Sunday, 14 September 2014

#9 Go on a Cycling Trip

Well just like the last post I wrote, its been a long time since I've written a post. The good news is I've been super busy completing things on the list. I have had the most epic summer. There has simply been no time to blog about all the fun things I've been doing. Over the next little while I'll try to share a bit about all the fun things I did. The first thing I want to share though is the cycling trip I did. It was number 9 on the list. I had originally thought I would go with a bicycling adventure group to somewhere I'd never been before. Unfortunately the funds and time simply did not allow. So instead I opted for a self guided cycling trip on Prince Edward Island, and I convinced my dad to join me. We went a few days after his 65th birthday and I'll admit he was in far better shape than I thought he would be. 

Prince Edward Island has revamped the old railway that ran across the island to be a multi use recreational trail. It is used by snowmobilers in the winter and cyclist, hikers and walkers in the spring, summer and fall. It travels through the centre of the island from tip to tip. There are also a few branch trails that go from the main trail into different smaller, coastal communities. All in all there is a total of 410 km of trail.

After much debate and discussion dad and I opted to rent a cottage for the week that was fairly central. Dad was worried that he would seize up after the first day or would be slower than he thought and so did not want to be committed to have to get somewhere new everyday. It made sense at the time but in the end it felt like we spent a lot of time driving back and forth on the same roads and seeing a lot of the same scenery. But it was nice to not have to pack up every morning which also meant we were able to get pretty early starts and beat the heat. 

We only had about 4 days of cycling so we opted to do the section of the trails from Kensington to St. Peter's Bay as well as a branch trail from Emerald to Borden Carleton. The Emerald to Borden Carleton trail was added at the last minute out of necessity. Mom was coming along for the trip to be our shuttle service. The plan was for her to drop us off in the morning at our starting point and pick us up at our end point at the end of the day. Dad thinks it is almost morally wrong to travel the same way twice, the thought of double backing on the bicycle simply was not an option and the island shuttle services would have increased the cost of this trip substantially. Unfortunately this plan hit a little snag when the day before we were leaving on the trip mom threw her back out and couldn't join us. 

Dad and I went ahead and were ready to completely change our plans and just travel a few trails or country roads. Luckily mom just needed a day of rest and was able to join us on day 2 of the trip. 

Our first evening on the island we did a 'trial run' we both tested out our spandex bike shorts for the first time and got a feel for the trail. We did have to double back that first night but it was only a short trip anyway. About 20kms in total We travelled from Hunter River to Loyalist and back (which was really only 10 km of the trails covered)

The following day we traveled from Hunter River to Emerald and then took the side trail down to Borden Carelton, the community where the Confederation Bridge brings you to. The plan was to meet mom there and travel with her back to the cottage in Hunter River. We had a great first long trip and arrived at the gateway village only about 15 minutes before Mom. We did a total of about 35 km on this day. We packed up Moms vehicle with the bikes...though it was a bit of a tight squeeze and we needed some rope to keep the back hatch shut...we managed. Just call us the Griswolds! Back to the cottage where we relaxed for the afternoon, had some supper and went for a drive in the evening to scope out tomorrows start and end point. 

The third day we were there was a scorcher and we were much later than planned getting on the road thanks to Molly waking us up in the middle of the night when the neighbouring cottage got home. For those of you who don't know her,  Molly is the dog I got when I finished university and was living with mom and dad. I moved out about a year later and left the dog with Mom and Dad. Dad continues to threaten to write me out of the will for this. We biked a small portion of the trail from Emerald to Kensington. Mom met us in Kensington where we poked around the town a bit and then headed into Cavendish National Park to do a paved trail from one end of the park to the next. It was about 35 degrees on this day and we were beat by the end, even though we had only done about 30kms we were super tired at the end of the day. I stopped for a quick swim at Cavendish beach so I could say I at least got wet in the Atlantic. It was pretty cold though and it was a quick swim!  We went home and had supper and then into Charlottetown for a ice cream and a look around the water front. We wanted to show mom where to go the following day and how to get to where she was picking us up at. 

