Tag Archives: road trip

Places: Mont Sutton, QC

Although we were ‘staying around home’ for the holidays, way back in July or something I had spotted these interesting stand-alone cabins on AirBnb and felt I had to book them for some occasion. Since the prices didn’t seem to really change over Christmas, I thought they’d be a nice spot to ring in the new year and get out on the slopes at the same time. Although the downtime over the holidays was nice, after a while it seems like you’ve had the same conversation with family enough times, watched enough TV and definitely eaten enough.

We had a perfect day to drive up to Sutton after a half-day at work and arrived at about 4pm just as the ski hill was shutting down. We picked up the key to our Kabin and headed to the base of the ski hill where it was located. Some people were even just skiing home from the hill which made for a funny scene.

The Kabin was excellent – the ‘modular-type’ home was one of about eight that make up the community. It had everything we needed and obviously had made great use of space to create a cozy but spacious place for us to hang out. Before anything, the kids were anxious to hit the hot tub on the deck which was simply awesome. Each of the Kabins backs out on to a birch forest which is a nice touch of nature.img_1485

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Hanging out at our ‘Kabin’

On our first day at Sutton, we put Noah in a lesson since he had never been on a snowboard before. Although his teachers (one teacher and one translator) focused a lot on slowing down and stopping, he really wasn’t too interested in doing much of that but seeing how fast he could get to the bottom of the hill.img_1512

We didn’t explore much of the mountain this year since we were skiing with the kids but it is a fantastic place for families who are just getting into skiing to go. For only $22, you can get a lift ticket for the ‘family zone’ which consists of a single chairlift that leads to about five or six runs that are all green-dots or blues. This was perfect for Ella who got on the chair for the first time and made her way down in fine fashion after I taught her the most elegant way to fall off the chair at the top.img_1479

Although it was relatively busy on New Year’s Eve, the resort was perfectly empty on New Year’s Day with the parking lot only about half-full. That, combined with about 10cm of snow that fell overnight made for a great day of snowboarding/skiing. On the second day on the hill, the kids continued to grow in confidence and Noah must have set some sort of record for the number of times he went up and down the magic carpet. Up the carpet, binding strapped, zip down the hill, binding off, back up the carpet….on repeat.

We tried to explore the town a bit, most things were shut down for the holiday so we will definitely need to go back since there seem to be some interesting microbreweries and restaurants. We had brought a large amount of food from home to cook in our chalet so that worked out really well. There was also a large IGA in town to stock up on any provisions.

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Happy New Year!

Overall, this was a great spot to relax for three nights and break up our holiday for a bit. The wood stove and the hot tub were highlights as well as the fantastic weather on the hill.

 

Places: Central Vermont

For the second year in a row (see last year here) we spent our Labour Day weekend at Little River State Park just outside of Waterbury, VT. Once again, we had perfect weather for the weekend and it was such an awesome way to end off a summer of adventure before heading back to work and school.

After a summer of camping in the tent, we stepped up our level of luxury and rented one of the small, basic cabins that are available at the park. The kids enjoyed having their bikes at the park, hauling chopped wood back to the site from the woodlot and of course, relaxing in the hammock. Although we were in a different cabin this time, it was still adjacent to a huge cliff and for the third year in a row we managed not to lose any kids (or adults) off the edge.

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The Moose Cabin
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Hard at work.

We explored a bit further afield this time, taking in the farmer’s market in Montpelier, and travelling down the Mad River Valley for the first time. While trying out some new places, we revisited some of our favourites such as the Prohibition Pig and Green Mountain Coffee in Waterbury.

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Dinner at the ProPig and a selection of craft beers; true Vermont.

We also spent a morning at the Waterbury Flea Market which was plenty of fun and netted the kids a whole bunch of hockey and basketball cards from a friendly gentleman who just couldn’t help himself from giving them each more and more for the $1 they had to spend.

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The house that Howard Dean built; Montpelier, VT

Our last full day of summer was definitely one of the most fun days I had all year. We awoke to a perfectly sunny day at our campground and after making breakfast at our site, we took off to explore the Mad River Valley, the area that runs south of Waterbury to the Sugarbush Ski Resort.

Vermont is famous for their ‘swimming holes’ that can be found all over the state – some of which are more legally accessible than others – and as we headed out, we scoped out a couple that might be fun. After that, we headed further south to the Warren Country Store, a general store that has been in business since 1839. I love these cool institutions that are scattered throughout the United States and the sheer amount of them that are located in the East is always amazing to me since in the west there are just not that many things that are more than 100 years old.img_2742

From Warren, we went north to the Lareau swimming hole, one of the most popular, and accessible swimming holes in the Valley. We spent hours here, jumping off the rocks once we had adjusted to the mountain water which while refreshing was still pretty crisp even at the beginning of September.

