Tiny Travelogue: Mont-Tremblant National Park – Yurt Edition

Yurt Mont Tremblant collage

Location: Mont-Tremblant National Park (L’Assomption sector), Quebec

Length of Trip: Three days, two nights (August 2014)

Purpose of Trip: General outdoorsy fun, including swimming, canoeing, and campfire-ing

Method of Transportation:  Henry the Honda

Food: chili, tortilla chips, hot dogs, veggie burgers, salad, bagels, cheese & crackers, yogurt & granola, coffee… you get the idea

Accommodations: A yurt! I was very excited to sleep in  a yurt and it did not disappoint. Now I’m spending my days dreaming about building my own off-grid yurt.

Highlights: 

The skylight: The top of the yurt had a clear dome – built in skylight.  We were even so lucky as to have a thunderstorm, so while we thanked our lucky stars we weren’t in a tent when the storm happened we also watched the lightning through the dome over the bed.  Awesome.

Canoeing:  The yurt rental came with a canoe rental for the duration of our stay.  This wasn’t mentioned on the website so it was a bonus surprise.

 

 

Tiny Travelogue: Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County

Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario

Length of Trip: Three days, two nights (June 2014)

Purpose of Trip: To get out of the city and see some sights

Method of Transportation:  Henry the Honda

Food:

The Acoustic Grill:  Eat the nachos and enjoy the music.

East and Main: We just happened to ride by East and Main and decided to stop for lunch and it turned out to be our favourite restaurant of the trip.  I had a delicious apple-cheddar grilled cheese and the house salad it came with was fantastic.  There was also complimentary bread with soft, salty butter… a sure way to leave a good impression with me.  The decor was cute and the service was great.  We’d likely go back again for a nice dinner.  For my vegetarian compatriots, it was reasonably veg-friendly (as in, I had more than one menu item to pick from).

Agrarian: I had the pasta, Mr. Autopilotstar had the fish and chips.  Nice atmosphere and service and the food was pretty decent, but nothing to get too excited about.

Slickers: We waited in the rain for this ice cream and it was pretty good.  Not as good as some of the reviews would imply though (best ice cream in Ontario? I don’t know about that).

Accommodations: We stayed at our very first Airbnb for this trip and we were really happy with our experience.  The apartment was cozy, comfortable, and clean.  It was an easy walk to downtown Picton and pretty central for driving to other parts of Prince Edward County. I think it might have even convinced Mr. Autopilotstar to try Airbnb for some of our future adventures.

Highlights: 

Sandbanks Provincial Park: Sandbanks was only a 20 minute drive from where we were staying (in Picton), but there was about a 20-30 minute wait to get in at the entrance to the park, so I’d recommend factoring that into your plans. There are three beach options for day-use: Outlet Beach, Dunes Beach, and Sandbanks Beach.  We went to Outlet Beach first and there were about eight million people there.  Seriously though, there were so many people that there was a dull roar of people talking/screaming/having fun emanating from the beach.  We stayed there for a while, and then decided to grab our bikes off the back of the car and explore the other two beaches.  The Dunes Beach area was really neat.  Very…dune-y and full of soft, soft sand.  The water also seemed to be warmer than Outlet Beach, as it’s in somewhat of a protected cove.  Sandbanks Beach was nice too and the water was quite clear, although colder than at Dunes Beach. Overall, skip Outlet Beach and head directly to Dunes Beach and/or Sandbanks Beach.

Visit a winery: We didn’t actually visit any wineries *gasp*, but I’m sure if we did, it would have been one of the highlights.

Cycling: Prince Edward County is known for its cycle routes, so we strapped the bikes to the back of the car (okay, okay, we put them on the bike rack) for this trip. We didn’t do any full-day routes, just two short trips (plus biking around Sandbanks).  We bought the cycle map, which I’d recommend, but in case anyone wants to know, here are the details of our two rides:

Ride #1: The first loop we did was from Bloomfield to Wellington and back.  It was about 40 km and had a great mix of scenery.  It also included a stop at East and Main for lunch (see above).  We drove to Bloomfield, parked along Bloomfield Main Street and then:

  • Follow Main Street (Route 62) until Gilead Road
  • Turn left onto Gilead Road
  • Turn right onto Route 2
  • Turn left onto Swamp College Road
  • Turn left onto Danforth Road
  • Turn right onto Greer Road
  • Turn left onto Loyalist Parkway and then continue to follow the Parkway all the way back to Bloomfield

Ride #2: The second loop we did was of Big Island and it was about 20 km.  We parked in Demorestville (at a church) and then:

  • Start at the intersection of Route 15 and Potter Road
  • Follow Route 15, and then turn left onto Route 21, which takes you onto the island (you’re going to be doing basically a loop around the island, which you can likely figure out on your own but…)
  • Turn right onto South Big Island Road
  • Turn left onto Sprague Road
  • Turn left onto North Big Island Road
  • Turn left onto Caughey Road
  • Turn left onto South Big Island Road
  • Turn right onto Alliston Road
  • Turn left onto South Big Island Road
  • Turn right onto Route 21
  • Turn right onto Route 15 and head back to where you parked

Little Bluff Conservation Area:  A bit off the tourist-track, Little Bluff Conservation Area features a limestone bluff, nice views of Prince Edward Bay, and a swimming area with a rocky beach (and icy water).