The last day of biking was the most challenging, both for us and for Mom. It was a 60 km trek.  Dad and I had no idea how we would do and it was going to be a bit tricky for mom, who is, shall we say, directionally challenged. We wanted mom to find us at the end of the day or along the trail if we could't make it or ran into any mechanical trouble. We had big plans to stay in touch by cell phones but mom lost hers the day before (see photo later in the pose to see how that turned out! We got mom to drop us off in Loyalist and then she went back to the cottage to relax. Dad and I figured we would be at least 6 hours.

It was due to be another hot day so we had an early 7:00am start, though some minor mechanical difficulties at the start of the day had us not getting on the bikes until 7:30. Dad lost a bolt off his back rack that held his blue box and our lunch. He had to take a reflector off the front fender and use the bolt from that to hold the back fender in place. Thanks goodness we didn't have to leave the home made bike rack behind for the last day. 

This section of the trail was by far the most scenic. The beginning had us going through some farm land and industrial and residential areas. The mid section had us going through a huge salt marsh. Although this was beautiful, we couldn't stop for long for fear the bugs would carry us away. Dad even drove by some information plaques without reading them the bugs were so bad (FYI: dad never goes by an information plaque without reading it). 

When we finally got through the salt marsh we were about 40km in and were ready for lunch. We stopped and had lunch in a blueberry field. Something dad and I had done once or twice before. From there we continued on to St. Peters Bay with one other stop in Morrell. 

Mom was waiting for us for about 10minutes before we arrived in St. Peters bay. She had no trouble finding the place and had a great morning relaxing. Dad and I agreed that we would not have been wanting to go much further that day, it was a total of 65kms which put our grand total at 150kms. 

All in all it was a fantastic trip. The trail was well maintained and well groomed but hardly used. We met very few people on the trail but everyone we met was very friendly. We spoke often about how well marked the trail was and how little vandalism we saw. We'd love to get back to do the last few parts of the trail so we could say we did the entire trail. 

Here are some pictures below from the trip.   

Our first night out- the trail run! 

Like I said, Dad rarely drives by an information plaque. 

On our way to meet mom at the Gateway Village 

The Griswolds do PEI!!! 

Cavendish Park trail. 12 KM of paved trail along the water. 

A walk along the waterfront in Charlottetown!

20km into the 60km day. Stay with me dad...and roll down those socks please! 

Lunch in the Blueberry Fields 

Almost at the end of the 60km. Stopped to take in the scenery. The most beautiful part of the trail by far. 

Our trusty shuttle service and mascot Molly! Could not have down this trip without MOM! 

Before we left St. Peters Bay I picked up a feed of seafood. A congrats to Dad and I for finishing the trip but more importantly a happy Retirement gift to Mom and Dad. Mussels, Scallops and Lobster.

As we are leaving PEI I get this text on my phone. They had located moms phone. Luckily we were headed there anyway and stopped in to pick it up. 



Wednesday, 7 May 2014

living lots...just not writing much!

It has been sometime since I’ve put up a blog post. Its not that I haven’t been working on the list I just haven’t been writing about it. Here is a bit of an update. I’m feeling rejuvenated with signs of spring in the air and hopeful I’ll be a bit more motivated to do some writing about my adventures.

#3 and #4 (Quality time with friends and family and Emma and Dustin). I can honestly say this winter has been great for that. I’ve got to spend lots of time with the kids and have had some great time with friends. Over Easter I travelled home with Elizabeth, Dean and the kids…it was a different kind of vacation with those two in tow but we sure had a great time with all of us at mom and dads

#9 (go on a cycling trip) Dad and I are well on our way to planning a cycling trip. We are going to bike a portion of the confederation trail in PEI the first week of July. We both have some work to do to get in better shape for it though.

