The Mammoth Lakes area

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Mulled wine is perfect for cold nights by the fire.

Mulled wine is perfect for cold nights by the fire.

One morning, we woke up to snow!

One morning, we woke up to snow!

Beautiful frost everywhere.

Beautiful frost everywhere.

Rock tub hot springs.

Rock tub hot springs.

Rock Tub hot springs.

Rock Tub hot springs.

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Hot Creek is NOT a hot spring for swimming. See below.

Hot Creek is NOT a hot spring for swimming. See below.

We rode many times at Mammoth Mountain even if the bike park was officially closed for the season (no lifts), the trails remained open. It is at 9,000 feet in altitude and it was pretty cold. That's the day it was 3 degrees C (35 F). We ended our day at the Mammoth Brewery. Delicious beer and food. Don't miss it if you are in the area.

We rode many times at Mammoth Mountain even if the bike park was officially closed for the season (no lifts), the trails remained open. It is at 9,000 feet in altitude and it was pretty cold. That's the day it was 3 degrees C (35 F). We ended our day at the Mammoth Brewery. Delicious beer and food. Don't miss it if you are in the area.

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Devil's Postpile National Monument.

Devil's Postpile National Monument.

Devil's Postpile seen from above (left) and another cool basalt columns formation from the area on the right.

Devil's Postpile seen from above (left) and another cool basalt columns formation from the area on the right.

Exploring Obsidian Dome.

Exploring Obsidian Dome.

Full moon rise over our camp.

Full moon rise over our camp.

Rock climbing at Owens River Gorge.

Rock climbing at Owens River Gorge.

The class 3 scramble approach to get to the crag at Owen River Gorge was quite something with big packs and a big dog!

The class 3 scramble approach to get to the crag at Owen River Gorge was quite something with big packs and a big dog!

Our free campsite at Shepard's hot springs.

Our free campsite at Shepard's hot springs.

You can see the bus in the distance.

You can see the bus in the distance.

Perfect way to start the day.

Perfect way to start the day.

Or to end it.

Or to end it.

The Crab Cooker was our favorite of the 3 hot springs we visited. It was also the cleanest (it looked like it had just been emptied and scrubbed). It was only a 5 minute walk from our camping spot at Shepard's Hot Spring. And yes, all this is on BLM land (and free!).

The Crab Cooker was our favorite of the 3 hot springs we visited. It was also the cleanest (it looked like it had just been emptied and scrubbed). It was only a 5 minute walk from our camping spot at Shepard's Hot Spring. And yes, all this is on BLM land (and free!).

Walking back to camp from the Crab Cooker tub.

Walking back to camp from the Crab Cooker tub.

One of the things your learn after many years on the road is that if you find a gem of a secret spot to camp in, you don't share it on social medias or camping sites/apps. Another thing that you learn is that if there is a long weekend coming, you stay put. Even if you would really like to go climbing at Owens River Gorge and take advantage of that long weekend yourself (because no, we do not make our work schedule and have full days off only on weekends). On long weekends, you stay around camp and explore less popular spots. For your own sanity.

There is a lot to do in the Mammoth Lakes ares. There is an awesome bike resort with lots of amazing trails. Mammoth Mountain closes mid-September, but the trails remain open for riders to enjoy. At 9,000 feet of altitude, it can get cold at this time of year. We went riding in 3 degree C weather (that's 35 F). There is also a great brewery (Mammoth Brewery), perfect for an after-ride brew and delicious meal.

There are also many hot springs in the areas, the most popular being Hilltop (aka Pulkey's) and Wild Willy's. These are often full of people. The thing is, most of the springs are bathtub size and can sit 4 to 5 persons at most (Wild Willy being the exception, there are a few pools there that can accommodate more people), so if you get there and they are full, the courtesy is to leave (not wait there or worst, try to squeeze in). Many of these are clothing optional too.

We really liked Rock Tub since it is right by the little parking area and you don't have to hike to find out if it's full or not. The first time we tried to go to the hot springs, on a very cold night after our bike ride, we found it full, so we turned around, checked out Hilltop and Wild Willy's which were also full... It's the reality of it... It's high season here and there are not secret spots anymore. So we came back the next day in the afternoon and lucked out as the man bathing there was just done. During the hour we were there, 3 or 4 cars drove in, saw that the tub was busy and turned around. The water gets pretty dirty from all the people (even if there is a constant flow in and out. There is a plug at the bottom, so you can empty the tub and let it fill back up. You can also bring a brush to scrub the slippery algea that covers the bottom if you want. Obviously, don't use any soap in the tubs!

We also explored Shepard's Tub and the Crab Cooker, that are *a bit* less busy. We ended up camping there for 2 nights and enjoying Shepard's Tub and the Crab Cooker morning and night. It was heavenly after a day of climbing! If you decide to go camp near a hot spring, remember that this is a public place and do not hug the tub (or park very near it). People will likely come and go every hour or so (and at every hour of the night on weekends!), so be warned.

Hot Creek used to be a hot spring in the 60's and 70's. We met a man at Shepard's who used to be a guide and would bring tourists there. He said there was a huge pool where there was always 50 to 60 people. It has been closed for 15-20 years because too many deaths happen there. He told us that most deaths were caused by people trying to rescue their dogs who had fallen in the blue pools of death (the beautiful Icelandic blue pool in the picture above) which is and has always been scalding hot. It is nonetheless a geological wonder where the cold water from the glacier meet the bubbling water from the underground volcanic activity. The ground is unstable in the area because of fumaroles and occasional geyser action also.

Devils Postpile (a National Monument) is an unusual rock formation of 60 feet high basalt columns. It looks like a tidy lumber pile created by OCD giants. They were formed when lava erupted in the valley nearly 100,000 years ago and filled the area to a depth of 400 feet. Then, glaciers overrode the fractured mass of lava. As you can see on the pictures taken from the top, the glaciers cut the hexagonal basalt towers, leaving behind something that looks like a tile floor. The John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail merge into one trail as they pass through the monument.

Obsidian Dome is not your typical cone-shaped dome, but more like a big pile of shiny black rock. It is indeed volcanic glass that was formed by an explosion (a Phreatic Blast) when magma reached the water table, turned the water to steam, cooled and then turned to rock. There is not much else to do there than to simply scramble up and look at the beautiful obsidian formations (be careful, it is slippery). Obsidian is the sharpest natural material known to man, obsidian rocks have played a significant role in the evolution of homo-sapiens' tool-making ability. During the Stone-Age and beyond, obsidian rocks have played a major part as primary cutting tools in many cultures.

