Trip Kayak Canada

The Trip That Started Our Wanderlust

A moment lived in Canada by Wanderlust Vegans, travelers from Canada

We got word of a trip kayaking from Telegraph Cove to Hanson Island. A family we met does this kayaking trip every year as a family holiday. Lucky for us they invite others to come along. We did a little researching and thought it sounded like something we would like to join in on. (Funny side note though, when we researched ‘Hanson Island’ the first article that came up on Google was ‘Murderer lose on Hanson Island’ … Turns out there was a guy in Eastern Canada who murdered his multiple wives, fled to Western Canada and hid on Hanson Island. He was caught a couple years before we went on our trip.) Phew!
And with that, we set off…
It was a 6.5-hour drive from our hour to Telegraph Cove, so we split up the drive and stayed the night somewhere halfway.
The drive felt pretty epic as it was getting dark out and the highway kept going and going. It felt like it was never ending. Pretty soon we were the only car on the road aside from the massive logging trucks that kept speeding by. There was only one radio station up there which was CBC radio. We got to listen to some talk radio on CBC including an interview with Kevin Spacey about his show on Netflix, House of Cards.
We ended up getting to the camp site super late so instead of setting up our tent we slept in the car. We weren’t able to find any of our friends we were meeting, which worried us a bit. There were no other campers awake when we arrived and we had no idea what vehicles they were driving. It was pitch black outside and our phone signal was nonexistent.
We woke up pretty early and found our group right away. Turns out most of them got into the campsite even later than we did, so all was good.
We headed to the water where our kayak rental was waiting and got our kayak loaded up.  We had to pack everything we needed for 3 days of camping on Hanson Island.
We got all suited up and then made the crossing to Hanson Island. We paddled all the way from Telegraph Cove to Hanson Island. Our guide led the whole group and we arrived at our campsite in an hour or so. We had to avoid different currents and wind so sometimes the paddling was easy and other times it felt like we were paddling against the current.
We arrived on Hanson Island and brought our kayaks to shore to unload all our gear.
The island was picturesque and no one lives on the island. It is used by the Kwakiutl people as a fishing and carving site. We searched for a place to put our tents. A few of us ended up taking the easy option and camping on the wooden platform that was already set up.
We had a great time hanging out on the island. We went kayaking to find grey whales, humpback whales, and Orcas. We also hiked around the island and ate the great food we packed while getting to know our fellow campers. We did see some Orcas and other whales which was amazing.
We had made a ton of vegan stew with lots of veggies, potatoes, and “beefless tips” which we froze in portions to heat up on our butane stove. Then we packed lots of snacks, and stuff for breakfast and lunch like fruit, nuts and vegetables.
It was a lot of fun hanging out on the island with everyone. We couldn’t have asked for better weather while we were there. Everything was just amazing. We hung out around the campfire and all got to know each other a little better.
The last night there was a bit of a storm and the tide came up pretty high to the point that we almost lost some of our kayaks and some of our equipment was hit with the water such as the GPS. It was pretty foggy as well so in order to get back to Telegraph Cove we had to cross while blowing our whistles to let boats know where we were and use our compass and map. We could hear the big ships crossing and everyone’s fog horns. Eventually, we made it through the fog. It was a bit scary making the crossing and not being sure when we were going to see land again. We couldn’t see much farther than immediately in front of us.
We decided to have a little celebratory drink after we finished the crossing. We also said farewell to our new friends. We began our long drive back home, completely high on life. This was the trip that made the decision in our lives that we need to be more adventurous. We need to jump at more opportunities, and that we need to say yes more. We got home and started pondering an adventure to the United Kingdom.

These travelers have a blog: Wanderlust Vegans

credit photo : Kv Huegel

 

USA road trip

Amazing USA road trip

A moment lived in USA by Tigrest, a traveller from Estonia

That trip was all I could think about for the 10 months. Finally, it was the day – we boarded our first of 4 flights and made our way to the USA. First time to take an 11 hours flight. I was trembling with excitement – when we finally stepped out of the terminal building in SFO. It was warm, moist air that felt different. Everything was different than back home (it was winter and freezing -5 degrees).

The next day we took a local flight down to Phoenix. Another change in climate – hot, desert air. It felt like vacation. I loved the difference and enjoyed every moment of our new adventure. Rented a car and off to California – real road trip!
San Diego struck with a smell of weed everywhere we went. The people were nice though and God, did I love the beach. It’s just like in the movies!
Next stop – Los Angeles. The city of dreams! I never imagined it would disappoint me so much. Hollywood, nightlife – it’s all so unnatural and expensive. Universal Studios was cool – way better than expected.

