Northwest Territories Kayaking Adventures.

Being outdoors, and kicken it with mother nature – is forever one of the best places to be.  Not to mention the beauty up in Northern Canada is endless. With the sun shining high on this glorious Sunday Funday, and the water flowing ever so beautifully on the Hay River, there was just no other way. This wasn’t a cross road, the sign pointed in one direction, and was clear on what to do. It read, ‘Get your asses into your kayak’s and down the relaxing, and soul soothing river’. 

‘Alrighty then’, we thought. Seeing as how the sign was loud and clear, we suited up in the finest kayaking apparel we could find.

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Proceeded to load our kayak’s into the truck.

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We then hit the road and cruised like rock stars,

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Venturing straight to the the starting point where we intended to begin our escapades.

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It was an absolutely incredible day on the water. Even better was that there were NO bugs! The NWT is notorious for the insane amounts of bugs in the summer. Something you never really get used to, you just have no choice but to become accustomed to it – or you would end up hiding out in your shelter all summer. Ummm, no thank you. I would rather suffer a little to enjoy ALOT! This year is off to a pretty darn good not to buggy summer start though, so I am enjoying every minute of it before they take over the show.

Once we got our sweet ass Kayak’s in the water, had a quick team chat(oh, and a good ol’ Canadian beer, drinking locally made products no matter where in the world I am) – we were off to be enchanted with our afternoon excitement of being awesome. No big deal. Why do anything else really?

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I never tire of the stunning Northern scenery, and never fail to be totally impressed and engrossed by it all. It’s just so freaken great. It is not uncommon to see wildlife on the sides of the river. Alas, today though, there was none out and about to be admired.

k8 k4 The only thing we forgot this time was to bring some snacks. We were just too dang excited to get on the water. Our stomachs did give each of us a reminder of being forgotten though! Note to self: the next time you go out to for physical adventures, bring some sort of fuel other then beer. Not that it wasn’t darn delicious and refreshing though. However, this kayaking day was just a warm up for some much longer trips. So being prepared will be key.

A few hours and a few team chats later….. k6  And we reached our destination point. Feeling incredible and riding our high from a chart topper of a nature packed afternoon paired with some physical activity, we pulled our kayak’s out of the water, and gave them a nice shady resting place while we waited for a ride to come pick us up.

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After just another epic day of loving life, and embracing a beautiful day of endless laughter and being awesome, we took it up to the next level. Or put that cherry on top so to say.

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A very palette friendly Canadian Vino, baked Brie, Olives, and Dips – and life couldn’t get much better. That is a pretty fantastic Sunday afternoon with a blissfully beautiful finish if you ask me. It has my stamp of recommendation, that’s for darn sure. Wouldn’t you agree?

What does a frozen river breaking up look like??

One of those times that never looses it’s luster for me is when the river breaks up in the Spring. Yes I have seen it many times throughout myself, yet I am always excited to have the opportunity to observe the yearly occurrence. Some years it is far more exciting then others, and some years its a little too exciting and causes flooding.  This year was more like a happy medium, nothing too crazy and shell shocking, just a swift breakup, with a little bit of congestion before it all cleared.

The excitement always ensues about 50 km outside town at the Waterfalls.  So off I went on the road of adventure to check out the action at Alexandra Falls.  image1

You know for sure once the falls start to break up, the rest of the down river break up is not too far off.

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I honestly think it is just beautiful to absorb it all. Mother nature goes above and beyond up here. Not to be taken for granted. On my way back to town I made a quick pit stop at Paradise Gardens, one of my favorite area’s!IMG_5167 IMG_5158 It is basically a little sub-division of Hay River,NT, located about 24 km outside of town, built along the river, and completed surrounded by nature.  I spent most of my childhood living out there, and it was amazing. IMG_5166 IMG_5164   I am a true nature lover, and that was my ideal element as a child. Now put me out there with a Vineyard so I can have my Vino, a nice big veggie garden, and I would live happily ever after.  Or at least come and go ‘happily ever after’, as I am always up to some sort of adventure. There is always that incessant knock at my door, and when I open it, long behold, its adventure on the other side! It finds me in the darnedest places. Even if I am up a tree, look who finds me. ‘Oh well hello there adventure, fancy meeting you up here!‘; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So as I continued on this joyous occasion down memory lane(literally, as this really is the road I lived down as little Petrena),IMG_5161     I completed my mission of checking out the river action in the Gardens.IMG_5018 IMG_5025  While I was at it, I also grabbed a selfie. As you do when you are on your solo adventures!! image1 (2)                                  A few days later and you can see how the ice cleared right on up outta there! IMG_5159

