Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Narwhal Honeymoon - The Accommodations

Part One - The Route

Now that we've given an overview of the route we took, I want to go over the different elements of our trip. For our accommodations, we really mixed things up. We certainly slept on a wide range of sleeping surfaces on our trip.

And, for reference once again - the route map.

All Photos Personal

We only stayed in two hotels on our trip. Both came at the perfect time, and both were lovely. I used Hotwire to book both of them, and we loved having the contrast of a nice hotel room to our two-man tent.

Our first hotel was at the Mayflower Hotel in Seattle. Our favourite part of our Honeyfund was being able to send photos and thank our guests for gifts along the way for their gifts and contributions to our trip.

San Francisco 
Our second hotel we visited was in San Francisco at the Warwick Hotel. After two nights of camping we were so happy to crawl into a hotel bed to rest our weary travelling heads on night seven of our adventure.

And now that I got the boring hotels out of the way, we can talk about our other more interesting sleeping destinations. While the hotels provided comfy beds when we needed them, we only stayed in hotels when they were most convenient for us (i.e., random arrival times). For a good portion of our trip, we used Airbnb to book places to stay. I cannot recommend Airbnb enough. The personal and unique element of finding Airbnb's on our journey was definitely a huge highlight of our trip.

Port Angeles, WA
The first Airbnb we stayed in was a microcabin in the middle of the woods. We had a really long day and were pretty tired by the time we arrived. This cabin was built by the owner using all recycled materials, and was the perfect cozy stop for Washington. The bed was actually above the living area in a loft, and the cabin even featured an outdoor shower! If you haven't showered outside before, you should probably go ahead and add that to your bucket list.

Toledo, WA
Easily our strangest, most out there location on our trip; however one of my most favourite stops. We stayed on a hippie commune called Camp Singing Wind. For real. The community is about 13 people restoring an old girls camp, and there is seriously something magical about the place. I am not a great sleeper, and somehow slept the best I have in years. So not only do the good vibes of this place win a huge spot in my heart, I will forever remember it for the best sleep ever.

Portland, OR
In Portland we stayed in an urban treehouse. This was a great option for Portland, as our hosts offered a plethora of information and suggestions to eat our way through the city. We also majorly appreciated that they had a cat and dog that we could snuggle, since we were really starting to miss Nelson and Vada at this point in the trip.

The guest map

Venice Beach, CA
Our final and longest stop on our trip. We absolutely loved staying in Venice Beach (Mr. Narwhal especially). The little garden cabin was perfect for us, and a short walk to the beach. We loved staying right in Venice and feel we had a much richer experience being able to stay in the neighbourhood. This little cabin also won second place for best sleeps :)

Our packing was a tad bit interesting when it came to the trip. One of our checked suitcases was entirely camping gear! Talk about first test of our marriage, sharing a suitcase for the first time! We packed our two man tent, one blanket, one sleeping bag, one sheet, two mattress pads, flashlights, a pan and cutlery. We also purchased a styrofoam cooler in Washington, a small pot and a cheap pillow from Target. It was definitely during our camping adventures that we questioned our honeymoon choice the most, but now that the trip is over, the nights in the tent just add so much to our trip that we wouldn't have gotten from a hotel room. Nothing beats scrambled eggs cooked over a campfire or waking up cuddled up in a tent. We camped in South Beach, Salt Point State Park, Yosemite and Big Sur.

Our camping ground in Yosemite

Did you stay in some out there locations for your honeymoon?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Narwhal Honeymoon - The Route

I am going to jump ahead past the wedding this week and share with you all some highlights (and yes, lowlights/funny stories) with you all from our honeymoon. Since our trip was a huge range of locations, places and outings, I'm going to share our trip a little differently than chronological order. And, because we were away for 15 days and covered a lot of ground, I'm opting for more shorter posts. I know travel recaps aren't for everyone, so feel free to skip ahead or just look at the pretty pictures.  :)

First, I will share the route we ended up taking, that way when I start to jump around in my other posts, things will make a little more sense!