Las Vegas was so cold and windy when we got there. So the overall experience was spoiled. But the next morning we got Cirque du Soleil tickets and loved the show. In fact, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It’s magical!
It was time to say goodbye to Vegas and head to our next point – Grand Canyon. The nature is just stunning. I have no words to describe just how powerful and breathtaking this place is. You truly feel tiny when the walls of the canyon come around you as you descend to the bottom. I really loved the trails – they let you see the true beauty of the Canyon from inside.
In Flagstaff we had our best BBQ ever. Found this place on Google Maps by just searching for bbq restaurants. I swear I can still feel the taste of this amazing meat! It was one of the reasons to visit USA in the first place.

On our way back to Los Angeles we stayed at a little oasis called Palm Springs. Since Flagstaff (and Grand Canyon) are rather cold in March, we were freezing during the night. Driving through the desert, the temperature started to go up rapidly and soon we found ourselves in 90 degrees heat. It was such a relief to finally check in at a motel and dive into a pool. The evening ended with amazing pasta in a local Italian place.

Our flight back was scheduled from SNA (Orange county). When we arrived at the counter, the lady made a sad face and told us we won’t catch our connecting flight to Dallas. There was not enough time as our first flight was late. Oh well, that couldn’t be good. We were stuck in USA and had to take 4 flights to get home.
To our surprise, the lady made a huge effort and spent the next 40 minutes figuring out how to get us home.
I can’t imagine how, but she managed to book us seats on a Lufthansa flight directly from LAX to Frankfurt and then directly to our hometown. So two flights instead of four! All we had to do is go to LAX now.

Easy enough, when you receive airline vouchers for taxi and food. Upon check-in in LAX we were offered to take the next day flight for a compensation. On some other day it would actually sound great, but we were just so tired of the trip and eager to get home soon.
Our amazing 2 weeks holidays ended on a fantastic, easy and comfortable A380 watching movies, eating and napping :)

This traveller has a blog : Tigrest

credit photo : Tigrest

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Sailing Arctic

A Sailing Adventure into The Arctic

A moment lived in Arctic by Chris Long, a traveller from New Zealand

In July 2015 my girlfriend and I got the amazing chance to be apart of the crew on a small sailing vessel sailing from Baltimore to Alaska, via The North West Passage and Greenland. There have been only about 135 small vessels (under 20m) to ever complete this passage and when you set off the chances of the sea ice in the high Canadian Arctic actually melting is 50/50.  That’s if you even make it up past Greenland.
The captain of the yacht Joe found us on a crew finding website Latitude 38 where we had put up a small advertisement a few months before.
The yacht, SV Hawk, is a very proven sailing vessel.  It has circumnavigated the globe sailed by its previous owners Beth and Evan.
The hardest thing was fitting 4 months food into all the small spaces and cubby holes throughout the boat!!

Departure:  22nd July Baltimore to Halifax
Our first 3 days were absolutely horrible.  We came out into the end of a tropical storm and we had up to 45Knot wind gusts and Huge seas.  I was terribly sea sick and wondered how I could possibly do this for 3 months.  Joe had plenty of sailing experience and he was teaching us how to sail.  But at the same time this was his first time sailing this particular yacht.  Shanan Wolfe and Jérémie St-Pierre were 22 and 25, and had some sailing experience.  But never on the high seas.   Graceie and I had never sailed before.  And only Graceie and I knew each other.  We were all thrown in at the deep end but luckily we were all very capable and learned fast.
2 days north of Halifax just off the coast of Newfoundland disaster struck! A bearing in the steering wheel broke and the steering wheel stopped working.  It sounds serious and it is, but our auto pilot still worked.  We changed course and headed straight for the nearest town, Stephenville, Newfoundland.
The passage from Newfoundland was fast with following winds all the way.  Lots of fog and the first iceberg just off Nuuk, Greenland’s capital.
The day before we set off from Nuuk we got the surprising news that the first 3 yachts had made it through Bellot straight, this is the crux if you like of the whole North West Passage, and this was very early in the season for it to open.  Some years it doesn’t open at all, this was good news. However, we were also worried, some years it only opens for a day…had we missed our chance?
From Greenland it would be over a month before we would get another shower and go to a grocery shop.  Also from here we were on our own, if something serious happened to the yacht or one of us then rescue would be days away.  To me, it was important to know the yacht well enough that if the worst was to happen to Joe the captain we could get back to the nearest port.
We sailed up the west coast of Greenland to a place called Disco Bay, home of the icebergs.  We were had to get used to tacking through the bergs avoiding the downwind area where the small chunks or ice, (growlers) would sit, just on the surface of the water.  These chunks of ice the size of cars pose the largest threat to us as they are hard to see especially in rougher conditions.  We have all seen the Titanic….

