Filed under: Travel Swellness

Travel Swellness: Camping getaway in a Chevy Trax

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On my the fourth road trip of the summer, I went camping for the first time, and I loved it. More on that in a future post.

For this road trip, I was looking to try a car I’d never driven before so for this camping weekend, thanks to General Motors Canada, I had the chance to test drive the Chevrolet Trax. I will say, when I checked it out online, I was skeptical about whether it’d fit all of the camping gear, food, and my dog, Billie Jean. It is definitely much smaller than the other SUVs I’ve driven recently, such as the Buick Envision, Chevy Equinox and GMC Acadia.

So how was the Trax? When I picked up the car, it was indeed as petite IRL as it’d looked online (it’s category is indeed small SUV). This made the car way easier to park and simple for sometimes hectic city driving, so it definitely gets points for that. Much like the Chevy Cruze I drove the WayHome, it was a breeze to park in my cramped underground parking garage.

Billie Jean in Chevy Trax

I did get concerned as I started packing the car for the weekend, though. Trunk space is limited. Once I put in one large MEC bag of gear and my carry-on bag, and it was essentially full (save for some nooks and crannies I was able to stuff small, soft items into). Thankfully, my friend knew that the flap that covers the trunk space can easily be removed, and once we took that off, we were able to pile much more gear into the back trunk space.

Chevy Trax_camping in Rondeau

From there, we put the rest of our stuff into the backseat, leaving one spot for Billie Jean to sit. It was tight, but we made it work. So ultimately, the Trax is just big enough for a camping trip for two to three people. Although, I should mention that we ended up bringing more gear than we needed (such as an extra sleeping bag, some awkward-to-travel-with chairs, and some sleeping mats, we didn’t end up using).

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The soft lines of the car make it a really cute and fun SUV, and so in that way, I think it was perfect for our little girlfriends getaway. We both thought it handled well on the road and appreciated the blind-spot assist (we took turns driving that weekend) and we loved being able to connect our iPhones with Apple CarPlay. I thought it was well designed and I appreciated the black finishes (all of it felt sturdy and well-made). In terms of what we didn’t love: we found that the backseat headrests get in the way of looking through the rear window when driving; and while not a big deal, I did miss having that compartment you’ll often find between the driver and passenger seat (I usually find this cubbyhole helpful for storing things like maps and sunglasses). And the trunk doesn’t feature a button to close it (and we went into the trunk a lot over the weekend since it served as a storage space for our food and some gear).

Since I’d be primarily driving a car in the city and only doing getaways calling for a lot of space (like this camping weekend) occasionally, I think this car makes a lot of sense for someone with a similar lifestyle.

I have another two road trips this month so be sure to check back to read about my camping and driving adventures. And if you’re an avid camper, I’d love to hear any tips and tricks you’ve got!

Leave a Comment August 18, 2017

Travel Swellness: A quick getaway to King City

Kingsbridge outdoor pool

Early this summer (where has summer gone already?!), I went for an overnight getaway to King City, which is just north of Toronto, to experience an equine therapy session with Jennifer Schramm and I got a chance to stay at Kingbridge Hotel and Conference Centre.

Kingsbridge indoor pool

I’m almost reluctant to write about this little gem because I want it to be my little secret, but this property is so quiet and pretty, I really felt like I’d escaped city life even though I hadn’t (I was conveniently near a suburban Walmart when I needed a pair of emergency shorts given the warm weather). I know it’s probably funny to some people that I consider King City a getaway (especially as I know people who live in that area!), but when you live right downtown, and escape to the quiet and greenery of the property, it does feel like you’ve taken a road trip to completely different surroundings.

Kingsbridge swing

On the property, there are hiking trails, where you’ll find this darling swing from a tree, and a quiet little river. There’s also one of the coolest indoor tracks I’ve seen here; it circles through the woods, so I got to fit in some speed work when it rained briefly.

Kingsbridge indoor running track

My entire stay, I had the pools entirely to myself, and the quiet time in the sunshine helped to calm my frazzled brain. I spent most of my time outside by the pool or hiking, but there’s a cozy library you can lounge around in, too.

A short drive away is where I grabbed a couple of meals. Firstly, a good thin crust pizza at Locale. This place was a popular spot and I’ve heard that a lot of the dishes are great (that’s always the downside of traveling solo — not getting to try more dishes when eating out!).

Roost Cafe in King City

For a casual lunch, I popped into The Roost Cafe for a fresh chicken wrap and a smoothie; it’s a charming coffee shop set inside of a century home, and there are pretty views from its’ patio.

Before driving back to the city, I went for a hike in Happy Valley Forest (one of the largest intact hardwood forests on the Oak Ridges Moraine, which was pretty but I had to cut my hike short as I hadn’t packed insect repellent and got more than 30 mosquito bites in the half hour I trekked there. Douse yourself in repellent if you go!

I often crave getting outside of the city, and I think a weekend at Kingbridge is a great option because it’s so close to the city and yet offers some light hiking, greenery, an indoor and outdoor pool, and a running track (helpful if you’re a runner in training for a race), all on a beautiful property. The only thing missing is perhaps a spa treatment, but I’m sure there’s a day spa nearby you could book a treatment at.

Have you been to King City? I’d love to hear your faves in the area.

Leave a Comment August 16, 2017

Travel Swellness: Dog-friendly road trip to Prince Edward County

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With my recently adopted dog, Billie Jean, who I adopted from Save Our Scruff, much of my life now revolves around whether she can be included in my plans. In fact, she’s part of the inspiration behind the road trip series I’m doing this summer.

