Author Archives: Maria

About Maria

Book blogger @ www.thepaperbackprincess.com Travel and adventure blogger @ www.mariaadey.com

Long Weekend Trip to Las Vegas

I’m taking a departure from all the outdoor adventure stuff I’ve been posting about lately to write about my trip to Las Vegas instead. I went to Vegas with Carolyn for the first time in 2017 to run a half marathon. We had a great time, but because of the race, we felt like we didn’t really get to experience Vegas properly, so we were anxious to go back. At the time, I knew I was probably going to be getting engaged within the following year, so I promised her we’d go back for my Bachelorette.

And we actually did it! We were joined by my sister, Emily, my cousin, Katie, my oldest friend, Karen, and my work bestie, Sarah. I wasn’t really sure what to expect because it was a bit of a mix of friends, but we ended up having the BEST time! I know what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, but I’m going to tell you about it anyways, well the PG parts at least, after all, it was a bachelorette party 😉

We decided to take advantage of the Easter long weekend and make a 4 day trip out of it. We went straight to the airport on Thursday after work and stayed until late Monday night on Easter Monday. I flip-flopped a lot on where to stay on the strip, but we eventually decided to stay at the Flamingo, which I have absolutely no regrets about! It was right in the middle of the strip and had an awesome pool party! They were able to give us two adjoining hotel rooms, which also made for a lot of fun.

We took it easy on our first night because we didn’t get in until pretty late and we figured Friday might be our only sober morning, so we got up pretty early on Good Friday and decided to spend the day exploring the strip. Carolyn is bridesmaid extraordinaire and surprised me with matching shirts and sunglasses for everyone, so we wore them out on our first day, which was an excellent decision. Plus, apparently bachelorette parties are in high demand at all the Vegas night clubs, so we got approached by a ton of clubs offering us skip the line and drink for free at their night clubs. Katie lives in San Francisco and was the only one with a working cell phone, so we set her up as our agent and she started texting with all the clubs to get us the best deals. We had a good laugh out of it and loved feeling like a VIP for a night!

We explored the south part of the strip on our first day, walking from the Flamingo down to Excelsior and then heading back up. My favourite hotels were the ones that really commit to their theme. It makes it so much more fun to explore them and see all the cute little themed shops. My personal favs (on day 1), were Paris and New York New York. Surprisingly, I liked Excelsior too – I thought it was going to be kind of childish, but the whole castle theme was cute.

Katie worked her networking magic for us and we decided to spend the night at Marquee Night Club in Cosmopolitan. I was super fun to just show up and skip the line and have a great time on the dance floor! Carolyn and I didn’t do any night clubs our first time in Vegas, although we did have a great time partying at the Piano Bar in NYNY, so it was fun to try out some of the night clubs. They’re all super chic and it was my first time (I think?) going to a club where the DJ didn’t play top 40’s music and actually just played dance beats. It was really different, but fun.

On our second day, we decided to take things easier and had a bit of a sleep-in before going out for brunch and then joining the pool party at the Flamingo. I haven’t really been to any of the other pools on the strip, but I loved the pool at the Flamingo! We strolled in our matching “booty veils” that Carolyn made for us (which were absolutely adorable), and spent the afternoon alternating between relaxing poolside and partying in the pool. I wish I took some photos of the pool, which had these awesome waterfalls and everything, but apparently I was having far too much fun and totally forgot. We all had a good laugh at the “booty dancing competition” hosted in the middle of the pool party. When they announced it, I was like, “We should sign up and dance with our booty veils”, but thank god we didn’t because the competition was the most ridiculous and extra thing I’ve every seen in my life. I loved watching, but I’m glad that’s where our involvement ended!

We decided on a club crawl for our second night. It started off at a Margaritaville, which was a bit lame, but we were really only there for the purpose of cheap drink deals. Mostly we just watched Sarah and Carolyn school everybody at flip cup before moving on to two clubs. The first was Omnia at Caesar’s Palace. Omnia was so cool! Overall, I think I had more fun with the VIP experience at Marquee, but Omnia was definitely the coolest club we went to. In my opinion, it had the best music of everywhere we went, and it had the coolest setup. The dance floor was completely on wheels with the DJ playing the most energetic beats and I had the best time dancing. It has this giant chandelier thing over the dance floor that does all these crazy light tricks and sends out fog – it was really cool, but hard to describe. It’s actually 3 clubs in one, sadly one of them was closed, but the second one was outside on the roof and had this really amazing view of the strip!

