Tag Archives: surfing

Dominical surf life – Pura Vida (Costa Rica 2016)

The second week of our time in Costa Rica was spent in the small surf town of Dominical, on the southern pacific coast. Check out our first post here to learn about our super fun week kayaking. According to locals it has changed a lot in the last 5 years as the main coastal road has been developed – more tourism which is good for the economy and the services but it’s also meant more people and a faster pace of life for the former hippy town.

We drove from Turrialba to Cartago and then up to San Jose with the Costa Rica Rios gang and then got a ride from “Johnny” through San Jose to Ortonna and then down the coast to Domnical (yellow highlighted roads show all the places we explored in our 2 weeks).

Cartago is considered by some as the most religious place in Costa Rica. It felt like a moderately large city with traffic and all the other main structures that you find in cities. The main plaza and downtown area is dominated by the Santiago Apostol Parish Ruins, which are beautiful and function very much as a metropolitan green space. The church / parish was under perpetual construction between 1575 and 1910. A series of earthquakes brought down the churches and in 1910 it was decided not to continue with construction. No single church was ever actually completed.

The Festival de la Luz was about to start as we were driving through San Jose so we got to see all the floats as they were preparing for the parade that evening – they are quite elaborate!

Half way through our drive we stopped at a local crocodile sanctuary – it was mind-blowing (and a little scary) to see that many crocodiles sunning themselves on the river bank. Especially when you stopped to think about the amount of time we had just spent in rivers and were about to spend in the ocean. Luckily crocodiles (and piranhas) don’t like fast moving water and we just needed to stay away from estuary areas when on the ocean.

In Dominical we rented a 3 bedroom house for the group and it worked out really well. We were about a block from the beach along a dirt road, easy walking distance to the central part of town and it came with a pool which really helped as it was HOT…

Just beyond our back fence was a large green field that came with various types of lizards and iguanas – big, small and everything in between. We would go in search of them throughout the day to see what they were up to. Hunter is pointing them out to Tim in the photo.

Jeanine from Dominical Waverider was a huge help in getting all of our Dominical fun organized. Tim, Hunter and I took surfing lessons for 3 days and the instruction was great – they even took photos of us! It was a low surf window while we were there which was good as it meant we got to surf right in Dominical (normally only for experts) but it also meant that some days it was tough to find waves. We were pretty worn out from our river adventures so not our best surfing, but we all came away with some improvement and good suggestions. It was also great to have Hunter back out on the water surfing with us (he took a self-imposed hiatus last year).

The main Dominical and Playa Hermosa beaches all have lifeguards, which is great to see and comforting as the rip tides can be quite strong at times.

Jeanine also took us to a local waterfall – some people are adventurous enough to slide down the waterfall or jump off the top. We decided to just enjoy the cool and refreshing pool at the bottom. The ocean temperature was like bathwater – I found it amazing, the boys found it too warm.

We had fun exploring Dominical and stopped in at the CongoMongo restaurant for lunch (much to our surprise it was vegetarian so I was happy, the boys not so much… but they did like the swings) and Tortilla Flats (where you MUST have the passionfruit basil margarita while watching the sunset). There are 5-6 good small restaurants within walking distance of the main area and all are worth checking out.

It was fun to have some “beach time” after all the time on the river. It’s always hard to leave those amazing sunsets and head home but we did… It leaves us excited for our next beach visit. If you are looking for some surf time in Costa Rica, be sure to chat with Jeanine at Dominical Waverider – we strongly recommend them!

30 days at the beach gone in a blink…

IMG_552530 days in California in the middle of a Yukon winter – ahhhh….BLISS! The only problem is that it flew by!

As I shared in an earlier post, we weren’t really on vacation – we just moved our life for a month and shifted into different routines. Most days went like this…

IMG_1041Get up and go for a 60-90 minute walk before it got very warm… group program to keep Grandma active!

california officeCome back to the beach house and eat breakfast and tackle some work work and some school work – it’s a rough place for an office!

Head out and enjoy the beach and the water. Head back in for a late lunch and some more work time.

Grab a cocktail and enjoy the amazing sunsets before settling into dinner.

IMG_0877Finish up with a game of cards and then hit the bed before starting all over again the next day.

For the last two weeks of our visit we took advantage of a great one week free offer at Triple Threat, a gym just down the street, and enrolled in boxing classes as a family – lots of giggles and one heck of a work out. We went 3 days a week at 4:30, which after a day spent walking and surfing sure left us exhausted.

We picked up a set of dirt scooters while there and all the kids (big and little) had fun with them.

It was great to have a lot of cousins come through over the course of the month – nice to have play time together since we live so far away.