Yosemite National Park

Tioga Pass

Tioga Pass

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Tenaya Lake

Tenaya Lake

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Upper Falls

Upper Falls

Lower Falls

Lower Falls

Climbers near Camp 4.

Climbers near Camp 4.

What's so fabulous about Yosemite? It’s got dozens of incomparable meadows and more than a hundred lakes, plus waterfalls as tall as a 200-story building, trees the size of rocket ships, gorgeous mountains, 800 miles of trails and even a few beaches. It’s bigger than a handful of European countries and nearly the size of Rhode Island.

We have been wanting to spend time in Yosemite for a long time, but because you need to reserve a camping spot a very long time in advance and because there wasn’t cell signal in the Valley and that we could not be there during the week when we need to work, we never made it. We found out there is good signal in the Valley where the campgrounds are located, but the download was pretty bad… but it was on a busy Sunday afternoon, so it might be just fine during the week when there is less usage. So we only came in for a day to get a feel of Yosemite. I don’t know how I thought I could get a *feel* for such a special place in one day among a huge crowd of people (I don’t do well in crowds. At all.).

I believe that to really get a feel for Yosemite, you need to hike deep into it, to explore its wilder corners, to see half-dome from the top, to fall asleep and wake up on its ground. Walking in the Valley and hiking up to the very crowded Lower Fall didn’t provide this experience, and I knew it wouldn’t, but that’s all we could do this year.

I remember feeling a bit like that the first time I went to the Grand Canyon (after months of exploring Utah’s hidden slot canyons and less busy National Parks – at the time). It felt impersonal, it didn’t touch me until I walked down into the canyon before sunrise and could start feeling its immensity as the sun rose. It was the same thing for Zion. The first time we went there, we rode the shuttle, hiked a few shorter trails (the girls were little) and even if I could see its beauty, I didn’t fall in love with it until the next time we went and hiked all the way up to Observation Point very early in the morning without the crowd. And the third time, when I hiked the Narrows, again early in the morning.

We didn’t bring our climbing gear because it didn’t make sense to for only a day, but it was so impressive to watch climbers on these beautiful tall granite walls. Again, I expected to be moved by the fact that rock climbing really began here in the Valley in the 60’s with all the now iconic climbers living at Camp 4. I expected that I would feel something special walking through Camp 4, looking at El Cap and Half Dome, but I didn’t really. I mean, they are beautiful and impressive, but as a climber (a very occasional one), I guess I expected to feel something more… and maybe I would if I had climbed there. Just scrolling through my Instagram feed as we waited in line for over 30 minutes to get out of the park, I could see that many amazing *famous* climbers that I follow were there and climbing boulders and walls as we droved and walked past some of them…

If your schedule allows it, visit the valley on weekdays and spend your weekends exploring other parts of Yosemite. You can drive or take free shuttle buses to much of the valley, but most enjoyable way to get around in the Valley is probably by bikes. If you didn’t bring your own bike, you can rent one at Curry Village, near the east end of Yosemite Valley and look funny wandering around the valley on these big cruiser bikes.

There are four non-camping options in Yosemite Valley: the $500-a-night Ahwahnee Hotel, the Yosemite Lodge, the cabins and tent cabins at Curry Village, and the quirky tent/house hybrids at the Housekeeping Camp. Good luck getting into any of them in the summer without a reservation well in advance, though. Same thing for the campgrounds… The Upper Pines, Lower Pines and North Pines campgrounds contain 379 campsites between them. There is also the famous Camp 4, a tent-only group campground mostly used by climbers, where the rock climbing in America began.

Traffic can get severely backed up on summer weekends, particularly in the eastern end of the valley. Once traffic gets heavy, the park service will reserve lanes for official park vehicles (ambulances, shuttle buses, and the like), and though you can see why they'd want to do that, it does tend to compound traffic issues. Try to arrive before 9 am or after 4 pm to avoid getting stuck in traffic, and once you're in the valley, find a parking spot ASAP and then either walk or take the free shuttle buses to get around in the valley.

Most people enter the park through the West (near Fresno), but the drive from Mono Lake (East) through the Tioga Pass is beautiful. Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadows are gorgeous and there are more hikes along the Tioga Road than in any other part of Yosemite, namely the very famous Cathedral Lake hike. The thing is, most hikes are either very long or very short in Yosemite (and the very short ones are very crowded and not that exciting in my opinion).

Because it was formed by glaciation, the valley walls are sheer and high, leading to world-famous cliffs: El Capitan, a mountain-climbing mecca, rises more than 3,000 feet (900 meters) virtually straight up from the Yosemite Valley floor, and Half Dome looms 4,800 feet (1,600) meters above.

Mono Lake

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Mono Lake’s “petrified springs”are spectacular examples of what nature can do with just a few basic ingredients. When calcium-bearing freshwater springs well up through the carbonate-rich lake water, a chemical reaction happens and solid limestone (aka tufa) is formed around a spring.

The towers are above the waterline now because the city of Los Angeles began diverting the streams that feed the lake in 1941, lowering the lake's level by more than 40 feet. Since a Water Board ruling in 1994, the lake has been gradually refilling to its 1963 levels; when it's done, part of this trail will be underwater again. So don't put your visit off for too long. Fortunately, tufa continues to form today where freshwater and lake water meet.

Mono Lake’s water contains 10% salt (just as a comparison point, the Pacific Ocean contains 3.5% and Lake Tahoe 0.001%). I was very surprised to find out that you can actually swim in Mono Lake (and yes, float!). It was too cold when we were there, but it would have been fun to try. You can actually snorkel to see interesting formations under water, but you’ll have to follow some precautions (like a wearing a very tight mask and applying Vaseline on your lips because of the very salty water).

The lake’s alkalinity (pH=10) makes life impossible for fish. However, there is a type of brine shrimp that grows only in that lake and that is sold as tropical fish food.

The best time to take pictures is very early in the morning before sunrise (so you can get a vast array of colors). I am not that dedicated a photographer, but got there at about 7:30 am and the light was still beautiful and quite surreal, even if I am not super happy with how the pictures turned out... (I still wouldn't get up earlier...). The entrance fee is$3/person or free with a National Park Pass (or interagency pass).

Hiking to Parker Lake

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Ansel Adams Wilderness. One of my all time favorite photographer.

Ansel Adams Wilderness. One of my all time favorite photographer.

