Arizona: Photo Inspiration

The instructions for Day 25 of the 30-Day Writing Challenge: Think of any word. Search it on Google images. Write something inspired by the 11th image.

My word: Arizona

The 11th image:

Grand Canyon National Park, Toroweap Overlook, North Rim

Photo Credit: Michele Falzone/Getty Images

I’ve been to Arizona but I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon. I’m excited to share that I’ll get my chance in March! I’m looking forward to finally getting to see it in person. I have a feeling it’s one of those places where pictures just don’t do it justice.

Although we won’t get to visit the Toroweap Lookout I hope we’ll get some photos as breathtaking as this one. Thankfully Coen has a fancy camera and amazing photography skills. I may have to convince him to do a mini-photo shoot of me there…and everywhere else beautiful that we visit, haha.

If anyone has tips or recommendations for Arizona (within a few hours drive of Scottsdale and Sedona areas – we’re already planning to go to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon) please let me know in the comments.❤


5 Places I Want To Visit

List 5 Places I Want to Visit?  This is pretty easy for the 30-Day Writing Challenge.  I could list way more!


Blue Lagoon

Scotland, UK

Scotland 2009: the first few days
Dunvegan Castle

Alberta, Canada


Arizona, USA

antelope canyon

Oświęcim, Poland


If anyone has advice or recommendations for any of these please comment and let me know.  Safe travels!❤

Grade 2/3 Postcard Project: Help Us Out!

Back in the summer someone in a Facebook Group I’m in posted about something they called the Canadian Postcard Exchange and I was intrigued. Basically you commit to having your class send a postcard (homemade or store-bought) to 25 other schools in Canada. I thought this would be a fun activity for my grade 2 and 3 students. It’s also a great way to learn a little about other provinces since you’re supposed to include three fascinating facts on your postcard. I introduced the project to my class today and they seem very excited.

I was talking to Coen last night and thought, “Hey, I could extend this to different countries around the world if people are willing to participate.” He has agreed to be a part of this! 

My idea is to have my class brainstorm questions they have about other countries. We’ll narrow down the questions (probably to five) and send them to anyone who is interested in helping us out. We’ll send out our answers to the same question! Participants can answer the questions via email and if they would like to send us a postcard I’ll pass along the school address. Alternatively, if they just want to send a postcard then that’s okay too.

My hope is that students will learn a few things about different countries and cultures! If you’re from Canada and still wish to participate that’s great – we don’t have all the provinces covered through the Canadian Postcard Exchange and I’m sure everyone will have different answers to student questions!

If you’re interested in helping us out, please comment below with your email address or email me at Please also include your country. I’ll send you the info when I have it organized. Thank you so much! 

Summer Beauty: My Top 12 Photos

I love taking pictures of all things that fall into my definition of beautiful.  I only use my phone and sadly mine died at the beginning of August so I’ve been using my old one with a less than stellar camera, but I’ve still managed to capture some beauty throughout the summer.

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver
Train tracks on the way to Brandywine Falls, Whister
The trail to Brandywine Falls, Whistler
Brandywine Falls, Whistler
Whistler, British Columbia
Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver
Totem Poles at Stanley Park, Vancouver
Vancouver from Stanley Park
 Stanley Park, Vancouver
Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington
Vancouver from North Vancouver
Lions Gate Bridge from North Vancouver

Majestic Beauty: Hurricane Ridge

Every so often I come across somewhere that is so beautiful it’s hard to put into words.  This summer, that place was Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.  Coen visited with his parents in October 2016 and showed me several stunning photos, including one of my all-time favourites of him!  Coen really wanted to show it to me and we thought about visiting in March but the 17 mile drive up from Port Angeles can be dicey in the winter so we decided against it.  When he suggested we go a few weeks ago I was all for it.

20953564_10159102122575363_6680963219486937819_nAs we began the drive into the Park raindrops appeared on the windshield.  “Are you kidding me!?!” I thought.  The summer had been ridiculously dry and THIS was going to be the day it rained?  REALLY!?! Thankfully it didn’t amount to anything as we kept driving.  It was pretty gloomy (you actually want some clouds for a more dramatic feel but the nice fluffy ones) but we stopped at a couple lookouts anyway.

