SUMMER GETAWAY – Norfolk County

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I’m thrilled to share with you today the first of three destinations located just a few hours from downtown Toronto. These destinations are perfect getaway ideas for those living in Toronto or Southern Ontario. This weekend’s destination was – Norfolk County.

For these weekend getaways, I’ve also partnered up with Ford Canada to try out some of their latest models while driving to different areas of Southern Ontario. For this past weekend, my ride was the 2016 Ford Edge Titanium. I became familiar with the car in the spring during stress awareness month (you can see the post here) so I was excited to take it for much longer ride and explore more of the car’s many features during the weekend.

I was first introduced to Norfolk County a few weeks ago at an event. I had never ventured down to Lake Erie before so I was excited to make my way to a new area of the province. This area is located just 2hrs from Toronto and offers some of the best outdoor adventures as well as local food and wine options in Ontario.

The Ford Edge Titanium was a smooth and comfortable ride down to the county. I took advantage of the car’s cooling seats and extra-large sunroof to keep me cool during the ride. I was also happy to find Voice-Activated Sync 3, which allowed me to pair my phone and use voice commands to help me navigate and also choose my favorite Sirius XM radio station – Lithium! (Am I giving my age away by saying that?) Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed while driving is the lane-keeping system that gently nudges the wheel to help you stay alert and maintain proper lane position especially during those longer drives.

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When we reached the county, we checked-in to Long Point Eco-Adventures. If you’re a camping and nature enthusiast, you will want to add this spot to your weekend itinerary. This eco-friendly adventure centre offers some of the coolest lodging accommodations in all of Ontario. If you’re looking for a rustic experience, you will want to book your weekend in one of their wilderness pods. This ultra-cute pod can barely be called “ruffing it”, with its beautifully furnished wooden interior and extra comfortable bed. The glass and screen doors as well as private wooden deck allow for beautiful nature and relaxing views. They have brand new showers and toilets located just a few steps away.

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If you’re looking for something a little fancier, Long Point Eco-Adventures also offers beautiful glamping wilderness suites equipped with king or queen beds, private bathrooms and beautiful outdoor showers. Amenities such as a mini-fridge, hardwood floors, hot and cold running water, electrical outlets and free outdoor parking, make these suites comparable to any 5-star hotel.

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No matter what type of accommodation you’re staying in, you’ll have access to a delicious complimentary homemade hot breakfast every morning in their main tent. Their super friendly staff know how to kick-off your morning the right way.

What’s great about Long Point Eco-Adventures is the array of activities they offer. Because I’m all about trying something new, I took the Ford Edge Titanium to the nearby waterfront for a few hours of fishing and kayaking with Baer Fishing Adventures, one of Long Point Eco-Adventures many expedition offerings. My fishing days go back to grade 5, when I had caught a crab in PEI and that’s about it. We spent 3 hours in the water learning about casting a line, different fishing techniques while also pedalling in this super unique kayaks. Though it took a bit of time, I finally caught my first fish with the help of the super rad guide. What’s great about the expedition is that it’s a small group and also, you are encouraged to release the fish, only a select few are actually brought back to shore. The expedition was a great experience and a whole lot of fun. It was so neat to be out on the water while learning new skills. I even got to eat the fish that I caught a few hours later for dinner thanks to the kind folks at Burning Kiln Winery, who cooked up the bass with fresh lemon and lavender. A first for me!

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Located just a few steps away from and affiliated with Long Point Eco-Adventures, Burning Kiln Winery is a repurposed tobacco pack barn that has been transformed into a multi-award winning winery. They have 27 acres and produce 4 reds and 4 whites, including my personal favorite of the weekend, the 2011 Kiln Hanger. Before going this winery, I had never really found an Ontario wine that I thought really lived up to Californian or European wines but that changed this weekend when I had this delicious red. We were given a tour of the beautiful property which includes the UNESCO-designed Long Point bay World Biosphere Reserve where you can find turtles, migratory birds and all sorts of wildlife. We were also shown their brand new garden where they grow most of the produce they use to serve dinner.

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From May to September, in addition to wine tasting you can also eat some of the most delicious food made by Chef Scott McRae of David’s restaurant that features some of the best local products. Their local charcuterie and cheese board is a must and so is their Korean Fried Cauliflower (which is vegan) and also Aranchini Balls. Their patio or even beautiful wine tasting room and indoor dining area (perfect for weddings!) are all great locations to enjoy their delicious food and wines.

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If you aren’t staying at Long Point Eco-Adventures, you can easily access the winery and other great spots in the region via the Norfolk shuttle that runs across the whole county. It only costs $6 for a day, can drop you off and pick you up at a handful of destinations in the county and you can even bring your bike onto the bus if you so desire.