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The aspens are turning yellow in the Sierras already!

The aspens are turning yellow in the Sierras already!

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Beautiful Parker Lake with Mt. Wood.

Beautiful Parker Lake with Mt. Wood.

On the return, you can see Mono Lake in the distance.

On the return, you can see Mono Lake in the distance.

Parker Lake Trail, located in the Mono Lake area of the Eastern Sierra, is a very popular hike and for good reasons. It is a relatively short easy hike (3.8 miles round trip) that arrives at a gorgeous pristine alpine setting with towering Mt. Wood, Parker Peak (12,850 feet high) and Mt. Lewis. The lake is situated just above 8,000 feet. Make sure you bring lots of water and that you wear sun protection (including a hat) if you are hiking in the warm season. The first part of the trail climbs a bit and is completely exposed (if you are not acclimatized to altitude yet, you might find this gentle grade more demanding than usual). Dogs are allowed on the trail. It seems like it is a great fishing destination too!

Lake Tahoe area

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Ever since I can remember, Lake Tahoe has always been synonymous of adventure in my head. When I worked in outdoor retail stores, there was always a Tahoe Jacket or aTahoe something... I collected pictures of Caribbean blue beaches with a snowy mountain tops background on my Pinterest boards and kept hoping we could make it there before it got too cold... it was always next year... Finally, we made it (by crossing the border much earlier than usual) and it's beautiful, warm and sunny. We got to ride amazing trails (the Corral trail system in South Tahoe is amazing, don't miss Upper and Lower Corral, Armstrong connector, Sidewinder and for a longer ride, Mr. Toads wild ride). 

JF went for a long run on the Tahoe Rim trail and the girls and I set to go explore Tahoe most beautiful beach at Sand Harbor State Park. After driving for one hour, we found out that we could not get in because we had the dog with us. They would not let us in even if the dog would stay in the Westy and I would just get out to take pictures. Have you ever heard of such a stupid rule? I get that dogs are not allowed on beaches and trails, no problem. But not allowed to enter a state park and stay in the vehicle for 20 minutes??? I was NOT happy. This is the beach I had waited to photograph and visit for 5 + years... Oh and the entrance fee is $12...  So we turned around, very disappointed and headed 6 miles south to Chimney Beach, a free public beach where dogs are allowed. We were not expecting much, but we were sweaty and determined to swim in Tahoe. Well, Chimney Beach was awesome!! You have to walk down a half mile path to the shore where there are tons of little rocky coves you can choose from (you can either go left or right once you get to the bottom of the trail, just keep exploring until you find a private spot you like... if you go left for a bit, you will encounter a nude beach, just so you know!). We went right and found a beautiful crescent beach where we spend a few hours WITH Stout! And as you can see from the pictures, the water was as turquoise as in Sand Harbor. 

Lake Tahoe is very expensive and since we needed gas, groceries, laudry, etc., we decided to stay in Gardnerville, NV, where everything is much cheaper and accessible. We could have camped on the shore of Lake Tahoe for $36/night, but we stayed in a quiet Walmart parking lot in Gardnerville. Not exactly by the lake, but the lower altitude made for warmer nights and we stocked up on groceries before heading down the Sierras where it would take a while to see big grocery stores. There is a Grocery Outlet and a Raley's (great grocery store) 4 miles north from the Walmart in Gardnerville and a great cheap 24 hours Laudromat 6 miles north (Village Laundromat). There is another Walmart where you can spend the night in Carson City, but it's much busier and not as quiet (but there is a Trader Joe's right by and a Costco).

 If you are planning to enjoy the Tahoe activities for more than a few days, it might be a good idea to pick a campsite near the Lake (I'd say between South Tahoe and Sand Harbor State Park, on the Nevada side) and go for a weekly rate. Driving from Gardnerville to the Lake requires you go over passes and it is longer than Google will tell you, especially with a Westfalia with its original engine...

Eldorado National Forest, Crystal Basin, CA

On our way down from the Lava Beds National Monuments, we stopped for a few hours at the Yuba River State Park. The river is an incredible deep blue turquoise and there are tons of secret spots along the river to swim and enjoy this area. It was late in the day and we didn't have time to explore, but still had a quick post sunset dip.

On our way down from the Lava Beds National Monuments, we stopped for a few hours at the Yuba River State Park. The river is an incredible deep blue turquoise and there are tons of secret spots along the river to swim and enjoy this area. It was late in the day and we didn't have time to explore, but still had a quick post sunset dip.

Union Valley Reservoir (Sunset Campground) and our friends Catamaran.

Union Valley Reservoir (Sunset Campground) and our friends Catamaran.

They took us sailing and it was so much fun!

They took us sailing and it was so much fun!

We also canoed on the beautiful lake. There is already snow on the mountain tops!

We also canoed on the beautiful lake. There is already snow on the mountain tops!

They brought us to another great spot in this area called Bassi Falls.

They brought us to another great spot in this area called Bassi Falls.

Sticks are so overrated. I retrieve pinecones.

Sticks are so overrated. I retrieve pinecones.

Bassi Falls paradise.

Bassi Falls paradise.

Upper Bassi Falls is full of beautiful basins flowing into one another. Some of them made for great waterslides too!

Upper Bassi Falls is full of beautiful basins flowing into one another. Some of them made for great waterslides too!

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We came here to meet our friends who had spend the summer in the area sailing their Catamaran and just enjoying this beautiful wild part of the sierras. They had told us how much they liked this region before and we were excited to discover it. It really blew our minds. Sunset Campground is beautiful and located on a peninsula. Unfortunately, it will be closed for the next two years for improvements. Luckily, there are other campgrounds very close by, namely Wolf Creek that our friends really like. Do not miss Bassi Falls and Wright Lake trails in the Desolation Wilderness (JF went running there) if you are in the area. It is about half way between Auburn and Lake Tahoe.

Lava Beds National Monument, California

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Mushpot Cave (the only lighted cave)

Mushpot Cave (the only lighted cave)

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The lungs of the earth

The lungs of the earth

So many cool textures! In the Golden Dome Cave, the golden ceiling is the result of light reflecting off water droplets that bead up on a coating of hydrophobic bacteria.

So many cool textures! In the Golden Dome Cave, the golden ceiling is the result of light reflecting off water droplets that bead up on a coating of hydrophobic bacteria.

