way you know how. Make it your best year yet.

Every. Last. Minute.

Photos by myreturnticket.ca on News Year’s Eve Day, December 31, 2017 #travel #winterwonderland #snow #icy #abbotsford #britishcolumbia #canada #fraservalley #landscape #nature #photography #mountains

Found a new #coffee spot!

I met a friend for a LONG overdue visit at this really great, #rustic #cafe called oldhandcoffee.com in #abbotsford #britishcolumbia the other night. It’s comfortable, #casual has plenty of #food & #drink options & has great business hours. There are lots of choices for #coffee & #tea (see photos of some of their offerings here) or if you’re looking for something a little stronger, they do serve #alcoholic drinks as well. #Craving something #tasty to go with it? There are #scones, #cinnamonbrioche or #savoury treats, even #sandwiches I enjoyed the creamy, rich #advocaatcappuccino which is #espresso poured over frothed #Eggnog and my friend enjoyed a #peachgreentea It’s easy to chat away with a friend but I can see dropping in with clients to work on their marketing here too. The staff are friendly & the cafe is immaculate. Definitely will be returning! The #decor is a combination between rustic & #antique with lots of seating & high beamed ceilings. It’s easy to chat away the hours with a friend here but I can see dropping in with clients to talk about building their business here too. The staff are friendly & the cafe is immaculate. There are various coffee #accoutrements from #pourovers to locally handcrafted #cups I even noticed some Old Hand Coffee clothing items that would make a great #gift I even picked up a #giftcertificate for a Christmas present Definitely will be returning to this quaint little spot!

#CoffeeCoffeeCoffee

There are plenty of #coffeeshops & #cafes, even fast food outlets are trying their hand at making a Cappuccino or an #Americano … to be brutally honest *whispers* I don’t actually mind the @mcdonald’s #Cappuccino … but there is nothing like the #experience of a really good cafe. I have been to many a cafe in my years as a #coffeedrinker. Yes, I love a good strong starbucks.com and I’ve had #cafeaulait in #Paris In #Athens #Greece I was made the most #delicious #foamy cappuccino every morning in our #hotel. In #Rome I went with #espresso shots. But I must say, over many visits, over many years, I have always enjoyed @decadescoffeeclub in #Chilliwack #BritishColumbia #Canada They are a lovely cafe with rooms for private #meetings and an upstairs #balcony with #fireplace just perfect for a #chat with a friend or to #work or meet a client. I love the strings of lights that make it so snug. The #decor is #artsy #whimsical #rustic and #comfotable They serve delicious #food and have #mouthwatering #desserts and I notice they have many flavours of #tea I love to #support this #business because they are so #CommunityMinded and are always #GivingBack and that is something that needs to be #celebrated So I raise my mug to you, Decades Team, and send new business your way any chance I can. #Cheers

Victoria, British Columbia

#BritishColumbia #Canada is beautiful. It just IS. There are so many stunning #mountains bordering us, expansive bodies of water surrounding us & countless #trails where you can get back to nature. There are also many #historic buildings with rich #history throughout our gorgeous #province. 

There happen to be quite a few just in #Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. www.victoria.ca Victoria sits on the southern end of #VancouverIsland. With abundant parkland, it’s known for outdoor activities. Some of the city’s most known landmarks are #CraigdarrochCastle thecastle.ca/ & #ButchartGardens www.butchartgardens.com, with 55 acres of vivid floral displays & water features. 

The walk around the #marina in downtown Victoria has always got something to see. Places to #shop, restaurants, walking or sailing tours, even a super fun #DragonBoatFestival. 

Here are some of the lovely sights in Victoria:

#TheEmpressHotel http://m.fairmont.com/empress-victoria


The #Waterfront marina 


The British Columbia #Parliament Buildings

www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/visiting-the-legislature

Venice, Italy

Venice, a city in northeastern #Italy & the capital of the Veneto region, is listed as a #WorldHeritageSite. It sits across a group of 118 small #islands that are separated by #canals & linked by 400 bridges! The islands are located in a shallow bay that lies between the mouths of the #PoRiver & the #PiaveRiver called the #VenetianLagoon. #Venice is renowned for its beautiful #architecture & #artwork & of course the #gondolas. 

My brother & sister in law took a quick #trip this past week & shared a few photos. They loved it & recommend it highly – – even though they got a little lost 😉 They suggested visitors wear good shoes for all the walking you’ll want to do. 