Back in town, and you can see that the breakup is quite the spectators event.  Many people come out and park their cars to watch the show. IMG_3708IMG_5026The only thing missing was a popcorn stand. I love popcorn. True story.

Again, fast forward a few days, and you got this beauty of a river flowing. IMG_5171 IMG_5170

Things were getting a bit backed up at the bridge area that crosses to Vale Island and the Old Town at one point, and there were also plenty of people out to take a gander at that sight. No big deal, just your everyday outdoor movie theater up here. This is what I call – living off the land. IMG_5032IMG_5034 IMG_5030 . The old Hay River had to push pretty hard to get all that ice through. That was no feat for our Northern backyard though. As you can see a couple days later and the lake is looking pretty darn open. IMG_5154    It’s starting to look a lot like summer up here North of 60. Yes it would appear things are heating up! Happy Days.

Ice Fishing in the depths of the Great Slave Lake.

Where there is winter and a frozen lake – There is winter fun and ice fishing! With winter taking up the majority of the year, you have to keep life as entertaining as possible so as to keep your blood pumping so you don’t ice over.  Although, that being said, I still love winter just as much as ever, and I don’t mind the cold at all.  Usually that is… If I am stuck outside and freezing my butt off getting frost bite, then yes, perhaps in that case I would beg to differ.  But with the proper attire, I am all game!

It was a balmy winter day, and the frozen over lake was calling our name.  Calling us straight to the fishing derby that it! It’s a little competition held annually in town on the Great Slave Lake.

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I grabbed a ticket and I was good to go! Cruising onto the lake you can see everyone’s vehicle’s parked by their little fishing shacks.

2015-03-14 001 010I had the most awesome crew of friends waiting for me at our designated hole. Having just returned from Spain, and not having been here for a winter in years, I was definitely not equipped with proper winter apparel, and I also forgot just how freaken cold it gets out on the frozen lake! Yah you could say I got a few looks when I rocked up onto the ice in my jeans, boots(not winter boots), a jacket, scarf and mitts……  It took me all of a few minutes to feel the bite of the cold, and also realize I may be a tad under dressed for the event.  I suppose seeing everyone else in their full on snow pants and parka’s may have also been a bit of a hint, or should I say brick wall!  Not always the brightest crayon in the box, absolutely one of the most entertaining though. But seriously, it’s easy to under estimate the winter deep freeze up here. Lesson learned. Well at least until the next time I end up abroad for years of warmer winter’s.

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After they were done poking fun at me for my ensemble, they wrapped me in whatever they could find to try and provide me with some warmth before hypothermia set in.

We prepped our fishing hole as any good northern fishing hole should be. Beer, beaver, rod, and hook dropped deep into the icy depths  Looks like a pro hole if you ask me.

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It was so cold that even our hole kept freezing over! Swift little kick with the ol’ boot clears that right up.

Even my beer kept freezing onto the can, and a piece of mitt fuzz. photo (1)Along with my face freezing stiff while I was trying to speak. It’s those moments where its so cold your nose starts running and your hoping its not going down your face as your skin is so cold you probably wouldn’t feel it. Hopefully though, if that happened, your friends would be so kind as to let you know. Otherwise it’s just embarrassing. 2015-03-14 001 017Need a ride anywhere cause your frozen stiff? If you did, there also happened to be that option.

With no bites in sight, the girls resorted to doing a little ice fishing chant around the hole in hopes that a fish might have jumped out and sacrificed itself. 2015-03-14 001 009 Desperate times call for desperate measures, and there was a $1500 prize to the best fish caught, so obviously you want to win!

