Hiking: CIME Haut-Richelieu (Mont St-Gregoire, Quebec)

This post has been a long time in the making as the hike took place before all the festivals in probably early October. With that said, we did get two hikes in during October as a final hurrah to the season unless the weather holds up and we end up finding some year-round trails that we can still hike on. Its a research currently in progress.

CIME Haut-Richelieu was a rather spontaneous choice on a random morning that we wanted to go somewhere but didn’t quite know where and then I remembered that near an Arbraska in Mont St-Gregoire that I had gone a few years back that there were hiking trails nearby and after some quick research, voila!

Sentier Le Panorama

CIME Haut-Richelieu

CIME Haut-Richelieu is a small network of trails. We started out on Le Panorama (blue trail) that took us to a few little landings. It started out relatively gentle but the elevation we climbed in a short distance went up relatively quickly as within 1km of Le Panorama reached the 250m high of its summit at the end of this trail that circled to another trail that looped back to the reception centre. The trail included a lot of steps like these or other ones that were actual steep wooden stairs.

CIME Haut-Richelieu

Le Panorama wasn’t especially long but it did link off to some other trails. The first was a little clearing on the trail Les Arenes which had a little view and some spot where a fixture used to be there but was since removed with some info.

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It had somewhat of more obstructed view and then there was a little lookout platform as well. However, the yellow path also branches out for a 220m steep walk to its Petit Sommet trail (aka small summit). There had a pretty nice view of the surrounding area.

CIME Haut-Richelieu

As you make your way back, you have to double back onto the blue trail which are the other side of some stone steps divided by a barrier. Its important to look carefully at the markers to make sure you are on the right trail path. Of course, its time to reach the top of the summit which also marks the end of this trail. The view has boards on each side that give a distance to other mountains around and in which direction and other information of elevation which is pretty great.

CIME Haut-Richelieu

Trail La Carriere (green)

Coming back, we take a slightly longer trail which is 1.4 km long but also gives a little less in elevation which is nice. Its a fairly easy path with some different vegetation. The beginning portion circles around a rather panoramic view of the summit to get out and has one lookout point  on the other side that is fairly nice. It goes through some historic spots and a rocky area where some machinery  used to be there as the info card mentioned.

CIME Haut-Richelieu

What is pretty cool about the trail coming back is that in the ending parts of the trail, it has little stations that shows different machinery from back in the day for display. It doesn’t have clear information cards on what its purpose was but still, its a nifty little thing that my husband particularly included as he likes history and mechanics/machinery things. The ending trail pretty much goes through a forest trail.

CIME Haut-Richelieu is a nice little spot to go. We skipped through some of the trails in detail like Les Arenes which was something of a shortcut path as well as La Raccourci which connects in one part the blue and green trails  but we opted to do the whole thing is in full we ended up doing a decent hike of 2.6 kms which is relatively short for our usual hike but as one after a month and a half of break, it felt like a shorter one but still challenging with the quick elevation change, plus, it had some nice scenery.

CIME Haut-Richelieu has winter trails and such, I believe so you can always check it out if you’d like on their website HERE. Plus they have entrance fees so you can check that out as well.

Restaurant: Fatboys Southern Smokehouse (Ottawa, Canada)

In the string of restaurant visits that we’ve been on, vacation week off means a little day trip out to Ottawa. After a little research and whatnot, we decided to head out to check out Fatboys Southern Smokehouse in Ottawa, somewhere that we’ve never been before but the whole description from the food it offers to the biker ambiance really had us intrigued. You can check out the menu and everything else HERE.

Going for lunch on a weekday has a lot of great things. For one, its usually less crowded as everyone else has work. Second, less people means faster service and better service. I’m not sure it would make a difference as our waitress was incredibly friendly and helpful with everything from menus to making sure about my allergies and intolerances and what I could have and not have. She also came to check on us frequently and in reasonable time, ie. not when I’m stuffing my face with food (which you’d believe a lot of other restaurants don’t quite time well). Not to mention that, the menu is really good which makes us want to go back to check out more of the food that they offer, especially the ribs since being lunchtime, we didn’t have quite as much appetite for it and all the fun things like milkshakes and their detailed bourbon list as well as the great and unique list of sides.

