Thursday, October 29, 2015

Whal's in the Woods: The Day Before

The week of the wedding was busy, but so much fun. Friends and family were arriving, our house was full, and things were getting really really real.  We were monitoring the weather situation that over the course of two weeks went from the best forecast ever to slightly scary.

All photos personal. 

The day before the wedding was a complete blast. While the boys had tasks like picking up rentals, setting up the white lights and last minute touches... our day involved nails and flowers. 

You might remember us taking on the task of growing our own flowers. I mentioned in that post that we knew it was important to have back-up plans in place, and while I don't like to admit defeat, the back-up plan ended up being totally necessary. 

Things started to get a little crazy with planning, and while our garden was doing fairly well, we had a deer messing with things. In talking to my friend that had offered up her garden, she told us not to worry about our flowers, and that she had us covered. At this point in the preparing for our wedding day, I was willing to take all of the help I could get, and adding my garden to the eff it list was easier than worrying about a deer munching on my favourite flowers.

So, the day before the wedding was a day I had been looking forward to for months. It was flower and nail day. Really, it can't get better than that (you know, minus the actual wedding day). 

I told all the bridesmaids that their nails were not a priority, and if they wanted to join for an appointment they were more than welcome to, and if they wanted to paint them at home, that was totally cool as well. MOH Cass, BM Megs and my mom ended up joining me at the salon and our appointments also lined up with Mr. Narwhal's mom and sister in law. 

Momma Narwhal getting her manicure

Unintentionally ending up with ombre nails 

After our nail appointment, I could hardly contain my excitement. With buckets and scissors in tow, we were ready to cut flowers. We met up at my friend Kailey's house, and were joined by my Ciocia (aunt) and BMan J's girlfriend. Kailey and her mom have a gardening business and their gardens are no joke. Cutting flowers in the sunshine was definitely my version of spending the day at the spa. 

My Ciocia having a blast

MOH Cass, BM Megs and I in a car full of flowers

After we got home it was arranging time. I did my bouquet first, followed by the bridesmaids. I left my bouquet loose, as I had a few flowers coming in the morning to slightly match my bouquet to my flower crown.

After we finished the bridal party bouquets, we moved onto the table flowers. I mainly worked on these all day, with lots of help spread throughout the property working on other areas of set-up.

Around 5pm the wedding party started to arrive. Although we didn't have a formal dinner planned (we had the rehearsal breakfast in the morning), we still wanted to get everyone together to go over the schedule for the next day and share some food. We ended up having a complete smorgasbord of a dinner - food from Momma Narwhal's restaurant, BBQ, salads and pizza. It was the perfect day to kick off the wedding festivities.  

We went to bed at a half decent hour, ready for our wedding day to finally arrive! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Whal's in the Woods

Last week we got a lovely package in the mail. After many weeks of anticipating the arrival of our photos, we were not disappointed by what Isos Photography captured on our wedding day.

So, that means it's time to get this party started! It's time for Whal's in the Woods*!

And I can't just leave you hanging, so here's another peak from our amazing day.

Photo by Isos Photography

*Big thanks to Mrs. Orca for coming up with our recap title.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Mulch

Alternative title: The hilarious miscommunication that saved the day 

The last month before the wedding was pure craziness. The thing about hosting a wedding on your property is that the work legitimately never ends. We eventually got to a point where it was "good enough", but we both felt like we could have done so much more.

The beautiful ceremony and reception area could not have been achieved it weren't for many people that helped make it happen. Seriously, I could start naming names, but that's not the point of this post. I do want to touch on the incredible amount of work Mr. Narwhal and my dad put into making it all come together. Mr. Narwhal certainly wanted to throw in the towel many times, but still would come home from work and go up to the wedding spot to work away all summer long.

My dad, helped make some serious things happen with the borrowing of my Uncle's machines (which I talked about here). In the final weeks my dad came and helped several times and really turned our anxiety around. We finally could see it happening and felt slightly less crazy for ambitiously deciding to host on our property (i.e., create a venue from scratch).

About eight days before the wedding we set up the tent* and we only had the final touches to put on. Mr. Narwhal and I had planned to get a truck load of mulch to pretty up some of the areas that looked a little rough (exposed roots by the tent area and around the cabin). After setting up the tent I asked my dad if it would be able to borrow my uncle's dump truck to get a load of mulch for us. He was happy to do it and said he would bring it the next morning. Perfect.

The next morning Mr. Narwhal went to run some errands and I was cleaning up the house. In order to get to the wedding spot, you have to drive past our house to the second driveway. I could hear a big truck coming, and that when I looked outside and saw my dad driving by with a Mack truck sized dump truck.