We all learned about the local seals and sea lions – the warmer waters this year are playing havoc with their feeding grounds and many of them are winding up beached due to exhaustion and starvation. The lifeguards and Sea World pick up 3-4 a day and rehab them back to health…

IMG_5785Overall, a fabulous month that flew by way too fast. Oceanside seems to be a perfect fit for our family and we look forward to heading back again this fall…

Life relocated

IMG_0886We have picked up and moved our lives to Oceanside, California for the next month. It’s not vacation – it’s just LIFE elsewhere… I am still working and school learning still happens in some way, shape or form.

In addition to all the great things that come with being here (sun, beach, fresh food etc.) we are also getting to spend time with family, which is a nice treat for all of us.

IMG_0873It was funny how freeing it has felt to be away from the cold and the snow. We have been here for 2 days now and I find us surrounded by the reminder that life is meant to be fun…  It is either the magic of California or the lack of weighty winter layers, but smiles abound, along with a few new toys.

IMG_0874How else can you explain that we got Grandma Lynne to test out the new Mountain Scooter AND to do so inside the house???

IMG_0875Hunter has decided that this is his window to be independent in the kitchen. He is busy making his own breakfasts and lunches and is mastering the art of blender drinks, and kindly teaching it to his cousin.

IMG_0877Crazy games of night time cards are building social skills, along with a whole NEW vocabulary thanks to Grandma Lynne’s friend Kathy.

Today we joined up with a San Diego Teen/Tween Homeschool group and played 90 minutes of Laser Tag, with breaks for air hockey and foosball – rough day at “school” for all of them!

This afternoon was spent playing in the surf and then we enjoyed an evening walk/scooter around town. Nothing but smiles for us right now. Feeling pretty grateful for the decisions we have made and the path of adventure that we are following. #LifeisanAdventuretimeislikeariver

There is something for everyone in Tofino

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We have just spent another glorious week in Tofino – also fondly referred to as “my happy place”. It never disappoints and each visit seems to get better and better, even in the variable weather.

Over the past 20 years we have been here eight times and these visits have ranged from campground (no amenities) all the way up to a 5 star Relais and Chateau Inn on the beach. Our last two stays have been based in a friends one bedroom condo on South Chesterman beach and I think we’ve found “just right” for us… We walk right out onto the beach and the level of surf is perfect for our abilities on any given day.  It is great to be able to play in the surf, even in the rain, and then come back in and dry off and have never ending hot chocolates! It’s even better having somewhere that your gear will dry so when head back out later in the day you aren’t cold, wet and clammy 🙂

At the midpoint between South Chesterman and North Chesterman is Frank’s Island, which you can get to at low tide and is a mecca for tidal pool exploring. Starfish colonies and clusters of Sea Anenome’s abound! Walking the full length of North and South Chesterman beaches (and back) takes about an hour and is something we do every day, rain or no rain.

We flew this year verses drove and it felt like an exercise in minimalism to get down to 40lbs per person (not per bag) due to the KingAir flight from Vancouver to Tofino. We had left our boards and surf kayak there in the spring so our big splurges were taking the new inflatable SUP and Hunter’s Scooter. One bag full of water gear and one shared duffle bag for the rest of our clothes, ranging from shorts to fleece plus rubber boots and rain coats.

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Much to Hunter’s dismay it rained about 80% of the time this trip. We caught two sunny breaks and headed straight for the skateboard park so he could get some scooter time in. It’s one of his favourite parks and he loves to be able to gauge his improvement over past trips. We like it because it’s really family friendly and graffiti free, which is possibly due to it being just across the street from the RCMP station.

We got the SUP out on our second day and both Tim and Hunter had fun experimenting with it. It’s definitely harder to get out through the surf and the crashes look fabulous thanks to the extra length (9ft 6″) plus paddle that go flying around. We attempted to take it out another day but the storm swell was just too powerful and it quickly became clear how futile this was. The rest of our time was split between surfboards and Tim in his surf kayak.

The more I surf, the more I love surfing…

  • a bad day surfing is still a day outside in the ocean with my family
  • how can you not smile when you are “playing” in the ocean?
  • the crashes don’t hurt nearly as much as they do in other sports, and many of mine are epic!
  • the sense of community and camaraderie at the beginner areas is fabulous – you often cheer for strangers

While it was nice to be able to fly in for a quick visit, we definitely missed having all of our toys with us. Hunter wished he had his BMX and his skateboard. We all wished we had our mountain bikes to play in their bike park and ride to town an back on the bike paths. Hunter was also wistful for his kayak. Visit #8 was not a disappointment and we’re already planning out when we can come next and how we can bring all the toys…

 

How easy it is to slide back into “old normals”…

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Weather in the Yukon for the past three weeks has not been great  – it’s been hovering around the zero mark and we had snow on September 30th. We’ve been out for a few walks outside but there has been very little “playing” outside. There has been a lot of inside time and more focus on school and work BUT this has left things feeling fairly unsettled and unbalanced.

