Posts in Canada

Weekly Photo Mojo: My Plane’s Propeller Stopped in Mid-Air.

I’ve always had a slight uneasiness when flying. Just the fact that I am up thousands of feet in the air, with my life in someone else’s hands, gives me a pang of anxiousness. Though I’ve gotten comfortable with flying a bit more over the past couple of years, take off and landing still make me pray to gods I don’t normally.

While on a flight from Montreal to St. John’s Newfoundland, I was messing around with shutter speeds on my newly purchased DSLR, and the photos ended up giving me chills.

At upwards of 500+ shutter speeds, I was able to freeze the propeller outside my window to the point where you could read the manufacturing brand on it. This effectively gave me the heebie-jeebies, evoking a feeling that the propeller had actually stopped, until I looked away from the DSLR’s screen to make sure.

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Share a tad bit of inspiration with your friends with the graphic below!

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Weekly Photo Mojo is about stimulating your cortex with retina rupturing and awe-inspiring photos from around the world to help you reach Terminal Vicariosity (The point where the mind reaches maximum capacity from living vicariously through someone else, and chooses to start actually living.)

What feeling does this photo evoke for you?

 

Weekly Photo Mojo: At Worlds End on Cape Spear, Newfoundland.

An ocean mist rolls over the thrashing ocean hundreds of feet below. Rough, dark grey cliffs drop of at what appears to be the end of the world, but this is just the most easterly point in all of Canada.

The old Cape Spear lighthouse keeps an ever watchful eye out for wayward sailors as they creep close to the shore that would surely take their lives.

Standing atop these cliffs, with the salty ocean breeze filling my nose, and the fog crawling over the ocean that seemed to go on forever, it really did seem like I was at world’s end.

cape-spear-lighthouse-canada

Weekly Photo Mojo is about stimulating your cortex with retina rupturing and awe-inspiring photos from around the world to help you reach Terminal Vicariosity (The point where the mind reaches maximum capacity from living vicariously through someone else, and chooses to start actually living.)

What feeling does this photo evoke for you?

Mission Impossible: Escape From Flooded Toronto!

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It was when I was drying my chucks with hand dryers, whilst standing barefoot on paper towels so not to step foot in the nastiness that is the basement bathroom of Toronto’s bus station, when I knew it was going to be a long freakin’ night.

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Mother Nature can be a bitch sometimes, and she picked the night I was leaving on my bus back to Washington D.C. to have the mother of all mood swings.

The train station lay dormant, flooded with knee high water. The roads were shut down in parts of the city from flooding, flights were halted, and most of Toronto was consumed with blackness.

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Kinda’ sounds like an ‘End of the World’ Roland Emmerich film. But no, this is what happened to Toronto in a mere 2 hours as a freak storm whirled into the city, bringing with it 90+mm of rainfall and umbrella inverting winds.

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Hence why I was in the bathroom attempting to change out of my sopping wet clothing and trying not to touch the piss covered floors like hot lava we played as children. Except this was WAY more difficult.

We had been strolling around the Kensington District of Toronto to try and fill my last few hours with a neighborhood I had heard so much about. When we started toward Kensington, the sun was beaming hot, and fluffy white clouds dotted the sky. Not foreboding at all.

But soon enough after getting to Kensington and poking into few of the hippie stores, dark clouds began to creep in.

That doesn’t look to happy” I said looking at the sky, but it wasn’t until we saw dresses blowing sideways on hangers that we decided to find shelter.

I still had a couple hours left until my bus was scheduled to leave, so as the rain drops began falling and the clouds swirled above, we ducked into a Chinese joint for quick bite. And to hopefully last out a quick shower.

But we would come to find out, this storm wasn’t just an ordinary summer thunderstorm, but a shitstorm coming to destroy all hope of me getting home on time.

Oh looky there, the rain is sideways

We were done and out of time, but the storm hadn’t let up, it had worsened. All cabs were taken, and the cab phone numbers were jammed, so we were going to have to hump it through the pudding rain back to the bus station.

Umbrellas were no use, the rain was flying at such an extreme angle that it soaked us completely from head to toe. After walking a block or toe and realizing that our camera and laptops were at risk of being destroyed, we sloshed through the already 6 inch deep water in the streets and hopped aboard a streetcar.

And that is when my mission impossible began. I did not choose to accept it, but I had to take it nonetheless.

7:45pm rolled around and still no bus. Tweets were flying in left and right about the #TOflood and #TOstorm, with people sharing images of the unbelievable craziness that ensued after the storm hit. It had calmed down to a drizzle now, but the aftermath was still apparent.