While Mr. Narwhal drove, I navigated. Before we left we purchased a Western United States map, and as we drove, I would draw the route we took. It was pretty cool to watch as each panel unfolded. Over the course of the 15 days we drove 2300 miles in our rental car. I kept saying on the trip that I wish I had a Fitbit or something to know the amount of steps we walked on top of that, but that's for another post.

All photos personal

We flew into Washington, and spent our first night in Seattle. We headed slightly North to the Olympic Peninsula for our second night, and stayed in Port Angeles. After spending the day driving the Olympic Peninsula, our third and final night was spent in Toledo, Washington.

Driving through a beautiful sunset in Port Angeles, Washington

In hindsight, we wish we could have spent more time in Oregon; however, we had prioritized our time for the California parks. Just before we arrived in Portland (our next night) we received an email that our camping in Sequoia National Forest had been cancelled. My mom called for us and we learned that there were forest fires that led to them closing the park. Because we had booked our night in San Francisco through Hotwire (and could not cancel), we were kind of stuck to find a replacement for the same exact two days we were meant to be in Sequoia National Forest. While in Portland we did some searching, and despite it previously not fitting into the trip, we somehow scored the last site at a campsite in Big Sur on the exact days we needed. Crisis adverted.

Before going to Portland we drove through a bit of the Columbia River Gorge area, and then spent that evening and following day exploring Portland. Afterwards it was time to finally hit the coast, with our first night (on the coast) in South Beach, Oregon.

The beautiful Oregon coast


Our longest driving day (a story for another post) was from South Beach, Oregon to Salt Point State Park in California. We covered a lot of Hwy 101 and 1 in one day. It was madness, but also a ton of fun (for the first 11.5 hours). The next day we arrived in San Francisco for a night, and from there headed to Yosemite for two nights (so nice after being on the go every night for seven nights). From Yosemite we took our detour to Big Sur for two nights and ended our trip in Venice Beach for three glorious nights.

The scenic route through Redwood National Park

I'm not going to lie, planning this trip wasn't easy. It was so hard to find the balance between seeing it all, and not rushing through. There were definitely points where we both felt that we did not have enough time to see and do everything we wanted to do, but in the end it was worth being able to see and do more in more places.

Next up, I'm going to go over the various places we stayed.

Friday, September 25, 2015

My Cabin Bachelorette

I am not a typical Bachelorette person. They're just not my thing. Both Mr. Narwhal and I wanted to have a carefree outing with our friends before our wedding, and while this would be typically considered as a bachelorette/bachelor party - we were pretty adamant on them not becoming a big deal or a costly imposition. This isn't to say that we have something against people choosing to do this, but because of how we felt about them, we didn't want it to become a big deal for our wedding party, when our goal was to just spend time with them.

Mr. Narwhal and his wedding party went on a four day intense camping trip three weeks before the wedding. They had an absolute blast, and GM Duffy even flew from B.C. to surprise Mr. Narwhal the morning they left. All I know about the trip is that the portages were extreme, the weather was unreal, they heard wolves howling several nights and had way too much fun.

For my party, we were at a bit of a loss at first. All I knew was that I wanted something simple that didn't involve penis paraphernalia or going to the bar. We had a little bit of an issue figuring out a location, so I suggested that it would just be much easier/simpler/inexpensive to host it at my family cabin on the river. Summers are busy, and two weeks out from the wedding I made it clear to everyone that there would be no hard feelings to anyone that could not make the trip to be part of our girls night. I just wanted an old school girls night sleepover with a day in the sun, followed by a bonfire and late night girl talk.

Our group was small, but the night was perfect and exactly what I wanted (and needed two weeks before the wedding).

We ate great food, got our nails done, drank mimosas, played games (including a custom Scattergories game!), went for a late night swim, had a bonfire, sparklers and stayed up late talking under the stars. And really, because it truly was that simple, the photos can do the talking on this one.

All photos personal.

My favourite game, customized to us :)

Much love to my amazing wedding party for putting together this amazing night to celebrate. It was perfect.

Did you opt for a low-key bachelorette?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I cut over six inches off two weeks before our wedding. A pre-wedding chop.

I mentioned on a few occasions that I had been resisting an urge to cut my hair off before the wedding for quite awhile. After I got my trial done it settled the urge for a couple of weeks, and then it was back again.