Sadly the chant didn’t provoke any fish to get a front row seat of the show. I enjoyed it though! Speaking of desperate, I was starting to turn blue.  My blanket and what ever else I was wrapped in was not cutting it.  So a couple of my friends took me to get more appropriately suited up for the weather. photo (2)

Ok, and to grab a quick Bailey’s and Coffee.  Its best to also warm up from the inside when you are that frozen …. Not to mention it was darn delicious!

Wow, what a difference the proper clothing made! Happy days!!  I was more than ready to get back out there and catch a fish by that point. Except when we got back, a snow storm had ensued. It ended up making for the event to get cut short, as it was just ridiculously cold by that point, and the blizzardy white out wasn’t helping.2015-03-14 001 021 There was also a tuna shot, where  you take a golf club and try and shoot a can of tuna into a hole. Although it too was not really possible due to the blizzard that came in. 2015-03-14 001 023

So after all the prizes were drawn, and the one guy who actually caught a fish got his pot, we high tailed it outta there and straight to the little party shack to un-thaw and have a beer that wouldn’t tease you by turning into a block of ice before you could indulge in it. 2015-03-14 001 024 Gotta love a Canadian party shack!

photo (3) photo (4) Obviously if there is a seat with a saddle on it, you have no choice but to hop on! derby It’s not your typical ice fishing experience. However with an awesome crew, and the right clothing, it’s an epic day of endless laughter and Northern adventure. What more could you ask for?!

Jumped Ship in search of Winter Wonderland:)

After frolicking in the little Mallorcan snowfall, I felt like I needed more.daytrip 012 It just awakened my little snow lover inside.  It’s my Northern blood, growing up in Northern Canada with ridiculously long, dark, and snowy winters, just became a part of me.  So after not being home for a Canadian winter in 3 years, I figured ‘Why the heck not book a ticket home right this very minute?!’, seize the moment, embrace the day, and build a snowman I am darn well proud of.  Not saying  I wasn’t proud of my mini Mallorcan snow man.  But now I was dreaming a bit bigger – and for this dream to become reality, I needed more snow. daytrip 013

Palma was looking pretty fantastic when I left, not giving much for one to complain about. IMG_3121

Unless your weird like me, and you find that sometimes you would really like to just freeze your butt off! Call me crazy(and yes, I have heard it before), but I like hot and I like cold. Either way has its advantages and disadvantages.  I just like the best of all worlds, no big deal, keeps my life exciting.

I spontaneously booked a ticket and flew into Calgary, Alberta.

From the alluring snow covered peaks in Mallorca to the equally as alluring snow covered peaks in the Rockies; A feast for the eyes.

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I love Calgary, but there just wasn’t enough snow for what I envisioned in my mind.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t spend an epic week there enjoying plenty of catch ups, vino, and green juices.

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IMG_3306Ok, and maybe a little Dom Perignon. Just so happens to be one of my favorite things… Classy ladies, like classy Champer’s.

 

 

Calgary was awesome as always, but after a fun filled week, I was ready to hit the road and head North of 60. I knew if I came home to Northwest Territories or as some say, ‘The Great White North’, that I would find all the glorious snow that my dreams were made of.  Mother Nature always pumps out the white stuff in winter up here.  So 16 hours of driving later, and slowly watching the snow build itself up on the side of the highways the further North we went, I had arrived. Hay River, NWT.  Hello hometown! Hello Snow!

You know you are back in the North when you wake up to this.

IMG_4826 Yes I would say that is a bit more of the snow I was anticipating to see. The ice roads are in full swing around here at the moment too.

IMG_4817 (2) Yes, that is a totally frozen over river. The novelty of an ice road never ceases to excite me. It’s those small things in life.

IMG_4820 IMG_4819 IMG_4824 The contrast from winter to summer here is quite immense. IMG_4815 (2) IMG_4630

Anyone feel like going for a boat ride? IMG_3359 While I was on my little snow filled adventures, I thought it was a good idea to stop at the beach, you know, catch a few rays… Although the only thing that got caught was ME, in the snow….

