Adult Summer Camp, Woods Explorer Edition

The 7th leg of our Woods Explorer journey was most interesting.

In case you missed it:

It was now the halfway point of our journey – the leg during which we would meet up with our fellow Explorers, Melba and Adam, who had been navigating our great nation from West to East.

We met up in Toronto and headed to a place in the ‘burbs that is best described as Summer Camp for Grown Ups. Here, we would be meeting up with a few dozen Canadian Tire employees (because CT owns Woods Canada) on a retreat of sorts. I actually really liked the first part of this event. It was fun meeting a bunch of new people – after having been largely isolated with only Cedric, we were eager to have fresh conversations. I have fond memories of an ice breaker activity that involved launching each person into the air on this parachute trampoline thingy, plus eating an entire summer’s worth of s’mores by the campfire one night.

But then the CT crew left, and it was down to business.

We had to film approximately one million videos, including several overviews for products that were too large or impractical to actually take with us on our trip. These weren’t really reviews, as we hadn’t had the opportunity to use the products (therefore we had no real opinion on them) – they were more “how to use this product” videos.

I have a distinct memory of filming one particular video – this one:

I was trying to be a good sport, but in the moment I was SO over filming all of these videos – even though I knew it was part of what I’d signed up for. Here is where my head was at:

  • I hadn’t washed my hair in maybe 3 or 4 days.
  • It was pouring outside and incredibly humid.
  • I felt ghostly white. Adam and Melba were rocking serious tans, but our trip thus far had been cursed with pretty ugly weather. Plus, I’m allergic to sunscreen, so I try to stay out of the sun. But I was so. so. white.
  • I couldn’t remember what it felt like to wear makeup.

In short, I felt totally gross. My greasy hair was frizzing up and my clothes were damp and everything felt sticky. This is not really how you want to feel while broadcasting images and videos of yourself into the depths of the internet.

So when you watch my cot video, what you don’t see is how gross I felt (though you can hear the rain). You also don’t see the outtakes where I’m laughing hysterically because when you lean back on the cot, it teeters back (you have to do a cool karate kick to launch it back upright). I remember making this video and feeling slightly crazy.

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Just casually staring into the fire with my follow Explorers (photo: Woods Canada’s Instagram)

Eventually, we wrapped up and were able to drive off into the sunset – or, more specifically, to cottage country to officially kick off our 7th leg. The sun was finally shining, the cameras were turned off, and we were feeling pretty good.

Now, it just so happens that Cedric’s family has an awesome cottage in this neck of the woods. And it also happens that nobody was staying in it at that moment. So it is entirely possible that we took a slight detour and enjoyed a brief stint as cottagers before proceeding to our designated campsite.

It felt glorious to turn off the cameras for an evening and hang out with Melba and Adam. We hopped into the boat and took a spin on the lake, where we tested out a pair of water skis. Cedric, Adam, and Melba rode them like pros. I, on the other hand, was unable to actually stand up on the skis. This is entirely unsurprising, as it took me two summers to figure out how to get up on a wakeboard (and then once I did it, I couldn’t seem to get up again). Still, it was ridiculously fun.

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This is a screencap from a later adventure the same leg – rope swinging, which happens to be another athletic thing I am HORRIBLE at. (But it was still fun.)

After our mini vacation day, we did eventually head to our campsite. Cedric ended up getting sick, but Melba, Adam, Callan (of Woods Explorer Top 10 fame, who went on to work behind the scenes on the campaign and joined us for a few nights camping), and I had a fun day of paddling, which culminated in losing our car keys by some mucky docks, successfully retrieving them, and celebrating with some ice cream.

It was a strange leg – definitely one unlike any other – but we found the perfect ornament to commemorate it.

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A Muskoka chair, much like the ones we’d curled up in at Cedric’s cottage. How fitting!

8 Reasons Being Injured Is Okay

I sprained my ankle last week.

It kinds of sucks for many reasons – mostly due to the fact that it could be a little while before I’m able to trail run, snowboard, and do other fun things.