It sounds crazy that I didn’t take anything else in the restaurant other than the bathroom entrance and the bathroom decor but I think its a good idea of how its biker ambiance in general. Its very nice and a lot of great things to look at from its bar counter to along the walls and the industrial interior above on the pipes above and such with stickers and other posters. Everything is really charming!

Appetizer

Fatboys Southern Smokehouse

Kentucky Popcorn Chicken

As appetizer to share, after much debate between Fried Rib Tips and Kentucky Popcorn Chicken, the latter won the debate. Luckily it did because this was delectable and also our first initial choice. The chicken had a beautiful well-spiced batter that had a lovely kick to it. It was also thin so didn’t have the really thick floury texture but just blended right in each bite with the perfectly cooked chicken. Its so delicious!

Main Meal

Fatboys Southern Smokehouse

Smokehouse Burger with added bacon with a side of Smoked Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese

Fatboys Southern Smokehouse

Carolina Pulled Pork (no slaw) with a side of Dusty Shoestring Fries

We only both had the burgers/sandwiches. My husband had the Smokehouse Burger which he liked quite a bit especially with the added cheese. The Smoked Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese also impressed him a lot also as he really enjoyed the flavor of it all.  I had the Caroline Pulled Pork but had to have the slaw removed due to lactose intolerance. At the same time, this lead to the choice of dusted shoestring fries which turned out to be a great choice because it had some lovely “dusting” with what would seem like barbecue spices and sugar or something sweet. Two very awesome dishes which are full of southern flavors.

Overall, Fatboys Southern Smokehouse is a great restaurant. We tried a very minimal part of the menu but there is so much to offer here as just the little that we had was all very delicious whether it is the meat or the spices or the overall service or the restaurant style which all fits together in a lovely package. Its one to definitely visit and one that we’d definitely return to.

Toronto & Fan Expo Canada 2019 Haul

On a much needed weekend getaway, Toronto and Fan Expo Canada 2019 was a really great time to say the least. Arriving in the early afternoon on Friday, we all had the day to just get into town and settle into the Airbnb. My to-do list had quite a few things including Vaughan Mills to check out a few stores and stock up on stuff on sale as well as hit T&T Supermarket for groceries like breakfast and snacks and stuff to bring home and of course, taking a stop at LCBO to see what there is new there to check out.

Uniqlo

Uniqlo

Some very normal stuff here. I was at Uniqlo looking for T-Shirts and found one. I don’t know any of the manga that they were doing T-shirts for but I liked this one the most. Other than that, I was looking for tank tops and whatnot. Its a really good selection over here so I picked up some stuff that I think will be good.

Disney Store

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While there was a lot of cool plushes at this Disney store, there was no doubt that Sebastian was the one that caught my eye mostly because it was the 30th anniversary new arrival that the sales rep said just got to the store that week. Plus, I already have a lonely Flounder sitting next to my bed and have been meaning to wrap up The Little Mermaid collection.

LCBO

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We also make a stop at LCBO (or whichever provincial alcohol store) whenever we head out of town to try and find something that we can’t find here. One of the things is the VQA Niagara Peninsula always has more choices and then there’s a lot more selection for the ciders. We bought a few more than these three but over the time on the trip, it was consumed between us. I had the Queen Street 501 that I had already written about before on a Wine Recap and we also had the Molson Cider as well as a few flavors from the Crazy Uncle collection other than the root beer, an orange crush version, cream soda version and lemonade version. These three are what made it back: Smirnoff Sangria (red – which means I won’t be drinking it but might give it a sip to try), Thornbury Village Craft Apple Cider and a Riesling white wine.

FAN EXPO CANADA 2019

If you didn’t catch my Fan Expo recap, I didn’t have a lot of time to do much wandering and shopping during the event so really only went through the North Building and didn’t look at any of the retailers or artist alley in the South Building.

