Fitness Swellness: National Take a Hike Day with Ford Canada

Ford Eco Sport hike

Last month, I celebrated National Take a Hike Day with Ford Canada (thanks for the Eco Sport for the week, Ford Canada!).

I wish I lived close to mountains and forests so that hiking were more easily accessible. But for now, I do like living in downtown Toronto (having a ton of great restaurants nearby is a life essential). And while there are some trails in the city that I know of that I can take Billie Jean to either by running to them or via public transit (David Balfour Park is one of them), the better trails tend to be farther afield. So with the Eco Sport filled up with gas, we set out for Hamilton to the Bruce Trail.

 

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Crunch, crunch, crunch. I love the sound of just my footsteps and Billie Jean’s flurry of steps (she adores racing around; I’m sure she ends up doing at least double the distance I hike). I’ve done this particular hike once before, which includes four waterfalls. We had just missed the wonderful autumn leaves on the trees by maybe a week or two, but they still made a pretty glorious setting on the ground dotted with some snow. I hadn’t realized there’d be snow on the trails (the snowfall hadn’t lasted downtown so I’d forgotten any snow had come down). The air was brisk and we encountered few people on the trail; I love when trails are so quiet (except if I am lost, then I want to encounter people!). About four hours later, we finished just at dusk famished and pooped.

Bruce Trail

Because getting out to hike is a favourite for both me and Billie Jean, we headed out again on the Sunday to Rouge National Urban Park to the Woodland Trail. More snow, a pretty creek, very few people and one very happy dog.

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Whenever I have access to a car, I try to take advantage of doing things that are too difficult to do without one. Such as going to restaurants further out of the downtown core, and doing shopping errands for bulky items (as much as I’d like to make it a strength workout, I can’t walk the 30 minutes with a giant bag of Billie Jean’s food). With the zippy Eco Sport, I was able to check off trying Tajok-Uzbek cuisine at Chaihana and made full use of the spacious trunk on a shopping outing with a friend.  

eco sport trunk

Someday, I’d love to have a car. It makes so many adventures like camping and hiking and doing chores easier; I truly have never appreciated having one  more than since adopting Billie Jean. The past few years I’ve driven such a variety of cars and it’s helping me learn more about what I like in a vehicle. I now know I prefer SUVs (I find there’s a comfort that comes from sitting up high compared to a car) and the Eco Sport I felt was a good compromise in size for me personally (it’s not so large that I feel uneasy parking or maneuveuring it, but sizeable enough that I could probably go camping with it, and do a road trip in it with Billie Jean). Plus check out the big screen in the Eco Sport (below)! Love it.

This is the first vehicle I’ve driven that has the trunk opening from the side, and I’m not sure what I think about that (would it be harder to open if you had a car or something right behind the car because you’d need more clearance space compared to a trunk that opens upwards?). I also realized that when it comes to paint jobs, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to car colour, gravitating towards black or white, or at most a deep inky navy, instead of more standout shades like the Canyon Ridge of this Eco Sport. (Not that I’d turn down the beyond beautiful red 1957 Mercedes Benz SL that I was fortunate enough to enjoy on Highway 1 in California a few months ago, though!)

 

Ford Eco Sport screen

Already plotting on where to road trip next to with Billie Jean…debating a long (multi-day) road trip next…What are your favourite things you do with a car? Did you celebrate Take Hike Day? Are there fun mini road trips I’m missing out on? Or things in the city I should check out the next time I’ve got wheels? Would love to hear from you.

Billie Jean in Eco Sport

Leave a Comment December 14, 2018

Travel Swellness: Camping in Killarney with the GMC Terrain

Killarney with Billie Jean

At the end of the summer, I fit in one last camping trip up to Killarney (where I’ve been wanting to check out for camping for quite awhile). With a GMC Terrain (thank you for letting me test drive this, GM Canada!), we set out for the longish drive (I consider anything more then two hours long, especially for a weekend).

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The Terrain was spacious for the two of us plus Billie Jean plus so much stuff (no matter how much I try to minimize gear, camping calls for hauling a lot of stuff!), and it had all the features I’ve come to love about the GM vehicles I’ve had the opportunity to drive (that’d be the Apple Car Play, a great GPS system and the little light on the side mirror letting you know if someone’s in your blind spot). What was different about this car than any other car I’ve driven is that it was a diesel engine.

Thankfully, GM let me know when I picked up the car that it was diesel (although it is clearly marked on the tank), and I was instructed to only fill it with diesel or else the car would just shut down if I fllled it with regular gasoline.

What’s the difference between diesel and gas? I had to do a little research online about this: fuel mixes with air in the engine and it combusts, which is what makes the pistons move done and turn the crankshaft, which is connected to the transmission, which then makes the car’s wheels turn. The piston moves up into the cylinder, pushes out of the engine and the tailpipe the burnt gas. More cylinders in your engine, the smoother the engine runs and the more powerful it is.

Where diesel and gas differ is in how they’re ignited in the engine. With gas, the gas and air is compressed and a spark plug ignites the combo of the two. With diesel, there’s no spark plus but rather the diesel and air is squeezed tightly enough that it just combusts from that action of being compressed. Since it runs on this combustion system of no spark plugs, diesel engines are often more simply and solidly built in comparison to a gas engine. And while I always thought diesel equaled more pollution compared to gas, from what I understand technology has come a long way and diesel runs cleaner than ever before.