The second club we visited was Chateau, which is located right under the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It was probably my least favourite of the 3, but still really cool to visit. It was the least crowded though, which I really liked. Omnia was awesome, but towards the end when we were there it got crazy busy on the dance floor, like to the extent that you couldn’t dance anymore because you could barely move, at which point it stopped being as fun, but it never felt like that at Chateau and it was really nice being outside in the open air.

Day 3 marked the beginning of the more chill part of our trip. We had a few more drinks, but we took it easy after that and explored a different side of Vegas. Our third day was our foodie day. We started the day off with lunch at Gordon Ramsey’s Burger restaurant in Planet Hollywood. It’s one of the few places where you can actually order how you would like your burger cooked because they actually grind the meat into burgers right on site. You could also make any burger into the vegan “impossible burger”, which our two vegetarians really appreciated! I can’t even describe how good these burgers were, even the fries and onion rings were to die for with multiple sauces for each. Sarah and I shared a Mediterranean lamb burger and a blue cheese beef burger that were phenomenal! We finished it off sharing Katie’s oreo milkshake which I think I still have dreams about, it was so creamy!

We spent the afternoon in Downtown Las Vegas, also known as the Old Strip. It’s a lot different than what the strip looks like now, but it’s cool to see the old casinos and it has a fun vibe. There are outdoor stages with performers set up along the strip and the entire thing is covered with a huge roof that I’m lead to believe is actually a giant screen? We didn’t spend too long downtown, but we did take the opportunity to get our souvenirs as everything down there was cheaper than the strip.

We postponed supper to take in a Cirque du Soleil show, Mystere at Treasure Island. Since Treasure Island is on the north side of the strip, we took the opportunity to explore that end. The Venetian still takes the cake as one of my favourite hotels on the strip. I love the canals and Mark’s Square outside and I love that the theme is continued inside with the canal running through the building and all the shops set to look like you’re walking through Venice. It’s definitely a strong contender for where to stay next time I go back! This was my 4th Cirque show and as usual, it did not disappoint. Katie gets a discount to a bunch of the shows from her job and she was able to get us front row seats for it!! We had a great view and my favourite part was when the clown kicked Sarah and Carolyn out of their seats for a laugh.

We had a late dinner, but it really paid off because we didn’t have to wait in any lines and we got a fantastic table sitting on the patio of this fancy french restaurant in Paris. It’s directly across the street from the Bellagio, so you have an awesome view of the fountain show as you enjoy your meal. The restaurant was called Mon Ami Gabi and it had the best food, it was my second time eating there and I would absolutely eat there again because the food and ambiance are fantastic. We finished the evening with a stroll over to the Bellagio, which I’d never been in before and had the most beautiful garden inside! The Bellagio was classy. I wasn’t expecting to like it so much because I thought it was one of the oldest casinos, but it is lovely in there and I really liked exploring it.

The last day was a bit tricky because we were all preparing to go home and we had to check out of the hotel, but our flight wasn’t leaving until 9pm. We made another great decision though and after we checked out, we picked up a rental car from the hotel and peaced out of Vegas for the day to do a little bit of exploring. Carolyn agreed to be our driver and we had a good laugh when we saw what she would be driving us in all day. There were 6 of us (and luggage), so I had booked a 7-seater SUV, but we ended up getting upgraded to a Suburban, which had 7 seats, plus an enormous trunk that Emily informed me later actually had more seats in it and easily fit 6 pieces of luggage.

We spent the day at Valley of Fire State Park. None of us has really spent any time in the desert, except maybe for Katie who goes to Burning Man every year, so it was a lot of fun to explore. Valley of Fire State Park is all this bright red desert rock that makes you feel like you’re living on mars. It was really hot and we didn’t want to do to anything too strenuous, so we did a short hike on the “white dome trail”, which takes you through some of the landscape and this really cool canyon stretch. We stopped into the visitors centre and had a bit of a photoshoot at the “Seven Sisters” before heading back to Vegas again to drop the car at the airport.

