Tag: ford

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

Fitness Swellness: A day of motorsports with Ford Canada

by Pinpoint National Photography

To help celebrate the upcoming Father’s Day (did you get your dad a gift yet??), Ford Canada invited me to drive a Mustang GT and Ford RS on a race track, and I brought along my good friend Damian (and he’s a dad, so there’s my gift to you, D!). I’ve filed this under Fitness Swellness…’cause it’s a sport, right, kinda sorta?

So we drove out to Toronto Motorsports Park, and it was both of our first times driving on a race track. I was kind of nervous…here I am thinking, “Uh…can I do this?!?”

by Pinpoint National Photography

I let Damian go first since I was a bit unsure about getting on the track, but soon enough it was my turn.  Got into the Ford RS and our Ford instructor Malcolm took me out on a recon lap. I only realized once we started out that the car was standard, and I wasn’t confident I could get the car into third gear (I’ve tried to learn to drive standard a few times and it has not gone well, it really stresses me out!), so I didn’t do laps around the track in this car, but instead tried to commit to memory the turns and paid attention to how to handle them based on Malcolm’s talking me through the process as he drove. Turns out, for me anyhow, it’s hard to memorize the curvy track! I did get a feel for the car, though, and felt very safe (those Michelin Cup 2 Track summer tires never felt like we were sliding all of the track). I’m not a car geek, but if you’re wondering the Ford RS has Ford Performance all-wheel drive system with Dynamic Torque Vectoring, turbocharged eco-boost engine and you can select from Normal, Sport, Track and Drift modes.

by Pinpoint National Photography

Next was my turn to drive the Mustang GT. I did three (or was it two–the laps are all blurring together now) and it was fun! It’s hard hugging those corners the way you’re supposed to and always looking a step ahead for the next pylon so as to plan where you’re maneuvering the car! The GT, like the Ford RS, has modes you can select (Normal, Snow/Wet, Sport or Track), and 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque.  It also has blind-spot info system (which I didn’t have to use on the track!), and I wish I could tell you how fast I drove it on the straightaways but I kept my eyes on the track and peeled for the next pylon so I could make my turns.

Here’s a pretty funny video of our track adventure that Ford put together:

To end our track adventure, we each got to sit in the car as the instructor did a hot lap, and I got to see how I should’ve been getting the GT around the track! It was way, way, way faster than what I drove but I probably didn’t have to tell you that.

Thanks for the fun afternoon, Ford Canada! Now I can check “race a car on a track” off my bucket list!

by Pinpoint National Photography

 

Leave a Comment June 16, 2017

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

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