Tag Archives: travel

I’m still finding sand

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We’ve been back for two weeks (two weeks!) and it feels both like we were just there and like our trip was months ago. In the first five days after we got back, it snowed three times (three times!). But, now that the weather as turned decidedly spring-like (plants outside during the day, the balcony door regularly left open, socks optional), I can look back at these bright, sunny, warm photos without quite as much wistfulness. And with that, here’s a quick spin through our holiday.

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Recognize this view? It had been three years since we were there, but it felt immediately familiar.

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I could post one of these for every night we were there, but I will restrain myself.

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Doesn’t it look like they’re all floating in six inches of water? The ocean is so, so clear — it doesn’t seem like it could be real.

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If you look closely, you can spot the edges of Balta, which was perfect for the warm, humid (perfect) weather.

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My parents have a 6 o’clock piña colada tradition when they’re there. My dad makes them and takes great care to garnish them with flowers each night. Lovely and delicious.

Last time we went to Eleuthra, I knit a lot and read just a little. This time, despite planning for more of the same, I ended up doing just the opposite! I did finish the second sleeve of Sibella (and I am so close to being finished the whole thing now), but that’s it. For whatever reason, I just wasn’t feeling the pull to my needles — less/no stress, is my bet — and instead I read two entire books and started a third. To all of you who recommended/endorsed All the Light We Cannot See, wow. I couldn’t put it down and have been thinking about it ever since. Absolutely stunning.

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I am not usually a pink person, but I would wear this colour.

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I have no idea what this is, but it grew all over the rocky landscape. Such a perfect yellow-green.

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We did a big walk through the Leon Levy Native Plant Reserve, which was fantastic (but breezeless and very hot) and the Epiphyte Trail was a definitely highlight. This one was easily taller than my hand.

Aside from reading, of course, we did lots of other things. We swam (a lot! I was very glad I invested in a new swimsuit — this one — before we went. It was well used), kayaked, walked along beaches, and played a lot cards — euchre and cribbage, mainly. Besides all the general fun of being on holiday, this was a great family trip. It’s rare for me to spend so much consecutive time with my parents, and rarer still to spend that much time with my grandparents (and rarer still for L to do so), and getting to that time together in such a gorgeous, relaxing place is a real treat.

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Really, though, Eleuthra is an island of beaches. We swam every day, sometimes on the Caribbean side (which our house faced) and sometimes on the Atlantic side (like here). For the most part, we had them all to ourselves.

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Yes, that is the actual colour of the water.

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The Blue Window. Perhaps not the easiest beach to find (on the Atlantic side), but well worth seeking out if you’re ever in the area. (I definitely recommend trying to be in the area.)

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Heading for the sun

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A couple three years ago (where does the time go!?), L and I treated ourselves to a little spring escape and flew down to Eleuthra to spend a week with my grandparents (who go every year) and my aunts and uncles (whose visits overlapped with ours). It was, for us, the perfect kind of getaway: Sand, sun, sea, piña coladas, and family. Eleuthra has almost no hotels, and real resorts, so it’s very quiet — perfect if your idea of a vacation is to do your own thing.

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This isn’t a wistful post, though — this is me saying we decided to do it again! The last year (two years?) has been crazy, both in our work and home lives, and really, things are not going to slow down any time soon. When my parents booked their visit at a pretty amazing discount, we decided to just go for it. We leave on Sunday and will have a full, glorious week to soak up sunshine and family stories and generally just relax (whether that’s kayaking, reading, knitting, swimming, playing cribbage, or whatever).

But enough about all that! We booked our tickets ages ago, so my real concern right now is about what to pack. Namely, what I want to read and what I want to knit. Sometimes, these questions feel really high stakes on a vacation, but I think I’ve just about made up my mind. I finished Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis the other day (I don’t blog about books anymore, but whoa, if I did…) and then cleansed by palate with Emily Carroll’s gorgeous and spooky Through the Woods. So, I’m due for something new. Right now, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is topping the list (and the stack of books on my bedside table). It’s long enough that I probably won’t finish it while I’m away, but I might still pack a backup…

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Just a few more stripe repeats and I’ll be at the heel. I’m about a third of the way through this sock, I think.

Knitting wise, the choices are much easier. Sibella is flying — if you’d told me a grey, fingering weight, stockinette cardigan would be a speedy knit, I would have laughed, but it’s true — and I’m about a third of the way through the second sleeve. So, I’ll take that and finish it up, likely on the plane ride down. I want easy, social knitting, so I’ll leave the other pieces behind and join everything up when we’re back.

But, since part of a sleeve won’t be a full-trip project, I’m also bringing my stripy Christmas socks. I cast these on in December and have picked away at them, but it’s time to finish them up, so they’re next on my list. If I manage to get them done, I’m packing more striped yarn, this time destined to become socks for L. Starting my holiday knitting early was one of my January goals, and I am on it!