But whining won’t fix my ankle, so instead, I present this list:

8 Reasons Being Injured Is Okay

  1. It could be worse. The summer between Grade 11 & 12, I tore the ligaments in my other ankle days before I started my dream job: tuck shop assistant at Girl Guide Camp. I spent the summer hobbling on crutches in an air cast. This time, it’s not so bad.
  2. I took a couple of days to lie on the couch. That was kind of nice.
  3. My spikes had just broken again – now, I can postpone buying a new pair until next year.
  4. On the same note, next time I run, it will hopefully be on bare trails!
  5. According to the projected timeline, I should still be able to run all my races this summer. I may have to hustle a little harder, but at least I won’t miss any.
  6. In theory, my upper body and core should become very strong over the next few weeks. You can find me at the gym.
  7. I get foot massages at physio.
  8. It was way better to be injured now than in the summer; the FOMO is negligible this time of year, for the most part.

 

Drowning in Home Depot Receipts

There are 15 Home Depot receipts sitting on my desk. And that’s not even all of them.

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I keep them because there is a code on each one that you can use to enter to win a $3,000 Home Depot gift card (THE DREAM!), and I love winning.

All of these receipts are from recent excursions to the Depot, as I like to call it. That’s because we (mostly Cedric) just finished installing a brand new backsplash in our kitchen. Apparently, this requires multiple trips to the Depot.

On the one hand, owning a home is fun because you can renovate and upgrade almost anything.

On the other hand, I know absolutely nothing about interior design and home decor. It can be very overwhelming.

A few months ago, we replaced our peeling laminate countertop. First, we had to determine what we wanted to replace it with. We agreed on quartz, but then we had to pick a colour. We “narrowed” it down to grey. I say “narrowed” because, it turns out, there really are 50 shades of grey. In fact, there are many more than 50 shades of grey. We ended up picking out our desired grey based on a very small sample, no larger than my cell phone. We crossed our fingers and hoped it would turn out as we pictured – luckily, it looked great.

(As an aside, when replacing countertops, remember to budget for a new sink and faucet – both are deceptively costly and require a host of other decisions. I’ve never contemplated kitchen sinks so thoroughly in my life).

Our sleek new countertops looked like a million bucks, but our greeny beige tiled backsplash suddenly seemed way more prominent. Let’s just say it didn’t bring out the best in the new counters. We’d come this far – why not replace that backsplash as well?

Although I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to decorating, Cedric and I generally had an inkling of what we wanted when it came to choosing a paint colour, picking out furniture, choosing blinds, and narrowing down the shade of grey for our countertop. But backsplashes had us stumped.

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I turned to Pinterest for inspiration, and I have to say, I was somewhat underwhelmed. Everything seemed to be a variation of subway tiles. I liked the look of grey marbled subway tiles, but I wasn’t in love. But then again, who is really in love with their kitchen backsplash?

Flipping through a Consumer Reports kitchen reno magazine, I dog eared a page with a kitchen that had the light grey marble subway tiles. Then I flipped to the next page, which featured another kitchen with light grey marble subway tiles. In total, there were about 6 kitchens with various iterations of light grey marble subway tiles. Suddenly, I realized that if we picked light grey marble subway tiles, our kitchen would forever scream “this backsplash was installed in the winter of 2017!”. For some reason, this bothered me.

We returned to the store where we’d purchased our backsplash – Solo Designs in downtown Squamish. Now, I obviously love Home Depot, but when it comes to selection for countertops, tiles, flooring, and the like, there is no contest – Solo Designs is THE place to go. There selection is astounding, and I knew that they’d carry more than just light grey marble subway tiles. We must have spent an hour flipping through samples of backsplash.

Solo Designs opened our eyes up to many new possibilities. It turns out, there is a land beyond the subway tile (though they have plenty of those, too). There were tiles of multiple sizes, of various finishes, and in all kinds of textures. If you want your kitchen to look like a modern art museum in Berlin, you can totally do that. We narrowed it down to four or five samples, which we brought home to test in our kitchen. Eventually, we settled on one – but of course, it was not that easy.

The particular sample we liked came in four shades. It also came in four different textures: smooth and glossy, smooth and matte, bumpy and matte, or stripey bumpy and matte. To further complicate matters, it came in various shapes and dimensions. By the time we’d settled on our final iteration, I’d spent more time thinking about backsplash then I had spent deciding what university to go to.

