Our Cross-Canada Road Trip

We’ve done it! We have officially driven from Vancouver, British Columbia to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. This is probably going to be a long post because I’m going to try to cram everything into one, unlike my England trip. Let me know in the comments below which you prefer for travel blogs.

I was going to do a whole “Where we stayed” and “What I ate” section, but a lot of it was McDonalds fries (always gluten free) and cheap hotels with vacancy. I’ll be sure to make note of the exciting ones though and include links.

We left Vancouver on July 30, 2017 which was a Sunday. We spent the morning with loved ones as we packed everything into the moving truck and then said our goodbyes. It was really bittersweet leaving our first home together, and the first place that has felt like home to me in my adult life.

On the 30th we drove to Vernon to spend a day and a half with my mom and see some friends and from there we headed to Calgary, AB on August 1st.

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Driving through the Rocky Mountains was obviously beautiful and I wish I had spent more time looking out the window because what has become the norm is much, much different.

 

After a quick stop in Calgary we started our drive to Saskatoon, SK on August 2nd. We made a pit stop in Drumheller, AB to see the landscape and the Royal Tyrrell Museum to check out some cool dinosaurs.

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After a night in Saskatoon, SK with some close family friends we started the drive to Winnipeg, MB on August 3rd. This is one of the longest feeling legs of this trip. Just a straight, flat prairie drive for close to 9 hours.

I’m not going to lie, I had some judgments about Saskatoon and Winnipeg as a westcoast girl, but I can confidently tell you that they’re not bad! Saskatoon was actually an awesome city and I would love to go back there and actually have some time to explore.

As for Winnipeg, we just happened to get there during the Canada Games. Neither of us actually had any idea that they were happening but decided last minute to have dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Dinner was obviously fine, but the location happened to be right in the hub of all the Festivities. If this wasn’t all enough of a fluke, the night we were there was PEI night and featured artists from Seb’s motherland. We caught some live music and fireworks before heading back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

From Winnipeg, on August 4th we headed south through the states. We planned on spending the night in Duluth, MN but Thomas the Tank Engine was in town and all the hotels within 100 km were completely booked up. We stopped for dinner and a legal amount of drinks at this awesome pub called Thirsty Pagan Brewing in Superior, WI. They didn’t have much in the way of gluten free options, as they feature pizza and beer, but they had a hoppy cider and this awesome cheesy, buffalo chicken dip with tortilla chips. That stuff could easily kill you – but I enjoyed every bite.

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They make all their own beers and they had a massive selection. It was a really awesome spot, and if I ever get my hands on a magic pill that allows me to eat gluten, I’ll be heading back here right away.

On August 5th we went east again back over the border. We planned on spending the night in Sault Ste. Marie, ON but again, all the hotels were booked up. I ended up booking a B&B off the beaten track called Sleepy Hollow B&B and this place was magical. It was right on Lake Huron the hosts, Jenny and Mike were so accommodating and friendly. We had our own private cabin on the property and spent the evening chatting and sitting by the fire. In the morning Jenny made us an amazing breakfast and told us “No one leaves my house hungry”. I would absolutely recommend this spot to everyone and the best part is it’s only 95$/night!

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On August 6th, a week since leaving Vancouver, we finally made it to Ottawa. Luckily for us it was Fajita night at Churchills  in Westboro. We had a great dinner together before heading back home and calling it a night.

The next day, we went downtown to explore, run some errands, do some shopping and do some general tourist things.

We went to Parliament Hill and wandered around Sparks Street. We also took a guided tour of the Supreme Court of Canada because I’m a huge nerd. Seb’s such a trooper for following along on all the nerdy government centered things I love. It was awesome to have a rest day with less than an hour driving time, a much needed refresher before getting back in the car on August 8th and driving to Quebec City for the night.

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In Quebec city we spent most of the day just wandering around and seeing the sights. We had dinner at a place called Le Veravin in Old Quebec as it had been called “A Celiac Haven” in its reviews. It was mostly just okay. We shared an order of the Gluten Free Traditional Poutine, which was actually incredible, they were very generous with the curds, which is all I can really ask for, and the gravy was really nice. For our main we shared the Duck Confit Pasta, I imagined that for the price there would be a little more duck, but I think we each maybe got a bite or two in the entire dish. The atmosphere was nice, the service was good but the prices were a little high. This was only to be expected as we were in the more touristy area. I just found that the pasta was not worth the price. 10/10 for the poutine though.

The next morning, August 9th we packed up the car one last time and drove towards Prince Edward Island. We drove through the rest of Quebec and New Brunswick and then over the Confederation Bridge! I didn’t get any pictures of the actual view though, as the barricades along the side are taller than I am in our little car. It was a pretty cool bridge though!

