Saturday, June 13, 2015

Manitoulin Passage Ride 2015: Maja does it again!

Last weekend a group of us headed off with our bikes to Manitoulin Island to participate in the Passage Ride, an annual 2 day bike ride on the island.  Last year was such a great experience that we decided to come back with more friends. And we were not disappointed.

Despite the looming threat of rain on Sunday, our hosts were amazing and the rain did not start until we were safely tucked away in the restaurant near the ferry with hot soup and beer.

We had a great dinner, fresh and local at Batman's Cottages and a fun country lunch at Kicking Mule Ranch complete with country western singers and farm animals.

The Paradise motel we stayed at had a lovely couple who loved to chat and were interested in how our day went.  They picked up our luggage and delivered it from the ferry to our rooms and back and made us some much needed coffee on Sunday morning.

This trip  is like the sign of summer for us now.  Maja and here volunteers are the magic behind it all and we hope it continues until these legs can't peddle anymore.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Spain! Mallorca and Barcelona

Just arrived back from a trip of a lifetime: One week biking Mallorca and one week in Barcelona.
The Mallorca part was beautiful: along shorelines, small villages and great heights.  We found our way along the trail set for us and relaxed in the evening in wonderful hotels. Then onto Barcelona where we stayed right in the centre of all the action.  Gaudi's amazing architecture blew us away as well as the sheer vitality of the city.  The wine and Tapas never stopped. My favourite tours were the Sagrida Familia, Park Guell, and Monserrat and Cava Winery Tours.  I have heard from others that once you go to Barcelona once, you will always go back.  I am certain that will be the case with me.
Put it on the bucket list: You won't be disappointed.

Veiw My Spain Story in Google

Sunday, February 1, 2015

True Canadians-Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival

I salute you - all you winter warriors who showed up the the Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival yesterday.  Yes it was a bit chilly, but it was a fantastic way to spend a cool day at the end of January. It is amazing how many  neon one-piece ski suits can be found in a pinch when it comes to a party. Human-sized jenga, roasting marshmallows, hot toddies and dancing in puffy snow-suits, what more could one ask for?  My woollen boots are still drying out and my velvet snow pants are in for repair, but today is the start of my planning for next year's outfit.  So- look out hot pink snow suit couple...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hiking Killarney- The Lacloche Silhouette Trail

On June 21st we began hiking the Lacloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney, Ont.  Longest day of the year, most mosquitos of the year.  This is an extremely challenging trail; 80 km.,  with really long climbs.  We did the hike over 6 days, 5 nights which seemed reasonable getting going at about 8:30 most days and taking time to look around and enjoy the spectacular  views, swim if we chose to ( and I always choose to), enjoy short breaks every couple of hours and a nice lunch on a high white peak with a cool breeze. The lakes are a beautiful turquoise colour and perfect for a cool dip after a sweaty day of hiking.We saw more wildlife than I have ever seen in one area.  1 bear, 2 deer, 3 beaver and  a blue heron. We were exhausted when we were done but we capped off our accomplishment with a great plate of fish and chips and a beer.  What more is there?

Here are some things I have learned from this trip:

1.  ALWAYS take an extra water filter or alternate method of filtration.
(our filter became very slow after a particularly pollen filled lake)

2. There are things that can stay home and it might be nice to have a lighter pack
(we have been hiking with packs at 40-45 lbs, but may aim lower next time)

3. If you can, always hike with an expert tarp putter upper.
(Ours was Rick-very useful on our evening of torrential rain)

4. It is all relative.  ( we met someone trying to do the trail in 12 hours- unbelievable!)

5. If you know where the blisters are always going to form, put the moleskin on BEFORE they form!

6.  A bug jacket may look ridiculous but it may save your sanity.

7. It is great to be able to cook and set up camp in full daylight, just difficult to stay awake until it gets dark.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Passage Ride 2014- Manitoulin Island

This past weekend we participated in The Passage Ride, an organized bike ride on Manitoulin Island and were pleased to find out it was AWESOME!  Whenever you participate in something like this, you
have worries, (or at least I do)  Will there be mosquitos?  Will it be cold?  Will it be too hot? Will I be too slow? Will I be too fast?  Will there be enough food?  You get the picture. As it turned out, it was perfect.  And it seems that that is mainly due to the organizer, Maja and her devoted helpers.

This group it seems has worked tirelessly to improve cycling on the island and to make Manitoulin a cycling destination.  Their foresight is paying off.  They have a great stretch of  road with paved shoulders and are working toward getting more.

The scenery on Manitoulin is beautiful and interesting as it has rock formations and plants that we may not see down south.  This made the ride so enjoyable  If it is a good workout you're looking for, there are plenty of hills. If you are like my husband, you can go up and down them many times, looking for your wife who is actually way ahead of you.

 Maja  knows how to run an event.  Great food, great music and fantastic scenery.  (ok I know Maja didn't do that last one but if it was necessary, she probably could make it happen. )

I would like to tell you to come next year, but numbers are limited and I need to go again.  But if you must check it out, here is the website.

Enjoying lunch break at Kicking Mule Ranch

Dinner at Maja's fantastic backyard restaurant

Bikes on the ferry

Friday, September 20, 2013

West Coast Trail - Sept. 2013

 Well after much pouring over maps, photos,   recipes, and equipment, we finally did our trip to the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island B.C.