The tiles eventually came in, and we were very pleased. They still had shades of the light grey marbled look I like, but their size and texture made them feel a little out of the ordinary. We made a few more agonizing decisions (what size spacers to use? what shade of grey grout to buy?) and then Cedric got to work.

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The result? WE LOVE IT!

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Of the gazillion possible combinations we could have went with, we are super pleased with how this project turned out. Home Depot is super pleased that we have made their store our second home. And I’m super pleased that I won’t have to think about backsplashes for a very, very long time.

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(This is the WAY before shot – as in, before we even lived there)

Let’s Talk Fantasy Baseball

Here’s something you might not know about me: I love fantasy baseball.

Baseball has always been my favourite sport to watch. The Blue Jays are my sports team of choice and my favourite summer pastime is watching the Chatham Anglers lose terribly in Cape League Baseball. #GoAnglers!

However, my interest in ball didn’t run very deep. I didn’t pay much attention to the players, the positions, or the more intricate rules – until I met Cedric.

Our second summer of dating, I discovered fantasy baseball. Cedric belonged to a league consisting of his friends and their significant others. That summer, I learned what a Mookie Betts was and how to make a trade. The whole thing looked like a lot of fun, especially since Cedric won that season. I wanted to play, too.

The following summer, I was deemed significant otherly enough to join the league. Picking my team name was easy: The Chatham Anglers (#GoAnglers!) Picking my players – not so easy.

I felt an immense amount of stress on draft day. I had no idea what I was doing, but I tried to rally a nice little team together. I can’t remember who was on it other than Zach Britton. And Yam Gomes, I think.

Just a month into the ball season, Cedric and I were picked to participate in the 5-month long Woods Explorer journey. This was both a blessing and a curse. It was a curse because we had limited internet access – so for the ten or so days we were in the hinterlands of the Northwest Territories, I had no way of switching guys off the bench or ditching injured players. On the other hand, it was a blessing because we went on many long hikes, which gave me lots of time to dissect Cedric’s brain. I learned a lot about baseball that summer. There seemed to be no question that Cedric could not answer.

Cedric has been amassing baseball knowledge pretty much since birth. I am convinced he knows every player on every team in the history of baseball. This gives him a distinct competitive advantage. For example (hypothetical, but similar to many conversations we had):

Me: Player X looks pretty good!

Cedric: Oh him? Yeah, he did really well in 2009, but when he hurt his back in the off season of 2010, he never quite regained his skill. His numbers are okay, but his team now has this brand new guy in the minors who is likely going to get called up soon to take his place, so he probably won’t get to play much. He is also getting on in age and who knows what will happen to those brittle bones.

Me: Oh… so I shouldn’t draft him?

Cedric: I mean, anything could happen.

Despite our lack of internet access that summer, Cedric somehow, once again, nabbed first place. As for myself, I earned a very respectable 11th place. Out of 12.

Last year, I changed my strategy up a little bit. The best thing about coming in 11th place meant that I got second pick. Josh Donaldson and I became the best of friends (12th place would have yielded Mike Trout, but JD – as I affectionately call him – had the Blue Jays touch, which, quite frankly, is priceless.) With a lot of luck, a little skill, and an insatiable obsession with the Yahoo Fantasy Sports app, I managed to bump myself from 11th overall to a very impressive 5th overall.

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(This is from a screencap)

For the first time in the league’s 3-year history, Cedric did not place first. That honour went to Catty, Cedric’s friend’s wife. Catty hails from El Salvador and is the best trash talker of the league, by far. Case in point: her team name is “Mother F*ckers”

Draft day is still months away, but I’m already feeling the baseball buzz, so I thought I’d share a couple of tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Research the Players

Sure, Rotoworld is useful and all, but I have found that it is best to connect with players on a personal level: social media. I like to follow my current and prospective players on Instagram so that I get a better feel of what’s going on. For example, if it is some guy’s mom’s birthday, you KNOW he is going to bring his A-game that day, so get him off the bench. Other notes:

  • The younger players are more avid users of social media.
  • Many of them write only in Spanish.
  • Marcus Stroman is my favourite player and he is very active on Instagram. Some of the stuff he posts is a little Justin Beiber-style cringe worthy, but I love the guy. I can’t help it.