So there you go, that covers about 90% of our trip – you’ll just have to use your imagination for what we got up to on the rest! I really had the best time and we’ve already started to pressure Karen about where she’s going to take us on her bachelorette next year! For someone who thought she wouldn’t like Vegas, it’s become a favourite and I would definitely go back again!

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Categories: American Road Trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Semaphore Lakes Backpacking Trip

I already wrote about my one night backpacking trip to Tenquille Lake, but I also did one night at Semaphore Lakes in the same trip. I decided to split up the trip into 2 blogs though because the two trails are not actually related and writing about them together would make for one really long post. We visited Tenquille Lake and Semaphore Lakes on the Canada Day long weekend in 2016. In hindsight, we easily could have spent 2 days exploring around Tenquille Lake, but instead we hiked out from Tenquille on the second day and did Semaphore for the second night.

The reason we picked Semaphore Lakes for the second night is that it’s super close to the Tenquille Lake trailhead. Instead of having to drive on the 4WD Branch 12 road though, it’s located just off the Hurley Forest Service Road, shortly past where the Branch 12 side road is (see my Tenquille Lake blog for more detailed directions). So you can get to this trailhead with 2WD.

Semaphore Lakes is a much shorter trail, it’s about 5km round trip to the lakes and back, but don’t be deceived because there is still 300 metres in elevation gain in the short 2.5km, so it does make for a pretty steep hike up to the top. With our packs, it probably took us about an hour and a half to reach. We had a bit of a late start hiking in to Semaphore because we had a personal issue come up that required us to drive back to Pemberton between the two trails. Then when we finally got back to the Semaphore Lakes trailhead in the late afternoon (and had all our packs on ready to go), Brandon realized he left his REALLY NICE Nikon DSLR camera on the side of the road at the Tenquille Lake trailhead when we were packing up the car. So we had to drive back up and down the 4WD access road, but fortunately his camera was still sitting there patiently waiting for us!

So I think it was after 5pm by the time we finally started hiking in to Semaphore and it started to rain on us in the last half hour. In my early backpacking days I had a bit of a “rain” phobia because I was terrified of my clothes and sleeping bag getting wet and being stuck freezing cold in the mountains. Actually, this is totally a valid fear and one I go to great lengths to protect myself from. I actually carried an umbrella with me on the entire 50km Juan de Fuca trail because I was afraid of the rain getting my clothes wet on the first day of our 4 day hike. I’ve since chilled out because I’ve acquired some better gear to protect me against these scenarios, but I remember when it started raining on the way to Semaphore I pretty much ran the last 20 mins to the lakes because I was terrified that our tent would get wet because Seth had failed to purchase himself a backpack cover. He thought a garbage bag on top of his pack would work fine – spoiler alert: it didn’t.

Anyways, in retrospect, the rain was a bit of a joke. It was really just sun showers and not a proper downpour, but when we got to the lakes we pretty much threw the tent up as fast as possible and chucked all our gear inside. Me and Seth were still using my parents ancient tent at this point, which is a tee-pee style tent and not very spacious, and I have this really funny memory of the two of us just sitting in the tent staring at each other waiting for the rain to stop because there wasn’t enough room to do anything else.

Brandon travels in style ALL the time, so he and Carolyn were next door happily setting up their mansion while we just stared at each other in angst – me because I was annoyed about the rain and Seth because he never really wanted any part of the trip to begin with. Eventually Carolyn and Brandon got their house all set up and invited us over for dinner, as if we had anything better to do LOL, and we climbed into their nice space and cooked supper poking out through the vestibule. This is like textbook ‘what-not-to-do’ because you don’t want your tent to smell like your dinner and attract bears. I want to say, “but we were rookies and didn’t know any better”, but we did know better, so I really have no excuse. I’ve since purchased a lightweight tarp for future trips, so problem solved next time.

Anyways, the rain did let loose after that. Fortunately we were all set up by that point, so none of our gear got wet, but it did result in a pretty early night. We failed to bring cards, so I ended up reading a bedtime story to everyone instead. I basically yelled at Carolyn and Brandon for 30 mins between the tents so that they could hear me over the sound of the rain, and those kweens just fell asleep on me in like the first 5 minutes, rude.

