Side-tracked By A Day Trip

To avoid boring you to death, this will be my last post in a three-part series about our Disney World adventures. This isn’t actually about Disney at all, but instead I will thrill and excite you with details of a day trip away from the swirling fun that is Disney. Alright, I’m certain this isn’t thrill worthy stuff but it made for a unique day all around. In the last week or so before flying off from reality, my sister and I worked out where we would like to explore. My son had one request…go to the ocean. My kids had never been to the ocean and I was determined to grant this wish. We live on one of North America’s  Great Lakes so a large body of water is part of the daily scenery. However, nothing compares to the ocean! We verbally went back and forth between the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. I wanted the Atlantic Ocean and my big sis wanted the Gulf. Who won the battle of debate? Keep reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Didn’t it figure that the day we had rented a car to head to the beach ended up being overcast, rainy and windy. I had also thought that it would be the perfect day to wear a dress. I’m brilliant, I know. Life goes on and so we headed off for a day of adventure!

 

 

bridges to the beach

bridges to the beach

There were brief pockets of sunshine throughout the day but the wind was a bit of a nuisance. As to be expected, the closer we got to the ocean the windier it got. While driving along this strip of highway that seemed to be mostly bridges connected by islands I couldn’t help but think how terrifying this would be should there be a hurricane. Evacuation route signs were everywhere. My sister and I came to the conclusion that neither of us would ever live in a location that needed evacuation route signage. If you live in such a place, you are braver than us. Or you simply enjoy life being peppered with severe risk. Your call.
Cruise ships

Cruise ships

There is something so odd about cruise ships along the side of the freeway.

Beach, here we come!
Beach, here we come!

Now you see who’s debate skills are superior.  Maybe it was the 3:1 that was the clincher.

Cocoa Beach from afar

Cocoa Beach from afar

After a bit of driving back and forth along the main stretch of road looking for signs to the beach, I finally rolled down my car window and leaned out to get the attention of a city worker. He was very helpful, and friendly I might add, and pointed us in the right direction  which of course we had already passed. As we walked over to the beach the sound of the pounding surf permeated all else. There is no other sound in nature that contains such a combination of force and serenity simultaneously. It instantly transports the Spirit to a happy place. THIS must be the reason people choose to live in evacuation areas!

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

Although it looks bright and sunny in this photo, don’t be fooled. It was grey and windy which made me ponder the decision for all of these people to try to catch some sun. Humans are interesting creatures.

See the red flag on the beach?

This indicates that there were rip currents and swimming was not recommended although many people were in the water. We walked in briefly and were almost knocked over by the huge, powerful waves.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

Another danger on the beach was the massive amount of jellyfish. They were everywhere and I was just about to step on one coming out of the water when I was warned with a holler. Talk about freaking a person out!

My son just couldn’t get enough of the jellyfish. He spent most of his time getting up close and personal (too close for my comfort) to watch them pulsate. Moments such as these are wonderful teaching opportunities and allow children to gain a better understanding of all the incredible creatures we share this planet with. I’m certain this will be a memory that last a lifetime for him.

jellyfish

beach grasses and railing

The sound of the surf and the mysterious sea life captured our attention but it was the windblown sand that lovingly cradled the beach grasses that made me swoon for the beach.

The way the elements distress wooden structures such as these stairs was, to me, the epitome of coastal scenery that I carry in my mind’s eye.

sandy steps

sandy steps

Next stop…Cape Canaveral.

Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle

I was pretty excited to visit Cape Canaveral and the NASA museum. According to the website there are tours that shuttle visitors out to the launch pad and infiltrate your brain with all things space related.

This could have gone either way, I figured. I was hoping for new knowledge but was on guard for the nerd alert to sound. Well, upon further inspection we decided not to do the tour. At $50 U.S. per person it was a bit steep for an experience my kids were only going along with for my sake. Oh well.

 

NASA museum

NASA museum

After a day of sand, surf and shuttles we made tracks back to Disney. It was a supremely glorious day spent making memories.

“A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together.

Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood.”  

– Charlotte Kasl

 

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Road Trip – Part Two

I’d like to introduce you to my great friend Steph.  Steph and I became instant friends about 12 years ago when we met at a playgroup with our babies. Our daughters became friends and we naturally did too. Our friendship has been positive and uplifting since that first introduction. You know that feeling when you first meet someone and you just “click”? That’s us. Clickity-click ever since. This is my favorite pic of Steph. She is a chameleon of awesome hair styles and rocks each and every one.