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I can’t believe how good this looks in a cake. I’m excited to see how it knits up.

(I even sewed a dress in time to wear on while we’re away, so I’ll make sure to get some FO shots to show you when we’re back!)

Have clothes, will travel

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Clothing — and, specifically, wardrobe building — has been on my mind for a while now, but perhaps never more than when I’m travelling. Somehow, despite reading quite a lot about creating capsule wardrobes and personal uniforms, it never fails that the minute I get wherever I’m going and open my bag I realize that I’ve utterly failed to pack outfits. Instead, I have a bunch of pieces that don’t really go together in any kind of coherent way, soon to be immortalized in all my vacation photos.

Shaelyn and Grace, the absolute stars of my travel wardrobe.

Shaelyn and Grace, the absolute stars of my travel wardrobe.

Typically, this initial panic recedes a bit and I realize there was some method to my packing, but honestly, it’s definitely a make-do situation. How someone who reliably wears the same basic outfit everyday can be this inept I don’t know, but I think that maybe writing it down here will help me remember this failing in the future. Having spent the last ten days thinking about where I went wrong this time, I think I’ve narrowed down where my thought process went wrong:

1. We planned to split our time between hiking and sightseeing, so I needed two totally different wardrobes. I did really well on the hiking side (clearly what I was more worried about), and left the everyday/sightseeing side to chance.
2. Me Made May distracted me. I made the pledge knowing I’d be away for a third of the time, but I didn’t really think about how that would factor into my packing. I was doing really well and wanted to keep it up, but in general, my sewn pieces all require ironing, making them less than ideal for travel. I changed my mind about half way through packing and then didn’t compensate with my usual wardrobe staples.
3. I forgot about colour. My default colour is dark blue, which serves me very well, so why I decided to change it up for a holiday is beyond me. I mean, I packed my Grace cardigan for layering, but then also a pink t-shirt. There is zero logic in that.
4. I made a bad bet on the weather. If Switzerland had been warm and sunny, I think I would have been okay. But the first half of our trip was pretty cool, and since that’s when we did the bulk of our sightseeing (saving the nicest days for hiking), the skirt and dress I’d planned to wear were pretty useless, and the necessity of layering (and thus, the uselessness of the pink t-shirt) was pronounced.

It probably goes without saying that handknit socks are a staple. They saw me through hiking, sightseeing, and just hanging around the apartment. They are the absolute best.

It probably goes without saying that handknit socks are a staple. They saw me through hiking, sightseeing, and just hanging around the apartment. They are the absolute best.

All of this aside, I am thrilled to say that both my Grace cardigan and Shaelyn shawl saw regular wear and I’m not tired of either. I could definitely use some neutral handknits though, so I’m going to have to think about how I want to handle that. I had been thinking about knitting the Sibella Cardigan in a gold colour (I’m partial to Shibui Staccato in Brass, to be specific), but now I’m thinking I’d get a lot more wear out it if I knit it in a tonal grey — maybe Tanis Fiber Arts Slate or Charcoal? My Flukra is already a great neutral (why oh why didn’t I pack it?!) but I also have some Tosh Merino Light in my stash that would be a great neutral colour for an interesting but neutral shawl (Holden or Ishbel maybe).

As I’m mulling all of this over now, I thought I’d ask your advice. What are your wardrobe staples when you travel? Are you ever surprised by what you come to rely on? When it comes to your handmade wardrobe (knit or sewn), what are your favourite or most versatile pieces?

I’ve got myself to a place where I want to be really specific about what I’m making, and I’m with my sock drawer in good shape, I’m especially interested in garments and accessories. With Me Made May ending today, I will for sure be writing more about this in the near future, but with travel top of mind, I thought I should pull this out as a separate post.

September adventure

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Last week I took off from Toronto and went to visit my sister in Fort St. John, B.C., which is pretty far west and north from me (it’s more-or-less in line with Fort McMurry and almost as far north as Juneau, Alaska). The travel time was a bit crazy, especially since I missed my original flight (which is to say, I missed the baggage cut off, by four minutes, and so while I could board my bag couldn’t, which meant I couldn’t really board, so I had to wait for the next flight. Ugh.) but it gave me lots of knitting and reading time.

Anyway, it was, of course, entirely worth it. I hadn’t seen my sister since May (right before she moved up there), so getting to hang out with her and her boyfriend — and their dog and their cat! — was awesome. That they happen to live in a beautiful part of the country, and that I managed to time my visit perfectly, was really just a bonus. I don’t have any photos of the actual town, but here’s a little tour of the countryside.

View of the Peace River.

View of the Peace River.

I had never seen chipmunks climb grass before!

I had never seen chipmunks climb grass before!

