Winter at Wiegele’s

February 25, 2014

Soooooo the patience and determination finally payed off and Michael and I have made it out in the helicopter. There is a few staff days a season but if you don’t want to wait you can try your luck at the “stump”. The stump is a meeting place in the morning where you can gear up and try to get on the heli. Most days there is a large crew of ski starved staff members there also waiting which makes the chances low, but if you don’t try you will never know.  If there are seats available and your number is up you get to ride! The stump shows you what you are made of and can be an emotional roller-coaster. We have a saying at MW, “there are no friends at the stump”. I have never seen so many people get cut throat when they don’t get to ride, myself included! There have been days when I watch Mike get up and I have to go home and vise versa. 1014348_10151930342576297_1262164699_n


This is a typical pick up point after a run. Sometimes the chopper is waiting for you but other times it lands right beside you. It is pretty crazy to try to withstand the blast of snow/air as you try not to look away from the chopper as it lands. I have a system now where I hold my breath because it hurts to breath the cold air! mw3

Larry and me at the top of the world! mw4

Chopper passing overhead to beat us to the meeting spotmw5 mw6

Mike and I have had the luck to get up three times together in the heli. All three days have been unforgettable yet totally different. mw7

Staff days are the best because you get to ride with your besties! mw8 mw9

Looking out the front window. Some of the pilots are real cowboys and like to drop the chopper so you get butterflies as you are taking off the mountain! mw10

Mike and Larry fighting over lines!mw11 mw12

Regular dinner servicemw13 mw14

New Years Eve ice-sculpture. mw15 shreddin

This is my one shot from an epic first day into the Monashee’s. The conditions were so stable we were able to do some glacier runs that hadn’t been touched in over ten years! DSCF9582

Playing some ice hockey for my buddy Kate’s birthday. DSCF9589

I have set a goal to get five more heli days before the season is out. I will be putting in more hours waiting at the “stump” so more photos are sure to come. Happy Shreddin



Our winter employment brought us to Blue River B. C to work with Mike Wiegele’s Helicopter skiing. I have been recruited to sling drinks behind the bar in the Silver Buckle Lounge and Michael is moving and shaking in and out of chalets as a houseman/keeper. It has always been a dream of ours to go heli snowboarding and what better way then to do it for free as an employee! Mike and I started the season in November in this small town of 150 locals and 150 staff and had no idea what adventures lie ahead of us.


Here is our first day watching the 212 helicopter landing on the heli pad. Some weeks there are up to ten choppers going in to the air at a time. It is an intense experience to get blasted with snow as they land and take off outside the resort. DSCF9399  DSCF9427 DSCF9431We got settled into our tiny hotel room with mini kitchen, better known as the Blue River Condominiums.  Better accommodations then we have had for a long time, lol. The best part about our room is the view of the Monashee mountains as the sunsets and they turn pink and purple. With the Caribou Mountains on our other side, we have countless views to take in.


MW has access to 1.2 million acres of mountain terrain, which is more then all the ski resorts in North America combined! Nested into the valley between the Monashees and the Caribou Mountains gives the guides and pilots access to thousands of fresh lines everyday!



Blue River is a winter wonderland. It snows straight down here most of the time so all the roofs, cars, posts etc have tall snow mushrooms on them if they are not maintained. We have not had too much cold weather but it did rain with thunder and lightning in December!mw23 We have access to a yoga studio that is only used for two hours a day before and after the heli’s go out. It has basically become a private studio for Michael and I and we have both started teaching classes for the staff in our free time. We also have access to a full gym, hot tub and sauna!


The main lodge is spectacular lit up at night. DSCF9333

The area around Blue River is full of waterfalls, National Parks and wildlife! We have had a chance to visit Jasper and the ice field glaciers along with this sick half frozen waterfallDSCF9381 DSCF9421The winter is shaping up to be full of new experiences with great new friends and hopefully lots of riding. More to come about our imminent helicopter adventures…….


Tribute to Elvis

December 27, 2013


It is with a heavy heart that we write a post to tribute The King. On a routine drive into Kelowna this October, Michael and I rolled end over end into the ditch due to lose front steering. It was a terrifying experience that left us thankful to be alive but unfortunately the king lost his life saving ours. Elvis was completely crushed along the drivers side including having his roof rack removed and all his windows but two smashed out. Michael was pinned for 45 minutes and had to be cut out of the drivers seat. Thankfully we have sustained no lasting injuries and have bought ourselves a POS Ford Bronco to get around. It was a climactic end to an outstanding vehicle, friend and our house! for the last two years. IMG_4108

No vehicle can ever replace Elvis. After a 45, 000 km road trip taking us through 8 countries, across rivers, over mountains, across volcanoes and though every weather condition known to man, we will always remember him and have a special place in our hearts for Toyota Landcruisers. This post is for Elvis. Thanks for always being classy, breaking down with style if you had to and most of all saving our lives. We will think of our memories with you often, in the sand dunes of Oregon, the deserts of Mexico, the jungle roads in Belize, down in the bayou  in Louisiana and the red sands of PEI. RIP buddy.IMG_4334 IMG_4523 IMG_5188 IMG_4765 IMG_4767 IMG_6572 IMG_6716_2 IMG_6730 IMG_5288 IMG_5638 IMG_5670 DCIM100GOPRO IMG_6039 IMG_6048 IMG_6155