Expect Drama

Emotions run high in fantasy baseball (for me, at least). Some things, you simply cannot prepare for. For example: who knew my 12th round pick, Chris Colabello, would become entangled in a doping scandal! What a waste of a draft pick! It can also be traumatic when one of your guys gets traded to the National League (we play American League only), leaving a gaping hole mid-season.

It can go the other way, too: imagine the high you might get when your last round pitcher pick up ends up being the star of his team. I personally have never experienced it, but I hope to one day.

Don’t Get Emotional

My first year in the league, I became very emotionally attached to my players. When they were having a bad run, I didn’t want to kick them to the curb – that felt mean. I felt like I should give them a chance to improve.

Fat load of good that did me (see: 11th place). The next year, I adapted a cut-throat management style. Having a bad game? Boohoo, this isn’t Little League. I made a showstopping 39 moves last season (the most of everyone in my league). This isn’t necessarily a recipe for success (Catty only made 6 moves), but I feel like I got to know several different players and I felt like a wheeler and dealer. I’m still too afraid to make trades, though.

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I will admit to allowing myself one emotional player. That, of course, would be Stroman. I picked him up way too early, but I regret nothing.

Find Your Own Style

As I prepare to enter my third year, I feel like I’m finally getting a grip on this whole fantasy baseball thing. Cedric has been a mentor of sorts, but I have a new strategy this year that goes against some of the things he has taught me. (I can’t divulge my strategy because my competitors might be reading this.) My goals this year are modest: bump up a mere 4 places and NAB FIRST PLACE!!!! VICTORY!!!

WHOOOOO #GOANGLERS!

Infested

The title of this blog post is for dramatic effect.

We are, thankfully, not experiencing any real infestation issues in our humble Squamish abode. However, it appears that a couple of silverfish decided to move in with us. It was okay when there was only one or two of them per month – but recently, they seem to have invited their friends over. And that is not okay.

Really, it hasn’t been that bad, but in the past week or so, we’ve been average a sighting or so per day, so it’s officially time to nip this in the bud before it becomes a problem. Thankfully, the exterminator says this is an easy fix (and a relatively inexpensive one) and this time tomorrow we should be completely silverfishless.

This blog post isn’t actually about the silverfish; they are merely the inspiration for the story I am about to tell, which is the story of the Squirrel House.

The Story of the Squirrel House

I feel bad calling it the Squirrel House, because I actually really enjoyed these particular digs. In Vancouver, I had graduated from roommate living to solo living, but I had returned to roommate life when I moved to Whistler. I lived with assorted roommates for a year or two, and although I really liked every person I lived with (I’ve actually never had any bad roommates ever, and I’ve 16 roommates in my life* – 17 if you count Cedric), it was time for me to move out on my own again. The Squirrel House – it wasn’t called that at the time, of course – represented my triumphant return to the roommateless bachelorette life, Whistler edition.

(*16 roommates seems like a lot and I just realized this may make it seem like I changed roommates every 4 months. In fact, I have lived in several four-person apartments. They were more housemates than roommates, although I actually did share a room with three other girls my first year at UBC.)

This house was perfectly satisfactory and came with a few bonuses like a pull out futon I could use to host guests and some extremely friendly landlords who would sometimes give me their leftovers – the BEST! The house was older and my suite got a bit (quite a bit) cold in the winter, but that was my only real concern.

Until the first mouse incident.

The First Mouse Incident

I never actually saw the first mouse; it was Cedric who perceived its presence. You see, I had these lovely blue knit mittens that I kept in my purse. They’d recently developed a hole, which was annoying but I didn’t think twice about it. Cedric noticed the hole and the unraveling material and told me it looked like a mouse had been in it. “Nonesense,” I said, somewhat unsettled at the idea of a mouse snooping in my purse.

