due to heavy snow, work schedules and accommodations availability, my birthday was split into 2 days of celebrations this year. which was not a problem for this gal!
on my actual birthday, sean took me out to one of our favourite restaurants, hapa izakaya, for a low-key dinner.
the big celebrations were saved for the following weekend when we took the ferry to the sunshine coast.
i found this amazing little place on airbnb. the cottage was stunning, secluded and tranquil. the 2 person bathtub with views, right across the bed, was the pièce de résistance. who could say no to this, right?
thanks babe for a lovely birthday weekend and a purr-fect getaway.
for sean’s birthday present, i surprised him with a behind-the-scenes tour at the greater vancouver zoo. the experience offered an up close encounter with either a hippo, lion, tiger, jaguar, baboon, black bear, red panda or variety of reptiles in a fun and safe environment. course, this did not mean being able to touch the animal or being in the same enclosure, as the zoo is a no contact facility. but as it’s a private tour, we would be in areas where the public is not generally allowed.
for $175 for 2 people, we would spend 45 minutes to an hour learning about our chosen animal and an opportunity to feed them a snack or treat. and the zoo team would take pictures of our encounter, so we didn’t have to and we could just focus on the experience at hand.
as sean is a huge cat lover, he chose a visit with OJ the jaguar.
we arrived at the zoo bright and early to meet with menita and her team. while we walked over to the facility, menita gave us some background information on OJ the jaguar, OJ for “our jaguar.” he’s 18 years old, born and raised in captivity. we had chosen a really great animal encounter, as he’s a very social cat and likes being around humans.
we were brought into the animalasium (their education centre), so that we could create an enrichment item for OJ, in this case, a cantaloupe stuffed with straw, jerky and cinnamon. the cantoloupe shape and the straw was to encourage OJ to paw and hunt for his treats. we headed over to OJ’s space to meet him. the team beckoned him into his secured indoor enclosure (where he sleeps when it was cold outside), so that we could go into his pen and lay down his treat. once we left the area, the indoor enclosure door was opened so that OJ can go back outside, into his pen.
no doubt he could smell us in his pen. but as much as he may have been curious about us, he seemed pretty happy with finding his yummy treat. he tore into it, a plume of cinnamon smoke being released into the air, while rolling around on the grass, as if it was catnip.
although he was a senior jaguar, he acted like a kitty cat. OJ was social and came up to us and rubbed himself on the fence. then he sat right against the fence, while we knelt down on the other side. we were so close, we could see all his teeth when he yawned. OJ is a really sweet animal and we were really glad we chose an encounter with a jaguar, instead of sean’s alternate choice, the giraffe.
here are some #DYK facts about jaguars aka panthera onca:
the jaguar is the largest member of the cat family found in the americas
all jaguars are spotted with rosettes, which are large open spots which ring smaller spots
the coat may be tawny yellow colour with very visible spots or may be melanistic (the black colouration) with the spots barely visible
as excellent swimmers, jaguars are generally found in areas near bodies of water, with dense coverage and plenty of prey species
built for power, not speed – large jaw, lean body with muscular limbs
hunt by pouncing on unsuspecting prey from a concealed location with a direct bite to the neck or skull
males on average are 10-20% larger than females
jaguars are solitary animals, as well as, territorial, except during mating season when they will seek out a female in estrus
most active during dust and dawn, and will choose to lay in deep shade during the heat or high up in trees
jaguars communicate through vocalization – often described as “grunts”
some conservation facts:
jaguar numbers in the wild are continually declining due to loss of habit, poaching for fur and persecution as a predator
they are found mostly in central and south americas, in the forest and wetlands. their lifespan in the wild is 12 years, compared to 22 years in captivity
humans are primary predator of jaguars, often poaching illegally
jaguars are a keystone species and their population directly affect population of other animals that share the same ecosystem
conversation efforts thus far has been focused on increasing legislation to protect from illegal poaching
the jaguar is classified as near threatened by IUCN (international union for conversation of nature)
after bidding OJ goodbye, we walked around the zoo to see all our favourite animal friends: arctic fox, capybaras, lemurs, african lion + lionesses, squirrel monkeys and the newest addition, the red panda!
press play for the slideshow or click here for my flickr.
ever since a friend of mine told me about the rockwater secret cove resort on the sunshine coast, i’ve always wanted to go here. i suppose a 7th year anniversary is as good a reason as any.
getting to rockwater secret cove resort was a breeze. just a short 40 minute ferry from horseshoe bay to langdale. then a 45 minute drive up the coast to halfmoon bay. in less than two hours, it felt like we were a world away from vancouver.
imagine panoramic ocean views, coastal indigenous forest, arbutus trees, and a fun treetop boardwalk that reminds one of return of the jedi. and that’s even before getting to our tenthouse suite #57.
the tents themselves are beautifully appointed with heated slate floors, hydrotherapy tub, shoji screens, a fireplace, kingsized bed and a private veranda.
as beautiful as it was in the day time, it was even more magical at night…
and because this is vancouver in march, we experienced some intermittent rain, but we didn’t mind at all. how could we? nestled in our bed with the fireplace on, we delighted in listening to the rain bounce off our canopy roof.
turn off your devices. bring some books with you. go on some hikes. and sit in the disco bath. seriously, your cares will just melt away staying here. we only wish we could’ve stayed more than a night. perhaps for a 10th anniversary, we’ll treat ourselves to an entire weekend at the rockwater secret cove resort.
for more pictures, press play for the slideshow or click here for my flickr.
for more pictures of the tenthouse suites, click here and if you’re wondering if it’s really as good as it looks, yes it really is.