 

 

Tiny Travelogue: Portland

Portland Collage

Location: Portland, Oregon

Length of Trip: Five days (April 2014)

Purpose of Trip:  A bit of work, a bit of play

Method of Transportation:  Airplane

Food: Although Portland has a lot of great food, we didn’t really do a good job of finding excellent places to eat.  The only note-worthy place we went to was Hungry Tiger, a bar/restaurant that had great vegan/vegetarian food… but also serves meat.  Perfect for me and my non-vegetarian partner. The place is a bit dingy in a quirky kind of way, but don’t be turned off – the food is really good!  I’d also suggest checking out some food carts.  I’d recommend the El Pilon food cart if you’re looking for Colombian-style arepas and empanadas (which of course I was).

We also made our way to the famous Voodoo Doughnuts.  It’s open 24/7 and there is a line-up 24/7.  I’m only slightly exaggerating about  the line-up.  Go on a weekday for a shorter wait.

Accommodations: We stayed at the Embassy Suites the first half of the trip, and then switched to the Crowne Plaza for the last two nights.  The Embassy Suites was in the main ‘downtown’ area of Portland and was the location of the conference I was attending.  You could walk to lots of great restaurants (and food carts), stores, and the waterfront park.  If you can get this hotel for a reasonable rate (it was $149 a night with the special conference rate), I’d recommend it.  The Crowne Plaza we stayed at was in the North-East section of the city.  There wasn’t much to see or do around the hotel and any decent restaurants were a long walk away, but it was less expensive and a quick walk to get to public transportation.  Overall I’d recommend staying in the downtown, but if you can find a significantly cheaper hotel that’s near public transportation, do it.  A day pass for public transportation (MAX rail, bus, or streetcar) is only $5.

Highlights: 

Powell’s City of Books:  An independent bookstore that fills a whole city block.  Fun store and I love that they interfile their new and used books.

Bicycles:  We rented bikes from Cycle Portland and biked a loop around the Willamette River.  Beautiful ride, but not as straightforward as you might think.  We ended up on the road a few times when we couldn’t find the bike path.

Washington Park: A nice park not far from downtown – we took the MAX rail and it was easy to get to.  We also checked out the Japanese Gardens while we were there, but with a $9.50 admission, I’d say it’s not really worth it.

Aerial Tram: A great way to get a nice view of the entire city and it’s only $4 round trip.  It’s not really meant to be a ‘ride’ (it’s actually transportation for people to get up and down the hill), but if you’re from out of town it’s a simple and inexpensive thing to do.  And you can get to it from a streetcar, which only costs $1.  For $5, it’s a pretty great way to see some of the city.

Tiny Travelogue: Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario

Length of Trip: Two half days and one night (October 2013)

Purpose of Trip:  To see the falls, of course

Method of Transportation:  Henry the Honda

Food: I didn’t do any advanced planning, so we just walked around and randomly ended up eating dinner at Romano’s Macaroni Grill.  It was fine, although I was puzzled that there wasn’t actually any macaroni on the menu (how misleading!).  For breakfast, we ended up at Starbucks, which is somewhere I rarely go.  And twelve dollars later for one latte and one piece of pumpkin bread, I was reminded why I don’t go there very often. (Twelve dollars, really?!  Oh my thrifty heart…)

Accommodations: We stayed at the Double Tree Fallsview by Hilton.  Parking and taxes all in, it came to $175.  I decided to really go all out and paid the extra $9 for a room with a view of the falls.  I was impressed – it really did have a view of the falls.  Well, it would have had a view of the falls if it wasn’t so foggy that we couldn’t see anything, but that wasn’t the hotel’s fault.  There were even fireworks that we could have seen from our window, again, if it hadn’t been so darn foggy.

Highlights: The stereotypical “tourist” activities don’t usually appeal to me, but I really wanted to get up close to the falls and the Maid of the Mist seemed to be the best way.  There’s not much going on in Niagara Falls other than the falls (to be honest, the place is kind of a dump), so if you’re going to bother to go, you might as well go all the way and take the boat that goes up close to the falls. And for-the-love-of-god put your camera away for a minute or two during the boat ride and just enjoy the power of the falls. Do it.