 

 

steph

 

 

 

Now that you know a bit about Steph, I will get to telling you about her half of our road trip together to Ottawa. While I was lounging around in a state of bliss, she was racking up some serious kilometers and using super-human amounts of willpower.

 

 

Steph decided to participate in a grueling bike ride to support and raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. She feels compassionate towards those she personally knows (and those she doesn’t) that are dealing with this debilitating disease. She chose to participate in this ride with her two sister-in-laws in support of her father-in-law that is living with MS. Let me explain to you how incredible I think Steph is for participating. Not only is she doing something to make a difference, she has embarked upon this trek with very little past road training. She purchased a bike strictly for this event a couple of months prior to this ride and quickly racked up the kilometers on local bike paths and roads. I am still amazed at how she jumped in with both feet and never looked back! Mind you, this shouldn’t really surprise me since Steph is the type of individual that once she commits to something she is all in. I have deep respect for her ability to do so.

 

 

The  MS Bike Tour  that she completed was from Ottawa to Cornwall. Here is the map of the ride route. She rode 100 km on the first day of the ride and another 100 km on the second day for a whopping 200 km altogether! Incredible!

 

 

Steph and her bike

Steph and her bike

 

 

If you would like to donate to the MS Society and congratulate Steph and Team Two Tired on their successful ride, you can do so until September 10th at the following link.  

http://mssoc.convio.net/site/TR/BikeTour/OntarioDivision?px=1215268&pg=personal&fr_id=2140&s_locale=en_CA 

 

 

Steph and I had arranged to meet up at the finish line, figuring that I would be there to see her finish her quest. She was too quick, riding like the wind, and already had her flowery flip-flops on and her bike packed in the car ready to hit the road for home by the time I arrived. She was cool and confident as usual when I spotted her standing to the side of the finish line. What a woman!

 

“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” – Wade Boggs

 

Steph, let me tell you yet again how fantastic I think you are. Your tenacity and overwhelming desire to do the right thing are truly inspiring. The world is a better place because you are in it.   xo

Road Trip – Part One

The road trip was brief but added fuel to my fire.  It has taken me this long to collect my thoughts and bring myself back to reality. Road Trip – Part One will be about how I spent my weekend away while Road Trip – Part Two will focus on my friend Steph (and travel companion) and what she was up to. Let me just set the scene by saying that Steph kicked some serious butt and focused like a mad woman last weekend.  We traveled together to our nation’s capital city, Ottawa, then went in our separate directions to get busy with our planned weekends.

 

 

Ottawa is in my Top 10 of favorite cities. If you haven’t visited this stunning city, I encourage you to do so. History, art, culture, politics, nightlife, cuisine, outdoor activities galore all rolled into one beautiful package. I have visited Ottawa so many times that I have lost count but every visit I find something new and exciting to explore. What was my main reason for going to Ottawa other than as a travelling companion to Steph? I was making the journey to visit my sister. Oh, how I love my sister and spending time together always makes my heart happy. We had some serious visiting and spa-ing to do! Yes, I said spa-ing. What else could I possibly call decadent lingering at this Scandinavian style baths/saunas for hours on end? Just thinking about being there still sends me into deep, rubbery bliss. This was my second visit to le Nordik in Quebec that is just a short jaunt from Ottawa. Each visit was a uniquely different experience but both were insanely sublime. I am actually thankful I don’t live closer or I’d be on a first name basis with the staff.  Seriously. Should you ever have the opportunity to go to a spa such as le Nordik, please do so. If you decide to make the trek to le Nordik in Quebec, call me…I’ll join you.

 

 

What do I love so much about this spa in particular? Perhaps it’s the eucalyptus steam sauna that makes one’s body drip with moisture that sends me into a euphoric state. Maybe it’s the freezing cold waterfall or plunge pool that is awaiting my departure from the sauna.  Or possibly it was the relaxation afterward that my body and Soul cried out for. Oh, who am I kidding…it was all of it rolled up into one bliss-filled day of heaven on earth. I even enjoyed the dry heat saunas this visit which I hadn’t been keen on my last visit. It’s interesting how tastes change with the passage of time and personal experiences. Since picture-taking was obviously taboo (this is a den of relaxation and who can really let go if someone is snapping photos of them lounging around in their bathing suit in sometimes unflattering positions).  I suggest that you visit this link to see what all my gushing is about. If I had to choose what my favorite thing about the Spa was, besides the company of sister and friends, I would have to say it was a tie between the Vaporo aromatic sauna, Tellura – which was freaking amazing, or simply the sensational hammocks in the trees secluded from activity. These hammocks were not your run-of-the-mill hammocks either, my friends. There was something almost magical about them. Once cocooned within its folds, no sounds but the leaves blowing in the breeze and quiet relaxation music I effortlessly drifted off into restful slumber like no other I’ve experienced.

