Hiking: Gatineau Park -Sugarbush Trail/Waterfall Trail (Gatineau, Canada)

Hiking season has officially started for us! At the point that this post is going out, most national parks and provincial parks around us should be open. It wasn’t quite the case the previous week when we went to Gatineau Park as they were in a transition phase and only certain trails were open.

The first stop we made was at the information center at Gatineau Park. In that area, the only path open was the Sugarbush Trail. We ended up doing that one as a warm-up since we were already there before heading to the next area.

Sugarbush Trail

Sugarbush Trail

The Sugarbush Trail is one of the winter hiking trails at Gatineau Park. It runs for 1.9 km all around. Its a fairly flat trail with just the normal nature scenery like a mild walk in the forest. Its a good place to warm-up especially since its our first hike just to warm up the legs. There are a few little things to see but it also is quite packed with people. We weren’t sure if its because its an easy trail or the fact that it was the one at the Visitor Centre and people just went because they were already there. Whatever the reason, good warm-up but not really something challenging either.

Moving on to the next trail..this time at P6 of Gatineau Park running through Mackenzie King Estate is the Waterfall Trail.

Window to the Forest

P6 is the parking at the Mackenzie King Estate which we also haven’t been to before so it was an adventure to also see the parts of it that were open. I didn’t really take any pictures of it other than this Window To the Forest one.

We had to cut through the Gardens to reach the Waterfall Trail.  Here’s a few pictures of the the constant running creeks along the way, which is exactly the type of hiking trail that I like because water sounds are about the most soothing in the entire world (at least to me). There is a little bit of elevation here as well but it is fairly gradual.

Waterfall Trail Gatineau Park

The trail starts in its first part with a creek running alongside. As we we walk further on, its a fairly tame experience. The forest is calm and quiet.

As we head into the second part crossing towards the waterfalls area, we need to traverse through a tunnel which is pretty much a giant pipe. Cue in all the horror films that I’ve seen before where it was in some dark passageway. This one is done pretty well however because it has a nice wooden pathway inside.

Gatineau Park

Waterfall Trail Gatineau Park

On the other side of the tunnel, the ground elevation still is fairly gradual in change but there are more of the little drops in water throughout. Its one of those parts that are particularly  nice to see. The water is still more of a creek winding to the waterfall, which marks the end of the trail. You can see it below.

Waterfall Trail Gatineau Park

Waterfalls are a my thing for sure. Its one of the reasons a lot of the times, our trails have some kind of waterfall for my likes or some peak of the mountain view. The waterfall isn’t exactly the biggest we’ve seen but then its also quite surprising that hidden in the woods behind the Mackenzie King Estate is this beautiful walk in the park. You can’t say that Mackenzie King didn’t know how to enjoy life back in the days, right?

That’s it for our first official hike recap at Gatineau Park. 
My guess is that we’ll go back to Gatineau Park later in the summer to check out another trail.
Or at least until the summer trails officially kick in because when we went it was still the winter trails which were quite limited. 

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Gardening #4: Signs of Harvest

Its taken a month to get the next gardening update in but here we are!

The main reason is that I haven’t done much gardening and there really hasn’t been much to update on. Most of my blooms from spring lasted quite a little while and now that summer is here, the garden is flourishing especially with the crazy amount of rain we got before the last few days of extreme heat.

Without further ado, lots to talk about. Let’s check it out!

Water Garden

Water Lilies

Compared to the 4 leaves it had when I first got it, this lovely water garden (aka. my one water lily) has a ton of leaves and two flower buds. Of course, one of them is blooming. I was so happy to see that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and taking good care of it. Its so nice to see during the day when I wake up and look outside that its thriving.

Front Garden

On one side of the garden, my Dianthus actually is blooming finally. It took long enough. I probably am thinking of moving it and replacing it with a row of hostas or something because this spot just lacks so much sun and along with bad soil that is still taking time to be better, its just making this grow so slow. My neighbors’ hostas were blooming at least a week before mine and they look like a few times bigger. However, I’m still trying to figure out what my big reno work for the front yard is so I’m hesitant to just move a plant and then have to move it again the year after.

 flowers

Another reason to redo the front is that my flower patch is starting to look really overgrown. I think its just that, in terms of flowers. I have flowers that open in spring, summer and fall which works great but then its so dense around. I just need to sit down and figure out what I want to keep. However, looking at all the flowers right now, I’m really happy. Obviously there is the Crimson Star as always but I do kind of want to move it now since its just out of control big.