Black Fawn Distribution

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I realized that Black Fawn Distribution was going to be there really close to when I decided to head out. Luckily, they were in the North building and we had time to do that on Saturday and they had the movies that I was looking for since they haven’t been to Fantasia in a year or two (I think). We did talk to them and they are hoping to be at Fantasia next year so crossing my fingers for that. Either way, they had a whole signing thing going on so I managed to sneak back during the afternoon between some lining up to get The Heretics signed but didn’t realize that on Sunday they also had signing for I’ll Take Your Dead so that one only has the director that signed. Looking forward to watching these as always since I’ve always liked Black Fawn films and appreciated what they’d do for indie horror films.

Myth Hawker Travelling Bookstore

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What’s really impressive about Fan Expo is the amount of authors and books that are sold there. Some big publishers are there also. Its incredibly amazing which makes me want to slap myself a little for not trying to find more time to go through South Building but then, where we were had a lot of choices too and they had this one: Myth Hawker Travelling Bookstore which had a lot of books that looked and sounded really good when I read their synopsis. In the end, I went back to pick up this Asian sci-fi and fantasy anthology called Where the Stars Rise. The premise and such caught my eye right away so I’m excited to check this out after my string of reading commitments is done.

Aside from this haul, we did get a free poster of The Fanatic from the advanced screening. We also each got a free Fan Expo T-Shirt from past expos that were given out. I skipped sharing T&T Supermarket stuff as there’s nothing too extraordinary except that I bought moon cakes in anticipation for the upcoming Midautumn Festival and stocked up on some drinks and such.

That’s it for this Toronto/Fan Expo haul!!
Did you go to Fan Expo Canada?

Fan Expo Canada 2019 Recap

Our first Fan Expo everyone! Its been one that I’ve been meaning to get to for quite a while but this year, we didn’t go to Toronto Comiccon and EGLX is now in October which is a conflicting month so my fellow blogathon co-host Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews met up with us in Toronto and we headed to check out Fan Expo this past weekend. A nice little meetup and a cool event to check out together.

I’ll do a haul post later for the trip as a whole since my trip started out on Friday when we arrived and went to Vaughan Mills for a late lunch and a stroll to take advantage of some shopping since I hadn’t been to a Uniqlo in Canada yet either.

While the actual event started on Thursday, we were there for the last 2 days: Saturday and Sunday. We had a pretty tight schedule especially when factoring in all the lining up and such.

After a crazy run through bag check at security, getting our badge and then having to activate it, we finally got to go in. Drew and I split up to do our own panels for some part of the day on Saturday so maybe he will recap it or whatnot but here is what I checked out!

SATURDAY

Panel: Brendan Fraser

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Brendan Fraser was a really cool panel with a ton of laughs. He was asked to imitate some parts of movies like George of the Jungle yell. It was a lighthearted one and a great way to start off the day. He had some fun things to talk about and shared his thoughts on doing another Mummy and his opinion on the new one. He talked about some his current projects and upcoming one that he just finished filming in Johannesburg.

It does feel like Brendan Fraser hasn’t been in movies as much but definitely feels like there are things in the horizon to look forward to as he promises that he isn’t going anywhere when a fan asked him where he has been.

Panel: The Umbrella Academy
Tom Hopper and Emmy Raver-Lampman

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Next up is Umbrella Academy’s panel with Tom Hopper and Emmy Raver-Lampman who play Luther and Allison respectively. Its rare that we get a show done in the year of its launch so we were all about checking this panel out especially since I had caught another two cast members back at Montreal Comiccon in July. This panel was a lot of fun. The dynamic between these two cast members are great and it really shows as they talk about their roles and moments and such.  There were some fun questions by the fans  as well. There were a lot of questions on the direction of Season 2 since its currently filming which they obviously couldn’t say anything about.