Icebergs and polar bear
Disco Bay was one of the most incredible places I have ever been.  The Illulisat Ice Fiord is a massive Fiord that is completely full of icebergs that have calved off the glacier at the edge of the Greenland Ice Cap.
Our first stop in the Canadian Arctic was Pond Inlet, a small Inuit community in on Baffin Island.  With no doc, we had to fill Jerry cans of fuel on the beach from the tanker and do loads in the zodiac back to The Hawk.
We continued through Lancaster Sound to Beachey Island, the wintering oversight for the lost Franklin Expedition in the 1800s.   Here we saw what we had longed to see….the little white dot on the shore that turns into a Polar Bear!!  It’s hard for them to hide when there’s no ice around.
From Beachey Island we headed south down Peel Sound.  Usually, this is hard to navigate through due to heavy ice but with our ice charts we downloaded each day via the sat phone we knew there was plenty of room to navigate south.  You never want to get between a large area of ice and the shore or your history.
In the Bering Sea, we again had 45 knots of wind.  This time, it was behind us but the sea was still large and ugly.  The poor Hawk got thrown around but she handled it well.   We had just our stay sail up and still we would get blown over to 50 degrees with gusts of wind 40+ knots.  Each night we would see the northern lights in the sky above us.  Usually, it was a bit cloudy but one particular night it was right across the sky at 4am with a crescent moon and if you put your face outside the cockpit you would get a cold face full of spray!  Raw nature at its best and another moment I will never forget.  Here we crossed the Arctic Circle ending our successful 31 day transit of the North West Passage!!

When we arrived in Nome, Alaska we got to have our first shower in 5 weeks!!

This traveller has a blog : Wild Kiwi

credit photo : Chris Long

The True Beginning of Adventure it Out!

A moment lived in USA by Kensie, a traveller from USA

It’s been about five years since I started my journey in the world of travel. Every since that very moment I have been addicted to the unknown, the adrenaline, and the pureness of it all. Growing up we moved a lot, so I think that has a lot to do with my extreme sense of adventure! I think before the age of eighteen, we had moved probably twenty plus times. When I turned eighteen, my mom tried super hard to push me into college, and to get a job. I know she meant well at the time, however I wasn’t ready for any of that. I wanted to see what was out there, but of course being eighteen and having no job experience offers you very little savings.

So, I buckled under the relentless pressure from my entire family to go to college. Seeing how I was the first to go. I packed my bags and moved back to my home state of Kentucky, to get my degree in Criminal Justice. Why, I choose that I still don’t really know. I never really liked law, and being a cop was not something I had considered for myself. And after about two semesters of boring classes, and working my butt off in between classes. I came to realize what I truly wanted out of life, and that was to travel the world. Just like all of the great explorers of our time.

So, taking inspiration from one of my favorite books “Into the Wild” I packed a bag with what I needed, and snicked out of my Uncle house. Not to sure where to go, but I know I needed to go. For my own sake of mind and self! I drove west towards California for some reason, rather it be fate or just circumstance. I ended up taking a trip that will forever be embed in my memories. Driving thousands of miles, through small towns and big cities. Through a dust storm that almost caused me to crash, only to bring to a small shop in Kansas were I sat and chatted with some locals. Who gave me a great place to camp out for the night, amazing spot that I unfortunately was swore to secrecy on. It was that night that I decided I would setup base in Colorado! Me not really knowing Colorado would shape my destiny forever, and lead me to where I am today.

I have traveled many places, and I know I have many more still left to visit.
When it comes down to it, I never will forget the lesson I taught myself. Never choose the path that has been laid out in front of you by others. But, instead create your own with as many paths as you like!

This traveler has a blog : Adventure it out

credit photo : flickr.com

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northern lights Alaska

Powerful Alaska

A moment lived in USA by Charlie Bear, a traveller from France

I have always been dreaming to go to Alaska. I have been attracted by its climate (the cold does not impress me much), its mountains, forests and lakes and mostly its wilderness since I was a child. My mother used to say that I was quite a wild kid, maybe that’s why Alaska seemed so much like the perfect place to go…

So when I realised that my business school offered an exchange program in the 49th USA state, I did not hesitate a second. Nine months later I arrived in Fairbanks, in the middle of the borealis forest. I did not know by then that I was about to live the best year of my life.. Here are a few of my adventures!