Even Jack and Rose couldn’t fight the Titanic sized mess.

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(photo via Twitter-verse)

9:00pm came and went, with still no sign of the bus. Everyone in line was fast growing impatient, and Megabus had no answers to give. I sat patiently and quietly knowing that bitching wasn’t going to get me anywhere, but I’ll tell ya, sitting on concrete for a few hours sucks!

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9:30pm

A rep from Megabus finally strolled over and gave us bad news, news I figured was coming after seeing the photos.

The bus is stranded on the flooded freeway and can’t go anywhere,
traffic is at a standstill. We don’t know if the bus will be canceled or not.

And then came the uproar. People began bitching and freaking out as if it were possible to just fly over a shut down city to us. I didn’t bitch, but I was growing wearing of waiting and I just wanted to know if I had to stay or go.

10:30pm

1 hour, the bus will be here in 1 hour, it’s making its way across the city

That hour came and passed as well. At this point I was slouched over my bags, aching and tired. And no bus came. One lady who was about to lose it yelled out to the guy giving us updates.

The bus was stuck at a closed off road, 15 minutes, it’ll be here

11:45pm

And finally it did. We all eagerly piled onto the bus, relieved, but 4 hours later than we had thought. We slowly made our way through the dark city and toward the United States.

But of course the fun didn’t stop there!

Why is it that I made it to Washington D.C. At 4pm the next day?

Border Control crossing into the United States of course took their sweet time, and decided to question me for 20+ minutes because they didn’t believe who I was.

And then in Buffalo the bus driver that was supposed to switch with the Canadian one was an hour late.

And we made made two 30 minute pit stops, as well as stopping every hour because out bus driver had a small bladder.

Talk about purgatory. I thought it would never end, but it did after 5 hours of waiting and a 14hr bus ride.

How about you, have you ever had a trip from hell like that one?

(Disclaimer: most photos were taken off of Twitter posts from others)

Weekly Photo: Old Town Montreal from the Ground Up.

“In the morning the city spreads its wings, making a song in stone that sings. In the evening the city goes to bed hanging lights about its head.”

– Langston Hughes

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(click to feel the city up close)

Langston Hughes nailed it on the head with this poem, and this is exactly the feeling I got as we walked around Old Town Montreal.

We had stepped out of the modern, bustling downtown and into the past.

Aged cobble stone streets make you aware of every step you take, nearly forcing you to admire the history. The sun climbs higher into the sky warming the streets. Cafés are opening their doors and grinding the first batches of fresh coffee. Bakeries are opening their shutters and filling the alleyways with the aroma of fresh baguettes, loafs of rye, and muffins. Artists begin setting their easels and carefully displaying their passion for passer-bys and potential customers, boutiques are sweeping the tree helicopters away that had fallen in their open French style courtyards.

I feel like Old Town Montreal is a place anyone could stroll around and feel the soul of it all.

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Old Town Montreal

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Weekly Photo Mojo is about stimulating your cortex with retina rupturing and awe-inspiring photos from around the world to help you reach Terminal Vicariosity (The point where the mind reaches maximum capacity from living vicariously through someone else, and chooses to start actually living.)

Newfoundland to Ontario: Road Trip Across Canada’s East





I never thought about Canada as a “must-see” destination. I don’t know why, I just didn’t. But after completing a road trip from Newfoundland to Ontario over 3 weeks, my view has flipped.

Canada, you freakin’ rock!

TBEX Toronto (Travel Blogger Exchange) was just a couple of months away at the time when I got a message from my buddy Zak of Sparkpunk, who I had only ever chatted with a bit online in the past. He heard I was headed to TBEX, and wanted to get together a bloggers crew for a road trip.

TEAM GEOGASM //

So the awesome Geogasm Troupe was born. More on the name later…

I had never met these other bloggers prior, and had little clue as to what to expect. Candice, Zak, Seattle, and I would meet for the first time in St. John’s, then we’d be stuck in a car together for the road trip which spanned thousands of kilometers in an itty-bitty Kia Forte through snowstorms, mountain ranges, and flatlands.

Somehow we didn’t kill hate each other by the end.

At the start of this epic road trip I kept a day by day recap, but with the loss of my Macbook charger (or me leaving it in a hostel) I couldn’t keep up with daily stories.

So instead, I whipped up a whirlwind recap of the entire trip. A time-line of photos and Vine videos for you to follow along with. Make sure you watch some of the Vine videos, they are hilarious at times!

Enjoy the ride.