Upon closer inspection, we realized that there was a bit of paper embedded in the wool of the mitten – like a piece of wrapper. I recognized it instantly: we had these little hotel-style individually wrapped chocolates at my office and I always kept a few in my purse. I emptied my bag’s contents and found a chocolate with a few nibbles taken out of it, part of the wrapper missing.

This was slightly worrisome, but not too bad because:

  1. I had never seen a mouse in the house before, nor evidence of a mouse, so I figured this was a one-off incident of a mouse who had come through the front door; and
  2. I was dating Cedric (though not yet living with him) and I knew I could count on him to deal with this situation.

Cedric set out a trap and two days later, he informed me that things had been taken care of.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of this story.

The Second Mouse Incident

A week or two later, I was minding my own business and baking some cookies when I saw something out of the corner of my eye: a mouse scrambling across the floor, along the baseboards, and behind the washer/dryer. This one really startled me and I did the classic cartoon character shriek.

I was not as calm this time around because:

  1. It was now becoming clear that this was not a one-off incident; and
  2. By now, Cedric had moved three hours away to attend school.

I went up to the main house and thankfully, one of my landlords was there (this was their second home, so they weren’t always up). He came down to the suite with me and set up a trap. I did not sleep well that night and kept waiting to hear the mouse trap sound, but I did not.

I did my research, learning that mice were very perceptive and if they spotted something out of the usual (like a trap where there wasn’t one before), they’d steer clear of it. The all-knowing internet suggested setting up multiple traps in numerous locations, so I went to IGA Marketplace and purchased a butt-ton of mouse traps.

I struggled with the idea of murdering a mouse, and I also struggled with the idea with dealing with a mouse carcass. It seemed odd to me that I was perfectly fine with seeing squirrels outside (****FORESHADOWING****), yet a mouse inside seemed so horrifying. Nonetheless, I had a job to do.

I set up my traps strategically, like an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course for mice. Some, I laced with peanut butter; others, Nutella (for the European mice). I went to bed that night feeling empowered but also very nervous.

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I deemed this photo Instagram-worthy back in the day.

When I woke up the next morning, I half-hoped to find a dead mouse in one of my dozens of traps (because that would mean I had been successful), but I also half-hoped I wouldn’t find anything (because that would mean I didn’t have to deal with the dead mouse). I went to check the traps: empty… empty… empty… ARGH.

A tiny lifeless Timbit-sized mouse was in one of the traps (one of the Nutella ones, incidentally). I’ll fast forward through the mouse disposal part (it involved a broom, oven mitts, a plastic bag, and closing my eyes a lot). Suffice to say, the situation had been dealt with – or had it.

The Point of No Return

A week or so later, I’m sitting on the couch, quietly tapping away at my computer – when suddenly, A SQUIRREL EMERGES FROM BEHIND THE WASHER DRYER. I can’t even remember what happened – did I open the front door to send it outside? Did it go back to where it came from? Would it emerge at night and run across my face while I was sleeping?

Things were decidedly not okay. I considered my options:

  1. Drive three hours and stay with Cedric (inconvenient because I’d actually just returned from a weekend at his place and didn’t feel like making the trip again);
  2. Crash on a friend’s couch (for how long?!??!); or
  3. Take up permanent residence in a Whistler hotel, Eloise style.

I phoned my landlords, who were not at their Whistler home but who said I could stay in the upstairs portion of the house until the issue was resolved. This seemed like a better solution than the options I had considered.

Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the end of my time at the now-dubbed Squirrel House. Consultations with pest control did not seem promising – it would take a lot of work to make the house squirrel proof, and wimp that I am, I no longer felt at home in the Squirrel House. (In my defense, there are some health and safety hazards involved with cohabiting with squirrels).

I bid adieu to my wonderful landlords and my little bachelorette pad and moved into a new place. Luckily, my new landlords were just as awesome as my old ones had been – and they assured me that they’d never had a mouse problem in the 25 years they’d been there.

So a couple of silverfish? Pffff – that’s nothing.

Why I’m Celebrating My 5-Year Whistlerversary

Since I no longer live in Whistler, it may not be technically correct to celebrate my Whistlerversary anymore.

Luckily, Whistlerversaries aren’t about being technically correct, so I’m going to go ahead and celebrate mine anyway.

