Archive for the ‘Outdoor Adventure’ Category

Sausage making and snowshoeing…

Lee harvested a doe with his bow last week. This weekend we butchered and made sausages.


Venison, pork belly (venison is so lean, we add a little pork fat to prevent the sausage from being too dry), local garlic, local honey (from a co-worker of Lee’s), crushed tomatoes from our garden, salt and pepper.


And we did lot’s of snowshoeing. We hit the Brandt track and were the only ones out there without a sign of anyone else having been down the trails in awhile. I love being the first one to break trail! The trees were all heavy with snow and it was beautiful!

Paisley looked so lovely this weekend (as always) -like a perfect little snowglobe!

Snowed in….

Well, today is day #2 of being snowed in in Paisley! All local roads are closed and the snow just keeps coming down! The biggest problem is the high winds which are causing white-out conditions and building giant drifts in the middle of the highways.

(*home from a snowshoe in the blizzard to the warmth of the fire in the barn with a nice cold beer!)

(*into the hot tub, still in the middle of the blizzard, still drinking cold beer)


Snowshoe pictures to come once I can get them off my neighbour’s camera – it was really beautiful being the first ones down the trail. Definitely looked like Christmas!

Paradise Found!

I’ve been thinking about what’s going on for New Years Eve this year and it has me reminiscing on last years NYE which was one for the books. On a last minute decision, Lee and I, along with another couple, flew from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale to San Jose, Costa Rica and finally to Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica.

(*The plane we took from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez via Nature Air)

Upon our arrival in Puerto Jimenez, we convinced a local to drive us out to our rented house and began the  hour+ drive down a rustic “road” (I’m not sure you can even really call it a road…) into the jungle…….

(*the road)

I cannot even begin to describe the beauty of the place. The Oso Peninsula in Costa Rica is the tropical paradise you are imagining, only better! I fell completely in love with the area and have been trying to convince Lee to pack up and move down there ever since. Unfortunately, he doesn’t like snakes so while he doesn’t mind visiting, actually living in the jungle is something he is not keen on…….

We chose this location for various reasons but the main one was that we found an amazing house for rent and decided it looked like the perfect spot to spend 10 days. We rented a private, open-air 3-bedroom home called Casa Vida Verde and I cannot imagine a more perfect crash pad for our adventure. From the moment we pulled up to the house, we felt as though we had found absolute paradise!

(*Casa Vida Verde)

The house was unbelievably gorgeous and I don’t think these pictures even begin to do it justice. We pulled up and walked around with our mouths agape. We were stunned at how cool it all was.  The furniture throughout the house was beautiful and unique and had been hand-crafted by John, who is also the caretaker of the home along with his wife Jamily (warmest, most friendly amazing people we’ve ever met on vacation. They moved there from NYC and gave us the grind. John builds furniture and surfboards. Jamily designs clothing and teaches yoga.) John crafted the dining room table from a single tree and it curves along with the contours of the tree and the base has been crafted from a piece of the trunk, cut lengthwise into three pieces so that it maintains the curvature of the tree – unbelievable craftsmanship!

(*I wish I could sleep in this bed every single night!)

The hammock room rocked the monkey (literally – BEST place to watch the monkeys put on their show!) and was a great spot to chill out and relax in the afternoon if the sun was just too much. Also great spot to lay and read a book while recovering from the evening/day before or to start into the blender drinks (since it’s steps to the kitchen!).

The kitchen was a cook’s dream! I loved it!

Our first morning, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to what I swore was King Kong coming to get us! The Howler Monkeys start as the sun starts to rise and they are SOOOOO loud!! They make a sound unlike anything I’ve ever heard and can’t even think of the proper words to describe it. It was a great wake up call every day though – got us down to the surf nice and early to catch the morning break and made sure we didn’t miss a moment of daylight. It gets dark early in the jungle (pitch black by 5:00 p.m.). The Oso Peninsula is only 8 degrees from the equator so you get exactly 12 hours of daylight. Whenever the waves were cooperating, we spent time out surfing. This was our first time surfing and it is something I had always wanted to learn how to do and I loved it. Another thing I wish I could do every day…..

(*this is one of the locals and what I aspire to be able to do!)

The beaches in the area are beautiful and deserted (the most people we ever had to share the beach with was probably 10!) and the water was so warm!

We saw monkeys everywhere along with tons of other interesting animals, reptiles and bugs!

We spent New Years Eve at Martina’s, the local bar. It was an hour and a bit walk up the road to get there but we managed to hitch a ride in the back of a truck at about the 45 min walking mark. Food was amazing, beer was cold and the atmosphere was electric! The place was packed by midnight and the beats were pumping, the beer and tequila was flowing and the party favours were in abundance. Definitely a night to remember!

(*these were taken EARLY in the night – the camera went away when the party really got started!)

Ok – looking through these pictures as I post them, I want to go back right now!!! I’m heading home to convince my hubby we need to go back!! Maybe I can convince him we should go for my birthday in February – that would be a great gift!! haha….

Other cool things not mentioned yet:

1- 3G wireless internet in the middle of the jungle (THIS was the big push behind me deciding we should live there – I could work from the beach in the middle of nowehere!!)

2-whole house is run via solar energy. There are panels up above the house on the ridge and water is heated by the sun as well.

3- banana trees, plantain trees, mango trees everywhere = love!