IMG_3361IMG_3362 You could say I was engulfed in it. But the frozen beach was still impressively nice to look at. The completely iced over splendor that is ‘The Great Slave Lake’. IMG_3354

Unfortunately my attempts to build a life size snowman, didn’t quite go according to planned…. The snow was far too fluffy, and would not roll into a ball. Oh well…. to be continued…. Still found a snowman though!!! It always works out one way or another. This little guy tied me over until I get some proper white fluff for the job. winterfun 005

 

Welcome to Northern Canada. I have to say so far this has been a successful trip(minus the snow man), however, I found the snow I was longing for. Just another awesome day of being alive. Now time to stoke the fire….. Gotta keep the house warm somehow!

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Home is where my little Northern Heart is ❤️❤️ ;)

I love travelling the world.  Seeing and experiencing new things, connecting with people of all walks of life.  I always entice myself with thoughts of being once again immersed in a completely different culture, with a totally different language that I don’t speak.  It’s exciting, and a way to push myself outside the everyday box, and even sharpening my survival skills.  It becomes a part of you, something that runs through your blood, well the blood of someone who has been bit by the travel bug.

However, no matter how many continents you visit, and people you meet, and explorations you have, there is always that one place, that lifelong place that you call home.  Where your roots are.  Where everyone knows your name….. Well at least if you happen to be from a small town like myself.  I was privileged enough to spend this summer back home, in my beautiful little hometown in Northern Canada.  The longer I have travelled the more I have come to love and appreciate it.  It’s small, it’s beautiful, at times its buggy.  Yes sir-ee, there is a season for swarming, clouds of bugs that you may or may not ingest when breathing .  But while also being the land of the midnight sun in the summer.  Other times(say winter perhaps) its freaken COLD! Try well below -30 degrees Celsius and minimal hours of sunshine, during the  majestic, and blood chilling yet heartwarming winter.  Where you can bask in the spectacular show of dancing colors that the Northern lights spread across the sky.  Yup this would be my Hometown.

Welcome to Hay River.

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Named after the River that flows through it, right into the Great Slave Lake, which happens to be one of the 10th largest lake in the world.  There is a population of about 3500 people.  It boasts some pretty amazing scenery, if I do say so myself.  And no….. I am not just being Bias because I am from there:) But its kind of hard not to be.

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IMG_0960There is fantastic fishing in the summer, as well as plenty of water for you to play on and in.   IMG_1299There is the Hay River Campground right in town located beside the beach, if you feel like connecting with nature, and forgetting that you are still right in town.  Run by Lucy Benoit for over 20 years, she always keeps it so well run and maintained.  I definitely enjoyed some time there this summer. The town puts on a town event every year called Hay Days, with a weekend full of different events, and there’s baseball tournaments(that other northern communities participate in), town dances(as there are no bars really), great people, and beautiful wildlife.  Although, you always have to be cautious of bears. IMG_0881 Beautifully impressive animals they are, but also can be very dangerous.  Wrestling a bear isn’t recommended;) and well neither is going in for a bear hug.

 

 

One thing I really enjoyed this summer was visiting the Fisherman’s Warf, which is put on every Saturday during the summer in the Old Town.

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There you will find different vendors, selling their homemade baked goods, fried goods, grown goods, handmade goods, and yup, you got it, FISH! Fresh fried or grilled Great Slave Lake Whitefish.  One of the northern delicacies, which I never get tired of.  The Warf is a great place to go and mingle with other people from the community, a great way to support the locals, and enjoy the charming little ambiance it offers, while also soaking up some summer sunshine.

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Located about 40km outside are 3 separate waterfalls, that are always beautiful sight to enjoy. And Yes. The water is brown. But fresh!:)

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Another summer tradition, one of my favorites!! Is floating down the river. ‘Oh, Heck Yes!’. IMG_4154Every sunny day there are groups of people who get together with their blow up rafts/tubes, a few beverages, starting up river, and floating down it for hours. Good weather, good company, good tunes. It’s just an awesome time, and super relaxing.

