Tag: General Motors

Travel Swellness: Camping in Killarney with the GMC Terrain

Killarney with Billie Jean

At the end of the summer, I fit in one last camping trip up to Killarney (where I’ve been wanting to check out for camping for quite awhile). With a GMC Terrain (thank you for letting me test drive this, GM Canada!), we set out for the longish drive (I consider anything more then two hours long, especially for a weekend).

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The Terrain was spacious for the two of us plus Billie Jean plus so much stuff (no matter how much I try to minimize gear, camping calls for hauling a lot of stuff!), and it had all the features I’ve come to love about the GM vehicles I’ve had the opportunity to drive (that’d be the Apple Car Play, a great GPS system and the little light on the side mirror letting you know if someone’s in your blind spot). What was different about this car than any other car I’ve driven is that it was a diesel engine.

Thankfully, GM let me know when I picked up the car that it was diesel (although it is clearly marked on the tank), and I was instructed to only fill it with diesel or else the car would just shut down if I fllled it with regular gasoline.

What’s the difference between diesel and gas? I had to do a little research online about this: fuel mixes with air in the engine and it combusts, which is what makes the pistons move done and turn the crankshaft, which is connected to the transmission, which then makes the car’s wheels turn. The piston moves up into the cylinder, pushes out of the engine and the tailpipe the burnt gas. More cylinders in your engine, the smoother the engine runs and the more powerful it is.

Where diesel and gas differ is in how they’re ignited in the engine. With gas, the gas and air is compressed and a spark plug ignites the combo of the two. With diesel, there’s no spark plus but rather the diesel and air is squeezed tightly enough that it just combusts from that action of being compressed. Since it runs on this combustion system of no spark plugs, diesel engines are often more simply and solidly built in comparison to a gas engine. And while I always thought diesel equaled more pollution compared to gas, from what I understand technology has come a long way and diesel runs cleaner than ever before.

OK, and if you like me thought only loud big rig trucks use diesel, that is clearly not the case, and with regards to the noise, advancements mean that the noise level is no longer a factor.

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Diesel contains more energy per unit than gas. So it often costs more but you’re getting more energy out of it. But over time, the fuel cost will end up being close to the same.

Hopefully, I’ve got all that info right (car buffs, please let me know if I’ve misunderstood what I researched!). This is all new to me and I confess that this is the most I’ve ever read about how an engine works.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, driving a diesel car didn’t feel any different. Oh, and in case you’re wondering where you can fill up with diesel,even though I’d asked if diesel is available at all gas stations and was told yes, the first one we went to fill up at in downtown Toronto did not have diesel.

Our rugged Terrain got us safely up to Killarney to starry skies at night and beautiful hikes, and I learned a little bit about car engines and diesel and gas in the process. If you’re thinking of camping in Killarney, here are my 5 tips I gained from my camping trip there:

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Hike the Chikanishing Trail. This trail is far simpler and more beautiful than the Crack and it leads you to beautiful Georgian Bay. The terrain is mixed (I like variety!), including some smooth pink boulders and towards the end, the path is narrow and the trees tower over you.

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Eat the famous fish and chips at Herbert Fisheries. We stopped at Herbert’s for lunch before the drive back to Toronto, and there is outdoor seating by the water (which was great since we had Billie Jean with us). The batter is light and delicate and it was a satisfying meal that tided me over for the trek home.

Killarney the Crack

Hike The Crack and bring lots of water and snacks. The stunning views at the peak make the long hike and the rough,jagged rocks for much of the trail (not my personal fave) worth it. Note: I don’t find the path that clearly marked and in fact went way off course at one point and thought me and Billie Jean were going to have to have search and rescue come save us. This hike will take you about four hours, so bring plenty of water (I didn’t pack enough for me and Billie Jean and it was a very hot day and we’re lucky we didn’t pass out from dehydration).

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Pack delicious foods for your trip. This goes for any camp trip but I truly appreciated having non-typical camp food for this trip (we kind of went OTT as you can see). Sure, you can survive on only hot dogs and trail mix, but I love camping because we always eat great meals. This time we brought burrata and champagne and charcuterie. And it was awesome. Do prep as much as you can in advance, though.