OK, and if you like me thought only loud big rig trucks use diesel, that is clearly not the case, and with regards to the noise, advancements mean that the noise level is no longer a factor.

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Diesel contains more energy per unit than gas. So it often costs more but you’re getting more energy out of it. But over time, the fuel cost will end up being close to the same.

Hopefully, I’ve got all that info right (car buffs, please let me know if I’ve misunderstood what I researched!). This is all new to me and I confess that this is the most I’ve ever read about how an engine works.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, driving a diesel car didn’t feel any different. Oh, and in case you’re wondering where you can fill up with diesel,even though I’d asked if diesel is available at all gas stations and was told yes, the first one we went to fill up at in downtown Toronto did not have diesel.

Our rugged Terrain got us safely up to Killarney to starry skies at night and beautiful hikes, and I learned a little bit about car engines and diesel and gas in the process. If you’re thinking of camping in Killarney, here are my 5 tips I gained from my camping trip there:

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Hike the Chikanishing Trail. This trail is far simpler and more beautiful than the Crack and it leads you to beautiful Georgian Bay. The terrain is mixed (I like variety!), including some smooth pink boulders and towards the end, the path is narrow and the trees tower over you.

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Eat the famous fish and chips at Herbert Fisheries. We stopped at Herbert’s for lunch before the drive back to Toronto, and there is outdoor seating by the water (which was great since we had Billie Jean with us). The batter is light and delicate and it was a satisfying meal that tided me over for the trek home.

Killarney the Crack

Hike The Crack and bring lots of water and snacks. The stunning views at the peak make the long hike and the rough,jagged rocks for much of the trail (not my personal fave) worth it. Note: I don’t find the path that clearly marked and in fact went way off course at one point and thought me and Billie Jean were going to have to have search and rescue come save us. This hike will take you about four hours, so bring plenty of water (I didn’t pack enough for me and Billie Jean and it was a very hot day and we’re lucky we didn’t pass out from dehydration).

camp food

Pack delicious foods for your trip. This goes for any camp trip but I truly appreciated having non-typical camp food for this trip (we kind of went OTT as you can see). Sure, you can survive on only hot dogs and trail mix, but I love camping because we always eat great meals. This time we brought burrata and champagne and charcuterie. And it was awesome. Do prep as much as you can in advance, though.

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Be kind to your fellow campers. At one point one our first night, we got lost in the dark making our way back from going to see the lake and ended up on someone’s campsite and a very furious woman was simply a really awful human to us (even though we were clearly lost and not purposely trespassing on her site for kicks). Having witnessed this woman’s horrid treatment, the people on the next campsite broke the tension when we encountered them and their kindness helped make up for this horrible encounter. Thank you, you kind campers. As for the beastly lady, I wish you are treated more kindly in life going forward so that you can learn some grace yourself.

Until next year for more camping adventures! If you have any camping recos (any sites you love or great camping recipes), let me know! Camping is pretty new to me (my first trips were last summer to Rondeau and Killbear!).

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Leave a Comment December 3, 2018

Healthy Swellness: 3 surprising heart facts you need to know if you have type 2 diabetes

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It was only in the last decade or so when I learned about the serious complications that can result from type 2 diabetes.

I had thought diabetes was something most people could manage and control with medication and by improving lifestyle habits, yet research studies have shown that 1 in 2 people who have type 2 diabetes will die from heart disease.

When coupled with the dramatic increase in the number of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year, especially among the Chinese Canadian population where the incidence of diabetes jumped 15-fold between 1996 and 2005, those numbers are devastating.

While I don’t personally have a family history of diabetes, we do have a family history of heart disease, and so I know it’s smart to focus on healthy lifestyle habits that reduce my risk factors for both – including keeping active and trying to manage my stress levels (which, for me, means getting out in nature to hike or run with my dog).

Chinese Canadians are at a much higher risk of a diabetes diagnosis than Canadians of European descent, due to a combination of genetics and lifestyle changes. When I think of the people I know who have type 2 diabetes, and that half of them may not live to see their kids grow up, or go on that dream vacation they’ve got on their bucket list, or even simply enjoy everyday things for many years to come, like going for a walk with their dog, it’s heartbreaking. Which is why I think it’s important that we raise awareness around the connection between diabetes and heart disease. It could save lives.

Three things you need to know about type 2 diabetes and heart health:

 

  1. Diabetes significantly increases your risk of dying of heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Although most people with diabetes feel they are knowledgeable about how to manage their diabetes, more than half are unaware of the impact their diabetes has on their risk of heart disease.
  2. Simply controlling your blood sugar levels may not be enough if you have a history of heart disease While it is a critical part of managing your diabetes, there are medications that, along with following a healthy diet and exercise, have been shown to lower your risk of dying from problems related to your heart and blood vessels.
  3. People with type 2 diabetes develop heart disease at an earlier age than those without diabetes. How much earlier? 10 to 15 years earlier than those who do not have type 2 diabetes.

 

 

All of which is to say that there is no better time than now to take managing your type 2 diabetes and heart health to the next level if you aren’t already, or to encourage the loved ones in your life to do so themselves.

You can learn more at myheartmatters.ca, where you’ll also find a useful risk assessment tool to help determine what your personal risk is when it comes to type 2 diabetes-related heart disease. The more you know now, the more you can do to improve your health and reduce those odds of heart disease.

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Leave a Comment November 22, 2018

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