Tag: find new roads

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Travel Swellness: Road-tripping to Niagara with Chevy Equinox

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Last week, I was invited on a road trip to the Niagara region with Chevy Equinox. It’s an area that I haven’t spent time in for more than 10 years (although I have been to Niagara on the Lake via GO train about two years ago), I think, so I took them up on the chance to explore it for a couple of days.

The trip started by Toronto’s Pearson airport, and it took about an hour to drive from there to our hotel, the Inn on the Twenty. I had no idea that this was so close to Toronto. I’ve had dinner at the Inn many years ago as part of a Niagara on the Lake getaway, and in my mind it was more than a two-hour drive. I didn’t get behind the wheel for the drive up, but instead took advantage of enjoying the view, and Instagramming the drive without fretting about my data plan since the Equinox is equipped with wifi for up to seven devices.

After a lovely lunch at the Inn, we set out on our chosen adventures, and I’d selected the Whirlpool Jet Boat outing–I’d done this many years ago and  loved it so was eager to do it again (although, truth be told, I had envisioned a warm, sunny day). Suited up in about five extra pieces including a jumpsuit, thermal fleece, poncho and a lifejacket, our small group boarded the jetboat and swirled around in the powerful jetboat in Class V rapids in the Niagara Gorge. We also ventured towards the whirlpool. While the cold water swooshing onto the jetboat and soaking us to our skivvies was exciting, for me what I loved most was just the views of the rapids–the swirling water is mesmerizing. I found myself jealous of the hikers we spotted sitting by the Gorge.

The drive to get to the jetboat tour was an adventure in itself. I was driving, and we came across a road closed except for local traffic, as it was basically washed out. We had to go through it, though, to get to our destination, and although I was a little nervous, I took the car straight through it, and it was a splashy little drive but the car drove smoothly through. Nice job, Equinox! (Coincidentally, the Equinox is actually produced in Ontario, not far from where we were, in Ingersoll).

I’ll add a video soon here (once my technical difficulties are sorted out!) that I took of us going through it as we left the jetboat HQ. I was in the back seat when I recorded it and very appreciative of the  heated back seats (yes, the back seats are also heated!) since we’d all caught quite a chill after being drenched on the jetboat. And by the way, the  Equinox also has ventilated seats, and if you know me, I hate the summer’s overwhelming heat and humidity, so ventilated seats are possibly even more of a draw for me than heated seats and heated steering wheel. No pics taken on the jetboat as the Go Pro I had been given didn’t have any space on its memory card, so this is afterwards, once I’d taken four of the five non-waterproof layers off (I don’t know why they provide non-waterproof pieces…!). You can see a pic of us in all of our enormous yellow poncho glory on my Instagram.

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From there, we made a quick pit stop at Niagara Falls. Even though I’ve seen the Falls many times, it has been quite awhile, and I swoon over its power and beauty each and every time.

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For dinner, we were treated to a decadent meal at Redstone Winery, where I ate possibly the most delicious pork loin I’ve ever had. Juicy and so flavourful. You know it’s a good meal when you ask everyone else what they had after the dinner so you can either revel in the deliciousness of the pork (or share a #sorrynotsorry look with those who did not have the pork dish!).

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On day 2, we did a scenic drive to Ball’s Falls and stumbled across so many fields of the prettiest trees. I loved how well the car (even with me, the infrequent driver) handled the winding roads of the area. I”m also a fan of the size and feel of the car. Car interiors I find can often easily seem flimsy but the Equinox feels luxe, and as someone who always craves natural light (most of us do, except for one of my besties, she may be a vampire…), the enormous sunroof is incredible. And as for the size, when a car is too big for me, I feel nervous about nicking things (and forget about parking!); when it’s too small, I feel like I’m going to be swallowed whole by the big trucks on the roads. But like Goldilocks, I’m looking for the one that is not too big, not too small, but just right, and size-wise, that’s the Equinox.

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At Ball’s Falls, we did the very short “hike” (it’s really more of a short walk) to both the Upper Falls and Lower Falls, and took in the heritage buildings, too. I don’t often get to trails and to hike when I’m home in Toronto, so it was nice to make the quick drive and get in a quick dose of forest bathing.

