We could barely contain our excitement. It was as though we were overwhelmed with happiness, and just kept looking around — at the rows of grapevines, the hills in the distance — and when we’d make eye contact, all wide-eyed and joyful, we exchanged huge smiles, incredulous at our good fortune, taking in the beautiful surroundings, breathing in the fresh air, and enjoying the sunshine on our faces. I think we may have even exchanged a giddy hug or two.
I’m lucky that I get to experience some pretty amazing adventures around the world — actually, scratch that. I don’t attribute it to luck; I have worked hard on my career, and this is what has brought about these incredible experiences (and you should know they come at a cost, I’ve posted about some of the sacrifices when it comes to the lifestyle I lead). Anyhow, as I was saying, my life is filled with some pretty amazing experiences, but every so often, there are ones that take my breath away. Where I stop for a second and am in wonder of what I’ve done to get to that exact moment, where I’m almost swooning and bowled over by, well, the good life.
Sometimes it’s a quieter and more serene moment (like when driving in Alberta with a view of the mountains), and sometimes, like when I’m front row at a Backstreet Boys concert (haha!), or like this day in Healdsburg, California (a city in Sonoma County), it’s more of a jumpy, happy happy joy joy. This particular moment I’m talking about above was during a hike at Jordan Winery; we walked the rolling hills, ate fresh fruit picked off the trees, and at the end sat in a stunning courtyard with an overflowing cheese and charcuterie board as we drank wine and none of us wanted to leave. Ever.
Healdsburg is a lush enclave that, for me, is synonymous with the good life. I would visit again in a heartbeat. If you’re planning a trip to the Sonoma area, you’d be missing out if you don’t include at least a few days here. For what to do with your time in this magical spot, check out my story over on AmongMen.
March 24, 2017
I’m so excited because I can finally talk about this work I developed in partnership with Expedia.ca! If you know anything about me, it’s that I’m out and about quite a bit in my hometown of Toronto, and that includes working out and eating, and I travel a helluva lot, too, so I know what it’s like to want to fit in workouts while you’re away from home.
So I shared with Expedia a few of my favourite workouts in the 6ix in a one-day itinerary, should you find yourself here in Toronto and wanting to get your sweat on. There are, of course, way more workouts than I could include in a single day, but I made it a mix of running (cuz that’s my jam, plus it can be a great way to see any city), a workout to strengthen the core and overall conditioning, and finished off with something more zen. You can find my Toronto Fitness Break itinerary here!
Then, well, you know what goes hand in hand with working out? Fueling the body well. So for my roundup, I focused on more plant-based spots and narrowed it down to a handful of restaurants. It doesn’t include where I’m likely to go to carbload the week before racing a marathon, but rather places I frequent for a bowl filled with a rainbow of veggies loaded with nutrients and minerals, and yes, where you can get a good cold-pressed juice (because even though I don’t believe in juice cleanses, I think these juices, while they can put a dent in your budget, can be a wholesome complement to what you eat). Where to get healthy food that is tasty? Well, here’s my little healthy foodie favourites list over on the Expedia fitness breaks! I’m drooling right now just thinking of all the good-for-you tastiness.
The Expedia Fitness Breaks includes loads of other itineraries for you to check out as well. Like there’s one for Denver (where I’m dying to visit), Vancouver (love that city), Washington D.C., Rio de Janeiro, Montreal (my hometown, what what!), London, Barcelona, and more — so many cities and so many fun ways to be healthy! You can access them all on the homepage for Expedia Fitness Breaks.
February 3, 2017
When I was invited to drive a 2017 Buick Envision over two days in the beautiful Rocky Mountain Foothills in Alberta, you bet I replied as quickly as my fingers could type YES and hit send. My first one-day visit to Banff in 2014, along with my much longer trip exploring the area spring 2015 (when I was out west to run the Calgary Marathon) — these trips remain high, very high on my list of my most favourite. Ever. Even just typing this I feel breathless just thinking of the gorgeous mountains and lakes.