Then we have these two. The roses were planted last year in this spot and I was worried that it wouldn’t make it but its small and cute but still managed to get 3 flowers bloomed. I’m so happy to see the touch of red. At the same time, the newcomer this year is this furry little plant and its also starting to bloom. I don’t think this is in the right spot but once I open up my side garden when its not suffocating weather for the bee/butterfly garden, this will go right in there.

Backyard

Raspberry Patch

Not a whole lot of change with these two except for just growth. Yeah, look at the raspberries. Apparently trimming it makes it grow even more out of control. Sad part is that we never got around to the strawberries but we fed a lot of happy bunnies. I’m not too mad about it. I’ve just accepted that its a reality. We are thinking of putting in some fences around it but its not going to make a difference.

Along the Patio

As for this little patch, I just opened up this year. Its actually looking alright. Everything is growing a little slow and I think it has to do with the soil quality. Nothing has died yet and I can see the little Cone Flower at the end still growing strong. Its not as big as the one in the back and nowhere near it, but once it adapts to its move, it should do much better next year (provided it survives).

Container Garden

We are lucky that we got a ton of lettuces this year because after the first harvest, we lost two already from the cucumber pot. However, everything else, particularly the kale is thriving. I have some lettuce coming back. My new non-lazy watering strategy is making everything grow beautifully. The cucumbers are looking fantastic. Actually they have a lot of flowers and some cucumbers forming so fingers crossed that we’ll get some harvest soon-ish, but not going to count my chickens before they hatch. We literally have kale feasts now. Its just way too big and we can’t eat it fast enough. The biggest success is that the bell peppers experiment turned out the the container one is doing much better. The picture is dark but if you squint really hard, you’ll see that there are two bell peppers growing. At the same time, this mosquito repellent garden is looking the best in the last few years. I’m really happy with it.

Vegetable Garden

In terms of the vegetable garden, I once again forgot a before and after picture. I just spent Canada Day weekend getting rid of all the horrible oxalis grass covering the entire area. Its one of the reasons I think that the cucumbers are looking yellow and sad. We did go to the Dollarama to pick up a sprinkler hose which is a great addition, except you might want to consider getting it somewhere a little better and more durable. Ours already broke twice so its already having a lot of duct tape fixes. What I can I expect with a $3 product? However, it lets me walk away to water the container garden while it just takes care of the watering for me. Zucchinis are the only one in this plot that has some growing. I’m hoping that it’ll all work out. Everything else is just moving along, except my herbs on the side. The lavender needs to probably be moved but my mint is out of control.

Overall & What to look forward to…

There been a ton of growth here. While there are some losses, its actually doing really well this year. I added in a watering system to the kale and cucumber container because it was just draining too much. Actually the watering systems work really well, especially the past few days when its been record high temperatures of 44 degrees Celsius or something. I do warn that the next update will be in August as we are coming up to Montreal Comiccon and Fantasia Film Festival. It might put a little stop in some stuff depending on the situation. However, I always have my first week of vacation coming up so hopefully we will have some more projects. I have a few goals. Maybe finally opening up my plot but we need something else to happen first which is in the works.

That’s it for this gardening update!
How is your gardens looking? Any harvest?

Hiking: Parc Regional du Mont-Ham – Button & Panoramique Trails

The second hike of 2018 takes us back to the Eastern Townships of Quebec to the Parc Regional du Mont-Ham.

We actually found this one the way back from the last hike in a little pamphlet. There is a nice variety in the trails and the loop you choose to make. If you want to do the direct path, the L’Intrepide trail is 1.7km (intermediate to difficult level) and takes you on a climb to the summit. Of course, being the hikers that we are, we decided to do one of the longer loops starting out in the Button Trail to reach the summit and consequently hitting about 3 lookout points before, then going back on the Panoramique Trail. It took us about 4 hours to complete the 6.9 km route we went for. These two trails are also intermediate to difficult levels so much to our surprise, it was very challenging with the steep slopes and constant quick changes in elevation. A lot of times, hiking for us is both exercise but to see the natural beauty around us at the peak and this one takes you to the absolute peak of Mont-Ham so nothing is obstructing the view (except other hikers). There’s a cross at the top and its quite the climb where they give you ropes to go up. Like I said, its a pretty awesome spot. We actually like to do secluded spots so this location was a little too popular for our preference but we still thought the feeling was fantastic.

Here’s a few snapshots of the trail!