Personally, I think the photos speak for themselves & I can’t wait to #travel there myself! myreturnticket.ca

Tsawwassen to Victoria & Back… 

Such a gorgeous nearly-Fall day with the beautiful sky, warm sunshine but crisp air & breeze. It’s perfect for having to take the ferry from the #Tsawwassen Terminal over to #SwartzBay #Victoria #BritishColumbia #Canada even if it is for work purposes. The ferry is a cool way to see the stunning scenery, the lush smaller islands that you’ll sail past (such as #Mayne & #Galiano) & sometimes if you’re lucky, you can spot sea lions, Killer Whales – otherwise known as Orcas, and mountain views that​ can’t be beat. You can walk on the ferry or drive your vehicle on. Here are some photos & video that tell the story better than words of the trek aboard bcferries.com & once on the Island. For more #travel & #adventure follow myreturnticket.ca



Through My Lens – Victoria Harbour 

Yesssss, we do have day jobs . . . Can’t just count on winning the lottery 😉 My husband’s job requires him to travel for work sometimes & today happens to be to Victoria. He flew to Victoria Harbour with www.harbourair.com & this is what that looks like on a stunning day like today. #Victoria #britishcolumbia #canada #harbour #flights #houseboats www.myreturnticket.ca


Through My Lens – San Francisco Airport

The Typewriter – An Innovation in Writing (museum display)

I cannot tell you my excitement when I saw this display from a distance on the concourse. . . I have a love for typewriters that goes WAY back to when I was a little girl. My Nana C taught me to type on her electric typewriter with my little 4 year old fingers. . . no would could type xyzzy as quick as me 😉 My grandfather Britton left me his old manual typewriter that I loved pounding away on to do reports for school etc. . . Yes, I’m that old – -pre-computer. . . That typewriter is what the logo for My Return Ticket is based on. This was a neat distraction while we waited to board our flight.  www.myreturnticket.ca

Ray Bradbury’s typewriter

John Lennon’s typewriter 

This was just like the one I learned on at my Nana’s – she even had that typing course you see in the top right corner! 

Love love love the brass details on this model – – seriously swooning here 

They came in RED?! 

This. Is. Just. Cool. 

Ughhhh I remember having black fingers from the carbon paper no matter how careful I was 

Tennessee Williams unit that he used to write Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 

Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter

Guest Post – Mt. Cheam Hike

This is a selection of photos from Rhiannon Turney, of #Chilliwack, British Columbia of her Mt. Cheam #hiking #adventure. There couldn’t have been a more gorgeous day to get such #stunning photos! #mtcheam #britishcolumbia #canada #fraservalley #bc

My Return Ticket I Love British Columbia  

Driving to the trails by Jeep

Our guest photographer, Rhiannon

A pheasant in a tree!

Looking down at the Fraser Valley below

Living on the edge

San Francisco Tips

Go to Alcatraz – just do it. We recommend alcatrazcruises.com & do the recorded tour with the headsets… it’s creepy & very interesting. 

We figured we’d better do a wine tour since we were in Wine Country. We recommend greendreamtours.com as they were reasonably priced, fun, the bus was air conditioned & it was well organized. We went to clinecellars.com & homewoodwinery.com two little vineyards that are quaint & good at what they do. 


We visited Carmel and within minutes thought we’d seen former Mayor Clint Eastwood… we didn’t but it was funny. The beach is unreal. The town is adorable. I wish we could have spent more time there or even stayed there. 


This is a great central place to park (although $40-$50 a day but that’s the case in any parkade in SF). Here is a HUGE tip ✍🏼 shop anywhere in Anchorage Square & get your parking pass validated. We didn’t realize this was the case & paid full price. Lesson learned for the future – ask about parking validation juuuust in case. 


Muir Woods is cool but set aside more time than you think. There are LOTS of people & it doesn’t have the best parking situation… there are plenty of places TO park but they aren’t close by if it’s busy… but of a rugged walk from the parking area when busy. Wear comfortable shoes etc & take lots of water as it is full of trails (short & easy to longer & more difficult)

Room with a View – My Day Job

How do we fund our life & our travels? My husband & I both work for a media company. He’s head of our company’s digital marketing and I sell advertising for our Real Estate newspaper (print, digital & online). You’ll note a theme of travel, photography, memories from friends & family and 2 necessities… starbucks.ca  & davidstea.com & yes, I have a small obsession with stationery. I like to be organized. I like it to be pretty 😉 This is where the magic happens… 

Golden Gate Bridge ~ San Francisco

The first day we crossed the 6 lane, 1.7 mile Golden Gate that now ‘bridges’ the communities of San Francisco & Marin County, we were lucky enough that @KarlTheFog had taken the day off so we could see it in all it’s suspension bridge glory. This is one of the seven wonders of the modern world & opened in 1937 after four years of struggling to build against winds, rock, treacherous tides & of course #KarlTheFog. 11 workers’ lives were lost during the construction (10 on the same day) & over $35 million was spent in principal. Pedestrians can walk, bicycle, jog, go in a wheelchair or stroller on either side of the Golden Gate (but no roller skating, roller blading or skateboarding please).