Sifted through the winds that blow, Down comes the soft and silent snow. White petals from the flowers that grow In the cold atmosphere.

I haven’t been home in over two weeks and I am homesick and missing my hubby and pups terribly. I am counting down the days until I get back there this weekend……only 3 more sleeps! In my time away, TONS of snow has fallen and I’ve missed it all! One of my favourite days of the year is when that first big snowfall occurs. I love watching the big flakes come down and blanket the world in white and transform our surroundings. I find it so beautiful and it gets me excited about all the fun winter activities that will soon be possible to partake in!

I’m also sad that I’m missing the first “snow day” of the year. While it can be frustrating to live where we do in the winter when you have plans to travel and the weather prevents you from being able to, it is the most amazing thing when so much snow is falling and blowing that you are forced to stay home. Since these are generally unplanned days off, snow days are an amazing chance to slow down, catch your breath and enjoy yourself. On these special days, we generally go snowshoeing or tobogganing and then curl up in front of the woodstove with boozey hot chocolate and our pups and engage in tense battles of Battleship.

I hope the pups and Lee are missing me today as much as I am missing them.

(**photo lovingly borrowed from Verena Rohner – a local Paisley-ite, friend and amazing photographer! This scene was captured last winter on one of our infamous snow days!)

On another note and before home time (and I am just as excited about this!), I get to make a trip to Grimsby tomorrow to visit my big cousin, his beautiful fiancee and my gorgeous baby nephew. The wee one grows so fast and every time I go more than a few weeks without seeing him, he is a completely different child! I can’t wait to snuggle with him and see how his little personality has continued to evolve and emerge! It also just so happens to be my cousin’s birthday on Wednesday so I intend to make him feel old throughout my visit – haha…….I can’t wait!

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness

I’m getting paid to talk about “outdoor activities” and rate outdoor gear. Seriously this might be the best “job” ever!! I filled out an online survey a few weeks ago about outdoor activities and these folks contacted me and asked me to help them out. Tomorrow I’ll be spending a couple hours with a consulting group, going around an outdoor equipment store and giving them my feedback on different products. At the end of the 90 minutes, they’re paying me a bunch of $$ and giving me some free products. How cool is that?

This is really perfect timing since I’m looking to buy some new classic cross-country skis and considering some new snowshoes as well. I fully intend to get back into cross-country skiing this year and since there are very few skate groomed trails around us and hundreds of miles of trails that are perfect for classic skiing (ok – really for backcountry but if enough people hit the trail, it almost grooms itself into classic tracks), it’s time for some new classic skis!! The money I make tomorrow is being directly rooted into the purchase of new skis – yay!!!

I’m also considering new snowshoes because the ones I have (Atlas Elektra) are spring loaded and I find they throw a lot of snow up my back on ungroomed trails. They are fantastic on groomed trails -light, quick, good traction- but since the majority of ‘shoeing we do is on ungroomed trails, I think it’s time to find something that keeps me a little dryer. I’m looking at a few different options and am actually hoping that I might see something interesting tomorrow. Merry Christmas to me?!?

Full moon and star-lit skies

A warm summer night, a full moon, a peaceful river, a gorgeous shiraz, prosciutto, aged cheddar, candles and a canoe.

Last night was just lovely.

My husband, three neighbours of ours and myself decided to float the river through Paisley and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of where we live by light of the full moon. It was a spur-of-the-moment venture and I’m so glad we decided to go.

I wish I’d brought my camera so you could see how nice it was but trust me, it was something special.

It is nights like the one just past that remind me how good life really is. I live in a quaint town, surrounded by good people, a loving husband, absolute beauty and the ability and freedom to embrace whatever experience comes my way. 

The mighty Saugeen has provided me with yet another wonderful memory.

A true Canadian is one who can make love in a canoe without tipping……

What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.” 

-Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Our new canoe has arrived!!

For a few years now, Lee and I have been test paddling tripping canoes trying to find the perfect fit for our family. A couple of weeks ago, we rented a 17’4 Langford Prospector for a weekend canoe trip into Lake Louisa in Algonquin and fell completely, head over-heels-in-love!! When we returned the rental, we ordered our own, custom canoe. Yesterday, Lee made the long drive north to Dwight and picked up our new beauty and there it was, gleaming in the sun on our front lawn when I returned home from work!

So here are the details:

Length 17’4″ Beam 35.5″
Depth 14.5″ Weight  
Capacity 1300 lbs. Rocker slight
Bow 22″  

We got ash gunnels and cherry seats, thwarts and yoke on a kevlar Ultralite, bringing the total weight in somewhere around 46 lbs.

We got the two-tone paint job so the bottom half of the boat is white while the upper half is Aussie green. The white bottom means that our canoe will look new for longer. When a canoe scratches (on a rock, twig, whatever), it scratches white so if you have a full-coloured boat, scratches are very visible and your canoe looks old faster.

This is what our canoe looks like:

Isn’t it beautiful?

The really amazing thing about this canoe is that it can easily hold Lee, myself, our two 100-lb. dogs, two large packs and still have room and capacity. It is very stable and glides beautifully. When you throw it up on your shoulders, it is perfectly balanced allowing you to portage without having to touch the canoe with your hands which means a much more comfortable portage. This canoe has pronounced swept ends, immense depth, volume, and the spray rail peels water away from the hull even in rollers.

I can’t wait to hit the water on a trip!

So as Henry David Thoreau once said “everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing”!