Tag: car

Travel Swellness: Ford Explorer adventures in Toronto with Billie Jean

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When it comes to my schedule outside of work, most of my time is spent making my sweet rescue pup, Billie Jean, happy. Yes, I’m now one of those people.

So with the opportunity to get a Ford Explorer from Ford Canada and show Billie Jean parts of the city she has not yet seen, I jumped at the chance. She’s only been in Canada a year, so there’s so much she hasn’t experienced yet and even though dogs are permitted on the TTC in non-rush hour times, there are adventures that are so much simpler to do with a car.

Ford Explorer at Bluffs

Let’s first talk about this vehicle, though. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t driven in a few months, but the Explorer is one big SUV. I thought I’d get used to it the more I drove it over the four days, but I have to admit I didn’t. However, while it made it nerve-wracking for me (the infrequent driver) to park — I think I spent 20 minutes in my underground parking trying to get it into the only available spot, which was the worst spot of the whole parking garage — I always felt safe in it. The blind-spot assist function is something I appreciate as well as the easy to use GPS (this is a must for me given I have no sense of direction and being lost is a huge stressor for me). In terms of comfort and how easy the car is to use, I liked the Billie Jean hopped right into the backseat (that’s her ultimate seal of approval, I have had vehicles where she seems unsure of what to do with herself), and things like the button to shut the trunk door and to lower the last row of seats (making it easier for me to view out the rear window) make it a relief to drive. And while I’m no expert on driving, from my perspective, I felt like it handled smoothly (braking is nice and smooth, accelerates how I’d expect it to based on how I much I’m stepping on the gas, and even just  how the actual steering wheel feels in your hands; the simple things you may not notice when the car runs smoothly like this one did, but are glaringly obvious when they’re not comfortable to the touch or driving experience, in my experience anyhow).

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I learned how well it drove over the course of a few days, and first up was a spa day for Billie Jean. We rolled up to Park9 in the Distillery  District, where Billie Jean enjoyed a massage bath, she get a mani (well, her claws were trimmed) and best of all, she got a blueberry facial. How cute is that? She came out smelling so fresh and clean and her fur was absolutely brilliant!

Sherwood Park

The rest of our time was spent visiting friends and going to parks we can’t access simply. This included Sherwood Park, which is a lovely park to trek around with a large off-leash section, and also Sixteen Mile Creek in Oakville, where Billie Jean got to sport her adorable new Nordic sweater.

Sixteen Mile Creek

Before stopping into Oakville, we went to make a small pit stop in Burlington as I was keen to try Sunshine Doughnuts (where Billie Jean wasn’t very pleased that she did not get a doughnut for herself).

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And for our last dog-fun outing? A visit to Scarborough Bluffs, which was blissfully quiet and serene on a weekend morning. If you’ve ever met Billie Jean, you can easily tell when she’s having the time of her life, and I know that she felt like she was living her best life on these adventures in the Ford Explorer.

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I took advantage of having the Ford SUV to also do a little exploring of my own, too. Namely, a food adventure. I picked up friends (did you know the Explorer seats six people?) and we headed to Fishmans Lobster Clubhouse, which I have long drooled over when I’ve seen posts of lobster towers on Instagram (and you may recognize the restaurant as it was recently featured on David Chang’s Ugly Delicious). It’s a set menu so my friend in the know insisted we go with a big group of people, so with the Explorer, we were finally able to make our lobster tower dream come true.  And it was so worth it. I can see this becoming an annual trek to Markham.

Fishmans Lobster Clubhouse

I reluctantly returned the Explorer and handed back the keys, but ended our explorations around the city with one happy dog (and one full and happy belly myself). You can check photos on Instagram with the hashtag #FordDogDays! And I’d love your recos of where to go on future outings with this pup!

