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).

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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.

Weekend of Local Scenery and Hiking

Since I was in Phoenix for most of the long weekend on a business trip – returning mid-week – we by-passed what would normally be our first weekend camping. I needed to just stay home and sleep in my own bed. Which turned out to be the right thing to do.

Friday night, after texting Ada the night before on a whim, we met in Oakville at Maluca‘s for dinner. The Quon-family joined us for a pretty great night (good food, too).

Afterwards, we walked over to Marbleslab for ice cream. Well, I didn’t get any but tried a bit of Doug’s and Chaeli’s. Months of eliminating 99% of added sugar in my diet didn’t make the sampling all too pleasant. I felt like I wasn’t missing much.

The walk, however, was nice. While on the cooler side, you could still tell people were eager for the warmer weather as the main strip was buzzing with pedestrians. Walking over to The Green Bean, I grabbed my Americano to work me us for the rest of the stroll towards the bridge.

For the rest of the weekend, Doug, Chaeli and I (and Hobbes) went hiking both days. The first was back to The Rouge for a 5KM hike along the Twyn River area:

The Rouge

 

For Sunday, we headed 45 minutes north to the York Region woodland area and hiked along the Eldred King Trails. We’re still new to this area but have found it’s a popular place for local residents to bring their horses too – which is always interesting for Hobbes who just sees them as very large dogs. The trails are easier, albeit more sandy, but does not have the same variety as far as nature. Hobbes was disappointed – not enough critters to chase through the woods. We covered about 4.2KM:

 

Eldred King Woodland trail

And just to add, we started the day off with a new brunch recipe – Basil Caprese Baked Egg Cups:

capreses baked eggsRecipe: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/07/caprese-baked-egg-cups/

Mother’s Day 2014

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And our food arrives! #mothersday

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As it’s been for the previous two mother’s day weekend, Doug worked on the Saturday, and as I had enough to do around the house as it was, I decided, as a way to avoid cooking, to continue our mother-daughter pre-Mother’s Day brunch.

This time, we went to Milestones rather than Cora’s. I found Milestones gave me the option of substituting all roasted potatoes with more light, mixed greens (as well as making egg white omelettes). Cora’s, as much as they boast about being healthy, fails to provide a nutrition information guide.

Sunday morning, Doug and Chaeli made some delicious coconut-flour pancakes with bacon. Coconut four, as I have discovered, is very low on the glycemic index compared to either regular flour and whole-wheat flour. It has a natural sweetness to it without any added sugar (perhaps just a couple of grams of natural sugar per 1/3 cup). The pancakes do not come out as fluffy and definitely not as sweet but still very flavourful. I will alternate between coconut flour pancake and my Blue Menu Whole Grain pancakes.

After finishing up our coffee, we started to prepare food for dinner that night over at my parents’ place. Doug marinated the sirloin roast with garlic and avocado oil and seasoned the tri-colour baby potatoes with garlic and freshly chopped rosemary. I packed whatever was needed for the salad, along with making a chunky salsa-guacamole for an appetizer/snack.

We stopped by a close-by natural trail five minutes away from my parents for a 30 minute hike – just to get some fresh air and for Hobbes to burn off some energy.

He did more than burn off his energy, though. On our way back to the car, he ran to a creek, dove onto his stomach and dragged his tummy across the sandy bottom. Before letting him back in to the van, Doug and I had to rinse him with some water bottles Doug luckily had packed. And then we had to towel him off.

After arriving back home, Chaeli gave me my Mother’s Day gift. I thought it was one of the more creative and useful mother’s day gift she ever made me. They worked on it for over a week in class – and I’ve kept it by the phone for taking notes (see above).

I also got a coupon for a spa of my choice. Doug said later, he wasn’t sure where I wanted to go but that I can let him know and he’ll go get a gift card. He says he’ll put enough on for two mani-pedi’s so I can have a pre-paid girl’s day out with B! (hey B, did you hear that? next mani-pedi is on Doug! Woohoo!)