#12 (read 12 thought provoking books) I read 2 books this winter that fit the thought provoking category-  I am Malala  and Lean In. Both were excellent books. 

#15 (Learn about Wine) I’m not sure I am learning a lot but I certainly have been drinking my fair share. I’ve started always trying a new wine when I go to the liquor store and keeping track of some of my new favorites.

#19 (Refinish a piece of furniture) I bought a wing back chair at a local yard sale that I plan to reupholster.

#22  (do a 365 photo project) I started this on my birthday and have been doing well so far. I only post them on Facebook every couple of days but so far have taken a photo everyday.

#23 Go on 10 dates with 10 new people or find true love… I have checked this one off J after only one date (well a number of dates with the same guy) I found love!

# 25 (no coffee to go for one year) I am failing miserably with this…I’ve still been buying coffee to go more than I had planned. I would argue that it is often still within the rules that I said I would allow but its still been more than planned. Hopefully spring will help this, I tend to get up earlier in the morning when the weather is nicer so there might be more time to make coffee when I need it and I’m less likely to want a tea in the afternoon.

#26 I managed to go one whole moth without shopping. Those who know me understand that’s a pretty big accomplishment.

So there you have it…the list has been coming along even the blog has been stagnant for sometime!

Here are some photos of the last few months.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A Week of Holidays and some progress on the LIST!

I had a week off last week and Monday and Tuesday of this week. I had some holidays I needed to use and was ready for a break from work. I had hoped that I’d be able to take a holiday down south but in the end decided on a stay-cation.

I very much enjoyed my time. Of course it started out with the girls weekend skiing.  
And then was filled with more quality time with friends and family .

Tuesday I spent the day sewing baby gifts for my friend Candice. Tuesday evening I enjoyed a surf and turf dinner with a new friend who happens to be an excellent cook.  

Wednesday I spent a day with Candice and we made a pot of soup for her to have on hand when baby comes.  We had a great day catching up and talking about her new adventure of parenthood that’s on its way. Then I went to visit another friend Nancy that evening and we also had a long overdue catch up.

Thursday I headed down to Ottawa for a ‘me’ day of shopping and after a full day of shopping I had dinner with my friend Maryann.

Friday was a relaxing morning.  Flowers were delivered to me mid morning for Valentine’s Day and then I went to see the guy who sent the flowers that evening.

Saturday I spent the day with my sister. In the morning we took Emma snowshoeing at Forest Lea Cross Country Ski trails. Then went back to Emma’s Nana’s (Sandra) house for lunch. That evening my sister, Sandra and I went out for the evening. We had a delicious dinner at the Nook Creperie (we had dinner and dessert crepes!)  and then went to a step dance and fiddling show put on by the Step Crew at Festival Hall.

Sunday was a relaxing day I watched the men’s curling game, in the morning, got some groceries in the afternoon and then made a big pot of soup.

Monday I moved into a colleagues home where I’m house and cat sitting for the next two weeks.

Tomorrow I’m back to work. Its been a great time off but I’m blessed enough to return to colleagues and work I love which makes it a little easier.  I’m pleased with all I got to do on my time off - #13,  #3 and #4 all got some attention.

Now I’m working on my list of 12 thought provoking books. I’ve read one so far and working on the second, I have a few others lined up but would love to hear some suggestions. The only rule I have set is that they have to be non-fiction.  Leave a comment if you have a favourite thought provoking book I should check out.  

Friday, 14 February 2014

#13- Learning to ski- take 2

I am down to 29. Last weekend I learned to ski- while I’m a long way from the Olympic podium I can say I’ve come away from it relatively unscathed and I think I’d even do it again.