Tiny Travelogue: Mont Tremblant National Park

Mont-Tremblant National Park

Location: Mont-Tremblant National Park, Quebec

Length of Trip: Three days, two nights (July 2013)

Purpose of Trip:  Fun, swimming, campfires, and general outdoorsy-ness

Method of Transportation:  Henry the Honda

Food: chili, grilled cheese, chips, wine, hot dogs, grilled veggies, corn on the cob, peanut butter cookies and other delicious food

Accommodations: Instead of camping, we opted for more of a ‘glamping’ trip.  We stayed in an adorable little cabin called “La Mesange”, which was on Lac Provost in the La Pimbina section of the park.  The cabin had a nice loft you could sleep in, as well as a separate bedroom.  Oh, and it had its own bathroom with a shower and everything!  It was well stocked with pretty much everything you need for cooking (small fridge, stove-top, microwave, toaster oven, coffeemaker, pots, pans, utensils, plates, cups, mugs etc.)  And the best part was it was located right next to a really nice beach.  Overall, it was pretty amazing.

Highlights:  The best part of this trip was definitely the swimming in Lac Provost and the relaxing on the beach.  The cabin itself was also pretty great. 

In addition to swimming, we also did some “hiking”.  I feel the need to use quotation marks because to me, “real hiking” is more grueling and involves mountains.  Real mountains, like in the Rockies.  None of this “big hill that we call a mountain” business.  The first trail we did was L’ Envol, which took us about 1 hour.  It had nice views and was definitely worth doing.  We also did the Chutes-Aux-Rats hike.  It took us 2 hours, and didn’t really have much to see along the way.  Basically just some walking in the woods.  There was a really nice waterfall at the end but, it was a bit disappointing (after walking for two hours in the heat) to find out that you could easily just drive there.  I mean, I’m not one to advocate driving places but… it would have just been a short drive up the road.  Maybe use your hiking energies for something else.

Tiny Travelogue: Fitzroy Provincial Park

Fitzroy Provincial Park

Location: Fitzroy Provincial Park, Ontario

Length of Trip: two days, one night (July 2013)

Purpose of Trip:  Super-fun-camping

Method of Transportation:  Automobile

Food: Chili, salad, chips, red wine, banana bread, chocolate croissants

Accommodations: A tent, of course, in the Two Rivers Campground of Fitzroy Park

Highlights:  This was mostly a last minute oh-my-god-get-me-out-of-the-city kind of camping trip.  The park is only an hour away from Ottawa, which was the main reason for choosing it.  There wasn’t really any hiking and the swimming was just okay, but it did the trick on short notice.   

Tiny Travelogue: Quebec City

Quebec City

Location: Quebec City, Quebec

Length of Trip: Two days, one night (May 2013)

Purpose of Trip:  Official Librarian Business (ie. travel for work)

Method of Transportation:  Airplane

Food: When traveling, I usually try to scout for restaurants in advance.  Being a non-meat eater does prove to be a bit restrictive at times, so I like to find a few options in advance.  I also really hate walking around trying to find somewhere to eat, especially when I’m hungry.  Unfortunately, the restaurant I had pre-selected in Quebec decided to close the day before I arrived, unbeknownst to me.  So I ended up wandering around and just picked the first place that was 1) not too expensive 2) had a veggie option 3) wasn’t just a sandwich place.  I ended up eating at La Piazetta.  It was just okay.  Nothing spectacular, but no complaints either.  I also obtained a snack from a little grocery store called La Carotte Joyeuse.  I highly recommend getting food at a grocery store when traveling – you can usually find something cheap and healthy, especially if you just want a snack like fruit or a cookie (my snack exactly, actually).

Accomodations:  I stayed at Le Grande-Allee Hotel and Suites.  It had the feel of a B & B, but with all the privacy and amenities of a regular hotel.  My room was really cute.  It had a little fireplace and a huge spa bathtub.  The tub was in the main part of the room, rather than the bathroom, so as you can imagine, I ate my dinner in the tub while watching TV.  I really had no choice.

Highlights:  This trip was quite short and mostly spent doing work-related things (it was a business trip after all), so I didn’t really get to do anything fun.  I’d say the highlight of the trip was the hotel!  I’d also recommend walking around the old part of the city. 

Tiny Travelogue: Colombia

Colombia

For a full travelogue of my Colombia trip, visit The Colombia Edition. It’s more than you ever wanted to know about someone else’s trip.  No really, it’s a lot more detail than you want.  I promise.

Location: Bogota, Santa Marta, and Cartagena, Colombia
Length of Trip: 20 days (December 2010 – January 2011)
Purpose of Trip:  Vacation
Method of Transportation:  Airplane
Food: see full travelogue
Accommodations: see full travelogue
Highlights:  see full travelogue