Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kayaking the Islands!

If you recall, last summer I went canoeing with Cam around the Toronto Islands. My friend Jeni mentioned she would love to do that as well some time, so I booked us a tandem kayak for her birthday this year! Now, her birthday was about 6 weeks ago, but due to scheduling and one raincheck, we didn't get a chance to go until last weekend- but it was worth the wait!

The weather was absolutely perfect- we have had quite a warm start to fall and the Saturday we went was 18 degrees and 100% sunny- super comfortable for getting our kayak on! Also, the winds weren't too bad to crossing the channel to the islands was smooth sailing.

We had a great time out on the water from about 10:00am to 4:30pm. We went all around the islands, stopped in at the little boat-access-only beach for a snack break, and we beached our kayak on Centre Island and had lunch on the patio of the Carousel Restaurant (which, by the way, is my favourite island restaurant for a decent lunch and a cold beer!).

I seriously can't say enough good things about the Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre, where we rented our kayak. This is the second time I booked with them and their customer service is great. We had originally planned to go a couple of weeks ago but the forecast was thunderstorms. The day before the rental place called AND emailed to let me know that they had already made the call not to do rentals that day and offered to reschedule us or completely refund us!

Oh- and I know you can rent canoes and kayaks on the island itself, but the island rental place is a little more expensive (not to mention the $15 for two people on the ferry to the island) and crossing the channel is so fun because you are right by the airport and planes take off right over your head! Oh- and we saw a blimp!

I seriously recommend any visitors to Toronto spend a day at the islands- either by boat or on foot! It is a little oasis from the city! And don't be afraid of the kayak either- I had very limited experience in one and Jeni had never been in one- and we did just fine! Much less tippy than a canoe!!

Thank you Jeni for the fun date!! It was such a nice way to close out the summer!

Monday, September 19, 2016


I feel like I have so much to talk about with engagement and wedding shenanigans, but first let's talk about Edgewalk! For the 30th birthday I wanted to get a bunch of my girls together to do Edgewalk at the CN Tower- it is an outdoor walk 1,168ft up in the air- not even a handrail in sight!! Unfortunately I am friends with a bunch of chickens, so it just ended up being me, my Mom, my friend Erika, and Lindsey from Happy or Hungry! cam actually got me a giftcard for it for my birthday, but it just took until September to find a date that worked for all 4 of us.
Myself, Mom, Erika, Lindsey

It was so much fun! You get ready on the ground floor and there is VERY thorough security to make sure nothing unsafe is brought up and anything that can fall is removed or secured. Then you suit up in lovely red jumpsuits and uncomfortable harnesses and ride a private elevator all the way up!

Our team! Ready to go!

Then before you know it, you are doubly secured to the track and you just walk on out! They made me go first :|. I was super nervous at first and the first "activity" was standing on the very edge with your toes hanging over- eeeek!! But after that I really got comfortable and enjoyed the other tasks, like leaning back and leaning forward over the edge! It was also fun to point out landmarks in the city- like my condo! I live practically next to the CN Tower!

I totally thought I would be terrified and feeling the adrenaline, but I felt pretty cool out there! You learn to trust your equipment and your guide. It was a great 25 minute walk and then we were back inside!

All in all, a very cool experience and a great morning with my mom and friends!! I totally recommend it to anyone coming through town!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Cabot Trail and Some Big News!

The Thursday of our trip we were off to drive the Cabot Trail! The Cabot Trail is a long road that winds up the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It is the big circular yellow road and is around 300km so we allotted a whole day for it- totally needed it when we ran into construction or an RV trying to get up the mountainside! Plus is meant we could stop and every lookout point, go to the beach, and get some lunch!

Our KOA was actually right by the first green 105 marker in the lower right- so very convenient for touring! We decided to drive counter-clockwise so we would be on the outside lane- easier to pull over at the lookout stops. I drove the first hour or two and honestly we all started to worry that the drive would end up being really boring- it was a lot of trees and very few glimpses of the ocean. But then right around the beginning of the park you start climbing up into the mountains and it gets SO scenic! We kept pulling over to take shots of the water and valleys! And we saw a bald eagle! I was hoping to see a moose on this trip (I've only ever seen one when I was 16), but I will take a bald eagle instead. At one point we found a beach and Cam went for a swim. The water was about 100 billion negative degrees (give or take) so I declined to join him and enjoyed the sun with my Dad!


Cam wetting his toes before going in for a real swim

We stopped for lunch somewhere in Pleasant Bay and I had a really delicious lobster roll! Somewhere in the park we pulled over and there were park rangers there with all sorts of whale facts (we didn't see any whales, but sometimes they pop out of the water) Overall we all really enjoyed the Cabot Trail and I would totally recommend anyone who is in the area to save a day for it. Also, I recommend going through Neil's Harbour up in the north- it is a touch farther, but a very scenic route through some small fishing towns.

