Win a YVR Airport T-Shirt to Paradise

August 27th, 2015 @ 12:22pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

A t-shirt could be your ticket to an amazing destination in Asia courtesy of Vancouver International Airport (“YVR”) and its partner airlines. These graphic t-shirts have been available for free at events and festivals all summer long and each one features one of the grand prize destinations: China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and The Philippines.

Here’s how T-Shirts to Paradise works:

  • Visit a YVR Community Festival Booth located across the Lower Mainland this summer and pick up a t-shirt (last chance is September 5th at the Richmond World Festival)
  • Snap a photo of you with a t-shirt showing the destination of your choice
  • Sign up at the event with YVR’s Brand Ambassadors through email submission
  • Post your photo to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #TSHIRTSTOPARADISE

tshirtstoparadise-yvr

YVR has strong linkages to Asia, with up to 134 direct flights per week to Asia at the peak period in August. Thirteen air carriers currently service routes between YVR and 10 major destinations in Asia, providing excellent connections to all parts of the region. YVR is also the only airport in North America with service from four mainland China carriers: China Eastern, China Southern, Air China and Sichuan Airlines.

Fly Business Class to Japan, or receive a a $5,000 travel voucher to Korea, the prizes are amazing for any seasoned world traveler or first time explorer. In total, there will be nine grand prize winners thanks to partner airlines. Contest closes at midnight on September 13, 2015.

Win a YVR Airport T-Shirt to Paradise

Since each t-shirt could be your ticket to paradise, I’m going to arm 60 Miss604 readers with the t-shirt of their choice so that they can enter to win the grand prizes. I’m giving away 10 t-shirts for each destination!

Once you have your t-shirt, you can then enter to win grand prize trips, outlined above, by sharing a photo of yourself in the shirt using the tag #TSHIRTSTOPARADISE on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Here’s how you can win a t-shirt, which could be your ticket to paradise!

  • Leave a comment on this post naming the t-shirt you want (which will correspond with the destination to which you’ll be entering to win a trip): China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea or The Philippines. (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
I want to win #tshirtstoparadise from @Miss604 so I can enter to win a trip to Asia from @YVRAirport http://ow.ly/Rt8SE

I will draw 10 winners for each shirt (60 winners) on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 12:00pm. Note the Miss604 contest is only for the t-shirts, with the t-shirts though, you can enter to win the grand prize airfare/trips.

Must be 19+ to enter the contest. Check out full grand prize details and rules online and follow YVR Airport on Twitter and Facebook.

Watching Planes Land in Vancouver at Flight Path Park

August 26th, 2015 @ 4:13pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I found myself thirty minutes early for a family airport pickup on a warm Tuesday night in August and while I love killing time at Vancouver International Airport (at the Observation Area or Chester Johnson Park) I turned off Grant McConachie Way, looping past Burkeville on Russ Baker Way, and pulled into Flight Path Park.

Larry Berg Flight Path Park opened in 2013 at the tip of the YVR Airport’s south runway. Landscaped with plane watching in mind, benches line small mounds of grass and the globe in the middle of the information plaza is grooved for climbing. Children race down paved mini runways, giant paper airplanes dot the grassy field, and picnic tables provide a venue for an extended stay.

Flight Path Park
There is a small parking lot off of Russ Baker Way but if you keep going a few meters you can turn onto Airport Road and find much more parking space in a gravel lot.

Flight Path Park
Taking your bike? There’s a bike tool and pump station at Flight Path Park.

Flight Path Park
Tail wings around the plaza area feature historical YVR facts and fun, educational aviation statistics tell you the story of YVR and why it is one of the best airports in the world.

Flight Path Park

Flight Path Park

On Top Of His World

Flight Path Park
Landing at sunset.

Out Of This World

It’s the best place to watch planes land with your family as you hang out at a picnic table, scale the globe, or set up a blanket on the grass as aircraft approach for landing overhead.

Vancouver Whale Watching Tour Booked with Viator

August 26th, 2015 @ 2:31pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I’m not sure what is more exhilarating, witnessing a pod of killer whales frolicking in the wild or going through my photos at home later, identifying their markings, and discovering that one of them was over 80 years old! I still get goosebumps thinking back on my adventure with Vancouver Whale Watch in Steveston earlier this week.