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Our road trip ended with a phenomenal lunch at Good Earth Food & Wine, and I feel  like a failed foodie as I wasn’t familiar with this resto. I had the prettiest and most delicious salad there, full of bright and beautiful ingredients with a hefty helping of Guernsey Girl cheese, too. This was followed by a decadent tartine that was more of a gourmet open-face gyro, and a gorgeous lemon rhubarb tart. If you’ve noticed a theme here it’s that everything was so, so pretty and beyond satisfying. I will most definitely be back to eat at Good Earth.

One quick drive back to Toronto, and our Chevy Equinox road trip came to an end. We easily unpacked our trunk thanks to the hand-free power life gate feature (another fave feature — I’m forever carrying a ton of packages or groceries and now with my dog, Billie Jean’s leash often occupying one hand, freeing up my hands is always a plus). A slight wave of the leg underneath the back of the car and up (or down) goes the trunk door.

I’ve been living in Toronto since 1999 and I love that, thanks to Chevrolet Equinox, we were able to find new roads pretty much right in the city’s “backyard.” That is what makes me wish I had a car–not so much for living downtown, although it would make certain errands easier–but for the opportunities to venture out and discover the fun adventures that the world has to offer.

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Leave a Comment May 18, 2017

Travel Swellness: Driving to WayHome 2016 with Chevy Cruze

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I had so much fun at WayHome Music & Arts Festival last year that I made sure to get tickets early to this year’s fest, which took place about two weeks ago.

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And while I bought tickets months ago, the rest of the trip came together last minute: I’d booked a bed and breakfast near Burl’s Creek (because I just don’t think I’m cut out for music fest camping!) but I had my heart set on Forks in the Trail, which is where we stayed last year but it was all booked when I tried to reserve. But lucky for us, a room opened up about a week prior, huzzah! Tricia and Doug are lovely hosts, the breakfasts are ample and delicious (these pancakes were fluffy and filling, important when fueling for many hours at the fest!), and there’s the gorgeous pool to relax at all morning before driving the 20 minutes to WayHome.

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A few days before WayHome, I also was able to firm up test-driving a Chevy Cruze from GM to get us to the Oro-Medonte. I’ve driven one before (in Nashville in April; you can read about that trip here) but my drive time there was brief so it was good to get more time behind the wheel of a Cruze.

The Cruze feels small enough that it doesn’t feel like I’m taking up a ton of room on the road but yet not so small that it’s intimidating to be driving alongside big trucks (I find when in some very tiny cars you can feel like the big cars will take you out!). There’s plenty of space so it’s definitely comfortable in terms of leg room; we were only two people in the car but if I’d been able to drive up other folks to the fest, there was plenty of space for both more passengers and bags. And that’s even with me packing way too many clothes (yes, I manage to over-pack still despite how regularly I travel).

As always, one of my fave features is the wifi in the car. Although I didn’t get to use it much as the designated driver, it gives me peace of mind to have it. There’s also a spot to place your cell phone (and if you’re like me, your smartphone is your most important tool!), so it’s tucked there safely (there’s wireless charging too, except I personally don’t have the type of battery to use it). With Apple Carplay, my iPhone’s maps, music, messages and phone were easily connected to the vehicle. If I’d had time before our road trip, I could’ve loaded my iTunes with the Killers, Major Lazer, Haim and Beirut to get us excited for the weekend of music to come.

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Features I also appreciate? Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist (although I certainly don’t rely on it, I like knowing the car has his feature especially on trip’s like this one where I’m the only driver and I may be tired), and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, to name just a few. Again, it’s of course important to practice good, safe driving, but having these features to help us be extra safe when driving is helpful and a comfort, especially for someone like me who isn’t driving very regularly.

The Cruze helped us find our WayHome (and our way home, get it? OK, bad joke) smoothly and safely (and in this brilliant blue, it made it easy to find in the fest’s parking lot).

And there’s more finding new roads coming soon!  Later this week, I’ll be Cruze-ing again as I’m doing another  road-trip adventure with a Chevy Cruze! Follow on Instagram and Snapchat (my profile is healthswellness) to find out  more on Thursday!

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Leave a Comment August 9, 2016


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