Vineyard Living

November 27, 2013


During our cherry picking career we heard alot about grape picking in the fall. We got the scoop on the good the bad and the ugly. Better money then cherries, harder work and near freezing temperatures….couldn’t be that bad, could it? We decided to head to West Kelowna on a tip from a friend and got hooked up at an amazing family owned vineyard and winery called Little Straw Vineyards. We set up camp right in the middle of the grape rows and were on stand by for when they needed grapes picked.dscf8983.jpgDSCF8987

We had amazing views of the valley, lake, mountains, vineyards and horse stables all around us. The work turned out to be tough but it sure is rewarding seeing 800 pounds of grapes that you picked all by hand. I will never look at a glass of wine the same again! We had the opportunity to pick a few varieties and some are tougher then others, i.e Foch!! You sure get sticky and icky picking certain varieties and at times it looked like you had blood splattered all over your face and body!


A big Thank You to all Slamka family, Tim, Pete, Tina, Trevor and Mr. & Mrs. S for making our stay so enjoyable and wining and dining us in the restaurant. Luckily I was able to join the restaurant team for a couple weeks during wine fest. It was a lot of fun learning about the entire wine operation and I actually learnt more about wine here, then in my entire serving career. Thanks to Pete for being our surrogate “poppa” and making sure we always had a warm place to sleep and good wine to drink. DSCF9015

These stylish folks are Michael, myself, Robyn and Jenna, Aka Grape Slashers 2013! Some memorable moments from our season were the home made apple pie that Jenna and I constructed and baked in Robyn’s van oven, flipping our truck and almost dying (I’ll save that for the next story), our crazy spontaneous late night vineyard sing-a-long to Queen (which we got in a little trouble for) and our amazing dinner up at the restaurant. DSCF9036Would I ever pick grapes again? Well that is a good question! It is a great experience and I wouldn’t give it up for anything but in the future I might stick to selling and drinking the wine as apposed to being on the other side of the operation!

Rage on the Water: Outfunya!

November 14, 2013


After finishing our season in Oyama we were in need of some R&R and headed down to the Shuswap area to visit our family friends Dan and Linda Keats. We ended up being at the right place at the right time for the first annual OutFunYa houseboating trip. The crew that signed up for three days of non stop party’n were from all over Canada but had one thing in common, they were there to up the standards on Xtreme house boating!DSCF8904

We were lucky enough to have two live Dj’s on the roof party and our very own personal chef, Aaron Lee!”. Thanks for cooking an awesome spread Aaron and letting us sleep in your “cupboard!”  We had nothing to think about or do other then have a great time! The shananagans were endless, costumes, wigs, blow up floaties, games, dance offs, water ballon fights  and much much more. DSCF8888 DSCF8882 DSCF8873 DSCF8871 DSCF8866 DSCF8860 DSCF8858 DSCF8856 DSCF8854 DSCF8853 DSCF8849 DSCF8847 DSCF8845 DSCF8843 DSCF8831 DSCF8830 DSCF8822swap1 swap2

The 2012 crew deserves an OutFunYA 10 outta 10 for their performance on the water! Next years line up will be even bigger and better!  


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After contemplating and wallowing for over a month about what to do next, Michael and I decided that we could not see ourselves getting right back into the 9-5er lifestyle right away and needed some seasonal work to make ends meet. We hooked up with our new yogi friend Emily Doyle and headed out to Oyama B.C to pick cherries. Emily had been working there for a couple seasons and as crew boss was able to hook us up with a house to stay at and prestigious positions as cherry pickers, also lovingly known as maggots.DSCF8563 DSCF8589

Our days consisted of getting up really early, actually really late, 3:30 a.m. then heading to various orchards and climbing up trees in the dark! We would pick via headlamps until sunrise and continue until it become to hot to work. At around 12-1 p.m. we would head to the Oyama beach and lay in the 35 degree sun and do it all over again the next day! The summer started blending into one hot feverish daze of cherries and lot of fun.

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Staying at the staff house was neat and we enjoyed a lot of good laughs with the amazing crew up there. Pot luck nights were a big hit as well as slap the bag! Yes that is a hotdog suit!DSCF8624 DSCF8635 DSCF8640 DSCF8645 DSCF8650

We got to enjoy ripping around with the wake board on Wood and Kalamaka Lake with Konan and the crew on the boat. There were some classic first timer faces and wardrobe malfunctions out there~DSCF8661 DSCF8729Overall it was a cool experience to hang with a bunch of vagabonds like us and do some hard picking. We loved the Okanagan summer, best in Canada, so we might have to figure out a way to spend more time here. PICCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKK Faster MAGGGGGGGGOOOOTTTTTS

Home James!