Sunshine Cave

Sunshine Cave

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The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel

The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel

Lava fields 

Lava fields 

One of the many cinder cones in the national monument. Cinder Cones are the simplest type of volcanoes. They are built of particles and blobs of congealed lava ejected from a single vent. Cinder cones typically erupt only once.

One of the many cinder cones in the national monument. Cinder Cones are the simplest type of volcanoes. They are built of particles and blobs of congealed lava ejected from a single vent. Cinder cones typically erupt only once.

Too often when we visit a National Park or a National Monument, it seems like the story is always the same: once, this beautiful land belonged to Native Americans and then, the settlers came, tried to shoo them away and ended up killing them all because they resisted. Now, you can enjoy this gorgeous pristine nature that we protect and interpret for your enjoyment... So the truth about this place is that the Modoc Indians lived on this rugged land for over 10,000 years and they moved freely across *their* homeland until we forcibly removed them. They called it "the land of burnt-out fires". Tule Lake and the lava beds were then, and are still today, the center of their world.

I couldn't help but cringe when in the Visitor Center video, you see park rangers pronouncing a speech in front of a crowd of Modoc to honor their presence on this land...  

I'll tell you about the Lava caves instead (there are over 700 lava tube caves in the park!), because they are not controversial and they were pretty cool!

I had never been inside a lava tube before and it was fascinating... We are talking about eruptions that happened 30 to 40,000 years ago! Lava tubes form when streams of hot, flowing lava start to cool. The center of the stream stays hot and continues to flow as the outside begins to cool and harden. The hot lava drains out, leaving a pipe-like cave. There are even multilevel caves created by multiple eruptions that ended up stacking caves on top of one another.

There is a lot to see in the park and I wished we had planned more time there. The caves are listed by least challenging (high ceilings, smoother floors) to most challenging (involving crawling, helmets, kneepads and gloves, as well as a detailed map to not get lost!). Must visit caves are Skull Cave, Golden Dome and Sunshine Cave (the best to take pictures since there are some sky lights. If you are up for a more challenging exploration, going from Helcules Leg Cave to Juniper Cave sounds like a great plan.

We found a great (free!) camping spot only 10 minutes from the National Monument entrance. I have reviewed it here.

 

Umpqua National Forest, Oregon

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Harvesting Oregon grapes, which isn’t technically a grape at all, but a bush in the barberry family.

Harvesting Oregon grapes, which isn’t technically a grape at all, but a bush in the barberry family.

Also harvesting Salal berries. I love the taste of these berries (a complex mix of blueberries and blackcurrant).

Also harvesting Salal berries. I love the taste of these berries (a complex mix of blueberries and blackcurrant).

If you press the stem side of a salal berry, the other side opens up and creates a beautiful fruit flower!

If you press the stem side of a salal berry, the other side opens up and creates a beautiful fruit flower!

Salal berry gimlet 1 ½ oz London Dry Gin 1 oz lime juice 1 oz salal berry syrup Shake 20 sec with ice, strain over fresh ice.

Salal berry gimlet

1 ½ oz London Dry Gin
1 oz lime juice
1 oz salal berry syrup

Shake 20 sec with ice, strain over fresh ice.

It was quite something to drive through the very smoky part of the Umpqua National Forest being escorted by a pilot car (with signs saying: Active Wildfires, DO NOT STOP). It was hard to get accurate information online about the air condition (it changed fast and the sites were not up to date) and we thought we could camp near the Umpqua River Trail and bike part of it (it's an epic trail), but most of the campgrounds were closed because of the fires. We came across this little gem of a campground just as we were starting to feel a bit discouraged. The air was so cool and fresh by the falls! Oregon is full of incredible places.

We ended up staying there 2 nights and except for a few people driving in to see the falls, stay 10 minutes and leave, we had the whole place to ourselves. We had hoped to go to the Umpqua Hot Springs, but the access road was closed and it was cooking hot anyways. 

Ruby Beach and South Beach, Olympic Peninsula, WA

South Beach

South Beach

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Trying to take pictures of whales is quite frustrating...

Trying to take pictures of whales is quite frustrating...

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Reflexion of the orange sun from the forest fire smoke on the ocean.

Reflexion of the orange sun from the forest fire smoke on the ocean.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

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Tons of green anemones.

Tons of green anemones.

Exploring the tide pools at Ruby Beach

Exploring the tide pools at Ruby Beach

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Look at all these sea stars!

Look at all these sea stars!

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Hermit Crab.

Hermit Crab.

Kelp crab

Kelp crab

The sea star population was decimated a few years ago by a virus called sea star wasting disease. This sea star is dying. It has lost a limb already, a sure sign of the disease.

The sea star population was decimated a few years ago by a virus called sea star wasting disease. This sea star is dying. It has lost a limb already, a sure sign of the disease.

The good news is that in the last year, we see lots of baby sea stars, like this tiny purple sea star, which means the population is growing back.

The good news is that in the last year, we see lots of baby sea stars, like this tiny purple sea star, which means the population is growing back.

From the Hoh Rainforest, we headed to the Pacific Coast of the Peninsula to Kalaloch Beach. We had made a reservation for an ocean front site there, but the site was too small for our rig and there was only 3G signal which was not good enough for work. The ranger sent us 3 miles down the road to South Beach campground where there was 4G LTE and some open sites. The campground is nicer and more treed at Kalaloch, but South Beach is right on the ocean. It looks more like a big parking lot than a campground, but at $15 per night, we didn't complain! And what was the first thing that we saw once we got off the bus? Grey whales jumping! We had no idea that South Beach is one of their stop on their way back to Baja where they go back to calve and nurse in the warm lagoons. They return in early Spring on their way to arctic feeding ground in Alaska. Somehow, across 4000 miles of ocean, they navigate precisely, on a predictable timetable!

We thought we had lucked out incredibly with our timing... until we found out through Ranger Meagan on the tide pool outing that for the first time this year, 200 whales stayed here all summer... things are changing for sure... She also told us that about 3 weeks ago, she was part of a rescue mission to help a whale that was life stranded on the beach. It took almost 48 hours for the crew to help her back to the water since the tides were not in their favor. They used a a pulley system to turn the whale so she could face the water and finally, it worked! 

The Amaroni is a cousin of the Negroni. Instead of the more in-your-face Campari that might not be love at first taste for many, this is a great introduction to the world of Negroni. AMARONI 1 oz gin (I used Hendrick's, but use your favorite Negroni Gin, Plymouth is a good choice here) 1 oz Carpano Formula Antica sweet Vermouth 1 oz Mia Amata Amaro (or your favorite amaro, Averna would be a good mild introduction, Ramazotti would be more along the same lines as the Mia Amata). Orange peel for garnish Stir with ice for 30 sec and strain on new ice. Garnish with orange peel.