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Well the summers up here are spectacular, and pretty un-comparable, and I always feel so privileged to enjoy them.  Even though the winters are Long, COLD, and more night then day light, there are also so many incredible and very amazing aspects about it here then too.  But this article is for summer.  Winter can be talked about when that time comes.  It best to live for the moment;)

Here’s to another kick ass summer in the North, I love my home, its way up there for sure! So that being said…..

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That’s a Catch!!:)

When in the Northwest Territories Capital city of Yellowknife, a must stop for some incredible ‘Fish & Chips’  is Bullock’s Bistro. Located in the Old Town, in an old building full of character, run by a very friendly and talented chef named Andre,  it is one of my absolute favorite restaurants. Ever. 🙂 Any time I am back in home in Northern Canada, and in YK, I make it a point to go and eat there.

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What are you waiting for?! Come on in!

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It is by no means a high end restaurant, its more of a relaxed environment, where you can just chill out, take a load off and give your tastebuds a run for their money.  You can help yourself to the drink fridge, unless its a Alcohol filled beverage you are after, in which case you will have to ask for assistance. b10 There is a tiny patio outside as well, where in the summer you can enjoy the ambiance of the outdoors while deliting your palate.

It’s considered a bit pricey by some, with a fish and chip meal begining at about $26, but the fish is fresh from the ‘Great Slave Lake’, and you get a good portion, with fresh cut chips(not sure if he picked the potatoes himself tho, a salad, and ridiculously delicious hot out of the oven buns. b4 On a day where the reel won’t stop turning, and there are lots of  good catches,  you can be lucky enough to have the wide array of options that consist of Whitefish, Cod, Pike, Trout, Pickerel, and Arctic Char.

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I don’t know, but I do not mind paying the price for the quality, and freshness.  It is well worth it.

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One thing Bullock’s in known for is their secret sauce they make, that you pour on your fish.  It truly is delicious!! Hmmm, and as would everyone else, I want to know what’s in it!! They also have a really delicious home made feta dressing for the salad, which I thoroughly enjoyed! 😉b6  All these little touches just add to the dining experience.  If you want to get into the true spirit of visiting this little Bistro, then you can grab a pen and leave your mark on the wall.  The whole place is covered in people’s markings;) So of course I got right in there!! Gotta keep the traditions rollen on!:)

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Make sure you go there with an appetite and sweat pants.  Cause you are gonna leave full and your top button of your pants undone.  Yes, if you want a truly nothern experience, in a way that you don’t have to physically go out and catch some fish yourself(although, that’s always fun too!), then ‘Bullock’s Bistro’ is a great choice, and will provide you with nothing less then a memorable experience.  DeeeeLish!!

It was a Folken Good Time!:)

So here I am back on my Northern Canadian soil, and once again, at the annual ‘Folk on the Rocks’ festival in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. I love attending any folk fest I can, and well music festivals in general, but particularly this one. Not to be Bias just because I am from this neck of the woods;) But seriously, its stunning up here, and nice that I always get to catch up with old friends. This time around, it was a little up in the air if the roads from my side of the lake to Yellowknife were going to be open, as there are over 180 forest fires burning around the NWT at this moment, and alot of them in this area, and the roads were being closed and opened, as they fought and contained the fires. The roads were super smoky!!  So everything was happening moment to moment. I kept on top of checking the highway conditions.. And when it came time for me to hit the road, all signs pointed to GO! So off I went equipped with my tunes, and my keen sense of adventure, ready for an epic weekend.

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The drive itself is fantastic, and it’s pretty much a given that you will see Buffalo either on the highways, or beside them,  and if you’re lucky, a bear, or some other spectacular species of Canadian wildlife. I kept pulling over to check things out that looked of interest to me during the drive. It never fails, I always act like a traveller even back home. You can’t ever appreciate life too much. Just take it all in:) 5 hours later, and I pulled into the ‘Fred Henne’ campsite in YK, to meet up with my crew, and get my tent all pitched and ready to go. We had three campsites booked, and a group of phenomenal peeps, can’t ask for much more.