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Be kind to your fellow campers. At one point one our first night, we got lost in the dark making our way back from going to see the lake and ended up on someone’s campsite and a very furious woman was simply a really awful human to us (even though we were clearly lost and not purposely trespassing on her site for kicks). Having witnessed this woman’s horrid treatment, the people on the next campsite broke the tension when we encountered them and their kindness helped make up for this horrible encounter. Thank you, you kind campers. As for the beastly lady, I wish you are treated more kindly in life going forward so that you can learn some grace yourself.

Until next year for more camping adventures! If you have any camping recos (any sites you love or great camping recipes), let me know! Camping is pretty new to me (my first trips were last summer to Rondeau and Killbear!).

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Leave a Comment December 3, 2018

Travel Swellness: Camping with the GMC Acadia Denali

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Not that I’ve ever been the type to hate nature (although I do not like bugs…) but I’ve always considered myself a city girl. Over the past few years, though, I’ve been seeking out more time in forests, or by the water, but always with creature comforts (does having showers and flushing toilets count as a creature comfort?). I’ve gotten into camping (my first trip was last summer); just car camping (where you park on your campsite) — I have yet to do back-country camping (I don’t know if that’s something I’m ready to tackle quite yet).

For my most recent camping trip this summer at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, I had the opportunity to drive the GMC Acadia Denali. I was a bit nervous the vehicle would feel enormous like some of the recent cars I’ve driven (the Ford Explorer, the Cadillac Escalade), but to my relief, the Acadia Denali was not so over-sized for me that I felt nervous driving and parking it, and yet it had loads of room for me, two friends and two dogs and the piles of equipment you need for camping.

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Equipped with OnStar 4G LTE WIFI Hotspot, which is handy for road trips since you may drive through dead zones with no data service, the Acadia also featured OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation, which got us to Grundy Lake, to Burger’s Priest in Barrie (where we stopped for lunch on our drive back) and home with ease. I get very stressed out when lost as I have no sense of direction, so having a reliable and easy to follow navigation system is a must for me, and the OnStar was easy to use (the interface is clean and it’s all very intuitive).

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The WIFI also is handy when you’re in the car for a few hours, too. You know the two of us not driving would be looking up essential celebrity gossip and all of those other nonsense things you must google asap as we made our way north.

The Acadia is equipped with Apple Carplay, which we didn’t use much of during our camping trip, but it was useful when I had the car to myself and I had to make calls while driving. Safety first, after all, and I was able to call my friends to let them know I was soon arriving using Siri. Music-wise, for our road trip, we had fun checking out stations on Sirius (indie music for easy listening and old school hip hop for when we were needing something more hype).

Grundy Lake camping

The trunk area was spacious enough once we lowered down the last row of seats to make room for sleeping bags, coolers, the tent and food. When you’re car camping, you store all of your food in the car so as to avoid attracting bears, so you’re in and out of the car a lot, so it’s by no means a new feature but the button to close the trunk is a simple but most useful feature. The Acadia features the hands-free liftgate but I admit I always forget to use it. It’s funny how you can operate on autopilot, isn’t it? (For example, I still often forget I can turn right on red here when I drive, since I learned to drive in Montreal, and you can’t turn right on red there.)

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The interior of the car is the perfect blend of luxury and outdoors ruggedness. The leather seats were comfortable and easy to clean up after two dogs traveled in the vehicle (just a quick run through with my Dyson). And the exterior was Blue Steel Metallic, which is a very sexy colour; deep and mysterious and yet more special than just black. It’s a colour that makes you take a second look at the car.

At the end of my stint with this GMC Acadia Denali, I think it bridges the gap and suits both aspects of my lifestyle: life in the city (dinners out, errands, mini excursions to explore other nearby cities) and the outdoor adventures that I’m more and more drawn to (hikes with Billie Jean, camping). It is indeed “a luxury crossover vehicle,” smart marketing, haha. Granted it’s on the large size for just me and my dog for city stuff, but then again, you do need to bring a lot of people with you to eat the towers of lobster and crab at Fishman’s Lobster Clubhouse, so perhaps it’s just the right size.

Thank you GM Canada for GMC Acadia test drive! Next up, the GMC Terrain. I’m interested to see how this compares to my experience with the Acadia.

Billie Jean Grundy Lake

 

 

Leave a Comment September 12, 2018

Travel Swellness: Escape to Vernon for a wellness retreat

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The mountains are calling…

The mountains are always calling me, it seems. I’ve said it before: as much as I love the ocean and spending time on a beach, it’s being in the mountains that truly makes me well up inside with all of the warm and fuzzies.

