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

Fitness Swellness: Nike’s new yoga workouts on the NTC app

Nike Brahaus x Sport Chek

Last weekend, Nike partnered with Sport Chek to bring the Brahaus pop-up to Yorkdale Mall in Toronto. I had a chance to learn about the new bras in the collection and learned that while the sport bras are divided into low-, medium- and high-impact categories (with sports slotted into each one — Pilates would be under light impact and running under high impact), your personal preference and the comfort and support you feel should be what ultimately determines the sport bra you wear. For example, if a medium or even light impact bra feels supportive enough for you for running, you can go ahead and rock that one. Besides actual construction and design elements of the sport bras, the level of elasticity of the fabric content also varies.

To more about the new Nike sports bras, check out my post over at iRun; this is the Nike Pro Indy Logo bra I have on here.

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Besides learning about the new bras and the other fun they had planned for the Brahaus, I also sat down with Master Trainer Eva Redpath to talk about my marathon training. To complement my training for Chicago, she recommended I take advantage of the new expanded yoga offering on the NTC app. There are currently nine yoga workouts (Nike consulted with both yogis and three Nike Master Trainers) with more to come and they range from ones that focus on mobility (concentrating on recharging the body), endurance (where the focus is strength and holding poses for a long time, and flows that will build heat and make you sweat) and restorative.

Eva knows I have no problem getting my miles in but that I slack on the restorative part of my training. She recommended two of the yoga workouts for me on my non-run days: Deep Restorative Yoga and Ultimate Strength Yoga (which was created by Traci Copeland, a runner herself). Like the other NTC workouts, you get a preview of each movement, and the app is designed so that you can follow along like you would with a yoga teacher in a class by having them lead you through without a visual.

One of Eva’s aspects of the yoga workouts is the diaphragmatic breathing (there is at least two minutes of breathing at the beginning of each workout), to help you tap into your central nervous system’s fight or flight response and help manage that; she noted that anxiety could happen mid-race and deep breaths can help me get that response under control.

This training season, I’ve upped the frequency of my training, so I’m finding timing pretty limited in my schedule but I hope to incorporate at least one yoga workout a week, so I’m looking forward to trying out these new NTC yoga workouts. Given my limited time in my schedule, I do appreciate the ease of working out at home, with zero commute-to-a-yoga-studio time , and I’ve always found the NTC app to be super well designed and motivating so will soon  namaste with Nike.

How ’bout you? How’s your training going?

Nike Brahaus and Sport Chek Yorkdale

 

 

 

Leave a Comment August 4, 2017

Travel Swellness: WayHome Arts & Music Festival 2017

WayHome 2017 WayHome field lounging

After going to the first year of WayHome Arts & Music Festival by chance (I happened to win tickets), and then loving it so much, I planned a road trip vacay to attend WayHome last year, I was thrilled to get tickets to this year’s festival to cover it once again (I’d been already feeling FOMO in the time leading up to this past weekend, having had decided to skip this year to be more grounded and have some quality time at home). But I lucked into some wristbands so out went the plans to kick around home and off to Oro-Medonte it was!

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Thanks to General Motors Canada, I was able to test out a Chevy Cruze for this road trip. It was exactly what I had in mind: something zippy and easy to drive around the city, with a decent sound system (we would be listening to music from artists performing at the fest for the drive up, after all, made easy thanks to the car’s Apple CarPlay). And I essentially did a happy dance when I saw the bright pop of red of this Cruze, which seemed positively adorable after driving a series of crossover SUVs such as the Chevy Equinox, Buick Envision and GMC Acadia this summer! I’ve never really been a fan of hatchbacks but I think this one is cute and sporty. And I’ve also never really been a particular fan of red for cars, but this one looks great in this colour.

WayHome 2017 Chevy Cruze hatchback

My fave features of this Cruze: It was so damn easy to park. I’m not a fantastic parker, so getting those SUVs into a spot is always trying for me, but this Cruze, I was able to pull right into any spot and rarely had to make adjustments. Also, it features wireless charging, which I think seems super convenient (hello, definitely need a fully charged smartphone while at WayHome), and it definitely made me want to get the proper adaptor for my smartphone so I could more easily charge it in this vehicle.