Panel: Blade Runner
Sean Young & Edward James Olmos

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While I have yet to watch Blade Runner completely, the next panel was for my husband who wanted to check it out as he is a huge fan. I have very basic knowledge of this one however, the panel itself was pretty good as well. Edward James Olmos did a lot of the talking in the panel  especially when they talked a lot about how each of them had their own way of approaching their roles with their different experience at the time. There were questions about how it was working Ridley Scott and their feelings towards Blade Runner 2049. There’s some bitterness here towards a few things but at the end of the day, it was really nice as Edward James Olmos took a moment right after the host closed the panel to add a thanks to everyone that showed up and the fandom for giving them a chance to reunite together because it hasn’t happened in decades so its a great memory for them as well. Its pretty nice to see an actor to show appreciation because I haven’t actually had any panels have their guests do it so it was quite nice to hear.

Advanced Screening: The Fanatic

the fanatic

With John Travolta being one of the headliners of this year’s Fan Expo and having his panel on Sunday (which we had to miss), they got the advanced screening of The Fanatic to show at the expo as an ending showing on Saturday evening. While it wasn’t anything like a theatre and had a lot of maneuvering around to see the screen throughout and there was some technical difficulty with the movie’s ending, it eventually all got worked out and we saw the whole movie in completion. I had pondered whether to review it as I have some pretty straight forward thoughts on it but nothing for a full review however, I’ll still give it go and have the review go up later this week (hopefully before it hits theatres on August 30th).

SUNDAY

Sunday was one of those added days for ourselves because the headliner we wanted to see was only there. It was also a shorter day in general for the last day of the Fan Expo and we ended up leaving fairly earlier while still catching two panels.

Panel: Jeff Goldblum

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Jeff Golblum changed up  his panel and took out all the Q&A portions and it was unscripted sort of deal for 20 minutes or so. He is a charming man to say the very least and it was a lot of fun as he played a movie game with the audience and opened the panel with singing O Canada  with the audience. Its a nice touch but then his line-up was crazy long and for the wait time and meeting him, it did feel like meeting royalty and less of a fan interaction thing. However, it still had some laughs and entertainment. Unique execution of a panel.

Panel: The Goonies
Sean Astin, Ke Huy Quan, Corey Feldman

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Last panel of Fan Expo before we headed back on the road back to Montreal (my husband and I..Drew stayed later for the John Travolta panel) as we checked out The Goonies which had Sean Astin, Ke Huy Quan and Corey Feldman. It was a great way to end the Fan Expo for ourselves since this panel was a ton of fun and because all of them were kids when it was being filmed, there was a lot of chatter about the different props and sets and anecdotes and moments which was entertaining to listen to it and a lot of times pretty funny as well. They talked about different scenes and the stars that dropped by the set during filming of The Goonies. Sean Astin got questions about Lord of the Rings while Corey Feldman got questions about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However, most of the topics did stay within The Goonies which was great.

OVERALL…

The first Fan Expo Canada that we went to was pretty well. We talked about going again if there were guests that we’d liked that came but staying longer so that we can check out the show floor. The expo is separated into two building and the biggest issue and time wasting element was going from one building to the next and time management which pretty much was a decision of where the panels were and how feasible it was to go to the South Building where the big exhibition floor was.  In the end, my husband and I did end up missing out on Artist Alley and exhibition floor stuff over on that side but checked out a ton of the gaming stuff. Luckily, we had time to check out the North Building retailers so at least that worked out.

Organization was fairly alright and it had a lot of presence whether inside or outside to make sure people knew where they were going and that’s pretty good. There was a whole picking up your pass and then having to activate which felt a bit crazy but in the end, the process was fairly quick. Fan Expo Canada is a tad pricey but they did give out a ton of free t-shirts before all the panels so lucky people did end up getting it. It had screenings and panels for certain topics and the guest list was pretty good despite the fact that there were a good few last minute cancellations which disappointed a lot of fans. Its all part of the risk, I suppose.

Despite some little things, its a nice venue and a good event. Hopefully, we’ll be heading back again in the coming years. It is a pricier one, so we’ll see how it all goes. We chose to go for Fan Expo 25 so being a milestone year, it probably did have its own perks.

Hiking: Parc National de Plaisance (Le Zizanie des Marais Trail)

With the big July month done with, our hiking resumes. Its still up in the air how frequent and where but we did find that we had never gone to Plaisance National Park which is in between Montreal and Ottawa and is a fairly simple flat hike. Its main attraction this year is the newly re-opened boardwalk after its destruction in 2017 (according to the Sepaq site).

