If only my uncle were gay…

My uncle is a very intelligent man. And I love him very much. He is definitely part of the family. But there are times, most times, I get tired being around him. On one such incident, was yesterday, after returning from a long drive from Old Montreal – our quick stop from Sutton, QC, where we skied and snowboard for two days.

Old Montreal

Beautiful Old Montreal

White a short trip – one where I didn’t get to do as much as I had planned. One being to sneak away from my husband and daughter, find a cafe to sit and read in peace. Something that has lately become a luxury to me – we made the most of it. Unfortunately, as the decision to stay for 1 night (it originally was for 2 nights) was last-minute, reservations for our prime restaurant choices was pretty much impossible unless we wanted to eat at 9:30 PM. But we did find L’Orginal just in walking distance from our hotel.


Wonderful service and food at L’Original in Old Montreal

I had a great time with Doug and Chaeli. Chaeli attempted raw oysters and finished most of her wild mushroom fettucine. I was most impressed with her adventurous eating that night. Doug and I finished a bottle of very nice wine – which left me a bit on the drunk side when we left the restaurant. We also ordered their deer chops for two. I was in complete carnivore heaven.

Anyway, my uncle can be a stubborn, argumentative mule. And while he says he is not sexist or homophobic, he certainly has proven himself to be a complete liar.

Mont Sutton

Last shot of Mont Sutton before leaving

I try my best to bite my tongue in order to keep peace at the dinner table. But lets face it – It’s against my character not to let his little remarks go past me.

Yesterday, I found myself being attacked personally. Every thing I said, he had some condescending remark waiting for me. Everything I said, he had an argument for. And I know why. I had faced it all my life with men like him.

Mont Sutton

I wish I was snowboarding again rather than having dinner with my extended family

When around a man who can not come to terms that his wife wears the pants around the house, he will do whatever it takes to make his ego feel better by attacking the next strongest woman in that room (and in his life for that matter) to try to prove a point.

It’s so childish and tiring. And while I do not fight back nearly as much, I do distance myself from these family gatherings more and more. It’s become too much of an inconvenience to me and my special time to have to endure this stupidity at my expense over and over again.

Le Cafetier

We had brunch at Le Cafetier 3 mornings in a row

What does this have to be with him wishing he were gay? Simply because it might change his perspective on the way he is with others. He could still be sexist. He could still be a jerk. But… He would be forced to have a more open mind given the different challenges he would have faced when he would have come out.

Apres Ski Conversations

Things come to my mind at odd times. Old memories can be stirred from an activity that I’m doing. Or places that I am visiting (both new and old places).

L'Hotel Horizon Bar

Apres ski bar of L’Hotel Horizon (Sutton, QC)

Over a shared bottle of wine with my husband, between appetizers and our main course, he started to talk about his ski patrol days… of how sometimes he misses it but does not miss the commitment level he had to put in every weekend just to be able to afford skiing.

L'Hotel Horizon Terrace

View from our room in the Auberge.

I told him I don’t fully understand this concept – not that I disagree with it, it’s just not something I have been through. The closest I’ve ever been to that level of intense team work was during my dragon boating days. And while I have no regrets of those days, I don’t miss it. I see it as a different part of my life – one that I’m over with. And that’s always been my case. I do something until I’m ready to move on to another phase of my life. I never realized this about myself until I had this conversation.

L'Hotel Horizon Lounge

Auberge louge for reading and board games

And so these times of regrets for me are far and few. I will work hard to get to a level I am satsified of achieving and then it’s on to something else. I wonder if this will happen with snowboarding? It is getting harder and harder on my body with age. And as frustrating as I get at it, I am not yet ready to give-up for downhill skiing.

Le Cafetier

Le Cafetier – wonderful French cafe in Sutton, QC

But I do have regrets. And for some reason, I suppose it is because Doug brought up his days of ski patrolling, where I started to remember Tamara.

Chaeli then asked who Tamara was. So I told her, “She was daddy’s ex-girlfriend. From before mommy.” I added the last statement in quickly to avoid any confusion on my daughter’s part.

Le Cafetier

The fantastic, fresh, organic ingredients – so delish!

I was then finding myself filled with regret. And so, perhaps from 1/3rd bottle of red wine I had in me by then, I said to my daughter, “I regret not getting to know Tamara more.”

She looked at me perplexed, “Why? Wouldn’t that have been awkward anyway?”

“Yes, it was awkward between Tamara and I when we first met. But she tried. I didn’t. I let my insecurities get the best of me. And saw her as a threat.”

“But why does it matter now?”

Le Cafetier

Local artists are supported by Le Cafeteir – such as this gorgeous, mosaic, stained glass window

Chaeli was still very young at the time. Not even in pre-school when we got the call. Doug got the call, actually – from a former ski-patroller. When Doug hung up, I knew something was not right. I asked him what was wrong and he whispered, “Tamara… she took her own life.”

Now, I’m not saying that had I had not allowed my walls to block her out, that her and I would have become good friends. Or that had we had become friends, I would have been able to do something to ensure her life did not end so early and so tragically.