Whale Watching Tour

Booking with Viator

My tour was booked through Viator, a TripAdvisor company that specializes in tours and tour packages in top travel destinations. I’m fairly good at being a tourist in my hometown but one ultimate experience that locals (and visitors) need to have is spotting whales in the wild — it’s a Vancouver bucket list item for sure.

I selected the Vancouver Whale Watching Tour and booked online. This was the smoothest third party booking I’ve ever made. Some fine print on the confirmation from Vancouver Whale Watch (the tour operator in Steveston) said to call the day before your tour to confirm your spot. I hadn’t done this. I called on the morning of my tour, a little worried, and told them I’d like to confirm. They said that they do like a call in advance because they might release a seat for someone else. The woman on the other end of the phone stopped short and said: “Oh, you booked with Viator? Yeah, you’re all set. You’re in for sure.”

Setting Out on the Tour

The check-in process went just as smoothly. I showed up in Steveston and they checked me off the registration list inside the main office, where I also picked up a complimentary parking pass. Other tour participants arrived at the same time on the round-trip shuttle from Downtown Vancouver hotels.

Whale Watching Tour

We all suited up in yellow splash pants and jackets, looking like everyone – young and old – was auditioning to be the next Captain Highliner. The group, made up of mostly families and many with accents from almost every continent, filed down to the docks, past the catch-of-the-day boats selling fresh-caught salmon, and boarded two of three boats in the Vancouver Whale Watch fleet.

Steveston

I was on the Explorathor II, a 47 passenger zodiac style vessel, with an open seating area in the front and a semi covered seating area in the rear, and an upper level observation deck.

It was a very warm afternoon, with the pants and jackets making the beaming sun pretty unbearable until we started moving. Leaving Steveston through the Fraser River channel, the boat picked up speed and the breeze was delightful. I put my hand up on the side railing to allow the sea air to flow through my jacket, providing my own natural air conditioning. Our course was set for Saturna Island, where we would meet up with a pod of killer whales that were trending north from the San Juan Islands earlier in the day.

Killer Whale or Orca? When I was at the Vancouver Aquarium a few weeks ago, the guides there used Killer Whale and according to our guide on the whale watching tour, who also said Killer Whale, it is actually the preferred term in the scientific community. You can use both terms though, they are both acceptable.

On our way to Saturna, as we passed Tsawwassen, Point Roberts, and White Rock, a humpback whale was spotted. Our guide came on the boat’s loudspeaker to tell us that it was “Big Momma”, a humpback who has brought many of her calves through these waters from Hawaii over the years. While she didn’t fully breach, she did do a few deep dives and show us her immense fluke before disappearing under the water.

Humpback - "Big Momma"

Our Resident Killer Whales

There are two types of Killer Whales that roam the waters of Salish Sea off of Washington and British Columbia, Transient and Resident:

  • “Transient orcas are mammal hunters, with a diet that can range from seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins and occasionally other whale species. They typically hunt in groups of three to five, using stealth to surprise their unsuspecting prey. There are four distinct transient populations from northern Alaska to central California.” [Source]
  • “The Southern Resident community is made up of 89 whales, divided into 3 pods named J, K, and L. Because all the pods have related dialects, they fall into one clan, known as J Clan. J-pod has 28 members, K-pod has 20 members, and L-pod has 40 members. A pod consists of several matrilines that are related. The eldest female of a matriline guides the family, as killer whales are a female dominated species.” [Source]

After left Big Momma we headed south once again, between Mayne Island and Saturna Island where we spotted L-Pod. Shiny, smooth, black fins appeared between the waves and the group made an appearance.

Whale Watching

Our tour guide came on the speaker again to let us know they can be identified by their saddle patch markings, at the base of their dorsal fins. She said that there was a regular male in the group called Nigel and they made notes of who was spotted, and where, so that they can be added to the BC Cetacean Sightings Network.

The whales breached, jumping out of the water and making splashes that certainly caught our attention, even if we didn’t catch the first part of their display. Some flapped their tail flukes on the water repeatedly, or glided along the top of the water on their side, smacking their pectoral flippers along the surface. Our guide told us this is the most “playful” pod that she’s witnessed this season.

Orcas/Killer Whales

Whale Watching Orcas/Killer Whales

Orcas/Killer Whales

Orcas/Killer Whales

I think the whales were happy to be following their food up the strait as I saw several fish jump along our boat throughout the 4 hour tour.