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Leave a Comment May 1, 2018

Healthy Swellness: 9 #FordMindfulness driving tips

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A couple of weeks ago, for Stress Awareness Month, I took part in a Ford Edge mindfulness program (the focus being on how to be a more mindful driver). I met with Ford Canada and yoga instructor, Yumee Chung (who I know from Passport to Prana) and she walked me through a number of ways to be a more mindful driver. Here’s a quick rundown of the tips, so you can bring more mindfulness to your driving:

  1. Stretch before you drive. Yumee recommends triangle pose to help you get limber.
  2. Sit in a comfortable, healthy position. The Ford Edge features 10-Way Power Driver and Passenger seats so make use of that to help support your lower back (this was really key to  me personally as I’ve been having problems with my lower back the last two months). You want to sit back in the seat with your head, ribs and pelvis in ones line. This stacked position helps keep your back happy and healthy.
  3. Do a posture check when driving. We all tend to slouch forward when behind the wheel so do a quick assessment of your posture by sitting tall and sending your shoulder blades downwards. Your chin should be positioned so that your earlobes hover above your shoulders rather than forward (and the car’s voice-activated SYNC 3 tech will help make sure you can maintain this posture since you can just say your commands aloud).
  4. Shake out those wrists. If you find you’re clenching the steering wheel, occasionally take a moment to rotate your wrists and give your hands a shake.
  5. Practice deep breaths. Traffic can be stressful, which could cause you to breathe quickly and shallowly so try five to 10 cycles of inhaling for a count of 6 and exhaling for a count of 8.
  6. Use yoga therapy balls to relax your muscles pre-drive. If you’re going on a long road trip, take a quick moment to use some yoga therapy balls to ease any areas that feel tight. You can do this in your seat by placing a ball between the seat and your back at the spot that feels tight and working out that tension.
  7. Get moving. When you’ve got the car safely stopped, use the time to get your body moving a bit (gently shake your head as though you’re saying “no,” or lean one ear down toward your shoulder and then point your nose in the direction of your armpit (repeat on the other side), or make like you’re a belly dancer and wiggle your spine while seated.
  8. Do a few spinal twists once you get out of the car after a drive.
  9. Use the features of the car that help make driving less stressful. The Ford Edge features Active Park Assist (and I know that I find parking one of the most stressful tasks!), and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) is another feature that can help you feel more at ease behind the wheel.
at Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

Hiking Day 2 at Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

My #FordMindfulness lessons complete, I also got a chance to drive the 2016 Ford Edge Titanium around town over several days to put these tips into practice and to make my life more mindful. I used it mostly to go drive north of the city to go hiking, where the fresh air and peace and quiet was just what I needed, and I finally made my way to the Aga Khan Museum, which is a stunning building (inside and outside)  filled with beautiful pieces.

at Cataract Falls

Hiking Day 1 at Cataract Falls

Oh, and you know what makes driving much less stressful for me? The SYNC 3 navigator. I have no sense of direction and even though I went to the wrong mall (don’t ask, haha) at first driving the Ford Edge to go to meet Douglas Coupland for #3Dcanada  and also needed to find a great Thai spot for dinner on the way home from hiking, doing these tasks were a breeze thanks to SYNC 3 and I didn’t enter panic mode.

Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

Ford Canada also sent me to practice mindfulness at Float Toronto, a floatation therapy spot where you float in a dark tank of 10 inches of water that’s got 900 lbs of Epson salts dissolved in it, which allows you to float effortlessly. I’d been meaning to check out Float when it opened, but the idea of it terrifies me so I never put much effort into going. I can get panicky and claustrophobic in pitch black darkness. But I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and give it a shot. The float session lasts an hour, and I spent the first 20 minutes in the tank with the door open  fidgeting around (sitting, Snapchatting, etc), and then since Float told me it’d be warmer if I closed the tank door, I closed the door with a towel to keep the tank door open a smidgen for some light, but it was too dark for me, so I opened it up again. The last 25 minutes I did manage to settle down and just lie there floating…but then I got restless so I got out and showered to get on with my day.

In the end, I’m glad I gave float therapy a try and I can see why it’s appealing to so many people. Thank you to Ford Canada for lessons in mindfulness with the Ford Edge Titanium. I know I’ll use these strategies whenever I get behind the wheel now.