She suffered from mental health disorder. And she tried to overcome it. But even with her life filled with love, a huge community and all the great volunteer work she did, nothing could end her suffering.

I regret for selfish reasons. I know now, as I look back and remember her through clearer eyes and more confidence of who I am, that she was a good person. Who would have touched my life much more had I given her a chance (given myself a chance, that is).

So when it comes to people I can have regrets. Through my actions or no actions at all. I do and can have regrets.

Quebec Ski/Board Trip – March Break 2015

Doug got what he’s wished for. A winter week off for some skiing far enough away from home where he feels like he’s not skiing on wimpy Ontario hills. I can’t say I blame him – it’s nice to be on longer runs even though this year, after being sick with a respiratory bug for 8 weeks, I was at my weakest state for my snowboarding season. I hadn’t had any practice until our first day at Owls Head in Quebec, near Magog.

So let me just say this – I did enjoy the road trip to our neighbouring province. The two towns we stayed in were beautiful and the hospitality we received from the people there were just simply wonderful! But the actual boarding part was a challenge for me. I have never been on anything outside of our dinky Ontario ski hills. And the first day’s condition were icy and windy. It was snowing as well – so with the gusts of wind, visibility was low. I was using new bindings that were proving difficult to get in and out of, especially after wiping out and trying to board with bruised ribs for the remaining week (I did take the next day after my accident to just go snow shoeing).

Would I do it again? Probably. As frustrated as I was while boarding in such conditions, I do want to try again. And hope I’ll go in with better strength and stamina.

Hotel Et Spa Etoile Sur Le Lac - Magog, QCMagog sur Le LacWe stayed at this beautiful inn on the lake – Etoile-sur-la-lac – during our first two days skiing at Owls Head. Our patio faced the lake. The hotel was very nice – our package included a sit-down breakfast with choices from their menu.

Magog - sunset across the lakeMagog - sunset by the marina

Microbrasserie la Memphré - MagogMagog itself is a charming town with year round activities. Everywhere we walked, however, was very picturesque. For the first night, we went into town for dinner, finding ourselves at a great ambiance-type pub – Microbrasserie la Memphré. It was a little cool that night but not cold enough for us to decide to walk for 15 minutes to this pub. It gave us a chance to watch the sunset acoss the lake.

The food in Magog for the three nights we stayed was lovely. The Microbrasserie (see above chandeliers made of mason jars) allowed me to try duck confit salad and duck wings as appetizers. Chaeli, of course, had poutine. The next two nights I treated myself to a lovely salmon entree and then some sweetbreads (finally!)

Owl's Head, QuebecOwl's Head - QuebecThe view from the top of Owl’s Head was spectacular. The resort itself, however, felt a little old. And the clientele was so-so. One thing that can’t be beat is their $20 all day ski-lift tickets for Monday to Wednesday skiing.

Sutton, QuebecMont Sutton

Tire sur la neigeFor our final day of skiing/boarding, we made our way back to Sutton for a day at Mont Sutton. Knowing what we know now, we’re definitely not only going back to this ski resort next year, but we’re going to spend our entire time just at this location.

Not only were we impressed with the way this ski resort was run but there was a significant difference with the faithful Mont-Sutton-fans. While it’s a public ski hill, it had that private club feel but not in a pretentious way. More like a very large family welcoming any new comers.

Both Doug and Chaeli also preferred the variety of runs – stating it was more fun especially the ones that weaved in and out of trees. Chaeli also got to experience Tire sur la neige – a Quebec treat which is freshly made maple syrup mixed with snow on a stick. They were make this at one of the upper chalets!

While I’ve never been to one of the bigger places like Mount Tremblant, I don’t think I can anymore. The crowd and line-ups just to get on a lift doesn’t sound like fun. We hardly had to wait for more than a couple of minutes to get on the chair lift and both places had a more off-the-beaten-path feel to it.

Auberge Agnes Horth - Sutton QuebecAuberge Agnes Horth - Sutton QuebecFor our last night in Sutton, we stayed at this great country inn – Auberge Agnes Horth. The couple that runs this in made our stay so welcoming. Breakfast and dinner are included and let me just say the home-cooked meals were fantastic!

Chaeli was in heaven with her lasagna. Doug and I had the Montreal steaks. And the red wine pairing could not be beat. We ordered a bottle – why not. Our room was just upstairs.

Caribbean Regal Princess Cruise 2015 – St. Thomas and St. Maartan

Red wine tasting on the Regal PrincessOne thing we did on this cruise was to agree to not worry so much about how much we were spending. And I’m thankful of this decision. We work too hard not to have to stress about saving every penny and nickel when we go on vacation. Luckily, we never seem to want anything that are beyond our ability to pay. However, I wanted to make some memories and experience what we could.

One of the best things we did for ourselves was join the Super Tuscan Wine tasting. The above photo is one of the example food pairings we indulged in. With several pairings of about the best red wines I’ve ever tastes, we had an equally delicious food pairing. It wasn’t an expensive fee – $40 US each. My husband and I will talk about this experience in years to come.