I had a sense that it might have to do with the lack of outside adventure time and that was confirmed 100% when we rolled into Tofino today and moods were raised across the board. It was sunny and 18c outside. We got here about noon and spent over 2 hours at the skatepark for Hunter. He was thrilled and was on the go with his scooter almost non-stop. We headed back to our condo at South Chesterman Beach and Tim and I hit the surf, with grins and giggles. We eventually came out of the surf – more because we were exhausted, not because we wanted to leave.

 

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A quick round of family cards, with Big North and Little North doing their best to hold their own, and we headed back out to catch the peak of low tide and explore Frank Island and the tidal pools. While going new places brings excitement, there is also a sense of comfort that comes from revisiting a place you love. That’s how we all felt as we headed down the beach to Frank’s Island. It’s an easy 15 minute walk from the condo and sits between south and north Chesterman Beaches’. At high tide it’s a fully disconnected Island. At low tide, it’s a wonder of tidal pools with amazing starfish and sea anenome colonies! Science in action…

We closed the night off with drinks and chatting with friends Steve & Kim – old and new friends at the same time. Steve & Tim have an old shared past, and the 4 of us have a new shared friendship from when we connected last fall. We are staying in their condo here in Tofino and it is great to catch up on the winter’s adventures…

South Chesterman Beach

South Chesterman Beach

We are excited for what the next six days bring and how it helps us reconnect with what we continue to learn is important for defining our “new normal”…

Season Two is launched

do what you love

After lots of research, and then more research, we are really excited to share that our plans for the coming year are coming together… and we are really excited! The theme continues to be active adventure and sunshine.

SUMMER 2014:

Based out of our home base here in Whitehorse, we will spend the majority of our time out Mountain Biking, on our world class trails, and whitewater kayaking on the local rivers (fingers crossed that the water levels come up).

While it is looking like our anticipated day trips and overnight camping on the Wheaton may not come together in June, we are planning for 2-3 trips up to the Ross River area to camp and paddle the Lapie River during late June and July.

Hunter and I will also head east to Ontario to do the “cottage thing” with family  in August – nothing like endless days of swimming, waterskiing, boating and heading into town for ice cream with your cousins. This year we will be celebrating my grandma’s 100th birthday, which is certainly extra special. We will also tack on some time in Ottawa to do some exploring and  canadian history work.

FALL 2014:

Heading back to my happy place with a quick trip out to Tofino on Vancouver Island. A week of surfing and hanging out on the beach and at Hunter’s favourite skateboard park. Our visits to Tofino keep getting better and better so I’m looking forward to what new things this trip will bring.

Mexico – we’re coming back!!! After having so much fun in February, we are happy to be able to head back down to Texas to join up with our new friends Ben, Kelly, Phil & Nejla to go paddling in North Eastern Mexico for a week over American Thanksgiving. The only part I’m not looking forward to is the 14 hour drive (down and back). It will be fun to paddle at Rio Vista again as well, maybe even under the lights!

WINTER 2014:

We will be rushing out the door shortly after Santa lands at our house for a 2 week adventure in Ecuador. Nine days of whitewater kayaking with Endless Adventures International and then another 5 days exploring the countryside (still deciding between an Andes or an Amazon adventure – anyone with experiences should chime in!).

Fingers crossed that the weather mid-January to mid-February will be temperate so we can get out and enjoy snowboarding at our local hill here in town.

The beach is calling – we had so much fun down in Oceanside last year (fall and spring) that we are heading back down for just over three weeks from mid February to mid March. We are renting a beach house with Grandma Lynne and will have various other family coming to hang out. Looking forward to lots of surfing, biking and skateboarding, along with some down time in the sun.

We will make it back just in time to catch peak snowboarding at the White Pass Summit. Late March – mid April are still winter here in the Yukon but the bluebird skies and above freezing day time temps, coupled with lots of snow, make for a fabulous back country experience. We squeezed in one trip in late April this year after we got back and it reminded us how much we enjoy being out and playing in the mountains.

I’ve been driving Tim nuts with all of the research and logistics work over the past month but it is really worth it financially. I was able to get almost all of our flights on points, which I figure saved us over $8000.00. We are working within Tim’s vacation allotment this year, which is what has us taking this approach. It will be a learning experience, and another opportunity to identify what works best for us as a family. There is definitely some hesitation about travelling without our great big gear locker.

I’m excited to see what the year will bring, how we can optimize it for homeschooling (we are all going to be tackling spanish lessons this summer) and balance some work in between all the fun.