The dancing Northern Lights

Extraordinary or magnificent are not enough. There are no words to describe the feeling of seeing the northern lights dancing in the sky! They smoothly undulate in the darkness, like the flow of a quiet river, until they literally explode and invade the entire sky, waving faster and stronger, and changing colours. Forming cones they even go down to the earth, and it feels like you could even touch them.
The experience was completely magical, and left me speechless. It made me realise the force of Nature, and gave a whole new understanding of this mystical event.

The camping by minus 30°C

My French friends gave me the nickname of “Bear” in comparison to Bear Grylls (I guess I am a bit wild after all!). But in Alaska, everyone (or almost) is a bit wild. So when I submitted the idea of going camping in the middle of the winter to my friends, they instantly agreed (what a bunch of fools, myself included!). Three days later, we rented a tent, special arctic sleeping bags and we went hitch-hiking on the road to go the a forest we previously picked. It was already minus 20*C and freezing. A nice man took us on his pick-up, and stopped us half-way in his cabin so that we could warm up as we were already freezing. He offered us food, drinks, took and guitar and starting playing. This guys was absolutely amazing, and we did not want to leave anymore! But one hour later, he took us to a shop to buy food/wood, and then took us to the forest. I was already really cold, and was secretly drinking his whisky in the car to get a bit warmer…what did not work at all. Our plan was to walk for a couple of hours,  set up the tent, have a fire, diner, and then watch the Northern Lights. It did not really go as expected: First, the snow was fresh and deep, and it was really hard to walk into the woods, we had snow until our knees. So after 30 minutes, we decided to stop. We set up the tent, and realised that we did not have…sleeping bags (what a band of amateurs). It then took us a long time to start the fire on the snow. I created wood shavings to start it, it was not enough. We tried to add vodka, but it was not really working either. After a while, we finally managed to start it! And we were absolutely freezing cold. We decided to have diner, but both the wood and our water froze, so we were left with chips. We staid around the fire until our wood stock was over, and all went straight to the tent huddling together, stuck like penguins. It was the coldest night of my life, so cold that I could not find the strength to go outside to watch the dancing lights. When we woke up in the morning, around 6:30, it was snowing in the tent. It took us 15 minutes to disassemble everything, and get the hell out of there! We hitch-hiked back to campus, happy that we were still alive and well, and happy to be back inside..

But what I value the most from my year in Alaska is the people I met and their kindness. The conditions here are so extreme, that I guess people have to come together and help. As a French girl, I was absolutely not used to that, and I even remember finding it really weird when I arrived. But I soon realised that people were just really genuinely nice, and wanted to help as much as they could. Alaska is nothing but a big family, where people welcome you with a giant heart wherever you go. I made amazing friendships, opened my eyes, and found a whole new meaning of life.

credit photo: Charlie Bear

Beach bums, or how to become the richest person on earth

A moment lived in El Salvador by Caroline, a traveller from Québec

I travel all the time. By all the time, I mean not as much as I would like to, but just enough to hear tons of “you are so lucky”. Here’s my secret: compulsive travelers are not lucky. They prioritize differently, figure out how to combine as many days off in a row as possible, make sacrifices, learn how to travel cheap, and most of all, they understand that the level of richness is inversely proportional with the size of the bank account, if every penny is spent on plane tickets.

My latest trip was to El Salvador. And the same people who thought I was lucky also thought I was crazy, since I travel solo and, oh my god, I AM A GIRL.

“Did you know that San Salvador’s crime rate is one of the highest on the planet? You will probably be kidnapped, robbed, raped, killed and your organs will be sold on the black market, because this is what they do in those strange countries. ”

Then, I look back, smile, let the words fly high, and so do I. Down to the heart of Central America, with my camera and a bikini.

I arrived late at night and my entire self was immediately overwhelmed by the chaotic poetry. The picturesque first sight from the aircraft window of the bustling city lights next to a majestic volcano, the hot and sticky tacky tropical breeze, the excessively loud reggaetón that escaped every window, a bunch of unidentified smells, and the exciting feeling of being part of a messy but blooming crowd.

The next morning, I woke up to catch the early waves of the Pacific Ocean with my surfboard. I was expecting an empty beach. But surprise, surprise, it was fully crowded. It was the Semana Santa, the Easter week, when the whole country is shut down. Families and friends get together, hang out and massively take over every square centimeter of the pitch black floury beach. That was not the desert seaside I expected at first, but it turned out to be one of those precious human experiences I will carry with me forever.