Outside the Aga Khan Museum

On the grounds of the beautiful Aga Khan Museum

Leave a Comment May 16, 2016

Travel Swellness: 2016 Chevy Spark

Chevy Spark at Humber College Lakeshore

The “ultimate mobile device” is music to my ears. If you hang out with me for a day, it becomes obvious that I like to be connected–I’m often posting on social media (or checking what other people have posted), and, of course, I’m always working on getting shiz done–as a freelancer, I’m used to, and I’d say required to, always be on top of emails and texts–if an editor is trying to reach me, or if I’m offered an assignment, for example, I can’t afford to delay replying, and in spare time, say, waiting in line, I’m often reading news and articles and staying on top of trends on my iPhone.

So when I heard “ultimate mobile advice” from Chevy a few weeks ago, I was pretty curious. Turns out they were talking about the 2016 Chevy Spark, which is wifi-enabled; now, I can honestly tell you that I don’t know if I appreciate how much torque a car has (I always need to ask the GM pros to explain that concept to me each time I see them), but I do appreciate a car that has wifi.

To help us discover the Chevy Spark that day, which is affordably priced and thus making it a good option for the very first car buyer, we were asked to spend the day as millennials. Ironically, while I’m certainly not a millennial, I’ve never owned a car. (Well, I suppose I’ve partially owned two cars, but they were secondhand, so I don’t feel like that counts).

My first impressions of the Spark? As a visual person, I like the sleek and short (in height) lines of the Spark. It’s pretty darn cute and compact, wouldn’t you say? Especially in this Electric Blue shade (although I’d call it sky blue…), which I showed no shame on calling dibs on. The car’s lower profile, besides making it sleek and attractive, helps to reduce aerodynamic drag, making it more efficient, while changes made to the interior mean that the ample headroom inside hasn’t been affected. In addition, the interior now has upgraded materials, higher density seat foam for greater comfort and a great deal of attention to detail (I couldn’t help but notice the subtle pleasing graphic on the inside of the car doors and dashboard).

More exciting to me is that way your phone can be integrated with the car’s technology. If you have an iPhone 5 or later, the colour screen in the car displays content from it through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay features. Which means you can use apps from  your phone including phone, messages, maps,  music and more on the car display. The Spark’s MyLink radio features a touch colour display, and the interface is the one most of us know thanks to our smartphones (I wasn’t forever searching for where to press on the screen for once, since it looks much like my iPhone screen so it was easy to use, plus you can swipe and pinch, for example, much in the same way you use your smartphone). Oh, one of my fave features: many of the features on both Android Auto (such as Google Maps) and Apple CarPlay can be controlled by voice command through a button on the steering wheel; my friends who drive have all had me lecture them if I find out they text and drive–those dangers of texting and driving PSAs really hit a nerve with me, what can I say, so anything that helps drivers keep their eyes and attention on the road, is important to me.

The Spark’s engine is all new, but I’m not going to talk engines because I’m not an expert on them (yet–but I’m driving more often it seems to trying to learn more); I’ll leave that to the hardcore car experts to describe to you. As for price, the Spark LS starts at $9,995 and at the top end is the 2LT, which starts at 18, 195.

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After taking the Spark for a quick drive to get a feel for the car (during which we stumbled upon the Humber College Lakeshore campus–how appropriate given our millennial theme of the day!), we were given one task from Chevy: to go to IKEA armed with $100 from them and shop for items to donate to a worthy cause of our choice. A friend of mine is helping a number of Syrian families get settled into Toronto, so Megan of www.immrfabulous.com (my friend and buddy for this Chevy Spark day) and I picked up a ton of kitchen staples such as plates, pots, tools and the like, loaded them into the trunk (surprisingly spacious given the compact feel of the car) and then dropped off the IKEA haul to my friend.

Spark trunk space

Then with the millennial lunch budget Chevy gave us, we filled our growling bellies with delicious, affordable vegetarian bowls at Fresh. (But let’s face it, a truly budget-friendly meal when you’re in college is more like a 99 cent package of ramen! Or a poutine. I lived off of poutine in CEGEP!)

Good deed of the day done, while getting to test out this zippy little car, which thanks to its compact size was a dream to park (one of my least favourite driving tasks!), we reluctantly gave back the keys to Chevy Spark and bid adieu to our day as millennials with their first new car.

Chevy Spark in Electric Blue

 

Can’t wait to see what my next adventure on the road is with GM!

Leave a Comment April 6, 2016


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