Camping at Sharbot Lake – July 2014

I’ve been a bad wife and a bad mother. I’ve been working so hard and focused so much on my new projects at work (both exciting and stressful at the same time) that I wanted to do a stay-cation and work part time from home. Mind you, I did plan on making sure we did fun things during the day but I figured I would still wake up at the same time every morning, head to the gym while everyone slept so I could join them for breakfast or brunch when they woke. Then we would do something fun in the city (or just outside the city). Work would have been when we got home before dinner and after dinner. Or after breakfast if we were having a late start of the day.

But my husband put a stop to this mad way of thinking. He asked what the point of a vacation was if I wasn’t really going to take a true break from work? Yes, he had a point. This is a special year though as we re-build and re-brand ourselves in so many ways. Being the new marketing manager makes me pretty much accountable for all of this.

And so, he convinced me to go camping for a few days. There’s no WIFI during camping and therefore, no way for me to connect.

Now, I do have my Asana app which links me to my team. Any updates on our projects would be notified to me through this app. Yet my boss, the VP, gave me orders to not do any work or think about work. He must have told this to the rest of the team because I received no notifications until Sunday, the day before heading back to the office.

Anyway, we found ourselves at Sharbot Lake, thankful we were able to get a great site since we were going mid-week. It was so beautiful and we definitely plan to head back there again.

Sharbot LakeWe spent one day hiking the Discovery Trail. While only just over 2 km which is nothing compared to the usual distance we hike now, the terrain was on the more rugged side which I love! It also walked us through several different types of scenery and landscapes. Chaeli noted that this made the whole hike much more interesting as we got to see many things.

Sharbot Lake camping - toadWe encountered a lot of different wildlife – all small types, though. The first morning, Doug nearly stepped on a toad just outside our trailer. I picked it up and gave it over to Chaeli to release in the woods. Hobbes got a chance to sniff (and lick) it. I am guessing toads give off a bitter taste as part of their defense mechanism because Hobbes backed up quickly and shook his head vigorously in disgust.

Hobbes encountered many squirrels and chipmunks – including one that came running across our campsite. It probably did not see Hobbes or maybe it was on a suicide mission because Hobbes, waiting for the right moment, pounced without a sound and intersected the poor squirrel. The squirrel was unharmed but did get flipped into the air before it scurried away and ran up a tree – making a lot of noise along the way!

trailer campingChaeli was wiped every night we were there. Not only did we remain fairly active, but she also would join the neighbouring kids for a game of soccer or tag whenever they gathered in the big field behind our camp site. It was an ideal spot for us because she was constantly in our view.

camping foodcamping foodI always tell people – just because we’re camping doesn’t mean we have to rely on just hot dogs and canned food. And because of my diabetes, I have to remain healthy even while vacationing, camping or not.

Luckily, we have an electric cooler and we were staying at a hydro site. This made packing mixed spring greens easier, as well as other veggies. I prepared all the veggies before leaving though – I cut up carrots, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower and broccoli then threwg them into Ziplock bags the day before we left. This allowed also for easy snacking access for healthier food options.

And nothing compares to a thick, juicy steak that’s grilled over an open flame.

Sharbot Lake fishingWe spent one afternoon canoeing and fishing. But none of us had even a nibble. It was pathetic.

The next day, just for a last attempt, Doug took Chaeli to the unused campsite across from us which was next to the lake. They just stayed on shore to cast their line in. While Doug caught some very small fish he released right away, Chaeli snagged this 2lb Large Mouth Bass with just her dinky Mickey Mouse rod we bought for her from Canadian Tire of all places!

Sharbot Lake canoeingIt was a great vacation. We arrived home Friday afternoon which still gave me a couple of days for a mini-stay-cation to round up my week off. I managed not to log on my laptop for at least two days after we made it home but did check email Sunday late afternoon (I knew I would have a lot of emails and just wanted to start filtering out all the junk and reading some important emails).

Morning Hugs

In the morning, when it’s me who has to wake up Chaeli for the day, I always try to wake her up with a hug.

She’s not too far off from what I’m like in the morning. I do have the discipline of waking up early but I do it my own way. If some one wakes me up, they better tread lightly?

This morning, when I sat next to her on her bed and gave a soft, singing, “Good mooooorniiiing…” she replied back with eyes closed, “Morning hug… I like my morning hugs.” And so as usual she slowly sat up and we embraced each other, giving her a chance to adjust herself to having to get up.

She then whispered, “I love you, mommy.”

I think that was better than a cup of coffee.

Downtown Toronto, Patio Time and First TFC Game

downtown toronto

I will say, it was a wonderful feeling heading downtown again. I know it’s not been that long since we’ve been but it certainly feels like it’s been awhile. I know I’m biased, but I always feel at home when I’m greeted by my Toronto city line.