 

camping at bronte creek

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we spent this past cold weekend (the days were nice but our first night felt like it was just hovering above the 0 degrees mark – 2nd night was better but still chilly) camping at bronte creek provincial park.

thankfully, all sites were electrical, allowing us to use our little space heater in our trailer. we have one that has a safety feature – it automatically turns off if it gets tipped over. it actually had to be turned down to the low side – our trailer is so small, it doesn’t take much to heat it up! i ended up sleeping in just a t-shirt and underwear.

first of all, some photos of our weekend:

bronte creek campground dog park

leash-free dog park (campground side)

the leash-free dog park on the campground part of the park was actually a large area with trails that led us through a field, into a forest and a side trail leading down to the creek. a couple of loops around gives both dogs and humans a nice hike. it was very scenic.

bronte creek - kid's farm and petting zoo

sleeping piglets!

bronte creek - kid's farm and petting zoo

little goat resting – loved the backdrop of the wooden framed doorway and textured wall.

bronte creek - kid's farm and petting zoo

chaeli’s new friend

the day-use area is a separate entrance to the park. there’s no way to go from campground to the day-use area except by driving outside of the provincial park and entering through another entrance (campground vehicle permit will let you get in the day-use area but not the other way around; i suppose this does give us campers more privacy). there’s also no way to cross over from one to another by foot or bike as the two areas are divided by the creek with no bridge. we were a little baffled by this set-up – it’s a little bit of a pain to get from one to another but the beauty of the park does make up for this small inconvenience.

anyway, we visited just the barn with the petting zoo – chaeli got a chance to pet and feed different animals, including a lone cow hovering by the fence just waiting for visitors to fetch the fruits dropped by a nearby pear tree as a cow-treat. poor chaeli’s hands are so small that no matter how flat she made her palm, the cow engulfed pretty much her entire hand, leaving a trail of slimy saliva all over! it happened to me too when it was my turn to feed the cow. they don’t have any top teeth so the experience isn’t painful – just a little gross.

bruce trail - river side and ruins side trail

ruins along the bruce trail

bruce trail - river and ruin side trail

posing with uncle hoa (who we believe has 0% body fat)

sunday, after eating breakfast and packing up, we met ada and hoa at a nearby restaurant for lunch.

afterwards, they took us to the bruce trail’s river and ruins side trail for a 4.5 km hike which we completed in about 1 hr and 20 min. we’ve done one hike along another side trail of the bruce trail in the hamilton area which wasn’t too far from this trail – called the ray lowes side trail. i knew before the start of this hike, it would be a good one. not just because ada and hoa usually know how to pick the good ones, but because the trails around the burlington and hamilton areas are all just so gorgeous!

it definitely did not disappoint – the scenery and vegetation gradually changed as we made our way through the loop. it was still incredibly lush in some areas, especially parts of the trail that left the woods and was only small enough for a single file of hikers. i brushed through a lot of vines and floral-type, long stems and for awhile, felt like i was in some type of tropical rain forest.

the difficulty of the trail wasn’t too bad. i wouldn’t recommend it for those who are not in shape and/or beginner hikers as there are some inclines and declines with areas that can become quite slippery, especially if there’s been some recent precipitation. but it’s not too hard, either, as the tough spots are like short bursts followed by a steady plain for a longer stretch. the toughest part is really just the first decent down – which is always more tiring to climb back up at the end.

> view rest of our photos from our bronte creek weekend camping trip.

now about the park itself – it was kept really clean (well, it is in oakville) and definitely classified as a city park where people have the option of trying out camping without going too far from their homes. it’s perfect for this type of fall camping where we only go from friday night to sunday morning. the days are much shorter so we don’t have the luxury of arriving too late to set everything up. rather, it’s close enough for us to make it just as the sun starts to set, allowing us just enough time to stabilize and level off our 2-wheel trailer. barely enough time, though. just barely.

there are also grocery stores and restaurants all around the park within 5-10 minutes of an easy drive. we actually took advantage of this saturday morning where we were suppose to have cereal and fruit. but camping in the cold made us famished! i suppose all the extra energy went into our bodies trying to just generate heat to keep warm. luckily, our park map/magazine had a $5 coupon for coras. so… away we went.

i suppose the downside of this, as with all city parks, you risk getting the type of city people who don’t really understand park etiquette. i passed by one group that were throwing their water melon peels into the bushes surrounding their campsite. not only is this an act of littering (which one can be fined for) but it’s also leaving out edible trash for critters/wildlife (which one can also be fines for). luckily, we were not in bear country but still… it’s more pleasant to camp without the nuisance of racoons and skunks rummaging through the campground area.

but as oakville is a nice, family-style community, we were not bombarded with young (or older) city folks wanting to just come and find a place to party and drink excessively. most of our neighbours were families with young kids. so all in all, it was a successful camping trip. we would definitely use bronte creek again if we were looking for a close and quick get-away.