Our favourite things from 8 months on the road…

lee tim hunter water fall

We have been home now for 2 weeks and are still transitioning back into things. The first question that EVERYONE asks us is “what was your favourite thing?”. That is a really loaded question and one that just seems impossible to answer, other than with the simple statement of “spending time together” or “visiting family”. In 8 months we saw and did so many different things and had so many amazing experiences…

We’ve broken it down into favourite things by segment, to help highlight some of the top things:

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Favourite Mountain Biking

tim hunter in the surf

Favourite Kayaking

Hunter loves his new surf/boogie board

Hunter loves his new surf/boogie board

Favourite Surfing

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Favourite Skatepark

lee & hunter fisherman's wharf

Favourite Touristy thing

I’m still working on a wrap up post so stay tuned for “Our learnings from 8 months on the road”!

Tofino – it just keeps getting better…

starfishAfter leaving Tofino in the fall, with it continuing to be cemented as my top “happy place”, I was a little hesitant about heading back for a spring visit. We’ve always visited in the fall and I just didn’t know if spring would bring us the same kind of experience or 7 days or straight rain.

snow out of port alberniHeading westward out of Port Alberni and the weather had us wondering… We spent the night in the Walmart parking lot in Port Alberni and were pleasantly surprised to awake to sunshine. 30 minutes down the road and we were staring at snow and wondering what things were like on the other side of the mountain…???

TUFF City skate parkWe rolled into Tofino with the sun just breaking through and breathed a great big sigh of relief. Hunter has spent weeks waiting to get back to the Tofino skateboard park as that is where things really clicked for him in the fall. As parents we were cringing as he hoped to relive an experience and we were worried about him being rained out. After a quick brunch we went straight to the skatepark to catch the sun while it was out. Hunter was thrilled to discover that he has gotten better over the past six months and that he can successfully tackle more of the features.

lee condos & bootsThe foundation of our stay was unit 37 at the South Chesterman Beach condo’s, which was very generously lent to us by a friend for the week. It is a one bedroom unit with pull out couch, great amenities and you walk right out of the complex to South Chesterman beach. Not only was it great to have a bit of space to spread out in when it rained, and a place to dry our gear, it was also nice to be able to walk right out to the beach with our surf stuff. (P.S. – it’s for sale and is used as a vacation rental if anyone is in the market…).

We surfed almost every day, rain or shine. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was not cold in my super duper wetsuit that I bought in the fall. The waves were great – even better than California! It was a nice place to finish off our surfing for the trip.

We went out for at least one beach exploration a day, mostly at low tide to see what we could find.

We also wandered out to Frank’s Island every day to play in the tide pools – an experience we really missed in the fall. Every day we found something new and different.

We made it back to the bike park once and the skate park a number of times.

puppies playing cardsWe also had fun with daily/nightly card games, in between playing outside and getting school work done.

sunny tofino beachOnce again – worrying turned out to be wasted energy… yet another fabulous stay in Tofino 🙂

south chesterman beach low tide

Week Two in Oceanside – the Beach House

campfireGrandma Lynne generously rented a beach house in Oceanside for a week as everyone’s Christmas present this year. It was a great chance for Hunter to catch up with his cousins and for all of us to just “play”. Being right on the beach, everyone could just come and go from the ocean all day, which was also helped by the hot tub… where you could just chill out – or eat ice-cream!

kids hot tubhot tub ice creamEveryone had a great time out in the water surfing or boogie boarding…

We also had lots of sand castle building, kite flying and bubbles throughout the week.

hunter & taeya kite flyingNo family trip to Oceanside is complete without stopping at Legoland, which never disappoints and always has some new experience or highlight.hunter in the stocks legolandOn our way home we stopped at the local strawberry fields for bargain priced strawberries fresh from the field!

strawberry fieldsNo family vacation is without it’s ups and downs, especially with twelve people in one house. We all survived, finished happy and are grateful to have been able to spend quality time together again this year.

Oceanside California – week one back at the beach

Tim & HunterWe are back in Oceanside, California for three weeks, splitting our time between the Paradise by the Sea RV Park and a fabulous beach house that Grandma Lynne rented for the entire family.

Week one was kicked off by a major winter storm that blew in and brought 3 days of rain, wind and big waves. Hunter spent those 3 days hanging with his local cousin and Tim and I were left to amuse ourselves with walks in the rain, multiple games of ping pong and pool at the RV Park games room and lots of reading.

When things finally cleared up we all hit the ocean with a vengeance… We have a little wagon that we bought when we were here in October and now load it up with everything we need for the beach, while also carrying kayaks and surfboards.

Tim has a love/hate relationship with his new Mega Proton Surf Kayak – it has the potential to be amazing but he has to get through the learning curve first!

hunter and TimTim bounced between his surf kayak and my Jackson FunRunner all week. Some days were great and some days we all got quite beat up by the surf… We’re still learning how to read the surf report correctly (winds, waves, tides etc.).

The storm churned up the ocean quite a bit and it seemed to take about 3 days for things to settle back down. It was great when we saw the dolphins, seagulls and pelicans back.