And for a more 360 degrees view, here’s my Instagram video for it. Of course, if you want the updates more, just follow me there. I don’t post a ton but a lot of this hiking views and food stuff.

This wraps up this hiking adventure!
A memorable and breathtaking one as well as a very crazy uphill trek!
We climbed up rocks and hopped down rocks and it almost felt like an obstacle course at some parts.

Hiking: Le Mont-Megantic Trail – Mont Megantic National Park

Hiking season has officially started for us this year!

Eastern Townships

The road to the national park

Monday was Victoria Day in Canada so it was a day off and we were able to figure out somewhere fun to hike. Our plans almost did change in the morning but things worked out and we headed off to the Eastern Townships in Quebec to Mont-Megantic National Park.

Its about 2.5 hour drive for us to get there. We always stop at the visitor’s center first. Essential when you are doing a hike to get the bathroom break and also to pay for the fee while getting info on the trails. The lady at the desk was a great help and gave us a good idea of what trails were around us while also telling us the original trail we were going to do was still covered in snow. Usually that wouldn’t be a problem but I haven’t gotten around to getting a new pair of hiking shoes so I was in my running turned walking shoes so the grip wasn’t as good. We ended up going for the Le Mont-Megantic Trail which is a 10 km loop and takes you up to the observatory at the top. The entrance here includes parking and the entrance code to go to the observatory and sanctuary up the hill by car. So, we actually stopped at the top of the trail just before the hill up the observatory which was muddy and snowy in various areas. The trail here is intermediate (although it felt hard for a first hike). Here’s a few pictures and the scenery! Trust me, its so worth it!

A lovely trek but it was a little tough so the pictures were a little scarce for the path going up. Before I wrap this up, I’d love to share a video I posted on Instagram for the scenery at the Sanctuary since that is the top most part of the area and offered a 360 degree scenery almost.

There is a whole bunch of trails at this national park and we’re pretty sure that we’ll come back for some of the other ones later this season. Its a close enough drive and the Eastern Townships are pretty and the national park also has some space observation stuff that we’d love to check out when its not a statutory holiday and they are open.

Not sure when the next hike is but we’re planning on doing a lot more this year so I’ll probably be checking in with another trail that we’ve explored soon!

Getting into Shape 2018: Weekly Workout Revival

WORKOUT ROUNDUP

Hey everyone!

Its been at least 5 years or more since I wrote a Weekly Workout Recap segment. And that really is because the last few years, its been a horribly unhealthy and health ridden days. It killed my motivation and whatnot. I did do a ton of running and zumba in 2015 in preparation for the whole wedding thing. I feel like I did at some point revive the segment trying to get back into the groove of things, but it didn’t last for the above reasons again. Either way, my lack of health and fitness has lately really affected how I feel about myself so weekly updates, WE ARE BACK!

I’m not tracking by the balance and losing weight. My goal is to just feel good about myself and feeling toned and strong. I don’t necessarily feel that how much I weigh will do that, actually I never have, because if I build muscle, I’ll gain weight but it’ll be good weight as opposed to just building more fat. Either way, I’m trying to eat a little cleaner and less processed foods. The past year, I’ve tried to get back into the groove of things with my sheer desire and wanted to create my own little workout thing and the indecisiveness made it just take too long to start and then too late to begin without sacrificing the little sleep that I get. Then I tried to just keep to a schedule but things always got in the way, finally went back to my go to with the Nike Training program and I just couldn’t stay motivated, mostly because the workouts felt like they were out of my league and then I’d be in too much pain to do the next one in the schedule without risking injury.

Anyways, its already a pretty long story but point is, back then, I started out being super motivated when I did some Pumps and Iron or Tone It Up workout so I’m going back to where I had started and trying to complete the Bikini Series for Tone It Up which just started. And to stay accountable, I’ll share the workout progress. If you want to join in, they actually have a TIU app which tracks your fitness goals and has the daily workouts and 5 toning moves that changes every day.

tone it up app

Bikini Series – Week 1

Monday (didn’t jot down the moves so just working with memory for Monday and Tuesday)
Arms (2 rounds of 15 reps)

Bicep Curls
Shoulder Pulses
Reverse Flyes
Squat Presses
–can’t remember what the last thing is–

Tuesday
Total Body (2 rounds of 15 reps)

Reverse lunges with curls
Pushups
Bikini Walkouts + Tummy Tucks
Squat Jacks
Bicycles

Wednesday

Didn’t have time for 5 Toning Moves
Ended up doing a 1.5 km walk at lunch

Thursday
Total Body (2 rounds of 15 reps)