After all this food and wine it’s only normal that I wanted to go spend more time exploring the outdoors and some local activities. One of the fun things I got to do over the weekend is spend time at Turkey Point beach. This beautiful sandy beach on Lake Erie is perfect for a picnic, a swim or even watersports. Turkey Point Watersports rents SUP, kayaks and even sea-doos for those seeking even more adventure. I took out a SUP board for a beautiful paddle out in the calm water. It was a great place to spend the afternoon. They’ve got a few shops and restaurants by the waterfront so you can easily spend the entire day there.

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Before leaving the area, I wanted to make sure I tried zip lining again. I had had such a blast in Whistler in the fall that I couldn’t resist zipping around the area for a few hours. What was great about the Long Point Eco-Adventures zip line and canopy tour is that it not only features 8 zip lines, 2 suspension skybridges and a 40-foot rappel but it’s also a great way to learn about the area. The two guides that spend the 2-2.5 hrs on the tour with you give you a lot of info about local history, wildlife, etc. The tours are nice and small, which make it relaxing and also very easy to make friends along the way.

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One thing we wished we would of have time for was the observatory at Long Point Eco-Adventures. They have one of the biggest telescopes in the country and offer great nightly sessions to learn about the beautiful sky that surrounds us.  

On the way home we stopped in Port Dover to grab lunch at the Urban Parisian café. I hope to spend more time there on my next trip, as the motorcycle culture is huge there and the city looks incredibly cute.

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We couldn’t have gotten a better vehicle for all of our outdoor expeditions this weekend. The Ford Edge Titanium had lots of space for gear, suitcases, tents, etc. and most importantly, was incredibly comfortable to drive.  

Even if it was an action-packed weekend, we only got to scratch the surface in Norfolk County. There are so many other cities and activities I would have liked to explore so I hope to have the opportunity to make my way back there again for more firsts. Everyone in the area that we met over the weekend were so incredibly hospitable, friendly and proud of their region and after spending time there, I can totally see where that pride comes from!

For more information on Norfolk County and all the local accommodations, activities, restaurants, etc. please go here: http://www.norfolktourism.ca/

Stay tuned next week for a brand new destination. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy my little recap video below.

Driving Mindfully with the Ford Edge

12991094_1719719268246182_7594874660587216206_nApril being Stress Awareness Month, I partnered up with Ford Canada to learn more about being mindful behind the wheel. Mindfulness is one of the subject matters that I’ve been exploring a lot more as of late. I have been trying a bunch of different apps and challenges to become more mindful in all aspects of my life.

With the help of the brand new 2016 Ford Edge, I went on a mindfulness adventure last weekend to explore some of the gems in and out of the city.

FullSizeRender(12)13055455_1720087844875991_8976517641422716414_nThere are a ton of great features on the car that make you feel a lot more at ease while driving. Some of my favorite features include the 10-Way Power Driver’s Seat, that allows you to sit the most comfortably, the Voice-Activated Navigation and Entertainment System that allows you to stay focused on the road and keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times without having to lean over, Heated and Air Conditioned Fronts Seats, Front 180-Degree Camera and Rear View Camera for maximum security and the BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert that lends an extra hand while driving.

FullSizeRender(6)FullSizeRender(10)FullSizeRender(17)FullSizeRender(2)FullSizeRender(1)FullSizeRender(15)FullSizeRender(14)For this mindfulness weekend, I was also able to get a one on one session with Toronto yoga-instructor YuMee Chung, who gave me some helpful tips on how to stay calm, mindful and comfortable behind the wheel. Some of her tips are:

Tip 1Take Time To Stretch Before You Drive – either by doing the Triangle Pose or other stretches that are familiar to you. It will loosen up your muscles.

Tip 2Sit With Care – using the 10-Way Power Driver’s Seat you can find the perfect seating position to provide low back support. You can also use the heated seat to soothe lower back pain.

Tip 3Set Your Shoulders – Sit tall and roll your shoulders back to avoid slouching. You can also avoid “tech neck” by bringing your chin back until your earlobes hover over your shoulders.

Tip 4Get A Grip – Avoid clenching your fists when driving. At a stop light, you can rotate your wrists and give your hands a good shake.

Tip 5Slow Breath In, Deep Breath Out – It helps you destress, clear the mind and energize your body.

FullSizeRender(11)FullSizeRender(4)With these new tips in hand, I took the Ford Edge to Cheltenham for a picnic and a hike at the Cheltenham Badlands. The drive in the countryside was incredibly peaceful. I made sure to take deep breaths and enjoy the relaxing drive and the present moment. Leaving the city, even if just for a few hours always makes me feel so energized and inspired.

FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(9)On Sunday, I took the car with me to the stunning Aga Khan Museum in North York and to the Scarborough Bluffs. I rarely get to go that far north or east since I don’t own a car so I was thankful to have the opportunity to visit these two beautiful locations.

FullSizeRender(19)FullSizeRender(20)I really enjoyed driving in the Ford Edge throughout the weekend. With the sunroof open, the sun shining, light music playing and open roads in front of me, it was hard not to be mindful and enjoy the present moment. The car made me feel at ease, made me feel secure and offered me all the little extras to made my mindfulness adventure the most memorable.

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