WayHome 2017 Billie Jean in Chevy Cruze

Not only did I drive it north to Burl’s Creek for the fest (where its red paint job made it super easy to find in the field of parked cars!), but I also used it to drop my dog, Billie Jean, off for dogsitting, and drove some friends to go try out some amazing Hakka food in Markham. So this adorable zippy car was a good size for fun outings within the city, and it had enough space to pack up my hound and all of her essentials, such as her crate and giant bag of kibble. And the backseat works for her just fine as you can see here. She usually prefers to get cozy on the floor of the backseat (versus on the backseat itself) when we drive anywhere.

WayHome 2017 at the W

As for WayHome? This year was fun, as it always has been. I will admit that I don’t know a lot of musical acts in general, so I often only recognize a few names, but this year, I knew even fewer, but that’s fine, as I knew I’d enjoy Solange and Frank Ocean, and I was happy to discover artists I wasn’t too familiar with. Turns out I like Daniel Caesar, Imagine Dragons and Mura Masa, and I’m going to be checking out more of the artists we caught such as Banks.

WayHome 2017 Coors hot air balloon

While the first year, there was a billowing balloon made out of a beautiful artistic fabric, and last year a Ferris wheel, I felt this year a large scale highlight of that scale was missing (although, yes, there was a Coors hot air balloon). There were cute vendors with pretty jewelry and a DIY flower crown vendor (which I so wanted to do, but I didn’t trust my non-crafty hands to make a pretty one!).

WayHome 2017 We are here

I think (but am not 100 percent sure) that there were fewer food truck choices this year but we never felt like there was nothing we wanted to eat and happily chowed down on both Barque and Food Dudes, and even tried that Colossal Onion when we bumped into a friend who had it (verdict: looks gross, but goddammit, that fried pile is delicious comfort food).

WayHome 2017 Barque ribs

To help us feel we were balancing the heavy foods was the smoothie truck to save the day. And on the flipside, there are great cocktails to enjoy, like the rum punch and mojitos at Casa Bacardi, which was one of the liveliest spots all weekend long.

WayHome 2017 Food Dudes

 

WayHome 2017 Casa Bacardi

While Casa Bacardi wins my vote for liveliest, MEC had a great set up for chilling out, complete with hammocks, photo booth, shaved ice treats (missed out on those, doh!), slackline set-up, and more.

WayHome 2017 VW vanagon

Those hammocks were in high demand and we practically did a happy dance when we finally lucked out with nabbing one on Sunday night as we listened to the last few songs of Tegan & Sara’s set from the WayBright stage. (And I haven’t posted any pics of the artists and groups because we chose to just enjoy the music lounging on the grass away from the fray up front, in case you’re wondering).

WayHome 2017 MEC hammock

Another huge improvement at this year’s WayHome, and it’s actually something that made it a much more enjoyable WayHome weekend for me? Day parking was moved this year to the field near the entrance/exit, rather than the field that was a good and uncomfortable 25-minute walk along the rocky road through the camping area, which is where it was the first two years. This made it easier for us to drop off or grab something from the car in the middle of our eight-hour days at the festival. On the downside, parking is pricey (nearly $40 a day, I think it was the same for 2016, and it was free for year 1) and when we arrived Saturday (we skipped Friday), we had to wait in a long line to get our day parking pass (we had purchased online in advance), and were told we would have to wait in line again on Sunday for our Sunday parking pass, which is not the level of customer service I expect when you’re dishing out a hefty amount for parking. Thankfully, the lineup was short on Sunday.

WayHome 2017 WayHome field

WayHome has become an annual tradition for me that I truly look forward to. You’re there surrounded by people having a good time; I’ve never witnessed any fights or drama and people are giving high fives to strangers. Everyone just seems happy to be there with friends and taking in the music and enjoying the summer weather. Looking forward to “finding my WayHome” next year!

 

Leave a Comment August 3, 2017

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