So our evening at Semaphore left a little to be desired after our awesome night and campfire at Tenquille, but I have no regrets because the rain moved on overnight and the clouds cleared out in the morning. So I woke to the sun shining on me and the most beautiful view of the lake through my tent door. I was afraid of the clouds rolling back in again, so I got up pretty early and me, Carolyn, and Brandon went for a little exploratory morning walk around the area. You could absolutely spend 2 nights at Semaphore Lakes as well because there’s so many other mountains nearby to explore during the day. Since it was only the first weekend in July and we were at a pretty high elevation, there was still a lot of snow around, so we just explored the immediate area, but it had some truly lovely views of the lakes and surrounding mountains.

One of the benefits to Semaphore Lakes was that it has a lot less people. Don’t get me wrong, there were still other campers, but there was a lot less than Tenquille and they were a lot more spread out, so it didn’t feel crowded at all. It also had significantly less mosquitoes than Tenquille Lake, so that was a blessed relief. The clouds did roll in again pretty quickly though, so we didn’t stay too long and packed up our gear after a quick breakfast.

Overall, it was a great foray into backcountry camping and though we had some challenges, they were not enough to deter me from wanting to try it again and I ended up doing 2 other backcountry trips that summer! I would definitely love to go back to both of these trails as a more experienced hiker and check out some of the other surrounding trails in the area.

Categories: Life in British Columbia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Ways to Visit Lindeman Lake

Lindeman Lake is a short hike in Chilliwack Provincial Park, which has somehow ended up being one of the hikes I’ve done most often. It’s only a 3.5km trail round trip, but has 350 metres of elevation gain in under 2 km, making it a challenging hike, but not a long one. I’ve visited it twice as day hikes and twice as overnight hikes, where I explored several other trails in the area. I really think there’s something fun for everyone in this park, so without further ado, here are some of the different ways to visit Lindeman Lake and the surrounding trails!

Day hike to Lindeman Lake

Lindeman Lake is a great hike for beginners because like I said, it’s challenging, but it’s short. It’s a great early season hike because it’s at a low elevation, so the snow melts pretty fast, and you’ll get a great work-out on the hike to the top. It can get pretty busy (like most hikes), so I’d suggest getting to the parking lot early. The first time I visited, I was actually car camping in the provincial park, so this was a perfect easy day hike for us. One tip, the campsite area where the trail ends gets very little sun and while it provides a nice view, there are better lake views. If the water level is low enough, you can cross the logs at the river outlet to scramble over the rocks on the other side of the lake. But my recommendation would be to follow the trail at the lake edge back into the trees for another kilometre until you arrive at the far end of the lake. There’s a rock slide at the far end with lots of big rocks to eat your lunch on while admiring the view. In my opinion, this is the best view of the lake and it’s a great place to go swimming (which I’ve done twice… in May. It was really cold!)

Day Hike or Camp to Greendrop Lake

There is a great trail network in the Lindeman Lake area, so if you want to make it a longer day trip or turn it into a camping weekend, that is totally doable. If you continue past Lindeman Lake towards the back of the lake, the trail continues up a rock slide and through the trees until you reach Greendrop Lake. In total, Greendrop Lake is about a 11.5km round trip from the parking lot, or an 8km round trip from the Lindeman Lake campsite. There is wilderness camping at both Lindeman Lake and Greendrop Lake and both campsites have a pit toilet and a bear cache. Greendrop Lake can definitely be done in a single day, or if you’re looking to take your time and enjoy Lindeman Lake (like I was), it’s also great as an overnight trip. We camped two nights at Lindeman Lake and day hiked to Greendrop Lake on our second day.

Both campsites are first come, first serve. I’ve only ever camped there on the May long weekend and it’s always been busy, but we’ve always managed to get a spot. I expect it’s probably a little busier later in the summer though. I love the Lindeman Lake campsite because it’s such a short hike, so we brought up a ton of extra fun gear like hammocks and frisbees and those fancy inflatable couch things. Greendrop Lake is less busy than Lindeman, but I personally didn’t like that campsite. There’s not really a great view of Greendrop Lake and because it’s higher elevation than Lindeman Lake, it was a lot colder. Granted, I visited in May, which is really early, but there was still snow on the ground walking up to Greendrop at this time and the trail was a little more challenging to follow. Overall, I’d recommend camping at Lindeman or visiting as a day hike.