I immediately started to panic, because I completely forgot my Uncle had two dump trucks, one much smaller dump truck (that I had meant for my dad to borrow), and the Mack truck.

I started darting around the house in a panic and ran up to the wedding spot as my dad was backing up the hill. The first thing he said was, "Boy, mulch is pricey!"

After explaining the mix up and both having a good laugh, we were left with a giant pile of mulch to spread. Thankfully my dad knew the guy working the place he purchased the mulch, and received it for a steal of a price, which was only marginally more expensive than full priced mulch would have been with the smaller truck.

A snapchat version of the story (All photos personal unless otherwise noted)

The remainder of the weekend was spend spreading mulch. There was literally enough to cover the original planned areas, the ceremony spot, the paths, the toilet area, food tent area and make a dance floor. It made the biggest difference and really pulled everything together in the most beautiful way.

Photo by Isos Photography

My dad saved the day with our minor miscommunication, and the story of the mulch and Mack truck will forever make me smile and laugh.

Did you have any miscommunications that worked out for the better?

*Since we borrowed the tent from a family friend, we were able to set it up much earlier.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Narwhal Honeymoon - Round up

Part 1 - The Route
Part 2 - AccommodationsPart 3 - Cities

Part 4 - Hiking and Parks

Well, we've gotten to the end of our honeymoon recaps (which means it's almost time to jump into wedding day recaps!). For our last post I have a bit of a round up from our adventure.

Best Moment
I should probably leave this for last, but I'll start on a high note. We both struggled with this one to come up with the very best. I did mention the best place for me was the Hoh Rainforest, but when it comes down to a moment, we both agreed that spending the day on the beach in Big Sur (Pfieffer Beach) wins. At this point in the trip the laziest day ever had to happen, and on the windy beach in Big Sur it just takes the cake. We had a completely lazy morning, ventured our way to the beach laying in the sun, listening to the waves crash, and returned after dinner to watch the sun go down. Perfection.

All photos personal

Runner up moments: our cabin at the commune, the boardwalk in Venice (most notably for Mr. Narwhal on his skate) and an amazing meal with the best conversation at Cafe Gratitude in Venice Beach before heading to the airport.

Lowest Moment 
Okay, it existed. Which will indeed lead to our funniest moment... but, we definitely had a low point on our trip. I have alluded to it in our other posts as the day with our longest drive. As the one in charge of the map, I was in charge of our stop for dinner. After the previous night dinner of our styrofoam cooler food and leftovers for lunch, I had a grand plan of us getting to our camp ground (before dark) and heading to the nearest town for a hot dinner at a restaurant. Based on my map navigation it looked like there was a town not far from the campground. We also had been thinking about a hot shower all day.

Completely over the drive day 11.5 hours in. I tend to awkwardly laugh in the restless state. Mr. Narwhal clearly stoked.

About 45 minutes from our location Mr. Narwhal stopped at a grocery store and said that we should grab food. I was tired, cold and over the drive and just wanted to get there and get to that nice restaurant I had imagined in my mind.* As we drove away, Mr. Narwhal said, "We're taking a risk!!" and I said, "Just trust me."

Well, I'm sure you can imagine where this is going. The town didn't exist in the way I had imagined (the map failed me!). The campground was practically abandoned (no camp host) and there were no showers. There was also no firewood to make a fire. Not only were we completely over driving 13.5 hours later, we didn't have enough gas to risk going back to the last town for food.  It was a low point for sure. We both questioned our honeymoon adventure choice. Mr. Narwhal was quite literally not a happy camper and we were both super hungry. Which leads me to the funniest moment...

Funniest Moment
We had lots of random snacks in our car... bananas, a few apples, granola, bars, plantain chips and english muffins. As I munched on a banana and granola, feeling super guilty for this horrible situation I put us in, Mr. Narwhal popped the trunk open and grabbed the bag of english muffins. I looked over at him as he pulled out a whole wheat english muffin, gave me a look and ate the thing dry.

I'm kind of the worst in bad moments and immediately started laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation. As we went to bed (super early) that night I said I hoped we could laugh about this night in the future, and we do. Poor Mr. Narwhal has sworn off of english muffins for life. The hot breakfast and coffee in the morning was enough to cheer us both up to carry onward to San Francisco with smiles on our faces.

Best Sleep
I've talked about it before, but in the round up it has to be mentioned again. The cabin on the commune will probably forever be one of the best sleeps in my life. The cold fresh air in the morning, the cozy bed. I could live in that moment (see above).

Camp Singing Wind in Toledo, WA

Best Food
This one is easy. Portland. We ate some seriously good food in Portland, which I highlighted in our cities post.