The Amaroni is a cousin of the Negroni. Instead of the more in-your-face Campari that might not be love at first taste for many, this is a great introduction to the world of Negroni.
AMARONI
1 oz gin (I used Hendrick's, but use your favorite Negroni Gin, Plymouth is a good choice here)
1 oz Carpano Formula Antica sweet Vermouth
1 oz Mia Amata Amaro (or your favorite amaro, Averna would be a good mild introduction, Ramazotti would be more along the same lines as the Mia Amata).
Orange peel for garnish

Stir with ice for 30 sec and strain on new ice. Garnish with orange peel.

The Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park, WA

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On the Spruce Trail

On the Spruce Trail

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Uprooted Sitka Spruce

Uprooted Sitka Spruce

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On the Hall of Mosses Trail

On the Hall of Mosses Trail

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The Hoh Rainforest is located in the Heart of the Olympic Peninsula in the Olympic National Park. It is one of the most diversified national parks in terms of landscape. It is mind blowing to stand in the hot rain forest and to think that Mount Olympus and the Blue Glacier are a mere 18 miles away. We saw many people leaving for long treks on the glaciers and the girls were asking when we could come back and do it too. Another long hike to add to our ever-growing list!

From the Visitor Center (and the campground), there are 3 main hiking trails. The longer Hoh River Trail on which you can hike as long as you want and two shorter trails that offer spectacular views (where the photos above were taken), The Hall of Mosses trail (0.8 miles) and The Spruce Trail (1.2 miles). I highly recommend you hike both, but if you can only pick one, do the Hall of Mosses.

We came here on the Sunday of Labor Day long weekend thinking there was no way we would have a spot (all the sites here are first come first serve, so no reservations). To our surprises, there were still a few sites left that were big enough for our bus. Loop A is much less treed and offers sites on the river. We chose to be there for solar. Loop B and C are in the moss covered trees (Loop C has pretty tight turns, check it out on foot or with a tow vehicle first). And great news, there even was connexion on many sites in Loop A (very hit and miss 4G LTE, but good enough for JF to work).

I had no idea that the Olympic Peninsula used to be an island. In fact, ice-age glaciers have carved the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, separating the Olympic Peninsula from nearby land. Years of isolation means that there are over 20 plants and animals that are found nowhere else on Earth!

It was so hot in the rainforest that I wanted a tangy refreshing drink. So I created this. The North Vanagon 1 ½ oz Hendricks Gin ½ oz St-Germain ½ oz Grand Marnier Juice of 1 ½ key lime ¼ oz simple syrup 5 drops of Bittered Sling grapefruit and hops bitters Shake with ice and pour on one big cube of ice.  

It was so hot in the rainforest that I wanted a tangy refreshing drink. So I created this.

The North Vanagon

1 ½ oz Hendricks Gin
½ oz St-Germain
½ oz Grand Marnier
Juice of 1 ½ key lime
¼ oz simple syrup
5 drops of Bittered Sling grapefruit and hops bitters

Shake with ice and pour on one big cube of ice.

 

Neah Bay and Cape Flattery, Olympic Peninsula, WA

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How fairies are born

How fairies are born

Hike to Cape Flattery

Hike to Cape Flattery

View at the tip of Cape Flattery

View at the tip of Cape Flattery

There are many caves at the Cape.

There are many caves at the Cape.

The beautiful rugged waters of Cape Flattery

The beautiful rugged waters of Cape Flattery

Hobuck Beach

Hobuck Beach

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Green anemones in the tide pools

Green anemones in the tide pools

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From Neah Bay, it is a short 10 minute drive to Cape Flattery, the northwest tip of the Lower 48. The hike to get the to the tip where the Cape is located is only 1.5 mile through a beautiful Coastal Forest. Since Cape Flattery is on the Makah Reservation, you need to get a permit to hike the trail ($10 per vehicle for the year). We got ours at Neah Bay's General Store. 

As for camping in the area, the options are limited. Hobuck RV Resort has 10 full hook-up sites with a seaview (but pretty close together) for $40/night. There is also a field down the road where you can camp for $20/night (access to shower and outhouses, but otherwise dry camping). It might be a good option on the off-season, but since we got there on the Friday before Labor Day, it was a zoo. The only other option was a new RV park called Hide-away RV park (that looked more like an RV storage lot than an campground), but they had full hook-up sites for $30/night (and a few dry camping spots for $20) and it was a short 100 yard walk to the beach. It was much more quiet there.

Keep in mind that the drive to Neah Bay from Port Angeles is pretty twisty and bumpy (frost heaves), so lock your cupboards and secure everything and take what you need for motion sickness. Take your time and enjoy the scenery!

There is a beautiful hike that can be done as an overnighter (you sleep on the beach!) to Shi-shi Beach or as a long day hike (it is part of the Olympic National Park). With Mara being injured (and with the amount of cars along the trailhead), we decided to keep it for another time.

Also, on a different note, I will publish cocktails here in some posts (you can find them in the cocktails category), but I won't publish them all (it's a traveling blog after all!), but you can access them all either on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag redbusdrinks (#redbusdrinks). My friend Catheline is translating many of them and publishing them on her beautiful site (in French only).

My Manhattan 2 oz rye whiskey 3/4 oz @oddsocietyspirits Italian bittersweet Vermouth 1/2 oz rosemary honey syrup 3 dashes orange sage bitters Stir with ice and strain. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

My Manhattan

2 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz @oddsocietyspirits Italian bittersweet Vermouth
1/2 oz rosemary honey syrup
3 dashes orange sage bitters

Stir with ice and strain. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Gastown, Vancouver

Traveling from North Van to Gastown through the Seabus is really fun! 

Traveling from North Van to Gastown through the Seabus is really fun! 

The Paperhound Bookstore

The Paperhound Bookstore

Purebread has amazing everything! Try the crack bars and the giant meringues (right).

Purebread has amazing everything! Try the crack bars and the giant meringues (right).

Nelson the Seagull has amazing bread, lemon custard marzipan croissants and delicious Flat White Coffee (and Avo toast for $9 too... but that's another story... don't get me started on Avo toast...).