DAY 1: DC TO MONTREAL, WEE OUI! //

  • Old Bridge into Montreal Sunset
  • Backpacker with Front and Back packs
    Poutine Montreal

The northern states and the changing landscape whipped past while on the 16hr train to Montreal, with no place to stay for the night. Almost to Montreal and greeted by a beautiful old brick and iron bridge at sunset. First order of business in Canada once I arrived (though after getting hassled at the border) – try poutine for the first time! I went out of my way to a lesser known poutine joint, and much more delicious establishment! It was just as good as rumors told.

READ //  Montreal Stole my Poutine Virginity

  • Took the train into Canada
  • Almost wasn’t allowed in because border control thought I was someone else
  • Tried Poutine for the first time, and I describe it like sex.
  • Found out about the crazy politics of Quebec versus the rest of Canada
  • Couch-surfed without meaning to after meeting someone on the train

DAY 2: ST. JOHNS NEWFOUNDLAND EH? //

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  • propeller plane


I didn’t know how difficult it would be to get to Newfoundland. Even though I was already in Canada, it would take 2 flights only 2 hours long each, and a 5 hour layover, before I reached St. Johns.

And I flew on my first propeller plane ever! You can tell by the photos and videos that I was quite captivated. And maybe a tad bit frightened.

Talk about a freakin’ wide load though! Yes I snapped a selfie in the bathroom of the airport… but it is excusable by the fact that I even surprised myself at how much I was walking around with! But at last I had arrived at my destination, and at the beginning of the road trip!

  • 2 Flights and 10 hours of unnecessary travel time
  • Tweeted about the hot Porter Airline attendants. They tweeted back. And bragged.

DAY 3-8: EXPLORING ST. JOHNS //

  • Zak, Seattle Dredge, Candice, and Ryan Brown in St. Johns Newfoundland before a Roadtrip Across Canada to TBEX
  • Screeched In ceremony in St. Johns Newfoundland

A walk about the quaint harbor-side town. All of St. John’s houses are brightly colored. Maybe it makes up for how often it is overcast.

After arriving, Candice and Zak were up for a quick hike to Signal Hill which overlooks St. Johns. The semi-strenuous hike offers views of distant lighthouses warning sailors of perils coming into the harbor.

READ // Lighthouses of Eastern Canada

Cape Spear and its dual lighthouses are perched atop a rocky hill close to old World War bunkers protecting the coast.

Cape Spear is also the most easterly point in the North Americas. Rogue, unpredictable waves slam the rocks, though it was tempting to hop the fence and get a better view!

The motley bloggers crew finally assembled after a few days and once all together, Zak, Candice, Seattle, and I were in for some crazy shenanigans and an epic road-trip!

Getting “Screeched In” before leaving St. John’s was a must to become an honorary Newfoundlander. And yes, I smooched a dead fish. It was as sexy as it looks.

Screeched In St Johns Certificate

Legitimate Newfoundlander. I feel even more badass.

But with the “Screeched In” came an epic hangover to match. Candice tries to gather the strength the morning our road trip was to begin.

  • Acquired my first of many hangovers
  • Hiked to Signal Hill
  • Wandered around Cape Spear and the lighthouses
  • Got “Screeched In” drinking bad rum and kissing a fish
  • Tried Cod Tongue and Moose

DAY 8: A SNOWY STORM TO GROS MORNE //

Tim Hortons Smile CoffeeThe road trip of road trips finally began. Though a tad bit later than we had hoped, we were on the road, and that’s all that mattered.

And I had my first taste of religion in Canada – Tim Horton’s. But how can you not love a coffee with a smiley face in every cup?

Little did we know, we’d hit a freak snowstorm on the way to Gros Morne National Park. Obviously we lived, but there were times when I thought we wouldn’t make it through…

Snowy Roads Gros Morne Newfoundland

Gros Morne CabinsTo ease the stressful and death-defying first day of driving, we cozied up in Gros Morne Cabins. Look at it. Freaking comfortable looking huh? It was.

Converse Shoe in front of Window

Sunset Rocky Bay NewfoundlandThough it was a snow-flurried day getting to Rocky Harbor in Gros Morne, the weather let up to give us one helluva finale in the form of a fiery sunset.

READ // Road Trip to TBEX Day 1 – Into the Grey to Gros Morne

  • Had my first taste of Tim Horton’s. 1/22 times we would visit.
  • Survived a deadly, hydroplane filled drive to Gros Morne.
  • Ooohed and Ahhhed at the sunset, before calling it an early night.