Here is the breakdown of our fun filled weekend. We arrived at Calabogie Peaks after work on Friday afternoon/evening and checked into our condo. We were all super impressed with the condo, lots of space in the two bedrooms, the kitchen was well stocked (although missing a few essentials), a fireplace in the living room and a spectacular view of the slopes (the very steep looking slopes I might add)

We started the weekend off with a smorgasbord of food Friday night- we had bruschetta, greek dip, nacho dip, buffalo chicken wings (weight watchers- aka- fat camp - friendly), hashborwn casserole, greek pasta salad, and chips…and lots and lots of wine.  We also had an apple dip that we obliterated in about 10 minutes….it is healthy because there are apples right????

Friday evening had many laughs….maybe a bit too many since the neighbors knocked and asked us to keep it down at one point. We also had some great music- see below for a backstreet boys tribute video.

Saturday morning we got up and headed to the slope- albeit a little later than originally planned perhaps due to the over consumption of wine the night before.  It took about 45 minutes for Lindsay, Joanna and I to get our rentals, put on the ski boots (that’s a work out in and of itself) and then get to the hill. We started on the small practice hill. There is a conveyor belt that you basically stand on that takes you to the top of a very small hill. The hill was full of mostly children and a few adults learning to snowboard. Lindsay had skied before but not for a few years- she was wanting to get used to being back on skis too so came with us to help us get our footing.  She did a very lovely snowplow down the slope. It was a very controlled back and forth using the whole hill to maintain her speed. I on the other hand flailed my way down the hill, and Joanna didn’t move from the top (I thought “oh boy its going to be a long day.”)

Lindsay and I headed back up the conveyor belt and went down that small hill a couple more times and were eventually able to coax Joanna down with us.  Then it was off to the chairlift. This was my first time on a chairlift on skis and Joanna’s first time altogether. There was a lot of screeching as we got on the lift and as it whisked us off. Joanna has the most wonderful laugh and giggle that I’m sure could be heard all over the hill. Its infectous and so we were all laughing. It was a busy day on the hill so they were making sure there were four to a seat. An older gentleman who was a principle at a local highschool got on with us- clearly someone who’d been skiing for sometime- we apologized for our giggling, screeching and carrying on and he said- “that’s no problem- I can’t wait to see you get off- its going to be great fun…”

We met the rest of our party at the top of the hill. Plan was to take the easiest route down. Emily who thought she knew the hill quite well said- we just go this way. My only other experience with skiing on an easy hill was in Alice- my recollection of it was that it would have a small hill then a flatter stretch to recover on…this hill did not have either a small hill or a flat stretch. At one point I turned around and looked at Alicia who had this look of fear on her face and said- “um yeah- this isn’t the bunny hill.”  Well SHIT! 

So Joanna stuck with Emily and Lindsay I stayed with Alicia and Kelsey and we managed to make our way down the hill. I think we eventually were able to cross over to an easier hill but that first part was treacherous. I tumbled a few times on that trip but nothing too major.

The next time up we hit the proper trail from the beginning. We had a young boy on the lift with us this time. He told us he was a ski racer and last year won a big medal at a local competition. He heard us talking about our new skiing woes and offered to give us some tips (he was about 10 years old). So he took the trail with us but after the first section went off on his own. When we got to the bottom I saw him and said jokingly “Hey buddy I thought your were going to give us some tips”- he said-“yeah I kind of think its hopeless!” well okay then!

Off for the third round! We went up again and down the same hill- we were slowly getting the hang of it but it was a challenge at best. After that run we headed in for lunch. We went back to the condo and snacked on some more great food, mostly left overs from the night before and a veggie dip. While we were there we turned on the Olympics and watched the women’s moguls- we watched the three Dufour-Lepointe sister race and were a bit inspired so headed back out. Not to do the moguls of course- but to do some more skiing. 