Nelson the Seagull has amazing bread, lemon custard marzipan croissants and delicious Flat White Coffee (and Avo toast for $9 too... but that's another story... don't get me started on Avo toast...).

And a walk through the Chinatown, of course. Lizard popsicle, anyone? The funniest thing was that amidst all these Chinese stores was a really cool vegan store that totally clashed with its surrounding. There is also a really funky store called Space Lab (with a totally hipster barber shop at the back) worth a visit.

And a walk through the Chinatown, of course. Lizard popsicle, anyone? The funniest thing was that amidst all these Chinese stores was a really cool vegan store that totally clashed with its surrounding. There is also a really funky store called Space Lab (with a totally hipster barber shop at the back) worth a visit.

Edgemont Liquor is one of the best places to find specialty spirits, beer and wines in North Van (not Gastown). I was so excited to find the Mia Amata Amaro from Odd Society Spirits, the Kina Tonic and that Sour Wheat Gose was amazing (still haven't taste the Kaffee one).

Edgemont Liquor is one of the best places to find specialty spirits, beer and wines in North Van (not Gastown). I was so excited to find the Mia Amata Amaro from Odd Society Spirits, the Kina Tonic and that Sour Wheat Gose was amazing (still haven't taste the Kaffee one).

And last, but not least, a little hole-in-the-wall pizzeria called Emilio FInatti in Langley that has one of the best pizzas I have eaten in my life (and I LIVED in Italy for a year). Seriously. I am still dreaming about it. Not all their pizzas a great, but this one is AMAZING. It's the Capo Piquante with calabrese, chorizo, curried butternut squash, goat cheese, jalapeno, arugula and mushrooms. Oh, and a great selection of board games to play while you wait (it's mostly a take out place and there is a lot of action!).

And last, but not least, a little hole-in-the-wall pizzeria called Emilio FInatti in Langley that has one of the best pizzas I have eaten in my life (and I LIVED in Italy for a year). Seriously. I am still dreaming about it. Not all their pizzas a great, but this one is AMAZING. It's the Capo Piquante with calabrese, chorizo, curried butternut squash, goat cheese, jalapeno, arugula and mushrooms. Oh, and a great selection of board games to play while you wait (it's mostly a take out place and there is a lot of action!).

Other locations that are not depicted and that are worth mentionning:
The Modern Bar Tender, where they sell a huge variety of bitters and syrups, but even better of herbs to make your own bitters for a fraction of the price. The great thing is that they have testers of every bitter for the clients to taste. 

A really cute consignment store called Hunter and Hare.

As for camping in the Great Vancouver Area, it is very limited. The only legit place to camp for free is in North Van by the Walmart in the street (not the parking lot). It's not the greatest neighborhood and it's not leveled, but it's free and only 2 km from the Seabus to Vancouver (Gastown). In Vancouver per se, forget it. We asked at the Costco in Langley if we could spend the night after shopping there and the manager said yes (always make sure to write down his/her name), but when we came back to the bus after less than an hour in the store, there had been an attempt to steal Mara's bike (a grab 'n go thing, but the thief didn't notice the big Shwab chain and the bike was hanging from it). So, we moved to an industrial area in Langley in front of the garage where we had an appointment for the Westfalia the next morning. It wasn't a great neighborhood, but JF had the good idea to switch the bike rack onto the bus, so the bikes would sit just behind our head as we slept. Late that night, as we had just fallen asleep, JF heard voices and opened the curtain to see 2 guys who literally had their faces in the bikes. That's when Stout heard them too and barked his powerful bark. It was pretty funny to see them scamper away like little boys!

So, like any big city, Vancouver is not camper friendly. The closest RV park is in Burnaby and charges over $50 per night. There is also this RV park that looks nice in North Van that would be closer to the Seabus to go visit Gastown. It's still probably your best bet for a safe quiet location to visit Vancouver.
 

Alice Lake Provincial Park and Squamish area, BC

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The Coastal Forest is just magical... You cannot help but smile when you walk in it, feeling like pointy elf ears are gonna pop on your head or that wings will appear on your back. 

Alice Lake Provincial Park is a beautiful campground in that gorgeous forest. It's a popular family destination, so it's not unusual that the 108 sites are all reserved (and they don't have First Come First Serve sites). There are tons of beautiful hiking and mountain biking trails in the park and four lakes (only Alice lake is OK for swimming), but the hiking around Stump lake is beautiful. Dogs have to be kept on a leash everywhere and are not allowed on some trails and on the beach.

Nairns Falls Provincial Park and North Arm Farm, Pemberton, BC

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North Arm Farm, in Pemberton.

North Arm Farm, in Pemberton.

Picking blueberries at North Arm Farm.

Picking blueberries at North Arm Farm.

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The twins are both injured (bike crashes), so they are taking it easy instead of biking and climbing as was the plan for this area...

The twins are both injured (bike crashes), so they are taking it easy instead of biking and climbing as was the plan for this area...

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The Farm store and Café, a wonderful place!

The Farm store and Café, a wonderful place!

After driving through a very smoky sectors from Prince George to Clinton and seeing vast expanses of burnt (and still smoking) areas, we turned onto the Sea to Sky Hwy and the landscape completely changed. We could not believe how many vehicles were parked along the highway at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park and a quick search revealed why. There is a gorgeous 10 km hike that leads to 3 different green and turquoise lakes that look incredible. We'll be back another year outside of the busy season (and early on a weekday!). 

The grades are pretty steep before arriving in Pemberton and the bus brakes overheated (and smoked) quite a bit. When we arrived at Nairn Falls Provincial Park (our destination for the night), the campground sign indicated Full. We still went in and asked and got the last available site! The hike to the fall was beautiful, especially at sunset (make sure your wear proper footwear and not worn Birkies like me, the rocks are pretty slick towards the end). There is a well-hidden beach where it is safe to swim (the Green river is pretty strong). More info here.

We rode some of the bike trails the next day (they are OK, but not great for the area). Aisha had a crash and ended at the Whistler ER (it's not broken!). The waiting room was mostly populated with other mountain bikers, full face helmet under their arms, limping their way in... All you could here on the interphone was: Bike crash coming in. 

We also visited the magical North Arm Farm just North of Pemberton (40 km north of Whistler) and picked organically grown blueberries and raspberries. We also ate wonderful homemade food at their beautiful Café (breakfast tart made of croissant dough topped with homemade pesto, a farm egg, goat cheese and caramelized onions) and had their gelato. Everything was very decently price, especially for this area. 