 
DAY 9: POPPING MY FJORD CHERRY //

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  • trails and tales tunes
    Our second day in Gros Morne National Park had us hiking to check out the fjord nearby.

    Calm black ponds and grasslands to traverse before getting to the fiord. And of course a funky pose photo is called for on the pier of the pond.

    Steamed the windows while cooking the staple backpacker dinner…spaghetti. Thought I’d leave a message for the next person who cooked here.

To cap off our last night in Gros Morne, we went to a small bar to see a band play for Trails Tales & Tunes that was OVERFLOWING with people. But it was a wicked performance, enhanced by plenty of beer.

Read: Road Trip to TBEX Day 2 – Seeing my First Fiord

  • Hiked to my first fiord, and admired Mother Natures gorgeous chasm.
  • Tried a moose burger for the first time
  • Didn’t see a single LIVE moose while on the hike.
  • Drank beer made from glaciers. It was damn good.
  • Jammed out to some tunes at a bar I assumed would be a shack in the middle of nowhere.

DAY 10: 13KM HIKE TO THE ATLANTIC //

We couldn’t leave Gros Morne National Park without one last hike, and one last attempt at spotting the elusive ninja moose. Green Gardens is a 13K hike through the wilderness along a river that flows into the Atlantic.

Wood Trail Gros Morne Hike

And I’d come to find out just how out of shape I was! Wooden walk-ways helped traverse areas that were unstable, muddy, or on one of the many wicked inclines. Trust me, I was hating life walking back up this one!

Gros morne hike to river

The fresh water flows into the ocean beside hills  of volcanic rock that the river had carved caves into.

Gros Morne Hiking river crossing

photo16Boots came off and I crossed the river over the slick round rocks on the river bed. I felt quite the wilderness man at this point.

However crazy and intense the trail was, it was worth it for these views!

  • Hiked 13K through the Canadian wilderness and bear country, but survived!
  • Attempted to leap over a part of the river, and almost made it, but failed.
  • Completed a track that was the hardest I had ever done at that point.
  • Found out Pringles are back to eat while hiking an incline. Nearly choked.

DAY 10: FERRY TO NOVA SCOTIA //

After a long day, it was time to relax on the ferry that took us from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia. So what do bloggers do in their bedroom in a ferry? Well surely that don’t sit around…

Ferry Room Newfoundland to Nova Scotia

THEY RAGE!

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It was Candice’s first time on a ferry and she was über excited. Me? Well, this reminded me too much of the extremely cramped quarters of the cruise ship when I worked on one in Hawaii. After a few hours of writing, and a couple EXPENSIVE drinks at the bar, we called it an early night.

DAY 11: THE CABOT TRAIL //

The snaking Cabot Trail, a 298K roadway looping around the Northern part of Nova Scotia. The drive gives you some of the most scenic views in Canada as we drove through highlands, valley, and forests.

There are a freakin’ ton of scenic stops…we found ourselves every couple of minutes yelling, “STOP! Pictures!”

Winding Roads in Nova Scotia Driving

Small Scottish rooted towns pop up along the drive.

Skyline Drive and Coast Nova Scotia

Skyline Drive Nova Scotia Pose

I stand on trash cans to get better views.

Seattle frolicks

Seattle frolicks, and snaps photos of me on a trash can.

Ryan falls

I fall off the trashcan.

Ryan Dies

Seattle photographs my embarrassment and agony of falling off said trashcan.

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Along the Cabot Trail is a brief hike called the Skyline trail which takes you through the highlands and gives you one wicked view of Cape Breton. The trail was stunning, and said to be filled with moose, but alas, they alluded us yet again. Though we spotted no animals at all, Zak did step in a rock sized pile of bear shit. Heh heh.

Read: Travel is Great, and Full of Shit…and That is Okay.

Skyline Trail Nova Scotia Peak

Lion King Moments on the rocks are a must.

Winding Road Quote

“The hard winding road yields more adventure than the easy straight road.”

What better way to cap off a day of long hours of driving, a few hours of hiking, and Zak stepping in an EPIC pile of Bear Shit? Well…relaxing at an amazing hostel on the water and cooking burgers for your friends works. And yes…I cooked those burgers!

  • Landed safely in Nova Scotia.
  • Drove the beautiful Cabot trail, stopping off at scenic views and a coyote sanctuary.
  • Hiked the Skyline Trail, and spotted no moose. But took TONS of photos of each other posing. Oh bloggers…
  • Stayed in Bear By The Lake Hostel and cooked burgers for the crew.
  • Zak washed his bear shit covered shoes with grimace.