Cadillac Lounge patio

I won’t ever go back here for food. We ordered ribs and wings. While they boasted their wings to be really big a meaty, I couldn’t help but wonder what the point of it being meaty was if it was going to be so rubbery. The ribs were so-so. Smoked flavour didn’t really shine through and it wasn’t very tender either. I ordered a grilled Portobello sandwich which was suppose to come with a salad and on top of that, you could pay to sub the fries for more another type of salad. I was expecting two small side salads but I only got one. When the food arrived, I inquired but was told that I only get one. I didn’t both to ask to see the menu again as I was sure I was right. I should have.

And as you might have guessed, the service wasn’t so good either. Our waitress was horrible.

The patio environment, however, was great. And if you’re looking for a place to grab a drink and a light snack, or listen to the live band, definitely check this place out. But be warned about the food.

cadillac lounge patio

cadillac lounge patio

We arrived at the BMO Field for some free time just to soak in the atmosphere. I must say, there is a certain charm with a smaller stadium. The intimacy of the energy is much more noticeable. And they were right – while we had decent seats that were centre and mid-level, the view of the field can be taken in quite well regardless of where one sits.

BMO Field

Toronto FC CapPerhaps what made it an even more special night was the score – 4:2 for Toronto against the Houston Dynamo’s!

Toronto FCWhat a great evening. We’ll definitely return next year!

And while we were gone, our faithful dog guarded the house from squirrels.

dog spotting squirrel

Climbing, Caving and Camel Rides

Unfortunately, I had to work this past weekend. And unfortunately, I may be working even more so this upcoming weekend. But I try to schedule my work time early in the morning or late afternoon/evening. It’s still important to enjoy the daylight with the family – especially as summer has officially started and the countdown for precious weekends we actually have together is on its way.

Whenever I’m in the mood for a challenging hike, calling up Ada or Hoa never fails. They always know just the place to explore. Granted, the hikes are not nearly as challenging as even the easier ones from the West Coast but we still manage to work up a light sweat.

And I was in a serious mood for a hike. Any hike would have been fine but when my first plans fell through, I found myself more eager to not just go on a hike, but a more adventurous one.

Hoa was busy at the annual Island Dragon Boat race so we picked Ada up and headed to the back entrance of Mount Nemo – a part of The Bruce Trail.

Mount Nemo Bruce Trail

Top view from Mount Nemo

The main entrance includes a paid parking lot at the very top. Ada, however, showed us an area to park from the back entrance for free. Plus, it started us off with a nice climb to get our bodies warmed up. By the time we reached the top, we learned we climbed about half the height of the CN Tower.

spelunking caving mount nemo

Spelunking the vertical caves.

Along the trail at the top, we found crevices – vertical caves – to climb in and out of. One of them lead us to the opening at the side of the cliff.

Chaeli was at first apprehensive. I think it was how dark it looked from the entrances but for the most part, there’s enough light to make it comfortable to see once at the bottom. After her first climb down, she became quite the explorer.

I wish we had more time to complete the rest of the trail as we only did the one side next to the escarpment. We decided to turn back and miss out on the end loop. When we reached the bottom, we did a good 7K in around 2.5 hrs (which included 3 cave explorations).

The next morning, I got the troops up to head to the zoo. Our annual membership ends beginning of August but looking at our calendar, I knew we would not have another chance to visit the zoo before that date. In fact, July is completely booked.

Zoo Peacock Cafe

Breakfast at The Peacock Cafe

As usual, we went to The Peacock Cafe just by the inside entrance for breakfast. They do not have much diabetic-friendly selections for me so I made sure I had my Weetabix with berries and almond milk just before leaving. But I joined Doug and Chaeli for a large coffee while they ate their toasted bagels and cream cheese.

Torongo Zoo Zoomobile

Waiting for the Zoomobile to take-off.

Near the end, we took the Zoomobile for a round trip just for kicks. Then made our way to the camel ride area so Chaeli could finally ride a camel for the first time.

We’ve been wanting to do this for years. And I mean YEARS! We just never had a chance or it wasn’t open when we had the chance. She loved it – though complained that the back of the camel was much harder to straddle than the ponies she’s been on.

Toronto Zoo camel ride

Will Sir Camel mind a photo-op with his guest?

Father’s Day weekend 2014

birthday sushi, world cup

Celebrated with sushi, beer and watching Italy kick England’s ass in the World Cup!

Coconut flour pancakes

Coconut flour pancakes, Kale salad and organic sausages – So good!

TFC tickets

We bought him tickets to see the TFC (Major League Soccor) – something he wanted for a very long time.

Woodland Trail - Rouge

Our traditional father’s day hike. Went for just 3km.

Woodland Trail - Rouge

I swear I’m going to plant some flowers in that hole next time.

Avocado Buacomole Salsa

With bean-tortilla chips. Made this for our father’s day dinner appetizer. I added extra cilantro.

Tomahawk steaks

Before shot of 1 of 3 Tomahawk steaks we bought for father’s day dinner.

Tomahawk steaks

Our 3 Tomahawk steaks grilling away – marinated with olive oil and encrusted with minced garlic, onion powder and a bit of salt and pepper.

academic award

Chaeli won an academic award for her grade 4 class in English, Math, Science and Social Studies.