Another luxury I gave myself was a spa pedicure. I can not stress how important this was for me to treat myself. I always wanted to know what it was like to use Princess’ Lotus Spa and now I know it’s going to be a must-do anytime I’m cruising.

I sat across these beautiful large windows in brand new, spa pedicure, massage chairs, sipping green tea and watching the ocean water.

The pedicure service was amazing. My feet were smooth and soft like a baby’s bottom when I was done! My legs were exfoliated up to the knees as well. Heaven!

Emerald Beach St. ThomasWhen we arrived at St. Thomas, all we really wanted to do was spend a day at the beach. We found that the smaller and less popular Emerald beach not too far from port. It was exactly what we were looking for – secluded and not jammed pack like the other bigger tourist trap.

I’m not a sandy-beach type of person but after finding a spot under a tree, I was happy to just be all lazy like while reading my book.

Escargot & beer by St. Maarten beachWhen we first arrived in St. Maarten and took a ferry over to the dutch side, we did a bit of walking before stopping for a bite to eat. I have to admit, the food was not good at all. I ordered a grilled chicken Caesar but wasn’t quite sure it was chicken. I was also waiting to see if I got food poisoning. I ate what I could and then pushed the rest aside.

Now, the very large escargot drizzled with garlic and herb butter with a bottle of Amstel beer was where it was at! And had I have known, I would have just ordered more of this with a side of small garden salad. Maybe next time. Plus, there’s really nothing like sitting on a shaded patio right on the beach, drinking a bottle of cold beer.

St. Maarten dutch sideThe shopping district was interesting but what we enjoyed the most was going off the beaten path. The above is the image we saw as we started to leave the tourist area, finding our way through to the residential zones.

St Maarten port - feeding dockside fishBefore leaving, we went to the dock area of the ferry with some buns I brought from the ship. This was more for my kid’s sake. I gave her the buns and away she went, tearing small pieces and throwing them into the water. There were already a variety of different schools of fish waiting for the free give-away.

Regal Princess at seaWe spent the last two days at sea as we made our way back to Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale. What a beautiful, calming view. A lot of fun memories were made both on and off the ship. Looking forward to our next cruise in a few years.

Not our last camping trip of the season… if you can believe it!

With the lack of camping trips this season, my husband was getting pretty desperate. I admit I missed camping too but I can survive one year where we take a bit of a break from it.

Still, he pushed and pushed. And we fought about it as well. In the end, we came to a happy resolution by meeting in the middle.

He wanted to go somewhere about an hour away. I had no time to prep. So… we tried out this independent campground just 10 minutes away. It’s not a provincial park but had amazing hiking trails surrounding the campground.

All were happy and I’m glad we did it. It also gave us a chance to try dehydrated eggs (with grass-fed, hormone-free, anti-biotic free bison sausages).

deydrated eggsdehydraged eggs and bison sausagesNo, we weren’t aiming to create a gourmet meal here. There is hopes to do a portage/canoe trip where we’ll have to be somewhat creative with how we eat since we won’t have the opportunity to lug around a cooler. We’ve managed in the past – it’s do-able if we only go for two nights, preferably near the end of the summer when it’s not as hot.

The only problem is most of the dehydrated food packages is really high in either carbs or sugar. Which is exactly why our only option so far was to purchase these dehydrated eggs. The verdict? Edible but of course, no where near as good as actual eggs.🙂

hiking - wildflowershikingOf course, we made sure we went on a lovely hike. For the entire morning, it rained. Which was fine. We slept in and had a very late brunch in the trailer.

By the time the sky cleared, we were ready to stretch our legs. Plus, Hobbes needed to burn off some energy. We hiked for an hour – and got our fill of fresh air.

new toquecamping fashionWe were only semi-prepared for the cold. The forecast showed and even lower dip for the temperature that night. While we brought along a of of fleece tops and bottoms, we didn’t have anything for our heads or Chaeli’s hands.

So, we took a quick trip to Sails and took advantage of their 50% toque sale (we were only 15 minutes away from one of the locations).

There was a Dollarama next to it so we picked up some 3-in-1 gloves for Chaeli.

campfire steaksOne way I was convinced to go camping on such a cold, rushed weekend… witness the above photo. This picture does not do these steaks any justice. I bought these earlier that day at Whole Foods. Yes, I paid a mint for each. They are hormone and anti-biotic free. And about 2 inches thick!

I’ve had some pretty seriously good steaks in my life. But only a couple stand out. The one was on our last Princess Cruise when we paid cover charge to dine in the Crown Grill Restaurant. The second would have been the Tomahawks we bought as part of my dad’s Father’s Day gift.

These recent steaks would be amongst the top three. Every bite had an amazing flavour. Well worth the money.

hobbes the dogAnd yes, even Hobbes got some of Doug’s scraps with his dinner.

It was a nice little get-away, once again, in our little trailer. And as the title of this post suggests, it’s not our last camping trip. We’ll be needing more winter gear as we head up further north in a few weeks to camp by Georgian Bay. What? You say we’re crazy?

No, let me correct you. My husband is crazy. We’re just not very bright for letting him convince us to go along with his craziness.