When we arrived at the Visitors Centre parking lot I put a hoodie on for the first time in I didn’t know how long. Ugh. It was super cloudy, misty and pretty drab looking.

20882918_10159102123440363_7779499128002091599_nWe heard an announcement about a guided walk along the Cirque Rim Trail with a Park Ranger and figured we may as well do that in hopes that the weather would clear up while we were on that.  The walk was excellent and we learned about the FBI!  Fauna, bacteria and insects, of course!  At one point there is a gorgeous view of the Straits of Juan de Fuca.  You can even see a bit of Vancouver Island!  Sadly my pictures don’t do it justice.

Lo and behold the weather improved throughout the duration of the walk!  Much of the cloud coverage had blown away, the sun was shining and my hoodie came off pretty quickly!  Before we had started the walk Coen pointed at Sunrise Point which is at the top of the High Ridge Trail and said we would go there after.  Every so often I would look at it and say, “You really expect me to hike up there?” or “I’ll never make it.” Now according to the website it’s actually only a 0.5 mile loop with a 0.1 mile dead end spur trail to Sunrise Point, with a 220 ft elevation change which sounds pretty manageable.  However, I’m an expert at getting all into my head and psyching myself out.  Thankfully, Coen often challenges me to do things I don’t think I can do.  This was one of them.  So, off we went, with him encouraging me one step at a time (it really wasn’t that bad.)  I was rewarded with some pretty great views from Sunrise Point and along the trail.

When we got back to the Visitors Centre the view was so much better than earlier.  I found it absolutely gorgeous.  Quite breathtaking really.

The gift shop has all kinds of things.  Coen bought me a benchmark key chain to commemorate our visit!  He also surprised me with a certificate when we got home.  So cute!

I highly recommend visiting!  I’m so thankful we did and wouldn’t hesitate to go again.

I asked Coen if he wanted to add anything.  He said, “I like Hurricane Ridge because you can see over the mountains. It’s pretty and good for a nice walk or tour.”

Check out for info!

Tourist in My Own City: Tour Guys Downtown & Waterfront Walking Tour

Back in July I blogged about the walking tour I did of Granville Street and Gastown.  I had such a good experience that I wanted to check out another of the Tour Guys Free Walking Tours!  Coen and I decided to do one while he was here, opting for the Downtown & Waterfront tour.  We extended the invite to some of my friends and four of them joined us!

The tour began at Pacific Centre.  The first building we went into was the Hotel Vancouver, where we learned a little about the history.  From there we visited Christ Church Cathedral.  I had never been inside; it was small but beautiful!


We checked out the Marine Building next.  Another I had never been inside!  I’d never noticed that some of the detail on the building is marine-related!


From there we walked to Canada Place.  On the lower level there are a few exhibits that are worth checking out, including a podium, torches and medals from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.  There is also a variety of First Nations artwork. The exhibit pictures are from when Coen and I checked it all out in March.  I didn’t take any pictures inside this time.

We walked along the waterfront to Jack Poole Plaza, where the Vancouver 2010 Cauldron is and walked to the small area on top of the Cactus Club where you can look down on the plaza as well as see the Convention Centre’s green roof!

20729323_10159080658150363_8285027017256694845_nThe tour ended there so we headed to Railtown to check out the Belgard Kitchen ( because Lori had been wanting to try it for awhile.  It was yummy and worth a visit!

We wandered around Downtown Vancouver afterwards.  What a great day with some of my favourite people!

Check out for info on the Tour Guys Free Walking Tours.

