Canada is wild and fresh and breathtaking. Canada is alive and vibrant and has an energy you can feel as it courses through your veins. Canada is adventure and serenity mixed in this bundle that is hard to describe but easy to experience. Canada is not rumored to be the words “friendly,” “open,” and “passionate” but instead it lives by these definitions. Canada is pure freedom in the most beautiful and simple way that can only be experienced underneath those grandfather trees or by the shore when filling your lungs with air as you breathe in. Canada is all you need and yet still finds a way to brim with the ‘more’ you only found you needed when you arrived. But finally, Canada is also puppies in taxis and let’s be honest — Is there anything better in the world than all of this?
When we tell people about our British Columbia kayaking with whales trip, I’m continually surprised at their response: “Surely, that didn’t happen,” they tell us through laughter. Maybe they say this because they cannot believe we both made it out of Canada — not only alive but together. I like to believe, however, that they say this as a compliment — That the only way they can fathom our magical trip is by believing I simply created the entire story . . . .
It was Day One of our kayak adventure when Andrew asked loudly, “L, is this yours?” We stood in the middle of the charming Paddlers Inn, a floating lodge off of a remote British Columbia island. Go figure he would be showcasing only this for my entire new kayaking group to see . . .
“I cannot believe we made it,” Andrew and I kept saying, verging on tears and hugging each other. Against all odds, we did made it to British Columbia’s unbelievably gorgeous Telegraph Cove. Here was the start to our whale kayaking and wild camping adventure . . .
“Expedia cancelled all of your flights,” the airline representative told us the day we were supposed to travel to Canada for a week-long whale kayaking and wild camping trip. “This happens often with people that book through Expedia. If I could say not to do one thing in the future, it would be not to book through Expedia.” And was only a glimmer of our nightmare travel due to Expedia’s mess-up.
Here I finally have a chance to explore Sheffield, Andy’s home, though he hates it when I say that. So maybe Sheffield isn’t his home currently but it is his first home — the home that made him who he is, and there is something powerful to be said for that.
Situated next to Windermere Lake in the Lake District, here is England’s tiny town of Windermere. Don’t be scared to fall in love — I am smitten and if I could have moved there, I would never have returned to the US.
Locals and the English as a whole talk of Cleethorpes’s past as if embarrassed at what it has become now. As an outsider though, I saw beauty: boutiques, book stores, antique shops, baskets of overflowing flowers, and classic buildings.
What was even more breathtaking than Derwent Valley though was the Peak District’s forest, where wild raspberry bushes grew massive and where clusters of purple heather bloomed.
Sure, overall maybe Castleton is “stereotypical” if stereotypical is also a synonym for beautiful. The village holds not only unique shops and pubs but also little cottages that sleep beside a bubbling stream. And behind that, ruins of an eleventh-century castle sit atop a hill dotted with grass-munching sheep. And, as if to protect the area, cavern walls stretch high above the village. This, in it’s picture-perfect glory, is Castleton.
It was a warm July day in England so what better way to explore than walking around Sheffield and stopping in its quaint and charming pubs…
My second trip to England felt different than our first and it also made me more aware — aware of two dramatically different homes that Andrew and I now share.
Those who live in the Islas Galápagos often say, “You do not have to search for animals here — They find you.” This proved true when we went under for our second dive and immediately found a five white-tipped sharks huddled in a cave.
Our first Galápagos Islands scuba dive brought us to Isla Floreana where a pod of at least twenty dolphin jumped above water and below, numerous sea lions swirled in a dance all their own.
We were here, finally, scuba diving in the Islas Galápagos. Deeper and deeper we dove until I watched as our instructor’s eyes suddenly went wide, as he pointed directly below me. Nervous, I glanced down to find a large five-foot shark a few feet under my fins.