By some luck (seriously- the KOA manager said we were very lucky here- that we got any cabin at all last minute was unusual), we were able to extend our cabin rental to leave on Saturday morning so we designated Friday as a rest day (and a lobster dinner day). It turned out nice because it kind of rained on and off all day so we relaxed, read books, Cam went for a swim again. And then in the late afternoon Cam asked if I wanted to go sit out on the dock at the campground beach (which we had done a couple of times over the week so it wasn't that suspicious) and he PROPOSED!!

Ahhhh it was so exciting!!! I will admit I had a lot of suspicions that it might happen on this trip but it was still so special and surprising. We hung down at the water for a bit before heading back to camp to share the news with my Dad! Then we all went out for dinner. Unfortunately fresh lobster wasn't in season, but we had lots of other lobster dishes to celebrate. I also Facetimed my Mom and called about a million friends on the drive to and from dinner :).

Saturday morning we packed up for a long two-day drive home. It all went smoothly and no hiccups and now we are home and planning our wedding!!!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Cape Breton and the Fortress of Louisbourg

I just got back last weekend from a week long trip with my Dad and Cam out to Nova Scotia! This trip started being planned months ago with my Dad planning to be in British Columbia for a couple weeks with friends with his RV and Cam and I were going to fly out to join him on the cross-country trip home to Ontario. But his trip to BC got cancelled and since I already had the week off work we decided to drive out east and visit Cape Breton and Halifax instead!

My Dad just bought the RV this summer and this was supposed to be it's first big vacation...when disaster struck. We were 5 minutes down the highway when a car lost control on the wet road and slammed into us! Like literally 5 minutes at most...here is a map of the incident. Green is where we got on and red is around where we got hit.

Thankfully no one was hurt- not even the guy who hit us and his car was really banged up. But sadly the water and electricity to the RV was damaged and thus the RV's first big trip was over. Poor RV. Hopefully he will be repaired soon!!

Harvey the RV in better days


So we limped the RV back to my Dad's house (not far from that green circle), and had a little pity party for about 5 minutes. Then we decided to go on our trip anyway! Cam and I drove my Dad's car to get an oil change and to buy a cooler while my Dad unpacked the RV. We got home and the boys loaded the car up while I frantically cancelled our KOA (RV park) reservations and hurriedly made some new ones! By some miracle I was able to book us a hotel near Quebec city for that night, and then a cabin at a KOA campground in Sussex, New Brunswick, AND another KOA cabin in Cape Breton for 3 nights!! We didn't have any plan for our last two nights, but figured we just find motels and figure it out later. This did mean we had to cut Halifax from our trip, but we were all looking forward to Cape Breton the most anyway. We were off that afternoon!

The drive to Quebec City was pretty miserable- it poured rain the whole time and my Dad was still trying to figure out insurance and repairs on the RV. But by the time we reached New Brunswick the next day we were all in a much better mood! Our cabin was a little rustic beauty that was not at all air tight (my Dad said there was a distinct breeze in his bunk), but it was surprisingly spider free so I give it two thumbs up! We BBQ'd some burgers and hot dogs and made bacon and eggs in the morning. We weren't sure how long the cooler would keep meat good so we ate up!

Then we were off to Cape Breton! The drive was pretty uneventful, but scenic! Trees and water and hills- much nicer than home! We arrived in the afternoon at the CUTEST cabin I have ever seen. There were big red cliffs as the backdrop to the KOA campground and the cabins looked out onto the Atlantic (kind of in an inlet, but still- the ocean!). They even had a porch swing! And were also airtight this time. :)

Sunrise :)

Not a bad view, eh?

Cam at the campground beach
 The next day we drove down to the Fortress of Louisbourg- a big fortress that the French occupied in the 1700s. Most of the Fortress is ruins now, but in the 1960s and 1970s they built a replica trying to be as true to the original buildings as possible. It was super interesting! Lots of people in costume walking around- we even saw a guy get shackled by the neck for stealing a bottle of wine. We walked around a lot, ducking into historic buildings to see art, artifacts, watch the blacksmith, and read about life in the fort and the reconstruction of the site. Then we went for a late lunch in one of the restaurants that serves food as if it were still the 1700s.

Us with our bibs on

mmm Turkey Pie

After the Fortress we took a scenic drive home along the coast and stopped in at the Marconi Museum, where the first inter-continental radio waves were transmitted!

The cliffs near the Marconi site

Then it was on back to our KOA for a good ol fashioned bonfire. :). The next day we went to the Cabot Trail, but I will save that for another post!

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