Some people (e.g., Cedric) think celebrating the Whistlerversary is a bit lame. I respectfully disagree because for most of us, our Whistlerversary is about so much more than just moving. It’s about deliberately leaving some kind of old life behind in favour of a new one where you’re all but guaranteed to make less money, live in smaller quarters (and with more people), but have WAY MORE FUN. For many of us, our Whistlerversary represents the exact date where we bid adieu to things that were making us terribly unhappy.

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Every year on this day, Facebook reminds me that I posted this photo on January 11, 2012. Woohoo!

Five years ago, I packed my life into several boxes. I left most of these boxes in a closet in my apartment, which I sublet out to a stranger who a) I trusted enough not to steal the boxes with my life in them and b) I trusted enough not to destroy my furniture. I packed the rest of the boxes – the ones filled with the essentials – into my car and said “peace out” to city living.

(I’m not sure why I packed an umbrella – I don’t think I’ve actually used an umbrella since I left Vancouver.)

Life certainly hadn’t been terrible in Vancouver, but I’d had a major “is this it?” moment when I realized that I didn’t particularly want to be old, rich, alone, miserable at work, unfulfilled with my life, and wearing a suit every waking hour. (Truthfully, there was no guarantee that I’d even end up rich, so that was like the best worst-case scenario). I’d come to the realization that I was lucky enough to not have to live that life, seeing as I had next to nothing holding me back.

Moving to Whistler was the most liberating thing I have ever experienced. It’s hard to describe it without sounding like a new age hippy. Imagine you’ve been holding your breath for way, way, way too long – s0 long that you forget what it’s like to breathe normally. Moving to Whistler was like getting the chance to finally exhale and take a new breath. It was sooooooo good.

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The poster child for the Quarter Life Crisis, circa 2012

My Whistler metamorphoses consisted of several phases:

  • The footloose and fancy free phase, where I lived off my savings, snowboarded and yoga-ed to wonderful excess, worked purely for the social interactions, and basically found inner peace (as one does).
  • The token wanderlust phase, where I spent the rest of my savings gallivanting around Europe, first with my friend Charlotte, then solo. The last month of my trip was a very strange time. I felt very poor, very alone, and very ready to figure out the next phase of my life.
  • The rebirth phase, where I found a happy medium by establishing myself in a new career, moved into a more permanent dwelling (I had lived in 3 different places my first six months in Whistler), and switched from “spending” mode to “saving” mode.
  • The “I think I’ve got this” phase, where I created the perfect freelance job for myself, found a wonderful partner, and finally felt at one with the community.

And finally, we have the Squamish phase, where I’m at right now. I feel just as happy as I did five years ago, but in a very different way. I know I’m very lucky to have been able to drop my life with relative ease and live as a ski bum for a little while. I’m also very proud of myself for choosing to make that change half a decade ago.

Happy Whistlerversary to me!

The Time I Was Almost Blown off a Cliff in Cape Breton

A few nights ago, the wind was blowing like crazy. As I lay in bed listening to it howl, I wondered how much damage would be caused if it picked up our BBQ and sent it flying, cow-in-Twister style.

It also brought back some memories of a very, very windy night in Cape Breton. I decided that I would blog about this story, as part of what is sure to be a multi-year project of writing about my expeditions across Canada as a Woods Explorer.

(See Part I, lobster fishing in PEI, here.)

The entirety of our leg in Nova Scotia was spent in Cape Breton. I had no qualms with that because Cape Breton happens to be one of the most spectacular places on earth. It’s simply beautiful to look at:

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THIS IS BEAUTIFUL! (Photo from Woods Canada’s Instagram)

There was awesome hiking, awesome kayaking, and awesome bike riding to be had. Check it out:

I really, really loved Cape Breton.

Throughout our five months trekking across Canada, we camped in many different kinds of campsites. Some were tucked away in the middle of nowhere; others were in very busy provincial or national parks. And sometimes, we camped in RV parks. Cape Breton was one such time.

For part of the trip, we needed to camp in a certain spot due to its proximity to the place where we would be renting bikes to cycle the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail (which I highly recommend, by the way). We were there early in the season, so not many campsites were open. However, one RV park was open, and that was where we’d been booked for a campsite.