DAY 12: BEER O’ CLOCK MONCTON //

We were supposed to head to the party town of Halifax, which apparently rivals St. John’s (though both sides will fight about it) but our allotted amount of kilometers for the road trip were already being exceeded. Instead, we chose to head to Moncton which was on the way to our next destination.

I had no high expectations for this small town, and maybe that is why we had such a damn good time!

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That night we took to Twitter and got recommendations from people who had been to Moncton to check out a local brewery. So glad we did. 20+ beers were presented to us for tasting, and at a super low backpacker friendly price.

Pinkies up!

(click video to watch Vine snippet – Glorious shots of beer)

(click to watch Vine snippet – Blogger trickery & My fear of Mustard)

These EVIL and scheming bloggers I was traveling with decided to play a prank on me with my fear of mustard as I returned from the bathroom. Damn them.

  • Stayed in an old historic mansion turned hostel.
  • Drank, and drank, and drank at a brew pub and got to know each other more.
  • The bloggers played a terrible trick on me.

DAY 13-14: QUEBEC CITY //  

Of course the rain which had followed us the entire road trip followed us to Quebec City. Though it would be saturated, Quebec was filled with awesome times as we explored the city, stayed in an utterly shitty hostel, and acquired more hangovers!

Quebec City Graffiti
One of my favorite things about a city is street art and graffiti – and Quebec City is covered in it!

photo20 Looking over the new city is the Old Town, surrounded by old defensive stone walls topped with cannons.

photo21 Beautiful statures all over Old Town Quebec City.

Brick row buildings with boutiques around every corner.

photo 2 Looking up at the Chateau from the heart of the Old Town.

photo 3 Stone houses, wooden shutters, cobble stone streets. Love it.

photo25 Seattle started off our night by frolicking again, this time with a random sparkler that she pulled out of thin air.

One bad thing about going back into Old Town to party at night – the stairs. It was quite the unexpected struggle…

  • Explored Quebec City’s Old Town in the rain. It was still stunning.
  • Stayed at a crap hostel Maeva…don’t ever stay there.
  • Explored and photographed a TON of graffiti and street art.
  • Partied the night away at Quebec’s famous bars on Grand-Allee which just so happen to have dancers on hoola-hoops hanging from the ceiling. Epic.
  • Ate even more Poutine. Mmm. Poutine.

 DAY 15-17: MONTREAL //

 Montreal is one awesome city. Though we wouldn’t do too much exploring of the city itself, we checked out much of Montreal’s famed nightlife on St. Catherine and St. Denise.

This is what bloggers do in their hostel rooms…

At an Irish bar in Montreal, a Celtic rock band jammed out to a packed house. And played an Irish rendition of “Jump Around”. Epic.

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Explored Mount Royal, famous for the massive TAM-TAM drum circles that take over the park on Sundays. Unfortunately due to the rain, there was only a small gathering over youngsters flailing about to dubstep music.

Schwartz’s Montreal

Ate at the famous Schwartz’s…and had one of the best corned beef sandwiches of my life.

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Before leaving the last day, we strolled through Montreal’s old town. Like I’ve said before, Old Towns are my favorite, and this was one of the most beautiful I had ever been to.

  • Stayed at an amazing hostel in the heart of the city.
  • Jammed out to an Irish rock bad that played rap songs like they were made for the Irish.
  • Convinced Zak to join Foursquare after discovering a free beer offer in Old Town.
  • Had rad dubstep bed bunk parties in the hostel.
  • Ate at the famous Schwartz’s…I’d eat there every day…
  • Decided Montreal has the worst Mexican food place I’ve ever eaten at.

DAY 16: NIGHT IN A TREEHOUSE //

We stayed in a treehouse in Nominingue, a lakeside town north of Montreal. Yes, a freakin’ treehouse! Like Swiss Family Robinson, but way more awesome.

Treehouse hotel cabin Montreal Canada

Talk about cool. Definitely one of the gnarliest places I’ve ever stayed in.

Treehouse hotel Montreal Canada

Suspension bridge to the lookout/cocktail area. So awesome.

(click video to play Vine snippet – Harmonica in the Treehouse)

candice ryan s'mores

  • Fulfilled a child-hood dream of staying in a treehouse.
  • Cooked stuffed peppers and burgers for the gang.
  • Roasted marshmallows in the cast-iron stove.
  • Serenaded everyone with a harmonica song.

DAY 17: RANDOM STOP, OTTAWA //

Originally the gang planned to check out the potentially haunted Ottawa Jail turned hostel , but Candice’s Uncle enticed us over to his house for a BBQ, copious amounts of drinking, AND a free place to stay for the night. Can’t pass that up.