By this time I really thought we were getting the hang of things.  My biggest challenge continued to be maintaining a slower speed. As soon as I hit a slope of any kind I would just continue to gain speed. Although the speed didn’t bother me it was my inability to steer and slow down if someone was in front of me.  At one point I was coming up behind Lindsay at an alarmingly fast rate.  I was trying to slow down but once you gain a certain amount of speed, doing the pizza doesn’t really do you much good. I screamed “Lindsay!” I’m not sure why- I guess just to get her attention in case I did plow into her - but the loss of concentration caused a total wipe out. I went down to the side, started twisting on my back down and down the hill. Lindsay looked back just in time to see me stop and hear my hysterical laughter. I didn’t lose my skis so I guess it wasn’t too bad. Getting back up was a bit of a feat- not so much because of the way I had landed but because I was laughing so hard. That was the worst of the falls all weekend. 

We did a few more runs at finished our last run by 4:00.  We were exhausted from all that fresh air and exercise. We went back to the condo and had a few drinks to start and snacks and then had a big spaghetti dinner. A friend told me that the best thing to have after a day of skiing was pasta and man was he right. It hit the spot. We cleaned up and by 7:00 we moved to the living room. Emily fell asleep on the sofa and the rest of us had a pretty quiet evening. It was off to bed by 9:30 or 10 and we all slept pretty soundly. How could you not after a day like that.

Sunday morning we had to be up early as check out was 10:00am. When I woke up I swear every bone in my body ached. Even my toes hurt as I walked downstairs.  We got cleaned up and packed up and since our package included a second day of rentals and lift tickets we had planned to do a few runs in the morning just to get our moneys worth. I figured we’d loosen up once we got on the hill. We tried to convince Joanna to join us for day 2 but she said- “I just put my coat on and it hurt a lot I’m not going again today.”

So only Emily, Lindsay and I made it for day two. I continued to stick to the easy hill but by our last run really thought I was getting the hang of it.  I controlled my speed a bit better sometimes (although not always) and certainly had a bit more confidence when I did gain speed.  We only skied till noon on Sunday and that was enough. We were pretty tired so grabbed a couple of beer and a plate of nachos and headed home.

The skiing was lots of fun but I also really enjoyed the atmosphere of the ski hill. Hanging around the lodge and watching people was a lot of fun and watching people on the hill was great. We met lots of wonderful people on the chair lift and lots of them even offered to help us out and do a run or two with us. Anytime any of us fell someone would stop to see if we needed help. It was great to see family’s out doing it together and I couldn’t believe how many young children were on the hill (skiing circles around me I might add!)It’s definitely a hobby I would consider doing more and hope to get out a few more times this year. 

All in all a successful weekend; although I’m not proclaiming to be a proficient skier by any means I certainly feel I can cross it off the list! I am officially down to 29!  

 Condo - view from loft

 View of the ski hill from the condo

Relaxing after dinner Friday night

So much delicious food. 

The apple dip that lasted about 10 minutes! 

Getting supper ready!

Weekend wine supply!

On the Hill! 

Saturday night pasta dinner!

And whats a girls weekend away without a little tribute to BSB! 


Saturday, 1 February 2014

#13- Learning to SKI

So as I have mentioned a few times recently learning to ski is on the list for this winter. I have been talking about learning to ski forever.  We never really skied growing up except we had this old pair of cross country skis that I used to put on and go down a hill in our back yard. When I finished university every winter I would say I should learn to ski. As much as I thought it would be fun I never ever got around to it. It was a must for the list. This was the perfect thing on the list that I hoped I could convince a few of my friend to help me with. And that I did; I’ve enlisted a few friends from work and I have a weekend booked at Calabogie Peaks.  That will be next weekend but I figured I better try my skills out on a hill so I didn’t break something the first time I hit the hill and ruin everyone’s weekend.

Last night my friend Emily took me for my first time, to a local ski hill In Alice. There is a winter carnival going on in the area this weekend so it was free skiing and $10 rentals making for a relatively cheap evening - if I hated it I wasn’t out much money.

So we picked up the rentals first. Ski boots are extremely difficult to walk in- I felt foolish walking in them and thought I must be doing something wrong. Emily assured me everyone looks funny walking in ski boots. When I thought about it I figured how I looked walking in ski boots was likely to pale in comparison to how I would look stumbling down the ski hill ass over tea kettle which I was certain would occur before the night was out.