We got into PEI around 6 Atlantic Time and we were welcomed with pizza and beer! I had some gluten free pizza from a place called Famous Peppers and guys, it was a killer gluten free pizza.

So it’s been a little under two weeks now since we left our home in Vancouver and embarked on this journey across our beautiful, vast country. I probably wouldn’t do it again, but it was a bucket list item for sure. I had some good gluten free eats, and stayed at some beautiful places. We were blessed enough to have family and friends across the country who welcomed us into their homes for nights here and there. We only had to stay in three budget hotels, and got lucky with a beautiful B&B.

Onwards to the next adventure.

10 Things I Learned Living in Vancouver 

As I’m currently more than half way across Canada, I wanted to sit down and share what I’ve learned having lived in Vancouver for three and a half years.

1. Opportunity is out there, you just have to go to get it.

This is one of the first things I learned when I moved here – that nothing is handed to you and it’s easy to become complacent. I spent a few months feeling sorry for myself because I was not being given the opportunities I was promised when I moved here. I moved here to start my career in Marketing and I learned quickly that I was not on the path I was expecting. Once I came to this realization, I began to hustle and work towards something better. I landed my first job as a legal assistant and began a career that has not only paid me well financially, but has given me chances to always strive for more. I never stopped working towards more and I have been blessed to continuously move up in the industry.

2. You get what you put into friendship, it is not to be taken for granted.

Before I moved to Vancouver, friends were everywhere, always. I never had to plan ahead, make sacrifices or really put a consistent effort into my friendships. After moving here I realized that’s not the case. Life here moves so quickly and people grow so exponentially in such a short period of time that if you put your friendships on the back burner, they will quickly fizzle out.

3. It’s not an easy place to find love.

I know it sounds like a stereotype, that Vancouverites are not looking to settle down or commit to any romantic relationship – but I’ve found this to be true. I went on a lot of first dates living in Vancouver and had what I felt were genuine connections with a few of them (I even got a couple second dates!). I noticed though, that taking anything to even an exclusive place was a struggle for the most part. Now, maybe it was me, and I understand that, but I’ve spoken to some other people who live here and they’ve noticed this too. A lot of people are looking for a connection, but nothing serious. What I think was different when I met Seb, was the fact that neither of us were from here, and neither of lived the typical Vancouver life. We were actually both looking for something more real. That being said, for numerous reasons, I got very lucky the day I met Sebastian.

4. It’s difficult to truly enjoy Vancouver without money and a vehicle.

I’ve been absolutely completely destitute here, I’ve been comfortable financially here, I’ve lived here without a vehicle and I’ve lived here with a vehicle. It’s no secret that Vancouver is EXPENSIVE to live in, but there’s also not a lot of cheap things to do when you’re not working. Going out is expensive, events are expensive, experiences are expensive. The things that are cheap or free include being outdoors, hiking, camping, etc. Those things generally require a vehicle, especially if you’re wanting to not go to the same beach every weekend. It’s genuinely difficult to enjoy living here without at least one of the two.

5. The lack of snow is not worth the 10 months of dreariness.

I remember when I moved to the coast, people told me all the time that it rains a lot here. I thought then that it was completely worth it to not have to deal with a true, cold, snowy winter. What I neglected to realize then was that in a real winter, you see the sun semi-regularly, in a “Vancouver Winter” it’s very easy to forget that the sun even exists. Which leads me to…

6. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real, and you can feel it everywhere.

What happens when a million people don’t see the sun for 6 months? Everyone and everything becomes worse. The people you socialize with begin to become more grumpy, the people who work with and for become more difficult and the people you love become sad, which also makes you sad.

7. No one cares.

Okay, this sounds more negative than I meant for it to – but we’ll get to the negative side of that in a second. People not caring is obviously a blessing and a curse. It’s nice because you can be a complete fool and no one will notice, care or remember. You want to bring a selfie stick on the sea wall? Go for it! You want to fall down a flight of stares in a busy intersection on lunch hour, you’re fine – no one will even look down.

8. Vancouver is exactly what you make it.

Some days I wake up and think Vancouver is the worst city in the world and some days I wake up and think Vancouver is the best city in the world. I’m always right. Vancouver has so much to offer if you allow it, but can also be cold and unforgiving if you make it out to be. Some days no attitude can change your experience here, but it’s always worth a shot.

9. It’s a great place to leave.

Vancouver is overwhelming, it’s expensive, it’s unfriendly – these are all facts. I love getting out of the city for a day, weekend or week. I always feel like I can finally breathe the minute I leave the city borders. I can’t afford to live here anymore, cost of living keeps skyrocketing and there’s nothing left here for me.

10. It’s a great place to come home to.

Every single time I leave the city to go on a vacation or a city break, I’m always overjoyed to come back home. It’s such a beautiful place with so many amazing things to see and do every day, and I’ve been so blessed to have lived here for the past three and a half years.

