Category Archives: 2017

Places: Branbury State Park, VT

In 2016, we launched our first Father’s Day camping trip, visiting an old favourite in Lake Placid, Meadowbrook campground. This year, we decided to venture further afield and visit a park that I had read was great but that we hadn’t had the occasion to visit. This trip even featured Heidi’s dad joining us and staying in his old scout tent that is older than I am.

Branbury State Park is located just outside of Middlebury, VT; one of countless interesting and beautiful Vermont towns that just seem to be everywhere.

The park is about a four and a half hour drive from Ottawa but we got to cover some interesting new territory so that was fine. We arrived without incident and looked forward to a beautiful weekend at the park. The park itself is split by the secondary road that passes through but we were high up on the hill in the site the furthest away from the road. We also had a beautiful waterfall in our backyard so road noise was not an issue at all.

IMG_2664
Site #34 – A beauty

In Middlebury, we enjoyed the Farmer’s Market and some of the sites in town; since school was out at the local college, things were pretty quiet and we had the run of the place. Like many towns in Vermont though, this place produces good food, good coffee and good beer! IMG_2649

The star of the weekend was truly the weather – we had gorgeous sunshine that allowed us to relax at the beach and do a couple of local hikes that were really fun.

IMG_2661
Kids taking in the sun

This was another great Vermont park; I continue to find these so much more laid back than the Ontario Parks experience which can definitely seem a bit pre-packaged and higher strung. Since it is a bit out of the way, I don’t think that Branbury will make it onto our regular camping circuit but I would certainly like to return one day.

Advertisements

Places: Akumal, Mexico

This year we were pretty split on what to do for a winter vacation. Although it is tempting to wait until March break to go, most years I find that it is too late – and so this year, we decided to keep it simple and return to Mexico for essentially the same winter break we did last year. After the coldest, wettest spring seemingly ever, we probably could have gone ahead and waited until March though…

After another fantastic vacation I would really say that if you find the right place to stay and are willing to explore it is hard to beat Mexico as a winter vacation destination from Ottawa. There are direct flights right to Cancun, driving is easy, and the Canadian dollar is actually still worth something since the peso has been declining even faster than our own currency. Oh, and there are beautiful beaches, cenotes and jungle and it’s hot. That part is nice too!

This year we only went for a week and stayed in Akumal in a beautiful condo at the Tao Wellness Resort. This place was well-situated for exploring a bit more around Akumal and also for a couple of trips into Tulum. At the resort, we were able to take advantage of the beautiful, and empty!, pool as well as the great breakfasts at the Wellness centre.IMG_1894

While in Tulum, we headed to our favourite beach club, La Zebra. Although it has become a bit busier since we were last there, it is still a beautiful beach and the restaurant is fantastic. The kids made some friends with kids from Toronto who were staying and they were off exploring and playing on the beach for hours.

IMG_1836
La Zebra

We also made it back to our favourite grocery store, Chedraui, and hit a couple of our favourite spots in town including Manglar Pizza on the west side of town and Flor de Michoacan. Ella also managed to return to her favourite tamale stand…I’m unsure of the name but it is located just beside the police station on a small little side street. IMG_1888

IMG_1886IMG_1688Just south of Akumal we found a perfect beach, apparently where they shoot Corona commercials, but there was nobody there when we visited. Just off the beach there was also a cenote hidden in the jungle that was great fun. 

IMG_1788IMG_1791Our only big driving of the trip took place when we visited Coba, a huge Mayan archeological site that we really enjoyed. The bicycle taxis to get you up to the site are pretty fun and the actual climb is crazy-steep but well worth it from the top. IMG_1817

Mexico seems to have just so much to explore, and the food is so good, that I’m sure we will be back again soon.