When I started street photography, I was always wondering what will be the reaction of the people I was immortalizing. I was afraid, for some reason, to get close and to invade their private space. Now, with more or less 60 countries visited, I think my sample is big enough to get to a conclusion: people don’t care, when done respectfully. Depending on the culture, some will be shy, like in most western countries, and some will run into your frame to give you a peace sing and a huge grin, like in Egypt or Indonesia for example. With time, I learned to use street photography not only as a way to stop time and bring it back home, but most importantly, as a tool to get in touch with the locals, to create the rewarding but not so always easy first contact.

So, that sunny day, I grabbed my camera and explored la playa de El Zonte. I met kids trying to tame the waves, a young couple on their first date, a family playing in the sea holding grandma so she stays up while being splashed in the back, friends laughing loudly while participating to a backflip contest, french-fries sellers, groups sharing beers and BBQ. I had the chance to dive into a chunk of this easy going and welcoming culture, to witness social connections, to get genuine smiles, to hear candid laughs.

El Salvador through my lens could have easily look like landscapes to die for / colorful tropical flowers / stunning pinkish sunsets / edgy surf moves / silly selfies between too many mojitos and a refreshing Golden cerveza.

But at the end, it turned out to be a human immersion that made me way richer than the day before. Plus, my bonus reward was to come back home with an amazing photo series that I called Beach Bums.

But let’s be honest. El Salvador through my lens was also a few landscapes to die for / colorful tropical flowers / stunning pinkish sunsets / edgy surf moves / silly selfies between too many mojitos and a refreshing Golden cerveza.

PS – moral of the story:
– Don’t listen to alarmist people: most of them don’t know what they are talking about;
– Dare to travel solo, even if you are a woman;
– Don’t stick to your expectations. Be flexible;
– The vast majority of people are well intentioned, no matter where on the planet. Go talk to them; nobody bites.
– If you go to El Salvador, try the pupusas and the chicken bus.

This traveler has a photographies website: Caroline Thibault

credit photo: Caroline Thibault

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Pura Vida

A moment lived in Costa Rica by A-Lotta-Travelling, a traveller from Finland

On a recent trip to Costa Rica we learned the phrase Pura Vida in the arrivals hall at the airport.

It’s a phrase all locals use and it translates to Pure Life. We started throwing the words around for fun while there, but it wasn’t until one of the last nights of our two-week holiday that I truly understood the meaning of those words.

During our trip we were travelling around Costa Rica and Bocas del Toro in Panama and we saw some of the most beautiful turquoise water with white sand beaches in the world. We experienced real jungles and ticked off seeing countless different species of animals, snakes and birds during the trip. Everything was extraordinarily beautiful and we experienced so many things. We also travelled a lot on shaky buses and never stayed in one place for more than two nights. I think it was because of this that I didn’t reach a full level of immersion until the very last stop of our trip.

What made the last stop of our trip on the Pacific side of Costa Rica so magical was the local experience we got to have. We had booked a very last minute Airbnb, and the host came to pick us up from the bus station. He was a few minutes late and still had salt water dripping from his hair when we stuffed our bags around his surfboard in the pickup truck. Our host was the literal humanisation of the phrase Pura Vida. He was so relaxed, only did things in life he enjoyed and really didn’t seem to have a care in the world. It suited him well, he could have passed for a 25 years old, when he really had 20 more years on his back.

Our host, let’s call him M, took us to our quaint Airbnb room and casually mentioned he was going back to the beach if we wanted to join him. This then turned in to him offering to take us on a boat ride to see more of the beautiful coast. We left shore around 3 pm and slowly puttered in his fishing boat around the water. He showed us the exquisite hidden mansions of Michael Jordan and other celebrities and we stopped at a hidden beach for a quick dip in the turquoise waters. We continued on to another beach with an amazing cave with surging waves within it and crabs running around the beach. We climbed to the top of a cliff on a beach and took in the views. During all this time M was telling stories of the life of locals and how he as kid grew up learning all the nooks and crannies of every beach and cave inside and out.

When we headed back towards the harbour the sun was just setting and we were sitting in silence moving with the waves. At this moment in time I felt a deeper sense of relaxation and happiness than I’ve ever felt before. I was calm and content with myself and I was taking in the beautiful views to a higher level than before. It felt like I was truly understanding the beauty of everything around me, and I really felt like there was nothing else than that moment.

I was very lucky to achieve this sense of transformation, as it truly was the cherry on top to an already amazing trip. During the stormy and rainy days in Ireland, I can just close my eyes and easily float back to that time on the boat and just go back to feeling that level of relaxation and happiness again. Until I open my eyes and I see the grey and rainy sky again, that is. Yet, I still have a smile on my face.

This traveler has a travel blog : Lotta

credit photo : A-Lotta-Travelling

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