By the way, check out this fun graphics of us and many vanlife nomads at Mighty Goods. It's just too bad that they didn't include the girls and Stout in it, but still love it! Can you find us?

The Big Pig Bike Race at Boer Mountain, Burns Lake, BC

Wild blueberries are the best. But picking them in a lesson in patience.

Wild blueberries are the best. But picking them in a lesson in patience.

On the downhill section.

On the downhill section.

On the pump track section.

On the pump track section.

Finishing the cross-country section.

Finishing the cross-country section.

Cookie medals are the best!!

Cookie medals are the best!!

Really cute piggie cookies.

Really cute piggie cookies.

Race face on.

Race face on.

Creepy pig bike light. Nightmare material.

Creepy pig bike light. Nightmare material.

They finished in first place!! They did 7 laps of 10 km in under 5 hours. They are the only team that did 7 laps! 

They finished in first place!! They did 7 laps of 10 km in under 5 hours. They are the only team that did 7 laps! 

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

This incredible little boy was doing the race and his daddy was following behind. 

This incredible little boy was doing the race and his daddy was following behind. 

The Four Cross Race was quite a show!

The Four Cross Race was quite a show!

The Four Cross Race was quite a show!

The Four Cross Race was quite a show!

Keeping with the theme, of course!

Keeping with the theme, of course!

The Blood Sun (yes, that's the sun!) created by the smoke from the forest fires.

The Blood Sun (yes, that's the sun!) created by the smoke from the forest fires.

We have so much history here (just do a search with #burnslake on the home page)... A broken arm, mechanical problems, meeting friends, moon rise watching on the dock in our sleeping bags, bonfires and berry picking... It’s no surprise when a local comes and knock at the bus door, happy to see us returning once again and offers us a shuttle up the mountain.

I wasn’t excited to come back here again this year. You see, I long for discoveries and new places. All the time. My family likes a mix of both and the girls were *really* looking forward to come back here, especially for the Big Pig Bike Race that we have missed for the last two years since we left the Yukon too late... But as unexcited as I was, it didn’t take long for the magic of this place to hit me! I love Burns Lake. The bike trails are amazing, the community of riders is incredibly friendly and the camping is FREE right by the trails and by a gorgeous lake.

The BC Bike Ride event was here just before the Big Pig and they wrote a great article (with beautiful pictures) about this great place and the amazing mountain biking community.

So this year was the 10th year of the Big Pig Bike Race, which is the premiere mountain biking event in Northern B.C. It’s a family friendly festival, with kids events, downhill races, 4 Cross races, an epic cross country race and cross country events.

On Friday, Mathilde took part in the Pump Track, the Downhill and the X country challenges in the 10 to 12 categorie. She took the first place int he Pump Track challenge behind 12 yo girls and came in 2nd in the other two events! 

JF and the twins did the Dante’s Relay, a timed event in which teams or solo riders race to complete the most number of 10 km loops in a five hour period. For the past 9 years, one lap of 10 km was added every year to the Dante’s Inferno course. It culminated with a grueling 9 Rings of Hell last year (for 90 km). I remember reading Dante’s Inferno (in Italian!) when I went to school in Italy at 17. To describe it as dense and intense piece of work is an understatement!

Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK + Salmon Glacier

Lake Clements Rec Site is another free camping paradise, 13 km from Stewart, BC.

Lake Clements Rec Site is another free camping paradise, 13 km from Stewart, BC.

So many thimbleberries! Thimbleberries taste like raspberry yogurt. We LOVE them.

So many thimbleberries! Thimbleberries taste like raspberry yogurt. We LOVE them.

Waiting for bears to come and eat salmon along Fish Creek in Hyder, AK.

Waiting for bears to come and eat salmon along Fish Creek in Hyder, AK.

Can you see the salmons in the water?

Can you see the salmons in the water?

Salmon Glacier.

Salmon Glacier.

If you look at the map of Northern BC, you can see that Stewart, BC, really is the end of the road. There is no US customs to enter Hyder, Alaska, and no customs again as you reenter BC to get to Salmon Glacier. Hyder really has this end of the road feel. A lot of houses are unfinished or abandoned. We have seen a few buses turned into houses with structures built on top of them. This must be the only place where you can enter the United States without identification.  The reason being, is that once you are in Hyder Alaska, there is no place else to go except back to Canada. (You will need a passport or Canadian ID to get back into Canada).

This article published in the NY Times really gives an accurate portrait of Hyder, AK.

For $5 per adult, you can go see bears catch salmons along Fish Creek. At this time of year, you are pretty much guaranteed to see them since the salmons are running.

If you keep driving up towards the mine, you will eventually reach Salmon Glacier (people might tell you that the road is rough, but it's not; you can get there in a 2WD vehicle). Trust me, it's well worth the drive. The view of the Glacier is stunning. And well, it might not still be there in 50 years. You can see here how much the glacier has retreated since 1975. 

**You can see on the map that I circled the places I talked about in my previous posts for reference.

Morchuea Lake Recreation site on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway

Beautiful Mount Edziza in the distance.

Beautiful Mount Edziza in the distance.

Picking fireweed to make a tea mix.

Picking fireweed to make a tea mix.

Picking mossberries for syrup. These berries are very juicy, but not very tasty on their own, but once cooked with a bit of sugar, they turn into a delicious syrup. A great addition to Gin & Tonic.

Picking mossberries for syrup. These berries are very juicy, but not very tasty on their own, but once cooked with a bit of sugar, they turn into a delicious syrup. A great addition to Gin & Tonic.

Clouberries are also called salmon berries or baked-apple berries. It's hard to get lots because every plant only has one berry. Again, this pretty berry's taste is pretty disappointing raw, but once cooked with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, they do taste just like baked apple!

Clouberries are also called salmon berries or baked-apple berries. It's hard to get lots because every plant only has one berry. Again, this pretty berry's taste is pretty disappointing raw, but once cooked with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, they do taste just like baked apple!

The Stewart-Cassiar 1 ½ oz Port Chilkoot Distillery Gin ¾ oz Lillet Blanc ½ oz lemon juice ½ oz real maple syrup ½ oz rosemary syrup 3 dashes of homemade lemongrass-cardamom bitters 1 egg white Dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Add a rosemary twig for garnish.

The Stewart-Cassiar
1 ½ oz Port Chilkoot Distillery Gin
¾ oz Lillet Blanc
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz real maple syrup
½ oz rosemary syrup
3 dashes of homemade lemongrass-cardamom bitters
1 egg white

Dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Add a rosemary twig for garnish.