There is a fairly decent amount of trails, not a lot is solely for hiking and walking but most of them are for hiking/walking and cycling. However, there are a few other ones that I have my eye on when we do come back. As for the returning to hiking after over a month away, we decided to take things easier and this one fit our criteria. We ended up parking at the information center which was a 3km hike to the boardwalk and then the boardwalk is a total of about 500m and then walking back so 6.5km as a comeback is pretty decent.

Trail to the Boardwalk

Parc national de Plaisance

As this is mostly walking around walking and wetlands, there’s a lot of scenes of that. The park also offers an array of water activities and equipment for rental which is something that could interesting for those into that sort of thing. We’ve been thinking about doing a canoeing trail soon but not for this one so above is a random shot as we walked towards the actual hiking trail.

Hiking Trail Portion

Parc national de Plaisance

The starting of the hiking trail is really nothing too crazy. If anything its in a forest and by water so there’s a ton of bugs as this year is fairly like that anyways. Not an issue usually but we thought this would be an easy hike and didn’t bring out hiking backpack which had our bug spray, it was an oversight on our end because other than the wetlands around us, we also did get thundershowers the night before. Either way, it wasn’t too bad since the trail isn’t too long but just a note for those who want to try this out.

Parc National de Plaisance

The trail went by a few lookout points. One is more general and the other is for shrubs growing in the wetlands. That wetlands area is pretty nice to look at. It had a lot of water lilies and shrubs.

Parc national de Plaisance

At the end of the normal walking trail is the boardwalk which the little stretch of trail is called La Zizanie de Marais. Its pretty beautiful especially since its really new also and pretty sturdy. It stretches across a good portion of the marsh land with 3 exits and trails that continue on at each side. One goes further in, the other loops back to the parking lot in the vicinity and back to the trail where we came from. In the center is something of a seating area to rest and enjoy.

Parc National De Plaisance

There’s a lot of little wetland aquatic plants and flowers surrounding it. The weather was partly cloudy so the sun kept coming in and out which made it really nice and not too hot.

Parc National de Plaisance

Parc National de Plaisance

I’ll be sharing more of the close-up shots of flowers on this wetland over at Avenue of Daydreams.

That’s honestly it for this trail. If you want to not walk from the info centre and save the 3km to and 3km from then there is a parking nearby. This trail is really nice especially since its completely newly re-opened. We love doing boardwalks and this one is just impressive.

As a finishing note, I have my eye on a trail that starts at the parking lot near the boardwalk so we should be back to do that at some point. Not sure if its this year since its fairly lengthy but its on our hiking to-do list right now.

Hiking: Parc National de Frontenac (Le Massif de Winslow Trail)

Last week’s hike went to a visit out to a farther side of the Eastern Townships as we headed to check out the trails at Frontenac National Park. The hiking trails there are normally in the more easy category with a few longer ones in the intermediate. Seeing as our last hike went a little more difficult than we had imagined, this was a good option for us. The final decision after talking to the visitor center was that Le Massif de Winslow Trail was the one most worth it to do which is about a 20 minute drive further to reach its parking lot for where the trail starts.

Le Massif de Winslow trail did have a few need to haves for sure if you are planning to go. Bug spray being one of the most important as it is lined with stagnant water all around with little lakes and lots of puddles and water on the left and right for a good portion of the beginning trail. Luckily, we did have all of that so we came out with not too many mosquito bites. Just a friendly advice before you decide to go. Sunscreen could also be good since the good portion of the beginning has not a lot of shade.

Parc national de Frontenac

If we were to talk about Le Massif de Winslow, it would be in 3 parts. The first is the above section. Its in the open air on flat ground walking towards the first intersection. There is a lot of lakes around it, a lot of insects flying around, bullfrogs here and there in the ponds on the side and then tiny little frogs that you can barely seeing hopping around the path every once in a while.