When we checked in, the lady confirmed that we, indeed, wanted a campsite for a tent. Yes, we said. She looked at us like we were crazy and informed us that it was as cold as 5 or 6 degrees at night. Yes, we said, we knew this. We had camped in similar temperatures days ago in PEI.

This lady took pity on us. Rather than having us pluck down our tent next to a bunch of RVs, she told us that they had little cabins and that she’d let us have one for free. She warned us that they were pretty no frills, but they had walls and an elevated platform for a bed. YES, we said. (Mostly I said yes. Cedric was probably bummed that we wouldn’t be getting epic tent shots, but it’s not like we’d be snapping amazing photos with six RVs in the background.)

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MAN I loved this cabin! Photo from the Woods Canada Instagram.

The lady was right: it was very cold. I was grateful for this tiny little cabin.

A few nights later, bike trip behind us, it was time to move on to our next campsite in Cape Breton’s Highlands National Park. Many people had told us that we would see a moose in the Highlands National Park. We tried to stalk moose on the trails for a little while, but had no success. Eventually, we saw two moose – a mom and her little one – from our car, scampering off the shoulder of the highway into the woods. This is why we got a moose ornament to commemorate the Nova Scotia leg of the trip.

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We chose a kayaking moose because we spent a day kayaking at a lake. This guy’s paddle doesn’t look too sturdy.

We went to check into our campsite. It was very large and had all kinds of amenities. Now, I like amenities – I like camping in the wilderness, but I also don’t mind camping where there are showers and real toilets and a place for me to wash dishes. But Cedric wasn’t so fond of amenities, particularly since all of our campsites to date had been on the cushier side (see: cabin in the RV park). Here we were, surrounded by some amazing scenery (or vistas, as our dear friend J. Cho called them) – and we were camping on a small square of lawn with nary a view in sight.

Cedric proposed that we swap our amenable campsite for one with no services, but with epic views. I conceded, so we asked a ranger to recommend their most scenic campsite. She told us that Corney Brook could not be beat, so that’s where we headed.

The temperatures were a little warmer than they had been earlier in the trip, but the wind was pretty wild. We pulled up to the campsite and it was as stunning as we’d been promised: it was a clearing on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

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Photo from the Woods Canada Instagram.

We set up our tent in one of the cleared spots by the cliff, which maximized the potential for great photos. I made sure Cedric pegged the tent down EXTRA well. To prove I am not exaggerating about the wind, here is a side story: a man and his grown son, hailing from Texas, were setting up a tent beside us and the wind broke their tent. They had to get in their car and leave.

We made dinner, which involved heating tomato soup over a campfire. We didn’t have bowls, so we drank the soup out of mugs. While Cedric was taking the photo below, the wind was blowing the soup out of my mug. It was full on spraying. What I’m trying to say is, IT WAS REALLY WINDY.

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Photo from Woods Canada’s Twitter. Flying soup not pictured.

After showering ourselves in tomato soup (just kidding – one thing I learned from being a Woods Explorer is that someone is always lurking in the comments ready to say things like, “You showered in tomato soup? Don’t you know that is a bear attractant? How could you be so irresponsible?!?!” Joke’s on you, anonymous commentator – I’m actually the most bear prudent/paranoid camper on earth. Just ask my crew from the West Coast Trail), we decided to hit the hay. So we climbed into our tent, perched precariously close to the edge of a cliff that lead to the ocean.

Lying in my sleeping bag, hearing the wind howl and feeling the tent walls coming down on me, I started to wonder if this was such a good idea. Eventually, I decided that if death by tent being blown over the side of a cliff while camping in beautiful Cape Breton was my way to go, so be it. I slept like a baby.

(Incidentally, this is also how I convinced myself to fall asleep while camping on the shores of the Mackenzie River deep in the wilderness of the Northwest Territories while surrounded by wolf prints in the mud. That would really be a way to go.)

So a few nights ago, listening to the wind howl from the safety of my bed and fearing the consequences of a flying BBQ, I thought to myself “Hey – at least you’re not in a tent on the side of a cliff.” And, once again, I slept like a baby.