Having recently moved out of the Big Smoke (a.k.a. Toronto) and to a city where weekend getaways are more accessible, I had intended to spend more time indulging in outdoor, wintry activities. I daydreamed of snowboarding at Camp Fortune or Mont Cascades, cross-country skiing in Gatineau park, or even tobogganing someone more local. Truly though, the frigid cold of winter with its unyielding grasp quickly brought me back down to reality and the biggest “adventure” I had was getting more wood for the fire…. Does that sound like an excuse? I feel slightly more heartened by the fact that it wasn’t just me; even the professionals have confirmed that this has been the coldest Ottawa winter in 20 years.
Still, with the winter (sort of) behind me, I’m starting to daydream about adventures for the rest of the year and I thought it’d be fun to share my adventure bucket list for 2014. There are some annual markers that I want to make sure I plan for, and others I have never done before! Here are my TOP 10 ADVENTURE MUST-DOs FOR 2014:
1. Run a half-marathon. I haven’t worked up to a 21.1 km running distance in ages and so I’m in very rough running shape for this goal. Yikes! However, Ottawa is an extremely scenic and run-able city, so what better way to enjoy it than force myself to run long distances across it…? I’m aiming for a Fall race at this point.
2. Go white-water rafting. I can almost not picture myself doing this because it’s a pretty terrifying image, but hundreds of thousands of people do this every year and so I’m pretty sure I can rock it.
3. Hike Gatineau Park regularly. This one is kind of easy given that I’m a quick drive away, and so I hope that I can make it there for at least a quick adventure once every couple weeks.
4. Take a survival course. Knowledge is power! Survival training is one of those funny things that I’ve always been curious about and would LOVE to do. Basically, if someone can teach me how to overcome my fear of Grizzly Bears (short of never camping in the Rockies ever again in my life), that’d be top knotch.
5. Go on a multi-day canoe trip. One of my best friends was a canoe tripper and so it is pretty absurd that I haven’t done this yet. We have no set agenda, but I’m eyeing the Haliburton Highlands as a possible back-drop for this adventure.
6. Learn to water-ski. This is truly lake-country and so it should be pretty easy to figure out!
7. Go to the Nordique Spa. Because not all adventures have to be harrowing.
8. Swim in the Atlantic Ocean. This also involves adventuring my way eastward. Maybe this is the summer?
9. Do a multi-day cycling trip. I imagine that this can somehow involve a wine tour. Just saying.
10. Hike the Arctic Circle. Stay tuned!
That seems manageable, doesn’t it? I’m curious: What are your “bucket list” adventure goals for 2014? And if you’re from the Ottawa Valley, I’d love to hear more about your experiences hiking, camping and adventuring in the area.
Sometimes the most impulsive decisions end up being the best ones. We hadn’t really thought this trip through, but decided we’d pack the car anyway. “We might leave in the morning, maybe,” we would tell people. It was a game of chicken.
That night we took out maps — real, physical maps — and planned that we could make it past Sault Ste. Marie and into Pancake Bay if we drove for about ten hours. Ten hours. It would take us two days to get out of Ontario, and we could be in British Columbia in five days if we kept up a good pace. I looked at Matt wondering if he, or I, would break first.
The next morning the alarm woke us up. In the car and on the road by 6 a.m. We did it. We made it on the road.
That night we fell asleep on noisy shore of Lake Superior. Over a thousand kilometers from home. I forgot my glasses, our air mattress had a leak, and the cold air streamed into our too-big tent. We slept huddled together, listening to the waves crashing along the beach. It was the best.
Our roadtrip west by the numbers:
10,500 The number of kilometers we put onto the car.
31 Days from home and back.
1 ticket. Not bad.
0 The number of bear encounters.
4 The number of consecutive days we ate logan bread for breakfast, lunch and (usually) supper.
3 The number of times we had to pay over $15 for camping.
5 The number of nights on the road we camped for free.
4 Willing families and friends, generously hosting us along the way.
1 h 15 m The amount of time it took us to summit the infamous Grouse Grind (a little slow if you ask me, but dang if that isn’t a steep climb.)