October 25, 2013

Well after months of life on the road and a dwindling back account we decided it was time to head back North. We found a cheap flight coming home from Cancun so we made the crazy and impulsive decision to bus back to Mexico (in three days) and save some money. Well the journey back through Guatemala into Mexico was enduring but we did get to make a brief stop in San Cristobal, Mex. The city is incredibly beautiful and historic. We have never seen so many opulent churches and squares. I hustled some local amber for cheap on the streets from a guy selling out of a suit case. lolDSCF3587

We had a lot of stuff to transport home this time around. I knew first hand how amazing the hand goods in Guate were and I needed to bring back more then just a hammock this time. Michael had to fashion us a new bag to carry it all. He used an old box with duck tape and made it into a front pack. With our “new” bag, drum, and long hair, I thought we would for sure be hassled in Canadian customs. Only at one point in our journey did one officer start to give us the “Im going to screw with you eye” but at soon as we told him politely we were yoga teachers he smiled and let us go. Who knew no one wants to mess with yogis, bad karma I guess!

Back in Canada our friends and family in Thunder Bay were very excited to see us. We hung around town and moved in with Michael’s brother at their former college years residence. We tried to keep busy but started to go stir crazy. What was next? What could we do with our lives that would keep us entertained and happy now that we had experienced true freedom and adventure? Could we ever just go back to a regular life? …….

Moon Course

October 17, 2013

While we were finishing our yoga training all we kept hearing about was the Moon Course across the lake in San Marcos. We wanted to see what all the buzz was about, so we headed over there one afternoon and realized we had already been here the first time we had visited the lake and made a day trip to San Marcos! Hard to not remember a bunch of pyramid houses and people meditating. Ironically that day I had said we should check this place out some time. Fast forward two years and we were back. We took it as a sign and decided to extend our trip for another month and registered for the course.

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We got settled in to our pyramid and prepared for a month of yoga, meditation and metaphysics. Our daily schedule included 7:00 a.m. yoga, 10:30 a.m. metaphysics and 5:30 meditation all of which is held in an incredible pyramid made of wood. We were joined by 18 other awesome peeps from all over the world. San Marcos is such an incredible place for healing and all sorts of spiritual exploration. You can find anything there, massage, sound healing, shaman ceremonies, yoga, chanting circles, astrology and much much more. We even got to spend an afternoon learning acro yoga! I wasn’t strong enough to fly Mike so he worked with the teacher an x circus performer from Russia! )DSCF7439 DSCF7417

Our little pyramid, tucked into the back of the property by the medicinal garden and lime tress!  The idea behind sleeping in a pyramid with a glass top is to help with lucid dreaming and astral travel, a big component of the course. DSCF7418 DSCF7421 DSCF7422 DSCF7441 DSCF7447 DSCF7448 DSCF7450


Taking pictures wasn’t a high priority while I was studying but I did manage to snap a few of the property and lake. Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot of our awesome crew but I know a few were taken so hopefully they will emerge one day on the net! I would recommend this very affordable and enlightening course to anyone who is soul searching or has questions about their dreams. The teachers and staff at the Pyramids are true healers have changed me forever. Here is the link to the course.

Michael and I know we will be returning to the lake one day to continue our studies one day in part two , The Sun Course.

Thank you Las Piramides Del Ka!

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Returning to Atitlan…

September 16, 2013


To say Michael and I were excited to get back to Lake Atitlan Guatemala would be an understatement. We left the crew in Belize and hoped an over night bus to Guatemala City. The bus ride was a bit sketchy but we just tried to sleep through it ( if you can sleep getting tossed from one side of your seat to the next as you switch back down a mountain!)

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When we arrived to San Pedro La Laguna we realized it was Easter weekend! The entire town was in the process of being decorated to the nines. Fruit and veggies were hanging from every light post and the streets were being covered in colored sand and flower petals for the saturday precession.

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It was incredible how detailed the streets were and the amount of time that the people dedicated to the display was incredible (some staying up all night!) Another really cool part of the weekend, besides the option of watching the hanging of judas reenacted, lol, was all the locals dressed in their traditional village colors and patterns in large numbers. Although they do not like photos, I was able to snap a few shots of their backs, sneeky tourista! We were shocked to watch as soon as the procession walked over the colored streets, that they started sweeping them up. In a little over two hours all that work was gone and the streets were back to normal! For Westerners this may seem a little strange and wasteful but the symbolism behind the tradition that everything is impermanent and will turn to dust in time helps keep the people grounded in the moment and grateful. It reminded me of the beauty of creating for the sake of creation and not materialism. We really enjoyed this way to celebrate Easter even more so than the Canadian feast.DSCF7092 DSCF7098 DSCF7109 DSCF7121 DSCF7144


Here’s Mike imitating the famous Indian Nose Mountain. Not a bad profile.  We did a little yoga at the studio near the shore to get ready for our yoga studies. We were eager to check out the farm and meet our fellow yogis. Finca de Yoga here we come!