Seattle Zak Candice table beers

But as you can see, this night would lead to a late start this next morning. With Toronto calling us, I would miss out on exploring any of Ottawa. Maybe next time.

DAY 18-22: TORONTO AND TBEX //

After thousands of kilometers and 20+ stops to Tim Horton’s, we reached our final destination. Toronto was hosting this years travel blog conference, and 1,300 bloggers and PR’s we flocking to the city. Between seminars and workshops, we would explore this booming city and take to the bars to mingle with other bloggers.

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Picked up our key to the city, a pass letting us into tons of the museums and attractions that Toronto has to offer.

Rode Toronto’s trippy metro rail which has no doors cutting off any cars, just an Inception-esque never-ending train.

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The CN Skytower and Toronto skyline een from a boat tour.

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A little TBEX chalk art near the convention center.

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Dave and Deb of the Planet D giving a rad keynote presentation on blogging and where they think it’ll be headed.

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Enclosed malls, walk-ways, and underground malls are all over Toronto making it easy to traverse the city without even stepping foot outside.

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When I said booming, I meant it. Right now, Toronto is expanding at an extremely fast rate and holds the world record for skyscrapers under construction at one time: 175.

Toronto Skyline Night

Toronto Skyline shimmers at night as seen from Center Island and the Expedia party for us bloggers.

Cheers Beers Ryan and Derek TBEX

Had the pleasure of meeting TONS of amazing bloggers and travelers during TBEX. Pints and pitchers clanked and slammed as we partied hardy and enjoyed the company of friends that never get to hang out. Some of the best times I’ve ever had, and some of the greatest people I’ve ever met.

  • Learned some eye-opening tips and knowledge from top bloggers.
  • Had more hangovers than I could count.
  • Collected business cards like Pokémon cards.
  • Went to the Expedia party dressed as a Vampire.
  • Explored the beautiful and evolving city.

DAY 23: NORFOLK COUNTY //

Norfolk County…the epitome of small country town Canada. Native reservations all over the county, with small towns like Waterford separated by kilometers of farm land. But even though I expected a relaxing, and maybe even boring town, it was filled with some pretty nifty things to do.

Buffalo Norfolk County

My first time EVER seeing buffalo.

Deer Behing Fence Norfolk County

Hungry deer at the deer park in Waterford nom-nomming some bread.

Norfolk County Haunted House Abandoned

Visited, and got kicked out of, the many haunted or abandoned houses all around Norfolk County.

Dover Lighthouse Canada

Checked out nearby beach town Dover, and the Dover Lighthouse.

Visit Canada

Chillaxed on the beach a bit, and wrote a message in the sand to everyone: Visit Canada!

(click video below to see Vine snippet – Visit Canada)

  • Explored small town Waterford.
  • Checked out the surrounding beach towns.
  • Dislocated my shoulder trying a backflip.
  • Fed some greedy deer
  • Found a trashcan full of cute and vicious raccoon babies
  • Got threatened and kicked off a property that had an abandoned farm-house.

Come again smiley face sign

Visit again I shall. This was one gnarly road trip. I met amazing knew people and made new close friends, stuffed my face with food oddities that are staples in Canada, and fulfilled some of my life long dreams…like sleeping in a freakin’ treehouse! Sorry, it just still excites me =)

Hope you enjoyed this visual timeline, and plenty of individual stories are to come!

Have you ever been to Canada? If not, want to go now?

 

In Photos: The Fantastical Lighthouses of Eastern Canada.

There is something oddly fascinating and magical about lighthouses, at least for me.

Beacons of hope perched atop sea-swept cliffs or far-reaching jetties calling sailors home, or warning them of the imminent dangers that lay beneath the midnight blue water of night.

Maybe I have a thing for lighthouses because I view them as a beacon for me as well, calling me from one point of the world to another. Leading me to another breath-taking view.

Whatever it may be, I ended up at a few along the way while on a recent road-trip through Canada.

Below are a few lighthouses along the coasts between Newfoundland and Ontario. Though I wish I could have seen every lighthouse that dots the coastline of Canada, I did manage to stand beside five and peer out at the beautiful horizon.

Maybe I’ll just have to come back for a tour of all the lighthouses with them being this beautiful!

And remember, click the photos to fully emerse yourself in the HD beauty! 

 

Cape Spear Lighthouse

The newer Cape Spear lighthouse, built in 1955, is now the operational lighthouse which steers ships away from the jagged coast of the St. John’s, Newfoundland area.