Bun in Chevy Equinox

For my second visit this summer to Prince Edward County, I went with one of my girlfriends (like the last visit in early June) but this time, I planned a dog-friendly trip so both my girl Billie Jean and my bestie’s adorable silky terrier, Bun, could join, too.

The County is, yes, a little bit country, but it’s also more than a little posh with its wineries and great food, and with two girls and two dogs, thanks to General Motors Canada, I got the Chevy Equinox to test drive for this trip and it was the perfect vehicle for us. Roomy (for road trips, I often lean towards overpacking, plus Billie Jean doesn’t travel very light as there’s her crate, giant bag of food, toys, and more). Also, the Equinox is, in my opinion, both practical for my lifestyle but also quite refined — just like me (I’m the picture of refinement, no?!)! I love, love, love its luxurious interior — they had me with these leather seats. And as you can see, both Billie Jean and Bun got very comfortable and relaxed in the car.

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Of the cars I’ve driven in the past year or so, I think it’s the Equinox I feel most comfortable driving. I guess I’m partial to SUVs (I like the height of them) but this crossover seemed more easy to maneuver than others I’ve driven. Also, since I usually road trip with one friend along, I loved that we could each control the temp of our space in this Equinox. It’s key for us both to be comfortable when you’re on the road for a couple of hours or more.

One thing I did notice: Either we toured around more than we realized (there was our last day when we had the hardest time finding a spot open for lunch, so we did roam around a lot!) as it would say it seemed the Equinox isn’t as fuel efficient as other crossovers I’ve driven recently (although it is 5.7 L/100 km hwy). I will have to pay closer attention to this from now on.

For those of you with a dog in your brood who are looking to visit Prince Edward County, here are some of the things you should add to your itinerary.

The Ferg The Loft

Stay at The Ferg

Finding accommodations that accept pets isn’t the easiest, so when I came across The Ferg and it ticked off both boxes for beautiful and cozy (and a great location!) and also allows dogs, I knew I had to visit. And coincidentally, one of the owners, Jaime, is someone whose book I copy edited some years ago! Small world.

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We stayed in the Loft at The Ferg and its two floors fill with natural light during the day, and it’s decorated in the prettiest cottage chic. Spacious for us with the two dogs, and just off of the main street in Picton, and most key, it’s within walking distance to my favourite ice cream shop, Slickers Ice Cream (have the Campfire!). And for late night or early morning quick jaunts outside, there’s a grassy backyard that both dogs enjoyed.

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Eat and drink at Norman Hardie Winery

You may have to wait a little longer as they seats guests with dogs on the tables by the outside of the patio, but the wine and pizza (I’m in love with both the mushroom and the margherita) is well worth waiting for.

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There’s usually a special side dish you can order as well (last time it was a gorgeous asparagus with burrata cheese dish) and it’s always superbl; this visit we had the green salad that is on the menu, and it is quite possibly the best green salad I’ve had (so fresh and with a lovely vinaigrette). Norm Hardie is pretty much always my first stop in the County, as we plan to arrive there around lunch as our first stop and are usually ravenous after the two-hour drive.

Visit the alpacas at Shed at Chetwyn Farms

Introduce your canine to some adorable alpacas at Shed at Chetwyn Farms. I’m a little obsessed with interspecies friendships, and how cute would a dog and alpaca friendship be? I actually didn’t get to stop by this trip at Shed because it was closed the day we were nearby, but I do usually pop by to say what’s up to the cuties and to check out the beautiful knit goods in the shop.

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Visit Prince Edward County Lavender

For $2, traipse around the beautiful lavender fields at PEC Lavender and breathe in that lovely, relaxing scent. If the fields are not in bloom, pop into the shop to buy lavender souvenirs to make your home a soothing oasis. The dogs visited the fields with us, but it was hard for me to get Billie Jean to pose for pictures. I don’t think she “gets” Instagram yet :)

Enjoy taco time at Guapo’s Cantina

I was introduced to Guapo’s Cantina on my foodie tour of PEC last summer and I think we taste tested each type and they were all incredible. So you can imagine how devastated I was when we drove all the way there on our way home only to find it closed that day (we were in PEC in June, so it wasn’t high season yet, so many businesses were closed Tuesdays). It’s set up outside of Traynor Family Vineyard, so you can easily grab some tacos with your four-legged buddy along with you and grab one of the tables outside.

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Play at Sandbanks Provincial Park

There are two dog-friendly beaches in the Park, and we set up ourselves at what I think is the smaller one that’s not on Sandbanks Beach. There were a handful of dogs off leash and splashing about in the shallow water, which Billie Jean ventured into (she doesn’t mind getting wet, but doesn’t seem fond of swimming, so likes to have her feet on the ground). She was in heaven, as was Bun. It was my first time spending time in the Park and next time I hope to explore Sandbanks Beach more.

Perfect Lil Bakeshop with BJ

Buy dog treats at Perfect Lil Bakeshop

I discovered the adorable Perfect Lil Bakeshop during my visit in early June and Billie Jean loved the dog treat I brought home for her last time. So we made a point to go again to get our dogs some treats, except they were all out! Not to worry, as we picked up plenty of treats for ourselves, including a delectable strawberry rhubarb pie to share.

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This dog-friendly trip marks my fourth visit to the County and I feel like I’ve gotten to know a lot of the great spots in PEC, but I’d love to hear about your favourites (Especially of the dog-friendly variety, because Billie Jean is just dying to visit again!)

 

 

Leave a Comment August 8, 2017

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