Cutting a lot of length off meant there was no going back. I didn't want to regret my decision. So I flip flopped, did various polls (sorry friends) and reviewed photos for months. I would decide to leave it, and then get the urge again.

The problem? I had some pretty amazing inspiration pictures that I couldn't shake off.

Image via Southern Weddings / Image by Veronica Varos

Image via Style Me Pretty / Image by Marianne Wilson Photography

So at the beginning of August, I talked to my cousin (that was doing my hair for the wedding) and she told me to do it. I told Mr. Narwhal my plan, and he said I wasn't allowed to change my mind again. So, I booked my appointment and a week or so later went into the salon for the big snip.

I honestly thought the hair stylist would refuse to do something so drastic two weeks before the wedding, but she was super excited, which helped ease the slight doubt I had.

Honestly, the decision was majorly made because once I did it, I didn't have to decide anymore.

And, I'm so glad I did. I haven't had an ounce of regret.

The lesson in all of this is to make sure you do you when it comes to your wedding. Just because everyone does something (in this case, growing out your hair) doesn't mean you have to too. Be the best version of yourself on your wedding day. Having the hair length that I felt the most me in made sense, and I only wish I did it sooner.

Did you do anything drastic before your wedding?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wedding Party Gifts

And, we're back from our whirlwind honeymoon. I have quite a few posts planned to tide over the professional photo waiting slump, as those weeks leading up to the wedding were caps lock crazy and I have some things to share. So, let's hit rewind and catch up.

One thing that took Mr. Narwhal and I a long time to decide on was our wedding party gifts. They're one of those elusive gifts that will never truly be enough to represent how thankful you are. Another issue is that when you have a rather large wedding party, it's hard to pick something that fits everyone... and buying individual gifts for everyone gets even more complicated. 

Mr. Narwhal struggled with this decision for a long time. We knew we wanted to purchase their ties/bowties, but from there we were at a loss. About a month before the wedding I found the perfect socks for all of the boys, they had trees and full moons on them and we were sold. Mr. Narwhal ended up finding some really cool beer openers on Etsy and based on that decision we decided to get them each a gift certificate to the Beer Store*. 

For my ladies, I figured most of it out rather quickly. I wanted to put together a fun bag of things that I know they would enjoy. Kind of like a wedding stocking of fun. I wanted to get a few things that could be used for the wedding if they wanted to, something sentimental and something just for them. 

I landed on a pair of turquoise stud earrings, nail polish in a similar colour to the dress, hand cream, a personalized scarf for each girl, a wood photo block and a bee bag. The scarves were so fun to pick out for every girl. Mr. Narwhal could even tell which one was for every girl based on the scarf alone! I also covered half of their hair and makeup for the day of wedding. 

Sorry this photo is such low quality. I had already wrapped everything up before I noticed how bad the photo was!

For my boys they also got the same tie/bowtie as the groomsmen, socks, a photo wood block and S'well water bottles. 

We completely forgot to gift the wedding party the night before the wedding, so we brought everything to our Rehearsal breakfast and gave them out while everyone was waiting for their breakfast.

Our parents were especially tough. We wrote them each a heartfelt card and got them a little something right before the wedding, and have another IOU photo gift planned for them later this Fall.

As I said, gifting your wedding party isn't an easy task. It's really difficult to find something that can really express how grateful you are to them. Our friends and family were so good to us throughout our engagement, and on our wedding day, and our gifts to them are only a small representation of how we feel. So, if you're struggling to come up with ideas, just know that the words you share in your cards and speeches will hopefully be a larger measure of how you feel than the tangible gift you give to them as a sign of your gratitude.

What did you gift your wedding party?

*In Ontario alcohol is only sold at the Beer Store or the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

Gift Sources:
Ties/Bowties - Custom from Linenfox
Socks - Gap (similar)
Bottle Openers - Etsy shop woodysfenders
Earrings - Etsy shop Alina & T Jewelry
Bee Tote Bags - Etsy shop Gabby and Lois Designs
Scarves - Various designs from Etsy shop aCutee