“It’s about the journey not the destination” might be a cliche but that’s the principle we apply when it comes to planning our trips. We usually go for the slowest mode of transportation possible to get up close and personal with the lands through which we travel. This year, our road trip took us all the way to Los Angeles to see my new niece, and while walking or biking to California would have been fun, I wanted to see the kid before she started school so driving it was.
Recently, I read an article about a newly published study that suggests not all people find escape into nature soothing and restorative. On the contrary, they crave a bustling city scene when they need to relax. The idea that traffic and crowds can be anything but stress-inducing is foreign to me, but who am I to judge. One thing I know for sure is that I am not one of those people. I definitely need nature to de-stress and unwind.
I am way behind on my trip reports. There is a bunch of photos still sitting on my memory card that I haven’t had time to download onto the computer, let alone process and write about. But, I guess, it’s a good problem to have: I’d rather have too many trips to write about than not enough.
Our most recent microadventures took us to Dundas Valley Conservation Area. This 1,200 ha park is part of the Hamilton Conservation Authority and is less than an hour away from Toronto. In the past three weeks we’ve been to the park twice, and it wasn’t our last trip there. The park is pretty big, though, so there is a lot to do and keep us busy for many visits to come.
We love our Saturday microadventures. They are a great way to recharge at the end of the week, explore new places nearby, plus they don’t require a lot of planning. Sometimes, though, the need arises for a more intensive reboot, which means it’s time to plan a camping trip.
A few weeks ago, as I was browsing the Ontario Parks reservation site, I saw a yurt available at Silent Lake Provincial Park. It was a stroke of luck since roofed accommodations for winter usually get booked months in advance. We visited Silent Lake a couple of times before, including for my birthday last summer, but never in the winter, so it was a great opportunity to see it in a different light.
Our younger son turned 12 about two weeks ago. Usually, his birthdays are elaborate affairs that he plans himself. He picks a theme, comes up with activities and then chooses a cause that will get half of his birthday cash. The party usually has something to do with his hobbies. So in the past, we’ve done an art class at Neilson Park Creative Centre (the theme was “Starry Night at the Museum” and we even had Van Gogh’s Starry Night cake that we made all on our own) and a nature party at Humber Arboretum where kids hand-fed chickadees and did some container gardening. Last year, he wanted to show what it was like to be a vegetarian since he was often teased about it (well, technically we are pescatarian since we occasionally eat fish, I am sure you’ve read about our post-camping tradition that involves fish & chips) so we had a cooking party at High Park’s Teaching Kitchen where kids made veggie burgers, sweet potato fries and chocolate-zucchini cupcakes.
This year was supposed to be all about geocaching, of course. After unsuccessful attempts to find a GPS unit rental place in Toronto, I was tasked with developing our own treasure hunt in High Park. While the birthday boy would have loved to be involved, it wouldn’t have been much fun for him on the day of the party. The invitation was all ready to go when all of a sudden he decided that he was too old for parties and just wanted to go geocaching instead.
Be careful what you wish for, they say. That’s what I was thinking after spending over an hour stuck in a traffic jam, all courtesy of the lake effect snow storm. All winter, I’ve been complaining about the lack of winter: no snow, no skiing opportunities, no beautiful enchanted forest. And here we were, less than thirty minutes away from our weekend destination, Allegany State Park, with nothing else to do but watch the snow coat our car until all we could see was faint blinking of the police vehicle up ahead. After an hour of willing the cars in front of us to move, I decided to get outside and take a walk. It was definitely magical: large flakes of snow falling softly, blanketing the world around. I walked to the front of the line, chatted with fellow stranded travellers, learned that two trucks had ended up in a ditch earlier that day bringing all the traffic to a standstill. Eventually, the mess was cleared up and we started moving but it felt like dog-sledding or even just walking would have been faster. The world around was completely white, with only rear lights of the truck in front guiding us ahead. I wanted winter, and I got it.