This trip with Buick Envision had us based in Priddis, Alberta, which is just outside of Calgary, staying at Azuridge Estate Hotel. This property feels remote (even though it’s not far from the city), and the fresh mountain air, along with the deer we spotted on our drive to the property, well, it was all very idyllic.
Hitting the road with the Buick Envision was of course the main priority. While city driving often stresses me out, the quiet open roads around Priddis I actually love navigating (well, with the GPS keeping us on track), and the Envision was a smooth drive. And I’ll be honest with you; Buick is not a car brand I’d normally gravitate to, and while I’m not personally in the market for a car right now, I was impressed with how refined the car felt (and I liked how spacious it felt, and yet it wasn’t so overwhelming that I thought “I’ll never be able to park this thing!”). I’ve driven other compact SUVs and I can’t say the same about them. I spent more of my time inside the car than admiring it from the outside, and I think they have achieved making it feel luxe from the inside out.
Another reason it was a smooth drive (as I learned from Buick)? They’ve developed quiet tuning so that your drives are peaceful. Things like acoustic absorbers for the door system to engine compartments have all been incorporated, as well as acoustic laminated windshield and front side glass. Which made for a very peaceful way to take in the incredible scenery of Alberta.
On the first day, we set out with a route to check out the views with a few stops along the way. We visited Leighton Art Centre, where there’s the work of local artists (with a focus on landscapes), a lovely greenhouse-type room full of plants in this heritage home and a wide open view of fields with the mountains in the distance. I could’ve stayed all afternoon just taking in that view.
No visit to the area is complete without a pit stop at Longview Jerky Shop, where the jerky is award-winning. We picked up two varieties, and then popped into the cute gas station across the road (where we couldn’t resist getting an ice cream cone — guess we were ready for dessert after that jerky!).
The smooth drive as the sun set was peaceful and relaxing, and I got a chance to use the car’s wifi since my partner for the day of adventures was behind the wheel. Although I’ve been in vehicles with wifi before, when I thought about it more thoroughly, I wasn’t clear as to what the advantage is over using one’s data plan. But here’s the thing: you can get a wifi plan for the car as a one-off purchase, and say you’re on a road trip. Everyone in the car can use the wifi (well, up to seven devices); if you have kids, they can stream movies; and if you have teens (or um, if you’re me and always online) you can update social media and check emails using that wifi plan. And I know I’ve been on road trips where my smartphone can’t get a signal. This didn’t happen to me when using the Buick Envision’s wifi. And rates for a one-time data plan starts at $5 for 250MB for 24 hours with OnStar.
The next morning, I chose to set off for Canmore, and I was paired up with two auto editors so it was refreshing to get a bit of their expert input on the technical side of things when it came to the car (and I impressed them with my knowledge of car brands I didn’t realize were no longer in production…I guess I only remember important things like what’s Justin Bieber’s latest haircut…). I’d chosen to drive to Canmore as I’d been earlier this year, as I mentioned, and I can’t get enough of mountains. Like, I think I need to buy one of those paintings with some inspirational mountain saying, that’s how much I love them. “Take me to the mountains.”
We drove the Envision and our first stop was Verde Day Spa, where I got a massage; always appreciated but honestly, I was just so happy and stress-free already thanks to being in Canmore. The drive up there seemed effortless — and because I was a passenger this time (I was driving the first time I went to Canmore in the spring), I got to take in the mountain views to my heart’s content. But this is actually the type of driving I love so I’d have been happy to be the driver for the day; the roads weren’t crowded, there are views that knock your socks off, and we had the spacious and comfortable Envision — but I happily Snapchatted and took photos for the trek. Post-spa, we had a delicious lunch at Crazyweed Kitchen (which I highly recommend if you’re in Canmore). I had a very good fried chicken sandwich, and started with a velvety soup of the day.
After lunch it was sadly time to head off to the Calgary airport where we handed back the keys to the sleek ride (and now whenever I see the ad of the hot dad driving his baby around to help him fall asleep I am reminded of these sweet couple of days of driving it in the Rocky Mountain Foothills). Psst: there’s also a cute ad for the Envision featuring Schmidt (well, of actor Max Greenfield) from New Girl — oh, he makes me laugh.
January 3, 2017