We were incredibly lucky because we had absolutely no rain, no injuries, didn't starve and didn't get eaten by a bear. All the research was worthwhile. No 1. -- it was fun and gave us something to look forward to - and who doesn't like spending a Saturday at MEC anyway? No. 2- It saved us from unpleasant surprises that can ruin a trip.We did one overnight trip close to home to try out our equipment and try out the weight we planned to carry and one full 6 day hike on Lake Superior. The latter certainly prepared us for the WCT because it actually turned out to be just as hard and possibly even harder.

 The difficulty on the WCT was not the ladders (there are about 70) as we expected, but the mud. There was mud everywhere. You are constantly walking on logs, stumps, rocks, to avoid going up to your knees in mud. And believe me, many people did. Others fell right in. The sections of the trail without the mud or even just tackier mud are sheer pleasure. After 5 days of the stuff though, you begin to tire of lifting your leg to step up on the logs and just plow right through the mud if it seems only ankle deep.

 The cable cars were fun and suited us paddling types because of our upper body strength but one in particular would have been impossible without help. That day we were starting out for the day with the creek crossing. We studied the creek, looking for a place to cross, climbed up the cable car ladder, saw the huge dip in the line, climbed down the cable car ladder, studied the creek some more, talked to some other guys who said they planned to check out the creek and finally... after about 45 min of this nonsense, got across via cable car with the help of the other pair. And we were just starting our day! Two minutes from our camp the night before!

 We saw lots of animals: whales, seals, sea lions, sea otters, an eagle and an elk on the bus ride up to the trail head. Did I mention that the bus ride was probably the worst part of the trip? Six hours on a wash board road- I was not mentally prepared for that at all.
Tsusiat Falls

 On our longest day (20 kms) we had the crab feast at the ferry and a hamburger at Chez Moniques both on the same day. I inhaled that hamburger so fast and gulped down the beer that I can honestly say I have no recollection of what it tasted like. At Moniques there was a tour group that had missed their food drop and had spent the day there, watching whales, drinking and eating. I am thinking if you are doing a tour on the WCT and your food doesn't arrive, that is not a bad place to be. They seemed to be in good spirits.

Fresh Crab!
 We travelled North to South. We met many people going the opposite way at Thrashers Bay. They all warned us that if we thought it was bad so far, they were sorry to say that the worst was yet to come.(Much higher ladders and way more mud) We couldn't imagine that it would be so much worse but that night we ate double our dinner to prepare for our brutal day and I slept restlessly. Turned out it was just much of the same and not as bad as they let on. I think they tell those people that at their orientation to make them feel like they are getting the hard part over with.

 The absolute best part of the trip was the people you meet along the way. You tend to see a few of the same people each night at the various campsites and go over how your day was compared to them. Some race ahead as they have a schedule they want to meet, others meander along taking all the time in the world. I would not advise trying to achieve some kind of record doing this trail. No 1. - There is too much to see along the way. No. 2 - The chance of getting hurt is too great. No. 3 - You don't get to hang out with all the awesome people.

A well deserved break
 When we finished the trip we had a few beers and lunch with some fellow hikers and then passed out by the side of the road because the sun was nice and warm and we had no where to to go just then. Funny thing was, people kept stopping their vehicles and asking us questions: "Hey did you just finish the West Coast Trail?" "How was the weather?" "Do you know where I can get gas?" -I don't know about you but where I come from it is not polite to wake someone who is sleeping by the side of the road. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat, but there is a whole big world of trails to explore in the meantime.  Next up Killarney, Ont. which has great reviews and then who knows?  Maybe New Zealand?

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Today I ended up coaching a dragon boat practice which I don't normally do and haven't done for about 8 years.  And during the set up for that practice was a perfect example of the kind of friends to have.
I always choose friends that are in for anything.  "What? you want to go cliff diving?.... I'm in!"
"What?  you want to ride and ostrich?.... I'm in!"
That sort of person.
So today while we were sorting out the dragon boat, and I was very disorganized because of having not done it for a while, my friend Sharon offered to hold the dragon boat while I ran to get a paddle, life jacket etc.  When I cam back, she said "Good."  and walked away from the dragon boat.  I watched her walk away and stood there as the dragon boat began to float down the creek.  By the time I clued in, it was too far to catch.
I was wearing a nice, fairly new pink dress because I was not prepared to coach.  Sharon was dressed more casually, but had already showered after her war canoe practice.  We looked at each other.
I said:  I think I am going to have to go in.  I have no choice."
Sharon said:  Well do you want to go in or do you want me to?"
Background note:  Our creek is muddy, brown and slimy:
I said:  "I want you to."
The words were barely out of my mouth and she had dived in.
That is the kind of friends I have.

Then there is Diane.  She is usually all in. Last winter we were going skiing to Ellicotville;  a bit of a hike but worth it on the special day they have for Canadians with reduced prices.  Diane and Rick planned to come but backed out at the last minute due to the prediction of rain. We went anyway.
It poured and poured.  The night before skiing we sat at the bar until midnight watching a river of rain
run down the main drag.  The next morning we went to the hill as it started to snow.  It snowed all day.
The kind of snow that covers the ground quickly with big fluffy flakes.  By 10 am. we were having the ski day of our life.  And to top it off, hardly anyone was there due to the forecast.
When I told Diane, she was kicking herself and vowed never to do that again.  So Diane and Rick came on the brutal Superior Coastal Trail in the blog entry below.  She dropped in her status for a bit but is right back up there with Sharon again.