So I jumped at the opportunity to travel to Vernon, B.C., with Buick Enclave to learn about this luxury crossover SUV and to breathe in that fresh mountain air. It was a whirlwind trip, but I was a busy little bunny and have 5 things you must do if you’re looking to do your own wellness retreat in beautiful Vernon.

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1. Stay at Sparkling Hill Resort. The view from the floor to ceiling windows in the suites is reason enough to book a stay at Sparkling Hill. Just taking in that view and I feel more relaxed and calm.  I could just go from that bathtub to the bed and back all day long soaking it up. Add in a very comfortable bed, some incredible food (everything I had from the veggie wrap at lunch to the chicken at dinner was delectable), and stress just melts away. The property is on a granite bluff overlooking Lake Okanagan and is the brainchild of the patriarch of the Swarovski crystal family, so throughout the property you’ll find more than 3.5 million Swarovski crystals making the resort shine bright.

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2. Snowshoe at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre. With tall evergreens weighed down with fluffy white snow, snowshoeing here with a guide is a magical winter wonderland experience. As a city girl jaded by the frigid long waits for public transit and dealing with the grey, slushy mess of downtown Toronto, escaping to a place like Sovereign Lake  where winter is stunning and gives you a reason to celebrate snow is always a good reminder to make time to appreciate this most Canadian of seasons.

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Breathing in that fresh pine scent as you work your way through the trails is a great workout; you can burn about 500 calories an hour (but it really depends on how difficult your terrain is and how intensely you trek).

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3. Go hiking. There are 25 kilometres of marked trails in and around the Sparkling Hill Resort property for hiking. It’s so quiet that it’ll just be the crunch of the snow beneath your feet to accompany you, with views of the lake and some 300 species of birds in the area to spot. The resort also offers daily guided hikes if you’re not keen about venturing out on your own.

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4. Spend a day in Kurspa. Yes, an entire day. Or break up your time at the 40,000 square-foot spa over several days. There are seven different themed steams and saunas to indulge in including Rose Steam, Igloo, Crystal Steam and Aqua Meditation.

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You could (and should) also walk the Kneipp Hydrotherapy, a water-stepping path through warm and cold water (it’s only about knee deep) designed to help with circulation, low blood pressure, insomnia and swollen feet. If hot pools are your jam, the one at Kurspa is  designed so that you should move your way around it counterclockwise so that the specially designed jets help to soothe your body. For those who like to swim laps, you will not want to miss the indoor saltwater pool here as music is  piped in underwater. And I haven’t even gotten to the spa treatments yet: try the signature Mud & Muscle if you’ve gone hard with your workouts, or the Crystal Scrub to get glowing. I didn’t have time to have a treatment since I chose to spend as much time outdoors in the mountains, but I heard the treatments are top notch.

Me in Buick Enclave

5. Go for a scenic drive around the Okanagan. Driving the winding roads in the 2018 Buick Enclave was a relaxing and beautiful excursion during which we got to take in the sunset as we made our way to and then back from Sovereign Lake. If you’re traveling with your whole squad, the Enclave is actually a great choice as it seats seven people, and yet it manages to not feel like an enormous car (in fact, I actually didn’t realize the car’s capacity at all when I was driving it, and that is usually something I’m wary of). And check out the super luxe interior (with heated seats, much welcome after snowshoeing in the cold!)

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But my two top reasons a Buick Enclave is the perfect ride for this trip to a mountain escape to Vernon? Firstly, the OnStar 4G LTE wifi, which came in handy given we were in areas where my smartphone had no data connection.  Up to seven devices can connect so every passenger can stream or catch up on social media and emails easily.

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Secondly, the QuietTuning feature. I’ve only just learned about it but it helps create a healthier and more relaxing space in your Buick. What is it? It’s an air ionizer that helps to eliminate odours and improve air quality by creating negatively charged particles that attract all of the things you don’t want in your car (the bad smells and contaminants– think dust, pollen, bacteria) making them heavy and then sweeping them out of the air in the car. Making it that much easier for you to breathe in that fresh Okanagan air.

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I hope I can fit in another mountain escape into my schedule soon because they are calling again. Thank you, Buick, for this little escape to the west coast.

 Photography (Buick Enclave in Ebony Twilight, Buick Enclave in Havana Metallic , snowshoeing, sauna, mountain view): Lucas Scarfone.

 

Leave a Comment December 15, 2017

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