Who is Kinijalele?

Hi! I’m Kinijalele, you can call me Savanna or Sav though.

This is going to be a little different than pretty much anything I’ve posted recently. It’s raw, and its casual.

For the past three years on this blog, and for many more years before that on my old blog I have portrayed myself as fearless, adventurous and more or less perfect. I’m sorry for that. I wanted to sit down and introduce myself as I am.

I’m a 23 year old girl, who has no idea what she’s doing. I’m not traditionally cool, I’m not overly confident, and I’m not very regimented in my routines. Some days I don’t take off my pajamas or wash my hair. I don’t live a super fun and exciting lifestyle every day, and I don’t actually do that many traditionally fun things. I’m a homebody who wanted to prove to everyone that I was cooler than I was in high school. I’m not cooler than I was in high school, but that’s because I think that who I was in high school was actually pretty damn cool contrary to whatever anyone ever said.

I had my own set of struggles dealing with depression, an eating disorder, borderline personality disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. I AM mostly recovered but every day is always a new day and every day comes with it’s own sets of triggers. I may have made it sound like I am this superstar who has been cured of all ailments, and that’s a dangerous portrayal to make. Some days I still feel depressed and isolated, I don’t always love the body I see when I look in the mirror and there are some days where nothing Seb can do will make me feel okay. This is normal. I consider myself recovered because 95% of the time I feel worthy of love, I feel worthy of happiness and I feel god damn beautiful.

Now, I wasn’t lying about everything – I just kept most things very surface level, trying to avoid oversharing like it was my 2007 Facebook page (you know what I mean) and it is hard to draw a medium online. I do wash my face every night, and I do live a strict gluten free lifestyle. You probably won’t be seeing many OOTD posts going forward, not because I don’t love fashion and style, but because Kinijalele is not going to be superficial going forward. If you care about fashion and style, follow me on Instagram where I will keep most of that content.

I’d love to get some feedback from all of you about what you would like to hear more about going forward as we all continue on this journey together. Leave me some comments below about what you’d like to hear from me, Kinijalele.

 

Why I’m Not Moving to Ottawa

This is a question that everyone has been asking, and it’s taken me a while to really get my thoughts sorted out enough to sit down and write this. I’m going to go into as much detail here as I can without exploiting my loved ones.

The main reason is simple. I needed to put myself first. I have spent a large portion of my life making decisions in full belief that if the people I love are happy, then I will be too. As the years have passed it has become more and more apparent that the decisions I was making were not making me happy. This time I needed to sit down, focus on my goals and dreams and really work towards them.

I needed to prioritize my family. Family is forever, and family will always be my first priority. Long story short, I cannot fathom the idea of not being close through health concerns, and the growth of the little ones.

I needed control. This kind of ties back into putting myself first, but I genuinely believed that I needed to make this decision myself. I could very well end up moving to Ottawa by the end of the year, but that is a decision that I need to make myself. I couldn’t make this decision for anyone else, and I needed to have control over this aspect of my life. It’s no secret that control is something I struggle with and I began to feel triggered in a big way.

This was a self care decision. Sebastian and I are on the same page, and this was the right decision.

To the Friends I’ve Lost Touch With…

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever drove us apart. I want you to know that I still think about you and I will always have so much love for you. I hope you’re doing well – it seems like it from what I see on social media.

It brings me joy to see your happiness. Sometimes I get sad because I used to imagine that we would celebrate the big moments together, that we’d have a toast to all we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come. I miss you.

We don’t keep in touch anymore. A couple back and forth likes of profile photos and status updates have taken the place of regular phone calls, skype dates and daily texts.

I’m sorry I wasn’t there when times got tough, and trust me I wanted to be – but how do you reach back out? It’s hard. I know you understand this, because we’re in this position. We both caused this. I don’t expect to hear from you anymore, and you don’t expect to hear from me – that’s fine. I always think back fondly on our friendship, and I am so blessed to follow along on the amazing journey of your life – even from a distance.

And please remember, I will forever answer your calls, texts or messages and I will always be here for you.

Making Tough Decisions

In the past month I have made a number of difficult decisions – most notably I decided not to move to Ottawa.

Let me be clear, this was not a decision based on my relationship and this was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made.

I’m not going to go into all the reasons I made this choice, but to be frank this was a decision about putting myself first. Either way, I wanted to walk you through what I do at times I find myself at a fork in the road in my life.

1. I seek counsel from people I trust, and who I know will not judge me

I speak to my closest friends, the ones who have been there through other tough decisions in my life and the ones who I genuinely know will be completely unbiased regarding what I choose. I speak to people who I know genuinely only care about my happiness.I also speak to professionals. I will not lie, I have a therapist and I speak to her about everything. When life becomes overwhelming, she is often my first call.