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New and old.

The Original lighthouse of Cape Spear, a wooden structure, sits in close proximity to that newer concrete structure. From here you can see the sea mist crawl across the Atlantic Ocean before it shrouds the entire cape in late evening.

Original Cape Spear Lighthouse

A closer look at the Original Cape Spear Lighthouse as you walk up the rocky hill-top. Built in 1836.

Fort Amherst Lighthouse

Fort Amherst Lighthouse

The old-old Amherst Fort Lighthouse, built in 1810 in the St. John’s Harbor as seen from Signal Hill. Sadly, this lighthouse de-commissioned when it was decided that Cape Spear was a better location.

Rocky Point Lighthouse

The golden sun descended into the horizon, painting the sky lavender. The quiet crash of the waves below was the only sounds on that beautiful night, besides the occasional cry of a hungry seagull. Rocky Point Lighthouse, located in Fortune Harbor, was built in 1873 to mark the entrance to the harbor which would become a prominent fishing community.

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Sunbeams illuminate the lighthouse at dusk as the lighthouse keeps an ever-watchful eye over Rocky Harbor and Fortune harbor in Gros Morne.

Port Dover Lighthouse

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This lighthouse called to me as we walked down the pier of Dover. Wooden benches adorned with the names of sailors lost at sea line the walk as you approach the old lighthouse, grim reminders of the power of mother nature.

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Fishermen try their luck (and skill) beside the lighthouse. Built in 1845, Dover Lighthouse is located in the beachy town of Dover in Norfolk County, Ontario. It was burned down and eventually re-built 2 years later. Now clad in metal, the original structure was of all wood.

What about you, do lighthouses call out to you in your travels?

Beautiful Newfoundland: Trek to Gros Morne Fjord

I awoke in a sweat. My heart was racing and palms clammy. Where was I? I was confused. The laptop was beside me on the homemade quilt I was laying on; I must have fallen asleep editing photos.

I was still trying to pry my tired eyes open and adjust to the light in that orange glossy cabin room when I glanced to my left. Suddenly my heart jumped and my stomach sank as I saw a man standing beside my bed.

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Road Trip to #TBEX Day 1: Into the Grey to Gros Morne

And so the tale begins. A tale of four travel-hearted individuals from different reaches of the North Americas. Four travel-hearted bloggers on an epic two-week road trip from the jagged coastlines of Newfoundland in the east, to the 2013 Travel Blog Expo in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

I hope you are ready for the shenanigans that will ensue…

First thing is first – let me give you a quick rundown. This will be a multi-part series, retelling the adventures of Candice of Candice Does The World, Seattle of Seattle’s Travels, Zak of Sparkpunk, and I as we drive, hike, wander, and frolic through Canada.

And what ever else we do to get there…

TBEX is being held in the first weekend of June. A conference bringing together veteran and noob travel bloggers, writers, and travel companies from near and far.

The prospect of getting to meet tons of travel writers at TBEX that have inspired has me crazy excited!

It is bound to be filled with good times, pow-wows, enlightening conference speakers, and the clanging of pint glasses. Just think Lord of the Rings when the fellowship gathered; all the different faces, races, sexes (I didn’t say sexy time…), egos, personalities, and beards that might not mesh at first, but are sure to get along in the end!

The drinking will help with that as well.

And so the tale begins. A tale of — oh wait. I already said that. Okay. Fast forward to the morning of the road trip.

 

It began like most trips with travelers do. With a hangover… 

In a town like St. John’s, which touts a world record for most bars in a certain square footage, we couldn’t not go out on the infamous George Street on a hoppin’ Friday night. Even IF we planned to leave bright and early the next day.

What happened? Well, we were a tad slow to start moving and began the trip two hours later than we wanted. No matter, because an amazing road trip was beginning and a late start wouldn’t set us back too much.

Little did we know it was only set back number one…

Our chariot was dropped off sometime in the morning. Our ride through Canada? An itty-bitty blue Kia Forte provided by Hit The Road. This company has a gnarly program allowing travelers to transport other individuals cars across the country for them if they don’t want the hassle of driving the distance themselves.

After trying to figure out how the hell we were going to get all the way to Toronto when none of us own a car, Hit The Road was rad enough to sponsor our transport for this road trip!

Things seemed to be coming together oh so well.

Everything was packed up and ready to go, but the next challenge presented itself. How to fit all our crap in the trunk.

When I said itty-bitty, it just seemed that way because we had four backpackers with massive bags containing their entire lives in them. There was a lot of shoving, crunching, and smushing, but we managed to squeeze in like sardines.