the only thing i wanted to do for my birthday was to have a soak at scandinaive spa in whistler. it’s funny because i’ve never really thought of myself as a hot spring kind of person. i don’t like feeling uncomfortably hot. being submerged in the jacuzzi at the neighbourhood pool or enclosed in a sauna is not my idea of a good time.
but ever since harrison hot springs and the blue lagoon in iceland, i can really appreciate the relaxing ritual. it also helps if it’s outdoors and in a nature setting.
and in scandinaive’s case, the clincher was that there’s still some snow on the ground. i really wanted to experience scandinaive spa in a winter setting. i’m sure it’s just as relaxing in the spring/summer, but there’s something magical about being surrounded by a snowy forest. (although there was no more snow on the treeline due to our very mild winter this year)
sean and i did four circuits of hot pools and thermal waterfalls, followed by ice cold baths before relaxing in the solarium and by the outdoor fireplace. four circuits in about 2 1/2 hours. who knew that i’d enjoy it so much?
i think we shall have to come back next winter. thank you sean for a lovely, relaxing birthday.
on what was without a doubt, the hottest day of the year (so far), sean and i made our way out to maple ridge to hang out with some hawks at raptors ridge, a conservation for birds of prey.
for the hour and half that we were there, we got a tour of the facility, got some basic instructions on how to handle a harris hawk and a red tail hawk, went for a forest walk with the hawks on our fist and then free fly the raptors in their flying field.
some photos of our day:
i did have to overlook the fact that the handler was feeding them little pieces of chick chicks for food and to incentivize them to fly to us from across the field. insert sad, teary, frowny face emoji here. it was a little bit upsetting but i had to compartmentalize my personal feelings because raptors need food too. still, i couldn’t help but feel alittle sad.
that aside, the whole experience was pretty cool and it was such a great way to learn about raptors and get close up to them.
second time to seattle in so many months. this time we stayed at this quaint little house on mercer island, where my friends also live. i adore mercer island. it’s only 2 stops away from downtown seattle, but it feels completely removed from the hustle and bustle of the city.
i hadn’t been to bruce and brandon lee’s graves since the early 90s, not long after brandon lee was killed, so the visit was way overdue. sean had never been before, so i also wanted him to see it – sean being such a big martial arts fan.
and even after all these years, there were still fans of all ages, coming to pay their respects. there were three people there when we arrived and another two that came while we were there. so if you ever go to lake view cemetery and are not sure where the lee’s final resting place is, just look towards the top of the hillside and they’ll most likely be fans already there.
cirque du soleil. star wars exhibition at EMP. 2cellos concert. airbnb stay and an introduction to uber. might sound a tad geeky to other couples, but for us, it was a great way to celebrate six years together.
and with that, i could not think of a better first cirque du soleil show to attend than kurios: cabinet des curiosites. the steampunk girl in me have been excited for this since they kicked-off their traveling show in san francisco last year.
although cirque has brought their traveling shows to vancouver – although not this one – i always held off going because i wanted my first show to be special. memorable. i would’ve wanted to catch a resident vegas shows over any that came to town. i would wanted to see the beatle’s love, michael jackson one or O. but i was happy to pop my cirque cherry with kurios.
sean and i absolutely LOVED it. it had all the retro-futuristic elements that appealed to us: the half-machine/human neo-victorian era characters, victrola record-players, electric lights glowing in bell jars, ancient locomotive, the large mechanical hand making its way around the stage, underscored by the sassy 1930s french jazz music. and the teensy weensy mini lili played by antanina satsura, one of the 10 smallest people in the world. the 3 foot, 40 pound woman who lives in her host’s metallic belly is utterly charming as she serenades the crowd in her tiny rowboat.
click here for more on satsura and 10 other curious facts about kurios. but in the meantime, check out where we were seated! good seats, right?
my favourite acts were the one with the 4 asian contortionists as eel-like creatures, the team of high jumpers bouncing sky high on a huge net trampoline, the upside-down dinner party slash parallel universe and the goggle-wearing aviator in his biplane, swinging high above our heads a la moving pictures style.
the show was reminiscent of the city of lost children, the extraordinary adventures of adele blanc-sec, the prestige, hugo, league of extraordinary gentlemen and van helsing. if you loved the movies and are a fan of jules verne, you’ll love this show.
it was theatre of the absurd and whimsical, with oddball characters that made me wish i could run away and join this very circus. go see this show!
for our anniversary, sean and i just had to check out EMP’s exhibition: star wars + power of costumes. 60 hand-crafted costumes, sketches, photos and interactive displays. a rad behind-the-scenes look on the creative process.
it wasn’t all work and no play at our annual conference. on the last day, which was a half day, i had the afternoon free before our mardi-gras themed dinner. and how did i choose to spend it?
at royal bc museum for the viking: lives beyond the legend exhibition, of course. it was a pretty big deal, as victoria was the first north american stop. there were 500+ rare artifacts on display including jewellery, swords, axes and clothing.
as interesting as the vikings exhibit was, i actually enjoyed the natural history gallery more. the gallery was broken up into different sections featuring animals from a coastal forest, tidal pool and seashore. plus there was an impressive statue of an ice-age wooly mammoth and wall of ice.
i also enjoyed the many imposing totem poles in the first peoples gallery.
if you’re interested in first nations culture, there’s the our living languages: first peoples’ voices in BC interactive exhibition, which just opened this past summer. here, you’ll discover the incredible diversity of 34 first nation languages.
a well-spent afternoon of culture and history before putting my game face back on and diving back into work again.
for more pictures of my time at the royal bc museum, press play to start the slideshow or click here for my flickr.