Friday night we went to a free performance in Sambe Ke Park, by this amazing group called ‘The Jerry Cans’, from all the way up in Iqaluit, Nunavut.  The music was amazing, and I love that they include some tradition throat singing into the mix, as well as country rhythms, blues, and reggae. Incredible. They definitely had everyone up dancing, and the Park was an absolute beautiful setting. The Friday night before Folk begins, is always one of the best nights to go out, as all the bands are playing at various bars, so you can bar hop and check them all out. It’s fun, but there are lines at places, that can be the only un-fun part. However well worth it!!

Hello “Folk on the Rocks”!!

Let the party begin. Ok, so it began the night before… So let the party continue! The set up is pretty awesome there are 6 different stages, including a cultural one and a children’s stage, artisan vendors, food vendors, and of course Beer Gardens!(which I became well acquainted with)… Haha, as you do, If you are wise(which we like to think we are), you will head straight to the main stage on arrival to Folk to lay your blankets in a prime location for later on in the evening.

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Strategy is always key:)And it fills up fast!! Inside the beer gardens you can get food, like hamburgers, etc.. your typical festival beer food, and, in case you didn’t guess.. Beer! or coolers..I don’t really drink either of those things, but during Folk fest, it becomes a different story.. And well, when the sun is beaming and the tunes are flowing, it all works very well together. The stage in the beer gardens always has good bands playing, so you also get to do some dancing, while you mingle with friends old and new, and just love the vibes. There was a super great line up of artists this year, and a few of my favorites were, Matt Mays, The Strumbellas, Yukon Blonde, and Harlan Pepper, The Jerry Cans(as mentioned before), but really there were many great performers at the festival. Saturday proved to be just as awesome as we had anticipated.  If you seen a puff of dust in front of the stage, that was me, dancing up a storm! Every so often people would come by giving little nick knack’s away,IMG_1168 and we scored some Bandana’s!! “what color would you like?” wow! I even get a choice. How spoilt. Haha. Hmmmm, but ok, ‘I shall take Blue.’ But really now, Bandana’s have their advantages, and will come in handy when you least expect it.IMG_1169 I also got some chap stick and bug spray, two northern Essentials!! The beers gardens are shut at 9, which then means Main stage is where it’s at. We were there till about 1130pm, then the day was done. Off we went. I really like that the city had a bus just for the Folk Fest! Very freaken handy after a day of festivities, and when you are ready to head back downtown to do some bar hopping.
Sunday morning, after a big Saturday, we all had the craving for a good hearty breakfast to top us up for another day of Sunshine, tunes, and bevy’s! Otherwise known as ‘Sunday Funday’. So we went to a well known local called, “Gold Range Bistro’. It is your typical diner style restaurant… But with its northern flare of course:) The food was good, and the company was obviously awesome! IMG_1181Between the Bailey’s/Coffee, and a plate full of fuel to start our engines, we were ready for anything! Anything entailing, live music, dancing, sun, sand, and beer gardens that is.
I have to say, I loved my Folk Crew!! They are all super awesome, each and every one of them, the weekend would not have been the same without the whole crew, because everyone added their own dynamics to it. I love when a group of awesome people come together. IMG_1178

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Being out and about in the hot sun, checking out different stages, you do tend to work up an appetite! So luckily there are all those handy food vendors there. Fries anyone?

IMG_1180This little vendor had fresh to order fries, and yup as you can see, it was a done deal.

A little later on during our ‘Sunday Funday’ adventures, I had the pleasure of running into, and having a beer with the group called Harlan Pepper. They have an awesome rock groove going on, have been friends since kindergarten, and are constantly growing in popularity.

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I have to say, not only are they great performers, but also a very nice bunch of guys. For sure enjoyed that encounter.

Photo Credit for this one goes to Jared Monkman(Bottom left), whom is a very talented northern photographer:)

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Main stage again in the night was going off! I loved how all the different groups/artists jam together at the end of the day, and love it just as much as everyone else.

It was the place to be. The place to finish another unforgettable folk fest. “Folk on the Rocks 2014!!”.

One of those hilarious moments, where you think you are posing for a photo, and a guy in the background is trying to photo bomb, and its on video!