 

This place is truly decadent.

 

The trek up to the Spa

The trek up to the Spa

 

 

 

 

Another of my fave sites to visit in Ottawa is the parliament buildings. I am not a lover of politics by any means but the architecture is even more impressive than the buzz that surrounds parliament hill. Canada’s parliament buildings were built between 1859 and 1866. In 1916 there was a fire in the centre block that left nothing but the northwest wing and the  library standing. If it weren’t for the foresight of an employee to close the library doors, the library and its contents would have been lost as well. During the first World War, construction began to build a new centre block which was completed in 1922 with the Peace Tower finished in 1927. The Peace Tower was named in commemoration of Canada’s commitment to peace. Cool feature: the huge gargoyles on the corners of the Peace Tower by the clock face.

 

 

Me on the Hill with the Peace Tower and Centre Block

Me on the Hill with the Peace Tower and Centre Block

 

 

 

There is always something interesting taking place on Parliament Hill. The day we were there the Queen’s Guard were strutting their stuff on the grounds, including bagpipers- in kilts! Yes, I giggled yet again at the sound of bagpipes.

 

 

Queens Guard

Queens Guard

 

 

 

 

On Parliament Hill we stumbled across an incredible sculpture that I hadn’t noticed before. I was struck by its beauty and strength. The Suffragette movement touches me profoundly. I become choked up at the courage of women to stand bravely and fight for the rights of women everywhere. I am proud to call myself a feminist and share in the convictions of my sisters before me. Feminism to me is not an excuse to man bash (glorious specimens that they can be) as some women choose to do but to expect equality across the board. Not ask for permission to obtain it. This sculpture garden, if you will, is very moving.

 

 

sculpture

 

 

 

 

Take a seat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After enjoying the sights and hubbub on the Hill, my sister and I strolled (alright bolted) to Chateau Laurier for brunch. What a brunch it was! Maple crepes with maple whipped cream, chocolate croissants, delicious salads, hot dishes and a pastry table that delighted the eyes and taste buds among many other dishes. And the coffee…oh, the coffee. Sinfully scrumptious.

 

enjoying the coffee at Chateau Laurier

enjoying the coffee at Chateau Laurier

 

 

 

The road trip of relaxation, catching up with my sis and excitement came to a close all too quickly. I already miss my life-long friend and can’t wait for the next get together. Getting away from the daily grind is essential occasionally for allowing my Spirit to soar. To remember that there is intense beauty and exceptional individuals that share this planet. Sometimes the places that are relatively close  – in this case about 7 hours away from my home by car – feed the hunger for adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
-Bill Bryson

Wake Up and Live!

“Life is one big road with lots of signs.

So when you riding through the ruts,

don’t complicate your mind.

Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy.

Don’t bury your thoughts,

put your vision to reality.

Wake Up and Live!

– Bob Marley

It seems as though this week has been one of many ruts. Too many to count. It’s funny how sometimes it’s the smallest of things that push one to the point of tears. This week , although small in the grand scheme of life, my tipping point came when on an extremely tiring day I was itching like crazy from poison ivy only to have a wasp fly in the vehicle window while I was driving and sting me a few times on my inner thigh. At that moment I wanted to just put on the brakes and cry. I refrained thanks to a wonderful friend by my side to uplift my spirits. Friends help us see the ruts for what they really are. Through it all I tried to keep a positive attitude, laugh off the irritation or hurt of the week and just keep moving forward. Sometimes Life gets ugly…sometimes emotions are run ragged – there is always, ALWAYS a positive spin, a lesson to be learned or something better to look forward to.

Here’s where my week becomes downright fun…I am off on a road trip with my uplifting friend! Ottawa, here we come!  (More details to follow!)

Have a fun and rejuvenating weekend. Do something kind for Yourself. Love the Life you have been given. Laugh until your stomach hurts…I intend to!