We found lots of gentian! I use the root to make bitters.

We found lots of gentian! I use the root to make bitters.

Mathilde's Boreal tea mix: Labrador tea leaves, raspberry leaves, pineapple weed, fireweed flowers  and red clover flowers.

Mathilde's Boreal tea mix: Labrador tea leaves, raspberry leaves, pineapple weed, fireweed flowers  and red clover flowers.

Our friends were traveling up the Cassiar and we met at Morchuea Lake for a night. Here, the girls were doing the dishes together.

Our friends were traveling up the Cassiar and we met at Morchuea Lake for a night. Here, the girls were doing the dishes together.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love a good free campsite. With the bus, we don't need the services that a campground offers, but we long for the quiet of the wild, so recreation sites are the perfect solution for us in BC where campsites are pretty pricey (and busy!). Morchuea Lake is located just North of Iskut on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and has 8 campsites (2 that are closer to the lake). There were quite a bit of bugs (black flies, deer flies, mosquitoes...), but the gorgeous lake with Mount Edziza as a backdrop (and a kitchen tent!) made it worth a 2 night stop. 

Mount Edziza is an icon of BC culture and Canada's second largest young volcano. It is surrounded by lots of cinder cones. It is not accessible by road and the best way to get to Mount Edziza Provincial Park is by plane from Telegraph Creek. There is some spectaclular hiking to do around it and it's an area we'd love to explore more one day.

Boya Lake Provincial Park, BC, the Bora Bora of the North!

I mean, look how clear this water is!!

I mean, look how clear this water is!!

Picking Saskatoon berries on the trail to the beaver dam.

Picking Saskatoon berries on the trail to the beaver dam.

Isn't that place spectacular or what? OK, there are some leeches in the lake and lots of deer flies, but hey, Bora Bora has dengue mosquitoes and sting rays, so we're even. 

For more info on that campground, read my review on Campendium. Make sure your fridge is full of groceries and your tank full of water, because this is quite far off in the boonies. 

In the garden, in the kitchen and on the road we go!

Mom, I picked all the carotts!

Mom, I picked all the carotts!

Having fun combining my interest and knowledge of mixology and botanicals.

Having fun combining my interest and knowledge of mixology and botanicals.

Making rosemary lemon syrup for our cocktails

Making rosemary lemon syrup for our cocktails

The Aurora Borealis

1 oz. Lillet Blanc
1 oz. Yukon Aura gin (a gin little Boodle or even The Botanist would have worked well here, anything that is not too crazy on the juniper or spruce)
1 ½ oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
3/4 oz Odd Society Spirits Bittersweet Vermouth
1 bar spoon of homemade wild rose syrup
½ a bar spoon of homemade rosemary syrup
1 spring of rosemary and 1 lemon rind for garnish

Shake all ingredients (except for garnishes) together in an ice-filled cocktail shaker for about 25 seconds, and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Provençal sour

1 ½  oz Bourbon
¾  oz Benedictine
¾  oz lemon juice
¾ oz homemade wild rose syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes of homemade lavender-grapefruit bitters
½ an egg white

Dry shake. Add ice and shake again. Top with dried lavender.

Harvesting wild sage along the Yukon River.

Harvesting wild sage along the Yukon River.

Wild sage

Wild sage

Harvesting juniper berries.

Harvesting juniper berries.

As you can see, our last few weeks in the Yukon were spent harvesting, picking food from our friend's greenhouse, cooking and playing with herbs to make cocktail bitters. What are those, do you ask? I remember when I first read about bitters in cocktails... I thought they sounded so fancy and so hipster... Bitters are a maceration of bitter herbs, citrus peels, spices and other ingredients in alcohol that you add to cocktails (often just a few drops) to give them depth. The combination is limitless and I had a lot of fun preparing my own. I have currently many in the cupboard that I will test in a few weeks (lavender grapefruit bitters, orange wild sage and juniper bitters, rhubarb, chamomile and ginger bitters, lemongrass-cardamom bitters and more!). Yes, it is quite addictive! A fun combination of plant knowledge and kitchen/cocktail fun! It's like magic potion making for adults! And now, with berry season, I am also playing with liqueur/cordial making (I currently have haskap liqueur and black currant liqueur macerating). Those cocktails will just get better!!

We're off down the Cassiar-Stewart Highway for the next few days and will reemerge on the other side after 3-4 days without connexion. Just what we need after an exciting summer full of friends and activities.

 

Carcranked Bike Fest

Pre-race meeting at the Carcross Commons on Saturday morning.

Pre-race meeting at the Carcross Commons on Saturday morning.

Felix and Louis, getting ready for the Enduro Race.

Felix and Louis, getting ready for the Enduro Race.

And the climbing begins (10 km of it!).

And the climbing begins (10 km of it!).

I love that all the trail signs are in their native language too (yes, that's the least. Montana Mountain is the Carcross/Tagish First Nation sacred mountain).

I love that all the trail signs are in their native language too (yes, that's the least. Montana Mountain is the Carcross/Tagish First Nation sacred mountain).

Stupid race. I can't even ride with them...

Stupid race. I can't even ride with them...

Finish!

Finish!

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Filling up their Explorer Cards, trying new trails on the mountain.

Filling up their Explorer Cards, trying new trails on the mountain.

It's always great to end a riding day at the beach!

It's always great to end a riding day at the beach!

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We showed the kids some old mountain biking movies on Saturday night at the Bistro (on VHS, on course, on a real old TV). Who remembers Cranked and Dirty Dreams??

We showed the kids some old mountain biking movies on Saturday night at the Bistro (on VHS, on course, on a real old TV). Who remembers Cranked and Dirty Dreams??

Enduro races are fun because the climbs are not timed, only the downhill sections are, making it a relax and social event where riders wait for their group before every downhill section. JF, Mara, Felix and Louis had a blast on the short Enduro course. There was also an Explorer punch card with stickers to collect everywhere on the trails and some trail work with the Singletrack to Success team was planned, but had to be cancelled at the last minute for family emergency. If you haven't seen the documentary Shift yet (made about the Singletrack to success project), make sure you do! It won the people's choice award at the Banff Mountain Film Festival and many more. It is a half-hour documentary about the indigenous youth from Carcross, Yukon, who have spent the past 10 years converting traditional trails around their town in to a world-class mountain biking destination -- and transforming their community and themselves along the way.