So rentals on, lift tickets attached to  ski pants,  and we were off .  We head out to the little hill where lessons are usually conducted. We walk up to the lift. Alice has a t-bar lift and poma lift at a small hill. We went to the poma lift first. After I get my skis on- which was no small feat in and of itself- I watch Emily grab onto the poma lift with great ease and agility.  That looked simple enough.  Think again… So I grab it with my right hand and feel as though my arm might be pulled from its socket so quickly let go stumble a bit, skis lift off ground and I appear to flail a bit…that can’t be right? The guy running the lift is in stitches (thank you sir that’s very helpful!) So I realign my skis and try the next one and manage to hang on this time still feeling like it’s an awful jolt. We make it a little ways up the hill. Emily dismounts first, again with great agility and ease. I let go, lose balance a bit but with some serious arm waving and flailing (lucky I didn’t impale poor Emily with my poles) I manage to stay up right. Emily gives me some basic instructions. Lean on the left foot to turn right, lean on the right foot to turn left (or maybe it was the other way around?), Keep your knees bent, don’t go to fast etc. looks easy enough. She shows me a move she calls the snow plow, an easy way to go back and forth across the hill without gaining too much speed and getting used to being on skis.  The first time down was okay. I stayed upright and stayed going slow.

The next time we went up I picked up speed way too quickly skis crossed in the front (apparently a big no no) and I fell on my ass but didn’t stop. I decided to call that the “butt plow”. Cue uncontrollable laughing. Picture me going at a decent speed, basically sitting on my ass on the back of the skis laughing uncontrollably.  I eventually remember a friend told me you have to throw yourself to the side to make yourself stop. I did this and finally stopped. Emily comes racing down the hill- are you okay she says- I’m laughing so hard and all I can say is I hope you got that on video. The next biggest challenge was getting up. I had fallen in the middle of a steeper part of the hill so as soon as I shifted my weight back on to the skis I would start to move. I then would just sit back down because I didn’t know what to do once half way standing and moving and losing control again. Emily wasn’t sure how to explain to get up so we eventually just took my skis off and walked to the bottom. Not to be discouraged, we did a few more trips up and I was getting a bit better still falling about half the time but was making progress. We decided to do one more round on the poma lift then would try the T-bar. On the poma lift you can get off at a number of different locations. About halfway up I called back to Emily “Do you want to go right to the top this time” , “sure” she said. I promptly hit a bit of a dip in the trail, lost control fell off the poma lift and decided right there was a good enough spot to get off.

To the T-bar. I finally decided we should do a couple of runs on the bunny hill and conquer the T-bar.  The T-bar itself is no easy feat. My biggest fear was falling off of it and not being able to get up with my skis on and just being in everyone’s way. They have all these signs on the way up saying “Fallen skiers- exit track immediately” Yeah right! easier said than done I would think.

Emily was a great instructor though and we made it to the top intact. As we were heading down the second little hill on this trail I said “Hey Emily I really think I’m getting the hang of this!” The words were honestly not even out of my mouth when I promptly lost control and fell on my ass again. “Deserves me right for getting too cocky” Emily said.  Luckily I was on a flat part and got up pretty easily.

Anyway I made it the rest of the way down without too much to do and did one more run of that bunny hill before we called it a night. Though I don’t expect to be doing moguls or jumping anytime soon I’m certain it’s a winter activity I could grow to love. The wings and beer afterward were a nice treat too.  Can’t wait for our girls weekend away!

For those of you who have never seen the Bridget Jones scene where she is skiing
Here the link- it depicts quite accurately my little adventure 

Survived my first fall … Following my butt plow :) … this is the one where I couldn't get up and just and to take my skis off. 

Finished up for the night!
Thanks to my instructor Emily.