By law, boats cannot be closer than 100 meters from the whales and must approach from the side, rather than from the front or the back of the pod. To reduce noise levels (which can negatively affect whales and other marine life), whale watching boats and other vessels should keep a very low speed around marine life or put the engine into neutral or idle. [Source]

Vancouver Whale Watch’s tours are guaranteed 3-5 hours and they provide bottles of water on the boat, and a restroom. You can bring your own snack but toward the end of the tour they also handed out some granola bars, which came just as my belly full from an earlier, hearty brunch was starting to rumble.

Other Wildlife

On our way back to Steveston, we took a detour around the ferry terminal and over to the Delta Port where some sea lions were sunning themselves on a massive buoy and another sat alone on a buoy by the entrance to the docks. Entering the Fraser River along the rock wall breakwater, a bald eagle looked on as harbour seals played in a tidal pool.

Sea Lion

Bald Eagle

With so much wildlife viewed on this trip, and over 300 photos taken on my camera, I returned to the dock feeling excited and energized. I love simply being out on the water in our beautiful southern coastal region but seeing all of these stunning creatures in their natural habitat was such a treat.

When I got home I loaded my photos onto my computer and studied the shots. One whale that popped up near us had distinct saddle markings so I did a quick Google search for an online identification tool. I found the Whale Museum and after comparing my photo with the ones of L-Pod in their gallery, I found out that I had the pleasure of “meeting” Ocean Sun that afternoon.

L-25 aka Ocean Sun

L-25 Ocean Sun: Ocean Sun (estimated birth year 1928) has outlived her immediate family. She spends most of her time with Mega (L-41) and his sisters.” 87 years old! I was floored.

Life expectancy of a female Killer Whale is 50-90 years, and our guide did tell us earlier that day that Granny, (aka J2 from J-Pod) is the oldest whale around at an estimated age of 104.

Our Route

Booking Your Tour

There really is no feeling like seeing these magnificent creatures in the wild and being honoured by their presence as they splash around in their home waters they share with us. To book your tour (or another amazing local experience) check out the Viator listings. They offer everything from seaplane tours and sunset harbour cruises to walking tours, beer and distillery tours, and food truck tours.

Disclosure: Sponsored Post

This post is sponsored by Viator. Views and opinions are my own.

Metro Vancouver Trails: St Mark’s Summit

August 26th, 2015 @ 11:05am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

If your Instagram feed was filled with contented hikers posing for glorious photos at the peak of a trail with beautiful views of islands and waterways below, chances are they attacked either Quarry Rock in North Vancouver or St Mark’s Summit in West Vancouver. The latter is a more intermediate hike and is a part of a longer trail network that can be traversed in sections.

St Mark's Summit

Just as some Lynn Valley and Grouse Mountain hikes are a part of the longer Baden Powell Trail (that spans from Deep Cove to Eagle Bluff) on the North Shore, St Mark’s Summit is a part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail (from Cypress Park, up past the famous Lions, to just south of Porteau Cove).

St Mark’s Summit

The hike to St Mark’s Summit is mainly open July to October and it leads to panoramic views of Howe Sound as you climb around the north west side of West Vancouver just north east of Horseshoe Bay, from Cypress Bowl. It’s step 2 in an 11 step Howe Sound Crest Trail, and is best suited for a clear weekend afternoon when you have about 4-5 hours to make the trek.

About the Hike

Rating: Intermediate
Distance: 11km (round trip)
Time Needed: 5 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes

Panorama From St. Mark's Summit

Step 1: Trailhead to Strachan Meadows
Make your way by car to the Cypress Mountain ski area parking lot where you will park and head out for the day. Be sure to pack out what you pack in and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. This first section is 2.64km and according to the Cypress Provincial Park guide, it will take about 45 minutes. “This first section offers good photo opportunities at Lions View Lookout. A short side trail to the west leads tot he Bowen Island Lookout and provides a glimpse of Howe Sound.”

Step 2: Strachan Meadows to St Mark’s Summit
This portion is +2.85km and approximately 1 hour 15 mins. The trail climbs 275m to the summit of St Mark’s Mountain. There is a short jaunt to the west where you can find an expansive view of Howe Sound.

At this point you have ventured out about 2 hours so looping back, it’s a good 4-5 hour hike depending on your pace and how many selfies are required — I would imagine many, since it’s such a phenomenal area!