2. I make pro/con lists

GIRL. You cannot make a decision without a pro/con list – end of discussion.

3. I practice visual expansions

This is something I subconsciously did until my therapist gave it a title. This is the practice of looking at all the possible outcomes. For the purpose of this example, I pictured what my life would look like by my birthday if I moved to Ottawa versus what it would look like if I stayed in Vancouver.

4. I listen to logic AND my emotions

My therapist calls this “tapping into the wise mind”. This is something I struggle with. I generally live very strictly in my logical mind. I find that I only swing over to my emotional mind when I am in crisis. I then rein myself back into my wise mind which lies in between my logic and emotions.

I hope this helps you all going forward, especially when both choices seem hard. These are the best tips I have for making sure you’re confident in your decision, as hard as it feels in the moment.

Social Media is Very Isolating

Kinijalele has such an amazing life, she is fearless and confident. She is everything I aspire to be. I wanted more than anything to have the life that you all saw.

I am not Kinijalele though. I have spent what feels like a lifetime building my brand on social media and I have garnished constant support, love and interaction from all of you. That being said, I’ve also felt so alone.

I felt like I couldn’t be real with any of you. As I would post about all the amazing happenings in my life, I would be in the middle of a complete mental breakdown. I’m so sorry for lying to you, and as I move forward I promise to be more real with you.

I know that I have touched on real topics in the past, branding myself as a survivor. It’s never that simple, and I am so so so sorry for anyone who I may have lead to believe that once you’re recovered, you’re good to go. Every single day is a test, things are still hard and triggers are always real.

Thank you for giving me the time to take this time for myself and I’m ready to get back to it as the new Kinijalele, unbranded, unfiltered and always honest.

Taking a Break

Hey all, you may have noticed that I deactivated my instagram – maybe not. I’m going to take a break from being Kinijalele for a minute and really focus on Savanna. I promise this is temporary. I just need some time to figure out my direction. Thank you for you understanding and I love you all so much.

I’ll be back in full force soon.

Vacation Recap – London

Welcome to the third and final part of my vacation recap! Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

We got into London around probably 2 PM and only had about 6 hours there total to see everything we wanted to see.

The first stop was the Tate Modern, a massive art gallery in London. Admission was free for about 5 of the floors. I took my time here to check out the exhibit on modern art, controversy and feminism.

Then we took a walking bridge across the Thames where we got a nice view of the London bridge. Time didn’t allow for us to go check out the major attractions, so this was the closest I could get.

For dinner we ate at Ottolenghis, a tapas bar with Mediterranean and Israeli inspiration. The food was incredible – and they served up a healthy portion of olives to start!

The lighting was also phenomenal here. We couldn’t resist taking a handful of photos while we waited for our food. The ring featured in these images is from a Local London jeweler called Telegrapher’s Lab – I saw her booth at the market and had to own one of her pieces. She doesn’t currently have an online shop, but trust me – I’m waiting.

After dinner we packed up our desserts (including a killer gluten free cake) and got back on the train to our hotel. We had early morning flights, said our goodbyes at the airport and returned home – it was thankfully a super uneventful travelling day.

It was an incredible trip, but it sure is nice to be home for a minute before the craziness of moving ensues.

Vacation Recap – Stoke and Exeter

This is the second part of the three part recap of my trip to North Devon, England. For part one, click here.

On Wednesday we went to the Stoke Cathedral and Cemetery. There was so much history here you could feel the age of the energy in this area. With tombstones dating back to the 1700s, it was amazing. It’s so surreal to be in an area with such old buildings coming from Vancouver where everything is so new in comparison.

We found two tombstones from the mid 19th century that marked where Seb’s ancestors were buried which is incredible.

From the church we took a walk a few miles to the Hartland Abbey, which had some incredible grounds. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but I couldn’t help but try to capture the beauty of this amazing building.

Then we ventured back into Hartland just as a storm began to roll in. Hartland was such a quaint, interesting village that seemed to have everything you could need regardless of the fact that it was tiny.

On Thursday we took a road trip south to Exeter, which is such an amazing city with such rich history. We went to the Exeter Cathedral which was an amazing example of traditional gothic architecture. It was truly breathtaking how detailed and artistically designed it was.

We then walked up to the Exeter Castle (Rougemont Caste) where the plaque honouring the last people executed for witchcraft in England was. It was very sobering, and reminded me how blessed we are for coming so far.

Exeter got me very excited about moving to Ottawa, where maybe the history isn’t quite as rich, but there is so much more character there than anywhere I’ve lived yet.

OUTFIT DETAILS | JACKET – Forever 21 | SHIRT – Express | PANTS – Le Chateau | SHOES – Kangaroos