It was gloomy and overcast. Rain sprinkled on and off as we said our farewells to St. John’s and hit the freeway. Though St. John’s is a smaller city than most I’ve lived in, there was just something I came to love about it.

Maybe it was the night-life.

Maybe starting a road trip with the first travel bloggers I ever met.

Maybe just the euphoria of another adventure and never believing my life would be like this.

Either way, I was sad to leave.

The moment we left St. John’s, the pace was set for our road-trip…

Set back number two — there was only one turn at the start we had to worry about making for 500km to Gros Morne. We missed it.

There was a collective, “Oh shit” said by all four bloggers when we realized we blew past the exit. You would think four people who live a travel lifestyle would be pretty damn good at navigation.

It seems like travelers aren’t always experts at finding their way around…

This trip was starting off as you’d imagine with any ragtag group of rebel travel bloggers.

It was a little rough around the edges and laughably un-orthodox, but we were still having a damn good time.

And better yet, after the mess at the start of the trip, I got a sign that things would  be turning around. A sign in my coffee.

We took a rest break at a Tim Horton’s, beloved coffee joint of Canadians, to grab a snack before driving for another 7 hours. When I opened my coffee lid to add sweetener, there was a smiley face staring back at me. I took that as a good sign.

Except it was probably laughing at us. Little did we know set back three fast approached.

 

First came the fog and spitting rain. 

The further we drove, the more the grey consumed us. It felt as though we drove into nothing-ness.

The white-washed sky gave way to no sunlight. The fog thickened so much it was hard to see the car 25 meters ahead.

The spitting rain turned to sleet, then snow.

To lighten the mood, we made blogger jokes about Canada, tried to sing songs, and talked extensively about starting a blogger fight-club at TBEX.

Rule #1 of Blogger Fight Club: You don’t talk about Blogger Fight Club.

Though our little Kia that could fought on, the roads had become puddled and slick, causing us to hydroplane constantly.

Scary as hell thinking you are going to crash every second.

I’ve been in a car accident that nearly killed me, and so had Candice quite recently, so we were all on the edge every time the car began to slip n’ slide around.

Zak grew up in Anchorage Alaska and was a pro at driving in these conditions, but it is still hard to fight the fear as the weather worsened.

I just prayed to gods I don’t believe in and tried to distract myself by staring at the snow-capped trees that whizzed by. Oddly enough, it is what I always pictured Alaska being like, and what always fascinated me about it.

Candice, watching the flurry outside said, “I find it so funny that no matter how much technology we have, and how many innovations are made, Mother Nature just doesn’t give a damn and keeps on doing her thing.”

You could say the fierceness of nature was frighteningly beautiful in those moments.

We just kept on driving, 7 hours into the nothingness. Kept on driving down that shiny black pavement under that white-washed sky. Kept on through the fog and the snow biting our fingernails. Hoping the weather would break soon.

And the weather did break.

“Look! The sun!” Seattle squeaked with delight. Yes, we are an odd blogger bunch, but after not seeing sunlight for 7 hours straight it was quite exciting.

Just as the weather had transitioned from rain to snow, so it retreated from snow, to sleet, to rain, then nothing.

The road snaked through the dark green pines and passed swollen rivers until we spotted Gros Morne rearing its bald head in the distance. We finally reached “The Great Somber“, the meaning behind the name of this bare rounded mountain of exposed earth mantle.

After an exhausting long day of driving, we did what all backpackers do — grabbed beer and got cozy. We checked into Gros Morne Cabins, located right on the water of the bay-side town of Rocky Harbor which would be out base for the next 2 days.

There is NOTHING like relaxing on homemade quilts in a wooden cabin by the sea. Nothing.

As we sipped our beers and unwound, we were treated to one of the most stunning sunsets I had ever seen. Luckily I happened to look up as I was unpacking.

Just above the horizon, the clouds had parted just enough to see the sunset. The fiery sun seemed to descend from the monochrome sky to fill the horizon in a colorful splendor of orange and crimson. It seemed to linger as long as it could until retreating from sight; the sky faded to light blue, then purple, then was consumed by the blackness of night.

However crazy the start of the trip was, it’s always the journey and not the destination. We survived an intense 7hr drive through some wicked weather. Plus got to know each other through the ordeal.

My first trip with other travel bloggers had begun…and it was looking to be a hilarious ride.

Are you headed to TBEX? Make sure to comment below and subscribe on the widget to the upper left to keep up with these shenanigans!