The full Howe Sound Crest Trail (28km, 14-15 hours) continues to Unnecessary Mountain, the base of the West Lion, James Peak, Harvey Creek Saddle, Magnesia Meadows, Brunswick Mountain Trail, Brunswick Lake, Deeks Lake, and an outlet along Highway 99.

Its accessibility, proximity to Downtown, and high reward (views) make it an extremely popular hike. My friend Tanya has done it several times and I asked her what makes her return to this trail in particular: “It is spectacular. From the summit it feels like you are sitting on top of the world.” She says it always takes her 5 hours to complete as 30 minutes is usually spent resting and taking photos at the top.

“It was even pretty good in the rain, a bit of drizzle, because it’s less crowded and has a mystic feeling in the fog.” Without much rain this summer, Tanya told me that the creeks are dried up along the hike so it really is important to bring enough water with you during our drought.

Resources: Outdoor Vancouver, Vancouver Trails, Club Tread. Always prepare for the elements, stay hydrated, and let friends/family know when you’re going out on a hike.

Win an Olympic Dairy Yogurt Prize Pack

August 25th, 2015 @ 3:47pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s always good to know where your food comes from which is why Olympic Dairy, based in Delta, has been sharing its story — and delicious yogurts — with you since 1979. Producing healthy and nutritious yogurts from BC cows, Olympic Dairy offers up a line of over 150 organic and conventional yogurts in its Krema, Organic, Probiotic and Chia brands. It was also BC’s first organic certified yogurt maker.

olympicdairy

Made with 100% natural ingredients, Olympic Dairy’s products are entirely free of gelatin, man-made preservatives, chemicals and fillings. The special way they craft their yogurt means they’re able to carry out a premium quality control. Each serving is individually incubated according to a process that consistently results in a creamy texture and exceptional flavour.

yogurt
My breakfast of champions: Local berries, chia coconut granola, and Olympic Dairy yogurt

Win an Olympic Dairy Yogurt Prize Pack

Olympic Dairy wants to share its yogurt goodness with a lucky Miss604 reader with a generous prize pack that includes:

  • Organic, Plain Yogurt, 3.5%: This delicious yogurt contains probiotics that contribute to healthy intestinal flora.
  • Chia, Vanilla: This yogurt contains chia seeds, which are rich in dietary fibre, calcium and anti-oxidants, and are a source of omega-3 and protein.
  • Krema, Vanilla: A creamy smooth yogurt with a high protein content.
  • Krema, Honeylicious
  • Kefir, Strawberry: Kefir is a fermented probiotic milk product with a delicious, smooth texture.

Here’s how you can enter to win:

I will draw one winner at random from all entries at 12:00pm on Monday, August 31, 2015. Find products, information, and recipe ideas online.

Etsy Made in Canada Marketplace at Robson Square

August 25th, 2015 @ 2:44pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Shop 78 Vancouver-based Etsy sellers at a pop-up marketplace at Robson Square this September. For the second year, UBC Robson Square welcomes the Etsy Made in Canada Marketplace as a part of Etsy’s 33 Canadian city market tour, bringing together local sellers and their communities in celebration of the country’s maker movement.

EtsyMadeInCanada

What: Etsy Made in Canada Marketplace
Where: UBC Robson Square (800 Robson St, Vancouver)
When: Saturday, September 26, 2015 from 10:00am to 5:00pm
Admission/Details: Free entry

Visitors will be able to shop local favourites such as province-shaped cutting boards from Love my Local, artisanal coasters from JW Coasters, and bold infinity scarves from Veespoke. “We were thrilled by the success of Etsy: Made in Canada in 2014 and can’t wait to see the marketplaces across the country once again this fall,” says Erin Green, Managing Director, Etsy Canada.

Each market across Canada– from Salt Spring Island, to Hamilton to St. John’s– is powered by a dedicated Etsy Team and key partners like Moneris, Canada Post and Airbnb. Each Team’s Leader is committed to reflecting the individual culture of their community, while providing support and insight to members and newcomers looking to open an Etsy shop.

Etsy shoppers unable to make it to their local Made in Canada marketplace can shop participating vendors from across the country on Etsy.com/madeincanada and year round on Etsy.com.

For more information about the Etsy Made in Canada Marketplace at Robson Square in Vancouver, visit the website or the event’s Facebook page and follow Etsy Canada on Twitter, Instagram, and using the tag #EtsyMadeinCanada.