After an afternoon of sun and swimming we went across the highway to the American Flatbread Lareau Farm for a quintessential Vermont meal – all the ingredients from a small radius around the farm and a totally relaxed environment with a delicious meal included. Wandering around outside the restaurant with a craft beer, there were games to play, campfires going, a farm to explore and the beautiful backdrop of the mountains. Noah spent the entire meal in front of the wood-fired pizza oven watching the chef do his thing with the pizza peel. A giant ‘vermont creemee’ on the way back to the campsite was a perfect way to end the weekend.

The weekend was a wonderful end to a fantastic summer with the family – with lots of good food, time in the great outdoors and new adventures.

Places: Achray Provincial Park, ON

Remember last year’s trip to Achray Provincial Park? The one where we had perfect weather and an amazing weekend at this newfound (for us) gem?

I think it is fair to say that this year didn’t work out quite so well – although we were excited to snag our favourite site five months in advance (to the day, of course…) we arrived in the park at the end of a very dry, hot spell which had resulted in a couple of forest fires. As a result, a fire ban had just been put in place as we entered the park.

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The calm before the rain…
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Safety first while cooking

The real kicker was although we had a nice first evening, rain started to pour at about 9pm and really only let up for small stretches through the next two days. Although our tarp village made it bearable, the lack of a fire was noticed even more in the damp, cool weather. With no sign of the rain letting up, we were happy to pack it in a day early and head back to Ottawa.

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Barron Canyon
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Luckily kids can always make their own fun…

Admittedly, Achray was a bit of a dud this year but we will certainly try and make it back next year, hopefully with a bit better luck with the weather.

Places: South Shore, Nova Scotia

Wow – Labour Day weekend ended and then all of a sudden it was Thanksgiving and now the end of October is in sight! I am not sure what happened in between but enough that I didn’t seem to have time to keep up with this! As a result, I will be going back in time to capture some of our other summer adventures and maybe there will be enough of a lull now that I won’t fall behind on anything else.

Continuing on from our train car experience, we headed to the south shore of Nova Scotia – just outside of Lunenburg on an ocean-front site at Risser’s Beach Provincial Park. While being oceanfront provided an incredible view, but it also provided an incredible wind! As we stepped out of our car, it nearly knocked us over and it took a fair amount of patience to even get the tent up.

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We went to bed pretty early the first night and then a couple of hours later we were awoken by a thunderstorm that was right on top of us. It was the most intense that I can remember and sounded even worse with the crashing of waves on the rocks as the tide was coming in. After a few minutes of waiting for it to pass, we were all certain we were only moments away from a bolt of lightning hitting our tent, or a tree falling on it, so we made a break for the car and waited it out there. That is the only time I can ever remember doing that but it certainly seemed like a good idea. While E, H, and I watched anxiously out the windows, N just slept right through and didn’t remember a thing in the morning.

Although we got off to a rough start, we awoke to a beautful morning the next day and the kids played around on the rocks that separated our site from the ocean before we took off to Lunenburg.

In Lunenburg, we enjoyed exploring the waterfront and the Bluenose II was actually in port so we got to go on board that as well. After a delicious lunch at the Salt Shaker Deli overlooking the harbour, we went to the Lunenburg Fisheries Museum. This has to be one of the best value museums there is. We spent a full four hours exploring the many exhibits, the touch tank and listening to presentations for less than $20 for the four of us. The kids loved the exhibits and it was a great experience.

We returned to a much more calm evening at our campsite and enjoyed our view and the beautiful setting.

From Lunenburg we headed to Halifax, a city I’ve never spent much time in – and we didn’t spend much this trip either. After arriving at our hotel right downtown, we cleaned up for camping and then were ready to head out. We ate on the patio at the Stubborn Goat in beautiful weather and then set off for the harbourfront to do the tourist circuit. We rode the ferry over to Dartmouth, ate some Cows ice cream and climbed up and slid down the big wave before finally making it back to our hotel.

The next morning, after debating whether to spend another night, we made a break for Fundy National Park and the last couple of nights of our trip after finding a campsite that had opened up. Before leaving Halifax though, we took advantage of our National Park Pass one more time and visited the Halifax Citadel. Although I thought the soldiers would be a hit with N, it was actually E that enjoyed all the exhibits and the participants in period clothing. After a couple of hours there, we were on our way again – headed west.

Places: The Maritimes

In our quest to see more of Canada, this summer we headed East. After 18 days, five provinces and 4900 kilometres we finally pulled back into the driveway on Sunday night and can at least say we’ve put a small dent in it. Over the next week or so I will post some of the details of our trip but for now, here’s a glance at our route:

We had unbelievable weather, particularly for this part of the world, never spending any time at all inside due to rain. Our minivan performed admirably, even as our GPS continued to lead us through backroads that could only be loosely categorized as roads at all. If you’d like to get a sneak peek of our adventures, check out my instagram photos in the sidebar. Otherwise, stay tuned…