Portland eats - Hawthorne's Bagdad Theater & Pub / Division's Bollywood Theater / Mother's breakfast

What We Would Have Skipped
Mount Saint Helen. When we stayed in Toledo our host mentioned that we should make the trip since we were so close. We talked about it and decided to go for it. It was a two hour detour that ate into our waterfall day. We kind of regret the decision for the detour, as it was too far of a drive to classify it as worthwhile. We both would have gotten more out of the waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge and the scenic views of Mount Hood.

Mount Saint Helen

Where We Wanted More Time 
Naturally, we wish we had more time in the Portland area. We both would like to plan a return trip to Portland and surrounding areas of Oregon to explore everything Oregon has to offer. We don't regret our route (which the exception of the detour to Mount Saint Helen) and like to think that our trip was an opportunity to plan longer trips in the future.

More of this
The Lesson of Road Trips 
Road trips aren't exactly the easiest of adventures to plan. When you are travelling along a busy route, you have to predetermine your drive lengths and stops along the way. You have to decide how far you want to go and how quickly you want to pass through each area. It's all about balance... getting the feel for each area, while maximizing the amount of ground you cover.

We definitely hit a few points in our trip where we were over the on the go feel of our trip, and I'm glad we planned it the way we did. The first seven nights we were in a different place every night. By the seventh night (San Francisco) we didn't want to go anywhere again, so staying in Yosemite for two nights, Big Sur for two nights and ending with three nights in Venice Beach was perfect for us.

The Pacific coastal drive is a one time trip in our minds. The roads are windy, it's a long trip, but definitely something that should be done in your lifetime. We're excited about future trips to favourite spots like Portland, Venice Beach and the Olympic Peninsula. We also would like to make our way to Sequoia National Forest, since we were both pretty upset it got cancelled.

Views from the road

And, I'll end it with my biggest honeymoon recommendation. Plan your honeymoon for right away. I cannot recommend this enough. Getting away right after the wedding was so very needed and the best decision of our entire trip. We were running on a high from our wedding and that time together was so special, and something we'll always look back on fondly.

Did you go on your honeymoon right away?

*We had a roaming package on my phone and our service was super limited outside of cities, so it was kind of difficult to plan or Google with my phone on the fly while on Hwy 101 and Hwy 1.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Narwhal Honeymoon - Hiking and Parks

Part 1 - The Route
Part 2 - Accommodations
Part 3 - Cities

Our entire trip was based around the hikes and National Parks we would be visiting. Hiking is something Mr. Narwhal and I love to do for adventures. It's kind of shame when every day life takes over and you realize you haven't gone on a hiking adventure for months!

BM Click and her family gifted us with one year of dates for the wedding, and October included pumpkin spice coffee and orders to go on a hike together. We have yet to find the time, but today's post is enough motivation to carve out some time in our busy schedule to go for a hike and relive the amazing memories we created on our honeymoon.

Rattlesnake Ledge
Our first hike was just outside of Seattle to Rattlesnake Ledge. It's a moderately challenging hike, just about 4 miles roundtrip. The trail was super busy, but the view at the end was well worth the crowded trail.

All photos personal 

One of my most favourite views/feelings - being surrounded by nature with Mr. Narwhal on a hike

Above the clouds at the top

The view from the top 

Hoh Rainforest
After such an intense trip with so many stops along the way, it has been kind of difficult to answer the question, "So, what was your favourite part?" Since everything isn't a valid response, I usually answer with Hoh Rainforest. I cannot even begin to explain how incredible this place is. Photos will never capture the beauty of this place, and I will even openly admit that I even got teary-eyed driving in. It's just that beautiful. The obscene amounts of rain each year give this place the label of the most magical and fairytale like place I have ever been to. If you've never been, add it to the list. Seriously.

Moss and ferns everywhere

A gift from GM Duffy 

Elowah Falls
Before arriving in Portland, I had labelled the day "The Day of the Waterfalls". Along the Columbia River Gorge, there are a plethora of waterfalls to visit and hike to, and a few right along the road. We ended up decided to take the two hour detour to Mount Saint Helen earlier in the day, and the Day of the Waterfalls became the choose one waterfall day. As we drove in, bigger falls like Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls that were closer to the road were jampacked with tourists (which we weren't feeling up for). After a bit of research on the fly, we decided to take the short hike to Elowah Falls. We have zero regrets about this one, as we only ran into about five other people, and the short hike was well worth the beautiful scene at the end. By the time we returned to our car, we decided it was time to eat our way through Portland.

Redwood National Forest
Next to Hoh Rainforest, my next favourite part of our trip was the scenic route through Redwood National Forest. On our longest drive day, we were driving through Redwood National Forest around lunchtime. We pulled over for a quick picnic, and decided to take a hike through a grove. Not only were we the only ones on the trail the entire time, the views were absolutely stunning. The hike also featured some of the biggest trees we saw on the entire trip. This stop on our trip has kind of become symbolic for us as we learned two important lessons: one, take the scenic route whenever possible, and two, always carve out some time for yourselves in your busy schedule.

