It’s a sure sign of spring when the sap is flowing. I’m talking about maple syrup! The best way to enjoy this lovely Canadian treat is by visiting the ever popular annual Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, held in early April.
I recently checked an item off my 2016 bucket list: to zipline at the Scenic Caves Nature Adventures near Collingwood, Ontario.
On thanksgiving Monday, we set off for the adventures, expecting it to be pretty quiet. We were so wrong. I guess everyone else thought that a Monday holiday would be a quiet day, and showed up.
We reserved online for the Eco Tour, which includes a walk over an amazing suspension bridge that wobbles when you walk over it, a treetop trek along 10″ wide planks, a 300′ zipline to the forest floor, a tour through caves, and a 1000′ zip along the Niagara Escarpment. What a blast.
Our tour included a discounted price on the Thunderbird twin zipline, but it was an almost two-hour wait (see reason above). But thanks to the wonderful staff, we got a raincheck! This means that I’ll be heading out again for my turn on the twin zip next fall. Check it out here.
Instead of taking photos, I decided to use my Sony Action Cam to take some video. I think it turned out all right!
Check out my video here:
Ziplining is one of my favourite activities. Look out for some more video about my ziplining experience in Jamaica!
Where is your favourite place to zipline?
.As I’ve expressed before, I actively take advantage of my mini two-day vacations – also known as the weekend – in order to scratch the travel bug itch while working full time. These mini-vacations are what I call backyard adventures.
Of all of the edible flowers, lavender has to be my favourite. I jumped at the chance to head to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the 2016 NEOB Lavender Festival – a festival all about that little purple plant.
I may or may not have lavender detergent, lavender hand soap, dish soap, body wash, perfume and more. Don’t judge, I said it was my favourite.
Whether you love the look or the smell, lavender is more than just fragrance. It can help with anxiety, sleep and of course you can add it to food for a fresh, earthy taste.
The festival offered two ways to enjoy the grounds. The island hopper pass allowed attendees to scope out the festival with a couple of treats for $5 and the second option, the world traveller, was $15 for all the items.
So what exactly do you do at a Lavender Festival?
Frolic in the lavender fields
Lavender starts blooming around June or July, so the festival was placed perfectly for optimal frolicking. Run your hands through the bushes or sit and watch the bees dance around the flowers.
Eat lavender items
Have you heard of lavender flatbread? Or lavender lemongrass square? How about ice cream with lavender syrup?
That’s right, if you like looking at the flower and smelling the flower then why not eat it right?
The festival offered the aforementioned items as well as delicious lavender root beer and a lavender Japanese raindrop cake.
Haven’t heard of raindrop cake? Well, it’s made of mineral water and agar and is like eating a solid, jello-y raindrop aka: like eating nothing. My reaction: “Slimy yet satisfying” (#LionKingReference)
Rounding the day off with a lavender macaron, truffle, and cheesecake, my stomach was as happy as a lavender coloured clam.
Cut your own lavender
Before I realized I could cut my own bouquet, I had one handed to me. It now sits in a vase on my bookshelf. I got roped in by its aroma and caved to buy culinary lavender, pillow spray for better zzz’s, shea butter to lather up, and lavender honey.
The fields were open for those adventurers who wanted only the freshest of lavender.
You could also roam the vendors selling amazingly unique items, attend a lavender related workshop or join a tour of the greenhouses.
I was very impressed by the festival, which is only a couple of years old. The organizers stated there were 7,000 people in attendance during the weekend; so obviously, I’m not the only one obsessed with lavender.
What has been the most interesting or unique festival you’ve attended?
Fall is without a doubt the best season. I can work through my brain fog of allergies to enjoy the gorgeous and breathtaking wonders of fall.
This fall, I have had the privilege of spending it on both sides of the country. Ontario still is #1 when it comes to the amazing colours.
Here is a list of my favourite things about Fall and a few pictures too look at along the way.
I woke up yesterday morning with a mixture of nervousness and excitement fighting within me. I was going to climb a 100-foot fire tower.
When I set up the climb with the Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, they told me not to worry if I can’t make it to the top. I shouldn’t be ashamed because not everyone can do it.
That made me more nervous. What if I couldn’t do it? I was more nervous about not being able to do it than the climb itself.
Arriving at the site was a bit of a struggle. I don’t have a 4×4 and driving those oil roads were a feat in themselves.
I received a brief orientation, was harnessed up, and clipped onto a metal cable. A clip the size of my fist and a cage surrounding the ladder were the only things stopping me from falling to my death.
I looked up ready to take my first step. My mind was filled with tips from orientation: take one step at a time, always have three points of contact, alternate between left and right, and most importantly, don’t be afraid of not going all the way.
I just told myself – okay I said it aloud – “Let’s do this!”
A little bit about the ladder: It is 100 ft straight up. It is surrounded by a metal cage. It is the only way to and from the lookout booth.
About 40 feet up, I’m at the tree line. It is my first real view of my surroundings. The first thing I notice is how tired my hands are. I have been gripping those ladder rails hard and my grip is going numb.
At 50 feet, I do the one thing I was told not to do: I look down. Thank goodness I am not afraid of heights. When I looked down, I smiled. Look how far I got. Then I look up. Oh god. I have so far to go.
At 80 feet, I am done. I can’t go on. My hands, my arms. I won’t be able to make it. But I made it that far. And there’s no way I’ll be able to climb down right away so I pushed myself 10 feet farther. As the hatch opened, I stumbled on the floor of the booth.
My arms were like noodles. My hands were forming into claws. My throat was dry. However, the best thing is I MADE IT.
I felt, literally and figuratively, on top of the world. So my advice: do those things that push you. As Babe Ruth said, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Maybe I should start this saying: “never let the fear of failure keep you from climbing the tower.”
Watch for my article in the Whitecourt Press out on Tuesday