Parc national de Frontenac

The second part of the path is a turn into the actual forest path. it still is fairly flat but goes into this dense forest landscape. There are less bugs and less ponds and we start seeing some running water of little streams before you hit the next intersection which is a loop to go to the various lookout points: one is a beach and lake lookout and the other is a lower mountain to look at the scenery from a higher point of view.

Parc National de Frontenac

Parc National de Frontenac

Since it a loop in the third part, we went the counter clockwise direction (which seems to be the path less chosen) but its a good choice since the lookout points are fairly together at the beginning of the clockwise so it ended out trail with a nice scenery before heading back into the normal path. The height of the mountain isn’t too high but has a bit of weaving in and out at a short distance to get the mountain view so that was probably the more difficult part of the trail.

Parc National de Frontenac

The way back also passed through a lovely little waterfall like this one which was pretty awesome. Le Massif de Winslow in the end is just different in the loop so as the loop finishes off the mountain, the rest of the way is just flat land and going back the way that the trail starts.

That’s it for this hiking adventure!
Hiking might be taking a little break in July as the weather gets hotter and the schedule gets busier.
We’ll be back to it in August!

Hiking: Mont Chapman (Stokes, Quebec)

The next hike went back to probably one of the most popular areas in Quebec and pretty well-known for its nature and that’s the Eastern Townships. After some research, we landed on finding this location called Mont Chapman. Its one of the farther hiking trails in Eastern Townships as we headed into a smaller country road that lead to a little parking lot in the middle of nowhere, with actually a few cars as the starting point for the hike.

Mont Chapman

The part that we did is the Boucle du Mont Chapman which goes around. We ended up doing the entire loop (and some more…I’ll talk about that later). Its pretty much a loop to the summit and back. With the shorter distance and the height of the summit, the elevation went up fairly quickly and it was almost a constant sloped trek, which is one of the bigger challenges of the path especially going upwards. We took the 4.9 km path upwards and did the 3.3 km downwards.

The path was pretty well maintained. There are a lot of little stones and twigs sticking out of the path through which can be hidden by all the fallen leaves. That is the only issue but its all about being observant. At the same time, there are some efforts to put planks to cross over little streams and some steps were made out of the terrain to help the process. There are some rocky steps as well. If not, in the little streams area, there are little rocks to walk over to stay a little more dry. It has to do with the weather still be cooler and more rainy this spring, I think. There were also some unique things like walking between boulders to get to the other side or on the down path, there’s some boulders to climb down from, as expected as the return trip is shorter distance, making it a steeper downhill trek.

And then, the view at the summit had a few angles, here it is:

Mont Chapman

Its a pretty hard track to be honest and it probably has to do with the fact that we expected it to be milder than it turned out to be. The issue with expectations, right? Either way, it was listed as an intermediary path, I believe but at times it did have some difficult moments. Setting that aside, my biggest issue was that we went the 4.9km path up where you follow the orange and white indicators on the trees, but going down, we had to follow the red and white indicators and man, was that confusing. Why I said that we ended up doing more than the total was because in between, we had to try three paths and each headed back to the fork, taking us over an hour to figure out where to go while walking up some really steep paths up and down to come to the conclusion to go back to the summit and take the path back and realized there was a sign at another angle in the distance that gave you the right path to follow. A lot of issues for my ankles (almost twisted it a few times on the downward jumps or hidden protruding rocks) on this one hike that I had to use some the trusty KT Tape and we had bought recently. That’s one of my complaints about this track, the unclear signage. While a part of the path has some work being done and didn’t have an alternate route so we checked that it was still just muddy but safe so kept going through the area to get to the other side since it was so close to the summit.

On the more positive side, this was the hike that got us ready for some harder trails. While we were both fed up of the trail on the way back and it was a tad painful (for my ankle specifically), there is a good amount of satisfaction to toughing it out and getting through it at the same time, having a good idea that we’ve really improved our preparedness over the years that we still had water left and food to sustain our energy. Not to mention, we had also got some pasta salads in the cooler at the car as a reward.

This was a rough one. 
Can’t say the view was a huge reward since it was also bug-infested. Insect repellant is a must on this trail.
We are hoping to squeeze in one or two more hikes before event season starts up in July. 😉