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Some crazy stats are:
• 5,000 – 10,000 gallons of paint are used to repaint the Golden Gate Bridge each year
• three babies have been born on the Golden Gate Bridge – all three were boys
• it’s named after the Golden Gate Strait at the entrance to San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean
• International Orange was actually the color of the primer but then was chosen as the finished
colour as it provides visibility in the fog for passing ships & suits the environment
• the bridge has only been closed three times due to weather since it was built – all three times due to
high winds gusting close to over 70 miles per hour
• the bridge has also been closed for the visits of President Franklin D. Roosevelt & President
Charles De Gaulle of France and also on its 50th & 75th anniversaries.
• the chief engineer Joseph Strauss’ first design was rejected as being too ugly
• the bridge has lost some weight! 12,300 tons to be exact! How? when the roadway was replaced in
the 1980s
• The twin towers are 746 feet high, with 2 cables, each more than 7,000 feet in length, both
containing 80,000 miles of wire. This looped around the Earth’s equator in a single strand would
circle the planet three times!
• more than 2 billion motor vehicles had passed over the Golden Gate Bridge by 2015

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Muir Woods National Monument

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We decided to go on a trip to the 100 year old Muir Woods, one of the country’s oldest national parks. We had rented a car but found that we could take a shuttle bus from the Visitor Information so thought that would be better for us both enjoy the drive. Now, here is what we learned – there are literally tens of thousands of people going there in August… TENS… of THOUSANDS. It was crazy busy. The parking situation is not great so there were constant backups but there was a park ranger out front directing traffic the best he could. This made us happy we had taken the shuttle bus. It’s $5 per person to take the shuttle – PLEASE REMEMBER THIS: you pay once you get to the park & if you do not get your shuttle ticket you will NOT be allowed back on the bus. It was $10 per person to go in to the park… we didn’t have a problem with that as the money goes to help preserve the park – what we did have a problem with was that tons of people were walking in right past the ticket window without paying since there is no gate. We also discovered that it took nearly two hours of waiting before we could get the bus back down to our car because there were so many people. I’m not saying don’t go to Muir Woods – I’m just saying to expect your excursion there to take a lot longer than you might think. Despite waiting for the shuttle for so long, I would still suggest doing it that way because if there are even close to as many people as when we went… you’ll be walking miles from where you’ve parked to get in to the park. Miles. Muir Woods is one of the last stands of old-growth Redwood forests on Earth. If you’ve read my other posts about our trip to San Francisco you’ve seen me mention @KarlTheFog, he is, well, the fog in San Francisco. Not only is he super helpful for growing some wicked, awesome grapes for Sonoma & Napa Valley wines but he is also partly responsible for such lush & green forests such as Muir Woods. These trees thrive because of @KarlTheFog, as do the ferns & other ground cover that helps protect the Redwoods roots. William & Elizabeth Kent purchased this forest in 1908 & then donated it to the nation, requesting President Theodore Roosevelt name it in honor of John Muir, an intrepid explorer, naturalist & environmental activist. There is a gift shop & a nice cafe with a lot of choice for food & drinks, but you can only take water on the actual hikes with you as there are wild animals, of course & National Parks does not want any form of litter to be left around or any feeding of the animals.

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Here are the hiking routes in & around Muir Woods:
Main Trail Loop – takes about 30 mins to an hour, it’s about 2 miles round trip & is classified as easy to hike. The path is wide, paved & wheelchair/stroller accessible.
Bootjack Trail to Ben Johnson Trail Loop – takes about 4 hours, it’s about 6 miles round trip & is classified as moderate to hike.
Canopy View Trail to Lost Trail To Fern Creek – takes about 2 hours, it’s about 3 miles round trip & is classified as moderate, and is steep in sections.
Canopy View Trail to Redwood Trail to Sun Trail to Dipsea Trail – takes about 3 hours, it’s about 5 miles round trip & is classified as moderate to hike.
Ben Johnson Trail, Return Via Dipsea Trail – takes about 3 hours, it’s about 4 miles round trip & is classified as a moderate/strenuous hike.
Fern Creek Trail to Camp Eastwood – takes about 2 hours, it’s about 3 miles round trip & is classified as moderate to hike.
Redwood Creek Trail to Muir Beach – takes about 2 hours one way, it’s about 3 miles (one way) & is classified as an easy hike. PS there are poison oak & ticks along this trail.