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Charlie Lake.

Charlie Lake.

Tully! He's an Australian Shepherd, incredibly well behaved, and super energetic at 4.5 months old.

Tully! He’s an Australian Shepherd, incredibly well behaved, and super energetic at 4.5 months old.

The view driving into Monkman Provincial Park, in the Central Rocky Mountains.

The view driving into Monkman Provincial Park, in the Central Rocky Mountains.

Kinuseo Falls, from the top (where we had lunch).

Kinuseo Falls, from the top (where we had lunch).

Kinuseo Falls after hiking down to the bottom. They're actually taller than Niagara Falls, though there's less water moving over them.

Kinuseo Falls after hiking down to the bottom. They’re actually taller than Niagara Falls, though there’s less water moving over them. (I took this just before it started to rain, so there are a bunch of photos from that day that have water splotches on them.)

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After the rain.

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View looking back over the mountains toward Tumbler Ridge.

That last photo, of the wind turbines, is a really good explanation of what it was like up there: both wild and completely affected by industry. There’s a lot of mining and oil and gas work, so even when you think you’re somewhere untouched you turn around and see that the side of a hill has been carved up or terraced. It’s a strange dichotomy, but makes for very striking views. Rest assured, if they’re still living there in a year, I’ll for sure go back.

California, part 2

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Holy moly, the Pacific Coast Highway is not fooling around. Every time you turn a corner (and there are a lot of corners) you’re greeted with a new and stunning view. Honestly, it was all I could do not to pull over at every little off-road pocket. Stunning, stunning, stunning.

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Can you tell how happy I am to be on the road? This is the second big coastal drive L and I have done together (the other was on our Cape Breton trip) and it really doesn’t get old. We shared the driving, with whoever was in the passenger seat responsible for deciding where to pull over for great views. We left San Francisco in the early afternoon and drove as far as Carmel Valley, where we stayed for two nights. Having an extra night gave us more time to explore the area, and also to go for a hike. Our Airbnb was really close to a trailhead, so on the second day on the road we set off on foot. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed the first half of the hike (basically a continuous, and relatively steep, climb for two miles, in the heat), but as usual it was totally worth it, and once we were up, the hike along the ridge and then the descent were very pleasant.

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While I’m not sure Carmel Valley is every exactly lush, the drought was very evident there. The lower part of the trail had some interpretive signs, one of which talked about spawning fish in the river, but there was no river. The trail was sandy and very dry, and near the top there was a little plastic container with a sign asking hikers to donate some of their water to help the local wildlife, which we happily did.

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After the hike we were all geared up to swim, so we went back to where we were staying, took very quick showers, and set off for Carmel-by-the-Sea. Never was California’s micro-climate so stark: where the valley had bee hot and sunny, Carmel was cool and overcast, and too chilly for me to swim. L was debating whether he was going to swim and then we saw dolphins (!) so that settled that and in he went. Swimming with dolphins. It just about made up for our late arrival in Monterey — in what is becoming an unfortunate holiday tradition for us, we got there just a half-hour before the aquarium closed, which made the admission fee just a little too steep. Next time for sure, though (Audry recently went to the aquarium, so if you’re wondering what we missed out on, she has all the details.)

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Day three was another big driving day — Carmel to Santa Barbara, through Big Sur. We didn’t have the best weather when we started out (that’s the bridge right before Bixby Bridge, but of similar design), but once we got over a few hills we found the sun.

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We stopped at two beaches in Big Sur. We stopped at Pfeiffer Beach, which was bright and sunny, but also windy, for lunch. We had a little picnic, and I was napping in the sun when L came running over to tell me there were whales just offshore! All our photos are of the puffs from their blowholes, splashes from their jumps, and the rise of their tail flukes, but we think there were at least three, and our best guess is that they were Gray Whales, which migrate along the coast of California. We were too busy watching them frolic to take very good pictures, but they were amazing to see so close up. After Pfeiffer Beach we drove along to Sand Dollar Beach, which was overcast with no wind (or whales). The lack of wind was really nice though, so I finally went swimming (the water was really cold, but definitely worth it). Naturally, L swam at both beaches.

After our beach stops we really had a bust a move to get to Santa Barbara before it got too late. We were driving along and doing pretty well at not stopping for every view when L said, “You need to pull over.” I thought maybe he didn’t feel well, but when I pulled off the road he looked at me and said “Whales.” That man has eagle eyes. We were up quite high, but over the cliff and out in the ocean he’d seen them: four or five more whales, just playing. There were some German tourists stopped and watching them as well, and one of them said he thought they were Orcas, but I’m pretty sure they were more Gray Whales. L did quite a good job to get one in mid jump, I thought.