I Can Laugh Now: Reminiscing About Roadblocks in Amsterdam

It’s coming up one year (10 months really) since I travelled solo to Amsterdam and I find myself reminiscing about the roadblocks, albeit small ones, that I hit during my trip.   I can’t believe I still remember these things.  They must have left quite an impact on me.  At the time I felt embarrassed, confused and the like, but I can laugh now…

Truthfully, one of the things I was most anxious about was getting to my hotel from the airport.  I knew I had to take a train before getting on the Metro and I knew what station to get off at, but that was about it.  Coen assured me Schiphol was well-marked with signs for transportation, but still, I was envisioning myself lugging around all my belongings looking totally lost.  After picking up my luggage I looked for those signs…they were everywhere!  I was SAFE!  Right!?! Perhaps…until I encountered the machine I was supposed to use to use to buy my train ticket.  As I approached the machine I looked at it blankly.  I didn’t know what any of it meant!  I looked at the map of all the train lines. Yeah, that wasn’t very helpful.  I was totally clueless.  “I know,” I thought, “If I press some buttons for the line I THINK I’m supposed to take I’ll be able to figure it out!”  A few presses in I realized that wasn’t going to work.  So, with no ticket in hand, I looked around to see if anyone was watching me and slipped away, hopefully unnoticed, in search of help!  Fortunately after a few minutes I found actual people that I could purchase my ticket from!  Needless to say I bought my return train ticket from a person as well.

So I’m a few hours into my first full day in Amsterdam and I’m looking for somewhere to get coffee when I spot McDonalds!  Yes, I was 7700km from home and went to McDonalds. Well, almost.  I walked into the doorway.  Does that count?  So, what stopped me?  The SELF-SERVE KIOSKS!  I’d never used one.  What if I couldn’t figure it out?  Would there be an English option?  Or would I have to attempt to read Dutch?  At that point my Dutch food and drink vocabulary was pretty much limited to water (water), appel (apple), boterham (sandwich), sap (juice), brood (bread) and melk (milk.)  I high tailed it out of there and pulled out my phone to text Coen asking whether I had to use a kiosk or if I could still order at the counter!  I ended up going to a different café that day, but did visit a different McDonalds another day…and went straight to the counter!

That same day I had taken the tram to Dam Square and managed just fine.  I got off and made note of the stop (not the same one) where I would catch the tram back.  I could do it!  After wandering around for hours I headed back to the tram stop.  I was pretty sure I was in the right place but the driver was standing at the door so I thought I would ask him just in case.  “Excuse me, is the correct tram to take me to Jan van Galenstraat?” I asked.  He looked at me with what I thought was a slightly odd expression.  “Crap!” I thought.  “Maybe he doesn’t speak English.” I tried again and pointed to Jan van Galenstraat on my little map.  He started laughing at me!  “Ahh, Jan van Galenstraat!  Yes, this is right,” he said.  His pronunciation of Jan van Galenstraat was quite different than mine.  Let’s just say some of their letter sounds are quite different from English!  He ended up being super helpful.  In the end I don’t think his laugh was meant to embarrass me.  I think he appreciated that I at least tried to say it.

Google Maps!  Yes!  Thank Goodness!  Or so I thought…One morning I was off to Anne Frank House.  Online tickets sell out way in advance and I wasn’t prepared to wait in line for ours for general admission so I was lucky to find tickets released earlier that morning.  I had a general idea of where it was; I had seen it on the walking tour I went on and I knew which tram stop to get off at.  While on Wi-Fi I found the walking directions from the Westermarkt tram stop to Anne Frank House.  It looked easy peasy so off I went.  I followed the directions and walked down the street enjoying the scenery; gorgeous old buildings and canals.  After what felt like forever I realized the time I had to arrive was approaching.  I thought Anne Frank House was much closer to the tram stop.  To be honest, I wasn’t even 100% sure what street I was on.  Keep in mind that most street signs are pretty small and on the side of buildings.  Anyway, I pulled out my phone (I had a travel plan for emergencies) and found the directions to Anne Frank House from where I was.  Turned out I had walked in the complete opposite direction!  I think the original directions were from the tram stop on the other side of the road.  I turned around and prepared to speed walk to my destination.  In about 10 minutes I was back where I started.  In TWO MINUTES I was at Anne Frank House.  OOPS! I learned my lesson about double checking directions!

At the time I was embarrassed to share these little stories, but I can laugh now…