Yosemite - Vernal Falls
The last of our big hikes was in Yosemite. At this point in the trip I had a bit of a cold and Yosemite was also quite smoky from surrounding forest fires. This made our hiking selection slightly difficult because I was having a hard time breathing. After consulting the hiking trails and volunteers at Yosemite, we decided to hike to Vernal Falls. This was one of the most challenging hikes I've ever been on. The new altitude coupled with the smoke and my cold resulted in me huffing and puffing my way to the top. While certainly difficult, the challenge was well worth it. We both wish we could have stayed in Yosemite for longer, and will definitely consider a future visit in the Spring when the waterfalls are more active.

Vernal Falls

the view from the top of Vernal Falls

I'm really glad we were able to find create a balance of both cities and nature in our trip. Our hikes are definitely some of our fondest memories, and the parts of our adventure that have us dreaming of our return trips.

Next up, the last of my honeymoon recaps with a round up list of everything we missed!

What's the best hike you've ever been on?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Narwhal Honeymoon - Cities

Part 1 - The Route
Part 2 - Accommodations

Alright, now that we've talked route and sleeping destinations... it's time to get into the juicy stuff! I mean we stayed in some pretty neat places, but let's be real, most of the fun was spent exploring!

First up, the cities. We explored Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Venice Beach. All of which we have decided need follow-up trips. Each city brings such a different and unique personality. I certainly cannot pick favourites because I loved each of them for very different reasons.

Seattle was our very first stop. For that reason alone it's pretty special. We were in Seattle on Labour Day weekend, and it was complete madness and crazy rainy. With the time change on our side, our favourite part of our time in Seattle was waking up stupidly early and exploring the city before the hustle and bustle came out. We watched vendors open the Pike Place Market, walked around Miner's Landing and went on the Ferris Wheel when it opened (our most touristy activity of the entire trip). Big thanks to Mrs. Campfire for her recommendations!

All photos personal

From top left in Clockwise order - The Gum Wall / Ferris Wheel selfies / Crab dinner at Miner's Landing / Seattle Starbucks (when in Rome)  / Pike Place Market

I'm sure it might come as no surprise to anyone that lives in/has visited Portland that all of my photos from the city are food related. We definitely ate our way through Portland. I honestly would have loved to eat/try more, but we both we're feeling great while in the city, and we both never felt up to the infamous Salt & Straw ice cream (more reason to go back!).

Portland eats - Hawthorne's Bagdad Theater & Pub / Division's Bollywood Theater / Mother's breakfast

San Francisco 
Oh how we both loved San Francisco. I lied about the Ferris Wheel, because riding the trolley was definitely super touristy, but we enjoyed exploring the Fisherman's Wharf in the evening. The following morning we spent our time with a long watch along the beach and visited Haight and Ashbury before heading to Yosemite. San Francisco is definitely the city we feel like we didn't get enough time to explore, and definitely will make an effort to go back!

Fisherman's Wharf / Dinner on the Wharf / Trolley rides / Exploring the beaches with a foggy bridge / Haight & Ashbury

Venice Beach
As for cities we could live in, I would probably vote for Portland, but Mr. Narwhal? I think a little piece of his soul lives in Venice Beach. It's not that I haven't seen Mr. Narwhal extremely happy before, but the happiness he exuded in Venice Beach was a whole different kind of happy. It was a soul happy. As part of our Honeyfund, one of Mr. Narwhal's good friends bought him a new board.  We spent a lot of time with Mr. Narwhal riding the strip as I strolled behind him taking in the sunshine. It was definitely one of those moments I could live in forever. The sunshine, the personality and the beach. Venice was the perfect place to end our vacation. We had planned to explore other L.A. beaches, but decided to soak in everything Venice had to offer (and we were both so over driving at this point). Big thanks to Mrs. Tractor for all of her Venice recommendations!

Venice sunsets x 2 / Mr. Narwhal boarding the strip / Venice sign / Venice canals

And, lastly, we did make one short trip to Hollywood Blvd. during one of our nights in the L.A. area for a last minute concert. Again, two of our friends purchased a random event off of our Honeyfund, and we had been keeping our eyes open for a concert while we were in L.A. We ended up getting tickets to Nahko and Medicine for the People, which was another highlight of our trip. Such a fun night!

Nahko and Medicine for the People at the Fonda Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. 
There really wasn't enough time to explore as much as we wanted to and we are so eager to return everywhere again one day. The balancing act of a road trip vacation!

What's your favourite city in the West?