Day Hike or Camp to Flora Peak

The second time I camped at Lindeman Lake, we wanted to try a different trail, so we camped at Lindeman Lake and then day-hiked to Flora Peak. Logistically it doesn’t make the most sense because in order to go from the Lake up to Flora Peak, you actually have to backtrack back to the parking lot and take the right branching trail at the start of the trailhead. But we really wanted to camp at the lake, so we did it anyways, so ideally this probably works better as a day hike. Like I said, the trail goes in the opposite direction of the Lindeman Lake trail and is substantially more challenging than the Lindeman and Greendrop trails because of the significant elevation gain.

The Flora Peak trail is about 12km round trip from the parking lot, but has an elevation gain of ~1300 metres, which is significant! You will pretty much be climbing the entire time. There’s not much to see for the first half of the trail up until you reach a small viewpoint poking out through the trees. Continue for a little while after that and the trail will eventually spit you out on the ridge looking down over Chilliwack Lake. This was by far the highlight of the trail for me. The rest of the trail remains pretty open and you eventually start ascending Flora Peak in a loop before coming back to the ridge. Sadly for us, our trip ended on the ridge. Because it was May, there was still a fair bit of snow at the higher elevations. We used microspikes to get up to the ridge, but we decided not to ascend the peak because there were a lot of snow bridges and it would have been easy to fall through the melting snow. But it was worth it just getting to the ridge and we ate lunch with an amazing view of the lake.

Like I said, I did it as an overnight, but I do think it probably works better as a day hike. You can also snowshoe up to Flora Peak in the middle of winter. I would recommend spikes and snowshoes for this, but I haven’t tried it yet because the trail is unmarked in winter and there is avalanche risk, so I’m waiting until I complete the avalanche safety course. A great trail for summer though, just be prepared for a big climb!

Snowshoe to Lindeman Lake

So here’s the thing about snowshoeing to Lindeman Lake. Only do it if there’s been a lot of snow at lower elevations. It’s not very high and it doesn’t get a lot of snow, but it does get ice. If Vancouver has snow, I’d say its safe to grab your snowshoes and head up to the lake. In my case, there wasn’t much snow, but microspikes were definitely required. Me and my friends learned a big lesson on this trail. We showed up with snowshoes, but the trail didn’t have enough snow for it, so I was the only person with spikes, but we decided to go up anyways. We had a great time on the trail and made hot chocolate and had a picnic lunch at the top. But it’s definitely dangerous without spikes. My friend ended up falling about halfway down and broke her wrist. Fortunately she is a champ and we did have a first aid kit (ALWAYS take a first aid kit and your 10 essentials when going into the wilderness), so we were able to patch her up and help her down the mountain. We still had a lot of fun and have good memories of the trail, but definitely be prepared with the proper equipment.

As I mentioned in the trail above, you can also snowshoe up to Flora Peak in the winter, but again, be prepared. It’s unmarked, so bring a GPS and make sure you have avalanche appropriate training and gear and have checked the forecast.

Complete the Flora Lake Loop

This is the only one on the list I haven’t actually done, but if you’d like to knock out all the trails in one visit, this is the way to go. I’ve talked about two trails leaving from the parking lot, one which goes straight up to Lindeman and Greendrop Lakes and the second which branches off and goes up to Flora Peak. But the trails actually do form a 20km loop between all 3 points of interest, plus Flora Lake. 20km is doable in a day (I have a feeling it would make a great trail run), but it does have over 1000 metres in elevation gain, so I’d probably personally prefer to do it as an overnight trip. There are campsites at all 3 lakes, Greendrop is located at ~7km and Flora Lake at ~11km, so either would be an option if you were doing it as an overnight! Again, just keep in mind the season. I would wait until July to go if you want to make sure most of the snow is gone from the trail.

Categories: Life in British Columbia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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