Walk 2.5 km at lunch

Single-Leg Deadlift (each side)
Weighted Chop (each side)
Side Plank Crunch (each side)
Plank Row (each side)
High Knees (30 seconds)

Pushing through my own lack of motivation and got a late quick workout in despite getting home late from the dentist and having a late dinner. The small triumphs are what builds habits in my mind. 🙂

Friday
Yoga and Abs (2 rounds of 15 reps)

Bikini Walkout + Plank Jack
Shoulder Taps (each side)
V-Sit
Rock the Boat (each side)
Seated Side Opener (30 seconds each side)

Saturday
HIIT & Abs (2 rounds of 15 reps)

Squat Jacks (30 seconds)
Mountain Climbers (each side)
Toe Touches
Squat Jacks (30 seconds)
Down Dog Booty Lifts (each side)

(extra: do 30 seconds mountain climbers after each round)

Sunday
Arms & Cardio

5KM Run & Walk (or as my Nike running app says 4.69km)
Total time: 33:15 mins

(2 rounds of 25 reps)
Shoulder taps (each side)
Plank taps (each side)
Bridge & Press
Bent-over Row
Cross-body Curls (each side)

Overall…

This week was a lot of making myself get back into the groove. I don’t think that realistically working seven days a week even if its just 15 minutes sometimes works but I’m going to try my best and also start adding in not only the 5 daily toning moves but also some Tone It Up workouts. Thats the plan for the next 3 weeks until the Bikini Series is done. Week 2 of Bikini Series is out. Check it out HERE. Arms and abs have always been my weakness so those double duty things like walkouts and Down Dog Booty Lifts were the hardest workouts of this week that I needed to really push myself to complete. For the record, I don’t have resistance bands, or I might have them but I can’t remember where it is. So just to not murder myself, I did some of these just normal without the added resistance. I’m pretty happy with just staying on track for week 1.

That’s it for Week 1 recap!
It definitely feels both painful and awesome to be working out again.
Can’t say that I’m particularly in the groove since most days I still want to just not do it but end up finding some motivation.
Let’s keep me accountable! And well, tell me if you are working out to stay fit as well. Let’s encourage each other!

End of Cruise & Last Day in Seattle!

The Alaska Cruise lands on the Day 10 where basically its breakfast and scurrying off the boat with our luggage. We had packed light so we just needed to carry everything in one shot without having to wait.

We took a final walk around the ship before leaving and took a lovely farewell shot of Seattle.

Seattle

Our only stop scheduled before our evening flight back home was to the Museum of Glass.  Remember where I went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass on the day before boarding the cruise ship HERE? Well, this is where all the art work happens.  Its supposed to be a highlight location.  At a certain time, they open for the workshop to show how they make certain pieces of art.  We sat there for a good bit of time looking at them craft a whale tail and this other piece which I can’t even remember what it was.

Museum of Glass

Museum of Glass Settle

The rest of the museum featured works from certain programs they have.  One of them was for kids creative pieces that they adapted into these glass works. And there were other art designs and forms from Mr. Chihuly himself.  It was a colorful adventure to say the least.

Museum of Glass Seattle

Museum of Glass Seattle

Museum of Glass Seattle

Museum of Glass Seattle

The Museum of Glass is a little dark so a lot of pictures didn’t turn out great.  Here are the selected ones that were rather decent. Its some nice work.  Some are rather abstract but I think the glass designs are really beautiful and intricate. The detail on them is just amazing.

Onward to the airport and heading home afterwards.  We took a little plane what some would call air taxi over to Vancouver and had  a little layover before heading back home to Montreal on a red eye flight.  I’m not a huge fan of red eye flights and I think I did get a few movies watched as well but I did catch a shut eye for two hours or so.  At least I had a few days off when I got home so as usual, I would just pass out from minor jet lag and just the adrenaline rush of vacation leaving my system and getting back to my normal life 😉