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Alcatraz: Escape Attempts

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Since 1859, when Alcatraz was a military prison to when it became a federal super max penitentiary from 1934 to 1963, attempts were made to escape The Rock. After walking through the cellhouse & hearing the audio tour, you can sincerely feel the isolation of the cold prison cells. You can begin to understand the motivation behind these desperate escape attempts… In the words of former inmate Jim Quillen, prisoner #AZ586, ”Nothing could blot out the knowledge of what and where you were, or the certainty that this was all that life held for you in the future. Man was never intended to live as a caged animal; I often speculated as to whether life was worth living under these conditions.”

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Commandant Colonel G. Maury Cralle’s famous response to the rumour of a planned mass escape in 1926 was “Go ahead, swim!’ Many a desperate man reconsidered escape when thinking of the frigid 58 degree waters & strong 6 to 8 mph currents of San Francisco Bay.

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In the movie Escape from Alcatraz, one famous line “If you disobey the rules of society, they send you to prison. If you disobey the rules of prison, they send you to us.” sums up the role of The Rock. There was one guard for every three inmates & 13 official head counts in each 24 hour period. Another excellent quote regarding the necessity of Alcatraz also came from former prisoner Jim Quillen (in his book Alcatraz From Inside) “The institution was there for the purpose of proving to unruly prisoners that they had reached the ultimate termination of their undisciplined way of life.”

A total of 34 men tried to escape from1934 – 1963, in 14 separate official attempts. Five of those men were never seen or heard from again, and are presumed to have drowned. Two inmates tried to escape twice.

Escape Attempts
• April 27, 1936 Joseph Bowers didn’t get far – he climbed the fence in full view of a guard; he was shot & killed
• December 16, 1937 Ralph Roe & Theodore Cole sawed through a window bar, squeezed through & were never seen again
• May 23, 1938 James Lucas, Thomas Limerick & Rufus Franklin beat Officer Royal Cline to death with a hammer stolen from the furniture shop. A guard in the tower killed Limerick & wounded Franklin. Lucas was captured.
• January 13, 1939 Arthur “Doc” Barker, Dale Stamphill, Rufus McCain, William Martin & Henry Young sawed through window bars in D Block, made it to the water’s edge, but Barker was fatally wounded & the others were captured.
• May 21, 1941 Joseph Cretzer, Sam Shockley, Arnold Kyle & Lloyd Barkdoll overpowered guards but gave up after unsuccessfully trying to saw through the window bars.
• September 15, 1941 John Bayless made a one-man escape attempt when he slipped away before garbage detail but he was spotted in the water & brought back.
• April 14, 1943 Floyd Hamilton, Harold Brest, Fred Hunter & James Boarman jumped guards & broke through a rear window. All four were spotted swimming. Boarman was fatally wounded, Brest & Hunter were picked up by the prison launch & Hamilton was found 2 days later, hiding in a cave.
• August 7, 1943 Ted Walters sneaked out of the laundry & climbed over the fence. He was found entering the bay with 2 large cans tied around his waist for buoyancy.
• July 31, 1945 John Giles had collected an entire Army uniform during eight years of working on the dock. He stripped off the coveralls that concealed the uniform & walked on to the Army launch. A head count taken on the boat revealed the extra man.
• May 2, 1946 This bloody attempt, known as the Battle of Alcatraz, raged for three days when six inmates – Bernard Coy, Joseph Cretzer, Sam Shockley, Marvin Hubbard, Miran Thompson & Clarence Carnes made a break for it. They overpowered several guards, captured weapons, took over the cell house, but were foiled by not being able to get the key to the exterior door. Guards William Miller & Harold Stites, inmates Coy, Cretzer & Hubbard were killed. Shockley & Thompson were executed for their roles in this attempt.

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• July 23, 1956 Floyd Wilson disappeared from the dock crew & hid in a crevice in the rocks, working his way along the sea wall, eluding search parties for 12 hours before being discovered.
• September 29, 1958 After tying a guard to a tree, Clyde Johnson & Aaron Burgett ran from their garbage detail to the shoreline. After 2 hours, Johnson was found clinging to the sea wall. Burgett was missing for 13 days before his body was discovered in the bay.
• June 11, 1962 Frank Morris & brothers Clarence & John Anglin escaped from their cells after enlarging their air vents by digging with spoons. Dummy heads were left in their beds. They climbed to the top of the cellblock & on to the roof along a ventilation shaft. They climbed down a cast iron stovepipe, entered the water with flotation devices made from raincoats & were never seen again.
• December 16, 1962 This marked the last escape attempt & the only known successful swim from The Rock to the mainland. John Paul Scott & Darl Parker sawed through bars in a basement room under the kitchen, inflated gloves then shoved those into their clothes for buoyancy, jumped in the bay & swam. Parker gave up & turned back. Scott was found clinging to rocks near the Golden Gate Bridge, too exhausted to pull himself out of the water.