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March happenings

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been weeks since I last wrote here. It’s been a nutty, stressful month at work – lots of overtime, and surprisingly a lot of freelance opportunities have also come up. But aside from work, any free time I’ve had has been spent enjoying the outdoors and with friends and family. Here’s a quick update on the happenings around here:

Vacation!

I’m currently writing this post from Tofino while RD surfs and I rest my tired running legs. I haven’t been here since 2011, and can’t believe how much fun the trip has been so far. It helps that RD and I had the same sort of vacation in mind – to be outside and active as much as possible.

Thursday night we took the ferry to Vancouver Island and drove straight to Tofino, arriving pretty late at night. It was a crappy drive, but waking up Friday morning already in Tofino was pretty great. RD went out for a morning surf, and I did a slow 8.5km run on Chesterman Beach. In the afternoon, we went on a couple long walks – one to Schooner’s Cove, and the other on Chesterman. By the end of the night, my legs had covered 21km of ground. :)

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Saturday morning started out much like Friday – RD went out surfing, and I went for a 9.5km run on the beach. After that, we headed into town to run a few errands, explored Tonquin Park, and then met up with my friends for a walk on the beach and then dinner at a pub on the pier. My daily output was 18km of running and walking.

Sunday morning (today) we drove down to Ucluelet to tackle the Wild Pacific Trail. I didn’t realize it was rated Trip Advisor’s #3 attraction on Vancouver Island, but the views were pretty stunning. :) The round trip hike was just 9km of easy hiking, but I really enjoyed it. Tonight we plan on hitting up Tacofino, and will try to catch the sunset at Chesterman Beach. Tomorrow we’ll be packing up and visiting my uncle in Nanaimo before heading to Powell River to visit with RD’s friends and his grandma for 2 or 3 nights. Hope your Easter long weekend has been filled with fresh air and family! :)

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Work

Freelancing has been going well. I banked $4,350 in freelance income so far this month, with another $700 to be paid out in the next week. I’ve also secured a couple more contracts for next month, which should bring in about $3,000. I’m really pleased with securing both repeat clients as well as attracting new companies I’ve never worked with before. :)

As for my full-time job, I received a small 2.5% raise last week. It’s not much, but nice to see a little boost to my salary. In terms of workload, it’s been busy. A major person in our marketing team moved across the country and is now part of the eastern team – so our little group has to absorb her workload for a while until we can determine if/when we need to replace her. That has resulted in overtime every day for me, but the good news about that is I’m banking more hours (which means more vacation time).

Miscellaneous

  • I’ve been indoor climbing 3x/week lately, and it has been really fun. We’ve been making progress up to 5.10d and 5.11a routes… although RD will be gone for an entire month for work starting in May, so I suspect our progress will be severely stunted. :)
  • We are planning an epic road trip for October. We have both individually wanted to travel north for years, and with the dollar keeping our vacations within Canada this year, it seems like the perfect time to go. So we’ll likely be taking 3 weeks in October, loading up my car, and heading north. I’m very excited to hike and explore the Northern BC and Yukon area. If you’re from the north or if you’ve traveled there, I’ll be calling on you for travel tips and suggestions, as I’ve not been farther north than Dawson Creek!
  • As a side expense to this road trip, I’ll finally need to invest in new tires for my car (and maybe a full-sized spare one for the trip) = $$$

I have so many blog post ideas (seriously, you should see how many drafts I have lined up here), and I can’t wait to start writing them and getting back into a blogging routine. :)

Keeping travel local this year

10399796_161454925247_6688913_nI really wanted to do a big trip this year – somewhere fun and exotic! Last year I went to Cuba, the year before was Hawaii, and the year before that was France & Morocco. But with the weak Canadian dollar (and my goal to save 50% of my income this year), it just didn’t make financial sense to go anywhere too crazy … so I’m making a conscious effort to travel locally this year. Or at least within Canada and the PNW region. :)

With that in mind, RD and I just booked our first vacation of the year! Next month we’ll be taking off to beautiful Tofino on Vancouver Island. It just so happens that a couple of good friends and their kid will be up there at that time too, so will be nice to hang out with them. After Tofino, we’ll be hopping on a ferry up to Powell River to visit a few of his friends and family.

This is still going to be an expensive trip. Tofino is not cheap – but we booked accommodation through VRBO.com with a full kitchen so we can cook most of our meals. And in Powell River we’ll be able to stay for free. Still though, I anticipate the week will cost us around $1,000 each.

Other vacation happenings for the year include my family’s annual trip to Seattle for the Blue Jays series (will be pricey!), at least one or two trips to Toronto for freelance work, and I’ll be taking some time off at Christmas. We’ve also talked about going up north to RD’s hometown for a visit at some point this year. Ideally I’d like to carry some vacation forward to 2017, but it looks pretty unlikely as I only get 4 weeks off.

What are your vacation plans for the year?

A week on the Oregon coast

The last few months have been stressful – demanding deadlines at the full-time job, trying to sell my house, trying to find an apartment to rent (that is going to be a whole blog post – the rental market in Vancouver is crazy!), travel for freelance work, and the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. So before I started my new job, I just wanted to get out of the city for a week and recharge.

We ended up settling on a road trip to Oregon because even with the exchange rate, it was a relatively inexpensive trip, and, well, Oregon is awesome.

The first two nights were spent in Portland. Hotels in downtown Portland are always ridiculously expensive, so we used VRBO to rent a little microloft in the Pearl District. The space was the perfect size, and although the location was a bit noisy at night, it was a great location for daytime exploring. My boyfriend (who will now be known as RD on this blog) had never really spent much time in Portland, so we did the Saturday Market, Powell’s Books, VooDoo donuts, and hit up a couple great restaurants and breweries. It was way too rainy to do much else – we didn’t even get up to Nob Hill – so that’ll be saved for next time.

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After Portland, we headed to the coast where we spent two nights at Heceta Beach, just a few minutes north of Florence. This ended up being our favourite stop of the trip because the beaches are way less crowded than further up the coast. The cottage was perfect – super cozy and just a 5 minute walk through the sand dunes to the beach.

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We then headed up the coast and spent 3 nights in Cannon Beach. We stayed in a tiny cottage that I can see being perfect for the summer months. The beach was beautiful – great for running! The only downside was that because of the weather, RD wasn’t able to get any surfing done. But there were so many hikes and walks in the surrounding state parks that we had more than enough outdoor activities to occupy our time.

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We both had a fantastic time, and got really lucky with the weather. When I was monitoring the forecast in the week leading up to the trip, I kind of expected rain the entire time. But it was sunny for 5 days, rainy for 1 day, and didn’t start to get crazy rainy until our drive back to Vancouver.

I also did very minimal cross border shopping while we were there – all I came back with was 5 bottles of Trader Joe’s sriracha, 4 jars of cookie butter, and 2 bottles of Charles Shaw wine. The essentials. :)

As for the financials, we didn’t spend much to be honest. My share of accommodation for 7 nights was about $525 after the exchange rate. We limited going out to restaurants, and made most of our meals in the cottages. I would estimate that including gas and groceries, I probably spent less than $850 in total for the week.

This was my first time doing a trip to Oregon during the winter. Every other time I’ve gone down has been in the summertime, and now that I’ve seen empty beaches and cheap rental cottages, I’m not sure I could bring myself to go during the summer again. :)

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