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After that we really had to get going. We stopped at Taco Temple in Morro Bay for dinner (Audry, thank you so, so much for the recommendation, it was amazing!) and drove abandoned the coast for a speedier highway to Santa Barbara where we spent the night. We wandered through a city a little in the morning and then got back on the road to drive the last leg to San Diego. Let me just tell you now that driving from Santa Barbara to San Diego (218 miles/350 kilometres) takes longer than flying from Toronto to San Francisco (approximately 2,500 miles/4,000 kilometres) and leave it at that. L drove, I knit, peace remained. San Diego was a bit of a whirlwind for me, and it was the only day of bad weather we had — not that we could complain about a rainy day in a state that so badly needed it. It seemed like a fun city, though, and I would definitely go back. There were a lot of restaurants I would have liked to try.

Such a fun trip. It’s almost hard to believe that I was there just last week.

California, part 1

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I got home Sunday night and have been debating ever since how best to write about our trip. It was so, so great: the perfect mix of busy and relaxed, with great weather and great company. We honestly saw and did so much in eight days that as soon as I started going through my photos (899, to be precise) I realized one post would be crazy. Instead, I think I can do it in three — San Francisco, driving Highway 1, and LYS visiting — and I’ll warn you now, they’re going to be pretty photo heavy. Ready? Let’s do this thing.

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We stayed in the Noe Valley neighbourhood, which was a great area but definitely not downtown. Although we started taking more public transportation later on, we did a lot of walking up and down – and then up and then down again – San Francisco’s hilly streets (my hips decided to pretty much fall apart while we were there, which has never happened before and was really inconvenient). The steepness is pretty much impossible to capture, but suffice to say that the street in the photo with the long view was at about a 45 degree angle (L is an engineer, so I trust his judgment on such matters) — we walked up it (on tip-toe) as part of the climb to the top of Twin Peaks, which we reached just in time for the fog/clouds to start spilling over the top.

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Our impromptu visit to the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park was on of my favourite things we in San Francisco. We packed a little picnic and wandered through the park to the gardens, which were really lovely. It was the closest we came to seeing big redwoods, and the California Natives garden meant we got to see a lot of the plants and flowers that weren’t flourishing because of the drought. Besides the dozens of succulents that seem to thrive in California, the other plant we saw a ton of on our trip was nasturtiums (the first, very orange, flower). It’s one of my favourite flowers, and to see it growing wild all over the place was such a treat, and added shocking blasts of colour to an otherwise fairly pale landscape.

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Of course, we did the touristy stuff too. Neither of us grew up watching Full House, but a trip to see the Painted Ladies just seemed right. And then, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge herself (himself? itself? what gender do we assign to bridges?) The bridge was covered with a tube of cloud for our first two days in the city (as in: the sky everywhere else was clear and lovely, but the there was a line of cloud low and over the bridge anyway), but on our last day somehow everything worked out and we had a clear view. We walked across it, and then back across it, and it really does live up to the hype. It’s a pretty fantastic piece of infrastructure, and the little interpretive centre on the city side of the bridge definitely added to my appreciation of its design and art deco details.

San Francisco was a great introduction to California and I could definitely have spent more time there. We even made it over to Berkley and Oakland — more on that in the LYS post. Next up: driving down the coast!

I slipped

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I had full, full, intentions to just truck right along with my latest Skyp socks, but after grafting the toe of the first one I got that funny urge to dig around in my stash to see what was in there, and before I knew it I’d pulled out a skein of Tosh Sock in Espadrilles, wound it up, and cast on. Honestly, I don’t really know how it happened, but here we are, a full chart repeat into new socks and I’m not sorry.

This is a very bright, very fun pink, and is also very hard to photograph.

This is a very bright, very fun pink, that is also very hard to photograph.

These are Betula by Rachel Coopey (who is such a reliably excellent designer) and I love them. They’re fun to knit and, since the 15-row repeat is really just a five-row repeat that shifts, the pattern is very quickly memorized and doesn’t require much special attention (I’m using a stitch marker to mark where I am within each repeat, which helps). They are, in fact, the perfect travel knitting, which is just as well since tomorrow L and I are flying to California!

We have a whole week to spend on the coast, and I seriously cannot wait. We’ve more or less planned out our stops (we’re driving Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego), but if you have must-see suggestions, please let me know! I will definitely be going to A Verb for Keeping Warm while we’re in San Francisco, so I’ll have a full report of that and the rest of the trip when I get back. (I’ll probably do a little Instagramming, if you want to keep up with me over there.)

Such a summery colourway.

Such a summery colourway.

And, who knows, maybe I’ll have some finished socks too. I’m bringing the Skyp socks along, because as great as Betula is, when it’s my turn in the passenger seat I’m going to want a knit that doesn’t require me to look at my hands, and the Skyps are it! I hope you all have a wonderful week — I’ll tell you all about mine once I’m home again.