Mike Thompson of Impact Studios in Nanaimo

supermoon by Mike Thompson

Early this year, I spent two amazing days in Nanaimo. I ate a lot. I walked a lot. And, I took in the beautiful scenery. Let me tell you, Nanaimo is gorgeous. Though I took several hundred pictures, they paled in comparison to the ones I’d seen when we first opened our gateway route.

And so, I was determined to track down the mastermind behind the lens – Mike Thompson. The president of Impact Studios, this man is an artist. He captures scenes that take your breath away. We spent some time chatting and he very graciously answered all of my questions:


Renting a Car at the Nanaimo Airport with National

Renting a car in Nanaimo with National

Renting a car always feels like dicey business – especially when you’re renting from some place new. If you’re anything like me, you wonder:

Will they be friendly?
Are they actually conveniently located?
Will the car be comfortable?

Heck, I even wonder how good the preset radio stations will be.

National was amazing. Flying into Nanaimo Airport (YCD) – their check-in counter was located just outside of customs to the left of baggage claim.

There wasn’t a line. Even if there had been, it wouldn’t have really mattered. YCD is such a small airport that lines disappear quickly. Their rental cars are parked yards from the front entrance. The service was friendly. The cars were clean. And, the preset radio stations included a country selection this boot-rocking gal could sing to. (more…)

10 Things to do in the San Juan Islands this Fall

18 Things to do in the San Juan Islands this Fall

The Olympic Mountains line the horizon. Old-growth forests tower toward the sky. Two hundred and fifty days of sunshine fill the lakes, shores and valleys with warmth, even during the fall. These are the San Juan Islands, the gourmet archipelago at the edge of the US/Canadian border. Separated from Victoria’s twinkling lights by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the islands offer a small town atmosphere and a place that moves on “island time.” Here is where restaurants are focused on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients; artists are known to open their studios to inquiring minds; and relaxing is expected.

10 Things To Do in the San Juan Islands this Fall

September 1 – 3 – Wooden Boat Rendezvous
Boat in Friday Harbor by Tara Brown PhotographyThere’s something about wooden boats, something about their old world elegance that just speaks to the adventurer in us all. Perhaps it’s the way they’re fashioned by hand. Maybe it’s how nature is present in every inch of their structure. Come discover what it is you love most about these stunning beauties at the thirteenth annual Wooden Boat Rendezvous. Held at the Deer Harbor Marina, all wooden boats are welcome including: oar, power, and sail.


September 6 – Pioneer Family Festival
What was life like for the islands’ early pioneers? Find out at the annual Pioneer Family Festival. Held at the San Juan Historical Museum grounds, there will be interactive demonstrations such as apple cider pressing, blacksmithing, spinning, and weaving. You’ll be able to see the Pig War re-enactors in authentic 1850s uniforms. You’ll be able to try your hand at the two man crosscut saw and the shooting gallery. Plus, so much more!


September 13 – Tour Patos Island & the 1893 Lighthouse
On the outskirts of the San Juan Islands, sits a small droplet of land. However, its importance is not to be measured by its size. Patos Island is home to the Patos Island Lighthouse, which has been guiding vessels through Boundary Pass since 1893. This one-day adventure will take you to the island for a tour of the historic lighthouse and an opportunity to walk the 1½-mile loop trail around the island itself.


11 Things to do in Victoria, BC this Fall

18 Things to do in Victoria this Fall

Just across the US border, history and elegance are preserved in this bustling metropolis. Though a central hub for Canadian innovation, (free, public Wi-Fi hot spots are popping up faster than you can count), Victoria still maintains its old world charm. In an eclectic mix of new architecture and preserved landmarks, this coastal city offers stunning views of the Olympic Mountains. At night, the lights from Port Angeles, WA twinkle across the Straight of Juan de Fuca as Victoria’s own Parliament Buildings and Fairmont Empress wink back. A collection of gardens are speckled throughout the city and seafood based restaurants constantly offer a selection of the day’s freshest catch.

11 Things to do in Victoria, BC this Fall

September 5 – Great Canadian Beer Festival
Beer in Victoria BCSince 1993, the Great Canadian Beer Festival has been growing in popularity. Today, it’s considered one of the must-attend international events. More than 55 craft breweries from Canada and the United States will showcase their brews. Additionally, there will be a variety of food and live entertainment throughout the festival.


September 12 – 14 – Esquimalt Ribfest
Bring your appetite. The Esquimalt Ribfest is a BBQ packed event where eating A LOT is strongly encouraged (and hard not to do). Five meat masters will be throwing down the goods to see who makes the best ribs, chicken, and sauce. In addition to meat filled goodness, there will also be plenty brews, cider, and entertainment. (This event is cash only.)


September 13 & 14 – Victoria International Chalk Festival
3D Chalk at the Victoria International Chalk FestivalStreet painting (also commonly called chalk art) has been recorded throughout Europe since the sixteenth century. During the two-day Victoria International Chalk Festival, more than 10 professional artists and hundreds of armatures (of all ages) will be decorating the sidewalks and pavilions throughout downtown Victoria.


14 Things to do in Seattle this Fall

19 Things to do in Seattle this Fall

To some, fall comes all to quickly in Seattle. But, to those who know the city’s intricacies, fall is a welcome time. From the unique neighborhoods and must-see sport events to the exceptional restaurants and wide array of museums, this isn’t a city that shuts down because of a little moisture. While the chance of showers and cooler temperatures might make an umbrella a worthwhile investment, it’s hardly a reason… to stay cooped up inside. Grab the Seattleite mittens – a steaming cup of coffee – and explore the known, and lesser known, hot spots.

14 Things to do in Seattle this Fall

September 4 – NFL Opening Day: Seahawks vs. Packers
12th MAN Crew Seattle SeahawksFebruary 2, Seattle was on fire. The magic surrounding the Seahawks Super Bowl Championship couldn’t be contained. It spread far and wide. The 12th Man could be seen in the San Juans and throughout Vancouver Island. September 4, at 5:30 PM, the excitement officially returns. NFL Opening Day is here – literally. We’re hosting the first official game of the season. Come to the city and be part of the magic.


September 5 – 21 – Puyallup Fair
Scream like a kid. Go on. Do it. There are going to be rides. There are going to be scones. There are going to be hot dogs on sticks, deep-fried onions, bucking bulls, singing stars and dazzling juggling routines. The Puyallup Fair has been delighting folks of all ages since 1900. This year will be no different.


September 7 – Round the Rock
Bring your paddle. Bring your board. This is a SUP (Stand Up Paddle) race that’ll test you to the core. Round the Rock, is a race to see who can navigate their way around Mercer Island first.