The Early Mornings of a Road Trip

It takes an incredible amount of energy for me to wake up on the average week day so it’s funny how I always find it extremely easy to wake up early when travelling, or starting an exciting road trip.  The advantage to waking up early in the morning are the opportunities to enjoy an experience that one rarely has the time to take in.
When I was in Boston, I would wake up at 3am in the morning, hop in a Zipcar and drive out to Provincetown.  I managed to avoid the traffic, enjoy a very peaceful and scenic drive that would normally be a pretty typical busy-sort-of-traffic road trip.  Having driven out to Provincetown early in the morning, I also had the opportunity to photograph and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the town before all the tourists woke up or arrived in town.

On the way to Manitoulin Island early in the morning

About 8 years ago (wow…) a handful of friends and I took on a long-weekend road trip from Toronto up to Manitoulin Island.  Being super excited I did not get a whole lot of sleep, my friend and I were awake waiting for another friend (the driver) to pick us up before we rendezvoused with another group of friends in a second car.

This predated the GPS era (although I did end up getting a GPS after this trip) so we were relying on the traditional map and a couple of short range walkie talkies.  We met up at a Tim Hortons and set off to catch the ferry from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island.  I remember unfortunately losing the hold your bladder game along the way to Tobermory (albeit, it was unfair since the others did make a visit to the bathroom earlier on whereas I did not).  It was a fun trip up but one of the most memorable points of the early drive was the sunrise.

We parked on the side of the road and stood around in the chilly brisk morning air watching the sky get brighter.  Everyone except one friend who didn’t want to wake up from sleeping in the car.  We didn’t make the ferry on time (it was extremely busy that long weekend in August), but this was one of those early morning moments that I never forgot.

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Hiking around Lake Placid

Growing up in Toronto, I had rarely ventured into nature.  Didn’t pay much attention to the mountains until a family road trip into the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Oddly enough, despite becoming spellbound to mountains, I had never really explored the Adirondacks. When my friend invited me along to go snowshoeing around Lake Placid over a long weekend in February, I leapt at the chance. 

Growing up in Toronto, I had rarely ventured into nature.  Didn’t pay much attention to the mountains until a family road trip into the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Oddly enough, despite becoming spellbound to mountains, I had never really explored the Adirondacks.
When my friend invited me along to go snowshoeing around Lake Placid over a long weekend in February, I leapt at the chance.  Whilst staying at a cottage (or chalet) with a whole bunch of friendly folks, my friends and I ventured off to snowshoe up a variety of mountains in the Lake Placid area.

Hiking around Lake Placid

There’s something to be said about a very snowy horizon.  It was pretty darn cold up on the mountains but it was so peaceful.  Very few people around.  By chance, I prevented a guy from crashing into a tree by grabbing his jacket.  The conditions were quite icy and this guy just happened to be hiking down the mountain with his wife, when his boots (with the temporary crampons) slipped and he came running (or slipping) down the mountain path.

Aside from that bit of adrenaline, it was a pretty fun trek up and down the mountain.  We ended up bum sliding all the way back down the mountain.  Fun but painful on my tailbone.

Training for Future Hiking

Once winter arrives in Toronto, it’s harder to find opportunities to keeping hiking and cycling (at least for me).  I’m don’t enjoy in-door gyms so I definitely seek out alternative ways to keep in shape or train for hikes.
My usual preferences are to cycle and walk a lot (I don’t like running), but that doesn’t really work so well in the winter right?

That said, I’ve begun testing out an approach by throwing a bunch of stuff into an 80 litre pack, strapping it on and taking the staircase in the house — up and down for about 30 or 40 times.  Perhaps I’ll start trudging through the snow with this 80 litre pack too and throw on some snowshoes.

More to come.

 

Some Good Barbeque (bar-be-que)

When my friend and I decided to take a week long trip down to Tennessee, one of the things I anticipated most (aside from hiking in the Smokies) was bar-be-que.  After driving through Kentucky (and yes, we did stop off to try KFC in Kentucky…), we finally arrive in Downtown Nashville.
So many things to do in Nashville but we were starving from the long drive and one of the first things we noticed was a line-up out of Jack’s Bar-be-que that kept growing.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but I figured it must’ve been worth the wait in line.  Heck, one of the guys cleaning the sidewalk kept exclaiming that “the line is long, but it’s all worth it!”

The huge crowd at Jack's Bar-B-Que

It was mighty hot that day and pretty much every day we were in Tennessee, it was the month of August.  Once we inched our way through the door, it was still sticky humid even with the air conditioner blasting cool air over us.  Jack’s was a pretty busy place but the food was amazing.  With different bar-be-que sauces to try out and some amazing cornbread to go with the pulled pork — my friend went nuts and even bought dinner to bring to the campsite we were staying at.

Looking back, I only wish I had bought some dessert.  That’s my sweet tooth talking.

Hiking in Vegas

When my friend asked me if I wanted to hit up the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) a couple of years ago, I figured … why not?
I’m not really into gambling and all the entertainment along the main tourist strip in Las Vegas but I was very interested in seeing if there would be any opportunities for outdoor activity.  I could only handle so many shows and technology presentations.

After looking around for some options, I came across Neil Sobelson’s Hike This!

My friend and I didn’t want to rent a car but we needed someone to help guide us through a good hike or in this case, an awesome rock scramble.  Neil, who I will say is one of the best guides I’ve ever met, picked us up from the hotel and took us to Red Rock Canyon.  A beautiful conservation area that thankfully … most of the tourists who visit Las Vegas … don’t make time for.

Hiking through a valley in Red Rock Canyon

The rock scrambling was a solid challenge and Neil was excellent at determining whether we would be ready to tackle certain parts of Red Rock Canyon.  I figure he must’ve had lots of experience and from speaking with him during our day out, he knew Red Rock Canyon inside out.

The landscape was stunning to look at (love the red!) and it was fun observing my friend who is not an outdoors type of person at all go hiking, but one of the most memorable things was simply having that opportunity to meet Neil himself.  Very personable and after our awesome hike, he even took us out for lunch!  We did not anticipate that whatsoever and were floored.  On top of that Neil would often take photos of us along the way as we scrambled up boulders or inched our way down a rock side.

This wasn’t the only outdoor activity we tried in Vegas.  My friend and I also went kayaking from the base of Hoover Dam, but that’ll be a story for another time.