Recap on the first cruise

Cruises are really fun.  I’m not going to lie though.  The first two to three days of the cruise were so tough. It was being trapped in a boat with my mom and her elderly friends.  They are super nice but would also feel a lack of freedom until I found a way to just walk off and do my own thing.  However, as the cruise went by and a certain routine set in, it was really fun to board and see a lovely city and explore, take pictures and all that great stuff.  The cruise helped instill some good habits because of the boredom and the evenings were always something I’d look forward to because there were shows and events and music.  The food was also pretty decent even in the buffet, it had really great choices.  The free dining options were very accommodating and that is always a plus.  There is a feeling of being pampered on a cruise.  Someone cooks and cleans for you.  Its uber relaxed and there’s just so much time to lounge around.  That is good and bad.  For the most part, I didn’t have to make any decisions and it was just all set out and eventually that was very nice.  It may have taken me a few days to adapt to the cruise life but there is no doubt that at the end of it, I did miss it quite a bit.  Reality is awesome, being home is great but feeling relaxed and pampered and being able to have time to do everything I wanted, have a night life, meet new people also was really fun.  That’s the great thing about vacation, right?  That is why I love it so much.  If it was my everyday, it would sound good but I’m guessing I’d probably grow tired of it.  Cruising is a good way to travel and its definitely something that should be experienced.  It definitely has its perks. However, there is no doubt that when the bill came in, being on a cruise is a luxurious way to travel. Everything is pretty pricey and there’s the daily service fee charges and while its all inclusive, many activities do cost money, especially shore excursions.  Plus, next time I’d get a beverage package because that would be more cost efficient as well.  You pay with a swipe of your room key and your life is basically  there for whatever days you have the trip. Still, I’d do another cruise if I had the money 😉

Have you gone a cruise before? Did you enjoy your experience? 

Alaska Cruise on Norwegian Jewel [Day 8&9]: At Sea and Victoria, Canada

We’re nearing the end of the cruise here.  Victoria is the last stop before we board back in Seattle and have a half day before our flight to wander around.

Day 8 At Sea

Day 8 was back on the boat.  The night before all the way to mid day of Day 8 at sea, the tides were ridiculous.  The ship rocked like crazy. I didn’t end up eating a lot for breakfast or lunch but still more than the previous days since not eating is not really something that lasts too long.  Especially since I was working out a whole lot along with a lot of walking during the shore excursions and around the boat to fill up time. Day 8 at sea was the final bit.  It was the goodbyes because some people departed in Victoria (mostly Canadians living on the West coast) and there was a ton of farewells at dinner and for the last show.  During the day, I enjoyed some of the nice weather and did one more time of the hot tubs and went to workout two times.  I remember those days since I rarely do that back at home 😉 Oh and to not focus on the rocking ship in the morning, we played a bit of mahjong. I was literally tracked down at the gym at the beginning of my workout and asked to join in their mahjong game. It was kind of funny.

We had our last dinner on the cruise over at the Tsar’s Palace.

My mom and I also dressed up a little so that we could take some pictures with the professional photographers to keep some memories. Unfortunately, I think there’s like some copyright thing that I can’t post that up or whatever so just to be safe, I’ll keep it for my own decoration. We did take some nice pictures around the ship.

IMG_0232

Day 9 Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

This trip seems a whole lot going in and out of Canada and then finally landing back home in Canada of course. It was one of the things that had us baffled with all the going in and out of borders of what to put on our customs papers when we were leaving.  Either way, I’ve been to Victoria before on a bus tour with my mom back in 2009 (or so). This time, I really wanted to meet up with one of my friends who moved out here.  Crazy thing is that my phone’s battery decided to die on that same day.  When we landed, I frantically went searching for a Fido store but I own a Samsung Galaxy S3 so of course, no replacement batteries anymore since everyone’s using the S4 or S5.  I did manage to write down her number before the phone died completely and borrowed the phone there. Stressful and crazy, yes. At least, the phone worked when it was on charge so I was able to contact the fiance when I got to the airport the next day give him the landing info again. But, we’re not there yet.

I did meet up with my friend and her and her husband took us to Butchart Gardens for a nice walk to see the different flowers of ending of Spring heading  almost into summer flowers.  If you haven’t been to Butchart Gardens, that place is gorgeous.  We were in between seasons and the flowers were great but still, its designed so well.

We had dinner afterwards at the Victoria harbor area at this cute little restaurant called The Flying Otter Grill. That place had great service and some really good food. It also felt good to not be eating on the ship and be with friends.

After that we took a walk around the area and took some pics along the harbor and the legislative building before having them drive us back to where the port for where cruise ships are.

Victoria

Victoria

And with that, we’re back on the ship and packing up and prepping for disembarkment tomorrow in Seattle the next morning! 🙂

A beautiful cruise comes to an end!

**I’ll be doing a little recap and feelings about the first cruise experience with the next week’s post along with the half day at Seattle.**

Have you been to Victoria, BC? How about Butchart Gardens?